I grew up in a Polish and Irish Roman Catholic home. Amongst all the kooky things this experience included (see many past postings) it never included going to bible camp, being asked to invite other little friends to church, or being sent to a Christian preschool. And so recent brushes with church-goin' folk have left me at a real disadvantage. Thank God, yes GOD, for my husband, the recovering Southern Baptist in this partnership, who has been my only tour guide and cultural interpreter.
Brush #1: I watched the documentary Bible Camp. For those of you who have not heard of or seen it, it is the story of a real fundamentalist bible camp and the families who attend. I found it interesting until the adults put on a play for the children in which they wandered the room with a scroll of paper with hundreds names on it, asking, "Where are all these babies?!" Cut to a 3-year-old in the front row clutching a baby doll and looking panicked. Patiently, the adults explain that all the babies have been killed because of abortion. Oh no, I'm not kidding. When I looked at my husband with my mouth dropped open, he asked, "What did you expect?! It's fucking BIBLE CAMP! I wanted to turn it 20 minutes ago!"
Brush #2: My son is friends with a very sweet little girl. They play wonderfully together, gone over each other's houses and had a blast. Her family seems as nice as they can be. So far so good. Then I get a phone call from her mom asking if my son would like to go bowling with them on Sunday after church and Sunday school. Wha? She explained that it was the Community Month in their church and her daughter picked my son to invite to their "Ask a Neighbor" day. After stumbling through a caught-by-surprise rendition of how my kids didn't belong to a Christian-organized-anything...not that anythings wrong with that...we don't have anything against Jesus or anything, I told the mom that I would ask my son if he felt like going. When I told my husband about it, he shook his head, saying, "Sneaky Methodists."
In the end, my son did go. The review was that bowling was fun. I asked about the church and Sunday school part and he said that the Sunday school stuff was fine but the church part was boring. After a moment of further contemplation he observed, "The Jesus part was so annoying. I mean, I get it -- he died and it was because of people sinning. You don't have to keep saying it over and over again." Ah, to have an 8-year-old's clarity.
Brush #3: A friend who lives in the southeast of these United States told me about a recent conversation with a coworker. It seems the coworker recommended a community camp as a way to cover the last week of summer vacation for my friend's preschooler. When she asked what the cost was, her coworker told her it was free. Skeptical, my friend asked why it was free. Well, wouldn't you know it? It's run by a Christian church. My friend did a stammered explanation similar to mine concerning her child's lack of church affiliation and then asked how much religious stuff was included. The coworker assured it that it was at a minimum -- you know, a couple of bible stories, prayer before lunch, no big deal. In fact, the camp was run on different themes for each week. The theme for the week in question? Hawaii.
Why Hawaii? Because it is an example of how heathens can be converted? Because it's a paradise that also has volcanoes so that God can rain down lava on you and yours if you get out of line? Because Bobby Brady just had to pick up that tiki thing and get all mixed up in false gods, nearly ruining the Brady's fabulous vacation???
When the coworker was asked what the Hawaiian theme week would include, she said, "Oh you know, grass skirts, flower necklaces, fun stuff." Ah ha! Culture!
In order to understand this better I brought the scenario to my interpreter husband. It has since provided weeks of jokes combining Christianity and luaus in fun-filled camp activities.
Poi in the Gospel
Jesus loves you and coconut drinks
And, my favorite,
Hula for Christ.