Sorting Through the Past (stream of consciousnessy)
So I’ve been at my parents the past couple of days, it’s always… interesting, visiting them these days. More so for this trip. I’ve had some stuff stored at their house ever since I moved an hour away for grad school, but my sister and brother in law are moving home for a little while so they needed to free up storage space. So, I’ve been going through the few boxes, and clearing off the bookshelf in the room I stayed in at my grandmothers (they live next-door, my sister and them will be living at my grandmother’s).
Now, a bunch of this is stuff that has been boxed up for years and years, since my parents moved while I was in college. A lot of it was was able to toss out right away (all that really cheesy Christian fiction from the 90s went out first, along with some video tapes of Star Trek TNG taped off of broadcast tv, cassette tapes I’ve got in CD form or don’t want anymore–an entire box of accompaniment tracks of the less cheesy CCM stuff is in the trash now). It’s been an interesting project for me. A lot of this stuff I haven’t seen in years and years and outgrew a long time ago.
Then there are the books from the bookshelf in my room at my grandmother’s. Those are primarily history and biography related to the World Wars or some pre-colonial history of the US, but there is also some theology stuff–I left the books here because I don’t really have room for them in my apartment and the theology stuff got left because I was pretty much done with it already. I still don’t have room for all the history and such in my apartment but I want all my books in one place, so screw it.
Anyway, it’s just been interesting going through these things now that I’ve admitted to myself that I don’t believe in what is written in most of them. Then there’s that bit of unease I’ve felt around my parents for years now as my beliefs have drifted further and further from theirs. Their house is decorated with endless little inspirational pictures with bible verses overlaid on the images, there are countless Christian books laying around (the sort of inspirational devotional stuff that I never would have read) as well as Answers in Genesis books and magazines in almost every room of the house. Those are the things that I haven’t cared for in years. I just never say anything to my parents about that.
Then there are the few times the conversation strays to politics–a topic I never bring up with them… Last night my father was saying something about how we have such bad unemployment because our country is now run by the Muslims (he is one of those Republican rights who was duped into the lie that Obama is a Muslim). Oh yeah, they also buy into homeopathy, quite a bit. “This is natural so it’s good for you,” is one of their favorite phrases. They still use Airborne even though it is been proven to be ineffective against colds. They really, really like the placebo effect, I guess.
So, it hasn’t just been since May or so that I’ve had uncomfortable times around them, it’s been years now. There were even times in high school that I was a little bit embarrassed by them (though, back then nearly everyone who lived around us was similar, Baptist seminary and all that…). There are the little notes that my mom will give me with bible verses and saying how they’re praying for me and all that. There are the times when they mention, “We’re praying for you and the woman you’ll marry,” that really bother me. (I honestly don’t know if I’ll ever marry, I’m perfectly happy as it is.)
All this is not to say that I don’t love my parents or that I don’t enjoy spending time with them. My family is pretty close-knitt and I love to be around them, I love to go on vacation with them, I love seeing them as often as I can. I just don’t like when topics of religion or politics or science come up because their ideas are so far off-base that it drives me crazy. But I don’t say anything to them. And for as close as we are as a family I think that they hardly know me anymore because of it.
Maybe one day I’ll feel comfortable enough to tell them these things I keep to myself. To tell them that I don’t believe a word of that Answers in Genesis hooey or the lies that get spread in the political circles about whoever is running for office at the time, or the homeopathy crap that is sold to people by these charlatans… Maybe if I came out with all that things would be better. I know it would not be easy, I’m sure it would upset the balance of things in our family, but maybe they would be better.
The thing is, I’m so far from where I think they think I am now that it might shock them terribly. Had I told them 10 years ago and kept an open dialog with them over that time it might be easier. But I also might not have felt the freedom to explore these things on my own.
I realize this post is probably the least coherent, stream of consciousness thing that I’ve written here, but I wanted to get these thoughts off my chest. I’ve spent so much time in the past keeping this to myself for the most part, it feels good to let others know. Besides, I like mixing things up!
Anyway, I’ll probably stick around tonight and then head back home tomorrow. I’ll be back down here in a couple weeks to see my baby niece, it’ll be nice to have my sister and them living closer by. Maybe I’ll let her know some of my thoughts on stuff soon. We’ll see.