...but sometimes His fervent followers tick me off. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if they annoy Him, too.
If I had to check a box on a form, I'd check the one next to Christian. I was brought up in the First Baptist Church in Springfield, Missouri. Some of what I heard there I believed, and some of it didn't feel right to me, so I dabbled in a few other religious denominations as I grew older. All of them were Protestant and all of them fell under the broad category of Christian. When the sermons I heard in those churches failed more often than not to jibe consistently with the God I knew in my heart, I moved on.
I may be a backslider, but the spiritual part of me feels pretty content. (These days I get my religion mostly by reading The Rev. Dr. Kate.) I do not feel the need to have my immortal soul rescued at the grocery store.
Remember when I wrote about being excited because a new supermarket was being built near my house? I was thrilled that I'd no longer have to drive five to eight miles to do my grocery shopping. The fact that I wouldn't have to navigate the parking lot and vast interior of Wal-Mart seemed like an answer to my prayers. (Yes, I pray--but generally not for things like convenient shopping.)
The new store is nice. It's ultra-clean and laid out well, and it has almost everything I need. It's a little more expensive to shop there, but the convenience makes up for it. I'm eating better, too, because shopping nearby means shopping more frequently, and that translates into more fresh foods.
After I went to the new store for the first time, I wrote this: "...all the people inside the store were smiling--especially the customers. Even me. I hadn't seen smiling grocery shoppers in a long, long time. By the time I left the store, I was humming carols right along with the piped in (piped out? to the parking lot?) music." I shopped there yesterday, but without the same pleasant experience. It was the piped-in music that changed everything for me.
I don't remember what kind of music they've played since the Christmas season. I think it was just typical elevator music, although I do remember one time recently when I was alone in the dairy aisle and the music made me feel like dancing behind my grocery cart.
Yesterday, though, the whole time I was there I listened to piped-in Christian music. It was the pleasant, easy-listening, could-be-confused-with-soft-rock kind of music, but the lyrics were all about praising and worshiping and Jesus being the answer. It wasn't the music itself that offended me but the idea that Jesus was being "sold" to me right there among the avocados and the cherry tomatoes.
If you want to talk to me about "saving" while I'm grocery shopping, tell me about coupons or two items for the price of one. Don't make me think about my afterlife while I'm trying to determine which carton of skim milk has the longest shelf life.
Now, I'm all for free speech. If you write about your religious beliefs (or political viewpoints) on your blog, I can read it--or not--and agree with it--or not. The same goes for anything you publish in your newspaper or broadcast on your television show. In those situations, I have a choice. But when you proselytize in the supermarket while I'm trying to buy enough of your goods to check one household chore off my list, I can't turn you off. My choice is either to live with it or to shop somewhere else.
I could protest, of course, but I'm trying to see both sides of the issue. I guess, if I were the storeowner, I might feel entitled to play whatever kind of music I like. As a customer, I don't like it. And I don't think Jesus ever expected to be the subject of background noise for people whose minds are on the price and freshness of boneless, skinless chicken breasts.