While taking a tour of Charleston, South Carolina, the tour guide asked everyone where they were from, and I said Alexandria, Virginia. Since he was very familiar with the area churches, he asked “what church do you belong to?” Everything he had said up to that point made it clear that he was a a devout church goer and choir member. I knew I had to come up with a name or he would launch into a stream of questions about my beliefs, and a tour bus was not the place where I wanted to have this discussion.
Fortunately, he knew the area I was from and added more specificity to his question. “Do you belong to Alfred Street Baptist”. To which I quickly answered “yes”.
Now, this was not the first time I had encountered a scenario like this. The first time was at a Baptist women’s retreat. My best friend, Maryland, was always asking me to attend functions at her church. So, I finally said yes. We broke up into groups, and started chatting among ourselves. Then came “the question” “what church do you belong to.” Without thinking, I said “I don’t belong to a church”. You would have thought I had admitted to being an alien. The earth stopped spinning. Conversations stopped in mid-sentence, and all eyes were on me. The answer is complicated. How could I explain to them that I didn’t believe in one of the basic tenets of their religion…. The bible. How could I explain my spirituality versus their religiosity.
I chickened out. I said that my husband and I visit churches, but hadn’t picked one. Fortunately, that was an excuse they could understand, and the world started spinning again.
I’m going to have to work on my answer. I want to be able to answer with conviction. I want to admit that I believe in the connectedness of all mankind, which exceeds the bounds of religions. My wussiness is my major character flaw. Next time, I will stand up and witness!