So, my mother, who lives only ten minutes away, wanted me to stop by her house to check out our former neighbor's obituary.
"Mr. Tench" was a war veteran, and since the obituary had a lot of nice things to say about him, my mother thought I might like to see it. He and his wife, Ann("Mrs. Tench" to me), lived in the house next to us when I was growing up. They were there when we moved into our house, and I believe I was around six yrs old when we arrived. His wife died about ten years ago and their only son died sometime in the 90's. So, Mr. Tench has been there alone for quite a while in the same house. His only daughter in law and grandchildren live up North.
Sometimes I cut down my old street to avoid traffic, and about nine months ago Mr. Tench was doing some odds 'n ends in his yard, so I stopped to say hello. At 90 yrs old, he was pretty sharp, because, while he didn't recognized me right off, he instantly recalled who I was when I mentioned the family name. I'm glad I decided to stop, because that would be the last time I'd ever see him.
To back up a bit, I had already seen the obituary online but I dropped by my mom's house anyway because I had a few things to discuss with her. When I got there she had a bunch of stuff pulled out that she had neatly displayed on her desk..e.g...old photos of my grandmother's side of the family, some greeting cards, and some hand-written letters. The letters were from my grandmother to her siblings, or it might have been her cousins, or maybe both. No matter.
The reason my mom had this stuff pulled out is because her uncle had also recently died. He was one of five siblings, another of which was my maternal grandmother, also deceased. There is only one surviving sibling now, my grandmother's youngest sister. She is in her 90s, and all considered, she is doing well and still living at home. Of course, this is because her son and a few other family members are able to keep a close eye on her.
So, cutting to the chase---my mom grabbed a stack of the letters my grandmother(her mom) had hand-written to other family members. I started reading, and not even one paragraph in I noticed bible quotes with the verse/chapter in brackets..e.g...[2 Timothy 3:4], and the like.
So, quickly, I do a cursory scan down the page, and lo and behold, every single paragraph contained at least one bible quote. In this particular letter my grandmother was speaking about how we live in a fallen world, yadda, yadda. Of course, every generation says this, and I remember my mom telling me that in her day they thought Elvis was "evil" because he gyrated his hips, so, there you go.
But, regretfully, I had a knee-jerk reaction to discovering the bible quotes and I quickly handed the letters back to my mom. When she asked me what was wrong, I told her [paraphrased] that I don't want to see this because it isn't my grandmother speaking; it's her indoctrination speaking. Okay, fine, I might've thrown in a few expletives. I was both saddened and angry. I could see that this upset her, as her eyes watered up.
As nicely as I could, I told my mom that it was bringing back bad memories, because, as I explained, Christianity stole part of my grandmother's identity.
Now, a Christian onlooker might be thinking, "Yeah? So, what?!?", as if not being your genuine self is a good thing. Or...they might being thinking, "Huh? Christianity didn't steal my identity!"
Okay, it's not only possible, it's beyond-argument-fact: When you set out to live your life in devotion to "God"(or to some other leader..e.g...North Koreans to their leader), you are sacrificing a part of who you really are to appease someone else. And yes, from within the Christian bubble this is seen as a good thing. Fair enough. But on the outside of that bubble parts of the indoctrinated person are absent, simply because the Christian philosophy teaches us to believe that we are "wretched", broken, and in need of fixing. We are no good, "as is". We can't figure things out. We can't be "good"; we need a Master. In fact, our own righteousness is like that of a "filthy rag", according to "God's Word"
How can internalizing such things not change who you really are?
In a lot of ways, it changed who my grandmother really was. But guess what? As kind and caring as she was, this side of her shined through her "faith". It was those rare times that she was things like judgmental or strict that things were the other way around..i.e..her "faith" shined through her.
For example, my grandfather was a carpenter by trade and he had wood-working shop behind their house. My mom expressed to me the day I was over there that my grandmother wouldn't allow my mom to go out to watch or hang around my grandfather because, "Little girls don't do those sorts of things".
Sure, this could be chalked up to society's gender expectations, yes, but the bible teaches that men and women are different, that they were "created" for different reasons, and that their roles are different.
But perhaps most sad of all was a part of the letter where my grandmother was going on about how the youth of their day was so messed up, saying that the reason was because people love pleasure more than they love God, with a supporting bible verse, of course.
I don't know whether this saddens me more or disgusts me more. Imagine, you're given a body along with the urge to seek pleasure, but you're told not to use that body for pleasure. Think about this: In the hierarchy of biological/physiological needs, sex is right up there along side food, water, and AIR!
Be fruitful and multiply, but don't you dare lust!!!!
But kidding aside, when my mom started telling me about some of the instances that my grandmother was critical of her and/or overprotective, I could see that she, too, was becoming upset and dare I say she had some residual anger. It was then that she seemed to actually understand why I was angry and where I was coming from.