... a little something extra thrown in

Gabby Abby

Gabby Abby
Florida, USA
December 31
I've had most of the jobs ~ daughter, student, wife, parent, employee, business owner and now once again, job seeker ~ but I'm still looking forward to lottery winner, retiree and regular blogger. Email welcome at gabbyabby.jax@gmail.com


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MARCH 5, 2013 1:42AM


Rate: 21 Flag



I like to think I'm a tolerant person. I also like to think I'm a long legged, blue eyed, thirty five year old stunner, yet only one of those is true. I'm not what you would call oblivious exactly, but I can have an air of unawareness about myself that occasionally requires a double round robin in my mind before I figure things out. 

I'm a Bible belt baby, born right into the buckle you could say. My grandmothers were church ladies, my dad was a pillar everyone leaned on, and my brother is a Southern Baptist minister. It can make things prickly around here because I challenge him in ways that make him want to check his christianity at the door. It happens, but only when I'm the lone witness, and the target. Aaand there it is... my point.

Don is the same stiff-necked angry kid he always was, working very hard to disappear into the persona of someone he can admire. He carries a club of absolute certainty, put to use on his Christian mission to 'save' people from something -- themselves? the devil? a fate worse than death? hellfire? eternal damnation? I don't know for sure and I'm pretty certain no one alive on the planet knows either, but in his black and white world, he knows that if you don't believe what he tells you about it, then you, my friend, are doomed. The friendly reference is pejorative. 

He and his fellow salvation experts have recently returned from the Philippines where they carried the torch of righteousness to the natives, who needed The Good Word dumped all over them like so much leftover baptismal water. When he announced the trip, I asked if it was still 1845. (ding)

After a 30 hour trek to the mission field, he realized the Philippines is the 3rd largest English speaking nation in the world, they've already heard it all, and that the kids are in it for the free popcorn, having long ago perfected speedy grab-and-runs at the start of the nightly evangelization-of-the world film.

In the later telling of his adventure, he played down a case of the Tagalog Two-Step (which his wife had reported as incapacitating and I still don't know why I thought that was funny), and talked about the good that had been accomplished through bible studies, local pastors, and general schmoozing with the heathen. Meanwhile, I'm inquiring 'but what did you DO?', thinking rehabing a school, providing supplies to a medical clinic, or building a street kitchen might have been a good way to share the spirit of Christ. 'We're Christians, this is what we do. We help people'. (ding)

I was reassured that 'based on this experience we are absolutely convinced the Filipinos have awesome opportunities in reaching Asia for Christ. They not only have the looks of Asians and blend in to other Asian countries; they have everything needed to be effective missionaries.'

Ding!Ding!Ding! My opponent is in the ring!

Girl, you bein' intolerant / Nooo, I'm fighting intolerance / No you ain't / Am too / You better shut up 'for you get him lathered up /  Too late.  (Wanda Sykes lives in my head).


For most, faith is a winding road not a rocket shot heavenward straight over a big-assed set of pearly gates. I’ve had many moments when I’ve wondered, 'What is the difference between having faith and being naïve?' 
I’ve read my share of books and religious tomes including the bible. There have been teachers, speakers, and preachers. I was brought up in the church, Wednesdays, Saturdays, and twice on Sundays, and can still kick it old-style in a Sword Drill, which is all well and good. My point when discussing matters of belief and faith with others is that we are endowed by our Creator with incredible intellects, and we should use them to the fullest. Which is where I guess my brother and I part ways on the faith train.

The righteous stance of bible thumping Christians who feel their way is not just the best way, but the only way to 'salvation' (they seem to have staked out a corner on that word) strikes the highest and shrillest note there is on my intolerance meter if those things can be measured on a universal scale. Likewise, there are radical Muslims who believe an eternal reward for wiping out infidels are 72 houri (virgin super-models), 144,000 Mormons who believe they are the chosen who will rise up to heaven, and adherents to the theories of L. Ron Hubbard's Scientology faith who are looking to Xenu, Dictator of The Galactic Confederacy, to come back and get them.

At the end of the day, Wanda asks, what's the difference between tolerating this one, the same as you tolerate all the rest? 

If I get worked up over the judgement my brother regularly serves up to non-believers and different-believers, why don't I get anguished by any of the others?  It would seem I am being, um, a little...intolerant. 

I had to thank Wanda for pointing out it's not directed so much at the preaching going on 'out there' as it is toward my brother, who is right up in my bizness.  It's the personal aspect of feeling reviewed and dismissed by someone I care about because he delivers his low regard for me on a cross shaped platter. Don is no respecter of differences. 

I'm taking my own medicine to cure my intolerance.  From The Four Agreements --> be centered in yourself, don't make it personal.    

In the best of all possible afterworlds, perhaps it is what we believe that we receive.  In that case, there'll be a happy ending for every single one of us. We will all finally get to be right about something. 

religion photo: religion religion.jpg

Namaste my little brother.

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Draw Swords! (a handshake to anyone who's participated in a Sword Drill -- that would make us brethren or sistern).
Just freaking perfect. I don't envy you your clash with your brother, but experience has taught me siblings will fight over something, no matter what their age or circumstance, even as somewhere deep down they also love each other. I so admire your take on religion as it affects us on global and personal levels and applaud your desire to take the tolerant road.
Sally, what are you doing up so late? I just told someone else I was going to have to stick forks in my eyeballs if I'm going to get them to close tonight. Thanks for your comment, night owl, it was very nice of you to say that. Now go to bed, and I hope you're feeling better, saw you missed the Philly meetup :-(
“All Dogs Go To Heaven? Sorry, kids. It's only the dogs who've accepted Christ.”
― Stephen Colbert
One sign of tolerance that's extremely admirable to me in reading this, is that you and your brother, despite your differences, seem to communicate regularly. I feel like in many families, people can become estranged because of different beliefs, so kudos for that, at least. I also like having Wanda Sykes in your head. I never have sassy celebrities in there, and I think it would make my life better if I did....
Interesting reading.

Excellent piece. ~r
Good stuff, Gabby.

That “salvation”; need to be “saved”; and “savior” set of notions always baffles me. From what or whom do we need to be saved? Why?

I see these people at sporting events and other large gatherings with signs reading: “JOHN 3:16”…and wonder how anyone can get anything of value from a passage that I see as being bizarre…if not insane.

But…then like you, I remind myself about tolerance.

Damn! I’d rather be striving to break 80 consistently.
Nicely written. I doubt if anyone knows really understands religion. It never hurts to have an open and inquiring mind. R.
The world, and life in it can be more than scary, terrifying, actually. Battening down the hatches with religion is one way of dealing with the fear. That's okay, do that, if it helps you enjoy your time on the planet.

Buddhism has a tenet, about keeping your eyes on your own bowl. I like that idea, and believe it's well worth a lifetime try. The Phillipinos have it figured out...free popcorn, yum, and require no protection from the word bringers. They're fine. Our minds are our protection, and we're fine too. I sleep deeply at night and relish my waking moments. I hope your brother does too.
Right on. It is hard to believe that in the 21st century the old shibboleths and superstitions still dominate human life. I am tolerant in the sense that I am not religious , so I treat all those who wish to impose their beliefs upon others with equal disdain. R
I have sort of the opposite situation. On those rare occasions that I visit my sister (the other side of the continent) she does a (quick) interrogation to make sure I have not succumbed to religion. Lately she's expanded her questioning from Christianity to others. To keep the peace, I assure her I have not. And anyway, I don't consider celebrating the changing of the seasons to be 'religion' in the way she fears.
I've always said I don't care what belief system (or lack thereof) gets a person through the night .. just so long as they don't try to cram whatever it is down my throat. Had 'way to much of that as a kid.
It is like looking in a mirror reading your post! I have a little brother who is doing and saying the same things as your little brother, but he and his family are at play in the fields of the Lord in Guatemala. Specifically the Maya.

"...the kids are in it for the free popcorn, having long ago perfected speedy grab-and-runs at the start of the nightly evangelization-of-the world film." I feel like the people they are "helping" take the brand new free bibles and the used clothing, and the medicine my brother and his evangelistic pals bestow upon them, squirrel the items away, and sell them when the great white Christian people from the US go home...

I think may be intolerant too.

But, damn it, they judge so hard and their faces crumble in abject anguish when I talk about the many roads to God. In their estimation, my feet are not on that path properly and they WORRY so hard about my immortal soul and getting to see me again in the afterlife. Their distress over this is really heart breaking. That's why this passage in your writing really hit home. "...but in his black and white world, he knows that if you don't believe what he tells you about it, then you, my friend, are doomed. The friendly reference is pejorative."

On a sort of funny note: My sis-in-law had an announcement one time we were visiting. She got everyone's attention and said that we could have their house and the horses should they be raptured anytime soon!
I've had family and friends who've done the same to me and their words hurt me. I don't mind if someone believes I'm going to hell, their thoughts are their business. What I do mind is them beating me or others with it either verbally or physically. If someone wants to believe they're the only ones who are 'forgiven' that's fine, but a different belief doesn't entitle someone to hurt another. If they want to tell me in a concerned and loving voice, then I appreciate the loving concern and want them in my life.

I don't want to join any group of any type that's harming others by telling them they are doomed, or inferior, or injures them in any way. I'm happiest associating with those that help others or builds them up. For me it's simple, I don't like to see people (including myself) feel bad or be injured and I don't call that intolerance because it's my job to discern what's good for me.
Having this conversation in my extended family right now. Gigantic waste of time. Have successfully avoided it for 27 years of marriage until someone asked my why my kids weren't baptized. "Because we think they'll like limbo better than heaven."
There are 1,000 religions in the world. True believers reject 999 of them. As a atheist, my only difference from them is that I reject one more.

Beautifully written, my friend.
This is a great piece. I'm right about that!
Who knew they liked popcorn in the Philippines?

(Extra butter always closes the deal)
Stim - Colbert and Stuart are my favorite late night characters.

Alyssa - no one makes me laugh like she does. I should write about this b/c she's in there commenting all day long. To my mind, she sees the world from a perspective similar to my own - I'm just not funny.

Skypixie and Joan - thanks for coming by and testifyin'

Frank - What a coincidental comment! Tim Tebow is known to write John 3:16 on his face, and the group that made this trip to the Philippines is Bob Tebow's evangelical team, which should tell you exactly how far apart my brother and I are on all of this.

Lyle - amen brother!

GHeron - I LOVE that, keep your eye on your own bowl. That's going on my list. lol.

Gerald - It's the disdain part that I'd like to get past, but I appreciate the sentiment.

Myriad - wow, maybe she's afraid you'll join a cult!

Bo - I hear that

Linda - ha! I hope you aren't too attached to the idea of getting those horses any time soon. Thanks for sharing your story too.

LHB - it's one of the great ironies of religion, isn't it?

Con - how you avoided it for 27 yrs is a wonder b/c we had that battle when the kids were little. Hubs was RC and your answer was so much better than mine was. I just said 'no' but in truth I could have said 'yes' - what difference would it have made? Their g'mother would have been so relieved. At 90, she still prays daily for their mortal souls. I should have done better by her.

Cranky - You amaze me. How do you keep count?

Gary - no need to be quiet, push back if you want, but as Con says - it's a complete waste of time to say your piece. There is nothing we infidels can ever say that they will ever hear, other than 'I accept'.

BV - are not.

LLarry - if extra butter would close the deal, those guys would have imported 10 tons of it by now. They are that committed!
This is the first I heard of Xenu but I recently found out that about the same time Ron Hubbard was rising to power Wesley LeBaron was building UFOs that he was going to use to leave Earth or something like that after the Apocalypse.

I suspect most people would be more tolerant of that than they might be of what his brother Erwin LeBaron got involved in; but that is another story.
I love how you have looked at the really big picture here, as well as shrinking it down to such a personal level. (And extra points for adding in Wanda Sykes.)

My husband has participated in two "mission trips" but, not being a Christian himself, he found it a little trying. At least this group actually did something, though. (They supply new beds and bedding to orphanages. He went to build beds and to take pictures.) I don't like evangelical anything, including atheism. I consider myself an atheist, but I pretty much keep to myself about it.