I was reminded today, as I am often reminded, that American Christians are extremely nice, generous people, and that I am lucky to live in America with them.
I stopped by my local Dairy Queen today for a treat: a chocolate dipped cone. Yum. If I didn’t have some common sense left, I’d eat those things every day and become the living embodiment of that old song about Mr. Five By Five. But I do have some common sense, so my visits are infrequent. Perhaps that’s why it really jumped out me as I finished my transaction at the drive-through when the clerk, instead of saying only “thank you,” added “have a blessed day.”
Sadly, I know a lot of people who would be offended by that. Indeed, truth to tell, back when I was young I would have been offended. Being Jewish, my cultural memory was rich in stories of forced conversions and executions for those who didn’t convert or who sneakily practiced Judaism alongside their forced Christianity. For hundreds of years, across Europe (which is where I trace back my Jewish roots), that type of brutal coercion was normative for Jews. The Spanish Inquisition lives on forever in Jewish minds.
That’s why, when I was young and someone said, “Have a blessed day” or asked “Have you found Jesus?” I instantly went into defensive mode. I usually kept my mouth shut, but my brain was ricocheting wildly between “Who do they think they are to impose their Christianity on me?” to “Are they going to hurt me?”
Because there were very few Christians in my world — family friends were Jewish; school friends were Asians, usually Buddhists or Shintoists or atheists — I really didn’t have a working template of American Christianity. My Christian grandmother didn’t really count because, despite a very traditional Protestant upbringing in Europe, she was a stone cold atheist whose idea of Christianity was Christmas trees and Easter bunnies. And after all, she had married a Jew and moved with her Zionist husband and their children to British Mandate Palestine. In other words, I never thought of her as “Christian.”
Fortunately, I moved to Texas for law school and met nice Christians. And then I moved back to California as an adult and met more nice Christians. After which I become conservative and then I suddenly met a whole bunch of Christians, both in real life and through their writing. That’s was when I realized that American Christians are really nice people. Obviously, not each of them specifically is a nice person. There’ll be some who are petty and some who are greedy and some who are just irritating. But taken en masse, I really like American Christians. [Read more…]