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.
You see, American Christians have a generous Christianity. They willingly share their lovely holidays with the world. In American, you don’t have to be Christian to enjoy Christmas trees, Christmas carols, decorated houses, Easter bunnies, Easter eggs, etc. You’re not blaspheming and subject to torture or death for having a tree in your house even if you don’t believe that it celebrates Christ’s birth or joining in an Easter egg hunt even if you don’t believe in the Resurrection. It’s okay with American Christians as long as you don’t get in the way of their core beliefs about Christ’s birth and Resurrection.
And while many American Christians are anxious to share with you the Good News about Christ, they do so, not out of a sense of superiority or a totalitarian need to control. Instead, they do it because to them, it isn’t just Good News, it’s the best of all possible news and they want to share. And then, if you rebuff them, either rudely as I did when young and scared, or politely as I do now, they quietly take themselves off and go share the Good News with others. No torture, no death. They graciously share and they just as graciously accept rejection.
Oh, and speaking of sharing, I love the way churches, especially outside of urban areas, have outdoor signs on which they post scripture, wise thoughts, and funny thoughts. I find them inspirational and, often, amusing. This again is part of the generosity of spirit that infuses American Christianity. No torture; no death.
Just as that young woman at Dairy Queen wished me a blessed day, American Christians wish people well. They don’t revel in suffering or pain. In this, they are unlike Leftists (see Dennis Prager’s excellent column on that point) and they are most certainly unlike Islamists, who are Stone Age in their passion for pain (other people’s pain).
I also like American Christians because the vast majority of them support Israel. I support Israel too. I’m Jewish; my parents were part of its founding; it’s a staunch American ally; and it’s the most decent country in the Middle East. Indeed, I’d say that it’s second to America on the list of “world’s most decent countries.” That American Christians value Israel means more to me than you can imagine.
Sadly, some American Christians are drifting away from their practical and spiritual generosity. When Leftism isn’t try to destroy Christians — with the un-ending attacks on Christian baker Jack Phillips standing as Exhibit A for this pathological hatred — they are trying to rejigger Christianity into a socialist ally. Just as is the case with Reform Judaism, certain Christian denominations have ever so gently curated their faith to the point at which it’s indistinguishable from the Democrat Party platform. The whole “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s” has gone entirely by the wayside. God and Caesar are one — and Caesar won.
These same Leftist Christians are also bringing back the anti-Semitism that animated the early Christian Church and made Jews so paranoid about Christians. They call it “anti-Zionism,” but because the only country in the world they attack is also the only Jewish country, the anti-Semitism just kind of jumps out at you.
Anyway, I don’t want to wander off the point which is my respect and liking for non-Leftist Christians. That’s why I’m writing this post, one in a series of similar posts I’ve written over the years to express my gratitude that I share a country with traditional American Christians. I am truly fortunate to live in a place in which a young Christian woman freely shares her “have a blessed day” with everyone and means it every time.
Image credit: Baptist Church Albion by bertknot. Creative commons; some rights reserved.