New Year’s Rain

umbrella-kitty.jpg

This silly picture is from an old children’s book my sister gave me a few years ago, Father Tuck’s Annual. Animals wearing clothing is always good for a chuckle and the caption under this picutre seems especially capricious. Happy New Year! Party on! Blow me down! Good times and silliness for all.

For those of us who get to stay at home today here on Florida’s Gulf Coast, it’s a gloriously rainy day. We need rain desperately and it’s been raining since the wee hours. What exactly are the wee hours? I’m not certain but it sounds fitting and New Yearsy.

Today is the perfect day to do all the things you long to do on a rainy day. Make omelets, watch the rain, drink tea, read, write,  and nust.

I finished my Christmas book this morning, A Walk with Jane Austen by Lori SmithI enjoyed it for Smith’s language, her devotion to Austen and her self-reflection on who she is as a creative, single, Christian woman. She longs to do something of significance but ultimately realizes that living a simple, ordinary life is valuable.

 I also respect Smith because her faith isn’t tied to mainstream conservative Christianity. She questions her faith and rejects the guilt-tripping hypocrisy I usually associate with conservative Christians.

Christian churches, businesses and groups are pervasive (read invasive) in Florida. Churches are housed in strip malls alongside commercial frontage on route 41. Groups of people start their own churches in old  grocery stores or warehouses – big square yellow or white buildings that look like airplane hangars. They give them  unusual names like Celebration Church or Gulf Coast New Vision Worship Center or Harvest Light of the South Church. 

The extent to which a Christian’s identity is dependent on being a Christian is troubling to me.  It saturates their persona, such that every narrative seems to have the word “Christian” peppered throughout. Christian singles, Christian realtor, Christian heating and cooling, Christian massage therapist. Several times when I started a new job here in Florida, I was asked outright “Are you a Christian?” I’ve been invited to services, Bible study and retreats, even when I’ve told these same people that I was a Catholic. I was even lent a Dr. Dino video, a lecture by creepy Kent Hovind, arguing against evolution. (He is currently serving time for tax evasion.)

I’m not sure how I ended up ranting about the southern Christian mentality on a glorious rainy day when I could be painting in my journal. I don’t think Smith or Austen would disapprove though. I just wonder why religious beliefs can’t remain personal – why it’s necessary to verbally flaunt them. Shouldn’t someone’s actions demonstrate their beliefs? And why is it that many of the saved Christians I know are so eager to gossip, lie and cheat?

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