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I See Magical Thinking Everywhere

If there's one thing you can't escape in America, it's religion. I mean, if there are almost 50 churches in Boulder, or a 1:2,300 church to resident ratio, imagine what happens to that ratio when you get out into conservative America. You probably noticed in my post about seeing Lauren Groff speak that she was standing in a church. I've gone from the weirdness of Bethel in Redding, California to the southern headquarters of the Moravian church

book help up in front of a church organ

Coincidentally, the book that Groff was promoting was a novel about a nun. Of course, her book is decidedly feminist because becoming a nun was a rare way that a woman centuries ago could gain an education, some power, and a bit of freedom. The book is very much not about women being subservient to men, as every religion wants them to be.

But I digress. While in Boulder people feel free to inject anti-Republican comments into any and every conversation, regardless of relevance, and it never crosses their mind that someone might have different political views than they do, in Winston-Salem, people do the same with comments about loving Jesus. It's freaky. For example, again at the literary festival, one of the speakers made a joke that got a lot of applause. One of the other speakers commented that we should "pass around the collection plate" for that because it was so good. That's not a comment you expect to hear.

Even at Turtle Island where visitors are kindly asked to refrain from any controversial topics of discussion and focus on camaraderie and community, Jesus cropped up once or twice. The instructor was loquacious and prone to giving life advice. It kind of made sense given the mission of Turtle Island and this man's experience. I didn't mind listening to him ramble on about proper diet, staying hydrated, and a long explanation of the importance of hand-washing above all other hygiene measures. But some of the comments veered into moral territory and his mental self-check about whether he should be doing something or not was to imagine what Jesus would say if he were standing right next to him and watching. If I thought Jesus was standing next to me, I'd check myself into a psychiatric ward. 

Fleet Feet sports has a Tuesday night combination Bible verse study/running groups. They also had a community pub running group Fridays in October, which I joined, and Jesus came up more than once in post-run, mid-beer conversation. One of the guys I talked to was even a youth minister. I went into the Fleet Feet store to buy the pub runs t-shirt, since the proceeds went to charity, but the photo below will quickly reveal why I didn't buy anything else. 

shirts with religious slogans

Thankfully, I found the Wednesday 7 PM hip-hop class at CycleBar so I could sweat it out to lyrics laden with swear words and descriptions of dirty sex.

Of course, some of the commentary was charming. For example, my first night in the city, I was in an elevator with a very large black woman who kept muttering to herself, "Lord was a blessed day. What a blessed, blessed day." Well, that just felt like a quintessential southern experience and it made me smile. This bumper sticker also made me smile.

But the puritanical nonsense of having liquor sold only in state stores, which are closed on Sundays, makes my eyes nearly roll out of my head. And the fact that every person in their early 20s that I talked to (at meetups, run club, gym, volunteering) was married already, had kids, and went to church...well, I just can't. Wait, no, there was one sane girl - she was a recent graduate from Wake Forest University. But that's because she was from Colorado and had come here only for school. They'll get her yet.