Monday, February 5, 2007

A Prayer before a Meal…

I sat quietly over at Rodger’s Barbeque today eating a lunch of a pulled pork barbeque sandwich, a cup of Brunswick stew, and a bag of potato chips. I managed to arrive early enough that the restaurant had yet to grow filled with the noon time lunch crowd. The same elderly couple I had seen at Merl’s Diner the other morning was also eating lunch at Rodger’s today. They once again prayed silently before their meal. I don’t know why seeing that show of religiosity makes me so uncomfortable. Maybe it is because I associate such religiousness with intolerance, mental illness, and close mindedness.
If you see me with a bible then you know I am not long for a visit to the mental hospital and am most likely not taking my medications.
“Honey, do you need anything else?” The waitress asked me pulling me out of my people watching stupor.

“Get me another barbeque sandwich, please,” I replied as she left me to disappear back into the kitchen.

Rodger’s has some of the best barbeque in the area. My cousin, who lives in Hong Kong, always eats there religiously when he is in the states. He has been known to buy a few pounds of the pulled pork and a quart of that wonderful Brunswick stew and gorge himself upon them.

I then finished my other sandwich, wiped my face and hands with my napkin, and left a tip of two dollars upon the table.

“Put this on my tab,” I told the cashier as I handed her my ticket.

She smiled as she looked at me with her one good eye and told me she would see me tomorrow. I try not to stare at her glass eye, but catch myself doing it. That one artificial eye always wanders off into the distance as if looking off into space. It is so hard for it not to illicit a fascinated stare.

As I walked home, I thought of that elderly couple once again and their blatant parade of their religion. The only time I have ever been religious in my life was when I wasn’t medicated for my schizophrenia and grew to believe God and Jesus were speaking to me with various signs and codes through the television. I would keep a journal of these various “speakings of God and Jesus” every night. My favorite avenue for these signs and codes was the nightly news broadcasts. All of this drove my then wife crazy with concern and exasperation. If you see me with a bible then you know I am not long for a visit to the mental hospital and am most likely not taking my medications.


Amanda said...

It's perfectly understandable to me why you would feel this way, I'd feel the same.

Not-faint-hearted said...

I understand why "religiosity" evokes images of intolerant, close minded people. And I respect your right to not want to participate.

But you said they were praying silently over their meal. I'm not sure how that's a "blatant parade of their religion." If they had sung, or prayed loudly, or asked/forced the entire restuarant to join them somehow...but praying silently? Seems a little harsh to accuse them of blatant parading.

I'm just asking. I don't mean to chastise or belittle your opinion. As someone who prays over meals, I feel a little hurt that you lump me (and that elderly couple) in with all the religious zealots out there who ARE intolerant, unstable or close minded. No group can be painted with that broad a brush.

Big Ass Belle said...

hey! i found you by pressing forward on my blog. you write exceptionally well.

i understand your feelings about the excessive religious zeal. i share them to a degree. i am spiritual, not religious, and that has been a key for me in recovering from alcoholism and other addictions.

we had a little saying in aa that when the sober drunks start toting bibles, they're not long for sobriety.

i am not sure why there is this connection. the bible is full of love and generosity and wonderful things, yet the popular view of christians today is that they are full of hatred and divisiveness and condemnation.

that's certainly true in many cases, but i suspect the true christians are flying under the radar, living their convictions, loving, caring, practicing compassion.

anyway, kudos to you for your insight and your expression here. i sponsored a number of women in aa who were bipolar and two who were schizophrenic. take those meds.


Anonymous said...

Gods love is there for you if you ask for it. He and his son can even cure you of your schizophrenia if you have faith in him. I would hate to see someone with your talents spend an eternity in hell.

Andrew said...

Surely, the above comment is a joke! Who jests? LOL

Wait...I just prayed for god to remove my schizophrenia. Hey, I feel a tingling sensation! No, crap, that was just gas. Oh well, back to taking my medications.

Anonymous said...

Quite frankly, if seeing an elderly couple praying silently before a meal in public elicits such a response from you, you might want to see if your doctors can increase your dosage ...

Just a thought.

Andrew said...

But taking a higher dosage will only make me less religious! Oh...what a conundrum!

Anonymous said...

You missed the point entirely, but then again, after reading through your blog I see you tend toward that a lot. You see, your view on religion or your views on it isn't really the concern, Andy.

The concern is your apparent need to take affront at someone else, in this case an elderly couple, expressing their religious freedom in a way that doesn't intrude upon your life in any meaningful way.

Schizophrenia is the least of your disorders, man.

Andrew said...

Well, this is just the sort of claptrap I would expect from expressing an opinion, on my own blog, on such a subject. I wasn't affronted. It just made me uncomfortable if you will re-read my post. Intolerance indeed. I am not surprised though. I see it everyday in all walks of life when it regards this subject. Feel free to start your own blog as a sounding board for your views and refrain from using ad hominem attacks on my own.

Summer said...

Go Andrew, Go Andrew, Go Andrew. Uhoh, now this coward will come over to my place and spew forth.

Oh well.

Jacin said...

With apologies for the previous 'anonymous' poster, can I ask what it is about exactly about those people praying it was that made you upset (which I gather it did from your use of the phrase "blatant parade of their religion")?

Is it that you associate religion (ie: God and Jesus) with being off of your meds and God talking to you through the evening news?

Do you presume based on those personal experiences that only those in need of medication of some sort would be "crazy" enough believe in God and/or Jesus?

Just trying to find out where you're coming from,

Gledwood said...

hi you keep coming up when I press that random next button at the top ive already got you in my links ... you've got a great blog going here, all the best!


Andrew said...


“Blatant parade of their religion” was probably a poor choice of words on my part. No, I don’t think all religious people are mentally ill or need to be medicated. That would be preposterous to think so. I was speaking only for myself and my own experiences with my schizophrenia as it regards to religion. I was mainly using that experience today as a vehicle to lead into writing about my mental illness and how it affected me at times. Sorry if I offended anyone.


Claudia said...

Andrew: Don't be sorry for expressing your opinions. I went to Catholic school for much of my life and I still feel uncomfortable when I see people praying over a meal. It's not that I begrudge their right to do it. Hell, I may even envy them for having the type of faith my cynicism has not allowed me to attain. For me, it's just a matter of not being accustomed to it. It's different, so it's not comfortable. Keep on expressing your views and observations. People will sometimes disagree, but they shouldn't take offense. It should not threaten their faith any for someone to express an honest observation.

latibug said...

You know I can see both sides of this arguement...on one side you have people that pray in public..whether they do it for show or because it is really their belief is none of our business.

On the other hand I can see where it can make people uncomfortable and may seem like they are trying to look down on others that choose to not pray before a meal.

Either way, we are given the freedom of choice in this country. We can choose to be religious or not, we can choose to believe or not, we can choose to pray in public or not. Either way, our choice is just that OUR choice. It doesn't make anyone bad or less of a person because they choose or don't choose to pray.

Sorry for the ramble...


thatsagoodmeatball said...

yeah, I pressed "next blog" too and yours came up! Great writing! And a very interesting blog! I am a Christian (who also probably flies under the radar, as I don't shoot abortion doctors, yet I also disagree with them) who can see your point, but who also disagrees. I pray over my meals in public too, but try to keep it simple and private. Like most others, I also do not understand why opinions offend people! It's a perfect platform for a civilized arguement/conversation!

I also had a comment about your thoughts about religion being a relatively new concept. You're assuming its a new concept because your assuming we've evolved over millions of years. You're using your presuppositions to determine truth. I am using the Bible to determine truth, and the Bible has never contradicted science (I say religion has been in this earth since day 1). Just some food for thought. People tend to exclude certain truths because they have a starting point which naturally leads them down a path of exclusive beliefs. Obviously you're free to make your own choices, just thought I would bring up something often left out of conversations.

Keep up the great writing!

Nocturnal said...

Hi Andrew,

Yeah well religion is a very sensitive issue but I guess i knw where you're coming from. I was brought up in a strict Catholic home, I was very involved at church and was doing pretty ok. But something happened one day i just stopped goin to church. i began questioning and i am still questioning. This scares me sometimes to think that all i was brought up to believe in might not be true. i think that for you, religion and your illness is intertwined and that scares you. But like you said, everyone has a right to believe what they want. To those who consider themselves religious just pray for those who dont - it would be a win-win situation!!