I was sitting at a sidewalk table the other day, having a beer. At the next table were three women in their forties, speaking with southern accents. Why is it that southern accents seem so often to mean
Christian? As I sipped, I overheard fragments, here and there, of their conversation, and every fragment had something to do with God, praying, or being Christian.
Every day I get up, and I ask God to forgive me for anything I did yesterday.
My first thought on hearing that was to wonder what value there would be — to God or to a real person — in such a series of generic apologies.
Whatever I might have done, I’m sorry. No, that doesn’t cut it. Be specific. Acknowledge what you did, and apologize specifically for it. And then don’t do it again.
That ties into this one, of course:
If you’re Christian, even if you make a mistake, every day’s new.
If you’re Jewish or Muslim or Buddhist... or, of course, and especially, atheist... you’re screwed. You make a mistake, and that’s it. Christian, though, well, just get up every morning and tell God you’re sorry, and everything resets.
On the other hand, the Jews, who just went through this process the other week on Yom Kippur, batch it all up for once a year. Spend a day fasting and gathering in prayer, asking generic forgiveness for all the bad things that you’ve all, collectively done over the past year. But feel guilty from day to day; it’s good for the soul.
Later in the conversation, as they talked about their children, one said this:
I pray that I won’t pass down to them all of my dysfunction.
But she is, of course: she’s undoubtedly teaching them her silly superstitions, and showing them how to be dysfunctional and yet start over every day.