Had I remained in Tampa, I would have never thought about blogging. In fact, before we moved, I didn't even know what a blog was. I was familiar with the internet and found it a wonderful tool to keep in touch with family, take online classes, research issues, find recipes, get homeschooling ideas, and reserve books and other media at the local library. I really didn't want to leave Tampa. The one thing that really bugged me about living there was the materialistic, consumeristic mentality. I had a friend who bought her 9 year old a cell phone, "for emergencies," as if this child would ever be in a place where she didn't have a phone or adult to turn to in a difficult situation. Then there was the time I was at a baby shower for one of my husband's colleagues. I heard her telling someone that she had just had a silk window treatment made for one window in her home and that "it was very reasonable, only three thousand dollars." My mouth fell open as I thought, "why not spend one thousand and donate the rest to charity?" It seemed that everyone was into keeping up with the Joneses and then upping them one. I had had enough and agreed to the move to Virginia.
However, I was not prepared for some of the culture shock I experienced, mainly as it pertained to religion. Yes, I had lived in the bible belt for over 20 years; yes, I'm a Christian, had been a longtime member of our local Methodist church and even taught Sunday school. Our pastor was a well-educated man with the title "Dr." in front of his name. He allowed Harry Potter in our church library because it is a delightful fantasy; he did not allow the Left Behind series in it as these books are poorly written fiction masquerading as theology, bad theology. In Tampa I had friends of all faiths and no faith. Even though we didn't agree on everything, we got along just find. My first month here told me that was not necessarily the case here.
Some of the things I encountered after our move (in no particular order):
The homeschooling mom who was upset at the Christian home school skate day because she was not quite sure that the music was Christian music - she couldn't understand the lyrics. I wanted to shout, "if you can't understand the lyrics, what difference does it make?" Other mothers at that same skating rink had a problem with some of the Christian music - it was too "hard core" - whatever that meant. As a music minister once told me, the only thing that makes music Christian is the lyrics.
I met a woman who did not believe in dinosaurs. Why? Because they weren't mentioned in the bible! Penguins, kangaroos, viruses, and bacteria aren't mentioned either. Does that mean they don't exist?
Then I got into a debate with the man installing telephone lines at my house. I have a Quaker bumper sticker that says "War is Not the Answer." He thought he would take the opportunity to witness to me, believing me to be a nonbeliever, and proceeded to tell me about all the wars that God called for in the Old Testament. I pointed out that 1) the bumper sticker was a Christian one and 2) Jesus was the Prince of Peace and never advocated war. He left me alone after that.
Then when I asked one of the local homeschooling mothers about the dual-enrollment program that the community college, she told me it was a very simple procedure: "Just have the home school principal - that would be your husband - write a letter to the college." My husband? The principal??!! Now, I love my husband very much - he's an awesome spouse and parent, and has even helped with homeschooling. But he is definitely not the principal.
So, I began to feel very, very isolated in this small community. I found myself on the internet (dial up, unfortunately), googling a variety of topics, including "liberal Christianity," starting to doubt that there were other people like me. I even had a faith crisis, believing that unless I was a card-carrying, Bush-supporting Republican, then I wasn't really a Christian. But then I discovered Jim Wallis and Sojourners magazine. I also found the world of blogs and found women like me. Women who were stay-at-home, homeschooling mothers; women who lived in the country and believed in living green; women who loved farm animals and yet considered themselves "girly girls:' women who shared their thoughts and struggles and dreams. I was hooked on their blogs. And now I feel that I should stop taking and give back, in the hopes that my blog might, in some small way, help a woman who is struggling with some of the same issues. My message to them: You are not alone. God Bless.