I have been trying to wrap my mind around Southern religion since I got here. Let me start with an anecdote that happened to the wife and I shortly after moving here in March of 2018. Note, we live in the western part of North Carolina. Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee and all a short drive away. Deliverance the movie was filmed not far from here. In fact, from my parents place you can drive to the nearby Walmart (eight miles) and meet the guy who played the kid on the banjo in the beginning of that movie. At least he worked there as late as 2014. Long drawls and extra vowels fill the speech of many who grow up here. While some of the modern world has pushed its way in, Hilly-billy Heaven still has a strong streak here.
What happened was we were driving east on the I-40 when a vehicle whizzed past us and another vehicle going over 80 (they all drive insane here) and then cuts both of us off – the driver behind us almost colliding with the back of our vehicle. We were going about 60 miles an hour, which is about the same as doing 40 mph on any other part of the country. The person who cut us off sticks out his entire arm and flips us off and kept it up there for us for a good half mile before cutting off another person to get into an off-ramp.
The person had a bumper stick. It read:
WHAT WOULD JESUS DO?
This, in essence, sums up the southern religious attitude.
It nagged on me for months. I was suspicious that it was a case of justification by faith alone – sola fide.
Then I was at lunch break last week and a co-worker (whose name, though I cannot repeat, would seem to be made up if I told it, but it is not a possible name outside of where I live) sat next to me and another individual. He started to talk about large slabs of salted and boiled pig’s meat his wife cooks him. Indicating with outstretched arms the size of these size hunks of flesh (three feet and longer) I, amazed and grossed out, asked him jokingly if he went to the cardiologist afterwards.
Being a man without a humor of self he assured me he wasn’t afraid to die. No? I asked. No, he told me. I know where I am going when I die.
And like a tumbler in a lock I had the combination. You believe. Therefore you are free to walk about the cabin and act any way you fucking well please cuz you justified. It explains all the behavior.
I am about to eat dinner, but if it were not for Catholicism, I would have nothing but the same disdain for religion I had most of my life.