Regional Differences

I knew this move would involve a bit of culture shock. The speed of life is certainly slower here than in Jersey. No one beeps if you don’t move immediately upon the traffic light turning green…in fact, no one moves immediately (why I think most of the traffic exists at rush hour). The accents and my lack of one have us sticking out like a sore thumb. There is such a thing as customer service (everywhere) and baggers (at the grocery store). This state is red politically and Jersey is very blue (despite its current governor who Jerseyans are clearly shocked that he is doing what he promised and they don’t like it, why they voted for him, I am not sure).
I was expecting some culture shock. I was not expecting one of the religious variety. I am not religious. Maybe it’s the hours of forced Catholism from one parent but the other not involved at all. Maybe it’s too much engineering and science. I believe in God (for lack of a better word); I describe myself as areligious, not agnostic or athetist. Whatever it is that makes me feel this way, organized religion is not for me. I find no comfort in it. So much so, when I married Hubby, we had a Jewish ceremony and plan on raising our kid(s) the same. Hubby understands that I’m not interested in the requirements of religion but I do believe everyone should be raised something so that when you grow up, you can decide if it (or some other religion) is for you. And religion does provide some basic morals to follow; all major religions have some basic morals that are the same.
I digress. In my new area, it *is* about religion. “What church do you go to?” is a common getting-to-know-you question. Grocery stores and children’s parks are empty until about 11 or 12 on Sunday mornings when churches let out. You can buy beer in the grocery store but not 2am-12noon Sundays. And there’s only one synagouge in the area.
So how do I answer the question? If I say, “I don’t go.” one of two things happen: 1 – I get the looks that says I’m a heathen or 2 – “You should check out mine! Christ saves!” And sometime both happen. If I answer with “My husband’s Jewish.” or state the synagouge’s name, I am viewed as a curiosity and/or a heathen. I don’t answer that I’m Jewish because it’s not true and I don’t plan on converting. More than you would think, a patient is the one asking and/or trying to spread the word to me, when all I want to do is diagnose pneumonia or diabetes.
I never got any of this in Jersey, except in extreme cases, that even my new neighbors would find extreme. Avoidance of the issue is not an option. I’m going to have to come up with an acceptable answer or two – something quick for work and my patients, something else for potential new friends. I know where I stand; I just need a way to express it that doesn’t make others uncomfortable.
– Areligious

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