You know what would be delightful? To maybe watch television, or just sit around the house, or take a ride in the car without my father bringing up religion.
Father is a master at turning any conversation into a lecture about faith. Anything he reads, sees or hears in the media is a prompt for him to hold forth on spirituality. Good God, I’ve even seen the man be inspired by weather patterns.
Know that we are not alone, and that there exists a power greater than anything we can conceive of on this Earth, he says.
Know that the courage of faith is a bravery surpassing that of the assembled armies of the Earth, he says.
Faith will be tested, he says. Faith will be rewarded, he says.
And says, and says, and says.
Please don’t misunderstand. I am a believer. I have been brought up in the faith, and strive to adhere to it. However, I find it increasingly difficult to be a blind follower. For if we fear to ask questions of faith, is that not an admission of doubt? An acknowledgement that our faith – our rock, our shield – cannot withstand the slightest scrutiny?
Father will have none of this, and our exchanges escalate into shouts and angry tears.
“Know that we have been blessed beyond measure,” he says, a pointed finger trembling inches from my face. “Never forget, boy.”
Still, my questions persist. Lately, they grow in number.
Forgive me. I don’t mean to be so critical of my father. He is unshakable in his belief, and that can be inspiring. I think of my mother’s recent passing. A man less devout might have abandoned his convictions, strayed from his path. Not my father.
I’ll also admit that, to those not ceaselessly subjected to his spoutings, father is quite charming. The impression he gives is not that of a wild-eyed zealot. He’s patiently persuasive, and has a certain charisma. Several people in our town have come ‘round to his way of thinking, and they include some of our more notable residents – elected officials, captains of industry, members of law enforcement.
Good friends to have.
I can see many of them now, as father and I enter the clearing in the woods behind our home. Some avert their eyes; they’re new. Others offer a friendly wave and a warm smile.
Father is at it again, telling me about the demands of faith and the comfort that awaits after our earthly trials have ceased. A comfort no less than eternity!
All this talk about religion goes a long way toward explaining why my sister is bound upon the altar.
It doesn’t make what I’ve been told I have to do any easier.