Thursday, December 2, 2010

Time, Change, Culture, and This Catholic

I've lived in the same small town, here in central Minnesota, since February of 1986. This is where I finally converted to Catholicism. I'd been 'functionally Catholic' in many ways since before I was married, so the formal conversion was - something of a formality.

Still, there's a big difference between thinking like a Catholic, and formally stating that I am, in fact, a Catholic. I've written about my conversion before.

I've lived in Minnesota's Twin Cities, San Francisco, and a few other places. So, do I miss the libraries, museums, and traffic jams? A little.

But I love living here. I'll get to one of the reasons in a bit.

What's important, in the context of this post, is that I was born into a nice mainstream Protestant household. My parents were fairly sensible folks, which is more than I can say for quite a few of the painfully 'Christian' outfits in the area.

That was Then

I can't remember a time when I didn't recognize that Jesus was important - in general, and particularly to me as well. I was, deliberately, a Christian.

So, as my adolescence was merging into adulthood, I decided to check out the titles in a Christian bookstore. I like books, you see. I read. A lot. Going into a Christian bookstore seemed like a sensible idea.

I went in, looked around, and went out again.

A while later I went into another Christian bookstore. Looked around, went out: and didn't go into another Christian bookstore for over a decade.

You see, I was looking for books about Christianity. What I'd found, besides Bibles, fell into three main categories. Books explaining why:
  • Evolution was the work of the devil
  • The Catholic Church was
    • Satanic
    • Evil
    • Un-American
    • Evil, I tell you!
  • The End Times were coming
That's a slight exaggeration - but not by much. Looking back on that twisted version of Christianity,1 I've speculated that quite a few of the folks who subscribe to that cluster of beliefs - aren't very happy. And that's another topic.

Like I said, it was a decade or more before I went into a bookstore with the word "Christian" in the name. I'd had quite enough.

Then, while we were living in Dunseith, North Dakota, my wife said that I should check out a book-and-gift shop in a nearby town. "Nearby" by North Dakota standards, that is.

"Christian" was, as I recall, in the name of the store - but my wife was right. No surprises there.

This store was - different. No racks of hate literature. They even sold - prayer cards? Rosaries?!! In a Christian bookstore? These people must use the term "Christian" the way I do - "relating to or characteristic of Christianity" (Princeton's WordNet)

This is Now

Sauk Centre, the town I've called home for almost a quarter-century, is mostly Catholic. And no: I didn't convert to 'fit in.' I take my faith too seriously for that. Or maybe I'm just too stubborn.

Statistically, with a population of around 4,000, a few jerks probably live here: and some of those might be Catholics. I wouldn't know: the folks I've met so far are okay. I'm wandering off-topic again.

Anyway, it's a good place to live. Provided you don't mind living where water is a mineral for much of the year. This is 'down south' for me - and that's yet again another topic.

I don't know whether it's a matter of regional culture, the Catholic majority who live here, or whether I'm looking at change wrought by the passing of decades - but Sauk Centre has a "Christian Books and Gifts" store that's like that book and gift store near Dunseith, North Dakota. It's called Hidden Treasure.

I don't mind going in. At all.

In fact, I was there yesterday, getting a few photos and facts for my Sauk Centre Journal.

Now that my shameless self-promotion is out the way, back to Hidden Treasure. Here's a photo from that Sauk Centre Journal post:

Hidden Treasure, Sauk Centre, near the front door. December 1, 2010.

Sometimes Change is Good

This is another case where I don't mind living 'here' and 'now.' Yes, the present time has its troubles: I wrote about one less-than-cheery aspect of Catholicism today, yesterday. ("Today, yesterday?!" Syntactic cacophony!)

But the 'good old days' had its troubles, too.

While recognizing that this isn't a perfectly perfect world, I think it's okay to think about things that have improved over the last half-century. Like diaper changing tables in the Mens lavatory. (November 10, 2010)

Like I said, I don't know if it's the place I live now, or the passing of years: but Hidden Treasure is not the sort of "Christian" bookstore I remember from the 'good old days' - and for that, I'm grateful.

That first photo is in the part of the store nearest the entrance. The knickknacks there are pretty standard-issue stuff: a seasonal angel with some sort of trumpet; a bunch of - snow globes? - and coffee mugs.

Going a little deeper into the store, it gets more interesting. For me, anyway.

Old favorites, something about the Bible - and Saints?! December 1, 2010.

Books about God, hope, and caring - in a Christian bookstore? All right! December 1, 2010.

Lots of little 'angels,' and - - - crosses? Nope: Take a closer look. December 1, 2010.

Crucifixes, lots of them: and NAB Bibles. Also one of those rosaries that you hang on the wall. December 1, 2010.

I gather that the 'rock and roll is the work of the Devil' thing isn't as widely popular now, as it was back in the sixties. Rockers growing up and having families may have had something to do with that. My kids have asked me to turn the volume down, now and again - and I'm drifting off-topic again.

Or, not so much.

Looking over a rack of music CDs, I noticed this selection, near the bottom:

Nostalgia - 21st century style. December 1, 2010.

Rock and roll and Christian music? This isn't the seventies any more. Can't say that I'm sorry about that.

Sort-of-related posts:
1 Bible-thumpers aren't the only folks with - odd - notions about the Catholic Church:

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From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.