My kids with a scary looking bunnyI recently wrote about my hesitancy to perpetuate the myths of the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus. I don't want to belabor that point, but merely reference it because of the nerve I seemed to hit. Many women felt as if I was trying to take something special from them -- something that made up their very identity.
I wondered what generated that sort of attachment and began looking for it in myself. I examined the places where I held a strong opinion about something based solely on my personal background -- and found evidence of it in just about every part of my life. (Except in the area of holiday traditions, since I was raised with the aforementioned fictions.)
Just one example, sticking with the holiday motif -- for Holy Week I went to several different church services around the Florida neighborhood I was visiting, including Catholic, Evangelical, and Episcopalian. What was remarkable to me was the fact that I had a strong preference, based not on the quality of the sermon or the warmth of the congregation, but on the architecture of the church itself.
I grew up going to a building that resembled the great gothic cathedrals of Europe and taking Communion in a structure that could double as a gymnasium just didn't feel like church to me. It was a totally superficial response -- one with no rational justification -- except "this is what I've always done. This is what I like."
Defining ourselves by our random likes or dislikes (determined by nothing more than a coincidence of history) makes us creatures of habit and limits our ability to embrace both new ideas and new experiences.
I am working on having a more open mind -- to see the merit of something I don't understand, or with which I am unfamiliar. It's not easy. I'm still fiercely opinionated. But the next time I go to any church, I will try to ignore the pews/bleachers and remember Christ's words: "Where two or three are joined together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." He makes no mention of the type of building we're in.