Sunday, June 7, 2015


I recently had a visit to a local hospital for some "lab work". That's a nice way to say that I had to go and get some blood drawn. I'm an absolute freak when it comes to needles. When I was a kid (pre-teen, early teen), I needed to have some surgeries, and one of the things they would do is give two shots in either the hip or upper thigh as part of the anesthesia. It would take FIVE nurses to hold me down for the shots. As an adult I say that only two were necessary (WINK!!) I even have trouble watching one of my all-time favorite TV shows: M*A*S*H. Whenever they show a needle I have to turn my head. Pretty phobic!

While at the lab, the staff had to update some of my records in their system, and one of the questions I was asked was what was my religion.

When I joined the Navy at seventeen years old, one of the many questions asked, in the multitude of paperwork, was the same thing: what was my religion. I grew up Roman Catholic, so that is what I put down. Later, when I turned eighteen, I announced to my parents that I was no longer considering myself a Catholic and was no longer going to church. They didn't like it too much, but since I was eighteen, they accepted my decision. That meant that I wanted/needed to contact the Navy to correct my "religion" on the paperwork, which is what I did.

When you arrive in boot camp, one of the things you receive are your dog tags. Dog tags are flat metal plates strung on ceiling fan pool chains that you wear around your neck. There are two tags. One on the main chain, and one on a much smaller chain that is hanging on the big chain. This smaller one is known as a "toe tag". Anyone familiar with shows like CSI should be familiar with the term. On the tags are your name, ID number, branch of service, blood type, and religion. Where it said "religion" it said "NO REL PREF": No Religious Preference.

Here, as I find myself at the end of a sabbatical, I find myself faced with defining the religion I ascribe to. This sabbatical has brought many things to light of where my head/heart/belief structure is, as you can read in past blog posts. I find that labeling my beliefs is much more difficult than it once was. I no longer consider myself Catholic. I've been going (for many years) to a church that jokingly/lovingly calls itself "Bapticostal" (the diligence in study of the bible as the Baptists, with the embrace of the movement and involvement of the Holy Spirit as the Pentecostals). They have been called Charismatic and Non-Denominational. And I have called myself the same.

I could have said "Christian", but the question was concerning my religion. "Christian" literally means "Christ follower", a disciple of Jesus. A relational word that describes a child to their parent. There is a big difference between calling yourself a Christian and calling yourself a Catholic (or Methodist, or Lutheran, or even Bapticostal). And, due to my journey during this sabbatical, I am having a lot of difficulty ascribing myself to one of them.

I turned to the lady and told her NO REL PREF: No Religious Preference.


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