Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Jesus Saves and Table Manners in Mississippi

So, I just got back to Houston from traveling for two days through Mississippi for my new engineering job.  I went to some pretty rural places, including Lumberton, Tylertown (population about 2000), and Liberty.  I stayed overnight in Hattiesburg (population 45,000).  You might think over a two day trip for work that religion didn't come up, but you'd be sadly mistaken.  First of all, we couldn't drive a mile without seeing a church or a sign saying 'Praise Jesus!'  or 'Jesus saves!'  and so on. 

Last night when I was at the hotel, I went down to the lounge for a free drink and ended up talking to some really nice folks.  Of course, religion came up - it is the south after all!  So, I gritted my teeth and said that I am an Atheist.  Oh my goodness did I regret that!  One guy got so mad he had to get up and leave the table.  He kept saying, 'How can you believe that nothing happens after you die!  You've never known nothingness!'  I kept starting to say things back to him, but then he would interrupt me and say the same thing again.  Then he said, 'That just pisses me off' and he left for a while.  At least I didn't get the 'How can you be a moral person without God?'  That one is really annoying.  Other than during the religion talk, I really enjoyed talking with these two guys, but I hope someday that telling someone I'm an Atheist will not scare them or make them so mad that they have to leave the table.

Today at lunch, we ate at a home cooking place that has big tables with a lazy susan in the middle.  The tables seat about 15 people and you sit with whoever comes into the restaurant at the same time as you.  There are large dishes of food, and everyone turns the lazy susan to the dish they want and serves themselves.  This was at McComb, MS, population about 13,500.  I guess it's not so strange in a small town where everyone knows each other, but can you imagine eating at a big table with a bunch of strangers in New York, Los Angeles or even Houston?  Needless to say, it was a little uncomfortable for this big city girl.  It didn't help that as we all sat down, one older gentleman asked who was going to 'thank the Lord' for our meal.  At least no one offered to do so, and thus I avoided an even more uncomfortable situation than eating at a table with strangers. 

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