I need to get this "religion and manners" thing off my chest, so please ignore reading it if you are so inclined.
I was raised in Southern Baptist churches, although I quit them 40 years ago thanks to a differing belief in prejudice, compassion, understanding and caring. Since then I have explored many of the world's religions, and none entirely fit the bill. So for many years, my spirituality has been homegrown, taking in bits and pieces that resonated from diverse world religions.
I'm quite content with the beliefs and serenity I have found, for they sustain me.
However, my point in this post is NOT about a belief system, but actions by the people and institutions that profess them, and how (or not) they act on them.
In the common urge of mankind to want to meet like-minded people, I recently decided that I'd explore the local Universalist Unitarian Church because they accept and honor people of all faiths, and individually they practice (much as I do) in adopting bits and pieces of each.
How can people make us feel like pariahs (or at least feel invisible) when they've never even spoken to us, and yet acclaim they are open and accepting?
Do you think it was my werewolf costume? (Just kidding!)
In the churches of my youth, no visitor would have gone without being greeted and acknowledged, but was that because of the actual beliefs of the congregation, or simply how people acted back then?
My question is: Does this recent experience speak of a general (global) trend away from being friendly and welcoming to folks we don't know (in our houses of worship, in our community, in our immediate neighborhood, and in public gatherings)? Have we become so frightened of Strangers? And, am I guilty too, on some level? Are we truly living in a society so self-absorbed that nobody cares?
I was living in this house I now call home for 2 years before a neighbor brought a (welcoming?) gift of some home-canned tomato juice, and I think that was only because I had left some cut flowers on her doorstep 2 weeks before. The only neighbors I know well have never invited me to share a meal, even on holidays like Thanksgiving when they knew I was living alone with no family nearby (before my sis and her grown kid arrived), and they always had gobs of family AND friends coming off and on all day for the feast.
When I moved here, I really expected that despite being rural (or maybe because of it) in the first 1-3 months of being here, someone would stop by with a casserole or a pie and welcome me to the neighborhood, since there are almost never any newcomers. It never happened.
I've hosted many a Thanksgiving dinner where I invited all the strays I knew, whether college students who couldn't go home for the holiday when I lived in Boone, or single people with no family when I lived in Atlanta. It always made me feel good to share.