Here’s something I didn’t learn for the first time this week, but which was recently reaffirmed: People don’t mind talking politics and religion, as long as the person they’re talking with largely agrees with them. Disagree on too many points or too vigorously, and the conversation can come to an abrupt end – or a sudden fight.
While a good fight can be a cleansing experience, most of us would rather avoid the aggravation. As a result, the MSNBC News crowd generally doesn’t play bingo at the Fox News media center. When it comes to religion, there aren’t too many church picnics where a group of Mormons have gathered to enjoy a bit of egg salad and watermelon with the Presbyterians from down the street. Instead of trying to understand one another, we’ve all decided the other guy is wrong and we’d rather not hear anything they’ve got to say.
This is how weird it’s gotten: When Glynn and I published our novel, The Atheist’s Daughter, under our non-romance pseudonym, we had readers tell us they wouldn’t buy the book because the heroine’s mother was an atheist. It didn’t matter that the heroine’s best friend and romantic interest was deeply religious. Since those readers never bought and read the book, they’ll never know about him.
The title was my choosing, by the way, and we walked from an attractive contract to keep it. I wanted that title because I intended for us to do a three-volume set of stories: The Atheist’s Daughter, The Preacher’s Son and The Minister’s Wife. I’ve often wondered if our sales struggled because of the title I wanted for Book One. I’ll never know for certain. I do know that there are several novels out there entitled The Preacher’s Son, but no other publisher has come out with another Atheist’s Daughter.
All of which came back to me when our neighborhood’s get-together luncheon was canceled on Saturday, secondary to gale force winds. Instead of going home, I joined my friend, Sue, and her friend, Thorny. (“Thorny” isn’t her real name, of course. She’s a nice woman with a very pleasant, ordinary name. Wouldn’t it be cool if her name was Thorny, though? I want that name!)
We were all discussing music when Thorny volunteered that she used to like Bruce Springsteen’s songs. Even though the music hadn’t changed, Thorny no longer listened to the songs because of Bruce’s outspoken political beliefs. She didn’t mind that he had political beliefs, she told me, she simply felt he shouldn’t share his with the rest of the world.
“What if you shared the same beliefs?” I asked. I assumed she didn’t. “What if Bruce came out in a way that supported your party?”
It took her a minute to think. “That would probably be okay. But I’d rather he not say anything at all.”
Then Thorny shared that she no longer enjoyed Jim Carrey movies (because the actor sang a song about Charlton Heston and, as I understand it, in favor of gun control) and she’d stopped watching Harry Potter films, because Daniel Radcliffe had revealed that he was an atheist. I volunteered that I no longer followed Woody Allen’s projects and hadn’t for years, but she didn’t ask why. Maybe women of a certain age already know why.
There was one other actor who Thorny avoided these days, too. “Tom Cruise.”
I wondered, “Is it because he’s a Scientologist?”
“Because he seems so pleased with himself,” Thorny said. “Whenever I see him on screen, that’s the feeling I get. I think he likes himself too much.”
I didn’t have a response for that. I’m guessing there are many, many celebrities who are pleased with themselves, and several of them have good cause for those feelings. If I was as successful as the top stars, or was as genetically-blessed as they appear to be, I’d be ordering more mirrors for the house at this very second. (Well, no, I’d be sipping my expresso. I’d have one of my assistants do it.) Or maybe I’d have more sense than that. Maybe I’d realize that I’d gotten lucky, and decide to make-do with the twenty-four mirrors in my fifteen bedroom mansion.
I’d keep Glynn, too. Stephen Amell, you’ll have to find a different Sugar Mama.
Except for Mr. Allen, I don’t have too many celebrities on my “Don’t Watch” list. I don’t tend to follow anyone’s latest tweets, posts, Instagram messages, or Facebook musings, so I don’t know or care about their political and religious leanings. Consequently, I can continue to watch Gotham and Agents of Shield and Supernatural without feeling grumpy about the actors on those shows. In other words, Clark Gregg, you’re still my guy.
I do try to keep up with the Real Housewives, but those women don’t seem like celebrities to me. They’re more like the trashy neighbors in the really big house at the end of the street. It doesn’t matter what they mutter about God or country because they’re crazy. When they talk, I giggle.
When it comes to you and me, I’d like us to get along so, while we can talk politics and religion, I’d rather we not. Not on this blog, not on this website. But if you want to discuss Phaedra Parks and those Atlanta girls with me – Can you believe that last reunion show? – I’ll brew you a cuppa and we’ll have a fine time.
See you next week.