Susan Dennis (susandennis) wrote,
Susan Dennis


I suspect that personal religion is still a big piece of local mores in Winston-Salem these days but not nearly what it was in the 50's and 60's. The rep about the South was that every new acquaintance started with Who's your Daddy? and What church do you belong to? Not far from the truth at all.

There was massive religious diversity. Kinda. Within a narrow scope. My friends were all Methodist and Baptist and Episcopalians and Presbyterians and Moravians. I was probably 12 or so before I ever met a person who did not attend Sunday School and church every single Sunday and the Baptists went on Wednesday nights as well.

We belonged to a denomination that was fairly good sized in Oklahoma but tiny in North Carolina. Disciples of Christ. Our church was an old, crusty building downtown called First Christian Church. We were basically casual Presbyterians. When I was about 8, the church moved out of downtown into a fine, new building where it stands today. We spent a lot of time there. Every Sunday, of course, but sometimes Sunday evenings and other times as well. Both my parents sung in the Choir and we were all in the children's choir at one time or another.

I never really bought into the deal. It just didn't make much sense to me. And much of what they were teaching was that we needed to bring non believers into the fold. Apparently these non believers were prolific but I sure didn't know any. Plus, if I did, I'd tell them to go to First Baptist because they had an indoor skating rink at their church.

But church - whichever one - was tightly woven into the fabric of the life of everyone I knew. It was very subtle, expected and foundational. Once the What-church-do-you-belong-to question was answered, the subject rarely came up again.

We said a prayer before meals at home but never before meals anywhere else. We said prayers before bed but everyone did. Otherwise church stuff was confined to the walls of the actual church.

This was NOT evangelical at all. It was assumed (not really incorrectly) that everything was Protestant Christian and shared the same values. So no need to even discuss. And, in fact, it was a little gauche to discuss.

Of all my friends at school, there were 2 (sisters) Catholic kids and Hal Kaplan who was basically a class hero because, it seemed, he got out of school for most of the fall for some Jewish holiday or another.

The Moravians (a Christian denomination) had founded Winston-Salem in the mid 1700's so there was a lot of that and they have fabulous Christmas rituals. Good eats and pretty services and songs enjoyed by everyone regardless of any other affiliation.

None of that, however, stuck. I left Winston-Salem when I graduated from high school and only went back once for a brief visit. I pretty much left all organized religion at the same time. Interesting how something so ingrained for so many years can be excised so easily.

To Be Continued
Tags: tbc
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