How do you not talk about religion at the dinner table when you study it full-time?

First dates are awkward. It takes me quite a while to feel comfortable with someone. Granted, everyone has obstacles when getting to know someone but I feel really challenged in this particular instance. As you know, they say that there are two things in particular that you should avoid talking about not only at the dinner table as a general rule but especially when on a date: politics and religion. OK, fair enough. When the question arises, as it inevitably does before the first course even arrives as to what it is that I “do,” I typically say that I am in school full-time. Further pressed, I must then reveal that I am nearly a M. Div. Girls, let me tell you that I have seen friends truthfully reveal to men both that they are married and also that they are lesbians but the look that this particular revelation provokes is a special kind of sudden loss of all centeredness and sense that it is both slightly funny and exhausting. It is as though I just said I am well-practiced in the art of spiritual jujitsu, that I can read his thoughts and that a celestial C.I.A. works in concert with people precisely like me and that I know every slightly sinful thing he has every done. What’s worse, it is somehow automatically assumed that I did not drive there but rather levitated and that when I’m not feeding orphans, knitting sweaters for homeless animals or taking over where Mother Teresa left off I’m obviously in a perpetual state of prayer. 

I am religious but reckless, as far from perfect as anyone and to tell the truth — I sometimes really really dislike revealing “what I do” to people I don’t know well precisely because what they perceive is so far from who I am. I think the main difference between myself and anyone else is my way of seeing, which I hope changes my way of being though certainly not all the time. 


I do realize that since this is one of the most challenging things I have to deal with in my life I am indeed one lucky woman, at least. 


Do you have a similar or shared experience? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.


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