For most of my life, Sunday was my least favorite day of the week. Mom considered the day sacred as all get out, to the point where we had to go to church twice that day. It was a practice that was never explained to me, at least not to my satisfaction… as if anyone cared about the fifth child of seven being satisfied.
The argument for a morning and evening service on Sundays had to do with the rule that you’re supposed to attend church any time the doors are open. Truth is, the doors were never left wide open at the church building. So, technically, I should’ve been able to say, “Oops, the doors are shut, Mother. That means we must go home and watch Walt Disney World.”
I could’ve argued that point as accurately as the guy who decided we had to go to church twice in one day, but kids didn’t argue all that much back then. When Jesus said, “Suffer the little children to come unto me…” He meant we had to really SUFFER before we could come to Him. That was pretty much the implication of the message as it related to us.
Back then, Sunday was known as the day of rest. God rested on the seventh day, so we were supposed to rest on the first day of the week. Another one of those things that confused the daylights out of kids. Well, at least it did to me.
In Texas, as in many states back in The Day, to rest on Sunday meant that stores should not be opened. Laws were passed to make it a crime for certain stores to remain open on Sundays. They were called Blue Laws. The laws were called “Blue” because… I have no idea. (Even scholars can’t agree on the reasoning.)
The blue laws evolved over the years. Man didn’t evolve, but his laws did. After awhile, stores could open, but they could only sell certain essentials. They could sell bread, but not toothbrushes. Hammers, but no nails. An ear of corn, but not a pot to cook it in. Most stores just stayed closed on Sundays, ‘cause it got too complicated to figure out what was lawful to sell.
Nowadays you can sell just about anything on a Sunday, except beer from a liquor store, or a car from an auto dealership that was open on Saturday. If you sell cars, you must pick either Saturday or Sunday to be open, but not both… in Texas. I don’t know what they do in the normal world.
Today, stores that close on Sunday are the exception, not the rule. “Chick Fil A” and “Hobby Lobby” come to mind. The owners of those establishments are well respected among religious groups all over the country for their decision to close on Sundays.
However, when churches let out around noonish on Sunday, people leave the parking lot and head for Luby’s or Whataburger or Golden Corral. We may respect the daylights out of Chick Fil A, but, at the same time, we are a reasonable people. Eating out Sunday is part of the church-going experience.
This is just some of the stuff that gets people upset with religion. People might agree on “faith,” but we will never all agree on the methods for expressing our faith. With that in mind, I have likely upset many readers by giving my view on faith vs religion. The topic is not only controversial, it’s way too serious for me. Last week I wrote about “Shoes” and this week I’m writing about religion. So, before closing, I’m going to take the religion out of Sunday, and tell you the main reason for my dread of Sundays past.
There was a time when I always had to do schoolwork on a Sunday night. I was not among the few, the chosen that finished their homework Friday night, so they’d have the rest of the weekend free. That was pretty much lunacy to me.
It took me 12 years to get a high school diploma and seven years to get a couple of degrees. I mention that as a way of bragging and as a way of expressing that for 19 years worth of Sundays, I worried about schoolwork that was due on Monday. On each one of those non-summer Sunday nights, I started my homework at around 7:30, but I dreaded it the entire day. I carried dread around like a refrigerator full of hammers.
After my school days, guess what? I became a teacher. That gave me 26 more years worth of Sundays where I had to prepare lessons, grade papers, study up on the Electoral College and Marbury vs Madison and the Federalist Papers, just so I could give the impression to some teenagers that I knew what I was talking about. I was a good actor.
Magically, when I retired, Sundays became the best of days. I actually enjoy going to church now that I don’t have to. And, Kay and I usually go out to eat after church. How good is that?
During Sunday afternoon I’ll watch football in season and non-sports stuff when football is over. At some point I’ll take a nap. And, get this -- There’s seldom anything I really need to do to prepare for Monday.
So, my dread of Sundays has vanished with age. My age. I’m dreadless, yet, full of guilt. Guilt for having it so good. That’s a part of my religious upbringing. It ties into that “Suffer the children…” thing. That’s hard to get out of your mind, you know that?