I’m reading an interesting book by David Grann called “The Devil and Sherlock Holmes.” It’s a collection of true stories about murder, madness and obsession. The first story is about this guy who is obsessed with Sherlock Holmes and the author A. Conan Doyle. There are a number of societies dedicated to the study of Sherlock Holmes. Some people are so caught up with the master detective they believe he is a real person and the author is only someone who chronicled the events of his life. Some actors who have played the role of Holmes have become possessed by the character and it has ruined their career or driven them crazy. Basil Rathbone and Jeremy Brett are examples.
All of this got me to thinking about stereotypes. Many folks are the stereotype of a particular profession or belief. The manner of dress stereotypes people. We know it is an Indian if the person is wearing a feathered headdress and carrying a tomahawk or a cowboy if wearing a ten-gallon hat and boots and has a big belt buckle.
There are certain behaviors, characteristics and sets of beliefs that stereotype or define a group. Religious beliefs and practices are an example. My spouse and I starting a game the other evening of naming various religious denominations and immediately naming their identifying characteristic. Here are some examples:
Baptist - no dancing or drinking and serve on committees
Methodist – social organization that sprinkles
Episcopalians – rich folks who are more educated
Presbyterian – not as rich as Episcopalians but otherwise the same
Church of Christ – no instrumental music in Church and believe they are the only ones going to heaven.
Assembly of God - the women are pallid and pudgy with no makeup and have unshaven legs and a bun hairdo. Roll on the floor and speak in tongues.
Cults – the women look like Assembly of God but are more skinny with larger bun hairdos and dress like pioneers with long skirts.
Catholics – priest and pope call all the shots and the church members are mindless non-bible readers and the women cover their heads with scarves when in church. The priests are gays and pedophiles
Jehovah’s Witness - People knocking on your door with literature.
Mormons – guys dressed with a tie, riding bikes through the neighborhood. They end up with several wives.
Jews – pushy folks who are greedy and stingy.
Muslims – women are covered from head to toe with veils and robes and the men are covered with hair and wear turbans. Men carry machine guns to kill infidels
Hindus – people wrapped in sheets who appear to be starving
I know all the above is politically incorrect and will make many folks mad, but unfortunately this is how they are generally perceived. Unfortunately, none of these initial impressions or stereotypes provokes a response of what the religious denomination really stands for or represents.
My main sanctuary and place of worship is the porch, so I am probably perceived as a guy in a devil suit, sitting in a rocking chair with a poison pen and loud mouth. As the book I’m reading illustrates, a character like Sherlock Holmes can obsess and steal your soul. Regrettably, souls have been stolen and consumed by organized religion and have been separated from their intended purpose as defined by the Nazarene.