If you've never been to Spain and you like to travel, put it on your bucket list.
I've been returning to Spain for twelve years, often staying for my 90-day limit on my passport. There are loads of reasons why I fell in love with Spain, but one that I often fail to remember is that like much of Europe, Spain is far more secular than the US. That's no small accomplishment considering their crushing history with the Catholic church. Spaniards, however, aren't all that religious these days. Oh, sure, they still have big weddings in their ancient cathedrals which attract loads of tourists, but regular attendance has dropped off, dramatically. And, even if there are a few diehard old women that still carry their rosary beads close to their hearts, for the most part, I rarely run into that special breed of Christian that is peculiar to the US — what I like to call the cross-eyed cousins of Christianity.
You know what I'm talking about.
The thousands of little splinter groups spread across the midwest, deep south and good old Texas that foster ignorance, patriarchy and superstition. Some of the groups aren't so little either. The Mormons and the Jehovah Witnesses come to mind as two large groups that are particularly aggressive proselytizers with a weird history of an all-American homegrown variety. Only in America have I encountered this unusual phenomenon. Hell, I was raised in a home grown cult.
I have what you might call firsthand experience with wacky.
you might be able to imagine how very, very, very much I enjoy my Spain winters in my apartment on the Mediterranean without ever having to worry that a crazy person on a mission to save my soul would come knocking at my door. But wait a minute!
America exports our weirdest beliefs and apparently, they've found some fertile minds to infect.
Last year, I was indulging in one of my favorite pastimes, walking the promenade along the Mediterranean in the glorious Andualucian sunshine. It's pure bliss to stop along the way and order a Spanish coffee while seated outdoors. On this particular morning, however, I was approached by a well-dressed woman with a serious countenance who wanted to know if she could ask me a question. I was feeling really relaxed and friendly, so I said, yes.
The woman proceeded to ask me this question.
"Do you think the world will be a more dangerous or less dangerous place to live in twenty years?"
Ding! My alert system kicked in.
This was no ordinary question. I scanned her face and then her hands. Ahhhh, yes, there it was ... that obnoxious piece of religious propaganda called The Watch Tower. Apparently, a cross-eyed American Christian had converted this woman.
Needless to say, I wasn't very amused.
I'd traveled an incredible distance to get away from such nonsense and here it was right in my face. So, I told her exactly what she didn't want to hear. I told her that the world would most likely be a better place because currently, I was already lucky enough to be alive during the best day and age thus far to be woman in many parts of the world. Furthermore, thankfully, superstitions were dying off and science was now solving many problems for humanity. In fact, iff we manage to continue on this path, things most probably will get better and better.
Of course, no cross-eyed American Christian ever wants to hear that things are better.
Of course not! They want things to get worse until finally the world ends and people who disagree with their ideology will be cast into outer darkness — forever. They're standing on the fringe with a nasty gleam in their eyes, rubbing hands together and smiling a white toothed shark smile at the sheer thought of such devastation to the likes of me.
I finally did tell her that I was an American and that the last thing that I wanted to do while spending time in Spain was to deal with a Jehovah Witness. She politely moved on and I'm sure prayed for me for some days afterwards.
Yes, I love the fact that Europe is far more liberal and definitely less religious that America.
I'll keep going to Spain for the winter as long as I can, but I sure do wish we'd stop exporting some of the stupidest religious ideas on the planet.
Couldn't we focus instead on something constructive like, oh, I don't know ... perfecting the driverless car?
I'm a myth buster. My recent published book - Have We Been Screwed? Trading Freedom for Fairy Tales - can be purchased on Amazon.