Saturday, March 28, 2009


"Are you Catholic or Orthodox?"

Hmm. I had been told this would happen. I'm American, therefore I must be Christian, but Christian here can only mean one of two options. A friend with experience in Jordan had warned me back in the States, "When they ask your religion, you'd better be one of those two, because if you're not then you must be one of 'those weird ones'."

My friend Heather thinks of these as Mary Tyler Moore moments. We'd already gone through my age and whether or not I was single, so I suppose religion was next in the logical progression. My typing skills, however, did not come up.*

I had decided before arrival that I would opt for Catholic. Having seen the movie Sister Act (once, I think on a plane...), I figure I'm moderately more qualified to fake Catholic than Orthodox. Plus, if I say it with a small 'c', that's not an outright lie. Right? Bad enough to be thirty and single. One hates to be labeled a religious fanatic on top of everything else.

But in this case the person I was talking to was savvy to foreigners and their erratic ways. Plus, we were going to spend the day together, and I didn't think I could keep up the pretense of a Catholic background, even with Whoopi Goldberg to guide me. I gambled she could take the truth.


Yeah, this was NOT the right answer.

*Kind of a shame. I don't like to brag, but that is the one area of my personal life in which I shine.


Lee said...

Nice one Katie!

Kelsey said...

Interesting! I guess I had never thought about that.

Here in Korea, they ask if you are "Christian or Catholic". I have given up trying to explain to them that Catholics are a kind of Christian, because they don't seem to get it. Koreans who call themselves "Christian" are actually Evangelicals, so that is what the term now means to them.

Similar to your warning about "choosing one" before you got to Jordan, a friend of mine warned me after I got here that I should tell my students that Marc and I are engaged, since we live together. She also warned me, when he came to visit, that if random Koreans talked to us and asked if we were married, that we should say yes - to many Koreans over 35, and most Koreans over 45, a young married couple is given lots of respect, whereas a young un-married couple is given almost none. For instance: We were both sitting outside a restaurant, with the aforementioned friend, having a drink. An older Korean man came up and started kind of talking to me in a weird way (in Korean) and touching my shoulder, etc. Generally making me feel uncomfortable. I told him to stop and go away, and kept moving away, but he persisted. Marc was also telling him to go away, but it wasn't until my friend glared at the man, pointed at Marc and said "husband!", almost as if to say "Hey, get your hands off that girl - that's her husband and he'll beat you up." It was a very weird little interlude, but as soon as the guy thought Marc was my husband, he stopped and went away.

Ain't living in a foreign country grand?

Shaila said...

Try explaining Hinduism to a Haredi rabbi. They just don't explain that enough in A-100 :-)

Geraldine said...

I want to hear more!! Email me what happened next!

Could you say an 'offshoot' of Catholic??

TulipGirl said...

*L* It's a little easier in Ukraine. . . While the country is culturally big-O Orthodox, it also has strains of Greek Catholic, Anabaptist, and even a Reformed tradition. So being Presbyterian, we were able to allude to the "historic, Reformed Ukrainian church" and not be lumped in with the "sects".

Heather said...

As a social experiment, I think you should tell people you are a Scientologist. (Thanks for the MTM mention!)

Joe McCleary said...

So how many words per minute??

Katie said...

Better than 65, that's for sure.

Heather said...

As a side note, I had to visit the military hospital here and they asked me the following: religion? age? marital status?

So I guess it's not just curious Muslims to whom we have to answer these questions. : )