When people ask me where my family is from (i.e. my ethnic origins), I often am at a loss for words. Because honestly--my family, on both sides, has been here forever. I have ancestors who founded freakin’ Jamestown in the late 1600’s. I mean, I really, truly am a WASP (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant). I do not say this to brag—quite the reverse. I am almost apologetic about my mono-cultural heritage and its historical privileges.
So why am I bringing it up? Because even though my family is no longer protestant, some vestiges of its doctrine still remain ingrained in our consciousness and have been passed down from generation to generation. The doctrine about which I have been most cognizant of late: total depravity. Total depravity states: “People are not by nature inclined to love God with their whole heart, mind, or strength, but rather all are inclined to serve their own interests over those of their neighbor and to reject the rule of God.” Do I belive this? Not. At. All. Yet, somehow, by some means, I have become conditioned to believe that if something is easy or if I really want something, then it must be inherently evil and should be avoided at all costs. This thinking is a remnant of my protestant ancestry; I am certain.
Last night, for example, I had just finished my biological oceanography final, and what I wanted to do most of all was to go over to my *ahem* “friend’s” house and relax. However, up reared my inner Calvinist, “Are you serious? Are you really thinking of going over to his house, making him feed you, and relaxing for the entire evening? Satan’s spawn, you!” I felt like I should don my hair shift and give myself a few lashings as penance for even thinking about it. What kind of weak person was I? Where was my self-reliance? Yet, after much deliberation on my part and deftly applied pressure from the fellow in question, I succombed to my evil, carnal nature. And I had an enjoyable relaxing evening.
What can I say--I’m going to hell.