by Nick May

 Cover1When I wrote MEGABELT, the “Bible Belt” South had the market cornered on funny traditions, religious stereotypes and condemnation disguised as good-natured child rearing. Back then, it was easy to tell if you were a Belter. Like Gil (my main character), you attended a gospel sing followed by an ice cream social, you knew not to use a lowercase “g” when referring to the God of Abraham, and you may have even fooled around in the back of a church van. Things are nowhere near as black and white as they used to be. We live in a very different version of the Belt today. Here are 3 ways you can tell if you’re a modern Belter.
You’re not exactly sure what the protocol is for saying the blessing anymore.
In MEGABELT, I poked a lot of fun at the idea of “blessing” meals or people who just sneezed. The question was never “Who’s gonna do it?” Instead, it was “Really, what’s the thought process behind this?” Now that my little novella has liberated so many from these empty traditions (I also started the YoYo craze of 1998), the question has morphed into the panic-stricken uncertainty of “Should we even cast a magical spell over our food at all?”
Church is something you occasionally give yourself a break from.
In Gil’s South, church was what you did. It was what everyone did. And if you didn’t do it, you lied about it and said you did. Today, church attendance is something you feel the need to purge yourself from every now and then. You post an Instagram of yourself “Worshiping the creator at the beach today. #blessed” It’s something we do as much as working, and something we get as shifty with as our three hour night classes at the community college.
You sometimes miss the simplicity of your parents’ Jesus.
Gil couldn’t wait to get away from his parents’ church. There was nothing to get excited about; nothing to work towards (other than perfect attendance). Today, Belters are so much more aware of what’s behind the curtain. They know the ins and outs of churches that appear to be fruitful and busy. The things that used to leave you dissatisfied (like a lack of programming, serving opportunities and easily understood sermons), now seem like precious commodities.
Whether you admit it or not, chances are you can identify with one or more of these things. If you’re familiar with all three, well then ring a bell, you’re a Mod Belter. Maybe you were offended by one or more of these statements. That would be swell. Let’s hear it. Tell us what is that you miss about the old Belt, and let us know what other designations you think fit on this list. Until next time, god bless.

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