From 1980 to ’85, I worked at a machine shop called TransAmerica Delaval. It was a job. For lunch, we would gather around a table in the back of our department. It was a good time to relax, eat and chat.
Our conversation nearly always revolved around the 3 R’s: Rac’in, Rassl’in, and Religion. (Translated: NASCAR Racing, Professional Wrestling, and Southern Religion.) During this season I was not a Christian, though most of my workmates were good ole Southern Baptist boys.
On one particular fall day (1984), the conversation turned to religion during our lunch break. I don’t remember much about it, except the part when my friends asked what I thought about the Bible. An interesting question for somebody who had never read the Bible.
I remember our grandfather (Papa Glenn) offering us five “Thomas boys” $100 if we read the entire Bible. I started reading my First Baptist Church Sunday school Bible. I read a few pages the best I remember and then shut her down. It was the King James Version, and I was a cussing ten-year-old. Elizabethan English wasn’t working well for a foul-mouth country boy.
So here we are again, about 15 years later and somebody is asking my opinion about the Bible. To the best of my remembrance, I said something like,
I think the Bible is a good book to pattern your life after, but I don’t believe everything in it is true. In fact, you cannot convince me that California is real because I have never been there. I think some of the stories in the Bible are far-fetched and I don’t believe them.
That covered my expert opinion. What I knew about the Bible came from my Sunday school and Vacation Bible School experiences where I learned about Noah and his Ark, Daniel in a den of lions, Jonah and the whale, and the three Hebrew boys in a fire.
I did watch the 10 Commandments with Charlton Heston. It was so good. And I loved hearing Billy Graham. The man was easy to understand and seemed kind, which was a departure from all the men in my life. Religion was a farce to me, plus all the religious folks that I knew were fake.
Now, rassl’in, on the other hand, was something that was real, full of intrigue, and an ongoing narrative. Plus you had good versus evil. Ask me about rassl’in. I’m an expert about that.
It’s ironic how rassl’in became fake and religion became real. (Don’t tell a southerner rassl’in ain’t real.)