Posted by: nickgerlich | July 1, 2008

Subculture Clubs

They say there is no better way to cause a spontaneous fight than to bring up religion or politics at a party. I suppose the same could be said of the classroom, but I am willing to take that risk and try to cross at that tricky intersection.

When it comes to religion, I am a mixed breed. Based on my parents’ separate lineages as well as my own progression, let’s just say I am a BaptiNazaCathomatic. So now when we go to church, I am usually in shorts, t-shirt, a sandals, yet not so far removed from my paternal German heritage that I wouldn’t think twice about having a beer with my dinner afterward.

ReligionAs for politics, I am a fiscal conservative yet a moderate social liberal. Milton Friedman was my idol in school, but I don’t buy the idea of trying to impose my beliefs on others. I guess that puts me squarely in the McCain camp.

So what does this have to do with anything? Plenty. You see, our religious and political persuasions can have significant effects on our consumption behaviors. If you don’t believe me, just look a few hundred miles south of here to Eldorado and the FLDS sect compound.

Through the years I have met many people whose consumption was shaped heavily by their beliefs. I have known people who boycotted products and restaurants because of ideologies espoused by their corporate owners (e.g., supporting Planned Parenthood). I recall the Baptists boycotting Disney a few years ago because it (Disney, not the Baptists) supports gay unions and even has a gay pride weekend event. I have traveled through Utah in search of caffeinated beverages.

And I will confess to laughing out loud in the Salt Lake City airport a few years ago when I saw they were serving Polygamy Ale at the brewpub. I suppose being a non-believer can influence one the other way.

As a non-native Texan, though, I still scratch my head at the goings on in the Amarillo area. In case you haven’t noticed, this area is…um…kind of conservative, to the point that saying you are Republican almost means you are too liberal. I am befuddled by a community that staunchly supports a business owner’s privilege to allow smoking, yet doesn’t have a problem with keeping citizens from being able to buy a six-pack or a bottle of wine.

Lubbock is no better, with their keep-em-out-of-town view of package stores. Let the NIMBYs (Not In My Back Yard) prevail, and let’s make it simple for the delivery truck drivers. Having everything concentrated along one mile on the edge of town makes for an easy day.

But lest you think this is merely a rant (OK, maybe some of it is…having grown up in the home of Al Capone, we were pretty much immune to these social issues), consider that the long arm of Religion Road can run all the way from our cupboard to the intersection with Politics Lane. And even run the red light cameras.

As for me, I’ll keep my spiritual beliefs in my cupboard, and let you decide what’s right for you.

Dr “What’s On Your Shelf?” Gerlich


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