It’s been two months since I moved to Indianapolis, and everything has been going swimmingly so far. I got really lucky and was offered the first job that I interviewed for, and so far it has been a total jackpot. I won’t mention the company’s name because I like to keep my professional life and internet life separate, but it’s a startup within a larger, nationwide organization that is Catholic and nonprofit, and I’m really lucky to have landed this job.
In an ideal world, I wouldn’t work for a Catholic organization because frankly, Catholicism just isn’t my bag. Before I moved to Indy I worked at a “faith-based” company in Ohio- a company whose name came from a proverb in the Bible and was started by a group of church friends who failed to incorporate their faith into their business in an unambiguous way. It was a direct sales company and I worked in the call center where I assisted the sales consultants, who were mostly housewives trying to make some extra cash by selling tacky monogrammed tote bags and purses.
I’ll never forget the day that I got a call from a consultant who was trying to find out how to get in touch with the CEO of the company in order to file a human resources complaint. She was a middle-aged woman who claimed that her elderly mother helped her out with her purse-selling and had recently been snooping around the company’s Facebook page, where consultants often shared selling tips and bragged about their personal sales success. Through the Facebook page, this woman’s mother had discovered that there was a new consultant who was wildly successful so far, but who was ALSO a transvestite- a MAN whose profession was dressing as a WOMAN and dancing at a nightclub.
“Can you BELIEVE it?” she demanded, tittering on and on about how ungodly it all was. “I’m not surprised he’s so successful! You could see how all of his friends would want to buy those organizing totes for make up bags and all! Oh, it just makes me sick!” I gritted my teeth and didn’t agree with her, but politely acknowledged her deep concern, not a hint of sarcasm seeping into my call center voice.
These are the kind of Christians that make me scoff at religion altogether. Judging, judging, judging. I really doubt that Jesus was that much of a hater. But the problem is that this woman wasn’t entirely wrong in assuming that transvestism would be frowned upon by a “faith-based” company named after a Biblical proverb. “I know there’s really nothing she can do about it because he would slap her with some discrimination lawsuit, but I really just think the CEO would want to know about this!” she insisted, and I humored her for so long that I actually surprised myself because I had no idea I was even capable of hiding my disdain so well.
When I told my supervisor about the incident, he thankfully acknowledged that it was one of the most utterly ridiculous calls that call center had ever received. “This company may be named after a Bible verse, but don’t kid yourself- the end goal is to make money. It’s not like the Lord said ‘Thou shalt sell purses.'” There’s nothing wrong with being a faith-based company, but it’s incidents like that that make it important to clearly define what it means to be “faith based.”
The company I now work for is entirely candid about its Catholic roots- there is a prayer service every Monday led by a pastor whose office is right next to the CEO’s, and the company health insurance does not cover abortions or birth control. But the prayer service is optional, and the pastor is an intelligent, kind-hearted man who also spearheads the many fundraisers that take place within the workplace. It’s pretty cool working for a nonprofit, and the company doesn’t let its Catholicism get in the way of its mission to serve others in need. For Thanksgiving, we donated over 120 turkeys to local families in need, and for Christmas we’re sponsoring five families who can’t afford to buy gifts for the holidays. Neither of these projects has anything to do with the day-to-day business the company conducts- they’re just an additional way to embody the organization’s spiritual mission.
Don’t get me wrong- I still won’t be converting to Christianity any time soon. I’m content with my undefined, mostly atheist beliefs, but I have to admit that I did enjoy the one prayer service I attended, and I find the genuinely humble and Christian atmosphere there to be much more accepting and supportive than any other company I’ve ever worked for. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the post that one of my favorite bloggers, Amy, did On faith. I was not raised in a religious household and didn’t grow up attending church, and for most of my life I never really felt like I had missed out because of that. But I understand the benefits of church as a social support network and of having some sort of structured spirituality in your life. The structured belief system and culture of tolerance and acceptance that I’ve found at my new job is something I never realized I was missing out on until now, and something that is a breath of fresh air in comparison with the rest of my experience with Catholicism and Christianity in general.
For the first time since I graduated from college, I feel truly content and balanced. I think I’m really becoming an adult and stuff.