More Jackson County Opinions...

AUGUST 21, 2002


Column
By:Kerri Graffius
The Jackson Herald
August 21, 2002

Thinking about life after college
Something happens to you after you graduate from college. You start, well, thinking.
Not necessarily thinking about the things you just learned from your post-secondary education, but all of the things that just lingered in the back of your mind for a while.
It seems like once the dean slaps the diploma in your hand and your parents officially cut all financial ties from you, your mind starts in the head spin of thinking about the future.
Thinking about paying off college loans; thinking about the first job; thinking about getting married; thinking about saving some money; thinking about investing some money; thinking about buying a home; thinking about starting a family; thinking about your career path and thinking about all those complicated concerns that ride along with those thoughts.
It’s amazing how insecure you become after college.
Yet, before I graduated from college, I planned my future as much as possible. I attended all those stupid career fairs, I wrote and rewrote my resume throughout the years and I kept a close eye on the financial market to determine my prospects at getting a decent job.
But, despite all of that planning, I wish someone would have just told me how hard life can be after college.
Sure, you hear your parents moan, “Just wait until you have to pay the bills,” and the occasional “motivated speaker” will drill the old “Life is hard” line into your head, but no one actually puts it smack-dap in your face and says, “Life is not only hard, it really isn’t everything you want or expected it to be.”
Yeah, yeah, it sounds pretty canned there too, but it really doesn’t become the all-out honest truth until you learn it on your own accord.
After I graduated from college, I worked in a public relations firm in Atlanta for a few months. At the time, I was living in Athens and commuting everyday to Buckhead. Needless to say, I was sitting in my car for four hours each day. By the time I worked in my little cubicle for eight hours, hammered through Atlanta traffic and got something to eat in between all of that, I soon realized that was not the kind of life I wanted.
But, it took some hard thinking and a few emotional nights for me to come to that conclusion.
You see, no one ever warns the bright-eyed student that the road on the other side of the mountain can be treachous, mysterious, cruel and unforgiving. No one says to you, “You know, you could fail.”
No, in school we’re told to demand the best from others for ourselves and to make that five-year plan and live by it.
I always hated that question in school.
“In five years, where do you see yourself?”
Gee, I don’t know, hopefully not answering the same question again.
Really, I don’t know what will happen in a few years. Sometimes I just stop thinking about the future and let it lead me to wherever I’m “supposed” to go.
The other day, someone said, “If you’re not going to be anyone in life, just be someone in high school.” My boyfriend James, who just graduated from UGA, had a similar comment about figuring out that life may not be as “glorious” as your former days. He’s also in the frustrating position of finding a first job in the diminishing computer field.
However, I still find myself looking for my future’s answers in “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Financial Planning in Your 20s and 30s.”
How much money should I save? When should I start a family? What kind of benefits should I ask from my employer? What kind of interest rate should I look for when buying a home?
Sometimes, the questions about my future just keep spinning through my head.
And I’m not the only 20-something considering all of life’s answers right now. Practically all of my recent-graduate friends are taking a second look at what really matters in life. Is it happiness? Is it money? Is it spirituality? Is it social and/or political prestige? Is it job security? Is it family? Is it more education?
The point is, we’re starting to realize we’re finally adults. And while some of us are married, maybe we have a house and a few of us already have kids, we’re still just thinking about what’s ahead for us.
Kerri Graffius is a reporter for MainStreet Newspapers. Her e-mail address is kerri@mainstreetnews.com.

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Column
By: Virgil Adams
The Jackson Herald
August 21, 2002

Still trying to understand church
Pastor, preacher, priest, minister, counselor, rabbi, iman, seminary professor, divinity school dean, or teacher of homiletics at the Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta I am not. Nor do I lay claim to any other religious titles, whatever they are.
I certainly am no theologian.
So maybe it’s understandable that I don’t understand church.
I asked one of the above if he understood church, and he said no. He added that some Sundays he wouldn’t even go if he were not one of the above.
So I guess I am in pretty good company.
I don’t understand religion, either. In fact, religion keeps getting in the way of me understanding church.
Somebody ought to write a book on How to Be a Christian or Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist—whatever—Without Being Religious.
I joined church in 1935. You will notice that I did not say The Church, because I’m not sure the church I joined in 1935 was The Church. You are confused, too, aren’t you?
Anyway, here’s how that came about.
In the 1930s, during the Great Depression, revival meetings were mighty important events. Church and school were about all we had going for us. That was especially true in the little town of McLemoresville, Tenn. (population 311 if you count dogs, cats and chickens).
Revivals — the old folks called ‘em protracted meetings — lasted two weeks. There were morning and evening services, and the two Wednesday morning services were designated school days. They just turned out class and marched us kids about a quarter of a mile down a dusty road to the little church. They didn’t know, worry or care about separation of church and state in those days.
Anyway, I was sitting near the back with my fellow 12-year-old sixth graders, cutting up.
At the end of the service, during altar call and the singing of “Just As I Am,” Miss Audrey Mitchell walked back to where I was cutting up. She tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Virgil, you need to go up there.”
So I went. Miss Audrey was my schoolteacher, and whatever Miss Audrey said do, I did. I didn’t fully understand what I was doing, but I guess Miss Audrey did. Back then, schoolteachers didn’t make any mistakes.
Well, I have been a church member ever since, not always a member in good standing, mind you, but a member nonetheless. And like I said last week, they haven’t kicked me out — yet.
I also told you last week about my long tenure and many “religious” experiences.
I don’t think I have ever been in a mosque. But I have found myself in just about everything else.
I once spent a weekend at the Monastery in Conyers.
I’ve been in churches that were so formal, so programmed, so predictable that you didn’t have to look at your watch to know it was high noon. They always benedict (new meaning for an old word) at 12 o’clock sharp so the congregants can beat the Baptists and Pentecostals to the Cracker Barrel or Ryan’s for Sunday dinner. (It may be lunch Monday through Saturday, but it’s dinner on Sunday.)
I have been in churches that were so laid back, so disorganized, so chaotic that nobody knew, or cared, what time it was.
I have been in churches where, if you even thought about saying “amen,” they would look at you funny.
There were churches where, if you half raise a hand and whisper “amen,” you get the feeling they are about to throw you out.
There are churches where, if you don’t raise both hands as high as you can reach and shout “AMEN” at the top of your voice, you get the feeling they are about to throw you out.
I have attended church in people’s homes where there were wall-to-wall brothers and sisters prophesying, speaking in tongues, and singing in the spirit in every room in the house. Some of them were also being slain in the spirit, but I don’t have the space or time to explain that, even if I understood it.
You may think I am making fun of church, but I am not. People are serious about church, as they should be, and I respect that.
All I’m saying is, there is a lot of diversity—and inconsistency—in the church community, and that is why it is difficult for me to understand church.
I not only don’t understand the church universal; I don’t understand the local church where I hang out most Sundays. (OK, “hang out” is not a good choice of words.)
Now, I don’t see that as a bad thing. Were I to achieve complete understanding (of anything), I would know it all, and there would be no need to continue the search. All growth would stop. It is a journey we’re on, and seeing through a glass darkly, down here, is the way it is. And it’s OK.
Now, although I am not a preacher, I want to do a little preaching. If you are unhappy with where you are on your church journey, you may need to go in another direction. Not understanding church is one thing. Not liking church is an altogether different thing. If you don’t understand it, but like it, stay put.
But you don’t like the preacher, people, programs, politics, policies and everything else that starts with a “p” where you are. You keep going anyway. All week you dread going. It takes you all next week to get over it.
You are miserable. And you are beginning to make the people who like it there miserable. You and they might be happier if you excommunicated each other.
The misery, instead of abating, escalates. Pretty soon you and they are choosing up sides and recruiting true believers. And within a year there’s Old Hope Church and, two miles down the road, New Hope Church.
The denominations shall go unnamed, but those two churches exist (for the time being) two miles apart on a state highway in middle Tennessee.
Better to split, I guess, than kill each other off like the Catholic and Protestant Christians do in Ireland.
I’d still like you to get in touch with me if you understand church. Write to me c/o The Jackson Herald, 33 Lee Street, Jefferson, Ga. 30549. We may need to continue this discussion. (Discussion?)
Virgil Adams is former editor and owner of The Jackson Herald.


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