When we moved from Illinois to Maryland, I became accustomed to using the word "soda" instead of the Midwestern "pop."
When we moved from Maryland to Kansas and had been here all of three days, I was in a line at the grocery store and said to the woman ahead of me, "If you don't mind I'm just going to put my soda up here."
"We don't say soda. Where are you from?" she asked.
"We just moved from outside of Washington D.C.," I replied.
"Oh honey," she said, "you're going to hate it here."
I was amused and kind of scared and I have told that story a hundred times.
Kansas isn't my sweet home Chicago nor is it the epicenter of world politics, but it has had its perks over the years and has felt like home. When things go off the rails around here I have plenty of like-minded friends and we commiserate over that which make us crazy and homesick.
Things have been going off the rails a lot lately.
This week the Kansas House passed a bill making it legal for anyone to deny service to gays based on religious belief. By religious belief they mean Christian because if there were ever a religion that is being oppressed it's Christianity in America.
You would think anything that discriminating would never get anywhere in a legit, legal process but this is Kansas, after all.
Proponents of the law say it was necessary because of a fear of lawsuits like the one filed in Oregon when a gay couple was denied service from a florist based on their orientation.
Are florists attracting such blockbuster business these days that they can turn down any business? If you owned a floral shop and two guys came in with a whole lot of disposable income would you really tell them to go across town because they're not your "kind"?
Or would you upsell them on boutonnieres like any florist worth their roses would do?
Across the state line Michael Sam stood up and said "Yep, I'm gay and I play football," and sports enthusiasts cheered for the first guy gutsy enough to say those words out loud.
Here in Kansas we keep trying to shove those people back into the closet but they keep trickling out one by one.
So in a God-fearing state like this maybe a wedding planner need only ask "What would Jesus do?" He would listen to his mother. When the wedding in Cana was running short on wine his mother told him to do something about it. He turned water into more adult beverages and the party got better.
Make the floral arrangements. Bake the chicken and put it on a buffet with green beans and mashed potatoes. Make sure the microphones are working for the toasts and that the bathrooms are spotless. Watch the grooms dance with their mothers and have some fun in the back with your waitresses doing the electric slide. Hire a bartender who is better at estimating consumption than the wedding consultants at Cana.
Make your customers so happy they tell everyone they know to use you, bank your profits and tip your employees for all their hard work. Go home and tell your wife that if this keeps up maybe you can take a vacation this year.
Whenever you doubt whether or not you are doing the right thing, open your Bible and remind yourself that all we have ever been asked is to "Love one another."
And twenty years from now tell your grandkids about the time that there were people who tried to make it legal to hate others but you chose not to participate.