A friend of mine who attends her church on a fairly regular basis missed a few weeks in a row. When she returned, one of the "church ladies" greeted her with: "I haven't seen you lately!" Of course, the "church lady" meant she hadn't seen my friend lately at church, and that was a cause for concern.
"I haven't seen you lately" might include the following thoughts:
- First, let's assume the best. This greeting might be intended to communicate the fact that my friend was genuinely missed, and that her return was warmly welcomed. However, "I am glad to see you. How are you?" might avoid the extra helping of guilt and innuendo present in "I haven't seen you lately."
- On the other hand, religion places a high premium on attendance in a particular building located on a specific piece of real estate at a regular, recurring time. Given the resulting guilt that can affect someone who misses a few services, "I haven't seen you lately" might actually mean "Where the hell have you been?"
- And, here's a loose translation of an even more strident meaning that "I haven't seen you lately" might convey: "I've been at church faithfully, every week. You, on the other hand, seem like you have better things to do with your time. You are backsliding, miserable and not-nearly-as-righteous as I am."
I was once filled with such guilt-laden invective myself. I once believed that warming a seat in a religious meeting was directly related to one's relationship with God. I understand the drill—I've truly been there and done that.