I wrote this quite a long while back. I incorporated it into the 2009 version of Slackville Road which you can find here. It hasn’t made the cut in the rewrite that I’m sharing by email as a weekly serial though (you can sign up for that for free here) – but I still liked it, so with a few revisions – I’m posting it here. It’s pretty much the god’s honest truth, whatever that may be.
When I was six years old, I learned to read. Like most American kids in the 70’s, my favorite publication was Highlights Magazine which I got to read twice a year at the dentist’s office. You remember Highlights, right? It was filled with those morality lessons that religious people want kids to experience.
I still remember empathizing with Goofus as he got the short end of the stick in his relations with his goody two shoes brother, Gallant. In one story he grabbed the biggest cookie off the plate and it ended up tasting like dog-shit while Gallant’s little cookie ended up tasting like manna from heaven. The moral was that smaller portions taste better. Most of America’s fat asses should have listened to that lesson, though I don’t think Highlights meant anything like a matter of diet. More a matter of moral enforced humility. Leave the bigger pieces for those that deserve them. I figured if there was shit in the batter, it got in all the cookies. I hated Gallant. The first of many uptight, pompous, self righteous Christians I would learn to detest.
Our neighbor, who we kids called the preacher lady, had found salvation through Jesus and the Jehovah’s Witness’s. She tried her best to recruit the whole neighborhood. It seemed to be working out for her until one day when everyone came outside to witness a fire in her front yard and her daughter pleading for her to stop what she was doing.
“They are possessed by Satan,” the preacher lady screamed as she threw Barbie, Ken, Dazzle, and dozens of other dolls into the fire. Noticing that a crowd had gathered, she tried to explain, “She worships these dolls more than she worships Jehovah. It is because of the evil demons that live in them. We must burn Satan and his minions out of our lives.”
She said she was exorcising demons but no one else thought she should have burned all her daughter’s dolls.That was just a bit on the extreme end of things. Not that anyone tried to stop her. In those days parents could raise their children however they wanted.
As for me, I wasn’t sure about the whole Jesus thing. I used to play my mom’s piano and sing songs with God before the Preacher Lady asked my mom to leave her the piano if she died. That was pretty much the end of my piano relationship with God. It seemed like Jesus wanted you to fight for what you believed in and be nice to other people, but nobody that claimed to follow Jesus seemed to get that.
Still, I wanted to find out about God, so I asked my parents if I could go to church. They said yes, but I would have to go alone. That was okay with me. A brightly painted school bus would pick me up every Sunday morning. They would drop me off in the afternoon. It was sort of fun; they would read us stories, have us make drawings, and tell us about the bible. When I asked serious questions though, they always laughed and got nervous. They never answered.
I asked “If we are supposed to love our enemies, should we love the devil? He’s our enemy right?” No explanation except, “That’s not what Jesus meant.” I was confused– why would he say it if he didn’t mean it? Maybe the devil wasn’t really my enemy?
I’d ask if God wrote the bible in English and they would tell me he wrote it in all languages. That was pretty cool. How did he do it? When I asked why God killed everyone but his son preached forgiveness, they told me that God was different than Jesus and that he changed after Jesus came. Then two minutes later they told me that Jesus and God were the same person. I finally figured out that they were crazy. They didn’t know anything at all. So I quit asking them questions and stopped paying attention. Sunday school was still fun.
I went for almost a year but quit shortly after they moved me out of the Sunday School class for bad behavior. I remember it like it was yesterday. I think my desire for the other sex started a little prematurely. A little girl named Ann was sitting in front of me as the youth pastor told us about the Noah’s Ark. She was wearing jeans and her little butt crack was showing between the top of her jeans and her pink top. I forgot about God and everything else except for that fascinating little butt crack. My five year old penis was getting hard thinking of what was at the end of that line. My hands had their own mind as they both tried to shoot down her pants. That was the end of Sunday school for me.
After that, I had to sit in the pews with the old people. There was no drawing. No stories. Just the preacher up there telling everyone how bad they were. Sometimes, some of the old ladies would stand up and start babbling and dancing. It looked fun. They were supposed to be filled with the holy spirit. I was sure they were faking it because they wanted attention. Everyone fawned all over them after the service. I figured if they were faking, I could fake it. If they caught me, I would know it was real and start to pay attention. If they didn’t catch me, I would never come back.
So, midway through the preacher’s sermon, I stood up and started kicking my heels about like the devil had possessed me. I screamed out babbling that sounded like the old ladies babbling and spun myself around in circles. Finally when I was tired, I fell to the floor. It was more fun than anything I had ever done in church.Even more fun than playing grab-ass.
At the end, the whole congregation stood around me talking about how the spirit had possessed me. When the preacher asked me how it felt to be possessed by God, I got up, left the church and walked home. Even at a young age, I hated people that fooled themselves. That was the end of my Christian experience.