It's been a while but thought I'd toss out another addition of Faithful Friday. For those new to the blog I occasionally spend Fridays talking about my history with organized religion and my current process of becoming Catholic.
My religious experiences didn't get much better after the forced upon mashed potatoes. I can't say my family attended church regularly, but we did go sporadically. Always to the same Baptist Church.
I never enjoyed it. I never felt a sense of enlightenment. or a sense of belonging. I felt like and was treated like an outcast by the kids who graced the Sunday School class every morning.
I distinctly recall one class where we were playing a game where teams had to answer questions from the Bible. My turn came and the teacher asked me the name of Mose's brother. I didn't have a clue Moses even had a brother. At eleven or twelve or whatever age I was I couldn't have told you more than a few basic things about the Bible or the stories contained within its pages.
So I shrugged.
"You must have a guess," the teacher urged. "I'll give you a clue. It's a common name."
"John," I said hesitantly.
My team groaned. Some kid said,"What are you stupid. Everyone knows Aaron was Mose's brother."
The class laughed. The teacher frowned at me and moved on the the next kid and the next question. I'd never felt dumber and I refused to attend Sunday School from that point on.
I remember another time when my mom signed me up for vacation bible school at the Baptist church not where we sometimes attended but at the one most near our house. I knew more kids there because several were in my class at school, but the teacher proved to be a cross between Hitler and Leona Helmsley. Instead of teaching or creating games she had us clean out closets and pull weeds in the playground. When me and my buddy Mark got in trouble for horseplaying she made us spend a good while standing in the corner. I didn't go back the second day. I told my mom I did but in actuality I rode my bike around the neighborhood all day until it was time for the classes to let out. My mom was happy thinking I was getting some religion and I was happy not to be taking part. Mark told me it never got any better and I again refused to ever attend another.
I realize it is a folly to make judgments based on solitary experiences but at no time growing up did I ever experience organized religion in any form that made me believe God was anything but hypocritical, judgmental and mean.
Then there were the contradictions within my own family. The uncle who stood and AMENed every word from the preachers mouth, including those about the sins of alcohol. An hour alter he would crack open a Budweiser and bitch about the service running so long he missed the kickoff of the Cowboy's game.
There are plenty of other tales of hypocrisy. Then again those things are easy to see when you are looking for them. It would have been nice if someone had been around to redirect my focus.
Only my great grandmother seemed like a genuine believer. Only she seemed to try and put into practice the ideals she read from her Bible or heard spewed from the pulpit. But it wasn't long until one misguided preacher spoiled both my memory of my grandmother and forever tainted my view of organized religion.
I realize the stories I've shared thus far are little more than kids stuff. I wrote about them only to show the religious foundation I had before the truly bad experience. The one that made me swear off church for better than two decades. I will share that story in the next edition of Faithful Fridays.