Friday, August 27, 2010

Faithful Friday Foundations

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.

16 comments:

Debra She Who Seeks said...

I wouldn't dismiss your early experiences of Christianity as just "kid's stuff" -- kids have better BS detectors than anyone and don't just casually accept hypocrisy as "simply the way things are" like adults do. Kids often have clearer eyes than we do.

jerseygirl89 said...

Sadly, your experiences sound a lot like my husband's. I have a lot of friends who had similar experiences at Catholic Church, so I love hearing about your process.

Texanne said...

I hate to hear about the way people hurt you when you were a kid. Here's a secret: nobody and nothing measures up. The only Christian who got everything right was Jesus, and look what happened to him.

Here's my deep wish that your new religious persuasion and ideals serve to support you through the rest of your life, whatever may come.

Angie Ledbetter said...

Rocky starts = great finishes. At least, that's been my experience. Wouldn't trade my faith for anything now. :)

Old Kitty said...

Oh my goodness! It must have been pretty bad - I'm so sorry!

It's awful what people do in the name of religion. I remember going to church and singing and worshipping with my peers knowing that some of them were complete bullies (really nasty nasty kids) in the playground - yet there they were in their Sunday best praising God and asking for their sins to be forgiven. Terrible!

Good luck with your current faith studies. I'm hoping the adult world is a more mature and sombre place for your calling.

Take care
x

DrillerAA09 said...

I would encourage you to seek the truth that is in God's word. Compare what you are being taught very closely with what is taught in Scripture.
People will disappoint you sooner or later, regardless of their religious affiliation.

Deanna said...

As a lifelong Catholic, I will tell you that had you attended Catholic school in the 50's you would have some wtf stories. All religions have their moments and mis-moments. Our current pastor is wonderful. He is inspiring and caring. I work for him. There was another pastor that caused me to leave the church until I realized the church was not the pastor, but rather the people and the Faith.

I hope you have a wonderful mentor, assuming you are in RCIA casses? Today my faith is everything to me and I will never again let a bad egg (or priest) rock it.

John McElveen said...

Ahhhhhh- the Church. Satan's greatest tool against people Loving Christ. LOL. It would be funny if Hypocrisy weren't so flagrant.

But I do Love our Lord, and so far--this blog!!!

Great post. I popped over from Cloudi'a.

Awesome Bass!

John

the walking man said...

Religion is a system not a belief. Look the word up in Greek that translators used for religion. I think you can pr will find that the proper definition for religion is service to others.

sybil law said...

My mom has worked for various churches over the years, and the politics and mismanagement of money and extramarital affairs pretty much turned her off from them - and me, as well.

Cloudia said...

Well said, Travis...an authentic accounting of your path to that point. Thanks for your generosity of spirit in sharing your story.




Aloha from Honolulu

Comfort Spiral

alex keto said...

Us heathens are sorry to have lost you.

Stephen Tremp said...

I got involved with a group in high school that was big on home fellowships. Turned out they were a cult. I won;t mention their name. On the surface they used love to attract people, but had some really bad doctrine overall.

Stephen Tremp

Erica Orloff said...

Travis:
I've pulled and Anne Rice. Churches really do more damage to people's faith in many cases . . . than even life's crises and pains. I accept that death, grief, pain, suffering, illness, etc. are part of the human journey. In all my years of being sick, I have never looked up at heaven and thought, "Why me, God?" I asked him to "take me now" because I was in that much pain, but I never said, "Take this FROM me."

But churches? That's a different thing entirely. That and what people say--just the vile hate speech--in the name of Jesus. Like the Burn the Koran church in Florida. I mean . . . what the heck?

Debra said...

I've enjoyed visiting your blog for the first time tonight.

As a christian myself, I have had to come to the conclusion that as long as humans make up the body of the church, it will be flawed and imperfect.

It has helped me to think of church as a hospital, everyone there is in need of the "Good Doctor". Some will find healing and help. Others will not. What is important is that I go and focus on my own healing.

God bless you on this journey,
Debra

Junosmom said...

Interested to read more, Travis.