If you are not following Insane in the Mom-Brain on Facebook, stop right now and go over to Facebook and follow her. While you are there, read her latest post about the church she went to as a child. I’ll wait.
Welcome back. Now I’ll tell you my story.
When I was a little kid, we were dropped off for Sunday School every week so mom could go back home and sleep off her hangover. Then she went to a Billy Graham Crusade (if you remember them, say Hallelujah!) and got all saintly and shit. From then on we had to go to church on Sunday morning, evening, and Wednesday night. That church didn’t suck too bad, except for the obligatory church summer camp that had none of the good stuff of a real summer camp, except I did get to make a macaroni necklace once. That’s when I discovered that raw pasta is nice and crunchy. Of course, years later I found out it’s not really good for you, but by then I could afford to buy my own potato chips.
I was so afraid of committing The Unforgivable Sin, because I didn’t know what it was, so there was a chance I could do it accidentally and end up in Hell, which WASN’T REALLY MY FAULT if nobody told me, right? That’s when I decided God was just as big an asshole as my stepfather, without all the actual abuse.
And then someone said The Unforgivable Sin was blasphemy, and I wasn’t sure if that was swearing, or if it was something worse because again NOBODY EXPLAINED EXACTLY WHAT IT WAS. It’s kind of like going to a foreign country, breaking one of their stupid laws, and ending up in prison for the rest of your life, which could have avoided it if someone would have just told you it’s a crime to eat cheese on Sunday.
I was also afraid of being possessed by a demon, but then I saw the Exorcist, which convinced me that only Catholics get possessed, so that calmed me down a bit.
When I was 13, we moved (in a very stealthy way so our Dad didn’t know where we went, but that’s a whole ‘nother story of abuse) and Mom started dragging us to a Pentecostal church just as crazy as the one she describes. People would shout “Amen” and “Hallelujah” and all kinds of stuff while the preacher would be speaking so passionately they’d be spitting all over the damn place, and by the end of the service, had practically no voice at all. There was dancing and screaming, speaking in tongues, and laying on of hands. And lots of prayer. Loud praying. Totally freaky shit.
I tried to fit in. I really did. But I just couldn’t take it all too seriously. Probably why I was sent away for awhile to join my Aunt & Uncle at their Moonie-light church. Mom must have thought they could strip me of the last of my stubborn self-identity. It didn’t work. At least there I got to play the tambourine, which if anyone asks is the extent of my musical talent.
Back home again, I eventually called bullshit enough times that I noped out of the whole thing entirely.
Thankfully, I was able to escape with minimal psychological scarring that only took several years and many hundreds of dollars of therapy to resolve. I’ve found my own small tribe of church refugees, and we’re doing just fine. Or going to Hell. I guess we’ll find out in the end.