The Journey So Far, Part 1 (My Divorce from Christianity)

16 Jan

My distinguished co-author describes me as a “lapsed Lutheran,” though I’m not sure it’s entirely accurate. I was not Lutheranized by choice so much as under duress. Let me back up a little.

I was baptized in my grandma’s church – a United Church of Christ. We went to services on most Sundays we were at Grandma and Grandpa’s house, which was only occasionally, as they lived an hour and a half away, and on Easter* and Christmas. I have fond memories of Easter in particular, where services were followed by fellowship full of home-baked goods and colored eggs and we’d have egg-cracking contests. My mom, sister, and I occasionally attended services at a Lutheran church in our hometown. We went to Sunday school and had bars and coffee/koolaid afterward.

When I was around thirteen, my parents decided I was going to go to confirmation classes. I hated the classes with the undying passion of a thirteen-year-old. My classmates were boys from my school, which was reason enough to hate the classes, but we also had to do homework and watch silly videos. I remember the boys and I asking questions about why we do this or that and the answer was, “Because it’s in the Bible here,” or “Because God says so.” I was a good kid and an obedient one (if memory serves), but this is one case where I put my foot down. I’d pretend to sleep through my alarm on Sundays so I’d miss church. I’d skip whatever confirmation classes I could. My parents struck a deal with me – get through confirmation and you can do whatever you want.

Really, I shouldn’t have been confirmed, because I didn’t meet the requirements due to my truancy. But one Sunday I put on a nicer outfit than usual and got up in front of the congregation and repeated some words that the pastor told us to repeat – without feeling them one little bit and doing it all the while just to get it done – and I was confirmed. I wasn’t struck down. So that was the end of any hope of Christianity and me, because, as far as I was concerned, any God who cared about this stuff would’ve sent down a thunderbolt and made an example of me and my lying ways.

Throughout high school I was very interested in religion. I’d read world religion encyclopedias and parts of the Bhagavad Gita. I had a penpal for awhile and I remember writing to her about how fascinating this all was, and one notable response of hers further turned me off the Christian path, despite her fervor, as she was talking at length about how she was eager to die so that she could be with Jesus in Heaven. I picked that letter up like it was a dead fish, set it aside, and never wrote her back.

In one of those encyclopedias I read about Judaism. I was fascinated. But, oh, I like bacon too much to give it up.

To be continued in an upcoming segment wherein I discuss how I was Wiccan for awhile, because all 19-year-olds become Wiccan, don’t they?

* One particularly interesting Easter service was lead by a pastor who, as it turned out, was off his meds. We were treated to a very long sermon about how we had to go out and save as many souls as possible before the upcoming nuclear holocaust. There were a whole lot of confused old ladies in the congregation that day and a whole lot of interesting talk over our baked goods.


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