Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Church Hopping

When I was entering my teen years my dad was spending 4+ days at church a week. So much time that I was lucky enough to avoid a lot of family time that we would have had together if not for the church.

My dad was running the sound system on Sundays, at weddings, at choir practices and performances, and at any event that asked for a microphone. He was the only one who could do it, and any adult he tried to teach totally freaked out when it came time to exercise the brain. He also led the youth group, taught Sunday school, and hosted camping trips. When he was at his busiest the head pastor called him in for a meeting. It turns out he wasn't doing enough. He was letting down his fellow christians and the lord almighty. Hallelujah and Amen amirite?

Our family left the church to visit an affiliated church up on some hill they called Mount Scott. You know it's a rich neighborhood when it starts with "mount". This gave our pastor an opportunity to explain to Jesus just how much work my father was doing.

Visiting another church for an extended period of time is not a good idea. At least, not if you have humans around that are still exercising their brains. I'm talking about your children. It's a bad idea that they learn that other churches preach other things. Mount Scott taught us that giving money to the church was the most important responsibility you have as a christian. Every sermon, every sunday, every gathering, we learned about giving money to the church. It was the main focus. At first everyone was friendly and welcoming, but as soon as we became regulars we were invited to learn about rich christians. They go for networking and only for networking.

The youth leader was a hip cat in his twenties, sporting new dread locks and a hand-made bible cover. There were pool tables, video games, instruments, foosball, and air hockey. At first glance I thought it was all too awesome.

Then we sat down together. I was invited to tell my story about how I found the Lord and when I was baptized and when I accepted Jesus as my personal savior and why. Really? Shit. I mumbled something embarrassing, I'm sure. Every church I visited with a friend was like this. If you have to tell your salvation story over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over, what's to stop you from believing it? It was when I was old enough to be constantly invited to tell this story that I really started to believe it was a choice I had made, even though it wasn't. I told the story a countless amount of times and was praised by my peers and elders each and every time. My mother and my grandparents were the only people that praised me for anything else. Religion made me feel like worthless scum, and religious people praised me just enough to keep me desperate for more.

If you have kids and you want to brainwash them to the best of your ability you ought not let them learn that other churches teach other things, and train them to start telling their salvation story as a child, so that it's not such a shock in their teens. Don't let them visit other churches, though, they might learn too much about reality.

We eventually made it back to our home church when things calmed down. From what I remember our pastor never apologized. Why would he? He was only passing on a message from God.

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