Sunday, January 07, 2007

My Spiritual Journey - Part 1

Lest ye think I have always been a heathen, I thought I would fill you in on my spiritual background.

I was raised in a church-going family. We were members of the Evangelical United Brethren (E.U.B.) church in Coffeyville, Ks. Mostly what I remember is having to dress in uncomfortable clothes and sit in uncomfortable seats for what seemed an eternity. The fact that they talked a lot about eternity and just how long that was didn't really help much.

The only pleasant memories I have are getting to see my aunt, uncle and cousins; the fact that the church was right across the street from the Bunny Bread bakery (the aroma was heavenly), and making cool shit during Vacation Bible School.

We moved from Coffeyville, Ks. to Mulvane, Ks. when I was about 7. I remember that Mulvane was so small we had to drive to Derby, Ks to go to church. Don't remember which church it was.

When I was 8 we moved to Excelsior Springs, MO. The only church I remember attending there was the Methodist church which, interestingly, merged with the E.U.B. to become the United Methodist Church in 1968.

We went every Sunday. My mom sang in the choir. I remember going with her to choir practice on Wednesdays and playing in the basement with the other choir brats while they practiced upstairs. The leader of the choir was also my music teacher at school.

I remember going through catechism classes and having to memorize a bunch of stuff before getting baptized and becoming a member of the church. At least I think that's what it was all about. At one point I was offered a chance to be an acolyte. I turned that shit down over and over again until they finally got the message. I had NO desire to put on robes and light any fucking candles. Just showing up, sitting still and keeping my mouth shut took everything I had to give...I didn't have anything left over for the "show binnis" part.

I don't remember ever getting anything positive or comforting out of church or feeling comfortable there. It was never anything more than a pain in the ass obligation that I had to do because my parents said so. The clothes were uncomfortable, the seats were uncomfortable, the music sucked and I felt like every single adult there was watching me, evaluating me, judging me and trying to find some flaw.

Then one Sunday, I was sick. Too sick to go to church. I was old enough that I was allowed to stay home alone while everyone else went.

HELL YEAH!! I remember that Sunday morning well! Had the whole fucking house to myself! Mom, Dad, little sister and both little brothers GONE! I was probably 12 and it was the first peace and quiet I had experienced in my entire life! Read the newspaper (I was quite precocious), watched Meet The Press, had a little breakfast (I started feeling better very quickly). And God never did strike me dead for lying about being sick or missing church. Talk about a Holy Experience.

That was the beginning of my slide to Hell. Learning that I could wear comfortable clothes, sit in a comfortable chair, enjoy some peace and quiet while catching up on the world around me instead of posing for the neighbors and pretending to be something I wasn't.


travelingal said...

Well, XO, times have changed. I could point out dozens of churches in the KC area where even the pastor wears jeans and a shirt that isn't tucked in, where the seats are comfortable and where the choir has been replaced by a Christian rock band. You might be pleasantly surprised at this new level of comfort. It's a totally different experience than the one you and I grew up my case where the pastor rapped us on the knuckles with a ruler if we failed to memorize our lesson for confirmation class.

I'm not about to try to evangelize you here though I will say you might try it again after all these years to see what's happening...

Blessings my friend (smile)

Little Miss Chatterbox said...

I was checking on my links and noticed that you linked to me and hopped over here to see what you were posting on.

I wanted to let you know that I can relate to this post. I grew up going to a United Methodist Church too and I hated it with a passion. I still remember my dad catching me reading a book during church and how much trouble I got into.

Anyway, we went to a different church when I was 13 and my view of churches has been different ever since. Travelingal is right about how so many churches don't care if you dress up anymore. My husband is a youth pastor at a fairly conservative church but I occasionally where jeans even there. If I got to pick though I would go to a more modern church where dress and other exterior things like tattoos and earrings didn't matter but the core, gospel message was the same. And amazingly there are a lot more churches out there like that than you think. I just read about Jay Bakker's punk rock church and it looks pretty neat.

Anyway my take is there are a lot of very traditional churches out there that are very boring and don't offer a genuine, life changing message. On the other hand there are some that are very real and the people are warm and friendly and where the gospel is real too.

Iwanski said...

Your journey to wisdom is interesting, and I assume it goes on.