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10/30/04                                                                                       View Comments

How Heathenism Set One Christian Free

sent in by Jennifer

My mother changes religions the way a restless lover changes relationships. "This church is dry and stale" she inevitably exclaims. "But this other church, this one is alive!" The honeymoon would end with one religion, and before the seat of her favorite pew had cooled, she was putting on her Sunday best to court another. She was smart though, because she didn't just go from the Baptist Church on 1st Ave to the Baptist Church on Langley Rd. No, because Baptists are not EXCITED to receive other Baptists. They are, however, excited to receive their archenemies. What a prize for a Baptist to bag a Catholic. Or for a Jehovah's Witness to bag a Pentecostal. And while saving the soul of your garden-variety sinner is a great prize, it is nothing compared to the sweet victory of converting a soul with roots firmly planted in an opposing religion.

Now, I don't fault my mom for her spiritually promiscuous ways. It gives her a great sense of purpose and affords a lot of attention to someone who would otherwise blend in with the wallpaper. But this is where I enter the picture. As a child, I was unable to process all the psychological needs of my mother, and really, it has taken many years of de-programming and drunken nights to truly appreciate the genius ness of the ways in which she met her need to feel important. As a child, however, what I heard was my mother telling me plainly, "This Church is salvation. The last one? They are going to hell. But this one, this is it. We are officially saved."

"Whew!" my child-brain would think silently, "Good thing I didn't die YESTERDAY in a FREAK ACCIDENT." The thought of residing in hell terrified me. Yet, not a month later, I would find out that the church I thought saved me was actually a ploy by the devil to torment my soul in eternity. But thank God for this new church, because once again, we were truly saved-- this time for really, real, reals.
So I grew up. And like the rings of a tree, with each one representing the year and amount of precipitation that tree had received, my bookshelves told a story too. A scientist could look at my dusty shelves, and with mathematical equations and precise measuring instruments, be able to tell which religions I had been involved in, and for how long. With each religion came books promoting that particular brand of faith, and anti books, explaining away the others with logic they wouldn't dare use on their own.

Then I turned 22. I was a lioness pacing my cage, trapped by a belief system that proffered freedom, but in reality offered nothing but loneliness and misery. Marry Jesus! They told me. Abandon the flesh! Do this, don't do that! Everyone was hearing God's voice, but it was all contradictory. Was God schizophrenic? How could anyone truly know? Then one day the thought occurred to me, if God truly IS who he says he is, THE CREATOR OF ALL, AND ALL TO BE, then maybe he should be A LITTLE MORE CLEAR. Like, hang a neon sign in the sky or something. That would be a small feat for an entity who turned a woman into a pillar of salt, or who allowed a donkey to talk. But no, nothing like that happens anymore. The wind is your proof, they say. God's word is written on the heart of every man, others recite. And when my questions continued unabated, my fellow Christians agreed an exorcism was in order, to cast the demon of confusion from my young, inquisitive body.

That was right about the time I decided to enjoy my very first cocktail. I was already in hell. I figured, what did I have to lose? So I got drunk, and then I got crazy, and deep inside a giant awoke with an insatiable hunger.

Like a girl who had purged her whole life, I was ravenous to experience everything I had denied myself, and I binged on the pleasures of the world. I got drunk, and I fornicated. By 23 I was a stripper. I did drugs, and had sex with my girlfriend. I cried-- a lot. I indulged in the pleasures of the flesh until the sting of their decay infected my soul. But I learned, and most importantly I LIVED.

I am a product today of my childhood, and my adulthood choices. Of course I wish some things were different, but on the other hand, I count myself very lucky. First of all, I survived my years of worldly purging and then binging. I am now the pendulum swinging happily between both extremes, enjoying the simple pleasures of life, but only because I can. And I can because I have experienced the extremes.

Today I am a peaceful spirit, I have nothing left to prove to the world, or to God or Satan or to anyone else. I have only to myself to answer to. If I go to heaven, or hell, or simply cease to exist, well, those are things that will happen of their own accord.

So one day you might see me driving down the road, singing off-key at the top of my lungs like I don't give a damn because I don't. I am the haphazard driver of a bright yellow crap-mobile, and on the tail of my car you will read my one and only bumper sticker, a prayer to our dear Lord above: "Dear God, please save me from your people!" Honk and wave hi. Or, just honk. And if you are a Christian and you see me, please tell God I said hi.


City: Modesto
State: CA
Country: Your Country
Became a Christian: 5ish
Ceased being a Christian: 22
Labels before: Baptist, Catholic, Episcopalian, Greek Orthodox, Pentecostal, Jehovah's Witness, Mormon
Labels now: Born Again Heathen
Why I joined: Because I was raised to believe, and so I did.
Why I left: I asked too many questions, and was told I was possessed by the demon of confusion and needed to be exercised-- a definite deal breaker
Email Address: Jennifer4465 at yahoo dot com