Image via WikipediaWhen I was a teenager the family went to a week long course called "Institute in Basic Youth Conflicts." It was Christian driven, encouraged by our Baptist church, and kind of fun. I look back and I am sure I believed we all did the right thing.
One thing we had to do was purge Satan from the house. The would of course involve "sending him back to hell" which can only be done via fire. We could not sell or give away any Satanic items, they had to be burned.
That meant, being a teenager, just about all of my record collection. BeeGees, Beatles, Steve Miller Band, Ramones, anyone NOT specifically singing the praises of God was either Satanic or Satan trying to get in. We could not give him one inch. I even had to burn a little Tiki doll that I was i the house when we moved in. My stepmom was uncomfortable over it but I saw it as simply wood, not the idol claimed.
So one day we all took our Satanic materials and burned them on the back porch in a small fire. We were cleansing the house by sending these materials back to Satan.
Of course we spent a summer week at a Christian Camp with singing and praising and all sorts of fun activities. Church included Bible Study for an hour before church, the church time, Sunday evening, and Wednesday evening for kids in similar age groups. I suppose it gives an idle mind something to do, but I could have done without the guilt.
I was taught that AIDS was God's punishment on the homosexuals. Okay, I can understand that, it is simply action/reaction. But when my step-brother died of AIDS I had to ask myself something. You see, I never liked him, but I'd not wish him dead. Does that mean I have a more forgiving nature than God? I am not a liberal by any means. And now that I ask questions my entire background is questioned.
One of my high school teachers pointed out conflicts of information in the Bible. When I confronted my parents, they tell me that any conflict is simply Satan twisting my mind to see what is not there. This was not an answer at all. And for one point of record, a bat is a mammal and not a bird. But the Bible says it is a bird.
Needless to say, the only options I had were being a Christian or being a devil worshiping, masturbating, drug dealing meth addict strung out on porn, weed, loud music, and late night TV. Not very nice options.
I turned 18 on the 22nd, I moved out on the 11th of the next month. No surprise.
Since then I have traveled around the entire world. I have seen the love brought by a religious belief as well as the hate. I have experienced those who wish to share with me every bit of their beliefs, and those who feel that I am invading their privacy by asking. For the most part the main attraction to other people does not involve religion, only personality.
I still have questions. I believe in God, or at least a Creator (the latter does not require worship). I reserve judgment on specific written materials until all the facts are in. I am scared I may be wrong. I am even more scared I may be right. I cannot pray without ceasing. I cannot avoid thinking impure thoughts at least 30 seconds a day. I cannot understand why those who say they are the most forgiving are the least forgiving. I cannot understand why asking questions is wrong.
Tori Amos once said, "I love Jesus. It's Christian's I can't stand." And Napoleon said, "Religion is what keeps the poor from killing the rich."
My life is about half over, and if I die in a natural way I have trouble understanding why my life will be judged by everything from a divorce to a dirty magazine under my mattress that my parents never found. It seems the good means nothing in the long run and only the bad marks are recorded for eternity. Damned if you do, damned if you don't.
I wonder how screwed up I really am.