|This is it: the Presbyterian church I successfully avoided |
for weeks in my pre-teens.
So I thought of a story about Presbyterian Sunday school to give you one layer of why I'm just a cultural Christian, a Christian by birth only (big fan of Jesus, leary of 90% of his followers):
So I hated getting up on Sunday for Sunday school. This is when I'm entering my teen years--no longer a girl, not quite a woman. It simply didn't make sense to me that, the ONE day there is hard evidence the Lord God wants everybody to rest, people have to get up early and go somewhere. That's not cool. If God says rest, then you should be, you know...SLEEPING IN.
My mom and dad disagreed with God. Particularly my mom, because I feel like my dad probably didn't really care either way. He only went to church on Christmas Eve or when my mom guilt tripped him into it. So listen to this fresh piece of hypocritical Christianity bullshit:
Every Sunday, my dad would make my little brother and me get up early so we could go to Presbyterian Sunday school (side note: I don't know if I'm supposed to capitalize "school" or not...I probably should, but I started out lowercasing it, so I'm staying with that). Early every Sunday morning, we'd be unceremoniously yanked out of our beds by my father's loud and demanding voice to get a move on it. We'd have to dress, put on our Sunday best, and then sulk in the back of his car as he drove us to the church.
Meanwhile, guess where my mom was? My mom, the one who demanded this torture occur each Sunday? Oh, you don't know her but I bet you already know the answer: in bed. Fast asleep. Obeying God.
So my dad would dump us, unceremoniously, on the curb on the side of the church. Then he'd peel off into the sunrise. I don't know where he went, what he did. If we'd lived somewhere with bars, he'd have found a place to commune with The Holy Spirit (and buy it beers). We did not have bars, so I bet he found a nice quiet coffee shop somewhere and read the newspaper for 45 minutes to an hour.
I did not enjoy Sunday school. I had a nervous, insecure teacher with bouffant, dark hair and the room was dark wood-paneled and stuffy in the spring/summer, cold in the winter/fall. I remember loving to hear Jesus' stories--what a consummate, innate storyteller, that guy. Other than that, I remember spending a lot of time doing worksheets. Key word in that compound word being WORK. WORKsheets. WORK. Again: the opposite of one of the most important Ten Commandments, second only to not coveting someone's ass (Kim Kardashian's excluded).
I don't know why or how this occurred to me, but one day after my dad had dropped us off and peeled off down the road, I looked across the street and realized: that's a gas station over there. Gas stations sell candy. And soda. And comic books (I always needed good reading material, and I'd read anything when I was a 7th grader...I remember I spent a lot of time at the school library checking out all of the biographies, then moved on to all of the plays, then moved on to the dictionaries. Literally, I ALWAYS had a book in my hands).
|See the side of the church? That's where my pain began.|
Every Sunday morning.
For the next 45 minutes, in this locked stall of the ladies' bathroom, sitting on a toilet fully dressed, I would eat my candy, drink my soda, and blissfully and happily read my comic book. I was RESTING, y'all. Obeying God's word. That's all that was. And it worked beautifully, for many many weeks.
Until it all began to unravel.
The foil to my Beautifully Working Plan started the one Sunday I was blissfully chewing and reading away, and an old lady came into the bathroom. She used the facilities, washed her hands, and then...didn't leave. I froze. I stopped chewing, I quietly closed my comic book on my lap and waited. The old lady stood and stood and stood by the sink for the longest time. (What is she DOING?? I thought. Old ladies are soooo weird, I thought.) Finally, after what felt like millennium, she knocked softly on my stall door and said, "Honey? Y'all all right in there?" Oh God. Oh Jesus.
"Um, yes," I answered weakly.
"You just havin' some trouble, sweet pea?" she asked. I said I was and I'd be okay, I just needed to be alone. Then, bless it, she left.
The nail in my coffin came the following Sunday. Unbeknownst to me, my mom suddenly decided she felt like going to a church service. Now I see that Old Bathroom Lady probably said something to Big Hair Bouffant Sunday School Teacher Lady, who maybe said something to my mom. I HAD to go to Sunday school that Sunday. NO secret gas station visit, NO candy, NO soda, NO comic book. Sunday school. During which Bouffant Hair Sunday school teacher was strangely cool towards me.
After the church service, my mom had a conversation with nervous, insecure, clearly seething Bouffant Hair Sunday School Lady. In front of me, the Sunday school teacher praised my tremendous and obvious love for Jesus' storytelling abilities, then inquired about my health. Was I okay? Today, this Sunday, was the first time she'd seen me in weeks. My mother glanced over at me with disappointed disdain and let me know: we'd need to talk.
Jesus Christ. I mean, seriously. WHAT is an almost-teenage girl supposed to do when confronted with such obvious hypocrisy to the word of God? I think I handled the whole situation with aplomb, and quite maturely for my age.
At any rate, my toilet/candy/soda/comic book days concluded and I was recaptured, an inmate in the prison of dark wood-paneling and WORKsheets again. Bouffant hair. We tried to amuse ourselves; the boys would pass gas just to offend the teacher. The girls would sit sulking and make bitchy faces at her. We were such assholes.
If I ever start a religion, all the pre-teenagers and teenagers will get to sleep in late on the Sabbath. When they do go to church, there will be tubs of soda, candy, and comic books. The way to win people to your deity is through their hearts, NOT worksheets and dark wood paneled rooms. Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Buddha, Ghandi, and Mother Teresa all agree with me; I'm sure I could go to Google and find tons of evidence.