Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Jesus Loves Me

I was just reading Toad over at To The Manor Born. He was talking about being raised in parochial school and they would be made to adopt a “pagan” baby. Now I wasn’t raised Catoholic I was raised Bathtist and we didn’t adopt pagan babies. Nope not us. They did not send us young sweet Bathtist children out on the streets to beg for donations for the Pagans nope un-uh. That was not the Bathtist way.

Let me explain a little about growing up in the Bible belt. You see the town I grew up in had every kind of church you could imagine. I mean there were Methodologist, Luttereens, Catolholics, Pissoffpalieans, Pressedbeeferrytons, Assembliedgawds, Churchofcripes and of course Bathtist. Now there were three religion related universities in my home town too. There was a Bathtist University, A Methodologist University and a Churchofcripes University. So we had lots of religion in our home town. There were so many churches and so much church goings on that I think that Jesus himself lived down near the creek. Only every one called him HeyZeuse and made fun of him because he was kind of developmentally challenged. I thought HeyZeuse was cool because he had the name of Jesus, so he must have known God up close and personal.

There is an old joke about a little town that has a corner where on one corner there is a Churchofcripes Church and on the other corner there is a Bathtist Church. One Sunday morning the choir director at the CoC church tells his congregation to turn to page 324 in their hymnal and sing “Will There Be Any Stars In My Crown”. Upon hearing the CoC congregation singing this song the Bathtist choir director instructed his congregation to page 243 and sing “No Not One”. I know old joke but that describes my hometown. What I mean is the Bathtist would say “If you’re not of our church your going to hell.” Then the Methodologist would say “If your not one of us well, guess you’ll be warm for eternity.” The Churchofcripes would say “If your not one of us then you don’t exist” and on and on it went. It was neighbor against neighbor, church against church, vacation bible school against vacation bible school. No really. One summer when I was about six years old I attended the Bathtist Vacation Bible School and then a week later I was invited by my best friend to go to the Churchofcripes vacation bible school and then one of my other friends asked if I would like to attend the Methodologist vacation bible school. One thing was for certain; my mother had a lifetime supply of macaroni necklaces and crayon pictures of Jesus. Oh and just so you know it was HeyZeuse down by the creek and not the Lord’s Son that I drew. They just said “Draw Jesus”. They didn’t say which one.

I attended all of the vacation bible schools I drank the Hawaiian Punch and I ate the cheese crackers. I made macaroni necklaces and drew pictures of a mentally challenged man who lived in a shack by the creek named Jesus. I sang “Onward Christian Soldiers” and “Jesus Loves Me” at the top of my lungs, sometimes with instrumental accompaniment and sometimes not. I said the Lords Prayer and recited scriptures by rote that we were instructed to memorize. I did these with zeal and fervor. You see I believed! I wanted to be a good Bathtistmethodologistchurchofcripes Christian. I wanted God to listen to my prayers and I did NOT want to burn in the fire and brimstone that Brother Bettherthanyou was always preaching about. When I died I wanted to hear this booming Charlton Heston voice say “Gladys I saved you a seat you will be sitting on my right.” So I did these things right up until the very last day of vacation bible school at the Missionary Bathtist Church. You see that last day Brother Betterthanyou got up and gave an especially moving sermon. He Thee’d and Thou’d and spoke of having a testimonial. He told us the only way to have a testimonial was to become a missionary. A missionary of God. He had me. I was with him…right up until the time he told us that we had to swear. Not just swear but swear to God with our hand on the bible that we would become missionaries. He went on to say if we did not become missionaries then we would go to hell where we would burn for eternity. I stood there in my bobby socks and my Hushpuppies aghast! I just could not make this pledge. I could not do it and I just knew that my eternal soul was doomed. I was doomed to the firey pit of hell with Hitler and Moosaleeni. I knew this because Brother Betterthanyou told us they went there for killing a whole lot of people in a far away land. I was torn as to what to do. Place my hand on that bible and swear knowing I could not go through with it or to just hide behind Ms. Sarah our teacher. I chose to hide.

I went home and was crushed. I felt dirty. I felt awful. I was a terrible person. I was a sinner of the worse kind. I was going to burn in hell. Finally my mother had had enough of my moodiness. She walked over to me and said “Gladys, what the hell is your problem today? What are you all in a twitter about?” That was it I couldn’t do it anymore it all came flooding out in a rush of racking tears and snot. “Mama, I’m a terrible person! I’m gonna rot in hell.” She picked me up and set me on the kitchen counter and said “Now why would you burn in hell?” I looked at her through my tears and said “Cause I couldn’t swear on the bible that I would be a missionary.” Meme looked at me straight in the eye and said “What the hell are you talking about?” I blew a big snot bubble out of my nose sucked in a hic-cuping sob and said “They made us promise we would become missionaries or we were going to rot in hell and I don’t want to be a missionary.” Meme probed a little bit further trying to get the whole story out said “Well that’s a bunch of bullshit. You don’t have to be a missionary and you won’t go to hell.” She gave me a cookie and sat me back down on the floor. Then a the corners of her mouth turned into a smile she took a puff off of her Benson and Hedges and said “Just out of curiosity Gladys, why don’t you want to be a missionary?” I looked up at her wide eyed and said “Because I don’t want to go to Moezambeek and eat monkey meat.” To which Meme replied “Well good for you!” and walked out of the room laughing. I knew right then and there if my mother had anything to do with it I would go to heaven whether I became a missionary or not.

9 comments:

Queenie said...

Poetry today, Gladys. Pure poetry.

Renovation Therapy said...

OMG. I was hysterically laughing while reading this. I went to the same Vacation Bible Schools. My Mom still has the cross made out of burnt matches and the key ring holder I made for her.

I'm sending a direct link to this on my blog.

--Jean
PS Your Meme rocks the house.

Jenni said...

Jean sent me...

Oh goodness. I live in a Bible Belt town just like that ! Too funny..

lagirl said...

This brought back great memories of Plaster of Paris handprints that we made in VBS. Have you seen a VBS recently? They are high tech adventures and super-fun, none of the marching & singing stuff we used to do.
I loved VBS.
It always meant school was out and summer had begun. Great Memories!!

terri said...

Religion is traumatizing. When I started going to Catholic school in 5th grade, the nasty, mean Nun who was my teacher taught us, "Catholicism was the first religion and is the only true religion and if you have friends or relatives who are not Catholic, they are going to hell."

Can you imagine how awful it was to have that thought floating around in my 11 year old brain? And I believed it too, for quite a few years. Wish I'd have had someone like your mom to steer me straight back then.

VE said...

Ha! Love it! I wanna go to a Pissoffpalieans church. No really...it sounds like fun...

How'd you find my blog? I'm not recognizing anyone on your blog roll. Thanks for stopping by. Do so anytime...

Laura @ the shorehouse. said...

I came here from Renovation Therapy and just love this post! I saw/heard a lot of similar crazy talk in 12 years of Catoholic school...and my mom has the macaroni necklaces to show for it.

Toad said...

I look forward to meeting you, on the other side. Shame though about no pagan babies.

Toad said...

NY judge: Religion aside, monkey meat needs permit
– A federal judge in Brooklyn has rejected a Liberian woman's religious reasons for smuggling endangered monkey meat into the country.

Could have been you