Sunday, November 24, 2013

Memory: Thoughts on God

Thoughts on God

When I was a child, my mother and I attended a little, independent Baptist church. We didn't attend every Sunday but we were members and I was baptized there. It was about the only social group my mother attended. My father was nominally Catholic but I can only remember him attending a Catholic church once. I was not overly enthusiastic about Sunday School or the church service except for the rollicking Baptist singing. We had a pianist who could rival Jerry Lee Lewis. Our preacher wasn't a fire & brimstone type but when we held a revival, all bets were off. There would be singing and preaching and pounding the pulpit and much weeping and repenting. We would occasionally have dinner on the grounds and that would be fun--lots of food and the best iced tea have ever tasted. 

The trouble started when I was in junior high school and it dawned on me what "Virgin Birth" meant. I remember thinking, "That's not right. That's not the way it happens!" I doubt if I had all the facts of life down pat then but I was a lot happier when it was Mary and Joseph and Baby Jesus. It was all rather disconcerting. Maybe I wasn't a Baptist after all. But that was like saying maybe I wasn't a girl--it was who I was, who we were. 

Now in the 1950s and 1960s in our little community there were Catholics and Baptists and Jews. At least that was all I knew about.  I knew I wasn't a Catholic, although I loved the inside of the Catholic Churches that I had been in when attending a wedding or funeral; they were beautiful and mysterious.  Our little Baptist church was poor and plain and not beautiful at all. And I was sure I wasn't a Jew because we had bacon and shrimp and Christmas and Easter. But it would be a lot simpler, I thought, if all you had to do was keep the 10 commandments and not worry about virgins and rising from the dead. 

By the time I was in high school, I had discovered Methodists and Presbyterians and Lutherans. I was especially taken with the Episcopalians because they had all the beauty and ceremony of the Catholics without the Pope or nuns. One of my friends was a member of the Assembly of God. She invited me to attend a Sunday evening service at her church. All was well during the singing and those people could sing and the pianist could rival ours. But then they started praising God and speaking in tongues. Well, to this little Baptist, that was Satanic or witchcraft or something I didn't want to have anything to do with. I left before the preaching started. Still don't understand glossalalia but it sure wasn't for me. 

Then I went to college and lost interest in religion for a while. I was married in the little Baptist church. The dear ladies of the church were like family to me. They gave me a wedding shower in 1968 and I still use some of the things they gave me. They prayed every day for my husband while he was in Vietnam. They gave me a baby shower when I was expecting our baby. 

In the end I never found the perfect church but I did learn to appreciate the love and kindness of the people in that little Baptist church.

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I feel that religion is a choice not a mandate. I try to see people in the light of compassion rather than a proscribed religion. -- barbara