Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Holy Roller.

The media was in a frenzy over the past week, due to Florida pastor Terry Jones' announcement that he planned to host "Burn the Qu'ran" day at his church on September 11th. He rationalized his decision with the usual claims that "Islam is of the devil," and added that the burning was meant to expose Islam for the "violent and oppressive" religion that it is......although I suppose burning things is not violent? Ultimately, Pastor Jones got the publicity he wanted had a change of heart, and the burning was canceled, but it prompted me to write about my own thoughts on religion--and I have a lot. Brace yourselves folks, this is gonna be a long one.

Religion has been a part of my life since a very early age. As a little girl, I went to church in Illinois with my mom and was an honorary member of the adult choir. My mom always tells me the story of how I told her that I wanted to be baptized at the age of 3. She told the pastor about my request and he talked to me to make sure I understood what I was doing. They realized I was serious, and arranged the baptism ASAP. My father didn't attend because he thought I was too young to make that decision on my own--but that's another story. Eventually we moved to St. Louis and visited a number of churches, but never found the "home church" that a lot of people speak of; the church that they have been going to for 20 years and will continue to go to until the day they die. Nah, I never had that. We would join a church, but then some scandal would occur and my mom would decide it was time to bounce. Through it all, she still made sure that my siblings and I read our Bibles, prayed, and listened to that good ol' gospel music just about every day.

When I was about 18, we joined a small church where the head pastor was an older single woman with kids around my age. This was a time in my life when I was angry as hell about everything, every day, for no reason in particular. However, the pastor at this church didn't seem to be fazed by my abrasive attitude and she could usually tell when something was wrong with me. She gave me her phone number and I would call her when I needed to talk, and she gave me the encouragement I needed. Her sermons always seemed to relate to whatever I was dealing with, and I ended up in tears every Sunday (and anyone who knows me knows that I am not a crying person). It got to the point where I decided to join the praise team and sing in church occasionally, which was another big step for me because I can't stand talking or being in front of a crowd, much less sing in front of one.

It seemed that everything was all good, but of course, some bullshit had to come about. There was a boy at the church who my mom was convinced was possessed by the devil. He had this crazy look in his eyes, and was always instigating in an attempt to get under people's skin. He also took it upon himself to target my younger brother and poke fun at him. Because my brother doesn't wear pants hanging off his ass, doesn't try to holler at every girl that passes him by, and actually acts like he has common sense most of the time, that somehow translates to being gay. During a Bible study for the teenagers at our church, my brother made a comment and "Devil Boy" retorted by calling him a faggot. Yeah. I, of course, was ready to jump across the table and whoop his ass for being so disrespectful, and in church of all places. My parents heard about it soon after, and spoke with the pastor regarding the issue. I was expecting her to reprimand the boy for his comment, but instead she told me and my brother that we shouldn't have taken offense to what was said. Wait......what? How is that not offensive? How is that appropriate? How can you condone a homophobic slur in the "house of God?"

Things went downhill from there. Devil Boy's mom was always giving me and my brother dirty looks as if we had called HER son a faggot, Devil Boy was still wreaking havoc in the church, then my mom was hospitalized for psychiatric issues for the first time in her life. I was lost, angry, and I started questioning whether or not God existed. If He did, why would He let things like this happen? Eventually we left that church as well, and from that point I refused to go to any church with my family. I stopped reading my Bible, stopped praying, and stopped listening to gospel music. In my opinion, none of that mattered if bad things were going to happen away.

Then I moved to Florida, came back home for a while, then moved to Atlanta. While being out on my own, I made friends with people who were either agnostic or atheist. At the time, they were some of the coolest people I had ever met. They didn't have that pie-in-the-sky unrealistic view of life that I had experienced dealing with Christian folks, and they gave the same side-eye that I gave to the dramatic people in church who are always fainting and getting the Holy Ghost every Sunday for no damn reason. But then.......they started doing crazy shit too.

So now I'm stuck. I don't want to associate myself with Christians because *some* of them be on that psycho shit like Pastor Jones, blaming an entire religion based off the actions of a small group of people. But I can't call myself an atheist, because as sarcastic and skeptical as I am, I can't bring myself to think there is no God. I don't know where I fit. I don't know what I should or shouldn't do, because I don't want to be a hypocrite like a lot of Christians I come in contact with. You know, the ones who curse people out at the grocery store, smoke a blunt after work, meet up with their married lover during the weekend, but will still be front row and center in church on Sunday morning, singing about how good God has been to them. I couldn't look myself in the mirror if I were like that, and I don't know how other people do. One thing about me is that when I make the commitment to do something, I go all the way with it.

Right now, I only go to church if my mom requests it, I drink, I curse a lot, and I'm not very nice to most people, but I'm not playing the role of Ms. Holy Roller when I get around other Christian folks just to "appear" that I'm living my life for Jesus. I feel that when (and if) I make the decision to get back to living my life for Jesus, all of that has to stop. And I can't say that I'm ready for that. I could probably go on, but I'll stop here.


DaBossBitch said...

Wow. Religion is SO personal to me. And mostly for the reasons you have had problems with the church folk an non church folk. Now I live my life with a positive spirit which is what I believe any higher power really wants.

☻TABOO♥ said...

Amazing post. I, like you, was raised in the church. My mother was a dope fiend and my father was Ike Turner so as a result my paternal grandmother ended up raising my sisters and I. Long story short: religion is VERY important to me. It is so discouraging when "Christians" act a certain way that deter others from wanting to experience what they claim to experience. I have been witness to soooo many of these hypocritical people and I smh each and every time.
I am no saved, sanctified, filled with the HolyGhost Holy Roller by a loooong shot but I read my Bible, pray, fast, and believe in God. My issue right now is frozen margaritas with salt around the rim... lol As soon as I break free from the hold those things have on me, Im sure I'll hit Holy Roller status in no time. LOL
Like you, I feel once I make the committment its going to be ALL or none. I dont want to play around with God and give others who are seeking Christ or those who desire to know more about Him, a bad impression of what "Christians" are and how they act. I want to be a good example for them to follow. Im not at that point yet... but soon♥
(Wow... that was long. Sorry. lol)

UglyCleanBroke87 said...

Thanks for the comments ladies. Taboo, I know what you mean about not wanting to set a bad example for people who are still trying to find God. That's why I don't play the religious role, because I don't want anyone to go astray due to something I did or said. I read your post a while ago about your really touched me. I hope everything is going well on her mission to get clean.

Anonymous said...

One of your best posts.

Reigion has a tendancy to divide people. I guess that's the main reason I don't practice it... However, I do believe in God (which doesn't seem to make sense to people. They automatically associate God with Christianity & assume that it's impossible for me to believe in a higher power/creator if I don't claim to be any particular religion).

But back to your post, MAJOR side eye to that ignorant little boy who kept giving your brother a hard time. Isn't church supposed to help put an end to that kind of judgemental behavior?

Anonymous said...

SMH @ me mis-spelling "religion"

Tee aka The Diva's Thoughts said...

I often find myself questioning certain aspects of religion. I am a very analytical and rational person so if something sounds far fetch or unrealistic I tend to not beleive it. I, like you , can not bring myself to ever say there is no God. I strongly believe in God and will to the day I die but I not so sure about this whole after life thing. My rational brain just can't let me believe there is an actual heaven or hell. I just can't. I have a lot of religious and spiritual growth to do on my own.

Moet with Medusa said...

This was very compelling and your honesty is refreshing.

I think a religion is as good or as bad as its practitioners.

Having said that. Humans are not perfect. Nor are their ideas, institutions or politics. Perfection is a quality of God alone.

Where there is a large assembly of people you are bound to have some problems and confusion.

Stay true to yourself and live the best life you know how to live.

Great blog. I love your writing.


UglyCleanBroke87 said...

Thanks to everyone for the comments.

@Moet I think what you said is very true. Its not God that is the problem, it's the people claiming him who bring all the drama. I must admit that I am guilty of expecting perfection in a lot of people, including myself. However, I feel that if church is supposed to be a place to get away from worldly things and you still experience the same nonsense, what is the purpose of going? This is why I believe religion should be more about the individual and less about the place that someone chooses to worship.

MindOfACreator91 said...

Deep post sis... as I read the stuff about that church we went to I got upset all over again. Thanks for keeping it REAL.

Poppy said...

I understand where you are coming from...I stopped going to church when I was in middle school. But when I was in college I started to believe that there is no God & I was happy w/ that, well so I thought. All of my friends were non believers or non practicers.
Now I'm a believer & I try not to worry about other christians in the church. I hated going to church for the same reasons you do, because most are hypocrites. But now I'm there to listen to the word & listen to God. I smoke, drink & curse like a sailor but that doesnt mean I shouldnt listen to Gods word & read my bible.I go to church bc I want to change & stop doing those things. Its a process & no one is perfect, we cant judge others in the church, just focus on yourself.:-)

Since you already believe in God, just pray & ask Him to help you find your place when it comes to religion. I dont think you need a "religion" just a relationship. Sorry for rambling, just speaking from experience.