Sunday, June 23, 2013

Me & Jesus

You haven't asked (no one ever does) what my thoughts are on Jesus.
The Man, the Myth, the Legend....

I grew up Methodist. Which usually meant, for me, sherbert soda punch, passing notes in the balcony, zany Pastor Bill after a Mr. Rogers-like Rev. Trembly, youth group scandals, getting in trouble while being the acolyte, puppet shows at nursing homes and schools, and killer acoustics in the outside hallway that had a wrought iron gate where I used to sing Madonna's "Like A Prayer".
I also learned how to play pool there.
My mom taught Sunday school when I was in middle school and gave us the low down on all the scary shit in Leviticus and how the disciples were brutally murdered.
Cuz that's how we roll.
There were buttons in the Grand Poobah's pulpit to control the lighting in the sanctuary.
The bell choir was amazing and my favorite at Christmas time.
Church was beautiful at Christmas time. All the candles and outdoor singing of Silent Night.
Potlucks and bazaars.
I remember one church bazaar where there was an entire table of books. I rummaged through and found a Frankenstein book. On one of the illustrations, someone had drawn a giant penis on Frankenstein.
I asked mom if I could have that book and it ended up coming home with us.
To this day, I swear it was an old book of Pannacake's & she'd been the penis drawer.
Seemed that my father was only in attendance for potlucks.  And maybe some of the church holidays. Otherwise he was left home while my brother and I were forced away from the tv and into stuffy uncomfortable clothes to go hang out with friends and old people for hours.

Youth group was fun. After the scandal, we'd had a few folks leading up the program. We went tubing down the Ichetucknee, and on a Blue Ridge Mountains camping trip that included horsebackin' and white water rafting. We went skiing in the Appalachians. We did car washes and BBQs and spaghetti dinners for fund raisers...
I was 14 and remember asking Zany Pastor Bill why we were supposed to take this story book called The Bible and see it as an historical account of the beginning of people.
"If it was just Adam & Eve, and Cain killed Abel, how was the earth populated? Cuz that's just  gross..."
"How do we go from death to rising from the dead without thinkin' zombies and has no one ever considered it may have just been grave robbers?"
I received a lecture in faith and belief.
Faith and belief were far greater than noticing & pointing out the obvious.
Shortly after my questioning of things, a married couple came in to lead up the youth group and gave us the whole "MTv is the devil and secular music is baaaaaaad..." song & dance.
Mentally, I'd rebelled and started liking darker music, but only after going through a Newsboys/Steven Taylor/Carmen phase. Hey, I'll try anything once.

As an adult, I don't attend church (seeing some of the politics and behind the scenes business aspect of churches while growing up can be thanked for that). I've always disliked organized religion & view it as a safe haven for those not practicing what they preach. Or for those who have no idea how to forgive themselves for mistakes they've made.
There's also an amazing amount of community assistance from churches - so, I'm aware that it's not all bad & my views are somewhat cynical.
On the whole, I find theology/spirituality to be an absolutely fascinating topic of discussion. It's mainly just the church thing that bugs me.
When I was a kid, I remember saying, "Jesus spoke outside. Why are we cooped up in these ridiculously expensive ornamental buildings?"
My first trip to NYC and into St. Patrick's and I was disgusted with the gift shop in the back of the sanctuary. Didn't Jesus drive out the money changers from the temple?

I do not believe Jesus is my savior. 
I do believe that he was a man. And more than likely a surfer, since he walked on water.
He was probably a great story-teller, a bit of a rabble rouser, and may or may not have been a shitty carpenter.
I believe that if most of you met him today, you'd think he was a damn dirty hippie & probably not give him a 2nd look.
I believe that I am solely responsible for my rights and wrongs & hold myself accountable for keeping them balanced and in check.
And I believe that the majority of us are good people just trying to do the best we can, the best we know how.

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