Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Why I Distrust Organized Religion

When I was a kid, my parents tried out several different religions. (This is yet another of those things that seemed perfectly normal to me as a kid and when I grew up (ha) I realized it was something that not everyone keeping butter in our cupboard rather than the refrigerator (it's a dairy product!)...and my parents going through a car wash naked.) (NOTE TO SELF: How have I not yet written about my parents going through a car wash naked?)

In our Goldilocks-esque approach to finding the perfect religion, we auditioned the Presbyterians, Protestants, Mormons, Lutherans, Methodists, Episcopals ("Catholic Lite" -- same religion...half the guilt), and even went to The Rock Church in Virginia Beach for a few services that involved people speaking in tongues and dancing in the aisles.

At one point we found ourselves attending Sunday services at the chapel on the Norfolk Naval base. Father Rich led the weekly sermon and was extremely dynamic and entertaining. He would incorporate puppets, elaborate costumes and music into his services to capture attention and make his messages relatable. (Apparently, it was a congregation made up exclusively of drag queens, three-year-olds and hallucinogenic drug abusers...)

My parents felt this place was a good fit (of course) and they were all like, "Ooh, Father Rich...he's young and his sermons are contemporary and he really relates to everyone." (Like people who like to go through car washes WITHOUT THEIR CLOTHES ON, for instance?)

Now, at this point in my young life, I was going through the tweener-unbelievably- self-conscious phase and what I wanted more than anything was to go unnoticed and draw as little attention to myself as possible. Having to go out in public traumatized me enough, without the added pressure of having to do the freaking meet-n-greet at the end of whichever church service we were attending. Every Sunday, I'd begin dreading the meet-n-greet about midway through church...enough so that I would almost hyperventilate thinking about it.

And although my goal in life was to blend into the background, I'm not quite sure how I hoped to achieve that in the inspired ensemble I had coordinated one particular Sunday, when I decided to wear hot pink chinos, a Hawaiian print shirt and black Candies heels -- pulled together with my preppy clasp belt (because the accessories make the outfit!). The Candies were new -- and they were my first real high heels. I was feeling about as good as I could about myself at the time and I do remember thinking that the heels made me look pretty hot.

After church, as we were lining up with the rest of the acrobats, meth addicts and bearded ladies to shake hands with Father Rich, I started panicking. I kept thinking about what I was going to say and how stupid I was going to sound and the fact that I probably had to make eye contact. WITH A PERSON. As the midget ahead of me finished shaking hands and it was my turn, I went to shake Father Rich's hand, misstepped in my new Candies, and tumbled down the stairs in front of the chapel. Yes, really. It was only a few steps so I was unhurt physically. But I looked up from my heap of haute couture to see several parishioners AND Father Rich...laughing so hard, I was sure he was going to wet his vestments. Et tu, man of the cloth?

God works in strange and mysterious ways. My early experiences did open my mind and ultimately lead me to my current religion...the one where I worship the Washington Post and a good cup of coffee on Sunday mornings.


JenBC said...

This is such a rollicking good tale. So much to comment on.

First, I am stunned that you come from a butter-in-the-cupboard family. So does Tom, who grew up on a dairy farm. I can't choose that way of life myself, but I'll admit that the butter always spreads really easily when it's not rock hard out of the fridge. Oddly, I remember a friend of a friend of ours going on and on and on at a party about encountering his first butter in the cupboard people. He couldn't have been more horrified if he had found shrunken heads in the cupboard instead. Talk about needing some perspective.

As for the Rock Church, any chance that you just stumbled into a Hard Rock cafe and Father Rich was actually a waiter wearing lots of flair? I know it's hard to keep memories straight after a few pitchers of margueritas.

As for the meet and greet wipeout, I enjoy these stories about your ubershy self because they clash so much with what I would have guessed about you. Keep spilling your secrets.

Dilettard07 said...

Have you ever stopped to reflect upon that trippy moment as GOD CASTING YOU OUT?! I am surprised a trap door did not open, revealing a long shaft all the way to a HELL OF PINK FLAMES WITH SATAN WEARING A LIME GREEN IZOD AND PEGGED KHAKIS!

Although apparently you are still "trying on" religions. . . I said "good bye" to the wife I have known and loved for a long time this morning. And frozen our bank account. Who knows what monster will be at home tonight!

As for the BUTTER, well remember that butter is a hell of a lot older than Frigidaire. Cheese, butter, yogurt, these were all ways of preserving foodstuffs back in the dawn of civilization. The culinary uses and different flavors and textures that we now take for granted were once secondary features. All these items last longer than raw milk at room temperature.

Still, I was not all that up on the shelf life of butter at room temperature. I figured that if one went through it quickly enough (and JenBC, I suspect dairy farmers enjoy their butter), then all would be good.

But I found a nifty web site with some handy butter storage tips:

The Nibble, a magazine I had never heard of. Notably, butter can be stored at room temp for three to five days.

dilettante07 said...

Will you please shut up? I'm on the e-meter trying to get clear!

Tom Cruise just asked me if he could borrow $10,000. He's a card.

Anonymous said...

Rock Church rules. It was one of my first impressions of Kempsville as I became a married-in VA Beacher. Just cracks me up - sitting right in front of the school and across from Stu and Bev's hood. Rock on Princess Anne.

Unknown said...

I am just what age did you discover your parents interest in car washes?

Ri. Short for Maria. Not pronounced like the bread. said...

Good ol' Rock Church is still here. Evidently Pastor Anne has Bishoped herself, too, per the lighted scrolling marquee. I pass it on the way to our gym at the Jewish Community Center.

Now, you'd perhaps think it odd that Catholics (one Irish, one Italian) would join the JCC. Surprisingly, no - we love it. Now, may prove curious to son Liam who will be attending St. Gregory the Great Catholic School next year, but I look at it as more fodder for the shenanigans we parents are obligated to pull on our children.

What? YOUR parents did it, and you turned out perfectly...

Oh. Perhaps we should rethink this.

Dilettard07 said...

UPDATE: Well when dilettante07 got home last night, her eyes looked like she was wearing novelty glasses such as these

OneZenMom said...

My favorite comment on church:

Door-to-door prosyletizer, shoving a flyer through the screen door: "Our church is just such a great place to be on Sunday morning. I just know you'll love it!"

My atheist friend: "My *bed* is a great place to be on Sunday morning, but you don't see me inviting random strangers there, do you? Well, okay, sure, sometimes ... like that really hot guy at the bar last week ... and then there was that sexy couple from the gym, but ... wait, where are you going?"


Sean Scully said...

I had a religion that incorporated puppets and skits. It was called Sesame Street. Question is, am I any more inclined to admit this in public? I am not sure.

Brutalism said...

I love every one of these comments.