There was a preacher in my Southern Baptist Church who, on occasion, would mention a church-goer who had not given enough money. He called me several years ago, at the request of a concerned citizen who thought I left the church because I could not get over the misdeeds of the one guy. I was shocked and weirded out to hear from him and it did not help. That church hurt me and even in the midst of my unconsciousness I had enough of me to get out of there. I don’t know where G(g)od lives. Hopefully in our hearts. Hopefully churches are places where people go to open their hearts and feel the god in their neighbors hearts as well as their own. I don’t know though.
Even though I had some tragic and damaging moments, I also had some transcendent moments in church. Some were truly beautiful, usually in involving music. Choirs swelling the front of the altar and rolling the spirit through the knave like a tidal wave; a single person opening her heart and singing god in to me; or a connection when something in this part of the Bible links up to that part and it feels like hyperlinks on the internet, before that existed, but something in me knew that was coming because of how this and that linked up. Other transcendent moments involved groping under hymnals with my girlfriend during the sermon. Etc. Those were quite amazing and I know I am not alone with those memories…
Here is another memory that has never left me and is as authentic as make believe can be, which is super authentic and more real that real can be.
I was at a church camp in which a role play game was acted out. Half of the youth group was the militia sent to stamp out the church and the other half was the church, determined to remain. I was in the church part. Something in me clicked and I believed I was truly fighting for this church. Somehow I had been targeted for early arrest (what I told myself–Truth: wrong place at the wrong time, dude). Anyway, I was arrested and tied up in a dark basement room. It was the middle of the night. I started singing Amazing Grace. I sang as loud as I could to communicate with my other church members. I made up verses. I wept. I believed. It was beautiful and real to me and I am still moved when I think about it.