Wednesday, March 25, 2015

What Were They Doing in Youth Group?

Cleaning my office I found a letter that arrived last year from my poisonous old church. It was neatly typed out, written by my son Andy on March 5th, 2001. He would have been nearly 13 years old. It arrived last year without notation or explanation. I have to assume it was something they did in a youth group.

Why send it now? Why not simply toss it? It's an odd sort of letter to be done in a youth group. It's from Andy to one of Tom Smith's sons, the middle one. The only one of the three to escape poverty and no education for Jesus. He's in law school now.

I'm betting both he and Andy would get a laugh out of this note.

Here's the letter:

Dear Nicky,
Star wars episode 4 is playing at the movie theater do you want to go? Yesterday I tried to skateboard at the new skatepark, I fell down on my head, what a pain! Speaking of pain Regis just moved in to our house. He kept asking me stupid multiple choice questions, like how many different colors of M&M's there are A:1, B:4, C:7, and D: 1,786 (the answer is D.) 
My new cartoon show "Snap, Cracle, Pop" is premiering tonight 
Your friend, 

I suspect the Youth Group assignment was something like write an encouraging note to a friend and this is what Andy came up with. Which really makes me smile and miss him terribly! This silly note speaks to his sense of humor with the Regis mention and even back then he was drawing cartoons and talking of making a television show/film. He always was funny and creative. He still is.

Ah Youth Group, a waste of time much of the time because at the old church they were busy trying to fit everyone in the same teeny tiny boxes. Laura and I were talking about Youth Group and Sunday School at the old church and she was telling me some pretty funny stories about how stubborn and defiant she had been when the pastor's wife tried to force her to do things she thought were stupid and constantly nagged her for not memorizing scripture like she was supposed to.

I remember those days because the pastor's wife would come to me and advise me to physically discipline Laura and then force her to memorize scripture. It would have been right around the time Laura was five years old, just learning to read. I remember telling the pastor's wife any mynah bird could parrot out scripted lines so I wasn't going to force her. Told her that when Laura's reading skills were better and she had enough intellect to better understand what she was reading we could revisit the idea of reading and memorizing the scriptures but I could not see the advantage in forcing a kid with health issues to do something like that at such a young age. Surely all it would do would be to turn Laura against reading and reading the Bible if she were forced?

What was the response? Another copy of "To Train Up A Child" by Michael Pearl thrust upon me yet again. Again I put it straight into the trash can, like I always do when it turns up at Goodwill or a thrift store. I buy the copies to throw away to keep it out the hands of impressionable people.

Neither of my kids believes in anything remotely like what was taught at our old church and I believe they are both much better for it. Laura's stubbornness and strong will have served her well. She's working on her masters degree while working full time at the university. Andy is working full time in the computer industry and pursuing his art still to this day. Both of the things my children have accomplished academically and personally would have been frowned upon at the old church, I'm just happy we got out in time for both of them to be free to be their truest selves instead of mashed into that tiny restrictive box.


Brian said...

The old church, as you speak of it, is only old because you are new. For the wise souls still living within, it is their everything, the foundation of their lives and it helps them build strong internal defenses to resist falling away in sin. As I see it these days (62 years old, feller, now atheist son of a Baptist preacher) one does not really share with an old-churcher. One perhaps talks in their direction but the words are already tainted with the aura of wrong because they come from outside the church. Once the internal defenses have been shored up by churching, the game is over... unless by some evolutionary blip, one falls, trips into the rabbit hole and suddenly wakes for a moment... a beginning. It is very much like, Lord, I believe. Help thou my unbelief. Once I was free of religion, that prayer began to make some crazy new music in me. I realized that I had never really believed but that I had tried everywhichway to say, Yes. So, in some rather simple-human fashion, the call to Lord was a call to clouds, the nothing. One day I just admitted I knew nothing and talked to it regularly. That day I accepted my non or unbelief. The nothing helped me and still does! (Is that a comment on your post or have I strayed?)

Calulu said...

Brian, your comments are always welcome. The only comments I don't allow through are the ones from people calling me nasty names. Once someone calls me a f*ckhead or worse I'm done with them. There are ways to make points in opposition to something I've said without resorting to personal insults in comments.

But that old church no longer exists in any form. It imploded a year ago, scattering most of the members to the four winds and other churches. Some formed a new church but most moved on to other places. I'm actually glad because it had morphed into a cult before I left.