January 08, 2005

Queenie Does Religion, Again

I used to be religious; I was raised that way. My family went to church most Sundays (and lived like normal people) up until I was about six years old. In the early seventies, though, my mother had an experience with the Holy Ghost and started speaking in tongues. As a result, she came to Know Christ in a very deep way. She began to attend Bible studies in which people sang with their hands raised, to hang around in Christian bookstores, and to likewise drag me to church every time the doors were open, for the next ten years. My father, too, Saw the Light, some two years after my mother's radical awakening, and we three became an intensely religiously involved trio for a good majority of my childhood.

When I say my family took its religion seriously, I mean we took it seriously. I grew up thinking - by inference, I guess - that I would go straight to hell if I dropped a Bible on the ground. My father told me to respect that Book with my life, and I took him literally. When Jesus came around, mother and daddy stopped smoking, stopped drinking altogether - they'd never been big drinkers in the first place - and attended Church or a related meeting at least three times a week. We ate bland food, because the body was a temple. Rock and roll was verboten, because if you played it backwards, it contained Satanic Messages. We prayed over everything. We turned it over to Jesus. Both parents taught Sunday school. Daddy sang in the Choir. We went to endless missionary meetings, revivals, and viewings of religious history programs, such as the traveling "Shroud of Turin" exhibit. At all times, Jesus's eye was upon me. I grew up believing that Jesus wanted you to toe the frickin' line, buddy; if you're going to be a Christian, you have a lot of work to do.

My childhood understanding of Christianity was histrionic and twisted and very, very Southern. I remember one time, back in about 1974, my mother had been sick for a week. Siiick as a dog, with vomiting and fever and the whole nine yards. I was doing my best to take care of her - my father was away on one of his nine billion business trips - but mom was getting wacky, dehydrated, delirious, and I was still pretty young. We had these clay plaques hanging on the wall in the living room, three of them, stylized representations of our astrological signs: Cancer for my mother, Libra for my dad, Sag for little Queenling. It was the seventies, after all. Mother, in her delirium, became convinced that those things were evil and that Jesus wanted them out of the house.

Mother mumbled something about not suffering a witch to live as she staggered down the hall from from bedroom to the living room. She yanked those plaques off the wall, took 'em out in the driveway, and beat them to powder with the hammer she had me fetch from Daddy's tool-box. When she was finished, she sagged back up on the porch and into the house, whispering weakly for me to hose off the pavement. I was flabbergasted. Pictures were evil?

Of course, when her flu subsided, it was getting rid of those astrological Tools of Satan that made her get better. Oh, yes; I had a bizarre religious upbringing.

I was raised on the works of Jack Chick, probably read every tract the vile little man ever wrote in the seventies, comic books and all. Hey, I knew it was some weird stuff, even as a child, but it was the only "kid-friendly" reading material in the Christian bookstore, where I found myself spending more and more of my time. Jack Chick, while scaring the fuck out of me about the tortures of Hell, also introduced me to homosexuality, Wicca, sado-masochism, the concept of racism, the idea of drug abuse, and the reality of pornography. Some effective material, that...as you can see, from my blog. Ahem.

As a child, I was terrified of the knowledge contained in Revelations; the Rapture, the Number of the Beast, the Tribulations. Most kids are afraid of monsters in the closet; I was afraid of a pale horse with a pale rider. I was convinced that I was a sinner, and that God was going to take Mom and Dad, leaving my hell-bound ass behind to face the music with the Beast and the World Government Stormtroopers. I actually used to hide stuff under my bed against the day that I'd be on my own; aspirins, canned food, batteries, radio, flashlight, matches, water purification tablets, New Testament - I was an expert in Rapture Preparedness.

As an aside, I don't know why I was always convinced that I was going to be left behind in the rapture. My parents certainly didn't tell me I was bad, and I was a little kid, for God's sakes; my combined sins wouldn't have filled a thimble. As I grew up I learned to examine my life for flaws, out of fear, looking for sins, looking for them like a monkey looks for nits. Offenses to God. Reasons that I'm Bad. Example - I popped a terrible leg cramp one night, in bed, while furtively masturbating under the covers. I couldn't have been more than nine, and I'd just found out that the soothing self-abuse I'd discovered years ago was a bad thing, a sex thing, a sin. Eww...Anyway, I get this cramp. I'm convinced it's a punishment from God. Terrified, I don't masturbate again for years. True story.

And did I ever mention that I was Bible Bowl Champion of Methodist Alabama one year, in the seventies? Oh, yes, I was. My church threw a dinner-on-the-grounds, just for me, to celebrate. I'm telling you; I was in to it.

Of course, later in life, things changed. The eighties came and mother and daddy's fervor cooled. They're still religious people, but they became disillusioned with the church, started playing tennis on Sundays instead. I went through a period of time, as a teen, during which I fancied myself an atheist. I had an intense year or so of New Age Spirituality and Gaia Love, followed by years of celibacy and training for Catholic conversion, while I majored in something closely resembling western religious history in college. I chickened out on the Pope, though, and became a Nothing. A Queenie is Too Lazy To Be Religious (thanks, Sam).

Looking back, it's obvious to me that I was raised on the religion without really understanding most of it. It scared me. In my childish perception, Christianity was a set of rules to be followed, a precise hopscotch of Thou Shalts that, with proper repetition and serious study, could grant one admission to the Pearly Gates or send one spiraling straight to the Lake of Fire. If you're good enough, you won't get left behind. Oh, sure, you had to Love Christ - but in retrospect, I see clearly that I didn't know what that meant. Sadly, I don't know how much further along I've come with all that, in the last twenty-five years or so.

Is this what you had in mind, Circa Bellum?

I've had modern Christianity on the brain for days. Let me share a piece of beautifully specific language with you - may I? It's English at its clearest. Poetry:

I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
the Creator of heaven and earth,
and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord:

Who was conceived of the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.

He descended into hell.

The third day He arose again from the dead.

He ascended into heaven
and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty,
from whence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting.


If I believe anything, this would be the closest approximation of it. And that's all I have to say about that.

Posted by Queenie at January 8, 2005 12:58 AM


What it most certainly is not is a set of rules, that if you follow you get to heaven. That's everything but Christianity. Though it gets twisted around to sound that way sometimes.

Posted by: Desert Cat at January 8, 2005 01:09 AM

Another wonderful post, going from sex, drugs to God, you cover it all with the most amazing ability to reach out and let us share your experience.

Queenie, your the best.

Posted by: BeeBee at January 8, 2005 05:46 AM

Anything you do is what I had in mind. You pay me much more attention and I could possibly develop an incurable crush on you...

Posted by: Circa Bellum at January 8, 2005 12:21 PM

A lot of what you've written strikes a note of recognition with me.

There are still things in my life that I just 'know in my heart' are wrong, and cannot seem to shake them. I can't even remember, specifically, what my grandmother, or pastor, might have said that leads me to have these feelings.

Like...Halloween.... or AC/DC

I do know this, however, that the few years that I spent with my grandmother, and her deeply held belief in Christ, are what later would guide me through the toughest times in my life.

I was not raised Catholic, but Baptist, so when I was admitted to St. Vincent's Hospital at the age of 28, and one of the nuns came to visit with me, I had a lot of preconceived notions. She, however, spent time with me, and talked to me about Christ, and about Catholicism, and I discovered that, whether Baptist, or Catholic, it all really came down to the same thing.

She gave me a strand of rosary beads, and taught me how to say it.

And, I swear, although I rarely attend church, I have never failed to say the rosary that I did not feel a sense of clarity when I had finished.

I thank God, and granny, for getting me through.

Posted by: jmflynny at January 8, 2005 12:42 PM

Almost makes me feel fortunate to have grown up in a heathen household. (We're all Christians now, however.)

Got here via Acidman. This is an excellent blog!

Posted by: Juliette at January 8, 2005 04:52 PM

Once again you remind me what a pitiful writer I am. I thank you for that, my blogchild. Jack Chick. Shit. In my mercifully short stint as a prison guard I used to pass out Chick pamphlets and other religious cartoons to the inmates. Mostly to piss them off, but some enjoyed them. I have been "saved" by several well-meaning but ill-advised parents, but it didn't stick. I WILL say the next person who calls my Anglican ass a "Catholic light" will feel the sharp end of my Gerber Gator.

Posted by: Velociman at January 8, 2005 07:07 PM

The Apostle's Creed is indeed a wonderful summary..Thanks for posting it.

Posted by: mike at January 8, 2005 08:54 PM

Velociman as a prison guard? Holy shit.

We all need to be saved!

Beware though, he's got a bad ass blade!

Posted by: Sam at January 8, 2005 11:21 PM

link http://lsroyex.brikqu.com

Posted by: yhqmw at October 13, 2005 02:33 AM
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