Saturday, May 26, 2012

#59- My Church Life 3

Things just went along well enough at the church.  There was gossip.  There was an "inner circle".  There was a routine.  Then 9/11 happened.  I was awaiting the call to be activated since I was a soldier in the National Guard.  It didn't come until December of 2002.  I felt that God was telling me that 2003 would be the "Year of Hard Work" during New Year's Eve service.  Weeks later I was on a bus to Georgia for training.  In March I was on a plane to the Middle East.  I didn't return until February of 2004.  In between that time I wrote a poem to God and started to read my New International Student Bible by Zondorvan.  I read it from Genesis and stalled at Isaiah.  I had many questions and secured a meeting with my pastor.  He didn't satisfy my questions and I started to research myself.

My mother says that I became a different person after I came back from war.  I certainly was more knowledgeable about the Bible.  Getting things right became very important to me because I was intimately aware of pending death.  My peers did not experience this and thus took the religion lightly.  My pastor was not the "doctor of religion" that I assumed him to be.  By that time I had also traveled to Europe for almost a month and all this traveling, exposure, and reading changed me for the better forever.

I became a bit of a scourge after this.  I didn't like the way the Sunday School class was indifferent about church and religion.  People were late to class.  The teachers were discouraged.  The lessons were boring and elementary.  The Sunday School system was imported from Haiti where they used rote memorization as their main tool.  This did not transfer well and thus Sunday School became on big dog and pony show to me.  Reading the Bible from the beginning caused me to ask questions that were heavy in the Old Testament.  The church was a New Testament place.  Christians tend to use the Old Testament as a crutch to their assumptions in the New Testament.  I would sit there overtly disagree and basically correct the teacher.  I was like a teenager in a kindergarten class.  It sucked.

I wanted to make the class read the Bible so that they could know what I know and see what I saw.  I eventually inquired about replacing my Sunday School teacher after he admitted he was burnt out.  I was given the run-around and was exposed to the red tape and bureaucracy of the church.  Other teachers were simply hand picked.  I had to go through some class.

I had an epiphany after watching Hotel Rwanda that stirred deep passions inside me.  The idea of genocide tortured me.  Yahweh commended it and I was going to tell the church about it since they don't read their Bibles.  Back then I was naive to think that those people wanted truth, peace, and love.  When I showed them the passages they didn't react as I expected.  I suffered a great mental schism around that time.  Me having seen dead bodies, having been at war know the ugliness of that enterprise.  My God was a good god.  He surely could not allow this to happen again.  So I made it my personal mission to vindicate God and make these Christians see things my way.

This was a struggle.  At first I was kind. Then I pretended to be dumb by asking leading questions.  I used logic, reason, sarcasm...none of it work.  I quickly felt like a spy in foreign territory.  This broke my heart.  Sunday School was the place to speak.  I would take that long, lonely walk downstairs to the New Vision side where they would whoop and holler for reasons that became more annoying to me.  I carried the burden of knowing that Yahweh was a monster in my heart and no one would believe me since no one read for themselves.

I would talk to a guy here.  Maybe a girl there.  I would set up clever ruses to make them look at my Bible.  I came to Wednesday night Bible study.  I stayed after church hoping to meet someone who gives a damn.  I rarely made it pass the obligatory pleasantries.

I continued to try to fit in with the Men's Ministry.  I helped usher an event.  I helped do a fundraising.  I gave ideas.  I even gave a check for $2003 as a thank you to God for protecting me during the year 2003.

I went to a Men's Conference in Palm Beach with Pastor Ron and the fellas.  I remember the guest speaker, a large white man, using the Bible to push his message.  During one of the breaks the speaker called our attention to a petition in opposition of marriage equality that was at a table.  He called the people who wanted to give homosexual Americans "reprobates".  I didn't know what that word meant at the time but I can tell by the way his face contorted it was not a good thing.  He might as well say "motherfuckers".  He had so much hate in him for homosexuals.  As he made the announcement an alarm went off inside me.  I almost died to protect the rights of ALL Americans.  I bought into the idea of "Equality and Justice for All".  I looked at Pastor Ron's eyes and the other guys to see if they felt as uncomfortable and disgusted at this man's homophobia.  There was no indication that they disagreed with the speaker.  At this point I had another epiphany.  Every member of the table got up from the table either to sign the anti-equality petition or just to walk around. I had faced death many times in Iraq and here I was feeling like a coward.  The only protest I could muster was to sit at the table indignant at the blatant display of malice against gays.  I still feel ashamed of not saying more.  During another break I went to speak to the speaker hoping to corner him on my genocide questions.  I was so angry at him that I just wanted to spit acid on him.  I felt so discouraged that in this day and age people could be so backwards and hateful.


  1. You have a very deeply interesting story, I hope to hear the rest of it.

    1. Thank you, Stephen. I am exorcising some demons if you will. Your support keeps me motivated.