The First Seventeen
While casting about for words to put between the pictures, I remembered this email I sent a couple of years ago.
Religion and autobiography are a dangerous mix, but no one is forcing you to read this.
I suppose I have been remiss in answering your last letter.
I was a Southern Baptist all my life. Arguably, I became a Baptist when my mother converted in 1938, but really didn’t get with the program until I was born in 1954.
First Baptist in Atlanta was a big church on Peachtree Street about a mile north of downtown. (A few years ago, they sold the land to a developer and moved to the suburbs. I was working a block away when they tore down the building, and got some chips of brick as a souvenir.) I sang in the "cherub" choir, which was quite an experience when we performed in front of a full house. I have good memories of Sunday school, vacation bible school, and the choir program.
One thing I did not like, even at that young age, was the preacher. He was a greasy haired man who shouted a lot and had a mean streak. (Sounds like some of these bloggers). Years later, I heard rumors (from more than one source) that he was gay.
There is one thing I will always remember. We were watching him preach. He shouted, "this is the word of G-d", waved a bible in the air, and slammed it into the pulpit. I thought, if that is the word of G-d, maybe he shouldn’t slam it down like that, but should be nicer to it.
Around 1962, mom and dad decided to move to a church a bit closer . I liked Briarcliff Baptist. About this time, I first heard about being "saved from sin" and thought it was a pretty cool idea.
I also was in cub scouts, and since their meetings were the same day as choir practice, I quit the choir.
I attended church regularly the next few years, but never did join the church and get baptized. There are some other family issues that came up about this time, which is way too personal to get into here, but affected my attitude towards the church.
The Baptist custom of pressuring pre adolescents into “making a profession of faith” and being baptized is a gruesome form of child abuse. It is the emotional equal to what “some” Catholic priests like to do with pre adolescent boys.
After a while I was 17 years old, and working in a restaurant that was open until 1am on Saturday night. I decided one Sunday that I didn’t want to get up for church. I have only been back to that building once in the intervening 36 years. (I was a delivery driver for a blueprint company, and I delivered a copy of the plans for a new sanctuary)
Spell check suggestions for this feature:
atlanta- alternate, alter net, atlantic, atlantis
haired- hairdo, hared, hayride, hailed, highroad, harried, hatred
While posting this feature, I cut the TV on to watch a bit of Monday Night Football.
MNF is no longer available for free, but is on ESPN/pay tv. It is the end of civilization as we know it.