Friday, March 25, 2005

Church

I grew up sort of in the church. We were always late, dressed to kill and generally yawned our way through the service. The traditional Black Baptist church likes to seize the opportunity of a captive audience on Sundays with three to four hours of biblical drama and musical theatre. Our family usually arrived 20 minutes late, copted an attitude over our "bad" seats and then settled down to the business of being bitchy.

My mother was a scandal at our tiny county Baptist church. She looked at church as an opportunity to educate the "peasants" on fashion, which required a proper entrance and a lingering exit all taking place whilst looking down her nose, being standoffish and generally bitchy towards everyone there. Since she's about 4 feet 11 inches that looking down her nose thang was quite an accomplishment.

There was an effort at some point to incorporate Sunday school into our lives. Being a "late" family, it was sporadic at best. Add to that the fact that my sister and I were already AngryBlackBitches even in our youth and you can only imagine how Sunday school went down. My favorite experience was the day we were studying some book in the Bible and the teacher asked my sister about God. Being a questioning sort and I suspect a wee bit confrontational due to puberty, my sister refused to answer the questions about faith and belief in the expected fashion. Her "I don't know" and "I need more proof that what you've got" come backs just kept coming. The young teacher was beyond himself and the whole incident ended with my sister up against the church wall and the two of them exchanging verbal arguments while the rest of us looked on in amazed horror. Needless to say, our Sunday school days were over.

As I observe the ritual of yet another Christian holiday I remember my early years in the church. We never really went for the "right" reasons and we were actually more of a Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas family. Church to our family was an obligation that was endured so that we could show off new hats, outfits and expensive handbags. Later, religious holidays evolved into food specific events. Christmas meant cakes and pies. Easter meant ham and Easter eggs. Oh, and we often had to suffer two days of religious programming which involved my mother splayed out on the family room floor covered in blankets while chain smoking with a tepid cup of tea in front of her. She would usually sleeping soundly until you tried to change the channel, at which point she screetched that our "heathen asses" needed to sit down and "get some Jesus". And so we watched Charlton Heston part the Red Sea over and over again until we actually embraced the power of prayer and called upon a compassionate God to make the movie end or put us out of our misery!

This Easter I plan to watch the Sunday morning political shows, walk my dogs and eat red meat for dinner. Now that I have TiVo I no longer have to suffer through the parting of the sea or the condemnation of my heathen soul. Behold, the power of prayer!

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