Today is Thursday, I leave town on Saturday and I can tell you the next 48 hours are going to be difficult.
You’re probably thinking it’s because I have to say goodbye to my 94-year-old mother and don’t know if or when I’ll ever see her again and that’s part of it.
But what’s really going to make the next two days tough is that sweet, little old lady will try to save my soul before I go back to the Sodom and Gomorrah of the Midwest – Kansas City.
When mom gets on the subject of Jesus it’s like she’s selling life insurance, has her foot in the door and hasn’t met her quota for the month. You cannot change the subject on her and if you try to speak, she’ll talk right over you.
Hogging the conversation is her Christian duty.
Mom can talk about other subjects for maybe 90 minutes and then she’ll try to work God into the conversation and you can see it coming a mile away: she’ll put her hand on the Bible – which is constantly by her side – and ask some question designed to get you on her favorite topic.
The other day it was: “Do you dream?”
This is how my mom works: the do-you-dream question was designed to lead me down the garden path to the following Bible verse.
“In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.” – Acts 2:17
So it’s only logical: if I dream dreams (and thanks for putting me in the old man category, mom) we’re clearly in the last days and I need to get my shit in order.
How can I not see that?
BTW: Last night – and I’m not making this up – I dreamt I had to fight Mike Tyson and he was advising me to take a fall early or he’d really fuck me up and I was considering faking a training injury so the bout would be called off.
So maybe mom has a point: if I ever got in the ring with Mike Tyson it would be my last days for sure.
Do I ask you to go drinking with me?
Every time my mom gets on this subject I say the same thing: I tell her I’m glad she finds comfort in Christianity, don’t want to change what she believes and ask her to show me the same courtesy. As I once put it:
“I don’t ask you to go drinking with me, don’t ask me to go to church with you.”
But she can’t do that, she’s bound and determined to save my soul in spite of myself. I’ll point out that even by her own standards that’s a choice I and I alone can make; she can’t make it for me.
She’ll agree, then get right back to preaching at me and that’s when I say: “Hey, look at the time…gotta go.”
My religious experience
If you believe in God, I’m not trying to change your mind and wouldn’t want to if I could; I’m telling you what I believe and that’s all.
I’ve had this whole Jesus thing hanging over my head since I was a kid. It was made clear to me that I better toe the line or I’d spend eternity in a lake of fire. But if I made the right choice, I’d go to heaven, sit at the feet of God and sing his praises all day long.
Which sounded pretty fucking boring to a seven-year-old and made me wonder what kind of Supreme Being needed billions of former humans telling him he was hot stuff 24-hours a day.
Nevertheless, I formed a plan based on the Tooter Turtle cartoons.
Tooter had a pal named Mr. Wizard and the Wiz would send Tooter off on magical adventures until the shit hit the fan and that’s when Tooter would cry:
“Help me, Mr. Wizard.”
And Mr. Wizard would bring Tooter back safely by saying:
“Drizzle, drazzle, drozzle. drome: time for this one to come home.”
So I figured I could live a life of fun as long as I could work in a “Help me, Jesus” right before the car hit the tree. Seems like damn solid reasoning for a 4th grader.
Shit gets weird
We started off as Southern Baptists and then my mom and a bunch of other people in the church veered off into Pentecostal practices like baptism in the Holy Spirit (which resembled some kind of seizure), prophecy, healing, exorcism and speaking in tongues.
When I first heard speaking in tongues and wanted to know what that was about, it was explained to me that the apostles needed to witness to foreigners and God gave them the power to speak in foreign languages.
When I asked why the people who spoke in tongues seemed to be spouting gibberish instead of German or French, I was told it was an ancient language, long forgotten, which didn’t seem all that handy unless you met up with a Babylonian zombie.
When I recently asked my mom if she truly believed she could speak a foreign language if she needed to, she said yes and next time we go to a Mexican restaurant if she can suddenly habla espanol and order me some fish tacos I’ll start believing.
I give it a shot
Not long after graduating high school I hit a low point – women trouble – and my mom swooped in with Jesus by her side; no wonder I was unhappy, I hadn’t accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior.
So I gave it a shot.
I started reading the Bible and noticed it was filled with all kind of contradictory stuff which was highly convenient because then you could cherry-pick the verse that supported what you wanted to do. And if you decided to do the exact opposite, you could find a verse for that, too.
I even gave speaking in tongues a shot and was told I was doing it even though I’m pretty sure I worked in a “Wop bop a loo bop a lop bam boom.”
God seemed pretty inconsistent; he cared about the minute events of the church members’ lives, got involved all the time, but didn’t seem to give a rat’s ass about billions of people who had the shitty luck of being born in the wrong country.
All the Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims and Jews were clearly going to hell and quite a few of the Christians who chose the wrong branch of Christianity were going with them.
If something good happened, that was God at work; if something bad happened, blame man or Satan.
If I ever get to meet Jim Bakker, I’d put a foot up his ass except I have the sneaking suspicion he’s the kinda guy that would enjoy it.
That motherfucker – and all those other evangelist motherfuckers – preyed on weak people for financial profit.
My mom – who doesn’t have a penny to spare – has a closet full of Bakker Buckets; freeze-dried food for when the apocalypse hits and you want a macaroni and cheese snack while you wait to ascend to heaven. This dude had a sex scandal and went to prison for time-share fraud and still my mom believes.
All those evangelists who stand up there in thousand dollar suits, drive home in Cadillacs and ask people on welfare to send them money are gold-plated assholes and I’ve watched them take advantage of people like my mom all my life.
Wanna play Dueling Bible Verses?
“Beware of false prophets, who come in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits – especially if their freeze-dried stroganoff tastes like a bucket of cat shit.” – Matthew 7:15
Hey, I may have given Matthew a little help there, but you get the point.
The more I paid attention, the less faith I had and even that small amount got destroyed when, after one of my mother’s Bible classes, I had my bedroom window open and heard a guy say this to a girl:
“I feel like Jesus wants us to go out on a date.”
I felt like Jesus should give that dude a swift kick in the nuts for trying to use Him to get laid. The Christians I knew seemed all too human and selfish and didn’t mind using God to get what they wanted.
OK, time to wrap this diatribe up; clearly I had way more to say on the subject than I thought and I could go on for a while, but what do you say I don’t.
Once again: I’m not telling anyone else what to think, but here’s what I think.
It scares the shit out of most of us to think we’re on our own.
Nobody is in charge, making things right or fair, nobody is protecting little children from harm and there are no rules to follow that will guarantee you eternal life. Life is short and random and only as good as we make it.
I think wasting the one life you get to live worrying about what some non-existent God thinks about rock and roll, short skirts, premarital sex and the consumption of barbequed ribs is fucked up.
For me, I try to have fun and not hurt anybody in the process and even those two simple goals are hard to meet.
Yesterday my mom asked me to come to lunch today because she hadn’t cooked for me yet and when I said I didn’t want her to go to the trouble she said it would be no trouble at all:
“We’ll have Kentucky Fried Chicken and I’ll have Bobby bring it.”
Which seems like a pretty loose definition of “cooking” for me. But along with the chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy I’m sure she plans on serving up a heaping helping of Jesus.
I’ll let you know if I convert.