As I said in my last entry, my desire to make something of myself(without the help of my significant other) signaled the end of the “pre-courtship”. Outside of that, the little things that made me see-saw on my faith were starting to come to a head. I didn’t see it though, and I guess that’s why they have the phrase “hindsight is 20/20”.
But they were there, like little seeds that just needed to be watered and given the right amount of sun. And given where I was mentally, I had enough water going on.
I was in my first year of college at Centenary, when I met my first in the closet gay male. He was sweet, he was kind, and darnit…he was very very gay. But for some odd reason it did not bother me. Yet, when I met my friend K, and he seesawed between gay and straight, it bothered me. There were two parts of me at war at this point, the compassionate me who wanted to love and accept both…and the try to be as close to the bible as possible me. And often, the close to the bible me would win. Those who saw this going on, accused me of being bi-polar, a hypocrite, and just being a bitch.
What they didn’t know was that I was really fighting with myself, to the point where I wondered if I was better off dead.
That thought came around often, but I never acted on it at Centenary. I had too many friends, too much homework, and too much drama in my own life to really do the job. But I did alienate alot of folks despite my thinking I was doing my best. But figuring yourself, your faith, and where you stand on things is a long term thing. And I was just beginning.
By the time I hit my second year, I was firmly in the Methodist camp. I believed that there was nothing wrong with being Gay, even if it was a choice(hey, I didn’t say I was PERFECT). I thought women should be ministers, and that those of alternate faiths possibly could be right. But they still needed Jesus since he was the waymaker and loved EVERYONE(nope, still not perfect).
My second year had me in Baton Rouge, at the illustrious LSU. I was scared, as that I was used to being around 999 people, not over 30,000. The problems I had before began to creep up before long. But not before I joined Chi Alpha. For those who don’t know, Chi Alpha is a psudeo greek named christian fellowship group for college students. Kinda like Campus Crusade for Christ, but less warlike in their language. Don’t get me wrong, despite it being labeled as “non denominational”, the money comes from the Assemblies of God churches. But despite that, I did alright. I remember, when I first got there(Chi Alpha), that many of the folks were anti-Bethany. They had stories upon stories which would curl your hair in how scary these folks are.
But yet I was a Bethany member and I did not “drink the kool aid”. Yet. But to be honest, I didn’t like Bethany at first either. I thought it was too big(compared to the campus church), too loud, too focused on folks imperfection and how intelligent people apparently don’t “get” Salvation. And if you ever heard a sermon there, you’d see why I’d think that. It was as if the intelligence you had was god given, yet if you used it in a way that would make the pastor look at you funny( genetics, minister of a liberal church, professor of religious studies….) then you’re giving the devil a foothold. So yes, anti-intellectualism was big there. Another thing I noticed is that folks were a bit too interested in making money. I thought making money was just a byproduct of working, but these folks in my youth group(yes, I was in youth until 25..because apparently real adulthood doesn’t hit until 26) were trying to get land, or if they owned it…they were leasing it. Which there is honestly nothing wrong with that, but if all you talk about is money or the things I mentioned, then that is kinda creepy.
But I did not think it was that bad at the time. Mostly because WOL(Word of Life) tenderized me to be more accepting of the views at Bethany. It really wasn’t that large of a leap.
But there were things that did weird me out, but for the sake of not looking like either a complete sinner or loser, I joined in on:
-I was never to be alone with a person of the opposite sex. It could lead to sin! Or dancing!
-My cell leader had a choice of who I could and could not date. Despite the fact I still lived with my mother, this person had more power than HER.
-I really wasn’t to have non christian friends in the normal way. No, I am to try and witness to them at all times because at any given moment a train could detach from the track and hit them and me, killing us both.
-I couldn’t wear anything from Express, because it could arouse my brothers into lusting after me. So for the most part, shapeless clothing is what I had to go for.
-Any thought questioning the church, it’s theology, or even the leaders is from the pit of hell.
-If I were to hug a person of the opposite sex, I must hug with my lower half away from them(the a-line) or the side(side hug).
These rules didn’t show up the first day I joined the cell group or the church. If that was the case, I would have hopped a train back to Shreveport. No, it was a day by day thing. And couple that with the “you’re not good enough” vibe I got from the leadership, you have the perfect storm of screwed up relationships, unchecked theology, and misogony.
The first on the stop to “wtf-ville” was the encounter retreat. Now let me tell you, I never have been on an encounter retreat like the one I went to my second year of college. For one, I couldn’t have my cellphone. Another, no music. Just me, my clothes , bed linens, and bible. Prayer occured at 6 in the freaking morning, with no time to rest inbetween lessons. It was as if they wanted to gang bang you with all the infomation they had so you’d be more pliable.
The sin list freaked me out. Never, in my child or adult life, had I ever been told(more like forced, no one couldn’t do it without being accused of being either rebellious or even stubborn) to list the sins of myself and my intermediate family. The fact my grandmother and stepgrandfather both were in the Mason’s? That’s witchcraft!
Mom had me out of wedlock? Perversion!
Been molested/abused? Perversion!
Thought about joining another religion(who doesn’t?) Whoredom!(no really, I was accused of that)
And if the mindf*ck wasn’t enough, they have to make you turn it in to your group leader. Meanwhile, there are little groups where I am told that 1)I dress like a whore, 2) My being molested and abused opened a door to satan, and if I don’t forgive, that I am going to hell(oh, and that it was my fault), and 3) Men only want something to cum into. Apparently having a relationship, making a family and being monogomous is something of fairy tales.
To say I felt scarred is a understatement. But to say I wanted to cry, I think it hit the nail on the head.
But what really go to me was the re-enactment of the crucifiction of Jesus.
No horror movie I have ever seen ever prepared me for that.
It was a good idea in theory. Have a robed man(a crush I had at the church, also a sin) and some folks dressed like soldiers do the whole “push me, drag me” bit of the passion story. The only thing that derailed this good idea, was what happened after we got on our knees and they told us to close our eyes.
If what you are thinking what happened was a fake blood covered nine inch nail given to each person which caused them to snap and cry to the point snot leaked into the carpet, then you are right.
You get a cookie.
But what really had me just lose my head, can only be thought of as a mass manipulation on folks with obvious mental problems.