Sunday, October 5, 2008

You can always take the bus.

My parents weren’t much for organized religion, or disorganized religion either, as far as that goes. It was always implied that both of my parents had been forced to go to church as children and they weren’t going to do that to us. In fact, aside from saying Grace on Thanksgiving and knowing that we owned a copy of The Living Word Bible, religion wasn’t really discussed in our home.

Every summer when we visited our grandparents we went to the little Methodist church down the street from their house. It was dusty and attendance always seemed kind of low, but if memory serves me correctly, they had doughnuts, which is never a bad thing.

We also rode the “Church Bus”.

We lived in the Bible Belt and I suppose the idea was, if you can’t redeem the whole family at least try to save the kids.

It worked like this. Every so often someone from the youth ministry of a local church would tract out our neighborhood. They came to the door and asked if they could come by on Sunday and take the kids to Sunday School. My mom, knowing a good thing when it knocked on her door, never passed up an opportunity to have our little souls cleansed, or for her to have a morning off.

The first time I remember going I was in the second grade and we lived in Alabama. The bus came and my younger brother and I rode with a bunch of strangers singing the “B-I-B-L-E” and “Yes Jesus Loves Me” through the countryside. When we arrived we were split into age groups for a lesson then all brought back together in a large room where we were told about sin and strongly encouraged to come forward and “Be saved”.

If you wanted to be saved you were to come to the front, then the group of you was taken to another room, for the casting out of demons I suspect. I never had the courage to go to the next room. I was always curious, but also afraid. My mom, never known for her consistency, would send us for a few weeks then we would stay home until a different church came to free us from the bonds of childhood sin.

After a while I started to break out into hives when I went to church. Really. Itchy red hives. I got a stomach ache too. My mom never could figure out why I only got them on Sunday.

When we moved to Kentucky she was able to get us on the Vacation Bible School circuit. We got to go on “vacation” 3 or 4 times every summer. We made macaroni necklaces and popsicle stick crosses.  It wasn’t that bad, I think those church ladies felt sorry for us, they were always really nice, in that “poor things are being raised by heathens” kind of way.

Eventually we were too old to ride the bus and we got to stay home on Sundays. Of course growing up in the south, most of my friends were being dragged to church every week and being reminded of their eventual eternal damnation on such a regular basis that I felt fortunate that my parents didn’t care about my salvation.


Ward and June said...

We never rode a 'church bus' but everytime someone wanted to take us to church we jumped at the idea, my parents really didn't seem to care either way. It was those experiences, going to all those different churches that had a lot to do with my current position on religion, or at least organized religion.

Shelle-BlokThoughts said...

I am well into an organized religion but I LOVE IT...unfortunately it never gave me the opportunity to ride on a bus...I feel as if I missed out! :)