A little stream of consciousness writing to help me clear my head.
My early religious upbringing has been on my mind a lot recently. More specifically the guilt I think my mother carries for it. I grew up as a Jehovah’s Witness. I was one of those people who knock on your door on Saturday morning.
My father wasn’t one of those people. He was a true American protestant. Translation: the only time I remember going to church with him was when he was mad at my mom. (You can laugh at that joke, I do.)
There was a lot of crap that came along with belonging to an outside the mainstream Christian denomination. There was a lot of cognitive dissonance that came along with having parents that did not share a single belief system. Christmas? Is it good or bad? Saluting the flag? On one hand, blasphemy, on the other patriotic. Birthdays? Joyous celebration or remembrance of Salome asking for John the Baptist’s head?
Wow, you might say, how did a young child process all that? Well you’d be giving my young brain far too much credit if you believe that the dichotomy of my life even registered in my consciousness. Mostly when I think about my childhood I remember watching Uncle Zeb’s Cartoon Camp after school. It’s usually only in retrospect that you notice the dysfunction of your childhood.
Before we go any further I should probably clear up some things about the JWs. Everyone seems to think they just appeared one day and that they somehow are like Jim Jones’ cult. Neither is true. They are actually a splinter group that grew out of the Seventh Day Adventist movement. Their founder was a nut, that’s for sure, but no more of a nut than any fundamentalist christian who believes the bible is literal. They are no more of a cult than the Amish or Mennonites or any other fundamentalist sect that practices shunning. AND I will tell you this, they take being a “great multitude of many nations” very seriously. I remember in the early 1970s interracial marriages not just being tolerated but celebrated as much as any marriage.
An intolerance for racism was just one of the gifts of my young religious training.
I have never had a fear of hellfire. Never. I can’t fathom what a life based on avoiding Hell must be like. I can’t imagine assigning anyone that fate. Actually I think that’s probably why so much of mainstream Christianity finds it so necessary to malign Witnesses – they can’t be frightened into obedience. That must be so frustrating.
I grew up being trained to question. When your belief system is different from most other people’s you have to justify it so you ask uncomfortable questions of those trying to convince you you’re wrong. The thing about it though is that eventually, if you’re a thinking person, you start to ask those uncomfortable questions of yourself. That must be so frustrating as well. Hahaha. What goes around, comes around.
I’m actually grateful for that early training because it allowed me to ultimately leave it all behind. The Pope has never held any significance for me. Preachers and pastors have never been above question. Interpretation of scripture has never been beyond challenge in my life.
So, if you’re reading this mom, you can let any lingering concerns go. Your kids are fine – Well, relatively speaking. Hahaha!
Along this journey, and it has been a long and circuitous journey, I realized that what I was searching for was not God but peace, a way to live, a way to order my life, a way to assign meaning where there is none. Have I found it? Eh, some days it seems so, some days it doesn’t.
I don’t believe things happen for a reason although I do believe we can learn from everything that happens.
I don’t believe in any kind of after-life. I believe in a now-life.
I think that any set of ethics or morals should begin in an earth-based reality.
I think that Madonna has always been overrated.
Ok, I think I’m done. Next post I’ll tell you why we sold our cow and may be moving and downsizing.