The Devil’s Lonely Boy, part 1: Genesis

17 Jun

My life began when I accepted Jesus into my heart. I was five years old. This is where my memories begin. My mother wanted me to tell someone so I ran into my sister’s room. “Ann, I just accepted Jesus as my savior!”

I would bask in the glow of God for years.

My mother was saved in her twenties, before I was born, along with her sister. She was raised Methodist by John Birchers but wasn’t really saved until she joined the Southern Baptist church. I don’t know what my mom was like before Jesus entered her life, but from that moment on she was on fire for the Lord.

I was raised on fundamentalist fervor. Hell was a real place, described in detail in the Bible. Every word of the Bible was divinely inspired, true. Secular music was foul, evil. Journalists were leftwing atheists serving the communists in Russia. Jews were God’s chosen people but they had collectively lost their way and for this God continued to punish them. Black people were the children of Ham, one of Noah’s sons, and cursed for Ham’s bad sense of humor—he made fun of Noah when the old man was naked and drunk. Drugs and alcohol bad, movies bad, music bad, dancing bad, Devil bad, Bible good, Christian fellowship good, praying good.

And the end of the world was always nigh.

This was in the early eighties. Gorbachev was the anti-Christ and the Soviet Union was the “Great Bear” of the East in the Book of Revelations. Anytime something bad happened, mom would mutter, “We are living in the end times. The rapture is near.” During the Iran-Contra affair: “We are living in the end times. People need to get right with the Lord!” A report on obscenity in rap and metal lyrics: “The Lord is coming soon, Ben. You need to be ready.” Anytime a pastor in church would enumerate some fresh perversion lurking out there in the hinterlands, she would whisper: “Jesus needs to come soon!”

And I was waiting for Him.

I remember little patches from my childhood: My father makes faces when my mom read Bible verses at the dinner table; On Halloween, my sister and I have to say, “I am a new creature in Christ,” when we hand out candy, instead of “trick or treat,” my mom’s attempt to recapture the devil’s holiday; A middle-school classmate gets admonished by my mother for taking the Lord’s name in vain; I get spanked for watching Bewitched.

Television was the Devil’s box. I was expressly forbidden to watch The Smurfs (“Smurf means ‘demon’ in German.”); The Care Bears (“New age garbage.”); He-Man (“New age garbage and it’s demonic.”); The Dukes of Hazard (“Flagrant disrespect for law and authority.”); Bewitched (“Touch not the evil thing.”); I Dream of Genie (“Unmarried men and women shouldn’t live together.”); Mork & Mindy (“Unmarried women and men shouldn’t live together.”); MTV (“The Devil’s Music on the Devil’s channel.”); Re-runs of Three’s Company were out as was L.A. Law and Hill Street Blues and Who’s the Boss. Anything that wasn’t morally edifying or uplifting, anything with a hint of violence or sexuality, was forbidden. The only exceptions were Miami Vice and The A-Team, shows my dad was partial to. Mister T. emerged as an early hero of mine.

My mom switched churches when I was 11. We moved from the downtown First Baptist church to East Brent Baptist, a redneck congregation with a preacher who looked like Elvis and pews that smelled like wood polish with a hint of brimstone. This new church combined jingoism, militarism, conservatism, and Old Testament-infused Christianity into a new religion. Mom and my older sister loved it; I hated it.

At the same time my new pastor was introducing me to the finer points of sin, salvation, and eternal damnation, my dad inundated me with comic books and science fiction, sneaking me into R-rated movies and blaring rock and roll whenever he got the chance.

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2 Responses to “The Devil’s Lonely Boy, part 1: Genesis”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Build up to invasion of Iraq; shift in political consciousness; and sections of untitled (and unfinished) novel. « simoneandthesilversurfer - November 1, 2012

    […] Christian intellectuals. (You can read a little about my Southern Baptist childhood here.) I read Bastiat. I read Stormer.  I read Lewis. I railed on about nuclear defense satellites and […]

  2. The boy with a thorn in his side, part 1: Saint Simulacra. | simoneandthesilversurfer - October 18, 2014

    […] This sums of Christianity for a lot of people. Including me. […]

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