August 13, 2010

Hell, Fire, Brimstone and Blowing Smoke

I don't know a lot about Anne Rice other than her book that was later turned into a movie totally satisfied my obsession with vampires. I love those soul-less, seductive creatures to no end. But enough about one of my many fetishes.

Ms. Rice has been in the headlines lately for giving up on Christianity. As a recovering atheist who finally saw the light, her departure back into darkness is significant. All isn't completely lost. Ms. Rice says she will continue to follow Christ...just not that group that's following along with her.

The famous author cites Christianity's anti-gay, anti-feminist, anti-science and anti-Democrat ideologies as her reasons for separating herself from Christianity not Christ.

I can honestly say I understand where Ms. Rice is coming from. I have my own views about the church, as I'm sure we all do. My personal experiences have left a pretty sour taste in my mouth about the whole thing.

We've all given the side eyed stare when you hear or read things like ministers praying for another person's death or religions casting out faithful followers for the heinous act of saving another human being's life.

My encounter wasn't as harsh or faith-shattering as these but it's not something I expected either.

One of the things my X and I decided to do was try a bit of marriage counseling in hopes of saving our shaky union. We scheduled an appointment with the minister of our church.

I had worked the night before and the meeting was to take place around 10:30 or 11:00 that following morning. In hindsight, that may have been a big mistake. I was sleepy, cranky and not up for a long lecturous preaching to about the virtues of a good wife and all that other yada yada.

So we make it to the pastor's study. His wife is there. I guess since this was "marriage counseling" the pastor felt having his wife there would be a plus. It wasn't

I start talking about things that I have issues with my X frowning and running to the cabinet to anoint me with olive oil every time I pour a glass of wine, pop the top on a beer or cool off with one of those B&J wine coolers. Drinking wasn't and isn't an every day thing for me. But I occasionally enjoy a nice alcoholic beverage.

His refusal to listen to or allow any type music other than gospel to be played in the car, house or on television. Music is my thing. I love the greats: Coltrane, Miles, Luther, Marvin, The O'Jays, Gladys...stuff like that. I mean come on. Who can help a husband serenade his wife better than Luther Vandross?

His total disowning of his own daughter, my step daughter when she had a baby out of wedlock at the age of 21! I drove 2 hours to be with her the morning she had the baby, who by the way, looks exactly like my X. When I called to tell him he had a grandson his response was "I don't have anything!"

After I finished, the pastor looked at me and smiled. He asked me if I had prayed to God to change my husband. My answer was yes. When he was a drunk, an abuser and spent little time with his family yes, I asked God to deliver him from alcohol which always made him violent and kept him away from home.

My prayers, in that respect, had been answered. So, pastor insisted that alcohol was a bad thing.

You have to know me to know that he wasn't about to get away with that one! I pipe in and inform him that I agree and disagree. Anything that consumes you can be viewed as bad - food, gambling, sex, and yes, drinking. X is an alcoholic. For him, drinking alcohol is something he should never do again. X had already made it clear that my drinking didn't make him want to drink. He had completely lost the taste for the stuff. Good. So, I don't see how me drinking a glass of wine is a bad thing.

Wasn't Jesus' first miracle turning water to wine? *side-eyed stare

Pastor's reply: Yes, it was but that wine was unfermented. *matter-of-fact stare

Now I'm really confused. I'm thinking unfermented? Isn't that kind of like grape juice? I've never seen any mention of unfermented wine being served at the wedding in Cana were Jesus performed this miracle...

With that answer I knew where the rest of this was going. He preached about how music can put your mind in places it shouldn't be and can fuel lustful desires and thoughts. Man, I'm talking about listening to love songs with my husband not the mailman!!

He discussed how hurt father's can be sometimes especially regarding bad decisions their daughters make. Disowning your child and grandchild for any reason is a no-no in this mama's book. Our kids won't be perfect and neither are we. Guidance, understanding, and unconditional love is supposed to be what it's all about, right?

He twisted and contorted the word of God so badly that day all I could do to not be disrespectful in the confines of a church house was hold my peace.

So, when I tell ya I can understand where Anne Rice is coming from. I mean that.

When we left the pastor's study that day I was angry - not with X but with this man who was revered by so many people. His power of persuasion over them was frightening. There's no doubt in my mind that pastor had studied the bible. He knew it front and back. And used it as HE saw fit.

It's a sin for children to attend a prom. It's a sin for families to celebrate Halloween. It's a sin to drink beer while watching the football game on Sunday. It's a sin for you and I to share a glass of wine over dinner. It's a sin not to give him 10% of your gross salary every month.

If God, Christ, Allah, Muhammad, Buddha, and Brahma all came back today and saw the state the world was in in the name of religion, I don't think they'd even bother to unpack their luggage....just catch the red eye back to where ever.