Explanation of Brain Washery and Other Miscellaneous Shenanigans: Article I

One day, when I was 16, I found myself in English class discussing the book 1984 with two friends of mine, Dave and Dawn. I’d known Dave since I was 12, and we had been good friends for some time. Dawn, I had just met in this particular English class. We got along really well, and we ended up smoking pot at lunch on a pretty regular basis.

The discussion boiled down to the issue of God. I said that someone would have to be an idiot to actually believe in God. Dave seemed to agree. Dawn protested vehemently, which surprised me! I think that at the time I thought that anyone who was cool must, by default, be an atheist.

“Shut up! I believe in God!” She said.

“Okay, sure thing! That’s completely normal!” I chuckled. I thought she must be joking.

But she wasn’t. “No, I’m serious!” I was mildly aghast. “How…is that possible, though?” I inquired. “Dude, you can come to church with me and my foster family,” she offered, “we go every Sunday, and we can totally just come pick you up. My foster mom does that kind of stuff all the time.”

I was intrigued, and I never did anything on Sundays anyway, so I told her where I lived.

Their church was very different from anything I’d ever experienced before.  As a child, I’d attended a Catholic church, and there had been a lot of very formulaic standing up and sitting down, along with a hefty dose of somewhat monotonous liturgical recitation. Dawn’s church, on the other hand, was composed of a small, non-denominational group, and they had electric guitars, and people would lay down on the floor and speak in tongues. I thought it was nuts.

One time they had a guest speaker who just waved her arms and shrieked in tongues and everybody fell down like dominoes. I mean it was completely insane. I was the kind of kid who would try anything once, though, so one time, after the service, I went up to the front and asked the pastors to lead me in a prayer for salvation, like I’d heard them offer to do so many times at the close of each Sunday morning gathering. I’m not going to get into what that all entails here and now. If you’re curious, then you can Google it, I guess. Just understand that Google is…Google.

After that, I began considering myself a Christian. I know that different people have different ideas about what it means to actually be a Christian, but I’ve never really been one to give too much credence to what other people think about anything, so that’s really neither here nor there. To me, it simply meant that I believed that Jesus was telling the truth, and that somehow, through ways and means that I totally didn’t understand, God had reached out to me and extended the offer of his assistance navigating the treacherous waters of this broken, twisted world, and that I had chosen to take him up on it.

I guess that’s enough for Article I. I am trying to put together a systematic explanation for how I ended up being capable of being convinced that a narcissistic heavy metal drummer-turned-fundamentalist-preacher was the ultimate embodiment of God’s voice to the United States of America, so bear that in mind. I was not a mentally healthy person by any stretch of the imagination.

 

2 Comments

  1. Hey ben,
    I still feel a small connection even though we haven’t seen eachother for a few years,thanks for the impact on my life, however small it was, it helped me out…
    Sometimes I feel like this whole thing called life can be like a hammer hitting you in the face, I gotta believe that it’s strengthening something good inside of us. If that’s the case your gonna be one strong mfer.

    1. John! Those were the days, man. Good to know ya. One thing that I am learning all over again (the hard way, as usual): a lot of the time, we are hitting ourselves in the face with that hammer. It doesn’t seem like we are doing it, and we are not doing it on purpose, and sometimes bad things do just happen to good people…but in my own case, for example (I really can’t speak from anyone else’s experience, after all,) I can tell you that back when I first got involved with that guy, I knew good and well that something was wrong with him. I knew it pretty quickly. I chose to stick around because I thought he was cool, and that he would be a good guy to have on your side when it all goes down, and because I wanted to feel that acceptance…that sense of belonging. I was insecure. There were a thousand red flags, but I allowed myself to be convinced that they were my own reservations, my own fears and defense mechanisms trying to hold me back from what ‘God wanted me to do.’ They weren’t. Those warning signs that I saw were my genuine perceptions of a very real danger. Later, after I’d burnt out on being lied to, manipulated, and bullied for all those years, I found myself seeking refuge in an actual church that was full of people who were genuinely loving, caring, and who wanted to be there for each other. They welcomed me with unconditional acceptance, and provided a stable environment for me to heal and recover in, and for about a year that is what was happening. Instead of rolling up my sleeves and doing the hard work of dealing with my issues and making an effort to move forward, though, I took the easy way (which, in the end, turned out to be the extremely hard way) and started using alcohol to numb the pain. Because of this, I actually started to become what I hated most. I became like the man who had hurt me. I lied to those around me to cover up what I was really doing (nursing an addiction.) I manipulated the people who loved me. I cheated the people who depended on me (my family) out of the security and provision that I owed them as the husband and father that I was supposed to be. It all turned into a huge mess, and now, in the aftermath, I am alone. I thank God that I still have my kids in my life, and that my wife still wants to communicate with me, even if it is only on a purely administrative level. It was my own doing, though, in that I reacted to things in fear and selfishness, like a child and not like a man. Now don’t get me wrong, I understand that it was a tough set of circumstances, and I was young and all, and that people suffer all over the world as a result of circumstances beyond their control…but I can’t deny that what these things boil down to is the pure and simple fact that I beat my own face in with that hammer, and I did it good and proper. Anyways, not to come off like a Debbie downer, man. Hope all is well with you, broseph! Miss ya. Don’t be late for muster!!

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