childhood

What my Dad said…

Regarding religion:

“I used to think a lot about it- wondering if I was doing the right things. When you get older, you settle into what you believe.”

When he was a boy-

“Most community people called my dad, your grandfather “uncle John.” Mr. Hadley was an old farmer in overalls, and he always addressed me and your uncle Jim as “Rusty ol’ son-of-abitch”, or “bastards.” He called us rusty, because we always went around without a shirt playing and were dirty. I always wondered… why would my dad would let him say that?

First Impressions

As an adult, I have experienced faith, skepticism, questions and doubts,  agnosticism and a return to faith, though my faith looks different than before.  It lead me into some interesting places which can be read about in my public profile:         http://en.gravatar.com/joyaisthorpedesign       

I was not raised with a particular belief in God nor was I raised in Church, though I did occasionally  glimpse into the world of religion.  Here are some first impressions:

Since Childhood, Faith was summed up in a portrait illustration of Jesus hanging in my parent’s bedroom. His kind eyes seemed to follow me around, and it was nice to think he might be watching over things and thinking well of me.  He also hid in the pages of the Family Bible. After exhausting all forms of entertainment, my siblings and I knew a dull moment could be temporarily forgotten by hauling the monstrous book from the shelf and scanning over illustrations:

-Moses carted away in a makeshift boat;
-men in dresses, making their way with crooked sticks;
-Angry Lions, Disarmed Soldiers, Walls of water…

and there he’d be in his underwear, arms stretched out on two slabs of wood with his head bowled over.  looked pretty sad to me.
When I was around 6 or so, mom took us to a local Baptist church for a brief period of time where I received a charm bracelet. Each scripture verse memorized was worth one metal charm:  a  cameo in honor of the disciples, each whose metal cheek bore an engraved scripture reference.

When the memorization program ended, we had a party in the church basement with a special guest: “Dr. Shock,” the 1970’s late- night host of scary movies.  Protestant Churches are always using whatever attraction to draw the people in, and while we probably weren’t allowed to watch him at home, there he was in the flesh, and what kid could resist a man in black wearing bad eye-liner??  His swaggering voice invited us to join him in the front of the room where he would sign his autograph on the inside  of our Bibles.

“Mom, can we go…

no…

please?

NO…

I WANT TO…

I said NO!”

We took our place behind the other sheep,   holy book in hand with the words of Jesus written in red-  the grand prize for memorizing a bit of the content.
We broke at least one of the commandments that day.

Incidentally, I still have it – Signature intact.

A few years later, I attended a vacation Bible school hosted by my grandmother’s church.
I remember the classroom, the self-assured teacher, a classmate with a plaid dress, red Kool-Aid and being incredibly disoriented. I don’t remember any of the class content, because I was too busy trying to comprehend instructions. Which language is this teacher using, anyway? What did she say? It sounds like English, but something sifts and jumbles every word.

My Grandmother  lived in a Senior Citizen’s apartment complex, and one of her upstairs neighbors who wore a muumuu and beehive hairstyle was a hard-core evangelist.

She caught my eyes when I looked up at her from my Grandmother’s porch steps, and asked excitedly:

“Are you saved, girl? You know Jesus?”

Moments like this produced a mix of unexplained shame and curiosity.

My grandmother interrupted, shooing away the neighbor. She then looked at me through her screen door and said:
“Don’t pay any attention to her. She’s a nut.”