- Wednesday, July 29, 2009
A Plea for Real Answers
by Reddit Andrews III
I come from a long line of Baptist preachers and deacons. From my earliest memories growing up in Hartford, Connecticut, I was not only conscious of God, but intensely interested in spiritual things. I have vivid memories of maintaining a constant inner dialogue with God. I remember getting dressed on Sunday mornings when I was around seven, putting on my little clip-on necktie, and consciously trying to set my face and mimic the walk of the deacons at Mount Calvary Baptist Church where I attended and my grandfather served as deacon. My most precious memories include the look on his face when he assisted in my baptism one evening service when I was seven or eight years old.
As wonderful as those memories are, they are not totally unclouded. Those silver clouds were laced with dark strains of doubts I never spoke of. I will never know what sort of help I might have received, because I simply suppressed them. I recall getting a McDonald's map of the solar system and taping it to the wall next to my pillow. I'd sometimes spend moments that seemed like hours gazing at it, impressed by the vastness of space. This would give rise to troubling thoughts. How could a God so great and powerful as to make all that exists in outer space possibly know me? Is it conceivable that he can really hear my prayers? Even if it were possible, would he even care? To my young mind these thoughts were deep and unsettling.
My inner struggles were compounded by the powerful conflicting messages I was exposed to in public school. It was not difficult for me to see that the message I was receiving in school and the message I was receiving in my Sunday school classes were mutually exclusive. In public school, my Sunday morning lessons were flatly contradicted. I dutifully listened in Sunday school where I was taught how God created the world in the space of six days and how he rested on the seventh. All week long I would lug around school books that said the earth was millions of years old and that mankind evolved over an unfathomably lengthy period of time. As a child it seemed quite easy to decide who was correct. My Sunday school teachers were mainly the parents of friends, housewives, and bus drivers. The church was an old unimpressive structure, while to my young mind, the school I attended was a large, impressive, building. My teachers appeared highly trained and incredibly competent. Furthermore, there were so many books, movies, and scaled models at which I could look and even touch.
While I never thought my Sunday school teachers were bad, I just concluded that the public school teachers couldn't possibly be wrong. No, my Sunday school teachers were certainly good people, just misguided and behind the times. Having concluded that, I continued to attend Sunday services for a while, until I became interested in football and girls. My family later moved into a neighborhood where I knew very few people. The kids there seemed louder, more boisterous and violent than what I was accustomed to. I sought comfort in a small Lutheran church in the community. I'd at times gaze out the window while the mostly Anglo and female Sunday school teachers would teach us songs about Jesus. "Lowly Jesus meek and mild, he wouldn't hurt a little child." There was a basketball court on the church property, and I'd watch the games while the lesson was being taught. I would overhear the arguments about the games and watch the fights that would often break out. I'd think to myself, Man, Jesus needs to hurt some of these children! My Sunday school experiences all seemed so hopelessly irrelevant and out of touch with real life.
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