Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Vacation Bible School

The flier arrived in my mailbox last week. Vacation Bible school! Mommy Program! Free Babysitting! Just come to XYZ Church! The theme is Rescue Zone: Saved by God's Power. As a Sunday School Superintendant myself I know these things come in boxes. I looked up this curriculum and found a fun fire truck and police man theme--right up Emmett's alley. I threw caution to the wind and signed us all up. I am a whore for free babysitting and I thought that if I stayed for the mommy program I would be close by if Emmett didn't take well to being thrown into a room full of strangers.

Every day this week I pack us up and drive to the Fundamentalist Baptist Church across town and Emmett waves goodbye and trots off with his class and I drop Charlotte off in the nursery and trot off to my own class.

It turns out he is not the one I needed to worry about. As fortune would have it the teacher for his level knows basic sign language and Emmett is having a ball with the kids. He has found a cute little girl to follow around and she doesn't seem to mind too much. Char does not like being left in the nursery, but she is adjusting.

Who is the one having the trouble? Me. A (secular)homeschooling friend of mine warned me a bit about what to expect from this particular church--it turns out many of the families that go there are homeschoolers too and are deeply conservative and Fundamentalist.

I am starting to get uncomfortable in my classes. I have already been subtly told several times that my church is the *wrong* church. The life I am leading is going to send me straight to Hell and that even my favourite translation of the Bible is not the right one. In this place it is King James or nothing. Our church uses New International and I like it much, much better. Yesterday I was asked if I have been *Saved*. I am not even sure what that means. I don't like how they preach that every day I must strive to pull my family out of Satan's clutches and away from the firy doors of Hell. They told me that even though my children are gifts from God (they are) they are so full of sin they may as well be minions of Satan (ok, so that one I believe on some days...) and that I must *Save* them too. I am not used to this. We don't *Save* people in my church. I have never once heard my priest say that if you do one thing and not another you will go straight to Hell and drag your loved ones with you.

I am torn since in amongst the talk of eternal damnation I am enjoying the lessons on how to stream line and organize my house (the Mommy Bible School theme is Heart and Home Rescue). I am enjoying the Bible study. The pointed questions about my personal beliefs are making me uncomfortable. The subtle jabs against my own Church family makes me squirmy. I am so new to my own faith that is still growing and evolving. I feel like I am stumbling on my path to God now. I don't feel equipped to deal with the pointed questions. I can't battle verse for verse with these people when they start quoting the Old Testament to back up their arguments. My brain has melted from the heat and pregnancy. Part of me wants to run screaming, but part of me is still curious enough to want to see it through for the three days that are left.

April? Cheryl? We need to talk!!


pollyhyper said...

Wow. I would say stick it out, if you are getting something positive out of the program, but since they are speaking their mind, don't be afraid to speak yours.

I'm a Unitarian (Heathen! I know!) so I'm sure compared to me, you're really very conservative, and compared to them, I'm just the spawn of Satan, so I don't know what I would do in your situation (I don't think they'd let me in the door!) but what about something along the lines of "I'll keep that in mind"?

I COULD suggest other things to say in reply, but I'm trying to behave. I've had encounters with Conservative Fundamentalist Christians in the past that put a bad taste in my mouth. Yeah, like the GUEST at my wedding who told my mother, immediately following the (multi-denominational) ceremony, that "God wasn't there." NICE.

Anonymous said...

I had a priest in high school who put it quite succinctly... "if it's not about love, it's not about God."

Do you love your children? Yes. Do you love the values encouraged by your church: be good, be kind, be helpful, don't hurt others? Yes. Do you love your Christian God? Yes. Then what's the problem?

These people need to relax and realize that God will love everyone equally (like parents do their kids), but will like the things they do to different degrees (again, like parents do their kids), and that making someone feel uncomfortable and question their faith is not something to be proud of. (Of which to be proud? Way to go grammatically, English teacher!)

As for the pointed questions: the next time someone corners you, simply say "God made everyone equal, that's why I don't question what you do. I would appreciate the same courtesy." (Wow, hormones make me ballsey!) Love you! Janelle

Ashlee Rose said...

Want me to come cast an evil Pagan spell on them for ya, babe? :P

Maybe you just need to take your tarot cards over as an ice breaker.

I'm sorry. I tried to think of something serious to say... but really... you know I'm not so good with these things.

pollyhyper said...

All the things Janelle said are excellent.

Ami said...

One reason I'm unable to attend a church is because of attitudes like the one you've expressed. I think it's just utterly appalling for people to act that way. Every church I've ever been to has 90% hypocrites... from the deacon who tried to make a pass at me when I was 14 to the pastor who tried to tell me that I would go to hell if I didn't tithe a full 10% of my tiny income.

I really don't have helpful advice, though.

When I ran into a similar attitude at a homeschooling skate day a few years back, I wasn't very nice.

A woman asked me what curriculum I used. When I answered that we use various things and that I wasn't sure I could call it a curriculum, she said, aghast, "GOD wants you to use A Beka!"

Well, I'm not very good at keeping my mouth shut. I drew myself up to my full 5 feet 5 inches and said loudly, "Well GOD hasn't offered to pay for my supplies!"

All of them spent the rest of the afternoon staring at me and whispering behind their hands.

I'm pretty sure I wouldn't go to church with any of 'em.


Unknown said...

Well, after yesterday's class I realized the source of my discomfort: The pastor. He is a fire and brimstone blowhard who loves the sound of his own voice. He only comes in for the last part of the class. The rest of the time I spend in the company of his wife and another mom who is very nice. I enjoy the conversations I have been having with them and am getting a lot out of that part of the class.
I made it clear that I am very pro-homeschooling as soon as it was mentioned and the pastor's wife appreciated that. I am sure she spends a lot of time defending her decision even though out of her four kids there is only one left at home. We bonded and so maybe she doesn't think I need saving as much has her hubby does.
I also know how much I love my own church community and it comforts me to know that not all Christians are like *them*. I plan on talking to my own priest next week to try to sort out my feelings a bit more.
Thanks for all the support!
Emmett is flourishing and even has a little girl friend that follows him around. It is so cute!

April said...

I would love to talk any time. Wish I could have been there with you. Some of the things you wrote about also frustrate me. In a nut shell... I believe that if someone has asked Jesus into their heart and God into their life, while recognizing that we all (as humans) will continue to sin and need forgiveness (which God gives freely to those who ask because Jesus died for us!!)...that they are "saved". I believe that each person makes this choice for themselves, a personal decision to follow Christ. You can't damn your children to hell...they will decide to follow Him or not. Their choice.

I guess I disagree with you about "saving" people in our church. The Anglican church isn't often as forward in labelling it as such, but... by providing people with and sharing the Word of God (including God's straight forward directions on how to join him in heaven one day), giving them glimpses of His love through acts of kindness and simple things, praying with them, and encouraging one another to live like God wants us to live....the Anglican church is in fact "saving" people. ♥

Unknown said...

I like how you explain how we *save* people in our church. I guess I didn't think of it in that sense since we are not as in-your-face-about things and allow people to come to their faith in their own time and in their own way.
See? You've helped me already! We need to have a meeting at our usual hangout soon!


~ Elly ~ said...

My response to comments aimed at my beliefs is "well that's an interesting thought" in a non-condescending manner, but in one that shows I'm not interested in debating who is right (because I don't believe that it is a matter of right vs. wrong)

My name is not Mom for the next 5 min said...

Jen I think it comes down to this, Is it worth putting up with for Emmet. It sounds like he is having a great time, and you are too, for parts of it, but is it good enough to have to feel like you are? That is a question only you can answer, how much bad are you willing to take with the good. No one here will say you are selfish or wrong if you decide to leave, and we will all be here if you decide to stay. So ask yourself "is it worth it?"