My Personal Relationship With Jebus Crust: A Memoir - Part I: "Baptism"



You might say I have had a close personal relationship with Jebus.  Yes, this is what I call him.  And you will note that I do not capitalize personal pronouns when referencing Crust.  If one does not believe in him there is no point at all in capitalizing references to him, e.g. Him.  I also have taken to putting "God" in quotes, though I do capitalize the "G" since the quotation marks indicate I am quoting others, including, presumably, believers.  I have known Jebus all my life.  I was born into a Crustian family.  Although brought up in other mainline protestant sects, my parents had gravitated toward the oldest and most prominent episcopal church, I suspect because its congregants were professional people like my dad, and socialite housewives like my wannabee mom.  Remember the Booblical reference to Crust as "the good shepherd"?  Local wags were wont to label our place of "worship" as "The Church of the Good Cadillacs."


If you are familiar with psychological jargon and the term "screen memory" in particular, you know that I recall perfectly, as if it were yesterday in high relief, my being "baptized."  (They already had made the covenant, not even required by their faith, to the end result that I have about 85% less sensitivity in my fraenum, which was a cruel and deceitful act, condemning male children to lifetimes of premature ejaculation and inability to satisfy a partner due to lack of lasting power.  But that is another rant.)  Baptism is about the silliest of their rites.  I am sure I thought I was getting a shampoo.  I do not know because my account is entirely from screen memory: I have a photograph of the event, so I must remember it well.  Some old mustached man (an insurance agent, I later learned) stands beside the "font" as "Godfather."  A thin, aging, bald priest in white vestments is dribbling "holy" water on my forehead.  And I am mugging the camera.


I don't think my dad was particularly religious at all, but he knew the value of being seen.  My mom knew the value of making social contacts on the front steps after services, though she had to admit to me that on one occasion, a lawyer interrupted her congenial conversation with a judge in order to take him aside and do some Dale Carnegie ex partying on the stairway.  (Ever notice how many churches in the old days were built with spacious, outwardly-expanding stairways of stone?  This was because the architects knew that once the hosannas are ended, the haggling over price begins.  If you had a narrow staircase, people would topple over each other in the rush to get into the gossip, trade talk, influence peddling, and so forth.)  Mother even admitted that she was miffed by the impolite intrusion.  I told her that in my opinion, going to church was more for social purposes, not for devotions.  For the first time in our lives, she was mute in response to an attack on her religion. Although I loved her, I despised her social agenda.


As I said, my dad did not particularly believe, but he knew he had to go through the paces, so he policed Mother's insistence we go to church and to Sunday school classes afterward.  I only later learned that churches are political organizations and that nothing -- I repeat, nothing -- that goes on in them is without careful and considerable planning.  Sunday school "teachers" were, thus, carefully culled from only the best of the congregation, the church fathers and big money donors.  I recall one repulsively fey fool who did no more than memorize passages from his Booble and regurgitate them for what seemed an interminable time, and when I got put in his class, I made my escape by slipping out of the social hall, step-sliding down a high bluff, and crossing a street to Biff's Drive-In, where fellow apostates would sip cherry Coke for the duration.  My parents, who'd already tried withholding a weekly allowance as punishment for not going to church, eventually gave up.  I think they realized that if someone wants to be unreligious, they're going to do it no matter what.  (Thank "God" I was not born into one of those truly moronic sects that call for demonic exorcism since, obviously, atheists are of the Devil.)  My mother was much less discomfited on learning of my atheism as of my sexual appetites.




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