As a child, I was introduced to the church as a Methodist. My parents were far from practicing Christians and this was their attempt to keep me from the evil trappings my mother had witnessed in films such as West Side Story and Rebel Without a Cause.
Each Sunday, she would give me fifty cents for the offering, then drop me off at what was known as Sunday School. My only memory from those many classes was a Psalm I created from Kidney Beans, Elmer’s Glue, and wooden planks. Once completed, I presented it to my Grandmother, to basically one up my cousins.
My wife, raised Catholic, had her own crosses to bare.
When our first-born, Max, turned 5, we decided the time had come to introduce him to the basic foundations of modern day religion. Since neither of us spent our Sundays frequenting the House of The Lord, a moderate source for his early exposure was imperative: Not too radical, no fire and brimstone or rolling in the aisles. We settled on a Lutheran chapel, mere blocks from home.
As my mother had done, I drove him down early one Sunday morning, spiffed up in natty attire, clip on tie included, introduced him to one of the elders who assured us that this was our lucky day. A large contingent of newbies were on hand for their introductory dose of contemporary religion. As we parted, Max’s smile put me at ease. I was free to go.
I returned home to a frowning frau. With phone clutched in her hand I was not sure if she was going to relinquish it or use it to club me over the head.
Father Daily was on the line, abrupt and to the point. “Please return as soon as possible to pick up your son.” I asked what was wrong, but he had already returned to his flock.
Delayed parent separation anxiety? A spat with a classmate, or worse, an acute case of diarrhea from the eggs his mother had prepared for breakfast ?
Max bore a humbled and confused expression. I assumed diarrhea.
“I’m afraid Max doesn’t fit in with our young congregation. Unfortunately he isn’t the kind of young individual our church welcomes.”
Flummoxed I demanded a reason. Father Daily had one. “I asked our young newcomers if they knew who Jesus Christ was. Max eagerly raised his hand. Brother Damon was quite pleased with his enthusiasm until his response.” He nudged Max in my direction.
“Max informed us that Jesus Christ was the G’damned Seahawk’s fullback- that every time he got a handoff, his dad would stand up and yell ‘Run, Jesus Christ, run!’ at the television.” Flummoxed no longer…
I’ve never loved my son any more than at that moment. On the way home, I assured him he’d done just fine. That afternoon we stopped by the local crafts store, purchased some Elmer’s Glue, a bag of beans, and two modest wooden planks to pass away our Sunday.