Of every waking hour I’m
Choosing my confessions
Michael Stipe, R.E.M.
God is cool. I totally dig the G-man and his son J-doG. I guarantee that at least half of you are at this very moment calling me a crass douchebag and preparing to close this window.
If that’s what you want to do, go ahead. I won’t try and stop you. I will say that I think you should hang around for a few minutes and read the rest of this because I would bet good money (is there another kind?) that you would be totally surprised at what you read.
I have no problem using terms like “G-man” and “J-doG” because I think God is cool with them. I’ve found that the vast majority of people in church are uptight and need to chill the hell out! My understanding of God is that he cares what is in your heart and isn’t so much into the pomp and ceremony of organized religion. I have insight beyond what you may think and I beg you to stick around for a few minutes to check out what I have to say.
P.S. Thanks to Beth for correcting me on the spelling of “J-doG”. She reminded me that the G should be capitalized no matter where it is.
I was raised Lutheran and went to Christian school from 5th grade until I graduated from Valley Christian High School in 1984. Like the rest of the members of the VC Posse, I sat in Mr. Verkaik’s Comparative Religion class and through our weekly chapel services. I went to church and Sunday school as a child and was confirmed. My senior year I was president of the church youth group. If you want to know more about my high school church days check out the previous post, The Actress.
After high school I continued to go to church and got involved in college and young adults groups. I kind of strayed away from the Lutheran church and started going to a non-denominational church near my house. I liked it better than the uptight way that I learned about God. I’m not dissing how I was raised, it’s just that I found a better way to roll with God. “A better way” may not be the right phrase—“better for me” is probably the right thing to say.
Christian rock was a big thing in Southern California in the late 80’s and early 90’s. I listened to bands like The Alter Boys, Undercover, The Choir, Crumbacher, Steve Taylor, Chagall Guevera and Dakoda Motor Co. I’ve always liked music (though I have no talent) and it was a cool way to hang with God and to keep him in my life.
I was never one of those “ultra-Christians” that went around preaching to everyone I saw, nor did I ever say, “I guess it was God’s will that I didn’t get that parking spot.” Still, I think I was living a pretty good life. I wasn’t swearing and I rarely drank. Seriously.
Oh, life is bigger
It’s bigger than you
And you are not me
Around 1989 or so I decided I needed to go back to college to finish a bachelors degree. I decided that even though I wanted to write, I would blow off the journalism degree for a religion degree. You see, I had decided that it would be a very cool thing to be a youth pastor. Really. I will pause a moment and let you pick your jaw up off the floor.
Back to school I went and it was there that I met Baby Mama. We met at a birthday party for a mutual friend and we spent the last half of that party sitting in the back of the room totally making fun of the movie Mannequin while everyone else kept shushing us. Whatever, losers. The movie sucked!
We got married in December 1991 and the following spring I was offered a job at a church in Fresno, CA. The church was growing and had a number of people that were coming from an outlying farming community and they wanted to start a church out there. The church also ran a drug and alcohol rehab home. My job was to be a court liaison for the program, do some Bible studies in Fresno County Jail and be the youth pastor.
I was totally stoked for the opportunity! My new bride and I took off and it was great for the first year or so. After that I began to realize the pastor who was running the new church and the rehab home was committing welfare and food stamp fraud and was trying to get me mixed up in it.
I was crushed to think that a member of the clergy would do such a thing, but the reality is that he was an ex-con ass jacket who had dome time for embezzelling from TGI Fridays and “found the Lord” in prison, , so I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised.
I wanted no part of that and I found a small church near Ontario, CA that was looking for a youth pastor, so Baby Mama and I packed up and moved back to So. Cal. When I went through the interview process I was told they loved my ideas and what I was all about, but once in there, their story changed a bit.
Apparently I was to “set a proper example” for the kids and had to always wear a tie. I got reamed the first time I showed up for something and I was wearing jeans, high tops and a tie. Apparently I didn’t get the full dress code.
This pastor was another douchebag. He didn’t come to the church office to work because “I don’t want to be bothered by parishioners”. WTF is that all about? I, however, had to be in the office Mon-Fri 9-5 so that I could listen to everyone and their problems. God forbid I bother him with any concerns.
It was obvious this guy had a huge control problem and that knowledge was fully realized one Sunday morning during his sermon. He said, and I quote, “I was doing pre-marital counseling last week with Jack and Mary and they said….”
What? Did this guy seriously just divulge to a packed church the secrets two people shared in counseling? Yeah. He did. Not only that, but later in the same sermon he made reference to two families who left the church to attend elsewhere. He said, “it’s not God’s will that they left the church and no one from here is to have anything to do with them.”
After doing a little research I found out these two families tithed a pretty decent chunk every month and I think what he was missing was a fat check. When I raised my concerns the following day, he expressed his concerns for my “lack of obedience” and told me I was fired.
After that I have had a very bad taste for organized religion. I’m sure you can see why. I’ve progressively gained a potty mouth and Jack Daniels and I hooked up again, but the reality is that in my heart I’ve always thought God was cool.
I never performed a wedding ceremony, but I did oversee a funeral service for one of the guys from the rehab home who committed suicide. In his suicide note he specifically said that he wanted me to do the service. Whoa. I also preached more than a few times and I think I was pretty decent at it. I mean, I like to talk, so it should be all good, right?
Drama Queen doesn’t go to church as often as she probably should, but she knows that God is cool and when she wants to go, she knows that I will do my best to get her there.
So that’s my deal. I dig God and I’m pretty sure that God digs me. I’m rough around the edges but I really am a good guy. I’ve experienced firsthand how organized religion can suck balls and at this point in my life I have no real desire for it. That doesn’t mean that I won’t change my mind next year or next month, but for now this is how I’m gonna roll.
That’s me in the corner
That’s me in the spotlight, I’m
Losing my religion
P.S.S. I never did finish my degree–the job offer came when I had a year left…