Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Old Memory

Working my way through God Delusion. I just read the section in chapter 9 about the kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara the Catholic church did because someone baptized him without anyone's consent. I'm remembering one of my first negative experiences with fundies of the "born again" variety. I think it was something like "Family Faith Church" or something like that. They rented/bought a spot that would have been more fitting for a grocery store. Not sure what to call those sorts of places: They're usually a line of small businesses with a large collective parking lot. Anyway, over the years, the church section kept growing additions like an enormous tumor. This story takes place before the tumor grew and became malignant to the surrounding businesses. I was about 12.

I went there with my then-designated best friend who I've heard has grown more and more religious. The event was these American Gladiator-looking guys calling themselves the "Power Team." They broke bricks, ripped phone books, and performed a number of similar acts that involve being tough and/or having a decent grasp of some physics tricks. It was actually pretty good.

Then the host came up and asked how many of us were baptized as children. His response, "You got wet" and went on to say the symbolic act of welcoming a child into the world was meaningless if the child hadn't made the conscious decision to convert. He goes on about Satan appearing as an angel of light saying "you don't need to rush, there's time" and offering "real" baptisms, implying that we'd go to Hell if we didn't get one. My friend was convinced, but I complained about how petty that speech implied God to be: That he's perfectly content to torture a person for not having some appointed witchdoctor sprinkle water on him and make a few invocations. I didn't use those exact words, but it didn't get through to him how small and primitive that host was making a supposedly wise, compassionate, and powerful being.

Needless to say, I never went to that place again and grew steadily more disgusted as the tumor grew.


Don said...

Oh, I love the Power Team. I love how lame so many of their stunts are. "He can break three 2x4s by running at them...If they're set into brackets that keep them about 2 inches apart...And two other guys hold those brackets and run toward him, too."

I still remember a friend's exclamation when we saw the Power Team on TV in high school: "That guy is bending a frying pan with his flabby boob!"

William said...

The term you're looking for is "strip mall".

Joshua said...

Hey! I remember seeing those guys, too!

I don't have any particularly amusing anecdotes, though. I also didn't get the speech about child baptism. I was raised in a baptist church, so they didn't do any of that heathen bullshit. I got baptised by my own free will at the age of SIX, the way God intended.

Anonymous said...

That's odd. The oddest incident I remember from my childhood involves a neighborhood kid inviting me to come along to his church. My parents let me, so I went to an odd experience wherein we had a bunch of those mini-soccer tables and some NES machines lined up against a wall in a huge otherwise boring square room with a projector on one side and filled with metal folding chairs. From what I can remember, someone came up and went on about this "devil" fellow trying to get at our precious souls, and then they played a video which was some odd B movie affair involving Satan and some other demons plotting on how to send people to hell. I don't remember much more than that I was very confused.

In retrospect I think that was my first experience with the "scare them into salvation" tactic. I was a lot more interested in the free snacks I got on the way home though.

On a side note, I've been wondering something. It seems that the word "materialist" has been hijacked. Almost all the Christians I've talked to think a materialist is someone who values physical posessions over everything else, as opposed to someone who merely thinks that there's nothing supernatural.

Anonymous said...

Like William said, the term is "strip mall", which makes me think of strip mines. No wonder they're so depressing.