Well, in a way, I felt I was kind of lucky in that I had a headstart. In 1960, I was being indoctrinated to do something called a First Communion. I had no idea what that meant, due to the fact that as a 7 year old, of course, I had the attention span of a gnat.
Image by ctanstfl via FlickrI did as I was told and marched up, prayer hands in position, and want to get a cookie the man in the pretty, golden dress was giving everybody.
Walking back to my seat, I felt immediately nauseous, and this being a poor Catholic church in a small Mexican American community, had an outhouse for it's parishioners to use.
I immediately threw it all up, all the while this large butch nun who had chased after me, beating me across the back and telling me that because "you had rejected the body of christ, you are forever damned, and will burn in Hell forever!!", a premise that, to this TV fed 7 year old, was the ONLY part of their story I thought I found interesting and absolutely THRILLING!
I went home that day and told my mom that I did not believe a word of this and did not want to go to church. While she and the rest of the family attended church regularly, she never pushed me to attend. This freed me up to spend my formative years and most of my life, educating myself to the many avenues of the faith industry, and ultimately realizing that I simply could never believe such nonsense. I suspect that I was also born without the FAITH gene.
I grew up innately believing that every time I did something, I then got to see the results or effects of my actions.
It was something I did, and I was seeing the results.
It never occured to me of crediting a god or some lame, culturally popular little saviour for something I clearly did. Although my family was religious, on this topic, I had made it clear very early on that I did not buy a single word of it. I was not going to play along.
Seeing the effect that christianity, in particular the catholic version I was mentally molested with as an adolescent, had in dumbening down the stupid and superstitious of those in my immediate community, I got the hell away from it all by educating myself far away from my imposed upon reality. From the age of nine years old, I spent most all of my free time at the neighborhood library, reading and listening to anything I could get my hands on, challenging, educating myself to understand topics that appealed to me, immediately eschewing the popular, fearing I would be 'like everyone else', while living in this big, strange and wonderful world. In my teens, I was scoring free tickets to any performances I could find, anything from John Cage music to ballet, poetry reading to stage productions, opera to classical performances, while I should have been playing sports,getting in fights and finding friendships among my (ugh) peer groups.
All the while, being so obviously not like the others, and gay to boot, I heard the usual deathwishes that christians would curse me with for not being a believer. Or even caring about their faith.
With every pronouncement of my going to hell, it only reminded me of just how stupid the religious were. And while I am sure that my child self had a more visceral response to this christian hatred than I can hardly muster up these days, this only confirmed to me that all I needed to do was grow up and get far away from these ignorant people. Oddly, this taught me patience.
I purposely and consciously chose the road less traveled. And then I ran like HELL.
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