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Tuh tan Tobay

By freeatlast ~

At the grocery store in the canned goods aisle, I hear a young voice, “Deedus duvs me, dis I no!” and then I see her as her mother rolls the grocery cart around the corner. A little girl with pigtails and conviction, she glares at me with blue eyes, as if daring me to disagree with her. “Des, Deedus duvs me! Da bibul dels me so!”

And so Christianity spawns another evangelist, this one with lace socks and pink sandals. Not even three years old, she can recite the party line that already lines the grooves of her cerebrum: Some important guy named Jesus, who is strong, loves her, even though she is weak, and she knows this because an important book called the bible tells her so. Unless some event in her life causes her to question otherwise, she will likely believe this fiction the rest of her life.

Watching her and her mother with equal parts interest and sadness, I see myself 25 years ago: a slender, earnest young mother, clad in Levis and a white shirt, who would be thrilled to hear her child proclaiming “truth” in the grocery store. In front of the Campbell’s soups, my doppelganger smiles at two silver-haired women in sensible shoes, who nod with approval. I, on the other hand, want to go up to her and say, “Don’t do this to your child. You can teach her to be good, to do good in the world, without brainwashing her with this nonsense. You are hurting her, not helping her.”

I don’t do that, of course, but listen and observe as the little girl, now aware of her audience, swings her arms like a conductor and launches into a lusty rendition of “Trust and Obey,” the hymn that I walked the aisle to many years ago when I was baptized. Knowing that I had reached the age of accountability, I, at twelve years old, welcomed the waters of baptism, (even the slightly scummy ones in our little church) in order to escape the fires of hell. I remember wanting to laugh at the green plastic waders the preacher had donned before he stepped into the baptistery, and looking out in wonder from my watery perch at the people sitting in the pews. I remember pinching my nose as the preacher dipped me backwards into the brackish water and worrying that he might drop me. I remember the look of joy on my mother’s face as she welcomed me out of the water with a towel. Most of all, I remember feeling clean, purified of all sin as I received my special white King James Bible from the preacher afterward, a feeling that lasted until after lunch when I yelled at my brother and slammed my bedroom door in his face.

“Tuh tan tobay, fuh dus no uduh way!” For so many years, I did just that: Thinking there was no other way, I trusted; I obeyed because I desperately wanted to be happy in Jesus. As hard as I tried, though, there was always a restless molten core, a lava in my mind that refused to cool, that knew something was deeply wrong, and as volcanoes tend to do, it erupted eventually. My regret now is for the years I lost and the needless religious burdens I imposed on my own two daughters; although, grown now, they have both tossed those burdens aside, coming to the realization before their mother did, that Christianity was a load of shit.

So perhaps I am wrong about the feisty little maestro before me in aisle 4; perhaps as she grows, she will question the songs she is learning now; perhaps instead of singing “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way” her entire life, she will write her own song, realizing that trusting and obeying in superstition is, in reality, no way, no way to live at all.