Monday, June 15, 2009


Churches scare me. There is no rational reason I can name or any logical explanations I can give. To be honest I don’t quite know why I have such a strong dislike for them, or I didn’t until tonight.

Yesterday my youngest nephew was baptized. Helene and I were godmothers together with my two sisters in law. It was a special service that was supposed to be specifically children-friendly. As it was longer than a normal Sunday service, even though they dropped the sermon, I would have to disagree with that. By the end of the service most children were crying, unhappy or loudly bored <_<.

It started well. The 6 years old all had green T-shirts with the word ‘Baptist-school’ written on their backs and they all had a tea-lamp and marched up the aisle and placed the glass lamps on the banister around the alter while singing. They were adorable.

Then the traditional service started with words spoken, hymn sung and the presentation of the babies being baptized – there were four, before the actual baptism.

Afterwards these two ladies who had held the Baptist-school took over the service, and I kid you not, the minute one of the ladies started talking, calling out for the children to gather around her, I had to grab hold of the bench and use all my willpower not to jump up and run out.

She was exactly as I remember the Nazi-ladies from when I went to Sunday-school way back when*shudders* She had that same annoying screeching voice – loud! That same amount of ‘do as I say or else’ type of emphasis in it and she had that same type of frown when she looked down her nose at some of the children. Only difference was that she seemed a lot younger than I remember the ladies running ‘my’ Sunday-school as I remember them all being very old(that might well be due to me being almost 40 now, of course):P
These two ladies gathered the children up at the altar 3 more times during the service. One of the times was when the Nazi-lady did a picture story(you know the kind where you have a background board and she sticks figures and objects on it as the story goes along. Topic of the day: the disciples in the temple receiving the Holy Spirit and the gift of tongues.
(1. She made the mistake of saying this happened in Israel – which didn’t even exist as a country at the time, 2. She had THE WORST explanation of what the gift of tongues is, 3. She had the other lady(Lady soft-spoken) do a puppet show with a boy and a girl interrupting and asking carefully planned questions or requests for explanations, because none of the children were allowed to utter a syllable!)
By the way the children had seemingly growing difficulties staying interested and focused on the story, I’d say they didn’t understand more than half of it.

They did sing and they even did one song with sign language which was fantastic. You could tell by the effort and the joy they put into the singing that they really enjoyed it and it was great watching and listening to them. If it hadn’t been for the singing, and the diplomas each child got at the end, the whole thing would have been too sad to bear!
The thing is that yesterday’s experience in the church got me thinking about the reasons why I dread the church so much. I had completely forgotten about the Sunday-school until I heard that awful voice and recognized that same kind of attitude from Nazi-lady and I started digging in the carefully stored and hidden memories of childhood.

I attended Sunday-school as often as I could; it was sort of mandatory where I grew up. We were given a little white graph paper folder to mark our attendance, although we were never allowed to take them home with us, but were handed them each Sunday when the various groups met for ‘discussion-sessions’ at different places in the church.
Those with a full month got a golden star sticker to put in it and it was a big thing for us.

I remember very seldom having a full month, because we spent many weekends up at the mountain farm working, so the one month I had a full set of marks I was very proud. Thing is that the Nazi-lady in charge that day, decided that I must have cheated as I hadn’t had any full months at all that term and refused to give me a star, instead I was told what a bad liar I was and worse, a cheat, and that I would go straight to hell and see only misery in life.

I had completely forgotten it until yesterday. I remember trying to tell the one kind soft-spoken lady that were one of the Sunday-school ladies, but of course she didn’t dare object to what another lady had said, and told me to forget about it and that it was a sin to be upset or angry at a grown up…<_<.

I had one friend who knew I wasn’t lying and who went with me when I talked to the Lady soft-spoken, she also testified to my honesty towards the other kids who took the opportunity of calling me a liar with black spotted heart (That was another thing that kept following my childhood – the dratted heart with black spots symbolizing a sinner and how everyone with spots – you got a spot for each little bad thought that was formed in your brain, because that meant you had let Satan into your heart). She just didn’t dare to speak up in front of the Nazi-lady, and honestly who could blame her?!? I didn’t even blame her or got upset with her back then…

The Nazi-ladies were all favoring certain kids, they were allowed to make more noise, they were ignored when they uttered inappropriate things and they were chosen first when there were special treats, or when a few kids were picked to help with the ‘real’ Sunday services, etc.
I was 4th child in a one-income family. I wore handed down clothes, but as I was skinnier than my older sisters, they didn’t always fit that well and truth to tell I was a tomboy who spent most her days outdoor getting dirty and or ripping her clothes playing in the woods. I also hated wearing dresses.
This was frowned upon of course.
I remember finding it odd after a while, why they never told my mother any of the threats they made me about telling her how terrible I dressed, how chipped and unkempt my nails were and how utterly inappropriate and shameful I was, because I know that when they did meet she and I, they always told her what a sweet and kind child I was. (and frankly, if they’d ever even hinted to her that I was inappropriate dressed, she’d have me scrubbed, dressed and shining like a brass button from top to toe or pulled out of Sunday-school immediately).

I’ve thought about why they didn’t like me, but I really don’t know if there was a specific reason at all. I don’t think my mother was disliked or regarded a bad person, her dad was a war-hero and a municipal member and a respected person. My dad was well liked and respected by most and as a janitor/woodshop/art teacher at the school, he took care of the unruly, and what would likely be called hyper kids today – who he got excellently along with, so I don’t think I was picked because of my parents.

Oh, I know I was a curious child, who didn’t hesitate to ask for explanations for what I didn’t understand. I’m dead sure I could be a pain in the ass for some of the ladies, I also had a lot of energy and would perhaps be diagnosed ADHD or hyper if I grew up today – in those days they claimed I had flees in my blood and ants in my pants :P.

By the age of 12 I was so fed up with the whole spotted heart deal and of being constantly ashamed, that I figured that since I was bound for hell in all regards, I might as well give up the whole thing and refused to go to Sunday-school, dropped out of the Wednesday children’s meeting and didn’t attend any Sunday services unless I was dragged or forced by my parents or I my Ten Sing choir were singing.

I loved singing and stayed in Ten Sing until I was 13/14, but when the choirmaster told me that I would be raped and become a ruined woman before I was 16 for having been spotted at the downtown kiosk buying some candy on the way home from some school activities after 8 pm, I left that too. It was the final drop that made me turn my back on the whole religion thing and I was mad at God for many years.

I’ve made my peace with God, but I don’t think I’ll ever make my peace with the church. When I enter a church I have no feeling of getting closer to God, I have no sense of calmness or serenity what so ever.

Instead I get the feeling of having done something wrong, of not belonging, of not being allowed to be there and I constantly fear something bad to happen. That might have to do with one of the church vergers being a pedophile and someone you needed to watch out so you never were in the same room alone with. I don’t know or remember exactly how I knew I needed to be mindful around him. I can’t remember anything particularly bad happening to me. I just know that my mother was shocked when he finally got charged for child molesting. So I know she never knew, nor warned me. The sad part is that he wasn’t charged until I was a grown woman. I don’t know how the case ended; the man was a very old man by the time the charges against him came…

In my view churches are man-made institutions and just that. I don’t need a church in order to get close to God, I don’t need to be in a church to pray and I definitely don’t need to go to church regularly in order to know what is right from wrong. I have nothing against priests in general, but I don’t trust them any more than I trust anyone else. Does that make me a bad and sinful person? Maybe so…

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