Looking back on my youth there is much I no longer understand - opinions and passions that seem like they belonged to someone else. Like why I ever thought Gallagher was funny, Hard Rock Café shirts were collectibles, or why I watched Friends every week. But of all the puzzling things from my oft-puzzling formative years, the puzzliest has to be why I briefly wanted to be Christian. My parents were both really cool and nice and they didn't have a lot of bullshit parent-baggage they forced down my throat. No hard politics, prejudices, crappy musical tastes, and no religion. It was a creative and intellectual paradise. So of course, as a true testament to the idea that teens will rebel against anything, when I was thirteen I decided that… I would become religious! Other rebels might pick up smoking and start running with the bad kids, I promptly got myself a King James and demanded that I be baptized, much to my parents’ bewilderment. My grandparents were Lutheran, so that seemed good enough for me. I thought I’d get dunked in a river, but the pastor just flicked some water at my face and gave me a souvenir candle. But whatever, now I was legit. It must have been a surreal moment for my parents when I said goodbye and rode my bike to church while they watched TV and lounged about at home, but I was pumped! Church seemed fun! I think I made it about three Sundays before I determined this was going to be harder than I thought.
Church was so f’ing boring. And where were the wine and wafers? The confessionals? When I learned that was Catholicism, I decided that maybe Lutheranism wasn’t going to cut it. Apparently I had more advanced religious tastes. Time to kick it up a notch! Catholic mass was more entertaining, but there was also a lot of bullshit to memorize now. Chants, prayers, and saints. So many saints. This wasn’t gonna work either. What were my other options? Baptists sang a lot, which seemed fun, but there were like six black people in my white-bread suburb, so that wasn’t really an option. I found the Old Testy more interesting than the New Testy, but the only Jewish kid I knew was part of a Christian youth group, which should indicate the number of temples we had. Plus Judaism seemed like it was just all the crappy aspects of Catholicism times ten. It was around this time that the obvious started to become apparent - I wasn’t actually interested in Christianity for the reasons that you’re supposed to be. Everyone else I knew was forced to go to confirmation class and church, so I think I just felt left out. Of course my friends were all on the flipside, forced to go to church and fantasizing about the day they could finally stop. I hadn’t realized I had been lucky! At least there are no embarrassing photos of this folly… unlike the ridiculous Seinfeld-like mullet I had at the time.
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