From: Al Schroeder
To: Kenneth Cavness
Date: Mar 7 1996 5:00:00 am
Subject: Re: Sharks
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AS> What sort of experiences did you have? And with what denomination, if
AS> I might ask?

KC> This is a _very_ long story. I tend towards succinctness, so I'll try
KC> to keep it somewhat short (plus, I'd like to get onto #holysmoke on
KC> irc. ;) )

KC> To answer your second question first: I grew up in the Pentecostal
KC> Church (United Pentecostal Church, Inc) in a couple of cities: a small
KC> town in Texas called Brady, and in a suburb in the Dallas / Fort Worth
KC> metropolitan area, called Euless (pronounced "Useless").

KC> My mother, after divorcing my father (I was about 4), turned in
KC> desparation for a stable group of people. Well, stable in the sense
KC> that they'd always be there for her. She chose, for various reasons
KC> known only to her, to join the Pentecostal church.

KC> Some other time, I'll post some of the more rabid things that the
KC> Pentecostal churches do. The things that I most remember, though, are
KC> the seminars they held to show the evil and satanic content of Rock
KC> (the way they set it up gave me nightmares for weeks, and I grew up
KC> thinking that rock was indeed satanic. It took me a lot of friends
KC> after I stopped being a Pentecostal to show to me that Rock, while some
KC> groups did indeed carry Satanic messages, does not imply Satanism in
KC> any manner). I was utterly deprived of my favourite pasttime (reading),
KC> because so many books were considered evil. I have had to read in 5
KC> years (I'm 21 now) what most people were able to read from their
KC> junior high years.

KC> The Church allowed my mother to believe that her psychological
KC> problems could be cured by Christ (they weren't, and I was the brunt
of
KC> most of her anger and hostility toward my father); the Church caused
my
KC> mother to tithe first to it, and give generous offerings, before
KC> providing for us. It gave her incentive and support in her crusades
KC> against my family, and caused her to ostracise (sp?) me from most of
my
KC> non-Pentecostal family.

KC> In short: I was deprived of a social base, I was kept wilfully
KC> ignorant, I was made to belive my father, and most of my family, were
KC> evil and were going to hell, I was enlisted in a crusade against my
KC> father because my mother thought that he was bisexual/gay and enlisted
KC> the Church's fight against him.

KC> I was made to believe that _I_ was satanic and evil because I
KC> couldn't, no matter how hard I tried, speak in tongues or feel a
KC> presence of god. I was simply "not praying hard enough" or "not giving
KC> myself to god." Because I am gay, I was made to feel totally guilty.
I
KC> tried for most of my young life to change into a straight person. I
had
KC> to sit in a church and raise my hands to a god I could not feel, clap
KC> my hands in a show of utter hypocrisy to a music that did not inspire,
KC> and listen to sermons that I could not follow (because they would start
KC> out with a subject and quickly move to fire-and-brimstone tactics,
KC> trying to bring the crowd to mass hysteria).

KC> It caused me to spend much of my young life trying to convert others
KC> to a faith I now feel is actually as close to "evil" as I can belive
in
KC> the term. It almost caused me to suspend my thought processes, and
KC> ignore logic and reason, because what I was doing was not what seemed
KC> right.
KC> There's so much more to this than a simple message could describe, but
KC> suffice to say that the Pentecostal church, on an emotional, social,
KC> physical, and mental level, deprived me of much in my formative years.
KC> The anger I felt after leaving the church caused me to have to go into
KC> psychotherapy to try to control myself. I actually felt violent toward
KC> any Pentecostal I saw -- not that I would have ever acted on that
KC> violence, but it was tearing me up inside.

Your story reminds me of a local friend of mine. He used to be very
fundamentalist, and a musician---he was in a warmup group for Amy Grant
and Michael W. Smith, that crowd...but gay. And it was tearing him up that
he felt it was a sin and yet was drawn to it. One night, he spoke to his
minister about many things, and asked him, (he says the minister didn't
know he was gay) "Do you think God would prefer a man dead...or gay?"
The minister answered without reservation, "Gay."
He spent a long night that night, struggling with suicide, and then came
to the healthy conclusion that a dead man is of no use to anyone, even
God. He left the church, tried some other stuff, and eventually drifted
into Wicca and is quite happy with it. Considering what he endured, who
can blame him?
But I would rather be in my friend's shoes on the real Judgement Day
than that minister's.

KC> _Please_, people, don't take this as an opportunity to witness to me.
KC> I've really, really, heard just about all there is to hear in the 6
KC> years I have spent codifying exactly what it is about Christianity
KC> that makes me not want to be a part of it. I did indeed try other, less
KC> fringe denominations, as well as a private persuit of the Bible that
KC> caused me to read it through totally four times, and to go through
KC> countless hours of annotation and reference checking to find out that
KC> I couldn't stomach much of what the bible states.

Understandable, especially given your earlier experiences. Although I
remember W.H. Auden, who was gay and yet felt convinced of the Christian
faith.

KC> I have since discovered that I don't have to hate Christianity, or
KC> even Christians. It took _many_ years of allowing my anger to simmer
KC> down to believe this. I do not actively seek out Christians in order
to
KC> debunk them, and nor do I wish to make all people atheists. I have,
KC> however, found that of all the things that I most abhor in society,
it
KC> is zealotry -- and I will actively seek that out and attempt to debunk
KC> and ridicule it whenever I can.

Beware the fanatic, theist or nontheist.

KC> On the other hand, I love a good debate, and find it most refreshing
KC> when I can find a reasonable Christian (such as you) who is willing
to
KC> sit down and calmly lay out his points, which I can refute, and then
KC> allow me to lay out my points, which I can refute.

It makes for more intellectual stimulation for me. Flaming can be
carthartic, but defending one's own stance and looking for the
inconsistencies in another's is more fun, and in a way good mental
exercise.

KC> I know this has been disjointed, but I really can't do much more than
KC> this...my "life story" revolves around my experiences with
KC> Christianity and Paganism, and it would take an incredible amount of
KC> time to go into detail as to it. If you have any further questions,
I'd
KC> be happy to go into detail on them, but this should serve as starting
KC> material. :)

Yes indeed. It gives me an idea of what you are like and what you have
experienced. I noticed the "Paganism", though. Did you turn to Paganism
for a time, or like my friend, are you still in one of the faiths we clump
under pagan,like Wicca, Druid, etc.?

... "Always Ask the Next Question!" --Theodore Sturgeon
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