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In The Beginning


Minstrel
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I was born under the altar of a mid-1950's South Texas Pentecostal church.

My paternal grandmother being a pioneering pastor in the Assemblies of God

through the Depression and into the decade of my birth.

Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night, and any other day or night...

...If services or fellowships were at the church...so was I.

 

Taught to hate every other denomination...because they hated us.

Born-Again and "Filled with the Spirit" at the age of 6...

...un-born again and again and again...

...then re-born again, ad infinitum.

Seemed that I just couldn't get holy enough.

 

My father would reinforce that belief on queue

as almost every day of my first fourteen years

were accented with "whippings"

that usually involved his belt.

 

He was beaming proud of how well behaved his children were in public

and all because he obeyed the scripture "spare the rod and spoil the child".

His beatings were always out of anger, and in a rage.

I was pretty sure God was the same way, as hellfire and brimstone

were mainstays of my upbringing.

 

On Easter Sunday, of my thirteenth year, we remained at the church after service

as usual

while he prayed or talked with whomever needed it...

then, hurried home to get the dishes my mother had prepared for the "Easter

Sunday Picnic Meal".

One of the dishes was a favorite of our family - a three-layered coconut cake...

and I was the fortunate one (of three in the back seat) entrusted with its safe

transport.

 

I heard my father say that the meal was going to be on the church grounds

and my mother replied that the place had been changed to some park

but my father knew he was right...so we headed back to the church...

to find no-one there.

Rather than altering our course, and heading for the park, he was so angered

that he yelled something at my mother, and turned the car back home.

 

The garage was barely wide enough for the car...

but as we pulled in, everyone started to disembark out the passenger-side

and my father (sitting directly in front of me) started out his door

then said something as he was shutting the door...to me.

I did not hear him...and knew he was in a bad mood,

which forebode ill tidings if I missed a command.

So, I began to open my door to ask what he said...

just as he stumbled in the narrow space...against it.

The door came crashing back on me.

My mother's beautiful cake fell from my lap.

 

My father...almost crying...yelled at the top of his lungs -

"I told you not to get out until I got by!"

He, literally, could not control himself...

shaking, jerky quick flashes of the hand against the side of his head

with an almost hysterical laugh...as he told me to clean it up,

then go inside and wait on his bed.

Of course I did...as I saw him headed for the back of the yard,

where a very large Mesquite tree stood.

I waited almost fifteen minutes sitting on the edge of my parents' bed...

when finally, he walked in...mumbling something incoherent (to me)...

 

He had thirteen branches that he'd cut from the mesquite tree under his arm...

and told me to take off all of my clothes.

 

From the base of my skull to the soles of the toes of my feet, he beat me...

with each branch...until it was no longer usable...

To enable him to continue the rage...with every strike, he would yell...

"You gonna mind me? You gonna mind me? You gonna mind me? You gon..."

 

When I was at Church Camp the summer of the following year,

there was a group known as the "Agape Force" on tap...and they were disciplers.

 

Now...I was required to forgive my father...love him...honor him...obey him...

...and boy how I tried.

 

While earlier, I had been born-again and unborn-again repeatedly...

these new requirements (all, absolutely commanded in the scriptures) were a

heavy load.

 

Nonetheless, nearing the end of high school, my voice began to shine...

and the hierarchy of the Assemblies started carrying me on their shoulders

across the length and breadth of their domains...

Then, bands started pursuing me right and left...

...and then I accepted an offer to be the cover for a tour of a famously popular

Christian band...

...and...my first love broke it off with me...and the tour promoter tried to

tell me what music I should do...

and...I walked right out of the contract, into the open arms of the US Navy...

...where I sunk my teeth into "the other side".

 

After the Navy, my life was pretty depressing, and one night, after a car

accident, I cried out to Jesus,

and had the wonderful sensation of tears flowing down my cheeks again...and the

hard heart melting with them...

and my determination to pursue God with all my heart, found a new gear.

So, I went to Bible College...for a year...then got married to a girl...

...who went to Bible College to marry a preacher...but became so enamored with

my music...

that she decided I would be a better deal...

Two years later, after meeting some people who attended another Bible School

(Rhema),

and noticing how they never talked evil of other Christians...and were always so

happy...

I thought that this Rhema must have the real stuff.

My first child arrived just as the Oil Crunch hit Tulsa...and I was unable to

complete even one semester...

But, I had found the Real Thing...and stayed with it all the way through many

churches in many cities...

eventually serving as Associate Pastor and "Minister of Praise & Worship" a few

years ago.

 

Much turmoil accompanied the last two years or so in that church...

and my children were being abused...so we walked away,

choosing to hold any church services in our home.

One day, knowing everyone had been through a tumultuous couple of years

we sat down, and I asked each member of our family - "What do you believe about

God?"

I just wanted to be certain that we were all still going to Heaven, and the

damage inflicted by those who'd been our family, was not irreparable.

Each family member gave an honest reply (that assuaged my fear)...until the last

was asked.

He said he didn't want to answer.

I demanded that he answer.

And he said - "I don't know what I believe about God, anymore."

My heart received a jolt like I'd never known before... TERROR...

"HOW CAN YOU NOT KNOW?!!!"

He began to cry... And I began to cry... He went to his bedroom, closed the

door...and I was left in abject horror that my beloved was going to spend

eternity in Hell.

So...I began to study. I began to reason. I looked for anything and

everything I could find...that would "prove" to him, that God is good, and that

Jesus died on the cross, and had risen the third day, and...on and on...

And so, I would try to find little openings...to interject some of the arguments

I'd come across...and he would be so polite, and say "Wow, really? That's cool

Dad."

So, I thought - "Okay... No need to fear. I've been praying...and the Bible says

that God is faithful to keep that which I've committed to Him, against the

day..."

 

But then...a funny thing happened. One day, while searching the Internet,

I happened upon a thesis written by some seminary student on the topic of

Eternal Damnation of the Unjust. After reading entirely through his

discourse on the Old Testament misinterpretations, and a short way into the New

Testament words and usages...I shut that page down like it was a puff adder.

It scared the crap out of me...because...it made sense.

And, of course...Christianity is based on faith...not sense.

 

I thought - "This is the Devil!...trying to instill doubt in my mind...so he can

take me and all my family to eternal Hell."

But...after a few months of repressing any conscious recognition of this

information...it began calling for my conscious attention...and thus...began my

quest...toward the EXIT sign.

 

Sorry, this is just the beginning...for the actual Exit went through a number of stages.

Thanks for the opportunity to say some of this.

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All I can say is...WOW.

 

You are a very strong person, Minstrel. Thank you for sharing this with us.

 

I couldn't imagine being beaten like that, and it's understandable that it was hard for you to forgive him. That's one thing that bothered me about forgiveness; you were required to forgive even when it was basically impossible for you to do so.

 

You sound like you're making it through alright. If you ever need to talk, feel free to send me a PM.

 

You are going to fit in quite well here at ExC. There are several ex-pastors who post here on a regular basis (most of all, Webmaster Dave.)

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Minstrel,

 

Thanks for posting this. I can empathize completely with the kind of beatings you got...I almost went to tears as I read it, for I too got "lickins" like this as a kid. Not with mesquite branches, but a wire coat hanger...just as abusive, and nowadays defined as criminal. Brought back some painful (literally) memories. Although I can rationalize that was de rigeur for a lot of kids born in the 50s, it is one thing I can never forgive my now-dead father for. It poisoned our relationship for life, and he (an agnostic) has been gone for 20 years.

 

As far as your exit process from christianity, congratulations for embracing reason! Welcome to the site, and I hope you enjoy expressing yourself. This is a superforum for anyone rejecting the xian myth and looking for real answers. You always have a place of acceptance here. Feel free to ask, explore, or just vent!

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I must apologize to both of you...for I had not intended that to comprise so much of my story.

Actually, I've accepted the many abuses, and even wish my father well. I suppose I included the tale because of how it influenced my early years...but also because of what is says of Christianity. He was always "a spiritual leader" in the church...to include "now"...and, he's never even admitted that anything he did was wrong. I think, because he believes he was right.

Thanks for your replies...I'll finish the Exit as soon as I have time. But, honestly, there are so many such stories on this site, I kind of get lost reading them.

To All... Thanks for this Site.

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Quite the story. I hope you and yours are doing well. I am looking forward to the next chapter. You are going to post it, right?

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I am intrigued as well... welcome, Minstrel. I wish you the best in your journey. It's amazing that you can forgive your father for that, that shows how much better you are than most Christians anyway.

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