I was raised in a non-denominational church that leaned Methodist, and after spotty attendance and a significant dose of hormones, we moved into a large’ish Southern Baptist congregation when I started “going with” a boy there. From a young age, I remember feeling really ill-informed in church. In my first Sunday School class, something barely above the nursery, the teacher–an elderly lady with chickens who lived seven houses down– treated us like Bible scholars and expected we would’ve already memorized…well…everything.
Needless to say, while I had a pretty good grip on the basics: Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Jesus on the cross, I did not have much beyond those initial Bible stories. As an always-A-type perfectionist, I felt ridiculous and alienated.
Those first experiences colored my opinions of church for a long time, and when I started back full time as a tween, other experiences colored my experiences of church. Mostly hypocrisy…the kids who espoused sex and weed during the week but dutifully attended on Sunday (keep in mind, not doing these two things was the cornerstone of my 12-year-old faith), the wealthiest woman in the congregation who got her way. The overwhelming case of Christianese also made me cringe, a habit that endures to this very day.
I don’t know that those first impressions have ever left me, they’ve only grown–and sometimes (not always) unfairly–and that is my fault. I own that. I own all of this. I started this blog because I’m a 37-year-old, leftist, professor, artist, advocate type who is attempting to come to a serious Bible study as a child would. I’m trying (and largely failing) to unlearn what I’ve known and re-learn by actually studying the Word. Trying. Failing. Trying.
But that’s it, right? Thank God for grace.