My family, on my mom’s side, has been in involved in the church since before I was born. They helped build the churches (known as Ecclesias), run the churches, and anything else you can think of. The religion is/was called Christadelphian.
It wasn’t a bad religion to grow up in. My great grandmother worked at the “book store.” It really was a little shelf in the corner. And my aunts were Sunday school teachers. Uncles and cousins did the bible readings and handled the collections.
My mother, brother and I went to church together for years. On my dad’s weekends he would drop me, and my brother off, and then pick us up. For a while my uncle Rick went, then he became disillusioned, and stopped going. My family and I went until I hit Junior High, then something happened, and my mom became disillusioned also, so we stopped going. There was talk of a few members of the Ecclesia who felt divorcees should be ex-communicated from the church. Religion and power mess up a lot of people.
I continued to go sporadically. In High School I was seeing a girl who attended that church, so I went. I stopped going after her and I broke-up.
In late 1989 I started seeing another girl who was the granddaughter of a Christian preacher, so once again I attended church. But I disliked the fun, bouncy sermons. I felt personal chatter should be left at home, and just give me information right from the bible. That’s how I grew up. So, one Sunday I took the “girl” to my old church and midway through I too was disillusioned. Something changed. I didn’t belong there. The people were different, and I felt like I crashed a private party.
In 1997 when I met my wife, she was a devout Catholic, and I started attending mass with her. I tried to attend on all the holidays, and the somewhat required Sunday services.
As a kid growing up in the Christadelphian religion, one of the lessons I remember most was the story of judgment day. In the Catholic religion you die, and you go to heaven. In the Christadelphian religion you die, you stay dead until you are raised, judged, then you fight Armageddon with Jesus. At that judgment, if you are found unworthy, you go back to being dead.
Isn’t that a bitch?
The part of this story that messed me up was when they told me that you would be quizzed about your actions in life, one-on-one with God. And if you lied to God, the fear in your heart would be so great that your teeth would chatter so hard that they would turn to dust. That never left my head. I knew as a kid that God knew everything, why quiz me? If I was unworthy, leave me dead, and don’t judge me. Not very cool.
– Last One To Die, 2011