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Religious post. Sorry! Skip this!

March 12, 2016

I apologize. This post is religious. Please forgive me.

March 12, 2016

History of my relationship with the Christian church.

The 1950s:  mother took me to the Episcopal Church in Missoula where I had been baptized.   Sometimes she sent me down the alley to ride with our neighbors.

I was most excited when I was eight years old.  Our Sunday school teacher asked each of us to bring a camera.  Mother bought me a roll of 620 film and I used my sister’s box camera; the first frame was of her standing by our garage, squinting into the sun.

I got sick.  I vomited on the grass by the porch on the way into the church.  I spent the next hour asleep on a bench.

A year earlier, when our father was dying of cancer, I stayed with our grandparents in Kalispell.  My grandma sent me to the Methodist church wearing a bright yellow sweatshirt.  I threw a huge tantrum because I didn’t want to go to church wearing a sweatshirt.

I quit church soon after I started pocketing my offering money instead of putting it on the collection plate.

I and most of us kids I knew took ballroom dance lessons at the Episcopal church in Missoula when we were in the seventh grade.  Another kid called me a fool and socked me in the jaw.  I don’t know why.  He said he could have knocked me out if he’d wanted to.

In the eighth grade we moved from Missoula to Dillon.   Mother took me to the Methodist Church.  The minister, Rev. West, was dynamic and progressive.  Methodist Youth Fellowship was interesting for me.  Many of the 17-year-old intellectuals from high school went.

My friends and I went to Methodist Summer Camp on Flathead Lake in 1966.  Our counselor, a woman, had our group of about six boys and six girls leaf through a Playboy magazine to discuss the pictures!

I remember that our counselor complained that the women in the pictures were not even pretty by her standards.  Of course I disagreed. Silently.

None of us boys or girls said much, and I think we all pretended not to care.

Truth was, I could hardly breathe I was so excited.  I thought I was in heaven!

The older boys talked about our experience that day in our cabin after dark.  I remember that one of the boys said that he could hardly wait to get married so he could get all the sex he wanted!  Another boy suggested that affection and compatibility were more important.  I remember thinking that both kids had valid arguments.

As a freshman in Missoula I tried going to a Christian religious group in the evening at the Newman Center, but I couldn’t make any sense of it so I never returned.

Then I telephoned the Baha’i church in Missoula but the guy wouldn’t answer my questions, so I didn’t pursue it.  I thought the Baha’i man didn’t trust my motive for phoning.

My hippie friends and I ended up going to the “Downstairs Coffee House” at the University Congregational Church a couple of blocks from campus.  I learned to smoke cigarettes (tobacco and marijuana) and drink coffee there.  I also fell in love.  At least twice.  We went there dozens of times.

After joining the Marines in 1969 I learned that the least expensive entertainment on base was the chapel.  Our new family went regularly and I learned to sing in the choir.  I ended up learning the futility of Evangelical Christianity, basically a kind of Ponzi scheme, I thought.  Eventually I outgrew fundamental Christianity.  Too many circular arguments.

After the Marines, back in Missoula, our family went to the University Congregational Church.  That was 1976.  We’ve been members of the United Church of Christ 40 years. I still sing in the choir at First Congregational Church in Billings.

If I weren’t religious I’d be a Humanist.  If I were to pick a great church I’d go for the Buddhists.  A truly fine church, in line with family tradition, would be Lutheran.  However, I am simply sticking with what I have, in order to be myself.

There.  Done.

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