So, my early childhood was free from most religious influence. This seems odd to me because I can’t remember not going to church, but I know it was true.
That is until I was eight. My mom’s mom became the faith matriarch of our family when she started attending the local Southern Baptist Church. She started taking me and my brother and within a year my mom started going. It took a couple of years for my dad to come to terms with faith and God, but in time we were going to church as a family, which continued the rest of my life.
I am finding it odd as I am writing that I have no recollection of whether my older brother and sister went to church with us. I’m sure they must have occasionally, but as I try to remember back I only see me, my parents, and my younger brother. I don’t know of a reason they wouldn’t have gone.
We were good Baptists, something I joke with my kids about. At minimum we went to church twice on Sunday and on Wednesday. Usually there were also prayer meetings and Bible studies through the week. Then we had the occasional revival meeting with nightly services and VBS. Being a good Baptists required a significant time commitment. We tease the kids that good Baptists go to church eight days a week.
With the help of Jimmy Swaggart we eventually transitioned from a Southern Baptist to a full Gospel church, led by a former Southern Baptist preacher. This gradually led to my introduction to the charismatic movement, which will certainly take up at least it’s own post.
So the good and bad of this is that it was my introduction to faith. Most of the good things in my life have stemmed from my faith, along with a fair share of hurt. Being introduced into the fundamentalist part of the Christian faith gave me stability, but it also taught me to judge and sometimes hate in the name of faith. I was introduced to a lot of amazing, loving, generous people. I was also introduced to a way of life that too often divided us and them. I was introduced to a passion for the holy texts of our faith, but I was also taught how to use them to attack people and fight against science and reason.
This was the beginning of my faith journey. Again, much of who I have become was framed by this foundation, and much was developed later as we will see.