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Free magic show after the service! October 20, 2007

Posted by Teen Atheist in anecdotes, backstory, family, friends.
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8 comments

Remember when I mentioned how I went with a friend to their Protestant worship service and enjoyed it? And how, afterwards, my parents had banned me from ever visiting a Protestant mass again, in fear of my possible conversion? That happened about five years ago, and I’d always been secretly resentful of their narrow-mindedness with regards to that issue.

“I don’t care if you had a good time!” Dad had asserted. “The Holy Mass is not supposed to be a party!” (Yeah, because God forbid we actually enjoy praising Jesus. Singing and clapping is far too sinful, and don’t even think about air-conditioning. Air-conditioners are a work of the devil.)

Fast-forward three years, when I was still a believer, but increasingly unhappy with being a Roman Catholic. I’d finally mustered up the determination to have another whack at Protestantism, although I wasn’t ballsy enough to tell my parents. Instead, I went on a movie outing with some friends one Saturday, and then secretly accompanied one Protestant friend to their worship service.

Once again, I had a much better time there than I did in Catholic mass, and I even got a little teary-eyed while singing (damn you, Christian rock!), because I was going through this whole angsty “God loves me more than my parents do” phase. After all, when you’re starved for affection, your imaginary friend will never let you down.

That wasn’t the interesting part, however. The good stuff happened after the service, when the pastor/facilitator/whatchamacall’em asked the “newcomers” to stand up. I did, along with five or so other people who were within my age range, and we were all herded into a white room in the back where we were served refreshments. (Insert appropriate “Don’t drink the Kool-Aid!” joke here.)

We gathered in a circle as the pastor prayed to welcome the new sheep to the flock, or something like that. After the prayer, he notices a girl sitting sadly in the corner. He draws attention to her, all “Hello, and you are?” with a big ol’ smile, and asks her what’s wrong. She tells us about a condition that had rendered her legs useless since childhood.

Now here’s the good part: a couple of men prop the paralyzed girl up and hold her by the arms while the pastor lays a hand on her forehead and mumbles some unintelligible hocus-pocus. The girl starts sobbing and praying too, and then the pastor takes both her hands and oh my God she’s jumping up and down with him! Just like they do on television!

I didn’t know what to think, but I was scared shitless. Even though at that point, I was still pretty sure that there was a God (or hoping there was one, anyway), I already had my doubts about the genuineness of the “miracle” I’d just witnessed. The whole thing gave off a huge “Lookie what we can do! Aren’t we awesome and powerful?” vibe to me, and I remember thinking, “Good Lord, do they orchestrate this shit every time new people show up?”

Hell, even my fundie brother Pete, who is the kind of guy who would remind me endlessly about “Don’t use God’s name in vain” whenever I went “OMGZ,” didn’t buy it. Back then, we used to be best friends (yeah, rejection still hurts, y’all), so I told him about my Finding Jesus adventure and the girl who could walk again, and he was all, “They’re probably faking it to impress the new people.”

If I ever consider trying Protestantism again, I’m going to show up in a wheelchair.

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