Dating jesus

Most of them have already taken the walk to the front to declare their love for Jesus, but I have dragged my feet. I know I need to be baptized--it would sure beat spending eternity in hellfire--but it seems such an awesome step. I am walking toward the highest church office I can reach as a female-- that of a baptized believer--and for that brief moment, all eyes are on me.

I will be a Christian. I will grow up and marry a deacon, the worker bees of our church, who will one day grow old--like, forty or so--and become an elder. I will raise up my children in the way they should go, and when they are old, they will not depart from me. And finally, I will recline in my rose-scented deathbed with a brave, faint smile as my family gathers around me, and then I will rise in spirit to my home in glory, leaving behind a blessed bunch who look and sound and smell like me and who point to my faith as their ideal.

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They will, of course, all be Christians, and they will marry Christians and beget Christians, and not some watereddown namby-pamby type, either, but fire-breathing and soulgrowing Christians, members of the church of Christ, saved by grace and fired with an obstinate belief in the black and white.

Give me that old-time religion! I know my future as I know the St. Louis Cardinals lineup from the tinny transistor I sneak into my bed on game nights: Cruz, and the man who will ultimately betray my faith in baseball and become a hated Yankee, Joe Torre.

Those Cardinals will win the pennant one day, but I will be a Christian today.

The sanctuary in which I walk is a high-ceilinged, cavernous room covered completely--walls and ceiling--in knotty pine that holds my secret sin. When I am bored--and during three-hour Sunday-morning services I am often bored--I attempt to count the knots in the panels behind the preacher. I lose count and start again, lose count and start again. The room seats roughly seven hundred souls.

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I say roughly, because we never fill it. It was built amid much discussion and hard feelings at a time when my church was among the fastestgrowing Christian groups in the country. Of course we would fill it, we told one another, even if our regular Sunday-morning attendance hovered around three hundred or so. We just needed to have the right amount of pews. The interior looks as we imagine the ark of Noah would look--spare, with not one cross on display. Jesus hung on a real cross. Who were we to use the emblem of his shame as decor? And why would we, as girls, wear small golden crosses when the real one was so much bigger and uglier4 The pews are padded--another discussion--and there are no prayer benches, for fear that they would put us in company with the Catholics.

Still, I never once saw someone drop to his or her knees during public prayer. We are, one visiting minister derided us, the only group of believers that sits to sing and stands to pray. In fact, the building was built on prayer--and a painful schism. When you believe you are holy and have God on your side, you easily cross over into being dogmatic.

We split over paving the parking lot. And besides, the money could be used for a greater purpose--namely, saving souls.

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The grandparents of this crowd had cheered at the outcome of the Scopes Monkey Trial. Consider them opponents of creeping and sweeping modernity. When the church splits, we stay with the paved group. Among the literal-minded, schisms are just waiting to surface, ready to crack open at any moment. Elsewhere, the other churches of my faith--we had no central hierarchy, opting instead for home rule by a group of older men, the elders--would split and split again, over adding a pastoral counseling service, or a daycare center--more modernity, in other words, but that was later.

You might also be interested in: At such a humiliating moment, how could anyone have been so gentle as to leave me glowing with an astonished joy? Despite our age difference, we had so very much in common in our early years, Susan Campbell and I!

Susan knocked on doors, earnestly seeking to rescue people from Hell; I gave out Bible tracts for the same reason. But had we met as youngsters, Susan and I would probably have felt it necessary to part company, because horrors! She begins to dream about Dame Julian of Norwich, the 14th century Christian mystic who had visitations from Christ in female form.

And for years after her anger drove her out of the church, Susan Campbell wishes she could have been like Dame Julian, letting nothing come between her and her God. I dated the wrong one. I gave my heart and my soul—literally—to a construct that had only a small basis in fact. Susan Campbell is one of those heterosexual and strongly-nonconforming women whom I included under the transgender umbrella in my book O mnigender. Yes, I am a mother and a wife.

Dating Jesus | A blog companion to the book by Susan Campbell

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