When I was a little boy, I was taught to love Jesus. Jesus would save me from sin and guarantee my place in heaven.
Early on my mother's husband "Bob" gave me a picture of Jesus with a wooden frame. At the time I did not realize that it was a cheap bit of laminated crap. I loved my blond Jesus with a beard who was going to save me from suffering.
Except he didn't. I don't remember the first time Bob hit me. My life was suffering. Our entire family suffered. When the abuse was not physical it was verbal, mental and all-consuming.
I learned the commandments and the Lord's prayer. I went to Sunday school. I went to Lutheran grade school, and always I prayed.
"God please make him stop. Please! I will do anything, I will pray more and go to church every day."
I believed harder and harder and harder.
In the first grade, I had access to a large library of books and magazines and a teacher I very much liked. I asked Mrs. Johnson why kids were starving all over the world.
She told me that God wanted to take them home to him to live in heaven so they could eat as much as they wanted.
Not satisfied with the answer I asked the pastor.
"If you have faith you can move mountains, you need to pray for them."
And I prayed.
I shared a bedroom with three brothers and I went into our large closet, sat on the floor and prayed.
I told God how much faith I had and how I believed mountains could move and please, stop the starvation and make Bob love me, and stop.
I listened for the voice of god and prayed every day.
Life did not change.
I was often at the doctor, a slight endocrine disorder was grossly magnified by stress. I was over-treated, over-medicated and as a result often sick. I remember asking Dr. Ulrich if I would die, hoping that I would. I wanted so badly to go to heaven.
It might have been then I was put into therapy. The memories and episodes of abuse tumble all together. I remember in a doctor's session putting the doll of Bob in the oven. I put my eldest brother in as well. He had chosen to align with the abuser and be abusive to me as well.
If I could not die I wanted them dead.
If Jesus did not want me in heaven, I would pray differently. I began to pray that he would take my brother and Bob. Let them live in heaven and I could live on earth with the remainder of my family.
Life did not change.
That is not to say there were not good times. I loved playing cards with my mother and sister and making them laugh. I would do funny voices and do everything I could to bring the mood up.
I adored my grandparents and the families of several of my friends. I liked food and cooking and cookbooks.
So I changed my prayers.
I prayed that I would be sent to live with Grandma and Grandpa. I had faith that would move mountains.
Life did not change.
I then prayed to go live with my Aunt Phyllis. She loved me and my mother would visit and I could be happy. Phyllis died from a brain aneurism soon after.
I tried to believe god wanted her in heaven, but could not understand why he hated me so much.
In Minnesota I had hope with Pastor Schweigert. After a particularly bad episode, I called him and begged for his help. He was a pastor and a good Christian.
He called Bob instead, told him that he was head of the house and that he needed to 'deal with me.'
I was in my basement room. I remember him coming down in a rage and little after that.
My mother would try to intervene. "Bob no, Bob stop, Bob please."
And on it went.
I began to think maybe Jesus was not the answer. I think I was 12 when I went to the library and started reading other religious books. From Enke to Jehovah, I read them all. I began to wonder if anyone had the answers.
I finally read the Bible, cover to cover.
The god that was revealed was a horrific and evil creature. He ordered rape, murder, unborn babies being cut out of the stomach of their mothers.
They attacked Midian just as the LORD had commanded Moses, and they killed all the men. All five of the Midianite kings - Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur, and Reba - died in the battle. They also killed Balaam son of Beor with the sword. Then the Israelite army captured the Midianite women and children and seized their cattle and flocks and all their wealth as plunder. They burned all the towns and villages where the Midianites had lived. After they had gathered the plunder and captives, both people and animals, they brought them all to Moses and Eleazar the priest, and to the whole community of Israel, which was camped on the plains of Moab beside the Jordan River, across from Jericho. (Numbers 31:7-18 NLT)
This is god?
When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she will not be freed at the end of six years as the men are. If she does not please the man who bought her, he may allow her to be bought back again. But he is not allowed to sell her to foreigners, since he is the one who broke the contract with her. And if the slave girl's owner arranges for her to marry his son, he may no longer treat her as a slave girl, but he must treat her as his daughter. If he himself marries her and then takes another wife, he may not reduce her food or clothing or fail to sleep with her as his wife. If he fails in any of these three ways, she may leave as a free woman without making any payment. (Exodus 21:7-11 NLT)
This is god?
Could the Jews not see they were being deluded into going to war and that leaving cooked meat on the alter meant they were cooking for some guy? I guess being told you are "God's chosen' will make you do anything.
And the contradictions were legion.
There is but one God
There is a plurality of gods
Gen 1:26/ Gen 3:22/ Gen 18:1-3/ 1 John 5:7
The Resurrection story had even more contradictions depending on what chapter you read.
Could it be that it was all written by men who could not get their stories straight?
I read more, I read the 'myths' Mithras and Orsis etc. I discovered that the bulk of the Jesus story was lifted and that his image came from Mithras, a white European god.
I refused my confirmation in the Lutheran Church, I stopped praying and things got better.
I found friends and mentors in school who helped me. Judith James, Roger Franzen, Bob Kuhlman, they all gave me the parenting I needed, the strength to go on. Roger Franzen was a Lutheran paster (no longer) who came out of the closet late in life and had the 'Christian' church he was a part of steal his pension after immediate termination.
My mother filed for divorce.
I was no longer praying and Bob was finally gone.
I went to the judge with my brothers and sister and told him why we wanted NO visitation. It was granted.
Was not praying the answer?
I did have one final prayer. I prayed that I would turn out nothing like Bob. I wanted never to fly into a blind rage and hurt someone. I wanted to learn and travel and be nothing like this evil man.
The prayer was answered.
I answered it myself.