Confessions of a Recovering Jesus Freak
In the early 1970s, a major shift occurred at home. Mother found God. Or, should I say, “Jesus spoke to her heart.”
It happened during the summer, when Brian and I were home from school. She’d flown out to a high school reunion in Indiana for a couple of days, driving back with her parents, who would stay with us for awhile. While Mom was gone, Dad tried to fit his work schedule around taking care of us, but being that I was 13 and baby brother was around 10, he felt we were old enough to stay at home alone one day.
The “Jesus Revolution” hit the media during the summer of 1971. Things happen in the Midwest slowly (if at all), so, by 1973 we came late to the last supper so to speak. Time magazine featured it in its cover story, and the United Crusade for Christ was going from town-to-town, drawing crowds.
Mom was in the crowd.
On Aug. 5, she persuaded Dad to attend with her, and soon we all showed up at the old auditorium of Mound High School. I recall having mixed feelings about it at the time: while we attended an evangelical church in Navarre (Calvary Memorial, no longer extant), I was baptized and raised in the United Methodist church. The photo below is our family portrait for the Calvary Memorial directory, probably taken between 1971 and 1973.
At Calvary, Pastor Myers was a likeable guy whose son, Andy, was the penultimate “preacher’s kid”—a huge troublemaker. Brian and I went to church summer camp with Andy; his practical jokes and raucous laughter kept the other kids on their toes. Andy was proof to me that God definitely works in mysterious ways. It’s not a direct matter of being good, or doing good works, or even striving to please God. You were what you were. And if you were Andy, that was enough.
But a 13-year old hardly feels that way on the inside. I was going through an insecure time, about how I saw myself as a person, what I believed in, what really mattered to me. Attending the crusade only served to fuel that insecurity. I wasn’t sufficient unto myself—apparently I needed Jesus to show me the way.
So at one point that summer, in tears and shaking visibly, I walked to the front of the auditorium and declared my faith in Christ. Looking back on it, it was not unlike any love affair I’ve been through: first sight of the potential beloved; then the soppy smitten ruminations; eventually leading to openly declaring love and possibly facing rejection. And also like any love affair, set to play itself out as time goes by and other objects of desire present themselves.
The shift was a just a phase of the Family Project, a way to bind our family together in our new Minnesota home. Dad was reluctant about religion in general, but he loved Mom and got onboard all the same. He considered himself an artist and planner, a can-do man of the world. As mentioned in a previous post, later in life Dad called himself “a Christian artist.” I was never entirely sure what he meant by that, but it contented him and I never made much of it.
After a minister named Pastor Mac replaced Pastor Myers, and drove the folks crazy with his weeping and preaching for weeks on end about the Book of Job, we moved over to the United Methodist Church in Mound.
Me? I wrote to the national United Methodist Church when I was 18, renouncing my faith. Later I dabbled in Zen Buddhism, Unitarianism, and even attended Quaker service occasionally. I read horoscopes more for amusement than anything; I’m not particularly superstitious.
If there’s a God, he/she/it is like nothing any human being can remotely conceive. And at this point in my life, I’m cool with that.