Religion in our household was an interesting endeavor. My mother was raised strictly Catholic in a small Montana town where as my father’s family was energetically American Pentecostal. My mother’s parents were devout even though the church would not recognize their union because my grandmother had divorced and remarried. When living with mom, my Catholic upbringing was pretty standard, church, Catholic classes for communion and Mass. It’s true, one does learn most current curse words and information about sex in Catholic school. Years later a practicing friend told me how high school Catholic girls did not consider anal sex to be considered intercourse- a loophole in the whole virginity thing. Interesting logic, I thought.
Jason and Me, 1978
Pentecostal, for those of you not well versed in religion, is throwing your hands up in the air evangelism that might involve long flowing ribbons strewn from said hands of the worship dancers; a type of dance team for Jesus. Speaking in tongues is always a possibility as well. Also, Pentecostals are end times fluent. They can tell you all the shit that supposed to happen at the end of the world and they usually think it’s coming soon. And yes, a conservative agenda to overturn Roe v. Wade is their #1 goal.
When I was about 12 I visited my aunt and uncle, my dad’s younger brother. Although my uncle was totally insane, I liked visiting because my closest cousin was in the family. Her stories of growing up put my own to the test, no less fucked up. We might have taken the Joy Bus, I’m pretty sure we did, to church one Sunday. There was a lot of singing and dancing and swaying of raised hands but the most exciting part of the service was when they had an alter call for anyone who wanted to experience a full immersion baptism. I remember my uncle prodding me a little with a nudge, as the people streamed up the aisles toward the immersion pool. I looked kind of fun so of course I stepped up. I remember when I came home Pentecostal, my mom was furious and kept saying, “I’m gonna kill that man,” referring to my uncle. She suggested I splash extra holy water on myself when we attended church next.
Some guy, who looks like Mike Pence, receiving a full immersion baptism
In high school I lived with a different, very religious aunt and uncle. My aunt is my father’s little sister. She was 31 and had two kids of her own when she took me in. She and my uncle were good people but very religious. We were church on Sunday and Wednesday night people. I was so thankful for a home and they were very good to me so I complied as much as I could. They were hippy Pentecostal. This means focus on Jesus, loving one another and probably a bit of pot smoking. It also meant no TV or secular music in the house. I would continue to smuggle my mixed tapes and albums into my room. My aunt knew they were usually from my brother so she looked the other way as long as she didn’t hear it. When I sang at the Pop’s Concert I chose a religious song. Because of my extended stay through high school, I became fluent in Christian-ese and hyperaware of a Just Prayer flow and cadence.
I have strong feelings about all of these experiences but only wanted to report the narrative rather than analyze it. I may share another time.