The Great Chain

The Great Chain

Monday, November 22, 2010

I Made a Swear! Jeff's First Step Towards Atheism

Strangely, my path to the dark side of the force began not with tragedy, but with comedy.  Humor had a way of breaching my fundamentalist fortifications more effectively than any rational argument ever could have.  For most of my young adult life, I accepted the tenets of Christianity without question.  It wasn't something I really thought about, wasn't something I actively considered, it was simply the social milieu in which we moved.  Had you asked me then, was Jesus real?  I would have responded 'hell yeah' and then felt bad for thinking 'hell.'  Because, you know, you just don't say 'he--.'  'Or Jeez.'  It just wasn't done.

He--, I remember the first time I ever heard my mom say 'A--.'  I was ten years old.  And our neighbor's drug house had just been set on fire.  That's just the kind of family we were.  So how did I get here?  How did I become a baby-eating, morally depraved, vile, evil and probably fascistic atheist?

Presented here, in chronological order, are the three events that forever changed my spiritual trajectory and sent me spiraling into the <sarcasm>wretched spiral of atheism.</sarcasm>.  :)

1.      I cursed for the first time!
2.      I told my mom that I didn't want to go to church because the church people were losers!
3.      I watched Monty Python and the Holy Grail!

See, not tragedy!  Comedy!


The curse was memorable. Mainly because for a few moments afterward I was panicked.  Absolutely certain that my heart would seize up in shame and mortification or lightning would strike me dead. 

Mr. Francis' math class.  Card Flip Multiplication Table Challenge.  One on One.

The rules are simple.

1.      Each player simultaneously flips a card.
2.      The first player to correctly multiply the two card wins and becomes a hero.  The loser takes the walk of shame.
3.      Repeat until a winner is declared and a true hero emerges..

I was confident.  Certain of my multiplicative mojo.  I had swept the early rounds, tearing through lesser opponents like a scythe at harvest.  And so I was supremely confident going into the Semi-finals.  Confident of my victory, convinced that I was going to emerge the true hero.

J-------- Spencer's victory over me was epic.  I had not lost a single match until I faced her.  But stunningly, I found myself trailing 3 to 2.  I pulled even thanks to my amazing ability to multiply by 5s.

Then disaster.

She correctly multiplied the 9 of Hearts by the 7 of Clubs in the seventh match to knock me out of the semi-finals.  For the first time in my life, I had tasted true defeat.  I would have to take the walk of shame.  And it was bitter.  So bitter.

In my anguish, I meowed up a challenge to the Almighty.  “Jesuschrist!”

I froze.

I had made a swear  I had made a swear for the very first time.  I had said it fast.  Like a terrified auctioneer.  I wanted to get it out quickly because it tasted so strange.  I was a whirl of confusion and defeat tinged with gripping terror that God was about to strike me dead.  And then nothing happened.  I got up, shook J-----'s hand, and took the walk of shame to cheer on who had won.

But my cheers were halfhearted.  I'd stopped caring about the Card Flip Multiplication Table Challenge.  My head was spinning with incredulity and growing wonder.  And awe.  I had made a swear.  A swear!  And I was still alive!  God hadn't heard me.

I have been told that I have a somewhat mischievous smile.  If I had to guess, this was the day that smile was born.

I felt liberated.  Alive.  I had made a swear and lived to tell about it.  I thought 'Jesuschrist!' at a barking dog and a jackass driver on the walk home just to confirm my discovery.  By the next day, I'd said 'Jesuschrist!' no less than four times, confirming my suspicion that I could swear with impunity.  I had purred my first challenge at our amazing invisible overlord and walked away unscathed.  And emboldened.  In mere moments, nearly a decade of Christianity had begun its slow, inexorable slide into the sea.  In seconds God had been downgraded from OMNIPRESENT AND POSSIBLY VERY DANGEROUS ADULT VERSION OF SANTA CLAUS to Guy Who Will Totally Let Me Swear.

Tomorrow, Step 2 – The Losers!

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