One of the most important insights I ever got in my life was as a teenager, maybe 13 or 14 years old. I lived in a Christian community, partly a place for recovering alcoholics and drug addicts, and from time to time they sent us teenagers away to bible reading camps (aka bible thumping camps) for fun and games and traditional religious indoctrination.
As a kid I found it quite easy to see if someone was honest or not, and still can read that pretty well with those I meet in my daily life. So even in this Christian community. Being a young stupid brainwashed boy didn’t stop me from loving horror. The bible itself was packed with gore and blood and violence and sex and melodrama, stuff that I hold close to my heart to this day, but in the form of horror movies and literature.
So I was at this weekend camp, as usual spending more time reading books than talking about trivial things (many of these young adults almost competed to be as Christian as possible, which I found ridiculous) with my brainwashed cohorts. This time I was reading Whitley Strieber’s Wolfen, the amazing horror novel that also was made into a not-bad-at-all-flick in the eighties. While enjoying this grimy piece of adult entertainment one of the pastors came into the room, probably looking so no one was pleasing themselves sexually under the blanket, a youth pastor (the worst kind btw). He asked me what I was reading and I told him it was a novel about werewolves. Isn’t that dangerous he asked me, and I explained to him it was just a novel. A work of fiction and that it was damn good.
In evening it was time for a prayer meeting. Oh boy. Well, imagine a young gay boy with a fondness for horror, UFOs and not being a conformist pig, in that kind of environment! Today when I look back it feels unreal, bizarre! The youth pastor started to talk, first doing his standard gig on the subject of masturbation, the danger of spending time with non-Christian friends, the random threats from outside our god-fearing community etc… but suddenly the lord almighty talked to him! God had a message to someone in the room, someone young and impressionable… someone who read “dangerous” books.
He looked at me.
And at that very moment I realized it’s all bullshit. He wasn’t just a moron, he was a liar and manipulator.
In the Christian community being a sheep always have been a likeness to being a follower of that historical elusive figure named Jesus. Here’s a few examples from the bible:
A psalm of David. The lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.
Jesus saw the huge crowd as he stepped from the boat, and he had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.
Yes, the Sovereign lord is coming in power. He will rule with a powerful arm. See, he brings his reward with him as he comes. He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.
I’m not a sheep, following the shepherd into control and death. There’s is no god except myself.
That’s what I learned at that prayer meeting a long, long time ago.
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