They say kids are like sponges. I don’t like that analogy, for a number of reasons but suffice to say Bob and Square Pants, and just leave it at that. I do think kids are pretty open minded though – more like garbage cans – at least I was. Especially about God. If someone had an idea to express, some deep understanding, a meaningful word, a superficial platitude, my mind was there to receive. Bring it on.
Little back story. When I was six my oldest brother (half actually but I never thought of him that way) met the love of his life and the woman who would become my sister-in-law. They were engaged four years, which at the time seemed like an eternity. During that four years my brother, who once smoked cigarettes and drove a mauve Harley Davidson, wore his black Italian hair slicked back like John Travolta in Grease and had a chipped front tooth became a Catholic. I think my sister-in-law orchestrated the conversion, which was a good thing. It transformed my brother’s life, gave it purpose and made him happy beyond his wildest imaginings. That was my first introduction into the awesome power of God.
Even though The Old Man, Ma and I were attending the Lutheran Church every Sunday I still felt kind of bad. Inferior. Compared to the Anglican Church that the other two Musketeers attended and the Catholic Church of my brother and sister-in-law, the Lutheran Church seemed somehow second rate. First of all, if it was so great why didn’t anyone else I know attend? What did they know that we didn’t? Why were we different?
The Christ Lutheran Church was full of Finlanders with blonde hair and weird accents. The Old Man fit in nicely, being a Finlander himself, but my poor shy Italian/English mother and I were misfits, strangers in a strange land. As Jim Morrison so aptly put it ‘people are strange when you’re a stranger.’ And that’s pretty much how I felt the entire time I attended Christ Lutheran Church. I stopped attending when I turned 19, the year of my emancipation from organized religion. And I guess the year I became an “Other.”