didn’t grow up with Jesus. Or Mary. Or Joseph. Steepled churches, stained glass windows and the Bible were all kind of a mystery to me when I was a kid. I remember attending a black Baptist church when I was about 3. A small, white, one-roomed building with deep mahogany pews and sunlit walls. It was where the colored congregated every Sunday to listen to The Preacher.
Shiny, brown-skinned folk strutted spectacular in their Sunday best and exotic plumage. A rare form of peacock indeed. I must have been fostered temporarily with God-fearing folk who felt the need to introduce me to the Lord, hence my memory of this Baptist church. I don’t remember ever meeting Him though. What I do remember is being terrified by the wailing and moaning and fainting in the presence of Praise-Him-Hallelujah.
And the singing was kinda cool.
To be honest, Religion kinda scares me.
The idea of some omnipotent, wrathful, White GOD living in the sky who, if displeased by your behavior, will strike you down and condemn you to burn in the everlasting bowels of Hell ~ FOREVER ~ is just a little friggin terrifying to me. And truly horrific things have been done in the name of Religion since the beginning of time. But Religion is way too big a topic for this little blog, and it’s not my intention to offend or discriminate anyone or their belief system.
So, before I go on, I have to qualify that when I refer to Religion in this post, I am referring to Christianity.
I’m Canadian. I live in Canada. Love my country! And in Canada, Christianity is the largest religion. We don’t really have an official religion because we totally support the worldview that one religion is not the sole and exclusive source of Truth. We’re very open-minded about this sort of stuff and I’m down with that. Our right to choice of religious belief is a huge part of our political culture and makes me proud to be part of such a socially progressive nation. I think that’s why so many folks love us. And want to be us. Yay, Canada! We is diversified. 🙂
Having said that, Christians represent 67.3% of the population, with the Catholic Church having the most faithful attendees. Interestingly enough, according to the 2011 Census, (information about religion is only collected once every 10 years), Islam is the second largest religion in Canada, practiced by 3.2% of the population.
I think I’m a little surprised by that statistic.
But, somewhere in between the Christians and Muslims living in Canada, 23.9% of our total population has NO Religion at all.
And this two-part post is sorta-kinda-loosely for those people.
Of which I am most definitely ONE.
As a brown child growing up in middle-class, white suburbia, I was faced with reactions to my difference. A lot. They were thinly veiled beneath civility and politeness. But they were there just the same. By the time I was 7 and officially adopted, I had developed a not-so-fragile thicker skin. Curious stares no longer affected me. As much.
We didn’t have a lot of religious overtones in our house. My adoptive Mother was Armenian and her loosely termed religious bent was Presbyterian. My Dad is Welch and at some point adopted the Bahá’í Faith; a teaching of the essential worth of all religions, and the unity and equality of all people. Mom kinda poo-pooed his choice of Religion, but I don’t think she really cared one way or another. Religion was the least of their differences. She may not have been big on Religion, but I do remember going to Sunday School in her Presbyterian church.
Sunday School was very confusing to me.
All the beautiful, colorful illustrations in the Children’s Bible Storybooks depicted white angels, a white God, and a white Jesus. Admittedly, he was a little tanned. 😉 And all the children gathered around Jesus on those pages? Yeah, they were all white too. Apparently, brown children didn’t exist when Jesus walked the earth.
Without a physically identifiable biblical figure or any sweet, angelic-looking brown-skinned children in the storybooks, I was lost in a sea of Whiteness. I could not make any spiritual connection. Once I asked my Sunday School teacher why no-one in the stories looked like me. She didn’t really have an answer. Not one that satisfied me enough to make me feel included and deserving of God’s Love.
How friggin sad is that?
It was the late 60’s. Civil movements and equality were definitely on the rise. Protests against wars were being staged. Causes and reasons were abundant for every situation. The world was changing in powerful ways. But in Small-Town-Anywhere, Canada, no-one had an answer for why there were no brown children in the Children’s Bible Storybooks.
Sunday School quickly became just another place where my difference was obvious. Where my Not Enough-Ness took root. Where I didn’t really belong. I was the only brown kid in my Sunday School, in my classroom, in my neighborhood, and in my family. Everyone could see that I was different. And I could see them seeing my difference. Good Christian parents pushing down the pointing fingers of their Good Christian children or shushing them if they were too inquisitively loud about my difference. It didn’t matter that in my home, skin color was of no concern.
The world judged.
After services, everyone gathered for a few minutes in front of the church so the adults could say their Hello’s and How Are You’s. Share news, invites and quietly judge each-other. My Mom was a terrible gossip and she reveled in pointing out the hypocrisy of these God-fearing people. She really had little use for people in general.
The kids would run around, tagging, laughing and generally blowing off whatever do-good thing they had learned that morning. I usually stood by myself. Close to Mom. It was awkward. None of those kids were neighbors or friends. I wasn’t a part of the click. One Sunday, as I waited patiently for Mom to stop chatting, this little girl about 5 years old ~ me being a grown up 8 years old ~ walked up to me and without a word, pushed her finger into my cheek, and dragged it down my face. Then she looked at her finger in surprise.
She thought my brown would rub off.
That was pretty much the last day I formally attended church.
The following weekend, my Mom gave me a choice.
I chose to stop attending Sunday School.
Next week: Part 2 of this post and an intro to what I call, Buddha Talk 😉
Have an amazing weekend my lovelies!
And enjoy the SUN when and IF it peeks out.
(Is it just me or has this been the crappiest, grayest, rainiest start to Summer EVER?!!!)
See you Tuesday! Till then…
ACCEPT, EMBRACE & LOVE
EVERYTHING THAT MAKES YOU YOU!
And Namaste your ASS off!
P.S. Like the post? Click on the little below. It helps folks discover The Buddha Neuron. You ROCK! 🙂