"The church may stop by and come and see me."
"Why?!" I said.
"WHAT FOR?!" my dad yelled.
"I guess ... just to pray."
*** silence ***
As I have reported in the past, my mom goes to a church in our neighborhood. It probably has 30 members. I've gone to it in the past and I've been uncomfortable but mom is not choosy with the company she keeps so she still attends. She still attends this church even though they have a new preacher who is significantly tilted on the side of religious fundamentalism. Last night she confided in me that during their Wednesday night fellowship sessions, the preacher opened the night by saying that "all homosexuals are going straight to hell." Well, that's a fine way to start a Wednesday evening. "Good evening, how are you? The leg any better? ALL HOMOSEXUALS ARE GOING STRAIGHT TO HELL!" When I say my mom confided in me, I mean she engaged in conversation with me, while my dad sat on the computer playing internet poker while he listened and chimed in every few seconds.
"Tell them 'bullshit' Phyllis," was his main contribution.
"Well that's not all; one Wednesday the conversation centered on how women should be subservient to men at all times and that you can have no women preachers," my mom confessed.
"Stand up and call them heretics!" my dad said. I am sure that he got this word from watching the show "The Tudors" on Showtime. Dad was devastated when Cromwell was executed. "I liked 'ole Cromwell," he said sadly.
"I don't even know what that word means," mom said.
"I've got one better Mom," I said loudly, "Tell them you are a Democrat."
"I did," she said proudly. "One Wednesday night the topic was Obama and how he is gonna bring on the apocalypse, and I told 'em that 'I like our President and that he's better than 'ole Bush.' They gasped," she said matter of factly.
"I don't see how you stand to be around those people," I finally concluded.
"I know. But, I guess I'll just go on Sundays from now on. Wednesday nights is when they get into that weird talking," she said.
I then rounded up my dog, who I am convinced is a gay boy, and told him,
"Come on Henry, before the white supremacists get ahold of you." Henry and I trotted back to my room and shut the door but not before I heard my mom say that Henry shouldn't be scared because, "He doesn't have any man-hood left for them to cut off."
Well, this would all be bad enough on it's own, but now my mom has recently received some good news from her surgeon which indicates that she will finally be able to walk because her bone has "miraculously" healed (his word). The church is, of course, claiming ownership over this miracle and I can tell that my mom, although growing less and less comfortable around her new church friends, is fearful to turn her back on them because what if they are correct in claiming this miracle to be a product of their work.
"April, they told me, they told me 'You gonna have to come up to the front to testify because of this,' and I say 'Noooo I'm not,' and they say 'Yesss, you are," my mom explained. Now, I'm not exactly sure what all is involved in testifying, but it sounds like a vulgar display of pageantry and pomp, all done with the secret motive to compete with your fellow church-goers over who loves God the most. What was worse, is that they are trying to bully my mom into doing something she doesn't want to do.
"Mother, you are a Protestant. You tell them that you can worship God in any way you see fit and you don't have to do anything that makes you uncomfortable. They don't have the lock on praising God," I told her. I said this in a tone that I feel I may someday use when my children are being pressured into doing things they don't want to do.
"That's right!" she said. But, I could see her eyes dropping to the floor-- probably wondering if God giveth this "miracle," will God taketh away?