Church Pew
The Church Pew” stoneware sculpture by kayti sweetland rasmussen

I was not a willing churchgoer as a child. Beyond dressing up in my hat and little white gloves, I was probably like the child on the far right of the sculpture. And then I discovered music.

The music in the church of my grandmother did not reach in and grab me by my soul as I thought it should, but by my teen years I had quietly visited a number of other denominations, including a Southern Baptist church where mine was the only white face. I found the music uplifting, and the faces of the faithful inspiring.

I dressed my daughters in hats and little white gloves and sent them off to church, until my youngest embarrassed us all by singing an old Salvation Army song in the middle of the service; “Put a nickel on the drum, save another drunken bum, Hallelujah!” at which time she was whisked off the stage. Be careful what you sing to your children.

Sitting in the front pew at a guitar Mass in the 70’s I looked down at a quiet grandson and stage whispered him to “Sing”; “I don’t sing” he said. “Of course you sing. EVERYONE sings.” “I don’t sing”. When we left the church I asked him “If you don’t sing, why do you want to go to church?” His answer was “I like the stories.”

My father was an agnostic, sent off to a parochial school as a child after being suspended for being somewhat of a troublemaker. His delight during his stay at the new school was researching the Bible to refute any chapter the teacher had assigned. He had a sharp wit and an astonishing memory and was able to point out dozens of phrases which contradicted a previous one. He was not beloved by his teachers, but the other children loved him.

My maternal grandmother set the style of my religious education, and my mother and aunt followed in her footsteps. I’m sorry to say I was a rebel and a disappointment to them, but my wise little grandson was right; the stories are not bad.

Author: kaytisweetlandrasmussen83

I am a retired fine arts teacher, sculptor/painter, writer, and a native Californian. I love my family,dogs, horses, movies, reading and music, probably in that order. I have been married forever to a very nice man who is nice to old ladies, dogs and children.

14 thoughts on “WHEN WE WERE CHILDREN”

  1. Your father was a wise man. Too many contradictions in many stories by men of the cloth. You take what you can use and dump the rest. Lovely sculpture. The one on the right made good use of the occasion.


  2. I had some small amount of Sunday school in my very, very early years. I was thrilled to get the little stamps showing biblical scenes. I had the usual religious Instruction in school until it was abandoned or I had the choice not to participate, I don’t remember which, now. Billy Graham captured me via the crystal radio in my early teenage years and instilled in me the idea of sin. This lead me to believe I was going to Hell for thinking stuff even if I didn’t act on it – so I figured I had nothing to lose. 🙂

    Kayti, the sleeping children are adorable, the chatterboxes cute, but I like the annoyed body language of the second child the best. I looked for the rapt child, for surely there must be one drinking it all in, and I think second last is the one or maybe he is just day-dreaming?


  3. You really sang things like that to your children? Just as well your youngest wasn’t in England at the time.

    Doubtless yours was the only red face on that occasion.


  4. You’ve got a smart grandson. How poised and wise children can be. He’s right, it’s worth it for the stories. Your work is always expressive. The little one reminds me of my younger sister when she was the cutest little munchkin. xx


  5. That sculpture is precious. As you know, AK, there were no pews in the synagogue my family attended in San Jose. The music was in Hebrew. I remember standing in between my mother and father during the High Holy Days. All I could muster was la, la la, la la la la la la (accent on the last la), la, la la, la la la la laaaaaa, la la la la lala, la la la lala, laaa, laaa, laaa, la laaa . There there were are of the lalenus, avotanues, and a host of other nus. My father would look down at me and just shake his head.


  6. Thanks Ladybugg, Yes I remember the lack of pews. But I remember helping to set up folding chairs in the old building in Fremont before the “new” temple was built. The most we worried about was the lack of air conditioning.
    The Hebrew music is lovely, especially if the cantor can sing well.

    I’m sure your sweet la la la’s were an addition to the entertainment of the service. Your grandma Fanny probably shook her head and her finger a few times at little Hughie when he was a boy. AK


  7. I was raised Methodist, and loved both church and Sunday School when I was a kid. Best of all was Vacation Bible School, though. I can’t hear the words without thinking of Grape or Cherry Kool-ade and cookies made of graham crackers with chocolate frosting between.

    I need to write about the best year ever, when our week focused on the hymn “This Is My Father’s World.” Suffice it to say we spent a lot of time outdoors that week.

    I’ll say this. Methodists had the best youth group activities going in our town. Friends always were begging me to take them to MYF – Methodist Youth Fellowship. Skating parties. Taffy pulls. Hayrides. Movie Nights.

    I still remember my first “real” theological discussion with our pastor. It was 5th grade, and I was in Confirmation Class. I suppose it’s time for a story about that, too, now that you’ve helped me remember it again.


  8. Gosh, why couldn’t I have gone to your Methodist church? Sounds like so much fun for the kids while giving them the ‘good word”. I hope you do write about your memories of that time. It will be a good one as always. I think I remember going to a Baptist Vacation Bible School as a guest once and wishing it were mine. No wonder I left early!


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