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.