As I was reaching the end of Junior High, I started to feel like I wanted to renew my faith by leaving my parent’s church. Not their faith – that was, and is, a lifelong gift I have from them and has never been in doubt. But there was another Methodist church in Tyler that had different kids, and frankly, a smaller group that was less of the “impressed with themselves” crowd. They also had a minister that made it a choice to have the high school group sit in the front row as a special cheering section for him… so I Decided to move my church affiliation there…
…and upon reflection, there had to be a girl involved. When boys/men do things out of the ordinary, there is always a woman involved. As literally a late-bloomer, I still noticed, and frankly, I am fairly certain that most boys go to church initially… for less than the purest of intentions. I have compared notes with my wife, and we both are fairly certain that if we had met in this era, no way would we be together now 😉 In any case, there were lots of opportunities to see people’s faith in action, or not…
Tyler was firmly in the Bible Belt, and most people at least feigned some type of religious understanding, and minimally, attended Church. We were also firmly in the grip of “Blue Laws” that tried to preserve the Sabbath by banning commercial activities on Sunday. In this season, most stores were actually closed, including most of the Mall, and even grocery stores had whole aisles that were blocked off as those products were prohibited from being sold.
Cat Stevens was constantly searching for meaning in his life. Yes, he had the early near-death experience, but before that, watching his parents divorce when he was 8… and yet keep working together to keep the restaurant going so they had income must have been intriguing. Even as he was starting to be recognized, and again catapulted into the stardom spotlight again, he was still mostly uncomfortable with all of the attention. Today’s track is still from the same album, and I loved one of the comments: “This song is like a waffle – so good, but doesn’t last long enough”.
As I stepped into High School, one of the big things in my town was Young Life… a great organization that has many great outcomes. For me, it was a big Decision to go one night to one of the most popular girls’ houses in town for a meeting. I vividly remember being driven there by my Mom – as I was too young to drive on my own. The meeting started great, and the message was actually moderately interesting. We then formed a circle for the closing prayer, and I watched as everyone moved around the room to “hold hands” with the “right” person during the prayer. I mostly found it odd …
.. and after many tearful confessions and outpouring of emotions, the “prayer” was over. The older boys quickly went out to their cars, and retrieved the cases of beer from their trunks for the “after-party”. I should mention that our county was not only in the Blue Law area, it was also completely “dry”… which meant these “men” (you had to be over 18… sorta) had driven over the county line – 30 minutes each way – to prepare for the evening. Stunned was not sufficient for my state of mind. I left, walking home over 3 miles… which was probably a good use of my energy, and not very renewing…
Much can be said about the state of the church… always. At the end of it – you have to believe in something. I was musing today about how those of us who have expressed a faith perspective have been backed into a corner – the culture making fun of not only what we believe, but that we believe in anything. That actually makes it easier – being made fun of is a standard life-thing for me. I actually know what I believe – do you? Like Steven Georgiou, many would have overlooked him – a Swedish Greek kid raised by divorced parents in London England. And a keen voice still in what can renew you… if you listen to … The Wind.
I listen to the wind, to the wind of my soul
Where I’ll end up, well, I think only God really knows
I’ve sat upon the setting sun
But never, never, never, never
I never wanted water once
No never, never, never
I listen to my words but they fall far below
I let my music take me where my heart wants to go
I swam upon the Devil’s lake
But never, never, never, never
I’ll never make the same mistake
No, never, never, never