I was going to church every Sunday with my grandparents and I was in my second year of catechism classes. My family did not have much money. Well, let me put that a bit differently, my mom and I did not have much money. My father would actually hide money from my mom. He hid money all over the house. It was what he called his Bingo money and at this time he was going to Bingo about four or five times a week. My mom took to making clothing for me. All of the other kids in catechism classes wore suits, and I was sitting there in handmade multicolored overalls with a turtleneck shirt. I thought I looked fine, but the other kids nicknamed me Farmer Brown, and told me more then once that I was too poor to go to their church. I usually just ignored them. I was an acolyte and loved being up front with Reverend Cell as he gave the sermon. My parents had even given me a Bible for Christmas the year before. This Bible was unlike any of the ones the other kid’s had because this one had pictures. Not cartoon pictures, but actual pictures of Egypt, and what the areas looked like. I loved it. It did not go over well in the classroom. Again I was the freak, only this time not only did the kids think so, but so did the teacher. When he saw the Bible all he could say to me was: “This is not a real Bible.”
“What makes mine different?”
“Real Bibles don’t have pictures.”
“But the words are the same.”
“It’s not a real Bible, I don’t care if the words are the same or not. I want you to get one just like everyone else has.”
“I’m sorry, but I don’t see a difference.”
“You can either get the things that are needed for this class, or you can leave.”
I was a bit confused; here I was learning about love and understanding in a place that had none.
But the last straw came when the teacher handed out these books with all of these Bible stories in them and at the end of each chapter was a blank page with the heading: What Do You Believe? We finished the first story and he started to tell us what to write in that section. Again I was confused and I asked, “What if you don’t believe that is what the story is saying?”
He looked at me and said: “Then you don’t belong here.”
I got up and walked out. No one was going to tell me how to think. The only problem was, I did not want to hurt my grandparents or my great grandmother. They were set on me going to church and getting confirmed. My Mom was not a churchgoer, so she didn’t care and my father was an atheist. He would say: “Well, if you feel that you need to believe in that, then you go right ahead.” So, I decided not to tell anyone of my decision to stop going to catechism classes. I would get dropped off at the church, and go to the restaurant down the street, have breakfast and then go back to church to meet my grandparents. This was fine for a few weeks, until one of the kids told the teacher that they saw me in church the Sunday before. They wanted to have this big meeting and I just decided it was not worth it. I told my grandparents and my great-grandmother that I was not going to be confirmed. They were disappointed. I think it was the first time I really let them down. The really bad part was I didn’t care if I let them down or not. I was starting to feel that the only people I could really count on were my mom and myself.