I was part of a movement of "dinosaur moms" when I lived in Maryland (Astrodon Johnstoni is the Maryland state dinosaur.) Which is nothing more than this -- dinosaur moms delight in the half-feral nature of the beasties they parent, even as they whisper Shakespeare and Kierkegaard in their ears at night.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The Adventures of the Black Girl in Her Search for God

I have never belonged to a church. My parents would sometimes take us when they got to thinking we were growing up to be rudderless heathens and easy prey to cults, but the fervor quickly flamed out and Sundays were reclaimed by Bugs Bunny. Any denomination of non-threatening Protestant would do. We attended the nearby Presbyterian Church long enough for me to memorize a few Bible quotes, learn some cute camp songs, and perform as Joan of Arc in a saint’s pageant. The kids I knew from that congregation would later become the Young Lifers of high school.

Later, when race became a ground of conflict between my parents, my father would take us to an old-school Black Baptist church. He enrolled me in the choir, in hopes that I would thereby gain some soul. There was a lot about that experience that I imprinted on. I liked the way it got hot and bright when the morning light shone through the stained glass windows; the sweat flying off the brow; the grandmas getting the spirit and needing to be fanned.

I liked the message, which was always some variation on the theme of our abject wretched unworthiness of God’s attention and utter gratitude for even the basic fact of our existence – our breathing, our waking – let alone our other blessings too enormous to be contemplated. Seen through that lens, the deprivations which were so evident in that humble Black community on the outskirts of our prosperous suburb seemed insignificant. And the otherwise meek girls sang with the power to make the walls come down.

Homely and yet exotic, this community was my birthright, if I’d stayed long enough to learn its peculiarities. Which I didn’t. And then I spoiled it by thinking too much. It got so I couldn’t see past the minister’s petty agenda and the congregants’ mindless head-bobbing.

And then in college, of course, I was militant agnostic to atheist and rather a snot about it. I came to identify with Shaw's book. Ironic, given how very White that particular pastime turns out to be.

And now, in mid-life, I am joining a church.


mamiesb said...

We grow old, we grow thoughtful....

Astrodon Johnstoni said...

So it would seem.

Dinosaur Mom said...

Wait, I'm confused. Weren't you all set to embrace secular humanism?