In Search Of….

East Texas is known as the Bible Belt, but since the state is so large, the belt is of the stretch variety. Dallas can probably lay claim to far more evangelicals; the ones who shout and scream and believe that histrionics strewn amid the implications of guilt and shame will bring your wallet’s contents  closer to their ministries.

Yeah, I’m a bit jaded when it comes to that “old time religion”. I will admit that the depth and caliber of my belief in Jesus as messiahdoubt has ebbed and flowed over the years. The older I get, the more questions I have.  But I can say unequivocally that I’ve never doubted the existence of God.

In this crazy world, we all need a structured belief system. Values and principles mean more now than ever before. In this time of economic strife and pessimism, we need them more now than ever before.

So, in spite of what I might believe; in spite of what my system of spiritual checks and balances might be, I applaud people for trying to find theirs, regardless of what form that takes.

And it takes all kinds.

There are a million “strip center” churches here in Houston. They vary in style and dogma–from the hard core speaking in tongues, laying of hands kind of thing to the kind of church based on New Age constructs with crystals surrounding a woman sitting on pillows, who for $500 dollars, will “channel” the spirit of Saka-Liu, a three-thousand year old Tibetan soothsayer and sage. Often times, you’ll get an amazing amount of mundane, non-specific information for your buck.

But that’s OK. If that’s what makes you happy? Far out, solid and right on, my friend.

Back to local religion.

Houston, in all it’s cosmopolitan splendor is still, a small town in some instances.    For a couple of hours every Sunday, a building once known as “The Summit”…a place where Bruce Springsteen performed, where the Houston Rockets played basketball, etc,  becomes a thriving, virtually self contained religious community, teeming with the faithful, now numbering 50-thousand strong.       Lakewood Church is Joel Osteen’s prized billion dollar a year edifice and brain child.   Oh yeah,  it might be a church, but it’s also a PR sensation.   And the man behind it ?    Joel is the long faced,  squinty-eyed preacher fella who’s so  young looking,  you’d swear he still has a milk mustache.

Joel is also a successful author.   I’ve not read his books, but I’ve listened to his sermons.  They’re amazingly civil and they don’t force feed you a hardcore ecclesiastical diet.   Oh, it’s there but it”s not as in your face as some other high dollar, cosmetic preacher types.  Joel doesn’t spin cautionary tales about how sinners will spend eternity poked by pitchforks as they to survive amongst hellish campfires and all that brimstone.  On the contrary, he talks about how great life…this life now…would be if you  followed a more Godly path.

He believes in the Bible.  Many people do.    Many believe in the extraordinary things it conveys and many  will try them in an attempt to find salvation.    They need to be saved from themselves, mostly.

But again, whatever floats your boat.    And that, in a sense, happens a lot in East Texas.  The further north you go, into The Piney Woods, you’ll find more evangelical belief systems and implementation of said systems.  Very often, this  includes full submersion baptisms in a lake or river.

I’ve never had this done to me (I’m a Catholic, therefore my parents dipped my head into the baptismal font as a three month old infant…you know, when I was old enough to make an informed choice about my religious affiliation…uh-huh), but I’ve heard stories.

A friend told me about this drunk guy who was stumbling through the woods, near Cleveland, a small town north and east of Houston.   He happened upon a preacher baptizing people in a stream.

He drunkenly walked into the water and subsequently, bumped into the preacher, who was about to baptize the next congregate.   The preacher turned around and was almost overcome by the smell of booze.  But he shook it off, then asked the drunk, “Are you ready to find Jesus?”

The drunk, tired of his life as a chronic alcoholic, who lost his job, his family and his dignity,  said tearfully, “Yes, I am.”

So, the preacher grabbed him and dunked him in the water for a few seconds.  He pulled him up and asked the dripping drunk, “Brother have you found Jesus?”

The drunk replies, “No, I haven’t found Jesus.”

The preacher, shocked at the answer, dunked him into the water again, but submerged him for a little longer this time.  He again pulled him out of the water and again asked,  “Have you found Jesus, my brother?”

The drunk, trying to catch his breath, answered, “No, I haven’t found Jesus yet.”

By this time, the preacher was at his wits end so he dunked the drunk in the water again — but this time he held him down for about 30 seconds.

When the drunk began kicking his arms and legs, the preacher pulled him up and asked him again, “For the love of God man, have you found Jesus?”

The drunk wiped his eyes, caught his breath and said to the preacher,   “No, but I felt around on the bottom.  Are you sure this is where he fell in?”

7 comments

  1. Ahh LK, in times of despair alot of people turn to the book written by humans and deciphered by humans for personal gain and power and a sense of being that one can’t produce within oneself. Other than this book being the first work mass produced by the Guttenberg, I really have no clue why it is looked upon as the know all and end all other than some attempt by others for either self preservation, a ticket to the hereafter lottery, or a sick way to bequeth (sic) a sense of superiority upon the unwashed masses as the believer would have you believe.

    God, Mo, Bud, Ya, blah blah blah whatever. Jesus was a taxi driver I met in Juarez. Perhaps he was the all knowing as we are still alive today.

    Ciao

    P.S. No Jesus in the river, but I did meet a crawfish on the bottom named Phil who questioned my sanity as to why a human was trying to drown me in the skank that is the rivers of Cleveland, whilst looking for the Almighty. Does that count as redemption or an epiphany???

  2. I know that most articles and replies are written in tongue and cheek form but sometimes I feel I must step in and give my opinion as well. I know Laurie’s faith and I don’t question anything she says or writes about. This is her talent and gift. I don’t know about anyone else who participates on her blog or just reads it. Everyone has the right to an opinion – so do I and anyone else agreeing with me. So here it goes. It’s all about FAITH. Now I am a Christian and realize that a lot of other people are not of this faith. I will speak on mine (our) behalf. The Bible was written by “man” who was I”nspired by God”. Now this is the faith that we must have in order to live by the words in this Book. If a person’s life is better for belieiving these words and laws of this Book, then how can it be wrong? You can analize it to death and because we haven’t seen, or possibly witnessed, if you have faith and believe, then you have “felt”. This is what gets us through this life. I felt that I just needed to say this this morning. I am not condemning or rediculing anyone. I am sure that are a lot of you who agree with me. Have a great Friday to all!

  3. This is going to be a little long but this, too, is just my opinion. Kathy is right about having faith. If it weren’t for faith I probably wouldn’t be here today. After the death of my daughter, I asked God to please make her death easier for me. I prayed constentley for the pain to go away. It would. Course, it ebbed and flowed for months but having faith in God to make it easier helped so much.

    I had a dream about her and the numbers 7/11 came to me in the dream. I didn’t think much about it until I went in to our little neighborhood fruit and vegetable market owned by Vic. He had seen and talked to Holly when she came in to buy things and had remarked to me once that she was an exceptional young woman. Anyway, that particular morning, he started writing daily scriptures on a large chalk board for people to read as they came in. There were the numbers, 7/11. Kathy was with me so we ran home, got my bible to see what it meant.

    We found Chapter 7, verse 7-11 was what I had been doing all along. That little paragraph will forever be my saving grace. I knew if I had faith to guide me along during that horrific time in my life, I would be ok. All I had to do was ask.

    This is just my story of what I experienced.

  4. And yet mine was a comment as well. We all had the right to state an opinion. If I had a blog, Miss Etat, I would welcome you on as Laurie has but would like everyone to be NICE. That’s what we TEXANS practice. I wonder where you are from because I know people are not all alike (just as they are not even here in the Wonderful State of Texas). Please go cool off. Maybe it’s a good thing you won’t be coming here to our state cause with your hot temper and our hot temperature, it could get nasty!!!

  5. And you, Etat? You’re so quick to remind us all of your brilliance and wit. I’m in awe of your limitations, child. You reveal much in what you say. I bet as a child, assuming you were one, you’d get mad and run home with your toys in tow. And if you’re a mother, assuming you didn’t eat your young, you probably raised your kids in the same way. I don’t doubt that you’re well read and intelligent but that doesn’t preclude idiocy and you prove that true with every comment.

    No, you’re not in my world nor would you ever be. You’re a fucked up blow hard, bedazzled my your own brilliance. You’re a hack, Etat, OK? A hack and what you know could fill a zit on Obama’s ass. You’re so self involved with your own perceived compendium of wit, when you fart, you’re convinced heady haikus come out. No worry, it’s just methane, not unlike that which spews forth from your mouth.

    And on that note, do us all a favor, and stick a bagel in your pie hole. What you think is irrelevant. I repeat..irrelevant.

    Dismissed.

  6. “What you know could fill a zit on Obama’s ass.”
    That one just MADE my day! Ha ha ha!

    This chick’s pseudo-intellectualism is ALWAYS a cover.
    I think she’s got a crush on you, Laurie.

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