I began attending the church that would become my life when I was 12. I left when I was thirty-five. I began attending because my mother was dating the “worship leader”. (This was basically the leader of the band and the person responsible for causing god to take notice of the congregation and “come down”). I had never attended a charismatic church before, and it scared the shit out of me. The church I had attended previously was a very soft, slow paced, predictable Presbyterian Church. This was a loud, raucous affair. People were screaming, waving their arms around and dancing in the aisles. One woman was shaking violently, her face turning red as she screamed. The occasional shofar would sound and people on tambourines pranced around. They looked at me with hungry eyes, wanting to make me feel what they were feeling. I was terrified. When the music had finished, the children were dismissed to attend a “kids church” in the back. For a few weeks I hid in the bathroom instead of attended because I was afraid. I was subsequently found out, and grounded. This was my introduction to the world of Charismania.
I would grow to get used to what was happening and began to be taught the rationale behind it all. The first thing a church does when they sense that you will become a regular attender, is find a job or use for you. Since I had a talent for singing that was surprising for someone so young and small, I became a “singer of specials”. I would be on a rotation to sing a song when the offering was being received.
My mother married the worship leader, whose family basically had control of the church due to the fact that they had participated in the construction of the building. They were a very prominent fixture and no one was allowed to disagree with them. There were a lot of them. They were very musically gifted. The sing-a-long nights and church dramas were legendary. People in the community looked forward to the Easter and Christmas productions that were truly top-notch. I geeked out over the special effect chemicals that caused Jesus to actually appear to bleed when flogged. Since I loved music and theatre, I quickly became involved in these productions. I also rapidly learned the rules. The lady with the bleach blonde ratted hair, eyes lined completely in black and the gigantic diamond ring? Yeah- we don’t mess with her. She gets all the best solos because she is rich. The lady with the violin has something to say about everyone, and you will listen. Unless it’s about her child molesting husband….we don’t talk about that. The worship leader showed up drunk again? No, it’s fine. He’s from “The Family”.