I grew up in a household that believed in God, more or less. I’m talking about the Christian one, the one with the Old Testament and the New Testament and Jesus as the Messiah and the Ten Commandments. All that stuff. We didn’t believe in Odin or Zeus or Heracles as the savior of man or that Balder died for our sins; we pretty much took the Bible on faith.

We didn’t go to church – I think that was my mother’s choice. My mother told me, much later in life, that she believed in God but did not enjoy going to church because of all the fighting. There was a controversy in her church about speaking in tongues, she said, and she just stopped going. She didn’t mind that everyone interpreted the Bible differently, she just didn’t like that people didn’t accept that everyone could. I guess she wanted God to be the judge of man, not man to be the judge of man. She was a good Christian, I would say.

When I went to church regularly, in my teens, I ran afoul of the same controversy. A friend of mine had gone to his uncle’s church – I think it was an uncle’s church – and found out that the only way into heaven was to speak in tongues. The only way. If you don’t speak in tongues at some point the Holy Spirit never moved through you and you had no access through the pearly gates. Harsh. My church believed it was optional; we were Pentecostal and tongues were fairly common. As I recall, though, only a select few ever spoke, and only a select few ever interpreted. No problem, according to my church. You’re baptized. No problem. God would let you in.

I did some research around that time. This was a hundred years ago, give or take seven decades, so there wasn’t any internet. I researched it the old-fashioned way. I read books, I asked people, and I looked stuff up in Bibles and magazines and encyclopedias. I found a third belief about the same topic. There were chapters of Christian believers who held that if you speak in tongues it was the devil moving through you and you were going to Hell. Going. To. Hell.

To summarize, there were three different types of Christians: the ones that believed you only get into Heaven if you speak in tongues, the ones that believed it had no bearing whatsoever on your afterlife, and the ones that believed if you speak in tongues you were eternally damned. That’s a pretty wide gulf.

I get asked a lot why I’m an atheist. I used to believe in God, when I was young, for the same reason I believed in Santa Claus – it’s what I was told. I won’t say that the controversy about tongues drove me away from faith in a Christian God, any more than it specifically drove my mother from church, but it made me question the validity of it. It made me dig deeper and look beyond what I was told. If my life has a theme, it is that. Dig deeper. Look beyond what you’re told.

I hope everyone has a spectacular Easter, whatever you believe. Hug tightly to all the family you see. Love one another as much as you love your faith. In fact, love each other more. Speak to them in whatever tongue you favor, and don’t judge them for their sins or even for their beliefs. Nobody knows the truth about why we’re here, especially not the people that swear they do. But while we are here we have each other and we have days like today to celebrate together.

I would give anything I have to hug my mother today. I would give anything if you could, too. 😊

*originally posted March 27, 2016

31 thoughts on “Easter

  1. Oh my goodness…..Tom, you revealed something (else) that we have in common. I, believe it or not, was/am/was a born again Christian Apostolic (I know it’s hard to believe, I get that a lot.) this was when I was married and my in-laws were born gain Christians. Being brought up Catholic it was a source of conflict with my mom (just one of the conflicts I have with her) and I was for about three years. Then I began to question the teachings, just like you it was the speaking in tongues (which I had) and whether or not the Holy Spirit actually moved you.
    I questioned things like why we (women) had to submit to our husbands as head of the house. Why we as women needed to stay home and care solely for our children and not work. I questioned, that if, the Bible says that Jesus died for our sins, people still tell us we’re going to hell. That repenting, will not help you, even if the Bible tell is it will.
    Then I left, because it made no more sense to me than the Catholics telling me that if my children aren’t baptized, they’re going to hell. Which I know isn’t true. So now, I’m a spiritual (not religious) woman who goes to a nondenominational place to worship without being judged. So now, I’ll get off my soapbox and wish you a Happy Easter Pastor Tom Polesaw!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hope it was a great one, as great as things can be these days!

      We had a “mini-church,” just the neighbors and I (four total people, well more than 6′ apart). Then I installed a new smart sprinkler control box and vacuumed the garage. After securing the fence line with rocks and mesh to keep the skunks from the dogs this year I had some of that ridiculously perfect candied ham Mrs C makes, with a side of mashed potatoes and gravy, and finished up with ice cream while we watched one of our favorite shows (“Firefly”). Easter done right!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. And all this time, I thought speaking in tongues was our only option. Next week, just for shits and giggles, I’m gonna switch things up and speak in elbows. Let me know if you have any trouble interpreting my comments.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. When I first wrote this, “dig deeper” meant “think about it critically.” In the four years since I’ve come to know that dig deeper is more synonymous with rabbit-hole searching on the internet, which can be more misleading than anything. Dig deep enough on the web and you’ll find corroboration for any crazy theory. I almost changed the text before publishing but decided to keep the original integrity intact.

      So, for the record, “dig deeper” here means “think about it critically.” Stay off the web. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  3. What if you kiss with tongues?

    Speaking of tongue, ever had beef tongue? It might be a Mexican specialty, machaca, shredded beef tongue, very hearty flavor.

    Can you tie a cherry stem into a knot with your tongue?

    Where are all the tongue in cheek jokes? Cat got ’em?

    If we trust the interpretations, that man named Christ was prolly born about now. Good time, spring time, to be born. Dying? I’d save that for the darkness of winter, Solstice say.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahaha! “Cat got ’em”? 😂

      I had occasion to research some of the other mythological saviors this past week (for another project), and I hadn’t done that in a while. Many of them, with Hay-Zeus’ same story, predate Christ himself, obviously. As I remember, his story was adopted by early Christians out of convenience. The Christmas birth. The death and resurrection in the spring bit. The whole she-bang.

      I lean toward the theory there was no such thing as “Jesus,” just a bunch of myths that eventually became something some folks thought was actually there. I’m sure the same thing happened in Greece with Heracles.

      At any rate, no. No I haven’t. I have never had beef tongue. 😜

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I suspect the Romans tortured someone, the same someone the Jews thought a radical and good riddance. But yeah, all the folklore and fables were attached to his legacy through convenient coincidence.

        Tongue is tough unless cooked properly. No one likes harsh tongue. To tenderize it you can lash it, every one likes a good tongue lashing.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. It was partly a controversy in the church I was brought up in–really a lot of nasty infighting that caused my parents to break ties with some old friends and go to another church–but mainly the “one true way” idea that led me away from religion. I was taught that God was loving and forgiving but by the way if you didn’t accept a specific set of mostly arbitrary beliefs and didn’t adhere to a set of mostly arbitrary behaviors that loving, forgiving God will condemn you to an eternity of torment. And having kind of an independent streak I said, yeah, I’ll take my chances.
    Also I’d give anything if you could hug your mother. Or my mother. I don’t know why you’d hug my mother, but she’d probably appreciate it since it’s her birthday today.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, Happy Birthday to Mom, Chris! 🤗

      Yeah, the “one true way” thing always bugged me, especially since different “true wayers” could read the same damn sentence in the same damn book and disagree on “the way” entirely.

      The controversy I faced was a catalyst. I remember thinking there must be a truth in here somewhere, right? I was pretty devout back then. Youth group leader. Aspiring minister. So when I backed up, left church, and began digging deeper it was never with the intention to leave the faith. Never. I figured I’d “find God” in the details, or the spaces in-between. I did not. Instead I found truth. I found thousands of gods, thousands of religions, and thousands of possibilities. Once that wool was off them eyes, brother, there was no putting the sheepskin hood back on. Christianity was a myth. Just long all the others, a myth.

      That certainly hasn’t lead me to find a better religion, and I can’t even begin to surmise how this great big, beautiful universe got started (if it ever did “start”). But now I am a confluence of skepticism and hope and this great big, beautiful universe seems greater, bigger, and more beautiful as a result.

      But never mind all that. Happy Birthday to Mom! 🤗


  5. Love this post Tom. I grew up in the church all my life. My Dad was a part time preacher. I’ll credit the church for one thing in my life. It gave me somewhat of a moral compass to navigate right and wrong. With that being said, the Sunday before the day I left home was the last time I went to church. The deciding factor for me was the hypocrisy. I just couldn’t stand seeing people during the week doing all the things that they preached at me was bad on Sunday. I realized I didn’t need a God to tell me right from wrong. I just know.


  6. This is a beautiful post Tom. From here, I would like to hug your mother for she was clearly wise and a free thinker.
    You are also. Your take on religion is original and profound. If you have seen my blog lately I have written much about it myself and the journey I’m on. It’s a complicated thing.
    You’re a good man, Tom. Thank you for this post

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Bill! I’ll be sure and pop on over to your thread next and see what you’ve been sharing about. This great big, ol’ journey is profound for all of us! Just this morning I did 1000 very personal words in my private journal trying to figure out why I’m such an up and down mess through all this. One day: hope for all mankind. The next day: what’s the point? I guess we’ve never been through this and our inner selves just don’t know what to do about it yet! Stay strong, my brother, and stay free!

      Liked by 1 person

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