As a child my parents went to a Baptist church where, naturally I was indoctrinated into the beliefs of Christianity and that particular denomination. I must mention however, that my parents rarely forced me to go to church. They did send me to Vacation Bible School, if only to get me out of the house for a few hours during the summer. Also, I always had the sense that while they believed in “God”, they didn’t particularly care to go to church, but they seemed to feel it was something we “should” do as a family.
So around the age of eight, after learning that I should accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior because he died on the cross for my eight year old sins, or spend an eternity in hell being tortured by Satan, I told my parents that I wanted to be baptized in the church. The pastor and one of the deacons came over to our house one evening to talk to the family, have coffee and tell me what a great choice I’d made. The following Sunday, I sat in the ‘big people’ church and suffered through the boring sermon and mundane hymns until my Sunday school teacher snuck by and whisked me off to a room where I was given a robe to put on. I was very excited, for I was ready for the miraculous to happen. I mean, Jesus was going to be in my heart and I would “walk with the Lord”!
I put on the robe and held tight a little bible, saying a prayer while the lady teacher led me to a door in the church that I was previously unaware of. Behind the door was a small area where I stood, and in front of me was the dunking tank (for lack of a better phrase) where I was to be baptized. I was just hidden from the view of the congregation who looked on as the preacher preached. I couldn’t make out everything he said, I was too excited, but I do remember something about the Lord receiving another one of His children into the kingdom of heaven.
The lady nudged me up a small set of stairs where the preacher had already stepped behind the dunking tank. I stepped into the tank and waded toward him. He held my hand and began to pray. I could see all of the people in the pews, but I didn’t really look. After the prayer he placed his other hand on my head and dunked me back into the water, quickly pulling me back up. I didn’t feel any different… No angels gloriously singing. No white doves flying through the church ceiling through beams of light. No voice, or sighting of the bearded, hippy, white man I’d come to know as Jesus. I felt nothing, just wet. I remember immediately trying to rationalize the experience. “Well, maybe all of that was just to show everyone else that Jesus was in my heart. What matters is my ‘personal relationship’ with Him.”
I’ve always been inquisitive and skeptical; perhaps this experience was one of the first that led to my understanding of the true nature of reality.
I plan on posting more about the ‘spiritual’ (and mystical/ psychedelic) experiences that I’ve had on my journey to atheism and Humanism. Let me know if you enjoyed this and please share your experiences with me.
Thanks for reading,