Wherever God erects a house of prayer,
The Devil always builds a chapel there;
And ’twill be found, upon examination,
The latter has the largest congregation.
Some of the most pivotal memories of my childhood involved church. We were always going to church. There was Sundie (No, that’s not a typo. That’s the way we pronounced Sunday) school, where we kids were taught to hate and fear the Unbeliever. You could recognize that strange species on sight. They had cropped off hair. ( A woman’s hair is her glory, din’tcha know.) They showed bare skin. You could see their knees! They spoke up in front of their menfolk, just like they wuz real people.
It’s funny, but almost every thing I was taught about the Unbeliever related to the female. Well, why not? After all, it was Woman who had tempted Adam and brought about the downfall of Mankind, wasn’t it? That hussy Eve got us all kicked outa the Garden. Oh yeah, there was Lilith, too. Adam’s first wife. The nerve of that strumpet, wanting to take the top position when Adam got his thang on. Women just couldn’t be trusted.
The worst thing they had to say about the male Unbeliever was he was too easily led by his woman. He listened to her too much and she dragged him down into perdition. Because of her, he was fooled into thinking that the bible wasn’t the real, literal word of god, written by his own hand. That was the worst crime of all.
But we were discussing church, so where was I. Oh yeah, Sundie School. After Sundie School, came the collection plate. While the choir sang (none of that glorified rock an roll for us, thank yah very much!) the men would shuffle to the front of the church and drop their cash into that fake-gold plate sitting in the middle of the altar, making dam sure everyone saw the wad of bills they deposited. “Give, Brothers! Give til it hurts! Give to the Glory of God!”
Then it was the women’s turn to drop in the pitiful nickels, dimes and quarters handed to them by their men a few moments before. Let a woman handle cash? Real money as in dollar bills. Ha! Not on God’s watch! Then it was my turn. I led the Penny March. There were some advantages to being the grandchild of the man who actually owned the church. Here, I could strut my stuff, as long as I stuck to the rules. No scared little mouse here.
The kids circled the altar, dropped in their pennies, and lined up while I stood at one end. No one ever seemed to notice that I hadn’t dropped my money in. Unlike the other children, grandpa always gave me a quarter for the offering plate. No mere pennies for his grandchild. That was a sody and three candy bars at the grocery store. I was such an evil little girl. :D
Then we sang.
“I’m gonna run, run, run,
To meet my Jesus.
When he comes,
When he comes!”
“The Devil is a sly old fox,
If I could catch him,
I’d put him in a box,
lock that box,
And throw away the key,
For all those trcks
He’s played on me!”
Afterward came Sunday Services, which were pretty sedate for Pentecostals. The preacher was hungry. We served him Sunday dinner, at our house every Sunday. He loved him some of Grandma’s fried chicken, so he did his best to be finished and out by noon. He wasn’t in such a hurry at our night time services. That’s when he did his best work for God.
There were Youth services. Bible class on Thursdays. Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday were night time services. Services started at seven pm and lasted till two, sometime three o’clock in the morning. No joke when you have to get up at four thirty in the morning to milk cows and muck out stalls before going to school.
Ah, those nighttime sevices! The screaming, the groaning, the gnashing of teeth. No. wait a minute. That’s hell. You got that in hell. It might as well have been hell, as far as I was concerned. Having to sit on those horribly hard pews, listening to hour after excruciating hour of hellfire and brimstone sermons which scared the shit out of us kids and gave us nightmares.
Of course, it had its lighter side. Like the time Brother Joe was at the altar, dancing in the Spirit after “praying through” and getting saved again for the umpteenth time, and his pants fell down around his ankles. And Sister Angie was always good for a laugh.
Sister Angie was a blind woman who was frequently struck by the “Power.” She was a large woman with a huge butt. When I say huge, I mean GIMONGOUS! When struck by the power, she would bend over, thrust that big butt up into the air and commence speaking in tongues. Speaking in tongues, for all you wicked Unbelievers out there who don’t know, (I’m shocked! There are so many of you!) is when the Holy Ghost fills you up and speaks through you, giving you a message for the people. Apparently, the Holy Ghost doesn’t know English and has to speak in another language, then wait for an interpreter who is so holy, that he knows that language, too and can tell us what the Holy Ghost just said.
“Honda le muh, Shonda la muh, hohkey pookey lokey or what ever. . .” Here’s Sister Angie, bent at the waist, arms stuck out in front of her, flailing like windmills, huge, gimongous butt stuck up into the air, shaking it. And can she ever shake it! The fat rolls like ocean waves across the wide expanse of her God-driven ass. The man behind her, and there is always a man standing in that particular spot, is staring mesmerized at the acres and acres of jiggling calico covered flesh. He licks his lips nervously, as sweat pops out on his forehead. Yup, he seems to be saying. that’s the Holy Ghost, alright. I always got the urge to sneak up behind him and yell Boo! at the top of my lungs, but I never did. I regret that.
All the other Sisters watched Sister Angie with suspicion. It just didn’t seem right, somehow. Her with her big butt. An’ if she was so all fired righteous, why didn’t she get healed from her blindness? There was some kinda hanky-panky going on in this Pentecostal hen house! Women just couldn’t be trusted. . . .not even by other women. Wasn’t much they could do about it though. They were women.
I must pause here, I’m getting tired but I’ll be back real soon to tell you all about my Big Blue Devil.
He really did.