I sat between my mother and father, pulling at my collar as the tie was done up tightly.
“Stop that.” My mother shewed my hand away.
“It’s too tight!” I said
“Be quiet. We are in church, have some respect for our lord and savior. Your tie is fine and if you can breath it’s not to tight.”
I slumped back in the pew and took a deep breath…pouting. Wearing ties was not something I enjoyed. And spending my Sunday in church was also something I didn’t enjoy. I crossed my arms and sat there staring up at the podium where an organist was playing some tune that I didn’t know.
Slowly the church started to fill up and I was thankful I was sitting between my parents. I hated sitting next to strangers. Especially if the guy was fat and took up all the room, I didn’t like being squashed by some stranger. Why were churches always so hot? Why did I have to wear this suit? No other kids here were in suits. Looking around at the other kids dressed in sweaters and wishing I was one of them.
“Why can’t I wear a sweater?” I asked my Mother looking up at her.
“Shush, would you jump off a peer if everyone else did it?”
I didn’t answer.
“Exactly, now be quiet.”
I pouted again as a priest approached podium.
He held up the bible like it was some amazing gift for everyone to see then opened it to the book mark he had placed in it. He gave us all a long look. His eyes moving over each of us and when he met mine I looked away and then he started to speak.
“Thank you all for joining me here, today I want to share a message that I hold dear to my heart and this church offers services for those that suffer from this affliction. That is addiction. Addiction can come in many forms. Drugs, cigarettes, alcohol, addiction is the Devil’s work…”
My parents nodded their heads agreeing with every word.
“Some forms of addiction you wouldn’t even think were the work of the Devil. Video games that poison the minds of young men and women and movies that lead them down the path of violence.”
I looked around to see where that came from but I couldn’t find the man that had yelled out.
“Yes my good Christian, music as well. The world is full of addictions, full of temptation, it surrounds us and it will crush us if we let it. In times of temptation look to Christ and he will offer a path. The adults in this service will have the faith and the will to see through these temptations to see what they are to see the Devil laughing behind the scenes. But you young children here with your parents. I’m sure some of you don’t want to be here that you’d rather be playing with your heathen friends out there in the world full of addiction and temptation.”
I watched his hands flail as he spoke, giving these grand jesters.
“You should look to your parents now and thank them for bringing you here, for offering you shelter and to absolve your sins. If it were up to me church would be held every day, as sin does not rest, addiction does not rest, temptation does not rest, why should we rest? So now let me talk to the children, our future. Who here likes chocolate?”
I looked around as every hand went up including mine.
“That looks to be all of you, good, I’m glad you shared your temptations under God’s roof. You see chocolate too is a temptation, I bet you could eat it and keep eating it? That my sons and daughters is the work of the Devil! He wants you to be a slave to gluttony. How do we fight the Devil? God, faith, and will power. If you cannot say no to another piece of chocolate how do you think you will say no to drugs, alcohol, cigarettes. All of those are dirty habits, habits of the heathens not the good folk of this congregation. Do you see the parallels?”
Again my parents and everyone around me nodded, agreeing with every word. I just wanted chocolate.
“Good I see many nodding heads out there. Addiction, temptation, it is all the Devil’s work. Part of his master plan to poison your minds and draw you to his breast where you will spend eternity in the red pits of fire. Is that where you want to be? Being clawed at by demons, Hell’s minions running around torturing you for your sins?”
I looked around and many of the kids were shaking there heads. Still I just wanted chocolate.
“Good I see many of you are in agreement with God, that is good, but I see some of you silent. Join me in prayer, God spoke these word directly to me, and I wish to share them all with you now.”
He raised his hands to the sky and started to speak funny. Yelling out words that sounded like baby talk. Was this guy even speaking English? Everyone around me seemed to be in a trance, heads tilted down, arms raised to sky. Even some of the children were doing the same. And they were all swaying back and forth, I started to get nervous, I sat still and continued to look around.
I had not seen my fathers eyes open.
“Son what are you doing?”
“I don’t know.”
“You better learn respect or when we get home there will be hell to pay. He is trying to save our souls, to protect them from the sins of gluttony, addiction, and temptation. You should know your place in God’s eyes.”
I nodded and followed in suit, coping my father. Listening to the priest babble baby talk until he finished.
“Praise our Lord Jesus.” Wiping his brow the priest continued. “Now we will pass around the donation plate and please give generously, Jesus is watching. Support your church as you would support your family. Generosity is something the Lord will reward ten fold.”
The plate came to me and I passed it to my father who place a hundred dollar bill on the plate, that was a lot of money. It could be me a lot of games.
“Now we shall exercise our demons, children please follow Mrs. Thomson to the backroom where you will learn about Jesus and his many miracles. This next part is not meant for you to see.”