For the most part, I was sparred from the rampage of the Satanic Panic. I was born in 1983, so by the time that I was getting into pop culture by the end of the 80s, early 90s, the boil had simmered down to nothing more than a little steam.
In spite of all that, I was made all to aware of how Satan was influencing children through music, cartoons, toys, games, whatever. Essentially, everything was evil. And while the media stopped reporting of false accounts of Satanic ritualistic killings and ceremonies, the church world birthed a new movement of extremism in fundamentalist/charismatic christianity. This wasn’t your typical denomination. Instead, it was a new holds barred, complete lean to the right in politics and perspective. Even Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians were considered to be not as accepted in god’s eyes. If you were not on fire for christ, if every moment of your life wasn’t devoted to the servitude of the most high, you were either destined for hell, or barely worthy of heaven.
I remember in the mid 90s the tide that swept everyone away inside my church. You heard less about the evils of the world, more about how you had to worship, prey, serve, fast, give, evangelize, and utter every other word Jesus. It was like looking into the mind of pure madness. And for a 16 year old me, it was a very terrifying time.
The choice to be in that world was made for me. My time was surrendered to the church, my life rather. I was not in control of any aspect of my life or my mind. I was a slave to the whims of madmen, who made us poor, kept us starving, and living in fear if god was actually god to provide for us this month so we weren’t evicted. We were evicted 4 times in 6 years by the way.
Through it all, I never rebelled. I was angry, but I wouldn’t yell. I was hurt, but I wouldn’t cry. My life was agony, but eventually my mind just shut down because it was the only way I could cope. We were in a cult. It’s something I would only understand later in life. This wasn’t normal, but normal had been redefined for us. That’s generally how cults work: they redefine the world as you know it to fit their needs and narrative. It makes you more docile, more numb to the punishment. The human mind can endure much more than you could possibly imagine, but not without serious consequence.
I don’t have any stories of teenage rebellion, which makes me sad. I wish I had told off my mother, screamed bloody murder at my grandmother. But I stayed behaved, maintained, scarred. When I reached 18, I didn’t run away from the church world like I thought I was going to do in the years previous. In fact, I doubled down, got fired up. I went through the motions, never checking in mentally about what I was doing. My mind never had a chance to think about my life and how fucked up it all was. I even went to Bible College for a year to make my family happy. For lack of a better term, I was brainwashed.
Eventually because of Scandal (Male Pastor was fucking our Male Youth Pastor), the church dissolved and we were displaced. During this, I was 19 and able to choose where I wanted to go to church. So I went somewhere for a little while, buried myself in the sound booth and didn’t even listen to the sermons. That’s when all these questions and realizations began to occur to me, while adjusting settings on the mixer board. “Why am I here?” I would ask. Hearing the lunacy of the fat-ass BoBo TD Jakes, storming the stage, shouting out of context verses made me despise being amongst his congregation. I felt like I was in a landfill. I would try going to other churches, thinking that I had just not found the right place for me. Church after church, I would find the same thing: a seething hatred for what was being said and who was saying it.
2006, I stopped going anywhere. I was working for a church at the time, producing and editing videos. I lied to them, told them I was going somewhere else so it wasn’t insisted I go to there church to keep my employment. I was so angry. At my family, at the church, at the lies, guilt, and shame I had been forced to endure. I hadn’t quite abandoned the faith all together still but by 2010, as I was walking and talking to god on a cool Anaheim night, I suddenly stopped. After a pause, I said my last statement to the ether, “I’ve been waiting so long for you to fix me, but all I get is more fucked up. Maybe you’re the problem. Maybe the only thing wrong with me is you. Now I need to take my life back into my hands, make my own plans, determine my own path, and stop worshipping you.” And that concluded my broadcast day.
In the years since, justifiable anger has been redressed and reassigned to who it really belonged to. I have no problem in saying that I hate these particular men who were apart of my past, claiming to be emissaries of god. They were greedy, self-interested, scumbags who controlled and manipulated good people. I don’t believe in hell, but for them, I really wish there was one. I learned that sometimes it’s good to not forgive, to not give a pass to people who hurt you. I grew up being told that if you don’t forgive others, god won’t forgive you. I’m completely comfortable with that. I won’t be forced to feel a certain way, to pretend to let something go so I can be saved. As a general point, I don’t make it my business to have a massive hate parade toward people in my life. I do practice forgiveness when I judge to do so. But that’s the point, it my choice to do so.
There was no wild parties, underage drinking, sexual escapades, or teenage shenanigans for me. Instead, my Rebellion came much later and is still going strong today. It’s not towards curfews, or needing space, it’s towards the world as it is. I’m a wrecking ball, reeking havoc on a social system that fights change and treats some lives and ideologies more important than others. Sometimes you have to tear down the old to make room for the new. Demolition is messy. It’s essential. It’s only then that you can clear the debris, form a new foundation, and build something better. Having been torn down myself, left in ruin and no idea how to begin to start a new, I can confirm it’s scary. And you have no idea what you’re doing, but you start to figure it out as you go. You’ll make mistakes, have to demo, then begin again, but eventually you get it. While your life isn’t constructed by yourself, you have to be the architect of your own design. So you follow your own codes and laws. And if you have to believe in something, before all else, believe in yourself.
Escape The Ordinary,