Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Your soul it can't be bought

And though your soul
it can't be bought
your mind can wander....
---U2, "Vertigo"

I never had a chance to become friends with the people from the retreat, because my dad was a military man and we got the orders. I moved to Ohio in 1981 and started 10th grade here, and my chronic depression started all over again. I wanted to die; but in truth I just wanted to really live. I wanted something to make life worth it. I thought a girl would be the key; but no girl would look at me (although I looked at them quite a bit).

One day in study hall I overheard a conversation that intrigued me. You hear God mentioned quite a bit in school, believe it or not, although mention of his name is usually followed by “d*mn it” or some other expletive. In this case, a guy was telling his female friend that she needed to get “saved.” Saved. I had heard the term before, somewhere, probably from Ted Thiry. But something in that word watered the seed that had lain dormant since our move to Elyria. Saved. Yeah. This sounds like something I could use. Saved. Could it get me out of my depression? Someone tell me more.

We joined St. Mary’s Catholic Church in 1981. Their Sunday school program was called P.S.R. (Parish School of Religion), and was a tad untraditional, one of the last vestiges of the guitar Mass and donut hour era of the 70’s. One Sunday morning we might listen to a Top 40 song and discuss it; the next Sunday we might ditch class altogether and go to breakfast. The teachers were like Mr. Geimar and really cared about us. The director of the high school program was Larry Coleman, and he had a certain energy about him which he applied to anything he put his hand to. My teacher that first year was one Gerald Zellers, 27 years of age, also known as Jerry or “The Cosmic Mr. Z.” He picked up that nickname because he was always reading books by Thomas Merton, or some other book that expounded a mystical way to God. He taught about the Bible that year, and he made us, or at least made me, want to read the Bible more. So I did. I began to be drawn towards reading the Bible. I didn’t enjoy Mass at this point in time, but man did I like reading the Bible.

In 1982 I count myself as having had the experience of "getting saved", although I've come across old journal fragments that lead me to believe it may have happened in 1981. In any event, by 1982 I had asked Jesus to be my personal Lord and Savior. Born again, saved, converted, actualized my baptismal promises, however you want to put it. I wasn't that concerned with the terminology you wanted to use to describe it, I just enjoyed the experience of possibly knowing what it meant to be loved by God.

But I was 16 and still in the Catholic church. I went to Mass because I had to, but I was becoming increasingly fascinated by the preaching I heard on TV and on WCRF, the Cleveland Christian radio station. I would wake up early on Sunday to watch preaching and then listen to WCRF the rest of the day. My parents were pleased by this newfound fascination with religion but not happy that it wasn't Catholicism I was fascinated with.

In 1984 I graduated from high school. I bought my first Christian rock album, Colours by Resurrection Band. That summer I went to my first Christian concert, Steve Camp. It was sponsored by the youth department of Christian Assembly of God in Lorain (now Church On The North Coast). After that concert I started attending their youth group every other week, as a compromise with my parents. They weren't going to let me, but I was 18, and they finally relented.

In 1985 I attended my first ever Protestant service at Christian Assembly. It was not long after that I stopped going to Mass. Thus began my journey through the Protestant jungle. And on to part III.


Post a Comment

<< Home