Friday, August 08, 2008

Blogistas,

It has been a long string of days since the last post here, but that does not mean I have forgotten about it. If anything, people seem to love to remind me of it, gently and otherwise, including someone I haven't seen since HS graduation but apparently found this thanks to a process I have covered (see previous post) and felt entitled to openly demand for more content.

Regardless of how I feel about encouraging such behavior by acquiescing, here goes:

I was driving back from SFO last week with a friend, when we decided to stop for the only known palatable food on the entirety of the I-5 fast food purgatory: In-N-Out Burger, in Kettleman City, to enjoy some quality burgers made with the freshest ingredients possible on that kind of scale.

If you have ever been to that part of the world, In-N-Out Burger, by all accounts, is the best thing to ever happen to Kettleman City, and pretty much the only reason to stop, unless you are into cows and/or crystal meth.

Right after we arrived, and thankfully not before, an entire bus of OC teenagers stopped with the same idea, creating a line that went well out the door. What were all of these conspicuously fake blonde, vaguely vapid looking, wearing-uggs-in-the-Central-Valley-summer-heat kids doing out there? What else would a bunch of middle class white republican kids be doing in teh summer? Coming back from Church Camp!

Here is where it gets amazing: Their church camp was in KLAMATH FALLS, OREGON. Every year hese kids spend two days in a bus on i-5 to go to church camp in the Meth Capitol of America, 20 hours away. The camp I went to (see below) was 5 hours from my hometown and I swear it took longer If I rode in a bus 20 hours to church camp, I better be f*ing guaranteed to find Jesus, and not just in my heart, but serving my frigging hash browns and high fiving me after the water balloon fight. "Yeah, forget water into wine J-man, how about water into balloon into awesome stinging wetness smacked all over Jesse's face! YEAAH!"


So yes, I went to church camp, and no, I never found jesus. Of the various ones I went to, I would rate Hume Lake as the best. What made it the best, you ask? Because it did the best of bringing me closer to Jesus? Because it did the best job of helping me repress my teenage humanity and turn me into a lockstep, party-line conservative? Because it beat out all the other camps in filling my days with swimming, and games, and foosball, and milkshakes, and insanely hot nubile teenage chicks in swimsuits that I had never met before then grabbing hold of my mind that felt like it had been opened to the fabulous possibility of how awesome girls and nature are, and then exploiting this vulnerability to inject a message of overbearing, presumptuous, misunderstood-by-its-followers, hypocritical, and enormously judgmental religion into it? No, not because of those things but it did seem like that must have been how they measured success. After all, that seemed to be the top priority for every church camp I went to.


"Hey kid! how about some awesome nature and cute girls you have never met you get to enjoy away from your lame family? You like that? Great, now DRINK THE FUCKING KOOL AID! What? You aren't sure you like what we are selling? That is bad! That is the devil! You are not trying hard enough, your heart is not open to Jesus enough, because what what we say jesus wants is to continue misrepresenting him so we can control you and justify how much self-repression we have subjected ourselves to in his name up ot this point in our lives, because at least that makes us out to have some scrap of compelling humanity underneath and not just be complete bores who lack the courage or self awareness to branch out to something else."

Boy, I sound angry. Well, I am. I never felt like what they were selling worked, like it never felt right to me, like it went contrary to my very instincts of right and wrong. The social and intellectual climate they created could only leave me one feeling, one of being a bad person, of being someone who was not good enough or I would just FEEL it, and I can tell you what, I sure as hell didn't feel it, unless "it" means being confused and/or vaguely disgusted at the garish posturing and bullshit proselytizing.

I never related to those people, and I always felt like an outsider. I was never popular in the cliquey, awful youth group I was forced to go to, I didn't wear the right clothes, and frankly, I was too smart for even the leaders to keep up with. You got questions about the scientifically impossible creation myth that was created by and for pre-historic people that by definition you have to accept in order to be here (in what I like to call the "all or nothing" clause of the bible, something my former a-hole stepfather was fond of referring to, which I paraphrase and do not cite my sources because the very search for it online would just creep me out), and if you don't we are going to attack you.

Yeah, that sounds like Jesus to me.

So yeah, religion was forced down my throat as a child and I was subjected to a lot of awful things in it's name, primarily my former stepdad who my mom, bless her heart, finally divorced despite what the judgmental, shaming church she belongs to says on the subject despite the level of general douchebaggery, or in this case actual psychoses, perpitrated by one's spouse on you or your children. Nevertheless, it was not like I was put on the rack (a la Galileo) or blown up while buying fruit at the farmer's market (Google "sunni-shiite tensions"), or any number of countless atrocities in the name of promoting one's religion, but it was no fun either.

So what made Hume Lake the best? Well, they did have the best lake, and the best pool, and the best milkshakes, and it also did the best job of galvanizing my still-intact-to-this-day mistrust towards evangelical protestantism.

And in a way, for that I am grateful. On the other hand, if they had fresh In-N-Out burgers...

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