Editor’s Note: After the recent heart-wrenching “Clergy Doubt” series, we could use a little levity. This post surely provides it. Like the other posts, this is a true story and it’s about a pastor’s changing beliefs – and, this case, a desperately needed change of clothes. Enough – I don’t want to give it away! //Linda LaScola, Editor
By Mason Lane
After many years of futility, I’d already resigned myself to the fact that the God I prayed to, always with the magic words of, “In the name AND blood of Jesus,” only seemed willing to cause an apparently dead battery to start a car engine or help with a flu fever, as long as I took aspirin.
I was living in the age of miracles for dead car batteries, not dead or blind humans like those in the amazing ancient Bible days. The promise of “If you ask anything in my name I will do it,” was like the promises politicians love to make.
It had been drummed into to my sheepish, credulous child’s brain about the Jewish guys who, after being warned not to touch the Ark of the Covenant, were instantly killed when they did.
(And they were just trying to stop it from falling!) I was certain that approaching God’s heavenly throne in prayer, without the blood protection, would be doing so at my own grave and perilous risk.
With this history and indoctrination, I now found myself in the pulpit, preaching my Sunday morning Pentecostal sermon about the Baptism in the Spirit and the blessing of speaking in tongues/ I didn’t know the word “glossolalia” at the time.
I’d just gotten over a bout of intense stomach flu and erroneously assumed all the nasty symptoms were now history. As I raised my Scofield Bible, Elmer Gantry style, punctuating my pronouncements, I suddenly felt an incredibly intense fullness and pressure in my sanctified intestines. I’d already learned enough from this virus to know that my colon was fully loaded like a frontiersman’s long buffalo rifle and was ready to explode. I also realized the trigger might not be under my control and the rifle had no safety.
In an instant, I shouted,
and signaled to my father, our associate pastor, to quickly come lead our closing hymn. He knew from my expression something was amiss with his son. I was at least ten minutes ahead of my typical quitting time, but the congregation didn’t seem to mind as the piano started up.
I quickly walked, stiff-legged, with my fully squeezed sphincter, while desperately praying and pleading internally;
A faster or more earnest Christian prayer has never been uttered.
“In Jesus name and blood, dear merciful Heavenly Father please grant my sphincter a modicum of additional strength like that granted to Samson. Please God!”
Just before I reached the doorway to the stairway leading to the basement and restrooms in the basement, the explosion occurred. I grotesquely continued making my way to the safety of the porcelain throne. Gimping contortedly along I reached down with one hand and held my trouser cuff together to prevent leaving a CSI trail of embarrassment. Was another one of those celestial lessons designed to teach me humility? My short but urgent prayer request once again had received God’s chronic answer:
My wife came downstairs and quickly figured out what happened. She just as quickly left through a side entrance and returned with the necessary clothing replacement and a plastic bag for my formerly Sunday-best trousers and BVDs. While I finished tidying up and dressing, she visited with the remaining congregants explaining euphemistically that I had a “stomach cramp.” We drove home, where I took a long, hot shower.
That was my last prayer. It wasn’t too long before I left the pulpit and moved to Arizona where I escaped cold northern Indiana winters and the delusional Evangelical religion into which I’d been bullied as a malleable, credulous child.
Bio: Mason Lane: As a credulous child, I was raised Christian fundamentalist Baptist. I later became a glory-shouting Pentecostal and was ordained by the Christian Faith Church Pentecostal in Mishawaka Indiana. I ceased believing in the irrational and supernatural at age 30, thanks primarily to reading the Bible while thinking. At the time of my de-supernaturalizing, I was General Manager of WHME-FM radio station, a Christian radio station, and Pastor of Christian Faith Church in Mishawaka, Indiana. I resigned both positions and moved to Phoenix, Arizona where I became dean of students at DeVry University.
I’m still a person of faith. My faith is now in science, nature, love, friends, family, music, humor, art, The US Constitution, the 5,000 year old Golden Rule and Separation of Religion and State.
>>>Photo Credits: By James Tissot – http://www.thejewishmuseum.org/onlinecollection/object_collection.php?objectid=26402&artistlist=1&an=James Jacques Joseph Tissot, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8857980