The Day the Atheist Got Saved Or The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down
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12-03-2015, 12:45 PM (This post was last modified: 12-03-2015 02:50 PM by eminart.)
The Day the Atheist Got Saved Or The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down
By the time I was a senior in high school, I knew religion wasn't for me. I don't think I identified as an atheist at that point, but I was well on my way. But, a boy of 17 needs friends with which to do boyish things, so I had some. And, seeing we lived in rural Alabama, all of my friends called themselves "christians" and a few even went to church on occasion.

That's how it came to be, that I got dragged along to a "revival" with a couple of my friends. Sometimes you're hanging out with a fella, and his cousin, who happens to be a minister, has stopped in from college and is putting on a revival that day at your high school. It's very difficult to, at that point, say, "Nah, I'm going home while you do that nonsense, I'll meet you at the rec center later." no matter how much you'd like to say that very thing.

My friends and I arrived at the dilapidated high school gym, along with throngs of others just like us. My friend's cousin had been very popular when he attended our school, and he was only a couple of years our senior. So, looking around there were lots of doe-eyed girls in attendance with quivering loins hoping to feel the hand of "Jesus".

Although I'd gone to church on my share of holidays, I really didn't know just what the hell a "revival" was. I figured it was pretty much the same as sitting in my uncle's sweaty church as a kid, bored out of my mind in my ill-fitting clothes, and plastic shoes. Turned out I pretty much nailed that assumption. So, I sat there in my metal chair, my friend's cousin ranting on about our salvation or some such nonsense, while I scoped out cute girls, or wondered how much longer this could last.

But then, in my haze of looking wistfully back and forth between the door and some girl's legs, I realized lots of people were starting to head for the aisle, my friends included. "Sweet Mother of God, it must be over!" So, I fell in behind them and headed out. But, much to my surprise, everyone headed left toward the front. "What the hell is happening? Is it too late to turn around and sit back down? Fuck! It's too late to turn around and sit back down."

Following my now least-best friends up the aisle, I wondered if I were about to get dunked in water, or shoved to the ground and healed (my shoulder HAD been hurting...) or if maybe I'd unwittingly volunteered to do some preaching. I didn't have to wonder long. All of the other marchers, most of which, I assumed, had been duped into this as well, knelt at a bench and began mumbling to themselves. Sometime around then I caught a bit of the preacher's rant, and I realized I was expected to "give my life to jesus" at this point. I wasn't exactly sure what he'd do with it once I gave it to him, but I figured I had to go through the motions since I was up there in front of hundreds of people. So, I knelt, moved my lips a little, and watched out of the corner of my eye for the first person to get up. When they did, I got back up and headed to the seats where the rest of the unmoved looked on with bored expressions.

Eventually, all the kneelers got up the nerve to return to their seats, and the preacher went on in a voice that must have been his post-orgasm voice - softer, quieter, content, let's go to sleep now, voice. It's got to be ending now. Nobody can sit through much more of this? But, he started ramping it back up. "Shit, is he going for multiples?"

Right then, the hand of God, reached down, and saved me. I feel it's only fair to mention that one of the two friends I was with suffered from epileptic seizures and had a habit of not taking his medication (A habit which later resulted in his driver's license being revoked). I would never make fun of his condition, and, unfortunately, he has passed away now, much too young. But that day, he saved me. He fell into the floor, convulsing. My other friend and I held him still and kept him from hitting his head on anything, while the religious fervor around us subsided in awe as many of them looked on at what they probably assumed was a dying teenager.

Thankfully, the seizure didn't last too long, and my friend groggily came around. So, we helped him up and headed the hell out of there. I can only assume the show continued without us, and the preacher somehow tied my friend's misfortune into his rantings. Maybe it would have been better if we HAD been marching up the aisle to a faith healer? But, I ccouldn't help but feel I was saved.
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