Monday, February 11, 2013

The Guilt Trip to the Grand Canyon

It was the summer after my 7th grade year and I went on my first youth group trip to what was called "Nationals" in Flagstaff, Az. I remember certain parts of the trip like the church we stayed at on the way that had way too hot salsa awating us when we arrived. I remember endless sessions of singing and preaching as well. I also remember the day of park evagelization where I got stuck with another poor kid for an afternoon of witnessing. I was the friend of last resort for the rank and file in the youth group since six years of faithful attendance didnt make up for the fact I came from a lower middle class family. That all aside this other guy and me ran into a 20 something lady on the outskirts of the park we were at. We went through the tract we were given and probably coached on in those laborious sessions on the previous days. After our presentation was complete, she agreed to accept Jesus as her personal savior. I don't remember telling anyone about it and come to think of it all it probably did was buy me a couple years before I totally burned out on this youth group. In my more cynical days as an adult I thought she was a plant by the conference to inspire us to go into the world and make a difference for Christ.

Now to where the Grand Canyon comes into play. On the way home we were supposed to stop at the Grand Canyon. I was picturing that we were going to go hiking and actually spend time enjoying the natural beauty created by God. Boy was I wrong, we spent 10 minutes at a look out then met under a picnic pavilion for 4+hours as group to recount the teaching of the conference. Wow was it boring and a formal introduction into the world of evangelicals that can't do anything without every second planned around brain washing or guilt tripping of some type. One phrase I remember is the youth pastor saying that he wasn't trying to guilt trip us which means that is exactly what he was trying to do. The entire time I spent at that church as a child and an adult was nothing but a fear based manipulation to get me to believe anybody who didn't believe like we did was going to hell. It was never explicitly stated from the pulpit as the manipulation used was far more subtle. You really notice it when you leave as an adult and realize the people from the old church think you're leading your family to hell. I beg to differ, I pulled my family out of hell.

Now that I have a Lutheran, Catholic, or Orthodox understanding of Christianity I can call this place for the heresy it represents but in 2010 my gut reaction was agnosticism to escape this bullshit.

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