The Painful Truth About The Worldwide Church of God
The Painful Truth About The Worldwide Church of God.

Childhood Lost

FIRSTBORN

First born male children were accorded special status in that church. In the Old Testament they were the ones who, because they were wise enough to slide down the chute first, were born to "bear rule over their brethren". Upon their father's demise, they inherited the lion's share of the family estate while wives, concubines and siblings typically received nothing.

In the modern world, this practice was for the most part looked upon as archaic; unfortunately, many of the doctrines of that church had little in common with civilized notions. Every first born male in that sect, having repetitively heard that they were special, adopted the tenet with the same fervor that tyrants of old embraced the doctrine of the divine right of kings to rule.

As firstborn, unless caught in the act, there were few crimes they could be punished for. During meals, they invariably got the most meat and biggest helpings of dessert; they always got to stay up at least an hour later than their siblings; and when adults unconscionably needed a few hours alone, they got to sharpen their already substantial skills at world domination by being appointed official baby sitters of the realm.

It was fortunate for them that they had been blessed by God with a superior intellect and a natural ability to rule, for if the events which took place in my brother's duchy were (and I'm sure to varying degrees they were) representative of the chaos which must surely have ensued in other households of the called and chosen, then these first born wouldbe monarchs were in desperate need of all the arrogance and presumption their special status engendered.

My brothers and I looked forward to those occasions, when Bruce was the man of the house, about as much as Republicans looked forward to Watergate. As temporary despot in charge, he had even formulated a little speech for these occasions which seldom varied. "Mom was gone," he would begin, "and he was now in charge, therefore life as we knew it had ceased." "We would," he solemnly intoned, "do exactly as instructed or else." For emphasis he would wave a thick wooden paddle brusquely in our faces. It was twice the size and exactly the shape of a ping pong paddle. Carpenters in the church had been instructed to cut them out and pass them round to the brethren as disciplinary aids for the small honorarium of two dollars each.

Mutinies are neither specious nor spontaneous. Contrary to both societal and religion's cherished notions, rebellion is not an individual's first and natural response to benign authoritarian directives, otherwise societies, nations and religions, would never have the chance to inexorably evolve into that state of institutionalized repression so characteristic of all of them. But, rather, rebellion is an individual's quite natural reaction to dictatorial oppression.

His first few attempts at domination by decree went unchallenged mostly because he had followed the regular pattern familiar to us all. Keep quiet, don't run around the house and get to bed on time. His problems began when he attempted to rewrite the program.

To this day, I am positive that the dishes would have been done, the floor would have gotten mopped, the toilet cleaned and he would have retained possession of two of his original front teeth if only he had somehow learned to govern with grace.

Having been diagnosed as demonic by Herbert's local pastor/ inquisitors rather than bipolar, I was on one of my inexplicable highs that night, which usually lasted from several days to several weeks. During those periods, I was invincible. Nothing could touch me when I was in that state. If called upon to defend the humblest of God's creatures, a cat, a dog or even a brother, woe betide the perpetrator.

Little brother Keith (in stark contrast to most eight year Olds) had failed to display any real diligence in scrubbing down the bathroom. In point of fact, he had merely given walls, tub and toilet a few perfunctory swipes with the mop, retired to his room and gone to sleep. When Bruce discovered the slovenly workmanship, he went in search of the offending party, rod of correction in hand. Yanking the tyke out of a sound sleep, he began shouting at him and was about to start hitting him with that god damned Christian club when I reached over and grabbed it out of his hand. "Go to sleep, Keith," I said. "I'll take care of things."

My actions seemed to constitute a far more egregious offence than that of Keith's barely cleaning the bathroom and I knew Bruce would leave him in peace to deal with the unconscionable crime I had just committed, that of rebellion against duly constituted authority.

We faced off in the living room. Bruce, a good five inches taller than I, took center stage and assumed an aggressive stance. Hands on his hips, he had that enraged cast to his eyes seen only on the faces of the egotistically selfrighteous who've just been told to f__k themselves. He demanded I return the paddle to him forthwith, go immediately to my room and stay there forever. Of course, he felt it necessary to add, in a low and icy voice, that he was telling Mom the instant she walked through the door.

I slouched against the wall about ten feet away, mentally forcing myself to look relaxed. Bruce took a few decisive steps towards me biting off his next words as he advanced.

"Give me that paddle. Now!" he commanded.

"No." I quietly replied.

This was definitely not the correct answer, for he rushed me at this point, trying to smother me with his superior weight and height. I hit him in the stomach as hard as I could with my left fist and, just before he crashed against the wall from the force of his momentum, slipped to one side just beyond arm's reach. Holding his midsection with both hands, he looked shocked. "It's against God's law to hit people with your fists," he gasped. "You've had it now!"

"Stay away from me, Bruce, or I'll hit you again," I replied. Still half doubled over from the shot he'd taken to the stomach he was, nonetheless, only a couple feet away and he suddenly straightened up with alarming speed and lunged at me. I hit him hard and fast, once on the chin, and once to the right side of his face, staggering him. His hands and arms went limp and he was barely standing.

And I suddenly felt an overwhelming rage, towards him, that f__king Church, the substantial part they played in the impoverishment and subsequent breakup of my family, and their doctrinal nomination of this sanctimonious bastard as temporary king in residence. I gave him one last shot for the road, full on the mouth, splitting both lips and breaking two of his upper front teeth. He dropped to the floor screaming and clawed his way to the couch,bleeding over everything as he went. Burying his head in the seat cushions, he rocked his body back and forth sobbing.

I went over to him and put my arm around his shoulders. I felt like the most vicious son of a bitch since Attila the Hun. At that moment,I'd have given anything to take that last punch back.

"I'm sorry Brucie, I really am," I said.

He elbowed me aside and, turning his bloodied visage to me hissed, "Mom's been talking about sending you to Juvenile Hall and she'll do it now." "You're going to rot in jail for this," he finished smugly.

"Yeah, right," I replied, and stalked off to my bedroom. Bruce waited till I'd closed the door, tromped down the hall and locked me in from the outside. I'd figured he might try that but it didn't matter, nothing mattered, certainly not locked doors. Besides, I was planning on using the window.


Chapter 8

 

Chapter 10

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