How I Left Christianity Part Four: Poverty

My family wasn’t rich.

For the most part, as a child, I didn’t realize it. So sometimes the electricity was shut off. During the summer, that meant open windows letting the fresh breeze in at night. In the winter, it meant evenings spent around the fire, roasting marshmallows and playing boardgames by candlelight. Cool! It meant getting to go to work with Papa Beemer on Saturdays, playing with my brother in the steelyard, or drawing buildings on HUGE pieces on paper, just like Daddy.

No big deal, right? Other kids didn’t get to do that stuff with their parents. But wait–they got to go on vacations. Photos of beaches in Florida. Hiking in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Why didn’t we get to do that? How come my friend’s parents aren’t inviting me? They’ve invited all the other girls. That was only every once in a while though.

My best friend’s family was like mine–they weren’t rich, either. She had lots of siblings. At one point, they were having a hard time. Momma Beemer took my brother and I to the grocery, and we filled up two carts of food. Later that day, my best friend, her siblings, and her mother came over to pick up the food. Us kids enjoyed the visit–dashing back and forth from my kitchen to their van, running around the front yard. But I noticed the expression on my mom’s face–and the expression on my best friend’s mother’s. Understanding on one, and relief on the other. I couldn’t name the expressions at the time–I only noticed that the two women seemed very close at that moment, closer than they’d ever been before. It confused me.

That day repeated itself a couple of times a month for a while, and then without any remarkable event marking it, it stopped.

It wasn’t long before it started again–only in reverse. My best friend and her family were bringing food to us. The children were bounding back and forth with bulging white bags, while the two women spoke together. I saw the expressions on their faces, and was drawn to them. As I got closer, I got that feeling from Momma Beemer that children get from their parents sometimes: this is an adult conversation. Go away. I went.

Sometimes, at church, the pastor would speak after the worship service about a family in need. A relative was sick, and needed to pay for surgery. A man was laid off, and he needed help to feed his family and pay the bills while he looked for another job.

I wondered a bit why the pastor never asked the congregation for help when my family needed it. But my family didn’t go to church–only me. I wondered more why the church never helped my best friend and her family. Every time the doors were open, my best friend’s family was there. Her mother, and all the children attended faithfully–every Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night–for choir, for musicals, for Vacation Bible School, for all the other fellowships and Bible studies, they were there. They worked hard for the church–to learn and grow spiritually, to help spread the Word–they did it all. It made me angry.

What was so different about my best friend’s family? Why didn’t our brothers and sisters in Christ help them?

Was it because her dad wasn’t a deacon? Was it because her dad didn’t come to church very much?

Why?

At the time, I couldn’t answer that question. Years later, I can.

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About Brittany-Ann
Brittany-Ann is a proud, self-identified feminist with fictional tendencies. She currently writes for LouisvilleKY.com and moderates at My Fault I'm Female. She smokes camels, reads Dumas, and navigates a conservative state as "one of them darn liberals."

7 Responses to How I Left Christianity Part Four: Poverty

  1. Tim says:

    “At the time, I couldn’t answer that question. Years later, I can.”

    Well? Are you going to?

  2. shadowspring says:

    That is the sad truth. My spouse has almost always had a good paying job, and we have never needed our church’s help. We have always been treated with respect. Not necessarily friendship or the ego boost of being asked to be “in leadership”. That only comes with bigger money than we gave! But still, no one was ever rude or nasty to us.

    Until….we decided to take 3/4 of the charitable giving we were putting in the local church and use it to support a disabled family member. How could that NOT be a “godly” move?! We can’t let a family member get evicted so our fashion conscious pastor with a wife who also works can live the good life! What true believer in Love would even want that to happen?

    Well, we cut back our giving, and within a year we were non-human persons in the eyes of our pastor. He called and chewed me out first, then my husband, then called me back, then falsely accused me of saying something, then called me a liar when I denied it and THEN…well, then I finally realized what a sham the whole thing had been all along.

    For me, my faith is about Divine Love and how to live that out in the world. Because I was raised in America I always framed that Love in terms of Christianity. I still do and probably always will, BUT I finally realized that my definition of Christianity and the actual religion as it is mostly practiced are two VERY DIFFERENT THINGS.

    Christianity in America is an industry. It brings in big money to the profiteers, a very small portion of which actually goes to do good in this world. Most of it just goes to make the well-positioned very wealthy. Even the worst preachers can eek out a living for themselves by claiming some special authority to understand a book any literate person can read with just as good results.

    Love your blog, Brittney-Ann. Found you through NLQ. Peace and good will, SS

  3. Pingback: How I Left Christianity Part Eight: Civil Air Patrol « A Bookish Beemer

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