Jesus Took My Stuff

When I was nine years old, my mother became a born-again Christian. This was a pretty common occurrence in the area in which I grew up, as most mothers didn’t work, and truthfully, boredom and depression would kick in. She met a member of a church whilst waiting for me at the school gates, got chatting, and was offered the secret to eternal happiness and fulfilment: Jesus.

The organisation turned out to be one of those Pentecostal happy clappy Church of Christ jobbies, an import from the USA and quite unlike the stiff upper lip Church of England services one usually had to endure at weddings and funerals. The minister and his wife were young, attractive and American, which to my young mind was the height of exotic. We were very poor, but the weekly tithe seemed a small price to pay for the revelation that Jesus loved us and would supply everything we need if we asked hard enough. Or, would move in mysterious ways, and that was also OK, cause who needed a new bike when you had eternal life?

I went to a couple of services and social events with my mom, found it fun and full of promise and soon made the very adult decision to also become a Christian. My sister and father followed suit, and we were all baptised in a heated swimming pool followed by a finger buffet and a round of ‘You Can’t Get To Heaven On Rollerskates’ accompanied by me on tambourine.

Fast-forward a year, and the gloss started to wear off as Jesus made his first claim on my possessions. I wasn’t materialistic, I was merely a kid, and I liked my stuff. As I mentioned, we were poor, so stuff was hard to come by and birthdays and Christmas were pretty much the only opportunities I had to add to my bounty of treasures. But, I did own the entire collection of

Jackson and Livingstone Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks

If you haven’t played these, starting with the masterpiece Warlock of Firetop Mountain, stop reading this and go and grab a copy from eBay. You must at least be familiar with the concept: a book in which you choose your own adventure. “You turn a corner and an Orc is standing in front of you! To hit him with your fist, turn to page eight. To throw a turd at him, turn to page 43”. Etc. Conceptually genius, and I had ’em all. I even had the spinoff board game which cost me my entire birthday money. But, my mom started to express concerns that the books were ‘satanic’ in nature (well they did have demons and magic in them) and suggested that Jesus would not approve. After a sleepless night of asking Jesus (and some secret masturbation for which I prayed for forgiveness), I concurred, and the next day we built a bonfire and burned the whole lot, board game and all. I remember thinking that I was destroying something inherently evil. Then again, I was a small girl and not really in a position to tell evil from madness.

The second thing that Jesus took was

My great-grandmother’s mirror

Mirrors, as you know, are easily possessed by demons. At least, that was what we were told when I was 12 years old and my mirror, a bequest from my late great-grandmother, threw itself across the bedroom. Or rather, it fell off the wall. But our particular brand of Jesus-lovin’ was the hysterical paranoid sort and the mirror was deemed possessed and responsible for my recent spate of behavioural issues (nothing to do with being 12 years old and having just lost a parent, you understand. Demons did it). So, they exorcised the mirror, and yes, they exorcised me. I am sort of strangely proud of having been exorcised, as it was every bit as dramatic as you’re imagining. Unfortunately, even though it was then declared demon-free, the mirror was a source of fear for me and I threw it out immediately. Jesus claims another bit of my stuff.

The final thing that Jesus took was my copy of

The Demon Headmaster by Gillian Cross

This is a brilliant kid’s book, about a headmaster who uses his evil eyes to hypnotise an entire school into behaving well. I loved it, but once religion entered our household, my mom became very uncomfortable with the title and the subject matter. One day, I got home and the book was gone. My mom pleaded ignorance, citing a miracle. Jesus took it. I asked Jesus, via the power of prayer, and he told me that my mom probably threw it out. I still don’t know who to believe, frankly. The son of god, or the mother of me? One of them is a lying bastage. Either way, where’s my freaking book?

There were probably more things, but those are the three which have stuck in my mind, and which, as a rabid atheist, I resent more than 20 years later. Of course, this whole story is a fable about letting irrational beliefs and paranoia affect your judgement, but it’s also about how I have a score to settle with Jesus. He doesn’t know that the brownies I sent him are past their use-by-date…and that time I prayed for forgiveness for masturbating? HA! I DIDN’T MEAN IT!

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  1. Also, I totally had one of those Fighting Fantasy books (I cannot remember which one) and I read mine to tatters. Jesus owes you big time.

  2. Ha ha! Thanks :D

    I like I how neatly equate myself with god without doing a thing.

    My mom is still hilarious. The other day she quoted something profound to my sister and said “that was Jesus from the Bible”.

    As opposed to Jesus from the juice stand.

    My sister told her not to quote Jesus, and my mom replied “it doesn’t matter who said it!”.

    There’s only one answer to that…


  3. Great post Teek.

    I got saved by Elim Pentacostal types as a teen. It took a week for the guilt of not actually ‘feeling’ the presence of God to overcome me, and admit to my best friend (who took me there) that it wasn’t for me.

    I too had several of those books. I prided myself on drawing out maps of the forests and labyrinths and stuff, so I went through the books many times to try each path.

  4. A fairly similar thing happened to my Dungeons and Dragons books. Apparently they were attracting demons to the house. I also had a copy of Mage: The Ascension, which earned me a talk that started out with the phrase, “I looked up what a Mage was, and…” but I somehow got to keep the book.

  5. Fortunately my own British parent’s american style church wasn’t so bad and their faith was fairly constant throughout the time I remember living with them, preventing sudden freak-outs. My parents never stopped me getting anything, and had no idea quite how sexually explicit the sci fi books from the grown up section could get. Also, we didn’t have a computer, so the main reason for going to christian youth club was to play 4 player vs mode on goldeneye. If I ever visit the old church with the ‘rents then I still can’t get the idea of running around with guns to the the sound of the bond theme out of my head. Also, the new pastor looks like Gimli son of Gloin, which adds a whole new dimension.

  6. But Teek, what we really want to know is, did ya speak in tongues???

    I can be brought to tears thinking of the precious and wonderful vinyl LP’s that I tossed out in 1975 when the spaghetti was thrown in my face. Having that dried shit over your eyes really does screw up ones judgment. For some reason I always figured JC would understand the masturbating, because if that wasn’t an option suicide was surely a worse sin.

  7. …and that time I prayed for forgiveness for masturbating? HA! I DIDN’T MEAN IT!

    “I faked every epiphany!”

  8. In the US, they’re just called “Choose Your Own Adventure” books. Or at least, that was the most popular brand. There were hundreds of them published in the ’80s and ’90s. I probably had about 40 at one point. I actually think they’ve made a small comeback, and a new company is printing them now.

    I was lucky in that my parents were never the sorts to go in for religion. But my father’s family is another story. I learned years later that my Grandmother used to express concern that I was going to hell because I read so many sci-fi and fantasy novels, and played D&D. I guess she was thoughtful enough to not say it to my face.

  9. I’m 29 years old and my mother is one of those pentacostal wackos. I somehow find that brand of wackos to be a little more crazy. When I was 17(and teetering on the edge of ‘faith’, leaning towards the sane side) I accompanied my mother to some sort of pentacostal conference that was held not too far from us. That was a contributing factor that brought me to sanity. I couldn’t believe the amount of people who had the ‘holy spirit’ in them. They were convulsing and acting like idiots. The power of suggestion I suppose. The clincher was one of the ‘pastors’ kept asking for money like every 15 mins. He would say things like ‘We are looking for a min of $20’ and ‘The lord needs your money to continue his work’. Needless to say by the time I was 20 I knew where to stand and started my climb in the critical thinking department. Luckily for me jesus never stole anything because I never believed in the wackness that much. I guess I have my Father to thank for that!

  10. which earned me a talk that started out with the phrase, “I looked up what a Mage was, and…” but I somehow got to keep the book.

    So they looked up “mage” and somehow missed that it’s the same word as “magus”, three of which reportedly gave a bunch of stuff (though nothing as cool as a make-your-own-adventure book) to Jesus.

  11. @neverclear5, that reminds me of when I was in Young Life, a national Christian youth club, when I was in High School. I joined only because I liked a girl who was in it.

    During the first “social” meeting, we had a pool party. Everyone went skinny dipping. Naked teens repaired to various dark corners soon afterwards. This turned out to be the modus operandi for most of the social meetings that summer.

    During a week-long camp retreat in the Adirondack mountains, it was usually a race between the chaperons and the kids as to who could sneak away faster after lights-out for their various assignations.

    Honestly, there was way more hot nookie while I was surrounded by conservative Christians than at any other time in my life, before or since.

  12. I feel your pain; in 8th grade Jesus claimed all my Star Trek paraphernalia and Weird Al tapes.

    … hmm, maybe I only feel a shadow of your pain.

  13. Jesus never took my stuff, but he tried. On my 12th birthday my grandmother asked me if I would like presents or if I would like to donate the money to the Church.

    I replied “why don’t the pray to their god for money and just leave me out of it.”

  14. @mulveyr-

    That sounds a lot better than the few Young Life meetings I went to. The one I recall most clearly ended with a bunch of the jock guys ganging up on one of their friends and subjecting him to an atomic wedgie.

    I stopped going after that.

  15. Jesus took a notebook full of short stories that I had slaved over for months because they were “dark” and “depressing.”

    Not that they were any good… but they were mine, I was 11 and I have had a sore spot for JC ever since.

    My grandfather also told me that Star Trek was inherently evil because of the aliens. “The Bible doesn’t say anything about aliens… God didn’t make aliens… Aliens are evil tempters that make you think evil thoughts about progressive liberal lifestyles.”

    Guess I won’t invite him to my future Betazoid wedding.

  16. That was an excellent story Teek. And your last sentence made me laugh out loud. Jesus is going to be so steamed when he finds out!

    And where were these Fighting Fantasy books when I was a kid? I feel seriously deprived.

  17. Jeebus is an evil, evil man for taking those books. Steve Jackson is a much more deserving object your praise. He’s a ninja AND a pirate!

    Also, he made the game Space Pirate Amazon Ninja Catgirls. Very little is quite so fun as a rousing game of SPANC

  18. I went through the same thing in my teens. It’s remarkable that the same thing caused essentially the same reactions in all of us. It took me until my 30’s to mentally shake it all off. They never did get me to give up my Star Trek novels and ST:TNG, though.

  19. I actually rescued a bunch of D&D books from a Baptist-covert’s fire when I was 15 or so. Still have, them, too. Constant reminder of the bullet I dodged growing up where I did.

    Also, one of my crowning moments as an athlete. Southern Baptists don’t take kindly to teenagers making off with their kindling.

  20. My heart weeps for the fate of your Jackson & Livingstone books. Makes the resentment I feel towards my mum for giving my collection to Oxfam when I moved out seem a little petty in comparison. Still burning with righeous anger over the fate of my teddy bear though…

  21. This is the most depressing topic ever (besides mulveyr’s story). I can’t even immagine growing up a fundi.

    I grew up learning about how cool dinosaurs were, and in the middle of the big debate about how they died. I remember seeing the books change over the years from “we dunno, uh, maybe they all got sick?” to “here’s the evidence for an impact event.”
    To have all that and more, everything really, replaced with “God did it…”

    …. and it’s still happening to so many people trapped in these narrow minded belief systems.

    It makes me angry, and I didn’t even go through it myself.

  22. *delurk*
    Jesus never stole my stuff, but he stole a lot of my partner’s stuff. His Greyskull castle, She-Ra’s castle , and his Smurfs bedset and toys. Everything deemed to violent for him, Jesus took.
    The only thing Jesus didn’t take was a bag of weed. I mean, Jesus is a total stoner, so he tried. But my partner went to his mom, and demanded his weed or his money back. Surprisingly, she did return the weed.

  23. Wonderful story. Always nice to hear a Christian turned Atheist story that doesn’t involve the back seat of a Cadillac and a Preacher’s unwanted advances.

    I’ve always wondered how one becomes a “rabid atheist”. Were you bitten by an atheist raccoon?

  24. My experience is that a lot of rabid atheists are former rabid Christians. I guess the rabies just sticks around regardless.

    Me, I was a “Christmas and Easter” Christian and now I’m a “Christmas and Easter” atheist.

  25. Huh. I thought that belief didn’t cost you anything. Could the perfectly logical Pascal’s Wager actually be… *gasp!* wrong?

  26. I’m pretty sure that I stopped being Christian when my Crazy Aunt Nancy discovered that I was playing Dungeons & Dragons and started to be “concerned” that I was getting involved in Satanism.

    To me, it made absolutely no sense. I mean … I played a PALADIN! I wielded a +5 Holy Avenger! All of those demons and devils that my Aunt was concerned about me hanging out with? Yeah, those were the things that I fought AGAINST on a regular basis. So I set out to PROVE that D&D was not Satanic, and discovered … a whole new level of Christian fundamentalist that I never knew existed. It was scary. The Anti-D&D articles I found in Christian magazines and newspapers was astounding.

    Okay, so I didn’t become an atheist that day, but it seriously caused me to question some of the beliefs that these +5 Holy Rollers held dearly. It still boggles my mind.

  27. Jesus taking my stuff definitely helped me move out of Christianity as a teen. While there were no bonfires involved and my mother gave me all my stuff back after I graduated from college (and she was like ‘why do I have books on feminism in my gun cabinet’), there was the addition of lots of peer pressure to get rid of Satan’s books and music.

  28. My experience is that a lot of rabid atheists are former rabid Christians. I guess the rabies just sticks around regardless.

    There is no more sincere advocate than the convert; there is no more vehement detractor than the apostate.

  29. I actually went through years of calling myself Agnostic, and still think that’s the logical position. We can’t know either way, and although it’s more likely that there is no god, and there is no evidence for the existence of one, it’s not entirely sensible to insist that there isn’t. However, I have enough residual anger about my own phase of religion and enough annoyance at the meddling of fundies today to throw caution to the wind and label myself Atheist. It’s a political statement more than anything, a stick-my-neck-out-fuck-you to the people who think their pet beliefs earn them more rights or the right to tell others what to do, how to think and how to live.

    Right on!

    I’m fascinated by how many people had similar experiences. Jesus must have one hell of an eBay store.

  30. I burned my first copy of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Have I written about that here?

    I’d read the whole set cover to cover more times than I’d read the Bible so that had to be evil. Plus it had magic and wizards, obviously tools of the devil. I had no idea that the author was a Christian and good friends with C.S. Lewis!

  31. Calling yourself an agnostic is so weak. Of course you’re agnostic if you’re a skeptic; that goes without saying. When it’s mentioned to someone else, though, they say, “oh that’s nice.” When you say that you’re an atheist, they just say, “oh.” Then there’s a chance for a dialogue, instead of them just thinking that you’re one of those “not religious but spiritual” people.

  32. I think it can come down to whether you are ready to make a stand.

    Agnosticism can be protective coloration against the overwhelming numbers of evangelicals around you. I’ve also found that evangelicals have a lot of wrong views about atheists/humanists that are fed to them at church to keep them safely in the flock with the rest of the sheeple.

    I call myself a secular humanist, but I rarely tell the religious that until they know me fairly well. They are shocked that I’m so easygoing, easy to talk to, polite, don’t have horns and a tail, don’t eat aborted fetuses for breakfast, etc. It really confuses them. I’m not what they were told to expect.

    What really bothers me about what organized religion is that I carry a lot of regrets for the missed opportunities of my younger life. It sometimes fills me with anger and depair for the things that I might have done.

    I was raised Catholic and then was “converted.” As a lapsed Catholic, I was all too ready to be “saved,” as I had already figured out that Catholicism was a bunch of hooey. They lost me with concepts like papal infallibility and holy deception.

    While I was in the fundamentalist web, I passed up many things that I am now too old to experience. There was so much disapproval around me that I was cowed into submission. I would have made a lot of decisions differently if I had been more interested in “What Should Gregg Do” instead of “WWJD.”

    I’ve devoted a lot of thinking to this and I’ve concluded that people that say that they have no regrets in life probably haven’t examined their life at all. Aristotle said that the unexamined life is not worth the living, and I think that he had something there.

    Some of us carry more regrets than others because after escaping the fundamentalist mindset, we look back and see what we missed – some of the things we missed would have been unwise to experience perhaps, but how else to gain some kinds of wisdom except to make the mistakes? You can’t learn all of life’s wisdom by observing other’s mistakes…some mistakes you have to make on your own and muddle through them. That’s how character is built.

    I apologise if I sound like I’m on a soapbox- I get the impression that I’m probably old enough to be the Dad of many of this board’s members.

    I’ll go back to my cave now….

  33. people that say that they have no regrets in life probably haven’t examined their life at all.

    …or they did have a threesome with Famke Janssen and Kate Beckinsale. If you have regrets in a life that included that, there’s no pleasing you.

  34. I had a ton of those Fighting Fantasy books, I read them before I got into computer RPGs. I found them in those little second hand book shops that are full of old cheap paperbacks that smell weird when you open them. I don’t think I paid more than $2 for any of them :D

  35. “We can’t know either way, and although it’s more likely that there is no god, and there is no evidence for the existence of one, it’s not entirely sensible to insist that there isn’t.”

    i think that’s the best way i’ve heard it put. because while there is no evidence for the existence of a god, that lack of evidence doesn’t prove that there is not a god.

    back to the subject, i’ve lost my chance at some life experiences because i was raised catholic and my friend’s father was a die-hard christian. we quit playing d&d because of him, as well as magic. i started playing d&d and magic again because i understand now that they’re not evil and i like to think about things for myself before i believe what someone tells me. i think it’s silly to call something evil just because it’s based upon fantasy and has mention of demons and magic. i’ve always been sort of indifferent towards the whole religious thing. i used to call myself a christian and my parents never pressured me one way or the other, which is something i can really appreciate now that i’m older. i’d like to think i’m a budding skeptic, but you’ll all have to bear with me as i’m in a “not really sure what to believe or think” stage at the moment.

    oh, and please ignore my lack of capitalization. i know it’s silly, but i’m just too lazy to reach over for the shift key. ^_^

  36. I’m always interested in the stories of de-conversion, as I’ve never heard the call myself. Neither of my parents are religious, and I spent my formative years on the Navajo res, were many of my classmates were still fairy traditional.

    But one of my classmates was from a born again family, and drifted in and out of how seriously he took it. We used to play alot of D&D (and he cheated alot). Then one day he threw it all away, and all his music too.

    Now I can understand someone who doesn’t actually know anything about D&D thinking it’s satanic, but I’ve never understood how anyone could believe that after playing it for so long.

  37. I’m an atheist. Aborted fetuses are yummy! (Can we make this a bumper sticker??)

    Also, Jesus didn’t steal my stuff… though he did make me feel guilty about the whole sex and masturbation thing early on, which kind of sucks. I became a raging sex-fiend in college (as is the norm, I suppose)… so, I guess I win!

    Me: 1, Jesus: 0

  38. “During the first “social” meeting, we had a pool party. Everyone went skinny dipping. Naked teens repaired to various dark corners soon afterwards. This turned out to be the modus operandi for most of the social meetings that summer.”

    OK, now I feel ripped off. Since I’m from a not religious family, I got shipped off to regular summer school every year, and usually in the worst neighborhoods in San Diego. So I could get beaten up by children of all races and creeds.

  39. Beat this one: My uber-christian mother told me that slavery is in the bible, and since god viewed it as neither good nor bad, it’s ok to have slaves for a little bit. Oh, and the moment I balked, mother says “If you think slavery is wrong and god doesn’t, then you’re saying you’re better than god!” Since my mom is presumably psychotic and she doesn’t know that I’m atheist, this was a pickle of a place for me to be in. Approve of slavery, or admit being atheist to overbearing parent. I pointed behind her, said “Look, it’s Jesus!” and ran off. Can’t fight madness with reason.

  40. Yeah, Ozzygirl…you should have pointed out the book of Job and asked if you and your sister could do anything to, uh, help out with the family.

  41. Damn, this is sad. During MY religious insanity, I got rid of a shelf-full of classic Peanuts comics books, about a dozen books of Andy Capp (just TRY finding those in America anymore), and a number of other childhood treasures. Including my beloved Zacherle record. *sigh!*

  42. Shalom Auslander said it best, I think. I shall elaborate:

    Once upon a time, there was a man named Job. He was a perfect and upright man. A righteous and loving man. He was a priest to his family, always praying for them and making sacrifices for them, just in case.

    One day, the Celestial Prosecuting Attourney lays on a dollar bet with God. And so, God reaches out and touches Job. First, He slays all his servants and plunders his cattle and flocks. No workers, no camels to bear goods to market, no goats or sheep, so no clothes, milk, or meat. No livelihood. Job is financially wiped out.

    But this is not enough for HaShem– He slays all of Job’s children. During a party. The boys and girls his wife bore him. Whom he doted on. Whom he raised, and loved, and cared for. Whom he fed and clothed, and stayed up with at night when they were ill. All dead.

    But even this isn’t enough for the Master of the Universe: He reaches out and touches Job’s body. He smites him with a disease so terrible, he is in constant pain, covered with deep-seated, supperating pustules, barely able to move. He smells so awful, he sits in the place where refuse is burned.

    Job’s wife begs him to committ suicide. His friends are utterly struck dumb at poor Job’s plight. All anyone can do is sit and suffer.

    And from this pit of utter despair and pain and misery, Job raises his voice and asks, plaintively, “Why?”

    And God hears Job, and He comes down to him, and He takes him by the throat and says “Whoo the fuck do you think you are to question Me, you insolent little shit?!”

    This is God.


    –And notice Job’s reaction? “Oh, I’msorryI’msorryI’msorryIdidn’tmeanitI’msobad!”

    That’s us.


  43. Whoa, Teek! Good post. Guess I should be happy I was raised in a middle-of-the road Protestant household. Bad enough, but I never had to toss anything for Jesus. Of course, my Mom did trash an entire collection of ’50s/’60s comic books after I’d moved out because she figured I’d never want them . . . argghh!

  44. whitebird: eek, I’m the only girl out of 4 kids. Send my brothers out instead! :D

    “And God hears Job, and He comes down to him, and He takes him by the throat and says “Whoo the fuck do you think you are to question Me, you insolent little shit?!” -Nicely put lol

  45. Here’s a fun and crazy one. My mom said the Chronicles of Narnia were satanic and took those books away from me right after I brought them home from the used book store.

    Then she gave a book of Greek Mythology instead.

    If that sounds confusing now, imagine trying to make sense of that at 8 years old.

  46. Teek,

    You said that HayZeus is a “lying bastage.” This is not, technically, correct.

    He’s is, as we all know, a “Fargin lying bastage somma-na-batch ice-hole,” as described by the prophet Roman Moronie in the Book of Johnny Dangerously.

    And, sadly enough, he probably pawned your shit to Baal.

  47. Yes, yes, tongues. And plenty of that ‘raising your hands to heaven’ euphoria crap, too.

    And yes, I was aware that I was making up the tongues as I went along. I can still do it, although mass hysteria helps.

  48. YOU???

    I didn’t know they had this phenomenon outside of America!

    I just can’t picture a rockin’ ecstatic C of E service like that.

    Heh. HM falling out and speaking in tongues. Heheheheheheheheheheh…!

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