Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Fruit II - Sermonus Interruptus - Irreverent as I can make it....

When Nanner was just a young peach, not yet ripe and full, she was a very sweet little girl, who always did as she was told (shut up). She attended Sunday School and church services with her grandparents at Tinney’s Freewill Baptist Church and on occasion she attended Sunday evening services. This is where our story begins... Jeeezu Keerist, who the hell was that? Never mind. Anyway, yes I was attending church services with my Mamaw and Papaw, here known as ... well... Mamaw and Papaw. My grandparents were well respected members of the congregation and my Papaw served on the Board of Directors for a long time. (They’re actually naming a new wing of the church after him.) I guess you could say, among other things, I did tend to be very smart and perhaps a wee bit precocious (smartass) in those days. I’ve since outgrown that. My Sunday School teacher was a lady who lived down the lane from me and I did like her very much and do to this day. Her daughters were both snobby, spoiled bitches though and the blonde one couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket. (Remember... Jesus commanded: Love each other... I’m trying OKAY?) Now, the Sunday School lesson of the day was... What is the fruit of a Chreeestean? That’s "Christian" in WV speak... m’kay? Now being the precocious (smartass) child that I was, I spent a lot of time sitting up straight and following along in my little Precious Child And Holy Hymns Of The Baptist And Beyond All Others, Especially Catholics, Shall Rot In Hell book which was guaranteed to force feed Chreeestean ideologies as surely as squeezing my nose together would eventually make me open my mouth. I do remember that I had questioned my teacher about something pertaining to our lesson about fruits and Chreeesteans and so forth. I remember her giving me a stern look and reeling off scripture like a square dance caller.... "And Jeeezus said, if you think they hate you, well by God, they hated me first, now step to your left and promenade..." As things go I don’t recall much about the Sunday morning sermon because it took all my energy not to fall asleep in the over-heated sanctuary and have my Mamaw poke me with her extremely sharp elbow, which would have made me jump, and would have awakened at least four or five people on the other side of me. That evening however, was a different matter entirely. Without many small children in the congregation to scare with his fiery Baptist antics, Preacher Fleetwood could get a good one going. Now, your sweet, precocious (smartass) Nanner was sitting on the front pew of Tinney’s Freewill Baptist Church, swinging her feet, and looked quite innocent with her big blue eyes and Dorothy Hamill ‘do as Brother Fleetwood kicked the tires and lit the fires of brimstone and salvation. Brother Fleetwood was stern man and I didn’t really much care for him. He seemed normal as he stood behind the pulpit but the further he worked himself out, the worse he became. He used some sort of hair stuff to give him a flattened Oral Roberts look but if he moved around too much, unlike Brother Oral, that hair stuff would feel the spirit and leave Brother Fleetwood brushing his greasy hair out of his eyes like a convict on a chain gang. Brother Fleetwood didn’t just move out from behind the pulpit, oh no, Brother Fleetwood took to the floor... right in front of yours truly. There were two steps leading from the floor to the pulpit and he spent at least half of an hour on each before staggering my way. During this time, I had heard him ask, "What is the fruit of a Chreeestean?" Oh, maybe half a dozen times. The Oral Roberts gel has seen the light and sweat and Brother Fleetwood is brushing his hair from his eyes, and then holding his hands out in front of him, shaking and baking with the power of the Holy Ghost, preachin’ and praisin’, and basically irritating the fuck out of me because he kept asking "What is the fruit of a Chreeestean?" By now... Brother Fleetwood is standing almost directly in front of me as he launches into the pinnacle of his sermon. He’s pounding his fist in his hand, agitating like a washer, red-faced, hair falling down, sweat dripping, bellowing like an auctioneer at the Pearly Gates.... "Now I wanna know... I wanna know... what is the fruit of a Chreeestean? The Bible saaaaays that we must bear fruit and that we are the fruit of Jeeeezus. Yoooouuuuu have been chooosen by Jeeeezus to bear fruit and I wanna knoooooow what is the fruit of a Chreeeestean? And Jeeezus saaaaid to looooove each other as I have looooooved youuuu! Now I wanna knoooooooow WHHHAT IS THE FRUIT OF A CHREEESTEAN?" I don’t know about ya’ll but I was done. Just done. I figured by then that nobody else in the congregation had paid attention in Sundeeeee Schuuuullll and it was up to me to answer his damn question so he would shut the fuck up and stop spraying spit and sweat all over me. "A-nother Chreeestean!" *Silence* Brother Fleetwood stared at me. If he had been a balloon he would have gone... "pffffffffeeeeeefffffffeeeeeeeeeeeeettttthhhuuuupppp" all over the room. *Gulp* Then I heard my grandfather say, "Amen," and a smattering of "amens" came from around the congregation and as Brother Fleetwood turned, my Mamaw knuckled me in the back of the head and hissed, "Don’t speak up during the sermon." "But he asked..." "Hush up." "Yes, Mamaw." It was truly a religious experience.
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