It’s Sunday, revival time at the Baptist church. I don’t like it much, but the punch and cookies are good, that is if I can hold my patience until the end when all the “amen-ing” is done.
I stuff those cookies in my mouth two at a time. “Gracious me, Cono,” says Mrs. Allridge, “looks like you ain’t eaten anything for a month.”
Almost every time I get to one of those revivals, the grownups say, “Cono, don’t you want to be saved?”
“From what?” I say.
“Why the Devil hisself,” they say and then they add a bunch of amen’s to go along with it.
Unless they’re thinking about my Dad being the Devil, I just say, “No thank you.”
“But what are you waitin for? We could baptize you right now and all your sins would be forgiven and you would have eternal life.”
As far as sinning goes, I guess I’ve done my fair share of it, Amen.
“What’s eternal mean?” I ask.
“Well, it means you’ll live forever with Jesus right next to you.”
I picture Jesus standing right next to me, while I was thunk, thunk, thunkin’ on a woodpile forever and ever into eternity. And it doesn’t appeal to me one iota. Last year when we lived with Aunt Nolie, I didn’t have much chopping to do. But now, I have to chop all the time, Chop, chop to make sure Mother has enough wood for the cookstove at the Tourist Court. Chop, chop so Dad won’t lay into me.
Anyway, I’ve heard stories about how some churches take a poor person’s last dime, so they can put more gold up by the Jesus statue. Then, a penny-less old woman with only one shoe and five starving children crawls away with her head all covered up, as if she’s ashamed of being broke.
It doesn’t make no sense to me whatsoever. It seems to me that Jesus would want you to keep most of your money, so you don’t have to starve and die and can at least make it to church to pray. What gets me is watching them churchgoers and knowing that they talk all big about Jesus, but when they get home, they just keep doing their sinning anyway, like they’d forgotten every word they’d learned.
Maybe all you have to do is say you believe in Jesus and then you’ll be saved no matter how you act. But what do I know? I ain’t been saved yet.
Excerpt from No Hill for a Stepper by C. Dennis-Willingham