Battlepanda: Baptism stories


Always trying to figure things out with the minimum of bullshit and the maximum of belligerence.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Baptism stories

Philip Baron at Waveflux tells the story of his baptism. It's an eerily familiar tale to me, since I also grew up in a Baptist church.
I came to dread those Sundays that featured actual church service not just because time ground to a halt, but because of the call to redemption, the moment in each service when the good reverend would descend from the pulpit to stand before the pews, arms outstretched in welcome, all while the choir sang of penitence.

Just as I am, and waiting not
To rid my soul of one dark blot,
To Thee whose blood can cleanse each spot,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come!

And the congregation watched. Even while it sang, it watched, the communal eye fixed on some young man or woman old enough to make the decision for Christ. Would this be the day? Sometimes it was: the young adult would take those faltering steps up the aisle to be embraced by the pastor and held up, amid hosannas and praise, as a lamb returned to the flock.


Often, however, the call was not answered. On such occasions, the pastor would lower his arms, always looking a bit disappointed, and return to the pulpit as the hymns died away. This moment always filled me with relief as the suspension of time seemed now lifted and I might get home in time for kickoff. There was another element to my relief, however, surely more keenly felt by those a bit older than me: they knew that they had evaded God's spotlight, the laying bare of the self before judgment, the terror of the call. But sooner or later, they all answered - unless they dropped out of church altogether. The stare of the communal eye simply could not be resisted.
That's exactly how I remember it, right down to the hymn that was sung during the altar call.

My own baptism story, however, does not end with my being hit with the flying head from a ball peen hammer. I think the end of my baptism story is equally amusing, though.

You see, I forgot to bring a pair of dry underwear to change into after the baptism ceremony. So after my baptism, I returned to the Sunday night service, going commando.