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October 1, 2013 / MissSteele

Be Sure to Leave that Door Open for the Devil

church

While I am not a go-to-church-every-Sunday type of gal, I have visited several of them in my life. I don’t consider myself a “devout” person, but many of my friends hail from religious families who were rigid with their Sunday morning attendance, so I often tagged along after sleepovers and whatnot.

It was fine most of the time, except when the minister decided to call me out in front of the sanctuary so he could have the “visitor introduce herself” to everyone in the room. Or the days when the preacher decided to quite literally scare the Hell out of anyone in the room by spouting off his interpretations of the apocalypse. The idea of Hell Hounds and face-eating locusts are pretty terrifying to an 8-year-old.

Like I said, I have been to several different churches, and while they are all similar, none of them are quite the same. One of my friends went to a gigantic church we referred to as “Six Flags Over Jesus” because the sanctuary was as big as an amusement park. They seriously had people driving golf carts around the parking lot to pick people up because their cars were most likely sitting in a different zip code, and they could be eaten by wild bears before they reached the entrance if they had to trek the journey on foot. Naturally, a church like this was pretty entertaining to a child because I got to essentially sit in a concert arena while I watched the choir shimmy and shake on the jumbo screens. It even had a laser light show at one point. Yes, this church had pizzazz and flash. It was the Elton John of churches, minus the glittery tuxedo.

While that church was massive and deserved its own area code, I have also been to a church so small that it only had seven regular members, including the minister, and it was only a little bigger than a backyard shed. They baptized their members in a creek nearby and sang only a Capella because there was no room for a piano. It was a far cry from the glamour of the other church, but it was actually kind of nice in comparison. It wasn’t showboaty. It felt authentic.

While I have had some great church experiences, I’ve had some pretty terrible ones as well. One of my closest friends has Pentecostal grandparents, and they would often beg her to go to church with them because they were worried about her soul. She wore pants and wanted to go to college, so they were pretty much convinced she had been possessed by a demonic creature. Naturally, she invited me to go with her so she didn’t have to suffer through it alone.

I begrudgingly went, and it was pretty much one of the most bizarre things I’ve ever seen in my life. First of all, we walked in a couple of minutes late, which is always fabulous because people stare at you like you just lopped someone’s head off with an ax on the way inside. Her family hurriedly rushed to grab some seats in the pew, while my friend and I were left to awkwardly search for some spare seating. As we stood in the doorway, the sun beaming through the doors down the aisle and interrupting the beginning hymn, her grandmother demanded in a stern whisper, “Kerri, shut that door!”

Before either one of us could turn around to shut the door, the slightly-larger-than-John-Goodman preacher, who was slouched over in his chair on the stage, suddenly jumped onto his feet and burned a hole through us with his eyes. “LEAVE THAT DOOR OPEN!” he screamed as he pointed with ferocity to the doors. “SO THE DEVIL CAN COME IN AND WE CAN KICK HIM OUT!”

Then, the crowd literally went wild. The church-goers began to jump up and down with glee as the preacher began stomping around on stage, his belly jiggling with each roaring bible verse. He was  screaming into the microphone until he was tomato-red in the face and the vein in his neck was protruding so far I thought it was going to impale the piano player. The women hiked their skirts up and started running laps around the sanctuary as he continued to belt out holy screams. The men were falling to the floor and waiving their hands in the air like they were drowning and trying to signal a lifeguard.These people were acting like they were the studio audience during an Oprah’s Favorite Things episode and they were getting a free pair of Ugg boots and a $150 bath robe.

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Kerri and I both stared at each other with deer-in-the-headlights looks, not knowing what to do next. I kept turning around expecting to see the Devil creeping up behind me with a pitch fork, and here I was just holding the door open for him. Why, hello! Come in, welcome. Take a program, Satan. Have a seat. By this point, I was terrified. I wasn’t sure what exactly was happening. Why are they running? I’m not really dressed for cardio… Just then, the robust lady on the piano started slamming her hands onto the keys and yelling “Jesus!” after everything the preacher would declare. Sometimes, she would say “Amen!” and throw her head back into the air like she was pretending to be Stevie Wonder. I thought for sure they were going to bring out the snakes at any moment.

The minister was now drenched in sweat, so he ripped off his suit jacket like he was auditioning for Chip n’ Dales and angrily threw it on the ground. “LET THE DEVIL TRY AND TAKE US!” he roared as he pointed to the ground. “I SAY LET HIM TRY!”

At this point, I was concerned for the minister. He looked like he was struggling to breathe. I was a little afraid he was going to fall to his knees and his heart was going to burst in his chest like a water balloon. But, he didn’t stop for a minute. “THAT DEVIL!” he shouted as he pointed to the door. “HE WILL TRY TO TAKE YOU! HE WANTS TO DRAG YOU TO HELL AND MAKE YOU BURN IN THAT FIERY LAKE! AND HE WILL SUCCEED IF YOU LET HIM!”

Is he pointing at me? My 13-year-old self had pants full of terror shits because I was convinced the Devil was lurking behind the corner, waiting to grab me and drag me to Hell because I didn’t know how to stop him. I thought- Maybe that’s why they are all running…so he can’t catch up to them. By that time, the preacher was leaping from the stage and getting up in people’s faces with his microphone like a WWE wrestler performing an introductory skit. You know, for a guy with a flabbier build than Santa Clause, he sure could move quickly. I thought- Please don’t come over here to me.

JESUS

After a good half hour of standing next to the doorway and witnessing this madness, I looked over at Kerri and asked, “So…should we shut the doors?”

“Nah,” she said. “Let’s go sit in the lobby. I don’t think anyone will notice.”

So, we crept backwards until we were out of sight, and left them to their own devices. In the lobby, we could still hear his shouts of salvation and the tone-deaf woman whaling on the piano right along side of him.  We just sat there with our backs against the wall, staring out into the parking lot in silence. I think we were both secretly watching for the Devil, making sure he wasn’t rolling up in a minivan or something.

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6 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. Aunt Shey / Oct 2 2013 1:29 am

    LMAO

    • MissSteele / Oct 2 2013 1:32 pm

      It’s all fun and games till the Devil shows up.

  2. snoogiefisk / Oct 2 2013 1:50 pm

    I like it when the old ladies get “filled with the holy ghost” and run around the pews while “speaking in tongues”. This is especially fun for the children. Nuttin’ like seeing Grandma do the Exorcist!

    • MissSteele / Oct 2 2013 1:53 pm

      Yeah, I’m sure there were a few of those there that day, but they were lost in the midst of madness, so I didn’t see any. But, you better believe I’m glad I didn’t. That would have scarred me even more I believe.

      • snoogiefisk / Oct 2 2013 1:59 pm

        My Mother was married to a Pentecostal Preacher for a long time before finally coming to her senses. He was a true fruitcake. I keep hitting the undo button but I just can’t get that crap out of my head. I think I could write a book about the crazy shit they do.

      • MissSteele / Oct 2 2013 6:33 pm

        Yeah, it was a bizarre experience to say the least. I bet you could write a book! I would definitely read it if you did! lol

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