The Savage Price Of Piety

One of the great things about having adult children is when they share the music they listen to or the books they read or the things that make ’em happy. They grow up good if you don’t kill ’em. Which brings me to the song of the day: Poor Isaac by The Airborne Toxic Event.

See, it all started with Spotify and a shared playlist. Poor Isaac was on it and my son wasn’t sure if I would like it because it’s kinda rock and roll and I am not so much. But its a freaking amazing song and got me thinking about the story of Abraham and Isaac, the highlights of which I remember from Sunday school.

God told Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac, as a test of faith or loyalty or whatevs. Sacrifice as in stab to death. Murder. And here’s the kicker-Abraham agreed to do it. Can you even imagine? I found this so shocking as a young child that I asked one of my parents if they would kill me if God said to, hoping they would say of course not. Instead, they explained that since Jesus died on the cross, sacrifices were no longer required. Not sheep or goats or children. God would never ask them to sacrifice me, so no worries. I could be thankful to Jesus for that lucky escape. Obviously, the penalties for murdering your child because a voice in your head tells you to are more severe now than they were back in ol’ Abraham’s day, but I didn’t know that.

Just when I think I’ve turned over all the stones… anyway, it’s a great song and I hope you will give it a listen. Also, if your kids have made it to adulthood like mine have, track them down and hug them tight, one more time.
rock band - copy

Once more:

Poor Isaac

Exposure On Ex-Christian.net

ExChristian.net was the very first place I ever published. The encouragement I got from the readers (some of whom became friends) is why I wrote this book. So grateful.

The ExChristian website is a safe place to tell your story and to encourage others.  I had no idea how many people could relate to my experiences until I found them there. It was life-changing.

http://new.exchristian.net/2019/01/the-uncomfortable-confessions-of.html

 

YAY! A Review!

Reviews of The Uncomfortable Confessions Of A Preacher’s Kid are rolling in! I am excited to share what Valerie Tarico (author of Trusting Doubt) has to say:

“Caught between the archaic religious dictates of her Pentecostal family and the complexities of the world outside, Ronna Russell fights for survival and more in The Uncomfortable Confessions of a Preacher’s Kid. Loneliness, raw sexuality, unexpected kindness and cruelty, and through it all an understated endurance with solid granite at the core, Russell’s memoir is alternately hard, hungry, raw, and tender–like sex and love and parenthood and simply being. I sat down to read the first chapter on a busy day and instead read straight through.” 

I am beyond grateful to the busy authors who have taken the time to read and review my memoir and will share their reviews over the next few weeks.

The Uncomfortable Confessions Of a Preacher’s Kid, release date April 4, 2019, is AVAILABLE FOR PREORDER at a 15% discount directly from the publisher.

The Uncomfortable Confessions of a Preacher's Kid full cover

 

 

Deconstructing My Religion – CBS News

The show looks at what happens when people have doubts about the faith tradition in which they were raised, and how the sharing of personal stories can be a means to heal from spiritual trauma.
— Read on www.cbsnews.com/video/deconstructing-my-religion/

A Braided Chain

When I was a kid, Dad always had a new car. This time it was a long, cool, blue Oldsmobile with brand new technology-an 8 track cassette player. A cassette of sinful radio hits was included, forbidden music I couldn’t wait to hear.

As we cruised along, noses full of new car smell, Dad popped the illicit tape into the player, probably in order to stop my begging. I kneeled in the back seat, head shoved into the rear deck, as Brandy floated into my ear. I could see her fine, silver necklace and her long, brown braids. I had confused the braided chain of her necklace with her hair. Don’t judge me, I had long, brown braids and had already merged myself into Brandy.

I could see the eyes of the red-bearded sailor she loved and the warm whiskey and wine glow. The scene created itself, spooling out of my six year old brain, as the road pulled away outside the rear window. I felt Brandy’s longing for a man who couldn’t stay, even though he knew she would be a good wife, and the mist of the seaport air. I hoped Brandy was safe while she walked home alone, in the dim light of the harbor. The stone streets were wet with recent rain.

I am telling you this was a detailed daydream. And they used to wonder why it was so hard to get my attention sometimes. As soon as my parents noticed my fixation, the tape disappeared, of course. The struggle to keep me focused on church music was real.

Sitting in a bar last night, listening to the best blues singer I’ve ever heard anywhere, suddenly Little Steve O was singing my song. The visuals my child brain created banged back into existence in an instant. I still remember every word to that song. How could I forget? I didn’t think about the fascinating effect of music on a child’s brain, but I did close my eyes and sing along, transported to another place by his haunting vocals and waves of guitar riffs.

Side note: The Red Hot Chili Peppers also did an excellent rendition of Brandy.

This Place Feels Sticky

I remembered something.  There was this weird thing that happened to me a lot in the Pentecostal church, so it must have happened to others, too. Maybe it happened to me more often since I ran wild on bible college campuses as a child. I don’t know.

Men would offer to be my boyfriend.  They would call me their girlfriend in intimate and flirtatious ways and pretend to want to date me. I usually knew they were not serious, but to have the attention of grown men as a ten or twelve year old girl was confusing and head-turning stuff.

Now I know their words were sexual predation. Grooming, if you will.  Had any of those men, most only eighteen or nineteen themselves, some older, had a more nefarious bent and tried to corner me in a dark room, I would have complied.  I would not have thought to resist.

As #MeToo moments go, being noticed in sexually or romantically suggestive ways by men is “not that bad.” I was never raped, have no violence to report, no molestation, no physical contact, except for that once, but I knew no one would believe me. And yet… I remember them all.

My value as a human was defined from day one by my appearance and my sexual value.  “You’re going to be beautiful when you grow up,” they would say, with a glance up and down, while everything sexual was condemned and shamed within the cult of the United Pentecostal Church.  Sex education was non-existent, information forbidden, genitals unnamed, normal developmental desires were an unspeakable sin punishable by the fires of hell. They were not joking.

Add in the Biblical philosophy of the second class nature of women and the demand for their submission, acquiescence, and silence.  The female body was vile and a dangerous threat; our shoulders and kneecaps an abomination to the eye, designed to tempt unwitting men. Scriptures seemed to be full of stories of women whose offense was to be curious or smart or beautiful (Eve, Lot’s wife, Jezebel) and they were always killed or banished for their infractions. Jezebel had the audacity to decorate herself and so was fed to dogs. Her story was a little more complicated than that, but the Sunday School literature blamed it on makeup and jewelry.

But, still, be pretty. Be pretty and wait to get laid by your future husband, a man of god who will pick you to have his children and play his piano. The scrutiny of every detail of females’ appearance played into this culture of sexualization, even of children. Our only value was sexual; our sexuality was also our shame. What a twisted fucking message.

In defense of those males, except for that one who knew better, they were victims of the same culture. I doubt any of them gave a second thought to the things they said to the Bible college campus child-pet and would probably be horrified to have their words marked as predatory or even inappropriate. Who knows what they got out of it.

“A woman’s body always stands on the outskirts of town, verging on uncivilization. A thin paper gown is all that separates it from the wilderness. Half of its whole being is devoted to remembering how to live in the woods. This is why Witch, this is why Whore, this is why Unlucky and this is why Unclean. This is why attempts to govern the female body always have the feeling of a last resort, because the female body is fundamentally ungovernable.”   —from Priestdaddy, a memoir by Patrick Lockwood

Of all of the books I’ve read that I wish I had written, this is the one I wish I had written the most.