My earliest memories of the religion begin somewhere around the age of three or four, because I recall leading the ‘pack' around the yard on an ‘explore' of some sort. It was a hot summer day. Our small town was always quiet. We saw few visitors at our home, for that matter even on our block. I happened upon a large black four door sedan parked on the edge of our lawn, as the streets were curbless and narrow. Sitting behind the wheel was a man, whom I would later come to know as Raymond, a kindly gentleman, who some months later would dance a 'soft-shoe' in our kitchen.
I said something to my siblings about the car not belonging there. When I turned to the door, my mother was just saying her goodbyes to Velma who was holding a black book and a large purse, which later I came to understand was a ‘book-bag'. She and mom were discussing matters of which I have no recollection. I do recall though, that we three children hovered about her skirt as she prepared to leave, and I smelled a particularly pleasant perfume. This is a nice lady, was my first impression. She further impressed all of us by pulling some chewing gum from her bag and giving us each a piece. She left Mom literature of some sort, retrieved from the same bag, and clearly with some questions. (This sentence isn't clear. Who, your mom or the lady or what, the literature had some questions? If your mom was left with questions the sentence could read, "Retrieved from the same bag, Velma left literature with Mom, who clearly had questions.) This woman would become a major influence in my life, and the religion she was peddling would become my own.
Now, some fifty years later, those memories remain among a small cluster of my earliest, and I suppose in some respects, my most bitter-sweet recollections. It took me most of those fifty years to understand that this day represented the beginning of a very strong mind-capture that has taken a lifetime to break.
I write this book, after hopefully putting the majority of my anger behind me. My efforts are focused on how I was robbed by this religion, and mentally imprisoned by it. I spent decades putting life on hold, waiting for an elusive reward promised I thought, by God, reiterated a thousand times by the very literature my mother held in her hands. My mother died believing it - I will not! I now understand that reward will never come - it was just delusion. Delusion robs us of reality and irreplaceable time taken in its pursuit.
It would be nice if one or two people read these words and find some value in my experience. It would be grand if one or two use them as a springboard to discovery that will also free them from what I view as religious irons. But it is also written because I can! I have discovered freedom to have my own opinions and express them.
These experiences, and my discovery of the fraud that captured my life, may also find an audience among others held in captivity by religious delusion of slightly different varieties. These are the memories of, and the tale of escape, of a Soul Shackled.
Jeff, this is just a quick run through...haven't had my coffee yet. A professor in my favorite writing class underlined every sentence I wrote in my first assignment for her. She circled words and filled the margins with scribbled suggestions and questions about what I had to say in that paper. It was three pages long, and I was crestfallen to see all of the red marks on it until I saw she gave me an "A" on the last page. I asked her, "If this is an 'A' paper, do you set 'D' papers on fire?" She just laughed and continued to mark up my papers with red ink. I learned so much from her.
Off the top of my head, here are some guidelines she gave:
Don't repeat the same word in a paragraph if possible.
Use shorter sentences most of the time and longer sentences only when necessary.
Don't worry about grammar, spelling, etc until you are in the editing phase. If you have questions about such, Google them. There's a wealth of information out there on the internet.