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Just As I Am, a Poem by Brian

just as I am

What follows is a poem by Brian. Raised in a Fundamentalist Christian home, Brian attended countless church services, heard countless sermons, and saw and participated in countless altar calls. My experiences are similar, except I was the one giving the altar calls. (Please see Walking the Aisle — A Few Thoughts on Altar Calls.)

Just As I Am

Ten-year-olds
a dozen of us lined up
at the front of the church
because the world
might just end today
and we have all sinned
Romans 3, verse 23
our fisted, hounded hearts
and the preacher
offering one last chance.
Streets paved with gold
stream liquid
through amber
stained-glass windows.
Some of us softly weep
awful doubt in ourselves
our Baptist Jesus
and the preacher walking
our line and shaking hands
as if we were grownup
and big enough to deal
with being caught
between heaven and hell
on a Sunday morning
and our walking right
into the arms of it
idiot-faced
crying along with the music.

Bruce Gerencser, 63, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 42 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen awesome grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

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6 Comments

  1. Avatar
    MJ Lisbeth

    I love this poem. I especially was taken with the last lines, beginning with “as if we were grownup.” A kid has no say in it, yet is forced to “walk right into the arms of it.”

    What would happen to organized religion if people weren’t allowed to commit to it before reaching the age of consent?

  2. Avatar
    Brian Vanderlip

    Thank-you, commenters… Writing it down has been a saving grace, a humanizing of something that borders an almost reptilian brutality. Mr. Ghandi is remembered saying, ‘A nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members’ and for me that phrase encompasses every child among us.
    Evangelical Christianity is codified, ordained, tax-free child abuse. It visits horror on innocence and calls that love.
    We continue to crawl forward, two leaps ahead and then get Trumped back a step or two but one day children will be more precious than gold, more worthy than any God of our utter awe, our endless love.

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