The First Church of Wendel
Not Sunday School. Not exactly bible study per se, although there was plenty of that. Junior confirmation meant being stuck in a room with a dozen other kids, and the Assistant Pastor, Wendel. Wendel was a bit of an odd duck; this was evident even to us, the unconfirmed rabble. Wendel liked to talk about sex. Not in a medical way, or even a social way (and certainly not in pornographic detail), but in the terms of good and evil. Well, mostly evil. Well, almost all evil. Now I am sure that I had the same interests and fantasies as the other boys (and some of the girls) but I had never quite connected them to evil. I thought that you would find a girl you like, hit it off somehow and then etc. and etc.. It made sense to me. Wendel did not, and I struggled with his interpretation of God's law.
Wendel used every Saturday morning trying to convince us that we'd better shape up, and in a hurry too (the rapture, you know) and that meant moral purity which meant no dancing, no touching, no impure thoughts and no sex. Wendel said he never even kissed his wife until they were married. The only problem with his weekly lecture was that he wouldn't shut up about sex, so naturally my surging hormonal system was put on full alert. If I wasn't thinking about sex when class started, I certainly was by the time it ended. I think the vulgar term for this process is called a "mind-fuck".
The next year we all graduated to Senior Confirmation, taught by the regular pastor, who actually was a very nice person, who could talk about some other Biblical issues and made a point of showing us the better aspects of Jesus's teachings. Wendel, along with some other like-minded families, left the church to start a new church with what he felt was his purer theology, in the next suburb. It wasn't really called the First Church of Wendel, but it was different. I managed to be confirmed, left our church a year later and I eventually (10 years later!) overcame his indoctrination.
Wendel is almost certainly retired now. I wonder what his confirmands had to endure?
Summer Re-run Series
First posted October 24, 2005