“tempted to encourage others with insincere praise.” by Julia at Amanda’s

Sunday December 30, 2018
11:31pm
5 minutes
Lying
Sam Harris

When I was nine we went on an overnight camping trip with our church friends. They were church people, not quite friends, to be honest. Jesus thought it would be good for us to be around all the right-hearted youth so we could learn something. I learned something. I learned I could pee in the middle of the night very quickly. I learned that I was a quick night pee-er when my tent mates told me so. I learned that I could walk in the woods and sing at the same time. I learned that some people are better than me because of their relationship with god.
On the last day our leaders gave out awards to the ____est camper. They gave me the award for “happiest camper”. I was thrilled until Julie Perna got “friendliest” camper and I realized that my award was total bullshit.

“people who called themselves atheists.” by Julia on her couch


Thursday December 22, 2016
8:25pm
5 minutes
Dust
Charles Pellegrino


I never thought I’d put myself in the very box that I couldn’t for the life of me understand when I was younger. It made sense to my 9 year old brain to put my 9 year old trust in God and scripture and behaving with good intentions. It made sense for me to wake up each day and know my place, this road I was traveling, the one I had chosen wisely. And then maybe it was the lava lamp that put me over the edge. The one Pastor So And So offered up as a prize to the youth who could rally up the most sinners and bring them to Friday night service. I didn’t sign up for a church built out of bribery and attended primarily by a bunch of self-righteous teens. I wanted to find friends who wanted to know the Lord, not who wanted to make religion into an elitist club that only the truly good could be a part of. How is that the point of religion? Aren’t we all good and therefore all bad? I didn’t like giving so much of my youth to an ideology that didn’t want everyone just as we were.

“Contemporary and traditional ceremonies” by Julia at her dining table


Saturday June 25, 2016
9:23pm
5 minutes
Weddings from the Heart

I haven’t packed a bag in a long time. I don’t really know where I’d go, so I don’t do things that get me going. Matt will have been gone for exactly a year tomorrow. We’re having a mass for him even though he hated church. Mom is always there these days. She says she has a lot to repent about and just wished she could have done it before. She thinks she could have saved him with prayer. I haven’t thought about leaving home since he killed himself. Maybe because I had been away so long and if I were close by, or closer, he wouldn’t have felt so alone. I guess we all blame ourselves for him being gone. I wish the same thing as my mother, that I could have changed my ways sooner. Only in my case that I would have been less selfish and had the foresight to know the repercussions of moving away from home and leaving your kid brother to fend for himself.

“Ready to rock?” by Sasha on her couch


Friday May 27, 2016
10:01pm
5 minutes
People Magazine
March 2016


Holding Grandma’s paper skin hand
A priest talks about forgiveness
Jesus
Bread
Her fingers are long
Knuckles like burls
I lean in close to smell her
Baby powder and drugstore perfume
Make up that is long expired
She doesn’t stand to sing anymore
On her perch
The Pew
Queen Bird

“Preach” by Julia on the 99


Thursday May 26, 2016
11:25pm
5 minutes
Overheard on the 99

Mickey and I were laying in her bedroom listening to Eminem and painting our nails. Her mother had called us once to come down for breakfast but we weren’t hungry because we had just finished a pack of Oreos and a pack of cigarettes. Mickey’s mother always smelled of canned ham but she worshiped on Sundays and Mickey wasn’t supposed to miss it. Mickey told me it didn’t matter, let her keep calling until that woman strains her voice and has nothing left for Jesus. Mickey’s mom had 3 other kids to get ready before service so she didn’t call on us as much as I thought she would. Mickey was already putting on her plaid vest with the fur and opening her window so we could bust out the heavy Sunday green. Mickey glanced at me from over her shoulder, a cigarette stuck to the dry part of her lower lip. She said “you’re lucky your mother doesn’t bug you when you’re just trying to have a good time.” I laughed for a second. Then I told her, “you’re lucky your mother is alive!”

“this music has more religion in it than any church” by Julia at her dining table


Wednesday February 17, 2016
9:54pm
5 minutes
from a YouTube comment by GB3770

I pray at the church of kindness, I can’t settle for anything less than that as my temple. I don’t believe in a God that won’t invite us all to play, that condemns for ignorance, that promotes the weak and bludgeons the strong. I don’t believe in a God that withholds, that accepts money as the only currency, that won’t forgive us for very arbitrary, yet non-negotiable acts. I bow my head at the alter of generosity. It’s the only home I ever feel safe enough to lower my shield in. It’s the only thing that moves me to a state of rejoicing. Don’t give me that hearsay scripture, that haunting, beautifully crafted by poets rule book. I worship at the church of soul music. The kind that lifts your skin off your bones just enough to make room for grace.

“poetry got a mainstream reputation” by Julia on Michael’s old bed


Monday, December 28, 2015
10:11pm
5 minutes
LENNY letter no. 14

Gabriela is my mother’s first cousin but she was disowned by the family in 1977 because she was “spreading the lies of the devil through her evil written word.” My mother only mentions Gabriela by accident when I ask her if we have any writers in the family. I ask because my son, Warren, is working on his family tree for school and has to answer a bunch of questions about the jobs his relatives have had. My mother tells me by accident that Gabriela used to write poetry about things people were too afraid to talk about. In one she remembers well, Gabriela wrote a line that said “The Church is lying in the Church. The Church is hiding in the Church. We do not know what we refuse to see.”
“So, she was a poet?” I ask my mother.
“No,” she tells me, “She was a sinner.”

“holier-than-thou” by Julia at her desk


Tuesday November 17,2015
12:05am
5 minutes
from an e-mail

Went to church when I was younger I guess, so I have this really big soft spot for budding Christians. Not the full blown ones, I have no room for those. But the ones who are starting to feel community and straight-edged living are the ones I see myself in. So many of my beliefs were centered around permission and guilt and acceptance and guilt and lying and begging and praying and guilt. Like I was sand being shaken back and forth in an hourglass. Always trying not to be wrong. Always trying to right the wrong. Always being wrong. Always feeling bad for being wrong. But there in the community where we’d raise our hands to the Lord and sway them back and forth while our eyes were closed and our hearts exploded, we felt like pieces cut out of the same felt, glued onto bristol board to form a perfect circle; the poster kids for The Lost.

“OH MY GOD” by Julia at her desk


Tuesday, August 11, 2015
11:18pm
5 minutes
Overheard on Gerrard St.

I’ve been the praying type before! Not really so much now, but before? MY GOD.
HAHA. That was a joke. But in all seriousness, I used to write letters to Jesus. I used to pray asking him for guidance and protection against my nightmares, my fears, my flaws. I had to ask for so much forgiveness just because I couldn’t keep my 11 year old head on straight enough to stop “accidentally” watching the Sunday Night Sex Show, or finding my mom’s electric nail buffer and “accidentally” using it to explore all of my “sacred” places. I said I was sorry at least 15 times a day, followed by a promise that I would be better next time and not do it ever again. I got good at making promises I couldn’t keep.

“There’s something I need to explain to you.” By Sasha on her couch


Sunday, July 19, 2015
10:14pm
5 minutes
Sputnik Sweetheart
Haruki Murakami


Made it back just in time for tea. Mama made those blueberry muffins with the crumble top and we gobbled up more than we shoulda but whatchu gonna do! They are yummy! No one asked about the train trip but that’s okay… Not like I had anything great to say bout it anyway.

The next day was Church and Mama told me I should tie my hair back. “No one wants that hair flying around in their laps, Darlene!” Daniella and I wore matching pink sweaters and someone asked who was older and I hate it when that happens. Daniella loves it. She was grinnin’ ear to ear. Mama had a look sweep over her when she say Paster Earl. I hate it when that happens. I elbowed Danielle when she was singin’ too loud. Everyone was staring!

“Virgin and Child” by Julia on her couch


Sunday February 16, 2014
1:35pm
5 minutes
Perfect Happiness
Penelope Lively


They used to attend the tiny church at the top of the hill every Saturday night. They went together. She’d brush her hair into a big loop curl and pin it back with a gold barrette. He’d lint roll his wool suit and smack his cheeks with aftershave. He’d hold her arm in his and lead her up the hill so she didn’t fall. She had a bad hip. He had a bad heart. Together they’d go to mass and sit in the very front row, arriving before even the priest had gotten his robe on. Every Saturday they’d listen for the church bells and make sure they were within arm’s length when they chimed out. It was something that helped secure them to the floor, helped them to see clearly in a moment in time. Something to calm them both, reassure them maybe. It wasn’t a big church but it was the one place they both found themselves in during their youth, during the war, during the sadness of anything. When he wasn’t able to take her up the hill, she would go hunting for her blue striped cane and she’d attempt to walk up to the church on her own. She didn’t care that it might take a lot longer. She didn’t want to go with the help of anybody else.

“Church Girl” by Julia in her back yard


Saturday, July 13, 2013 at deVille Coffee
4:01pm
5 minutes
Girl
Jennifer Carranza


I knew when I invited God into my life, and the equation, I was making a mistake, but I didn’t know who else to ask. I know that sounds crazy, but times were tough and I was desperate and God wasn’t doing anything that night and all my other friends were busy or incommunicado. So. We made it work, him and me, me and God, trying to find it all out, trying to make it all work. I became a church person. A church girl who didn’t care about the air-condition malfunction, or the pigeons that made their way inside it every single time. I knew it was a mistake, but at the time, it was everything to me. God’s not the best listener, I warn you. He’s always listening to a million conversations at once and that does not make me feel special.