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From Fundamentalist to Pragmatist: What I learned about religion at age 14

Growing up, I witnessed adults in my family solve every problem one of two ways — with Jesus or Jack Daniels. For that reason, I hated family gatherings. Jesus and Jack were opposite extremes. Both teams dug in their heels.

Of course, being drunk on Jack was never a cute look and the same for being drunk off the Holy Ghost. But the “bible-thumpers” made all of life appear suck-ass. Every wrong decision could send you to hell — from how you danced to how short you wore your shorts in the grueling Texas summers. It really got tricky for the ones who sampled both a healthy portion of Jesus with an occasional swig of Jack (neither to extremes). Like my mother and grandmother, for example — they prayed every day and also drank in moderation.

One Christmas, however, everything changed. We gathered at grandma’s house, as was our custom. Four family members had recently attended a revival, and, suddenly, not only were they holier than everyone else, but they also knew more. Grandma scowled all day as her children argued about what the bible says about this or that. It must have been too cold to go outside; otherwise, that’s where I would’ve been. Instead, I was stuck indoors, listening to my loud relatives tally who was going to heaven and who “still had time to get it right.”