Meet The Wack-a-Doodles, Part 2

Well, it did involve sitting around in a circle...

What was Grandma’s ritual that wasn’t quite as bad as sacrificing a lamb?

Most families after desert after supper. Not the Wack-a-Doodles.

We (a few pious adults and kids not quick enough to scram) formed a circle and Grandma distributed her stash of Bibles, keeping a fancy gold-leaf version for herself. I think it’s the one Moses carried when toting the stone tablets gave him too many lower back and knee problems.

Grandma selected an Old Testament Book and Chapter from her fragile tome.  One by one, each person around the circle was assigned a Verse to read aloud until the Chapter was done.

She would have approved.

Grandma sat in a chair with her fancy old Bible while we were on the floor with our plain Bibles, Verses assigned.  We were supposed to read along, absorbing the full meaning of each Verse.  I silently rehearsed my Verse, ignoring all others. The only thing I learned was that people who wrote the Bible spoke really bad English and liked to scare people.

Take the Book of Leviticus, Chapter 10.

Grandma began, “And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not.”  Grandma read her Verse as lyrically as a sonnet. It sounded beautiful because her heart was all over those words.

That resembles Grandma's happy face.

An uncle continued eloquently with Verse 2, “And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD.”  He, too, virtually sang the Verse in perfect, tender meter.  So what if he was lilting on about fiery death at the hands of his loving God?

I counted people and Verses and calculated my Verse (6), “And Moses said unto Aaron, and unto Eleazar and unto Ithamar, his sons, Uncover not your heads, neither rend your clothes; lest ye die, and lest wrath come upon all the people: but let your brethren, the whole house of Israel, bewail the burning which the LORD hath kindled.” I was 10 and had to read that. Out loud. On a full stomach.

I would have gotten a big fat “F” from my English teacher for writing a sentence like that. Was that even a sentence? Were those even legitimate human names? Then there was the matter of alien words: rend, bewail, hath, lest, ye, kindled. I was convinced that my Bible had typos. I read hesitantly, as if a question mark followed each word and I was oxygen deprived so I needed to take a deep breath after each word. If my good Christian audience wanted a passionate, fluid tale of death and being burned alive, they were sorely disappointed.

My reading skills of the Old Testament were comparable to a person with an IQ of “coma.”  I wanted the LORD to striketh me down dead-eth.

"L" is for Lorna who bungled the Bible and was smited by God.

Grandma kept a stiff upper lip but must have wept inside to hear her beautiful Verse of fire and brimstone hacked to pieces by her apparently Bible-challenged granddaughter.  For everyone’s sake, she kept the action moving, “Tina, please continue.”

My sister was next. She didn’t have any impossible names but at least she had to wrestle with tabernacle, although it wasn’t much of a fight.  She was twelve; she could handle it.

Lisa had Verse 8: “And the LORD spake unto Aaron, saying,” Although a little bitter, mostly I was happy for Lisa.  She was the youngest at eight years old and didn’t deserve to be saddled lifelong Bible and public speaking scars.

And on it went around the circle. I never knew what the Bible lesson was at the end of the process. The only thing I learned was that I didn’t want to be part of this family. But I knew that already.

I blame Grandma for my life-long ineptitude when it comes to reading aloud in public. You’ll never catch me doing a “Children’s Story Time” or public reading of my book; I’ll sound like I’m not fully recovered from my frontal lobotomy. You won’t find the Bible on my reading list, either.

She has not trouble, but I'd be like Bush: even upside-down, the words won't come out right side up.

I was a smart girl (everybody said so), but the Old Testament language bamboozled me. Why did I get the Verses with the impossible names and words? God was working in mysterious ways and He seemed to like picking on me. Or was it Grandma?

And Mom wondered why I didn’t like visiting these people.

What about Grandpa?

~ by Lorna's Voice on November 25, 2011.

24 Responses to “Meet The Wack-a-Doodles, Part 2”

  1. Okay, Now I get it. And you have a very good point. 😉

  2. Where I come from, the introduction of cable TV brought down birth rates
    something large scale government programs failed to do

    some people are better off not having time to themselves, the Devil tends have a direct uplink to their idleness

  3. Back then, no cable TV. Didn’t even have color TV. I’m OLD! 😉

  4. hi Lorna

    this is some scary stuff
    thank God for cable TV!

    A very engaging post, on to part III

  5. Yes. I’m sure it was as mandatory as brushing your teeth in that household. Yikes is right. 😐

  6. Fun times Lorna. Fun times. Or um… maybe not. I can imagine both the irony in lyrically language of a good smiting as read by your Grandma, along with the anxiety you must have had with this activity altogether. 9 children of hers – did they have to do this every day growing up? Yikes…

  7. So true, Izzy. I’m writing this part from the perspective of “Little Lorna.” As this series ends, Wiser Lorna steps in and sprinkles a touch of understanding and forgiveness on this stranger-family.

  8. Being married to God–what girl didn’t want to be a nun? Well, I guess there were plenty…

    And that Bible of mine DID have typos! (I’ll put the line in my collection–I thought it was funny, too!).

  9. I believe the New Testament is more “friendly” than the Old Testament, and I have read books about the Bible, Christianity and other religions. Just never aloud… 😉

  10. As we get older, we see a much different side to the older generations and the motivations for their behavior. you are so right. I’m writing these stories with the eye of a younger person. I’ll finish with the perspective of someone who has taken the time to understand a bit about these strangers who were my family.

  11. These days, I measure a person by their intentions. I’m sure she never meant to scar or scare us. That she did is just a reality I have to deal with. She was doing what she believed in her heart was the right thing to do. I’m writing the story from the perspective to someone who hasn’t found the Buddhist forgiveness yet. But the last part of this series will end with that tone of forgiveness.

  12. This made me squirm with discomfort just reading it… When telling my mother of how frightened I was of some of the messages that we received from our Christian roots, she was very apologetic. Apparently, it never occurred to your grandmother to choose some other more “children friendly” stories to share and discuss. I feel sorry for all of us who suffered because of the “hellfire and brimstone” stories we were “threatened” by.

  13. My step-grandmother’s only tradition was a double highball as quickly as decently possible after dessert. I’d tasted booze and never saw the attraction, but began to see the reasons as I got old enough to really start looking at the family she’d married into!

  14. Lorna, I’m so sorry you have unpleasant childhood memories of the bible. My only memories of the bible growing up are the really cool pictures in the children’s bible we had.

    I have a confession. I LOVE the quote: “Thus saith the Lord….” ever since I saw it in The Prince of Egypt. I love Handel’s Messiah too. Of course if I had to sing it in front of people, I definitely wouldn’t love it anymore (neither would anyone else).

  15. Well knock me down with a feather. I once wanted to become a nun, too. LOL I knew we were sisters lol. Screaming funny read, howling aloud.

    And here’s another Lorna gem:
    “I’m convinced the bible has typos.”

    love love love

  16. Funny … don’t you think as a little kid we wished we didn’t have to be forced or subjected to a lot of things that made us feel less than what we wanted to be. As a child, you have to do what you’re told – like it or not – maybe, if we look at how we raised our own kids we might see that ugly outfit or hair-do that made them feel like a dork. ~~~ : -O
    The truth be told, we can’t keep that recording going on adulthood despite the pain it caused. It must be what they mean when they say -you have to get passed it. Writing sure is a way to do that …
    Write On,
    Izzy

  17. Yes, I just wish as a little kid, I didn’t have to be forced into her “comfort.” 😉

  18. Family traditions are unusual, sometimes … I suppose your grandmothers intentions were sincere. We don’t have to agree with them but they were hers to find comfort in.

  19. This is a childhood memory that is engraved in my psyche. I was so embarrassed by my ineptitude. And to think I once thought of becoming a nun (for real).

  20. Oh, I wasn’t looking for revenge so much as I was trying to purge. On either count, I think I’m done!

  21. Ya think? 😉

  22. Cruel and unusual punishment.

  23. This is a form of child abuse that never gets reported, but it happens in fundamentalist families every day. My heart goes out to you, Lorna.

    You got her back though, you turned into a wonderfully expressive, humorous and happy person. You know what they say: “revenge is a dish best served cold. Bon Appetit.

  24. Geeezz! What a lesson in stress you had, sitting about reading that Bible. I think of V.C. Andrews’ grandmother character in Flowers in the Attic when reading this.

Silence can be just what the doctor ordered. You know I'm a doctor, right?

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