Raptorjesus, the greatest gift god has given mankind because that's how little god thinks of mankind.
I was born into the church as many are in Northern Utah, and I was born to "goodly parents" like Nephi from that one book you hated to read. Except that I was a real person and Nephi was not. My parents were true believers, but for the area I had a much more “liberal” upbringing in the church. While we attended church every Sunday, we never had Family Home Evening, nor family prayer other than at dinner, we never read scriptures together, and my parents would much rather discuss art, literature, history, and film than what we learned at any church meeting. Perhaps because of this, our family was active but never “popular” with other members. Occasionally my parents would mention this when help to other members was always given, but never returned—even when cases like a death in the family or a serious illness would suggest that our family be given help. My parents’ never begrudged the other members, their philosophy was very clear, “Take care of yourself and don’t be a burden on anyone else. Give more than you take. The “Gospel” is there to make people better, but it will never make them perfect.”
I was baptized at eight. I don’t recall anyone asking my permission, but I also don’t remember anyone needing to. I was eight, and you get baptized at eight. I took my baptismal covenants as seriously as any eight year old could. I tried to be a better person as soon as I got dry, but it was hard for me to define what that meant. I simply tried to be honest, nice, and not say bad words (the last being a difficult challenge since I learned at a very early age how much I LOVED curse words. Saying naughty words was such a rush, and the worse the better.) I remember the next week at school joking about putting hotdogs in taco shells because it was very suggestive then feeling bad about it. Those feelings of guilt and shame would return but never detract from an awesome chance to say or do something naughty.
Like most children, I thought church was boring. It was a chore to get up and get dressed and spend three hours attending primary, and Sunday school, and Sacrament Meeting. One of my escapes was my love of drawing. I loved to draw during Sacrament Meeting, and most of my family members felt the same way. My older brother, mother, and I would draw pictures to each other to pass the time because the time needed to be passed. My mom would draw McDonald's hamburgers, shakes, and fries and we would pass the drawings around pretending to eat them. We feasted on imagination, because only "feasting on the word of the lord" will leave you a dying husk. Jesus was once quoted as saying, "Man cannot live on bread alone," but I'm pretty sure he didn't mean sacrament meeting.
I discovered another passion in Jr. High along with drawing. I loved music-- specifically hard rock and heavy metal. The grunge movement was in full swing, and I fell in love with Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, and Stone Temple Pilots. After convincing my parents that I deserved to be given (at the behest of some friends that were forming a band) a bass guitar. Once I began to learn how to play I also fell in love with Metallica, Megadeth, and Tool. My father was a classically trained pianist and organist, and our house was always filled with “classical” music. While I knew music could be beautiful, I never knew it could be so spine snappingly awesome. My parents had gotten cable and that meant MTV, and at that time MTV meant Music Videos and not, “if an all loving and all just God existed, all these spoiled children would be dead or poor” television. I mean, seriously, those parents and their children are fucking evil. If you sat the real Jesus down in front of the television and made him watch one episode of "My Sweet Sixteen," after ten minutes he'd get up and be like, "fuck this, I'm killing myself. Get me a cross and some nails-- I'LL DO IT!"
I would sneak into the basement to watch hoping for a chance to see another hard rock music video. I began to gather CDs in secret because the music I listened to was not acceptable, but I loved it.
My first priesthood interview was quite a memorable experience. I was asked quite directly by my Bishop if I masturbated. Being the honest person I was, I said yes. I’ll never forget what happened next. I guess I was expecting some sort of small lecture about love and forgiveness, or, I don’t know, something. Instead, the bishop pulled out a file, asked me questions about frequency, and what I thought about--while taking notes in the file. I was twelve and too shaken up to do anything other than answer honestly while he put everything down in a “spiritual permanent record.” I left feeling disgusting, dirty, and horribly guilty, and it was impressed to me that I should feel this way about myself, and at “some point” I’d be “forgiven.” I didn’t tell my parents about this. Why would I add to my shame? I clearly was involved in something “unnatural,” and I didn’t want anyone else to know.
Seminary began in 9th grade. Because I attended school in Northern Utah, we were fortunate to have seminary during regular school hours. We were privileged to not have to sacrifice to go to seminary. We just gave up one credit towards graduation to attend seminary and have a class to “escape from the world” and learn about “the Gospel” everyday.
I enjoyed seminary. I finally felt like “the Gospel” could be an intellectual exercise. I asked a lot of questions and got answers to my questions. I was learning “deeper doctrine” – something that I never felt in church. While I enjoyed the intellectual stimulation of most of seminary, this was the first time that I started to feel guilt bombed at the same time. Every lesson ended up with exactly what we should, hear, wear, say, how to dress, what movies we should enjoy, what we shouldn’t watch, read, or listen to. This was also the first time in my life that I was really introduced to the concept of Satan. While primary lessons touched around this topic, seminary really explained that Satan was a real being. He was a douche to be avoided at all costs, but he was lurking everywhere. Satan could be invited in to our hearts by the most seemingly benign things. This is why we had to be careful with everything we heard, saw, etc. Satan wanted us most especially. He hated our bodies and wanted to take control of us so badly.
During 9th grade I had an experience that really solidified my "testimony" at the time. My brother happened to come across a song on a compilation CD that scared him. Not wanting to keep the fear bottled up inside, he played the song for me in my room one night. It was the most evil thing I had ever heard. Musically, it was little more than just bizarre poly-rhythmic playing on multiple percussive instruments with occasional shrieks overlaid, but it horrified me. I was sick to my stomach and my room felt diseased. I had terrible nightmares that whole night.
I awoke around 5:00 am. My entire room was unnaturally dark and heavy. The room seemed to pulsate with evil, and while I could look around, I couldn’t move. My blankets moved. I couldn’t breathe. They moved towards me. I tried to scream. They attacked me. I had never been more terrified.
Time went from stretching out from an eternity to collapse into a singularity. I scrambled to the top of my bed, raised my arm to the square, mumbled something about Jesus, the blankets fell, and the room lit up.
Satan was REAL. And he WAS a douche.
I was a wreck the next day. I sobbed the story to my Seminary Teacher. He asked me to share the experience with the class, and I shared an abridged version that wouldn’t leave me weeping in front of my peers. But the Church was True. I was one of the Lord’s elect, because I had the Gospel and Satan was jealous of me and wanted to eat my face...