An Onion of Seething Teenage Christianity

Ed. note: I grew up in West Texas, in a place where Jesus and football were all you needed to be living the good life.

“If anyone has a problem with this, raise your hand now.”

My band director in 1997

The room was death still. Crickets. 95 high school kids looking without looking. Was anyone brave enough? Did anyone even want to object?

It would have been a great time to read minds. At fifteen, you don’t know much, but you know you don’t want to be the only one to raise their hand.

And so I didn’t. And no one else did. And I wish I had. And I wonder if someone else who was once a kid in that room remembers that question, and wishes they had objected. I’d like to think they do.

The objection would have been, could have been, to designing the football season’s competition show around a hymn. (Duh, yes, a Christian hymn.) And the marching band would unite in forming a glorious, meaning-filled Jesus fish on the field, at the pivotal moment. Cymbals crashing. Did I mention the cross inside the fish? Boom! Crash! Praise Him!!

If there were another Christian symbol Mr. Thornton could have fit in, I’m sure he would have done. Like a fundamentalist Russian doll marching band. Like a god damn onion of seething teenage Christianity. That’s what really revs up the hormones in Abilene, Texas.

I guess it could have been worse. Like, a giant hand, with the flag corps forming the stigmata, red flags billowing the sacrifice into the hazy red Texas sunset, the smell of squirt cheese wafting through the stands. The stadium lights coming on just when Jesus’s head falls. The football crowd ready for halftime to be over, but willing to concede an extra ten minutes to their personal lord and savior.

But still, wasn’t that nice, what the band did? That Mr. Thornton sure is teachin’ those kids right. We are so blessed to ha…

FOOTBALL. Jesus who? Jesus Christ did you see that tackle? These boys are goin’ to STATE! Boom! Crash! Praise Him!!

So no, I didn’t raise my hand. It wouldn’t have mattered if I did or didn’t. Those people were gonna keep loving football Jesus no matter what. But I wish I had.

Featured image by Steven Abraham on Unsplash

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