Do religious kids daydream of Jesus?
What kind of daydreams do religious kids have?
They start with the usual, I imagine. As far as I know, I was pretty normal in the drifting-off department. While I wasn't a sports kind of kid, I'd entertain the occasional fantasy of wowing the classmates with the home run they never expected, or knocking that ol' kickball all the way over the big tree in the grade school yard. Sometimes I had more exciting daydreams of gaining awesome superpowers. And, of course, there were no end to the fancies involving That One Girl in the next row or next classroom or whatever – just little secret stories that were clean and cute in grade school (less clean and cute in high school).
But uber-religious kids have got to have their own special brand of daydream – or at least, those kids with the "funny" religions that put them in the camp of outsider. I was a Jehovah's Witness kid, and that was considered a crackpot variant of the hometown's generic Christianity (when it was understood to be Christian to begin with!). As you'd expect, there was the occasional wisecrack to put up with, plus those embarrassing everybody's-staring-at-me moments when I had to publicly opt out of the Pledge of Allegiance or of a Christmas piece in band. To be fair, I can't say that I was treated awfully because of the wacky religion, but there were just enough jibes to spur a typically overly-sensitive and imaginative kid into irregular "I'll show them all!" fantasies. Here's how one of mine went.
First, a spot of background: JWs, like any good literalist fundamentalists, firmly accept the Devil and demons as real beings who can "come into" the lives of the unwary. The traps they set are as you'd expect: drugs, "meddling in the occult", even "supernatural" books or rock music. The symptoms of demonic attention are also standard fundie fare, from poltergeist-style hauntings to outright possession. (The sporadic tale of a "house with demons", relayed in hushed tones among moms after a Kingdom Hall meeting, was like forbidden but oh-so-sweet candy to a child bored out of his skull by another Watchtower study session on proper conduct of ministerial servants.)
Rounding out this backdrop of a demon-haunted world is a select group of warriors equipped to combat the forces of darkness: the Jehovah's Witnesses themselves, of course! Well, I'm not sure the identification was presented that clearly, nor did we receive exorcist training. But the prescription for those who've "got demons" (yes, that was the expression, like "you've got termites") was to call upon the name of Jehovah, backed by proper faith and humility, blah blah. That pretty much made impromptu Satan-busting the bailiwick of the Witnesses alone. Like some unofficial Holy A-Team on eternal standby.
So with that, the stage is set for a proper English Lit class daydream. My fellow students and I are all in the quiet classroom, doing our student thing, faces in notebooks and pencils scritching... when the room goes dark. Beastly voices hiss out of nowhere. Then comes the real horror: books, chairs, everything, rising into the air, swirling faster and faster, a windless tornado. Kids scream in fear! They drop to the floor and cower, they freeze standing in place; even the teacher is powerless to act. (Why is this happening, you ask? It doesn't matter!)
Someone tries something. A shaky-voiced prayer, a cry for aid to Jesus! It's no use. It's a whisper in a storm. The poor adherents of false Christendom don't know that only the name of the the Lord of the Old Testament, Yahweh himself (the original Great Old One!), holds any power here. And so it is up to me. I stand amidst the spinning debris, my face upward, bellowing like a Prophet of Old: "In the name of the True God Jehovah, I command you to leave!"
And the demons leave. It's over. The storm is stopped; light enters the room once more. Stunned classmates gaze upon me with awe, as does the teacher emerging from behind her desk. They now know that I am brave, that I am awesome, and that it was I who held the True Faith all along. I was right, and the truth of Jehovah has been revealed to all! And... well, not that it's important compared to the godly stuff, but just by way of mention, That One Girl from two rows ahead has found herself a hero...
Dorktastically pathetic? Yeah, it was. Though as adolescent daydreams go, it's not that bizarre – at least, not if you believe that a demon attack in school is just another remote but real possibility, like an armed intruder or a cafeteria grease fire. The point is, I stood up to the challenge, and I beat it, and... well, I would have, that is, if it had happened...
Surely I'm not the only one with such a goofy fantasy to 'fess up to! Do other religious kids have godly daydreams? Do Mormon kids imagine a public visit from the angel Moroni, shutting the gobs of those wisecracking jocks? Do fundie baptist kids dream of shoving away the too-late penitents, like Noah slamming the doors of his ark, as the Rapture lifts the faithful away from the screams of the damned? Any ex- (or current!) believers have a tale of make-believe to relate? Don't be shy!