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Category Archives: True Confessions

O Come, All Ye Unfaithful

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Believer, Beware: First-Person Dispatches from the Margins of Faith, is out, and a handsome thing it is. Edited by the redoubtable Jeff Sharlet and Peter Manseau (of Killing the Buddha fame), the collection anthologizes essays with curiosity-piquing titles such as “Jew Like Me,” “Zen Mind, Alkie Mind,” “Agnostic Front,” “I Was a Prepubescent Messiah,” “Banana Slug Psalm” (is there a bandname in that, or what?), and the incomparable “Bible Porn” (sects sells!).

My contribution, a true confession about my brief-lived career as a teenaged Jesus Freak in the mid-1970s, is called “Jesus is Just Alright,” a title that inspired Sharlet to write, in a note he enclosed with my contributor’s copy, “I’ve been wanting to use that as a title for years, but never could figure out what. I’m glad you showed me the way.”

Long ago, in the lost world of the ’70s, when I never missed an opportunity to “witness” to the unsaved, I might have replied, “John 14:6: Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.'”

Mercifully, I’ve seen the light.

Open Wide

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Recently, while submitting to the fond attentions of a dental surgeon, I found myself musing idly, in an opiated haze, about the symbolic weight of teeth—musings disturbed only by the surgeon’s resolute yanking on the offending tooth, a yanking that came to me only distantly, as a not entirely unpleasant tugging, punctuated by the occasional squeak, reminiscent of the sound of a nail being pried out of a floorboard. Maybe it was the Novocain, but I found myself wondering if the widespread fear of dentists is at least in part a subconscious, perhaps even archetypal, fear of teeth, or if that’s just the perspective of someone whose dental history is written in anxiety and agony (and all the requisite drama-queen hysterics that go with them).

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