Narcissism And The 30 Foot Jesus

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Disclaimer: This is not a commentary on beliefs. It’s not a judgement on what other people believe or don’t believe. It’s simply an accounting of my experiences. 

I grew up in Covington, KY and went to Catholic school. I did not have a concept of what other church experiences were like, other than one time when I went to a vacation bible school with a neighbor. I didn’t like it. They were doing it wrong.

One thing about Catholic mass, is there are no surprises. We know what to expect. We know how to respond and we know that singing hymns is done in a funeral dirge voice. There is no laughing and no passing candy. I had to learn that last lesson a number of times. In my defense, when I was in school, we started every day with mass. I feel comfortable in saying it was a snooze fest and I don’t miss it.

Then, when I was around 10 years old, my parents went and did something bizarre.

They hooked up with a group of people calling themselves charismatic Catholics and they started having prayer meetings. Sometimes, they would gather at our house and other times we would get dragged to other people’s houses.

This was a far cry from stand up, sit down, kneel, and wait impatiently for the words ‘Mass has ended, go in peace’.

I hated the prayer meetings. I hated everything about it. They embarrassed me and quite frankly, I found the group of them completely batshit crazy.

They would get together and talk about how Jesus spoke to them and I’m not talking about speaking to them through a beautiful sunrise or the laughter of a child, I’m talking about actual words.

One woman, her name was Dee, told a story of how she woke up in the middle of the night to the sound of a great battle being waged.

She said that a war between the angels and the demons was being fought in the upstairs hallway of her house.

In her hallway.

In Covington, Kentucky.

Even at age 10, I could work out the glaring problems with this. First of all, even if there really was a heavenly battle being waged, wouldn’t the beings involved in the battle find a better place to fight? Logistically, a narrow hallway in a ramshackle house in Covington, Ky would be no place for a battle. Also, she didn’t mention that anything was destroyed in her house. Maybe, they were using those foam pool floats or something, I don’t know.

As an adult, and having a better understanding of Narcissistic Personality Disorder, I can see how these group meetings were like Disneyland for my father. He could make up any crazy shit he wanted and the group would nod and praise him for being so holy.

I remember hearing him tell the group how he was riding in his truck at work (he worked for the gas and electric company) and Jesus was running down the road toward him with his arms stretched out as if he were coming in for an embrace.

But this was no ordinary Jesus, his Jesus was at least 30 feet tall.

His coworker who was driving the truck couldn’t see Godzilla Jesus, the implication there is that the driver just wasn’t pious and important enough to see Jesus, but my dad could see him. And he was distraught because no matter how fast they drove, Jesus never quite made it to the truck.

What a bonanza for a narcissist who loved to make shit up and have a captive audience.

His stories invoked praise and adoration because he had obviously reached a stage of enlightenment where Jesus and angels and maybe even the tooth fairy were visiting him on a regular basis.

I can’t say this for sure, because I was very young and I don’t trust all of my memories, but I don’t think I ever bought any of it. In my memory of the holy roller past, I spent my time listening all the while wanting to point out how completely insane it all was.

I’m sure they wouldn’t have listened, though. They couldn’t have heard me over the sound of them singing songs in tongues. Yes, my parents spoke in tongues. That is a special treat for any small Catholic child.

I know that one meeting in particular, my dad spoke with the group about how ‘troubled’ I was.

By troubled, he meant I didn’t heap praise on him all the time and complained when he heaped abuse on me.

They prayed for me.

I had to stand in the middle of a room, while a fuck ton of people laid their hands on me and prayed to Jesus that the demons would leave me.

I have absolutely no questions as to why I have such a large personal space area today.

It’s funny to think about those people now, how close they were with my parents, and how wonderful they thought my father was. If they had only seen him and the way he treated his children when we were behind closed doors. Perhaps, they would have laid their hands on him to get the demons out.

Although, since the electric shock therapy didn’t do the trick, I doubt their weekly viewing of The Godspell and their made up words would have been any more effective.

 

 

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42 comments

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  • There was a huge statue of Jesus along I-75 that looked like Jesus was erupting from the ground. Many people called it Big Butter Jesus, because it looked like it was sculpted from butter. I called it Kris Kristofferson Jesus because it looked like the singer/songwriter.
    The statue was hit by lightning and destroyed a few years ago. (No comment.) The church built a new one using the same materials and construction techniques, which of course makes it vulnerable to lightning again. (Still no comment.)
    This time Jesus is standing in the “Let the Children Come Unto Me” pose. I call it the Jesus Wants a Hug Jesus.
    I wonder if this influenced your father’s experiences at all.

    • Okay…THIS IS HILARIOUS…I work just across I-75 from the big Jesus. I thought it was so freaking funny when it got struck by lightning.

      My son called it bifurcated Jesus because he was cut in half. Also..he pointed out that Jesus could walk on water, so why was he half submerged?

  • My parents never got more involved than the standard, no-surprises, Byzantine Catholic Church. You’re right, every hymn is a dirge, and the mass was boring. The charismatics sound like a bunch of nutbags to me, but sounds like paradise for a narcissist.

  • Hey…I grew up that way, too, except without the Catholic start, so I more or less thought it was fun, but also sometimes awkward. As in, church camp = fun (yay, tents!). Home prayer meetings = awkward (no, I don’t want to tell you what I feel my spiritual gifts are. I’m 12.)

    My dad also convinced everyone we went to church with for years that he was 1) sober, 2) a faithful husband and great father, and 3) superduper smart and always RIGHT on the verge of the That Big Thing that would make us rich.

    I don’t remember anyone laying hands on him, but I’m pretty sure someone should have…

  • When I grow up, I want to write like you. You are so honest and so funny. I need to pull the stick from up my ass and just let it out. Thank you for being a role model for me. Oh, and the demons SO fought under my bed with Potsy from Happy Days in an apartment in Hollywood, FL.

  • Wow…there is so much I would like to say to you re this one but all I will say here is kudos on surviving as well as you have with your sanity intact!
    >
    I must admit I got thrown totally at the very high church Catholic funeral of my friend’s mother. Not being familiar with some of the practices at these things I mistook some weird bell ringing at the back for the fishmonger’s van. I whispered to my friend that it was an odd day for the fish van to be coming round which then caused a wave of silent giggling when she explained it. Made worse by the woman behind us patting us on the shoulders and saying ‘there there’ as she thought our shaking shoulders were tears.
    >
    Related note, totally inappropriate giggling is my speciality.

    • HAHAHAH…I am also the queen of giggling at inappropriate times.

      Randy is not Catholic and when my grandfather died, he was looking at the alter at the tabernacle and whispered to me…why is there as espresso machine up there?

  • THANK YOU for posting this. I’ve been experiencing an immense amount of anger towards the Jesus stuff lately– I too was raised going to church but now, at age 40, I want nothing to do with it. Particularly because, like you said, the religious environment just seems to really lend itself to act as a haven for narcissists like my father. Of course I can’t question anything he does or says… he’s got the son of god on HIS side, after all. I had an elderly woman (for whom I was holding the door at a restaurant recently) tell me my sins would kill me and send me straight to hell when I told her I did not, indeed, have “jesus in my heart.” So sweet of her to tell me that… or so I’ve been told by all my religious friends, anyway. Load o’ blarney, if you ask me. 🙂 Aaaaaaaah, this post was a breath of fresh air, thank you!!!

    • yeah, it’s hard to argue with someone who has jesus on their side…oh well..

      and that old woman? What a horrible bitter old woman.

      Thank you so much for your comment!

  • You ever notice Jews don’t solicit?
    Most other Christian religions have this recruitment program, looking for newbies, converting people from lesser beliefs, winding up the prayer sessions with
    inducements to come up and be saved, etc.

    But not the Jews.

    They simply don’t advertise, and according to them, if your mom was Jewish, you are, too. If not, take a hike. No more room at the inn.

    My boss wanted to marry this JAP and her father told her “no goyim.” So my friend
    converted. He took Jewish lessons for MONTHS. Then, one day, the rabbi called him
    at work and told him about having to get circumcised as the next step. Everybody in the office heard him holler, “You’re gonna cut my dick?! No fucking way! ” (SLAM)

    Now I live in Kentucky. Eastern Kentucky. And we got Snake-Handling churches all over. Can you just imagine? I picture myself telling some of my poor lost relatives from
    the Bronx that we got poisonous snake churches and just imagine their response:

    “Vaddaya expect from the Goyische kishkas?”

    It’s all a subjective experience. If it makes you feel good, then great! Enjoy!

  • The idea of a 30-foot Jesus running toward me is TERRIFYING. Also, hilarious. Also, I can’t get MC 900 Foot Jesus out of my head now. Best rap name ever. And he’d probably kick the crap out of a measly 30-foot Jesus. I’d take that action.

  • A 30 foot Jesus? Was he sure it wasn’t Paul Bunyan? There’re a lot of 30 foot Paul Bunyans around, but almost all of them are accompanied by large, blue oxen, and those are kind of hard to miss, even in a religious fervor.
    When I was a little kid, I had some friends who were Pentecostal, I think, and they did the speaking in tongues thing. I only saw them doing it once, at an outdoor service, and I was like: OK, I get it, fake a seizure and make every noise you can think of that doesn’t add up to a word until you get some good combinations, then repeat those a lot…
    They seemed to enjoy it, though, so I never bugged them about it.

    • Ha..I probably would have been more entertained/forgiving of it if I hadn’t been their child.

      I’m sure if it suited him, he would have claimed to have been visited by Paul Bunyan as well…

    • Hahahhah…Lisa is pretty awesome. 🙂

      But you’re pretty awesome, too. What if we had a carla/lisa clone? That would be cool. She could live in my cubicle and keep me company at work. In my fake world, clones don’t need sleep or food.

  • Yet another post where I’m like. . .me too. My family went through various kinds of churches, but my parents (mostly my dad) were both narcissists. I’ve somehow retained my faith and attend church myself, but can spot fakers and people that just want to get off on their own amazingness a mile away. Thanks for sharing and making me laugh (and cringe). Ya gotta process the demons somehow. . .not THOSE kind of demons 😉

  • Michelle, I loved this! Your writing is great. Are you writing a book? Please say yes. This is very engaging. You’re style is perfect… 🙂 love Abby off of Twitter.

    • Hello Abby off twitter!

      It’s always fun to see twitter people here. And I have been working on an adult children of narcissist project…but it’s been stalled for a few months. I really want to finish it.

  • Holy shit. I’ve had a couple experiences lately with some rather irrational beliefs, but I didn’t have to deal with that as a child. I can’t imagine how fucked up I’d be *then.* Do you know the blog bipolar for life? Her mom’s the narcissist? I’m too tired to check your comments, but her name is Laura and seems like you two have a bit in common.

  • OMG your dad and my mom could have a beautiful life together. In fact, she’s still a pastor and chaplain, Oh and a narcissist too, in her spare time.

    Great post, I laughed (and winced) all throughout. I LURVE your writing.

  • I’m sorry this happened to you. 🙁 I think strong, infilitrating organized religion is one of the most insidious experiences that can be forced on a child. I grew up in a cstholic-light family, my dad’s side a bit creepy religious, and hated the people, the judgment that can with it. Such bullshit.
    On another note… when I read the title of this post I thought you were referring to Touchdown Jesus statue in Ohio. Does he still exist?

    • Thank you. I agree with what you say about religion. I think it’s used as a tool to beat people up and keep them in line…

      Oddly enough, I work just across from where touchdown jesus was. And no, it does not still exist, it got struck by lightning and burned up a few years ago. (HAHAHHAHAAHAHHAHAHAH) they’ve replaced it with another statue of jesus…not as impressive but still huge.

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