The Cult of Melinda

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Conversion of Ms. Melinda Barton

WARNING: Religious talk ahead.

RPP asked to hear the conversion story, so please don't take this as proselytizing.

Let's start at the beginning, briefly I hope. I was originally a Baptist until my Mom met my step-father when I was about 9, at which point I became a United Methodist. I was also, as you all know, simply BRILLIANT!!!!! haha

In the secular realm, this means I began making snarky comments at 1, giving my Dad accurate driving instructions at 2, reading at 3, reading entire books by 5, doing Algebra in my head at 9 and attending gifted classes in fourth grade. In the religious realm, this meant I was reading the King James version of the Protestant Bible by the time I was 7 (That's the earliest I specifically remember reading it.), getting in long theological discussions with people waaaaaaay to old to be talking to a 7-year-old, arguing with my Sunday School teachers and winning by the time I was nine, assisting the Sunday school teacher and studying with the minister by the time I was 10, and taking college-level courses in theology at 11 (I think). By this point, I began prepping for seminary.

Yeah. I had NO life. Imagine getting in trouble when you're supposed to be a minister-in-training. High standard, that.

Anyway, prepping for the United Methodist seminary requires A LOT of study in a variety of fields, including theology, comparitive theology, history, culture, linguistics, etc. Again, I had NO life until I started rebelling a bit in my early teen years. These studies, often conducted with little if any authoritative supervision, eventually led to my coming to some radical conclusions for a Christian.

I was about 16 when I came to the conclusion that Jesus wasn't divine or the son of G-d. (I'd already had problems with the whole Trinity thing since I was 7. Long story.) That thought scared the living hell out of me and I prayed about it often, but ultimately I came to this place of peace.

At 17, I was "excommunicated" from my local church for the gay, probably-a-satan-worshipper thing. I went to a lot of other churches, but it's hard when you can point out exactly where the minister is misquoting/distorting scripture.

As I grew older, I tried creating a Judaic type of Christianity for myself, often mockingly referred to as The Church of Melinda. The idea of being something other than Christian was too frightening to consider.

In my early twenties, my friends noticed what I refused to admit: that I was Jewish. I was a big old Torah believing Jew long before I realized it. I remember my friend Donald shaking his head in frustration when he tried to subtly point that out and it sailed over my head.

One night, my friends Susan and Nicole laid it all out for me. Susan was trying to be nice, encouraging me to apply my legendary capacity for reason to my "religious confusion." Nicole refused to be polite and simply said, "Melinda, you're a Jew. Get over it."

I did some research thinking I'd prove them wrong and ended up realizing where I really belonged. Imagine it. I'm sitting in the computer lab pulling up comparisons between Judaism and Christianity. I come across this lovely article that had a list of Maimonides' 13 points on one side and the basic tenets of Christianity on the other.

I began laughing my fool head off thinking about how I'd invented a millenia old religion and how I should write the Torah for my next feat of brilliance. (I thought Hebrew might be a nice language for that.) I immediately decided to go for it, looked into conversion, went to temple to get approval from a rabbi, and I've never looked back.


Blogger Canardius said...

which Donald is mentioned here??

2:38 PM  
Blogger Melinda Barton said...

You, weirdo. I don't know if you remember your growl of frustration when we were trash-talking after a debate and I picked on you about 2,000 years of Catholic history and you came back with 6,000 years of Jewish history and I'm all like "I'm not Jewish..."

It was pretty funny and pretty memorable in retrospect. I interpreted it in hindsight as your being one of those people who had figured me out before I did. Am I wrong?

5:07 PM  
Blogger reasonably prudent poet said...

wow. that's pretty incredible. you don't often here a story about being outed by your friends as *jewish* -- about setting people's *jewdar* off when you're not *ethnically* jewish. that's quite a feat. congrats. :-) and thanks for sharing, i wanted to know.

10:39 AM  
Blogger reasonably prudent poet said...

you also don't often "hear" those stories... or see relatively smart people make simple spelling mistakes with words like "here" and "hear." (crawling back under my rock now...)

10:40 AM  
Blogger Melinda Barton said...

Fear not... I think writing on the net is deleterious to one's sense of proper grammar. Personally, I've concluded that when I'm typing really fast, I just start typing phonetically, which can get one into trouble considering the oddities of the English language.

One more interesting point about the conversion, the Nicole who "outed" me was an atheist, one of those many atheist friends I've had that some people think I made up.

5:38 AM  

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