I have a confession.
I am a bad Christian.
And by that, I mean, I don't have multiple CS Lewis quotes on my Facebook profile. Seriously, if I had a dollar for every Facebook friend who has that line about ~Is he safe? No he's not safe, but he's GOOD~ [get it guys, Aslan's a metaphor for Jesus! This quote is so deep. So. Deep.] I could buy a pair of pants at Anthropologie. But I don't plaster my Facebook wall with CS Lewis quotes because it's overdone or vastly taken out of context or because some people just post 'em cause it's cool and don't actually understand the depth and the need for conversation behind them. Well, you see...
CS Lewis kind of caused a major childhood trauma.
Our house is full of books - a bookshelf (or two) in every bedroom, and a big one in the hallway. Books everywhere. And as an awkward tween, I had plenty of free time to read for pleasure (reading for fun is a totally foreign concept in high school, except when you geek out and read the entirety of your Media Effects textbook because it's SO INTERESTING). I went through a big classics kick in middle school where I read tomes like "Peter Pan," "Mary Poppins," "Tarzan," and for some unknown reason, "Jane Eyre." In between these meaty books I liked to read your typical fluff tweeny-coming-of-age tale or one of my mom's murder mysteries. My middle school crush on Hercule Poirot rivals my current friends' swooning over Benedict Cumberbatch's Sherlock.
So I went to my parent's bookshelf to find a good murder mystery. Leafing past the heap of "How to Deal with Your Awful Daughter" and "Times to Torture Terrible Tweens" (which I also read for fun so I could learn how to sabotage my parents' punishments, haha!) I found a slender book in a purply-pink cover. It looked pretty old and well-read, and the lettering on the cover was gothic and foreboding. I requested myself away in my room to begin reading.
An hour later, I realized my parents were Satanists.
This book, you see, was correspondence between two demons on how to corrupt a good Christian. It was so frightening and utterly detailed on how to corrupt a good, pure soul that I put it down halfway in. Why would my parents have such a book? Why would it be so obviously well worn, and half-hidden behind the usual books? Wasn't I a good Christian - didn't I go to church and youth group and stuff? Maybe this was a key, a small snippet, a glimpse into the terrifying truth - my parents were worshipping the devil and just playing along until they could destroy us.
Suddenly, my parents' explanation for me not being baptized: "The church we went to when you were born didn't do infant baptism, and at this point we want you to make a conscious decision" paled in comparison to the real truth: they didn't want me baptized so I would have no protect when they tried to ruin my soul.
[[[[ Let me explain how I jumped to such an extreme conclusion. You can skip this part if you too would have totally believed your parents were the right-hand of the devil after uncovering a hidden, menacing tome of evil.]]]]
1) I was a tween. Tweendom is God's joke on humanity. You hate everything. You hate yourself; you hate your parents. Everything is uncomfortable and nothing makes sense. Your brain is overwhelmed with hormones and the sudden capacity to do complex reasoning, without any sort of guidance on logic. YOU ACT WEIRD.
2) "I have a vivid imagination" doesn't even being to explain it. My imagination is through-the-roof wild. Usually this is a good thing in my chosen career and hobbies. However, at the time, it was partially fueled by a totally unchecked anxiety disorder. I was scared of a lot in middle school and for (seemingly) good reason. I now know how to stop being ridiculous, but ten years ago, nope. Grand ideas + fear = YOU ACT WEIRD.
3) Everything about the book seemed evil. I had seen television shows about this, I think. Every demonic possession movie has something about an old evil book. I might have just watched the Exorcist. Demons talking in detail. All signs point straight to hell. YOU ACT WEIRD.
What's a twelve year old to do when she thinks her parents are worshipping the devil? CONFRONT THEM ALONE, OBVIOUSLY.
I checked on Lil Watz in his room, reading peacefully about whales. So unaware. So uncorrupt. I could not let his soul be eaten or whatever my parents were planning on doing to us.
I carried the book outstretched away from my body downstairs. I don't think I was actually clutching a Bible, or had a circle of salt or anything. I was the most ill-prepared demon hunter ever. But you know, the power of Christ compels you or something or other. Lady mother sat in her favorite chair, seemingly innocently reading a book about a garden/bed-and-breakfast-owner-turned-crimesolver-in-a-sleepy-english-town. But she couldn't fool me, not any more. I knew I had to play it cool; I couldn't let on that I knew her secret.
"So, lady mother, I found this book in your room." There. Easy. Non-confrontation, open to interpretation. She looked up, startled. Was that concern in her eyes? Did she guess that I knew?
"Where'd you find that? I don't know if you'll like that book." Definitely a hint of concern. Why wouldn't I like the book? Because I'd find out her and Dr. Dad's secrets? Could she tell I was about to panic?
"I started reading it. I found it very... interesting." I stared at her. Knowingly. I raised my eyebrows. Time to come clean, demon.
She turned back to her book.
"MOM ARE YOU A SATANIST?" I half-yelped. So much for subtlety. She looked up, definitely concerned now.
"What? R. Grace, what on Earth, why would you think that?" How dumb did this demon think I was?
"I started reading this book. I know what it's about. You're looking for souls to corrupt. Why do you have this book? Why do I have to wake up early for church if you're a Satanist?" Gasp, gasp. As usual, I couldn't keep my big ol' R. Grace mouth shut and I poured out all my fears about this book. Most of them sounded incredibly silly once spoken aloud, though they made perfect sense in my head. Lady mother sat there, next to some embroidery project she was working on for a Nativity set, looking like the same ol' boring, reliable, loving Lady Mother I'd always known.
And to her credit, she didn't even laugh at me.
She explained that "The Screwtape Letters" was actually a very popular book with Christians, written by a really popular theologian named C.S. Lewis. I didn't quite understand how detailed instructions of how to corrupt a Christian was supposed to help Christians, but she said it was an example of what NOT to do, problems we face every day. I was more convinced when she explained this C.S. Lewis guy was behind the whole Chronicles Of Narnia series. She then suggests I try reading The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, as it might be more on my level.
"Eww, the Chronicles of Narnia? Those books SUCK. I'm definitely not worried anymore." And I went off to paint my nails electric blue and wallow in pubescent angst. I lived to be awkward for another day.