By John W. Fountain
|A South African woman at a well, the only source|
of water for hundreds in a township, fills her bucket
Photo: By John W. Fountain
For weeks, a little chocolate girl named Brenda and I climbed the stairs of Sister Betty's house to practice for our church play. A Sunday School teacher and Bible enthusiast, Sister Betty drafted us for a dramatic interpretation of a passage of Scripture: St. John 4. I was about 10 and Brenda about 7 or 8. I was Jesus. She was the Samaritan woman.
Over and over again, we rehearsed our lines with dramatic inflection. Brenda had a mean set of pipes and routinely did recitations in church, her voice bellowing like a megaphone: "O clap your hands, all ye people . . . "
We were both budding thespians, good kids from good church-going families with praying grandmothers who loved the Lord. We arose on Sunday mornings fully aware that - barring serious illness or the Lord having returned on a cloud to rapture the church - Sunday School, and nearly all-day worship service, was inescapable.
As a boy, I vowed, braving the risk of saying it out loud: "When I get grown, I ain't ever going to church, ever!"
"As a full-grown man, especially as of late,
I have made no secret of my absence,
from the institutional church."