Growing up Baptist


I wasn’t happy growing up Baptist.
Constrained to be saved,
by the age of accountability
—generally understood to be 12—
just when things got interesting.

Just when the blooming world began buzzing.
Just when I started to notice that United Church girls
wore coloured bras beneath their white blouses.

Just when the Rolling Stones released
“Between the Buttons”
and the mini-skirt reached it’s acme and apex.
That’s when I knew Catholics had it right.

They could dance and drink, smoke and play cards
without that lake of fire lapping at their feet,
oblivious, according to we Baptists, of their lostness,
happily entering pool halls and public houses, where
in the “Craven A” haze, hair was let down.

By my reckoning, Methuselah would have had a good
130 years before the covering of ignorance ran out.
But I was late born on the pious side of a prairie village,
where all was verboten except to:
“pluck out the eye” at the flash of a thigh.


  1. I love this. I also grew up Baptist (and German) and wasn’t permitted go to school dances (or anywhere else dancing might occur). I ended up living in the Caribbean for 20 years and regularly “played Mas” at Carnival, complete with skimpy costume, copious amounts of rum, and lewd dancing. My parents would have died if they’d seen me. Did you know Baptists don’t have sex standing up because it’s too much like dancing?

  2. I didn’t know Mennonites of my youth were Baptist! You captured the angst of my Mennonite youth experience very well in “”to pluck out the eye” at the flash of a thigh.”

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