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ADELAIDE Independent Monthly Literary Magazine / Revista Literária Independente Mensal, New York / Lisboa, Online Edition  

 




 


 

 

 

 

 

 

INSANE IN THE NAME OF THE LORD
by Teresa Lynn Hasan-Kerr 

 

 

 

 

“And he sayed: heare my wordes. Yf there be a prophet of the Lordes amonge you I will shewe my selfe vnto him in a vision and will speake vnto him in a dreame:”
-Numbers 12:6 (Tyndale)

When I was seventeen, I gave up religion and soon after a tornado season began.  There were tornados weekly, with several in the same weekend.  It was like nothing I experienced before.  There was a tornado that was so great it bore two other tornados.  The sky rained with what couldn’t be fury, but hail.  Lightning crashed from what couldn’t be heaven.  Every storm, my believing parents praised God vehemently, believing that He was speaking through the violence of nature.

They’d turn up the weather channel to hear all of the warnings.  From my room, I was not able to ignore the weatherperson booming that the closest tornado was roaring down the street where my best friend’s uncle lived.  Crash!

“God be praised, God be praised, God be praised,” my father never said it once.  My newfound agnosticism made me feel unprotected.  I wanted calm.  But to ask my father that the news be silenced meant that I was asking him to silence God’s praise.  The warnings would then be turned up even louder.

My father moved us to the tornado-prone, Bible Beltway in the south unexpectedly.  He was due to retire from the Navy so we were going to move, one last time, to settle into a more stable life.  My dad, mom, sister and I had been living in Japan for about four years, but we all agreed to settle in Italy.  This option was on a list of places we could choose from.  Last minute, my father called a family meeting to say that God wanted him to start a nondenominational church in Millington, Tennessee, which was also on the list.  In the meeting, he told us that God’s plan is greater than our own.

The first night in Tennessee we checked into a hotel and were told by a member of the staff that a tornado was on the way.  As a family we had not yet any experience with tornados.  We asked about precautions to take.

“The bathtub is the safest place if you hear the sirens,” the hotel clerk gave us the advice and then the key to our room, where we were an hour later, huddled together in our bathtub.  We made jokes about our safe flight and the potential danger coinciding the same evening.  I think it was my mother who said that as we began this new life as first family, she refused to restrict her life to her new role.

“Church to home, to school, to church to home,” Mom curled her upper lip in disgust at the thought of doing nothing else.  I remember we all immediately agreed, but I don’t know what gave my mother the idea that such a strict life was at all a possibility for us.  And just as we visualized exactly what we didn’t want, it came true.


We were looking at houses the late summer we arrived when we tried 127 Wilkinsville road.  The modest property included half an acre and an abundance of natural sunlight that beamed through large windows.  While it was less spacious than the others we had seen, it charmed my father nonetheless. I could tell.  After we turned to give the property a final look, I felt nothing in particular.  But the following two minutes YIELDEDan unforgettable event:  the first of many visions.
My father put a hand on his chest and leaned over, letting out a groan.  The woman showing us her house, my family and I looked over with concern.

“Are you okay?” Someone must have asked.  It’s not like my dad to answer on the first inquiry, “what happened?”

Someone must have tried again for him to finally answer, “God be praised, God be praised, God be praised…I just saw something.  God just showed me an angel…with a flaming sword watching over this house.”  He showed us the path the angel took when charging past him.  The owner and I weren’t sure how to respond.  My mom let out a few “thank you Lords” and it was decided that this was our new home.

Am I to say that Clark Simmons did not see a paranormal being that day?  To say my father was lying or to argue that spiritual visions aren’t real?  If it was real to him,  could I say it wasn’t real at all?  I know now that I saw nothing out of the ordinary; I am accustomed to the sight of my father testifying a vision.

Say it was not a vision, and my father had a slip in his previously reliable perception of reality.  It could have been a hallucination.  Or, he could have wanted the house so badly that he felt he needed divine approval, which, in our family, overrides any objections.  I can’t confidently say this is the case, but I can recall several times in which my father’s desires were inseparable from God’s.

He told me not to wear pants to church; it wasn’t pleasing to God for women to look like men in the house of God.  When we prayed in a group, before a meal or kneeling on the living room floor before bed, if there was a man present he had the duty to lead it, for “men are the head of the household,” he’d quote Ephesians.  We put our individual interests aside to worship as a family.  Everything for His glory.  We referred to people, and things as “good”,  “worldly” or, like the pop CDs I was made to throw away, “demonic.”  We went to service at least three times a week, with Sunday’s service lasting the entire day.  If I was sad or mad about something, my parents would stop what they were doing to rebuke the demons that made me so disagreeable.  Of course we didn’t watch satanic horror films, not in my father’s house. 

EVEN SO, my older sister once watched a scary movie at the cinema.  She lay down on her bed and made a phone call.  The door opened.  She looked over.  A dark figure with too many legs ran in towards her and then dove under her bed at the last second.  A vision?

I think there was something dark in the house, whether it’d been a demon or a collective sense of guilt, fear, maybe shame lingering.  A tension was there, seeming to open and shut our doors, and shuffle around in the attic above my room at night.  An unknown voice would wake me up in the mornings.  Visions?

Eventually, our incredible reality clashed with the systems of the rest of the world when I was ready to go to college.  I asked my father where I should go.  He said it didn’t matter.  So I applied and got accepted, with scholarships, to a private liberal arts school in St. Louis.  I explained to him the tuition we still were responsible for and asked if I needed to take care of it myself.  He said, “Actually, it’s already taken care of,” and refused to elaborate.  This WHAT just is how he is.  It must make him feel in complete control.

Desperate to get out of my school-home-church, school-home-church life, I had faith in my father and went to study.  I had to be different from my family. I wanted to earn a degree.

At school, I saw what I’d previously believed was the secular world.  It was like leaving the darkness of Noah’s Ark but entering the old world of sinners who were such an abomination that they had to be drowned in a great flood.  I made friends who’d never gone to church.  I didn’t go to church.  There was a club.  There was music, and there was curiosity.  It was wickedly beautiful.

When it came time to register for the second semester, I couldn’t.  My account had been on hold for a balance due.  All of it was due.  I called my father. He refused to explain anything to me, but demanded to speak with the head of the business office.  Minutes later, the hold was lifted and I was able to register.  I asked my father what had happened.  He said only, “it’s taken care of.”  I asked the office what had happened.  They said there had actually been a misunderstanding.  I registered.  It seemed to be taken care of.

In the following semester, the same thing happened.  There was a hold not allowing me to register.  They said there was a balance due and it was from two semesters and I could not register for classes until it was paid and that was final.  My father, unsurprisingly, gave me no answer as to what was happening with my account.  I had no choice but to dropout of college.  I went back to my family in Tennessee.

My father never spoke to me about what happened with school, but he began to speak about a strong belief that God was going to give him eighty thousand dollars, most likely by way of military benefits.  Then I understood what had happened.

When he spoke with the business office, he told them he was going to receive some kind of benefits from being in the military, meaning the eighty thousand dollars he was entirely sure he was going to receive from God.  At the sound of “military” the woman in the office must have thought, “oh the GI Bill,” (it usually comes in late).  She made a note on the account that it would be taken care of soon and lifted the hold.  She expected the money to come from the Veterans Benefits Administration.  There was a misunderstanding, indeed.

I didn’t have the money I owed, totalling five thousand dollars.  The debt was legally in my name and no one else’s.  I was simply not permitted money for gas to find a paying job.  The account defaulted to a third party, adding two thousand dollars to my sum.  I gathered shreds of faith in myself, borrowed sixty bucks from a friend for a greyhound ticket back to Saint Louis and by autumn was moved in with a boyfriend I met through school.

Because I was the age of the average undergrad, in small talk people often asked where I studied.  Most couldn’t understand how I could leave school to move in with my first boyfriend.  I learned to laugh off their judgment and began to lie, to say that I was still in school.  To this day I still explain this era as a hiatus to find my passion.  When prompted, I’d also say that my parents are just a little on the religious side.

Several years, minimum wage jobs, and borrowed sums later, and I graduated from the same college. However, I’m still haunted by our dark religion.  What happened to us? Were we insane in the name of the lord?

When I ask my father any question pertaining to what God told him, I am answered with a detached but thunderous, “God be praised, God be praised, God be praised.”                                                  

*name changed

 

 

About the Author:

Teresa Lynn

Born a Navy brat in San Diego, California, and a nomad ever since, Teresa Lynn Hasan-Kerr earned a bachelor's degree in English with an Emphasis in Creative Writing and a minor in French at Webster University in Saint Louis, MO in 2017. Soon after graduating, she decided to follow her hunger for interesting perspectives by moving to Morocco, where she currently resides as an English teacher and freelance writer.

 







 

 

 

     
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