12 Pages

Binding the God

The fascination goes far back. Probing memory, what I first find is an illustrated book of Bible stories for children in the optometrist’s office in Lewisburg, West Virginia. My parents, both liberals, freethinkers, and agnostics, bless them, kept me fairly insulated from orthodox religion and the narrow-minded Baptists that surrounded us in Southern Appalachia, but they didn’t stop me from picking up that colorful book in the waiting room. God, how old was I? Ten? Leafing through that book, was I even then admiring the bearded men in robes, the savior with long hippie-hair? The savior in a loincloth, stretched out and nailed down, the muscles of his chest and arms swelling, his hair falling down around his bare shoulders. Did the illustrator bother to give him chest hair, belly hair, nipples? I can’t remember, but I hope so. Did the child I was think about how the savior tasted and smelled? Did I want both to wield the nails and also kiss his bleeding feet and comfort him? I hope so. If not, it wasn’t to be many years before all those desires would well up in me like a mountain spring.