Monday, May 30, 2016

Rapture Practice by Aaron Hartzler

I really, really enjoyed Rapture Practice, the full title of which is actually Rapture Practice: A True Story About Growing Up Gay in an Evangelical Family.  I liked Aaron a lot and found his story funny, touching, heartbreaking - all those buzz words.  I worried about him.  It's, at the title says, a true story, so I knew that Aaron at least made it to an okay enough place to write the book, but I was very concerned about what might happen to him at a few points.  Several times I said to Anthony, "You won't believe how his parents are handling this situation!"

Aaron grows up in a Jesus loving household where they are just waiting for the rapture and, meanwhile, try to do everything in a way that will be pleasing to the Lord.  There is no TV in the house (until the kids are all teens) expect for during holidays and only then for some of the holiday specials.  There is no music outside of the Christian music station broadcast from the local Bible college.  They never go to the movies.  While some may please the Lord, many more don't and you never know what the previews might show.  Aaron's rebellions start small; listening to the adult easy listening pop radio station turned way down low at night while his siblings sleep, going to a movie while being a camp councilor at age 15.  Some things his parents discover, others he keeps secret.  Eventually, the indiscretions grow to include drinking, reading Penthouse and plenty of bodily explorations.

His parents, trying hard to save his soul, react in sometimes alarming ways.  When he buys the soundtrack to Pretty Woman (he grew up mostly in the 80s) for a girlfriend then lies about it, his dad pulls him out of the school play, in which he is the lead, with two weeks to go until show time as punishment.  Aaron is devastated and the play ends up being much less than it could have been, punishing everyone.

When his stash of contraband music tapes is found, his dad wrestles him to the ground, yelling.  He's grown up with spankings as punishment, from his usually very in control dad, but occasionally his dad punishes in anger.

While I think his parents were misguided in their attempts to keep Aaron on the very narrow straight that they think is right, I also felt sorry for them.  They were worried that the outside world would provide too much temptation and, really, they were right.  Aaron chooses to listen to music, go to movies and try drinking.  I don't think Aaron is wrong to do so, really, and I do think his parents didn't handle these rebellions well, but I do appreciate that his parents were trying to do what they thought was best for him.  And I think Aaron does, too.

The book is saturated with Aaron's questions of his religion.  I'll let you read it yourself for exactly what form that takes, but I will say it's worth reading.  I highly recommend this book.

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