My earliest experiences in the theater came from writing morality sketches for my church theater group. The troupe was led by Bill, a thoughtful and rather open-minded pastor, who patiently directed me and a handful of averagely-disaffected teens. I took the task at hand very seriously. Most of my works involved “freeze frame” moments with a piped in “voice of God” quoting relevant scripture. We took the shows on tours, mostly to the South, where proto-megachurches teemed with captive audiences for our particular brand of Born Again Theater. I was one mixed up teenager: half punk weirdo (Echo & The Bunnymen hair, thrift-store clothes, skateboard) and half God-fearing fundamentalist (Church three times a week, thoughts of becoming a priest, Bible Study Teacher’s Pet).
Which leads me to Chick Publications. At the height of my evangelical fever, I used to read and distribute Jack Chick’s infamous tracts, warning non-believers the dangers of Halloween, Rock & Roll (causing me considerable amounts of soul-searching), Sex (causing me no soul-searching whatsoever since there was none for me to speak of), and yes, Dungeons and Dragons.
Doubts about basic concepts (like say, an eternal Hell for friends and loved ones who happen to worship a different God than ours) started to mount. I stopped showing up for services and even gave up the theater group. Eventually, Bill arrived at my house. I was terrified to face him. Explaining my misgivings, told him I couldn’t continue to participate in something I didn’t believe in. He took a moment to reflect, and said he envied me. Dumbfounded, I asked him why. He said I was about to begin a real adventure.