In an interview with NPR’s Terry Gross, film actor Anna Kendrick (Up in the Air, Pitch Perfect, The Accountant) reminisces about growing up Christian.
It wasn’t a walk in the park. Kendrick says that at a young age, religion gave her “crippling anxiety.” She couldn’t reconcile threats of “the lake of fire” with the kind of loving, friendly God her parents and her congregation required her to believe in.
As a child you hear passages from the Old Testament and you are absorbing them and terrified of them. So I remember my parents being very shocked when I told them that I was afraid that I was going to go hell, because we were Episcopalian and they thought that they had thus far brought me up in a very friendly religious atmosphere. But they hadn’t considered the fact that I, of course, couldn’t just block out what I was hearing in the Old Testament.
I remember there being this thing about, “It’s easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” And at that point, because … my brother and I each had our own room and we had a garage, I thought, Well that’s us. We’re rich and we need to give everything away, otherwise my whole family is going to go to hell.
My mom laughed at the notion that we were rich, and explained that everything was going to be fine. But I still couldn’t reconcile: “It says — it says right there!” So as a kid I think you’re totally aware of what the Bible is telling you and you haven’t made the decisions that your parents have made about which pieces you’re going to choose to take literally.
“Which pieces you’re going to choose to take literally.” The term “cafeteria Christian” comes to mind.
Why take any of it literally? Or seriously?
Kendrick must have had the same thought. She stopped going to church at age 14.
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