"Fundamentalist" Excerpt #1: "The Sinner's Prayer"

Welcome to the new BC Blog! To kick things off, we're going to be posting excerpts from our good friend Joey's new book, "Fundamentalist". Be sure to preorder it if you like what you read.


I still remember the intoxication of childhood play on warm spring days. Life was good. After getting our fill of Cap’n Crunch and Saturday morning cartoons, all of the neighborhood kids would meet up outside and play all day long. We had our shared toy infatuations. I had all the normal characteristics of boyhood, obsessed with Skeletor, Luke Skywalker, and Optimus Prime. But what set me apart from those other neighbor kids went beyond your standard toy fetish. You see, I was obsessed with Jesus.


My parents were brought up as traditional Catholics and became born-again Christians when I was just a kid. That’s when they laid down the junior varsity Christianity for the real thing—you know, where you get serious about Jesus and make him the center of everything.

My parents did a great job raising us to value faith in Jesus. Mom or Dad would lead us in weekly family devotions where we’d learn a spiritual lesson, pray together, and talk openly about God. We were the type of family that went to church on Sunday mornings, Sunday nights, and Wednesday nights, and I loved every single minute of it. I loved my church, the music, and all the people.

I’ll never forget one of the purest moments of childhood faith. I had experienced quite a difficult day. You know, kid problems—tragic stuff like missing Dukes of Hazard because the cable was out, breaking a favorite toy, and being forced to go to school every day. I remember quite clearly when the thought popped in my head that one day we’d be in heaven forever with no more worries or cares of this world. Dukes of Hazard would play 24-7. The cable would never go out, toys would never break, and it would always be summer vacation. I was consumed with Jesus—a little guy full of the joy of the Lord. But remember, our family was born-again. That meant that in order to be OK with God and maintain the joy of the Lord, I had to be a good boy.

I was so good that I even punked out my mom in favor of the Virgin Mary. I clearly remember my dad asking me once, “Isn’t your mom the prettiest woman in the whole world?” “Yes, sir,” I said. “Well, after the Virgin Mary, of course.” If I was going to be good with God, I was convinced that I had to have all of my spiritual bases covered, even if it meant that Mom was a runner-up to Mary in beauty. Despite all that, Mom was my spiritual cheerleader, helping me form a habit of daily prayer and Bible reading by adding “read and pray” to my chore list. This may have been the beginning of my checklist-keeping career.