From Fundamentalism, Through Atheism, Toward RealizationA Video Autobiography by a Kriya Yoga Student of Paramahansa Yogananda's Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF)
Larry Dominus Reavis, Ph.D.
4. I Become a Fundamentalist
Dad was silent for weeks after our confrontation. When he spoke he surprised me by what he said:
"Larry, you're no longer a boy - you're a man now. Don't you think it's time you became a Christian"?
I readily agreed; so in the fall of 1948, I became a member of the Baptist church. And, of course, a fundamentalist - just like my parents.
My 11 years as a fundamentalist started off well. I enjoyed a good relationship with my father and became very involved in the church - I had such a warm feeling for Jesus. Before long, I was singing in the choir, and of course was going to church every time the doors opened - Wednesday for Prayer Meeting; Thursday for choir practice; Saturday for calling on the sinners (often the only kid in the group); and, or course, Sunday morning for Sunday School followed by the worship service; Sunday after noon for Baptist Training Union (BTU), again followed by another worship service. And at home, there was Bible reading and prayer at least once per day.
If anything, my teen years were even better. I was popular both at church and at school. Shortly after I got my job in the grocery store at age 16, I was elected president of the teenagers' BTU group. I was hesitant to take that job, for I was working more than 30 hours per week in addition to going to high school. I felt that I couldn't cut back on the hours at work, for my father generally was opposed to higher education (the Devil's work, a necessary evil, at best) and wouldn't help me with college bills; and he raised additional fiancial roadblocks - charging me room and board during the summer months, requiring me to purchase a rather expensive life-insurance policy for him, etc. For her part, my mother was saving her money so that my little sister wouldn't have to work in a grocery store and could go live in a dormitory - just as my mother had done back in the '30s. But, I reasoned, the term of a BTU president was only 6 months and I could endure that long.
However, I was re-elected to a second term; and then a third, and fourth, and finally a fifth before I said, "enough"! Mercifully, during those years we got some raises in the grocery store and I was making more money per hour than some of the fathers of my high-school friends; so I felt that I still could pay all my college bills even though I did cut back on my hours of work.
Even so, I always was short on sleep. Even more so after I transferred to N.E. High School in Kansas City for my senior year in order to get physics, chemistry, and trigonometry - not offered at my old high school and needed for improving my chances of getting into the U. Missour (they only allowed the top 15% of graduating seniors to enter MU in those days). It wasn't so much the additional homework that upset my schedule - it was the pressure of having been elected President of the Northeast Amateur Radio Club.
I entered N.E. H.S. with the intention of keeping a low profile and not getting involved in any social organizations. I figured I'd get away with that tactic, for I only knew one other kid in this school of more than 2000 students. But that's not what happened.
I was innocently standing in line on the first day of school when a friendly fellow walked up behind me and asked, "What's your name"?
"Larry," I said - and we began to talk.
Soon he remarked, "You sound familiar. There's a Larry that I hear sometimes on the 160-meter band who sounds just like you; are you that Larry"? he asked.
"That would be me," I replied.
He became very excited. He said he'd always wanted to be a ham radio operator, and would I teach him? So sorry, I replied, just too short on time.
But he persisted, "We could form a high-school club! Hold it just a minute! My friend is just around the corner and he and I and the others who join would do all the work - you wouldn't have to do a thing - just tell us what to do"! - and off he ran to get his friend.
And so it was that I became the President of the new high-school radio club. Unfortunately, I taught all the classes and wrote out all the information that they needed. It was gratifying that 11 of the club members passed their FCC license before the end of the school year; but it swallowed a huge amount of my time.
As if I wasn't strung out enough, that's when my long-held doubts regarding my religion really boiled over . . .