by Stan Bennett

by Stan Bennett

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Checkers and Chess

I like checkers. I haven’t played in a while but I was unbeatable when I was in second grade. The game goes quickly and it’s direct: You only advance at first—there’s no backing up, and then I’ll try to jump your checker piece before you jump mine. Whoever wipes out the other player first wins. It’s satisfying.

On the other hand, I hate chess, where you sit and think, and then you sit and think some more. You can’t visit with each other because you’re supposed to concentrate, and I get fidgety. 

I usually get impatient and think, Screw it! Charge! Wipe out everything in my path and GET THAT KING! And then my opponent cheats and beats me with one of those damnable strategies concocted in the 18th century by some guy with a weird name, and he usually takes my king out with a  lowly pawn. 

I’m getting restless, almost hoping someone will find me out and expose me so I have no choice but to move on.  A friend expressed concern that I may be getting too reckless, and I can see she is right.  It’s best to stay in control, keep thinking, and choose my path wisely. 


Tomorrow is Sunday and once more I’ll lead rituals I don’t believe in, and phrase my sermon carefully so I won’t feel like too much of a liar. Some will tell me I’m a wonderful man of God while others plot to get rid of me, not because I’m evil or immoral, but because they’re threatened by me. However it’s not really me—they always feel threatened.

I’ll worry that I’ve already been found out and within the day my wife, children, and I will be thrown out of the parsonage and into the street while my neighbors peek through their windows at us as they lock their doors. And then my elderly parents who were so proud their son was a minister will find out and be ashamed, and other family members will quietly decide not to talk to me, and my lifelong friends will desert me. And my children will be alone and friendless through no fault of their own. 

I’ll go to the church building with my head and heart pounding, and my blood pressure so high that I’m dizzy. 

And that’s when I want to say from the pulpit, “SCREW IT! I DON’T BELIEVE THIS SHIT AND I DON’T EVEN LIKE YOU!” I'll stride out the door, taking my family with me and we’ll leave with the clothes on our backs and take to the streets of our own volition, 

But then I’ll swallow hard, tamp down the panic, and go to work like I always have.

But the day is coming when I can’t do this anymore, and it’s coming soon, whether or not I have an exit strategy.

This isn’t checkers or chess. 


  1. Damn. I thought I had it bad when I finally couldn't take it anymore and let my heretical thoughts burst out to my extended family who could have instantly deprived me of a home and job. But I didn't have anyone depending on me for survival. I feel for you Stan. I hope you can find the strength to soldier silently on until you find a new way to make a living. Coming out to someone you can completely trust and share your frustrations with might help to let off some steam.

    1. Thanks Greg. I'll do my best.I hope you are getting on well with your family.

  2. I've never been in your position. But I can understand. I'm a stranger too you, but I am always willing to lend an ear. For now, all I can do is wish you luck and peace. Your time will come, and relief will follow.


    RJ Evans
    American Heathen®

    1. Thanks, RJ. It's really very encouraging for someone who understands to reach out. --Stan

  3. I'm gay. Played straight ... because reasons. Home. Shelter. Food. Friends.

    Playing a part, pretending you're something you're not, is exhausting mentally.

    But here's the thing: it sucks out all the energy from the other parts of your life, too. I'm not urging you to leave before you have some exit strategy -- that could endanger you and your family, and that's not good -- but I will say that you will find life anew once you are no longer spending all your time and focus on being something that you are not.

    It's a struggle. May you find the right exit for you and your family!

    1. I found your article very well written. I think you would make a great writer. I know it is easier said than done as I am not in your situation, but if you treat your ministry work as a job that is bringing meaning to others and not see it as being dishonest. All you are doing is quoting the book by saying "according to the gospel of... or according to saint Paul..." I hope this will help. My Pastor keeps going on about the great number of Jews going back to their own land as evidence of fulfilled scripture. He believes in Noah's ark literally. Bless his cotton socks, even the Jews believe they are deliberate fables to convey a spiritual message. I wish you all the best, just take your time and let things happen naturally and don't be too hard on yourself. x

  4. Sorry to just now getting your comment published. Thank you so much for telling me of your experience. My counselor has said very similar things to me--that I will find new energy once i make my change. Again, thanks for the comment.