When I was growing up, my father was a very religious man. He had been raised a strict catholic and took it very seriously. We were not raised catholic, or any other variation on the Christian theme, in spite of the close proximity to many cute country churches.

I guess I was baptized Methodist at the church we briefly attended for a few short years when I was very young. I remember enjoying Sunday school very much. The kids all seemed to like me and I enjoyed dressing up in the pretty dresses.

Eventually we moved to our new house and the church-going abruptly ended, unceremoniously and without explanation. Any inquiry as to why we stopped had no real answer. We just stopped going.

Still my father maintained his faith, most demonstrably through his catholic guilt, his intolerance of things like gays, women he saw as whores and subservient and in his preferred method of punishment, the thick leather belt.

When he drank, sometimes taking the open container in the truck as we’d bound along without a seat belt or carseat to be had. He’d become all misty-eyed behind the booze, contemplating the baby Jesus, and how one tiny baby could be born for all the world’s sins.

When you’re a child, you have no ability to discern drunken bullshit for the sober, deluded kind. You believe because you want to believe. The world seems better if Jesus is magic and has a special plan just for you.

Eventually, my parents’ marriage crumbled. The culmination of so much drama, it finally collapsed under the weight of itself like a dying star. His faith was shaken by the ordeal, having to commit himself to the mental hospital and re-emerging a broken man who was seeking answers.

He began seeking all manner of other worldly enlightenment, but nothing suited him as much as the needy, gold-digging women he met on the internet. They were a unique parade of their own special brand of crazy, each a more dazzling display than the last.

They had only one thing in common, that they were willing to take everything they could from my father. It is mind boggling, but seeing the amount of money and gifts, cell phones and vehicles that go out the door to these women, it appears to be his own strange pseudo-religious tithing. My father traded his church to lay himself as sacrifice to the alter of the Golden Leech.