One man, well passed middle age, impressed me at SNAP. He was one of the participants I'd last seen a dozen years ago at Linkup. This time he was smiling and having fun telling how he got free from the cloud of fear.
It came the day the priest threatened to ex-communicate him. To which he replied: "Tell you what, I'll just save you the trouble. I'm ex-communicating myself." And so did his wife in the next breath. By then, of course, he'd come to realize that he didn't need to maintain a cordial relationship with any priest. Nor did he feel the need to have one around to hear his confessions.
I joined him in the laughter and informed him that I understood fully. For those of us who grew up Baptists, I explained, communication has never been an issue. I realized almost immediately how funny this sounded and how true it had become in more ways than one for me!
Of course, not having to go through any mediator to communicate with God has some definite advantages. As long as one doesn't fear that God. For me, that's not been an issue since I was a small child--fearing God wasn't a lesson that stuck with me very well. Maybe that's why I've found it to be a problem in my relationships with those who DO have that fear. And why communication seems to be a challenge for me now, especially with a lot of Baptists.