The first town I lived in, near Bangor, Maine, had an octagon-shaped Catholic church nearby. My family attended this church every Sunday.
I hated church with a passion; with the passion of Christ, as it were. I was 6-8 years old at the time.
It was the single most boring thing I had ever experienced. Every few minutes, we'd stand up, everyone would sing songs I had no idea what they were, and then we'd all sit down. Boring guy up front would babble about things I didn't care about, and then we'd all stand up and sing again.
It was practically sensory deprivation.
The most fascinating thing was a picture of bread on the book in the pocket of the pew in front of me. The contents of the book were beyond me (sheet music), but I spent lots of time studying that picture - forever seared into my retinas.
I credit going to this church with my active imagination and creativity. It got to a point where I was looking around the room, imagining little creatures jumping around and interacting with each other.
Sanity was saved on those days.
When I was 8 years old, we moved to another town, but we never got back into church. I'm not sure if it was procrastination, or something else. My mother talked about it frequently, but to this day, they still don't go. She's now changed into this "personal relationship with Jesus" type Christian, which I see as an improvement, at least.
Probably one of the earliest instances of cognitive dissonance I experienced revolved around this thing called "First Communion".
Apparently, I never did it. We moved before that event happened, and as I said, we stopped going to church after that. Although I wasn't concerned, since I had no idea what it was, my parents were. My mother kept talking about how I never got the chance to have first communion, for a couple years.
It then occurred to me - isn't this a bad thing? If we're talking about my immortal soul, and there's some procedure we're all supposed to go through, that I skipped, aren't I in danger? Won't God be mad at me?
Suddenly, I was concerned. It's like missing that class were some crucial topic was covered, and the test was now approaching.
As disconcerting as this appeared to be, why were my parents not lifting a finger to fix it? They only merely brought up the topic on occasion.
If first communion is so important, why weren't we doing anything about it? Even my young little mind was able to figure this mystery out.
It wasn't important.
The concern, from my parents' perspective, was nothing more than a question of protocol, like forgetting to make one's bed in the morning.
That was the first chunk of stone that eroded and broke off the mighty statue of theism in my life.