Hartzler_Rapture_jkt_finalThere’s a serial killer in my Bible class.

On the video, Dr. Dobson is interviewing Ted Bundy, a serial killer who was executed several years ago after systematically kidnapping, raping and killing many women over twenty years. No one really knows for sure how many. He confessed to around thirty killings, but experts estimate the true number may have been as high as one hundred.

Ted will be put to death in the electric chair for his crimes a few hours after this taping, but he’s accepted the wondrous grace of God’s forgiveness. He’s accepted Jesus Christ as his savior, and there’ll be a place for him in heaven when he is executed.

Ted Bundy is going to be in heaven?

Everything I’ve ever believed about the importance of mission work explodes in my brain. I teach Good News Club with Mom because kids who know the difference between right and wrong but don’t believe in Jesus will die and go to hell for all eternity. But apparently, Ted Bundy will be in heaven because he asked Jesus into his heart after he raped and killed thirty women—at least.

I look around our Bible class. Does anyone else think this is weird? Is this the God my parents believe in?

Is this the God I believe in?


Excerpt II


There are tears in Mom’s eyes. “Aaron, the only thing I want in the whole world is for my children to love Jesus, to be used mightily by God.”

Dad nods. “Son, God’s word says that when there is unconfessed sin in your heart, God can’t hear your prayers. Let’s pray together and confess your sin of deceit and disobedience to the Lord. Ask his forgiveness so that you can be a clean vessel he can use again.”

I can’t bear to see this hurt in their eyes. I want this to end. I nod, and bow my head. “Dear Heavenly Father, I’m sorry for disobeying Mom and Dad and listening to rock music. Please forgive me and help me not to be deceitful.”

As I pray, I make sure to use the right vocal inflection, to give the right gravity to the words, to talk slowly and humbly. I try to sound truly sorry, but now I’m lying again.

I don’t want to disobey Mom and Dad, but the truth is, I don’t think what I did was wrong. As much as they believe this music is rebellious, I don’t. That’s the funny thing about belief: no one else can do it for you.

Turns out, no matter how much I want to, I can’t make myself believe something I don’t. It’s not that I want to lie; I don’t feel that I have a choice. I know I will always love songs like this. They don’t make me feel separated from God. These songs make me feel at peace inside, the way I’ve always been told the presence of God will feel.


[From the book Rapture Practice by Aaron Hartzler. Copyright © 2013 by Aaron Hartzler. Reprinted by permission of Little, Brown and Company, New York, NY.  All rights reserved.]


hAARON1-R1-029-131 Aaron Hartzler grew up the eldest of five in Kansas City, MO. In RAPTURE PRACTICE, a funny and heartfelt coming-of-age memoir, he recalls his teenage journey to find the person he is without losing the family that loves him. Ultimately a story about finding your own truth while accepting your family for who they are, Rapture Practice will speak to anyone who has ever questioned religion, sexuality, or one’s path in life. Aaron currently lives with his dogs and partner in Palm Springs, California, where he writes and acts.

TAGS: , , ,

TNB Nonfiction features some of the web's best essays, excerpts of up-and-coming books, self-interviews, profiles, and humor from a wide range of authors. Past and future writers include Emily Rapp, Mira Bartók, Nick Flynn and Melissa Febos, among many others.  Our editorial team includes:  SETH FISCHER is the Nonfiction Editor. His work has appeared in Guernica, Joyland, Best Sex Writing, and elsewhere, and he was the first Sunday editor at The Rumpus. His nonfiction was selected as notable in The Best American Essays, and he has been awarded fellowships by Jentel, the Ucross Foundation, Lambda Literary, and elsewhere. He is also a developmental editor of nonfiction and fiction, and he teaches at Antioch University Los Angeles, UCLA-Extension, and Writing Workshops Los Angeles.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *