My Father and I never talked about religion. He never went to church. He was clearly conservative in his political affiliations, but ideology per se never seemed to be the driving force. Instead, his political viewpoints traced a kind of common-sense fiscal conservatism. He was a practical man. So, not attending church wasn't some kind of statement about a theoretical agnosticism so much as it was an affirmation that Sunday was his one true day off work, once you included all the Saturday family duties tacked on to his paid work week.
Mom was the ideologue in the family. She was also a very young woman who will be the first to admit that she was still very immature when she got married and had given birth to her first child. Unlike Dad, she wasn't very practical at all. Also unlike Dad, she was very vocal about all her opinions and viewpoints. Those viewpoints tended to occur in the stratosphere, with the practical implications being irritating details someone else should figure out. She still has this endearing characteristic!
They were, in many ways, an odd couple, Mom having graduated from Grade 13, Dad dropping out in Grade 9. Mom being quite musical, playing the piano and having what I considered to be a very pleasing singing voice. Dad, on the other hand, seemed to be the only one on his side of the family that didn't make music so much as appreciate it. Apart from that, they clearly loved one another and each child born into the family...at quite regular intervals.
One of the most important gifts Mom and Dad gave to each of their children was freedom and independence. Whatever political or religious opinions we developed, they would never stifle expression or attempts to articulate those viewpoints.
So, when I decided to become intensely involved in Hi-Way Pentecostal Church (including mid-week prayer and Bible study, Friday night youth services, Sunday School, and two worship services), they might not like it, but they never prevented it. All the more impressive considering I had weekly concert band practices and depended on getting to and from school by joining Dad early in the morning (7:00 am) and late in the afternoon (5:00 pm). I also decided to purchase and learn the bass guitar, to lug it to at least 2 services a week, to join a new gospel band in the church which quickly became well-known enough and talented enough to travel to other churches in south-western Ontario for a modest fee.
As those church friendships developed, I gradually became interested in the Pentecostal "message" apart from just the social interaction provided by the church. I had some talent in public speaking, so I was invited frequently to participate as a "youth" speaker, to represent our church in regional events, and to lead meetings, Bible studies and informal discussions about practical theology. So by the end of Grade 13, not only was I ready academically for studies at the University of Waterloo in computer science or pharmacology at the University of Toronto, I was primed too for a "calling" into the Pentecostal ministry. In September 1971, at age 18, I left home to go to college, never to return except for visits and holidays.
By the end of high school, I was the perfect example of the insider/outsider - an outsider with talent and knowledge at school, an insider with talent and knowledge and clear leadership potential at church. And I had become quite skilled at adapting to new situations, making new friends, assuming positions of leadership, relishing chances to learn anything new and enjoying friendships as much, if not more, than family ties.