Prayer for the wounded (Poem)

toa-heftiba-568714-unsplash

 

 

unsplash-logoToa Heftiba

The bruises now are healed
The scars covered by tattoos
I don’t jump when I hear the door
Nor am I a captive audience in the pews

You took away my innocence
The little boy who loves God and Santa
You beat me where no one could see me
When your anger turned into rage

I might as well have been born, abroad
Where bombs explode and bullets rain
Yet, I lived here in the land of freedom of conscience, of thought
while my screams ignited an inferno that
Burned my childhood to the ground

The things you did, you did them to me
The smell of smoke engulfed my lungs
As you bounced my head off of the flame red tile
Where no help could come to me

You were like the Roman soldier
The Pharisee and Pilot and the nails
I was the little boy, Jesus
now I am the woman at the well

Deliver me, Oh God, from what was done
Rewrite what happened in your name
Resurrect me once again, my Lord
Even though my mouth and my clothes and my faith smell of brimstone

I’ve been in the presence of evil, real evil
Yet I am alive, somehow….

 

Evangelical Survivor (National Poetry Month)

alejandro-alvarez-150154-unsplash

 

The creeping sad and delightful darkness
sweeps through the gate of my mind
twisting swirling bits of memory
and pushes back the iron gates with a bang

through many dangerous toils and snares
I delighted in the part of me that made me human
as I lay a pagan sacrifice to baal
with the dagger of salvation protruding from my chest

on a marble altar with a weeping angel above me
her face shrouded in cement hands
I stared heavenward with amazing grace on my lips
when my hands falling off the altar,
brushed the licking touch of hell with my finger tips

I am a child of the night
born in equal measure light and dark
the profane and the most holy
possessed by demons and angels clashing
drawing perfect harmonies from my throat
that sound like a roll of thunder raging
with rain and wind and lightning crashing

Heaven has a special place for us
a grace given by God to those whose servants betrayed him
whose salvation was purchased along Dante’s journey
for how can a benevolent God cast someone down
who’d been nailed to the cross without a thought of mercy?

I am the reason for the thousand years of weeping, with milestones about your neck
me and children like me as revelation tumbles from our lips
when the prophet Daniel and John the Revelator speaks with our voices,telling our stories
of shadrack, meshack, and abendigo cast into the fiery furnace
but saved when the image of the fourth man appeared to walk us home.

All the way home leading the parade of his Rock n Roll children
singing Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah.
Our cold and broken Hallelujah

I believed you the first time (Poem)

 

ian-espinosa-248318

 

There is an anger inside of me
an anger cultivated from seeing the world through your eyes
the seeds of this understanding in fields once plowed
by the merciless and unyielding force of religion’s myopic blade
having once been allowed to fallow
as the fruit had grown bitter on the vine
this ground is now once again turned over and replanted
in this season of humanity’s discontent

I know you by the fruits of your labor
having once bore the weight of your harvests’ yield
I know the saccharine words you speak are laudanum laced
which heals as a whip renders flesh across the back heals
and comforts as salt comforts though generously applied

Evil is the man who says bad is good
and bad is made all the worse when done in the name of God
and that God’s hand is turned to a cloven hoof that tramples
lives and destroys families and ignores the pain of others
whistling while you work, while you plow your fields,
hymns and psalms with anger in your eyes

Yet I am the rock in the way of your blade
that kicks up and smacks against your mouth
I’ll be the clod that dulls the steel, the hole in the ground that lames your beast
for as inevitable as you might be, though you have names that cause men to tremble in marketplaces where you trade
I am the fruit that you created – and the irony of in the demise of your efforts

For I have been poisoned and carry that weight with me
in the truth of who you are that rests between my ears
I know that one with God still constitutes a majority
and though you can’t even begin to articulate my little finger. nor do you have the power to cause one hair to grow on my head
I know everything and everyone and exactly what you are
over and over you showed me and in your haughtiness you told me
and I – biding my time – waiting for my moment –
believed every word and deed – believed it all
the first time.

 

Message in a bottle (part 16)

SONY DSC
SONY DSC

 

It’s been a few days since I’ve written my last entry into this thing that i started doing for reasons of self-preservation.

Mostly, because for the past several days I’ve felt pretty light. Relieved in a way. The stars all seemed to align for me and I allowed myself to see the truth – the whole truth – for the first time.

And it broke my heart. I’m thirty-five years old.

But there is a part of me that feels like he’s seven years old. And despite my size and weight and years on my face, that five-year-old is still very much a part  of my life. That seven-year-old boy who’s name is Freddie- boy (that was my nickname). That little boy who was born on April 12th, 1981 the third child and first born son.

From what I understand I would introduce myself as ‘Freddie boy’ to people I would meet.

Today, I just call myself Freddie. Frederick makes me sound like I have money and Fred makes me sound like I know how to work on cars. Neither of which is true.

I’m poor and clueless when it comes to anything under the hood.

Before I cut off communication with my family, my mother had sent me a few things that she’d collected over the years and in that letter was my first letter to Santa Clause.

On the front, it said: To Santa to give to God.

It reads: I love God and I can see why you love me. Please take this (the letter ) to Jesus.

I had it worked out in my little five-year-old head that, of course, Santa knew God and Jesus they all lived ‘up north’. To me, that was the Holy Trinity. God the Father, God the Son, and Santa Clause (Sorry, Holy Spirit).

But the part that says, “I can see why you love me,” is something that’s given me pause.

I can see why you love me. Because I’m Freddie-boy and EVERYONE loves Freddie boy, duh.

But it’s interesting how as a child I knew that I was loved by Jesus. I knew it.

Despite the abuse, despite the craziness that was Detroit, despite the worn out heart and mind of this thirty-five-year-old man. I am thankful for my parent’s faith in regards to teaching us about Jesus. Not the fundamentalism, no. That ruined Jesus for me and for many others, I think, and probably is strong enough to give Christ himself pause every once in awhile and ask, “Am I really like that?”

Because despite all of this along with my obsession with love that I’ve carried with me all my adult life, I feel like I never stopped looking for God. I never stopped looking for Christ. Even factoring in the fact that I’m gay, I’ve yet to be convinced God doesn’t exist and Christ isn’t a part of my life.

Mostly, because I met God once. He fishes off the beaches on Crystal Beach (near Galveston) and he owns a raggedy four by four. He helped pull me out of the sand once when I was stuck and no one else would help me. He didn’t look like he had a lot of money, and his hair was curly and stood up in every direction. But he pulled up, got me out of rut I was in and got me back on the road before waving and disappearing from sight. He looked poor.

And he didn’t yell at me for getting stuck.

And he didn’t want any money although I had a pocket full of cash.

So if the ‘least you do for these you do for me’ means the least you do for someone who’s in a bad way means you did something for Christ. What does it mean when the least does something for you?

Like I said, I met God that day.

I cried all the way home.

Maybe it’s good that that five-year-old is still in me. Wanting to believe. Believing despite everything. I just wish I could say, “I know why you love me,” with that much assuredness. That little kid saw in himself something of value. He was Freddie Boy.

I want to be Freddie Boy, again.

 

Message in a Bottle (Part 13)

411722_orig

I have a dog. He’s a beautiful five-year-old German Shepherd named Kaiser. He’s such a stud. Everyone stops when he walks by and looks at him when I take him out on his walks. He’s not the usual black and brown Rin Tin Tin – he’s a little more black.

But he has these deep brown soulful eyes that just stare at me.

In the morning when my husband gets up for work and I walk him to the door and kiss him goodbye, I’ll lay back down for an hour or so. When I do, I pat the side of the bed where my husband lay and Kaiser leaps up and immediately settles down for me to pet him.

He wants to be wherever I am. If I am working on the computer writing a blog, a story, or poem, he’s right here. If I am in the living room watching a movie with John, he’s in my lap.

I could pet this dog for hours and he’d let me.

I always thought pet people were ridiculous. Thousands of dollars to treat cancer in their animal. Find the perfect food. The perfect Vet. Have them groomed and walked… I would always say, “Those people are crazy.”

Until I got a dog of my own. And now, No. They’re not so crazy after all. Why?

Because a dog loves you NO MATTER WHAT.

I remember coming out as gay in my twenties. I remember the static I took from some of my family. People I had been cool with suddenly weren’t cool with me, especially some of the people I’d gone to church with. Even my brother was quick to tell my mother once when she was angry with him, “How can I embarrass the family, you have a gay son.”

Now, mind you this was after I had joined the army after 9/11, deployed to Kuwait in support of O.I.F (Operation Iraq Freedom) and was there for a year, honorably discharged, got a associates degree and was working on a bachelor’s.  But that didn’t matter. I could have caught Osama Bin Laden, Hussein, killed Uday and Qusay myself and made it home in time to save the stock market from crashing in ’08, so, yeah none of the aforementioned stuff really mattered to them.

I was gay.

I remember when we were in church when I was a kid. I wasn’t a fan of preaching, I really took to music. And my mother, her friend, and I would sing gospel songs in church. I figured if I had to be here, I might as well do something I enjoy doing and it was good fun.

After I’d come out my mother was practicing a song one day , I heard her, came downstairs to help out and we had a good time. Felt like old times.  And then she looked at me and said, “Too bad you’re gay. You could come to church and sing this with me tonight.”

It felt like she had kicked my soul in the crotch. I was very very hurt. I soon left Michigan, and my family, behind me.

One day, years later, I was feeling pretty down on myself. I can’t exactly remember why. But I was feeling like maybe them whatadipshit evangelicals were right. Maybe I was damned. Maybe I had made a choice, and somewhere along the line had condemned my soul to eternal hell and torment. Because, you know, Fundamentalism wasn’t bad enough.

But then I looked over at my dog who was lying on the bed next to me and I came out to him. I said, “Kaiser. I’m gay.”

And in disgust, he got up and barked at me. When I tried to approach he bared his teeth and snarled. It got so bad I  had to give him away. He wanted nothing to do with me.

You know I’m kidding. You know what he did? After my husband and I told we were gay and that he had two daddies,  he yawned. Put his head down on my lap and looked up at me with those soulful brown eyes.

kaiser

 

I knew three things at once, I had just experienced Agape love (Godly love) for the first time, I would never again feel bad about being gay, and I wasn’t as good a person as those mentioned before me. I was better and always had been.

Some shit’s just beneath you.

I want to be the man my dog thinks I am.

I’ll write more when I can.

Message in a Bottle (Part 12)

411722_orig

 

You can’t control and make people afraid with a loving God. A loving God takes away the entire platform of Independent Fundamental Baptist movement and a lot of other denominations of Christianity.

Think about it this way, when we see art like a painting or hear a symphony or watch an incredible movie – we think to ourselves – wow, the guy/gal that did this was talented. We see not only the art but in observing the art, we catch a glimpse of the artist as well.

So, the irony here is that these people ‘fear’ God so much they’re not only willing to talk shit about The Creation but The Creator as well.

I mean think about that.

Yesterday while I was leaving the grocery store, I put my cart away in the coral and looked down and at my feet was a discarded Chic Tract. I picked it up and idly went through it. And of course, like all those Tracts, the fear of punishment rang through the pages. Fear of a God, Fear of The Devil, Fear of Hell.

chick-tract

So, in short, people are ‘getting saved’ at gunpoint. It’s fear that brings them to God. And the producers of this track, since they brought you to God, know exactly how it is you have to live to please God and the cycle begins. And theirs is the truthiest truth that ever did truth and everyone else is doomed to hell.

Their God is not a god of love, but a god of retribution and anger, vengeful wrath waiting to be tossed out upon unrepentant sinners. That’s not only religious ideology, it’s also political. There is an agenda there. People join IFB, and similar denominations,  out of total fear for their immortal soul, give their life to God, and become miserable while being promised a heaven made of gold. But there is a far more insidious thing going on in the movement as well.

I’ve heard hell fire and damnation sermons most of my young life ala Jonathan Edward’s Sinners in the hands of an Angry God. And what sounded to me like certainty back then, wasn’t certainty at all. But the constant regurgitation of fear to keep people in line. But that fear, I discovered later, not only kept people subservient to the will of one man, it also cut them off from seeing and being a part of the creation that God made. That creation -people and their music, and poetry, paintings and symphonies, other ethnicities and yes, even the hated Rock and Roll and dancing. Expressions of Humanity that profess its will to not only survive but thrive all the while experiencing everything God created along the way.

When I was a kid, my sisters and I would turn on B.E.T or MTV and watch Soul Train and listen to music and I remember being in awe of these professions of love from the Power Ballad singers. And I remember the dancing on Soul Train that looked so happy and fun and imitating them. And listening to Roberta Flack, Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood, The Nelsons, and marveling at the creativity of it all. Even though we knew if we got caught there was hell to pay. And trust me, there often was.

And we were often drawn to it anyway. Not because of it being sin. But because it was true. The songs they sang were truth. And truth is a dangerous thing in world of half truthes and manipulation.

And these pastors cut people off from that. because there is one thing that man desires above all else.

Power.

And kings can’t be kings without coercive powers. And subjects won’t be subjects if The Gospel of Life sings to them louder than  the Gospel of fear, hate, and retribution. Why do you think Slavery was even rationalized? Why did Jim Crow stick around for so long? The Rise of the ‘moral’ majority? Breaking the will of a child?

Because the subjects found their way into a voting booth and they took their gospel of fear, hate, and retribution along for the ride.

We’re often taught that the Pilgrims came to America to seek religious freedom. What we’re not told is that these Pilgrims who were mostly puritan tried to subvert The King’s authority in England and got run out. They wanted to be King. They didn’t object to the power the king had, they object to HIM having that power.

So the next time someone wants to talk about ISIS or Islam or The Taliban, hand them a Chic Tract and talk to them about our own brand of whackadoodledoo’s that are just as capable of insidious things from having been cut off from their own humanity for so long and indoctrinated to hate the world and the people in it for so long, that they’d become violent as well to keep people in line.

The Bible does say man is flawed and falls short of his glory.

But let me make it very clear to you,  that just means you aren’t perfect.

It doesn’t mean that your rotten and horrible. God loves you. He loves you. And he doesn’t make mistakes. And just because you may have done something wrong in life, like everyone else, doesn’t make you bad. You are not inherently evil. Mankind is Good. He doesn’t make junk. You’re his art. He’s the artist.

((Atheists be like: I don’t believe any of that anyway. I agree with you on more points than I disagree with you on, believe me))

God is not going to send Christ to die for something he despises.

Didn’t happen.

Anything that says otherwise is nothing more than a con job. And those pastors who perpetuated this better pray that God is loving and all merciful, because ….damn.

Fear is big business. And business lately, has been real good.

 

 

 

 

Message in a Bottle (Part 10)

411722_orig

 

The world seems filled with scandal today. Anthony Weiner is back in the news for tweetin’ his pecker. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are on the outs and getting a divorce. Hillary has her emails and everything that comes out of Donald Trump’s mouth is a damn lie. Everything today seems salacious. But I don’t understand why everyone is so shocked by that. People often do dumb shit.

But I think the shock comes because we see people as perfect. We place people on pedestals. And in church, the pastor gets set on one. He’s considered without reproach. But boy, that isn’t the case sometimes is it?

Now scandal becomes so depending on people’s level of tolerance for certain things. If a woman in the church we went to cut her hair too short, people would be beside themselves. If the hem of a skirt was too high, if someone was seen leaving a movie theatre, if you listened to the radio or any number of mundane things that to the world outside would seem a total non-issue.

But then, we’ve had some doozies too. Real scandals. Real stuff.

The first I can remember is when I was very little our family attended a church in Delray, Michigan called Open Door Baptist Church. This big congregation was on Dearborn Ave in a brown brick  building with a huge green steeple. In my furthest memories, I can recall being in the nursery.

But this place had been the beginning of my life. The name Open Door Baptist would follow me most of my life. And in each and every single church that carried that name, the scandal of what it was would follow us around. Like a ghost that couldn’t lay down. I don’t know if it was it’s protestant nature that shook it like bones in a coffin and caused it to fall apart over and over as it stayed in a perpetual state of protest. Or the fundamentalism was so great so profound that it – like most – fall victim to its own inability to sustain itself in such a heightened state of perfection. And because of that inability, when the bow breaks, down goes baby cradle and all.

I do not know all the details. But I do know that at some point the pastor’s wife began to have an affair outside of the church. In response, the pastor began to have an affair with my aunt. Several people knew about the affair and wanted to use it as a means to take control of the church and raise up their own man as the pastor.

Then the pastor and his girlfriend stole the offering out of the safe, bank, who knows aaaaaaaaand ……

……ran off to Las Vegas. That’s right. Right into Sodom and Gamorah. Do not pass go. Do not collect 200 dollars.

The people who’d known all along that this was going on went to my father and accused him of being in on it, although it was them who had been on it all along. He knew nothing about it and it actually broke his heart. And like humpty dumpty the church crashed and all the kings horses and all the kings men….

And that always seemed to be the nature of things. For all its righteousness and all of its high moral grandstanding, fundamentalism eventually does something ridiculously human and incredibly dumb and it implodes or explodes. And when it was all said and done there were victims walking around looking dazed and confused asking themselves how could this happen?

It’s like one of those party poppers. You know the kinds with the strings that you pull and *poof* there is string and bits of paper all over the place? And it’s about as anticlimactic as that as well.

All through my life going to church with my parents, things like this – maybe not to this degree- would happen. And I think it happens because at the end of the day these organizations are ran people and people aren’t perfect and they do make mistakes. However, and this is big however, when you prop yourselves up as the gatekeepers of the real gospel and the saved of the saved, the mistakes you make, the fall from grace you take as a result, is a honey. Because while there is plenty of righteousness to go around. There was ZERO grace to be found. For anyone.

We would go to these churches and our parents would say that, “Oh, this church is so different. They aren’t like the other versions of The Open Door Baptist Church’ we went to prior (even though some of the members were the same as well as the doctrine) . And that was the way of it. Jesus is REALLY here. He wasn’t really there at the last one because of what they did to us or said about us or whatever.

And so the insanity and indoctrination (as well as abuse)- would continue. Until something else happened. Until the King took a tumble in his tragic kingdom and the subjects were left to wander through the desert for forty years without him. It was really sort of unmerciful all the way around. While the Pastors would advocate corporal punishment for the women and children in the church, all the while the blade of the guillotine was being sharpened for the first time he made a mistake. Or, if he was hell bent on keeping his throne, he would send out hit men to abuse the accusers into leaving the church and cover everything up. One pastor of ours actually slashed a man’s tires.

It’s good to be king.

Like I’ve said before in other blogs. White trash Shakespear. And at the end of the day – no matter where we went or how long we stayed – it was a study in pure insanity. Insanity is repetition expecting different results. But the end was always the same. It was like these organizations had a natural shelf life built into them. A self-destruct button. Because most of the families that were involved with them, self-destructed right along with the churches they associated with and protested themselves to death. They fell upon their own sword.

That was the real scandal of it all. And it’s rather poetic in a tragic way. Do I hate those people who had an affair and ran off with the money? No. I’m just sorry they felt that was the way they had to go about being happy because their doctrine held them captive to such a degree they didn’t or couldn’t even have mercy on themselves.

That’s the scandal.

And pulling away and peeling that stuff off of you has to be done layer by layer.

I’ll write more when i can

P.S. If you want a good peek inside of Fundamentalism – and understand the isolation and human nature being triumphant- without having to watch a documentary or join one, watch M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village.

 

Message in a bottle (Part 9)

411722_orig

Last night I got word that a really cool guy that I knew passed away. His name was David. He was an ex-Marine (take that back, from what I understand once a Marine always a Marine) a father, a husband, and all around really  nice guy.

It really sucked last night to hear he had passed. He reminded me of Santa Clause. He was big with a white beard. Very affable. Very kind. And was interested in what you had to say.

He comes from a family and continued the tradition of – family is whoever you choose it to be. Whether you are blood, or not, whether you are considered good or not. It didn’t matter to him or his wife Debbie that I was gay and married to a man. They saw us as equals.

I, and later on John  through me, was unofficially adopted by this family that’s wider than those two. I was introduced to Carol and Daddy (David’s brother)  by his niece who I’d met first. And this family is all educated. All of them have degrees or an interest in history, literature, politics, and poetry. And their home looks ripped right out of an English countryside. There are books, and cats, and booze, and a fireplace. And my God …there is food! If you’re hungry in this house, something is wrong with you.

And what is amazing about them, is, they look for you to see if you’re coming.

They want to see you. They call and check up on you.

They leave a light on for you.

They want to see you succeed. They are happy when you are.

They ask you to help them hold the ladder or trim the hedge or go get some eggs for them.

They feel a lot like a family should.

When I was still in my tea party angry at the world self-loathing phase. When I was a fundi baptist if not in my personal theology but my outlook on the world. They were patient with me. Even when I didn’t deserve it. Even when I walked away from them in anger because I disagreed with something Daddy said.

They took me back without a word.

When you see love for the first time one of two things happen. First, you’re suspicious of it. You’re suspicious of its intent. It feels uncomfortable. It’s invasive to you and you want to withdraw from it. And second, when it sinks in and you realized what it is you play this compare and contrast game. And this is in regards to love of all sorts. Agape, Eros, Philia, Storge – all of ’em.

When you see real love for the first time you look back on what you thought love was and you’re like ‘What the fuck was that?!”

It’s easy to love someone. The hardest part in keeping a relationship alive is letting them love you. You know you. You’ve lived with you. And when you’ve allowed or been forced to accept someone else’s truth as THE truth about you, you may even turn away from love out of fear. Fear of being stripped of so much that you thought you were. As those things, people put on you are now comfortable even though they’re ugly and serve only to hurt you the longer you hold onto them.

If someone says they love you. Family, Friends, or Faith – if they don’t encompass these truths from 1st Corinthians 13:4 – get away from them. There’s is a false love. Especially if you’re caught up in the Retribution gospel of Fundamentalism. As Dolly Parton said, “You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life.”

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now, we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

When you come into the presence of love for the first time,you don’t want to leave it. Whether that’s the love of a lover, love of a friend, or the love of perhaps an adoptive family (official or otherwise). And it’s then you realize blood is NOT in fact, thicker than water.You owe no one loyalty or love unless they’re loyal and love you in return.

I wandered hell’s half acre looking for a family like that. And I found one. When you find one, right away, understand a few things.

Will they be perfect? Nope.

But neither are you. And they love you regardless.

R.I.P Uncle David. You were pretty cool.

I’ll write more when I can.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Message in a Bottle (Part 8)

411722_orig

I woke up thinking about Power this morning and was going to blog about that. But after reading the rawness of yesterday’s post, I have instead opted to talk about thankfulness.

I find myself in a unique position. On one hand, I despise having to have gone through all that I did. I hate it. I hate what the churches under those men did to my family. I hate the way my parents abdicated to them. And I hate their garbage, shallow, theology.

100 percent guarantee of heaven is snake oil and the product of what happens when Capitalism meets Religion. It’s like those late night 19.99 commercials for whatever product some loud mouth boob is hoping your recent case of insomnia, as well as the resulting delirium, will pay for it. And this ‘free gift’ while free comes with an alarmingly high-interest rate paid out by pounds of flesh.

But through it all…I have to admit that I am also grateful for it. I know that sounds weird.

I know things other people don’t. I see things through a lens other people can’t. Now, I am not alone in this, I’ve found a massive group of others like me. Which, of course, makes me grateful as well since I don’t feel like a freak anymore.

I think that was the worst part. Thinking that the hell that went on inside my house was an anomaly. Now I’ve known other child abuse survivors but their stories consisted of alcohol or drug use. Ours happened in full sobriety. It was the sobriety of all it that drove me into madness. That’s the hard part.

When I was little, I was a gentle little kid who everyone called Freddie Boy. And Freddie Boy took that title and ran with it. I used to introduce myself as Freddie Boy to strangers. My dad said people used to think that was so cute, he relayed to me on the telephone. “Before…”

Before what? Before I came out as gay or before I stopped you from beating me? I’ll never know.

But I am also grateful for the path it’s lead me on. As screwed up and as bumpy as it’s been I feel like that to hate it would mean I’d have to be ungrateful for my husband as well. And I can’t do that. I won’t do that. I am a huge believer in providence, oddly enough. And I have worked out that because I was looking for love, I sought God. Because God is ultimately love.

As awful as those memories are. I wouldn’t trade them for where I am today. And it was only love that saved me. Isn’t love the only thing in the end that saves any of us?

People don’t like that. The ‘love’ God.

They like the God of Retribution. Revenge. Anger. Wrath.

Frank Schaffer made a good point when he said, “The same people that believe in that kind of God, believe the Jewish Prisoner who was gassed at Auschwitz also went to hell because she didn’t accept Jesus Christ as her personal savior.”

That’s not a god. As Frank also points out, ‘….that’s making God dumber than we are.”

I am not without fault. God help me, that isn’t the case.

But I went my entire life thinking everything bad in my life WAS my fault because of being a sinner. And that was before I even began to deal with my homosexuality. Throw that in. I’m just screwed.

So I guess this is about power in some ways because I’ve stripped those who used to have it over me by stripping back the belief system that for fifteen years was drilled into my head. Or perhaps that is what this blog is doing. Stripping it back layer by layer till all that is left is me.

I have the power. I am thankful for figuring out where that mess ended and where I began.Getting through that mess was hard. Learning to be thankful for it in part, is harder. It took me long enough.

I’ll write more later…

 

 

 

Message in a Bottle (Part 6)

“Do you know if you were to die today, that you would go to heaven?”

Yikes. That’s the million dollar question that could have many different answers. But it was a question posed to me by my father in our home in Detroit when I was seven years old. I remember it clearly.

I was sitting on a picnic table my father had built for a kitchen table inside of the house. I remember sitting next to him as he asked me that question. I remember it was summertime. I remember that his friend Mr. Z came over afterward.

But I remember my father sharing with me the gospel and him reading to me the Bible where it says that every man is a sinner and without Jesus would go to Hell. And then he described Hell to me – a place of eternal torment, where the body and the worm is never consumed, and it lasts for all eternity.

Your damn right I ‘got saved’. And afterward, he explained to me that I was 100 percent saved and could never lose it. Ever.

Everyone loves certainty. Right? Knowing what’s going to happen next? Knowing 100 percent that no matter what, you’re gonna be alright?

It’s sort of a rare thing in this world.

Or is it?

The foundation of Fundamentalism in Christianity is that 100 percent pure certainty. And it’s not just in regard to going to heaven. That amount of certainty exists in other facets of it as well. The 100 percent belief that The Bible is God’s word. The 100 percent belief that the King James Version is the only correct translation. The 100 percent beleif that the pastor is God’s chosen man and anything he says, does, etc. is all anointed by God. His political views are your political views, his words are your words, his social views become your social views. His opinions on books, movies, prime time television, going to the movie theater, the mall, the beach, how to raise your family, how to punish your children, how to punish your wife, how a wife should look for her husband, and on and on that goes…

And all of it is certain.

Yesterday, 2 events took place inside of the United States and as far as we know, Isis – or the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (and curiously the name is identical to an Egyptian goddess) has claimed responsibility.  That person(s) stabbed a group of people at all mall. Hurt a lot of them. Also last night, someone detonated a bomb in the neighborhood of Chelsea in New York City. It is unknown at this time who was responsible. Like the certainty I was offered on the picnic table, certainty that I took because Hell sounded like it sucked, these people also acted on certainty.

For 15 years, America has been combating certainty. Absolutism. Another term for that is FUNDAMENTALISM. And for fifteen years there has been a hyper-awareness of the religion Islam. Now, prior to 9/11 most people didn’t know where Afghanistan was on a map, didn’t know who the Mujahadeen were, had no clue what a Taliban was, Osama Bin Laden may have been a bit more familiar given then 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center by Mohammed Yousef, but not much more. Today, however, especially in New York – people know these terms.

And politicians do what politicians do – especially if they suck at being politicians and want to distract from their own platform – and do their best to draw attention to a group of people as a distraction. Is ISIS a threat? Yes. Duh. Were the Taliban a threat? Sure. How about Al-Queada? Hamas? Hezbollah? The PLO? Sure. Yes. These people often kind of suck.

What do they all have in common?

The dummies would say Islam. Or Michelle Bachmann, Steve King, and Donald Trump – but I repeat myself…

Someone who knows better, who grew up in fundamentalism, would know better. The things they have in common is fundamentalism. Absolutism. And most of all, Certainty. They’re very very sure of themselves. They know 100 percent their convictions are correct.

Sound familiar?

 

What if I were to tell you that Fundamental Baptist, Catholic, Pentecostal is to Christianity what The Taliban is to Islam?

Oh, you’re kind of reaching, some would say.

Am I?

See, Certainty can be a real mother for people who don’t possess it.

Certainty causes people to fly planes into buildings, shoot abortion doctors, call women who’re seeking an abortion, whores. Certainty allows children to be beaten and tortured, women to be raped and told to apologize to their rapist in America, stoned to death in the Middle East. Certainty allows cognitive dissonances. It hides sociopathy. And is starting to be considered not only by The Pope, but by health professionals, as a mental illness.

In interim before society takes that leap. Listen to who the biggest screamers are over Islamic Fundamentalists setting up Sharia Law, etc. People like Franklin Graham who is so not his daddy. Jerry Falwell Jr who is his daddy. The far alt right, the fundamentalists – those who have insisted that man live under THIER thumb. See Isis isn’t so much an invading force to them as it is a threat to their power. Franklin Graham – notoriously anti-lgbt – even tried to plead with the LGBT community to resist them.

“They throw gay people off buildings over there!”

Yeah, Frankie? How uncivilized of them. Here, we just guilt them into suicide because you make them so CERTAIN that they are better off dead than being gay.

I’ve changed my mind on my whole ‘saved’ state of being. Mostly, because I’ve had to give up on certainty. Certainly tells me that the hell I went through as a kid was justified. My head, my heart, my soul, and my conscience, say otherwise. I don’t even believe in Hell anymore. And I’m kinda suspect on the idea of Heaven. I think these aren’t destinations and agree with Pope Paul, I think it’s a state being. I’m not certain, though. But I am getting to be okay with that.

America has it’s own problems with fundamentalists. Just because ours don’t ‘have funny names’ doesn’t make it untrue. 411722_orig

I’ll write more when I can