Message in a Bottle (Part 11)

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Violence is rooted in the idea that we can own another human being. That a person is not an individual endowed with rights to self-determination and liberty and dominion over their body but are subject to the whims and desires of someone else. We can see examples of this all over the place from domestic violence to murder.

The moral questions of right and wrong get thrown out the window. Is what is happening to these people wrong? Absolutely. Don’t get me wrong. But just like the great kingdoms of the 15th and 16th Century that swept the globe in a race to dominate the world the things that they did to gain the upper hand was terrible, sure. Slavery, slaughter, rape, pillaging of resources, and so forth. But they could do it because they had power, terrible power – almost unlimited resources.

Today, we are getting an eyeful of violence being perpetrated against African-American people from Police. If African Americans made up forty percent of the United States population overall, this would not be happening.

It is happening today, however, to maintain the hegemony. To keep black people afraid of those who are in power. In the past 8 years, minorities have made huge strides in equality but African American’s have been made to suffer and I think it’s punishment over the Presidency of Barack Obama and the political impotency of those who tried to have him thrown out. There is a backlash happening toward all minorities at the moment because a certain demographic is afraid of losing power. And it’s killing black people every single day.

When I was five years old, I was recovering from a bout of Chicken Pox (my second go round with that) and I remember the night before some boys had come over to see my sisters and they were horseplaying and bent the side of a pool. My father, in an outrage, had all of the children in the kitchen. And he started beating us, one at a time. I remember my eldest sister screaming and crying, then on to the next sister, and I remember my father turning around and in anger screaming, “….do you want me to do this?!” and punching me in the head. I remember my head bouncing off the kitchen floor. And out of fear, I remember climbing underneath the counter in the kitchen to get away from him before he stormed out of the house.

My father did what he did not because it was right or wrong. He did what he did because he could. A five-year-old and two teenage girls are no match to the strength of a full grown man who’s angry.

As the years progressed and the abuse became more commonplace – the worst feeling about it all – besides the bruising and bleeding – was the total inability to stop him. The powerlessness in the shadow of his power. Was he wrong to do that? Of course, he was. But the church had granted him unlimited authority to ‘break the will’ of a child.

And that’s what’s happening to African Americans in this push back. People are trying to break their will and let them know where their place is. As well as Mexicans. As well as Refugees. As well as LGBT people, especially Trans people who are being murdered. As well as….Veterans who’s suicide rate is alarming.

For the religious among you, think back to Pharoh who felt threatened over the rising population of Jews in the land of Egypt. Think about Herrod who, feeling threatened at his advisor’s telling him a King had been born, sent out an order to kill the first born. This is what America is doing to itself because a certain demographic is afraid that change is coming.

Well, change is inevitable. And power is always in transition. It’s in a constant state of flux. America is turning into an abusive parent who does what he does simply because no one is big enough to stop him. And I have a terrible feeling that eventually, that kid is going to buck up and end up putting someone on their ass. And just like that father shocked to find his kid standing over him with a balled up fist, you’re going to deserve it.

America – what you’re doing – is fucked up. Hurting people because you can – is fucked up. And you know it’s fucked up. And just like that screwed up parent, your not deserving of the people in your life or the love and great things they are capable of. Including football players who stand for the national anthem.

You’re an abuser and a coward.

Fix your shit.

Stop the violence before it’s too late.

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P.S. I can’t imagine what that high must be like. To have someone on the ground trembling in fear knowing that they’re fucked if you decide they are. And the ability to take a life. Man, that must make you feel like a god. But you’re not. You’re human.

 

Message in a Bottle (Part 10)

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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 8)

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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 7)

 

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I recently quit smoking. And by recently I mean forty-eight hours ago. 2 days. And boy do I miss it. I am not doing it cold turkey. No. I think that’s inviting insanity. And for someone who gets extremely moody if I get hungry, I don’t think that’s a good idea. My husband and I are using a vaporizer as cessation. Now I know what people say, vaporizers aren’t completely safe. And that’s true. We read up on some of the literature that talks about the dangers. But put next to cigarettes. There is no comparison in regards to danger. Zero. From there we’ll wean ourselves off of those.

But yes, I do miss lighting up. I was a Marlboro man most my life although I started off on Newports when I was in high school.

And it was cigarettes that got me beaten one morning while my father was in a bad way.

See, I didn’t start off a smoker. But my friends’ parents and my friends were. In my idiot 15/16-year-old logic – I figured – that if I was being accused and catching hell for it, I would just give in and do it. I was coming home from my friend’s houses smelling like an ashtray. They all smoked inside, especially during the winter months.

But the original cigarettes I’d smoked hadn’t come from my friends. Or from peer pressure.

See, my parents treated their love of God, like a drug. Or a drink. And often times they would ‘fall off the wagon’ and leave church. And when that happened, the beatings on Saturday night, the inner family feuds, the banning of certain television shows were lifted, movies were purchased, we did things as a family and my parents would smoke and drink.

Now as a kid that had all of that drilled into his head as being wrong. It was hard to watch them drink and smoke. But as I grew older, I came to expect it. Their faith and personal lives swung like a pendulum.

Nothing was stable. Nothing. That’s the root of the insanity of this story. Our lives were in a constant state of upheaval.

But I digress. It wasn’t my friends’ cigarettes I smoked first. It was my parents. Left in a little saucer on the kitchen table they used as an ashtray.

It wasn’t my friends’ cigarettes I smoked first. It was my parents. Left in a little saucer on the kitchen table they used as an ashtray.

The final time I’d been beaten, my mother yelled in from the dining room into the bedroom where my father had a fifteen-year-old me bent over, bare-assed, breaking my will and stripped of dignity (a 15/16 year old has things his parents don’t need to see. Which sorta makes this demeaning in a sexual way) – and told him to “…beat the hell out of him. He’s down the street smoking with those bitches.”

At this point, they were back in church and had changed once again. By this time I’d gotten so used to the on again off again relationship they had with christ, I’d stopped shifting along with them. They weren’t believers. They were addicts trading booze for Jesus.

However, in the midst of his new high with Jesus, he’d finally been able to use a wooden plank he brought home from work, in the shape of a paddle, on one of us. And unfortunately that morning, I’d drawn the short straw. He’d been positively giddy that the two-inch thick board, with holes in it, would make a whistle before it connected. And boy, it sure did. I was bruised for weeks.

He doesn’t know how close he came to dying that day. I often think about what would have happened if I had turned on him. Snatched that out of his hand and beat him to death with it. No jury in the world would have convicted me. Or perhaps they would have. But they’d look at their children a bit different from that point on.

Instead, this incident resulted in me taking them to court. At that point, I’d had enough. I left home, called social services, and at sixteen years old stood in front of a judge. No kid should have to do that. To have to turn on your parents. To be the one that put an end to years and years of abuse. And even though I lost my case for emancipation (it had been outlawed in Michigan a year prior) the physical shit ended.

But from that point forward, I smoked every day since then.

This blog, my yoga, book writing, poetry, my smoking cessation – is a way to let go. A way to say goodbye to all of that. I’m ready, now, to quit. It just took me fifteen years to get here. So maybe I don’t miss it so much.

 

Ugh, these people were assholes. They were fucking detestable assholes.  And their ‘god’ and ‘church’ was a joke.

Fuck them.

I’ll write more when i can.

 

 

Message in a Bottle (part 4)

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It’s times like these that I doubt everything. It’s times when my husband is lying in bed asleep, the dog has his head under the bed (I have no idea why he does that but he does) asleep, and I am the last one awake.

It’s moments like these when I think – I have so much to be grateful for. I’ve come a long way. No, my life hasn’t been easy but then again, who’s life has been?

It’s nights like these after I’ve made dinner and we’ve watched a show on VUDU or Netflix that I find myself content to just be. Just being in the moment. And I find many moments like that. In the morning when I take Kaiser (or Stink depending on how long it’s been since I’ve bathed him) for our walk and I put my headphones in and listen to an old Fleetwood Mac album. Or when I’m doing yoga – which has been a wonderful outlet for me to center myself mentally, emotionally, and physically. Or when I am sitting down to add words to a page in one of my books.

And I think to myself, “Why not let things be?”

So often I’ve been told that I have to get over what happened. That I have to move on. And those words have come at the precise of the moment when I am not at my best as I am now. They’ve come when I’m so low I could do a snake a favor and scratch his belly for him. It’s in those moments when something comes across in social media, or I see something on television, or an old memory flares up in my mind and I beg the universe for deliverance to that land of ‘move on’. And I think to myself, I’ve lived with this stuff for so long – will there ever be a day I can say, “I’ve arrived.” I am fine, now, I’ve moved on.

I went years without knowing what was wrong with me. Yet I knew something was. In college, I was given a diagnosis of extreme ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). I scored off the charts even to the point where the health profession said that I may have Bipolar disorder. So I did what I thought I should have done and went to a psychiatrist with the diagnosis and got on medication. And while the pills worked. My concentration was such that I could hear a mosquito fart and be able to describe it to you – it kept me up for days on end.

ADHD medications aren’t supposed to do that.

But I didn’t know any better. I thought they were just supposed to help you concentrate. And another thing I wasn’t aware of was that the symptoms of ADHD look a heck of a lot like the symptoms of PTSD  (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). And even at that point I thought PTSD was a soldier’s illness from being in war. Well, I had deployed to the middle east for Operation Iraq Freedom but the unit I was with was in Kuwait. And that was an experience that was long, and hot, and I missed home, and yes it was a little intimidating – but nothing bad happened there. We were never involved in any firefights, no I.E.D’s went off, and even though we got there when Saddam was still bombing Kuwait (Sharq Mall got hit (If I remember correctly), it had been a couple of hours prior to us showing up.

So there was a part of me that was unable or unwilling to see what was in front of me. Or maybe there was a part of me unwilling or able to associate my PTSD with something that hit very close to my heart and was personal. My family. My life growing up. And the idea that a church or a doctrine of a church could be the culprit was something I was again unwilling or unable to put together.

Church is supposed to be a place you feel the safest. Our Family is supposed to be the place you feel the safest as well. And neither place was safe at all. Added on to the stress of living in a war zone like Detroit in the 1990’s, it’s a miracle I’m not a heroin addict. Or not permanently locked away in some psych ward somewhere (although I did do a stint in Detroit Receiving Psychiatric Ward an indigent care facility, at one point after I returned from the service, but that’s a story for another time). I can’t just put event after event on here, because like I mentioned in blogs before – I’m afraid there would be so many that no one would believe me.

For fifteen years of my life, the physical abuse starting at an early age, the slaps, punches, beatings with extension cords, belts, switches, watching my older sisters get hit and/ or kicked out of the house – things that I’d witnessed and was powerless to stop- at young ages went on like clockwork. Saturday nights before church were always hell on earth in our family. The explosions in tempers, the skanky inner workings of the church that thought it was appropriate for a sixteen-year-old girl to marry an almost thirty-year-old man, the lies, deceit, the cover-up of a rape, the usury of another sister to pay bills as she killed herself working whilst dealing with an eating disorder…all of that was inside of the house. Detroit would be and do other things.

All these things were ingested like poison to a child scared out of his mind waiting for what was going to happen next. And it was pure insanity. It was all based on a fucked up version of Christianity. It was all enforced with rhetorical flourish, emotional manipulation, spiritual manipulation, fear of the wrath of God to stay quiet, and physical violence.

And maybe its self-preservation in moments like this that tell me to stop. To let sleeping dogs lie. Or maybe it is cowardice or fear that says I could be stirring up a hornet’s nest. But I know the moment i see something that triggers a memory – I know I’ll wish I’d have started something like this. Started talking. Some kid will get killed, some young lady will have to apologize to the wife of her rapist for him taking advantage of her.

I know I am pussyfooting around the main event. The actual diving into the heart of what happened to me and my siblings. And I think that too is based in fear. Not fear of anything I may cause, but fear of all those emotions rushing to the surface and me descending into expletive-laden rants about what fuck shits, what cowards, the people involved were.

I don’t want to do that.

But what I have learned is my reaction to those things that happened is not unusual. As a matter of fact, as research is expanding in the field of psychology concerning what’s called Adverse Childhood Experiences (or Aces). I’ve come to realize just how much an impact what had happened had on me. Aces is a way for doctors to test how adverse experiences can effect a child over a lifetime.

(Watch Nadine Burke Harris give an approx. 16 min talk on the nature of ACES, here)

(Read up on Aces and take the quick test:  here)

So it’s the realization that even though this happened fifteen years ago it is still impacting me in a very serious way today – even physiologically. So I’ll take a moment, at fifteen minutes past the Witching Hour, to be grateful for some clarity and some peace.

Goodnight

I’ll write more when I can

 

 

Message in a Bottle (Part 3)

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My husband is my primary source of inspiration. His presence, his love, his patience with me, his dedication, his tenderness, his faithfulness, and his desire for me has pulled me out of the shaded gray area that I lived in all my life.

Also, his intelligence and wisdom satisfies my wandering and inquisitive mind.

When John and I first met, our fights concerning God were epic. I mean bad. I believed in a God of Wrath and Anger and John believed in a God of Love. We are both Christians, he was a Catholic (to fundi’s that isn’t a real Christian) and I was an escapee from Fundi Land still wrapped up in the hug-me jacket of that religion. Needless to say, he and I had very different religious experiences.

He’d been a monk at one point in his life and wanted to be a Jesuit Priest. But for circumstances pertaining to homophobia and an associate of his, he was shamed for his sexuality and he made the choice to leave. It was an experience that hurt him.

But looking back on both our lives it felt like something (god, the universe, the source) had put us on a collision course toward each other.

The differences in our faith came down to the intellectual foundations of those faiths. John’s Catholicism believed as St. Thomas Aquinas said,”..Mankind is a pile of snow. And every once in awhile the snow gets dirty. And every once in a while we need the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ to cover that snow.”

Essentially, their belief is that mankind is inherently good.

However, Martin Luther – the founder of Protestantism took Aquinas’ words and ideas and inverted them saying, “Mankind is a pile of shit. And the grace of the lord covers that shit to keep the stench out of God’s nostrils.”

Not only was he a foul-mouthed man, Luther was a notorious Anti-Semite who later penned a book called, “The Jews and their lies,” After the Jews rejected his new found faith.

According to Luther – mankind was inherently bad.

And that viewpoint is strengthened and promoted to the nth degree in Protestant Fundamentalism. And sometimes it’s taken to an extreme. Coupled with the King James Version of the Bible that was translated by a King with an authoritarian agenda – the agenda of fundamentalism becomes clear.

Convince the world how bad it is, paganize God and make him a god of anger, wrath, and war, and the power you can wield becomes unlimited. Grow strong enough, your power goes unchecked. Unchecked power and influence become inherently corrupted and people suffer. Abuse of that power – runs rampant. But those abuses aren’t likely to be reported because the pastor or head of that organization is the ultimate authority, by divine right, and you are seen as someone trying to usurp that power. You are a trouble-maker and probably under the Devil’s influence.

And they accomplish all of this, by cutting people off from the world. Isolating them. Using 2 Corinthians (Two Corinthians ha- ha) 6:17: Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.

Well, that unclean thing is the world and everything of the world. Including laws and those who enforce them. The natural mistrust of government – which I believe is inherently an American trait given the nature of our founding- was substantially increased to the point of paranoia. And looking back I realize it would have been hard for sociopathy to hide behind the cross should someone fear that a member of the church would go outside of the church to tell on them.

Now to most people that sounds ridiculous. Chief Justice John Roberts in Snyder v Phelps ruled that the signs and website of the Westboro Baptist Church while disgusting were so extreme that they became hyperbole and the rational person would see it as such. And in that regard, I agree with him. People would see it as such.

If they were rational.

But the question I have, is what happens to those who are inside and a captive audience to so said speech and authority? Children for example.

Here is Nate Phelps talking about leaving Westboro.  ((Now some see this church as an extreme church for what they do. But the views aren’t far from what other fundamentalist churches believe.))

There were two brothers in upstate New York recently who were subject to brutality and even torture. There was a nineteen-year-old and a seventeen-year-old and they wanted to leave the church. The nineteen-year-old was beaten to death over countless hours of torture. The seventeen-year-old was put into a hospital in critical condition. As far as I know – he survived and the people responsible were arrested.

Follow the link to read about it here

However, their defense is that they had the authority granted by God to do what they did.

Now we know in a court of law that would never fly. I  believe the standard is the ‘Belief-Action distinction’, you may believe a certain thing but you can’t act on it because the act is against the law. And that’s great.

IF YOU’RE IN A COURT OF LAW. However, that amount of ‘Will Breaking’ was not only viewed as okay, it was expected. And even if the state (the state in this case being the government) were to have stepped in – all it does in confirm the paranoia that the government is trying to surpress their free excersice of religion.

The brutality that I and my siblings endured (and thousands more like the two aforementioned young men) would have NEVER flown in a court of law. But we were not protected by the laws of this country as we were not citizens of this country. We were citizens of a kingdom of preachers who while they maintain their Independence of each other – were and probably still are – ideologically linked. And we weren’t governed by a President, we were governed, lorded over, by the doctrine of a King. And all roads, for us, led to Crowne Point, Indiana.

America has it’s own problems with fundamentalism that it refuses to address to the physical, emotion, psychological, and even spiritual detriment of many.

I’ll write more when I can.

P.S. John taught me more about the love of Christ than any of those churches ever did.

 

 

 

 

 

Message in a bottle (part 2)

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It’s hard to sleep at night when voices of the past come back to talk to you. Like ghosts stepping out of the wall, they kneel down by my bed to whisper memories of what had transpired in my life. And like the little kid in the Sixth Sense, I used to close my eyes and wish them away.

But by the time my husband goes to bed until sometimes after The Witching Hour has passed. I am in a deadlocked argument with these memories while I stand in my kitchen and my eyes see the faces of those memories from long ago. And instead of clenching my eyes shut I open them wide and receive those spirits into my presence and we do battle.

And every night it’s different scenes. A different cast of characters who step out of the void and between the hours of midnight and three a.m. I do battle in silence with them. Sometimes I write poetry during these times and post them on social media. Bits of the conversations with dead things that I’ve had with rhyme and style.

But there are other times when I look over at my sleeping husband and I am so moved by him. By his love for me. By his willingness to show me who God really is. And his presence in my life gives me the courage to face down all those ghosts. And then I’ll write a poem for him. I’ve never known love of another person or the love of God so much so then when I started to leave the old ways I’d been taught. There is this old Muslim poet who once said, “Do not seek love. Remove the things in your life that keep love from you.”

And for me, that is a constant, daily, nightly, endeavor. I feel like some kind of monk in a monastery somewhere saying his prayers and reciting his scripture and singing his hymns.

It’s such a strange thing for me. I should hate God. I should hate everything he is and stands for. But I don’t.I just don’t think the abuses men wage on each other – even in the realm of religion – has anything to do with God.  And I don’t mean to be sentimental, but I feel God put my husband in my life to show me who He really is. That wherever love is, he is. And I know that goes against Christendom in its majority, but like Dr. Angelou once said, “I have heard, and I believe, that one with God constitutes a majority. So I commend you on your courage to come and face me.”

I survived fifteen years of physical abuse which I believe was tantamount to torture. I’ve watched in horror as my sisters were hurt or thrown out of the house. I suffered in silence in their absence. And lived in dread as each one of them departed and like a prince in the midst of some white trash Shakespearean play, I would be the next in line for my crown of thorns. And my parents didn’t disappoint.

See, in our religion which is the Christian equivalent to Brokovich’s Hexavalent Chromium, there is a pecking order. The man is the head and absolute authority in the house, the women are to be silent and obey her master, and the children’s WILL should be broken. Some of the ‘intellectuals’ in our brand of fundamentalism – people like Dr. Jack Hyles – believed that you could beat a child as early as infancy to accomplish this. He even wrote about it in his book, Rearing Children. It’s available on Amazon. It’s similar to the book written by Michael and Debi Pearl called, To Train up a Child. This book has resulted in three known deaths of children due to torture. Torture that includes:

  • Using plastic tubing to beat children, since it is “too light to cause damage to the muscle or the bone”
  • Wearing the plastic tubing around the parent’s neck as a constant reminder to obey
  • “Swatting” babies as young as six months old with instruments such as “a 12-inch willowy branch,” thinner plastic tubing or a wooden spoon
  • “Blanket training” babies by hitting them with an instrument if they try to crawl off a blanket on the floor
  • Beating older children with rulers, paddles, belts and larger tree branches
  • “Training” children with pain before they even disobey, in order to teach total obedience
  • Giving cold water baths, putting children outside in cold weather and withholding meals as discipline
  • Hosing off children who have potty training accidents
  • Inflicting punishment until a child is “without breath to complain”

I went through some of that, including the infliction until I couldn’t breathe to cry anymore.

I was not a Martyr (willing or otherwise) for my faith because I didn’t die. I am a Confessor for my faith. And because of what had happened to me, to my siblings, I despise those who did what they did.

Like Henry the Fifths daughter,I think,  who when asked how much she loved her father told him: “I cannot heave my heart into my mouth,” words fall short in describing the loathing I feel toward these people. Perhaps this would clear some of this up, If there were an Anti-Christ with his eyes set on these people. I’d gladly hold his coat.

I’ll write more when I can.

F.E.

(P.S. It’s relevant to note that both children of Jack Hyle’s kid David, are also dead. I guess it could have been worse)

 

 

Message in a Bottle

 

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There is no pain so profound as a story waiting, inside, to be told. I believe that is quote by Dr. Maya Angelou. But I haven’t the will to sluice through Google to find out.  It doesn’t really matter anyway since it’s the truth.  I fell in love with that woman on the day she passed away.  And it always feels that way. That I’d missed my chance. I’d missed my opportunity to get to know her.

I have always felt like I’ve arrived in life a day late and a dollar short.  Born in the concrete jungle in a city that used to be. A city on the edge of a river that flows down to Lake Erie in Michigan’s handprint state. Detroit was a city that used to be, more Roman Ruins than American Exceptional. The gothic towers of old churches pointed heavenward amidst the broken down and bedraggled houses built during the world wars.

With broken concrete, broken dreams, and broken taillights the city’s skyline shined on the Detroit River like false advertisement.  Motown, HockeyTown, The Motor City – often vied for the title Murder Capital of the World along with Chicago and Washington D.C.

In the 1980’s, when I was young, the city to consisted of a few houses in a lower-middle-class neighborhood on the Southwest Side. Forbidden to the cross the street or go beyond the bushes that bordered my grandmother’s house several houses down, that had been my world.  Things were not bad then, or at least that’s what my brain tries to tell me, but bits of memory like so much smoke in an old juke joint rise up from in between memories of Christmas and summertime to make a liar out of me.

The 1990’s was pure hell. In summers heat gangs were restless and bored. And during the cold months leading to Halloween, they sometimes firebombed homes for the fun of it. We called that Devil’s night.

I am writing this today, mostly, as a sort of message in a bottle. Written down hastily, corked, and thrown out onto the sea of the internet in hopes that someone would read it. And once they’ve read it would sit down along the shoreline and believe the words that I’ve written. And in that belief wonder at how it was that a soul like mine could have gotten so lost. No, that isn’t exactly true. I don’t want your pity. I just want you to believe me.

Over the course of several years, I’ve tried to figure out what happened in my life to make me so sad. Why I carry with me this weight in my heart that stoops my shoulders and bows my head. And for many years I did everything I could to escape it. From joining the army, to going to the middle east, to coming home and running all over hell’s half-acre. But like a great shadow, a conscious creature, it followed me wherever I went.

The newness of my new world and new circumstances would wear off and there I would be.  Knee deep in my ‘me-ness’. When I lamented that to an ex-lover – he sniffed and shook his head with profound (profoundness purchased from his several shrinks he loved to keep on his payroll, I’m sure) seriousness and said, “Freddie, no matter where you go there you are.”

Now this sage wisdom came rolling off the lips of someone who cut hair for a living. Not that there was anything wrong with that. Certainly not. Many people make great money doing it as he did. But the statement was out of character for him. I had failed to been added to his thin concerns which were only for himself. Of course, until I wanted to leave and then he’d tell me he loved me, or he’d cry, or a million other reasons why I didn’t walk away. It would take me three years, and several random men who approached me to tell me about him, to figure that out for myself.

But that’s a story for a later time.  Right now I am focused on beginnings.  Where things originated. My Genisis, so to speak. As a writer, I have often pondered about putting all this down in book form. But the idea of making money off the stripes on my back make me curl inward as if I had just witnessed something obscene. It felt dirty that I would be airing my life out and more than ever I felt reticent about selling a book that would reek of scandal and be tantamount to some cheap ‘tell-all novel’ about the inner workings of fundamentalistic religion and  how I survived it.

Recently, I’ve even emailed four educators, professors, experts in fundamentalist religion and violence and offered myself and my story up for use by them or any student working under them who needed dissertation material, or thesis material for their Master’s degree. I figure someone somewhere ‘out there’ could use this information.

I received one reply email today from one of those experts. A nice man who informed me that the was no longer in fundamentalism and didn’t have any graduate students studying about it at present. He thanked me for my query and wished me luck saying, “I’m sure you have much to offer in the above regard by way of your personal experience. I hope you eventually find an appropriate venue for such discourse.”

See, that’s the problem. I’ve never been able to find so said appropriate venue. All I know is I’ve had stories rattling around in my head that would probably curl people’s hair. It’s weighed me down in ways that I can’t even begin to describe and as I said in my email to this man (and to three others)that, “… if I can’t relieve myself of the weight of them (my stories) then perhaps I can use it for the greater good.”

Again, a day late and a dollar short.

Not to say that I am unhappy. I am not. I am a happy guy. I have happiness in my life. I have a wonderful husband and a near-do-well writing career.  But I have sadness in me sequestered into a corner of my mind that every once in awhile – like a ghost- decides to raise it’s head and tell me stories I’d like to forget.

So, without any other ‘appropriate venue’ I think I am going to bring it here. A message in a bottle. Or a series of messages in a bottle from a storm-tossed soul. A man who’s gay, an ex- fundamentalist, an ex-republican, married, scary story/ romance writer who hopes that someone out there tonight – or in the following days, months, years etc. would believe him.

Because like most horror stories, novels, and movies out there – sometimes there is no answer to what happens to the cast of characters when the story ends. So, this is my S.O.S as I’m stranded on the isle of recovery from what would amount to an American Horror Story. Except the ghosts were real, and the monsters loved Jesus.

I don’t know how often I’ll write. But I will write as often as I can. Thanks

F.E.