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

 

Message in a Bottle (Part 3)

411722_orig

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.

 

 

 

 

 

The Intensity of Wisdom (opinion subject to change)

I will never discuss banal things.
I like conversations about ideas. I want to talk about sex. I want to hear your thoughts about space travel and colonies on the ocean floor. I want to hear your thoughts on God. Philosophy. Religion. I won’t accept your Atheism, Christianity, or Wiccan ness unless you tell me why.
I want to know why.
I don’t accept things because we throw pretty and modern words to the masses and because it’s repeated over and over again. Tenacity is not truth. Mendacity is just a pretty word for lie.
Concerning your sexuality, I want to know your experiences. I want to hear from you about when you found out you were straight, gay, trans.
I want to hear your truth between the words you speak. I want to feel your emotion wrapped up in the nuances of your speech.
I have spent too many years with people who promoted their ‘truth’ so absolutely that I am suspicious of others? Or, maybe that’s not the right word. Inquisitive? I don’t know.
When I left the Fundi Baptist church – I left the philosophy due to its shallowness. It’s inconsistencies. It’s inability to contribute anything meaningful to the world. It lacked ethics. It lacked aesthetics. And it half lied and it half told the truth. And that truth was manipulated for control’s sake. They were out making converts twice as fit for hell as they were in accordance to their own holy text.
The Atheist makes a point that if you need the threat of eternal damnation to do the right thing, you don’t lack religion, you lack morals. And they’re right.
But even those with religion, the saved of the saved, have the fear of the ‘Big Sky Daddy’ and STILL lack a conscience. We see that played out over and over and over again through not only history but modern political thought. Ayn Rand was a shit person who had an irresponsible philosophy that our current speaker of the house shares. Donald Trump is another great example of utter garbage in our world today backed up by American Protestantism. Like the German Church, they’ve thrown their hat in with someone who could be a kind of Anti-Christ should he gain control. And on the flip side of that, Trigger warnings at the University level and even in book production today is utter bullshit. Truth is not often pretty. Sometimes it’s downright nasty. And you shouldn’t be protected from those things because people who went through them, weren’t. But that doesn’t mean I don’t feel the hammer blow when I see something in regards to child abuse or systemic racism. Because I often know where it’s rooted. And it’s rooted in the idea that a person ‘owns’ another.
And these things are not in an attempt to make me sound smart. There are smarter men and women than me by light years. And I don’t want to talk about these things to intimidate people. I’m not trying to prove anything. I owe you nothing and you owe me nothing.
But I’ve spent years trying to figure myself out. Trying to figure out what the truth is in regards to who I am. Because the more I know about you, the more I find out about me. And these things lead me out of a word of certainty. Statements made with exclamation marks.
An uncertain person will never kill a gay person, will never blow up a Mosque, will never call a woman seeking an abortion a whore, will never subject someone to the auspices of a book translated by a King with an authoritarian ideology, will never once hold a slave, or castigate someone for finding their own truth and living freely in it. And uncertain people make shitty terrorists.
At the end of the day, I know very few things. But I do know that I love my husband and I love my friends. Anything else is anyone’s guess. And the willingness to live in such a nebulous gray place requires intensity, I guess. And it requires the understanding that the more I learn, the less I know. Aristotle said the beginning of wisdom is the understanding that I know nothing.
But it also requires being brave. And you can’t be gay in this world and be a coward. It’s impossible.

Why do we wait for peace (Poem)

Why do we wait for peace?

We’ve suffered through tragedy
and we’ve walked through hell
we’ve tasted bitter tears on our lips
and cast coins into wishing wells

We’ve cashed checks too light
and paid bills that are too heavy
we’ve built walls to protect the homestead
and were flooded out when rivers broke their levy

We’ve worn boots of a solider
badges of the cop
we’ve been in stripes, been in chains,
been in some awful tight spots

We’ve danced at weddings
and wept for the dead
we’ve wished a goodnight’s sleep
upon a child, a lover, or an aged parent’s head.

We’ve born the whip
and we’ve been set free
we’ve worshiped at houses of the Lord
and sang a version of, Nearer my God to thee.

We’ve been taxed to death
worked our fingers to the bone
made love at a moment’s notice
when with a lover, we found ourselves alone

And yet, AND YET, we cannot see
is that I belong to you and you belong to me
if not by family, those strong ties that bind
but in our own humanity shared by all of humankind

Black, white, yellow, these things are hues
and for neither hyphen nor station
should any man be made to sing the blues
Nor for religion, nor arbitrary thing
because baby, at the end of the day
you’re still a human being

We’ve all been made to wander
our forty days and forty nights
we’ve all been made to struggle
our souls reaching for the light

No imaginary boundary will save you from the end
no faith, nor creed, nor wealth of wisdom will stay the hand of death
from dust you arose and to dust you will return
and with you goes everything you’ve ever done, everything you’ve ever learned

For whom the bell tolls, it tolls for us
and if every man made machine turns red with rust
and if mankind’s life ends for the blind, the seeing, and deaf
why do we refuse peace in our life, our childrens lives, our neighbors lives, our fellow countrymen’s lives, we will all otherwise intimately get to know
in death?

Why do we wait for peace, this state of grace
Why do we deny it to others simply for their race?
Why do we deny it to ourselves, for we too are made to suffer
For when we hate for simply hates sake
We linger in perpetual fear and can give peace to no other.

It is a cyclical ride we humans ride
A rollercoaster that never stops, a merry go round of knives
Why do we wait for peace we wait because we’re afraid
Afraid someone will get over on us
So we take any hope of peace, directly to our grave.

It’s greed that makes up linger in spaces Angels fear to trod
its fear that keeps us separated from other children of God
its retribution, its rage that keeps the blood flowing
and it’s those things that keep us from the Divine, the Merciful, the All knowing

Peace comes when we begin to let go
Peace comes like a gentle fall of snow and in the quiet spaces
in our hearts humanity is restored
Its when we discover our worth, we pick ourselves up from off the floor.

Its easy these days to pray and to give thoughts
its harder these days to be where the change starts
its easy to lecture, to point, to criticize
its hard to listen, to step back and see the world through foreign eyes

Why do we wait for peace?
These things I may never know
This place hidden beneath pains unyielding sorrow
like a garden under veils of winter’s snow
It’s a state of glory we all wish we could be
So Our Father Who Art in Heaven, no more waiting
Let this peace, begin with me.

F.E.

The LEast of These (Christmas in MAY short story)

Hi all,
I was inspired by a recent law passed in my home state of Michigan, that outlaws what they call, “Aggressive Panhandling.”
And instead of writing a blog about how outraged I am, and pointing out that it was passed on party lines, from people who claim to love God the most, I figured I’d address it in a short story.
So, here you go.
The Least of These.
“The meeting of the city council of Corpus Christi will now come to order. Today’s meeting is to hear from the general public over City Council resolution 777, concerning the fining of aggressive panhandlers. The ordinance proposed by council member Melissa Hatfield would impose a one hundred dollar fine in the event that a complaint is made against the above mentioned by someone in the public or witnessed by a law enforcement officer. Soon we will hear conflicts concerning this bill before we vote on the matter. But first, I turn the floor over to Melissa who will explain the rationale for this bill, so, Melissa if you will, “Mayor Peabody finished speaking and sat back in his chair as he gazed out over the crowd of faces that were in the meeting hall this evening. It was six thirty and as his stomach rumbled angrily, reminding him that he had skipped breakfast and lunch today and knew his wife would have dinner waiting for him when he got home. Thankfully, none of the people here seemed to be moved by this proposed bill, and he was sure that he’d be able to get this meeting over. That is, of course, if Melissa didn’t take her sweet ass time explaining away her rational. She did so love the spotlight and as the public access camera turned toward her, he saw her sit up straighter in her chair and quickly brush aside her styled hair with her manicured fingernails, and grinned sweetly.
“Thank you, your honor, “Melissa said to the camera. “I am not only a member of Corpus Christi’s city council but, as I am sure you are all aware, I am also a business owner of a small bridal boutique on Staples Street here in our GORGEOUS city of Corpus Christi. And as such, I propose this bill in an attempt to remove a certain blight on our fair city. Now, I am a Christian woman, and I do not doubt that these poor souls who are seen on the corners of our city streets are in need of some help. But I also know, that some of these people are scam artists. Or are addicted to drugs and alcohol. And like so many of you out there, I’ve given to the poor countless times. But not with money. If they’re hungry, I offer to buy them food. And I did so the other day to one particular homeless woman. And do you know what she did. She refused me. She wanted money. “
Sweet Jesus, this is going to take all day, Mayor Peabody thought as he patted his ample belly. He hoped the growling in his gut wasn’t being caught on tape. But no one in the audience turned their head away from Melissa thankfully.
“So, CC 777, I believe would free people from the unsightly and often criminal element that is plaguing our streets. Panhandling is not only bad for our business, it’s bad for the people who engage in it. Everyone knows, hard work, is the only key to success in life. And these people, are trying to bypass that truth with handouts. Thank you.”
Through the hall there was a smattering of applause, the people who were there must not have come to hear about this issue, alone. Some of their faces were blank, some of them looked like they’d just sucked on a lemon, however, the majority of those gathered nodded their head in agreement with what Melissa had said.
She’ll be reelected that’s for sure, Mayor Peabody thought as he leaned forward and picked up his gavel.
“Does anyone want to address this issue before we take it to a vote?”
Please, can we just get through this? I’m starving!
Mayor Peabody raised his gavel and was about to announce the vote when a voice from the back spoke up, “I do Your Honor.”
A murmur rippled through the crowd as onlookers turned to see him standing there.
Mayor Peabody raised his head to see a man standing in the back of the room dressed head to toe in well-manicured fashion. His suit was finely cut and hugged his tall frame well, his face was clean shaven, and his hair combed back off his brow. He looked as if he’d come off the pages of a fashion magazine and walked forward with a certain self-assuredness that meant prestige. As hard as he tried, Mayor Peabody couldn’t for the life of him figure out who this man was as he approached the podium to speak. Surely, he would have crossed paths with a figure like that in the city during his election campaigns, fundraisers, debutant balls, or the ballet. However, he couldn’t figure it out.
He even turned his head toward various members of the board who all looked as blank as his mind was. Melissa even shrugged her shoulders when Peabody’s eyes met hers. As the mayor turned his head toward the people in the audience, he found all of their eyes glued to the figure who now stood at the head of the room awaiting, probably, the mayor’s permission to speak.
“Uh, uh, please state your name for the record, sir.”
Melissa looks nervous. Is this guy a lawyer? Probably some fag from the ACLU? That’s all we need. Jesus, I’m not going to make it home for supper.
Mayor Peabody turned his attention back to the man and when their eyes met, he felt himself shrivel inside. The man’s brown eyes were staring at him so intently, and a fire burned inside of them, the mayor feared that he may have spoken aloud. There was something about this man. Something Peabody couldn’t place…. but a hush had taken the crowd of onlookers.
“Before I introduce myself, your honor, ladies and gentlemen of the city council, ladies and gentlemen of the city of Corpus Christi, I want to make clear that I am here on behalf of several interested parties. I have been pulled from my place of work, my industry, to come and speak to you. My time is limited, given the current state of the world, I am working overtime. We all are. So, please, I intend to be succinct.
“Excuse me, Mr…but who are these interested parties you represent,” Melissa asked sitting forward. A smile had slid upon her face. Amusement. The rest of the board shifted uncomfortably in their seats.
“I represent the interests of humanity, Madam. Mercy, Charity, Benevolence, compassion, empathy, Forbearance. “
Melissa grinned and smiled sitting back in her chair. “Is that right? Well, sir, would you please state your name for the record.”
The man turned in the podium and addressed her, “I am the Ghost of Christmas past.”
Although Mayor Peabody heard some laughter in the audience, he noticed that most people had remained silent. Exchanging glances, some of them rolled their eyes, but others kept their eyes on the figure in front of them. The man’s face didn’t color, his eyes didn’t betray his statement, he didn’t smirk, he stood there in his statement as if he believed every word.
He’s nuts, Mayor Peabody thought. Once more the man turned his head to look at him, and once more his gaze was so intense that Peabody swallowed with a clicking noise in his throat. His stomach, once grumbling with hunger, squeezed itself with unease. He looked over to his right, passed the rest of the council to the police officer who stood watching the man with the same curiosity as the rest of the room. When Melissa spoke again, Peabody winced at her tone.
“Well, fortunately for us, Spirit. This is the end of May. It seems you are little early. Or late, depending on how you see it.”
The man turned his gaze once more to Melissa, “No ma’am. I believe I am right on time. As a matter of fact, I am here not only in my capacity as the ghost of Christmas past, but I am also here as a representative of The ghosts of present, as well as future. You see, like I said, we are being made really busy these days. So I promise not to delay much of your time. But I am here to address this council and to make a plea to the city’s people. You see, we don’t normally do this. We don’t interact with you.”
He’s off his rocker, his cheese has slid right off his cracker, Peabody thought as he started to motion for Officer Martinez to have him removed. But the man, spoke up, and his words chilled him to the bone. Without looking back at the mayor, but keeping his eyes on Melissa, he said, “I assure you, Mr. Mayor that I am not, in fact, nuts. My cheese – as it were- is safe and I am well sat upon my rocker. I also not a faggot from the ACLU nor any other outrageous and patently offensive things you may be thinking.”
Peabody felt like the floor had fallen out from underneath him as his jaw fell open. The council as well as the audience all muttered. Melissa was taken aback at his language, and her face had drained of color as she started to rise in her chair.
“Please sit, Melissa. “
The chair beneath her seemed to shift forward quickly and caught her behind her knees. She went down with a squeal that quickly was cut off with the raise of a finger of the man’s right hand. He now had everyone’s attention.
“Mr. Mayor, if I may continue?”
Peabody nodded.
“Corpus Christi is translated from The Latin for Body of Christ. And it is the irony of this certain bill that has brought me forward this evening to address you all. See, there’s more to a name, than just a name. When you name something, you invoke something. And this bill, from what I understand from these interested parties, flies right in the face of the name that you have bestowed upon yourselves. “
The spirit pulled out a single sheet of paper from his pocket and unfolded it and began to read, “The word aggressive written herein on the bill to be fined a maximum fine of one hundred dollars should they be found non-compliant in this ordinance.”
He raised his head, “The term aggressive can be widely interpreted. To include everyone. And these wide interpretations of ordinances and laws is what is keeping myself and my colleagues extraordinarily busy these days. You see, the irony of a bill like this, in a city like Corpus, in a state like Texas, and in a nation that so proclaims its love for Christ – write and enforce laws that are so morally abhorrent to humanity for whom Christ served. Now,” the man said turning to look around the audience, “…some of you are thinking that some of these people are drug addicts, are scammers, and some of them are alcoholics.”
A murmur rippled across the audience as some of the people sat up straighter in their chairs. But the man continued. “And it’s true. But ladies and gentlemen, one doesn’t have to be a spirit to understand that statistically there are alcoholics, drug addicts, and far worse in the midst of us right now who agree with this legislation. Although they shouldn’t as they themselves, given the nature of the current legal system, are one DWI, DUI, injury, or legal conundrum from being in the exact position as the least of these – find themselves.”
He continued, “But this bill has nothing to do with their situation, nor the state of their circumstances – although you don’t hesitate to cast judgement on them for it – this bill, is for you. Because seeing people like that, bothers you. It upsets you. It makes you uncomfortable. And despite the popular belief system that says rich people are somehow blessed by God and poor people must be sinners – that has allowed for this explosion in the creation of the category of ‘other’ something about all of that, doesn’t ring true when you see people like this. And you’re right. There is something about their state, that offends your conscience. And it should. That’s your humanity trying to speak to you. So your response? Remove them from your sight. Problem solved.”
“Sir, I find that offensive. We are Christian …,” Melissa started but stopped when the man held up his hand.
“No. The interested parties I represent; say no you aren’t. They also want to make it very clear, that when you put people into that category of other due to circumstances, you are moving yourself into the category of other as far as these parties are concerned. And the problem is far from solved. ‘That which you bind on earth, will be bound in heaven,’ and the chains that you forge in life, will be carried with you into death. You’ve been led to believe, that people are poor because they are lazy and refuse to work, and people are fat, because they are lazy and eat too much, or people are gay because of a choice they made. That they deserve to be castigated and cast out of society and deserve whatever chance has in store for them.”
Mr Peabody leaned forward, “So what you’re saying to me, is that we have to solve all the homelessness here in Corpus otherwise we’re damned?”
The man shook his head, “No. That is impractical. There has always been and will always be poor. What you’ve done was forgot that Christ was once homeless. And poor. And because you forgot that, you’ve abandoned your conscience and you stop trying to make homelessness go away. Now you just want the people to go away and pretend homelessness and other parts of humanity that are unlike your circumstances– don’t’ exist, due in large part to junk gospel of snake oil salesmen.”
“I’m sorry, your calling yourself the ghost of Christmas past. Taken from a book written by Charles Dickens but your pontificating like an angel from heaven.” Peabody said.
“Why am I not one and the same? Where do you think Charles got his influence? You read your Bible and yet you know God himself did not write it. Man did. Now, Mr. Mayor – Melissa- members of the city council, ladies and gentleman of the citizenry of the Body of Christ, I am going to leave you. You will not be visited by anyone else. No one else is coming. This was a last ditch effort to change your minds. No one else cares for the situations you’ve put yourselves in. We’re too busy intercepting your ‘others’. There are a lot of them now, more than ever. Remember what I said about the chains. Thank you for your time.”
Melissa was about to say something when the man raised his right hand and snapped his fingers….
“The meeting of the city council of Corpus Christi will now come to order. Today’s meeting is to hear from the general public over City Council resolution 777, concerning the fining of aggressive panhandlers. The fine proposed by council member Melissa Hatfield would impose a one hundred dollar fine for the above mentioned in the event that a complaint is made against the above mentioned by someone in the public or witnessed by a law enforcement officer. We will now hear from the public concerning this matter. Afterward, the council will adjourn for a vote. But first, I turn the floor over to Melissa who will explain the rational for this bill, so, Melissa if you will, “Mayor Peabody finished speaking and sat back in his chair as he gazed out over the crowd of faces that were in the meeting hall this evening. It was six thirty and as his stomach rumbled angrily, reminding him that he had skipped breakfast and lunch today and knew his wife would have dinner waiting for him when he got home. Thankfully, none of the people here seemed to be moved by this proposed bill, and he was sure that he’d be able to get this meeting over. That is, of course, if Melissa didn’t take her sweet ass time explaining away her rational. She did so love the spotlight and as the public access camera turned toward her, he saw her sit up straighter in her chair and quickly brush aside her manicured hair, with her manicured fingernails, and grin.
“Thank you, your honor, “Melissa said to the camera. “I am not only a member of Corpus Christi’s city council but, as I am sure you are all aware, I am also a business owner of a small bridal boutique on Staples Street here in our GORGEOUS city of Corpus Christi. And as such, I propose this bill in an attempt to remove a certain blight on our fair city. Now, I am a Christian woman, and I do not doubt that these poor souls who are seen on the corners of our city streets are in need of some help. But I also know, that some of these people are scam artists. Or are addicted to drugs and alcohol. And like so many of you out there, I’ve given to the poor countless times. But not with money. If they’re hungry, I offer to buy them food. And I did so the other day to one particular homeless woman. And do you know what she did. She refused me. She wanted money. “
Sweet Jesus, this is going to take all day, Mayor Peabody thought as he patted his ample belly. He hoped the growling in his gut wasn’t being caught on tape. But no one in the audience turned their head away from Melissa thankfully.
“So, CC 777, I believe would free people from the unsightly and often criminal element that is plaguing our streets. Panhandling is not only bad for our business, it’s bad for the people who engage in it. Everyone knows, hard work, is the only key to success in life. And these people, are trying to bypass that truth with handouts. Thank you.”
Through the hall there was a smattering of applause, the people who were there must not have come to hear about this issue, alone. Some of their faces were blank, some of them looked like they’d just sucked on a lemon, however, the majority of those gathered nodded their head in agreement with what Melissa had said.
She’ll be reelected that’s for sure, Mayor Peabody thought as he leaned forward and picked up his gavel.
“Does anyone want to address this issue before we take it to a vote?”
Please, can we just get through this? I’m starving!
No one in the crowd moved to approach the podium.
Thank God.
Mr. Peabody sat forward to speak again in the microphone and stopped himself. He swore he could hear the rattling of chains. The police officer moved from where he was standing to check the side door.
Other members of the council noticed as well and looked among themselves. Melissa’s face had gone white as a sheet.
“Mrs. Hatfield, are you okay? You look like you just saw a ghost.”
She raised her head to look at him and leaned forward to speak, “I uh…. I…uh…. maybe we should table this for another day.”
“Why? It’s perfectly reasonable? No one thinks there’s a problem with it.” Mr. Peabody said as they turned their attention to the people before them. The ones who had looked content with the bill were now murmuring angrily with each other.
Maybe she won’t be reelected.
Peabody watched as a fine sweat had broken out on her face as she surveyed the room and then back to the council. One of the other members sat forward in their chair, a representative of a poorer district asked “Did you just have a stroke of conscience?”
Peabody watched as she jumped at the question “What? Yes! Yes. This bill is wrong. This isn’t right. I’m sorry for even writing the damn thing. I don’t know what I was thinking.”
Peabody rolled his eyes, She’s nuts. Her cheese has slid right of her cracker.
“Can we just get this over with, I’m starving. Let’s bring it to a voice vote. All those in favor say aye.”
Five people on the council said Aye.
“All those opposed?”
Six said Nay.
“Very well. The ordinance doesn’t pass.”
And even though there was an angry murmur from those gathered, Melissa looked as if she’d dodged a bullet or been saved from perdition itself. She rested her hand over her heart and was breathing deeply.
She’ll lose her election, someone else will snatch that bill up, and use it against her. She knows that! What was she thinking?! She’s off her rocker.
“Very well, on to other business…….”
The End

Write your story (Hop for Visibility)

UmbrellaNo Year

Fear

Hate

Bigotry

Homophobia

Transphobia

Bi-phobia

Racism

Sexism

Violence

Pain

Exclusion

Erasure

ERASURE …

Everyone who has drawn breath, has a story to tell. Everyone who has lived longer than ten years on this earth, has a story to tell.  This world is not easy to live in. By any stretch of the imagination regardless of who and where you were born. How much money you did and did not have. What your skin color is. What your gender is. What your sexuality is. What religion you adhere to (or not) and on and on we go.

And regardless of all these things, these constructs and titles that separate us from one another, there is a history there. And we all have, and ALL OF IT, is important. And the best part of it all, is despite everything we’ve been through, we’re here…right here and right now and somehow, we made it to this point.  That, is miraculous.

And it’s through that history – those stories – that we as readers and writers, connect. One of the greatest parts about writing is being able to revisit something in your past. Something that may have happened and being able to pick the event apart. Unlike others, who wish to move past certain things, we dwell in them. We perform an autopsy -so to speak -of the event and when we put this down on paper we are able to place a value judgement on so said event that not only makes writing cathartic it also creates a safe space for the reader and the author to meet. And it’s in that safe space where humanity is shared. An experience, a feeling, an understanding, and it’s there that one finds empathy – and it’s in THAT moment, when simple words on a page – become art.

P!nk while accepting the Presidential Award at BMI (an award given for writers in the music industry) gave a speech where she said, “”I find, as a human being, that it can be really difficult to hear someone else truth, but it ends up being the only reason you can connect with them, and that truth becomes either what you agree or disagree on, – but you are engage ultimately, And as far as ‘memories’ they help you relate and can build a bridge between your differences.”

Your story – matters. So the point of this blog today is to get you to express it in some way or another. Whether in a journal no one will ever read except perhaps your children or grandchildren, whether you put it to the canvas with paint brushes, wrap it up in fiction in a book that you sell, express it through poetry, or scrawl it all down in a notebook and take it out back and burn it- dance around the firepit with a fifth of jack daniels in your hand and laugh at the full moon (Hello, my pagans) , you should write it down.

If you haven’t noticed – and Jamie Fessenden touched on this with an earlier blog yesterday about the importance of knowing if Abraham Lincoln was gay or not – LGBTQI – and A , people’s stories have been erased in the past and are just now starting to be uncovered, and as these people have pushed forward with rights – there is a certain segment of the population who’d originally been responsible for that erasure – are trying yet again to get in the way of people’s fundamental right to live as they were born to live. And if you’re brave enough to share your truth with the world, that is how we learn, and how we come together and understand each other. We – society – are the better for it. And that is how we stop them.

P!nk also had this to say, “I think you can be pretty, slim, have nice shoes, be popular – but if you have nothing to say, than I’m not listening. Because you’re not going to tell me who you are, what you’re afraid of, what you regret, what you REFUSE (emphasis mine) to regret, and therefore you won’t’ teach me anything.”

None of your titles matter, whether you’re gay, straight, bisexual, White, Black, Buddhist, etc. there are people out there right now talking shit about you. There are people out there right now filling the airwaves, the pages with words, on television – with static. With hyperbole. With fluff. With nonsense, trying to convince like minded people that they know who you are and what they think is best for your life. And they’re trying to pass laws with your name on them. If you say anything with a modicum of conviction, if you question the status quo, if you sometimes even try to defend yourself from people who want to label you – or defend yourself against popular views of who and what you are, often offends people.

Your story, your experiences, your truth – wipes them out each and every time. And right now in the state of American politics (and in the current state of popular art) as it is, it’s imparative – now more than ever – to ground yourself in your truth and speak.  The artist has always been on the forefront of societal change – speaking out even in the most dangerous of circumstances – leading that charge.

And as we stand in the midst of an election season that could go really really good or really really bad, it’s important now, more than ever, for us to push. To speak, to join in a conversation, to add to the list of growing voices out there coming out against the darkness, against those who wish to reverse track and push people down, who wish to reassert control over us, or who would perpatrate and support violence against us. And now this is an open invitation to you to join in the conversation.

You have a story.

Tell it.  Strive for your art. Strive for that connection. Strive for that moment. Whether it’s in poetry, music, visual art, journalism, blogging, public speaking, non- fiction, fiction, let us see you. Let us hear you. We’ll all be better for it. Art challenges society. Art – reflects it. And there are people out there who say you should never judge society . I think those people are full of shit. I think if you hold people out over perdition’s flames (Thank you Jonathan Edwards, you son-of-a-bitch) – they often times come back smelling like sulfur.

I look forward to seeing what you can do.

F.E.

You can watch the entirety of P!nk’s speech here at this jump. 

 

 

 

Let us hope that God is a Liberal

I would like to know how it’s possible that a nation who proclaims its belief in God can subject it’s people to the likes of someone like Donald Trump?
I would like to know how it’s possible how Christians who find themselves supporting a man who is the worst kind of bigot ? How do they do it?
How do they balance the idea of racism and go to church on sunday and sing amazing grace, and how does it slip their mind that that song is so entrenched in slavery that to play it on the piano would show them that even the keys they play it on are black?
How is it possible? How is it possible that evangelical churches led the charge to undermine civil rights in this country as they did after the passage of the civil rights act of 1964? Infuriated over Brown v Board. And continue to do so – like bigotry isn’t a sin of the heart?
How is it possible to profess a faith that speaks about Christ leading men out of the bondage of sin the way Moses led the children of Israel out of bondage – to turn around and try and subject people to second class citizenship? To, in a sense, bind them to the power of religion out of pure spite and disdain?
How is it possible- that when black people say their lives matter and gay people marry, and trans people are denied the right to use a bathroom – that they are trying to destroy Christian rights? When Christian ‘rights’ have existed in this country simply to punish anyone who walked outside of what they consider moral? Or white? Or Christian as they see it to be?
Is it simply cognitive dissonance? Or is it something more?
Is it more along the lines of that AFrican proverb that says, “Beware the naked man who offers you his shirt?”
Meaning that, in this instance, perhaps you shouldn’t try to offer salvation to anyone when you yourself don’t possess it? And maybe when you condemn someone for reacting in a certain way to the pressures around them that , you in fact, condemn yourself? And perhaps you aren’t as ‘SAVED’ as you think you are?
That the original sin wasn’t theirs, but was a product of yours?
If then should these people stand before God- the one, the source of justice if you accept anamnesis, who is really going to be held responsible in the long run?
I know it isn’t fashionable to take society to task over things. People roll their eyes often times when you try and say that it takes a village to raise a kid. And they reject the notion that environment really has an impact on the way people turn out, although they exist in societies and are products of them themselves.
My father used to always preach that if God didn’t destroy america he would have to resurrect Sodom and Gomorrah and apologize to it. And of course it would get people nodding their heads and saying ‘amen’ because in their mind, sodom was a city filled to the brim with roaming bands of homosexuals.
But I agree with my father’s premise. But not for the same reason.
Ezekiel chapter 16: 49 says, “Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy”
When you see people carrying signs and shouting, ‘black lives matter’ it’s because since this nation was founded, they never mattered. And the reason they never mattered was due – in large part- to some American Churches (Bob Jones Sr. Vs. The United States). Jim Crow was preached out of pulpits. And schools were built by Christian churches who used their 501c3 to do so, were furious – and sued- to keep that right. And even though they lost, the  lone dissenter – Bill Rehnquist – became this nation’s chief Justice until 2005.
They stood in the way of Gay marriage and some of these same churches are trying once again to deny people rights as they aid rogue states (Liberty Law Center- a product of Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University) in passages of discriminatory lgbt laws that violate their rights as citizens of the United States in 20 states.
all because of the actions of this ‘immoral majority’. Every wicked thing in the hearts of man is represented in ONE person trying to become the head of state. Every wicked deed produced by the church to acquire power – is represented in one man. And the fertile field of the GOP – where he was grown – finds itself powerless to stop him. This ‘stop trump movement’ headed up by the likes of Erik Erikson – has failed. Not because they didn’t try, but because of the character of those who tried.
Franklin Graham stood some time in the not too distant past and decried that Stonewall inn, which the U.S. is going to declare a national landmark, would be a monument to sin. Which is interesting because I think these churches are.
When the ‘WORLD’ is better at trying to set men free than the churches are?
Suicide rates of gay youth are extremely high
homelessness of lgbt youth is almost 40 percent of the entire number nationwide.
domestic abuse numbers are higher in same sex homes due to external pressure
More African Americans live in poverty, are more likely to be murdered, and are more likely to lose their freedom because of the war on drugs and other things.
Mexicans have fled their homes and immigrated here because of that very same war which has bound the African American has caused a civil war in their country because of the War on Drugs – and we are unconcerned.
And in the background pulling the strings? You guessed it.
If we remove benevolence from God (the liberal version of him) and just make him simply a JUST God (The conservative version), Donald Trump would be this nation’s potential punishment. Despite popular belief, and despite the fragmented cast system we’ve put in place that allocates privilege depending on demographics, this nation will rise or it will fall – together. And the churches- that immoral majority- bought and paid for him.
“…What rough beast, its hour come around at last, slouches toward Bethlehem to be born.”
~ William Butler Yeats.
How poetic.
Maybe he will be elected. Maybe he’ll build that wall. But the funny thing about walls is – not only do they keep people out – they also keep people in.  But maybe that wall will spare them from our own self fulfilled prophecy.
Let’s hope the liberals are right.

Beware The Saints (Ten Thousand Angels)

Today, we observe Good Friday
This day, set aside, to observe the anniversary of the murder of Jesus.
Some believe he was the son of God, others, a prophet. And some believe he was just a historical figure.
But think about Jesus in the context of today. A man who challenged the status quo. A man who stood up for the marginalized. The outcast. Who stood up against the religious and said, ‘All ye who are without sin, cast the first stone.’ Who spoke the truth, and shamed the devil.
Pilot- found no fault in him.
Yet when Pilate gave Jesus over to the mob- to the religious to those whom Jesus had challenged the most because he symbolized change- they called for his crucifixion.
And as he was brutalized, as he was whipped, as he was made to carry his own cross, as they drove spikes into his forearms and into his legs, as they put a crown of thorns on his head, and a spear through his side, they mocked him.
Christ embodied, compassion, empathy, benevolence, forbearance, mercy….he embodied all that was good about man.
So, not only did they kill the son of God, they symbolically killed any worth that they may have had.
Over the next three days, churches will be filled with those who go to observe this moment in time. And I know that when they leave their houses of worship, they should be jarred into the reality of where this country at the moment. This great society that proclaims it’s belief in an invisible God, whose name tumbles from their mouths without a second thought. These same people, who allow the poor to languish, the naked to freeze, the sick to die, and the hungry to go unfed. Who, through their own self righteousness, would allow the outcast to remain an outcast. And who would allow to rise to power someone like Ted Cruz or Donald Trump- the very antithesis of who Christ was and what he stood for.
See, it wasn’t the sinners that killed Christ. It was the saints. It was the righteous, the saved of the saved.
It’s a tragic irony.
The Bible says that Heaven observed the death of their beloved. That angels were camped out around the cross. And personally, I believe if God gave the order for them to go and get his son, saying, “No. He doesn’t deserve this,” they would have gleefully, and justifiably, destroyed the world in the process.
My mother used to sing a song in church, and the second verse said this:
T’was not for crimes that he had done
that placed him on that tree
but the love for a dying sin cursed world
and they power to set it free
and as they blood came streaming down that cross
the debt for sin was paid
Oh praise his Precious Holy name
for What Jesus did that day
“Ten thousand angels all hovered ’round.
they could have come and taken him down
removed those nails, with loving care.
But it wasn’t the nails, that held him there. “
Thank God, it wasn’t the nails
nor the irony of who put them there
that held them there.

Vive La France! (A Poem)

Paris
City of light, city of love
Fairest art thou in the spring
Shadows shuttled cowardice to your doorstep tonight
Yet through unknown terror Parisians started to sing

Your anthem so rousing and noble
Proudly heard throughout the shock, stilled world
Your character shone strong in your voices
Triumphant even as horror unfurled

You brought to a fledgling nation, salvation
Taught us what it meant to stay true to true things
Every night your children march proudly
Through the streets the revolutions still sings

Vive La France! we shout right beside you
Je suis Parisienne! Here we are!
Long live our mighty sister to our East
A democratic independent bright star!

Tonight we are all gallant Frenchmen
Marching onward ever upward to eternity
Singing songs about joyous revolution
Equality, Fraternity, and sweet Liberty!!!

Vive la France!

There is a comfort I take in France’s history. That is one nation that you don’t mess with. France, during good times and bad, has always been formidable. The French hold liberty, and fraternity, and equality very close to their hearts.
She came to us in our hour of need when we were emerging as a fledgling nation. She delivered to us a symbol of freedom in the Statue of Liberty – a gift that now resides in our New York Harbor.
She’s known good times and bad, but she is one hell of a nation and tonight I think I speak for most Americans when I say, God Bless you.