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Message in a bottle (Part 5)


The world is so beautiful. People are so beautiful. The ability for human beings to connect to each other in their shared humanity moves me to no end.  And it’s that connection that I have always craved. That moment when, despite our differences, we come together.

These things happen through music, art, poetry, – when someone professes their truth and work hard to show the tender most parts of them. When the observer or listener hears or see’s this effort they have a moment of “I get that.” And bingo, just like that, a connection is made and that’s a powerful thing. It’s a human thing.

I’ve been to concerts featuring Meatloaf and Tina Turner the latter was the greatest moment for me between father and son. I remember listening to her voice, listening to her rendition of The Beatle’s ‘Help’. It was slowed down and more gospel than rock and roll. And as her voice crescendoed I found myself floating away closer to heaven when she sang, “Help me if you can I’m feelin’ down. And I do appreciate you bein’ ’round. Oh, help me get my feet back on the ground. Won’t you please, please help me?”

And when my sister gave me my first CD of Meatloaf’s Bat out of Hell 2, I found myself swept away when during Objects in the Rearview Mirror (may appear closer than they are) Jim Steinman tore through the piano after the second verse – and I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. This song, this album, would follow me all through my life wherever I went and the song Objects, would be the inspiration for my second novel of the same name because the lines of the second verse spoke directly to me.

But it isn’t just through art that we find these connections.

When I was studying political science and history – I was coming across Supreme Court cases that touched my heart. Statements that were so shocking, in a pleasant way, to the senses, that Justice’s past had made in regards to Civil Rights – which should just be called Human Rights to get rid of such ambiguity – that I was amazed. And when Justice Kennedy wrote the majority opinion in Obergfell he wasn’t just speaking to America’s consciousness. He spoke to its soul when he said:

No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death (Emphasis Mine). It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right (emphasis mine).

The judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is reversed.

It is so ordered.

This language while coming out of the Supreme Court, which reinforces an Aristotelian Conception that is our United States Constitution complete with a Supremacy Clause (and not based at all on The Bible) , while in a nation that separates church and state, still conjured up images of Eternity. This idea that Shakespear wrote about in sonnet 116 when he spoke of time’s bending sickle compass, “…. love alters not with its brief hours and weeks but bears it out even to the edge of doom…” concepts of love that endures even beyond death. Love that the Greek named in an effort to nailed down just what it was. This language, reinforced in my mind, what Jesuit Teilhard de Chardin once said, “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” And those spiritual beings will strive always for love, and if God is love, and wherever love can be found, God can be found, then all human beings are not fundamentally bad the way protestant fundamentalism would have you believe. But quite the opposite. They are fundamentally good and while flawed, still strive to reconnect themselves with the source of creation.

Even before I walked away from fundamentalism, I found myself obsessed with love. And I still am to a great degree. But I realized at the earliest points in my life I was starving for it. I was thirsty for it. I wanted more than anything to be surrounded with it. Possessed by it. And I am not talking about simply romance, fluffy nonsensical notions of love but passion and concepts of a family and all that entails. And I find it was that search for love that propelled me forward in life. Knowing that it was out there, having witnessed love in other people’s lives, I wanted love – I wanted to connect to it, to be a part of it, more than I wanted anything in my life. Not success, not education, not riches or fame.

And the interesting thing that convinced me that love’s profundity, was in Gospel Music. These songs dedicated to a universal being so benevolent and merciful are numbered too many to count. But the distance between what the congregation just sang and what the preacher preached…existed a great gulf fixed. As Cardinal Martini once said in his critique of Christians, “You love the music, but you hate the lyrics.”

And I think that critique can be expanded on Fundamentalist’s view of Christ. They like the idea of him. They like what he can do for them. They profess this great love for him. But in all actually, as The Gospel of Matthew 7:16 points out, “Ye shall know them by their fruits..” They don’t love Christ. To love Christ you have to love who he was, what he did, and would have actually had to do what he said to do. And that was to love. Because while man may, in fact, be flawed -it wasn’t his righteousness that brought Christ to earth- it was mankind’s flaws that Christ was attracted to. And Christ never held those things over the heads of the people he helped, he didn’t shame anyone for them, didn’t use it to blackmail anyone, didn’t dangle their souls over perditions’ flame,  and he most certainly didn’t beat people because of them.

Fundamentalism made Christ a bigger jerk than they were. Someone, no one would hang out with. Someone who was more like the devil than the devil was. And effectively stripped Christ of his passion and motivations. In short, they paganized him, and made him a tool to bring people under their thumb and cutting them off from what John 3:16 made so clear, “For God so LOVED the World…”

He loved it because the world is beautiful and her people are inherently Good and are capable of such greatness. And Tina Turner and Justice Kennedy, Meatloaf and Father Chardin, are all doing their best to connect humanity to each other. Cutting people off from each other is an atrocity.

The world is so beautiful. I’ll never take it for granted again. And fundies, listen to the actual words of the songs you sing. Maybe you’ll find Jesus. Find love. And then find each other in the process.

It is so ordered.