So, I grew up in the church – United Methodist to be specific. They’re not so bad for those who aren’t Christian or Anti-Christian or whatever. They’re pretty accepting of the LGBT community, they don’t go around hate mongering and holding up signs picketing dead soldiers funerals and all that. Honestly, I wouldn’t have much of an issue hiding in a tall building with a suppressed AR-15 with a red dot scope when those kind of fanatics..erm…never mind.
So, when I was about 15 or 16 years old I decided church just wasn’t for me. I actually worked at my church as a janitor. The pay was decent and I was already there quite a bit because of how active I was in the ministry. I fed the homeless about once a month, lead youth group a few times here and there and I even did a few sermons in front of the youth as well. We’re talking probably about 100 high school and middle schoolers. So yeah, I suppose you could say I used to be quite the Bible thumper. But I think it’s safe to say that I never really felt a true connection with God. I never really understood how some dude about two thousand years ago could die up on a big slab of wood, get locked up in a cave after he straight up died and then three days later just decided to show up and essentially say “Whaaaats up my peoples!? Bet you didn’t think you’d see me again! Aaah I totally got you. So, good. Too freakin good. Ok, now I’m gonna go to heaven because I just proved to you that I really am the son of God like I’ve been telling you for the past couple years so, good luck, spread the message and I’ll see ya when ya get there!”
That’s sort of how it went down in my mind at least. I mean, c’mon…even if it was 2,000 years ago, people still spoke in slang, they still thought like us and they still had the same faults as us. We may think they’re different only because the Bible has been translated so many times which is why everybody sounds so pious and noble. You can actually thank the King James Version for that one…I have a feeling they probably spoke a lot more like my blog sounds.
So, I got a sales gig when I was still in high school making about a grand a month and when you’re in a single parent household and your dad is telling you that you’re basically on your own when it comes to paying for college, buying your own car and expensive clothes like Abercrombie and Fitch or American Eagle and you desperately want to fit in, 1k a month can go a loooong way. Unfortunately it interfered with church. A lot. My youth pastor wasn’t overly fond of that and basically gave me an ultimatum. I told her to shove it up her ass and walked out.
Since then, I’ve been angry with God. I wouldn’t even say angry, I’d say pissed off, righteously pissed off (pun intended) indignant, resentful, and yeah, just royally pissed off. Working at a church at a young age is a terrible idea. I was young, my mother had just passed away and I saw my co-workers as spiritual leaders but even spiritual leaders are human and they have their faults. I wasn’t angry at God I was angry at them and I was angry at myself.
My brother didn’t go the same route I did. He stayed in the church and kept going. He actually really kept going so far as to the point of getting his Master’s Degree in Theology and is now one of the pastors of that very same church. He is fully aware of our differences of opinion, my agnosticism, my indifference towards God etc. However, I am still spiritual. I do believe in a power greater than myself. I do believe that if there was a big bang what caused it? There has to be something that lit the fuse so to speak. The Big Bang Theory is just that, it’s a theory, it can’t be proven.
This weekend was my grandparents 63rd anniversary and all my grandmother wanted was for everybody to get together as a family, go to church, watch my brother preach and then have a nice lovely lunch together afterwards. No big deal, I can totally do that. Surprisingly the walls of the church didn’t even fall down when I walked in. The holy water didn’t begin to boil, the crosses didn’t turn upside down and rattle and nobody even looked at me differently. In fact, nobody recognized me at all. It had been a good 14 or so years since I’d really even had a major prescence in the place so why would anybody?
As it turns out, my brother wasn’t scheduled to preach that day and I have a feeling he kept that to himself because he didn’t want my grandmother to get all upset and try to convince him to change the schedule. That’s just not how it works. He was up on stage, did a bunch of announcements and all that but one of the other associate pastors did a sermon on a lot of the teachings of John Wesley. He’s a good dude. He pretty much founded the Methodist Church. Now, one of this biggest tenents was “means of grace,” meaning, the things that you do in life as a Christian. Or, really the things you do in life just to be a good person for that matter. He talked a lot about social charity, visiting the sick, feeding the homeless, visiting prisoners, all that kind of good stuff and the last thing he spoke about was standing up for justice of the oppressed. Fuck. Me.
Now, I by all definitions big and small am a scientist. I subscribe to the biopsychosocial model of human behavior and I believe in the scientific method but I also believe in fate and I believe that everything happens for a reason. I don’t believe in coincidences because of all the things in our lifetime that can happen, I just find it too difficult to comprehend that something, anything can randomly just change. The actions we make are up to us, yes, we have free will but they are not random. They have a purpose, a meaning and a consequence. Ergo, I believe it was not a coincidence that the consequence just so happened to (fill in the blank). Some consequences suck and change peoples lives forever and they are terrible and some are great. I suppose it depends on the situation and the outlook of the individual but anyways that’s for you to decide, that’s my opinion.
In this particular case, my brother who we all thought would be preaching didn’t. In this case, a pastor who I didn’t know and had not heard before so I had no real way to judge him or had any preexisting notions of him – I’d heard every other pastor at this church before and most of them I don’t like – Took to the stage and delivered this message to which I was actually impressed with. It was scientific. He had a damn whiteboard! He was using bullet points! But he kept talking about standing up for justice of the oppressed and I couldn’t help thinking “Am I standing up for the justice of the oppressed?” “Are blacks in our country oppressed by the statues that are standing that are there as memorials from the civil war?” “Am I wrong?”
People, here me when I say I am not one to admit that I am wrong very often. Now, it’s not that I am proud, or egotystical. I normally just try to think things out logically and when I come to a conclusion I can say to myself “Yes, this is right, this is correct because it is logical, it is accurate, it is true.” But I am not a Vulcan. I am not a robot. I am not a computer. I am human. I think over the years I have tried so hard to protect myself from feeling pain, from feeling emotion that the best way to overcome it was to just become logic itself. Logic doesn’t feel. Logic doesn’t hurt. Logic doesn’t fail. But logic doesn’t love. Logic doesn’t laugh. Logic doesn’t feel joy. Logic doesn’t embrace life either. It merely exists. I talk about gray areas so much but truly I have lived a black and white existence. It is either yes or no, wrong or right.
I do not know if these statues should come down. They
probably should but I do not think they should be destroyed. They belong in museums. I think, instead of destruction, why not place a monument that memorializes the war in general and what the cost of that war was for our country? It doesn’t have to offend anybody because we can’t bleach our history. We should remember WHAT happened but not place them high above the heads of those who feel that it is a symbol of an era where their culture was oppressed, shackled, sold bartered and owned. I’m not sure that it matters that this current generation had to endure it, it matters that it’s a symbol of their culture enduring it and a reminder of that. Regardless of whether somebody had ancestors who were slaves or not, I think I can understand how one can identify with somebody who has the same or similar color skin the same as I can identify with somebody who is addicted to methamphetamine even though I have never done meth. On that same note, I do believe it is getting out of hand and I do believe it will get worse. There needs to be a cease fire. This culture, or counterculture of angry people who feel they have no voice need to find one and find it quick or I fear like I said in my other blog, things are going to get much worse very quickly. I do hope that I am wrong.
With that, I realized that in my ignorance, in my logic, there was a flaw. A series of 0’s and 1’s that I had created to protect myself as a shield, as body armor, that it will have to come off if I am to allow myself a new life where I am able to truly feel the pain of others. All, others that is. I understand the pain of addicts, yes, I’ve been there I can empathize. But I can’t use logic as a means of justifying how I live my life. I certainly can make it a small part of it but I have stuffed emotions so deep down inside of me that I fear I have forgotten how to feel some of them.
So, I would simply like to say that I am sorry. I can not change the color of my skin and for that I am not sorry, there is nothing I can do about that. I don’t know if my ancestors owned slaves or not but if they did I am sorry. To those who feel persecuted or downtrodden or stereotyped, I do feel for you and for that I am sorry. To those who are fighting (not physically mind you!!) I hope that you achieve balance, progress and the social equality that you desire. I have to say however that this is not my quest. I will not march in the streets, I will not block traffic, I will not throw water bottles, I will not engage in riots. On that same note, I think it’s fair to say that the vast majority of those who want this equality and want this persecution to go away aren’t doing any of these things. It’s such a small fraction, a tiny fraction but of course, again the news outlets take a single piece of straw and make it appear as if it is an entire bale. More like a semi-truck full to be honest. I think the majority are peaceful, loving people who just want symbols that they feel represent a time in our past where the ownership of humans existed in our country and there are specific individuals who in in particular represent that more than others. These individuals just so happen to be memorialized as statues and bring about feelings that no American should ever have to feel. So here is what I will do though. I will not tolerate ignorance, bigotry or hate. I will not tolerate injustice when I see it. I will not judge even if I am judged. Yes, it does happen and it’s not okay but I will accept the fact that years of frustration, fear and anger are being projected unknowingly and for that I can understand and allow forgiveness for. I don’t feel I do much wrong but I know at times in the past my words were inflammatory at the very least and words can hurt just as much as actions so that is why I am here in an attempt to correct them. Not because I have to but because I want to. A simple sermon, a simple explanation in a calm, straightforward, non-judgemental way of helping somebody understand the position of your ideas, thoughts, feelings, or hurts can go a long way. Nobody is stupid or ignorant. There are evil people in this world, don’t get it twisted. There are terrible people, but there are even more people who just need to see things from a different perspective. Not everybody is going to click. I know I’ve learned that recently myself. I must seem so alien to people when I try to explain my stance on things when there’s absolutely no emotion involved, when there’s no feeling because for so long I couldn’t feel. In my other post about this issue, I ended it saying that to me the only lives that mattered were Gray Lives because every human has a brain and it’s my goal to serve and help everybody I can who are suffering from mental illness and addiction and obviously the human brain is made up of lots of gray matter. Well, I will
try to do more than that. I will try to stand up for the justice of the oppressed.
I have a feeling it’s going to be difficult saying goodbye to living a life of trying to justify everything with logic and algorithms I make up in my head. But I did make a commitment to changing my life though and the more I write, the more I blog, the more I realize that I am shortchanging myself. I don’t have many people that read these. I find that disheartening to be honest. At the same time, I read these and I re-read these because they are for me. I hope a month, six months, a year from now I can look back and see the ghost of who I used to be. The memory of me sitting in front of my old iMac scared and alone, but also ready. Ready for change, ready to fight, ready to be vulnerable. Certainly ready to put himself out for the world to see what I am capable of.
I want my life back and I don’t think I’ve wanted it more than I do at this very moment. I hope this feeling doesn’t go away. I think logic dictates that it will. Fuck logic.
Remember, you are never alone. Nor am I.