Room Inside a Box

"There is no room inside a box." ~Doug Pinnick

Location: Tamaqua, Pennsylvania, United States

I started this blog as a soundboard for some much needed therapy during my separation with my wife throughout much of 2005. It was truly a blessing to get my thoughts out there through the writing process. Thankfully things have worked out between us. I would have continued to blog, but ever since I started my teaching career, I have found it impossible to do as much blogging as I would like to. So now I hope to periodically post as time and energy allow.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Unorganized Response That Shouldn't be Taken Seriously

So my blogging went the way my exercising did: nowhere (At one point I was up to 150 push-ups and sit-ups a night, but then school responsibilities took over.). Ann came back and I began my teaching career. Two very, very large responsibilities I must and have been taking very seriously, so I had to stop doing some things--like blogging. I forget where I learned this, but someone once said one only has room enough for three major priorities. Since October, mine have been 1) Ann, 2) my kids, and 3) my teaching career. But since summer is here and I have a couple of months to relax, I figured I'd get back into writing, epecially since my brother is doing so much of it these days, filling his blog with so many things I feel the need to comment on. So we'll see how long this lasts--probably until August or what have you. There's been a lot on my mind these past few months, too, and I need to get them out there somehow, see where they go...

So let's begin with my reactin to what I just read the other day. One of my brother's more recent posts was about the yard sale we had this past weekend. He brings up a lot of things that require comment and analysis, but let's do one thing at a time.

He writes:
Tom (my Christian [but not Christian-eese] brother) shakes his head and says something along the lines of "Huh?"I shake my head and look to the ground. I am upset that my nephew has been placed willingly into a cult-ish family, but then I figure, I was dropped unasked into one as well, and most of my siblings turned out all right.... so there's hope.

Dad looks at Tom. "Sam (that's what we call him, as that is the name my sister gave him before he was handed over to his adoptive parents) accepting Christ as his
lord is the most important decision he will ever make."My mother taps her
chest again, nodding sagely through the tears.

I can tell Tom wishes to pursue this line of thinking, but we all realize this is making my sister uncomfortable, so the conversation drifts to the safer topics of the
letter: the piano, his writing skills, how much he looks like his birth father...

First, thanks for the Christian / Christian-eese distinction. I went to a wedding a couple of weekends ago. I'm friends with the entire family, and during the reception (I loathe receptions, mostly because of the deplorable music and the inane hobnobbing) I got into a three-hour discussion with the bride's brother, Scott. He had just received his Ph.D. from Lehigh University and is a professor of history at the University of Scranton. There are few things in life I love more than a good conversation with people who love to read and write, and thus Scott never fails when it comes to making me love life--if even for a few fleeting moments. During our conversation, we eventually meandered our way to the difference between Republicans and Democrats. Scott is unabashedly Republican, while I'm a closet Republican. I'm also a closet Christian--what I like to refer to as Xian for reasons I can explain if the reader so desires. The reason I'm in this double-closet is because both "labels" represent so broad a spectrum that these two signifiers have been worn out--downtrodden amidst the crushing tsunamis of this Information Age, the winds and waves of the Big Media and all its inlets and outlets, bloodletting our once robust and clear words into mere shams of their former selves. Christian originally meant "little Christ"--a term of endearment, affection, bonding, and for many, martyrdom. It was not a word to be taken lightly. But the Church, ironically enough, has perpetrated so many wrongs throughout the centuries--not to mention the wrongs of these wacko and extreme, fundamental and unforgiving so-called Christians of today, which the media then loves to parade in front of us in our present time--that over the course of time, this word has become anathema to the very ones who try to follow the teachings of Christ--people like me. Thankfully, there is an Emergent Church growing, a church that is not walled, a church that is not judgmental, a church that does not live in fear and project those fears onto others, a church that forgives, a church that loves and embraces diversity--but I'll save that for another post. In short, I'm a Xian who cannot stand many Christians. And in the same manner I'm a Republican who cannot stand most Republicans, mostly because the party is filled with Christians! I like the party of Lincoln but despise the party of Bush, just as I like the Xianity of Jesus, but despise the Christianity of James Dobson. Republican and Christianity are gigantic umbrella terms that unfortunately shelter a large array of right-wingers and some extremists. Yes, there is a large segment of good, moderate folk, but unfortunately they get crowded out by the bullies on the right. And yes, there are the liberal leftists who feel disenfranchised--and rightly so--because they've been bullied for centuries and centuries. So it's no wonder people like my brother leave the umbrella to brave the elements on their own. I don't blame them. This is a complicated idea. I need to revisit this umbrella idea. I think it's a good working metaphor, albeit a bit crude.

So in short: Thanks for the distinction, the recognition that we're all not blind sheep brainwashed by a system of illogical suppositions...

Which leads me into my next point: the fact that you and I (yes, I know I'm shifting perspectives, addressing an audience as well as one person in particular, but I'm too lazy to edit myself at this point) were born into a cultish family. It's a tough distinction sometimes: cult vs. religion. Many religions or belief systems begin as cults and blossom into what they are today--bona fide religions. Those cults that contain kernels of truth or resonate with much of humanity stick around for a while, while those born of untruth and depravity quickly disappear, unfortunately taking down with them many victims. Christianity certainly started out as a cult, but because it resonated so much with so many, it hung around and is indeed very large at the moment. By definition, cults die with their leaders. This is not so with Christianty so it cannot be called a cult. Koresh in Waco: cult. Branch Davidianism died when he and those wackos died. Two people with five kids doing the best they can with what they've been given, raised in a strict and poor environment reacting against the destruction and disillusionment of World War II, the Cold War, and all the fear and loss and abandonmnet issues that go along with all that: not a cult. Not even cultish environment. Not ideal? Perhaps. But what is an ideal environment? Ours was certainly better than most. If you don't believe me, go to Mexico, China, India, North Korea, much of Eastern Europe, South America, and Africa. This country is far, far from perfect, but it still is a great place to grow up and live in, considering the alternatives. And our parents, while far from ideal, are still great, great parents, considering the alternatives. Hell, you don't even have to go far to see that. Come with me to Reading for just one day and read the journals of my kids or get into a conversation with them about their home lives. I guarantee you your heart will cry out to them. Of course, you had a different perspective than I did, growing up a homosexual, always having that shame burdening your soul. But even so, there are much worse scenarios that could have befallen you or me. All in all, we have loving and supporting parents who are genuinely concerned about our well-being, forgiving, loving, tolerant, and all that happy stuff. Could they be more open-minded? More tolerant? More loving and forgiving? Of course! But who couldn't be? We are none of us perfect, and we are all of us striving to become better--those of us that care to, anyway, and certainly Mom and Dad fit into that category. They'll never be as open-minded as me, and certainly not as you, but they love us just the same. They don't judge you or me. They used to, for sure, and I too lived in fear of their judgment, but not anymore. I mean, we were born into a conservative family for sure, but they mellowed out over the years, learned form their mistakes. You were the one who taught me to walk in another's shoes. For the longest time I couldn't stand Rich, and I would always tell you that you needed to get rid of him and find someone better. But then one day you told me to put yself in his shoes, to look at things from his perspective, to see where he was coming from. Of course I took immediate offense to this--even if I didn't show it. Who wants to be told by their younger brother what to do and how to act? But I thought about it for a while and decided that you were right, and ever since then I started to lok at things differently, especially Rich, and now I think he's a good guy. I got no beefs with the dude at all. And while I'm not saying you have beefs with Mom and Dad, reading between the lines in many of your posts, and especially when you throw around words like "cultish" when describing our family, I sense that there are real feelings of anger. Perhaps this anger is justified, and I'm sure writing about it all is extremely therapeutic, like my writing was (and is even now) during my separation from Ann, but I just want to hopefully point out that Mom and Dad were doing the best they could with what they had, reacting and acting with and against a system of beliefs that has been giving security to untold millions for thousands of years--even before JC hit the planet. They haven't been given our discerning and inquisitive faculties, so we need to frgive them when they bust out the "Jesus in the heart" thing.

Which leads me into my next point: Yes, I did want to pursue that line of reasoning with Dad, but I learned a while back that I'd be butting up against deep issues of security. It was hard for me to learn that Dad's not exactly the smartest guy in the world. Like most boys, I remember viewing Dad as the be-all and end-all of knowledge. But when I started learning that things he told me were wrong, or when he would just flat-out tell me that he didn't know certain things--and even worse, that he didn't even think about certain things!--that blew my mind. I've come to learn that Dad's a simple guy, yet very wise and certainly very loving--even if he doesn't show it. He's also a deep dude that suppresses a lot because he doesn't have either the cognitive abilities or the desire or the stamina to get to the bottom of certain things. He questions some, but when it gets too hairy, he relies on others to do his thinking for him, and those whom he chooses to rely on are run-of-the-mill preachers and conservative thinkers, not intellectuals or academics. The problem is he's not much different than most people. People like cookie-cutter answers that they can rely on for security. They like these because life is too tough to think about. When you have to support your kids and maintain a home and property and please squabbling family memebrs and financially help others and be a leader in the ocmmunity and be a loving husband and father and wear all these hats--it's tough. Myself, I'm drained, too. Kids are sooooooooo fucking life-draining. And keeping the wife happy, too? Life is very demanding--and we have washers and dryers! I am finally beginning to understand why religion and its dogmatic and life-altering devotion has been so powerful for so long. The enlightenment and scientific endeavors are so new because people for milennia had to worry about simply surviving! And then the church comes along and provides a more than welcome securtity blanket. It met a deep need in the human psyche. It's only been the advent of the twetieth century, with all of its technology and enlightenment that people en masse have been leaving behind this security blanket. Unfortunately, many are doing so angrily--some for the right reasons and some for the wrong reasons--but nonetheless they are soooo angry, and I'm wondering if that's good. I'm beginning to think that people are taking their insecurities out on an institution that yes, has been loathsome at times, but that has only existed because people have security issues. So people should be angry at themselves, not at the institution. Or at least get angry with specific people, not the entire institution itself. I've noticed recently in your postings that you are doing a much better job at distinguishing exactly who your venom is being directed at, and I applaud you for it. But again, as I effusively and fluidly shift perspectives, I am speaking generally. It pains me to see so many people so angry and completely missing the point! Don't be angry and blame this or that, blame God or Jesus or the Church at Large. Stop, think, and look at yourself. Look at people. As you have rightly and recently stated, and as I myself have recently learned form one of my greatest teachers out in California, all of our knowledge has come from one person telling another person. Even if you stick revelation from an outside source into the mix (as I would do because I do believe in God who speaks in revelations, but I certainly am open to refuatations on this premise as I journey at all times seeking unadulterated truth), revelation only comes in spurts, and that revelation only comes to certain individuals. So this revelatin needs to be disseminated somehow, and the only way is person to person. So don't be angry at God or Jesus, be angry at people, be angry at yourself, and then start investigating once the purging has ended. Too many people think they are seeking, when really they are just stoking the fires of their own malice deep inside of them.

I lost my original point. Oh yeah, I didn't pursue that line of thinking with Dad because I'm still working through my anger issues with myself and others. I used to be angry at God and the Church, but I realized that that was stupid. And I can't be angry with Dad or Mom because they are just people doing the best they can, trying to be good and if they are inflicting harm on others, it's not their fault entirely. It's us that have the issues. They have issues, too. We all have issues. I have more to say but I have to end this post as it's too long, too dense, and not even written very well. So what better way to end a poorly written post that doesn't convey all I want it to than to end it abrubtly and hope for a better one tomorrow...


Blogger Jason Hughes said...

Holy loaded unspell-checked post, Batman!!!


It will take another reading or two to get it all out and sorted, but expect a response probably by next weekend! Good to see you blogging again!

June 05, 2006 11:02 PM  

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