“Write What Scares You”

Rachel in the OC always pushes the thought, “Write what scares you.” So, here’s where I write part of what scares me. Something I’ve never said publicly before. See. There are people who really piss me off. That comes from me being able to change perspectives like most people change shoes. And changing perspectives, I have learned, is something most people couldn’t do if their lives depended on it. I don’t know why that’s the case, but it is the case, no matter what perspective an individual seems to have.

Since November 8th, I’ve been called a fucking liberal. You know. One of those weak people who believes everybody deserves the right to food, and a safe place to live, and it doesn’t matter if they can earn a living or not.

Since November 8th, I’ve been told it’s not worth even trying to talk to me, because I will never understand the truth, and will never change. The implication being I should shut up,  and let whoever won the Electoral College and the various congressional elections, do what they were elected to do.

Well. That leaves me fire breathing angry. Because. Unlike the people who blast me with that type of declaration, I can actually understand something other than my own perspectives, and my own beliefs.

Today, I wrote these words, shared with a good friend. I’ve decided to put these words here, on my blog, where anyone can view them, read them, and react to them however they react to them.

Telling me I’m not aware of different perspectives… Jesus. What do you people think I am? Stupid?

Shh. I’m being evil Mark. 🙂 See. I do understand. Better than a heck of a lot of other people realize. And I’ve hammered my brother, and an old friend, on their perspectives, and political/social views.

It’s not hard, really. All you have to do is speak the truth. Which is what I did. And it’s been a week now. And I haven’t heard a peep out of them. Because. They know the truth. Even if they don’t want to admit it.

There are several “bottom line” items for our Conservative friends. These include money, religion, protection of faith and family, and “earning your way” (I say that last one in quotes, ’cause I can’t figure out how to express it any better way).

Money. They can’t live by spending more than they make. Companies can’t spend more than they earn. Churches can’t spend more than they make. A lot of states have “balanced budget amendments” in their constitutions. These people look at the US budget, and go off the deep end. Because. Their government is spending money far faster than it earns it. And that has to change. That has to change, even if it hurts. The debate becomes how to change that. And always, with the Conservatives, national defense is NOT on the table. Period. That leaves Medicaid. Medicare. Unemployment. Roads. Infrastructure programs. Housing. Education. And pretty much, every social program that exists. The math becomes simple. Keep defense. And butcher everything else.

And how do you butcher the rest? How do you cut unemployment spending? How do you cut health care spending? How do you cut education spending, infrastructure spending, any kind of spending?

Take it out of Government hands, and put it in private sector hands. The government stops spending, and the private sector has to take up the slack. That’s the GOP budget in a nutshell. Pray innovation takes hold, and we get oceans of companies doing what SpaceX, Blue Origin, and others are doing. Get the government out of the way, and let private industry respond to the problems of our society.

That’s the plan. In a nutshell. Balance the federal budget. No matter what. And expect the US population to make up the difference.

Religion, the same thing. Let the religions figure out what’s right and wrong. Don’t legislate it. If religion says, “Homosexuality is a sin, and homosexuals are minions of Satan, and should be destroyed,” then so be it. It’s not Government’s roll to tell religion what to believe. That’s the responsibility of the people of that religion, and it’s leadership.

You begin to get the idea now, don’t you?

Education. It’s clearly not free. Look how much the Gov. spends on public education. Since it’s not free, and the public education system is, as we all know, not working, and rife with corruption, and problems, get the Gov. out of the way there. And let the people of the country fix the education problem the same way they’ll fix the religion problem, and the social programs problems.

If your child is disabled, should everyone else carry the financial load of caring for that child?

You get the idea.

I’m certain you get the idea.

This is what the current conflict in this country is all about. And there’s a growing harshness in people that says, “If you are so disabled you can’t earn a living, you deserve to die.” Harsh, but true.

If you look at Exodus in the Bible. There’s passages in Exodus for how the Israelites were to deal with disabled and sick people. Straight out of mother nature. Straight out of animal packs. Put the sick one outside the camp. If that sick one recovers, have the priests examine that sick one, and determine if they can return to the camp. If they don’t recover, they die.

That’s exactly where we’re heading. If you can’t work. If you live in such physical pain that you can’t work. If you are severely autistic, or handicapped, or have any other disability. Tough. That’s life. That’s how the world is. It’s not everyone else’s problem. It’s yours. Deal with it, and don’t expect help. Except maybe from religious organizations, and charities. If they have sufficient funds, and resources.

I could ramble on for days and days about all this. I could. By now, you’ve figured that out.

So, when a conservative tells me I don’t understand, and I’m a lilly livered, liberal. I have to laugh about it. Because. I do understand. Far more than they will ever realize.

There. I’ve written another of the many things I’m terrified of writing. Because. I’m fucking tired of people telling me what they’ve told me throughout my entire life. “You can’t be that way!”

I am that way.

And I can understand far more than most people realize I can.

So, shut the fuck up with calling me a weak, pathetic, blind, liberal, and fucking try to see something beyond the tip of your nose. Expand your fucking limited horizons people!


Fucking  humans!

*Head Desk*


Who Taught Me How To Hate

There’s a story I’ve never shared. Never spoken of. Because. I know its words are divisive. I know its words cause harm, anger, mistrust. I know its words are not welcome. But, these days, I’m already unwelcome. So, it’s time to tell the story. Time to start putting into words the truth.

Disturbed, the musical group, has a song on their newest recording, named, “Who Taught You How To Hate?” I mention that here, because here is where I answer that question. I have no doubt I hate. It’s something I’ve been taught. And, once learned, it’s a lesson that can’t be unlearned.

Here’s the direct, blunt answer. Who taught me how to hate? The Christian Church.

Oh, I know, that sentence just shut down almost everyone who would have read this post. Everyone who needs to hear the words below has stopped reading. But, I’m going to tell the story anyway.

It ended, and it began, in August of 1976. A single day that changed the course of my life permanently, and guaranteed I would one day walk away from all churches.

The high school aged youth group of The Narnia Baptist Church went on an end of summer retreat to a place in Syria, Virginia. It was the third trip the group had made to that location, and my second trip to that place.

The Director of Youth Activities for The Narnia Baptist was Jane. I loved her as a friend then, and to this day, if she asks me for assistance of any kind, I will find a way to help. I understood she had genuine concern for me. I understood that of all the people, all the young people like myself, in that group.

It was on that trip when I finally admitted I did not understand the world the way I was supposed to understand it. On a Saturday night. I told Jane I knew something was wrong with my life. I knew it wasn’t a lack of faith, or a lack of God, or some flaw in my understanding of my religion. It was something inside me. Something that prevented me from being like the others in the group.

Everyone in the youth group had paired off, as teenagers do. They’d found girlfriends, and boyfriends. They’d experimented with dating. They’d experimented with many other things as well, including drinking, illegal drugs, and sex. Again, as teenagers do.

I was 17, never been on a date, never had a girlfriend, never tried any drugs, and was waiting until it was legal for me to try alcohol, if I elected to try it. I was also an honor roll high school student, headed toward a college education.

And I declared to Jane, that night, I knew I was different, I knew I reacted differently than the rest of the group. That was the first time I remember the words I hear in my head endlessly. “You can’t be that way. You can’t live like that.”

That’s all the explanation I could get. The way I lived, the way I did things, was wrong. I suppose it would have made life easier for me if someone could have explained why I couldn’t be how I was, why I couldn’t live as I did.

And why I couldn’t feel what I felt.

From that day forward, everyone in the church group tried to correct my behavior. Jane certainly tried. She was most tolerant, really, of my problems with life over the following school year, and the summer of 1977. She also suggested I obtain help, and helped me set up sessions with the church pastor.

Imagine, if you will, being a 17 year old, informed by everyone you know, everyone you care about, every friend you have, that you can’t live the way you live. That you can’t feel what you feel. That you have to change.

I remember the many Sunday nights, after church, when I drove the family station wagon, filled with friends from church, to eat pizza at Pizza Hut. Always, I was the odd numbered human. There were five of us, or seven of us. And I was always the odd number, the one, the single person.

Sometimes, I felt like I didn’t belong, like I wasn’t part of the group, and was only being allowed to tag along, because no one wanted to tell me to go away. And, over time, that changed. Over time I became the odd person outside the group. Allowed to sit at the big table and eat pizza, but when the pizza was gone, it was time for me to be gone too.

The same feeling of it being time for me to be gone spread to Sunday evening church services, and I soon found myself sitting alone at those services, with no one to talk with after those services. That continued to spread, until I was left with no one to talk with on Sunday mornings.

It was the first time I’d been isolated by any group.

In my senior year in high school, I got a part time job as a grocery bagger at a store. When that store started opening on Sundays, at first I told them I didn’t want to work on Sundays, because I had to go to church.

A month later, I told them I could work on Sundays. The isolation at church had reached the point where I knew no one would care if I wasn’t there.

And no one did. No one asked where I was, what I was doing, why I wasn’t there.

In my first year at Old Dominion, I tried to return to church on Sunday mornings. At least long enough to attend the pre-church bible studies. That didn’t work out. And that’s when I heard the next words I’d hear endlessly.

I spoke, more out of desperation than anything else, to a friend. Katie. I asked her if I should find help. “You need help, Mark.”

Those words ended my time at that church. I did visit during the next four years, to check on someone who mattered to me, although I never said anything, and never spoke to anyone of why I kept visiting every few weeks. Her name was Billie Sue Cruz.

When she graduated from high school in 1982, she moved away from that church. And I didn’t return until December of 2010.

By June of 1985, the damage was permanent. I’d learned to hate myself, to deny what I felt, what I wanted, what I cared about. Because, “You can’t be that way. You can’t live that way.” I learned to become what people wanted me to be. I learned to study people, to discover what type of behavior they expected of me, how they expected me to behave, what types of behavior were acceptable to them.

Being who I wasn’t, being what I wasn’t, and fitting the expectations of the people around me, became a feedback loop. If I followed that pattern of behavior, people left me alone, they didn’t tell me how to live, how to behave, how to think. They didn’t tell me I couldn’t be like I was, couldn’t live like I did.

I learned to deny myself.

I learned to hate myself.

I don’t blame anyone for what happened. Let me say that now. I don’t blame Jane. I don’t blame Katie. I don’t blame the group. I don’t blame The Narnia Baptist Church. It’s not worth blaming anyone. What happened happened. It’s the past. I can’t go back and redo it. It’s done. It’s over.

In the summer of 1980, when I was 21, the old group from The Narnia Baptist Church got together one last time, and made a trip to Syria, Virginia, and the retreat center there. I had just completed my 3rd year of college, had a part time job at a grocery store, and was earning enough money to pay for a car, thanks to the generosity of my parents, who allowed me to live at home, and paid my college tuition. I paid for my text books. I paid for my insurance. I paid for the paperback books I read. I paid for the music I listened to. I paid for the comic books I read. I paid for the repairs on my car. I paid for any trips I made to watch a movie. I paid for any dates I went on. I Syria, Virginia.

On that Saturday, at the retreat, the group got on their swimsuits, shorts, and shirts, and headed to the swimming hole in the mountains a few miles from the retreat. At 21, once again, I had to be the lead car that showed the others how to get to the parking for the trial that lead to the swimming spot.

And on that walk, I was the one who stopped what he was doing, and helped others up and down the hillsides along the trail in the mountains as the group made its way to and from that mountain swimming hole on that Saturday afternoon.

I even climbed down the hillside on the way back, beside Jane, to make certain she was OK.

And I heard the third set of words I hated passionately. “Good Old Mark.” I knew she meant it as a compliment. But those words stung in ways I could never have explained to anyone. Those word said I was who I was supposed to be. The observations I’d made of what the people of that group expected me to be, wanted me to be, were confirmed. I was as I was supposed to be.

And I hated every minute of it. I hated who I was, what I’d become.

On that swimming trip, I didn’t swim. I wasn’t part of the group. I stayed away, climbed the hills around the swimming hole, hid from the others, and licked my wounds.

And I watched them. Just in case something happened. And I was needed. Because, to keep everyone from saying those words, “You can’t be that way, you can’t live that way, you need help,” I had to maintain that image, that routine, that I was who they needed me to be.

I’d learned what I’d been taught. I’d learned I couldn’t live the right way. I couldn’t be the right way. I’d learned to burn myself to ashes, to keep myself away from others, so they could be happy. So I wouldn’t bother them, or disturb them, or disrupt them.

So they didn’t have to deal with me. The hated one, whose feelings, and thoughts were always wrong.

So, when you ask me, “Who taught you how to hate, Mark?” I have to answer with honesty.

The Church.

I’ve tried returning to the Church several times in the past 20 years. Each time has failed. Not because I didn’t try. But because of what I have seen every time I tried.

I spent several years attending a church down the road from where I now live. It was called, at the time, God’s Place, and was Episcopal. In the three years I went there for Sunday morning services, I watched that church die.

It started when the Episcopal Church in the US elected an openly gay man as a church bishop. People, loyal Episcopalians, abandoned their church when that happened, as they declared the Episcopal Church had turned its back on God. Some of them pushed for God’s Place to separate from the Episcopal Diocese.

Then, the pastor’s wife left him. She moved to New Jersey. When she left, a slow decline in the regular attendance of the church began. I would learn why when the church pastor went on a mandatory six month sabbatical.

While he was away, the Episcopal Diocese placed another ordained pastor in his place. Before the six months ended, the church staff spoke with the pastor, and then with the bishop of the local diocese. What followed was in investigation of inappropriate sexual activity by the church pastor. That investigation not only revealed the inappropriate sexual behavior, it also revealed inappropriate manipulation of the church’s funds.

That church imploded, and wound up sucking itself into a black hole, never to be seen again. People split into two groups, those who believed the pastor, and those who believed the investigation.

In December, 2010, I visited The Narnia Baptist Church. As I’ve said, I harbor no grudge, I don’t blame anyone for what happened to me there. Many of the people who used to be regular church goers there have moved on. They’ve found other churches, or they no longer attend any church.

The Narnia Baptist Church is dying.

And part of me finds this sad.

And part of me feels it was inevitable.

After a few visits, I knew I wasn’t meant to be there. I didn’t fit in. I never really did. So, I left again, for the final time.

In May of 2011, I visited another church. Far Away Baptist Church, in Chesapeake. I visited on a whim, someone I’d known in highschool was there, and had invited me. I figured it couldn’t hurt to try.

I wound up attending most Sundays until November. Sometimes, it takes a while to figure things out, and to understand what I’m feeling. But, it all became clear one Sunday, when my friend told me she had worked hard to grow the way people of that church thought of her. She’d put a lot of effort into controlling the image they had of her. And she wanted to maintain that image.

And the scars in me were laid bare.

I knew exactly what she was saying, because I’d learned to do that very thing at The Narnia Baptist Church. I tried to keep visiting Far Away Baptist, but I couldn’t. Everywhere I looked, I saw that behavior, where people manage, and control, what others think of them. Where people are fake, and behave as expected.

So, in November of 2011, I walked away, and I have never returned.

I won’t be attending another church.

It’s taken me decades to undo the damage the Church did to me. Decades to learn I physically am different. Decades to learn we are all physically different. Some of us have healthy, strong bodies. Some don’t. Some of us have healthy, strong social skills. Some don’t. Some of us live pain free. Some don’t. Some of us can walk into a church, and fit in. Some can’t. Some of us don’t panic when we visit a new store, a new restaurant, a new doctor. Some of us do.

It’s taken me decades to recognize the self hate I was taught by people who honestly thought they were doing their best to help me.

I’m still learning to take care of myself. I’m still learning to speak my truth. To speak my story. I’m still learning I’m not evil, not wrong, not broke.

I’m just different. With a clinically diagnosed Autism Spectrum Disorder, and permanent depression that’s biochemically based. And that’s OK. It doesn’t make me defective. It doesn’t make me wrong. It makes me different.

So, when you ask me, “Mark, who taught me how to hate?”

I have to answer honestly, “The Church.”

Who is teaching me to repair the damage done to my life?

God. And the people he’s put into my life that help me, including my doctors.

I can’t return to the Church. Some of us aren’t meant to be there. For some of us, it’s the worst thing we can do to ourselves.

A Tale Of Greed : Matthew

Matthew liked the name his parents had given him. The name of the first book in the New Testament of the Holy Bible. His parents had named him well. He paused a moment, closed his eyes, “Thy will be done, God in Heaven. Thy will be done.”

He checked the three clips for his AR-15, attached to his belt. Fully loaded, 30 rounds in each. “Give me strength, Father, to do what you’ve asked me to do.” He checked the fourth clip, put it in the 15, and turned to the picture of Jesus hanging on a cross on his ball, over his fireplace.

“Tell my Cindy how much I love her. Tell her I did this for her.”

He left his house, got in his truck, and headed toward the city treasurer’s office in town. “They’re taking everything.” He’d watched as they put a big damn road across the end of his property, the land his family had owned for generations. Four lanes of asphalt, separated by a concrete barrier, with ten feet of leeway on both sides. “They took my family’s land.”

He’d watched as they made him stop hunting in the woods a couple of miles from his home. His family had always hunted there, deer, squirrel, duck, rabbit. They were part of his diet, part of his family’s way of life. Then, the city had fenced it off, put property signs on it that said, “Natural Wildlife Preserve”, and stopped him from hunting there. They told him it was because a rare bird lived in that forest. Some damn bird that was nearly extinct. Hell, he’d never heard of that bird. He’d never seen one either. “They made up a damn story to kick me off that land, make it where I couldn’t hunt, like my Daddy, and my Grandpa.”

They’d made him agree to hookup to city water and sewage, they dug big trenches through his yard, ran pipes, and then made him pay to connect to the systems. And every month, they made him pay for using those systems. Hell, his yard had been a mess for over a year after they’d torn it too hell. And the water his family had used for generations hadn’t cost him anything. Water from a well. Damn city officials gave him a report about all the things in that water, how that water was poisoning him and his family. Especially his little girl, and his pride-and-joy son.

He knew better. He’d drank and bathed in that water all his life. They’d made up a lie, and forced him to pay for something he didn’t need. And then they made him pay more for it every month. They measured what he used, how much water, and made him pay for it by the gallon.

That was wrong. What they’d done was wrong.

Then, they sent out an inspector, and had him come up with some phony number for how much the house, and the land it was on were worth. Twenty five acres was worth a lot, it seemed. They told him his property was worth some insane amount. He couldn’t have afforded to buy it if it was worth that much. But he owned it. His family owned it, and had for three generations. And by God, he was going to give it to his son when the time came.

But them lying city people made up some ridiculous number and said that’s how much his property was worth. And then they told him he had to pay taxes on his property every year, and the taxes were based on how much the property was worth. They gave him the bill, and he choked.

He couldn’t afford it. Not every year. Hell, he’d have to have all the gold of Midas to afford that. They’d left him with no option but to sell off most of his land.

Well, by God, that wasn’t going to happen. That land was his family’s, had been for three generations. He wasn’t giving it up to some liars that worked in town, and wanted to get his land, and build houses and stores and parking lots on it, and chase him and his family off it.

Matthew had prayed to God every day. He asked God to show him what to do, show him how to fix this, how to do the right thing, how to take care of his family. And God had shown him, right there in the Bible. “There is a time for peace, and a time for war.”

Matthew knew what that meant. He knew what God wanted him to do.

He patted the AR-15 resting on the bench seat of his truck, next to him, as he drove into town, to the city treasurer’s office. They’d started everything. Now, God was going to have him finish everything.

No matter what.

As he drove, Greed sat in the bed of the truck, and enjoyed the scenery of the drive. It was going to be a glorious day. Another Christian was going to perform the word of God, and shoot people. Innocent people. People who were only doing their job, rendering unto Caesar that which was Caesar’s. Christians were such fun people to play with. They always thought it was God that told them what to do.

Not once did it occur to Matthew that everything that happened was normal. That the town was growing, and as it grew, it reached his property, and his property had become part of the town. That meant he had to pay taxes. And use city water and sewage. That meant he’d have to do what others had done before him, when the town reached them. Sell off what he couldn’t afford, and accept being part of the town.

It meant changes.

Christians, Greed had found, didn’t like changes much. Matthew was no exception. Greed grinned. “Ah, it’s going to be a glorious day, isn’t it.” He peeked into the cab to watch Matthew driving, and got excited when he saw Matthew pat the AR-15 a second time.

“It’s going to be a glorious day indeed. In the name of the Father. Amen.”

Be True To Yourself?

I remember the trigger. I can’t forget. It was such an innocuous thing. Such an honest thing. So well-meant. Just another one of a million inspirational posters. I can’t even remember which one. So, I spent time this morning looking for it. I couldn’t find it. But that doesn’t matter. Because I found its spirit everywhere.

“To thine own self be true.”

“Be true to yourself and to your feelings. Those are the only things in your life that will never lie to you.”

“Always stay true to yourself and never sacrifice who you are for anyone.”

The list is near infinite. The sayings all the same. Be true to yourself. True to your heart, and soul. To your feelings. To what you believe. To who you are, underneath it all.

Yep. That’s what started it. That’s what triggered the endless chain of thoughts I find myself wrestling with for two days now, with no end in sight. For the truth rang clear. These words apply to all. Not to the good. Not to the just. Not to the righteous. To all. Everyone. Good. Bad. Right. Wrong. Light. Dark. Helpful. Hurtful. Loving. Spiteful. And everything in between.

What part of that do people misunderstand?

If the human’s heart and soul react with revulsion to the thought of something, is it wrong for them to act on that? Is it wrong for them to stand up for what they believe?

If the Christian believes the homosexual damned to hell unless he changes his ways, then, is wrong for the Christian to say so, and to live as he believes?

Who are you to judge?

If the business man believes he can create more jobs, so more people can earn a living, if he pays less taxes, and benefits, is it wrong for him to act on that? Is it wrong for them to stand up for what they believe?

Who are you to judge?

If you fear the world filled with scientific knowledge, theories, and concepts like evolution, quantum mechanics, and climate models, is it wrong to express your fears, and your doubts?

Who are you to judge?

If you believe Wal-Mart heralds the end of the middle class, and the birth of a slave class of humans, is it wrong for you to express that, and try to prevent the further growth Wal-Mart?

The list goes on and on. It never ends.

How can you be true to what you believe, what you feel, what your heart speaks, if you force yourself to stop, and question everything? If you force yourself to change? Do you live in the box of what you believe, what you know, what you feel? Is that wrong? Is that right?

And what of the person next to you? Do they live in the same box? Do they believe what you believe? Know what you know? Feel what you feel? Are they wrong? Are they right?

Who are you to judge, when you declare, “To thine own self be true”? Are we all you? Are we all the same? One mind? One heart? One belief? One way? One skin color? One hair color? One eye color? One truth? One life?

Then why judge what the person next to you believes?

To thine own self be true.

These are the words, this is the thought, that triggered everything in the past two days. That forced me to take the next step on the path I walk. And wonder. What does it mean, that no one remembers the words they speak any more.

To thine own self be true.

Who are you to judge?

The Lands Of Gray

Today I’m searching for words that effectively explain something I’ve learned this week. It’s something I’ve spent the past 30 months learning, and I’m realizing what I’ve learned comes with a lot of understanding. And that understanding leaves me wondering if words of explanation even exist, or if this is one of those things you know, and understand, or one of those things that doesn’t even exist. One of those invisible things no one ever looks at.

I wanted to look at “living outside your comfort zone” this morning. But, when I started looking, I found nothing but old clichés, old pep-talk, motivational crap that no longer has any meaning, if it had any meaning to begin with. I could only find homogenized, mass-marketed drivel, that for all intents had become useless. Everything said the same thing, in the same meaningless way, “To grow, live outside your comfort zone.” Everyone knows that saying. Everyone understands that saying. That saying no longer has any meaning.

So, I fall back to old descriptive techniques. And before I start down the path of trying to find the words that effectively explain what I’ve learned, I have a few words I have to share.

I’m a Christian. You can say what you want about how I live, how I’m doing everything wrong, how I’m a profound sinner, how I need to grow up, how I need to learn what a real Christian is, or any list of similar declarations. The reality is, I’m a Christian. What makes people question my faith in God and my belief in Jesus is that I am different. The simple truth is I don’t behave the way “Christians” behave. I don’t go to church. I question the words of the church, of its leaders, and of its organizations. I don’t have a “church family”. I associate with all the wrong people. Let’s be honest here, I actually talk with people on Facebook and Twitter that write explicit erotic romance stories, stories of zombies and the zombie apocalypse, mermaids, and fairies, openly homosexual, bisexual, and trans-sexual people. People the Bible and the church have declared are heathens, and evil, and the source of the world’s problems.

How can someone like me be a Christian… I understand that. I live with that question every day. And I’ve lost count of the people who have left my life when they realized I would never be the same kind of Christian they are. When they realized I would always question everything they believe, everything they never question.

But, you see, the reason I am not a Christian in their views, their way of life, their understanding, is because I’m someone they don’t understand. I’m someone outside the definitions they live by. Hence, I can’t be a Christian.

I could continue on this single point for days, weeks, months, even years, and never reach an end to this topic, this discussion, this idea.  For me, it’s a black and white item, a yes/no item, an either/or item. I’m either a Christian, or I’m not. And I believe I am. You believe what you wish to believe.

So, I pull out my old standby, the Christian. I start with them. The world would not be the same without them, so I’m very glad they exist.

I’ve said before, “I watch people”, and I do. I have to watch people. I have to study the way they behave, the way they think, the actions they take, the facial expressions they make, the environments they live within. People are social. Even I am social. Yes, I live with an Autism Spectrum Disorder, and my social skills are severely limited by that disorder. Where social activity comes easily to many people, it doesn’t come easy to me, or to people like me. But I can behave in a social way. I can mimic social behavior, and with enough time I can begin to understand it.

My observations have, in the past thirty months, demonstrated endless rifts, chasms, gorges, oceans, and other divisions between different social groups, different social structures and different people. I don’t target “Christians” in the following, I simple have observed more “Christian” and “non-Christian” interaction than any other kind, so I have more stories of observations available for discussion that are specific to “Christian” and “non-Christian” social groups. As my observations spread to include other social groups, I’m finding similar divisions between them.

What I’m finding in my observations that are absolutely terrifying, and heartbreaking, is how few people within a specific social structure can reach across any of the divisions to any other social structure. I call each social structure, “the land of gray” because of that isolation I see surrounding each of them.

If I look at the non-inclusive “Christian” group, and its ways, and bounce that group against the non-inclusive “liberal” group, I find the two groups fight with each other endlessly. I also find neither side understands the true nature of the conflict any more. The separation between them is so divisive, so engulfing, neither side can speak the same language. They use the same words. They say the same things. But in each group, the words have different, distinct meanings. Using a dictionary to communicate with the two groups, and selecting the same dictionary definitions for each word to use the same language between the two groups is useless, because the words of the definitions have different meanings to each group.

So the two groups fight endlessly with each other. Neither group able to bridge the gap that lies between them. It is, to me, as if people from the planet Venus were trying to explain life to people from the planet Mars. It’s as if people from two different, incompatible worlds, decide to stand across the hall from each other, and scream at each other. There is no common ground. No understanding between the two groups. No communication between the two groups.

What happens when two people don’t understand each other, when they are unable to interpret each other’s actions, ways, words, beliefs and lifestyles? Is this a source of human wars, human conflict and human violence?

It saddens me greatly to see people unable to reach across these separations and divisions. Especially when the people in each social structure declare they believe, and embrace, diversity. Especially when they proclaim diverse views and ways are what make us, as a whole, stronger, healthier, smarter and better. It’s as if they are screaming, “We’re diverse so long as you believe exactly what we believe, and understand the universe just like we do!”

Which isn’t diversity at all, is it. Rather than being diverse, it’s a world filled with islands, each island being monochrome, each island being another shade of grey.

How do I find the words to explain such things to people? How can I show people what I see? When the words I speak are the same words they use, but each word means something different to them, something I never said, but something they heard?

How can words bridge such a divide?

I’ll Try So Hard To Learn Your Ways

OK, God.
There’s something I would talk about
With you on this day.
And I know that you already know
Every word
That I would say.
And every question
I would ask

But I’m going to say the things
That I feel I need to say.
And I’m going to ask the questions
That are eating away at me

And I know
That doesn’t surprise you
One damn bit.

First I wish to say thank you.
For making me the way you have.
For the differences
In my neurology
That I was born with.
Because I’m learning
That those very differences
Are the source
Of the differences
That I’ve been blessed with.

Thank you
For placing me
Outside the little box
That makes up
The society
In which I live.

I can’t help but believe
That you made me this way
So that I would come
To understand your ways
Better than I could have
If I’d been made
Any other way.

I’ve lost count, God
Of how many times
I’ve heard a Christian say,
“I saw a man
Wearing a dress.
And it made my stomach turn.”

I’ve reached the point
Where I find I can’t
Remain silent any more
When I hear that.
Because while I hear those words,
I hear something else
That remains unspoken
To this day.

“Someone kill that fagot,
And get his kind
Out of my world.
They all deserve to die.”

And you know, God.
That just doesn’t strike me
As the way that you want
To really be.

Now, I know that homosexuality
Is something that you don’t approve of.
I understand that
Very well.
But, damn-it, God,
I just can’t understand
Why Christians can’t see in the least
The sins they are committing
When they carry in their hearts
And violence,
Of the kind I see
When they say such things.

I mean, hell, God!
It’s not like none
Of those devoted Christians
That say such things
Are without sin themselves.
I have to wonder
How many of them
Get their jollies off
In the bathroom
With a magazine
Or a raunchy book,
And their own two hands?

I assume they’ve never read the words
Of the Bible that declare
How much of a sin
That masturbation is.
If they have,
I sure can’t tell it
From the way that they behave.

And you’ll never convince me,
That any male I’ve ever known
Has never humped his wife
Without imagining she was someone else
At least one time.

Sin is sin.
Let’s be honest now.
It’s no wonder
You know,
That I can’t go to churches
Filled with people
That live that way.

There’s many things like this
That I don’t understand at all,
And I know
That you already know.

Like the questions that I have
About the Bible,
I do believe,
You know,
That it’s the best interpretation
That we mortals have
Of the words
You’ve shared with us.
That it’s the best tool
We have ever had
To learn your ways.

But, I keep running into people
In the Christian ranks
That conveniently ignore
How the Bible was created.
How it came to be.
The way that it was written.

If you ever want
To piss one of them off,
Ask them how Abraham,
King David,
The 12 disciples,
And Paul,
Managed to gain such favor
With you, Lord,
Before there was a Bible
At all.

And then you can tick them off
Even more
By telling them the facts
Of how the New Testament
Came to contain
The books that it contains.

Talk about politics.
It’s a hell of a story,
And the effect
That the politics had
On the final content
Of the Bible
Are well known.

Anyone can go read them
If they want.

But no.
Too many people that I know
Look at such a topic
And they scream at me,
“Shut up!
It’s all a lie!
It’s just a test
Of faith to me!”

As if they’re screaming
At the top of their lungs,
“I’ll believe
What I damn well want to!
Don’t bother me
With the facts
From history!
I don’t care how things happened.
That doesn’t matter in the least
To me!
I’m going to cling to
The things that I believe,
No matter what!”

We may as well have stayed
Back in the days
When the Earth was flat,
And the entire universe
Was centered on it.

Why can’t people
Just look to you
And do the simple thing?

There’s so very much
In this life
That I don’t know.
And I don’t understand.

And I know
I fuck up
Every single day.
And would be lost forever
In the darkness
Of this life.
But for one single thing.

You’re son
Gave his life
For me.
To pay for the mistakes
That I make
Every day.

I don’t know
Where all the other shit
Came from,

I really,
Really don’t.

It’s like Christianity
Has lost it’s way.
And can no longer hear
The words you say.

Help me to do things
Your way.
I know I’ll fail.
I’ll fail miserably.

But I know
That through your love
For each one of us,
Despite the sins we make
Every single day.

I can be forgiven.
And if I’m blessed
With another day of life
On this world that you made.

I’ll get to try again
On another day.

And that’s what I’ll try to do
For you
My King.

I’ll try so hard
To learn your ways.

Fiction : Raymon The Christian

There are times
When I just don’t understand
And the way they are.

Like this guy I know
That goes to church
Every single Sunday morning.
His name is Raymon.
And he’s one of those guys
That’s a Sunday Morning Christian,
And the rest of his time,
He’s an American.

When he’s at home,
He fights with his wife.
They argue all the time.
About the money that they make.
About the bills they have to pay.
About the car he wants to buy.
About the trip she wants to take.
About how he never
Takes care of their son,
Or their daughter,
Either one.

He never listens to his kids.
It’s like he doesn’t care at all
What they are doing.
In school.
At home.
Or at church.
A lot of days
When he comes home
He yells at them,
“Leave me alone!”

Raymon goes to lunch
With this lady he works with.
They go to lunch
Five days a week.
But they don’t go to lunch
To eat.
They go somewhere
They’ve picked out.
Where they spend time
Getting naked together.

She’s a lot more fun
Than his wife is
Any more.
He can’t remember
The last time
He and his wife had sex.
And it’s not like
He hasn’t hinted
What he wants.
It’s like she’s
Just not interested
Any more.

On Monday nights,
During football season,
He goes out with the guys.
They go watch the game
At the local Irish bar.
Where the have a good time
Watching the game,
Having lots to drink,
And flirting endlessly
With the bartender.
Her name is Jane.

On Saturday,
Off and on,
He goes on-line
With his Playstation.
And plays the latest version
Of the “Call of Duty” game
With his buddies.
They take great pride
In shooting each other
All day long.

His wife cries at night.
As she sleeps in bed.
All alone.
While he sleeps downstairs
On the sofa.
With the TV on.

His wife’s talking with a lawyer.
She’s filing for a divorce.
To get out of
The dead relationship
She’s trapped in
With him.

She feels at times
Like it’s all her fault.
Like she did something wrong.

Her son and daughter both
Agree with her decision.
They want her
To stay their Mom.
But they want Raymon
It’s like he’s just plain quit
Being a Dad to them.
They told their Mom,
And her lawyer both
That they just want
Raymon to go away.

But Raymon thinks
Everything’s OK.
And knows
He’s going to heaven.
That God’s forgiven him
For everything.
Because he’s professed his faith.
And he goes to church
Every last Sunday.
And prays
To be forgiven.

Like a good Christian does.

He doesn’t have a clue,
And doesn’t care
That his family
Now hates him.
That the way he lives,
And the things he’s done
Have caused their hearts
To ache.
That their souls
Cry tears of pain,
At the way he lives,
And the things he’s done

It will be many years
Before the tears
That their souls cry
Begin to dry.
And their hearts
Begin to heal.

But Raymon
Doesn’t care at all.
Thank God.
He’s saved.