“Look, as sentient meat, however illusory our identities are, we craft those identities by making value judgments: everybody judges, all the time. Now, you got a problem with that… You’re livin’ wrong.” –Detective Rust Cohle form T.V.’s: True Detective
I recently-ish received a text from a friend (I think) that read: “I just can’t figure out why you’d uproot your family and move to Kaua’i”. That was the gist. You know me, I don’t do research and I don’t remember quotes. I remember the general feel. I’m a wordsmith; I don’t need exact quotes. My answer to the text was dismissive as I felt that was the tone of the text-volley. But as I studied on it, I found it to be a good question. Not that the text was a question or even good. But it led me to a good place of introspection. The text would’ve been better if it had read: “Why would a person, of seemingly sound intellect and pure intention, uproot his family and move to a small island under the auspices of helping to start a church community only to return six months later with no allegiance to that church or any church whatsoever?” Now that’s a good fucking question. But that’s just one man’s biased opinion. And there’s a good answer. That may also be one man’s biased opinion. I can sleep with that.
This series is called: “That’s Me in the Corner”. It is in reference to the R.E.M. song titled: “Losing My Religion”.
There are those among you who may have a knee-jerk reaction to the term: “religion”. I get it. I know I’ve said in conversation: “It’s not a religion, it’s a relationship”. I hope that is true for you. It turns out it isn’t for me. Were it a relationship, personal to me and my dear savior Jesus Christ, there would be no reason for me to be reprimanded for suggesting that–for example: the story of Noah wasn’t an historical narrative or for positing the idea that maybe Christianity isn’t the exclusive route to reconciliation with God, the God of the Bible. If there are people who feel obligated to hold me to a specific narrative concerning my rapport with one of my friends, in this case Jesus. I have a hard time parsing the distinction between a religion and a relationship. Maybe that’s just my ignorance. I trust you’ll forgive me.
But I’ve gotten ahead of myself.
I’ll never forget my first interaction with the Evangelical Christian Church (I’m sorry if it annoys you, but I am going to err on the side of caution concerning capitalization in this post. I don’t mind offending with my ideas, but I’ll be goddamned if I’m gonna offend with semantics. Whether or not I’m goddamned for my ideas is an issue for another post. I will not be the author of that post.). My mother had involved herself with a para-church (a para-church is sub-set of the church proper which operates under its own rules…but that leash has its limits) organization called: Aglow. She invited one of her friends from this club to our house when I was tweenish. Her friend was a Spanish-Catholic woman named: Dora…I shit you no (which is Spanish for: not). Dora traversed our house in a tambourine-jangling holy-water-sprinkling one-woman parade-boogie. It was a cleansing. She even blessed my ZZ Top El Loco poster which featured no less than 100 pounds of weed in the foreground. My brother Ryan and I found this hilarious. It was a cleansing that I was glad my dad didn’t witness. Who needed that shit-storm?
My dad had his own ideas about how I’d relate to the babe in the manger. There was a stint when we had to go to an Evangelical-Free church (there is no reality where-in I could understand the distinction nor explain what Evangelical Free actually means…my best effort: boring as fuck) on account of the fact that his boss went there, and–I imagine–my dad felt guilty for one reason or another…at any rate: we had to go. The only upside: cinnamon rolls and hot cocoa at the Manchester Inn. Yes, that Manchester Inn. At that church I was forced to go to a Sunday Skool Klass. I remember having a sense of separation anxiety that I cannot, in my present state, justify and which seems laughable at this stage of my life. I can remember not wanting to go because one of the “students” was the first bully that I encountered against whom I gathered the courage to sucker-punch one day at recess. He was a dick to me…then I made him cry in front of our entire class. So that was awkward. One day, out of the clear blue sky (in the interest of full discloser on the ambiance tip, the sky was probably gray and precipitous), my dad decided that my Guns and Roses poster was “satanic” so he tore it down. The poster was a cross with the death’s head depiction of each of the band’s members lined up in crux fashion. You know, the cover art for the album: “Welcome to the Jungle”. This concludes my dad’s influence over me, spiritually speaking.
I’ve had my own forays into the faith. This is a prologue. The dirt is yet to come. I have nothing against anyone who felt it important to introduce me to Jesus, or encourage me into a deeper understanding of the gospel. I have also felt that compulsion. I still do, if I’m being honest. Which I rarely am. Leastwise, not compulsively. We’ll get to that…