Category Archives: family

Strange and Marvelous Shiftings of Blame. Part the Second.

I wish my dad’s death had changed the effort he put into his relationships. With me or, really, any of his children.

Picking fights with him or my mom worked. Kind of. For me.

But you know. Before I started in on that- or if I didn’t fight, it wasn’t like he bothered.

And it’s not like any of the others are gay, so it wasn’t even that.

 

Confession of an Atheist: God exists.

There has, over the last few years, been a slow boiling discussion among some of the people I admire, here in the land of the internet, about God.

When I have time and energy I intend to examine this in more detail, and give credit to everyone- they all spoke persuasively and with critical intelligence.

But right now I am very tired. There is just a little time to get to shelter before the storm hits, and I find myself wondering if I have enough energy even just for that.

So here it is.

God exists.

God is an idea.

God is not only an idea- he is an ideal.

God exists- not as a spiritual or mystical being- but as a pattern of approved behavior coded into the minds of the people who are socialized into His religions- true believer or unthoughtful backslider or holiday attendee.

God is a character in a story. Unlike most stories, the story God occurs in is called religion.

So instead of the readers reading the story and deciding what to think about that character, readers are told, from every direction and on as many levels as possible,

-that THIS character decides what THEY think.  That Wrong is disagreeing with this character and Right is agreeing with Him.

If Zie does somehow exist as a spiritual or mystical being, somewhere out in the universe, it does not change the fact that this pattern of approved behavior exists. It does not change the fact that it gets coded into the minds of those who have been socialized this way- that this Thing is called god- the One and Only.

I will also kick Zier in Zeir goddamn shin if we ever meet- for  leaving us to wallow in this slop that passes  for divinity.

Because God- as described in the book that so many take as literal fact- and so many other take as useful metaphor-

-is a shallow, blustering, gaslighting, rageful, moronic rapist of a homicidal narcissist.

God is the personality (even if as an atheist you don’t believe he is also an actual person) who forms people’s ideas of acceptable and unacceptable behavior.

God is the Father.

Because God isn’t an Abusive Boyfriend. God is an Abusive Parent.

Because America has Daddy issues.

And America went out and got a Boyfriend just like Daddy.

 

 

Evidence that Demands a Verdict- Part II

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Mom, you’re straight.  It’s like- you can live in the world of swollen lymph nodes.  You can keep your friends, and agree with your mentors and feel loved by your god and repeat whatever shite they say about gay people- without it ever effecting you personally- even if it’s horribly and terribly wrong.

And that’s fun and relaxing and comforting. And who wouldn’t want that? Who wouldn’t want that story to be true? I get it.
But do you understand that I don’t get that luxury? Do you understand that I have to live in the world of tumors?
Do you understand what it’s like to be a tumor?
***

Well – I might understand what it’s like to be a tumor…. I don’t know. I have taken some positions that are very unpopular, and have been despised for it. We all make our own choices. I stand by mine no matter what anyone else thinks, because I believe my positions are right. You just have to figure out what you truly believe is right (not other peoples’ opinions) and then live it.  And also you have to try not to feel sorry for yourself if others don’t agree. That’s pretty universal.

I see no “victims” here. Only choices, and the courage to stand by the choices you make. Who is treating you like a tumor?

Hey – do you still feel like coming out and doing your craft with [minor sister] tonight? If you do, you have first priority.

But if you don’t, we might go over and help [adult brother] with some things at his house tonight. (The sellers left a huge pile of garbage on his curb for the big garbage pick -up day Saturday, but now the city is telling [adult brother] they don’t want to take it unless it’s “organized”.) Either way is good – let me know how you’re feeling.  Love you!

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No!  The problem is people are treating me like a lymph node! Like this can’t be true!

I am thinking of [adult sister] in particular here- saying that this was a lie of Satan- but I’ve gotten the distinct feeling that its being talked about behind my back this way- Grandma sent me a note with the same reference to the ‘lies of Satan’  without coming out (har har) and saying what she was talking about.

Unfortunately it’s not a lie. Nor am I just saying this for attention.  Instead, unfortunately, I am the abominable thing that our people think is out to get them.

I been dealing with this actually for a long time now- when I was still gung ho about Christianity and everything.  When I believed that that version of the religion was true, when it wouldn’t go away, I was perfectly content to just be single forever- its not like I’m any good at dealing with PEOPLE anyway.  I prefer hiding in a pile of books.

I didn’t set out to be this way.  If I had had a choice I would have chosen something else.

Do you believe me?

***

(one week without reply)

So there we go.

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[name], I responded to your email. I wrote it in a letter, which is sitting on my desk. But all week, I have not put it in the mail because I believe you will despise what I have to say and just turn and rip into me. It has just been so nice having you stop by.  I am so sorry. Would you like me to drop it in the mail, or wait until you come by the next time?  Love you.

***

It should be a pretty simple answer, Mom. Do you believe that I’m giving an honest account of my own physical sensations or not?

If your answer is no, just say it.  No amount of rationalization or long winded explanation is going to make that answer easier.

***

Yes, I believe you have same sex attractions.  I stuck the long winded explanation in the mail yesterday.

Love you!

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Hi mom!

I finally worked up the nerve to empty my mail box and read your letter.  I have to tell you that I disagree and object to almost everything you said.

However, I am thankful that you were willing to tell me.  The visits home were getting increasingly tense for me- knowing there were things you weren’t saying and trying to guess what they were.

I appreciate it!

***

Fair enough, [name]. I love you!

***

Hey!  Could you email me the text?  I think probably neither of us wants to get into a debate, but I journal on my computer as a way of processing. It would be helpful for that.

***

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Some problem?

I mean, I could scan it in but that would mean checking to see if the library had one or using Grandma [name]’s scanner, and both of those would be kind of a hassle.

Make my poor sad life easier here?

***

WELL OKAY THEN

 

 

Evidence that Demands a Verdict- Part I

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One time in CO you sent me a keith green song.  I wanted to send you this one- I thought that you might treat it as me arguing with you instead of trying to communicate how I was feeling.

But it was how I was feeling.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xQCAo5tKFyc

These days, I think it would be a different song.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q0Hx4NJw0nU

One day a kid who came in for a massage had a tattoo that said,

“A second chance means nothing, if nothing has been learned”

I stared at that tattoo for an hour while I was giving the massage.

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Hi [—]!  I listened to both your songs.  I love you so much, but I just can’t relate to what you’re thinking and experiencing. To me, you seem full of darkness and despair, and it seems that you have chosen it.  I can’t comprehend how anyone could say that God is a monster and that they would be proud to go to His hell, when He has done everything to set us free from the curse, but I will continue to stand back and respect your right to reject Him.   Like I’ve said before, it’s your life, and you have every right to do with it what you choose, and to believe what you want to believe.

That’s why I sent you the song, The Solid Rock – because if you ever decide you don’t want to live in darkness and despair, you can also choose to leave it behind.  I personally believe arguing with a depraved mind that rejects Truth is fruitless, but it makes me sad to think that you might interpret that as me not caring.    Until my last breath, I will be here in the background of your life, praying for you.

Father God, please protect Tegan while she struggles this out. Your word says “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling”. You’re a big God, and Your compassion is huge enough to stand by and wait for Tegan to come to the end of her raging self, and to still be there with open arms, offering her Your grace. Thank You Lord, for creating this precious young woman, with all her adorable, delightful ways, and her cute, quirky personality.  Father God, I ask You to grant her repentance leading to a knowledge of the Truth, so she can come to her senses and escape the snare of satan who has taken her captive to his will, hurting and discouraging people, deceiving and being deceived, when You created her to be a comforter and an encourager. This is no life for Tegan and I ask You to draw her back into the light with Your kindness.    In Jesus name, I ask this of You.

I hope you can dome see Schultz soon. He has doubled in size since we got him, but he is still a fuzzy baby. You will like him!  Love, mom

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I’m not, Mom.  Any new skill takes a while to learn and requires practice to become proficient.

But I no longer have to suck up to a being who ordered multiple genocides by calling it the source of moral perfection.

And I no longer have to publicly accuse myself of being an abomination for having biological impulses that I certainly would have done away with if I could.

And I’m becoming happier and happier.

I could get married, Mom.  Do you have any idea what this means to me?  I don’t have to sit at a window, holed up with my books, forever, weeping because of my secrets, staring at a life going past me that I can never have.

But as things stand, I could never invite you to the wedding, do you understand?

That I had to leave you behind in order to save my own life is my despair. It’s my only despair.

And don’t fear, oh you of little faith.  You are worth many puppies.  When I get up the courage to come, it’s to see you.

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Tegan, I really am very, very sorry you feel that way about God, and although I disagree with you, I won’t argue with you. It will take His own Spirit to convince you that you have believed a lie about Him, so I will leave it to Him.

I’ve tried to put myself in your shoes, to see things from your point of view, and I simply can’t.  To me, knowing God is “the pearl of great price”;  the treasure that’s worth giving up everything else for, even including giving ones’ life. Especially now, after what Dad and I went through, I see that nothing we give up in this life is worthy to be compared with living in His presence. Even lust – just not worth it. I can’t comprehend your hatred of Him or your desire to see Him as malevolent. But that you would have to leave me behind in order to pursue lust, now THAT I understand. But it’s your choice.

I wish you all the happiness your life has to offer, while realizing very sadly that when you reject your Creator’s provision for atonement, this life is the closest thing to heaven you will ever experience.  Without a doubt, you’ve made a bad trade, but God Himself gives you that choice, so who am I to selfishly demand that you fake it to make me comfortable?   I love you dearly, my beautiful daughter,   Mom

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“but God Himself gives you that choice”

Nope. Actually not.

There is no possible amount of argument that make genocide not a crime- of ultimate proportion.

If there was- you would be able to argue. And you can’t.

The demand for truth and righteousness require that God (or possibly the Bible) be discarded.

“..to convince you that you have believed a lie about Him”

Magical feelings don’t turn faulty logic and the lack of ethics into sound logic and the presence of ethics.

“But that you would have to leave me behind in order to pursue lust, now THAT I understand”

Yeah you do. It’s in the Bible.

Genesis 2:24New International Version (NIV)

24 That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.

Matthew 19:5New International Version (NIV)

and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’[a]?

Mark 10:7New International Version (NIV)

‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife,[a]

Ephesians 5:31New International Version (NIV)

31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”[a]

If that DOESN’T involve lust, they’re doing it wrong. Because they’re sure as heck not becoming one flesh with out that.

Finally; re: heaven.

Given the hideous lack of morality displayed by the deity described in the Bible, how do you know that Christianity isn’t a trap of the devil allowed by God to sift the wheat from the tares- and that the only people who ARE going to heaven are the ones who reject it?

 

TO BE CONTINUED

Death runs Backwards- Empathy Gaps

Back. 

She’s finally crying now.

The “Joy of the Lord” that kept a smile plastered on her face till now- after now- has given way.  She goes into his room where he’s trapped, immobile, in his body. In his chair. His head balding and shorn. She sits with him and cries.

The cancer has rippled and warped his body too badly for him to live much longer.  Despite everything they did.  The special vitamin C treatments that they drove to Indiana for twice a week. The biological dentist who happily let them pay him to remove his root channel- to get out the ‘bacteria that caused his cancer’. And pay for a secondary excavation when the first had no effect.  The trip to bask in a hyperbaric chamber that supposedly simulated the environment before The Great Flood, when people lived 800 years at a whack because the Pre-Flood Earth was so perfect.

Ken Ham said so, you know. Those evil, ungoodly, evolution-believing cancer doctors didn’t believe- because they were deceived by the devil.  They were blinded from seeing that these things were the REAL medicine- far more effective than their worldly gobbledygook.

Except.

They weren’t.

And now not even the worldly doctors can keep him from dying.

 

Back

 

Sitting on the staircase with my flip phone. Others huddled, all around. Everyone crying.

I knew people died.  A seemingly unending stream of great-grandparents and withered great uncles had died over the course of my high school years. Hospitals, family gatherings, potato salad.

This was college. This was some one I actually knew.

Some one who you talked to every day- who made jokes and laughed at them himself and juiced wheat-grass. Someone who was going to live.

I was trying to explain.

“… they were out walking at night, and climbed up on the roof of a building, and there was an uncovered ventilation shaft….”

His friend had been climbing up behind him. They had gotten to the night quiet roof, with the city spread out around them.  A glowing life sized map of itself.

And he had disappeared. While his friend looked.  No sound.

His body was lying in a pile of ash several stories down, bleeding at the seams.

He’d spent the weekend before with a couple of friends and their young son.  He’d spent most of the trip tramping through the woods, teaching the kid how to whittle and cut walking sticks and be a mountain man. Now his fiance was weeping uncontrollably, rocking, brown banks of curls hiding her face. “He was going to be such a good father. He was going to be such a good father.”

I finished, and the silence on the other end makes me think I must not have explained well enough.  The terrible feelings of loss and tragedy.

Finally a voice crackled at the other end of the line. It was a lot like my mother’s. It was my mother’s. It was cold.

“He sounds stupid

 

Back

 

The family had many children. Was it eight? was it twelve? The blur of so many huge families- the only people we associated with -the blur of so many children.  So many faces. Meetings maybe one a month- maybe. Never enough time to get to know anyone.  

Not really.

I don’t remember.

They had many children.  There had been a party at one of the family homes- we had not gone- but many of the families we knew had.  All of them supersized groups- self gravitating, with self contained atmospheres- merged for the evening into a black hole of fake laughter and godliness.

The toddler had escaped. The sibling assigned to that toddler’s caretaking that evening- an girl in her early teens- had lost track of him in the crowded house.

The baby had escaped. Gotten out of the house. Toddled out onto the highway next to the house. Toddled across three lanes of traffic.

And been hit by a semi.

My mother sighed as she finished recounting the details of her phone conversation to the upturned faces and ears of her own many children.  

“But you know, all his hair started falling out a few months ago, and she didn’t know why. Maybe there was something really wrong with him and this was just God’s way of sparing them.”

Maybe it’s all for the best.”

 

End of the Endless

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My father died on Monday. He was buried on Friday. He had an aggressive cancer that he left untreated because “God told him” that he could heal it himself by taking extra Vitamin C and by giving himself enemas with coffee.

His dad had a similar cancer a few years ago.  He had a doctor advise him on treatment, instead of God. Grandpa is alive and cancer free to this day.

One time, before he got so bad, I argued with dad about his decision. The books and articles “God was using” to direct his treatment sounded distinctly like conspiracy theories to me. The conversation ended when he told me I was making him think he was crazy and roared at me to GET OUT.

Which I did.

I was very angry.

I was in the process of moving out already. Not because I had enough money.  I just couldn’t stand being home anymore. It was too crazy making.

Towards the end, when it was clear that he was going to die, he wept pretty frequently. About even little things. It’s possible the tumor was growing into his brain. It had started in his throat, after all. One day he wept and told me he was so sorry he had yelled at me- that day when we argued.

I was sad too. I didn’t give a flying fuck that he had yelled.

The evening after his death I went to see my family. The front room, where he had been all day every day for the past week, hallucinating and begging to be allowed to get up, had been cleaned.

The furniture had been brought back in. The hospital bed had disappeared.

The spring peeper frogs were singing in the ditches. A night wind was flowing through the fields around the house. Someone had set a jar of lilacs on the dresser. Words and phrases from a poem were eddying in the back of my head, but I couldn’t recall them all or fit them together.

The dresser is an antique. I believe it came from his mother. I never knew her. She died in a car wreck when my dad was- 19? Hit by a drunk driver.

He was angry at his dad about something then and moved out.

Dad was born in March- like me. His mother died in May.

The drunk died in the wreck.

April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers…
What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow 
Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man,
You cannot say, or guess, for you know only
A heap of broken images, where the sun beats,
And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief,
And the dry stone no sound of water. Only
There is shadow under this red rock,
(Come in under the shadow of this red rock),
And I will show you something different from either
Your shadow at morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
I will show you fear in a handful of dust.
                      Frisch weht der Wind
                      Der Heimat zu
                      Mein Irisch Kind,
                      Wo weilest du?
“You gave me hyacinths first a year ago;
“They called me the hyacinth girl.”
—Yet when we came back, late, from the Hyacinth garden,
Your arms full, and your hair wet, I could not
Speak, and my eyes failed, I was neither
Living nor dead, and I knew nothing,
Looking into the heart of light, the silence.
Oed’ und leer das Meer.

-T. S. Eliot, The Wasteland, The Burial of the Dead

The Good Wife

She was on the phone, puttering around the kitchen and living room. Cleaning up.  People, kids, around.  Like always.

I was in the door to the mudroom, peeling off my boots. And the mud.

Dad was somewhere in the house, slowly dying.

They had waited too long. When it had been discovered, a surgery could have removed the cancer. ‘God had lead them’ to treat it with extra vitamins and by having a biological dentist dig out his root canal, and by going this one time to sit in a hyperbaric chamber because that’s what the atmosphere was like before the Flood of Noah and people lived hundreds and hundreds of years before the Flood so this would fix it for sure.

When the tumor on his neck was the size of a Florida grapefruit, or larger than both my fists, they decided it was a swollen lymph node. From his body killing so much cancer.  When it peeled itself open and started gushing and dribling fluids, that was his body expelling the cancer.

When he couldn’t turn his head without pain and his right arm and hand swelled with edema to twice their normal size from being pinched by the tumor- they finally broke down and went to a doctor.

But at that point it was too late. It was everywhere.

She was talking to a friend. I couldn’t tell which one. Her voice was animated and eerily enthused. She was talking about his now inevitable death.

“At least he’s had a wife who served him. Not many men can say that!”

She’s fixed him sandwiches whenever he told her. She treats what he says as God’s word for her life- finding reasons for him to be absolutely correct even when God express irrational fears about surgery and then nose dives into conspiracy theories and quack medicines.

And now he’s slowly dying.

Funny.

Many men have wives who are sad when they die.

 

 

 

 

The Worlds of Creation

One of the saddest moments in my life. It was last week.

My little sister was showing me her minecraft world.  I showed up on the doorstep and she ran to get the cracked ipad.

My sister’s world is beautiful.  She has an extensive railway system.  The passengers are mostly cows.  Scattered across the map she has a museum and a mountain castle and a deep cave dwelling (under renovation).  She has a staircase that towers all the way up into the clouds. A king and queen live there.

She showed me the throne room. The king’s chair was golden. It dominated the center of the room.

The queen’s chair was wooden. It didn’t even have a back. It sat unobtrusively in a corner.

She walked her minecraft self into the bedrooms (which were separate). The king’s was impressive. Gold. Crystal. The queen’s was wood. Plain wood at that. She adds an explanation.

“I used to think queens and princesses were better. But now I know they’re not.”

*

I will probably never have a child. I hate being a girl too much.

*

When little sister was a baby, our mom didn’t have time for her. Didn’t have time to make her toys talk in silly voices. Didn’t have time to read to her or show her new things. Was too devoted to her ailing father (who thought he had cured his cancer through prayer) to spend time with her tiny child.  Too obsessed with the horrific end of the world to spend any time on life in the here and now.

I had time.

*

My mother spent my childhood and youth beating into my head that women were created by the all knowing all righteous infinite source of the universe for the sole purpose of handing men sandwiches and getting pregnant as often as humanly possible.

*

None of them talk to me. Oh they talk to me. They smile. Sometimes they even ask me how my day was.  But they never talk about anything below the surface. Never about anything of the organizing beliefs of our lives, never, never answer any of the questions I’ve asked them. Once in a while the mask slips a little. Little brother will mention something that I told mom in strict confidence. Mom keeps little sister away from me at church. The little kids stopped hanging out with me, despite being excited to see me when I show up.

I’ve seen her do this too many times- to too many other people- to not know what she’s doing.

*

I have honored my agreement to not talk about my questions with the little kids. I would have been, and probably still would be, cut off from them entirely- for doing that.

*

The screen shifts, and the view moves through block built trees- cascades of mountains.  A cow is stuck in a train car, being carted off to the farthest horizon for no apparent reason. The world that little sister created pours through our eyes.

The world my mother created  pours through them too.

My little sister believes that she is worth less.

There is nothing I can do or say.

*

Sia

*

Party girls don’t get hurt

Can’t feel anything anything-

When will I learn?-

I push it down, push it down…

I’m gonna swing from the chandelier

From the chandelier

I’m gonna live like tomorrow doesn’t exist

Like it doesn’t exist

I’m gonna fly like a bird through the night

Feel my tears as they dry…

Help me, I’m holding on for dear life

Won’t look down won’t open my eyes

Keep my glass full until morning light

‘Cause I’m just holding on for tonight

On for tonight