I watched the movie “Come Sunday” last night and I have to admit it struck a real and urgent cord in me. It is the true story about Carlton Pearson, an internally known minister who became branded as a heretic in the Pentecostal Church.
Carlton Pearson had a revelation which tore him from the underpinnings of church doctrine. He saw a TV show about the Rwandan crisis where the Hutus attacked the Tutsi ethnic group and in the course of a month killed over 800,000. It was a horrific act of genocide that decimated the country and created refugees who were starving, injured, and homeless if they lived at all.
When Carlton saw the show he had a revelation and heard a voice telling him the Rwandans who had never been “saved” would be going to heaven, that one needn’t know and believe in Jesus to go the heaven. He brought this message to his Higher Dimensions congregation of 6,000 plus a TV audience and promptly lost half of them.
If you’ve read my writings over the years you know I have talked a lot about my questions on religion and spirituality and in Jesus and God. I believe in God and the Holy Spirit, which I have experienced in my life. However, questions remain about Jesus and the resurrection.
One of my biggest issues about Christianity and most major religions is regarding the inclusivity of the Church. The belief that you could only get to Heaven if you believed in Jesus. I’ve wondered myself about the billions of good people in the world that supposedly could not enter Heaven because they weren’t Christian. It has always struck me as unfair in the extreme. Goodness deserves its own reward. Carlton Pearson’s message struck me as a truth.
I’ve always had an issue with organized religions because of inclusivity. There is an inherent arrogance in organized religions. The “I am right, You are wrong” attitude is not loving or forgiving. When others talk to me about the need to be “saved” I want to believe, I want that comfort in absolutism, but I can’t make that leap of faith for to me it isn’t fair or just.
I know believing in inclusivity can invalidate the Church in most eyes but to me, it is not mutually exclusive. We each have our paths to God. Belief in God is the objective, no matter where you live or what your avenue to worship. Being a good person is paramount. Being a light of God is essential. Maybe you don’t have to be “saved” to make it to heaven.
What are little acts of kindness anyway? Sometimes I wonder if I do acts of kindness more as a ticket to heaven, and then not get into heaven because those acts were contrived. I wonder about that a lot. Getting into heaven is something I worry about anyway. How pure in spirit do my positive actions and interactions have to be accepted as real when I’m standing at judgment day? Does it count more on why I did it or on how the act is perceived? And should I worry about it at all since there is no proof that heaven exists or that God stands in judgment of us?
I must admit, I wonder when I smile at strangers or offer assistance in some small way if I am doing so out of genuineness or guile. If I were truly transparent; if I were a hologram reflection where all my feelings and thoughts were laid bare, would my actions smack of being self-serving? Remember that ticket to heaven?
I do act without forethought. I don’t actively seek to perform positive encounters by waking each day to the thought of how many good things I have to do to be considered good and kind. Besides, if I think that, am I good? Doesn’t evil don a mask of positivity when it suits the purpose?
I do try to approach life with positive intent. I like making people feel a ray of light when I can do something for them, even if only a smile. There is little enough light in this world and it seems to be getting darker all the time. With all the tragedy which darkens our world, I think we thirst for kindness and love. When I smile at someone he or she usually smiles back. When I thank a person or say God Bless You when he or she sneezes, I believe that a person feels a blessing. I know I do.
I hate the idea of each act of kindness being a merit badge I show Saint Peter at the pearly gates. And I don’t do acts of kindness thinking first of what I will eventually get out of it. But afterward, it sometimes occurs to me why I did it, what my aim was. It is a maddening process of overthinking and perhaps an acknowledgment of my humanness in the face of my actions.
And in saying this, can those who read it ever think of me as kind and considerate again? Will they refuse the ray of light I cast? I hope not. We need a reservoir of kindness and love in our lives. Each drought from the well brings wellbeing, simplistic but true. I want to be a being of light. I want to perform random acts of kindness both with those I know and those I don’t. I just can’t help but wonder how they will be perceived if I get to heaven if there is one.
Our world is such an aching wound. No matter where you look, the mistakes of humans are making themselves manifest. In our country alone, immigrants find their children are spirited away possibly forever. The components of genocide fit. We are destroying innocent people, especially the children. I couldn’t imagine losing my children now much less when they were little. I don’t think many of us could. The sacrifices illegal aliens take to try to find a safe haven are astounding.
Nor are we alone in our wrongdoing. The genocide ISIS has done to the Yezidi people is heartbreaking. Women and children are raped, mutilated, tortured, and enslaved. Men are outright killed. The Rohingya Muslims are being denied their land, their birthright, their possessions again, for religious purposes. It doesn’t make sense why other countries aren’t stepping up to help those people who are losing everything they hold dear, everything that defines them.
Yemen’s people are starving and being killed by U.S. bombs. The ethnic troubles of Burundi are catastrophic. Syria is one colossal mess and once again, it is the common people who pay. Sexism and racism seem to define our society even as we have a president that regularly spews hatred and arrogance upon those different than himself.
Maybe I’m just tired today but the troubles of the world are weighing heavy. I think it is also the neverendingness of the world’s strife. We repeat the same mistakes again and again. How can the regular person help stem the tide of violence and atrocity? I want to do more than lament the misfortunes and traumas of others, I want to know that in some way my voice is heard, my actions matter. Maybe if we each did a little, together we could accomplish a lot.
“There have been at least 288 school shootings in the U.S. since 1/1/09, 57 times more than the other G7 countries combined.” -CNN
This is a staggering statistic, and classifying it as such just removed myself from it further. How we can face each day knowing we are letting this evil snuff out the lives of our young? This is not a statistic but heinous travesty orchestrated largely by mentally ill people against the hope of our future…our children.
Does this sound like a rant? Maybe… But I have to believe we are manufacturing these problems against those not able to fight back. And do we really want them to? Wouldn’t that be exasperating the problem?
Nor am I trying to point the finger at the mentally ill. I wonder how many of these killers are suicidal rather than mentally ill. We assume anyone who would do such a thing is mentally ill but is that really the case? There are plenty of sociopaths in this world, ones who choose to make a name for themselves at the expense of others.
Think about it. The mass killings have always been where there were groups or crowds of people in an environment when they are not armed or were too young to be. Cowards conduct these atrocities. People who don’t have the courage to deal with their problems head-on, or lack the ability to control themselves. However, their acts are pre-meditated, planned.
We need to look at the psychology of the serial killer on a more global level. If we understand who we are dealing with, we have a better chance to prevent attacks. I don’t mean therapists and police alone, but ordinary people. If we understand the monster in the closet, perhaps we can identify them before they act.
If parents know what clues to look for, perhaps they can stop their children from doing harm. The clues are there – they only need to be looked for. If students and teachers can identify troubled, violent youths before they act, catastrophes can be prevented. If the neighbor sees something, please let him or her reach out for help rather than not getting involved. If the police know the signs, they might not overlook them in the name of protecting privacy.
Maybe I’m blathering platitudes, but 288 school shootings, and we being the only developed nation with this problem, needs addressing so that the hope of our future isn’t snuffed out before they have a chance to grow.
Bitter, rasping, grieving, raw
Pain drips, seeps, crawls
Enters every orifice
Building in complex patterns
So severe, so horrific
Chains I have anchored about me
Ensnaring me in a choking, godless bankruptcy
I cannot breathe through it
I am drowning in it
There is no me anymore
Just obligations, duties, responsibilities,
Confusion, my brain is seeping away
So I’ll be no more then the man downstairs
Constantly singing his toothless songs,
His cells are in me, so is the dominatrix’s,
Mine? Mine are gone –
There is no me anymore –
I having been missing the memory of her
The one who was so smart, but in the end no more than
A sack of liabilities dumped on the doorstep of a woman who shows love
By beating it out of you
For the good it will bring
Oh, I am drowning
In a reflection of me
There is no me anymore –
I traded her up for this shell
With no respect for the casing
for the heart
for the mind
when others didn’t respect me
I believed them
Soaking it all up like wine
Becoming drunk on deceit
These are crone fingers, brittle, grasping,
Seeking to hold onto what long ago went away
In bitter disgust
At the wretch shivered and hovering in the corner
Trying the hold onto the dust
Left in their footprints
My daughter’s laugh is effervescent
Bubbling out of her wellspring
From a source I don’t know
She took the best and seized it
Grasped it in her precious fingers and held on for dear life
Until she found the right people to share it with
She has her own Zen iridescence,
Sparkling in the sun, soaking up all life-giving rays
She is this generation’s Job,
She has ground to cover
And making it fast
Not time for bonding now . . .
I turned away, thinking she was at my feet,
turned back and she was gone
the door open, the dog left out
The bloom of summer is upon us –
Lush, verdant, foliage spilling out of every crevice,
Eagerly seeking their moments of glory
Before winter’s chill sends them in retreat.
Children cascade in movement –
A ballet of motion gracefully brimming with enthusiasm,
Ready for each new adventure,
Clamoring for attention and activity.
From my window I watch –
The rustling of the curtains not caused by breeze but by hand,
The air is too dense with heat and humidity
For my fragile lungs to take in –
Each inhalation is like breathing water.
My windows are frames for the seasons,
My vision to a world I can’t participate in.
My life without is confined to certain temperatures,
Low humidity, some seasons but not others.
An air conditioner and oxygen tank regulate the conditions in which I exist.
The ache of joints and spasm of muscles necessitate heat therapy
When it’s broiling outside –
There is irony in the wearing of warm clothes in air conditioning,
In the dense, slumberous heat of August in New England.
A family birthday bash – seventy odd people –
Festive tents, music, coach rides, and the joy of friendship shared –
Everyone outside, saturating themselves in the moment –
While I hold court with the infirm within . . .
Thirty or forty years younger but just as decrepit, maybe more,
I’ve forgotten what it means to enjoy
As my oxygen tank puts back the oxygen
We stripped from the planet via pollution and overcrowding
I regulate my days –
Searching for meaning and validity
In the rustling curtains of my windowsill.
What then is a worthy life?
A life that justifies the energy
needed to sustain it.
In my diminishment my essence feels shriveled,
while within rages a torrential battle
against the walls of this confining body.
Suicide can’t be justified –
(that would be unworthy) –
my battles are not meant to scar others.
But the endless exhaustion and pain
that governs my days
may be no more than the last vestiges of inner warfare
– and yet – the wellspring of pain is mute,
steadfastly locked in my throat,
begging for release – but afraid,
oh so very afraid –
that should inner ravings be released
they would be viewed as obtuse, chaotic, crazy . . .
the erratic mumblings of a crone
whose tottering footsteps wore down paths
best left untrod
and whose actions spoke
not of integrity and honor
but as hollow offerings to a vacant God –
words as leaves dried and blown from trees,
spiraling down, to be whipped away in winter’s winds,
leaving no trace they had left their imprint
on the gracious and beautiful landscape
we are given the opportunity
to make a difference . . . a meaning . . . on.
Each time they demanded, I caved,
Giving just a little more, just a bit more,
Always emptying, never replenishing . . .
I’ve given so much of myself
I have forgotten who I was to begin with.
I cannot fit the pieces together –
Too many are frayed, jagged,
Others imperfect recreations of faulty memory.
Whole sections gone, vanished,
Black holes where vital life force flowed.
I look in the mirror, expecting a missing nose,
A hole in my throat,
My heart gone for sure,
Feathered away in fragments.
As a child I lay in night’s grass staring at the Milky Way –
So very many stars, eons of them,
A wide, white swath cut through the dark,
Carrying hope in silver rays.
The stars have faded now –
There are fewer, none so bright . . .
There is so much more night in my life.
Try as I might, I can’t find the light –
My body carries bruises and scars from bumping the unseen.
I should have been selfish,
Holding onto the pieces of me
Because one woman’s treasures
Are another person’s garbage.
My heart is a cast-off in some musty attic,
Caught in the dark,
With all the night’s lost stars.
Writing a book is a frustrating but exciting experience. Non-fiction is so very different from fiction. I love fiction, it is what I choose to read when I’m not researching for the book. But I don’t think I could write it. Dialogue is tricky and the infinite care needed on descriptions and plot is intense. I respect anyone who has the creativity to imagine another world and portray it with color and finesse.
I wish I were more like that but I’m not. I’m serious-minded, analytical, fact-based. But writing non-fiction can be a beautiful thing. “Radium Girls” was a very creative work; it read like fiction.
Exploring these women with their people focused gifts is a treasure trove of fascinating people. There are so many women who have achieved great things, there just aren’t as many who have gone through extremely traumatic experiences and because of those experiences are achieving great things. I have researched many women so far and finding the right women is like searching for a needle in a haystack.
When I come across a woman who meets the parameters I am seeking it is like unwrapping a present. The things she is doing to benefit the world draw me to her. Her story evokes sympathy and a certain admiration that what she has achieved has affected many people. I want to know more and I believe others will feel the same way when they read the book.
But, getting the manuscript written correctly and in a timely manner is, of course, key. Do I have a thumbprint on something others will be drawn to or am I only seeking my own desires? That still remains to be seen.