Sunday, August 11, 2019

Know Your Truth


D. H. Lawrence

Shall I tell you, then, how it is?

There came a cloven gleam,
Like a tongue of darkened flame,
To burn in me.

And so I seem
To have you still the same
In one world with me.

In the flicker of a flower,
In a worm that is blind, yet strives,
In the mouse that pauses to listen,

Glimmers our
Shadow as well, and deprives
Them none of their glisten.

In each shaken morsel
Our shadow trembles
As if it rippled from out of us hand in hand.

We are part and parcel
In shadow, nothing dissembles
Our darkened universe. You understand?

For I have told you plainly how it is.

Yesterday I finally confronted my former friend about his treatment and withdrawal from our friendship.  It was as I had predicted and noted in a 17 page letter to him (which he has never read) about religion.   It began to deteriorate before he sent me the hateful video by his favorite Pastor but I was not sure until I received that when I realized how serious his dark religious passenger was inside his soul.  He has truly hateful crazy views about faith and how he and others should live all while pretending to be a hipster and wearing a mask in public that hides his hateful judgmental nature.

He has said repeatedly that the Churches here he does not agree with how they practice their faith and in turn seems to make no real connections to the community at large other than to chase girls and then call himself lustful while working on making himself a better Christian.  Apparently that means the exception with me as I am a bad model or or person with whom he can share his faith.  He may be right as I am not hateful and the other day I was told that my persona is one of kindness and generosity and those are traits he has few of.   So when he informed me I was negative and that I only exude negativity I wanted to slap him across the face and say, "How's that for negative?"  I then proceeded to ask him other than my hating Nashville with good reasons well documented how am I negative 24/7?  For Ethan that is like asking him to explain reality as he refuses to deal in reality and instead dwells in the concepts of false edicts and fake beliefs.  Sorry if you are Christian you should exude love and kindness funny how that works out, the Atheist exhibits that in much larger manners than the good Christian does.

Yesterday I walked into Yoga and found my entire set up completely removed.  My mat, my blocks, blankets, belt and bolster just gone.  I was shocked and could not believe that where I have set up this week after week for over three years suddenly gone.  The people around seemed to be unaware of this and said I could set up somewhere else.  Really with what? There were no mats, no tools nothing left. So I just said out loud to no one particular "Fuck it this is the Nashville way and its bullshit" and I walked out.  Apparently when I recounted that to Saint Ethan he said that was negative and not the way to handle it.  Why a 22 year old boy gives a shit about this is not about what I said or evoking empathy it was very Southern, judgmental, utterly unkind and of course blame making.  It was my fault for not doing what not accepting that and just leave or whatever but under no circumstances say anything to anyone about anything.  And that explains how and why he has gone out of his way to avoid dealing with people that make him afraid, insecure and confused.

He again blamed me for taking his time, taking away his "me" time from whatever he is not doing.  He claims to read but it must be just scripture as I have never seen a book or journal in his hand. I have been leaving my New York Times at the coffee shop and apparently he has been taking them. The same with The New Yorker but yet has never discussed on single article or essay without my prompting to discuss or debate.  Well they don't debate in Nashville as everyone must agree on everything and not have conflict that could lead to this thing called critical thinking or learning to compromise.

I sat with one of Ethan's former prospect fuck buddies that ended with him drunkenly stomping out prior to the encounter and her leaving and as in every story there are three versions - his, hers and the truth.   But then again I am negative for walking out of my Yoga class after someone took my elaborate set up without any apology or explanation.   So my fuck it as I won't be there next week or the week after and so I truly don't give a fuck.  I am not pretending to be a Christian.

Then there are other stories and other tales told out of school which I dutifully ignored and in turn decided to support my former friend as loyalty is my Christianity.   But again as I stood there and listened to this uneducated boy of 22 inform me how I was a bad person followed by the word paranoid I could hardly wait to turn that mirror onto him.  I had purposely and deliberately flooded his texts with recipes, music and articles and gotten no response.  He felt of course overwhelmed as anyone with low IQ does. It was intended to see if in fact he had the balls and the intelligence to go what the fuck is this are you trying to send me a message or just go hey thanks when I have a lifetime I may get to these.  But then again this boy this child has the audacity to tell me I am taking his time.  Again from what I am unclear as he seems to have no interests, no real friends and drives two hours to go to get his stye treated so what exactly is so fabulous about Nashville that my hatred of it disrupts his positive vibe of it?  I had just come from the Tomato Art Fest and said nothing bad about it, I have gone every year and often bought art and despite the heat I enjoyed myself.  I see said the negative Nancy.  I have gone to many events here and always had a good time. I just loathe the people here in select situations, such as anytime I am in close contact with any of them but other than that it is fine.

The boy is so full of self loathing and rage he projects that onto me the one person who tried to help him and give him some positive alternative to his pursuit of nothing that it makes sense as imagine someone actually doing something good for you with no expectations but loyalty and kindness.  He knows my truths and my lies and I believed that being honest and truthful is an important tool in building intimacy and friendship.  I had no interest in him sexually and that too may be the problem.

So instead he has decided to cast me in a negative light as it makes it easier for the good Christian boy to wipe his hands of me and in turn chase his silly little girls, profess fidelity to Jesus while harboring self anger under the guise of piety.  That defines religious freaks - HYPOCRITES.  And nothing made me happier than turning that around and asking him too look in the mirror for he who accuses, excuses.  I walked out there relieved that he would no longer frighten or intimidate me but just being in the same space.

As I ready for a major surgery on Thursday I have no idea where or what I am walking into. I am not paranoid in the least as that is quite a serious state of mind and I have been like many who have victims of crime and abuse quite afraid veering on the side of such but to say that I am about this again shows how illiterate and ignorant this young man is.   Not paranoid, worried and concerned as this is serious.  I also do think odd that it is happening outside the hospital as I suspect it may be to avoid billing or charging me the higher rates that the hospital would charge for this procedure and I also think that this is a type of cover up for the mistakes made when the implants were done in the first place.    And now living in the sublet I do not have access to the cooking and cleaning equipment I need to manage post surgery demands for a specialized diet and the cleanliness I need. To get up sick and try to manage to do this when I have to put my hygiene kit on a toilet, to hand wash every dish and not be able to prepare a diet that I need to function will be a challenge and in turn a concern as it should.   But instead of evoking sympathy or even offering to help I was promptly scolded and reminded that there are those who are homeless.   Gosh I did not know this but then again the good Christian who stood before me I asked so what have you done for the homeless lately?  He can't help me so maybe it was they who are taking that valuable time.  Ah the Southerner has no idea how they sound until you mirror them and then all shit hits the mirror.

I said I am drama free to the point where when it comes I go out of my way to stop it. The day of my move when the idiot teens showed up and the boss came I knew I was fucked but I had to get through it. It was a horrific day in every sense of the word and the boss made me feel that I had to do what he said that he had no interest in actually helping me and I had to simply accept what was happening without choice. It is a situation women feel themselves in when in isolation and with a male presence it is like rape, you feel coerced, pressured and given no choice.  I had never shared that feeling with Ethan until that moment and he knew of what had happened to me in the past  and he finally admitted that he has no way of knowing what it would be like to go through what I went through and that perhaps it does affect all the way I view things and in turn respond to things.  Wow breakthrough much?  No, not much. The hateful boy is there deep in his soul and that is what religion does in the South, it generates hate.

Funny I don't live a lie but Ethan does. No one he works with or knows know little about his fondness for this dead Pastor, his dark obsession with scripture or his deep judgmental divide but I do.  Funny how that works and I am the problem.  Well that is a problem when someone knows your truth.

Ethan asked me to send him the link that appropriated a remark made by his beloved dead Pastor about slavery and I did not bother.  I am doing sending the boy anything. I wanted to clear the air and the air is cloudy damp and dark so I am out into the light.  I came to Nashville under a cloud of darkness and I have no intention of leaving in one.  I undergo another surgery to correct the mistakes made and I oddly feel calm as I know this will be right, it will be done by the Surgeon not an intern and he will make it right.  My Dentist will rise to the challenge and the tech will again design a bridge that will rival the Brooklyn Bridge.  I just know this as my truth.

No one regardless of their faith should speak to anyone 60 years old undergoing immense stress and pain as I have, evicted from my home, living in a sublet and having another surgery (the fifth now) and call them negative. This the woman who took him to his first Symphony, the Art Walk, that cooked him meals, took him to a first class restaurant, gave him The New Yorker and my time which apparently means nothing in comparison to his me time which again says the boy is also a raging misogynist or just an asshole. I go with a little of each given how each encounter with these girls end - a drunken rage and temper tantrum.  He had the audacity to say to me that no one wants to hear truth and he meant it Biblical of course, this the boy of no education or life experience.  But then again if he wanted to hear truth he would have read the 17 page missive I wrote him.  I know his truth.

I described Ethan as my soul mate and in a way he is he is my darker soul and it is was that which is why he was brought to me to leave this darkness here in Nashville where it belongs.  I finally figured out my truth.

This is the Southern Baptist sect as there is no organization to this religion and it has problems alright.

Southern Baptists’ Midlife Crisis

Forty years after its conservative rebirth, the nation’s largest Protestant body is showing signs of age.

Jun 10, 2019
Jonathan Merritt
Contributing writer for The Atlantic

In the summer of 1979, conservatives within the Southern Baptist Convention gathered in Houston for their annual meeting with the goal of seizing control of the nation’s largest Protestant denomination. These conservatives claimed that theological liberalism had taken root in the denomination’s seminaries and agencies, and was taking the group down the path of heresy. Seminary professors were openly questioning the historical accuracy of some of the Bible’s miraculous stories, such as Noah’s flood. Progressive churches were embracing the ordination of women and even debating accepting LGBTQ people into the life of the Church. These “problems” could be corrected only by a disruptive overhaul of leadership.

To shift the balance of power, these conservatives implemented a strategy that was as simple as it was genius: Recruit and assemble messengers who would attend the denomination’s annual meeting and vote for a handpicked conservative for the SBC presidency. The new president would, in turn, nominate only conservatives to serve on governing boards of seminaries and agencies. And finally, once conservatives controlled a majority share of these boards, they would replace establishment liberal leaders with conservative foot soldiers.

Some 15,000 Southern Baptist messengers gathered in Houston in 1979, and after the ballots were counted, a fiery 47-year-old conservative preacher named Adrian Rogers was elected president. His unparalleled command of rhetoric and uncompromising belief in the inerrancy of scripture made him the perfect person to inaugurate the conservative revolution. Rogers received only 51 percent of the vote over several other candidates, but that was enough. His election was the toppling of the first domino, triggering a purge of left-leaning leaders and churches from the denomination. Just like that, the Southern Baptist Convention was born again.

This week, the group gathers in Birmingham, Alabama, exactly 40 years since the Southern Baptist Convention as we know it came into existence. Just like many individuals of a similar age, the denomination is experiencing a bit of a midlife crisis, defined by a lack of purpose and deep internal conflict. Our rapidly changing world has, in the words of the Baylor University historian Barry Hankins, “thrust the group into the middle of an identity crisis.” In the early days of their revolution, conservative SBC leaders united around the common goal of defeating their left-leaning brethren. But the liberals are long gone now, leaving no enemies for these “battling Baptists” to fight—except themselves.

The SBC is contracting in both membership and church attendance. It has shed a stunning 1 million members since 2003, and is on pace to lose nearly 100,000 people each year for the foreseeable future. Annual baptisms, which are of obvious importance to Baptists, have plummeted to a 70-year low. Additionally, the denomination is failing to either attract new young people or retain the ones it has. Only half of children raised Southern Baptist choose to remain Southern Baptist. Although the denomination has made attempts to curb the decline through evangelism task forces and mission efforts, such tactics aren’t working as hoped.

There is no easy explanation for this decline. You can’t merely blame secularization or chalk it up to the growing number of religiously unaffiliated people in America, because evangelicals in general have increased in number. So what gives? Underneath the numeric slippage lies a more substantive problem: cultural irrelevance. The denomination used to contribute to, or even drive, conversations on the day’s most pressing issues. At the height of the conservative takeover, the goings-on in the denomination were closely monitored by national media and regularly covered by network nightly news programs such as ABC’s Nightline. In 1985, the wildly popular daytime-TV host Phil Donahue devoted an entire show to the denomination. Now only a handful of religion journalists are paying close attention. The world has moved on.

Conservative leaders who clutched control of the group decades ago were nearly unified in their convictions and hyper-focused on their chosen mission. Today the group is fractured and endlessly consumed by infighting. It’s fought over the growing influence of Calvinism, a theological system based on the teachings of John Calvin. It’s fought over whether its Christian faith means it should care about “social justice” issues. And just recently, it’s fought over whether a woman can teach or preach in a Sunday church service. Cultivating a fresh vision for the future is difficult when you’re preoccupied with putting out fires.

In the past, the election of a Republican president would have unified a conservative group such as the SBC, infusing it with fresh energy. But Donald Trump’s election further fractured the group instead. Some prominent Southern Baptist pastors—including Robert Jeffress and Jack Graham—vocally supported Trump for his conservative positions on issues such as abortion and his promise to appoint conservative judges. But many others—such as Russell Moore, the head of the denomination’s public-policy arm—could not stomach the thrice-married, foul-mouthed, serial-lying candidate’s poor character. (Moore’s opposition so angered Graham and others that it nearly cost Moore his job.) When Vice President Mike Pence was invited to speak at last year’s annual gathering, many pastors protested.

Nothing said here will come as a surprise to most Southern Baptist leaders, particularly younger ones. They see their crisis as clearly as outsiders do. Last year, Southern Baptists elected the North Carolina pastor J. D. Greear as their president in hopes of ushering in “a new day in the SBC.” At 45 years old, Greear is one of the youngest men elected to the post, and he has asserted his desire to call off the culture war and partisan politics. He wants to promote “racial reconciliation and cultural diversity.” But as Greear concludes his first term, little seems to have changed.

Perhaps his election was a cosmetic solution to an existential problem, a change akin to a middle-aged friend purchasing a cherry-red sports car. The hum of the Corvette engine is exciting at first, but in a blink, you realize that the same person with the same problems is behind the wheel. Southern Baptists can’t simply vote their way to revival this time. They must do some deep self-examination and get their house in order.

This week in Birmingham, Southern Baptists have an opportunity to do just that. The emerging sexual-abuse crisis in the denomination should undoubtedly be the first priority. An investigation released by the Houston Chronicle in February revealed decades of sexual abuse and a pattern of repeat offenders stretching back decades and affecting hundreds of victims. New revelations continue to emerge, and Southern Baptists should expect this story to get worse, not better, for them.

Though Greear has made several proposals for seriously addressing the matter, denominational leaders are split. Some claim that Southern Baptist churches are autonomous and that the denomination has no place interfering in the matter. Others believe that sexual abuse demands a serious response, including restitution for victims. The latter have the better argument.

The Roman Catholic Church’s failure to adequately respond to its sexual-abuse scandal has had devastating effects. Donations have dropped, members’ faith in clergy has fallen, and the total number of Catholics in America has plummeted by more than 3 million since 2007 alone—more than any other religious group. Parents will avoid any space, no matter how sacred, if they question the safety of their children, and few people will donate their hard-earned money to an institution they don’t respect and trust. Southern Baptists must learn from Catholics’ mistakes and deal aggressively with this scandal in its early stages.

According to the psychoanalyst Erik Erikson, midlife marks a period of time when one must choose between “stagnation” and “generativity.” You can stay the course, retreating to a life of nostalgia, regret, and fear. The other option is to accept the new normal, stop trying to reclaim past glories, and transform to meet the needs of the moment. For Southern Baptists, a posture of generativity would require leaders to refocus on the emerging moral issues of our age.

Few issues are more relevant now than racial division. The Southern Baptist Convention, which was founded over the issue of slavery and was mostly supportive of segregation and Jim Crow laws, is still 85 percent white. It issued an apology for its racist past in 1995, but the group struggled to pass resolutions condemning white supremacy and the Confederate flag. As Greear wrote, “In theory, very few people in the American church are opposed to the idea of racial and cultural diversity. But experience would suggest that on this issue good intentions do not equal forward progress.”

When the denomination’s executive committee, which oversees the day-to-day business of the denomination, set about selecting a new leader this year, many minority leaders pressed for a person of color as a tangible marker of progress. The suggestions were disregarded, and instead the committee selected Ronnie Floyd, a white Baby Boomer from Arkansas. When a prominent black Baptist pastor criticized Trump for racist remarks in which the president called Caribbean and African nations “shithole countries,” he was largely ignored. Several prominent Southern Baptist pastors continue to serve on Trump’s religious advisory council. This kind of tone deafness by white Southern Baptist leaders sends a message to people of color that the denomination does not take their concerns seriously.

And what about the dignity and equality of women? The SBC has bombed in that department as well. Last year, troubling allegations emerged about the revered Southern Baptist leader Paige Patterson. Recordings of his sermons revealed Patterson body shaming a young woman and downplaying domestic abuse. For weeks, the Southern Baptist old guard rallied around their friend, even in the face of a petition calling for his resignation signed by thousands of Southern Baptist women. Finally, evidence emerged that Patterson had mishandled an abuse allegation at a seminary he led and he was terminated.

Recently, the wildly popular Bible teacher Beth Moore was bullied online by prominent Baptist leaders and bloggers for teaching men in a Sunday church service. Attacks on Moore grew so intense that The Washington Post reported that the issue was dominating official denominational discussions. Southern Baptist teaching holds that the office of the pastor is reserved for males, and some parishioners presumably wouldn’t support a woman preaching in their church. But what message does it send that such a petty matter sparked such furor? Given that half of Southern Baptists are women, the denomination must find ways to elevate women, affirm women’s gifts, and oppose gender-based violence and discrimination.

For some, discussions about reinventing the Southern Baptist Convention elicit fear that conservative control is slipping away. But they can no longer be avoided. If the decline continues and leaders remain unable or unwilling to make changes, America’s largest denomination won’t just be over the hill; it’ll be in the grave.

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