“So we’ll live,
And pray, and sing, and tell old tales, and laugh…
And take upon’s the mystery of things,
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://spectrummagazine.org/arts-essays/2019/lear-luton
“So we’ll live,
And pray, and sing, and tell old tales, and laugh…
And take upon’s the mystery of things,
I can only say, “damn feng shui, even if it is right and religious; there belongs a love seat right here”
Right! Well said, Timo.
Part of your movie story resounds-I well recall my very fundamental father asking me what i wanted to be when i grew up. I answered honestly “a writer and an artist”. After he finished with an angry corporal board meeting on my seat he too sibilantly spat out “no son of MINE will be a homoSSSEXual”.
It literally took me a lifetime to recover that, yes, my heart was a poets, and to live, my ink must flow. I was six. I am now 60.
What we fail to tell our children sometimes is that they CAN be
a writer, an artist, AND they can have a Job that will pay for their
writing supplies, for their artist supplies, and travel to places
that inspire both.
In my town we have too many young adults shooting other young
You know, Steve, i still feel his spit spattering on my face as he spat out the words.
I reckon more than anything he wanted a “macho” son, who thereby could enhance his own insecure masculinity. In other words, i sense an unhealthy self-love, love of an image of self he felt he needed to project completely over-ruled any other values or the logic and rationale to offer the autonomy.
Perhaps your Dad never matched HIS Dad’s expectations for him. Wanted
you to be what he never was. Sometimes that’s the problem in some families.
My dad had to quit school after 10th grade go work in the foundry where his
dad worked. I think he quietly felt badly about that.
He always talked about maybe me becoming a doctor. Made comments about
it from middle school age. He had high expectations about me and higher
education. Unfortunately, he died before he could be at my college graduation
for a different degree.
My story is diametric to that…had the opportunity to go to med school scholarship all the way but was not permitted. His need for me to be the role he groomed me for was too deeply engrained…and i thought it was my duty, the right thing to do, and that if i didn’t no one else could help him. Plenty of pathology, I had no concept of boundaries with respect to self, essentially no self identity. It was not until i was in my mid 30’s i went back to college. i’ll tell you psych nursing assigned names and structures to my formative years, and brought healing, life, autonomy and free agency (but i also had a perspective and experience that suited me particularly well for serving in the psych trenches and which benefited my pt’s, the institutions, and myself). Religion was too enmeshed in the childhoodsetup…and to some degree as far as relationship with him (forgiveness and grace, but limited exposure for me) still is. Religion is never to be used for substitute for engaged parenting , expedience be damned. Anyway, this is not about poor me-the circumstances were what they were, and I did the damned best i could! Btw “Boy erased”…yeah, wow.
I tried to be an Adventist from my childhood to my mid-50’s, I really did. I guess some of us are just predestined to not succeed among the saints. There were times when some small effort on the part of a church member could have made a difference in my Adventist tragectory, but those small efforts never happened, such as the time an Adventist elementary teacher noticed my siblings and I were covered with welts and bruises from frequent beatings by our Adventist father. Dear old dad wanted to make sure we weren’t spoiled by the sparing of the rod. The teacher reported the problem to the school board, but they decided it was outside their purview, so we continued our Christian education, bruised and battered, and with a special understanding of what Our Father in Heaven was like.
We were also taught about God’s highest callings: doctors, teachers, pastors, and nurses, the status of which could be maximized by going somewhere far away and exotic to serve as missionaries, “into a tent where a Gypsy boy lay, dying alone at the close of the day.” Against all odds, because we weren’t doctors, teachers, pastors, or nurses, my wife and I were hired as international church employees (I hesitate to use the word “missionary”) although one saint at the General Conference Secretariat made sure I understood that people with my skills set weren’t really what the church wanted, but out of necessity were tolerated. Off we went and for the next 25 years, we worked heart and soul for the poor and destitute in some of the world’s saddest and most broken places. I can’t and won’t say the name of that part of the church that employed me, because even after unspeakable personal pain and suffering, I still believe in its mission of ministry to the poor and suffering. Somehow I rationalized that even if God was like my dad, and the church didn’t need people like me, I could at least try to make practical, tangible love a real thing.
I don’t know if I succeeded in my endeavor to show practical love through my work as a paid church employee. Adventist employment is not an affirming environment, because we will be told at the Judgement Day, and not a minute before then, whether our work was acceptable. Sheep this side, goats on the other. I do know that my efforts came to a disastrous end about 10 years ago when I learned I suffer from a hidden wound, PTSD, but PTSD built on layers and layers of trauma that have driven me almost, but not quite, over that dark precipice. Not enough faith, I was told. You should have followed God’s plan for your life and this wouldn’t have happened, they admonished. So now I’m a faithless, churchless wanderer and it’s a lonely struggle. I haven’t been to an SDA church for a decade, and apparently the feeling is mutual, even though they seem happy enough about the tithe I still send. As I said at the beginning of this tale, I’m just one of those who was never destined to succeed at Adventism.
So what is my point for confessing all of this, since I don’t want anyone’s sympathy and I especially don’t need Adventism and all the bickering that goes along with it. I long ago became sick to death of the theological wranglings, the liberal versus conservative pissing contests, the alleged failings of EGW, and the reported awfulness of Ted W. Nope, I don’t need any of that. After all my years both as an Adventist and now, as an ex-Adventist (do they still call us backsliders?), is there anything I’ve learned that rings true? Yes, there is:
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter- when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?”
I’ll believe that until the day I die. Does Jesus love me? I don’t know. They say he does but I’ve never felt it through the church. Does that give me an excuse for not loving, really loving, those around me? No, it does not, and that’s the only thing I know for certain.
Born an orphan in a foreign war zone, dragging a tired tent of skin through the desert, with hardly enough water for himself to drink, it is the true-heart christian who will share his last drop, his half-crumb, with a foundling. I found a well within, when i had nothing. I suspect that you too have found the core, the crux, the heart of it.
Not found in a book, not bound by a creed, not proved by round logic. Thanks for sharing Roscoe
Please continue to find help for your PTSD. Sometimes that is long term
I would like to encourage you to join another group. It may sound weird
but I believe it would help you.
Find Alcoholic Anonymous programs or Narcotic Anonymous programs in
your area. Go to meetings 5 times a week for about 6 months. After you
have been going for a while, find a Sponsor you feel you can trust, and meet
with that person at least once a week. Be sure to do what your Sponsor
requests you to do.
Another thing – it sounds like you need SPIRITUALITY and NOT Religion.
It sounds like to you have missed Spirituality so far, relationship so far, a
good reading of Scriptures so far.
You ARE God’s child if you are related to Adam and Eve. This is the 1st thing
you have to accept – you might have to work on it.
FAITH has nothing to do with getting PTSD or getting over PTSD.
Might I suggest a book – The Dusty Ones – why wandering deepens your
faith, by A.J. Swoboda. Read Chapter 8 first, then the rest of the book.
When you go to AA, NA all you have to give as introductions are done at the
beginning of meetings is your First Name. Just say I’m Rosco. That’s it. Nothing
else. Just sit there and listen for at least several weeks. You can share one on
one before or after meetings. But not during.
Another book I need you to get is this one – Breathing Under Water – spirituality
and the 12 Steps by Richard Rohr.
Both of these can be obtained at Amazon.
The Spirit bless you. Steve.
Biweekly counselling, walk, walk, walk, but mostly throwing myself into helping people, mostly the older ones, in my little mountain community. Taking them to the city for medical care, staying up with them after surgery, making sure they have enough firewood for the night, fixing their stuff when it breaks, sometimes holding their hands when they breath their last. It’s what I can do.
I cope by weekly specialized counselling, and walking, walking, walking, but mostly by throwing myself into helping people, mostly the older ones, in my little mountain community. Taking them to the city for medical care, staying up with them after their surgeries and illnesses, making sure they have enough firewood to keep them warm at night, fixing their stuff when it breaks, endlessly talking and listening, and sometimes, holding their hands when they breath their last. There’s no money in it, but it’s what I can do. It helps me endure my own pain and for it, I am loved in return. I was forced to decide that for me, there are no longer doctrines, theology, organizations, or abstract ideas of a deity. There is only Charlie, Wayne, Jack, Ramona, Vern, Doug, Phil and the others that I love and who love me in return.
I’m happy to let god, whoever he or she is, do with me as they will. It can be much worse than what I’ve already experienced as a church member and as the son of my father.
You are no longer the “son of your earthly father.”
You are the “son of your heavenly Father”. And Jesus is your Brother.
The Holy Spirit is your Mother.
You are no longer a “Foster Child”. You are an Adopted Child with a