To quote the oddly adagio intro for Adventist Voices, I’ll never forget it.
I’m guessing it was around 15, maybe 20, years ago.
I was sitting on a stool, inside the small closet of the bedroom in our Harlem apartment, door closed, completely miserable.
I didn’t have any money. There were no writing jobs on the horizon. Rent and utilities were both behind, and due. My wife and I weren’t really talking. And as far as I could see, things were not likely to get better anytime soon.
I sat there, deeply frustrated and hurt. I wondered why this was happening to me. Why was everything going this way, at once? Why did others seemingly get all the choice gigs, with money to burn? Why wasn’t I having the life I felt I deserved?
Then, like a bolt from the sky, came a statement which burrowed deeply into my brain, and has remained there ever since.
"Everything is exactly the way it’s supposed to be."
I can’t say it was God speaking to me, but I also can’t say it wasn’t. All I know is, in that moment, the despair I’d been feeling, the hopelessness which was overtaking me like high tide, was pushed aside by the realization I was suffering the effects of my own hand.
Everything I was going through was the result of something I had done, something I had not done, and/or combinations of both. And because I was where I was for these reasons, this meant it was my own hand that could also reset the context.
Usually, when people see the after-effects of a massive, EF-5 tornado, like the one which hit Joplin MO in May 2011, below, only two words come to mind: Utter chaos.
I disagree. Well, actually, I completely agree. What I disagree with is this: What most people mean by “utter chaos” is “complete and total disorder.“
In fact, the effect of a tornado on human environs is chaotic. But it is not disorderly. It’s highly ordered. It’s as pure a machine of physics as as one is likely to find or observe this side of a large hadron collider. In it, every plank, every car, every roof shingle, every dust particle is being driven along, both by and through the maelstrom, due to laws of aerodynamics, motion, kinetics, material stress, heat, and other physical guidelines built into dynamical systems. Basically, what the tornado leaves behind is a highly complex shape.
When we say, “This scene is chaotic,” what we are really saying is, “The mathematics which produced these results are beyond our computational ability.” Had we the calculational capacity, we would be able to, in theory, predict where, after a given twister, every object would end up.
So, here’s what’s bugging me, and what I don’t understand: What did Kendra Arsenault expect?
I’m asking a real question, here. From listening to her podcasts, it’s not clear to me what she’d give as her answer.
I wish she would give an answer. I think it would help those like me, who were watching from the outside, to better understand, and even empathize with, her plight.
Put another way: When she aired three programs of gay theology on Advent Next, and announced, at the end, she, also, was gay, what did she expect her conservative Christian employer to do? I’ve not heard her say.
Is she sorrowful because she did not expect to be fired? Was she an SDA Charlo Greene, who expected to quit, but, instead, was surprised when she was pushed?
Or, is it she did expect to be fired, but she thought people who were her friends would come to her aid?
Is it she knew she’d be fired, friends would have to choose between her and the organization—and she would probably lose this vote—but she thought she’d be able to stay in the community, and not be seen as a pariah?
Or, is it all of the above, plus the fact, whatever you think being dumped is going to feel like, it always hurts more once it actually happens?
Kendra has invited people listening to the podcast to write to her with their comments and questions. I’m doing so here, under the eaves for one of her important sponsors.
I wish she would address this query. If she hasn’t yet, I suspect doing so would help her acquire not only greater clarity, but plan for, or against, future acts of resistance.
If she has addressed it, hearing her answer would help me, certainly, better understand her story, make better sense of where she is now, and maybe put the various parts of the experience she reveals in the order they are supposed to be.