The Storyteller's Curse

A fiction author is a glorified liar.  The curse caught up to me before I ever spent too much time writing however.  Back then I was just a liar, or, well, a teller of tall tales.  I turned to imaginary stories over and over again through the years to keep myself from the boredom death, those million yawns that drag a soul down into the bottomless nothing.  More than once storytelling landed me in trouble, but one time will always stand out as the worst.

While in the East Baton Rouge drug court program, which happened to be in jail, my freedom depended upon my performance.  I did very well with leadership in their AA program, becoming a group leader and helping other inmates to face their addictions.  Boredom considers jail one of its strongholds, however, and it arrived in full force to shove a semi-permanent somnabulism down my throat.  I fought back.

During AA meetings, which the drug court program held around 50 times a day, there was an outspoken old convict.  Every meeting he told stories of his infamy and notoriety.  He was the hippest of all outcasts, the 'victest of the 'victs.  I sensed a challenge to my storytelling.

Before too long I had told stories that very believably made me sound almost as bad a person as him.  None of it was true.  All of it went down on my permanent record though.  The counselor's in that program graded performance based on how deeply a person was enmeshed in the negativity of the drug scene.  With every story my personal satisfaction as a storyteller grew, but my chances of graduating from the program diminished until they were nil.

I went to prison because of my storytelling.  It was not the old fashioned D.O.C. penitentiary system, it was like a little country club, but it was still prison.  And I did write a novel there, and drew dozens of pieces of high quality head art.  The fact remains I sacrificed a lot to tell a story. 

These days I try not to be so believable, or else people might believe.  Then again, I have also written very little fiction as of late.  I'd go to hell and back to avoid another situation in which peacefully telling stories could cost me my freedom.  But come to think of it, going to hell and back is the thing that has worried me recently.  Ah, c'est la vie.

"On Camera"

Here's a little gem chucked out by the old subconscious, almost as disturbing as something experienced a few years ago (which never got written about but may one day soon). The mind stores a person's visual memory; that memory can be accessed later by society's group consciousness, or by individuals acting on behalf of society who have knowledge of the memory's existence. That idea in itself is not really disturbing on the surface, at least not to someone with nothing serious to hide, but consideration of the subject easily leads to a huge number of factors that can be downright upsetting.

For the sake of coherency, and before starting this lunatic yarn, it is important to note that this self rationalizing vision/hallucination stipulated that conscious controls exist for use of the memory camera. While it seems nobody can turn it off, there are a wide array of controls that supposedly exist for this function. Thinking, “[Subject matter goes here], on camera,” denotes the things about to be seen as of special importance. Saying out loud, “[Subject matter goes here], on camera,” externalizes the camera and focuses it on the speaker.

One can externalize the camera and change one's face through a hand gesture I won't bother to explain, but that only works for people who have never harmed anyone. The apparent rationalization is that protections exist for innocent people. Sometimes individuals appointed to act on behalf of society begin acting on behalf of wrong, and innocent people need protections. One can also mutual a disguise with someone by performing the same hand gesture, but with both hands together. Don't ask me; I'm just the guy whose subconscious mind spit this out.

These controls came to be explained as visual memories played out, on the wall to be precise. The visual journey started off in the jail in a sheriff's department in Wyoming. The few law officers present knew about the existence of the mental camera. It seemed that the government had only recently learned of its existence. Trial usage of “on camera” (as it is was always referred to throughout this vision) for law enforcement purposes was being conducted there in an effort to sandbox the project. Frighteningly, my mind is very creative, and my subconscious mind ran wild with the idea. It approached the idea from every corruption imaginable.

The initial set of facts surrounding a visual memory record dealt with normal human behavior. While some of it may be embarrassing, none of it could be considered disturbing. From there the idea went through many sets of possibilities surrounding people who break society's laws, but do so with no intent to harm anyone. It's not particularly interesting, like adrenaline junkies who speed like maniacs through traffic, or shoplift for the rush they get, or people who sell marijuana on small scale. Those two classes of people just didn't anything for my subconscious mind to get its teeth into.

After that second class of people I would have thought the next logical step would be examining the memories of more unsavory people, but law enforcement came first. Although nothing about this “daydream” was really logical, going over all of the possibilities with law enforcement before moving on to really horrible things did make a certain sense. That brings us back to the jail in Wyoming.

Normal, workaday police with good intentions held no fascination for the narrative, since everything about them can be envisioned naturally. The next step was police brutality. There was a good bit of police brutality in that Wyoming jail caught “on camera.” These law enforcement officers were supposed to have known about the camera. There was one ranking deputy who wanted to control “on camera' for his own agenda, and for the agenda of the people in charge of the project, but the camera belongs to society's group consciousness. The more vicious he became in his attempts to hide his wrongdoings, the more he was caught in his own web.

Because of that ranking deputy's corruption, good people with knowledge of how to follow “on camera” became alerted. The power of good over evil, of right over wrong, does not recognize badges or uniforms or titles. So certain people began following that visual record in Wyoming.

An undercover officer was discovered who had knowledge of “on camera.” In this vision he had every known control of the visual record at his disposal, and went to great lengths to hide his identity. Eventually that man's visual record was tapped. It was discovered he tortured a suspect to death, a suspect he was certain was guilty. It took a long time and a lot of effort, but before it was over the undercover officer's identity was uncovered. And he went to prison for murder for what he had done, “on camera.”

Members of Seattle's Black bloc were identified as key to bringing the absolutely corrupted undercover officer to justice. From that point on the vision became deeply unsettling, as if seeing a cop slowly drown a man to death was not bad enough. Keep in mind the cop had good intentions. After that the imagined examination of “on camera” moved to people with bad intentions, and good people affected by people with bad intentions. Also increasingly alarming were visions of people losing their minds because of knowing about “on camera.” It's easy to understand why that would freak me out. That would include me. The longer the vision went on the more I wanted it to stop, and the more pointed those people losing their minds became.

Imagine suddenly accessing the visual memories of others involuntarily. That is to say, think about becoming a party to another person's visual memories and not being able to turn it off. That is far from an action of choice, as has been described so far. Now imagine the visual memories belonged to a serial killer, or a cartel enforcer. One would be forced to sit through scenes of horrific sadism and violence. I saw no such things, but the implication that such a thing would take place at any moment was horrifying in its own right.

Every second of this vision, which went on for many, many hours, but seemed to go on for days, was absolutely crystal clear, as if it had been filmed in 50 mm. After the vision descended from examining law enforcement to looking at the dregs of society, every moment seemed sinister, every person looked insidious. I recognized a number of people the vision focused on. I saw what appeared to be video footage of some of the most notorious people in North American history, and sometimes not just from the time when they committed their crimes. Sometimes the visual record captured them at different ages and in different aspects of their lives. These are things I had never seen before, at least not that I consciously remember seeing before, and never want to see again. And, once again, thankfully, blessedly, my mind was not assailed with their crimes. Just seeing the people was bad enough.

The overtones of horror can easily be exemplified. What if the murderer knew about access to the visual memories and wanted to show off? Take the case of the Virginia Tech mass murderer. I envisioned him doing everything as though he had the visual record in mind. It's chilling enough that he did it at all. If he wanted the world to be able to see what he did later, in real time replay, then it would make him even more of a monster. My mind is balanced enough to avoid recreating such an event, but I saw him gearing up and talking, “on camera.” on his mind.

I feel really lucky that, among other things, I am a fiction author. I can say I made this whole thing up. Maybe one day that disclaimer can keep me out of long term in-patient psychiatric care. But then again, considering the things I have seen, I might be cheating myself out of a well deserved vacation with such a statement. The vision kept going long after it didn't make much sense, and it was those things that thrust me into a state of absolute soul weariness, bordering on despair (it got really personal). I have only been so happy to stop seeing things involuntarily twice before in my life, long ago, when it was finally over. If you read this, then there is at least one thing on this earth you can be thankful for as of now. You can be thankful you aren't me.


The Fish

On the surface my maternal grandparents differed little from my paternal grandparents, except that my mother's parents were Baptist. Grandpa Kenneth worked at Ethyl for most of his life, just like my grandfather John. He also created streamlines to the oil refining process. However, John Samuel Day worked for Ethyl exclusively in Baton Rouge, but Kenneth Rollins spent many years working in Odessa, Texas. Both of my grandmothers, Irene Rollins and Wilma Day, were homemakers. Both sets of grandparents lived in really nice homes my grandfathers designed and built. Their personalities contrasted sharply, however.

While John passed his free time painting and working around the house, Kenneth preferred to be in the great outdoors. Irene worked with ceramics, for which she won Best of Show repeatedly at the largest ceramics club exhibitions here. She also read novels voraciously. Wilma always wanted to go into business. She was somewhat bitter about the treatment of women in the Southern United States, treatment that prevented her from attending college and fulfilling her dreams. She spent her free time socializing, keeping an immaculate house, and praying. Kenneth and Wilma were the two most devout people I have ever known, but all of my grandparents were really good people.

John and Wilma took care of me for years when I was a small child. I stayed with Kenneth and Irene a fraction of the time, but because of that I was always wildly happy at the opportunity to do so. Kenneth had a camp on the southern portion of the Amite River. Originally the camp was on land, but eventually, because of flooding, he built a house boat. We often went tot he camp and stayed the weekend in the house boat when I got to stay with he and Irene.

A few years ago I thought I encountered a panther in some deep woods in the Felicianas. Research indicated all the panthers died out or were driven away before I was born. I found that information extremely odd considering my experiences staying in the house boat. Late at night, now and then, one could hear what sounded like the scream of a husky woman. My grandpa told me that was a panther howl. I can't imagine he lied to me, and if that's not what it was then I can't imagine what it could have been.

The development of South Louisiana had yet to take off when I was still young. Vast forests covered large portions of what is now called Baton Rouge and is covered with parking lots and strip malls. The area around the house boat was as wild as it gets. These days the only places left like that are in the Atchafalaya, but back then we could fly down the river for miles in a boat and never see any sign of another human being. Grandpa Kenneth believed in the old ways. He picked a great place to keep the old ways alive.

We always fished for what we ate when we spent time at the camp. Irene loved saccalait. She fished for those for many hours from the edge of the house boat, and she must have had a good idea of peak hours because she hauled in quite a few. Unfortunately she was very good at catching eels too, and we both hated those. My grandpa set trout lines in the late afternoon as soon as we got to the camp, and again the next day. We'd go out in the boat and check those not long after daylight. The haul from those lines kept the freezers in Baton Rouge filled with catfish.

I spent enough time on the river to know when we had fish on the line, and when we had snagged a log or something else undesirable. One morning we were checking lines and I grabbed one that felt nothing like I had felt before. We pulled the boat out along the line until we discovered what it was. It was a catfish, one like I have never seen since except in photographs. My grandfather and I had a hard time getting this fish in the boat. I believe I was eight years old at the time. This catfish was bigger than I was. We knew nobody would believe it if we just told them, so we took lots of pictures. I don't think it could have swallowed me whole, but it definitely could have taken my leg.

I will always have great memories of the times I spent fishing on the Amite River. Those days came to an end within a few years. Besides my mother, my maternal grandparents also had two sons, my uncles. One night my younger uncle, Douglas, was out on the river and drowned. I very nearly drowned in the super fast current of that river myself, so I know that it was no difficult thing for the river to take someone's life.

To make a sad event even sadder, nobody knew Doug was out on the river. It took almost a week for his body to be found. I was with Irene and Kenneth when the news came; grief is a palpable pain. Kenneth sold the camp and the house boat and the boat and all their fishing gear, and never went fishing again. Irene had a sadness in her eyes the rest of her life.

Doug always called me Chopper. It was because I loved guns and spent so much time shooting. He wasn't a big man, but he was very strong. He managed to lift that fish Kenneth and I landed up into the air behind me all by himself, so we could take a picture, he and I and the fish. The fish really stole the focus of the shot away from us, it being nearly as big as Doug even. Curiously, I remember Doug more for all the people he knew in Austin, but we'll always have the picture with that fish.




Errors:

I apologize to any readers who have caught my posts before every error was eradicated. In the past I never let any errors slip through, or caught them right away. I am off the grid right now, so when I figure out I have posted something with a mistake I can't fix it right away. It feels sloppy posting an error. It makes me feel dirty, in a bad way. I think I'm going to try to be more careful in the future, and read what I have written before I post it. I never had to do that in the past, but things change, and so must I.

Details


I recently wrote about some sort of altercation that occurred with the front of the house as the epicenter. If you are reading this, then Off to the Races may have been taken down. I'm still pondering it's worth. Before I had written that I had decided that while there were certainly a number of fights, what I saw and what happened were completely different. I was unwittingly baked beyond all human comprehension at the time. Maybe the things I saw were the result of feeling the vibe in the air between certain people. Maybe here's a darkness in me so large it could swallow the Eastern seaboard. There's no way to be certain. I am certain that what I saw did not take place in the earthly realm, so let's just call it imagination.

The altercation that took place happened quickly and unexpectedly. None of the parties involved struck any sort of cord of recognition, however, shortly after it commenced it became clear it was a fight between good and evil. Maybe that should have clued me in that my mind was not functioning normally. But I have always been one to see and experience as much of life as possible. So I was outside, where it was dangerous, and that fact had to be true on every level.

There was a beautiful Asian woman squatting down amid a long row of blooming butterfly ginger. Every few seconds one of the gibbering underlings I identified as fighting for evil ran down the sidewalk, and past the butterfly ginger. The Asian woman sprang to her feet each time, and with a hand held crescent moon blade beheaded each and every one of them, which took three or four seconds. There was a pile of heads collecting neatly between the sidewalk and the street.

I walked down the sidewalk, but did not notice the heads or the woman until I was right on top of it all. She smiled at me right before she beheaded another. The man's head fell into a mud puddle. His mouth open and closed, vainly sucking for air for a second or two, before it rolled face down into the shallow water. The ginger flowers smelled delicious. 

There was blood on my shirt from from the violence. I have not washed the shirt yet. The blood is still there.

Witnessing that, whatever it was, dream, hallucination, message from God, message from a devil, sent me into sort of a trance. I can't fight at all, but when somebody stepped in front of me as I walked back to the driveway I caught him around the neck with my elbow and threw my body forward and squatted. I heard his head hit the pavement with a sickening thump. People were yelling at me, “He was trying to protect you!!”

I felt nauseous down to my toes and headed for my front door. Across the street a kid I know (somebody in his younger twenties), must have had a small knife. He broke down somebody's defenses and cut holes in the man's cheeks before blinding him in one eye. I've never seen a beheading before, but that sort of nasty street fighting is something I did witness numerous times when I was in college. Thankfully the mean streets of Baton Rouge are a thousand times safer these days than when I was young; young people don't deserve to see such things.

I'm never going to write about all the things I saw. For one thing, I knew most of it wasn't real, and I have no interest in relaying stupid games my subconscious might play. For another thing, even I got bored, and if it bored me I can't imagine what sort of negative reaction a reader might have. Lastly, I tried to tune a lot of it out, and so I missed a lot of details that would have made the following events into a coherent story. I tried to paint a vague outline, but the details all strike me as stupid, and so I deleted it. There is one thing I'd like to mention though.

My paternal grandfather died when I was six years old. He and my grandmother were raisin me at the time. He taught me how to speak, how to whistle like birds, how to make my bed, straighten up, get cleaned up and brush my teeth, from the age of two. He taught me how to read, and was teaching me to draw when he passed away. He was a brilliant artist, although he worked in the petrochemical industry here most of his life (work for which he received numerous awards for innovation). I think my ability to draw was stunted because of his abrupt absence; my abilities never progressed beyond what they were at the age of six.

There was a chair in our living room on Archery Drive that grandfather would sit in early in the morning. After I would wake up, make the bed, wash my face and brush my teeth, I would walk into the living room. I would walk straight to the chair to see him. I could not see him sitting in the chair as I approached from the bedrooms. He was a small man, and it was a large chair, but he would always be there when I woke up. And we would begin the experiences of another wonderful day on God's green earth, as such is every day when one is a child.

After grandfather passed away, for a long time I walked to the chair in the living room hoping he would be there again, but he never was. It was just an empty chair. Whenever I passed crowds of people I would look for him, but I never saw him again. I never forgot him. I never forgot his face or the way he walked.

On the night of October 4th I received a message from my father and grandfather. It was not a message in the conventional sense. I have no desire to relate the manner in which I received the message, nor the contents thereof. I will say that there was one overriding, imperative theme. Life is power. Life is power. Everything else I experienced that night stands out like a hollow tall tale told by jaded old men sitting around a campfire whiling away the time until sleep comes to clean the slate.

Life is power. I'll probably write an explanation as to why that phrase holds special meaning for me, but for now it is enough just to say it. There is no power in death. Life is the only show in town.






Whistleblowing


There has been a prank effort afoot to convince the gullible that a secret society of Catholics actually get three lives instead of one. We simply become invisible to mere mortals after using up the first life, goes the lie. The world's most gullible person recently came into contact with this tall tale. The results were hilarious, not at all. My dignity was shred to pieces, and I looked like a fool very recently. So not new. The sad part of this story is that it caused me to question my belief that we can die hundreds of times. I caught myself thinking stupidly, and so I am blowing the whistle on the only person I know for sure to have been at fault here. But to be clear, we only die once. Once. [wink wink say no more]


Off to the Races

There was a little shindig here, on camera, five days ago. One of my few surviving family members, God bless his soul, decided to teach me a lesson. With the cooperation of every contact connected to me that he could produce, and the help of a nearby neighbor with underworld ties, they threw me a party. It seemed like a fun thing, until it became apparent it wasn't a party in my honor. Of course I was aware of none of the details at the time.

A large retinue of bongo beating Asian martial artists arrived just as all the fun started to take on a sinister tone. Fights broke out outside in about a dozen places. There were people who barely made it away from here with their lives, but some of them may never be the same again. I was lucky. My closest friend in the underworld, and a few of my close friends who are nothing but intelligent and righteous, happened to be here. Thanks to their assistance I did not join the casualty list.

By morning there was almost no evidence anything happened here, but I would stake my life on the fact that a few people died out in the street here that night. Their brethren carried the bodies away, just as police began locking down all the streets. As far as I know nobody was arrested. It happened so fast all the major carnage was over before the first siren could be heard. All participants vanished into the woodwork before the hammer of justice could fall.

If it weren't for the close friends I had here who were witnesses, I would say I dreamed the entire thing. That and the fact that there were ongoing confrontations in broad daylight the next day between neighborhood attendees. I would never question the validity of any of my memories on the subject, except for some extenuating circumstances.

I ate some food that some people brought. I did not know, but it was laced with high content THC. I have not partaken of weed voluntarily in a good long while, but I found myself laughing like a school kid at the stupidest things, for days. That sort of clued me in. There were other substances involved in lacing the food and drink given to me (none of which was alcoholic – I no longer drink).

Late that Saturday night, after the streets were empty, the evidence that I had also been dosed with a hallucinogen piled up so high it became impossible to ignore. Demons and devils and vast enactments of a damned infernal play paraded through my studio house. This was not some average, run of the mill, childish foray into seeing pretty colors and watching moving objects leave tracers. This was a divine “comedy” (read “horror”), and the subject matter had at its heart a concerted effort to take me down to hell.

I called bullshit on the whole thing. I disbelieved and conquered all fear. I time and again changed my surroundings to prove the hallucinations were just that, but they just kept coming. I'm not going to go into the details of all I saw and heard, except to say that Tuesday night, October 7, I did finally lose my composure and walked as quickly as I could to the nearest Catholic church (2 miles away). I spent the entire night hunkered down in the vestibule, waiting for dawn for what by then was evil incarnate and a huge entourage of minions to be burned away in the sunlight. One must never look at them by choice, but by the time it is very difficult not to see them one is in very real danger.

Today, five days later, it finally stopped. I don't know who did that to me, but they should know something. Dosing somebody with a pupil enlarger is the lowest, most cruel thing somebody can do to a former user. I harbor them no ill will. I just hope that one day they realize the absolutely wrong nature of their actions, and that the full weight of guilt opens their eyes.

I spent many long years recovering from the horrors of hard core drug addiction. I have always been a Catholic, but these days I am devout. I will likely spend the rest of my life atoning for all the stupid things I have done, all the most heavy of which have nothing to do with earthly law. And maybe I should explain that.

I wanted to open a portal into the underworld in order to learn secrets kept there, and I did open the portal. I entered but was not able to leave unscathed. I barely retained my sanity. I learned enough to fight against the power of evil when it comes looking for me, although when the oldest evils come there is no way to fight, flight is the only option. Either that or absolute motionlessness until the sun is well above the horizon, and I am too crippled to remain motionless that long.

I tried not to learn chants and calls and counter calls for games devils play, but I learned that damnation is a very real thing. I was forgiven for my actions, and then I was absolved, but I still feel the need to atone and continue making amends, because the things I did were the weightiest, most dangerous things a human being can do. If I had not been either innocent or in good graces, each time something like this happened, there is no doubt in my mind the best that could have been hoped for was that my body would have been found later.

I could not give a rat's ass if readers believe me. I hope you don't. I hope you think this is a hokey, assed up attempt to get attention, or that I am simply insane. Because that means you won't try to do any of the things I did. I will never give clues about how I learned, nor will I ever provide any assistance of any kind to imperil another person's soul. Also, just to be fair, there is a 99.9% chance this is mere insanity, and even if it isn't me who is that, the entire thing is definitely crazy. I call it life.

I urge you to cast aside any immature problems you may have with religion, and at least make an effort to get in God's good graces. You never know when something might happen to you, some accident, if there is such a thing, or some act against you. What could it possibly hurt to give yourself a little insurance? Nothing. It could only help you, at the worst.




Cosmologos I


The Battle Between Good and Evil, All Personal Like

Do you still remember that subatomic freeze
hint: not involuntary
When you took what you hoped was not your last breath
On your knees while frightening things occurred to you?
You prayed for the stupid to surrender, dead and demonic though they be,
And for dead men to be pleased,
And for your tarnished soul to somehow become shiny again in an instant.

The problem with the stupid is stupidity.
Of course they wouldn't surrender.
Someone taught them a gun in the mouth was delicious,
And so we come to the dead man.
Even beyond the grave you sought paternal approval.


Though distracted by his frieze
(what I have decided to call His creation in its entirety when examined in a frozen moment.
I also decided to name it. I hope I don't get in trouble for this. Detention is quite harsh.
The Perfection of all Things in their Ultimate, Unveiled Form”)

Sleep panic crept out of the nuclei.
Hint: that freeze was involuntary
Weakness left the mind, shift ended, determination's turn.
Creatures from the Unspeakable Dimension hate... Hate
All the good people of Earth.
An heroic weapon must be crafted to defeat them:
A set of treatises that correct readers' past perceptions
Regarding the Holy Trinity, this author's beliefs and, as fans,
What they really should consider the best way to act and the best things to believe.
It shall be named!
Christianity for Ultra Dummies

[I am the original ultra dummy. Nya nya nya nya nya, called it. (Somewhere a loudspeaker: “Sure, you were the first.”)]





Formalities:
1. Jesus Christ died for our sins. His Dad gets super mad if anyone takes that lightly, like by calling it a formality. Even He gets angry if that fact is disbelieved or ignored.
2. The Ten Commandments may have been handed down in the Old Testament, but as it turns out they continue to hold weight after the arrival of the New Testament. “An eye for an eye” went out the window. Walk right through the door with unpaid for goods, though, and losing an eye may still come of it. [Goes without saying, right? lol]
3. One can generally screw up, often and hugely, and still things will work out, at the time. Eventually, however, all the little details become huge, and all the big issues become life or death or larger. The best thing to do is do everything right the first time, and continue to do everything right until the end of all your time. If that is impossible due to a bad case of derpis maximus, believe it will become an issue of: “Do it right this time, or this is your last time to do anything.”
4. Heaven is light on cash. Nothing is free, except salvation, and even it starts to come with a cost if you need it too much. The cost could be your assistance (the nice person way), or the cost could be... well, I wouldn't know.
5. Fifth, and finally, lip service will get one damned (translation: the ultimate ban). Sooner or later one will either be sincere in one's heart, or one's heart will be gone. Congratulations to all the people this would never apply to. We are the best sort of people, after all.




The Holier Than Thou Column

in which I attempt to give advice about things I am absolutely not qualified to give advice about, because I think it is the right thing to do. Luckily I am so unqualified the advice I try to give may be about things nobody has ever thought about giving advice about before, and so may accidentally become useful. Sadly, being unqualified and an idiot means this section will likely be very short.

  1. Never trust yourself in religious dilemmas. Always seek the input of an actual member of the clergy if something is really bothering you. That's the correct advice. Nobody ever gave me that advice. The closest thing I ever got was, “Talk to your parents.” I never took that advice. Any problem I had that would have required me talking to my parents would likely have been troublesome enough to get shuffled off to the other parent... if I had ever taken the initial advice, which, again, I didn't. So, let's just skip the dumb part and say, “If your head is really all messed up, please talk to your priest about it.” This may not apply to protestant religions. I am not sure.
  2. Never leave the stove on when you leave the house. I am qualified to say that, at least.

End column.




The Immaculate Misconception

The bad blood between protestants and Catholics began in the old world. Sadly a lot of real hatred came out of it. Hatred carries with it an express elevator to evil. It is a very powerful emotion, and is very difficult to vanquish. So not surprisingly there are still swirls and eddies of ill feeling here in the new world between protestants and Catholics. I have never encountered a Christian here in America who would fault somebody for the brand of their faith, but I have met protestants who were taught some strange things about Catholics.

The most common weirdness I have found involves the virgin Mary. There are those who believe Catholics worship the virgin Mary. Praying to the mother of our savior does not constitute worship, especially considering those prayers are only a portion of the prayers that Catholics offer up to the heavens. I find it odd that there are those who would not include Mary in their prayers, but I have theories as to why.

First and foremost, male hegemony becomes very pronounced in some protestant denominations. Women are very nearly seen as chattel in a number of faiths. I'm very much on record as an advocate for the rights of women, so my thoughts about treating them as chattel could not be clearer. To bring the point back home, some protestants find prayers to Mary offensive. To categorize those prayers as worship is basically a derogatory way of expressing either: their feelings of superiority for refusing to bend a knee even to the mother of God because she was a woman, or a subconsciously perceived threat to masculine superiority, or simple misogyny.

Sometimes Catholics also offer up a prayer to a saint. Saints deal with very specific issues. Again, this is not worship. It is a prayer to God with the intercession of a holy being who specializes in the subject of the prayer. If a mother prays for her child to make a safe journey, then as a protestant she makes the plea to God and is done. As a Catholic she would also pray to God, but she might also pray for Saint Christopher to speak to God on her behalf, and do everything in his power as a Saint, because she wants all the help she can get for her prayers to help her child arrive safely. We all worship God, but some of us reach out to those who surround God and ask for help from them as well. It's as simple as that.

It is a very old tradition to light a flame for our ancestors, and for the living. The Chinese have been doing this for thousands of years. So have Catholics. For this practice to receive criticism indicates a high level of ignorance, and that sort of prejudice really does not deserve much consideration. There is no cure for stupid.

Educated minds see through cultural prejudices and misconceptions. In a better world, the educated help those who have not had the good fortune to have learned to be equinanimous. With humility and respect it is possible to change the minds of even the stubborn. My writing is hardly a vehicle for such change. Unfortunately I have spent far too much time baiting the bulls for the kill to try to gentle them down at this point. But you, as the reader, have the luxury of being able to go through life respectful and intelligent, to make the world a better place, a place free of prejudice.




One Day, During Catechism

I grew up, as a child, two blocks from St. Thomas Moore elementary school in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Even from that distance I could hear the screaming and gnashing of teeth as young children were flayed alive and lowered into hot oil, er, I mean the sound of happy playing youngsters. Catholic private school has always had a reputation for instilling discipline in students, but I have never met anyone who complained about it. Apparently it doesn't take very much disciplining for a student to never step out of line again. Either that or I just hung around with goodie goodies growing up (likely).

I wanted to attend that school. My grandparents wanted me to attend that school. I believe my father too wanted me to attend that school. As luck would have it, my mother fought her way out of her years long drug and alcohol fueled stupor just in time to take me away from my paternal family and place me in public school. She did it through the courts, but I will write my tirade about that at another time. This is about the difference between Catholic school and public school.

Ah, public school, where my first language (Spanish) was forbidden, and where fat kids with speech impediments like me were the favorite punching bag toy of every fit boy during recesses. Children aren't supposed to go to hell. That's funny, because I could have sworn the devil was outside every recess enjoying the shit out of himself.

We played games. Soccer was the game where I tried to run up and down the field, but mostly got stuck breathlessly stumbling back and forth around midfield. The other boys were careful to keep me near the action, otherwise they could not run up and kick me in the legs one after another, every pass. Football was even more fun. Those flags were mostly just a guideline, it seemed. There were a million reasons I wound up on the ground that had nothing to do with bullying. I have to hand it to those kids. They could think on their feet.

When my paternal grandmother, Wilma Day, found out about all the fun “sports” a tactical nuclear bomb went off in the principal's office, which leads to another exciting story about hell. Some of the boys got in trouble. I believe witnesses were called in, because I did not tell on anyone, and yet the most egregious offenders were identified. They did get in trouble. They did not take it laying down.

One day we all went out to recess. I had to go to the bathroom in the middle, so I went back inside, tinkled, and went back outside. Not long after “class” resumed I was called to the office. Someone had smeared feces all over the walls of the bathroom I went to during recess. The janitor saw me go in the bathroom and leave, and had seen nobody else. I was accused of the dirty deed. The principal eviscerated me in the office. Nothing I said in my defense made any difference. I was summarily paddled and my mother called (her full custody meant my father was not involved). The napalm and 50 cal gun turrets didn't make it to the school until I managed to talk to Wilma on the phone that afternoon. All that accomplished was a principal whose face had lost several layers of skin, but you get the picture.

God and a kindhearted teacher named Mrs. Moore ended my stay there in the abyss. My grades had been abysmal. That's because they weren't teaching me anything. I was reading at college level in the fourth grade. My teacher recognized my absolute boredom and asked that I be tested for special programs. I was removed from the reach of the bullies and savages and placed in the Gifted and Talented Program. My poor sister was not so lucky. Though she was just as intelligent as I, she was slightly dyslexic and could never have aced all the tests to be placed in the program.
Meanwhile, in Catholic school, children were taught at the level that fit their intelligence. Bullying may have existed, but those students had to contend with their guilt in the eyes of God and all their ancestors in heaven. They were being taught the finer points of the beauty of God's great plan alongside reading the classics, advanced mathematics and science. Yes, Catholic schools teach science. Most of the Luddite hatred of science comes from the protestant sector. Recesses did not involve human punching bags, and circle jerks were something Catholic school boys would have found absolutely disgusting, and rightfully so.

I did not have the good fortune to attend Catholic school. I had been plucked from a happy, spiritually clean environment and imprisoned in a home with a Baptist seminary washout for a stepfather. I was forced to attend Baptist church on Sundays, where I learned about true ignorance, bigotry, racism and hatred. I believe they hoped to make me one of their own, but they were too late. I had become too intelligent, and had learned too much about the beauty of true spirituality before the Baptists got me.

I did get baptized, but I had already been Christened. The members of the church all wanted to know if I felt the power of the holy ghost when it happened. I didn't talk much, same as now. I'm certain I mumbled something that made the questions stop.

By contrast, the first time I received the holy communion, years later, I felt as though I had been shot between the eyes by a diamond of pure energy. The sensation was staggering. I have never been a religious person. It was not a feeling I conjured into existence with zealous hopefulness. It existed all by itself.

To end this long and pointed story, I feel somewhat deprived because I was not able to attend catechism. I did not receive a formal Catholic religious education. I love my mother too much to blame her, because she meant well. The law and the courts, on the other hand, I blame with every fiber of my being. My hatred of the law... well, that's another story.




An Obscure Take on Testaments

The difference between life before Jesus and life after Jesus' birth has always been presented to me as ideological. The shift in religious values and doctrines always seems to occupy the language of sermons and discussions and debate when dealing with the difference between the Old and New Testaments of the Bible. There is a widely ignored aspect of the shift in reality that has never been brought before me by any man educated in the word of God: The physical aspect.

Before Jesus sacrificed Himself for humanity the pantheons of good and evil sometimes walked the earth in physical form. God approached Abraham in physical form. There were numerous instances of angels approaching humans in the flesh. Needless to say, the minions of evil took physical form and strode the earth as well. As far as I know there is no record of any of those wonderful entities or those things touching a human, as that has always been forbidden) but they weren't apparitions. They could be seen and spoken with just as though they were human. That made their power in the earthly realm exponentially greater.

The next time any of you have a vision or a nightmare, of good or of evil, just consider this. If Jesus had not sacrificed Himself to save us, then you would not have been able to use your mind to break free from the experience. Instead of a frightening thing your mind experienced, you would have been face to face with a tangible being.

Imagine encountering the most dangerous murderer who ever lived and then wanting to get away; then imagine the murderer could find you anywhere, at any time, to speak with you if he/she so desired, and not the police, but only a holy man could get rid of them. Now think of who made that impossible. His name is Jesus Christ. If you have it in you, then you should thank Him as often as you can. If you don't, one day you may find the things I am writing about are not the least bit imaginary.



Note: I will be continuing this entry as a series.




 
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