This page has moved to a new address.

Dinner with My Ex

body { background:#aba; margin:0; padding:20px 10px; text-align:center; font:x-small/1.5em "Trebuchet MS",Verdana,Arial,Sans-serif; color:#333; font-size/* */:/**/small; font-size: /**/small; } /* Page Structure ----------------------------------------------- */ /* The images which help create rounded corners depend on the following widths and measurements. If you want to change these measurements, the images will also need to change. */ @media all { #content { width:740px; margin:0 auto; text-align:left; } #main { width:485px; float:left; background:#fff url("") no-repeat left bottom; margin:15px 0 0; padding:0 0 10px; color:#000; font-size:97%; line-height:1.5em; } #main2 { float:left; width:100%; background:url("") no-repeat left top; padding:10px 0 0; } #main3 { background:url("") repeat-y; padding:0; } #sidebar { width:240px; float:right; margin:15px 0 0; font-size:97%; line-height:1.5em; } } @media handheld { #content { width:90%; } #main { width:100%; float:none; background:#fff; } #main2 { float:none; background:none; } #main3 { background:none; padding:0; } #sidebar { width:100%; float:none; } } /* Links ----------------------------------------------- */ a:link { color:#258; } a:visited { color:#666; } a:hover { color:#c63; } a img { border-width:0; } /* Blog Header ----------------------------------------------- */ @media all { #header { background:#456 url("") no-repeat left top; margin:0 0 0; padding:8px 0 0; color:#fff; } #header div { background:url("") no-repeat left bottom; padding:0 15px 8px; } } @media handheld { #header { background:#456; } #header div { background:none; } } #blog-title { margin:0; padding:10px 30px 5px; font-size:200%; line-height:1.2em; } #blog-title a { text-decoration:none; color:#fff; } #description { margin:0; padding:5px 30px 10px; font-size:94%; line-height:1.5em; } /* Posts ----------------------------------------------- */ .date-header { margin:0 28px 0 43px; font-size:85%; line-height:2em; text-transform:uppercase; letter-spacing:.2em; color:#357; } .post { margin:.3em 0 25px; padding:0 13px; border:1px dotted #bbb; border-width:1px 0; } .post-title { margin:0; font-size:135%; line-height:1.5em; background:url("") no-repeat 10px .5em; display:block; border:1px dotted #bbb; border-width:0 1px 1px; padding:2px 14px 2px 29px; color:#333; } a.title-link, .post-title strong { text-decoration:none; display:block; } a.title-link:hover { background-color:#ded; color:#000; } .post-body { border:1px dotted #bbb; border-width:0 1px 1px; border-bottom-color:#fff; padding:10px 14px 1px 29px; } html>body .post-body { border-bottom-width:0; } .post p { margin:0 0 .75em; } { background:#ded; margin:0; padding:2px 14px 2px 29px; border:1px dotted #bbb; border-width:1px; border-bottom:1px solid #eee; font-size:100%; line-height:1.5em; color:#666; text-align:right; } html>body { border-bottom-color:transparent; } em { display:block; float:left; text-align:left; font-style:normal; } a.comment-link { /* IE5.0/Win doesn't apply padding to inline elements, so we hide these two declarations from it */ background/* */:/**/url("") no-repeat 0 45%; padding-left:14px; } html>body a.comment-link { /* Respecified, for IE5/Mac's benefit */ background:url("") no-repeat 0 45%; padding-left:14px; } .post img { margin:0 0 5px 0; padding:4px; border:1px solid #ccc; } blockquote { margin:.75em 0; border:1px dotted #ccc; border-width:1px 0; padding:5px 15px; color:#666; } .post blockquote p { margin:.5em 0; } /* Comments ----------------------------------------------- */ #comments { margin:-25px 13px 0; border:1px dotted #ccc; border-width:0 1px 1px; padding:20px 0 15px 0; } #comments h4 { margin:0 0 10px; padding:0 14px 2px 29px; border-bottom:1px dotted #ccc; font-size:120%; line-height:1.4em; color:#333; } #comments-block { margin:0 15px 0 9px; } .comment-data { background:url("") no-repeat 2px .3em; margin:.5em 0; padding:0 0 0 20px; color:#666; } .comment-poster { font-weight:bold; } .comment-body { margin:0 0 1.25em; padding:0 0 0 20px; } .comment-body p { margin:0 0 .5em; } .comment-timestamp { margin:0 0 .5em; padding:0 0 .75em 20px; color:#666; } .comment-timestamp a:link { color:#666; } .deleted-comment { font-style:italic; color:gray; } .paging-control-container { float: right; margin: 0px 6px 0px 0px; font-size: 80%; } .unneeded-paging-control { visibility: hidden; } /* Profile ----------------------------------------------- */ @media all { #profile-container { background:#cdc url("") no-repeat left bottom; margin:0 0 15px; padding:0 0 10px; color:#345; } #profile-container h2 { background:url("") no-repeat left top; padding:10px 15px .2em; margin:0; border-width:0; font-size:115%; line-height:1.5em; color:#234; } } @media handheld { #profile-container { background:#cdc; } #profile-container h2 { background:none; } } .profile-datablock { margin:0 15px .5em; border-top:1px dotted #aba; padding-top:8px; } .profile-img {display:inline;} .profile-img img { float:left; margin:0 10px 5px 0; border:4px solid #fff; } .profile-data strong { display:block; } #profile-container p { margin:0 15px .5em; } #profile-container .profile-textblock { clear:left; } #profile-container a { color:#258; } .profile-link a { background:url("") no-repeat 0 .1em; padding-left:15px; font-weight:bold; } ul.profile-datablock { list-style-type:none; } /* Sidebar Boxes ----------------------------------------------- */ @media all { .box { background:#fff url("") no-repeat left top; margin:0 0 15px; padding:10px 0 0; color:#666; } .box2 { background:url("") no-repeat left bottom; padding:0 13px 8px; } } @media handheld { .box { background:#fff; } .box2 { background:none; } } .sidebar-title { margin:0; padding:0 0 .2em; border-bottom:1px dotted #9b9; font-size:115%; line-height:1.5em; color:#333; } .box ul { margin:.5em 0 1.25em; padding:0 0px; list-style:none; } .box ul li { background:url("") no-repeat 2px .25em; margin:0; padding:0 0 3px 16px; margin-bottom:3px; border-bottom:1px dotted #eee; line-height:1.4em; } .box p { margin:0 0 .6em; } /* Footer ----------------------------------------------- */ #footer { clear:both; margin:0; padding:15px 0 0; } @media all { #footer div { background:#456 url("") no-repeat left top; padding:8px 0 0; color:#fff; } #footer div div { background:url("") no-repeat left bottom; padding:0 15px 8px; } } @media handheld { #footer div { background:#456; } #footer div div { background:none; } } #footer hr {display:none;} #footer p {margin:0;} #footer a {color:#fff;} /* Feeds ----------------------------------------------- */ #blogfeeds { } #postfeeds { padding:0 15px 0; }

Friday, May 13, 2011

Dinner with My Ex

When I was ending my ten-year drug run, I had a few items left to accomplish. Think, like, a junkie bucket list.  One of these was to shoot up Holy Water.  So I went into a local church, filled up a vial, brought it back to my room, and injected it.  Now, never-mind that I'd willingly shot sitting water rife with bacteria in which countless dirty hands had dipped dirty little fingers. The only important part (besides being incredibly stupid) was how much I hated the mere thought of God.  I thought atheists were too soft, such was my disdain.

So how is it, eleven years later, I've returned to my faith?  How am I getting married in the same church where my son was baptized and I now write for the monthly newsletter?

Before I answer that burning question, let me first say a few things.  One, I've been planning to write this particular piece for a while but have hemmed, hedged and hawed, because let's face it: admitting to being a Christian these days, 
especially in the SF Bay Area?  Doesn't exactly engender feelings of cool. About as hip as saying I've joined a country rap band. Then again, as Mike "Soupy" Supinksi once told my wife-to-be and I in Colorado, "Actually, that's pretty punk rock when you stop to think about it."

Well, only if you don't think about it too hard.

That's kind of religion in general, isn't it?  Can't think about it too hard. Because that shit is an intellectual stretch.  I mean, virgin birth?  Rising from the dead?  Walking on water?  Tough to swallow.  For even the most fervent.

If politics can be divisive, what about religion?  (Seriously, what 
about religion, Jimmy/Duane?  Am I OK on this one?)  Let me me get something else out of the way: I am not associated with the Bible-toting Cast-thee-out-of-Eden denizens.  If heaven really takes all the people who claim to get to go there, trust me, that is the last place I want to be.  Most people who call themselves Christians sort of suck balls.  I don't want to be associated with the Fred Phelps or Pat Robertsons of the world.  Christianity has been commandeered by rich, old, white dudes.  Which is extra fucked up, since they already own damn near everything in this life, which apparently isn't good enough; they want the afterlife too.  It's a twist on the Groucho: I don't want to be part of any club that would have those fucktards as a member.

So what do we have?  A faith that doesn't hold up to scrutiny, that can only be copped to without he greatest degree of trepidation, whose constituency I generally deplore, and I get to inherit a lineage of oppression, barbarism, and persecution?

Not exactly.  I'm Episcopalian.

For those of you not familiar with what being a Berkeley Episcopalian entails, I offer this chart: 

  • Atheist
  • Agnostic
  • Episcopalian

OK.  Not exactly.  But Episcopalians don't do a lot of finger waggling; we ain't too big on the whole "sinning" part.  Think: Catholic Light or I Can't Believe It's Not Catholic.  The rector at our church is gay, as is the pastor marrying Justine and I in a few weeks.  Reason and Logic are strongly encouraged, atheists, non-believers, and thinkers welcome.  Sort of like a giant AA meeting: take what you can use, leave the rest.

And there is a lot I am going to leave when it comes to mainstream Christianity, namely the condemnation of homosexuality, which has always been a load of hate-mongering horseshit. Anyone who knows the Bible can tell you, there are a fuckton of contradictions, and when they occur in different Testaments, New supersedes Old, and Jesus doesn't talk about being gay, so you can drop that shit right now.  All that "men laying with men" stuff (of which, I think, there are, like, four brief references) occurs alongside passages saying if you wear a shirt of mixed fabric you're going to hell (Leviticus and Deuteronomy).  Using a book that preaches acceptance and redemption for the most marginalized and oppressed in support of further oppressing and marginalizing said group is all kinds of fucked up.  Besides, taking the Bible at verbatim is sort of like this

OK, I'm about to answer the question.  Why do I now include myself in a group that has (besides my wife and I) exactly one cool member (Anne Lamott)?


Or, rather, lack thereof.  As in, I ain't that fucking lucky.

I've got it pretty good, man.  I lived a reckless, wild, (largely) immoral life, and I escaped with my looks, no diseases, and this award-winning sunny disposition (well, two out of three ain't bad).  I've been given a second chance, with a beautiful wife, terrific son, and a house high in the hills.  I do what I want every day.  Aside from not having my book deal, I couldn't ask for more (and my agent, Michele, swears that is just a matter of time, but even if it doesn't happen, so what? I get to write every day, and some people even like this blog. And I don't think "gimme gimme" is what it's all about anyway). I got tired of taking credit for my good fortune.  I got tired of proclaiming my hatred of God, and yet when I'd find myself in the State Police Barracks, felony warrant out for my arrest and looking at serious jail time, I'd be the first to drop on my knees and ask for help.  Just like I'd ask for help with the various junkie disease tests or when there were complications with the pregnancy or when there was a chance I could lose my leg after the accident.  I'd ask for help.  And help was always given.  And if there's one thing I despise more than organized religion, it's hypocrisy.  In fact, that is why I hate religion.  It is populated with hypocrites, the Do As I Say While I Go Get Blown in the Men's Restroom types. I don't want to be a hypocrite.  I am bringing being a Christian cool back.

Probably not.

I am not a rah-rah proselytizing kind of guy.  I'm not interested in converting jackshit.  That's your soul, man.  But it is the height of hubris to assign random chance or personal prowess to wins and losses, so I now return from whence I came, where I never really left.  Because I've always felt...something, however misguided I got.

The truth is, I give my lovely wife-to-be, Justine, a lot of credit on this one.  

Justine tells a story of being on the Camino Santiago in Spain, a 450-mile pilgrimage, she took a couple years before she met me.  On her own, walking on severely blistered, raw and infected feet, Justine found herself many weeks into her journey at her breaking point.  She stepped into an old Spanish church. She talks about pleading with God to be accepted.  This is the part that always gets me.  She said, and I'm paraphrasing, "I know I'll never be the kind of Christian you want, but I want to believe," and at that point she says she felt a terrific warmth come over her, and a voice that said, "I love you as you are."  

Now a cynic would say that was merely self-fulfilling prophesy.  I mean, that's what I would've thought years ago.  And God knows I've never felt that warmth, which I've been searching for all my life.  I so want to feel that.  There is a quote from Razor's Edge by Somerset Maugham that I love:

"His cheating and his bitterness were the revolt of his will against (...) a deep-rooted instinct of holiness, against a desire for God that terrified and yet obsessed him."

That's me.  That's why I lived the way I lived.  Pursing the same thing I was running from.

Not that the reunion has been all sunshine and puppy dogs.  

I liken my return to the faith of my youth sort of like having dinner with your ex.  There are a lot of wounds that still fester, some conversation topics you can't yet broach.  But after years of bitter acrimony, there you are again, sitting together for a meal, talking again with someone who once meant everything to you, growing, repairing the damage, and it feels good to let go of some of that anger that's been eating away at you...

And I'm hoping I'm accepted for what I am.  Because I am still a fucked-up, hardheaded oddball, and I hurt as many days as I don't.  And it is never easy. I'm just tired of pretending I've been fighting this battle on my own.  Because I ain't that good.  


At May 12, 2011 at 9:02 AM , Blogger DSobczak said...

Joe, I personally don't find Religious discussion as bad as politics, but yes it can be as divisive.

It is actually funny how they parallel. In an older post you mentioned how people tend to get their news from sources that affirm their beliefs. The same can be said for religion. Your mention of homosexuality and the church is probably the greatest example of that.

As Shakespeare said, "The devil can site scripture for his own purpose!"


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home