Tag Archives: Christian Fundamentalism

Where?

“Where is love?

Does it fall from skies, above?

Is it underneath the willow tree

That I’ve been dreaming of?

Where is he?

Who I close my eyes, to see?

Will I ever know

The sweet “hello”

That’s meant for only me?”

.

.

About three weeks ago, I submitted my mind and body to the art of meditation. This was a form foreign to both my personal history with the practice, and distinct from one which had been introduced to me by someone else last summer.

As a child, I was brought into a scenario of contemplative silence every Sunday morning. The room was small, the gathering equally so. Unadorned by icon or precise ritual, this practice was simple: sit, quietly, and think about Jesus on the Cross, dying for the sins of the world.

Naturally, as a very young person, I could only submit to that which I understood. I looked around at everything and everybody, developing keen powers of observation; I listened to every sound, however fleeting or faint; I munched on pretzel sticks, Cheerios and Lucky Charms; and I squirmed, peeling the bare skin of my thighs away from the sticky, plywood seat beneath.

Many years hence, one attempt at a yoga class re-visited the art. But, my body, twisted by scoliosis, resisted cooperating with the shapes it was required to take during the sessions, and I walked away.

A year ago, almost to the day, an old boyfriend briefly re-entered my world. He’d been immersed in the daily ritual, a fervent follower of its most earnest gurus from across the globe. He descended with a pronounced pounce, declaring my shortcomings and every solution to be found in: breathing correctly; sitting correctly; posing correctly; and, most importantly, following correctly his every instruction. I soon tired of his dogma of serenity, jumped back on my feet, and resumed the frenetic, mind-driven personality to which I had become accustomed for a lifetime.

But, last month was different.

First of all, I was highly motivated. This seminar promised to transform our lives. We were assured that any chronic anxieties would dissipate. Any roadblocks to performance success would finally be dismantled. I anticipated this liberation with very great hopefulness.

Sitting still was the clincher. Twenty minutes being my learned limit, not only did we sit so still, we did so for almost two hours at a time. Ever the agitating agitator, I became acutely aware of just how frequently my body adjusted itself in the seat. Every nerve ending was primed to attention. I was teeming with energy, having no apparent place to put it.

We were prompted with a single, verbalized thought: “I am anxious.” No kidding. No shit, Sherlock. But, next, the prompt: “There is a place of anxiety in me.” That was odd. Apparently, the anxiety did not have to own us; rather, we could own a position detached from it. But, first, we had to identify its location, and then its features, and then just recognize it. In silence. Sitting still.

Over the next several days, my mind began the slow process of adjustment. I sat up straight, letting my spine sink into the chair and my feet into the floor. My emotion of the moment was named. I found its place. I felt its energy. And, I sat with it.

The outcome of the seminar met its every claim, fulfilling every promise. I was truly transformed. The demons were expunged. I was healed.

That was last month.

Today, I sit with this emotion. I feel bereft. The one who said he loved me, and I him, is not with me. I have identified the place of forlorn emptiness. I feel its shape, its every aspect. This one is large. It fills most of me, my entire torso, leaving only my appendages to dangle uselessly. Like grief, it fights mightily for every ounce of energy. I struggle to detach from its power. How can love, and the need for it, overtake a person so completely? Where did all this come from, anyway? Didn’t I just write about the whole thing last week?

I speculate. It’s my nature. Perhaps mindfulness practices are only beneficial when the other parts of the human need matrix are already well put together. Perhaps basic needs should be addressed separately. Somebody said awhile ago that music and art are important, but they don’t feed the hungry. Perhaps that is a point well taken.

Oliver sang those lyrics quoted above, in the musical of the same name. He stood, an orphan, looking out at the stars, asking the universe for the most fundamental force in all of life to come into his heart and feed him. Today, I feel like an orphan in the war of love. Even meditation doesn’t succour me. Somebody else is getting the one I need, and accepting that I must endure the reality yet again after two thirds of an average lifetime is just about more than any quiet contemplation can resolve.

So, again today, I will love myself. You’ll pardon my absence. The task is rather enormous. There is a lot of self to love in this room today. Many have said there is too much. Perhaps this is a molting phase so profound that the outcome eludes me. I think I hope so. Right now, the light is faint.

.

.

.

© Ruth Ann Scanzillo

8/25/15

All rights those of the author, whose name appears above this line. Thank you.

littlebarefeetblog.com

Kody’s Wives.

The Plymouth Brethren were, amongst all Christian fundamentalists, the most exclusive; amongst all Bible-believers, the most scholarly; amongst all patriarchal sub-groups, the most suppressive. They raised me. Clearly, I was conceived in the wrong ooze.

When not at this screen penning my life thoughts for all the world to [endure], and avoiding performance deadlines, I binge the occasional Tv series.  And, Kody’s “Sister Wives” has had me since day one.

For benefit of the uninitiated, Kody is a polygamist. Hailing from some derivation of the Mormon throng, he has, to date, four wives. They share some seventeen children, each wife with her own, newly-built home in a cul de sac in a remote corner of Las Vegas.

Meri is Kody’s first wife. Meri and Kody have one daughter, Mariah. Meri is particular, in noticeable need of some degree of control over her domain; even when a whole house is built for her, with no publicly disclosed financial contribution toward it on her part, she still insists that its every angle and accoutrement be exactly as specified. Meri says to the Tv interviewer that she is completely happy in her relationship with Kody. But, although Meri does not say so, I wonder how content or happy Meri is with her life, taken as a whole. Meri may never fully disclose herself. She reminds me of a man I once knew.

Janelle is Kody’s second. I am not privy to the circumstances which have led to Janelle’s appearance on Kody’s scene, having missed the first few episodes and played catch up thereafter. I do however know, and notice, the stark contrast between Janelle and Meri; Janelle is laid back, accepting of the big picture, never sweating the small stuff. While Meri has somewhat of a designer’s aesthetic, Janelle appears to have no regard for any. But, Janelle has produced several children, close in age, and perhaps her hormone panel is what distinguishes her most from Meri. She reminds me of a girl I once knew. Interestingly, Kody has enjoyed a kind of second honeymoon with Janelle, of late, reasons about which we viewers can only wonder. Perhaps Janelle’s active attempts to get her overweight body in shape have inspired her husband. And, Kody has never tired of her kisses – something he’s told the world.

Again, I can’t comment as to the time lapse between Kody’s marriages, only that I must point out that Meri is Kody’s only legal spouse. The other three wives are spiritually committed to him and the family, recognized as his wives only from within the parameters of the belief system they all share. A belief system, namely one they call a faith in God, their heavenly father, and Christ, God’s son. Go. Figure.

As such, I don’t know when or why Christine joined the family. But, Christine also has several children with Kody and, while she seems to struggle with either personality or emotional mood issues, seems equally happy being mother not only to her own but the entire collective of children. At family gatherings, she is clearly the leader, reveling in entertaining them all with carefully planned games and activities. She reminds me of all the good elementary school teachers I have known. I notice that, when Christine goes into her act, Janelle sits back comfortably in her seat on the sofa, and Meri looks on from what seems to be an emotional distance, perhaps with gracious tolerance of what she would otherwise be uninterested to endure. Meri is not a team player or a social animal, and Janelle is just happy to remain quietly entertained. Christine, however, together with Kody, gets highly involved in all the childrens’ reactions and responses whenever the whole family is in the room.

Robyn is wife number four. We can all tell, those of us who have ever been in love or married or both, that Robyn is still enjoying her role as Kody’s newly-wed. She may also be of the belief that her position is powerful. When Kody presents all the wives their custom made jewelry pieces, she makes each wife’s receipt of his gift a matter of her own interest, exuberantly commenting with praise even as the wife in question quietly opens her own gift. Robyn is probably unaware of her own transparency, and we gently forgive her because, well, to expose her might be hurtful or damaging. She reminds me of myself, at about age thirty four.

That was right before I met my ex-husband, and everything changed for me. Before that, I’d felt socially empowered, my career on the rise, important figures in my sphere taking notice, my personal life showing promise. But, we aren’t talking about me, right now.

Or, maybe we are. I have recently, and with significant surprise, fallen in love again. The man who enjoys being the object of my affections claims the same about me. And, he possesses nearly every trait I’ve ever admired or sought in a man, with the possible exception of a degree of inner peace. About that last part, I should probably withhold judgment as, after all, who ever accused me of possessing inner peace?! Nevertheless, he is very nearly the perfect man for me, and I adore him.

I, on the other hand, having been raised by those aforementioned patriarchs, was taught to assume that men in their trek toward becoming Christ-like could achieve a form of sinless perfection; women, of which I had been born to become, would have a far deeper and more individual struggle for value. As such, I hesitate to reveal to my beloved the full scope of my shortcomings. He cannot know the degree to which I see myself as undeserving. He must never know how disparate the woman I was expected to become is from who I really am.

Meantime, it’s compelling to ruminate about the numerous variations on cohabitation which American society tolerates. What about polygamy? What might it be like to have three or four husbands, on my own cul de sac, in a corner of neverland? I am, after all, completely aware that I am probably as particular and socially wary as Meri; as teacherly and child oriented as Christine; as interested in devotion to my man as Robyn, and a real kisser with encroaching weight issues, like Janelle. But, to spend a lifetime with only me, if history is any indicator, would wear a man down to a shell of what he ever thought he could be. I’d easily share him with somebody else, if only to get him out of the house when we both become intolerable. That, I would do.

But, right now, I’ll enjoy my bliss. It’s been a long time coming, indeed. Maybe society will move its unwieldy ass, in the meantime, toward some broader magnanimity. But, I can wait for that.

“Apres Un Reve” beckons from the music stand and my cello sits, quietly floating in resonant frequency with the room, until I am ready to let it sing. The Plymouth Brethren still meet, fewer, yet much more globally integrated than ever before, a haven for the disenfranchised of every culture, still earnestly dictating reality at every breath. And, outside, mainstream society lumbers along, thinking itself the real mover yet, always, about ten years behind the Bohemians, who really know.

Yes; we can wait. About that, we really have no choice. Or, do we?

Two by Two, times Two.

Many of my friends and acquaintances on social media will note my reticence, up until this point, with regard to same sex union. I have always supported same sex union, according to the same theory that I use to support union of any two people for any deeply committed reasons. Unification, on principle, is a good thing, to me – at least, within the context of my capacity for human reasoning.

However, because of a childhood saturated and steeped in Christian Fundamentalism I have struggled for years with the cognitive dissonance that comes with that package; how do I maintain my relationship with devout, faithful, God-fearing family and friends, and publicly support something which I know to be in direct defiance of everything said sub-group of people would have me represent? Naturally, because there has never been an easy solution to that dilemma I have, typically, totally deferred by staying completely o.u.t. of the public conversation.

Today, the conversation has changed.

And, today, I am taken back to the time of Christ, and the subsequent period of years during which the Apostle Paul, subjecting himself to the Holy Spirit, solidified the Christian church.

The church vs. state debate, even among Christian groups, rages; marriage, believed to be ordained by God, is also a law of the state. As such, Christians are directed to give unto “Caesar” that which is his due, and to God, conversely? that which is the domain of Providence.

So, what say ye, when the law it be  a – changin’ ?

Are Christians to assimilate, or accommodate?

It has always seemed both fair and reasonable to me for any two or more people who want to commit to cohabitation to be allowed all the privileges of shared living: domain; insurance coverage; medical power of attorney, for themselves and each other; the works.

Now, the government declares marriage, as a binding law between agreeing parties, no longer discriminatory per gender. Divorce is still an option, under the same jurisdiction, yes? So, it seems that our government has decided to permit the survival of civil liberties, at least in the interests of preserving not love – which can never be controlled, thank you God – but, choice and, perhaps in the interests of social preservation, the survival of the household.

Why can’t everybody start by rallying around that, instead of the impasse of endless debate over belief systems, with their creeds, dogma, and other delineating confinements?

(I was going to touch on plural marriage in this piece, as well, but we all know that topic deserves its own template.)

At the very least this new law, while liberating an ever expanding percentage of the population, will provide a larger field of options – for both future children, and those currently in need – to enjoy stable, loving homes. I would hope that the most anal of alleged Christian apologists would see the good in that, and just shut up about the rest of it. Because the rest of it is really only the domain of the Almighty, anyway; you know, God being the only judge of human behavior, and all that.

Loving one another is all we are charged to do. My mother was fond of telling us all to “get busy”. Maybe we should.

I’d ask for an Amen, but I’ll be expecting an army of well-oiled resisters, instead. So be it. I’m backing off, now. God is more than ready.

.

p.s. and, for those fearless among us (although exclusively O.T. in its “thrust”), I suggest:  https://youtu.be/90_UlLSz6Nc

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

© Ruth Ann Scanzillo

6/26/15  All rights to every written word in this piece those of the author, whose name appears above this line. The video is from YouTube, author Matt Baume.

littlebarefeetblog.com