A Doorway

The veil between worlds unfurled itself and lay open like a door before him. Beyond was the grey space. A muted world where lost souls and marauding spirits linger or hope to find passage into the land of the living. Crudely, a place he called the Deadlands.

He had never come across a doorway through the veil before. The idea seemed impossible, but perhaps, if spirits and souls could slip between worlds, it might be feasible for the process to work the other way around.

There was a hesitation in drawing near the doorway. He had seen through the veil, communicated through it, even banished beings back into it, but never had he trespassed into the Deadlands. What would happen? To him? His physical form?

He took a step forward and paused.

Systemic Racism on Display: SCOTUS on Roe v. Wade

A very intelligent and wise woman, Dr. Wilson, pointed out a lack of citations to provide evidence for the loaded claims made by Supreme Court Justice Samuel “I Hate Women” Alito. I read the passage again with this insight in mind, and that is when I saw it. The old white supremacist language I was raised to speak and hear and understand.

For those who don’t speak fascism, racism, or bigotry in the deeply rooted systemic dialect, I would like to offer a translation.

-Justice Samuel Alito, Initial Draft: Majority Opinion courtesy of Politico.

The lack of citation to provide evidence for his claims is standard practice in the fascist dialect. It is often employed when in the act of committing or supporting evil. Simply, a claim is made and we’re supposed to assume it to be unerringly true—like they do with the Bible.

The phrase “enflamed debate” means their argument is inferior and the claim lacks the weight of merit. In short, they can’t get their way by reason or debate. This is where the phrase “deepened division” comes into play.

Division is a dog whistle to rally defense of something generally indefensible. We don’t call out Uncle-Brother Billy Joe Bob for his racism at Thanksgiving because it would cause division.

Division is the phrase pulled out when fascists no longer want to debate, they just want their way. An example of this is excusing grandma because she grew up in another time, and we can’t reason her out of it, so we just give her a pass so not to cause division.

Where else do you see this use of division to rob power from the people so that it may be used to uphold oppressive structures, systems, and institutions? If you guessed white evangelical churches, you would be solidly right.

Now why do you see that similarity? Well, it’s not coincidental. The relationship between the white evangelical church and white nationalism in America runs deep. While that goes beyond the scope of what I’m doing here, I would invite you to consider how many of these far right wing fascists claim to be Christians. Then, consider all the ways in which these Christians argue for legislation against abortion rights, the entire existence of the LGBTQIA+ community, the poor, and women.

I’m not proud that I can still read white supremacy, but I feel it imperative that I should make very plain what has actually been said here. I would also ask that we pay very close attention to which States enact bans on abortion, birth control, contraceptives, and abortion medication. They’ll probably be the same ones enacting legislation targeting the LGBTQIA+ community and their families. Probably the same ones that are Republican run. Probably the same ones that have a long history with racism/segregation/slavery/lynching. They will probably rank low in education and high in poverty. Probably have some voter suppression history there, too.

Again, this not the scope of this writing, but do take notice of the common connection. GOP, white supremacy, and white evangelical Christianity always seem to be found hanging out at all the same clubs together. Just saying.

Systemic Racism on Display: Tacoma, Washington

Over 40 Cops Arrive After a Washington Sheriff Falsely Claimed a Man Threatened Him.

I share these stories because we need to see how common this is. Racism isn’t in the past, but here and now. It is embedded in our systems and institutions. We can only change these things by voting out the powers that keep these racist systems alive and well.

It is not enough to simply vote out the enabling powers behind life crushing institutions and soul sucking policies; we must replace them with powers willing to transform those structures imbued with racial bias.

If Sedrick Altheimer had been killed, we wouldn’t be reading the story of a racist sheriff doing racist shit—we would be reading stories framing Altheimer out to be a criminal. He nearly became another name for us to say out loud.

Yes. Some will rightly claim this is just speculation, but let me point out a fact in this case—that sheriff isn’t behind bars. He made a call to clearly put Altheimer’s life on the line. The sheriff put out a distress signal to his fellow law enforcers that a badge was in danger. The sheriff intentionally manufactured a scenario which drastically increased the risk to Altheimer.

The sheriff walks. He might be sued, might lose his job, might go bankrupt—but he walks. A black man accused of some minor offense finds themself thrown behind bars to rot. But, the sheriff walks.

It doesn’t have to be this way. We can create a more equitable and free system, but it takes all of us stepping up to vote for real change. We must weed out those who continue to cling to the racially biased structures destroying our neighbors.

At the very least, we ought to demand a system in which even a sheriff is held accountable for attempting to have a man lynched.

The Sheriff & Sedrick Altheimer

Why I Speak Racism with White People

Tiktok’s @jolly_good_ginger shared a video that resonated deeply with me. In fact, if he grew up in an abusive environment and was raised in a cult, I’d think we were the same people. I’m not as good looking as he, but there are some physical similarities. We are both veterans. We are both poetic. And, it seems, we both have a unique insight into race, racism, anti-racism, and the part we’ve played in this very American problem.

Like @jolly_good_ginger, I wasn’t raised around racists, I was raised by them. I was them. And by God’s grace I escaped them, and continue to escape them. It is why I speak about racism with white people. My privilege, my insight, my experience—but especially my whiteness—grants me an open door to discuss these dehumanizing issues with people who refuse to even listen to the “other.” Those who—as Toni Morrison once pointed out—would rather these awful, horrific, and detestable acts of evil against our humanity be kept “drawn behind the veil” to protect our sensibilities.

It is not just our fellow humans who look differently from us that we mistreat. No. Those that are different—whose religion, race, ethnicity, sexuality, identity, poverty (that is, their poorness), family make up, etc., etc., etc. are “wrong”—we treat with the utmost indignity.

Let me draw the veil completely open. That which I shame are the same things I practiced. I speak to white supremacy with intimate knowledge which no amount of propaganda can ever dissuade—which can no longer dissuade.

And before any accuse me of suffering from “white guilt” caused by “CRT,” as some who cannot even spell “CRT” have already accused me, let me offer this:

Repentance is the turning away from something—an act, behavior, habit, etc.—in agreement that the thing from which you repented is wrong. This boldness of bigotry and racism in the American 21st century is wrong—is evil—and if I say nothing, do nothing, then I am equally culpable in that evil. If I go on pretending not to notice it because it doesn’t “hurt me directly”—which it does—then my repentance is nothing and my growth as a human being is a sham.

Those who have experienced, and repented from, the side of the aggressor like @jolly_good_ginger and myself, have an obligation to speak up not only of the blatant racial and bigoted injustice that plagues America, but of the tactics and strategies used by whites to further sustain and uphold white supremacy.

Racism, and all the other prejudices borne out of white supremacy, is not solely the problem of its victims. White supremacy dehumanizes all of us—transforms us into animals and a means of profit for a system which benefits only a few. This problem is a problem for all of us.

Christless Christian Nationalism on the Homefront

The Adventure Church/Tower District battle in Fresno, California has been, and continues to be, a glaring example of evangelical Christianity’s relationship with white supremacy, colonialism, and American nationalism. There were a number of red flags in this situation from a moral, ethical, and theological perspective.

One problematic example which stands out is that particular cult’s relationship with the white supremacist group ‘Proud Boys.’ When the modern KKK comes to defend your cause, it would do well to review and analyze your cause. One might ask, “why is a hate group so interested in supporting me?” Or perhaps it would be worth the time to consider what a designated terrorist group finds so attractive about the church in question.

Secondly, Adventure Church’s hostility, belligerence, and cruelty demonstrated a behavior which might arguably be called ‘the spirit of the antichrist.’ At the very least, it appears to indicate an absence of Christ among both the congregation and its pastor.

For example, the excessively loud and obnoxious ‘Christian music’ blasted through oversized speakers to harass the homeless seems to be far from any sort of Christ-likeness. The unwillingness to love the community and the intentional injury caused to the Tower District’s community echo more the behaviors attributed to the Sadducees and Pharisees in the Gospel of Matthew than of Christ.

Honestly, I suspect the whole stunt was an attempt to follow through with a decades long wet dream of area wide evangelical (nationalist) churches to slip into the Tower District and clean it up “for GEEZUS.”

I don’t understand how the irony of Christian nationalists continues to baffle me, but it does. How in Christ’s name do they claim to be disciples of Jesus while actively doing ALL OF THE THINGS he condemned of the religious elite in the Gospels?

In short, the whole burning dumpster fire serves as another example of the generally Christless Christianity practiced by specific segments of American culture.

What hurts personally is that I think about how similar Adventure Church is to the cult in which I was brought up—Calvary Chapel. The same symptoms were, and frankly, are, present in that place. Elitism. Us vs. Them perspectives. Isolationism. Ends-Justify-the-Means public motivation. Dangerous indoctrination by uneducated, ill trained, and ill equipped individuals. Fascist and authoritarian sentiment and philosophy. Toxic masculinity. Fragile masculinity. Sexism. Mysogyny. The list of abhorrent similarities goes on.

The worst of it, for both Adventure Church and the cult I escaped, is all the suffering was caused “for geezus.” As if nailing Christ to a tree wasn’t enough.

Reading Assignment: “Adventure Church Issues Response after City’s Recent Agreement to Purchase Tower Theater.”
-Fox26 News

Critical Stirrings

…This is why art and literature and storytelling matter. Through them light can be shed on identity, culture, society, and the systems and institutions by which we live. Matters become illuminated revealing the need for further critique and deeper conversations. More importantly, we are brought to a reckoning where we must defend or condemn these matters.

Perhaps this is what drives the recent string of book banning in public school libraries across the United States. The very specific texts and topics being targeted appear to shut out very specific conversations. In this way, those that might defend what ought to be condemned, the same who prevent progress toward a more equitable public paradigm, are empowered to continue to do so without having to look themselves, as it were, in the eye.

…In short, we are searing our collective conscience.

God Save Ukraine

A woman and child peer out of the window of a bus as they leave Sievierodonetsk, the Luhansk region, eastern Ukraine, Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

The whole Ukraine thing hits different. Not only is this a mirror of Hitler’s pre-WW2 invasions, but a number of our own citizens and elected officials have been primed for pro-fascist action.

Texas and Florida are not accidents. Trump’s support of Putin’s action is strategic—his filthy hands still rest on the rotting crotch of the GOP, among whom he is considered by many to be a god. His comments will be echoed by GOP loyalists and his own fractured and morally bankrupt base.

Cold War memories have kept our fingers close to The Button, but the promise of Mutual Destruction has prevented us from pressing it.

This is not America’s fight alone, but the world’s. The world’s governments must come together to present a unified response.

But, too, I recognize my own trauma responses firing up. I can hear the voice of my sperm donor screaming in slurs and white supremacy, cheering on a new ally brought into the mainstream by his own political, fascist, racist heroes. I see the war mongers licking their chops and growing with arousal at the sight of so much death.

I am certain we will fail as a nation to condemn this atrocity with a unified voice as this violence becomes another marker of division. To support the violence is loyalty to the right; to condemn it is loyalty to the left. In the middle is a growing river of blood.

God save us.

The Noise

In a small town somewhere in America, parents–not particularly bright, nor well informed, nor given to things like compassion, empathy, or kindness–gather to concoct plans to bully a school district into ignoring a statewide mask mandate for k-12 schools.

They are a minority. A terribly loud, terribly obnoxious, and terribly dumb minority. Armed to the teeth with conspiracy theories, debunked information, and a zealous confidence that they alone are awake in a world full of deceived sleepers.

This group looks like any other disturbed rightwing-conservative mob drooling and slobbering and dragging its knuckles at school board meetings across the country. Carbon copy, peaked-in-high-school, can’t spell “CRT,” book-burning fascists trapped on a hamster wheel of fear and lashing out, fear and lashing out, fear and lashing out ad nauseum.

If their lunatic ravings harmed no one but themselves, I wouldn’t care. As it stands, their brand of stupid puts the whole community at risk.

These unmasked, unvaccinated, pandemic-denying, petri dishes of disease want their plague-carrying spawn to run wild and mask-free where they can infect and spread their illness to those just trying to attend school without catching a case of COVID.

They say masks are inflicting psychological trauma on our children, impeding their ability to learn the naturally evolved emotional responses ingrained in our species, and leaving them in deep emotional ruin. This, however, is only smoke they hope to blow up our collective ass.

I said, if we cared about the psychological wellbeing of our children, then we would have done more to address school shootings. They, of course, jumped to the defense of the gun. This is how we know it isn’t about the kids; this is about scratching some white nationalist-affirming political itch. As if, somehow, getting rid of masks means Jesus wins and Trump is king of America.

God save us from these idiots.

Blessed Be the Little Children

They were sick. Always sick, it seemed. Their withered and pale forms with skeletal outstretched limbs reminded him of molted and diseased birds—almost alien. But he knew they were human. Like those before. All children, and all abandoned by their caregivers.

It was as if this disease, or virus, or whatever the hell it was taking healthy thriving children and twisting them into malformed mockeries of humanity had somehow managed to reflect the hideous nature of the uninfected. Entire communities had resorted to simply turning out these poor souls. Leaving them to die in the streets, or in the wilds, or wherever the most convenient place be for them to die.

Even those left to wander aimlessly in community spaces were ignored and given wide berth by the uninfected. Their cries for mercy falling always on deaf ears. They had always been among the most vulnerable in every society, and now even their natural guardians refused them. Choosing, instead, to insulate themselves from that which might take their healthy children.

Healthy, of course, being a relative understanding. After all, how healthy can one be whose soul has been seared? What soundness of mind can there be in those unwilling to work to end the slow, agonizing, deaths of their children. Society has never been so unhealthy.

Humanity had managed to lay aside its humanness. Whatever the cause—political affiliation, religion, social philosophy, etc.—didn’t matter in the end. Humanity had lost itself, and he was left to do the only humane thing left.

Other men joined him in corralling as many of the infected into a single sobbing cluster of suffering. Malformed and twisted though they were, their fear was unmistakable. He wished there were more he could do, some greater kindness he could offer, but instead gave them the only thing he could give; mercy.

At once, streams of fire spewed out over the children. Night after night the same torment, their pitched screams shattering parts of his souls like glass. He wondered how much of his soul even remained intact.