Category Archives: Anger

A new video by Vincent Haycock using Florence and her song, Lover to Lover. He wanted to explore her acting capabilities, my I would too. The ending is the best.

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Thick and Dark like Blood: the fear of not having enough

A dear friend gave a homily this morning about money. It was a great sermon because its mode of travel didn’t merely stop at “money is bad”, “money should be given away”, “In God We Trust”, but rather this message reached our arteries of life. The word he employed as a core theme was pleonexia: the fear of not having enough. Its origins are Greek and can be equated with idolatry. It is, “the insatiable desire to have what rightfully belongs to others” or “accursed love of having”, which “will pursue its own interests with complete disregard for the rights of others, and even for the considerations of common humanity”.

This got me thinking about a lot things, from sex to relationships to food to self to God.

Aren’t we all terrified of not having enough here in America? We scour and scrounge for better ideals, better fantasies, better politicians, better lives that supposedly quell the vacuous hole of plenty. Since we don’t have to tremble over a tyrannical government, mass starvation, national unrest or genocide and have either an illusion of abundance or actual abundance means we have the luxury of fearing scarcity and consequently are cursed with not suffering well.

We become lustful and at once, apathetic people.

We outsource jobs. We collude with stacks upon stacks of gossip. We ignore the pain of others. We become supremely territorial. We jump into ephemeral stories that relieve our discomfort and dis-ease. We build fences. We assign labels. We refuse to be broken. We blame. We vomit over the thought of long-suffering. We use poor gauges of comparing and contrasting. We are hell-bent on knowledge and words. We are the people who claimed the earth was flat and flat and flat.

Flat.

Boring.

Unimaginative.

Libido only.

People.

The thing is I am one of these people. I’m terrified of not having enough competence, creativity, personality, ambition, sex-drive, money, certitude…the list goes on. I either shutdown and become distant to what is truly awry within me or I fantasize over what could be through comparing and contrasting. I’m accursed with love for having and accursed with skewed pleasure over what’s not enough in my life–it drives me to romantic, hateful misery.

This misery shan’t be confused with long-suffering.

This long-suffering shan’t be confused with misery.

Our terror can lead us to a rigid, vacant and moral lifestyle or it engenders fleeing into false relief. Alas, they both say, no more suffering!

But there must be an alternative. I live in a tradition of beliefs that offer alternatives, not excuses, but revolutionary thirds to the binaries we create. It was Jesus forgiving the adulterous woman instead of stoning her or passively engaging her choices. It was God bestowing Mercy and Anger over Israel’s unfaithfulness instead of wiping her out or passively tolerating her deeds.

It is not scapegoating, it is not absence nor is it consumption, it is not dulling desire, it is not balance, it is not neutrality, it is not the proverbial greener side.

This third, might I say the Spirit, pleads with us to wait, honor, suffer, surrender, live in unknowns and dare to imagine a fuller, holier, passionate existence.

Scarcity is real, yes. Not having enough is real, yes. Yet do we recognize our luxury in roiling around in all that is not right or enough while demanding satiation and completion? It is not easy or pretty or sexy or sensible to suffer through this life, to await the third and hope that it pricks us till we bleed with life and pleasure and joy. It is not easy.

Holy places and Holy wisdom are not clear and thin, but thick and dark like blood, says the priest in Till We Have Faces. Thus, we enter into this suffering without clarity or defined promise, but with strength and life.

I desire to learn this suffering. I desire to practice my imagination. I desire to dare to trust that this wild God I surrender to is also merciful and hospitable. I desire to be unafraid of scarcity and allow it to teach me. I desire to say sometimes, Enough! Enough of the binary that rescues, yet reduces my restless heart. Enough! Enough of the things which seduce me into thinking I need more and more and more. Enough.

I’m tired, yes, nevertheless the blood gushes through my body, thick and dark; suffering is holy work. Here I am, I hope.

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Fairy Tale Outskirts

I take care of 2 sweet boys. One is 4 and possesses such independence, imagination, and emotion. He has been encouraged by his parents to partake in the things he finds persuasive: lip gloss, being a magical witch, building forts. How wonderful it is to do away with confining him to a stereotypical masculinity. It seems to be very important parental work: to make sense and reevaluate what we have deemed as male and female behavior and all of the connotations and expectations that are attached. I want to advocate for this work to be done as early as possible, even prior to the birth of any baby in a family. What I know from research about and experience with boys is that they are in need of far more comfort and emotional availability than what is given and possibly in need of more than girls. Although, due to highly embedded and invisible societal forces we hold baby boys more loosely, farther from our chests, and with less attunement than baby girls. We weaken the female and strengthen the male.

Weakness is often associated with needing more, nay. May we be all be naysayers to this kind of riffraff. Weakness is a puffed up fish who is deeply scared behind the oxygen. Breath out and find CO2 trembles, but he is seemingly damned if admission was made to these truths.

I would agree sometimes puffing up is needed to keep away prey, yet we too often confuse prey with emotion.

What a struggle a boy finds himself in this world. There is devastating avoidance and often punishment of boys being soft and sensitive and sweet. Flippant behavior is cast onto their experiences in which they ingest and utilize as means to navigate this big, crazy world. No wonder, though, we are all constantly working out or rather hammering out our understanding of female and male, not to mention the immediate woundedness birthed from being gendered selves.

So we cast off what we hate, what we disgust, what we don’t understand; or we grip onto what we demand and understand, that which will save us from our complicated selves.

I want burliness.

Gross, your tears and whimpering make me sick.

Stop your crying.

You are a horrible listener.

You’re not impressive.

Get over it.

I want you put together.

I want big breasts.

I think I want a big penis.

Don’t you be angry.

Take charge.

Submit.

You’re far too needy.

You’re always good.

You always blame.

I must become erect.

I must orgasm.

I need better thighs.

I’m bad.

You’re a bitch.

You’re an asshole.

You’re fine.

I’m fine.

There are plenty more, even better articulations of these funnels we, as females and males, find ourselves in. Separate and polarized. One is suppose to be wild, the other captivating. One is to control a steed, the other yearns for its arrival. Meanwhile, we are left disowning all of the scurried bits and pieces of our gender that are left unattended and misfitted. Maybe they are the odd and supporting characters in fairy tales–mice, evil Witches, munchkins, cats, dwarves, fairies, all who speak from the fringes.

Listen.

I prefer bare feet than glass slippers.

Listen.

You prefer fashionable slacks than leaves and scratchy burs coating your thin body.

Listen.

Well, this one day when I was with the 2 aforementioned boys, we went to the park. The four year old whom I will affectionately call, Jaq usually finds somebody to befriend and play with and today it was a boy around his age and that boy’s small, uncoordinated friend. They played well and imaginatively with the tree’s detached limbs flinging about. No one questioning their play, free and unexamined.

And then they arrived. Maybe they were 5, recently exited from Kindergarten for the day. One had big, thick glasses, which required a leash to wrap around the back of his head, preventing any kind of focal escape. The other was an exact replica of a San Diego surfer, even his gestures, laid back and impudent, resembled this caricature. He was the epitome of a “follower”–not much of a mind to differentiate himself from the boy with loud glasses and a loud mouth.

Jaq’s new friend whom we will call Merryweather somewhat anxiously invited the 2 new boys to play through enticement. This triggered a snide provocation in the other boy:

“You’re bad!” the glasses boy said to Merryweather. Meanwhile, Jaq and the smallish, uncoordinated boy continued to play, but Merryweather became enkindled. No, he did retaliate, rather he blew up like a blowfish:

“Look at me!” Waving his stick around with tenacity.

“You’re stupid! You’re baaaad!” Focal boy jeered, followed by giggles with surfer dude.

It was heartbreaking to watch this young tenacious boy become greedy and violent with his wish to be included. When they giggled he swung at them. When there was silence he coercively displayed his strength and ability, only to be pricked by their rote saying of, “You’re bad!”

It was truly the most primitive game of sadist and masochist. It was relentlessly ongoing, over and over the same exact lines over the same exact actions. Merryweather kept going in for more pain and focal boy kept at a distance as he used, with enjoyment, hurtful words against him.

And yet, how sweetly supple and unwrinkled they were, not far from once being inside their mothers’ womb. Yet they possessed such expedited knowledge of how to manipulate the world, what to want in the world, how to be in the world as boys. At the very least they are mimicking adult scripts and at the very most enacting something deeply felt.

Sweet, scared boys who so desire to be big and powerful…and wanted.

Sweet, scared boys who have found that their trembles and soft spots are not to be recognized or tended to.

The mother did very little from my perspective. She was aware and affected, but caused Merryweather to feel some sense of shame for shamelessly wanting their undying approval.

“Move on.”

Move on, boys. Bootstraps and all.

Move on.

But will we listen?

Or merely perpetuate the games and strategies our gendered selves will partake in, in order to avoid what aches to be seen; what refuses to be seen; and what quivers to be seen?

This playground anecdote reveals how complex we are, how many layers are operating as we participate in this world.

I think if we listen and begin to make meaning of our internal and external landscapes, then maybe we will find a much humbler, receptive and empathic way of being with our gendered, constructed selves.

We are not bad or stupid. We are not girly or boyish. We are not big and powerful.

We are complex and often desirous of quick or simple answers, rather than long suffering and faithful understanding.

I hope Merryweather gets seen and tended to.

I hope focal boy and San Diego surfer get seen and tended to as well.

I hope your scurried bits and pieces find kindness and acceptance even if they go against normalcy.

Don’t disown the dwarves, mice, and witches for the sake of remaining in a world fraught with facades and shallow waters. The world will not come through for any of us in the end. If we believe it can, then we will become greedy and violent and swing at whatever denies or rejects us or puff up and pretend, only to be pricked.

May this strange paradox of dying in order to live find us as we invite inside the terrorized Gus, the jealous Maleficent or the faint-hearted princess.

As I regularly advocate: if we choose to invite these characters inside and find that we will not be eternally killed off by them, then this will be the most grotesque and strange and absolutely beautiful feast one will ever go to.

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I dare you not to permit the welling of soaked droplets to plummet down your sweet face during this talk. I dare you.

Suddenly, my body.

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Except that he was, Except that she was, Except that we are

Rumblings. Rumblings, untamed. Here are some insightful words from Walter Brueggemann, transcribed by yours truly from an interview with Krista Tippett. This interview was discovered by this man for which this interview has been deemed as this good by this woman.

WB: All of us, Liberals and Conservatives, all of us are basically contained in the ideology of consumer capitalism and we want that to be our universe of meaning. And when you get a poetic articulation that moves outside of that, it’s just too anxiety producing for most of us. So we try and stop that kind of talk and the local church, obviously, people have a lot of leverage for being able to stop that kind of talk.

KT: So what is hard for preachers to talk about here?

WB: At the broadest level, it’s hard to talk about the fact, I think it’s a fact, that our society has chosen a path of death in which we have reduced everything to a commodity. We believe there are technical solutions to everything. We believe we are entitled to a disproportionate amount of the world’s goods and resources and so on. That’s all phoniness, but we don’t want that exposed as phoniness. So it doesn’t matter whether you talk about the over-reliance of technology, the mad pursuit of commodity goods, our passion for violence now expressed as our war policies, all of those are interrelated to each other and none of us, very few of us, none of us really want to have that exposed as an inadequate and dehumanizing way to live. I think if one is grounded in the truth of the Gospel as a Christian that’s what we have to talk about. So preachers are put in a very difficult fix of having been entrusted to talk about this stuff.

KT: But, but they also belong to this culture. We get, you know “these characteristics are apart of our birthright. This is the world we are born into.”

WB: That’s right. We are as deeply implicated in it as anyone else.

KT: You named the Iraq war that that was a hard thing to talk about in the pulpit, without being controversial and inflammatory…but you think that is the kind of thing preachers must be naming or wrestling with?

WB: I think that’s right. When you do that, of course, it comes through to some people as simply liberal can’t and is not really the voice of the Gospel. Because it’s not only tied up with our military ideology, but it’s all tied up for specific families who have sons and daughters in the service and it sounds like a repudiation of them. So it gets to be a very complex issue. But we have to talk about, we have to talk about it so that sort of stuff doesn’t become common place and assumed as normal among us, it’s quite abnormal to be committed to that way in the world.

KT: You know I think that this larger point that you’ve been making about the aesthetic literary, poetic sensibility of the prophetic tradition that the very language is different and transformative. That it takes that voice out of political boxes because I’m really aware that a lot words that religious people treasure and that are core. The word “justice”, the word “peace”, these words themselves are tarnished in our culture. They have all kinds of political associations and baggage, they’re liberal or they’re conservative or they belong to some agenda. I think that’s also a problem when preachers start talking about those things, all of that accumulates around it. The message is not clear, the message may not be powerful and may not be heard.

WB: Which is why a poetic preacher always has to find another way to say it. I’ve recently been thinking more and more…it’s so astonishing that the Old Testament prophets hardly ever discuss an issue. They don’t discuss abut abortion or the Panama Canal or anything like that. I think what they’re doing is going underneath the issues that preoccupy people to the more foundational assumptions that can only be got at in elusive language. The Institutional Church has been preoccupied with issues.

KT: Which automatically puts you one side of the issue or on the other side.

WB: That’s right and when we do that we are robbed of transformative power. It becomes ideology versus ideology, which does not produce very good outcomes.

KT: Can you think of an example where you’ve seen a religious leader or community subvert that, that get outside being issue based.

WB: I think Martin Luther King did sometimes. I think at his best he was a biblical poet. Just think of “I have a dream” it just kind of soared away. He wasn’t really talking about enacting a civil rights bill, except that he was. It was language that was out beyond the quarells that we do. I think that happens from time, like that.

KT: …this was from one of your sermons; you were talking about the need for a city to care about injustice, or poverty, and despair, is not liberalism, socialism, welfare, or radicalism. After all, liberals and conservatives share those same biblical text. It is simply genuine humanness authorized by the God of the bible. But even drawing, circling back to that connection: what’s at stake here?

WB: I think very much, it’s so hard to do, but the task is re-framing it so that we can re-experience the social realities that are right in front of us from a different angle.

…talking about making a distinction between stridency that is self-righteous versus prophetic or stridenct that is toxic or

WB: It is delivered on my part that I do, a lot of to do what I do, as boldly as I can to energize preachers to be bold in what they do. I think it is the courage that comes from the convictions that you have been entrusted with something important. If you do it that, rather than it being a self-announcement, the accent is on the message and not the messenger. It doesn’t need to be strident in an alienating way. What one would wish is that it is emancipatory for people who are hearing you rather than affrontative, but that is a very delicate line.

The rest of the interview.

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Performance Art: do you see what I see, help me in my unbelief

My first piece done with another and by another I mean my precious sister. I don’t typically use the word “precious” since it reminds me of my Baylor University days in Waco, TX in which I temporarily pledged a sorority. Gasp. I ran quickly away after I crossed over to the other side and realized how unethical and exclusive and trifling these things can be. Additionally, Texan sorority gals really like to use the word preciousss in meetings discussing which girl they want to gamble on. It’s used to describe their favoritism for young, supple prey, I mean freshman and in the context of Christianity: Shee iz so preciousss, y’all. Shee loves the Laawrd, preciousss.

However I adore their version (of great value; not to be wasted or treated carelessly) just not their usage of it. May it be utilized without sentimentality, but with substance and experience. Yes.

And that is how I feel about this another. She leaves for Chicago for good, soon. Thus, this project is partially out of my grief of her impending physical absence as well as my hope to someday live near her again. Thank you Morg for participating in this quasi-grueling task of writing with your mouth.

I performed something like this in my 6 week Lenten piece at my grad school awhile back:

Performance piece #5–This one is one of my favorites and I hope to recreate it on a much grander scale.

After confessing, what does one endure? Disbelief, unbelief, wanting to believe that Love is breaking in, sacrificing, and holding our broken selves.

To verbally say, “I want to believe. Help me in my disbelief, unbelief. Now I believe” is far too easily said by the Church. I, too, have expressed my quickness in belief without undergoing the heartache and painfully beautiful experience of waiting, requesting help, and suffering while treading the waters of faith.

Thus, I thought writing my words with my mouth gave me the opportunity to fully sense the meaning of needing help, of waning in energy to believe, and sorely revealing my disbelief, unbelief…

I was in one sense self-imposing disability and in another sense desperately wanting to feel the weight of these words. Do I really mean them?

Speech is often highly esteemed in our culture. It reveals status, personhood, education, geography, respectability, dogma, etc. It allows for one to assess and qualify and deem this or that. Consequently, I veered from speaking, whereas writing left some ambiguity, halted the hastiness of easy critique and is where I currently feel comfortable and in tune to my being.

But, then what does it mean to see compulsive, childish, naïve writing of wavering faith? Does judgment occur as well? Or is curiosity aroused? Will one wonder the journey of expressing these words? It appears simple and dismissible, however if one saw how it got to the paper, grueling and tiresomely–one might re-think or re-evaluate her or his judgments.

So I wrote for about 20 minutes with my mouth. Over and over. Saliva slipped out. My breathing was more audible. My knees pained me.

I wondered if this was faith–grotesque, bold, passionate, honest, and bodily?

This newer rendition was of similar sensibilities, although it was at a conference called Inhabit, which embodied and expounded upon three things: practice, presence, place.

I became curious about what it means to be present in a particular place while practicing something that reflects both presence and place. Moreover, the act of writing with your mouth singularly engenders presence and how much more if we were to write what we saw around us, the place we found ourselves in–practicing seeing and denoting the particularities of the locale whilst being in an awkward, alienating, lowly posture. So, that we did.

(I must say I was most dismayed by the lack of engagement from anyone around us. At a certain point I was “in the way” while a (white) guy kept asserting his social justice intentions and ideals to a few other folk, meanwhile I’m clearly attempting to go around the paper perimeter, yet he refused to move even after I gently nudged him. There was plenty room, I wish that was the reason though. Sometimes I think white people are far too narcissistic to see what’s around them (me), wherefore we sulk and soothe over theories, ideas, and language, rather than being in and with the flesh and blood; water and spirit.)


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Wilder Shores of Love: Screams from the Underground

There are some moments when I feel taken care of, so taken care of.

I preached via performance art piece this past Sunday.

In many ways there was a sense of impending sabotage as the minutes grew closer to that morning.

For what reason, well it’s not an issue of ‘what’, but how many reasons I have to sink a slightly floating ship.

Water begins to slosh in and why not help further it?

I spoke and performed on the Psalms.

Walter Brueggeman speaks of the Psalms in 3 ways:

Orientation, Disorientation, Reorientation.

The first one is equated to equilibrium, but not only stability.

Stability unto death, boredom, one-dimensional thinking.

It merely reports on the already existing things.

It is deeply enmeshed with reality, to the point of madness.

At least to those around you.

I’m fine. You’re fine.

We’re fine.

The second is where magic and cognizant madness happen.

Scream, wail, demand for change and justice, use descriptive, evocative language.

Hyperbolize the experience, make it reflect the well that is terribly troubled.

And thirsty.

And allow your imagination to go through the anger.

Through the tears.

Through the betrayal and heartache.

Through the reality of what is and purports only what is in sight.

May the pit you find yourself in, echo your powerlessness.

Bellowing shouts.

Creative Curses to your enemies.

Creative Curses to this unknown God.

Creative Curses to your old orientation.

Your old self that was, in part, untrue.

Fig leaves.

Shred them.

Eat them.

And then spit them out.

Like a defiant 4 year old who detests their brocoli.

But more so detests being forced by bigger, apathetic powers.

(Silence)

Sweat splattering to the ground.

Dizzy from fervor.

Dizzy from how honest and brutal the declarations.

Even in the aloneness.

All was let out.

Seen.

Gritting teeth still.

Grinding for an answer.

(Silence)

A sudden damn collapsed.

Fetus form.

The stone ground cold.

It would be better to return to your mother’s womb.

Than be here.

Water begins to trickle in.

Wet and chill.

An inflatable raft wafts down.

With California poppies dropping like Revolution.

Like the most noble, imaginative ones.

In our blood thirsty, oft boring history.

(Now what?)

Rise above the stone cold ground.

Not from pulling and climbing and stretching.

Towards the opening.

But from spontaneous, pooling water.

Plastic raft.

Beautiful orange flowers.

Delusion or reality.

And.

Does it matter in a time like this?

Be raised out of the miry pit.

Be intoxicated by the provisions made.

Whether fantasy or not.

Hyperbolize this moment with naked dancing.

Naked mantras and maxims.

To Divinity other than yourself.

Without apathy and stone, but with tears and embrace.

I felt taken care of today, so taken care of.

Despite the fumble, I let loose the wails of uncertainty.

I was met by nouns of many colors.

And blessed.

Sabotage will always distract and dismiss.

But my voice and my pit will engage and engross.

And will wildly gesture for Someone to take notice.

To take sight.

To take dizzy.

To take love.

To take all of my innards.

And say, “Yes, I have heard and I have felt and I will do.”

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