By Kenneth Justice
~ I was hanging out at a record store over the weekend looking for some old school Bob Marley (with Summer right around the corner here in the Midwest, Bob Marley and the Beach Boys go hand in hand in my mind as the perfect Summer music) when I realized the person standing next to me in the store was an old acquaintance of mine from many years ago.
“Dude, how are you!” he asked as he broke out into laughter, “Kenneth, I’ve only just gotten off of the Greyhound Bus no less than 10 minutes ago and wandered into this record store….and you’re the first person I run into!”
“So how have you been?” I asked
“Better than ever! I’m living on the side of a mountain in the middle of nowhere, in a commune with a bunch of Pagan transvestites, I go by the name of ‘Rooster’ now” he said
With many people a statement like that might sound like a farfetched story, but with this old acquaintance of mine, living on the side of a mountain in a commune of transvestites is something that I very much would expect, “But you’re not a transvestite?” I said
“Yea, well it’s mainly a queer community and since I’m bi-sexual they make an exception for me” he said, “The majority of the people living in the commune are like me; ex-evangelicals. They have all been burned out psychologically and emotionally and we’ve all fled to this commune on the side of the mountain to try and find spiritual healing”
To understand this old acquaintance of mine who is now in his early fifties, weighs less than 140 pounds when wet, and is a master guitar player, you have to understand that back in the 1980’s he and his wife were hardcore Evangelical Christians. At one point they sold everything and moved to Nashville, Tennessee in the hopes of him making it big in the Evangelical Christian music scene. He played alongside well known Christian singers like Amy Grant but like so many other singer/songwriters, he was never able to make it as a full time musician.
At some point along his journey he began to grapple with past trauma from his childhood and unfortunately the Evangelical church he was a part of didn’t know how to cope with him explaining to them that he had feelings of bisexuality. Like with other elements of religion, the leaders above him merely said, “Don’t do it” and “Suppress these feelings” yet try as he did; the feelings didn’t go away.
It’s difficult to summarize fifty years of a man’s life into one short article. The pain and agony of his wife divorcing him was a major setback in his spiritual life. The disconnect that began to set in between he and his children was difficult for him to stomach. The alienation he experienced between he and his fellow Christians began to make him feel upset and disconnected from God.
Was everything in his life that went wrong connected to his bisexuality? Most likely not. His story is so multi-dimensional that I wouldn’t begin to know where to start in truly giving his tale justice and properly delving into all of the ins-and-outs of how it all began and where it all went wrong.
The fascinating thing to me is that for the past two years he has run away from Western Culture to a commune in the middle of nowhere. So deep are the wounds from his childhood and older years that he felt that the only way to begin finding a level of solace was to escape from it all.
“I play the guitar everyday still and rarely an hour goes by that I’m not involved in a conversation about spirituality at the commune in which I’m grappling with healing and the pursuit of truth” he told me.
The Radical Fairies can actually be found on Wikipedia. They are a LGBT pagan group that began in the 70’s and sprung up various communes around the United States. I looked them up after I ran into my friend and am reserving my opinion…..I had no idea groups like this even existed, and until I ran into this old acquaintance of mine I had no idea he has been living at one of their communes for the past two years.
C.S. Lewis said, that while he was an atheist the biggest hurdle for him in coming to a belief in God was that he felt the majority of Christians he knew, tended to be worse individuals than the non-Christians he knew. Why is it that these Christians seemed to gossip more, slander more, be filled with more arrogance, and were altogether meaner than non-Christians Lewis pondered?
It’s an interesting dilemma Lewis faced and it wasn’t until he properly solved this riddle that he was able to finally begin coming to a belief in God.
One of the great evangelical philosophers of the 20th century, Francis Schaeffer, came to the same crisis after having been a pastor for many years. He left the ministry for a year and slept in a barn has he grappled with a singular problem, “How can all of this stuff about God be true if the Christians all around me are such awful people?”
My writing and blog has never been devoted wholly to Christianity or God; I write about a lot of different things. Yet a central problem I have grappled with in my own life for many years is the difficulty I have faced growing up in an Evangelical Christian community. Like Lewis and Schaeffer, I’ve struggled in my faith in the face of fellow Christians who have treated me poorly.
—) As I watched wealthy Christians at churches I attended go on leisure Vacations around the world that cost in the tens of thousands of dollars, it confused me to no end when they would return smiling and showing pictures of their trips to fellow congregants who were working three jobs merely to pay rent and keep their electricity on.
—) As Christian relatives of mine gossiped about me and slandered my name, it confused me as to how these people could call themselves ‘Christians’ yet treat me so poorly.
—) As the economy tanked in 2008 and people all around me were losing their houses, their jobs, and their life savings, it confused me as to why the church leaders weren’t raising money for my fellow congregants who merely needed money to keep their house from being foreclosed on.
I’ve never really understood why churches are more concerned with raising money for building programs and mission trips to Africa when there is so much need sitting right before them in their pews each week. I’ve never really understood why church leaders spend so much time preaching the bible and so little time stepping outside of their church and into the streets where homeless people are sleeping.
I’ve taken extra time off this summer to meditate. I’ve stepped back to reevaluate my own life and what the hell is going wrong here in my country. And while my faith has wavered at times…..I still believe that God is there.
Just a few thoughts as I sipped my coffee this morning,
Categories: Culture & Society