27 September 2013

9 Commandments

or, why I don't call.

1. Consider your flesh. When you think about talking to them, how tight does your chest get? How hard do you have to swallow to pull breath past the scar tissue still forming in your throat?

2. Consider objectivity. Your fear is irrational. It is a ghost. It is a shadow, and no more substantial than that. It has form only in your body. Return to step 1.

3. Consider ghosts. There is a story of a monk who knew he would be visited by a spirit. He tattooed protective runes into his skin, but could not finish his ears before night fell. The spirit grasped him as sound does, and entered him as sound does, and hollowed him as sound does. Only the runes remained. Return to step 2.

4. Consider your triggers. Consider cost. Consider recovery. Consider that time functions both as line and as circle. Consider that remembering is revisiting. Consider how long it's taken you to escape. Return to step 3.

5. Consider their voices. Return to step 3. Return to step 4.

6. Consider the difference between lancing a boil and cutting through a still-healing wound. Return to step 5.

7. Consider that meaning does not exist without difference. Return to step 6.

8. Consider how long it will be until a conversation is not a trigger pull, until you will be safe from ghosts. Consider that you tried to think objectively once.

9. Put down the phone. Walk away. You are not strong enough to speak yet, or to breathe through your listening.

12 September 2013

Twelve Lessons I Learned as a Church Kid


1. "The two most important things in the world, in order, are God and family."

2. Sex will both ruin my life and separate me from God, unless I get the pastor's permission first, in which case it's both holy and the most fun thing ever.

3. The pastor is the arbiter of what people, and what kinds of people, I can have sex with. Even wanting to have sex with anyone else will ruin my life and separate me from God.

4. If I'm a fourteen-year-old boy and I don't want to have sex with girls, the youth pastor will make fun of me, and encourage the other fourteen-year-old boys to make fun of me.

I'm sorry, []. I should have said something. I was too afraid.

5. If I'm a different fourteen-year-old boy, who grew up in a different church in a different part of the country, and I also don't want to have sex with girls, the only safe thing to do is to learn how to lie and say that I do so that the youth pastor and the other fourteen-year-old boys won't make fun of me.

6. Lying will both ruin my life and separate me from God, but there are different levels of separation, and different levels of ruining my life. Lying isn't as bad as having sex with people I'm supposed to have sex with early, which isn't as bad as wanting to have sex with people I'm not supposed to, which isn't as bad as actually having sex with the kinds of people I'm not supposed to. Any of these will ruin my life, and all of them will separate me from God, but they're arranged on a ranking scale. Everybody lies. Lots of people have sex at the wrong time. Only wilfully evil people want to have sex with the kinds of people they're not supposed to.

7. If I lie, I am turning my back on God's will for my life.

8. If I don't lie, then I am confessing to turning my back on God's will for my life. If, when I confess, I don't lie and say that because I've confessed, everything is magically different now, I am turning my back on God's will for my life.

9. God is Love. Every question has an answer through him. If I ask, and ask, and keep ramming my head into a paradox, and can't find an answer, there's something wrong with me, and I am turning my back on God's will for my life. If I become angry because I can't find an answer, my anger is a sin and will separate me from God.

10. The only way to have a family is to have sex with the pastor's permission. If I don't want to have sex with the kind of people the pastor gives me permission to, then I can't have a family.

11. "The two most important things in the world, in order, are God and family."

12. If I am not continually grateful for the perfect peace the Lord has given me, then I am turning my back on God's will for my life.