Feb. 28th, 2009

OMG

Feb. 28th, 2009 10:12 am
edgarallenfrog: various pics of harvey milk (music obsession)
You know what? Lamentations is the best book of the bible ever. And I get tired of taking crap for saying that,too. Yeah, Lamentations is sad and often depressing (it's called "Lamentations," does it sound like it's going to be a laugh a minute riot, people?) I had someone tell me once "Of course Lamentations is your favorite book of the bible, it's depressing and nothing good happens in it and it lets you sit and think depressing thoughts instead of turning to the people around you who could help you." Yep, someone actually said that to me. I know some real winners, let me tell you. But anyway, a lot of people think of Lamentations as nothing but a depressing book of the bible that can offer no hope, and that's a short-sighted view if I ever heard one. After all, Lamentations contains what is probably the most encouraging passage in the whole bible:

Lamentations 3

1 [a] I am the man who has seen affliction
by the rod of his wrath.

2 He has driven me away and made me walk
in darkness rather than light;

3 indeed, he has turned his hand against me
again and again, all day long.

4 He has made my skin and my flesh grow old
and has broken my bones.

5 He has besieged me and surrounded me
with bitterness and hardship.

6 He has made me dwell in darkness
like those long dead.

7 He has walled me in so I cannot escape;
he has weighed me down with chains.

8 Even when I call out or cry for help,
he shuts out my prayer.

9 He has barred my way with blocks of stone;
he has made my paths crooked.

10 Like a bear lying in wait,
like a lion in hiding,

11 he dragged me from the path and mangled me
and left me without help.

12 He drew his bow
and made me the target for his arrows.

13 He pierced my heart
with arrows from his quiver.

14 I became the laughingstock of all my people;
they mock me in song all day long.

15 He has filled me with bitter herbs
and sated me with gall.

16 He has broken my teeth with gravel;
he has trampled me in the dust.

17 I have been deprived of peace;
I have forgotten what prosperity is.

18 So I say, "My splendor is gone
and all that I had hoped from the LORD."

19 I remember my affliction and my wandering,
the bitterness and the gall.

20 I well remember them,
and my soul is downcast within me.

21 Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:

22 Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.

23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

24 I say to myself, "The LORD is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him."

25 The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him;

26 it is good to wait quietly
for the salvation of the LORD.

Wow, how discouraging. Let me tell you why people don't like Lamentations. Because it's a bunch of Laments that Jeremiah is writing, talking about hor horrible and dark and bad things are, how badly his people need God. It's full of sorrow, it's full of questions, it's full of anger, and it's full of people crying out to God waiting for God to answer. And then you get to the end of this book and despite that awesome shot of hope there in chapter 3, this is how the book ends:

Lamentations 5

19 You, O LORD, reign forever;
your throne endures from generation to generation.

20 Why do you always forget us?
Why do you forsake us so long?

21 Restore us to yourself, O LORD, that we may return;
renew our days as of old

22 unless you have utterly rejected us
and are angry with us beyond measure.

You know what? I LOVE THAT. The ending is these people feeling totally rejected by God, saying, "hey God, you're awesome, you're great, you reign forever, and so...save us, plz, k thx bye." BAM it's over. That's all she wrote. Because these people are living in darkness but praying and hoping for light, admitting that they feel like maybe they should add a caveat, "Hey God, um...you don't have to save us if you're going to stay angry forever instead" because it's taken God so long to answer that they don't know what else to say and they figure he might be pissed off at them for eternity so they should just acknowledge that. But they're still seeking God. Still looking up. And man, is THAT ever me. That's been me my entire life. And I'm tired of living in a culture that doesn't seem to want me to see that. They don't seem to want to acknowledge the darkness. They call pessimists bad. Pessimists ignore half the information and only focus on the bad, blah blah blah yadda yadda. Ok, that's fine, but if pessimists are wrong, then optimists are wrong, too. they ignore half the information, too. they only focus on the good and they don't acknowledge the bad and that's only half the story, too. Why don't we hear people railing on optimists? Why aren't people reaming them out day after day the way they do the pessimists? Because it's GOOD to only focus on half the story and ignore the rest if it makes you hop around shitting rainbows and pissing sunshine, right? Fuck that. You walk around listening to everyone saying "SMILE" at you every five minutes and see how much of a fucking complex you have by the end of the day. Oh, I'm sorry, I wasn't aware that I wasn't smiling enough for you, here, let me adjust myself so as not to darken your day. I walk around thinking things are ok, I'm surviving, I'm ok, and then someone says "SMILE why don't you?" and that fucks up the whole mess by reminding me that I don't "LOOK HAPPY" even if I AM HAPPY. If it's that goddamned important to you to see someone smile, you know what you should do? Smile at them. They will almost always smile back, 99% of the time. Instead of laying a guilt trip on them by reminding them that there's something wrong with their facial expression, just smile at them. Is that so fucking hard to do? God, we're not allowed to acknowledge that there's anything bad in the world, and we're not even allowed to frown (or smile but not big enough to please people) without someone hounding us to "BE POSITIVE." I'm positive that you're a prick, does that count? Why isn't it positive to acknowledge the darkness in the world and the pain it brings? Why isn't it positive to cry for someone who died? Crying means we're letting our emotions out and being open and honest and vulnerable, why isn't that a good thing? What's wrong with me? How about what's wrong with YOU for not letting me feel my pain and be real?

I miss my friend. I miss him and it wasn't right that he felt like he couldn't be himself, because if people found out who he was, they would hate him, and he thought God had already abandoned him, so he gave up and killed himself. It's not fair. I know that crying isn't going to bring him back. Did I ever say that crying would bring him back? I don't think I fucking did, so back the fuck off. Crying reminds me of how often I have felt like the world hates me. Crying reminds me of how alone I have felt and how alone I still feel and how I am still alive to feel these things. That isn't a positive thing in and of itself, but it sure as hell can lead to some positive things if I let myself cry, because at that moment I am crying, I am one with all those other people crying out in pain and fear and loneliness. I am connected to everyone else in the world who is hurting and asking why, everyone who knows there's a point in asking, so they ask even when it seems like no one is listening. That's more powerful than all the phony smiles in the world could ever hope to be.

So yesterday I was minding my own business watching Vh1 and this song came on, and I sat on the floor of my living room watching the video and wept for the first time in a long time, and it felt good.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TmGltxev6Ls

The Fray - You Found Me

I found god
On the corner of first and Amistad
Where the west was all but won
All alone, smoking his last cigarette
I Said where you been, he said ask anything
Where were you?
When everything was falling apart
All my days were spent by the telephone
It never rang
And all I needed was a call
That never came
To the corner of first and Amistad

Lost and insecure
You found me, you found me
Lying on the floor
Surrounded, surrounded
Why'd you have to wait?
Where were you? Where were you?
Just a little late
You found me, you found me

In the end everyone ends up alone
Losing her, the only one whos ever known
Who I am, who Im not, who I want to be
No way to know how long she will be next to me

Lost and insecure
You found me, you found me
Lying on the floor
Surrounded, surrounded
Why'd you have to wait?
Where were you, where were you?
Just a little late
You found me, you found me

Early morning, City breaks
Ive been calling for years and years and years and years
And you never left me no messages
You never send me no letters
You got some kind of nerve, taking all I want

Lost and insecure
You found me, you found me
Lying on the floor
Where were you where were you?

Lost and insecure
You found me, you found me
Lying on the floor
Surrounded, surrounded
Why'd you have to wait?
Where were you, where were you?
Just a little late
You found me, you found me
why'd you have to wait
to find me, to find me


You know what I did a few Sundays ago? I was all angry (I told you about it a bit here) and I raged home after church and I tore up my bulletin, threw it on the ground, and stomped on it. I love to save my bulletins and clip the words out of them and glue them together in my copy of the book "Stumbling Toward Faith" because I like having little pieces of my own journey toward faith there on record (ask my friend [livejournal.com profile] peskipiksi, I have photos and bookmarks of all sorts crammed into that poor book) and I wish I'd saved this bulletin from that week because it had a cool picture of St. Michael surrounded by demons who were tormenting him, and I would like to look at that more, but it didn't matter then, I was so angry I ripped it up and stomped on the pieces and I raged around and bit my hand and stomped into the parking lot of my apartment complex and then I stopped in the middle of the parking lot, looked up at the sky, and I screamed "I hate you God, Do you hear me? I fucking hate you. You're a fucking bastard. I don't care if you hate me anymore, I hate you first! What are you going to do? Strike me down? Of course not. You never do ANYTHING you say you're going to do." Then I went inside and punched my closet door off its hinges because it looked at me funny. I was the perfect picture of mental health that day, let me tell you.

...

This song gets it. I mean it gets it more than any other song I've heard in a good long while. It's not one of those artificially happy "and then God came and everything turned happy forever Amen Hallelujah" songs. I kind of hate those songs. No, this song is more of a Lamentations song. It's about finding God dicking around and yelling at him "Hey fuckface, where were you when all this shit happened?" People are afraid of that. they're afraid to call God "fuckface." They think he won't like that. He probably doesn't, but he's probably also been called worse. I think he can handle it. Of course I felt really bad (it took about two weeks) but I cried and prayed and apologized for saying all that mean stuff to God. But the point is...I knew to say it in the first place. I knew where to turn. I don't think I've heard a song that is so willing to be angry and ask why and sit and await a reply without feeling the need to manufacture one or apologize for asking in the first place.

I used to do this all the time, sit around and ramble about the bible and some song (or horror movie like Cannibal Holocaust) and talk about how they reminded me of God, and I'd talk about the bible and quote some weird passage from Lamentations (or Zephaniah) and I'd be all Christian and biblical. I haven't done that in a good long while. You know why? It might sound silly, but...I kind of felt like it wasn't my place anymore. Like I wasn't allowed to quote the bible or talk about it, or sing Christian songs or talk about God because I'm living in sin and I don't plan to change. It's not that I don't think change is possible...it's that I KNOW it isn't possible. I've tried for my entire life to change everything about who I was and be someone else, I've spent hours kneeling and praying until my knees turned numb and my eyes had run out of tears, begging God to make me more pleasing to him and the church, and I'm tired and worn out. The pretending is bigger than I am. Honestly, I don't even feel the need to argue with people who tell me I can change who I am and be someone else and be holy and acceptable to God, blah blah blah. That might come later, but for right now...I'm just too tired. It never even really occurred to me how big a part of myself I'd lost until I went to that conference a few weeks ago and saw that play "And He Ran Screaming." I remember being part of the church...it was who I was, inside and out. I knew the bible passages backward and forward, and I LOVED every minute. I loved singing the songs, I loved reading the bible, I saw parallels everywhere I looked and in everything I watched (even Cannibal Holocaust) and even with all the bad things that came with it, all the self-condemnation...there was a lot of good, too.

Awhile ago, someone from DSAGA (the campus GLWTFBBQ group) found all my hundreds of CDs of Christian music and asked what they were, and I said they were my Christian CDs, and she asked if I listen to them anymore, and I told her I don't, and she gave me this look and asked "why?" I didn't know what to say to her then, but I knew why. After we had that conversation, I went back and slowly started listening to those CDs again. I decided to give up on God and church altogether and I got rid of all my bibles, but I couldn't bear to get rid of those CDs. I'd spent so much money on them, but that wasn't even it. My life, my heart, and my faith were tied up in those CDs. I had memories hanging on every word of every one of those songs. Listening to them again back then, and even when I listen to them now, when I sing along, I almost feel like I have to be quiet, so no one will hear me. I know how almost all of those bands and singers feel about homosexuality because they'd talk about it from the stage or in interviews. I feel like so many people would condemn me for singing those songs, saying God loves me but he hates my sin, saying when I sing about God's love it isn't true, God doesn't accept me, I'm doomed to spend eternity in hell because I flaunt my sin, God couldn't even really love someone like me. Sometimes singing those songs feels pointless. Sometimes it feels brave, like after everything that's happened, I can still sing them anyway, because the gospel is for me, too. I don't know. Anything. I wish I did. But I'm still singing anyway. And maybe I'll start reading and writing again, too. It's going to hurt, I know that. It already does. I feel rusty and raw. But I also feel lighter, like tiny pieces are chipping off of the weight I carry on my shoulders. I like that feeling. "And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive at the place where we started and know it for the first time." I butchered that quote. But it feels true anyway, like life might finally be breaking into all this death, like maybe the Kingdom can come on earth as it is in heaven, and I can be a part of it. Maybe.

When I was a kid, one of my favorite songs was "Children go where I send thee." It's a silly song. Peter, Paul, and Mary sang it and my mom played the record when I was a kid, and it was one of the first semi-biblical things I learned as a kid (from the people who sang "Puff the Magic Dragon." You gotta love it). Over the years, it's one of those church things I clung to. We sang it in church sometimes, with the kids, and I remember singing it with my friend Michael. I sang it even when my friends thought I was weird because it's a fun little song (fun to sing when you're drunk, praise the Lord) and even when I felt condemned and hated by the church, this song always brought back memories of things that used to be good. Here, learn it yourself. It's a simple enough little song:

Children go where I send thee: how shall I send thee?

Well, Im gonna send thee one by one
One for the little bitty baby
Who was born, born, born in bethlehem
Said he was born, born, born in bethlehem

Children go where I send thee: how shall I send thee?

Hey, Im gonna send thee two by two
Two for paul and silas
One for the itty bitty baby
Who was born, born, born in bethlehem.
Children go where I send thee: how shall I send thee?

(*repeat, singing verses in descending order*)

Im gonna send thee:
Three by three, three for the hebrew children
Four by four, four for the four that stood at the door
Five by five, five for the five that stayed alive
Six by six, six for the six that never got fixed
Seven by seven, seven for the seven who never got to heavn
Eight by eight, eight for the eight that stood at the gate
Nine by nine, nine for the nine that dressed so fine
Ten by ten, ten for the ten commandments

He was born, born, born in bethlehem.

Singing has always been important to me. I can't really explain why. I've just always connected God with music and singing. It's always meant a lot to me. So this Christmas, I got some Christmas music as a gift, and that included a CD with the song "Love Came Down at Christmas" by Jars of Clay. I didn't feel much like listening to it around Christmas, because, well, Christmas is a time of darkness and evil for me. I don't do anything the way anyone else does. Just go with it. So anyway, like I said, this song was one of the songs I got as a gift, and I didn't listen to it until a month after Christmas, and when I did, I gasped. And cried. And spit my drink out in shock. Just listen to it. You'll get why. This song gets it, too. It's a very simple song, very devoid of doctrine or anything flashy, and it's just about...love. Love will be our token, love will be our sign, love will be the thing that sets us apart, love from God to all men (hear that? ALL of us, even the freaks...especially the freaks). Speaking of Zephaniah, Zephaniah 3:17 says this:

The LORD your God is with you,
he is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
he will quiet you with his love,
he will rejoice over you with singing."

It's always seemed that at any given time, God is singing a song over me too, and today he was singing The Fray. And this song, too. Please listen. I love you all.

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