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Put A Mint In Your Mouth


Here is an email I received in response to one of my essays.

Put A Mint In Your Mouth

Icharus : icharus@city-net.com : 2000-06-23

My goodness, I don’t mean to go on and on, but I went and read more of your tirade after I sent the first email.

Buddy, you lash out at other people’s religious beliefs with stereotypes and hateful, inarticulate name calling. How are you, in any way, superior or more knowledgeable than the people that you criticize.

Even little things that you ramble about are so off-based and angry! Brother! Put a mint in your mouth!

You know, I laughed when you said that hymns (except gospel music) are awful. Is that so?

I too enjoy the Christmas hymns and I feel stirred by hymns like Jerusalem. My complaint is with syrupy pop songs praising God. They sound so saccharine and insincere, e.g. At A Distance. God deserves better.

When I was having difficulty with mania (full blown bipolar type 1) my life spun out of control. Life seemed like hell and as mania produces delusional thinking, I actually walked around three full days in NYC (New York City) believing that I had died and I was trapped in some purgatorial existence (I am not even Catholic, we don’t have purgatory!!!). Life had gotten that bad. I had lost my job, lost my lover, was addicted to coke and majorly, majorly manic.

I too am manic depressive. It is controlled now with lithium, but before it was diagnosed I had some very bizarre experiences similar to yours. See my essay .

I staggered into a small Catholic church in Greenwich Village that was having a service by Dignity, the gay men’s catholic group.

One of the hymns was Be still and know that I am God. True, it was not in the hand-clapping vein of Gospel, but for me as manic and confused as I was, it soothed me and calmed me and damn it you!!! it helped me! It was someone’s art…someone’s music touching me another person. That is art. It is your own limitations and discriminatory habits that prevent you from appreciating Grace. Because you are angry at Christianity, or just don’t get it, you name call and push ignorance.

If someone served you a plate of ambrosia along side a dish of dog droppings, would you feel obligated to also eat the dog droppings just because you wanted the ambrosia? Normally a church offers you the dog doo belief in the inferiority of homosexuals and often women and blacks. Dignity is much closer to Jesus’s teaching than mainstream churches. They welcome everyone, not just the heterosexuals.

You sound bitter and self-pitying.

No, God does not save people from earthly death. We do not pray, as Christians, expecting people to be healed. Christ himself prayed, if it is in your will. We pray for the families, we pray for the individuals, we pray for strength.

I never prayed that my lover Jaime would be healed. I prayed for him to be able to pass easily, for God to be with him, for strength and solace for myself. I don’t pray for my own life to be spared… I know I will die, but now you criticize us for crying out to our Creator.

No, crying out is only natural. My complaint is with the phony claims of Christianity that all prayers are answered. Pray all you want, but don’t feel disappointed when nothing happens. Consider the folk wisdom that Heaven helps those who help themselves.

You seem to have a vision of a god that has no concern for his creation, that stays aloof and watches us like television.

Given his record on answering prayer, you are kidding yourself to believe otherwise. The universe is a very big place and we are not very important parts of it. How else do you explain why God so rarely intervenes?

You assume that such a powerful and enlightened being, somehow has less compassion than any human. And then you contradict yourself saying that it is Christians who lie about God. You criticize us for prayer, our faith. You assume your own intellectual superiority over a religious person, when the truth is none of us know anything for certain, we simply have faith. We believe. We hope.

My beef with the Christians is that they pretend their conjectures are incontrovertible Truth even when they have only the tiniest shred of evidence to support them. I think people should base their lives on the best possible estimate of what is actually true. Wishful thinking should be discouraged. Because a belief is comfortable or beautiful does not make it true.

Everyone questions his own beliefs. Christ knew that "My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?"

But my faith sprang up not out of easy living, or blind complacence. It sprung up when I realized that I had ended up so far out of the norm that I could never get back. And like the black sheep, God stepped in and intervened in my life.

Lastly, dearest, I will share with you one thing that I know to be fact!

When I ended up in a hospital, abandoned by my family (not Quakers!), with no one to talk to. With friends and life all but gone.. there was a quote on a sign hanging in my hospital room. The narrator was supposed to be God and we was talking about how sometimes parents expect us to clean up our own mess. I really didn’t get it!!! I read it everyday for a month!!!! I just didn’t get it!

After I was released from the hospital, my sister (who is also gay) took me to the Gay Metropolitan Church. The woman pastor who came out to give the sermon, said she had a sermon prepared, but wanted to read a quote she had come across that day that was one of her old favorites. She began reading it and it was the same obscure quote that had hung on my hospital wall!

I swear to you sir, that is true. And I began crying…it was a fucking obscure quote ! No one had visited me in that hospital room, I was alone! Until I realized that God was in that room with me.

That could well be. However that is still does nothing to convince me the fire and brimstone depiction of a vengeful God so popular with fundamentalists is true. The Christian depiction of God is both a lie and an insult. If God exists, He is infinitely greater than the disgustingly petty grumpy old grandfather depicted in the Bible.

Don’t spend what valuable time lashing out against society’s ignorance. Don’t expend your energies on name calling and judgementalism. It is not worth it.

The hypocrites that have annoyed you so, are the same venomous type of religious scribes and pharasees that harassed and doubted Jesus Christ.

Take Care and don’t forget about putting that mint!!!!


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