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The Devil, Prince and Me

I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth; And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord: who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; the third day he rose from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy *catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen

The Methodist version of  The Apostles Creed 


As I knelt in front of the altar reciting this in my pristine white dress with my hair freshly permed, (permenantly straightened) I remember feeling a sense of accomplishment.  I was getting confirmed -- I was going to become a member of the United Methodist Church in my own right.  I did well in my confirmation classes. I memorized three creeds, The Apostles Creed (which I still remember), the Nicene Creed and another creed which of I've forgotten the name. I learned the history of the Methodist Church and of its liturgies and at 11 years old, I couldn't have been more proud of myself.


However, I had a dark secret - something I felt so ashamed of that I prayed to God and asked him deliver me from my sinful nature.  I wanted to be a good girl and a good Methodist.  What was my dark secret?  I liked -- no LOVED Prince. In the 80's and much like it is now, I suppose, artists and our tastes in music defined who we were to our peers.  There were many rivalries between artists in the 80's and most of them were instigated by the fans. Amongst black girls in the 1980s, two performers had the most impact in defining who we were to each other -- Prince and Michael Jackson.  Prince was the bad boy. He oozed sex. Every song he sang and every performance he did was wrapped in a blanket of sexual suggestion.  He licked and humped his guitar and he caressed his body while staring directly at some lucky woman in the audience. His falsetto voice sounded like he was constantly on the edge or orgasm and it didn't help that he had and still has a nice, firm, perfectly formed posterior.  Michael Jackson, on the other hand was the boy next door. He was the guy you wanted to take home to mom and dad. You could imagine going steady with him and receiving that precious first kiss on the day he asked you to be his girl. His falsetto voice was as sweet as honey and when he sang a ballad women would drop like flies. Before his unfortunate plastic surgeries and his penchant for grabbing his crotch, he seriously was a force to be reckoned with.  So, if you were a Prince fan, you were a bad girl and if you were a Michael Jackson fan, you were a good girl. Of course, it was absolutely possible to like both--and I did -- however, during those days no respectable church girl would ever admit to liking Prince.  He was just the Devil! This really slammed into my psyche when my cousin Felicia, who is the daughter of a Baptist preacher told me one day,


            "I can't believe anyone could like Prince. He's so nasty! He's bad and he needs to be saved."


I felt so guilty that I decided not to even look at a magazine if I saw Prince's picture in it.  This was extremely hard to do. Not only was he in every teen magazine on the newsstands, he was too damned sexy not to at least spare a glance .  One day, my dad brought home the 1999 album. In it there was a picture of Prince drawing in a bed of purple satin sheets.  The covers were pulled down to  show the top half of that magnificent deriere.  I remember staring at it feeling hot and flushed. On top of that, my tummy started to feel funny.  I had to face the facts.  I liked Prince and I was going to fry in hell for it! It was inevitable. 


In all honesty,  most of the content of his songs were things I didn't understand.  For instance, he had a song called "Head" on a previous album.  I thought the man was saying "hey".  Even though the content matter was something I wasn't able to comprehend, the way the song was sung just gave you the impression that it was something naughty. On the 1999 album he had a song called "International Lover" in which he compared himself to an airplane ride.  He moaned and sang so breathlessly that I refused to listen to it. 


In an attempt to forget my feelings for "His Royal Badness", I decided to replace him with Michael Jackson.  It wasn't too hard because at the time Michael came out with Thriller which was a bad assed album.  The Thriller video was and still is the livest mean tightest video ever made. Then came Purple Rain. For almost two years I had been able to fight my love for Prince, but the song "Let's Go Crazy" hit the air waves and I went nuts my damned self!   When he released "When Doves Cry" my resolve weakened and I found myself wanting -- no NEEDING that album!  I didn't dare ask for it for my birthday and I definitely didn't pray for it.  Once again, my father acting as Satan's helper came home with the album.  When I listened to the album I realized "Computer Blue", "The Beautiful Ones" and "Darling Nikki" had to be the sexiest songs I'd ever heard! I was doomed.  I once again prayed for deliverance from my sinful nature.  I was glad that I was too young to see the movie Purple Rain in theaters. 


Because my dad is an engineer and a gadget-o-holic, we were always one of the first people in the neighborhood to have the latest inventions.  We were pleased as punch when he bought home our first VCR.  It was the size of a stereo and the remotes came with wires that attatched to the cassette player.  When you pressed a button at the top of the VCR, the tape bed would pop up! People would come over and watch movies at our house all the time.  One day, Daddy, who I felt at the times was probably prompted by Beelzebub again, came home with none other than the movie Purple Rain on video. How could I resist?  How was I supposed to fight the pull of lust when I knew Prince would be riding around Minnesota in tight pants on motorcycle?  I decided to give up.  I couldn't fight it anymore.  I loved him damn it and I didn't care who knew.  I called my cousin Felicia that night and confessed that I liked Prince and saw Purple Rain.  She replied, "Cool Cuz. That video for "When Doves Cry" is all the way live!" (Cousin Felicia eventually started rapping and singing under the stage name Lee-Lee). My mother soon after confessed that she liked Prince's song "Count Your Blessings."  We later figured out she meant the song "Controversy". She thought he was saying "count your blessings".  Daddy said he liked Prince because he thought Prince was a musical genius.  When I thought about it, I knew he had a point.  The man wrote and produced his own songs. It was said that he played about 17 different instruments and he came up with a very distinct sound of his own. He was a good performer and he had catchy tunes. No wonder I liked him! 


I find it funny that the more I prayed for God to deliver me from my lust for Prince, the more I was exposed to Prince.  I no longer think my dad was a tool of Satan, but rather a voice of reason.  We are both music lovers and I was (am) a musician. It took my dad's explanation of why he liked Prince to make me realize how trivial I was being. Sure the man was sexual, so were a lot of performers. But, because I found myself aroused by him I felt like I was embracing sin.  If I had thought Prince was a crappy artist, I wouldn't have felt anything for him at all. It also helped me accept who I was and to not let other people define me.  Duality exists in just about everyone. 


So who was it for you?


Prince                                                    Michael



*the term catholic spelled with a lower case C comes from a Greek word meaning "universal" or "general"


Time and god
So I'm currently in this philosophy of religion class and we are discussing various things the most reacent of which is Gods relationship to time.

It's quite the undertaking an I don't think it's possible to come up with a good solid arguement for His being seperate from or bound to time. At least not doing so while keeping key attributes such as omnipotence and omnitence. I have generaly been of the opinion that god is seperate from time since I don't see how God could know the future if he were just as stuck in the present as I am. But this causes some problems becasue see now I had a begining [or so I think] and at some point I imagine I will go to heaven but I will have to arive there and WHEN do I arive in a state of timelessness.

I have come closer to the conclusion that I am in fact clinicly depressed. It's hard for me to believe, being a psych major and all. But I supose that doesn't really make me impervious to depression it just makes me perfectly equipt to rationalize away the symptomes for a lot longer than most. But I have to face it that I have issolated myself I prety much have one friend that I talk to regularly and I'm even starting to feel like she doesn't like me. I don't feel like what I have done in my  life is anything to be proud of, I don't really think I give people a reason to like me, for a long time now I've had a hard time looking to the future and making any sort of plans because I feel like there's not much point in it . A strange symptom I've recently noticed is one minute I'm feeling like everyone around me is inferior and I'm smarter, better looking, more succcessfull than everyone around me and then a little later I'll feel completely and utterly worthless and inadequate. I guess I'm feeling down and inconsistent. I've almost completley stopped writting, it's down to just the blog post here and there and those are so rare anymore I deleted all but two accounts. I don't have much interest in trying to paint anymore and I used to be very motivated to learn. I don't want to be around people but when I'm by myself I'm lonely- a lot of the time I'm lonely with people too. I don't like to talk to my family on the phone anymore becasue I'm afraid I'll eithor be a downer or dissapoint them. They'rae allyways saying how proud they are of me and I wish they would stop because is feels like a lie. I don't like to shop in public by myself because I feel like people stare at me. I'd like to just sort of retreat somewhere but I know that will probably  just make it worse. I don't have any particular person who looks forward to seeing me and that makes me feel like a looser. I think then "well find someone to make friends with- meet people" but then I get this pointless sense that anyone worth knowing already has friends and they don't have time for me. I feel like things have kind of gotten off track.

So yeah. That's something isn't it.

*Almost 10 years later*
I'm looking at this almost 10 years later and I'll tell you it got worse before it got better, for sure! I never sought "professional help". I sort of counseled myself and made strategies for when things got "too hard". And then when it got really too hard and the thought of driving into on coming traffic or imagining shooting myself in the head became too frequent and too comforting a thought: I ran away. I moved home. And that was right. Sometimes I think it was a bit of a failure to have moved back home but there's nothing wrong with taking care of yourself and changing course.  And I only lived at home for a short time. I'm on my own again. I never fully explained to my family why I came home... sometimes I wonder if they sort of knew. They were definitely concerned about me at the time.
I'm a lot better now I would say but I'm very cognizant of where I've been emotionally and where I'm going.


Talk It Out
What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification. If anyone speaks in a tongue, it should be by two or at the most three, and each in turn, and one must interpret; but if there is no interpreter, he must keep silent in the church; and let him speak to himself and to God.
-1 Corinthians 14:26-28

That's a somewhat humorous, but also sobering, reference, given the situation.

(I'm not claiming to have the gift of speaking in tongues. Just that I know this passage, and it sheds light on another issue.)

We had a new guy at study last night. Knowledgeable person, experienced with the community we're part of, about ten years older than me - I was on one of my EXCITED! nights, and spoke

I hadn't really thought about it, until the second time he said, "Okay, I heard what you said but I didn't understand it," and realized later the number of times I've heard, "I know that was English, but I have no idea what you just said." At the time, I'd offered an off-the-cuff remark about Jewel being able to translate.

But I hadn't thought about how,
I speak quickly (years of Gilmore Girls at an early age)
With a mixed accent (born in NY, grew up in Midwest, lot of British tv, year in WY, couple of good friends are Texan - my sisters and I have a peculiar accent that we're unaware of but people recognize between us and nowhere else)
An unnecessarily-extensive vocabulary (I'm largely unaware of this, until someone points it out. Combination of my mother's verbosity and my bibliophilic lifestyle)
An intimate knowledge of grammatical rules, paired with a callous disregard for rules in general
A dry, whimsical sense of humor (I will often bury the point I'm making in the middle of two other things, just because it amuses me to do so)
...the list goes on. I don't really think of any of these, they're just all part of how I speak...but last night brought home to me that my pattern of communicating actually impedes communication.

I've been reading through the tail-end of Exodus this week. Good night, is there a lot of detail about the making of the tabernacle (the sacred tent this nomadic people had in place of a temple, to worship). This time around, though, something hit me; there are all these precious items being used in the making of the tabernacle, things beautiful, carefully wrought, and very valuable. (Rightly so, if you view your god as being beautiful and valuable, or if you want to make it clear that you value your god and want to give the best you have.) But I started thinking, somehow, about the ARRANGEMENT of all these things.

See, this is a very bloody religion - there's a LOT of animal sacrifices going on, and there's very clear detail about what sacrifice is appropriate for which situation, and there's also clear instruction about how to PREPARE the sacrifice - how it's killed, which parts are burned, which parts are thrown away, whether something gets incense sprinkled on it, which parts are offered as sacrifices and given to the priests to eat...lot of detail. By investing effort into getting all the details right, you showed that this matter was important to you. (I've long held a theory that that was Cain's issue - both Cain and Abel offered sacrifices, but I kind of have the impression that Cain wanted to offer a sacrifice according to the way HE wanted to present it, and Abel thought it was very important to know how GOD wanted it presented).

I started thinking about how all these precious items to make the tabernacle were given by the people - so much was given, in fact, that Moses had to tell them, "Okay, we have more than enough to do this, it's time to stop giving." But just the giving of precious things wouldn't honor God. You could just pile the beautiful fabric, the dyed rams' skins, the silver and bronze and oil, and it would be a mess. Yeah, you gave up something precious, but for what purpose? How is that mess honoring God?

And that's running very close to how I give to God. I'm not a very intentional person, and previously I held that as sort of a merit: "I'm a free spirit!" That celebrates me, maybe - but looking at the way I give to God, in that light...I have NOT been intentional. Opposite, really - it took a long time before I realized that I had anything God would value, but once I understood His giving nature, His love and that He delighted to give things to His children, I started to see what He had given me that I might be able to give back to Him.
But it's been fairly haphazard. "Oh! I have THIS. THIS is a good thing!" And then in my eagerness, I hurl it in God's general direction, or in the general direction of His people.

One of the other oddball skills all three of us have is a sort of chameleon-talent. I use it in a choir setting - listening, I can listen to the people on either side of me, and sort of average out their tone/pitch/vowels into a third supporting voice - that doesn't sound like a third. It sounds like those two just got stronger and blended. I love doing that, and no one noticing that's what I'm doing. (There are a LOT of things I like doing because they're a good thing to do, and I get a sort of thrill when I can pull it off without anyone realizing I'm the one who did it.) Butterfly uses this socially - she'll listen and figure out what people value, and craft a conversation that brings people closer without clashing (she's probably the most elite of the three of us with this). Starfish uses it to hide - she'll adapt her personality to whatever the general personality of the group is, so she doesn't stand out or attract attention (good luck with that - she has the most striking looks of the three of us).

Now I'm looking at each of these talents, thinking, "Huh. Can this be better used, somehow?" I've basically been using language to impede communication - that wasn't my intention, but that was the result. In a group, I would probably do very well to sit and listen a great deal, and follow the speech patterns to figure out what THIS group thinks is English, and then match that.

Because, without Jewel or Nike around, no one's going to be able to interpret.

It's reality, fuck it, it's everything but me...
What drove me here today is an image posted on Facebook by a former teacher at our school. Another one of my friends posted the same picture. Usually I don't politic on the Facebook, but I couldn't help myself as it made me so upset. It was an image of a t-shirt that read:

Why do you allow so much violence in our schools?
a concerned student

I'm not allowed in schools.

To which I responded: To suggest that what happened in Newtown was because of the absence of God in our schools is absurd and spiteful. We cannot take belief or disbelief out of schools. Last time I checked, we don't live in Old Testament times. Frogs and world floods don't fall out of the sky anymore. It's ironic that God only gets thanked for happy shit, but immediately after something unexplainable happens, it is birdbrained to blame it all on the lack of God. That shit belongs to the disillusioned, and I hope you'd never teach that to your kid. If you think God had his hands in this out of spite, then I hope he also puts his fists in your face. So instead, think about invoking the name of God to help people cope, which is one of the primary reasons for religion, instead of using it to explain violence on kids.

Safe to say she deleted me within hours with no rebuttal or comment. And all I have to say is: pathetic.

A teacher of all people. A teacher.

Anyway, students asked me today what I think of it all, because they had been talking about the shooting in all of their other classes. I did not address it on Monday or Tuesday. They asked me today if teachers should have guns. I only responded with that's ridiculous and a terrible idea. Another student chimed in and that was that. I decided not to talk about it. I will, however, discuss it tomorrow. I find it important to give the tragedy some time. Out of respect for the kids and adults who died, and the others who survived, whom I imagine would detest anyone who wore that shirt.

I'm sure my students will ask many of those questions, to which I will reply with my opinions if they wish to hear them. I've thought about it, and I think they can handle one of my opinions, all of which I keep to myself. In my classroom I play devil's advocate, challenging all, because students most of the time don't have the evidence or logos to back their arguments. Sadly, most adults don't either. But I do feel like people have their minds set on one issue when they are really more involved. Gun control, mental health care, and culture all play a role.

I've always been an advocate of spreading the word on what happened in Beslan School One on September 1st, 2004. It was only a matter of time before something even close to that scale happened here. It has that same feeling to it. That tragedy was one of the reasons I became a teacher to begin with.

Sadly, the problem here, more than gun control, more than mental healthcare, more than culture, is ourselves. We, as people, need to realize that all we are is human. Anyone is capable of committing terrible acts of violence because we are human. I think this tragedy is a time for introspection rather than outer judgement and public debate. These are the times to ask ourselves who we are as people? Are we capable of doing things like this? How can we prevent ourselves from ever acting out in such a way, then ask how we can prevent others from doing that? Sure, many acts of extreme violence have been committed by "people off their rocker." But look up statistics of violent crime and the interviews of their neighbors. "He was normal. She was sweet. They'd never do something like this."

These people are human, just like you and me. What can truly prevent this?


I know.

Of course.

It is everything but me.

"You know who will inherit the earth? Gun dealers. The rest of us are too busy killing each other. That's the secret to survival. Never go to war, especially with yourself."

We enable ourselves and each other by thinking about what ourselves would do or would not do. But unfortunately the world is bigger than us. People kill. And semi-automatics (or the euphemistic Modern Sporting Rifles) make it easier. We cannot accept the fact that mental and behavioral disorders are impossible to fix. If we do, why would we try to fix anything else about society (and ourselves)? It's about time we think about what is really important. If violence meets children, something has to change.

People think because they own a gun they're safer when in fact they themselves can be the danger. We try to convince ourselves otherwise by using words like sane, Christian, and American.

I've never spoke out for or against gun control. It took me years or hearing arguments to come to my own conclusion. Ridding ourselves of guns completely won't work. It wouldn't work for drugs or nuclear weapons.

Regardless of what we think, we need to think about those kids. And what we can do to make it as difficult and reasonable as possible to prevent this from happening again because what we are doing now, clearly isn't good enough.

That being said. Here is a puppy.


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