Do you know what I discovered this week? I’ve been so engrossed in finishing my second book (Fleeing Oz) that Easter week snuck up on me, and the rest of life has passed me by as if it were on a bullet train from Tokyo to Hiroshima. My apologies to all my blogger friends for going AWOL these past several weeks and not keeping up with your posts. But you’re all writers, and you know (and hopefully understand) what it is like to have to meet a deadline for a book that has taken a year to come to fruition—not to mention trying to sell a house, buy another house, and move to another town in the midst of getting older by the minute. (“Become a writer when you retire,” they said; “It will be fun,” they said. Auuuggghhh!) Anyway, my second book is finished, thank God, and it will launch in May. Glory hallelujah! Maybe, I will get to have sex with my husband again, get to feel the sun on my face, and work on a garden at the new house sometime soon. Shoot, maybe I’ll get to eat something besides popcorn, boiled eggs, pumpkin seeds, and coffee—lots and lots of coffee.
Writing meme courtesy of www.ermiliablog.wordpress.com
Fleeing Oz is a humorous memoir based on my diaries about spending 40 years in the predominantly White, right-wing stream of the Christian church and my subsequent divorce from it. (Yes, Virginia, there is such an anomaly as a Black Christian, Conservative, Right-wing Republican! Fox News doesn’t make this shit up, and Dr. Ben Carson, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, and that nasty-ass Herman Cain aren’t the only ones.) As I relived this journey through the eyes of my multitudinous journal entries, I was appalled at all the evil I stupidly embraced under the banner of “following Jesus” (1 ½ cults, 1 soulless mega-church, 2 heartless, wannabe mega-churches, and 9 or more “shoot-me-now-because-I’m-so-bored, I’d-rather-be-doing-shots-with-the-devil-than-sit-through-one-more-sermon-from-an-ignorant-arrogant-clueless-preacher-like-you”).
Part of the research I read to write Fleeing Oz was a book entitled People of the Lie: The Hope for Healing Human Evil by M. Scott Peck. As I tried to sort out in my book why I participated in some of the heinous things I did (why most people do what they do in the name of religion), I realized I had more questions than answers about God and “the way things are on this planet.”
There are three chimes which form a media call-to-attention that rattle me to my core every morning: “C,” the second note “A” (a major 6 up) and “F” (a major 3rd down)—sol, la, do (for my musician readers). They tonally spell NBC: Breaking News! Every time I hear those intervals followed by the words “breaking news,” my stomach seizes up. Each new three-tone chime from NBC News introduces a new level of evil. Just when I decide that I’ve figured out a way to sidestep the terror of ISIS, or find a neighborhood where there are no robbers, rapists, and racists, or cut out traveling anywhere near the continent of Africa or the country of North Korea, the tones “C-A-F” confront me with the possibility of a new evil that I never once thought about until “Breaking News.”
NBC: Breaking News! Pilot willfully crashes commercial plane into the French Alps, killing all 150 on board. He was not a terrorist (whew!), but he was a tad bit depressed!
(I may truly never have the courage to fly again without a psychiatrist at my side and a bag full of anti-psychotic drugs in my purse. When I get on a plane, I will demand to greet the pilots and look them in their eyes. If their eyes shift from my scrutinizing gaze for even a nano-second, I am hitting the exit door that activates the emergency chute, and I am out of there faster than you can say “Happy Easter”!)
Used by permission: Steve Sack, The Minneapolis Star Tribune
I give up! I can’t outrun, outsmart, or outmaneuver evil. It always seems to be two steps ahead of me, and the sheer cacophony of the rattling of the death sabers yanks me to my knees. Will I be next? Will someone I love be fed into the gaping jaws of evil? Why do bad things happen to good people? Will there ever be peace on Earth? Where is God in the mix of all this evil? All these questions lead me to Easter because Easter, in some weird way, gives me hope and the assurance that something bigger than myself and beyond this Earth is in control. I know that God does not cause evil. People have the power of freewill to choose to do evil things. Because the god that I call Jesus suffered evil, was murdered, buried, and rose again, I have hope that I too shall rise in courage, in grace, in joy—in eternal life—in response to any evil that might come my way. But I can’t say that I’m not scandalized by it all. I have to constantly fall to my knees and pray for understanding and grace. I have to constantly forgive God for not putting a stop to it all in his infinite power as I try not to be scandalized by his seemingly inaction. I have to trust that something good will come from it all.
Writing Fleeing Oz has made me see how much evil is within me—how often I failed to defend, protect, and support those in need of my help. I need to understand Easter on a deeper level if I am to survive myself and others. So this Easter I shall meditate on the writings of the Episcopal priest, David Henson, who has a better handle on Easter than any theologian I’ve ever read. He gives me hope!
A HOMILY FOR EASTER
by David R. Henson
Goddamn injustice, slavery and rape.
Goddamn that strange fruit of bigotry and hate
Goddamn indifference, apathy and waste
Goddamn despair, depression, the wait
Goddamn Good Friday
And a Goddamn cross
Goddamned it all,
Goddamned it too late
Yet we live like it’s Easter
Like God has been raised
We live like it’s light,
In spite of the dark.
We live like there’s joy
With spite in our hearts
For all that remain of our Goddamned days
Christ of Saint John of the Cross by Salvador Dalí, 1951
“A man who was completely innocent, offered himself as a sacrifice for the good of others, including his enemies, and became the ransom of the world. It was a perfect act.”—Mahatma Gandhi
“The great gift of Easter is hope – Christian hope which makes us have that confidence in God, in his ultimate triumph, and in his goodness and love, which nothing can shake.”—Basil Hume
*“But, when I look at the world, the suffering of consciousness, the evil that infects, the despair of life, the hunger that distends bellies, the enslavement of the poor to the rich, and the rich to riches . . . when I look myself, the way I am made, my own experiences of despair and hopelessness . . . I see the kind of brokenness that begs for forgiveness, but of a wholly different kind than the prayers we say while pounding our chests. At some point, we have to learn to forgive God.”—David Henson
“Let every man and woman count himself immortal. Let him catch the revelation of Jesus in his resurrection. Let him say not merely, ‘Christ is risen,’ but ‘I shall rise.’”—Phillips Brooks
HAVE A GLORIOUS EASTER! Used by permission: Rick McKee, The Augusta Chronicle
QUOTES COURTESY OF www.brainyquote.com
Fleeing Oz (Book 2 in the Discovery Series) coming in May!
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