Do you know what I discovered this week? Charlottesville and Houston had similar “aha” moments for me. I’ve basically been sitting in sackcloth and ashes for several weeks—unable to pray to God or write a blog—ever since the hate-filled murderous march of the KKK/Neo Nazis/Alt-right in Charlottesville. Back when I was a child, they wore hoods to hide their faces—now they are unashamed to commit murder with open faces and lit torches to illuminate their visceral hate. I have been numb ever since—barely able to breathe and scared stiff for every Jew, African-American, Latino, and anyone with the slightest melanin in their skin. Worried sick that this hatred would wash up on the shores of my children and grandson’s lives.
At first I just put on a shapeless, itchy, sackcloth dress (think burlap coffee sack) while still wearing full diva makeup to signify my mournful state, but when Trump refused to issue a full-throated rebuke to the KKK/Neo-Nazis/Alt-right demons who proclaimed their racist hatred in his name, I stripped my face of makeup and smeared my body with ashes like the old biblical characters. I also expected to hear a loud thunderous rebuke from the Christians who support Trump about his lackluster rebuke of our domestic terrorists, but all I heard were crickets. White Christians I once knew who once upon a time said they loved me “in the Lord” were now justifying the actions of the White Supremacists on their Facebook pages. I was so hurt that I sat down on the ground and proceeded to engage in an African death ritual. In the dust I mourned the passing of truth, the manifestation of the love of Jesus, as well as my naïve concept of our national unity.
Then Hurricane Harvey struck, and I really started crying. Not just crying, but sobbing—that ugly hysterical kind of crying, which turns you into a Tammy Faye Bakker replica. I cried because I couldn’t see God anywhere in all this horrible devastation.
But on the third day, I noticed something that gave me hope that he might be on the move: American men and women of all stripes risking their lives to save people of all stripes and not one of them asked if the other were something they weren’t or didn’t like. Christians rescuing non-Christians, straight rescuing gay, immigrant rescuing life-long Texans, Blacks rescuing Whites, and vice versa. They all were elated to help and be helped. It was then that I got up out of the ashes, and started writing letters of observation to God because it looked as if he had showed up in the storm.
It’s me—Eleanor. You know, the one who is constantly nagging you day and night about the sorry state of our human affairs.
I’ve been wondering where you’ve been. The scientists are saying this situation in Texas is a 1,000-year flood event unprecedented in scale, and places in and around Texas may never recover.
You’ve been awful quiet of late. Were you dealing with the severe flooding in Asia which I hear has caused a couple thousand deaths, and there may be more to come in the monsoon season? Or were you preoccupied with the despair in Africa over the severe famine that may starve out 20 million souls before all is said and done? Oh, I almost forgot about Syria—maybe you were there. I feel kind of wretched having barely noticed those other tragedies, but when it comes to my own country, I can’t sleep over the devastation in Texas. I know I should be more global thinking and feeling, but these are my countrymen and women, and it is in the country where I live. Right now the devastation in Texas is breaking my heart. The police don’t know how many still haven’t been rescued and the poor (who always seem to bear the brunt of these disasters) may not be able to recover—ever. Please help, please save, please deliver, and please restore my sisters and brothers—my human family—in Texas!
It’s me again. I’m sitting here scratching my allergic reaction to my burlap bag and wondering why you allow so much suffering to happen to us. I know that humans have been asking their gods this since the evolution of man, and it has always remained a very squishy topic and a mystery. It would be a lot simpler if you sat down for an interview on CNN or with the NY Times and did a Q&A on the subject. You could start out by making yourself visible (not being able to see you creates more problems than you can possibly imagine) and letting us know that you are more than our pathetic miniature concepts of you as a god. Maybe we could withstand the trauma of the journey better if we understood the “why” of the destination. There are a lot of precious people in Texas who are never going to be able to put their lives back together again. The rich might be able to, but the poor won’t.
Before I fled Oz (the Christian Church), I used to glibly look at disasters like Texas and equate it to your will—your judgment for some sin that had gotten on your nerves—as if you were a petulant Greek god. (I’m sure you’re appalled to hear that attributed to your character, just as I am horrified to admit it.) Let’s just say I had been taught about the essence of your character by some very ignorant people, which is why I no longer attend church. At least I’m “woke” now. Now I know you are a God of love and spewing destruction is not in your wheelhouse.
But do you know what will probably make you vomit? When Hurricane Sandy hit the New York area, Christian leaders like Dobson, Robertson, Franklyn Graham (and many Texan Mega-Church Christians) blamed it on your wrath for the liberal ways of those “northern elites” who supported abortion and gay marriage. Two Texas (born-again Christians) Republicans tried to block relief and recovery aid to New York and New Jersey. When Hurricane Katrina practically wiped out New Orleans, those same folks blamed the gay and lesbian communities. Houston has at least 37 mega churches and 53,525 Christian adherents per every 100,000 persons. Yet, I haven’t heard one Christian conservative call Hurricane Harvey—the worst disaster in American history—an act of God’s will because of some perceived sin(s) committed by the Texans. Isn’t that ironic?
Okay, I did find an egregious sin in Houston that warrants your immediate smack down. There’s this dude who claims to know you and speak for you. His name is Joel Osteen. He has a church of 43,500 attendees and a facility so huge that you could show up one Sunday in all your glory surrounded by 10,000 twelve-foot angels, and no one would ever notice you were there—that is, if you ever deigned to set foot in the place. His church is the biggest in Houston. Osteen is reportedly worth $40 million and lives in a $10 million mansion in Houston’s River Oaks neighborhood, and all of it gotten by trying to sell access to a prosperous life via you. (Is this bringing up shades of you ridding the temple of the money lenders back in the day?)
Anyway, I’m writing to squeal on Osteen’s behind. While furniture stores were opening up their businesses to house refugees, sporting goods stores were housing entire emergency rescue teams, and ordinary people were taking in strangers in their homes, this dude shuttered his church (your so-called house) doors. Twenty-five mosques opened their doors immediately upon the onset of the storm to become centers of refuge for their fellow citizens—regardless of religion. Meanwhile, down in the flooded streets of Houston, people were using whatever would float to rescue others, and I even saw a couple guys wearing hats with the NWA logo (“Niggas with Attitudes”) carrying a little ol’ White lady through the flood water to safety.
Now Osteen says he didn’t really close the church (there is a video that shows otherwise). His church is open now, but only because Twitter went all, “Hell to the no, Joel Osteen–you should have been the first in line to rescue your fellow Houstonians after all the money you’ve soaked them for.” HOWEVER, he later contradicted himself and said he didn’t initially open his church because he was never asked to open it as a rescue center. (FYI—none of the thousands of volunteers who showed up were asked, they were simply being human.)
May I suggest you talk to your boy, Lord Jesus, and get him to straighten up and fly right. Cause if you don’t, Houston is getting ready to open up a can of whup ass on him for being so “un-Christlike.” While you’re at it, would you mind schooling Osteen on the fact that the “prosperity doctrine” he pushes in your name (God will make Christians rich if they give at least 10% of their money to people like him so he can have a house the size of a hotel and a private jet) is pretty obscene, and it has nothing to do with you? Osteen and all the rest of that prosperity gospel gang (most of whom are ardent supporters of Donald Trump) are really giving you a bad rep. By the time they are finished, you won’t be able to pay people to become Christians. Just looking out for your reputation. Love and Kisses, Eleanor
ELEANOR’S SELAH (“AHA”) REGARDING GOD IN THE MIDST OF PAIN
I am discovering that the spirit of Christ is always in our midst no matter how dark the night or how deep the pain—if we choose to acknowledge that presence. If there is anything good, or lovely, selfless or kind, there Jesus is. That’s what I got woke to years ago, and I hope and pray that if I am ever caught up in a disaster such as the one in Houston, or Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, or September 11th, that I’ll be one of the people God can count on to administer his love, his grace, his mercy, and his comfort to those around me regardless of who they are and without hesitation.
“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”—John 15:13
“Nature is value-free. It can’t tell the role between the deserving and the undeserving. God’s role is not to decide where the hurricane goes and how severe it is. God’s role is to motivate people to help neighbors and improve methods to predict hurricanes. God is found not in the problem, but in the resilience.”—Rabbi Kushner, author of “When Bad Things Happen to Good People”
“You, me, and the citizens of this country carry a special burden in 2017. We have to do what our president has not. We have to uphold America’s values. We have to do what he will not.”—Vice President, Joe Biden
WANT TO READ MORE OF THE AUTHOR’S WORK? CHECK OUT HER LATEST BOOK: “THE FETUS CHRONICLES: PODCASTS FROM MY MISEDUCATED SELF” ON SALE NOW AT AMAZON!
WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT THE AUTHOR? CHECK OUT HER WEBSITE: www.eleanortomczyk.com
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Eleanor Tomczyk and “How the Hell Did I End Up Here?” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.