Posts Tagged ‘religion’

If the Shoe Doesn’t Fit

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

I used to define myself as a Christian. I don’t anymore.

The shoe didn’t fit, so I stopped wearing it. Simple, really. And yet not.

Because when pressed to define my faith,  I have trouble coming up with an accurate term. A comfortable box to shove myself into. A category that encompasses all the whys and wherefores.

So I was intrigued by a definition I stumbled across recently in the back of a fantasy novel. (Sidenote: Many sci-fi/fantasy novels have really thoughtful and insightful takes on religion. I’ve read books by Jacqueline Carey and Robin McKinley, specifically, that caused me to think about my own experiences with God/churches/etc.  in whole new ways. )

This particular book was The Killing Moon by N.K. Jemisin. In the “Extras” section at the end of the book, Jemisin answers a question about exploring religion in her writing with this statement:

“Well, I consider myself an agnostic–not in the sense of doubting the existence of God, but in the sense of doubting the capability of any human religion to encompass the divine. More specifically I think religion alone is not enough to encompass the divine. Religion is a handy guide to living, assuming you’re still living in the society that existed at the time of the religion’s founding. It’s useful for unifying and motivating a population. But to understand ourselves and the universe, we need to explore other schools of thought–the complexity of the human consciousness, the limits of science, and more. I believe we will eventually need to interact with other intelligent entities, and exchange ideas. And we need to be wary of the ways in which letting others do this thinking and learning for us can come back to bite us on the ass.”

There is much about Jemisin’s answer that resonates with me. But in being a student of the divine, I have a long way to go. Many questions to ask and schools of thought to explore. But the older I get, the more strongly I believe that life isn’t about finding security in rote answers. Real living isn’t reciting catechism or memorizing prayers someone else wrote.

Life is seeking. Reaching. Asking. Taking a journey in search of the divine that doesn’t quite look like anybody else’s personal quest.

Some can embark on this journey from within the confines–the body–of a church. That’s a fine and beautiful thing.

I couldn’t do it. Can’t. Won’t.

So I left, and here I wander. But, to borrow from that Tolkien quote you see so often on the bumpers of cars, “Not all those who wander are lost.”

And neither am I.

-Lo, who means no disrespect to any whose shoe still fits.

 

 

The Mystery of It All

Saturday, May 10th, 2008

smm_talk
Mood: Busy
Drinking: Tea

I’ve been asked to post some information here that might be of interest for a few people who stop by this space.

Wow. That was vague.

Trying again: Not all of my faithful readers (oh you few, you happy few!) are poetry fans. Some of you are church people. Don’t deny it. I know you’re out there.

I have this whole other history of being a former church person, and for reasons which remain mysterious to me, I have a few fans in the pews even still.

If you’re new to the scene, you can catch up by reading this post back in February of 2007. It will give you the history of me and a little video called “This Is Who I Am” that’s been circulating the church scene for oh, about 10 years now. Yes. It’s true.

It will also tell you the story of how I traveled to Alabama last year to speak to a conference of Reverends and a church full of nice Southern people about why I don’t go to church anymore. Intriguing, no? (That’s a picture of me standing behind their nifty plexiglass pulpit right there.)

ANYhoo, for multiple reasons not exciting enough to get into here, I am now the proud copyright owner for not just one but two DVDs of things church-related.

And since a lot of people out there in church-land still want these DVDs, I now am the proud proprietor of another website, SundayMorningMisfit.com.

So if any of this made sense to you (or even if it didn’t), you can check out some clips and see what it’s all about over at www.sundaymorningmisfit.com. And if you’re still interested after that, you can buy yourself a shiny DVD.

That’s it for now…

-Lo, who thinks she looks like a wee little babe in that first video.

Peeves

Thursday, March 15th, 2007

internet_peevesMood: Stuffy. Crabby.
Slightly smelly.
Drinking:
Tea-time

Googling yourself is much like eaves- dropping.
You often end up hearing/ seeing/ reading things that you’d rather not know.

But who can resist the self-google, with its titillating promise of heretofore undiscovered gems about oneself? I cannot resist, Internet. Every once in a couple of weeks, I type my own name into the google box and let the link clicking begin.

Which brings me to one of my top five pet peeves. (It sits squarely in between public-sidewalk-loogie-hockers and close-line-standers/bumpers.) It makes me very cranky. And I have enough to be cranky about this week, Internet, what with the sudden onset of a spring fever, complete with a drippy nose, scratchy throat, and all-over aches. Not to mention the crazytown that work has been this week, plus a looming publishing deadline, uncooperative scheduling, and bangs that are now so long they prevent me from seeing properly.

I am justifiably crabby.

So. The peeve. Well, let me prevent bossy emails by first acknowledging that I do know when you put something out there, into the wide world, with or without the aid of the web, you no longer have control over where it goes, who sees it, how it is interpreted or mis-interpreted. I know this. But that doesn’t make me any less peeved when I find something that once was mine smeared all over somebody else’s blog without so much as a by-your-leave or even a simple spellcheck. But this is exactly what I discover all too often on one of my self-googling adventures.

Just a couple of days ago, a dude out there in blogland borrowed something of mine from his friend’s blog and reposted it. (And god knows where his friend got her copy. These things replicate faster than bunnies…) Basically, it’s the transcript of my infamous 1998 “This is who I am” video, copied and pasted without any appropriate paragraph breaks, making it virtually unreadable. I know the video is out there, making its tireless travels for nearly a decade now. But who in the world took time to sit down and transcribe the whole thing, word for word, so that well-meaning but ill-advised bloggers could manhandle it all over the Internet? At least this guy spelled my name right — but then he describes me as an “intense poet and blogger”. Um. Thanks?

But whatever. Blogger boy meant no harm, and although he really needs to learn how to break a paragraph, I’ll leave him well enough alone.

The Texan Preacher Man, however? Not so much. I discovered recently that someone, somewhere in Houston has decided to write a “discussion guide” to go along with the aforementioned infamous video. Unfortunately, Mister Discussion Guide is quite misled. Here’s how he describes Generation X:
“This is the generation of young adults born in the 1980’s who are coming of age in our world today. This is the generation born to the late Baby Boomers whose parents grew and matured during the late 1960’s and 1970’s. They were born in the gross materialism of the late Reagan era and the moral confusion of the Clinton sexual revolations (sic).”

Sorry, mister. You are wrong on so very many counts! You really must check your Wikipedia!

Texas Preacher Man also gets a great many things wrong in his version of my biography, and apparently thinks of me as an “internet poet and blogger”. Which, I guess, means that I write poems about the Internet? Or they exist only on the Internet? Or they are written with invisible ink that can only be read virtually? So many possibilities…

(One of my friends used to call himself the “Death Poet”, because of his penchant for writing about dead things. He had business cards and everything. Hmmmm. Perhaps I should market this Intense Internet Poet thing? …Nah.)

The interesting thing is that both of these peeve-makers seem to be aware of this website, with its handy “Says You” tab making it so easy to communicate with me. But neither of them have ever stopped by to say “Hi!” and “Oh, by the way, can I rewrite your biography and/or take your words completely out of context?”

I have written to Texas Preacher Man, thanks to the handy “feedback” link on his site, asking him to please correct his frighteningly obtuse errors, but that was two weeks ago and he hasn’t gotten back to me yet. Unsurprisingly.

Sweet.

And I know, naysayers, I know. I should be happy that anybody out there pays any attention at all. I should offer some benefit of doubt, I should cut some slack, I should quit my bitching, I should give a nod in the general direction of good intentions, I should, I should, I should.

But I’m not famous enough (not nearly) to have developed the thick skin necessary to not care about blatant misrepresentation. I am not used to getting ripped off, even by the well-meaning.

And also? Did I mention the runny nose, with accompanying red, chafey nostrils?

So leave me to my crabby. It’s entertaining.

-Lo, who needs to find the guy who made that mousepad and get another one.

The Good Wife

Tuesday, February 20th, 2007

forkyouMood: Grumpy
Drinking: Nope

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the whole wife thing. What it means to call yourself a wife. What it means to be one. Not so much because I’m fresh off an anniversary celebration, because I don’t really think of myself as Boy’s “wife.”

Let me shove my foot in my mouth a bit further in an effort to explain…I don’t think Boy and I have a typical all-American marriage. I mean, we’re not out there on the swingers limb or anything truly avant-garde, but I don’t wait at home crocheting doilies and watching the Bold and the Beautiful while he brings home the bacon.

Like most couples today, married or not, we both have a share in the bacon-bringing. And the cooking (him) and cleaning (me). And the budgeting (him) and scheduling (me). And all the other stuff of sharing a life. We make it work together. We are equals. Neither of us is better than or more important than or more powerful than the other.

And maybe it’s because I’m surrounded on all sides by San Francisco (yay!), but I don’t think of myself as “wife” so much as “partner.” I fear I’m making nothing but nonsense, so I’ll leave the word obsession and move on to my pet peeve of the post…

There’s a blog I’ve been reading lately which I really should probably run far away from, because it makes me all cranky and violent, but it’s like crack — conservative christian crazy crack — and I just keep going back for a fresh fix.

The woman who writes this blog is only a few years younger than me, but she lives on a faraway planet in a galaxy that’s light years from this one. Like myself, she grew up going to a conservative christian (baptist) school, but that’s all we have in common. I had fairly liberal, open-minded parents. Her parents were baptists to the core. (Her dad was a pastor. I knew him. He was a big bully.) I graduated and left that school far behind, opting instead for a state university and passport to the real world. She did the good baptist girl thing and went from baptist school to baptist college to baptist camp to baptist husband. She’s so scared of the real world, she can only peek at it through fingers and then run off and repent and bemoan the state of her “deceitful heart” all over the internet.

(Side pet peeve: Isn’t that what diaries are for? Spilling your most intimate secrets to a book with paper pages? A book nobody else gets to read? You know, the ones with the lock and key?)

She’s been writing lately about how she met her husband, and in addition to it being one of the most boring love stories of modern times, it has elements that are so weird, they are freaking my sister and I out. More than once, one of us will read the latest post and then call the other to say, “Can you believe it’s 2007 and people actually think this way?”

An example: This woman writes about her graduation from college and says, “Since I wasn’t dating anyone my senior year, I had NO IDEA what I was going to do after I graduated.” (screaming caps are hers)

I had to read that a few times over to make sure that was really what she said. I had forgotten that people in that world, the fundamentalist baptist world, actually think like that. The girls go to college for the express purpose of finding a husband. Their mothers and grandmothers and all the ladies back at the church pray every day that little Curlieque will find her mate, a good-God-fearing-christian-boy, preferably a preacher or missionary, somewhere in Bible-Believing Baptist Collegeland (the coveted MRS degree). And then she can finally fulfill her purpose for being on this earth by being a good wife, a “helpmeet” for the all-important male.

Not that there’s anything wrong with meeting your man in college and getting married, but most people go to college for a career, or at the very least, an education. How is it possible that a woman in this country can still measure her success by her marriagiability and then lose her shit before graduation because, even though she has a degree, she isn’t married, or *gasp* isn’t even dating! What — you can’t go out and get a job? You have to wait to have a husband to tell you what to do? But I digress…

The rest of her story goes on to describe her meeting her future husband while working at a christian camp and how they used to hang out at WalMart with a chaperone and how he wouldn’t talk to her until she finished her camp-prescribed Bible-memorization project and how he asked her parents’ permission to date her and told her that if her parents said no, he would never speak to her again.

It all just seems so quaint and so completely insane.

Especially when you consider that she had to be at least 21 when all of this stuff was happening. I mean, this is a girl who counts swear words in movies (The Guardian has 15), making special note of those that “take the Lord’s name in vain.” This is a woman, a nearly-30-year-old woman, who gets excited when her husband gives her 20 bucks to buy stamps for her craft projects, even though she has a full-time job (and paycheck) of her own.

I know I don’t know the whole story (although her blog seems to take care in recording every single last detail), and I know I just got back from a weekend of telling everybody who would listen to stop judging and just love each other. So — pot, kettle, and all that.

But really, it’s 2007! If your idea of a hot date is a stroll through the soulless aisles of WalMart, past the polyester sweatshop merchandise, wearing your best denim knee-length skirt, keeping at least six inches between you and your husband-to-be while a watchful chaperone dogs your every step, well, I’m sorry, but you’re a little off your nut!

I certainly don’t think everyone has to live their lives the way I would live. I have lots of friends who are all over the map with their relationships, their marriages, their lifestyles, and I’m all for lots of variety and people figuring out what works for them and what makes them happy. But come on — it’s got to be unhealthy to live a life of such repression and fear, to second guess every thought that’s not quite pure, to do things only when your husband gives you leave because “he is the spiritual head of the household”, and to beat yourself up for your imperfections by saying things like, “I’m trying to be a good wife, but it’s hard when I’m so selfish and lazy!”

The only explanation I can give for my addiction to reading this woman’s blog is that it’s like watching a Discovery channel special about an exotic tribe in a remote jungle who run about totally naked save for the gigantic clay plates stuck into their lower lips. It’s completely fascinating and utterly mystifying. I mean, I know the super-fundamentalist baptist church I went to when I was a kid still exists, and I even know who some of its current members are. But since I have removed myself so far from that world, and since I have proven myself to be such a black sheep to them that none of them would ever befriend me (unless they were trying to save me), this girl’s blog is a window inside these people’s world.

No wonder our country is in the state it’s in when there are people out there who still think the 1940s were the best of times.

So yes, this post is completely judgmental and very likely hypocritical and features a photo of forks for no good reason, but that’s what’s on my mind today, so that’s what you get. Enjoy!

-Lo, whose favorite Tori lyric used to be, “I wanna smash the faces of those beautiful boys, those Christian boys…”

Does someone need a hug?

Wednesday, February 14th, 2007

shinyandnewMood:
Un-Valentiney
Drinking: Water

Yes, we’re back. We’ve been back for 3 days, but I’ve been so exhausted that I’ve been hibernating like a very crabby bear.

Here’s something I learned this weekend: If you’re not a hugger by nature (and I am so not!), being hugged by hundreds of people will wear your ass right out.

Not to seem ungrateful…because I’m gonna store those hugs up like solar power. I don’t think I’ll need another hug for oh, a good five years or so.

Hugging issues aside, the weekend went well. For those who haven’t been paying attention, I spoke this past weekend at a conference and a church (yes, I said church) about being a “Sunday Morning Misfit”. Basically, I was asked to speak about why I don’t go to church. Which is a fun thing to talk about, really.

So I packed my bags and dragged Boy along and we spent our weekend in northern Alabama. We were given a rousing Southern welcome (complete with lots of tasty food), and the whole experience was both exhilarating and overwhelming. I’ve never received a welcome quite like that, and I’m still a bit mystified as to how it all happened. (Especially since my celebrity status back home is decidedly less starry.)

Some people at work today who found out about it asked, “Why Alabama?” And I said, “Cuz I’m big in Alabama!” Some people are superstars only in Japan. Some people have cult fan followings in Germany. Me? I’m big in Alabama.

Nothin’ wrong with that.

I have to give big props to Boy, not only for being brave enough to go with me, but also for running the show, literally. He sat in the soundbooth and ran all the shiny bits — the videos and multimedia stuff I brought along with me (because when a girl like me gets an hour on stage, she’s gotta bring the bells and whistles). He also ran various video and still cameras to make sure all the appropriate moments were recorded for posterity.

But most of all, I knew where to look across a crowded room when I needed a moment of sanity. When I needed someone to see me who knew where I came from, who wasn’t fooled by all the hooplah and spotlights. When I needed a co-conspirator so I could raise my eyebrows and say, “This is crazy, is it not?”

I met so many people that I began calling them all the wrong names (sorry, Thomas!) and so for all of you out there reading this who met me over the weekend, please hear this: It really was lovely to meet you. And I really did appreciate your kindness and your words and yes, all those hugs.

And now, it’s back to reality. Back to the grindstone. Back to work and dog-walking and sister-visiting and cinepoem-editing (there’s a new one called Elasticine that will be here soon, very very soon) and book-finishing. Back to my life. God, how I love it!

-Lo, who thinks there’s no place like San Francisco. And San Francisco is HOME.

Sunday Morning Misfit

Wednesday, February 7th, 2007

sundaymorningmisfitMood: Sticky
Drinking: Again with the tea

I’m taking to the sky in a few days. Which you already know if you read all that nonsense about my inability to pack a suitcase. Boy and I are heading south this time. To Alabama.

I’ve never spent much time in the south, although I was born in Virginia. But my parents moved me west and north before my third birthday, so I never had a chance to develop anything other than a mild Midwest twang. (Although after 6 years on the west coast, I now say “Dude!” far more often than is really necessary.)

I went to the Carolinas, once. I had a lapse in judgement while I was in college and dated a tall blonde boy with thin lips who went to a university in the southern-most Carolina. I flew down to visit him on my spring break. It was a bad idea all around, but that’s not Carolina’s fault.

Then there was the summer I lived in Indianapolis — I spent three months writing for The Indianapolis News/Star as part of the Pulliam Journalism Fellowship. And three months was more than enough time for me to decide there’s really nothing in Indiana that I want to go back for. Okay, except for my cousin Pam, who lives in Indiana. But that’s it!

So that’s the extent of my acquaintance with the southern states. (And I know Indiana doesn’t really count.)

But all that’s about to change. Boy and I are traveling to Decatur, Alabama, where I’ll spend the weekend doing something I haven’t done in six years. Going to church.

I know there’s no need to fly across nine states to get some pew time in, but this is a special sort of occasion. About six months ago, I received a request from the pastor of a Methodist church in Decatur. He had seen a video of a talk/essay/performance/whatever that I did back in 1998, and wanted me to come and speak at his church. I turned him down flat.

See, this video, “This Is Who I Am”, has been floating around the church world for quite a few years now and so I get speaking requests from church people from time to time. I always turn them down, for several reasons. The biggest of which is that “This Is Who I Am” is not who I am anymore. And most of the people who want me to come and speak at their church/conference/whatever don’t get that. They don’t read through my web site, they don’t pay attention to any of the poetry or cinepoems, and so they just have this idea of who I might be and what I might say from a 7-minute essay I wrote 9 years ago. And even back then, I wasn’t what you would call a Jesus-freak. But many of these speaking requests come from people who don’t do their homework. They see one little thing and just assume that of course I’ll be all rah-rah with pom-poms on the Christian float. They would be wrong.

But this guy from Alabama was different. He watched the cinepoems. He read all my web posts. He even bought a poetry book. And he still wanted me to come to Decatur.

Over the course of a few months and many emails, I became impressed with the sincerity of his request. But more than that, I felt like he had a pretty good idea of what I was all about, and he still kept inviting me to speak. He wasn’t deterred by the fact that I haven’t been to church in years or that I fully enjoy flinging the fuck-word around now and then or that I think Bush might be the devil or that I want gay people to be able to get married or even that I get really itchy around evangelicals.

In fact, he invited me to come and speak to his church about why I don’t go to church. I was completely flabbergasted. (And I don’t get to use that word very often!)

So I reconsidered. And then I said yes.

And then I spent the next four months wondering what in the world I was going to say. How was I going to justify all this attention? How was I going to make it worth these people’s while to fly me all the way from California? How was I going to offer them any wisdom, anything even the slightest bit meaningful or profound?

It all came together, finally, as it always does, and now I am sitting on 14 pages of words and 6 video excerpts. (The videos include a just-for-this-occasion cinepoem called “Sunday Morning Misfit” [that’s what the stained glass picture up above is from], and 5 interviews with a few of my favorite friends — people who are Sunday Morning Misfits just like me.) There’s no measly 7-minute essay happening this time around — I’ve got a good hour’s worth of things to say, and you know what? I am really excited about it. Not nervous or overwhelmed or unsure. Completely the opposite. I have stories to share that need to be heard, and I’m ready to go, mouth full of words.

I’ve received lots of really kind and welcoming emails from the people in Decatur over the past few months, and I am very much looking forward to meeting all of them. It’s safe to say that nothing quite like this has ever happened to me before, and I can’t wait to see how it all turns out.

No matter what, it certainly will not be boring!

-Lo, who really doesn’t mind being a misfit most of the time.

Heresy Is Such a Harsh Word

Thursday, August 31st, 2006

Mood: vacation-starved
Drinking: room-temperature water

I’ve been having discussions lately, email discussions, with a pastor named Mike from Alabama. They’ve been friendly discussions. Honest. Surprising, even. And yeah, I’d go so far to say they’ve been refreshing. With the exception of my friend DZ (who is also a man of the cloth), I haven’t had very many refreshing discussions with reverends over the course of my life.

Mike-from-Alabama asked me an interesting question the other day, and I had so much fun answering it, I thought I’d go bother the Internet with the results.

He asked, “If Jesus was sitting across from you, what would you ask him?”

I thought I’d have a million and one instant questions zinging through my head, but it actually took me quite a while to come up with a few that I felt like sharing. (Some things are better left in my head.)

So here are my top 20 questions for Jesus (and yes, I’d actually say the F word. It’s not like he hasn’t heard it from me before)…

1. Have you disowned George Bush yet?
2. Are you ever surprised by the depth of human depravity, or did you get used to it a long time ago?
3. The American Church: Modern Pharisees? Which is to say, if you were here today, would you overturn some tables?
4. When you lived on earth, did you have a dog?
5. Which pisses you off more, people saying “JesusFuckingChrist!” or people who use your name as a cloak of self-righteousness?
6. Are you really a virgin?
7. And in a related question, what’s the real story about you and Mary Magdalene?
8. Do you ever regret the whole “free will” thing?
9. Was David a “man after God’s own heart” because he was such an honest mess?
10. Gay marriage. Pro?
11. So when are you coming back, exactly? Is it a wait-and-see-how-bad-it-gets sort of thing, or do you already have it scheduled?
12. Why do you love me?
13. Did you think we’d do better than this, or did you expect us to fuck up the world this badly?
14. Faith. Hope. Love. Shouldn’t you have said that Love was the hardest?
15. Scarier political climate: Rome, B.C. or Washington D.C.?
16. How badly have Christians misquoted you, over the centuries?
17. If you were in a band, would you be the lead singer or the bass player? (And what would you call your band?)
18. Two thousand and six years later, have we completely missed the point?
19. What does Heaven smell like?
20. When it all comes down, in the end, will you give me answers, or will you leave me forever wondering?

-Lo, who thinks Heaven smells of violets in the rain, freshly-baked bread, horse barns, and Boy’s neck.

Master & Servant

Tuesday, July 19th, 2005

Mood: Sacriligious
Drinking: Water, glass #2

God is my djinni.
I keep him at my beck and call.

But I don’t make him work that often.
(Some days I don’t call at all.)

I keep him in a blue glass bottle
in the back corner of my mind.

He has his own dresser drawer,
toothbrush, razor and comb.

And he doesn’t disturb the
dusty important piles of
old phone numbers, def
leppard lyrics and the
sticky sweet taste of port wine.

It’s not his permanent address
(he does the omnipresent thing)

But I like to know where he is
at all hours
so we play house and pretend
that’s where he gets his mail.

It’s a comfortable arrangement.
Mutually beneficial.

I have a superhero on standby
and he knows I only knock
when I really, really mean it.

-Lo, with a pre-emptive “You think you know, but you have no idea!” snap.

Still in bed on a Sunday Morning

Sunday, May 8th, 2005

Mood: Waking life
Drinking: Too lazy to get up and get one

I’m all propped up on pillows with my wicked little laptop whilst the LeeLoo sits here staring at me, all wrinkly and doe-eyed, hoping I’ve got a jar of peanut butter or some other tasty niblet stashed in the bedside table. Boy’s side is empty ‘cuz he’s somewhere in Colorado, heading this way by car with our fabulous friend MTB. After years of baldfaced begging and not-so-subtle hints on our part, MTB is taking the plunge and moving from Gnashville to San Francisco, and we are beside ourselves with excitement about the whole thing. So MTB and Boy, who are former roommates and lifetime friends, are doing the male bonding thing by driving through moutains & desert together for a coupla days.

Believe me, if we could relocate all our friends to our favorite city, we would.

Usually on Sunday mornings I wake up, check the clock and roll back over for my one-day-a-week of uninterrupted sleep-in time. But today, for the first time in a long time, I thought, “Hey, it’s Sunday. And somewhere out there, lotsa people are going to church.” And then I rolled back over.

I used to be one of those church girls. I grew up in it. My parents were sporadic church attenders, but since they wanted my sister and I to get a good education, they sent us to a parochial school. We got a good education and more than our fair share of irrational guilt. Chapel was mandatory. And they (not my parents, the school) guilted you into church attendance, too. Not just Sunday morning, but Sunday night and Wednesday night. “Every time the church doors are open,” was the saying.

The story of how I came to be the non-church-attending heathen I am today is a longwinded tale, and my fingers have just woken up and haven’t eaten yet, so they’re not even going to attempt the marathon typing session that would require. I’ll just say that all those preachers in all those ill-fitting JCPenney suits who pounded their Bibles at us in all those midweek chapel sessions, well, they were wrong.

They were wrong about a great many things. But in this case, they were wrong when they made fun of people who favored the solace of nature over church. I can’t even count the times I heard the example of the “backslidden Christian” who said, “I feel closer to God out in the woods/beach/desert/mountains than in a church, so that is where I do my worshipping.” And all those small-town preachers used to smirk and scoff and say “Can you believe that nonsense? THE CHURCH is where you worship. Among God’s people. Do not forsake the assembling of yourselves together! Mutter, mutter, mutter.”

Well, I have forsaken the assembling. I have forsaken it for the woods and the beach. I have forsaken it BECAUSE of “God’s people”. This is not to say that I think all of those who call themselves Christians are to be avoided. My parents, my sister, my brother-in-law, some of my good friends are all church-attending Christians, and I have nothing but respect for them and for the way they lead their lives. They are amazing, loving, kind and brilliant people.

But, truth be told, the majority of Christians I have encoutered in my history of church are to be avoided. And I have done that, rather successfully, for the past 5 or so years.

But there’s this thing that I did that still connects me to the church world, and today that’s what made me wake up and think of pews. Back in 1998, when I lived in Chicago, a friend of mine asked me for a favor. He was speaking at a Christian conference in this really huge (freakish, frightening) church, about Generation X. (Which was, at the time, all the rage.)

Being the GenX poster child that I was, at the time, and being a practiced performance poet (which I also was, at the time), my friend asked me to write a piece about what it meant to be a GenX’er and read it during his session at this conference. He told me that the audience was 99% Baby Boomers and that they had no understanding of my generation.

So I did. I wrote this piece, an essay-type-thing, titled “This is who I am.” And I read it for this audience of Boomers, a couple thousand of them. I read it with absolutely no comprehension of what a big deal it would become.

Seven years later, people still talk to me about that performance. See, it was videotaped. And the video has been copied and sold and sold and sold. It’s been shown in classrooms and churches and conferences. It’s been taken to Norway and Australia and Florida. And this week I received, through this web site, two separate emails from two people who just saw the video.

I would have been a lot more nervous at that performance had I known how long this thing would last. I definitely would have written it differently. Because us GenXers, we’re not the thing anymore. We’re all grown up and having babies and mortgages and making sure our cars have 4-doors. And yet this video, this little speech about a generation gap, it lives on and on and on.

And people somehow still find it relevant. And moving. And powerful, even. And most of these people are church people. They write and tell me they’re praying for God to “bless your ministry.” And although I appreciate the sentiment (I mean, it can’t hurt to have lots of strangers praying down blessings upon you, can it), it freaks me out a little. Especially since my “ministry” consists mainly of being a bitchy, moody, misanthropic poet.

If they come to this website and find this journal with its prolific use of the word “fuck”, I’m sure they quickly figure out that they may not be dealing with a holy roller. (But then, my little GenX piece, while profanity-free, was definitely not a rah-rah sunday school speech.)

It’s just ironic to me that of all the things I have written, the one that has gotten the most attention thus far is an essay written on assignment for the “people of God”.

I have removed myself so far from the land of Christianese that it is always surprising to receive these emails. They don’t come all the time, so usually I have forgotten about the video altogether and then someone will write and say things like, “What a tremendous impact God has been able to accomplish through your efforts. Thanks for being a blessing for the Lord.” And I’ll be all, “Huh?”

I shouldn’t complain. And I’m not, really. I’m just mystified, I guess. And so I sit here in bed on a Sunday morning, all snuggled with the LeeLoo, and to be perfectly honest, just sitting here all contemplative with my computer is better than any church experience I’ve ever had.

So all you folks who stumble across this site having seen that video somewhere, consider yourselves warned. I’m just trying to be up front here: I am not the church girl you might have been expecting. I am happily backslidden. I swear a lot. I worship God in the woods and on the beach. I spend my Sunday mornings communing with my pillow. And I like it this way. I think my faith in God works better this way. Just want to make sure we all understand each other. So I welcome your prayers and your blessings. But not your sermons.

And I am mystified and humbled that a little 7-minute, 7-year-old performance is still making the rounds and moving people enough that they will track me down. But if I were to be completely honest, I would trade all that in-church publicity for a little more name recognition out-of-church.

Because it’s just better out here.

-Lo, who was once asked by a chrome-domed preacher if she was a witch. You know, because “rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft” and all.