Justice Matters My Ass

Justice Matters My Ass

by James L. Secor, Ph.D. & Minna vander Pfaltz

“If we consider the purity of the Christian religion, the sanctity of its moral precepts, and the innocent as well as austere lives of the greater number of those who during the first ages embraced the faith of the Gospel, we should naturally suppose that so benevolent a doctrine” would have filled and comforted us with due reverence and that its works would shine, strengthening the imperative of justice, thus making a city where such justice “rolls down like a mighty river”–and what better place than the arrogant little town of Lawrence, Kansas, albeit in the name of the world.[1]

And so it is that Justice Matters, a conglomerate of myriad Christian denominations purporting psychological knowledge, has set about solving the mental health crisis in, first, Lawrence and Douglas County, and then purportedly the nation. Justice Matters believes that the Christian way knows the right way to solve psychological suffering. Indeed, Christianity believes it has the answer to every sort of suffering. A befitting arrogance, as Justice Matters considers itself a Nehemiah action.

Nehemiah was a builder–a re-builder. It is believed that he rebuilt the walls of Israel but, in fact, he only rebuilt the walls of the southern Hebrew kingdom of Judea (capital at Jerusalem). Apparently, the northern kingdom of Israel was somehow not worthy of consideration.

A great man? Perhaps. But he was arrogant and boastful: “I beseech thee, O Lord, let thy ear be attentive to the prayer of thy servant. . .and give him mercy. . . .” The Book of Nehemias I:ii. “The hand of my god was good with me,” II:18. “Remember me, O my God, for good according to all I have done for this people,” III:19. “Remember me, O my God. . .and wipe not out my kindnesses, which I have done. . .,” XIII:14.[2]

The more so arrogant because he was eunochus and not oinochoos (cup-bearer). A later re-interpretation saw eunuch as not so highly thought of? Within the text itself we have proof he was, though: 1) he appeared in the presence of the Queen, not to be done if he’d been a “real” man; and 2) he would not, without great rationalizations–especially to his heroic status–cross over the temple threshold which, as eunuch, he could not cross over. A taboo that even the possibility of death could not override.

Ergo, the Justice Matters leaders fit their Nehemiah namesake for arrogance: religious leaders expecting God to praise them for their doings. But Justice Matters’ arrogance is worse, for while Nehemiah knew what he was doing, Justice Matters is pretending to knowledge it does not have. The religious organizers know not the psychology of mental illness but pretend to. And they pretend to help while they are not the least interested in admitting to their number, much less listening to, the mentally ill or the social activist. Why? Justice Matters knows better, that’s why. Über-arrogance.

But the situation is considerably more tarnished and twisted. For this, the Justice Matters people are in denial, denial of their Janus-faced behavior, in denial that they do not know psychiatry and mental illness and organic brain disease and in denial that the mentally ill are not helpless and do not know themselves. The Justice Matters people believe they have the answer while propagating the old and conventional belief in hospitalization, belief in isolation and separation–and medication. They even use the nomenclature of incurable illness that is, in fact, old hat and, in the rest of the western world, has been found to be inappropriate.

This attitude is unsupported by science and empirical evidence, unsupported by the Hearing Voices Networks and the alternative methods so popular and successful in Europe; unsupported by the personal testimony of the “sufferers” themselves. “Sufferers”? Only in that psychiatry and society has made them suffer in their ignorance, for neither listen.

Justice Matters is correct–by jumping on the bandwagon–that jail/prison is not the best or appropriate place for the mentally aberrant; aside from lack of knowledge and treatment, criminalizing “mental illness” equals no treatment outside of abuse. Something more and better is, indeed, needed.

Otherwise, Justice Matters is not the least bit interested in making their professed belief in what needs to be done happen. There is no plan of action. For, with their very successful fundraising drives, nothing has been done with the money raised. Nothing at all. As the money raised by donation to a religious organization, there is no accounting. No taxation. Where is it going? Certainly not to the realization of their vision.

“We’d like to get concrete expectations on where we’re moving,” says Ben MacConnell, an organizer for Justice Matters. Doesn’t he already know? This is akin to a general going into battle without any plans to fight.

“Our scriptures speak of a powerful, loving God when matters of justice arise. So, let us go upstream–as one body–and trust in God to help along the way” (Justice Matters website). So, they really have no plan, only God. And. . .if God’s away on business? Then what? “St. Peter don’t call me ’cause I can’t go, I owe my soul to the company store”?

There seems to be no innocence of motive here. Moral precepts are sidelined in the push to appear great in the eyes of their God and the world. Look at me! Look at me! So very Nehemiahan: remember me and bless me for I am good, full of good intention. Halleluiah! The humanity necessary to support and succor the poor and homeless, the disabled and mentally ill has all but been squeezed out of existence leaving an empty, rotting shell.

You miss the garden,
because you want a small fig from a random tree.
You don’t meet the beautiful woman.
You’re joking with an old crone.
It makes me want to cry how she detains you,
stinking mouthed, with a hundred talons,
putting her head over the roof edge to call down,
tasteless fig, fold over fold, empty
as dry-rotten garlic.
She has you right by the belt,
even though there’s no flower and no milk
inside her body.
Death will open your eyes
to what her face is: leather spine
of a black lizard. No more advice.

Let yourself be silently drawn
by the stronger pull of what you really love.[3]

There is no more purity and benevolence left in religion. The truth of this assertion billows into a black and boggy Garden of clinging choking vines nursed by Christians’ practice of intolerance and hatred and a love of war and their demand to discriminate and refuse to serve those who don’t fit their brand of righteousness, of their social Darwinian precepts. So much cruelty and violence–abuse–is meted out these days, rationalized by citation to the holy book, rationalizations that are, in fact, not there. The Christians are lying to themselves as they lie about the world and lie to the world in order to get. . .what? What is the pay-off? Simply to get ahead? To earn indulgences so to sit on the right hand of God? Nehemiah arrogance to be sure.

Theocracies are ever of this ilk.

In an abusive society, no one is truly interested in helping (Cf. R.D. Laing). Abusers have lost all sense of proportion and all innocence; there is no austerity to their lives, which would give them some sort of compassion. As others in need are found wanting, so the religionists themselves are wanting. Better to talk and paint exquisite pictures than to engage in practicing the espoused higher virtue of their way, The Way, while they wonder, loudly, how it is the world has become such a horrible, gruesome place; for with people of such worthiness as themselves abounding, it is inconceivable that we are living in the end times.

Since Christians are doing nothing and, of course, since nothing is happening, everyone must pray. A pray festival–with donation–is the answer, a vital need. Cry out unto the Lord!

Praying is too slow. And Portugal is too small and too far away. . .and not American.

Justice no longer means or involves transformation. It is now all about feelings of satisfaction of a job well done. Nothing profound. No transcendence. Just me and my ideas. Me and my survival. Legally, any more, justice means vengeance with laws built around someone’s disgust and shaming. It is also about hiding facets of civilization that are disturbing to have around for their evidence of society’s inhumanity to man.

Before continuing let us remember a few things:

  1. He who can name the way does not know the way; and
  2. Beware the do-gooder; and perhaps
  3. The way to success is to correct oneself.

One could, at this point, add, “alas and alack.” For wisdom does not seem to be part of the Christian canon. Not to be wondered at as none of the wisdom writings of Christianity were included in their New Testament. None. That is to say, they–the Wisdom Writings–are non-existent but in the Old Testament where we find a warning of the self-proclaimed wise: “Let us therefore wait for the just, because he is not for our turn, and he is contrary to our doings, and upbraideth us with transgressions of the law, and devulgeth against us the sins of our way of life” (Wisdom II:xii, in which the self-proclaimed wise are upbraided). And “He boasteth that he hath knowledge” (Wisdom II:xiii). Ignorance is vain reckoning. And yet again, “He that rejecteth wisdom. . .their hope is vain, and their labours without fruit, and their works unprofitable” (Wisdom III:ii, in which the truly wise are extolled).

Other than “become not unwise” (Ephesians V:xvii), look to the Nag Hammadi and you shall see the wisdom books, considerably more “books” (45) than make up the New Testament.

“Desire without knowledge is not good. . .to have desire is fine; but to have desire and act upon that desire without knowledge about it is ignorance” (Proverbs XIX:2) because “I would not have you ignorant” (Romans I:xiii). Perhaps Justice Matters should heed the question put to Job: “Who is this that wrappeth up sentences in unskillful words?” (Job XXXVIII:ii).

Why do I say Justice Matters is ignorant? Again, they do not wish the so-called mentally ill in their organization; nor do they read anything other than the accepted status quo diagnoses and treatments and, therefore, have no knowledge that hospitalization and drugging are not the best or most productive of treatment methods. Justice Matters is stuck in 19th century mode. Perhaps they should read history and the horrors of 20th century hospitals. Perhaps they should heed the words of the knowledgeable, the “mentally ill.” Willful ignorance is a sin against God.

Romans I:xiii, “We would not have you ignorant.”

Thus it is that these people with a belief system and their leaders with degrees in Divinity–a devilish conundrum–have no knowledge of psychology or of mental illness yet believe they do because God is on their side and they have a desire to do good. I wonder. . .does this mean their belief is that people are mentally ill due to disbelief in their creed? And that, as of old, the heathen, pagan disbelievers who are (obviously) mentally ill must be isolated from the rest of Mankind and drugged into the oblivion all non-Christians are deserving of for fear of contamination?

Most telling–and without damning commentary–is Justice Matters’ lack of knowledge of modern, more humane approaches being applied outside the US, including a non-illness approach; after all, the organic brain disease approach was a diagnosis of Emil Kraepelin, from the late 19th century; and it is known that a major component of mental illness is socio-cultural: quite simply, if you take away the anxieties, you ameliorate many of the symptoms. Then, one must deal with handling the problem, which is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Peer-to-peer gives more applicable and useful options. Perhaps, though, reading is not a thing the Justice Matters ministers do, despite their religion’s reliance on humanity and human rights.

These more humane and more successful means of treating “the mentally ill” are not obscure or hard to find. In fact, as research goes, discovering this information is all but effortless: it’s on the Internet, to begin with.

The oldest involves the people of Geel, Belgium, from the Middle Ages where the mentally ill were given a home and work and the mental illness symptomology decreased, even disappeared.

There is the vast–except in the US–Hearing Voices Network, one of several peer-run approaches that are accepted in the health insurance industry of other countries. Peers: no doctors, no nurses, no social workers, no family or friends. By, for and of the people who hear voices. Or, for that, matter any other “mental illness” sufferer–including those who have liberated themselves from the system to find a real life. How many artists have ended their lives secondary to in-hospital treatment, especially that horror known as ECT (Electro-convulsive Therapy, aka Electro-shock Therapy). For more on artists see Kaye Redfield Jamison’s Touched With Fire.

But, again, reading about mental illness does not appear to be high on the list of Justice Matters’ things to do. Perhaps I ask too much (Cf. Romans I-xiii). “We” In this moment means the mentally ill. To not listen to these people is to continue the practice of modern-day psychiatrists who also do not listen, just hand out drugs like good pushers. “God damn the pusherman,” sings a popular rock band. Why? Because the pusherman doesn’t give a damn what the drugs do to you, as long as he gets his money. Are not these psychiatrists akin to the money changers in the temple? The temple of the mind.

The Norwegian approach that does not use drugs–unless the individual wants–and then at the level each person finds comfortable. (Cf. Robert Whitaker, The Door to a Revolution in Psychiatry Cracks Open.) This self-assessment is important, for the Big PHRMA-set therapeutic levels are often enough inappropriate. Often, the side-effects to anti-psychotics and anti-depressants are passed off as “just what you have to put up with.” Drooling, involuntary mouth and tongue movements, problems swallowing, dull affect, inability to think or speak, agitation that never abates and has, itself, a diagnosis (akathisia). And the therapeutic level can itself be an overdose, as with Lithium (LiCO3). Overdose of Lithium results in behavior and symptoms similar to those of a stroke, called encephalopathy–and occurs at “therapeutic level” in some people. The sooner caught and treated–cessation of Lithium–the better. Sometimes, these people go on to suffer TIA (Transient Ischemic Attack; colloquially, a small stroke). If a less than “therapeutic level” works to control symptoms, it’s good, Big-PHRMA be damned. But psychiatrists prefer the dogma.

Look, too, to the Finnish.

How much better if doctors listened to patients who say, “Oh, yes. This is enough.” But US psychiatrists–and Justice Matters, as already noted–don’t listen to the mentally ill; they simply administer drugs and then damn as non-compliant the imposed-upon individual who won’t take the drugs due to effects and/or side-effects. Some of these nut cases are told it’s all in their head. (Oh, the irony!) And hospitalization, wanted or not. This is the wrong way to deal with the problem. This is hiding it and attempting to make it go away, as with the homeless people, as embarrassment to the abuses of modern civilization.

Imposing isolation and drugs on people is unconstitutional: it is a restriction of freedom.[4] In the House of Representatives, there is a man who has attempted over several years to have a bill passed into law that would require forced hospitalization, drugging and other treatments for anyone with a mental illness diagnosis. His name is Murphy. The House has passed his bills; the Senate, the lawmakers, has not. If passed, there would be no artists of any kind on the streets, on the stage, in the movies. Truly a Murphy’s Law.[5] What a dull, second-rate society we’d live in. . .and one mirroring a Fascist state: utilitarian and intolerant.

Justice Matters utilizes diagnoses found in the DSM-V, a diagnosis by committee booklet that medicalizes everything that is not considered normal–even women who cannot achieve orgasm are mentally ill, according to this book. This book is the only way to get symptoms covered by the health insurance industry. It is extremely unpopular amongst practitioners: “In recent years, clinicians and researchers have started to question the very diagnostic paradigm that once gave them so much hope. Mounting scientific evidence has indicated that DSM– and ICD-based categories do not reflect patterns of mental distress found in both clinical and general populations.” Indeed, it is generally thought that there are “built-in assumptions of homogeneity within diagnoses, purported to occur as a singular, one-size-fits-all process [that] leave[s] no room for the heterogeneous reality of mental health experiences” and result in “the pathologizing of sociopolitical deviance.” This is what the DSM-V is all about.[6] (Aside from money.) The health insurance industry in the US is, “If you can’t afford it, you deserve to die” and mental illness is all but dis-included as unworthy even of the limited coverage given to the physically ill, despite the ties the mind has to the body.

Who, then, it seems to be right to ask, is the true mentally ill person?

The mental set of Justice Matters is old hat and not fully accepted within the psychiatric field. Justice Matters approaches the situation from one of disease, indeed, incurable disease. This is just not so, for there are times–often years–when symptoms are not present. The disease model sees this as “remission”; the human (humane?) model sees it as normalcy because the symptoms of mental illness are not continuous forever and ever diseases, aka organic brain disorders, or permanent and irreversible chemical imbalances. Nothing in the brain is static. Indeed, the mind, the mentality affect of the brain, is not the brain. Science doesn’t know where it is, much less what it is. Which would make mental illness an undefined unknown.

Mental hospitals were done away with because of their ineffectiveness, abuse and even worsening of the mental situation. The replacement was supposed to be local acute care clinics. Not one state in the US bothered to institute such clinics. The “mentally ill” were left to wander the streets; to be arrested and jailed. Though Justice Matters notes it is interested in acute care clinics, the organization has done nothing to help bring this about, despite the money collected in one fund raiser after another. Ergo, Justice Matters isn’t interested at all in the mentally ill other than as a means of enriching its “leaders” and making its constituents feel good about themselves for becoming involved in some kind of human interest do-gooding.

Why?

If Justice Matters were serious about what it says it wants to do and if Justice Matters was in touch with what’s going on in the city, they’d know there is a place for establishment of an acute care clinic. But Justice Matters is out of touch with reality and more interested in face and money. That is, they chose a social action that turned out not to be easily attained nor easily understood. Justice Matters entered the fray in ignorance and has continued in ignorance, perhaps believing their God-given desire is all that’s necessary. Yet, Proverbs XIX:iii has it that “Desire without knowledge is not good. . .to have desire is fine; but to have desire and act upon that desire without knowledge about it is ignorance.”

[1] Quotes are from Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, and the Justice Matters website.

[2] The Holy Bible, John Murry & Co., publisher, 1891.

[3] The Essential Rumi, trans. Coleman Barks.

[4] Cf. the Fourth Amendment. Quarantine is a different matter.

[5] Manic-depression occurs eight times as often in artists than in the general population. Indeed, it was once known as “the artist’s disease.” And it has a genetic component. Nowadays, under the rubric of Bipolar I or II, it is a diagnosis for anyone who has mood problems, including those with severe anxiety problems and borderline personality people, genetics be damned. But the confusion is good for the psychiatric pocket book.

[6] Although the quotes from this article, “Psychologists Push Back on Psychiatric Diagnostic Manual” can be found variously on the Internet, it first appeared in The Journal of Abnormal Psychology and alongside another article looking at alternatives in The Journal of Humanistic Psychology.

Following a False Creed

Following a False Creed

by James L. Secor

The Bible. An etched in stone document of collected stories and teachings taken as the statement of Christian values. Invaluable. Incontrovertible. Inviolable. And fake. A predigested by “prelates” conglomeration of pre-Christian doctrine, i.e. excerpts from both the Tanach, and apparent Jesus doctrinal writings and the ancient Greeks, the pre-Socratics like Protagoras. Excerpts that became the accepted codus, the raison d’etre of itself.

The Bible is not infallible because it was codified with malice aforethought over several centuries until the final form was made up in the fourth century. Malice? Most assuredly. It was built up by people who wanted power and control, people who detested the esoteric doctrines by those known today as the Gnostics, that is, the early Christians. Their system having no organized edifice, these doctrines were considered by the organized church–initially, Irenaeus–as heretical. (Many of the beliefs of these and later heresies have made their way into the canon, interestingly enough.) So infused with self-worth and arrogance were these holy men with only the good of mankind in their minds and behavior (rationalized) that they managed, much like modern day communists and fundamentalists, to burn the library at Alexandria and murder the greatest philosopher and intellectual to come about since hallowed ancient Greece, Hipatia, and make it look like the work of a mindless mob. Though perhaps her greatest sin was that she was a woman, a woman better than most men.

The bible is a series of diverse documents that were organized and reorganized–as with John and Revelations–to suit the needs of men but is not a godly or holy book. Many writings were not included because they didn’t fit with these power hungry men’s ideas of what ought to be believed and worshiped. They wished to be edifices and it would seem they have succeeded. Which makes it odd that The Didache was not included, as The Didache is basically a set of step-by-step instructions for the Christian life: how to apply the commandments of God and the sacraments. To have had these rules included would have prevented some of the schisms and spilled blood of later history. Almost all of the ideas of those heretics are now included in the Christian church dogma, gaining ground by coming in through the back door.

The Gnostics, via this codification, were more or less defeated in keeping themselves alive because how can you have an organized edifice for–for lack of a better term– enlightenment? Enlightenment, self-discovery, is personal and may not accord with doctrine or dogma. In fact, it cannot be expected to. Doctrine and dogma are delimiting. Enlightenment goes beyond limits because it knows no barrier to knowledge. But because there is no apparent organization, no structure or how-to in gaining this godly vision, it is inaccessible to Everyman–at least to begin with. But without a step-by-step guide or a preconceived end. . .

So. . .the Bible, understandable by Everyman. The most read book in the world, it seems, at 4 billion copies. Not a book of God. Rather a book of men that everyone calls the book of God because they say it is so. A book that strove not only to fight off the heretics and the Gnostics, but a book driven to establish consistency in belief. The synoptic gospels all have a passion narrative, though without the Gospel of Peter or the Gospel of Thomas. The Gospel of Peter is the only telling of the rise from the dead of Jesus. And he didn’t believe it at the time. How is it, then, that a traitor to the cause became The Rock of the Church and Faith?

The Bible. An amazing 4 billion copies. Of which version? The Western? The Eastern? The Anglican? The Protestant?

The original idea of the codifiers was to limit what people read and heard and, therefore, believed. All for control, for that one idea of Christianity first propounded by Irenaeus. Power and control. And you can bet that anyone who is interested in controlling you is going to lie to you. How did the Bishops lie? By including only those texts they wanted read, texts that fed their idea of what ought to be believed; and by establishing a creed of the right way to think. The organizers put Christianity in a very narrow box.

Heresy? Possibly hearsay.

There are several different versions of Genesis corresponding to self-assessment in the historical record of how the Jews sought to define themselves. But the version accepted by the Bishops and Tertullian, taken from the Masoretic Text of the Jews, is labeled “j.” What of the other versions? Regardless of the many versions, the Bishops chose to use only this one, giving followers one particular beginning. One of the other versions, involving Lilith, would, of course, have been seen as heresy of the worst sort. Somehow or other Lilith has come out into the light. But while everyone else notes this, the Christian hegemon turns a blind eye.

With the canon itself there are, nevertheless, problems, especially noteworthy as Christians take their belief-ancestry from the Jews. Not to be wondered at, as Jesus was a Jew. How many lies are there in that heritage? To begin with, there were never any Jews in slavery to the Egyptians. They were highly thought of for their financial acumen. There were no slaves to build the Pyramids. This historical fact throws a wrench in the belief system of the Literalists who choose to deny it. Halleluiah!

But it gets “worse.” In the first century record there is only one mention of the Jews–by an Egyptian merchant, in passing. Israel is not mentioned at all by Herodotus. Ergo, Israel was not a great nation at all, just a little settlement in southern Palestine with which the Egyptians traded en passant.

Why III Kings is not included in most versions of the Bible is a mystery, as it deals with Elijah’s prophesies while in the Babylonian exile. As if to say, only the Jews were held captive while, in fact, the Babylonians overran the entirety of Palestine (Phoenecia to the Greeks). Whyever would they have taken only the Jews? And the flood story was lifted from a much, much earlier work, now found in the Epic of Gilgamesh, a Sumerian legend of a man searching for the key to life (and immortality) as encrypted in stone during the days of Babylonia. Pity the Jews lifted only the flood. The flood story exists in all other peoples’ cultures too, its universality speaking to something far greater than a cleansing of the Jews, God’s chosen, the Christian ancestral horde (that failed).

Could it be the Bible should be looked at metaphorically? Far more meaningful, since metaphor bespeaks a broad picture and multiple possibilities. Which is a problem for people who want control and power: there must be one story, one belief, one way to think. A horrible problems exists, though, when the church fathers metaphorize The Song of Solomon, a beautiful, evocative love song of sex and arousal: pomegranate breasts metaphor for God’s love? If so, that would mean God is female. Heaven forbid! Which raises the question of why this bit is included in the bible to begin with. Maybe the Bishops found it arousing and could not let it go? Most assuredly they had run into naked breasts and brown skin, no? But sexual arousal as a metaphor for getting to God? I think not, especially as the body was evil and sex was beyond evil.

Which leads to. . .why only this book as a metaphor out of 66 books? (Six is a superstitiously important number, as are three and seven–all found as important in the Bible. A point that raises questions about further superstitions, such as magic and transmogrification.)

Other stories within the Bible that are just not historically, culturally true include Esther. There is absolutely no way that a king would consider a commoner, especially an outcast commoner, as beautiful or worth sleeping with. Esther would have been considered untouchable. Or Jonah. Jonah and his whale is a sham. The story is an excuse for not getting to his destination in time–he never wanted to go to begin with. The story of Jonah is a satire, illustrating how people will believe anything, even heresy, if it’s dressed up enough. Jonah never gets to God’s message, the reason for his journey; but people down through the ages continue believing in his wacky tale. A whale in the Mediterranean? Duh! The book says “a big fish.”

These obfuscations are from the Old Testament. Preaching from the OT is important because of the kind of God therein: a vengeful, angry, punitive, abusive God who is not averse to blackmail: you either do this or I will hurt you. Usually by sending an enemy to annihilate you or bring some kind of natural disaster or plague down on you. In fact, after giving mankind–the chosen mankind, the rest of the world be damned, which has been the way down through Christian history–after giving the Jews (mankind) the Ten Commandments, God proceeds to break all of them, asking his chosen to join in with him in his depredations. God is obsessed with war, rapine and genocide. He even–to beget Christianity–engages in rape to get an offspring, very much in the manner of Zeus, virgins being so naïve and gullible. And probably luscious.

And now we have the New Testament. Why is this “new”? Let’s be literal here: it’s a new testament because the God of Jesus is a loving God. Most certainly a new view of God, considering the OT! The problem for me here is, why is it Christian churches preach from the OT rather than the NT and call themselves Christian? Jesus repudiated this old knowledge base. Any NT quotations are chosen so they seem to support the OT pronouncements.

Thus, for instance, war is good and godly when, in fact, according to Jesus and those writing about him, war is anathema. It might also be that there is so little to choose from given the tiny number of Jesus writings included in the NT when there were innumerable other writings available: did you know there were nine epistles to the churches and people by Paul and two by Peter, along with his Gospel describing Jesus’ rising from the dead and the Secret Gospel of Mark and the Pre-Markian Passion Gospel and The Apocalypse of Peter? All speak to a broader teaching and belief system, one that is more interested in Jesus’ message and teaching than his dying for us (a god-awful guilt to have to carry around). But they are not part of the canon.

Even more to the point, the second coming has already occurred–and it is, as it were, well-documented. Jesus came first via birth and a second time when he rose from the dead. Oops! Modern believers are Doubting Thomases and Peters? The second coming is your own, as in “you must die to yourself.” And Jesus is still waiting for it. Most of the modern born again lot are no such thing: no über-knowledge, no enlightenment, no release from everyday suffering and burden. Only their selves re-framed. Zen Buddhists speak ill of this. So did Jesus in the secret closet metaphor in Matthew–and probably in the Gospel of Thomas or The Signs Gospel (or Q–hinted at in the synoptic gospels but never found) or the Dialogue of the Savior. How illustrative would be a dialogue! Thoughts and images in motion.

But, again, the accepted NT books were chosen because the Bishops did not want to sully their belief system; nor did they like what these other writers had so say; nor did they like esoteric teachings bespeaking both individual knowledge and understanding, and knowledge and understanding beyond doctrine and dogma.

These other texts, Gospels, are known today as Gnostic Gospels. Among them are the Gospel According to Mary (Magdalene), the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Matthias, the Gospel of Perfection, the Gospel of the Seventy, the Dialogue of the Savior, the Gospel of the Twelve, the Gospel of the Hebrews, the Gospel of the Nazarenes, the Gospel of Bartholomew, the Secret Gospel of Mark, the Gospel of Eve and the Gospel according to Judas (fragmentary).

The Gospel according to Judas is damned. It is not to be read. It is heresy, maybe even a fake (it is not). The Gospel according to Judas, shows Jesus with a sense of humor and a far more far-reaching, cosmic vision than is given in the accepted Gospels. And a much more cynical, realist Jesus. It shows Judas in a much more human light. Judas is chosen because he is the thirteenth Apostle, because he is outcast, because he is the only Apostle who understands. Jesus knew that his death was necessary and he knew Judas was the only one who understood and could be counted on. Judas played his role and then killed himself.

Mary Magdelene was the only one to recognize the risen Christ. It is recorded she saw him first but, because she was woman, she could not be first before a man. So, she was completely written off. The doubters were left in place.

Wait a minute! Judas the thirteenth Apostle? In the painting of the last supper–a supper no different than any before–there are only 12 people, not including Jesus. Where is Judas? Indeed, where is Mary Magdalene? Most notable in the former; to be expected in the latter, as women were not, in that society and time, included in much of anything. Things have changed since then, though many believe that what was considered de rigueur 2000 years ago should still de rigueur today.

Having a belief is good and the Christian ethical base is noteworthy, albeit few truly follow it; but to maintain that a man made, pre-conceived book that purposely did not include writings extolling the entirety of Christian thinking is the holy book is foolish. It is a false creed.

What Have We Got So Far

What Have We Got So Far

by Minna vander Pfaltz

  1. A President the Chinese call “The Clown in the White House.”
  2. A man who, indeed, does know words but not many of them and not much knowledge of grammar. Proof positive that privatized education is somehow wanting?
  3. A man who has no humor and does not understand humor yet, however, can make the press and other officials laugh.
  4. Stories of Chaos.
  5. Behind the scenes, we now once again have coal slag being dumped into our rivers.
  6. The House passed these three bills: HR 424 Removes Grey Wolves from the endangered species list and removes protections of the Yellowstone Habitat. And HR 717 Alters the Endangered Species Act of 1974 to allow Dept. of the Interior and Dept. of Commerce to deny endangered species status to a species if protecting them and their habitat would impact the economy. And HR 69 Repeals restrictions on recreational hunting of prey animals in Alaska wildlife refuges. All will now go to the nefarious-minded Senate full of Republican ideologues who will rubber stamp them before The Donald rubber stamps them.
  7. Treason. Traitorousness. So much penetration by the Russians into the US political and intelligence systems that it makes our intelligence not porous but sieve-like.
  8. A president who proves again and again that he lives a life of denial and is delusional.
  9. A president who lies so much it is impossible to figure out what he’s talking about when he says words. An “unreliable narrator”?
  10. A president who likes muchly the destructive nature of nuclear bombs–and wants more.
  11. A president who is in violation of the Constitution and the Laws of the land;

11a. A Senate full of Republicans who are not only frightened but ideologues intent  on remaining loyal to the Republican ideal while letting the country slide into the crevice.

  1. A Senate Oversight Committee that is, indeed, overlooking just about everything.
  2. A Duke Political Science major, son of a Jew who sounds like Hitler’s speech writer and policy maker. Goebbels becomes Gobbles.
  3. A president who makes decisions at the dinner table where everyone can overhear him and everyone is taking pictures and posting them on line yet complains bitterly about the incompetence of the country’s intelligence system.
  4. Apuleius’ Golden Ass has jumped off the page and into modern American life.
  5. News agencies so taken by the chaos and irrationality of The Donald that many more newsworthy happenings in the world go unreported or under reported. Which makes me wonder just what else is going on behind the scenes that is bad for us and the world. Will there be another Wag the Dog movie?
  6. Two possibly positive decisions: Gen. McMasters and
  7. The Mexican government must be thrilled to know that not only will unwanted emigrants be tossed back into the mix but that the US is dumping its petty criminals into Mexico. This is only humanitarian. Why petty criminals? ICE can’t catch the other kind.
  8. The Donald has produced a nation of activists and their Republican representatives are frightened. Not frightened of their lives per se but of losing power, the results of greed and respectability.
  9. Whew! I’m getting short of breath!
  10. If California doesn’t fall into the ocean, it will become run-off into the ocean. Due in no small part to wiping out the beaver population, building dams, diverting the rivers, diverting water for farming to the cities (thank you, Arnie), deforestation of the mountainsides so rich people can build glorious mansions and the LA Lakers turning into losers to match the SF 49ers.
  11. The swallows have not returned to San Juan Capistrano.
  12. Nostradamus perhaps prophesied the demise of the US with the coming of The Donald. Nostradamus is notoriously difficult to decipher so he could also mean Pence or Paul Ryan, each is in line for taking over the reigns of government. There is also the possibility of a hugely big massive earthquake, a prediction that seismologists have not ruled out. Nuclear war, not a distant possibility with a man who finds such destruction likable. Of course, just because prophets prophesy doesn’t mean the prophecy will occur. Nostradamus had a caveat. They are all Fake Newsmakers according to James Randi who assumes if they were truth-sayers, they’d be 100% correct, like magician’s magic.
  13. Whethercocks, Petulant Frenzies and a Brazen Hussy does a pretty good job of capturing the state of the art of government in the US at the moment.

25.

The Unimaginable Unmanageable World

I’ve been listening to Lettice Rowbotham Virtuoso Violinist and in the process, because neither YouTube nor Google can see their way to give you just exactly what you want, I’ve been listening to spin-offs and derivatives who fit nicely into the not-quite-so-good-but-easier-to-deal-with performers and came upon the worst of the lot. It is perhaps not so surprising as the maker of it all was modern Disney Corporate Empire. And the performer? Tyler Davis. With the background music–not counting the roiling sea waves crashing against the rocks–there is only one thing that stands out: it is a rip off of Lettice Rowbotham’s musical versatility, even to sounding like her 2014 Britain’s Got Talent performances. What is this raping of art? The violin cover for some one of The Pirates of the Caribbean movies and sound track. An American virtuoso would sue; Lettice just laughs her ass off because, in the end, what the hell else is this second rate, coat tail rider going to amount to? Disney’s hired nig? They might have the money to buy Lettuce–not Lettice–but they’d never figure out just what the fuck to do with real art. (Once, many years ago at the hand–and mind–of the mustachioed one they would have known and capitalized on it. But today. . .? Let’s look at the bias, the cultural perversion, the common denominator world, the cliché conservative-based values that never ever existed anyway production perpetrated on a mindless–so perceived–mass.)

Right? Well, I searched for the most NASAL SOUNDING INSTRUMENTS and Google got me to “the saddest sounding instruments.” Not only a lack of imagination but a lack of the ability to read and produce understanding. This is called “an inability to comprehend.” I’m very familiar with this psychological syndrome–that the DSM idiot consortium do not recognize–as it is a major component of my migraines: you understand every SINGLE word and not one bit of it all makes the least sense. Hi, Google!

I just watched the most amazing Western with and by Jack Nicholson. 1966. Ride in the Whirlwind. It had no real ending, just the guy riding, riding, riding into the sunset, further and further along and for what? To what? Which is the point. The movie was about people stuck in a situation who have limited options open to them for survival. This was no vehicle for some lame, timely real world situation; no cliché bad vs good or getting richer = less human and more greedy so that money, making money, becomes evil; no perpetuation of a shallow old rundown supposed ethic because “that’s always the way it’s been.” This movie did deal with obsessive behavior and vigilante justice, and the wide generalization and jumping to conclusions that this kind of justice creates and thrives on. The movie was three guys caught in a bad situation and people jumping to conclusions and there being nothing left but to break the law to escape, to get away from an unjust situation. No special effects. Nice to see a movie that is a movie, about people, rather than a movie that’s only raison d’être is as a vehicle for special effects. The movie was about people first and foremost, people reacting in context–with context, of which there is little these days and apparently people were seeing 50 yrs ago. And people who bring things down upon themselves. The stage coach robbers were not violent, they did not steal horses–the sin of sins in the West–and they did not kill anybody. There was no strong box to steal. But vigilante justice labeled them, in their affront to their good person, good name and society, violent killers. Three drifters get caught in the middle of it all; two die. An innocent man is killed solely due to  vigilante justice mentality and narrow conclusion-making. Just to say, if you’re in the vicinity of bad guys, you are bad guys.

The upcoming election is a choice of tyrants. One tyrant is angry and irrational and downright ugly and if you don’t do what he wants you to do, he will kill you. The other tyrant will trap you with pleasant words but is, nevertheless, interested in control and “what I want.” I love the conspiracy over Hillary post collapsing in NYC. No conspiracy at all; but, yes, a double was used, not an unheard-of thing. Centuries old. It was easy to see, even from the distance allotted, that the “new” Hillary was not as age-old, wrinkled or jowled as the real Hillary. There is no way she could have had plastic surgery and had it heal in such a short span of time. And, then, suddenly, the old Hillary appears. This is only upsetting for those considering getting her into office.

The fact that the Houses of Congress are not moving to do the work of government and won’t because of ideological narrow-mindedness is apparently of no account to people who have, it must be admitted, been cut out of the deal, forgetting, it seems, that without people they have nothing. As an old Chinese aphorism has it: People are the root of the country, food is the first necessity of people.

I think it’s no wonder, with the floating propaganda of fear and the socio-cultural demands on behavior and belief–falling into line–that I meet so many narrow minded, shallow, ignorant, fear- and paranoia-filled, ugly people. Lots of psychological projection with absolutely no insight and no ability to make judgments–probably because Americans have no context, not in the world, not in the country, not in their individual lives. Everything is isolated and “this moment.” Lots of self-conceit resulting in assumptions and presumptions that ruin the lives of others. Opinionators. Judgmentalists. Americans are like the vigilante justice riders of Ride in the Whirlwind. . .and they are all derivative and unimaginative and just fucking inhuman. Like our modern day heroes: old heroes who are as violent and destructive as the villains; heroes who must fight amongst themselves to see who is the most best heroic blah-blah-blah. And, so, a nation of people alone, people who do not relate or work with other people. When the country collapses, no one will come in and take it over; there won’t be anything worth taking over. It’ll be a mess. Hell!–manufacturing is already elsewhere, manufacturing and technology. Elsewhere. Who wants a country filled up with ugly people, people who are fighting amongst themselves and have no goal in sight–other than dictating that all do it “this” way. People filled up with propaganda and perverted ethics. Chaos. Anarchy. And when it’s exhausted. . .it’d be nice to believe that something worthwhile will grow out of the mess; but probably not. Not in the long run. When you’ve got a country full of ugly people, how can you “export” anything other than ugliness? We are living in a Twilight Zone world.

I’ve met a bunch of people who don’t read. They can read. They choose not to. And behind their clean faces and pretty voices, they are fucking ugly and stupid. Ignorant: when you choose not to read, you choose ignorance. Not only are we told not to read, that it’s not necessary; we’re flooded with passive news and entertainment telling us “this is the way it is,” whether it is or not. We spend our lives in front of a computer–cellphone/iPhone/tablet/android–to the exclusion of the world we live in, as if all knowledge is there. Well, even if it were, no one would be able to access all of it. Same for a library. Library? What’s a library? Maybe no more than that place with those books that our teachers made us hate. That school made us hate. That society likes us to hate. If we fucking knew anything, we’d be dangerous (to the society-makers).

Fear runs society. All sorts of fears, most all fictions. Ergo, fear is used to control us. Adage: if someone is trying to control you, you can be they’re lying to you. Here’s a good one, the latest: Zika made it all the way to Florida from Brazil without infecting anyone in any country inbetween, nor the airlines personnel. AND it’s “reported” in various states, none of them contiguous, and none of the states inbetween has had any incidence. How is it, too, that so many women are becoming pregnant and getting sucked by mosquitoes that are indistinguishable from any other mosquito and their babies are dying in instants of time? As in. . .I got fucked today, I got pregnant today, I got my blood sucked by a mosquito and my baby microcephalic died yesterday. Oh my god! There’s a mosquito in my room! I’m going to die of Zika virus! And the bird flu that was supposed to be a worldwide pandemic and perhaps 26 people died? WHO neglected to tell the world that that flu was only transmitted between people, not bird to people (to death). And the African Army ants that were rampaging through Mexico to Texas–whatever happened to that fiction? How about the invasion of the body snatchers? The fear of ISIS, a group with no land, no home, no Air Force, nothing but media savvy who, at its greatest, equaled the population of Kansas and controlled a territory almost the size of Pennsylvania. Yup! Those assholes are going to come over here and wipe us out, take over the whole world. The DoD, the Pentagon need more and more threats in order to validate their increased budget and to practice using their new killing machines. And then there’s Alex Jones and conspiracy theories. What kind of drugs is he taking?! It does not help that we are surveilled in every aspect of our lives–and we let it happen. We believe giving up our liberties makes us safer. Yeah. Safer for the rise of tyrants–which includes Mitch McConnell, the penultimate Do-Nothing Machine. He would never be included in Romper Room’s Do-Bee Club. AND. . .when it comes to reality, we deny it.

Oh, lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz. . .

 

 

 

Where No Self-respecting American Would Go–Part 3

The Third Day?–I’ve really lost track of time. . .

The electricity in the house is an afterthought: originally, there was none. Outlets are set on a wooden base that is hammered into the wall, there being only two. Otherwise, extension cords are the wound, old style cord draped everywhere like Christmas tinsel decoration, several plugs coming out of one extension end leading to other extension cord box–ends. Extension cords in China are different from those in the States. The cords are larger and more sturdy and the female end is usually a box with 4+ male connections. More often than not, the cords are white. I’ve added my own, of necessity, so that, when I’m using the rice cooker there’s an electric burn somewhere–I’m not sure which plug-in as I pass three, though the first does not seem to be a problem. Could simply have been because my hands were wettish when I plugged it in and water got down into the connection. Howsomever. . .with the cords draped hither and thither, this is a fire hazard. . .for the West. As this arrangement is not out of order, I begin to see how over-protective we Americans are, paranoid of the smallest thing. We go overboard. Yes, this arrangement can be dangerous and I do kind of shiver as I add more to the mess; but it is not prohibitive. Americans are so über-safety conscious that we almost prohibit ourselves from fully living; we repress ourselves. We are safe and more safe where it is not so very important. At the same time, I think the situation is that the Chinese are aware and, therefore, are more careful, more attentive, though it may not look like it. We Americans are afraid of everything.

Light bulbs hang naked into space, some in rather inaccessible places, some in corners that illuminate naught else but the ceiling and walls. To turn on the bedroom light, I must have the main room lit or I’d never find the cord with the switch: it is halfway along one wall around the side of a storage cabinet, near the old charcoal stove. Then, when it’s glowing, I can’t read in bed because the book is in the shadow as the light is across the room. Even during the daylight hours reading is difficult, as the windows are high up and to the side. I must buy another extension cord, one of the cheaper variety, so I can plug it in and have my bedside lamp. Lord–another plug to fill up a female end!

This type of arrangement is not out of the ordinary, so many people still live in these older houses where there was once no electricity. The extension cord phenomenon is everywhere because of the usual dearth of outlets in a room, even if built when home electricity was available–which was, in the scheme of things, relatively recently. This, I think, is unbelievable for Americans as we have come to expect electric homes and we can only see this, our way, as the acceptable way and that any other way is outré. Well, it may be but, in fact, it may be, as in this case, just everyday. Not only do we find these living conditions outrageous, if we allow ourselves to get so close, we cannot understand why these conditions exist since we avoid knowing of such in America and see any such poverty characteristic that we see in pictures as the problem of the people living in such conditions. The people have a character flaw. A very common characteristic of the classism that marks America. We push aside and deny such limited, backward, dangerous. . .situations and pretend they simply do not exist. Ignore it and it doesn’t exist, yeah?

The breaker box is a breaker and main power source boxes on a board on the wall. The breaker is of the old style: a lever with metal legs connecting into a ceramic holder. Actually, I like this better than the modern, Western variety. I’ve even repaired one, running thicker copper wire inside so that blowouts don’t happen as often, thin wires giving out under any kind of load easier than heavier wire. Easy enough to do; there’s no trouble knowing whether the electricity is on or not–the switch is right in front of your face, connection broken. No fuses. I would say that fuses don’t last as long, don’t tolerate overloadage as well as these old hatchet type devices, which you can make more tolerant by supplying higher gauge copper wire. Would fuses, then, be a means for the electrical industry to make more money in the name of technological advancement? I think returning to this type of breaker box, which is where the name (breaker) comes from (breaking the connection), would be better and less costly–and might make us more independent, less reliant on the electric supply companies. We might take on more responsibility for our own lives, do you think? We would be directly involved in its continuing functioning. But, hey, why would we want to do this when someone else can do it for us, eh? If someone else can do it for us–and there are definite situations where this would be best–we must pay more to live.

If you buy your own home in America, you are responsible for all its workings. If you can troubleshoot some situations, you save yourself money. However, there are so many laws about who can work on what and what can be done that it’s almost impossible to do anything yourself without breaking the law. And the insurance companies think you’re ignorant of any of this, whether you are or not, so they up their rates at the top of an extension ladder that just keeps right on going and going and going.

Because I was raised differently and because I worked electric construction for awhile, I found this set-up rather barbaric and unsettling. But nothing happened and when the lights went out and it wasn’t old bulbs, I was able to fix things. Meiwenti! I kept larger gauge wire on hand; I kept extra light bulbs; I kept candles and matches. Although I did have lighters, I preferred–and still prefer–matches, aside from the fact that they cost less and last longer. Even now, back in the States, I have boxes of safety matches in various rooms about the house, along with candles just in case. Nature and poor quality craftsmanship mess with technology. I have found that 4-5 candles set up on a table where I happen to be writing are good enough to illuminate the page so I can write and read. Granted, I don’t do this very often, but it is romantic! It is difficult to find acceptable candle holders; most are either tacky or over-priced or both. It is fun to improvise. Which means none of the candle holders I have match. . .nor do the candles.

It isn’t just China that is “behind” the US. Most countries in the world are not so invested in technology that imposes reliance. In fact, most of the world utilizes this kind of technology different from America, so much so that it might even be unsettling. But Americans are very narrow in assessing these situations and, like the Brits in the 19th century, are totally incapable of letting go of their lifestyle and culture. I think, with this inability to adapt, that most Americans overseas miss out on much of the culture and identity of the people. We do not let ourselves enjoy.

Far too often have I run into Americans who lambaste the Chinese for things Chinese because they do not come up to American standards, as if America is THE standard for everything great, wonderful and positive. Very many Americans look so far down on Chinese, and are not at all shy about going off openly on these situations and these people in front of “these” people, that I am embarrassed. We Americans are such a fucking judgmental lot!

Perhaps my adjustment was easier because I had lived in Japan 15 or so years before. In Japan, there is no heating in older housing. I lived in older housing–or even country-urban housing. No heat. No AC. Heavens to betsy! I would wake up in the mornings to an iced-over beard and moustache, sit up to turn on the kerosene heater and then lie down until the room warmed up. Electricity was limited, though less anxiety-provoking. And the Japanese are more apt to modernize because they can do it without losing their Japaneseness. Mao has all but wiped out Chinese culture. Mao, a man who had little understanding beyond himself and his opinions.

Eh bien. So it goes.

Now. . .a bit more needs to be said about the kitchen, a subject we may be revisting on and off. Not only are the side walls separating from the main room–there was no interweaving of the bricks, just an abutment with concrete filler–but the floor is moving away from the walls, moving westward. There is no foundation as we know it, so the floor and sometimes its walls in its entirety shift. There is a crack in the foundation, to give the simple bed of concrete laid on top of the ground character–about halfway into the little burrow hole. It stretches from one side to the other, making for a slight rise to the edges of the crack and then a kind of leveling off of the floor. I must remember to pick my feet up or I stumble forward–not enough room to fall to the floor without hitting the sink unless I twist to the side and bounce off the walls. (You can see I’ve done this before.) The floor is wet and sticky with something-or-other as my house slippers stick and slap when walking through. It never dries. Looking back when you’ve exited into the main room, you can see the darker, dampened area. Z. I imagine this is from the grease from cooking: there is no exhaust fan. The broken open window does no good, for there is no circulation of air in the kitchen to begin with.

The cooking corner itself has a different problem, aside from no fan, no outlet for the spattering grease and the steam or, in some cases, smoke. . .as last night when I could not move fast enough to get the chicken–which turned out to be spoiled–into the pan and fried and toasted the garlic. This kind of non-cooking makes for a blackening of the walls and ceiling beams. Remember, the ceiling itself sheds, so there’s a little discoloration up there, too. I imagine this situation is why the double window is forever open, aside from the fact that its hinges are broken. Not that it would help anyway. This little corner is like a den where meat has been roasted, meat gotten on the hunt, and the housewife labors and sweats to provide for her man–and her little ones. Once, little ones; now, one–unless you find a way to cheat. There are not, however, any fat deposits on the floor. The concrete here is dry, miraculously.

Although there was the usual two burner cooker top and some bottled gas, I brought in my own. Well, Fanfan and her father did. Made sure I did. Quite simply, mine worked and was clean. There was not much I could do with the little flimsy cabinet upon which it sat but not use the implements left to grace its dusty shelving.

I think some explanation is in order here. In China you cook with gas. You have a 2-burner cooker. No stove. And–hallelujah!–you cook with gas. Bottled gas that is delivered when needed. Large bottles. You learn how to turn it on and off. It is a must to turn the gas off, for there may be leakage. And, then, BOOM! Unless you are on a rotation with the gas company, the only way you can tell you are getting near replacement is to knock on the side of the bottle. Great empty metal bottles make hollow sounds. I must admit, over the seven years I lived in China, I ran out more than once. Because, although the university supplied the housing, you, the foreign teacher, had to make sure you did not run out of gas. At the university, I did not have to pay; on my own I did. However, there was so much gas left in my tank that I did not need to have it refilled. Fanfan and her father took what was left for their own when I went elsewhere.

I never figured out how people baked, for they do bake. Perhaps in ovens of clay? However, I did see students’ mothers steaming or stewing or whatever in the guo 锅 (wok in Japanese), the guo covered and over low heat. In some cases, the heat was not gas but wood. The wood was delivered or, more often than not, chopped yourself. In winter, the wood-fired stove made the kitchen the warmest place in the house. Indeed, in one especially snowy cold winter I was up in the mountains and, when I went in the kitchen to be with my student’s grandmother, she got up from behind the “stove” and made me sit there, adding more kindling because, well, Americans are not so capable of withstanding the cold. Up to a point, she was right. But anywhere I might have found myself with this woman would have been warm enough for me; however, other members of her family would not allow us to get together. There was a lot of culture involved in this and I learned it but I was none too happy. Neither was she. In fact, she was more “modern” than her children and grandchildren.

She had been a widow for nigh onto 40 yrs. Her husband died young, secondary to the Long March. That he or anyone survived is a miracle, for Mao was selfish, self-centred and manipulative–as long as he won, other people did not matter. According to some sources, Mao did not need to go through the hell he dragged people through; but it was strategically and politically expedient. Mao did not walk, he rode in a litter or rustic palanquin. When it was over, grandma’s husband returned home to farm in the mountains south of Hangzhou, on the south central east coast. This time of my visit was during the big snow of 2008. (I have written elsewhere of this.)

Day Four?

I washed clothes again this morning; I’m almost caught up. But it’s so overcast, so humid today that even after six hours outside the clothes are not dry. No direct sunlight. Breezy, though none really gets down in here, walls and buildings being on all sides. Some trees. I’m sitting in the pathway of the fan in the main room or I’d be sweating like a stuck, roasted pig.

This is where fans come in handy. Old people wave then slowly; younger people faster, more frantically. I’m somewhere in the middle. And everyone carries a fan, whether small or large. I have several, including one small one and one that folds up and fits into a shirt pocket. Mine are not masculine, as judged by American standards; sometimes, grandmother, nainai 奶奶, give me fans–even from stores, no charge. I make a point of going back to those stores for whatever it is. How can one forget such kindness? Such caring? Which is one reason they are so caring: customers return. It is more appropriate to shop in your immediate neighborhood, unless what you need is elsewhere, for this solidifies your relationship with the people. . .and it makes you, the foreigner, appear more normal.

I must admit I was a tad shy about whipping out a fan and fanning myself. But I soon learned. And I learned, too, that my Japanese fans, theatre fans, were too big and, no matter how subdued colorfully, were too much. I amassed several different kinds of fans, even went out of my way to buy some, on the cheap if I could find them. Now, if they are not lying around on tables, they are somehow suspended from the walls.

Fans and tissue, for use in the toilet, are mandatory accoutrements to living. Public toilets don’t have “paper.” Some hotel toilets don’t have paper. Neighborhood restaurants may not have a toilet–they may not have napkins, as we know them, either but, rather, a roll of toilet tissue, as we know it, on the table for wiping your messy mouth–not too many Chinese manage this–or your hands.

Which leads to a discussion of public toilets. This will not be a tasteful discussion.

I am so disgusted by the nearest local public WC that I won’t use it, preferring to suffer through constipation or the possibility of a leakage until such time as an opportunity for a better place happens. I am appalled. It’s almost enough to make you puke. My students would not use it either. The floor was wet, glistening wet, with papers, news and other, strewn about. Some of the squat basins had not been flushed, of anything. The huge plastic vats for pissing in were full. And it was dark in there. No electricity. Small windows placed high up near the ceiling.

The WC cleaners, whom you rarely see during the day time, only empty the piss tubs–except for the older variety where you shit into a pot. No one cleaned the floor, even as little as throwing water about. Then, the night soil men trundle down the street, piss and shit stinking to high heaven and slopping around in their huge vats. With the condition of some of the roads here, it’s a wonder there’s not a trail of waste down the street and spillage on streetside vending places. Everyone but everyone who might be out at all hours of the night gets out of the little truck’s way when the driver shouts he’s coming through.

However, some of the public WCs were no more than latrines, long channels dug into the hard, discolored ground up against one of the walls. Piss or shit, it didn’t matter. Splish splash, take a bath. And most assuredly bring your own paper. Around the corner from one restaurant I frequented, I ran in distress and hunkered down to do my business when the darkness was invaded by several men who did not even bother to pretend: they were there to see if it were true that Americans were so fucking big. Or maybe just to see if an American could do it the proper Chinese way. I could and it was too dark to see my things.

I noticed that the WC doors are not marked 女 or 男. I think there may be a method, with the 女 always being on the left, as you stand contemplating the outlets. I was helped by seeing boys come out of one; no one ever exited the other in my sight. I’m sure it would have been more exciting if I’d gone in the “wrong” one. I’m quite good at playing absolute idiot here. Such behavior is one of the 36 ways to victory found engraved into stone at Yunmeng shan (云梦山) outside Hebi City: act the fool (to gain information).

Yunmeng shan is the first military academy in China. It is on a hill, stony and cave-ridden; perhaps low mountain is a better description. Apparently, Sunzi studied there under the then old founding master. Any more information is not remembered. Yunmeng shan is not on tourist maps, unfortunately, as it is most interesting and, therefore, most unassailed by touristy fixing up. I’d like to go back for another tour. I wonder who I can get to come with me. . .

The wheel ruts in the hard stone of a great war chariot were pointed out. And the platform from which Sunzi was supposed to have jumped, without hurting himself, in order to be allowed to study. Someone said, in the neighborhood of 14′ right onto stone. Sunzi did not injure himself. The entire academy and its myriad buildings is a religious monument where people come to ask for help and, I suppose, meditate. I was not allowed to take pictures. This was considered rude as the people were praying, I was told. I acquiesced.

When I rode by the market last evening, at 5:30, there was no one there. No food vendors. Only grandfathers gathered at the far wall playing majiang (mahjong, to you). So, I rode back to my veggie haunt on Wenhua lu (文化路), Culture Road, only to find the meat places were not open. I bought veggies: 4 RMB (about 50 cents), enough for several meals. Wenhua is only cultural because it is lined with food vendors, fresh, and restaurants and stores/supermarkets. The Chinese like to eat. Alot. I think you could say the loves of the Chinese are sex, eating, drinking and talking. And more eating. No business is ever conducted without eating. . .and drinking.

We foreigners hear this as a story but, in fact, I was once at one of these business meetings, being part of the business enacted and to come. However, I bowed out of drinking as I had a class to teach. My behavior was much approved of, though I had to decline drinking even the polite first sip three times before it was acceptable.

But back to the house. . .

There is a bulging crack in the middle of the main room floor, though not of the split in the kitchen; here, the halves are still connected. I looked behind the curtains of the cabinet and found dishes, pots and pans, kettles and bowls. With the filthy dishes in the kitchen, a population of 20-30 could be fed and watered. Things just do not seem to get thrown away here, like poorer, what used to be known as white trash, neighborhoods in America, where cars and trucks long past use are rusting in the yards along with you-name-it all. . .sinks, water heaters, washers. . . . Happens here, as in everyday, inside and outside the houses. Chinese are pack rats–and yet there is little appreciation of art or antiques. No one fixes up an old house or building; one destroys it and builds a more modern one. Box-like and without character or any redeeming cultural value.

The storage house across the yard was once a lived-in house. It’s front wall of brick extends above roof level. There is a drain there where, in Europe, there would be a gargoyle spouting water. Cross-like openings extend across it. So, probably, there was a way up there, for other houses of a similar bent sport rooftop gardens. It would be nice to get up there, too. Above the rooftops, what could be seen? However, the next building over is at least two storeys high, with a brick balustrade around the roof. Only junk juts up over this. There are no windows on this side. But if I’d climbed up there, everyone and his mother would have seen me invading people’s privacy.

Between the storage house and my neighbor’s concrete block style house–most likely brick beneath the concrete face–is a wall of old bricks stacked up ¾ of the way. Are they hiding something? Are they “just there”? Being saved for some future use? Walls will be made thus. Unused, unwanted windows and doorways are blocked off by stacking old bricks in them, not finishing them off. Sometimes, when they are walls, the wall will gradually dwindle as these bricks find use. And, then again, temporary often becomes permanent. Better, I guess, than leaving them lying in a disorganized pile, as with the rest of the courtyard, at the far end.

The windows to the storage house are gone, all but one panel and ¾ of another. Why bother to fix it? Bicycles and basins don’t freeze. . .though I do wonder what the boy bathes in in the winter–and where. Now, he is in a big tub on the centre concrete slab as his mother pours cold water over him. Probably the public showers where the wind will not get you and the water is hot. In Jinhua (金华), pretty much in the centre of Zhejiang Province where once the elite of society and government officials lived during the Southern Song (南宋; 1127–1279)–and one of my student’s lived without knowing diddly of this history–the water was wood stove heated. Wood heated water feels different: softer and more truly hot. Other places use charcoal. I wonder if any go electric–the bill would be outrageous.

In an hour or so Tony will come by for dinner. He owes me for France’s win the other night. Tonight. . .Germany plays Argentina. I don’t know who the second game is between. Today is 30 June 2006. I start teaching part time on Monday.

Dinner tomorrow night with Carnation and Yuki.

 

Where No Self-Respecting American Would Go — part 1

Where No Self-Respecting American Would Go

or

living like most Chinese

 The adventure begins with petty revenge taken over having gotten caught attempting to cheat–or, less politely, extortion. I was the victim. In the end, the present circumstances led to a deeper understanding of China that is otherwise prejudiced by my culture, my learning, my worldview. That is, irritating and fretful as the punitive behavior was, I came out ahead. And I am certainly pleased at having had this adventure into the heart of China, where no self–respecting American would ever go. However, having won was, in the end losing, as evidenced by the circumstances leading to my living down at the bottom of city life. . .where I gained more cultural information.

One year ago, upon leaving Anyang shifan daxue 安阳师范大学 (Anyang Teachers University), there was an attempt to cheat me out of one month’s salary from my first month’s hire of three years. I had been hired in February when the administration of the school was away for Spring Festival, Mao’s ludicrous attempt to rid the language, putonghua, of ancient, royalist oppressive thought supposedly contained in New Year’s that included ridding society of all celebration: everyone was supposed to go home, go to their family home, and sit around and eat and drink, no noise or wild celebrating. Because the school was shut down, there was no way to institute a salary, albeit the unpaid foreign affairs teacher, Zhang Xiangang 张显刚 Robert, had the contract to hand and had brought me in from the RR station. So, no salary until March when the school administration would return. I had the money to live the month that, though a nationwide holiday, was still a paid month as my hire began on 1 February. All things considered, by the time I left to return to the States due to illness, this lost salary was already pocketed, leaders and institutionalized corruption being what they are. Still, it was my money and I wanted it.

The first lesson: do not challenge authority, especially if it is wrong. Expect a huge battle, beginning with denial and ending with administrative pressure on close teaching staff. At this time, three years after beginning at AYTU, the foreign affairs person was not Robert Zhang. The foreign affairs officer was a woman and, so, easily manipulated by her superiors, women really not being equal despite government/Mao’s rhetoric to the contrary. Indeed, people in general are not equal. There is open classism here.

At any rate, there was no admittance of wrong doing or mistake by the College Dean. But I would not be deterred. And I needed the money.

There seemed little change from, say, the Song dynasty and The Outlaws of the Marsh, when rightful petition was denied and aggressively fought against. Like those outlaws and, in fact, the Medieval outlaws of Britain and Europe, I would not relent, something people in power positions (authorities) do not understand, especially this man who seemed to be interested in demonstrating and maintaining power (I noted this in other situations during my 3 years at AYTU—-and not just with him). However, I did not become violent or revengeful, as the Outlaws had. Although I had come across corruption before in Lanzhou, a far more petty and insidious and destructive sort, I’d not been introduced to the corruption of thievery, a much more common corruption. The corruption of getting ahead at any cost, always to the detriment of another, is endemic in China. Endemic to the point of being normal, everyday behavior. Definitely expected of higher ups.

Despite shows of egalitarianism, there is no equality to the new China. Women are still less than men; city or common folk are lower than entrepreneurs, academics and government officials; farmers are dirt. In fact, I learned that my students did not like to admit their families were farmers, if this were true, as they would be looked down on. Foreigners are China’s niggers: we gots rights but who cares? When you wrong, you wrong. No queshuns ast.

Since I did not relent, I was a real bad, out of step sort.

As everyone is supposed to be equal in the face of higher salaries and better treatment of those above, getting ahead is the order of the day. Getting ahead at any cost, in any way, as if to say that having or making more money equates to serving the State better, more assiduously, than others (below you). All employment is working for the State, according to Communist doctrine, so the more work, the more monetary gain, the more status and the more a Worker of the State you are. The more Communist. Rhetoric in practice. In fact, no one wants to be the same as everyone else. Everyone wants to be better, better off than the norm, which is poverty. . .according to Communist Doctrine. Since Deng Xiaoping 邓小平 had revolutionized Mao Zedong’s 毛泽东 policies, such behavior became, if not more pronounced, more possible. Indeed, I was to find in the ensuing years that the behavior in academia of The Red Guards and The Revolutionaries was not dead at all, only simmering and bubbling below the surface like a spot–specific earthquake waiting to happen. This is one way to get ahead. One way to eliminate threats.

As the situation surrounding the regaining of my lost salary elevated, things got out of control. It is generally assumed that I (the foreigner), as I was told, got out of control. However, if truth be told, the Dean of the College–the person under the microscope here–was the one to get out of control. He fought for his life, that is to say, he fought for his ill-got gains. More than likely, he’d already spent the money. Not so very much as I’d taken less than originally agreed upon in order to attain a better situation than that in Lanzhou Jiaotong Daxue.

My last official evening in Anyang, the Janus-faced Foreign Affairs Office Director had relented and was ready to pay up–as was proper; however, the Dean, Mr. Shi–I don’t know his putonghua but this Shi was not the same as my Shi 史–got out of hand and called a friend of mine, a faculty member, Robert Zhang, to get him to convince me that I was wrong, and because I raised my voice–and I do have a large voice when the occasion warrants it–because I went ballistic. I fumed at him and, when the FAO Director entered my house right as this odious phone call was terminated, I shouted at her with all the power and fury I could muster–she left precipitously, eyes wide, frightened and slightly confused and talking into two cell phones at once. She left the door open. Later that evening, the Vice Dean of Foreign Languages dropped by with the FAO Director to smooth things over and give me the rationale for giving me the money to which I was entitled but not entitled: I was not totally blameless, I was told, as if this had anything at all to do with the issue at hand. However, it was calculated to show up the good-heartedess of the Dean in relenting in the face of my ignoble persistance and, thereby, making the school and save face: placating the bad guy, me. Though perhaps buying me off would be a better assessment. That I was owed the money was of no account. Getting rid of an irritant and someone who was exposing corruption (cheating, thievery) was uppermost in Dean Shi’s mind. I was supposed to feel honored at being so generously treated. I did not. It was my due. I won. How embarrassing for the Dean, the school. It was important, then, to understand the error of my ways, my errant behavior that should by all rights have resulted in termination (I refused to teach after two weeks of promises for a new washing machine that never materialized resulting in no clean clothes–I acted out, something I had found the Chinese and hospital nurses responded well to—I had my washer by noon) and, therefore, how nice and good the school was in giving me the money. I was supposed to accept such behavior, put up with such conditions—after all, the Chinese do. I wanted to say something but understood that this rhetoric was necessary to saving face.

That was lesson number two, if you will.

I had, to be honest, learned innumerable lessons of culture during those three years, not all of them pleasant.

One year later, having returned healthy and ready for another wonderful stay in China, academic people notwithstanding, I was to find petty revenge must have its day. I returned to Anyang to visit friends and adopted daughters and rented an old house on campus belonging to a friend of my 干女儿 gan nü er‘s  father.

Now, I must take a little side road here and explain this adoptive situation. A  gan nü er is not a true daughter nor, as we in America understand it, a true adopted daughter. God-daughter does not even come close. There is no expected legal paperwork involved. This situation is old fashioned with the exception, in the modern day, of gan nü er implying that I had adopted the girl and am waiting until she grows up to marry her. The adopting is unofficial but culturally binding.  gan nü er translates as “dry daughter,” meaning not really mine. Moreover, I did not adopt her–or the other two involved in this–she/they adopted me. They wanted to do this as they wanted to take care of me when I got old. Of course, they wanted to take care of me “now,” since I did not know Chinese ways.

These three girls were students; we had become close over the three years I taught at AYTU. They were at my house often; they and their classmates were at my house monthly for a feed-fest, TV and movie watching, and general conversation. Even now, 10 years later, I miss this. With their adoption of me as “father,” I had what I did not have in my own life: family. A family that cared. This particular daughter, Zhang Fan 张帆, was closest to me then. The situation has changed over the years with the more aggressive, protective daughter showing an intolerance that has resulted in her, now, not talking to me; and the youngest of the group, Qin Lixiao Young 秦李小, taking on the role of protective daughter. Young is, in some respects, very much like me in that she goes her own way, has her own ideas and wants and desires, and will be damned not to follow her dream.

At the this time of my life, Young was elsewhere finishing her studies, Zhang Na Anna 张哪 was in Scotland getting her masters and Zhang Fan Yuki (now, due to marriage, Salimah) was the only one left in Anyang. We were the close ones.

I made no bones about this return to Anyang and my living arrangements; I did not hide my living on campus in an old empty house (apartment), abandoned because the original owner had opted to move to the newer teacher housing of the old campus. Why should I? I was guilty of nothing. Had nothing to hide. Expected nothing. I was simply returning to see friends, old students and my daughter.

The Dean of the College, the very same Dean who was bested a year ago, was, however, not pleased. His loss still rankled, apparently, and he considered me a threat when I could have cared less. He was not important any more. He pressured my gan nü er‘s father and his friend, the owner of the house, to get rid of me or else the apartment would be confiscated by the school and there would be further trouble for these teachers, my daughter’s father and his friend. In a week I was expected to vacate the premises. It was hoped, I’m sure, that this would put me out on the streets; definitely, it was to discompose me. I did not understand the why screw others instead of me behavior. Me, the bane of his existence. I still do not. I find it the same as making life difficult for someone for no reason but to make life difficult for them. As with the old Buddhist tale of the two monks travelling down the road in the rain–always in the rain–Dean Shi was still carrying the woman met while I had set her down on the other side of the road, as she wished.

However, I marshalled friends–who found the Dean’s actions to be as incomprehensible as I did–and we managed to find a manageable place. I was focused on not having a job and, therefore, not having money to squander on more or less top-of-the-line accommodations, as a good foreigner ought to seek out. This place I settled into was gotten less than a week after the threat to others had been made. Perhaps the threat, aside from being petty revenge where hurting everyone in your path to get to the one you want is acceptable (à la George Bush II), was also a (further) move to power, of which he had no need. That is, he was the power in the school, what further show of force was necessary? I could have cared less about him. Apparently, though, full dictatorial powers. . .here in a more or less backwater town at a no-name school, means a man who wants it to be known that he is the boss and, like George Bush II, is not going to tolerate any who help the enemy.

Let’s see if we can discover why my presence at AYTU was a threat to this man’s power. . .honor. Hate. Childish petulance. Fear of losing status. Humberto Marriotti might consider this behavior that of an incompetent. Perhaps more akin to Elmer Fudd’s frustration at never being able to bag that siwwy wabbit. Hopping mad. Yuki suggested that, after I moved, I could further frustrate this man by simply showing up on campus–often. Impotent rage. I could just see him turning red, steam pouring out of his ears, “Ooooh!” spouting past his saliva-speckled lips. I thought, yes, but that showing up only 2–3 times a week at rather inconsistent occasions would be better, for he’d keep waiting for the next time, anxious and fearful, ready with a means to put me out of his misery. Which never occurred.

I’ve found a way to put this event into my book (The Constant Shell Game, as yet unpublished, as so many of my writings are not). The absurdity of it all. The parallel will be more than obvious to those in the know. Also, it will restore my sense of humor, which seems to have gotten lost in this particular writing.

Well. . .on to the adventure.

As I said to Yuki as we traversed the back roads and narrow byways to what was to become my new house, I was getting deeper and deeper into China. Certainly no foreigner would have bothered to go as deep into living areas as this; none would even consider actually living in such a place. I saw this as learning some more about China, things that most all foreigners are ignorant of–discounting that they are ignorant of China in the main to begin with. Most foreigners, most especially Americans, only see and wish to know the more prosperous side of life and the tourist attractions, believing these facets of China are “China” and become the experience of a lifetime. I, however, was going to discover what it was like living like the Chinese live. Once, though, for a couple weeks, I had lived in similar circumstances while spending New Year’s with a student’s family in a village outside of Jinhua 金华市, during the Southern Song Dynasty the chosen home of the government elite. So, there was some foreknowledge of what I was getting into. This time, I was not ill, not living through walking pneumonia which was, eventually, what sent me back to the States.

Off the not-so-wide back streets of Anyang there are smaller what might be called paved alleyways, though there were other less wide streets, which we’re not concerned with here. Off Dongnanying jie 东南营街 East South Road, is a smaller roadway, perhaps 2 ½ bicycles wide at its widest. There is an archway-tunnel entrance, under which, in the street, the construction workers slept over the noon break (2–3 hrs, standard). It would be easy, I found out, to run them over. Luckily, I was quick on my bike.

On the east wall of the tunnel is a sign and a further hand-written notice: Linfu jie 林府街, Forest Home Road. No trees. It bends as it goes along, finally ending in a cul de sac; there are a couple of other alleys and streets that are also dead ends leading to larger houses. But Linfu jie was where I was destined to live. This was old central Anyang so, probably, there once was a forest or woods here. “Now” the area was all built up, newer levels obvious via style.

I was both appalled and pleased at discovering this local hutong 胡同. I knew immediately this was real China, not the modern economic wonder most Americans expect, even though Fanfan had been taking me places off the beaten path, as far as foreigners are concerned. If we had any reason to go down these streets, we would only ogle and comment disparagingly. Very much as the British in India and Africa, Americans carried their culture and their attitudes with them wherever we go, never seeing the world of China but through the cultural prejudices of American middle class. We are so insulated, we are unaware of Chinese responses to us, especially those of us who can find nothing positive to say about this new world or its people. As odd as we find Chinese behavior at times, they find our behavior as odd. Even my behavior of getting on with the people and visiting and living in old town.

I got on so well with my students, paying attention to them and their student activities that I was invited into their culture and homes and learned a lot. Not to say I had no biases. I did. I just kept them to myself.

I could not believe that people lived, as a matter of course, in such horrible conditions. I could not understand it, even though I knew of parallel living conditions in America, had lived in poverty, had even squatted in abandoned buildings in order to live. However, since those days–early 20s, college days–I had taken on a more middle-class view of things. Not that I ever was middle-class. At least not above the lower end. Perhaps, though, I was better prepared than most as I’d just spent the prior 10 years involved in disability affairs and, indeed, for part of the time living the throw-away life given to the disabled. Grudgingly given to the disabled.

Along the east (right) wall of Linfu jie, after passing through its tunnelled entryway, were the entrances, through their own little tunnels, to the living areas–more than one house, more than one family, gathered about little courtyards or common areas. There were only one or two double-doored entrances to living areas on the west wall. I lived in #7. Quite a ways down the street. The entryway was paved; where it turned left concrete civilization ended: the ground there was pounded down by use and mossy-ish. Trees and bushes grew all about these houses, so the first courtyard was shady and green. This open courtyard must be passed through to get to the even narrower passageway that led to my courtyard, bounded by three houses. Old houses. Clay tile-roofed, white-washed brick or plastered concreted brick; or, like mine and the one right across the yard, brick with a concrete lower third. There is a large hole in this other small, out building-sized house’s door where the thin plywood type panel had gone missing. Must be cold in the winter. This courtyard was sans trees, seemingly older than the front area and most certainly much less well–cared for.

Once a long time ago, the narrow, between houses passage that led to this back living area was bricked over, cobbled; now it was a tumult of tsunami-tossed bricks sticking up into the non-sunshine, embedded in the hard, hard earth. I thought of staying in when it rains, as, though I do have boots to counter both the running water–a little watercourse rushes not necessarily down the middle–and the mud, it was impossible to hold an umbrella aloft through this back alley entryway. The rain water running down some of the neighborhood streets was less conducive to slopping along. How Chinese of me! Ha! The Chinese did not appear to go out in the rain. I used to tease my students that they were afraid of the rain.

Janus-faced Prejudice

One particular prejudice not often considered, perhaps because it is all too obvious and common, is the prejudice of face. That is, keeping or saving face. Some people might prefer to call this reputation, as if that somehow makes it more acceptable. Be that as it may, it prejudices decisions and excludes people as things dispensable–as all prejudices do.

I worked for an Independent Living Organization (ILO) in a moderately large mid-western city. ILO’s are supposed to be fighting prejudice, specifically prejudice against the disabled that keep us sidelined, out of work and second class citizens. Let us call this ILO The Healthy & Entire Mortal, THEM. Many ILO’s are members of ADAPT, which began as American Disabled for Accessible Public Transit, an organization that is dedicated to active demonstration against entities in society that show great prejudice and little concern for the disabled, such as Greyhound Bus, metropolitan transportation systems, air terminals/air lines, landlords and supermarkets. These protests are nonviolent yet extremely disruptive.

THEM is a member of ADAPT and takes part in demonstrations; however, only in demonstrations that are considered to be safe. That is, that will not result in bad press, which might disturb the delicate balance THEM’s Director has built up with the local business community. Thus, both sides of THEM’s face are saved: they appear to be activists and they appear to be more sensible minded members of the business community.

At THEM I was a certified and Social Security trained Benefits Specialist working to move the disabled on government benefits back into the workplace through the Social Security maze and without losing their medical benefits. I also advocated for my clients whenever problems arose. I was quite good. Several of the networking and information grids I developed were disseminated throughout the West and Midwest. I sat on the Kansas State board of the National Association of the Mentally Ill. I worked tirelessly for mental health parity and for extension of Medicaid benefits to those disabled who managed to find employment–in both Kansas and Missouri.

In dealing with one client, I came upon corruption within the very government organization that was set up to help the disabled: Vocational Rehabilitation (VR). This was in Missouri. My client was systematically being denied her benefits from VR by way of misleading information, sexual harassment, administrative Catch-22’s and lack of sensitivity to her disability. This situation had been going on for several years. In advocating for her and following her case through appeals and a move to legal action, I discovered that the administrative side-stepping and unwillingness to adhere to its own directives went to the top.

When the heat became too great for VR, trumped up malfeasances against me were used to bring pressure on THEM. THEM was told that if I was not fired, VR would cease funding THEM’s medical and assistive living programs. This is extortion, or perhaps bribery. Did THEM support me and thereby my client? No. Though VR was told I wouldn’t be fired, I was conveniently moved to the Kansas side of THEM’s organization, a rather fledgling, undeveloped aspect of the ILO. For THEM, though, this was simply the first of a number of moves to get rid of me while I became my own advocate, discovering that neither the legal branch of the government nor its head (the Governor) would do anything to right the obviously illegal situation.

A hostile environment was developed by THEM utilizing my big, 400 lb bullying supervisor who was, without the official title, assistant to the Director. This man continually gave me false leads as to my new job guidelines, limited my ability to do advocacy, engaged in baiting with disingenuous substandard performance ratings and indulging in administrative procedures that were a neverending labyrinth of incompleteness. Although I brought this to the attention of the Director and even utilized our hired harassment expert, a friend of the Director, it became obvious that this treatment, the hostile environment, emanated from THEM’s Director himself. My only victory was to resign at a highly inappropriate time and before enough information could be constructed to fire me. My big, bullying supervisor was furious. Throughout this entire process, I kept good records. Now, several years later, I still have this documentation (14 typewritten pages).

Why, one wonders, would THEM do this when its mandate is to help the disabled? My client withered and never obtained her legal right to benefits. Because, really, THEM was not dedicated, was not willing to go out on a limb–for either client or employee. THEM could have sought legal action against VR for their strong arm tactics in getting rid of me. THEM could have ridden the iron horse of legal action against VR for denial of appropriate benefits for my client. But, no, THEM folded under pressure in order to save face.

Denial of benefits to quite a number of disabled within the community would have accrued with the withholding of VR’s medical support funding–if made public, this would have had a devastating effect. Employees would have found themselves out of work because their position depended on this VR medical support money. But. . .a major aspect of VR’s wish to have me terminated was that I was disabled and not appropriate for “such a position” of responsibility. Thus, THEM was not only not supporting their employee but again not upholding their mandate to aid the disabled. This allowed THEM to remain a viable, business-friendly ILO that would not rock the boat. This allowed THEM to engage in the same prejudicial behavior that THEM was supposed to be fighting.

And so THEM saved face. At my expense. At one particular client’s expense. And at the greater disabled community’s expense, for THEM will not stand behind either their employees or their clientele. After all, what is important is what one appears to be.

THEM still takes part in safe ADAPT demonstrations and still helps clients who offer no threat to them or the workings of government. I am still in contact with this client, though my e-mail has been blocked by THEM. I still maintain contacts with ILO contacts in other States.

I sought several position in the US, missing most by one day and, eventually, one hour, before signing a contract to teach literature and drama and writing at a university in China. I am a published writer and have 30 years’ experience in theatre, including producing and running my own theatre before doctoral studies. I am presently engaged in academic research. I am engaged in recruitment and PR activities for this college. I am acting in commercials. I am in contact with the fledgling disability rights movement in China. Yet I am too disabled to do the job of helping the disabled; too disabled to hold a position of responsibility.

Although I have succeeded in the face of prejudice, it is sad that this situation exists; that is, that the very organization that is supposed to be helping the disabled is actually disabling them. THEM, though, is not alone.

James L. Secor, Ph.D.

Creationist Meringue Pie

 by

James L. Secor and Minna vander Pfaltz

Creationism and its off-spring, the dystopiously named Intelligent Design, have rightly been criticized for their recalcitrant stand on the infallibility of a foreign document of high metaphor being interpreted as literal truth flying in the face of science. The Tyrants of Science, lead by Richard Dawkins, have ceaselessly barraged these narrow-minded, escapist individuals adhering to a belief system that is not even European about their lack of sense, their lack of facing up to the findings of science which, to the Tyrants of Science, is the be-all and end-all of everything, a slice of knowledge that has the answer to everything.

There is, in this analysis by the New Enlightenment, no history, no mention of the fact that the last time this particular religion called Christianity ruled the world there was a dearth of science, a great case of ignorance. Indeed, this period of Church rule was known as The Dark Ages–and the Irish think they saved civilization by not destroying texts considered heretical, though, of course, none of these were scientific works. No. As Christianity dictated every action and thought of the Western world into the Middle Ages, the backwards, infidelist Middle East was taking science to great heights. Physiology and anatomy, biology, chemistry, medicine, astronomy–all grew and had to be “discovered” by the West. Even then, the persecution continued: Copernicus, Galileo; Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci were lucky they were not discovered dissecting bodies–a desecration of God’s human form. Heavens! Indeed, that the Earth was not the centre of the universe was known from the time of the Sumerians and then the Babylonians and Egyptians. The idea of a flat Earth was utterly ridiculous as sailors had been sailing over the edge, over the horizon, for millennia–the Greeks even reaching the southern coast of what is now China, calling the people there radish eaters.

No one is thus mentioning the historical precedent to the present idiocy and theodicy of the Creationists and their delusional brood. If they are allowed to spread, the US is due to enter a ripe dark ages. . .again.

Charles Darwin never attempted an explanation for the beginning of life– the origin of life on this planet–only what had been happening to it since then. And Darwinism has changed considerably since then, if nothing else from an outward-looking science to an inward-looking science. Even Lamarck has been discovered to have been not so totally wrong. But he was an evolutionist anyway. The Creationists don’t bother with him. Just as they don’t bother with the Enlightenment philosophers or the ancient Greeks: evolutionists all. Evolution meaning “change.” Evolution also includes environmental effects upon the organism. There is, in truth, a subtle intertwining of outer and inner worlds. But the Creationists don’t bother with this. They prefer their own misinterpretation. As the Bible is the most read book, Darwin’s Origin of Species is the most quoted but least read book. (It is, in fact, very boring.)

And, then, when Islam grew to intolerant levels like Christianity, all scientific exploration ceased. It seems to be the way with theocratic dictatorships and societies that close themselves off from the outside world. The Commonwealth of the Roundheads. The Puritans of Salem, Massachusetts. The Japanese threw the Christians out and had a cultural renaissance.

But in all this there is another angle that has not been looked at, probably by either side: that is the modern astrophysical and physical sciences since July 1969 when men landed on the moon–and took a picture of the Earth “rising” over the Lunar horizon, a beautiful blue ball floating in space, in an infinite blackness (God–where was the light?). Some have called those astronauts Men in the Moon. Does that make them, as in the eyes of Washington Irving, Lunatics?

What do the Creationists make of this event and the following wonders of landings and findings on Mars and Saturn’s moon Titan, the changes to Jupiter? How do these frightened people adhering to a belief system that no longer holds water interpret these findings? For, as Joseph Campbell noted in his 1970 lecture, “The Moonwalk–The Outward Journey,” this is the one great bound into going beyond our limits since the discovery of fire, not originally used, it is believed, for cooking at all. Are these people, the Creationist spawn, believers in the idea that the moon landings were all staged events in the Arizona desert? If so, where in that desert? Area 51 is not in Arizona.

Closer to home, what about the satellites going round and round the Earth? Not only the Skylab but the communications satellites that make possible the use of the Creationists’ personal computers and cell phones, themselves made possible by the space program. Do they use Velcro, developed for the space program? Are any of their number wearing heart pacemakers? Do they build with plastics, a modern scientific development? Drive cars with rubber wheels (rubber being a variant of plastic)? What about airplanes and jets: if God had wanted us to fly He’d have given us wings, right? Flying gigs that break the speed of sound? That is, they are visible before they can be heard. That surely goes against all God’s laws, no? Physicists have even demonstrated faster-than-light travel, that is, something that is here before it is here. God damn!–even He could not manage this!

No science, though, has proven the existence of ghosts, which the Creationist horde firmly believe in. Or witches. . .which didn’t exist in the Bible until the time of James I of England VI of Scotland who was obsessed by them, believing they had inhabited the bodies and souls of his nobles and wrought them sorely to bring down his kingdom. Thank you Shakespeare.

Do they forget the OT was written in Hebrew? The NT in Greek? Is their education such that they can read the real books? Which language did God speak and write in? Are they even aware that Middle Eastern Semitic culture is different from white Western culture? So that there is no such thing, in reality, as a blond white Savior?

So. . .this modern science, modern astrophysical universe question, needs to be presented to the Creationists, for if they accept it, then they are accepting all of the scientific breakthroughs that have occurred in other disciplines before then. Which they don’t. Though they utilize all of the discoveries that astrophysical science has generated: these are called spin-offs. And that’s a religious conundrum to stump even God. How can you only believe in half of something, the second half?

They are like the boy who, with his friend, ordered a milkshake and won the drinking of the top half. So. . .he drank up the entire milkshake, maintaining it was only logical, for he had to drink the bottom half to get to the top half that was his. That is, he had to make half of the milkshake cease to exist.

In denying the discoveries of science, these people-in-crisis are denying, as the Church did, the teachings of the 11th and 12th and, again, the 15th and 16th century humanists, the great flowering of the human, God-given mind. For if we are created by God, then all of us, our minds as well as our souls, were created by God and to withhold the greatest achievements of science–achievements of the mind–in the name of this same God’s creating is to fly in the face of that same God. Isn’t it?

This ship of fools is denying the wonder of Life in toto, for human life is not the only life here, God created it all. And who are they to say just how it is or what it was that God created and what his purpose was? Isn’t God’s wisdom beyond the ken of man? (Women, of course, don’t count in this view of things.) The wonder of life and of humankind has been tossed out into the garbage bin in cavalier fashion, without a thought. Hey-ho!

And how do they know the form of God? What did the writers of the various Genesises mean by “form”? Form is not simply–and only–physical being. Where does “formative” come from? What about the form of mind? the form of thought? How about the metaphysical form of things? Philosophical forms? Platonic forms?

I should think that if these weird-scientists want to return to the Dark Ages when science was damned and denied, they should be allowed to–in every respect, giving up all advances that have come into existence since, say, 1000 CE when the world was supposed to end and didn’t (I think). Let them live without electricity, running water, indoor toilets, garbage disposals, washing/drying machines, cars, trains, planes, phones of all sort, TV, plastic, Velcro, computers, medicine, steak, toothpaste, anti-perspirant, inner spring mattresses, pens and pencils, paper (even for writing), a change of clothes, drugs, condoms. . . . About the only thing we can’t give them to make the picture complete is clean water, though if they move to the edge of the Gobi Desert, in Jiayuguan, Gansu, China, they can come upon clean water, run-off from Qilianshan.

We can let them figure out who are the peasants and who are the aristocrats. They, after all, must be allowed something of their own to create. Which will be against God’s plan as He didn’t make social classes. When He was working, everyone was equal in status.

Well, actually, maybe we’d just better let them go back to the Garden of Eden, if they can find it; though I imagine going naked would be a heart-stopping experience: my God! Cunts and pricks and tits and asses! God’s creation just hanging out for all to see–Heavens! Then, of course, we’d have to color them black. Yes, that’s right, they’d have to become niggers, the most hated, lowest animal on the planet, according to Creationists and Intelligent Designers. Anyone ever notice the whiteness of the Creationist bend sinister? Or did God, in his wisdom, create, along the equator so lush, white people? If so, what color was their hair, their eyes?

Hmm. . .seems we got a problem here. . .

Even worse, when the OT posited the beginnings of the Hebrew race, the Hebrews only went back to the beginning of civilization, about 3000 years or so, to the Sumerians; Moses knew better than to believe the entire world according to God came into being with the beginning of civilization, having lived a long time in the Egyptian universe, a culture ripe with an interest in history, origins and beyond death. Are the Creationists aware, too, that the NT as it exists today was a politically chosen document that discounted everything that was deemed threatening to the ruling hegemony (The Church)? Manichianism. Zoroastrianism. Polytheism. Gnostic gospels. Early writings of the Christian community prior to Paul. Love. All now part of the Christian doctrine.

Oh. . .do the Creationists know they must become Catholics?

A Buddhist might note that these Laurel & Hardys are mindless. But let’s not bring religion into this, okay?

But, back to my question: what about July 1969 and after? What about that science? Is it of the same sort as dinosaurs and Troglodytes and fossils and hens’ teeth?

A Comfortable Doctrine

 by Minna vander Pfaltz

I have a friend who fancies herself a Buddhist. She knows I am a Buddhist well-founded on history and writings, which modern American Buddhists shun, believing that reading is not practice. This, despite the writing of the sutras, which they hold in such awe that they see them, Mahayana, as a school of Buddhism. It is not. It is a mass, most untranslated, of esoteric and exegetical writings that all schools of Buddhism read and utilize in their practice. Another way of putting it is that Mahayana “is neither a Vinaya tradition or a doctrinal school. It is rather a vision or aspiration, and an understanding of what the final concern should be for all Buddhists (Paul Williams, Buddhist Thought, pp. 112-113) [There are only five schools of Buddhism: Sarvastivada or Vaibhasika; Sautrantika; Theraveda; and Pudgalavada. I am a Pudgalavadan.]

Anyway, this woman invited me to a meeting of her group of Buddhists to chant. That is what they do, chant. Or so they call it. I found it to be shouting out a memorized bit from the Lotus Sutra–and in none too cohesive, unanimous or rhythmic a manner. They do this three times for very short periods, perhaps 2-3 minutes. This, to me, is not chanting. Chanting is a means to an end, the end being meditation, the proper mind for meditation. They, in fact, do not meditate.

This group, a tight knit, small group, calls itself Nichiren Buddhist. It is, in fact, something else.

Nichiren Buddhism is not given much shrift by other Buddhists. To begin with, Nichiren and his followers were violently aggressive. This is not part of the canon of Buddhism. Worse, perhaps, is that Nichiren Buddhism is the only sect of Buddhism that is named after an individual. How egotistical. How egomanic. How egocentric. And how very un-Buddhist. One of the major tenets of Buddhism, as translated in the 19th century, is no-self. Well, no self, no life. No self means death. A better, more accurate translation would be no-ego, for it is the ego that brings on suffering via its illusion of what you are, the illusion of your self, often enough of a Dunning-Kruger sort: an unrealistic vision of your self. It is this illusion that creates suffering and must be bypassed. Ergo, Nichiren had not attained any clear understanding of Buddhism nor had he managed to rid himself of his ego. How can he lead a sect of Buddhism when he has not managed to gain mastery over his ego, his illusion of reality, his illusion of his self?

A second problem is that Nichiren Buddhism teaches only one sutra, the Lotus Sutra. As if there is no other sutra or interpretation of the teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha. There are hundreds translated and thousands untranslated. To only see one exegetical teaching is not only philosophically vacuous, it is as limiting as people who burn books.

So, one is able to maintain that Nichiren Buddhism is not, in fact, Buddhism. It is illusion. This is beyond comprehension to Nichiren’s followers, for their practice makes them feel happy. This, happiness, is taught as the major effect of proper practice. This is not the happiness that any other Buddhist school teaches; this is the happiness of ego, as in “I feel happy and good when I do something for someone else.” (One of these people actually said this to me as if this were the end all and be all of Buddhist goodness and virtue.) Oh puke! That’s not giving or doing for anyone but yourself.

Buddhist happiness begins in mind and it surpasses the sensual. Nichiren’s followers like to feel good, feel good about themselves; this makes them happy. So, I ask you, what have they gained or learned? Happiness for Buddhists is the arising of the Awakened Ones; it is the gaining of wisdom; it is not doing evil. You can only attain happiness by following The Eightfold Path and being mindful of The Four Noble Truths.

When I sat in with this group, I asked about The Noble Eightfold Path. No one knew–and, indeed, blew it off. Far too difficult a thing to deal with. This is the fourth of the Four Noble Truths, which no one knew of. In fact, they told me that since Nichiren had studied for 20 years there is no need for them to study as he and his followers were teaching them his learning. There will never be enlightenment of any kind, here because imitation is not knowledge. Certainly not self-knowledge, which is one of the things that meditation gets you. But they don’t meditate.

However, there is a cultural element to “20 years” that Westerners completely miss. Amazingly, every Buddhist teacher in Japan studied in China for 20 years. I know of only one for whom this is historically accurate and documented (Kūkai). For everyone else, “20 years” means “for a long time” or “for the appropriate length of time” and can imply gaining insight and understanding. From this, there is nothing “20 years” about Nichiren. The fact that his followers are not interested in learning anything other than his egomanic dogma is a sign of. . .I’m not sure of the word—delusion?

Things get worse in the history these people are fed. In its partial truth, it is no more than propaganda. Somewhere around the beginning of WWII hostilities in Japan (1937 with the invasion of China), Nichiren Buddhism split and a new wing was established, Sōka Gakkai. Sōka Gakkai is not Buddhism. But Sōka Gakkai utilizes Buddhism, Nichiren Buddhism, to gain its ends–or, rather, to hide ever so transparently its true path. Sōka Gakkai is political. Sōka Gakkai is not well-liked by the people because of its political aspirations; they remember the State religion that led to the atrocities of WWII. As well they should. Any state religion is tyrannical and intolerant and prone to atrocities. It is the natural outcome of fascist organizations and thinking, given that any organization that maintains “my way is the only way” is fascist. This is, indeed, what Fascism teaches: my way is the only way, my way is the right way, my way is the best way. That means, everything else is wrong and what is wrong and heretical must be gotten rid of.

Even more telling is that the leader of Sōka Gakkai is called its President. He is, in fact, a businessman, as his predecessors were. A very rich businessman who flies around the world in his private jet. He knows nothing of Buddhism. He has had no training in Buddhism. Ergo, Sōka Gakkai is fake Buddhism.

When this is pointed out to followers, they deny it. They say it isn’t true. They say it doesn’t matter. They say they are happy. What could be more better? Well, even in the degradation of the West, even in the decadence of the West, it is known that happiness is fleeting; that happiness is not an end to be sought for it begets only unhappiness (suffering). As in, what if you don’t gain happiness no matter what you do? As in, once you’ve got it what’s left for you? This happiness is illusion. It is ego blowing its own horn. How long can you blow? You can never stop or you are no longer happy.

And, so, I remain appalled by these people and wish I could get my friend away from this crowd. She—and they—have no idea of the propaganda because they have bought it lock, stock and barrel. They have study sessions and inspirational speakers (not; they’re actually pretty boring, simply repeating, repeating, repeating the happiness mantra) just like cells or cults so that they know what is right and that what is right is feeling good about themselves, feeling happy. As if to say, no matter what happens as long as I am happy everything’s cool. This makes me shiver.

The proverbial garden path.

Social Studies 3

“Good morning, class.”

“Good morning, teacher,” appropriately answered the class in unison.

“My name is Mr. Kruztashun.” He fiddled with some papers on the little lectern on the table. He did not sit. “Mr. Drumpfelstilzchin is away on business.”

A hand went up in the back. Mr. Kruztashun nodded in its direction and pointed.

“Where’s our usual substitute teacher?”

“Mr. Braunesel has better things to do.” Mr. Kruztashun set his hands firmly on the papers on the lectern. “Today we are–”

“We hate this class,” said a little boy in the far corner. The rest of the class snickered.

“That’s exactly what we’re going to talk about! Hate.” Suddenly the class was quiet, so quiet the windows rattled with the breathing of the students. “This is Social Studies 3, is it not?”

“Yes!” answered the class in unison.

“Well, then! There’s nothing better to talk about in relation to social studies than hate.” Mr. Kruztashun put a hand on his left hip, bent forward from the waist and pointed out over the heads of the students, a good teacherly thing to do, for it kind of included everyone. “What do you hate?”

A great intake of breath in the classroom. They’d never been asked about this before. They’d been told that hate was bad and not to be disseminated out in public–and surely not toward parents, the greatest thing in the world to hate.

“I hate niggers.”

“I hate spicks.”

“I hate camel jockeys.”

“I hate girls.”

“I hate rich people.”

“I hate poor people.”

“I hate smarty pants.”

“I hate chinks.”

“And gooks.”

“And nips.”

“Injuns!”

“I. . .hate. . .parents!”

The class erupted into tremors of chaos. Girls and boys were shouting and laughing and generally whooping it up. Mr. Kruztashun did nothing to quell the uprising. After all, getting people, even little people, enthusiastic and involved was part of teaching. Only when you’ve got them on your side, as it were, interested in what you are teaching, can you succeed in teaching them the right stuff.

When the class settled down somewhat, Mr. Kruztashun put up his hand. “Wow! We’re doing so good! You hate a lot.”

The same hand that shot up at the beginning of class shot up again. Mr. Kruztashun nodded in its direction again.

“Hate is good?”

“You betcha. Before you can do anything about it, you have to get it out in the open. Then you can do something with it.”

“Like what?” asked a tow-headed little girl in the front row.

“Well. . .what happens when you hate?”

“You get left alone?”

“Right. And what’s the big word for being left alone?”

“We don’t know any big words, Mr. Kruztashun.”

“Well! Would you like to learn one?”

“Yes!” from the now enthusiastic class.

“Okay. Here it is. . .isolation.”

“Isolation,” the good students parroted.

“Right. Isolation. You hate it when people don’t leave you alone, don’t you?”

“Yes!”

These kids were good, Mr. Kruztashun thought. “So, that hate makes them leave you alone, right?”

“Yeah. We get sent to our rooms.” Lots of murmuring agreement.

“And you hate that, right?”

“But,” Mr. Kruztashun held up a knotty knuckled index finger, “when that happens and you are isolated, there are no more hateful people with you. They are all outside. Right?”

Yes! You are isolated.” Mr. Kruztashun leaned over the lectern. “And inside.”

“Yes!”

“What do you do when you’re left alone?”

“Masturbate,” said a little boy at the far end of the front row.

Everyone else snickered and giggled and held their breaths. To say such a thing in public! To say it in the classroom! What was Johnny thinking?

“Exactly!’ Shouted Mr. Kruztashun. “You win the prize.”

“What prize is that?” A smiley face? A star? A gold sunburst?

“You get to feel good!” Quiet reigned. “You do feel good when you masturbate, don’t you?”

Half-hearted assent.

“Sir?” a little blonde girl put her hand up. “You mean it’s okay to feel good when you. . .masturbate?”

“Of course it’s okay.” Mr. Kruztashun leaned over the lectern. “You do feel good when you masturbate, don’t you?”

“Yes.”

“Well, then. How can that be bad?”

Lots of mumbling and rumbling and giggling.

“So!” Mr. Kruztashun brought the class round to him. “When you hate, you are isolated, right?”

“Yes.”

“And that’s a good thing, right?”

“Yes!”

“And it makes you feel good that all that you hate is outside, right?”

“Yes!”

“So, now you can hate all you want in your isolation, right?”

“Yes!”

“What better kind of place could you live in?”

“None!”

Yes!” Mr. Kruztashun wiped the wetness from his lips. “Now. You’re left alone.”

“Yes.”

“And you can hate to your heart’s content.”

“Yes.”

“That’s like masturbating til your hand hurts.”

“And you’re all sticky!”

“Ee-yew, Johnny! You’re dizgusting!” shouted a group of girls in the middle of things.

“What do you care?”

“Yeah!” shouted another antagonistic boy. “What happens when you tickle your moose?”

The class erupted in joyous laughter and taunting.

“I bet you wet your pants,” said a shy little boy.

“I want to watch.”

“Well!” said Mr. Kruztashun, clearing his throat. “When you’re isolated, you can watch because everyone’s masturbating.”

“Cool beans, Mr. Kruztashun,” said Johnny. “You’re the best teacher ever.”

“Oh, thank you, Johnny!” Mr. Kruztashun tried hard to blush but only got his eye lashes to flash up and down. He had short eye lashes, too. “Well! So. You’re isolated. What else can you say about it?”

“Nobody bothers you.”

“Right.”

“You don’t have to pay attention to what anybody else says.”

“Right. You don’t have to share.”

“Yeah. And you don’t have to do things like other people do.”

“Right.”

“You don’t have to share!”

“Exactly! You’re your own boss. You don’t have to trade with those others.”

“Trade?”

“Yup. Like, I’ll give you this and you give me that.”

“Does that mean, Mr. Kruztashun, that, like, I can, uhhm, wear things that are mine?”

“You mean, like things that are only made by you?”

“Yeah.”

“Yes. Only things made by you, for you.”

“Like. . .no Chinese stuff?”

“Right.”

“No Japanese stuff.”

“No German stuff.”

“No Mexican stuff.”

“And no African stuff.”

“That’s right. Only American stuff.”

“Then we’ll know it’s good, right?”

“Right.” Mr. Kruztashun rubbed his hands together. “Boy! You guys are great.”

“Yeah!” shouted one girl. “We can do what we want! We can do for ourselves. And we can keep it all for ourselves.”

“Masturba-aaation!” shouted little Johnny. “Uhn! Uhn! Uhn!”

“Yes. And. . .what happens when you’re isolated and everything is for you and by you and you don’t want or need anyone else and your masturbating to your heart’s content?”

The bell rang just as the kids raised their hands, clamoring to be the one with the answer.

“Oops! Looks like we’ll have to wait for next time to talk about stagnation.”

“What’s stagnation?”

“Time’s up. We’ll talk about that next time.” Mr. Kruztashun opened the door and held it for everyone. “See you next time, guys,” he said as all the students filed out. “You’re the greatest.”

“Hate!” said one boy, giving Mr. Kruztashun a high five.

“Isolation!” said another.

“Masturbation!”

“We’re the best!”

“It’s my land.”

“Right. Hey! See you next time.”

 

© James L. Secor, 2016