Thursday, January 25, 2018

The Conservative Christian's Guide to Not Sucking: Love

My first memory is of a little boy in a red shirt. My second and third and fourth memories are of church.

A lot of people are leaving the church these days, especially people my age. And honestly, I’m more likely to sleep in most Sundays.

It’s not about God. It has nothing to do with my faith.

I think it’s worse if your parents are pastors. I think it’s worse if you’re from a small church.

See, my early memories aren’t of sitting in a pew while adults drone on. I remember being in basements for Bible study, playing with dolls on the floor. When I get bored they set aside their Bibles to hold me. A prayer meeting turns into a birthday party, with a Barbie princess themed cake. The people at church often babysit me. I love them. They’re my friends. They’re my family.

And then they’re not.

That’s the problem with being the pastor’s family. You’re born into it, and you don’t realize what it means. Not until it’s much too late.

There will always come a time when you are set apart. Something in the church goes wrong. Your family has to move on. You have to leave. And they never call, and on the streets when you see them they don’t smile, and everything is over. Everything is gone.

You grow up, and you move far away, and you go to a church where you’ve never been what you always are—the pastor’s daughter.

And you stay there for months, and no one even learns your name, and you realize things will never be the same.

These people don’t love you. These people are not your family.

And even if they were, what then? What’s the use in loving, when the people who love you always leave?

I have plenty of good church memories, but they always end when people ditch me, and everything is tainted by the sting of abandonment and betrayal. And it’s been eight years but I still don’t quite know how to forgive. And I’m so afraid to let a church be my home again, because it hurt so much when I ended up alone.

So. A word of advice for those concerned about young people leaving the church: if you remembered how to love us every day, maybe we wouldn’t have to leave.

You cast us aside so easily.

The second church family I lost, it was because some people were mad at my dad. It was nothing even to do with me. But they vanished from my life like I was nothing.

I wasn’t allowed to go to a movie theater until I was eleven, because someone at church disapproved, which is unimportant in the long run, but it’s always troubled me.

I thought you loved me. You thought the big screen was sinful.

I never expected any of you to be perfect, but eight years later I’m still stumbling beneath the weight of the pressure that was the unspoken center of my childhood. Be good. Be better. Be perfect. Be the kid that all the other kids can look up to like their parents look up to your dad, and the moment either of you fails to be flawless enough all bets are off.

Here is the thing you have to understand: you drive us away.

Your response to mistakes and disagreements is rejection. Every time.

Here is what the church becomes to me, on a Sunday morning as I think of getting up and dressed and going. Church is about being turned away at the door because your skirt is too short. It is walking in with tattoos and shoddy clothes, walking right out again to escape the disapproving, judgmental, even frightened stares. It is your baby left undedicated because you are an unwed teenage mother. It is a pastor refusing to perform a marriage because it will never last. (Forty years later they prove him wrong.)

What we learn from our mistakes in church is mostly that Christians cannot be trusted. It has little to do with God.

How can you honestly say you want to reach new people when you actively drive away the young and confused ones you already have? We were born in the church. You never even had to reach us. You only had to keep us. And you failed.

I used to take unconditional love for granted. Now, it mostly makes me laugh, since it’s either that or cry.

I would love to be in church on Sunday. Give me a reason. Give me love. Give me trust. Make me feel safe, and maybe I’ll come back.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Eve's Children

As I have mentioned in the past on multiple occasions, the Grimms’ version of God needs to Chill. Additionally, I am presenting this story as further textual evidence that the Grimms absolutely did not wander the countryside collecting tales from peasants.

So Adam and Eve are at home with the kids. A lot of kids. (No word on whether this is before or after the Cain and Abel fiasco.) And God decides to come over for a visit.

Now Eve wants to show off how well she’s doing after being kicked out of Eden. So she hides all her ugly, stupid kids in the basement, and gets the good ones dressed up to meet God.

And God is all like, wow, Eve, what a great batch of kids. I’m going to make them kings and queens and priests and governors.

Eve’s pretty pleased with this result, so she figures she’ll get the rest of the family out of the basement, see what cool stuff He’ll do with them.

And God’s like, well, I’m all out of good jobs, so they can be beggars and stable cleaners and stuff, I guess.

And that’s it. That’s the story.

“God made us rich and powerful because we were smarter and prettier than you.”

“Poor people are ugly and stupid and God doesn’t love them.”

What about “The meek shall inherit the earth?” What about “The first shall be last and the last shall be first?” What about “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God?”

And you expect me to believe you got this off one of those basement kids? Yeah, not unless you asked them in front of the king or something.

Jacob. Wilhelm. Guys. Come on. This story is not biblically sound, and your source material is a blatant lie.

-6/10. Very poor work. You’ve disappointed us all, dudes. You’ve disappointed us all.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

The Enchanted Trunk (Schonwerth)

So we’ve got a king. This king is the father of a rambunctious little boy. He’s also the owner of a magic flying trunk. You see where this is going, right? Insert prince in trunk, insert trunk in tree halfway across the world.

Now for all his rambunctiousness, our prince is apparently quite a sensible little boy, because the first thing he does, upon finding himself alone in a strange land, is climb down from the tree and go to learn a trade. He becomes a cobbler, which is convenient as he can continue to replace the fantastic red shoes he arrived in as his feet get larger.

In this new kingdom, there is also a king. He has a daughter, and because he sucks, she gets to spend her life locked up in a tower, Rapunzel-style.

But our boy has a flying suitcase, so visiting is not a problem. At least not until the king notices his daughter is a lot happier than someone in complete solitude should be, and tars up the windowsill, Cinderella-style.

(Whoever gave this man a fairy tale collection should be shot.)

Naturally, one of the distinctive red shoes gets stuck on the sill and left behind. And proving once and for all that he is a despicable sneak, the king announces that he’s had a change of heart and is going to let his daughter marry whoever was clever enough to get up into her tower.

Then, when our shoemaker prince comes forward to claim his footwear, the king preps to have him and the princess burned at the stake.

(Have I mentioned that he sucks?)

Well, you can probably guess what happens next. Deus ex luggage! The trunk flies in, grabs the kids, and whisks them away, back to the prince’s parents. After a decade or two, they’re pretty glad to see him, and everyone lives happily ever after.

14/10. Ridiculous. Magnificent.  Great work, Schönwerth. Excellent first impression.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

New Year, No Spoons, Schonwerth

I had a lot of big plans for things to launch in the New Year, but alas, I forget to take into account that the changing of the calendar would not make me magically cease to be mentally ill overnight. I haven’t so much as caught a glimpse of a passing spoon in weeks.

Also, I’ve got a largish project going for a client, so that’s going to slow me down even when my brain does get itself back in order.

So what I have for now is this: There are a few fairy tale rants I threw together before Christmas and New Year’s, and a couple poems, which will all be trickling out slowly as I try to work up the energy for writing more. For those of you supporting me on Patreon, Lindworm is almost completely posted. I know it’s been a bit of a hassle to read on this platform, but once the last chapter is up, I’m planning on posting the entire thing as a PDF; please feel free to bug me if I forget, as I have been beyond spacey these last few weeks.

My hopes are still to release another poetry collection by this summer, and it will be a full book, more like Goodbye or Avalanche than like thin. Please remember that while I have novels, and not only Lindworm, that I intend to publish, I am waiting until I have saved enough money to buy my own ISBNs and start a publishing company. I appreciate your support, both on Patreon and in buying my poetry books, as I work toward that goal.

Lastly, we need to talk about Schönwerth.  Franz Xaver von Shönwerth collected fairy tales in Bavaria in the 1850s, and five hundred of these were discovered in an archive in 2009. I’ve got the first English translation, which contains a fairly small selection of the whole, but every single one of them is amazing. They follow a lot of the patterns that most folktales share, but the deviations are delightful and absurd, and I figured you guys should have a heads-up because I’m planning on talking about these stories a lot.