Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Nihil Obstat Imprimatur

Being exiled as I am I sometimes find pleasure in unanticipated places. From a chance encounter with a curious link I recently had the pleasure of reading a blog authored by Max Pearson to be found at the link The Progressive Puppy. The story Max wrote which I am referring to here is titled A Gay Youth at Texas Bible Camp, Long Long Ago.

It's refreshing, well written and it made me smile. It also recalled for me the many attempts to make me too a born again fundamentalist evangelical christian solder. Those attempts began early in my life and were as unrelenting as they were illogical. That attempted indoctrination took place in the small backward community of far off Eastern Oregon where I grew up within the great stone walls of the Catholic Church.

The problem with being born gay in a community like that is that from the time we were very young we found ourselves under constant attack. Since the abuse was not visibly apparent as in someone jeering at us or socking us in the jaw it was assumed that it did not exist. But continuously over time we were reminded daily just how evil, wrong and misdirected we were. Soon we begin to accept that we had little value and we behaved accordingly.

Needless to say that when I first saw the bumper sticker that read, "I survived Catholic School," I laughed and I knew exactly what it meant. I survived too, but just.

In the forward to my book, The Interstellar Incident, I address the conditions that existed in that small community so many years ago. What I wrote there is all true and I have little reason to believe that any of that has changed today. And that recollection is an important consideration when one is attempting to author anything.

IMHO it is not possible to fully divorce ourselves from who we are when we write anything. The creative words tumble out, however controlled or uncontrolled they may seem to be, from within the very consciousness of who we are. I might write using forms of fiction and describe how my protagonist has had aliens crashed down at his feet while he is innocently camping out in the high desert. But the truth is what I am really writing about is a part of me, dredged up from someplace deep within my psyche.

I recall another example of that mysterious creative energy when many yeas ago while I was recovering from surgery on my legs, I typed up a short story on my old Olympia typewriter. In it I describe how a destitute old hippie is running from his creditors when he accidentally and innocently encounters a witch with magical powers. That old woman, as I describe her, extricates him from the dead end life he is living. I never finished writing that story. I think about it sometimes and maybe someday I will work on it some more.

What is significant about all of that for me is that shortly after writing that story I lost my job and found myself on a terrible path. About three or four years later I met Helen Gilman about whom the book Helen:A Psychic Gift was written. I don't mean to suggest that Helen was a witch. At 90 years of age, when I knew her, she certainly was an old woman. But far from being a witch with magical powers she was instead a somewhat combative but basically kindly old grandmother who was more concerned about her visitors than herself. And she was endowed with very strong Psychic powers. Magical? I don't know about that but those powers were indeed her special gift.

And there is little question that upon meeting Helen my life changed course. I would never have considered quitting my job, moving or writing any book had I not met her. Indeed, I don't believe I would have ever self-published anything had I not met her.

In the instance of the short story about the old woman witch, I believe I was writing from some strange precognitive energy source. Looking back at it from today's perspective it is certainly uncanny when the similarities between the character I wrote about and what actually happened some time later in my life are compared. The voice coming from inside of me dictated that story and I simply punched the keys and wrote it down as best I could. I did so just as it came, even though it seemed a little odd at the time.

That is the energy that I think propels all writers to produce. It is both introspective and individual. In my adult years I am once again reading Kurt Vonnegut. I first read him when I was in my very early twenties. I was exhilarated in those days by his irreverence for the planet and the culture that we live in. I have to admit that in those days I didn't see anything in what he had written except for that irreverence and his very creative ways of spelling it out.

Today as I read his words again I read between the lines and I think I can see a great deal about that man that he never wrote down. It would have been interesting to know him as friend to learn if how I now perceive him to be and who he really was are in anyway similar.

Nihil Obstat is a Latin phrase which actually translates to nothing hinders. In the Catholic Church it basically means that there is no objection to something like an initiative, appointment or a written text. In the front of many old Catholic books that I still own it will say, Nihil Obstat Imprimatur. That means, "nothing stands against, (that particular text) it may be printed."

My indoctrination in evangelicalism was stilted by circumstance inexplicable but very effective over time. I can't say that I never bought into it all because early on I really did.

As an alter boy during the various Catholic Mass ceremonies where I served it was sometimes my job to carry an ornate brass pot called a thurible. Inside it was a burning piece of charcoal and onto that charcoal the priest would occasionally sprinkle spoonfuls of incense. That created a great deal of misty, smelly smoke which the priest shook around the church or at whomever or whatever was being sanctified in the particular service at the time.

In those days I was very moved by all of that but I really didn't have any understanding of any of it. One stood at certain times and sat at others. Sometimes we had to kneel. The smoke was just part of that whole staged event. I hated the kneeling part. It was hard for me to fit on those small padded rails way down there and it hurt my knees in time. I felt such suffering was unneeded if not also a bit perverse. If only I had known.

Today I understand that the smoke is symbolic of the spiritual aspect of the Lord of All Creation. Vonnegut introduced me to the phrase The Lord of All Creation. It much better serves the description that modern Christianity has for what or whom God might be. The Catholic Church preaches that The Lord of All Creation is actually one divinity made up of three entities. Those three entities are described as the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. That belief is the Catholic theology of the trinity and it is a basic dogma of the Catholic religion.

That smoke emanating from that brass pot and fueled by a hot piece of charcoal was an attempt on the part of the officiating priest to say, "See, the hold spirit is right here. See him drifting out those little holes!" Go figure.

I recall that when I was about 13 years old I told a Catholic priest that I thought I might like boys. Well what I told him was I was finding myself very attracted to one particular boy at the time. I was taught to trust those priests. I was instructed that those men where there to guide and help me and I could tell them anything, including my deepest and darkest secrets. I was certain they would easily solve my troubles for me or show me a way out. I was confident that they were there to protect me. I was a young, confused, homosexual boy that needed protection.

Instead of protecting me what that priest did was tell my mom to take me to a Catholic psychiatrist way off in the far off city of Boise, Idaho. That was 131 miles away from where we lived and only the most severe medical issues were ever taken there. Some people that I knew of at the time went there for treatment and never returned.

Thankfully that psychiatrist had a bit of a brain and told my mom there was nothing wrong with me. Well what he actually told her was I didn't need to come back anymore. His treatment advisory for me may have been based on the fact that my mom didn't have any extra money. Being a good Catholic wife with 15 children to feed and clothe there simply wasn't any extra money to spend on such foolishness like psychiatric counseling. Lord knows I needed such counseling. So did they, but I won't get into that. They included both of my parents as well as the priest who made the initial recommendation.

But ironically that priest was wise in ways that he could never know. That boy I liked so well turned out to be the ass hole of the universe and I was indeed crazy to be interested in him in any respect.

Years later, when about 20, I had one of my many desperation attacks and went back to that church voluntarily. While inside, attempting to make sense of it all, someone siphoned all the gas out of my Studebaker pickup truck. I didn't make much money in those days, (now either for that matter but that's another story) and I had just filled that tank with gas.

To add insult to injury shortly after that theft the truck began to behave funny. While purring happily down the road it would all at once fall into a fit of coughing and jerking sometimes failing completely until I was able to steer it over to the side of the road. It would always happily start right up after that and run as though nothing had ever been wrong.

After some months of trying to find out what was wrong with it and after taking it to half a dozen different professional mechanics who were all equally as baffled, that engine totally failed. One day a coughing fit resulted in the thing dieing, never to start again.

A friend who was somewhat of a mechanic like myself helped me find a balled up piece of rubber hose in the gas tank. The jerks who had siphoned the gas out of my truck while I was in church had simply pushed the rubber hose back into the tank when they left. Over time the gasoline dissolved that hose and as it floated around inside of the tank it would plug the gas suction pipe which caused the truck to buck and snort like it did.

During the last of those episodes the fiber timing gear exploded and shut down the oil pump which was a peculiarity of that particular Studebaker engine. It caused irreversible damage to the crankshaft bearings and the whole motor had to be rebuilt as a result. The old rig was never the same after that.

And neither was I. If there is a Lord of All Creation that Lord told me on that day without question that I did not need to take my troubles to that church. That church is a place filled with troubles and I know now that there is no refuge for me to be found there. I have never forgotten that message.

I titled this blog, Nihil Obstat Imprimatur, nothing stands against, it may be printed and it is that message which I wish to share with you. When you are writing let it flow. Like my old granny used to tell me, "Just as well say it as think it." If your heart feels it, sing it out. It doesn't really matter if anyone ever reads it or not. As a writer it is your art. And your art is important.

So are you. No matter who tries to tell you differently, you are important. No matter who sends you off to a psychiatrist or a Texas church summer camp, you are important. You are important and if there is a Lord of All Creation, he, she or it loves you just like you are. You were made the way you are and no one should ever ask or expect you to change.

In my previous blog I spoke about The Proggy and the many predictions I have received from the tool that work was based on. In this blog entry I speak of the precognitive prognostications which led me to write a short story about a witch, once upon a time long, long ago. All of these psychic experiences are a very big part of my life and they have been for a very long time, even before I met Helen Gilman of Boulder, Colorado. But they are also very introspective and I have always been afraid to write about them for fear of the criticism I was certain I would get.

I am not afraid anymore. Allow me to share with you that as I write these words I am exiled in a land far off from my home. I am here because my same gendered spouse was born here. The same fundamentalist factors that tried when I was child to make me into something that I am not have deemed that although the US is a free country, by rights and tradition some are more free than others.

Every year literally thousands of folks meet partners who were not born within the continental United States. They get married and bring their spouses back with them to live happily ever after. But we are not allowed to do that. You see the fundamentalist element does not approve of how we make love and as such they are bent on depriving us of our basic civil rights. I cannot sponsor my spouse for a green card and he cannot legally come home home with me because we both share the same gender.

We want to go home. That's all. We don't wish to send anyone to a psychiatrist or force them into a religious summer camp to find the Lord of All Creation or to be subjected to any "ex-gay" therapy. We don't want to bother anyone. We only want to go home and live happily ever after until death do us part.

That this will happen is also a promise I have been made through The Proggy, by The Lord of All Creation. I would like to end this blog by publicly declaring to anyone who reads it and also to that very Lord of All Creation, if she, he or it is reading this, that I do not need smelly smoke wafting about to prove you are here. We just want to go home. We are waiting and it has been a very long time since we were promised we could do that.