Eden in Babylon Demo — First Song: “Midnight Screams”

I’m pleased to announce that I’ve received the first song for the demo of my new musical, Eden in Babylon, exploring the effects of homelessness on the youth of today’s America.

Three more pieces coming, soon.

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
Anything Helps – God Bless!

 

In Spirit and in Truth

There is something in the human spirit that makes people want to feel that they are moving forward in some way.   No one likes to feel as though they are stagnating.  We all want to feel as though we are somehow progressing.  When we feel that we are progressing, it seems that our lives have meaning.  When we feel that we are stagnating, it seems that life is meaningless.

Moreover, it seems that different people have different ideas regarding personal progress.  Some people view progress in terms of their monetary advancement; that is, their financial growth.  The more money they make, the better they feel about their progress in life.

Others view progress in terms of their spiritual growth.  Are they becoming better people in some way?   Are they more responsive to the needs of others?  More giving?  More honest?  Less self-serving?  More capable of standing tall in the face of adversity?  More courageous?  Wiser?  More patient?  Or, most of all, more loving?

The latter seems to me to be the higher view of personal progress in life.   But it eludes many people.  People become trapped in the worrisome cares of this world.  And many of those anxiety-ridden concerns are centered around the love of money.

Consider the words of Jesus:

“No one can serve two masters.
Either you will hate the one and love the other,
or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other.
You cannot serve both God and money.”
– Matthew 6:24

I’ve always wondered why the two poles chosen were those of God and money.  Why not God and sex?  God and drugs?   Or God and (heaven forbid) rock ‘n’ roll?

Having reflected quite a bit on this dynamic throughout the past two years, I believe I am beginning to understand.  To pursue financial gain as one’s top priority in life is energetically incompatible with the pursuit of personal, spiritual growth.  

God and moneyThis is not to say that a person whose primary focus is on making money cannot do good things with their money. But the good uses of one’s money can take place without there necessarily being any positive change in that person’s character.   A money-hungry person, after all, could conceivably find themselves at a loss for true friends, since people are naturally put off by the energy of greed.  That person might then reason that if they were to offer all kinds of goodies to a less privileged person whom they happen to like,  then that more impoverished person might cling to them as though a friend, and they would not be so lonely.

But money cannot buy friendship any more than it can buy true happiness.   The money-focused individual in this case is not really giving of his essence as a human being.  Rather, he is giving of his excess – and perhaps even getting a hefty tax write-off in the process.

It is also not the case that if one is primarily focused on spiritual growth, then prospects for financial betterment will elude them completely.  It only means that the spiritually-minded person does not base their self-worth on their net worth.  They do not identify themselves according to their financial stature, but rather according to the actualization of their true selves.

People like these feel no need to lavish pricey gifts upon others in order to secure the loyalty that only true friendship can secure.  Rather, they seek out like-minded people, people with whom they would naturally best relate, because they share similar values and interests.  As a Christian, I further believe that the Father of Life also seeks out such like-minded souls.  

But the hour is coming, and is now here,
when the true worshipers will worship the Father
in Spirit and in Truth,
for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.
 

God is Spirit,
and those who worship him must worship in Spirit and Truth.”
 

– John 4:23-24

It is a mistake to think that the presence of money will necessarily negate the possibility of true moral character.  Many wealthy people are legitimately concerned for the plight of those who are suffering.  But it is also a mistake to think that one’s primary aim ought to be the acquisition of great wealth, rationalizing that some of the money will be offered to tax-exempt charitable contributions.  My experience has been that the more I stay focused on the actualization of my true self — the person whom God desires me to be — then the more my needs are adequately met.

The more I love God, and the less I love money, the better off I am.  It is then that my words and my music best reflect my concern and my hope for humanity.  And while it may cost me some money to render these gifts, the ultimate value of this form of genuine self-expression is far beyond that which money can buy.

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
Anything Helps – God Bless!

 

Tuesday Tuneup 15

Q. Do you know who I am?

A. Yes.  You are a feelingless generator of questions, whose function it is to churn out question after question, based on a logical follow-up to my responses, with little or no empathy for my emotional state.  Moreover, your first two questions are the same every Tuesday.  Therefore, my first answer is immaterial, since you will only ask me why I have summoned you, and it really does not matter what I’ve said.

Q. Why have you summoned me?

A. Because I can’t read.

Q. You can’t?

A. Not very well.

Q. And how does this affect you?

A. It disturbs me a great deal.  It also causes me to waste huge amounts of time.

dyslexiaQ. Doing what?

A. Trying to read.  Staring at the pages, while my head is flying, off in space, not seeming to be able to alight upon a single word or phrase of meaning.

Q. Why do I find this hard to believe?

A. Probably for the same reason everyone else does.

Q. And what reason is that?

A. The reason that I seem to be educated, and reasonably articulate, and able to write fairly well.

Q. If you cannot read, then where did you pick up all these words you use?

A. Mostly from talking to a lot of smart people, and remembering their words.  You see, I do have an unusually good long-term memory.  I am only unable to focus in the short-term.

Q. Unable?

A. Well, hardly able.  I suppose you have caught me in hyperbole.  It’s not that I can’t read at all.  I can read short articles, and emails on occasion, and unusually engaging works that don’t challenge my dyslexia.

Q. Then why did you say that you can’t read?

A. Because I can’t ever seem to finish an entire book.  I’ve finished only one book in the past several years.

Q. What book is that?

A. The INFJ Writer: Cracking the Genius of the World’s Rarest Type by Lauren Sapala.

Q. What enabled you to finish that particular book, if no other?

A. A matter of threefold interest.  There was not one, nor two, but three things about the book that intrigued me.

Q. Those being?

A. First, the MBTI.  I myself am an INFJ, and I saw myself all over the book.

Q. And second?

A. Writing.  Something I love to do.  The book was about INFJ’s who are Writers.

Q. And third?

A. Recovery.  The account of someone who had been deeply hurt, and who had escaped from that hurt by evoking a typical escape mechanism, and an addictive one at that.  But most importantly, she recovered.

Q. Have you done so?

A. Recovered?  Or escaped?

Q. Both.

A. Recovered?  Partly.  Escaped?  Totally.

Q. When?

A. All too often.   In 1979 after a break-up with a finacee.  In 1982 when I learned I was too sensitive for a highly competitive position in the music world.  In the early 90’s, after a difficult divorce.  And between the years 2013 and 2016, after being deeply hurt by a critique of my unfinished first draft to my musical Eden in Babylon, when I had turned to a friend for encouragement, and not only had received no encouragement, but the painful information that this man was not even a friend.

Q. How did you find out he was not your friend?

A. In the same way that I learned last night that another man was not my friend.

Q. How?

A. It is too painful to answer.  But it might inform you what was on my mind when I tried this morning, unsuccessfully once again, to read.  

The Questioner is silent.  

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
Anything Helps – God Bless!

 

Gratitude List 845

1. Though the energy of absent-mindedness and frustration drained me yesterday, it caused me to go to bed early and get a good seven hours sleep.

2. Jan & I get along really well with a sense of each of us making the other one better, and the two of us getting better and better.  We really seem to have been made for each other.

3. It was great running into the three musicians outside of One World, and feeling a special bond or connection you don’t just feel with just anybody.  Their love lifted me up at a low moment.

4. Sold an LP to a great musician who been very helpful to me, despite that this has been one of the worst years of his life.

5. Finished the Open Letter.

6. I’ve never lived in a place where people are as positive as they are here.

7. Danielle had the baby. :)  

8. Touched up The Temple of the Human Race and submitted it to Other Worlds.  Submitted “Classism, Stigma and Mental Health” to Classism Exposed and Street Spirit.  Submitted “The Age of Nevermore” to Street Spirit.

9. It’s really okay for people to think I’m crazy or in some way undesirable or to be avoided.  That way they leave me alone and I can get my work done.

10. For numerous reasons, I have wiped out Facebook and other sites I have found problematical with respect to my new life.  I have made a complete commitment to cease to bring the negativity of my past in California to the positivity of my present life in a part of the world that has been much more conducive to my creative and spiritual growth.  2 Corinthians 5:17.  God is Love.

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
Anything Helps – God Bless!

 

Beasts That Perish

Hear this, all you peoples;
listen, all who live in this world,
both low and high,
rich and poor alike:
My mouth will speak words of wisdom;
the meditation of my heart will give you understanding.
I will turn my ear to a proverb;
with the harp I will expound my riddle:

Why should I fear when evil days come,
when wicked deceivers surround me—
those who trust in their wealth
and boast of their great riches?
No one can redeem the life of another
or give to God a ransom for them—
the ransom for a life is costly,
no payment is ever enough—
so that they should live on forever
and not see decay.

For all can see that the wise die,
that the foolish and the senseless also perish,
leaving their wealth to others.
Their tombs will remain their houses forever,
their dwellings for endless generations,
though they had named lands after themselves.
People, despite their wealth, do not endure;
they are like the beasts that perish.

This is the fate of those who trust in themselves,
and of their followers, who approve their sayings.
They are like sheep and are destined to die;
death will be their shepherd
(but the upright will prevail over them in the morning).
Their forms will decay in the grave,
far from their princely mansions.
But God will redeem me from the realm of the dead;
he will surely take me to himself.

Do not be overawed when others grow rich,
when the splendor of their houses increases;
for they will take nothing with them when they die,
their splendor will not descend with them.
Though while they live they count themselves blessed—
and people praise you when you prosper—
they will join those who have gone before them,
who will never again see the light of life.
People who have wealth but lack understanding
are like the beasts that perish.

–Psalm 49

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
Anything Helps – God Bless!

An Open Letter to All Believers Who Use Facebook

Brothers & Sisters:

I need prayer for Facebook addiction.  I don’t want to ever have to log on to that site again.   My mind becomes flooded with Facebook-related matters in such a way that interferes with my focus on the important things.  This even happened in counseling with Pastor Norman yesterday.

I was off of Facebook, hopefully for good, for about five or six weeks, not wanting to return to it.  The only reason I came back is because I found it impossible to communicate with the singers on my demo project by email or phone.  They wouldn’t return emails or phone calls when I was trying to organize rehearsals.  Erika (one of the singers) said I should start a Facebook if I wanted to talk to them.

Begrudgingly, I returned to Facebook.  All the singers accepted my Facebook friend requests immediately and I was then able to organize rehearsals and a studio date.  The problem on my end is that it then led to a progressive illness with regards to Facebook.  I’ve begun to think a lot about people whom I haven’t known for decades and never knew very well to begin with.  I’ve begun to think a lot about situations in Berkeley, where I haven’t lived for almost two years ago.   Basically, the “Old Story” was being fed, and the “New Story” being starved.

Yesterday, to cap it all off, I saw I had a message from my friend Todd, to whom this email is cc’d.  Because it was Todd, and not just any old Facebook “friend,”  I logged on to Facebook to check the message, even though I’d told everybody I was going to “take a break” from the site.  He had a video I could use for Homeless Lives Matter, a very compelling video that was appropriate for that site.  It was called “Homeless People Read Mean Tweets.”  It showed a number of homeless people sitting around reading anti-homeless tweets that were very mean-spirited, as well as, in most cases, ignorant.  So I shared it to the site.

Immediately, a woman named R. made a comment that “people who are housed” read mean tweets, too.  Long story short, by the end of the night, the comments section on Homeless Lives Matter was full of an argument between R. and somebody named Georgia who objected to her attitude.  It included a lengthy account about how R. had let me stay over at her house and how I left water on the floor after taking a shower and “blocked a doorway,” both of which events are plausible, but neither of them memorable.

(I do recall in those days that people frequently objected to manifestations of my absent-minded nature when, on rare occasions, they permitted me to shower at their homes or sleep on their couches.   I object, as you know. to these same manifestations, which occur to this day.  Absent-mindedness is probably the biggest problem I have now, holding me back more than any other idiosyncrasy.)

In any case, this woman — whom I only know from a single occasion — went on and on about how self-absorbed and self-preoccupied I am, only caring about myself and my music, not having consideration for her needs, and so forth.  In other words, this woman whom I had known for exactly one night flagrantly assassinated my character on a timeline where 600 members of the group I started in Berkeley could read it.  I am not an Admin of that group and no power to remove the inflammatory posts, so I simply deleted the video.

My lady friend Jan later said that this “highlights” the whole insanity of the Facebook phenomenon.  People don’t take the evils of Facebook seriously enough.  I have had friends post extremely personal information on my timeline, much of it completely erroneous or even stuff that would endanger their own security.  Then they wonder why I am removing their comments.  The world does need to know their personal business, or mine, and it baffles me why people won’t at least keep such comments in Messenger, where they are directed only toward the person for whom they are intended.

In any case, I need prayer for this addiction, because I had to deal with nightmares about R. all night, who also needs prayer.  I literally know this woman from a single night, was grateful she gave me the opportunity to rest up and shower when I was homeless, and was puzzled when she screamed and yelled at me in the morning.  That, several years later, she would even still be “tripping” on that incident, is beyond me.  All night long I dreamed about her having some psychotic obsession with me and stalking me all the way up to Northern Idaho.

For people who think that Facebook is “no big deal” — possibly even for my friend Todd himself (?) — my concerns may seem over the top.  After all, not everybody has an addictive personality, and many people “manage” the site very well.  But my premise is that the site itself is evil, and from the very pit of hell, to the same extent that a drug like crystal methamphetamine is evil, and from that same pit.

Any site that would post a link to “request account deletion” (as though account deletion ought to be a “request” and not a willful choice), and then tell you to fill out a certain form if you would like for your account to be deleted after your death raises a major red flag. Why anyone would support the money-loving evil in Mark Zuckerberg is far more baffling to me than why anyone would support Donald Trump.  Both baffle.  One baffles more.

Todd, I posted an article by a Christian woman named Ashley Slack.  Jan and I read this last night and were both extremely impressed.   I also have written this article: By Nature.

One response to that article, when posted on Facebook, was a recommendation from a certain well-meaning friend on how I ought to deal with “depression.”  This is due in part to the fact that because the first sentence alludes to depression, one might think that the entire article is about my personal depression.  Anyone reading that article in its entirety (which the well-meaning friend had not done) would discern easily that it had nothing to do with depression, but with a far more important subject than my own personal mental state.

However, this well-meaning friend then proceeded, quite innocently, to advise me on my timeline as to how to address depression, thus leading all of my hundreds of Facebook “friends” to believe I was in a depressed state.  What would logically have ensued would be a gigantic discussion on an open timeline about a problem that I simply did not have.

When I tried to tell this well-meaning friend about this, he suggested that I was “getting all bent out of shape over nothing.”  Well, maybe to him it is nothing, but to me, I certainly don’t need hundreds of people believing I am depressed (which I am not) anymore than I needed for hundreds of people to believe that I am a self-serving person who believes in retaliating against people who live indoors (as R. was saying) simply on the basis of my having left some water on a bathroom floor and, apparently, blocked a doorway, during the single night I slept at this woman’s house (on the couch) and had to deal with her screaming and yelling at me in the morning for no reason that I was aware of.

That this woman R. would even still be thinking about this isolated event from several years ago is testament to just how many kooks and creeps abound on the timelines of various Facebooks the whole world wide.

Finally, I wrote this article: The End of an Era.  And guess what?  The era did not end.

Facebook makes it far too easy to re-instate an account one is desperately trying to remove, and far too difficult to delete the account. In fact, the easiest “deletion” link to find leads you to believe that the account cannot be deleted until after death.  That is sick.

Also sick:

Facebook is a Living, Breathing Crime Scene.

The Naked Truth About Facebook’s Revenge Porn Tool

Facebook’s Tracking Cookies (European Report)

Facebook Routinely Suppressed Conservative News

How Facebook’s Tentacles Reach Further Than You Think

You want more?   I got ’em.   Here is a list of 66 sites that Facebook has unilateraterally deleted in the past two weeks – unilaterally, mind you.  None of these sites were in violation of Facebook Terms of Service.  Yet they seem to have something suspiciously in common:

  1. Collectively Conscious (915K followers) – Deleted on June 13th, 2018.
  2. Natural Cures Not Medicine (2.3M followers) – Deleted on June 11th, 2018.
  3. I Want to Be 100% Organic (700K followers) – Deleted on June 13th, 2018.
  4. Viral Alternative News (500K followers) – Deleted on June 13th, 2018.
  5. Organic Health (230K followers) – Deleted on June 13th, 2018.
  6. Natural Cures From Food (120K followers) – Deleted on June 13th, 2018.
  7. Heart Centered Rebalancing (3.9M followers) –
  8. Awareness Act
  9. Conscious Life News
  10. Living Traditionally (570K followers) – Unpublished on June 5th, 2018.
  11. Organic Wellness (600K followers) – Unpublished on June 5th, 2018.
  12. Chocolate Socrates (608K followers) – Deleted on June 13th, 2018.
  13. Earth We Are One
  14. Meditation Masters – Deleted in early June, 2018
  15. People’s Awakening
  16. Nikola Tesla
  17. Interesting Stories
  18. The Warrior
  19. Natural Health Warriors
  20. Tech Explorers
  21. Universe Explorers
  22. Area 51
  23. The Global Meditation
  24. Video Explorers
  25. com
  26. Flower of Life
  27. EWAO
  28. Global Freedom Movement (27K followers) – Deleted on June 19th, 2018.
  29. Health & Alternative Medicine (550K followers) – Deleted on June 13th, 2018.
  30. Pure Nature (1.7M followers) – Deleted on June 3rd, 2018.
  31. Nature Gallery (654K followers) – Deleted on June 3rd, 2018.
  32. Mesmerizing Nature (912K followers) – Deleted on June 3rd, 2018.
  33. Nature’s Touch (150K followers) – Deleted on June 3rd, 2018.
  34. Healthy Life Box (1.8M followers) – Deleted on June 13th, 2018.
  35. Healthy Food House (3.4M followers) –
  36. Health Awareness (2.5M followers) –
  37. Healthy Life And Food (350K followers) – Deleted on May 23rd, 2018.
  38. Check These Things (80K followers) – Deleted on June 13th, 2018.
  39. Health Care Above All (90K followers) – Deleted on June 13th, 2018.
  40. Health and Healthy Living (450K followers) –
  41. Health & Alternative Medicine (550K followers) – Deleted on June 13th, 2018.
  42. Healthy Living Motivation (644K followers) – Deleted on June 13th, 2018.
  43. Alternative Health Universe (420K followers) – Deleted on June 13th, 2018.
  44. Natural Medicine Corner (411K followers) – Deleted on June 13th, 2018.
  45. Organic Health Team (490K followers) – Deleted on June 13th, 2018.
  46. Global Health Care (130K followers) – Deleted on June 13th, 2018.
  47. Healthy Alternative Medicine (140K followers) – Deleted on June 13th, 2018.
  48. Natural Healthy Team (190K followers) – Deleted on June 13th, 2018.
  49. Organic Food Medicine (30K followers) – Deleted on June 13th, 2018.
  50. Love, Health and Happiness (10K followers) – Deleted on June 13th, 2018.
  51. Healthy Organic Life (25K followers) – Deleted on June 13th, 2018.
  52. Healthy Lifestyle (55K followers) – Deleted on June 13th, 2018.
  53. Guardian of Health (160K followers) – Deleted on June 13th, 2018.
  54. Daily Health Keeper (190K followers) – Deleted on June 13th, 2018.
  55. Health & Love Page (720K followers) – Deleted on June 5th, 2018.
  56. Diabetes Health Page (180K followers) – Deleted on June 13th, 2018.
  57. The Beauty of Power (170K followers) – Deleted on June 13th, 2018.
  58. Nutrition Facts and Analysys (170K followers) – Deleted on June 13th, 2018.
  59. Deeper Perspectives (32K followers) – Deleted on June 13th, 2018.
  60. My Own Little World (1.5m) – Deleted on June 21, 2018
  61. Brighten Your Soul (100k plus) – Deleted on June 21, 2018
  62. Essence OF Spirit ( 12k) – Deleted on June 21, 2018
  63. We really like animals (544k) – Deleted on June 21, 2018
  64. Nature’s Majesty (191k) – Deleted on June 21, 2018
  65. Nature Magic (33k) – Deleted on June 21, 2018
  66. Floral Photobook (160k) – Deleted on June 21, 2018

Hmmm — payola from the Medical-Pharmaceutical Industry?   Really, peeps.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist.  Finally:

To seek popularity
has nothing whatsoever to do
with Christian Love.
To collect friends,
to collect “likes”
or seek a greater number thereof,
are abominations in the eyes of a Loving God.

(And you can put a “thus saith the Lord” on that one.)

Sure, we want to send pictures of our children and our vacation locations to close friends and family.  But do we really need for a world full of child molesters, thieves, and thugs to know our whereabouts or see our children’s faces?

I knew a Christian pastor who was a “friends collector.”  Last I checked (two years ago) this man had 2,617 “friends.”  People would tell me: “None of Pastor C.’s friends are people to worry about.”  Yet among his “friends” were hardened criminals in the community who had hit me on the head with guns and stolen my laptop.

Do you think for one minute that these criminals have Facebook accounts because they like people?  Not at all.  They use Facebook in order to gain information as to user’s whereabouts, track them down, rob from them, assault them, and (in some cases) kill them.

Remember, all of this started out when a badly needed demo recording of my musical Eden in Babylon was made impossible without my resuming my Facebook account only because it was the only way I could expect to get a hold of the singers I’d spent months saving up the money to hire.

And then — the evil power of Facebook prevailed over my best intentions, to this day.

Hopefully, only to this day.

Please join me in my prayer that One Day at a Time, I will never log onto Facebook again.  And — while I cannot tell anyone else how to lead their Internet and device-based lives, I can only implore you all (including those in the bcc field) to consider that the words I am speaking might be the truth.

In the name of Jesus, I write.  AMEN.

Grace and Peace,

Andy

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
Anything Helps – God Bless!

 

Classism, Stigma and Mental Health

If a white collar worker is diagnosed with a mental health disorder, the medications given are intended to make it easier for that person to function in the mainstream workplace. But if an impoverished person is diagnosed with that same mental health disorder, the same medications are given with the idea that the person will be directed toward disability culture, and never work again.

If a person is arrested for a non-serious crime in which alcohol is involved, the Courts order daily attendance at A.A. meetings, where the paradigm of the Twelve Steps is geared toward reacclimating such people into the mainstream of modern life.   These meetings, by the way, are free of charge.  But if a person with a mental health problem is arrested for the same crime, the Courts will direct that person toward a community counseling center with a “sliding scale.”  In other words, the support is at cost.  In fact, the options for cost-free mental health support groups stop at the level of a MeetUp.  Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) groups, for example, are difficult to find without paying good money.  A one-to-one Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) counselor will certainly expect to be paid.  Those in poverty culture can’t possibly afford the fees for mental health support, and often wind up finding them in psychiatric facilities only, where the price they pay is complete loss of freedom.

Step Two of the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous reads: “Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”  Note the use of the word “restore.”  This implies that the alcoholic was, at one time, sane, and that through the application of the Steps, they may again become sane, and thus able to reintegrate themselves into mainstream culture.    So, even though the condition of active alcoholism is regarded as “insane,” a path toward sanity is indicated.

But for a path toward sanity to be recommended for one who has a mental health diagnosis, that person must have privilege from the start.   People of poverty with such diagnoses are considered to be unemployable.  This is pure stigma against those who have mental health conditions.  People of privilege with those same kinds of conditions are routinely encouraged to keep their jobs, their families and their social lives; the idea being that the very same treatment will enhance their ability to function in mainstream society.  But impoverished people with identical diagnoses are thrust into disability culture, made to subsist on minimal income, classified as “legally incompetent,” and threatened with loss of their cost-of-living income if they even try to go out and get a job.  This clearly amounts to class discrimination, when it comes to treatment of the mentally ill.

To understand why such discrimination is directed toward those thought to be “mentally ill” but not toward those considered to be “recovering alcoholics,” I think we need to examine the grounds on which mental illness is determined.    My theory is that one is considered to be “mentally ill” as soon as one displays an inability to function healthfully within the “box” of the status quo.   Those who flourish within normal expectations based on the work ethic and success model are considered to be mentally healthy.  Those who are focused on “climbing the ladder” are considered to be “successful,” and as role models for others.   But a person who thinks outside the box is somehow seen as a threat to society, and therefore limited to confinement within the realms of those labeled “incompetent’ and “unemployable.”

I would not doubt it if well over half of those who have mental health diagnoses are actually quite eminently sane, even perhaps brilliant, perhaps luminous visionaries.  Such people often focus, not on scaling the ladder of “success,” but on actualizing their own true selves, to make the most out of their own innate design and potential.  They often develop ideas and visions that would truly benefit society if given a chance to bloom.  But how can one be in orchid in a petunia patch?  The Powers That Be will continue to uphold the status quo, despite classism and social stigma on the grandest scale.  How sad it is that those who have vision are seen as pariahs by those who do not!

different drummer

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Anything Helps – God Bless!

 

Tuesday Tuneup 14

Q. Do you know who I am?

A. Move on to the next question.

Q. Why have you summoned me?

A. Because in a single morning, I have already been thrilled, angered, and thankful.  

Q. Why thrilled?

A. If all goes well, the third and (hopefully) final draft of my musical Eden in Babylon will be finished by sundown.

Q. Why angered?

A. Because I was on a total roll with my rewrite, when all of a sudden after a change of location my new laptop was unable to pull anything up but the previous owner’s Ubantu desktop.   

Q. Why thankful?

A. Because I came home to the previous owner who knows how to fix such things.

Q. And she fixed it?

A. Not only that.

Q. What else?

A. I asked her to marry me.

Q. What did she say?

A. She said “Probably.”  A step up from the first time I asked her, when she said: “Not yet.”

Q. How does that make you thankful?  Weren’t you hoping for a “yes?”

A. Sure I was.  But I’m thankful my Flame is somebody who’s practical.  God knows if we do get married, she sure won’t be marrying a very practical man.

The Questioner is Silent.

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Anything Helps – God Bless!

 

Gratitude List 841

1. Twin Flame.

2. Shivangi from India — and reverence for the morning sacrament of gratitude.

3. Ninth Step Promises and Art M.  Reverence for Step Nine.  It’s a miracle.

4. The two mile run in the night.

5. The New Story.

6. Terry Messman.  The publishing of “The Age of Nevermore.”

7. Life without Cell Phone.

8. Reverence.

9. Inspiration.

10. Andy Pope.  I could never thank God for that one, before now.

 

Piano Album & Recently Published Pieces

This will be brief.

I’ve been posting samples of my piano playing every Friday for a few months now.   Jan and I have now finished preparing an LP of the most popular of these tunes.  We’re going to sell CD’s, and have also posted the album on  BandCamp, where it is far sale for only $10.  Also, individual songs can be purchased for only one dollar.    We will apply the proceeds toward the production of my musical Eden in Babylon, which explores the effects of homelessness on the youth of today’s America.

If anyone is interested in obtaining a CD and assisting me toward this cause, please drop $10 into the pool by clicking on the donate button below.   Then leave me info as to how to get the album to you in my Contact Form.   The online version of the album may be found here.  

Other news is that I have now been published 25 times in Street Spirit and twice on Classism Exposed, after having escaped twelve years of grueling, demeaning homelessness in the San Francisco Bay Area — and after never having been published before in my life!  The most recent such articles may be found on the link below:

STORIES ABOUT HOMELESSNESS, CLASSISM AND CHRISTIANITY

Although I try to post something substantial here every Thursday along the lines of the causes about which I am passionate, the “Thursday Blog of Substance” will have to wait another week or so.  I’m trying to prepare a detailed post examining the effects of classism in the behavioral health industry, and hopefully it will be ready soon.

Thank you all for your love and support.   May the Force be with you — and by all means, be a Jedi, and not a Sith.  ;)

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
Anything Helps – God Bless!

Tuesday Tuneup Thirteen

Trigger warning – portions of this Tuesday’s tuneup are not for the faint of heart.  If your stomach is strong, read on.  If not, it’s a long one, and you might as well pass it by.

Q. Do you know who I am?

A. I don’t know, man. Some kind of gadfly I can’t swat.

Q. Why have you summoned me?

A. Because I’m a hypocrite.

Q. You? A hypocrite?

A. You heard me.

Q. Whatever makes you think a thing like that?

hypA. Revelation. Revelation of my own hypocrisy. You might say, my hypocrisy has been revealed to me.

Q. Why are you repeating yourself, in so many words?

A. Because it will probably take a lot of words to drum the Revelation of Hypocrisy into my own thick head.

Q. As though you don’t quite believe it yourself?

A. Exactly. I mean, look at it! Who wants to be thought of as a hypocrite? Let alone, by one’s own self?

Q. Do you expect me to answer that?

A. No – but I can. The only person who wants to think of their own self as a hypocrite is a person who doesn’t care. A game player. A sociopath. Someone who puts forth one face in front of one fellow, and another face in front of another.

Q. And you do not do that?

A. I didn’t say I don’t. I actually do. Especially when I’m — loose. In a good space. On a roll. Enjoying the sunshine. Having fun. You ought to hear the kind of b.s. that comes out of my mouth when I’m feeling good.

Q. Do you mean that you have to feel bad in order not to be a hypocrite?

A. That’s a good question. I would guess that ultimately, the answer will be no. I will eventually be able to accede to a place of Zero Hypocrisy without losing my ability to have fun in life. But in the meantime, I might have to go through some hell.

Q. What kind of hell?

A. This kind. The very kind in which you and I engage. The hell of ruthless self-examination, with an eye toward facing the bitter truth.

Q. Why is the truth bitter?

A. Because of what it tells me about myself. For example, consider the theme of social stigma. It’s all over my blog, and practically everything I’ve written throughout the past two years. I hate being stigmatized. I hate to be thought of, for example, as some kind of low life tweaker scum bag, just because I was homeless in the Bay Area for all those years. And I hate it when my fellow homeless or formerly homeless brothers and sisters are thought of that way. I will defend my family to the hilt.

Q. Doesn’t that sound rather noble of you? As though you have integrity? And courage? And not hypocrisy?

A. It might sound that way. But things are not always what they sound like. For one thing, as much as I abhor being stigmatized, I myself stigmatize whole huge groups of people. Not homeless people, of course. But other social groups.

Q. Like whom?

A. Like doctors, for example. I have this insane idea that all doctors are money-making control freaks who act as though they hold the keys to my Divine Human Body. The nerve of those damn doctors acting like they own me!

Q. Has a doctor recently acted like he owned you?

A. Maybe. Maybe not. The point is, I *think* that he has. And why do I think that? Because I stigmatize all doctors. I lump them all into one bag. They’re all a bunch of fat cats driving Cadillacs, for all the slack I give them. But the point of fact is that there’s a doctor in this very town who has performed the one good thing that a doctor has ever done for me, in all of my 65 years of wandering the surface of this mysterious planet.

Q. And what did that doctor do?

A. He yanked out my toenail.

Q. And this was a good thing??

A. Yes. Because he did it the right way, so that it wouldn’t grow back the wrong way.

Q. Had somebody else done it the wrong way?

A. Yes. I myself. I yanked it out myself one day. Didn’t feel a thing, by the way (thanks to the local anesthetic of choice.) Felt fine the next day too. But it grew back the wrong way.

Q. So this one doctor did something the right way?

A. Yes. There is therefore at least one good doctor on the face of the globe. Or at least, he’s good on a good day.

Q. And on a bad day?

A. Prescribed me an antidepressant which you’re not supposed to prescribe to people who have Bipolar One disorder. Almost lost my job on it the next time I tried to play piano at the church.

Q. You play piano at a church?

A. Not any more I don’t. I eventually lost the job anyway. Or quit, or something like that. I think it was mutual.  But that’s besides the point.

Q. And what, may I ask, is the point?

A. The point is that not all doctors are insensitive fat cats driving Beemers treating my Divine Human Body like a set of nuts and bolts. And not all homeless people are worthless low life scum bags. In fact none of them are. Yet homeless people are stigmatized by the society. And doctors are stigmatized by me. Doctors – and whole other groups of people.

Q. Like whom?

A. Technocrats. Rich kids. Trump Supporters. Juggaloes. All kinds of people. Even gang bangers.

Q. Um – how can you *not* stigmatize a gang banger?

A. What do you mean?

Q. Aren’t gang bangers by definition a bunch of mindless thugs?

A. Not necessarily. Let’s take Arthur for example. (Not his name.) Brought up on the streets of Oakland California, gang affiliations, twenty year old kid who followed me from my spot on Shattuck near the Berkeley BART station one day, him and his buddy, knocked me on the head with a gun, threatened to kill me, and barreled me over the head (him and his buddy) about ten or twelve times while shouting: “I’m gonna kill you, White Motherfucker! I’m gonna kill your fucked up white ass, bitch!”

Q. And you survived?

A. Obviously I survived.  All they wanted was my Chromebook.   I gave it to them and they ran off, looking back at me.   They didn’t really want to kill me.

Q. But still, how can you not stigmatize people like that as heartless scum bags?

A. Oh don’t get me wrong.  I could.  Sure I could.  But not after a couple years had rolled by, and I’d had quite a few serious conversations with the deluded young chap.

Q. What did these conversations entail?

A. Lots of things. Ideas how he could better his life. How he was happier when he was with his girlfriend. How he was actually a pretty intelligent guy. And on his end, how he wished he could help me get inside – because he was inside –

Q. Inside?

A. Means, living indoors, like a non-homeless person.

Q. But wasn’t he brought up on the streets of Oakland?

A. Yes, but eventually fell in love, met a gal, moved in with her. I’m pretty sure that’s what happened. In any case, he came up one day to tell me he was “in house” and that because he knew I was an Old Guy and I still had to live outside, he wanted to help me in any way he could.

Q. And you believed him?

A. Yes and no. I didn’t believe he could help me. But I believed that was what was in his heart.

Q. But couldn’t he just have felt guilty?

A. Sure! But that in itself is a good thing. It’s the thugs who never feel guilty that you have to worry about.

Q. Why did you keep hanging around this guy?

A. (laughing) Oh brother, you do not know the streets! Down there, you have no choice but to keep hanging around with everybody. It’s not as though there’s any escape from anyone else out there. People stalk you, they approach you in the dead of night, they wake you up to ask you for cigarettes, and they don’t believe you when you tell them you do not smoke. They are always engaging with you, one way or the other. Best you can do is try to be on as good terms with everybody, and be ready for anything.

Q. How did you put up with it for as long as you did!?

A. That’s an easy one. I didn’t believe I had a choice.

Q. Seriously?

A. Seriously. The message I kept getting, from all sides, was that I had no choice. I was homeless, I was therefore a mere mutation of a true human, with defects so severe that I was consigned to permanent, everlasting homelessness — in this world and the next.  Not only would I not ever be anything other than homeless, *could* not be anything other than homeless, and should not be anything other than homeless. I was regarded this way with such unanimous agreement, I figured they must all be right. How could they all be wrong?

Q. But how could they all think such a thing?

A. Ha – you drive a hard bargain.  Let me correct myself.   They did not all think these things. Some of them even thought the opposite. They thought I had as much choice, as much privilege, as they did. They thought that the easiest thing in the world should be to pick myself up by my bootstraps and pull myself out of the damn mess. Yet it wasn’t nearly as easy as some of them thought.

Q. But who were they? I mean, who were the ones who thought you had no choice?And who were the ones who thought you had all the choice in the world?

A. In general, the homeless social workers were the ones who figured I didn’t have a choice, and my old friends who still lived inside were the ones who thought I had all the choice in the world. But you ask me to stigmatize, which is the very thing it has been revealed I must avoid. So I won’t. I will instead generalize – as I just did.

Q, Generalize?

A. Generalize.

Q. How is that different than stigmatize?

A. Big difference. Stigmatize is when you judge an individual based on general characteristics of a social group to which it is perceived they belong. That individual may in reality have none of those characteristics whatsoever. Generalize is when you correctly assess the overall characteristics of a social group, and describe the group according to that generalization.

Q. Do you have a degree in Sociology?

A. Don’t hit my sore spot!  You know I can’t read worth beans. I tried a music degree but couldn’t get through the Music History reading load, though I tried four times. And my philosophy major? You can only imagine how poorly that one went! But don’t press my buttons, please.

Q. Consider them unpressed, or depressed — or something like that — and I promise not to repress them — but really, if you have no trained educational certificate, however did you come up with this distinction? And what gives you the hutzpah? The daring? The audacity to presume that your perceptions are valid?

A. Look, dude. When you sit down on a street corner flying a sign on a sidewalk for five years, you have a lot of time to think things over. You also have a lot of time to watch people. I thought things over. And I watched.

Q. What did you see?

A. People. All kinds of people. And you know what I noticed about them all?

Q. What?

A. Every damn one of them was an individual, with unique characteristics unseen in any other. Sure they belonged to groups and factions. Sure there was stratification. But one thing I knew for sure, is that they were all unique, and distinguished by bonds of flesh from one another.

Q. Even the gang bangers? Even the thugs?

A. Hey – a couple of gang bangers were walking up one time looking tough when I was sitting with a bunch of Street Kids on a sidewalk playing a guitar. As soon as they heard me, they both broke into dance. So they had something in common other than the fact that they used drugs, dealt drugs, and occasionally engaged in violence to get what they wanted.  They had a natural feel for the rhythm of Music.  They all had it.  What a beautiful thing!  So how can I stigmatize them?

Q. But even in your saying that, doesn’t one still get the feeling that they have more in common as a social group than they have separately as individuals?  How can you answer that?

A. By going back to the example of Arthur. (Not his name.) Have I ever told you the story about running into him at the Au Coquelet cafe at around 1:30 in the morning?

Q. I don’t know – have you?

A. Probably not. So here goes.

coq

A. I walked into Au Coquelet late at night one night and Arthur was sitting alone at one of the tables, looking glum. As he noticed me, he motioned me to sit with him. Reluctantly, I complied.

Q. Reluctantly?

A. Well let’s face it. The Kid had knocked me over the head with a gun about three years before and threatened my life. I didn’t exactly love running into him.

Q. But you sat with him anyway?

A. Didn’t want to offend him. But that’s all beside the point. It’s what he said at the table that got to my heart.

Q. What did he say?

A. He said:

Arthur: Andy, I think I have brain damage.

Andy (gulps): Why do you think that, Arthur?

Arthur: I’ve been hit on the head too many times with too many guns.

Andy: Uh, er, yeah. Well, uh, I myself have been hit on the head with a gun or two in my day.

Arthur: (warmly) I know you have, Andy.

Andy: And I don’t worry about me having brain damage. I just figure — the wounds heal.

Arthur: Your wounds maybe. Mine are way too deep.

Andy: What do you mean?

Arthur: All my life, my whole fanily, whenever they needed to get a point across, they hit me on the head with a gun.

Andy: Damn man, that sucks!

Arthur: It gave me some deep wounds. Too deep. It’s hard to find where the actual hurt is, but I know it’s damaged my brain.

Andy: Maybe. But I can tell you what part of you it hasn’t damaged.

Arthur: What part is that?

Andy: Your heart.

The Questioner is silent.

Before you leave this page, please say a prayer for Arthur. God put a burden on my heart for him this morning. And no, it’s not his name, but God will know who you mean. After all, people have called God all kinds of names over the centuries, not all of them very kind.  And God took that hurt, and loved them anyway. And so did Arthur. Pray for him, please, in God’s Good Name.

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
Anything Helps – God Bless!

Gratitude List 836

1. Just had two more stories published in Street Spirit (and you may find them on this link.)

2. Really grateful that my lady friend Jan is back in my life.

3. My daughter Echo appears to have arrived safely at her stepfather’s house down in California.

4. Finally finished rewriting the love scene in the first Act of my new musical, Eden in Babylon.   Thankful for the input of the MFA playwrights who showed up at my critique, because they really pointed me in the right direction.   The scene is now much more effective that it could ever have been, prior to their input.

5. Grateful for my ongoing health, and for the good running that’s been happening on the local trails lately.

6. Should be getting a paycheck for the articles soon.   Every little bit helps.  

7. Letting go of the Old Story.   I need no longer be defined by what people in my past may have thought of me.   The New Story holds nothing but promise.

8. Due to the benevolence of a friend, a piano will be delivered very soon into the apartment here.  Jan and I have cleared off a nice space for it, at an indoor wall.  This will be the first time in my life that I will have actually owned a piano.

9. As I wrote the lyrics to Turns Toward Dawn yesterday, I had the experience that every Writer lives for.   I could almost see and feel the presence of the Muse.  The words welled up from within me, and made their way dutifully to the page, as though beholden to bear my signature and my pride.   The joy of that event defies description.  I can only hope that someone who knows the event of which I speak will read these words, and join me in that joy.

10. God is Love.

 

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Broken Bows

The wicked draw the sword
and bend the bow
to bring down the poor and needy,
to slay those whose ways are upright.
But their swords will pierce their own hearts,
and their bows will be broken.

Better the little that the righteous have
than the wealth of many wicked;
for the power of the wicked will be broken,
but the Lord upholds the righteous.

— Psalm 37:14-17

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Handling Homelessness

The question was posed on Quora as to whether one felt one could “handle” a week of homelessness.  Here’s my answer.   

Being as I handled about twelve years of it, you’d think my answer would be “yes.” But having lived indoors for almost two years now in very favorable situations (first alone, then with a congenial partner), I would have to say that I honestly don’t know.

I feel as though I’ve been pampered by all the convenient luxuries of indoor living. I’ve been spoiled for so long that I’ve gotten soft.  At this point, I can’t claim that I could go back and handle even a single day of homelessness — let alone an entire week, let alone twelve years.

You see, things are different for me now internally than they were in the days when I successfully “handled” being homeless. Back then, I handled homelessness on the basis of believing that there was no way out. For the first two or three years, I kept looking for a way out, and not finding it.

homeless for a weekThen one day I had a revelation. I realized that I needed to embrace homelessness completely and learn how to deal with it on its own terms. Those terms included a silent hustle for day-to-day survival that easily consumed more than forty hours each week — in other words, the time consumption of a full time job. So I gave myself to the homeless experience, and I prided myself on how well I was handling it. But I did so in the spirit of believing that I had no other choice.

Now, however, I know that I do have a choice. That’s why I said that things are different for me internally than they were back then.  Now that I know for sure that there is more for me in life than to remain homeless for the rest of my days, I honestly don’t know that I could ever tolerate being homeless again. I wouldn’t be able to just shrug my shoulders and resign myself to its misery, like I used to. I would know that there was a way out, and I would actively seek that way out from the get-go, possibly to the exclusion of being willing or able to tolerate the homeless experience at all.

And there is, by the way, a way out. I am living proof of this. The way out may differ from one person to the next, but I can tell you for sure that there is a way. As I’ve shared here before, I was absolutely certain that I was going to be homeless for the rest of my days, and that I would die a meaningless death in a city gutter. That this did not happen, and I instead am poised to write these words meaningfully today, is not only a miracle in my own life experience, but a sign of hope for anyone facing homelessness at any level, for any reason.

So, while my honest answer to this question would have to be, “I don’t know,” it does lead to an interesting theme. Life is meant to be lived, to be fully embraced and received for everything that it is and possibly can be. Too often we consider our days to be drudgery and tedium, a general drain on our psychic reserves. I was only able to handle homelessness by embracing it completely. To be honest with you, it’s the way that I handle my present life of highly favorable indoor living, conducive in every way to the ongoing production of my creative work.

My years of homelessness have changed me completely. To my own estimation, I am a much more principled, purpose-driven individual than I ever was before I first became homeless in the year 2004. One way that I have changed is that I no longer see life as an aimless, shiftless shuffle, the way it seemed for so many years before. Life is this amazing gift from unspeakable, invisible life-giving dimensions far beyond our capabilities of human comprehension. As such, all life, whether homeless or sheltered, or on the battlefields for that matter, calls out to be appreciated as the incredibly colorful and fascinating mystery that it is.

So I think that in general, we need to escape the mentality of life being drudgery, something we can at best hope to “handle” or “survive.” Even homelessness was no longer misery, once it had been embraced. My choice right now is to embrace indoor living, with all its unprecedented benefits. If that choice ever changes, given all I have just said, I’m sure you’ll be among the first to know.

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
Anything Helps – God Bless!

 

Tuesday Tuneup Twelve

Q. Do you know who I am?

A. (guarded) Well, if I don’t, somebody does.

Q. Er . . . why have you summoned me?

A. Why not?  Is there something wrong with that?

Q. How do you expect me to answer that?

A. I don’t.

Q. What’s wrong?

A. What do you mean, what’s wrong?

Q. Isn’t something bothering you?

A. Why would anything be bothering me?

Q. Aren’t you feeling a bit on edge this afternoon?  And maybe a little bit paranoid?

A. Paranoid??  What have I got to be paranoid about?

Q, Oh, perhaps, paranoid about your possessions, maybe?  About the prospect of theft?

spiritual identity theftA. But I don’t own anything!  There’s nothing to steal!

Q. But aren’t you thinking only of material things?

A. Me?  Thinking only of material things?  Don’t make me laugh.   My mind is constantly on the spiritual, or at the very least the cerebral.  The material world is of no interest to me.  You know that.

Q. I do?

A. Yes, you do.  If I am afraid of anyone stealing anything, it would be something invisible to all but the most adept of thieves.  Something internal, something stored up deep inside of me.

Q. Such as — your peace of mind?

A. Exactly.  My peace of mind.  That’s what they’re after!  I can tell.

Q. How can you tell?

A. (looks around) How can you not tell?  They’re all around.  Don’t you see them?  Don’t you feel them?

a-house-dividedQ. See them?  Feel — whom?

A. Don’t give me that!  You’re probably one of them.  All they want is to take this delicate balance inside me, this thing that’s uniquely me, that makes me who I am, and tear it asunder, break it into pieces — I feel it — my destruction —  I can’t let them do it to me anymore — I can’t let you do this to me — I need my inner self to be — synthesized — harmonized — not divided any longer!!  Not divided any more!!!

Q. Do you need a doctor?  Should I dial 9-1-1?

A. Not on your life, buddy!

Q. Then – what can I do for you?

A. Just keep your nose out of my business, O.G.!   And keep you big mouth shut when it comes to me!!

The Questioner is silent.

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
Anything Helps – God Bless!

 

Gratitude List 834

1. I really enjoy the early morning hours. I get most of my work done then, and it’s nice to see the sun come up and hear the birds chirp.

2. I was on the streets for a lot of years, and now I have a place to live. It’s been almost two years now that I’ve paid my rent on time every month, first at a studio room, and then at a one bedroom apartment.

3. Jan and I are here together in the apartment now, and we get along really well these days.

4. Although it is sad that things didn’t work out for my daughter Echo here, I somehow sense that her going back to California is what’s right for her.

5. I’ll be back at my shift at the Recovery Center this morning. I’ll also start going to church again regularly this Sunday. I won’t let recent events gyp me out of the benefits of my support groups here. I didn’t make the transition from street life to affirmative indoor living without help, and help is needed now more than ever.

6. This. It was a good use of a weekend, and now I’m moving forward. Better than wallowing, that’s for sure.

7. Perfect running weather.

8. Echo is a brilliant singer-songwriter, you know. She’s not just some slouch. I remember how, in times of trouble, my music saw me through.

9. On that note, it sure is nice to have been in Moscow these past two years, where not one person has ever told me that I thought “my music was more important than God” or any of that other rot. I’m thankful to be living in a supportive creative community full of like-minded Artists and Activists. Who would have thought, two or three years ago, that life could ever be so good?

10. Prayer works. It really does. The best person I can be for me and my family is the person whose energy brought them back to begin with. If people don’t believe the way I do, let them. The way that I believe is what has worked for me. I believe I will begin to believe this way again, and yet again and again.

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Anything Helps – God Bless!

 

Gold Refined in Fire

You say, ‘I am rich:
I have acquired wealth
and do not need a thing.’
But you do not realize
that you are wretched–
pitiful, poor, blind and naked.
I counsel you to buy from me

gold refined in the fire,
so you can become rich.
and white clothes to wear,
so you can cover your shameful nakedness,
and salve to put on your eyes,
so you can see.
Those whom I love
I rebuke and chasten. 
Be earnest and repent.
Here I am!
I stand at the door and knock.
If anyone hears my voice
and opens the door,
I will come in
and sup with that person,
and they with me.

–Revelation 3:17-20

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