If I’m going to be critical of Medium, I should include POSITIVE criticism, and just in time, here came an article that blew my eyebrows off. When I first signed up for Medium, I expected much more writing like this piece linked below. Instead what appeared was a deluge of what they call listicles, “ten ways to wear lip gloss” and the like.
This is as good a partial answer to why I left the Unitarian Universalist ministry as any I’ve read. (There were other reasons, too, like being pulled irresistibly back to the Blackfeet rez and the East Slope of the Rockies.) The comments should be read with the article, though they may make your bangs flop. They’re pretty polarized and some comments are along the lines of “if I don’t get my way, I’ll hold my breath until I turn blue.”
This is my ministerial robe. Was.
How does one stand apart from the main culture because of believing it has gone radically wrong, and yet keep solidarity with all the good and conscientious people one lives among. Do you go join a commune? Do you turn academic and make distance that way? Do you just plunge into a book? (That’s my choice.) Do you get a custom t-shirt made? (That’s recently been the UU way.) Do you curse and shout and slam things? (All the cats disappear.)
Never did I consider the possibility that I might align with “punks” or even “cybers”, much less cyberpunks. But here I am. Not even an official Lefty. It partly comes from being poor and old. (Trigger warning.) Partly it’s because my thinking is now world-based instead of bourgeois-based. (Trigger warning.) Partly it’s raging sorrow over what happens to those I care about. (Trigger warning.) Etc. Partly it’s just my temperament. (Red-headed — what can you expect?)
These examples dawn life were found in China.
I don’t want to digest the article for you — I’d prefer you to read it. But if you can’t or won’t, that’s okay. It might trigger you as much as it does me. Maybe the BOOM of it is the collision between indignation and reading about “deep time” before any fossils at all — pre-Cambrian and before — and cutting edge neurology research. We’re so fungible. (The first time I heard that word it was about money.)
Once I talked about “pre-Cambrian life” in a UU sermon and was mocked because, the man said, that’s an oxymoron. There WAS no pre-Cambrian life. As it turns out, there was merely none perceptible at the time (’80’s) but now , see above. This same sort of man (WEIRD, the acronym) becomes very angry over the idea that their identity should exist apart from their wordy consciousness. They are what they say, which they consider to be logical thinking. The idea that their brain was working while they were asleep, that the body needs constant neurological action as much as blood circulation — or the body dies — was simply invisible, inconceivable.
We must abandon “me and mine,” sequestered and guarded from harm, and everything else denied except a reflection of “me” on the bottom of the clouds that is imagined to be in charge of everything. We must admit that our boundaries are imaginary and arbitrary — we are a part of everything and must begin to perceive the imperceptible. Even the primordial beginnings that religion used to think they owned and which may still be echoed in what people are now calling “spirituality.”
I’m not talking about the magpie accumulation of cautionary insights nor about the pillow-fluffing of some religionists. I’m talking about acceptance of the shit and pain and cum of life right alongside the glorious moments when everything is fulfilled — for a split second. Even without the idea of God, the theodicy issue still grips us. We know in our gut that the survival of one is linked to the survival of all.
But we are not sufficiently aware of how many have died in the past to bring to us where we are. I’m talking about the brutality of childbirth, war, and famine. We’re getting all sad about the loss of every preemie or distorted baby among the people we know, but have forgotten that until germ theory was well-developed, women (like my great-grandmother) often died of child-bed fever and how much of the war between the sexes started with war between the stepmother and her predecessor’s children, making room for her own children. I mean my grandmother was mocked and blamed, with consequences to my mother. Or how much longer after that it took to allow women anesthesia.
If a person tries to enlarge awareness, never to turn away consciousness of need and suffering, identity can get stretched to the point of explosion or poisonous judgmentalism. You can’t just go around raging all the time, nor can you sit at home doing needlepoint and waging war on dust. Well, you can, but it won’t make you live longer. And it may cut off your access to joy and delight, your ability to get blissed out — which can be a potent antidote to psychic bruising and avascular necrosis (bone death). The hell with listicles — I want testicles. Not because it’s so funny when someone kicks them (how did we ever get to that idea?) but because they are the containers for what is inserted in the act of love, no matter the gender or even — (HERE’s a trigger!) species.
The realization of the day is that the world is seminal. Change, mutation, and destruction shape the process of time into creatures and their creations, whether we are talking about what insect legs look like or about how to run a bank that succeeds. The innovations/the destructions proceed holding hands, but the results can be near-impossible to bear. Impossible indeed for those who don’t make the cut, like the dodo. How does one be progressive or even optimistic in the face of this?
This house is full of cats. They teach me one-day-at-a-time and that stretching in the morning sun alongside me is the key to the universe. They also use their claws and make the most gawdawful sounds when I step on tails or toes. They are NOT human babies. They are NOT lovers. But I love the feel of them purring away like little engines while they sleep draped over my ankles in the night. I try to resist strangling them when they destroy things. Simple existence is enough for them. (And if you won’t feed them, they’ll feed themselves.)
The Striped Terror arrived uninvited as a starved kitten.
And I try NEVER to forget that there are babies going to sleep with bottles of Mountain Dew rotting their teeth, having eaten less than any of my cats, trying to suck life from an old unsterilized nipple. (If Medium is perceptible to the hidden underground of advertising, I will soon be getting ads for Mountain Dew and disposable baby bottles.)