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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Ashes, ashes, we all fall down.

It wasn't my intention to "go dark" at Brother Dan's dinner table. But you know how it is, one thing (beer) leads to another (beer) and before I know it there's a pile of "guts" on the Lazy Susan centerpiece, and they look a lot like mine.

I'm home now, snug in my chair by the hearth, which is lit, by the way, because it's cold and supposed to snow for the next few days. Dark sullen clouds roll in, chopping the heads off our mountain surround like some heartless guillotine. 

Certain things affect my mood. Two, in particular, are weather and music. Certain combinations of weather and music melts my normally stoic emotional resolve like a flame to butter. It's 37 degrees and dropping; a dreary rain/snow mix falls beyond the Imax. As far as I'm concerned, playgrounds are closed in such weather, because, because...well, because going from spring back to winter puts me under. It's as if the Bose knows, too. Set to "Random," yet the playlist is as dark as the guillotine clouds outside the window. It's gonna be a pensive day, which calls for a pensive post...one I will likely second guess tomorrow.

God, it's like the first night in Toledo. Darin and Tracey come over for drinks and dinner at Brother Dan's country home. Beer and wine lubricates tongues and loosens mood. Everyone's relaxed, especially me. 

Dinner dialog finally comes round to "Mom and Dad." It's almost impossible not to; they had such profound impacts on the lives of Brother Dan and I...and, more importantly, our sister, Sally Jo. Mom and Dad are the literal "elephant in the room" at family get-togethers. They are going to come up. Might as well get it over with.

How to zero in on Mom and Dad. If you hold a gun to my head and ask me to describe their lives in one word, one; well, I don't think I'm smart enough. There are just too many pieces to that "puzzle." But you cock the gun, start counting down, "3...2...one..."  Okay. Religiosity. Religiosity. That's it. 

It's impossible for me to discuss Mom and Dad without mentioning the overwhelming, pervasive atmosphere of Religion...Religion, like a Phoenix habood, with dust so fine it ignores closed windows and penetrates the hearts and minds of children. Religion seeped in. It penetrated every pore in our life. We were steeped in Religion...baptized in it, saved by it, going to Heaven because of it, alive due to it, and would never ever die if we just believed in it. Have "faith," they would say. It took me a while to realize that faith and hope are two entirely different things. 

I've never been able to reconcile, how, in spite of growing up in a home where nearly every waking minute revolved around the dance of Religiosity, an environment where children had no alternative but to accept, believe, and commit to total immersion, propaganda, and brainwashing, that I still loved, loved, loved my parents. Even as I grew old enough to see the "cracks" in their "foundation," the misdirection and misuse of energy, focus, time, and mindless devotion, I loved my Mom and Dad...in spite of the presumptive arrogance, that "we are right and they are wrong." I forgave them.  

Funny how some things smolder. The older I get, the more I question, "Why?" Why did they choose such an extreme direction? I dump my confusion at the dinner table...as if purging poison that was eating a hole inside. Nothing could stem the "red tide." 

Separated by ten years, I look to Brother Dan for perspective, pepper him with questions for which there just aren't any good answers. "They meant well," was all I could say...trying to put a "bow" on them...for whatever weight or justification that might bring. I knew it was "Bull."  

Wars (killing) that evolve from differences in religious ideology are a horrendous waste of life, not to mention the ultimate irony...the maximum oxymoron. In a world that could use a "religion" that unites, all I see are divisive ones. People die over major world religion sub-sect interpretations of the Bible or Koran or whatever, while denominations split insignificant "hairs." If there is an apocalypse as predicted in Revelations, you can lay the blood and blame at the alter of Religious Differences. 

I don't want to believe this; it's not my place nor right to blame. Hindsight is always 20-20. But, having already put a damper on an otherwise lovely dinner, I had to put a voice to it. Is it possible, that the suicide of our dear sister, Sally Jo, at the tender age of 24, could be laid at the same "alter?" 
What if she hadn't died? What if she were present at that dinner? What would she say? What would she look like?
"Ashes, ashes, we all fall down." 



  1. Not fair. You made me cry, as I am sure you have. Many reasons someone gives up, but like you, I am afraid religiosity might be a big factor in some of those reasons, especially for people who can't make it fit. How many young gay people have given up on life because of it? Sorry, Mark, but I did love the old photos. And I am glad you didn't delete the post.

  2. Oye!!! same here, my parents suffered from religiosity. I'm not going into details but suffice to say, I left their home (their rules) at 17, praise their Lord!!! Eventually (in my 30s, I'm 65 now) read a book that put them to rest in my heart; a book about "imperfect people." Imperfect people do mean well by the way. When I read that book, I finally recognized the relief inside my heart to "forgive them for what they do not know as imperfect people". They were definitely knocked off that pedestal. Emotionally I became detached in a good way, felt like an orphan actually, but that was a good feeling. I was freed from that bondage, know what I mean?

  3. I am reminded of a profound quote I saw earlier today, "Don't build a wall around your own suffering or it may devour you from the inside." ~Frida Kahlo~

    As a wise friend once told me, sometimes you gotta "go with it." Nice job knocking down the wall...

  4. Excellent post to write and a good post to read. I'm sad about your sister maybe it was a combination of things that led to her death. Usually is I suppose. I hope you're feeling better today.

  5. Your excellent post makes me grateful that I grew up in a mostly non religious house. I couldn't agree more that religion is one of the "roots of all evil".

  6. I was having some of the same feelings about my parents recently. I heard this song on All Songs Considered that brought up all of those feelings again.


  7. My current wife (and last one -- no matter how it plays out) was married to the same bloke for 38 years and religion was their whole life. Her Dad was a preacher so she was born into the nonsense -- never had a choice; never had a chance to think for herself. When she decided to divorce to save what little might be left of her life, her family -- and her own two daughters (then and still) -- put her through HELL -- threatening to withhold visits with the five grandkids and all the usual emotional blackmail. She asked me once if there was any way I would *ever* go back to the church and I said, "No effin way!" I thought she was having second thoughts but she was just making sure I wouldn't try to drag her back into that quagmire!

  8. Great post. And life goes on. My father chose the same route as your sister. Your ability to share your feelings regarding religion are amazing. Thank you.


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