What I Do and Don’t Know

The older I get, the more I realize how inadequate my education was. My writing, my strongest skill, is littered with grammatical errors. I am passionate about the injustices I’ve discovered in the years since I’ve started educating myself, instead of relying on my parents to inform me about the world. When two people are your only constant access to information, your window of what the world looks like is very small. I am amazed every day to the point of emotional overwhelm by the things I learn, simply by watching documentaries about the universe and world.

The place we’ve evolved in is an indescribably tiny world in an incomprehensibly huge universe. In the minds of fundamentalists, this universe can easily be held together by a human-like being who cares about what we do to pleasure each other but not about what happens in war. This has, at least, been my experience. I’m also not excited about January, and I haven’t talked to many people who are. I’m worried, and my anxieties are catastrophic. Perhaps my fears are unwarranted. People from my grandparents’ generation keep reminding me that these things take time. The generation after mine isn’t so sure.

Here’s the thing. I don’t know a lot of things, but I’ve been taught to pretend like I do. That was, in the end, the whole point of competitive Christian homeschool debate: to persuade through performance. That’s why a specific category of human almost always won the biggest competitions. My perception of the world has been altered drastically so many times in my life, that I cannot expect it to remain constant. What I know is that I know a lot less than people who had a standard education.

Writing a memoir about being deprived of a normal life is a complex effort. It is both about writing what I know and what I don’t know. Like I said earlier, the older I get, the more I realize I don’t understand, or I understand at a very rudimentary level.

For instance, the human body. I don’t know much about it. When people refer to organs, what goes through my head is memories of cutting out coloring pages of the organs so my little siblings could glue them onto silhouettes of their bodies that we’d drawn on large pieces of paper. The heart was in red and blue crayon, glued on behind the pink lungs, and below those are the organs I don’t remember very well. Mom read the same books every year, and it was my job to make the copies of the coloring pages so each of the kids could color them in while mom read from a book called “My Magnificent Machine” – a selection of Biblical devotionals about some basic interesting facts about the body that were palatable for children. The people I spend the most time with understand that I need to have common things explained to me every day. I have to be honest that I don’t know what a lot of words mean, and I struggle with conversations about anything medical. I edited this paragraph after some googling because it was more embarrassing than this, too.

While there’s validity in the wisdom of realizing that I ultimately know nothing, I think this problem is also unique. There is genuinely a great deal that I am ignorant about. I feel that the next part of my life looks like writing my way through educating myself. I am uncertain about many things and I want to learn and explore more, instead of trying so hard to recover the past in a way that makes sense to read.

Thank you all so much for reading and supporting me. It has meant a chance at a better place to live, and the opportunity to return to my work in earnest. This month I will be writing less about certainties and more about uncertainties. I’m feeling festive this year, so we’ll discuss seasonal things, like gratitude and depression. I appreciate you all so much.

(Almost) Hopeless

Content Warning: This article discusses police brutality, internet censorship, and near-term human extinction.

Not sure where to begin after a day like yesterday. The onslaught of news was overwhelming. Later in the day, it became apparent to me at last that our internet is being censored. The omissions were eerie. For a little while, the only tweets coming through about the situation in Kentucky misspelled Breonna Taylor’s name – nothing with the right keywords was favored by the algorithms. Thousands of accounts had their followers and people they followed disappear. I kept seeing tweet after tweet asking, “is something wrong/off about twitter today?” Nobody asked about Facebook because “getting zucced” is a regular thing already.

It has been this way for some time. American exceptionalism is so deeply engrained in me that even though I have unlearned a lot of it, realizing that our internet is censored shocked me. Not here, I thought, before correcting myself: why not here? When has our genocidal, imperialist, racist country ever been above controlling the information its citizens have access to?

I should not be surprised, but I am. Social media has been the cold water to slowly heat to boiling with me in it. The options have simplified over time, leaving us cycling between a mere handful of sites to gain information. Google, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube – the algorithms are designed to suppress uprisings and prevent communication between revolutionaries, spread misinformation to the gullible, and to bury relevant information.

Don’t believe me? Just try Googling the number of COVID-19 deaths. Rather than offering a direct answer, Google has built a page to subvert and confuse the facts, so at first glance you’ll only see the daily changes in a chart, based on your location. One must toggle several menus to get an accurate answer for the country and world. That’s not to mention all the so-called “reputable” sources who charge for content, excluding the poor from being more informed.

So the media reports about two officers injured last night. People have been protesting for months and I haven’t seen a single news media outlet list off the many injuries inflicted by the police. The news claims protesters are being violent. The algorithms have been sufficiently tightened to suppress information and anyone who thinks it couldn’t happen here still believes that the United States is what it claims to be on some level. But it’s not.

We are not a land of freedom, justice, equality, or human rights. We never have been. Our violence and brutality exists for profit, for the taste of immense power.

Also don’t come at me with the bullshit that people who hate this country should just leave. I’ve been TRYING to get out of this country for over five years now, not that it would necessarily help anyone. I’ve never in that time had the spare funds to get a passport, much less the resources to cover the transportation, much less even a cheap car, not to mention the host of other details required in the process of getting out. To leave, to move, to travel – all of this is a privilege afforded to few in my country. Most of us are trapped, trying to get by in a system that demands both our labor and our wages for existing (including putting this expectation on people who can’t even work), and keeps murdering minorities to maintain a reign of terror. Our continuous wars for profit extend this terror – of white supremacy, colonialism, capitalism, destruction – to the world.

I think of how much work there is to be done for the cause of justice. How long must we wait, I wonder? Because as humans, we are running out of time to get our shit together.

The time between now and our extinction as a species is growing shorter with each day we continue to pollute and destroy. My research has led me to believe we have less than 100 years left. I believe this because all the models I can find for climate change reversal/slowing are based on significant reductions in pollution and destruction that we are not making whatsoever. You have to read all the way to the end to find the sections of these studies that say “and here’s what will happen if we continue on our current trajectory,” and those timelines are getting shorter with each new study. Each year the fire seasons will get worse, each year more animals and insects and other life forms with go extinct, and each year the sea levels will rise. When we say Gen Z is the last generation to live out a lifetime, that may be optimistic.

I do not have hope of reversing climate change. We are past that point. The most we can do, realistically, is minimize the inevitable suffering and halt our destruction and violence. We have the resources to feed, shelter, clothe, and otherwise care for everyone on the planet. The least we can do is make ourselves comfortable and care for each other. Our looming fate can motivate us to go out peacefully together.

I cannot say I see it happening, though. I don’t blame us, the ordinary people, for what is outside of our control. We can only protest the powerful, in whatever ways we can. The powerful are funneling the resources out of our mouths and into their pockets, and also using murder and maiming as motivation to conform.

We’re begging them not to kill innocent people in their own homes for the color of their skin.

That’s not a lot to ask for.

But our system can’t even offer a presidential candidate that doesn’t support the police state. It can’t offer impeachment of a corrupt president. It has no interest in keeping power in check, so it doesn’t. I’m realizing it never did.

I am not hopeful today. I only see the vast difference between the possible and the real, and my expectations lower with each development, especially with climate change looming.

This doesn’t mean I don’t think it’s worth it to fight for what’s right. I just think those of us who are trying to see things as clearly as possible need to realize we don’t have a lot of time left as a species, so we need to realize we’re racing against our own fate. We can’t stop our own destruction, just slow it down and demand justice for all of humanity until then. It shouldn’t be too much to ask.

If you’re struggling to hope right now, you are not alone. If you’re not, why?

When God Spoke to Me

“Descartes invoked God – in this case, a literal deus ex machina – to save himself…When people run up against something inexplicable, transcendent, and, most of all, ineffable, they often call it ‘God,’ as if that were some sort of explanation.” –Barbara Ehrenreich

“If you withhold information from your children because you would rather them not know what reality is really like, for fear that it is going to affect their beliefs, then you are doing them harm.” -Lawrence Krauss

I was the youngest person in the group to be baptized. We didn’t have a baptismal in our church, so my two older sisters and me were going to the 1st Baptist Church near Fargo, North Dakota for our baptisms. I had watched The Jesus Film dozens of times, begging to watch it more often. I was often disappointed with myself for falling asleep before the end, my favorite part, where Jesus died for my sins. I felt like a bad person for it being my favorite part. The important thing was that he rose from the dead, conquering death, but I was curious about the pain, the torture – the rites to being a righteous martyr were in suffering. At age five, I had read Joan of Arc, and related deeply with the young girl who begged to serve God, and succumbed to the flames licking around her crying, “Jesus! Jesus!”

My entire history was of people who had suffered and died for the faith. I knew nothing else about world and American history, because my entire K-12 schooling depended upon two people: my parents. I incessantly drew disturbing pictures in bright markers of people being martyred for being Christians, and even more of people being baptized. I understood that it meant I was drowning/dying to my old self, and making myself new, cleansed by the blood of Jesus and dead to sin. I remember waiting, holding my breath in that massive tub with the curtains pulled away, my godparents and grandparents and parents watching.

Our pastor was Dale Clifton, a balding man who always called the children up for a simple and fun sermon before his longer, duller sermon for the adults. Jeub kids were trained to sit still and be quiet, and when all of the other children were sent away to Sunday School, we sat in our pews quietly, knowing spankings awaited us if we were unruly in church. Many a parent would stop us and say, “Your children are so well behaved! How do you do it?” And dad would reach up to the pile of books in the windshield, several copies of the book “To Train Up a Child” by Michael and Debi Pearl. Dad bought them by the case, and the only chapter we didn’t follow from it was on training newborns to pee in the toilet instead of using diapers.

When I came up out of the tub, I swear I could feel angels singing, and the holy spirit descending upon me like a dove, Jesus’ white-faced smile welcoming me into his arms proudly. After I’d changed out of my wet clothes (with a modest swimsuit underneath them – even a child can’t be too modest during a baptism), my grandmother Judy gave me a book from her and Grandpa Bernie. It was a book called “Wise Words for Little People.” Simple rhymes describing Biblical virtues were depicted alongside charming illustrations of children and anthropomorphized animals behaving badly, with little bible verses to back up the truth in the rhymes. One read:

The Bible is a special book.
It helps us to obey.
So read the Bible if you can,
A little every day.

Another went:

If you’re acting naughty,
Your parents may spank you.
But when you get older;
You’ll want to say “Thank you!”

Because I accepted these poems as totally true, my young and words-hungry mind memorized these words and the Psalms and Proverbs they were based on, from the Bible.

The thing is, the average Christian in America would have zero problem with such a book. At face value, it’s so mainstream that my liberal grandmother didn’t think twice about the abuse she was reinforcing with the message. Everyone I knew, all of my authority figures, and everyone in my world knew that god was real. And why shouldn’t I have believed? My survival was dependent on going along with the people who controlled it.

In my recent writings, I’ve been trying to effectively communicate why I’m so angry with Christianity right now. No, it’s not because I’m mad at god – she and I parted ways on good terms. In fact, now that I understand that I simply had an imaginary friend, I’m getting to know the person beyond the “she” I always dissociated away from and projected onto the scared, pain-wracked little body that couldn’t possibly be myself as a child. These things weren’t happening to me, they were happening to Her. For twenty years, I planned to write my autobiography in the third person. I’m still sorting through those notes to tell stories in my memoir, and I see now what I was doing as I wrote then: dissociation, projection, escaping. I don’t blame myself. It’s all I could do.

After being baptized, I hoped that my sins would go away, but they didn’t. I felt like a worse and worse person, and began punishing myself for it, which I knew was sinful, so I would hide in the closet, pinching myself with clothespins and feeling like God was near to me, holding me, telling me that he understood why I had to torture myself. I had to be strong. I had to be strong for the torture someday. I had to be strong for Jesus.

When I was a teenager, I learned more about how to talk to God and listen to God. My family had been through multiple church splits, and had formed a small congregation that gathered in the living rooms of its members, switching between families each Sunday, when dad started preaching from a book called “Walking With God” by John Eldredge. I wanted desperately to feel close to God, the inspiration for everything that the people around me lived for. I prayed on my knees, I studied my Bible and read literally hundreds of books each year about how to be a pure-thinking virgin, a thankless servant to her parents and siblings, and tried to do what was being demanded of me – soft words, a cheerful temperament, and tireless energy.

Recently in my survivor groups, the conversation has come up that when people hear our stories, they think we’re exceptions. Oh, well, spanking isn’t the problem – your parents just did it wrong. But something we want to shout from the rooftops is that our parents are symptomatic. Our stories differ in detail, but the common theme is conservative politics among Christian homeschool families who staunchly oppose birth control. Chris and Wendy Jeub may have sixteen kids, and have gotten their sixteen minutes of fame, but the point is not to tarnish their reputation and sink their facade. That is Dobby’s collateral damage, thank you. The point is that at its base, teaching children that your reality is the way things are, and silencing alternatives, is child abuse. Spanking and using negative reinforcement that traumatizes children is the same in the hands of well-meaning parents as it is in the hands of cruel narcissists. And to break a child’s will, ultimately, means to colonize that child and exploit them of their childhood and full development as a human being.

How could I have made such an about-face, after writing so passionately, only a few years ago, about my worship of the divine? Popular posts from back in the day included reflections on how Christians are attracted to the dark, Christianity is a call to a unique and epic life, my theories about the reason an all-powerful deity would have a sadomasochistic crucifixion fetish, and how to talk to god. I haven’t re-uploaded these for the simple reason that I am done with spreading false information that encourages believers in their belief. Not just because I no longer agree with it – such a frivolous reason that would be – but because I was actively participating in self-deception.

I wrote more about this back when I wrote the series “How a Logical Girl Talked Herself Into Fundamentalism.” But since that time, I’ve also lost my faith in God. And what a devastating process it was, to grieve the biggest thing in the whole universe as far as I knew. It was terrifying at first, to imagine a universe where I am alone in my thoughts, with no ultimate being, no ultimate creator.

I want to write more about how I came to understand that science makes more sense than the bible, and about many of the various topics I’ve brought up in this word-vomit of a post. For now, I want to talk about the time that god spoke to me, to finally answer the question I left open when I wrote Taking the Atheist Prayer Challenge on Neil Carter’s blog – what was God? What exactly was speaking to me?

And at last, I can say with confidence that it was nothing like a divine thing. Instead, it was the natural projection of an evolved animal mind that associated god with wonder, emotion, splendor, authority, shame, and everything I felt, because my feelings were supposed to be in harmony with it. But I never found that harmony. I dreamed of the future. I heard a voice that told me to say to people, “God said this to me.” I felt convicted to wash my family’s feet one Christmas Eve, before I would be kicked out, making the mistake of doing exactly as I was told – listening to god with all my heart.

And everything about that, every detail, can be explained with science. I am no expert, because I have almost no formal education, but I’ve been devouring wonders beyond any I knew while reality wore the guise of god. Neurology tells me that my complex trauma can be observed, predicted, and medicated. Psychology explains to me how I could Otherize myself and recognize the feeling of thinking as the whisperings of a being who was intimate with all of my thoughts. Astrophysics shows me that I am made of the dust of stars.

I wouldn’t rather it be this way. I sometimes wish there was some giant out there, holding us all together, caring when we feel pain. Yet, without question, it beats the cognitive dissonance of trying to explain why such a being wouldn’t intervene a little more.

Surrendering to Science

My faith in God was not lost in a day.

It took many years of questioning, and it all started with competitive Apologetics speaking when I was a teenager. Later my journey included many friends made and lost who helped me learn about science, or who gave me the same redundant reasons to remain a Christian that I was quietly debunking. It lasted as I lost friends over being a Christian ally to gay, lesbian, and bi people (I knew about the other letters but hadn’t Bibled my way through them). Even through the loss of my family and most of my community, I clung to Jesus. I trusted that he would be faithful if I proved myself worthy of him by loving him more than even my father, mother, brothers, sisters, and friends.

I need to give my friends space to get away, too. They have much to lose.

Many people cannot even fathom a world where God does not exist, because in that world, they are alone to navigate this muck of human life. No purpose, no heaven or hell, no divine justice or intervention, no hope after death – these are extremely heavy ideas, quite too much for the average cishet white Christian to stop and re-examine. Why should they? It would only mean risking your cut of the family wealth.

And that’s why I am urging my Christian friends to, for the sake of your love for God, think about what Christianity does for you. Not the answers to prayer, not “where you’re at in your walk” or if you’re “going through a dry spell.”

And beyond them, I ask the non-Christians, the white people with wealth to spare for trinkets that exploit, to consider: do you believe in Karma because it is convenient? How convenient is your world, and how much confirmation bias is reaffirmed with privilege? I have realized that I was not lucky, I was white. And I would rather endure oppression than benefit from it.

You, white America, religious and non-religious, you have made the choice to turn a blind eye to how your money got in your pocket, brushing it away with endless justifications that make you sound like the victims. We have got to stop buying our own bullshit that we earned this empire, our inheritance, the jobs we’ve had and the stuff we’ve owned. We didn’t earn it. We stole it. It must be returned, and soon.

And beyond them, I ask the people of color who are still committed to the Christian faith, what on earth has Christianity ever done for you? Why are you still worshiping and praying to the god of your oppressors?

Yet I know that in a world run by my ancestors and cousins and parents and siblings, who speak of colorblindness while ignoring mass injustice and exploitation, you have much to lose, too. If mass deconversion happened across the country in minority groups, how much easier it would be to continue dehumanizing you.

I write this with such urgency because, well, the end of the world is coming. And it’s not your dad’s apocalypse.

Jesus isn’t coming back. The Mayan calendar isn’t finally coming to a close. Whatever your idea of the “end times” are, they’re as mythical as any other myth. Yet our need is still urgent.

Humans – we are going to destroy ourselves. In twelve years, we’ll reach the point of no return. The planet as a habitat for our species will be done for, far sooner than our planet’s orbit will lose its life-supporting position in relation to our sun. This is not a hoax, it is not a prophecy from a subjective source, it is really happening, and we’re too gridlocked to stop it collectively. To argue with this fact is like trying to have an argument with an inanimate object, such as a thermometer.

In the end, I surrendered to science because I could no longer argue with it. I was defeated – nay, enamored – by its logic, the thoroughness of the laws we’ve observed. We don’t know everything, but the beauty of science is we may someday know, and if we know more later than we knew now, we will adjust our understanding according to what we know later on.

With religion, uncertainty is painted in quite a different light. It is something to fear, something to resist and avoid, or, if you manage past those, it is something to trust. Odd as that sounds, there’s a whole school of theology that demands the trust of uncertainty – simply put, it sounds like many trite phrases including “let go and let God” and “he helps me when my faith is weak” and “If I don’t understand it, God does.”

Angry atheists accuse angry Christians of the same hypocrisy, and vice versa:

“How do you know the cell formed on its own?” The Christian asks.

“I don’t know,” says the atheist, “But science is getting closer every day to finding out.”

“Ha! You are no better than me!” says the Christian, “I don’t know, but God does, because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”

The religious person, or ironically non-religious person who benefits from the system, looks backward for answers. Science looks forward. And those who are looking forward, trying to learn everything they can about the universe, see a pretty fucking bleak future ahead. Because the fact is, it doesn’t matter how we got here. We’re going to poof into nothingness in the blink of an eye compared to the universe. It doesn’t matter if God put us here or not. We are on a planet with an ecosystem, and acting like business as usual won’t come to a grinding halt soon – with our own blood, the carnage – is not only laughably ridiculous, it’s cruel.

It’s cruel because we were warned. By the people whose blood stain every inch of this nightmarish grid we’ve constructed. The indigenous peoples we’ve largely murdered in genocide are to this day unable to meaningfully change the way humans live. That is what oppression and exploitation means.

I cannot be silent any longer about how crucial it is that people leave religion behind, and soon. We have so much more to lose than the small worlds we were raised in.

I’m going to close with this quote, instead of opening with the song lyrics. The song is called “Arguing with Thermometers,” and there’s a little screaming, but most people find Enter Shikari’s sound accessible, despite its metal flavor. You can listen to the song here.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah, we’re all addicted the the most abusive, destructive drug of all time, and I ain’t talking about class A’s – that business is miniscule when compared – and just like any addict desperate to get his next fix, we resort to petty crimes to secure our next hit…So let me get this straight; as we witness the ice-caps melt, instead of being inspired into changing our ways, we’re going to invest into military hardware to fight for the remaining oil that’s left beneath the ice? But what happens when it’s all gone? You haven’t thought this through, have you, boys?”

I really wish I had something more to conclude with than an angry song. Sign a petition, donate, do something that helps – I wish it was that easy. But the more I research solutions, the less likely it seems that we’ll solve humanity’s flaws (another post for another time – why is humanity wicked?), and all we can do is scream about it until we are no more.

That said, I am still far less depressed, far more engaged and enthused, and am becoming a better writer as a non-Christian than I was as a Christian. A lot of people liked me better when I was a Christian. But I was behaving how I thought I had to. Now my only chains are those of the system I’m trapped in.

This conversation is about our dependence on fossil fuels as much as it is about how we grieve our loved ones who have passed. It has a lot to do with my justice and advocacy series about wealth disparity. I don’t have all the answers, of course.

But I am burdened, and so I write.

Podcast Transcript: The Deleted Confession

Updated 5/6/2019: Below is a commentary I wrote in August 2018 about the events leading up to my family’s first response to my blog posts in 2014, a podcast. My parents claim that they never gave any kind of response until March of 2019. The podcast was re-uploaded to YouTube, which my dad had taken down on a copyright claim, which can be seen here.

COMMENTARY

The day I chose to reveal that my parents weren’t as magnificent as they wanted the world to think they were was October third, 2014. It was exactly a year after I’d been kicked out while being denied my independence – my phone, bank account, and the children I’d raised were still being controlled, and I was expected to continue keeping up with housework even after I’d moved out. While in college full time and working two jobs.

There is a rumor that I “wanted to live at home longer,” but they had undermined my entire ability to survive as an adult in the real world. I had no K-12 education, except that I’d memorized a lot of the Bible and School House Rock songs, and I was given textbooks I was supposed to find time to study on my own, around my busy schedule. Once I started taking classes at a local university, I struggled and ultimately failed to keep a passing GPA. I simply had no idea what I was doing, and I couldn’t seem to find time to study enough, which I blamed myself for – though my friends could easily observe that the reason I couldn’t learn was that I was still running my family’s household whenever I was home from class. I was in the habit of bouncing a baby on my lap while trying to just read my assignment, much less comprehend it enough to test.

In an effort to avoid being shamed by my family, I gave up talking about my poor grades. I had no idea how to ask for help, and didn’t know that when I struggled to approach an instructor for signing permission papers, I was having severe anxiety. My voice and body would freeze before dealing with conflict, asking for help, or even speaking up to get a passing person’s attention in the hallway. In the end, though I very much wanted to learn, I dropped out because losing my parents meant losing my grant applications, and I could barely afford food and shelter, much less the time and expense of being in school. My part-time job became a full-time job, and I tried earnestly to recover. My parents were concerned about my signs of mental illness, and agreed to let me see a therapist, even offering rides when needed. I was 21 and no longer living with them, but somehow I always found myself back in my dad’s luxurious office, the most well-made room in the whole house, crying my heart out to my parents about how I was trying to be a good Christian still, and which boys I was interested in marrying someday, and I was a good virgin – I hadn’t so much as googled “masturbation.”

My first therapist in early 2014 was patient, and over several weeks in which I felt numb and often watched the art on the wall from the top of the room, totally dissociated. I finally started crying sometimes. A friend who worried about me in my depressive spiral dragged me to his astronomy class. Even though I was no longer an enrolled student, the professor was so passionate during his lectures, he didn’t mind who joined in the audience. For the first time in my life, at the age of 21, somebody told me that the stuff my body and the air I breathe and the planet I call home is made of what’s in space. It had never clicked for me before that our table of elements is consistent across the universe. I was questioning what Christianity really had to say about loving people even if they’re gay.

Questions are rebellion to fundamentalists. Their egos are incredibly fragile. It is not enough for white, conservative, cishet gen-X people like my parents to live an unremarkable life. And if all you can do to gain your fifteen minutes of fame is to have sixteen mini-me’s, that’s what you do, if you’re that desperate. Besides, you get Jesus’ justification for your lifestyle and reproductive decisions. When a child in this kind of family asks questions, the parents feel incredibly threatened, and hastily protest any perceived flaw in themselves. They will turn to attacking the child, or victimizing themselves and threatening to commit suicide, or flying into a rage at the child.

At the time that I published my first post, I was wracked with emotional pain. It was my response to my dad telling me that I was no longer welcome in their home. It was apparent to them that I was seeing through the cracks, and in a too-little-too-late effort at the end, I was trying to help my siblings see what I could see, so they could be better prepared to survive. This was of course interpreted as manipulation on my part. Lydia saw it too, but to be ostracized was far worse for her than it was for me. My short five semesters of local university had taught me quite a lot that she didn’t know – foregoing college and remaining a completely dedicated stay-at-home daughter until the day we were kicked out.

I was at work when I posted the blog post. My boss, who knew my parents, called me to say that my workplace would be a safe place for me. Within hours, my dad had prepared his response to my post, “Melting Memory Masks.” Because my dad believes he is innocent, he thought there would be nothing to fear from proving it by leaving the room while my younger siblings recorded a podcast responding to me.

His sites are in complete denial that the podcast ever existed. The podcast was originally on YouTube as episode 7 of his ministry’s new podcast. Apparently he had not even heard the podcast before uploading it. But to his surprise, people who heard the podcast were somehow convinced by it of his and my mother’s guilt. As Susan Gabriella said over on her site, The Little Fighter that Could:

“The reason the podcast was hastily removed was because it comprised of too much evidence in Cynthia’s favor… In fact, if you read her blogpost and then listen to the additional information explained in the podcast, the abuse becomes even more evident. Cynthia’s first post claimed three main things. Physical abuse—abuse her siblings did not deny happened, and instead trivialized by normalizing it or saying it was forgiven; psychological abuse—which her siblings responded to by doubting; and emotional abuse—which her siblings made fun of.”

The video was deleted from YouTube in a matter of hours after it was posted. Then my dad filed copyright claims against anyone else who tried to re-upload it. All that remains is the transcript, which Susan was also kind enough to transcribe. I now present the full transcript in full, as transcribed there: Transcript of Chris Jeub’s Podcast

BEGIN TRANSCRIPT

Chris: Welcome to the Training Minds podcast, training minds for action in speech and debate, Episode 7.

[music]

Chris: Welcome, my friends, to the Training Minds podcast. I’m Chris Jeub, president of Training Minds Ministry and author of a, bunch of speech and debate publications, all meant to train the mind for action for academic speech and debate. Uh, this is a break from our planned schedule, uh, we, uh, just last week, uh, ran Luis Garcia’s first part of his presentation on apologetics. Um, you heard him explain the ten commandments of apologetics, and you’ll hear the second part next week when we return to the regular programming.

Instead I’ve decided to use the Training Minds podcast to put out an audio—an audio record of defense concerning an online attack that has penetrated and greatly wounded our family—the Jeub family. Um, it has to do with my daughter, Cynthia, who came out last week with a blog post that was extremely indicting on us, and probably, uh, couldn’t have been more damaging. And—and—and many, many people are believing it. I think everybody’s shocked, and we are shocked, too. Uh—but the—because the blog post has some imagery in it that’s just horrific, uh, it couldn’t be worse. Probably the most horrific of them all, in my opinion, is the vision of my wife, Wendy, and I shutting the curtains and—and—and—beating our children with a belt. Every night, she actually claims this is every night. And later she explains that there’s actually cuts and blood in these events, and that we have never stopped.

My goodness, these—uh—three things here. First, if it’s true, what—what she explained is illegal behavior, and our twelve children should be taken away from us immediately. There’s no excuse for what she is explaining on her blog. But secondly, you’re—you’re about to hear from my children. Uh, this is not true. Belts are not used in our family. Beatings do not take place in our home. And you’re about to hear from the older Jeub children about how out and far out and—and extreme out of reality this really is.

Uh, thirdly, and this is—this is very—this is a very odd story in many ways. Uh, a lot of people are going to be listening to this, you don’t really care about speech and debate, but this is our way of putting together, um, a response because this is—this is extremely harmful to us. Uh, I, Chris Jeub, author, debate coach, I’ve supported questionable websites and other bloggers, who, though they differ from me, and my personal faith or politics, I—I still supported them because they welcomed the discussion and action about abuse victims. Uh, oh, uh, one more thing, and I guess, uh, I didn’t have this in my notes but I’m going to say it anyway. Uh, we, the Jeub family, love Cynthia. We want so desperately for resolution in this problem. We do not—uh, we don’t appreciate—um, actually, we hate these accusations. And we have to come out and say, “These are not true”—we have no choice because they aren’t the truth.

But I don’t want to discredit Cynthia. This is, uh, such a tough position to be in, because we love Cynthia, and—and there is pain in her accusations. I don’t know what that—the pain is. We—before her blog post, we had been really wrestling with her for several months, and one of the, the—really—one of the pleas with her we had was, “Please, come with us to counseling.” You know, not a—not a fluffed-up fake counselor or relative or something—I mean, our relatives have been great, they’ve been very supportive of us. But—but it’s been, uh, an appeal to her to come to counseling and get help for what—I—I believe is—is mental illness. Now that—that’s for a professional to diagnose, but, uh, but I can’t think of anything—any other reason why these accusations would come out, that are so far from reality that, uh, that it’s really, really, really hurting us.

So I hope you can help us, the Jeub family, to pray for Cynthia, to pray for our family, the Jeub family. We’ve been on—I don’t know if you know us very well, but we’ve been on TV, we’ve been very transparent about—about, uh, uh, family issues that we’ve had in the past, estranged children, even. Our oldest daughter has been estranged for years, and there was a short time of reconciliation and love that we articulated in our book, Love in the House, and—and it was, uh, but, but, but—to tell you the truth, uh, we still, uh, we still struggle with our problems. But we are in the camera eye and we are transparent and we are honest and we do not beat our children. That’s [unintelligible], that is—this is bizarre, and, uh, and uh, and—so this is what we’re going to do today.

In the podcast today, uh, what—what I had my kids do—in fact, they volunteered with this way of handling it, because they’re very disturbed by this. So I’ve got, I’ve got older kids in my family, one adult, uh, Isaiah is 18, Micah is 17, Noah is 16, and Tabitha is 14, and we’ve kept everyone else below that out of it, because they really—they really are—a couple of other ones could have been involved in this, but you know, they’re young, they’re young, their heads are spinning, and they love their sister, uh and they—they—this is busting them up big time. But the older ones are more mature, and they’re handling it well. They wanted to get together and walk through Cynthia’s article, piece by piece, there’s—there’s about five or six images that she puts out there, and events that they actually remember, and, uh, and they can—they want to, uh, kinda form a defense, and say, “You know what, we have, we have, um, uh, an answer that’s different than Cynthia’s. And actually much different than Cynthia’s.”

And then that’s what’s going to be the podcast today. That—that’s what it is. And I, and I’d like to just double up, we love Cynthia, we want this to be handled as fast as possible. This is so painful to us, and uh, and, and we really need you—if you—you know what, and before I press play, you probably want me to already shut up and listen to the kids, but hey, I gotta say this. Uh, if you—if you do desire the truth to set us free and the—the—the truth to surface and for good things to come of this, please encourage Cynthia to get the help that she’s denied from us. She has refused to go to counseling with us. I mean that’s, that’s, uh, that’s the only solution I see here. Uh, I believe she believes what she believes, but, uh, she—she needs to sit down on the comfortable couch and explain her pain. And going public with a damaging story that’s not true will only—will only hurt her more. So, uh, please help me encourage her, um, uh, her blog is cynthiajeub.com. Um, as I’m recording this right now, it’s still the first article, or, uh, top article, um, but uh, I’ll have a leak in the show notes.

So, uh, so with that, this is my Jeub family, or, uh, a chunk of ‘em, four of my kids, uh, the oldest ones that are living at home, Isaiah, Micah, Noah, and Tabitha. And, uh, and at the end of the podcast I have, uh, information on how to get Love in the House for free—I’m actually giving it away for free this week, because, uh, because we’re, we want you to see who we are, and be totally open and honest about this situation that we’re in. Uh, more about that at the end here. Uh, but, with that, enjoy my kids.

[8:28]

Male voice 1: OK, careful.

[creaking noise, like a door closing]

Male voice 1: Why did I say careful? Hello! We are the four Jeub older kids that are still living at home, so, uh, yeah, we’re just gonna go oldest to youngest and introduce ourselves.

Male voice 2 (Isaiah): Uh, I’m Isaiah, hi. I’m eighteen, um, do you want me to—

Male voice 1 (Micah): That’s good, um, I’m Micah—

[girl laughs]

Micah: —and I’m seventeen.

Male voice 3 (Noah): I’m Noah, and I’m sixteen.

Female voice (Tabitha): And I’m Tabitha, and I’m fourteen.

Micah: And our sister wrote a blog post about our family, it’s, uh, telling, uh, the world how abusive our parents are to us, and we would like to go through and read the blog post and give the world our take on Cynthia’s blog post. So we’re gonna go through her blog post right now and give you our take.

Male voice: OK. So the first little section basically said—uh, I’ll just read it. “Eight years ago, Mom, Dad, I’ve been hurting myself since I was four, I’ve kept it a secret for ten years, and I don’t think anybody else in the world does it. I want to tell you because we’re going to film on TV and I might lose control in front of the cameras. I don’t want to make our family look bad. Are you still doing it? No, I quit a few years ago. Then your sin is forgiven, we’ll go ahead with the filming, just don’t tell anyone.”

Tabitha: So, our older sister Cynthia was hurting herself, and she’s acting as if we were trying to cover it up, as if we have some deep, dark secret. What’s actually happening here is just a normal conversation. She said, “Hey, Mom, Dad, I’ve kept this a secret, um, I’m hurting myself.” And they’re just like, “Are you still doing it? I don’t think you need to tell the cameras.” It—it doesn’t seem like that big of a deal. We’re not hiding anything. If you get to know us, we’re a pretty transparent family, we’re the same at parties that we are at home.

Micah: Yeah it’s true, I mean, you guys know us, or if you don’t know us, we’re very, like, we just are the same at home as we are at parties. Like Isaiah’s shy at home and he’s shy at parties.

[Tabitha laughs]

Micah: I’m outgoing at home, and I’m outgoing at parties.

[Tabitha laughs]

Micah: Noah’s a dork at home, and he’s a dork at parties.

[Tabitha laughs, Noah makes sound of weak protest]

Micah: OK, so we are the same throughout. And this conversation that Cynthia was having with Dad is just a normal conversation, it’s not like, “Oh we have something to hide, you can’t tell the cameras anything.” Cynthia spoke her mind on TV, it was no big deal. So, yeah. Next, uh, section.

Male voice: Second section! “Seven years ago, Mommy, stop hitting him, he’s only eleven. Do something, Cynthia, I’m scared she’s not stopping. A few days later. What happened to him? Did he get in a fight with his brother? No, Mom got made and slapped him, she wouldn’t stop so I pulled her off of him. He’s wearing makeup so you can’t see the whole bruise and where he was bleeding. Everybody thinks that we’re perfect, please don’t let them look through the curtains.”

Micah: This story was, um, about Isaiah, and Cynthia paints this ugly picture of our mother like she beat Isaiah till Isaiah was black and blue, which is not exactly what happened. Um—yes, actually, me—um—him and his brother did get in a fight, I got in a fight with Isaiah, and I hit him in the face, and then Mom was on my side, so Mom hit him in the face. And this happened eight years ago, and it was not—Mom was not beating him.

Male voice: Yeah, that was—

Micah: That was a very ugly night in our house, and it’s super painful that Cynthia had to post—post this on the public for the world to see. So yes, this did happen, yeah, it was about eight years ago, and, uh, yes, this did happen, I hit him in the face, then Mom hit him in the face, and he did have a bruise.

Male voice: And that was the end of the fight.

Micah: And that was the end of the fight, and Mom has apologized for it several times, and we have forgiven her. So, I don’t see why it needs to be brought up, but that was our take on the matter. So, our mom does not do that—she’s never done it again, so it, uh, is kind of irrelevant at this point. We don’t get slapped in the face.

Isaiah: Yeah, and the reason Micah responded to that and I didn’t was because I don’t remember this happening, specifically. Um, from what I hear, it sounds a lot like—it sounds a lot like abuse when I hear about it, and—and I think—this, this isn’t the first time I’ve heard about this. I mean, I remember me sitting around and all the kids were like, “Oh, you remember that one time?” And I’m like, “No, I don’t remember that one time.” But—but when I hear this, it sounds a lot like abuse, but I’ve never seen my mom actually do something like this to any of the other—any of my siblings. So—so to believe this—

Micah?: Or to do it again or anything. She says later on that it did happen again, but it didn’t happen again, it was something else that Mom was doing.

Isaiah: Well yeah, it wasn’t—she wasn’t slapping me over and over again, and we’ll cover it later. And we’ll get to that, but I’ve never seen it happen again in this household. Or beforehand. So.

Micah?: And—have you forgiven Mom for what she did?

Isaiah: I—uh—maybe, I don’t remember forgiving Mom.

Micah: So you don’t remember the conversation that night when she came to apologize like a hundred times.

Isaiah: No.

Micah: OK. Well, I remember the conversation pretty well, and she was very, very upset at herself.

Noah: And—at the end of this section, she says, “You can’t see the whole place where he was bleeding.” That’s so exaggerated, there was a small bruise where—

Micah: It was right under his eye.

Tabitha: I thought it was right under his eye.

Micah: Right under his eye, and he was not bleeding.

Noah: He wasn’t bleeding at all.

Tabitha: No. It’s exaggerated.

Micah: I punch pretty hard. Just kidding. OK, moving on to the third thing.

Tabitha: Third section.

Not Micah: “Six years ago. I’m gonna sit here while the producer interviews you. I’m here to help you remember to say what’s true. OK daddy, I trust you. Don’t let them see what goes down in the kitchen.”

Micah: What in the heck goes down in the kitchen, like, we cook in the kitchen, if you guys wanted to know that—

Tabitha: We dance in the kitchen.

Micah: We dance in the kitchen.

Noah: We wrote cookbooks on that, too. [laughter]

Isaiah: We do [unintelligible] in the kitchen, and do flips off the counters in the kitchen.

Micah: It’s pretty funny. Um, yeah, so this sounds like a manipulating father talking to a daughter, but really, this kind of conversation is like, what’s wrong with this conversation. Cynthia, you could’ve said whatever you wanted on camera, and Dad wasn’t forcing you to say anything on camera. He never forced me to say anything on camera, he never—

Male: Yeah.

Micah: He just said hi, I’m here to be with you, I thought you were nervous in talking to ten million people.

Male: Yeah.

Micah: So he wasn’t forcing you to say anything, so the fact that you think he, uh, was like oh, I’m gonna make sure you say all the right things, you know, I’m gonna let you make your own decisions but I’m gonna make ‘em for you so they’re right—he wasn’t saying anything like that.

Noah: Yeah. And he was just out there helping with the light fixture.

Isaiah: Yeah, he was out there helping with the lights.

Noah: He was helping when I was interviewed, I remember that.

Isaiah: He was helping hold up that light.

Tabitha: Yeah, he wasn’t like he was sitting there, holding her hand, being like, don’t say that, don’t say that, here, let me just answer for you.

Noah or Isaiah: Because, like, it wasn’t like an episode where he was making the puppets say what he wanted them to say—yeah, it’s not like that at all.

[noises of agreement from others in the background]

Micah: Alright, next question, or next, uh, statement.

Tabitha: Here, I’ll read it. Five years ago. Mom, look, I watched the kids—ten kids, and cooked the food and cleaned the house while you were gone. You didn’t do the dishes? You don’t appreciate what I—that I was gone all day shopping. I do so much work around here, I can’t be gone for a few hours without coming home to a mess. I need to work in a clean kitchen and it’s your fault I can’t. I don’t ask for much. Places, places, get in your places.

Micah and Tabitha, in a sing-song tone: Places, places, get in your places.

Micah, in a falsetto: Places, places, get in your places. [laughter]

Noah or Isaiah: That was better.

Micah: Thanks, man.

Tabitha: Uh—

Micah: OK! Go ahead, Tabitha.

Tabitha: I was just going to say that this is a normal conversation, it’s not yelling at you, being like omigosh, you’re a horrible child. It’s just saying, thank you for watching the kids, but look, you didn’t do the dishes, like—

Micah: Like, uh—

Micah and Tabitha: —why didn’t you do the dishes? [laughter]

Tabitha: Well, I need to make supper, I’ve been shopping all day—have you ever been shopping? It’s not that fun.

Noah: Well, some girls think so. They’re weird.

Tabitha: Threatening to call the authorities on this is just kinda funny.

Micah: It’s just like, Mom didn’t thank me for doing the rest of the house when I was supposed to do the dishes. Abuse, it’s abuse. We’re being abused, omigosh. Anyway, uh, just do the dishes next time, Cynthia, you’re an adult. [Tabitha laughs] Alright, next question.

Tabitha: “Three years ago. Is it that cutting thing again? I thought you were over that. I’m scared because I wanna kill myself, Daddy. Are you sure it’s not just trying to fit in with your college friends, pretending you have problems like theirs? No one ever listens, this wallpaper glistens.”

Micah (in a sing-song tone): No one ever listens, this wallpaper glistens. [spontaneous vocalizing] Alright, go ahead, people.

Tabitha: I would just say that this is a huge conversation—I remember you and Dad talking for hours at a time, you guys talked through this, um, and you’re forging the conversation to make it sound—he probably did ask this, um, is it your college friends. Someone comes to you and says I wanna kill myself, you’re probably gonna ask every possible question, well, where is this even coming from. He probably asked this, but it’s not totally disregarding you.

Noah: Yeah, it was a totally honest question.

Tabitha: It was a totally honest question.

Noah: It was probably one of many, many questions he had, so, you know, what’s driving you to think this—

Micah: Yeah, totally.

Noah: —what’s driving you to—

Micah: I’m here with Noah, he’s just asking a question, one of several questions that he asked, and to turn around and say that Dad’s abusive because he asked you a question like, uh, is this what’s the reason, is this what’s the reason, and then he asks one question—you just told him you wanted to kill yourself, ok? Right then at that moment, they did everything they possibly could, they put you into—they put you into counseling, they were talking to you, they tried to get closer to you, like, everything, like, they did not turn around and be like oh, it’s ok. They did everything, they paid for your counseling, like, they did all these things. For you to disregard them is a) just super mean and they were being super supportive and he was just asking you a, a question, like—are you just trying to blend in with your friends? Like, you know what I mean? So, um, that’s not abuse. How dare him say something like that—he’s not abusing you because he asked you a question. He was pretty shocked that you wanted to kill yourself. Alright, next one.

Tabitha: Two years ago. You’re not telling your therapist you’re having problems with self-harm and depression, are you? No, Mom, I’m there because I’m angry with my two older sisters for turning their backs on God and being rebellious and hurting my parents. Good, I don’t think that’s really something you need to tell your counselor about. [unintelligible] dresses on, doll faces. [sigh] Again, this is a huge conversation that you and Mom had, and you just cut it down to one thing that bothered you.

Noah: I doubt whether this even happened, honestly.

Micah: Yeah, so Cynthia’s cutting it down to one thing that we doubt even happened, but since she said it did, we’re gonna respond to it as [if] it did happen, which we’re not even that sure of. So one thing I noticed about this that is, like, uh, Mom is not using orders, she’s using suggestions. So she’s not saying, you cannot tell your therapist about this, she’s just suggesting, no. Which is like, completely not abusive, she’s just giving her advice. Mom gives me advice all the time. Don’t do a backflip off that car. I do a backflip off that car. I mean, it’s advice, it’s not abusive when you’re giving advice.

Tabitha: Yeah.

Micah: If it’s a direct order, and she’s, like, forcing you to not say it, that’s sort of, I mean, you know what I mean? But I mean—she never did that, she’s just giving you her piece of—opinion.

Tabitha: Mhm. And you’re in counseling because of this. Like, why would she tell you not to say—

Noah: Yeah, yeah.

Tabitha: —don’t, don’t do that. I mean, that’s the whole reason you’re in counseling.

Micah: Yeah, she put you in counseling because you wanted to kill yourself, because you were cutting, so, why would she say that? So basically your blog post—er, Cynthia’s blog post—just kinda, like, contradicted itself. So anyway. Was that number six? Let’s go to number seven statement.

Tabitha: One year ago. I remember when you were spanked with a belt every day even though you didn’t do anything wrong most days. So you remember that too? Weird. I asked Mom why they did that, and she said it never happened. I thought there must be something wrong with me. D-O-L-L-H-O-U-S-E.

[spontaneous singing]

Noah: No, you skipped on to the next section.

Tabitha: It’s so exaggerated. It’s not even true!

Micah: You can talk to my parents, they’re pretty open about the fact that they thought discipline—er, spanking—was a good thing back—what was it, that would’ve been like ten years ago? About ten years ago, they thought it was ok, and that’s just a fabricated—

Tabitha: Yeah, saying that we shut the curtains at night and our parents beat us is so—

Micah: —stupid, I mean we shut the curtains at night and we goof off—

Tabitha —and we party—

Micah: —and we play music.

Noah: Yeah, we were playing horse in the house last night.

Micah: Yeah, we were playing horse, because we set up this box as a basketball hoop, we were shooting a football.

Tabitha: Is that what you guys were doing?

Micah: Yeah, [unintelligible]

Tabitha: I thought you guys were trying to run—

Micah: You’re like, what is that noise upstairs.

Noah: That’s what happens when you shut the curtains.

Tabitha: We don’t even have curtains.

Micah: Yeah, we have a huge window in the front of our house with no curtains on it. Anyway, um, so this conversation, uh—

Tabitha: —is trying to create the image, uh, that every night, we beat—well, er, not us—but our parents beat us. And I would just like to say, I have never been spanked.

Micah: Yeah!

Tabitha: Guys, this is just not what happens.

Micah: This is not what happens.

Tabitha: That is so far from the truth.

Micah: It’s actually kinda funny.

Tabitha: We’re laughing. It’s just stupid.

Micah: We’re laughing right now. And the little kids—oh my gosh, I just kicked the desk, that’s going to come up bad on the audio. Anyway, uh, so that’s not what happened. We’re going to go on to number eight, which is probably going to be the longest one and the most confusing one, but here we go.

Tabitha: This year. Do you remember that one time when Mom slapped you until you had cuts and bruises and I had to pull her off you? I know it happened because you and our other siblings were there, but I don’t remember it. You blocked it out? I guess so. Anyways, she said sorry, and it would never happen again. Did it happen again? Yeah, but I was asking for it then. I was a disagreeable boy when I was going through puberty. Don’t you think maybe moms shouldn’t hit their kids over and over until they bruise? Our parents aren’t that bad, Cynthia, you need to stop saying they’re abusive. I see things that nobody else sees.

Micah: This conversation was going on between Cynthia and Isaiah, it was a private conversation and Isaiah’s gonna cover the story.

Isaiah: OK well basically, this was a private conversation that me and Cynthia had, um, and, and I really would’ve liked it to stay a private conversation, but since she put it out in the open—I don’t like how she put it out in the open. But since she did put it out in the open, um, the first time it happened, I don’t remember. The second time it happened, it really, um—

Tabitha: It didn’t happen the same way.

Isaiah: It didn’t happen the same way. I mean, Mom—Mom got pretty ticked because Noah didn’t do the dishes—

Noah: You didn’t do the dishes.

Isaiah: No, you didn’t do the dishes. You didn’t do the dishes.

Noah: They were your dishes to do.

Isaiah: No they weren’t.

Tabitha: Oh my gosh, you guys.

Isaiah: They were your dishes.

Noah: Oh my gosh, this happened like ten years ago! Go, just, keep talking.

Isaiah: Anyway, so, what happened was, Noah didn’t do the dishes, and I—I don’t know, I, I was doing something with another sibling and somehow I made him cry. It wasn’t that big of a deal in my mind, but when he started crying, I don’t know, I felt really sorry as soon as it happened. And then Mom came in, and was like, “OK, Isaiah, you’re going to do all the dishes.” So I was really mad that I had to do all of Noah’s dishes. And—after—and then—so I dragged out the dishes the whole day. And when I dragged them out the entire day, in the late afternoon, Mom got—Mom finally blew it and she—she threw silverware at me and—and then—

Micah: Have a fork! Have a spoon! [laughter] Take this butter knife!

Noah: And then she climbed on top of you and started beating you with her hand and slapping you and kicking you, right?

Micah: No.

Noah: And she started punching you in the face.

Isaiah: No, stop, stop. No, what happened was, after that, um, well, after that, I kinda just, we kinda sat in our room, and Mom talked to me, and we just kinda talked through it, and—it wasn’t like immediately after, but it was a little bit after, like I was sitting in my bed and was just there, and I cooled down after a little while, and then Mom came in, she apologized. And so basically—basically, that’s not abuse, that’s just—

Tabitha: What every Mom does, when their kids don’t do the dishes.

Isaiah: Losing her temper.

Micah: She—our Mom, came back—and it’s so funny, that something, like, this small, was like the biggest thing, like she’ll come back, and like, apologize for it.

Tabitha: Mhm.

Noah: Yeah.

Micah: Like, I snapped. She even said—do you guys remember this?—pray for me, because I snapped.

Tabitha: Yeah, she’s like, pray for me.

Micah: Pray for me. And at night we were praying, and Dad was like, why are you talking about Mom getting—and we’re like, oh, Mom told us to pray for her!

Noah: What’s funny here is that a lot of moms would probably have popped way before Mom did. A lot of what’s happening right here was, I dragged out the dishes for—

Isaiah: Two days?

Noah: A day, ok?

Micah: It was probably more like a week.

Noah: Ok, shut up, I was dragging out the dishes for, let’s say, two days, ok? So there were dishes from two full days all over the counters, right? And then Isaiah gets really mad, and you know, Mom’s probably fed up with me at this point, and then, she’s so fed up with me that I’m not doing it that at Isaiah’s one little thing, she’s like, ok, here’s my chance to make it actually get done, because Noah’s not getting done, so Isaiah, you do it. And then Isaiah got really mad and dragged it out for a whole ‘nother day. Now one thing that was going down in the background of all this that I’m telling you so far, is that Mom was actually having a miscarriage at the time.

Tabitha, Micah, and Isaiah: That’s right.

Noah: So, she was really under a lot of stress, and she went for three and a half days of pure, like, having to wash every single dish she was using before she used it. And then she finally got actually upset and actually showed that she was mad.

Micah: Right. And you can imagine how many dishes stack up after three days in our house, because, I mean—

Tabitha: There was fourteen kids at the time.

Micah: Yeah, fourteen kids at home, and two parents, um, the dishes really stack up quick. You leave it for three days—

Tabitha: And when your mom can, like, barely do anything because she’s miscarrying.

Micah: Right, when she was miscarrying.

Noah: It’s incredible that she blew then.

Tabitha: I know.

Noah: I would have—anyone else would have blown halfway through the first day.

Micah: But you know, the important thing that you have to understand about our mother is that she would never let something go like that. So even something like that, she took Isaiah aside and apologized to him, and apologized to me, and I wasn’t, like, even, and apologized to Noah and apologized to our whole family. She was so sorry, because I mean, like, she threw silverware. She was so sorry about that. So to wrap this up, to respond to Cynthia’s blog post, that’s what the kids who still live at home and aren’t super mad at our parents think.

Tabitha: We are not being abused in any way.

Micah: We are not being abused, we have an amazing life, we are, like, super [unintelligible], if I do say so myself. I mean, look at my hair, I got a haircut. Um, so anyway, we’re really cool, and we’re at home, and we aren’t letting Dad listen to this before we post it, so, like, there you go.

Tabitha: Yeah, we’re not being made to say this.

Micah: Yeah, we’re not being made to say any of this. So yeah, this is kind of—we’re doing this for our parents—well, not for our parents—we’re doing this because the world should know.

Tabitha: We want you guys to know the truth. This is so wrong. It’s so exaggerated and so forged.

Micah: So anyway, any parents that are out there, and are now, like, super scared to have kids, or are like, well, I’m never going to have kids, because look at this blog post, it always turns out bad—just remember that, as long as you keep love in the house, and as long as you keep all these things, you know, and just put God first before your family, but your family should definitely come up, you should love them as much. Just remember there’s no way to be a perfect parent, but there are a million ways to be a good one.

[clapping]

[27:43]

Chris: Alright, guys, that’s where we’re at. Uh, I remind you, this was my kids’ idea, actually, they wanted to do a Youtube thingy, and it just took too long, and we felt the need to really get this up online as soon as possible. But I’d like to say, I’d like to say this: I am truly sorry for all this. I mean, I hope that, in your minds, that we are exonerated for what we’ve been accused of. But I’m going to go into information about how you can get our book, but, but let me first make it crystal clear why my kids wanted to do this…or maybe why they didn’t wanna do this. They, they don’t want to say, neither do I, want to say, that Cynthia is fabricating. OK, we’re into speech and debate, so we get into uh, debate, uh, debate—debate’s a big deal, especially team policy, in fact, maybe I’ll do an episode soon about evidence integrity and stuff. We don’t fabricate evidence, we don’t make the evidence say something that it’s not, and, and you get in big trouble, you get kicked out of tournaments for things like that, and your reputations on the line when you, when you say things that aren’t true to the evidence, so, and it…what we’re trying to say is that our impression of our family is much, much different from what she posted on her blog, and if she has those, and obviously she does have those impression of our family, we need to pull that into the family, we are not unreasonable people, we, we love her, we will pay for the counseling.

And this is a very important understanding of counseling in family dynamics. Uh, if you’re estranged from a loved one, a sibling, a child, uh, maybe, maybe your parents or a best friend; whatever it is, there’s—there’s separation all around us, none of us are exempt of this. Please attempt to hear what they are saying without strong accusation or hatred. Keep love in the middle of all you do, in handling unloving situations; that is how we ought to respond. And I was gonna say as Christians, but you know what, as human beings, we need to respond this way to one-another. And that’s what we’re trying to do here. We, we love Cynthia, and we wanna connect with her, in counseling…she needs professional help and we, we do, actually; we need professional help. To work through the struggles that were aired on her blog and obviously you can hear from the kids uh, that, that, that you just heard. Uh, airing her frustrations online…is not helping her at all, and my kids would never have done this, unless she posted the blog post that offended them so much. It’s, everybody’s hurting here, and, and, and really, uh, how counseling works, really, you have a professional, in the room, who’s a mediator, really, to hear everybody’s frustrations and hurts, and that’s how it goes. No one’s really wrong in a counseling session—everyone’s in pain, though.

So, um, with that, you know okay, we’re gonna wrap up this blog post, but you know, I mentioned when I started this, um, I hadn’t heard the kids’ episode yet, and uh I, so what I was doing was figuring out, uh, Amazon Kindle Direct and all that…I don’t really know as much about it as you might think I would. Um, unfortunately I can’t give the book for free (laughing), I did that a whole long time ago when I started the program, and um, I can’t do that. Uh, I did though…the book, the book, our book Love in the House, it was written in response to our television show, uh, you can see the television show from 2007, uh, I, I’ll have a leak in the show notes for you, uh, but the book is really very good. And, and it talks about our big family, and how we fold laundry and how we travel, and stuff like that; kind of the fun stuff of a big, uh, of a big family. But uh, but towards the end of the book, we talk specifically about our oldest child, who, who was estranged with the family, during the episode on TV. And uh, and, and how we worked a, a reconciliation that lasted for a few years, and it was really, it was really beautiful. And there, it’s a good book, and I hope you, and I hope it touches on who we are. That is an accurate representation of who we are. My wife and I wrote it, uh, I, I’ve read it aloud to some of my kids; I should probably read it again. Uh, but it’s uh, it’s a good book, and it’s touched a lot of people’s lives about how to put love into their home. Uh, but, it’s $9.95 online, but for five days I have knocked the price down to the bare minimum that I can, that is two dollars and ninty-nine cents. I uh, like I said, I apologize that I, I said zero at the intro, and I was going to get, I wanted to, but, but I’m just gonna have to do $2.99 because I’m not allowed to. Uh, Amazon doesn’t let me. So um, so anyway, $2.99 is a slam-dunk deal; read it on your Kindle or your iPhone or, or whatever you, uh, use the Kindle App, and you can um, you can read our book.

Well, with that, that is the end of this daunting and exhausting, uhhh, uh, web-extra, or something, whatever, of the Training Minds Podcast, Uh, I’m Chris Jeub, and uh, and you know what—train you mind for action, but much, much more importantly, put love in the center of your home.

[Music]

When Religion Equals Privilege

CW: If you love Jesus, you may need to make sure you’ve got spoons to hear some serious stuff I’ve been trying, and failing, to communicate to several people I love dearly. If you’re struggling with how religion works and what it means for you, please read this. If you’ve left religion behind, don’t read unless you’d like another reminder of why Christianity is fucked up.
 
Many of you may have noticed that I’ve grown more nihilistic, honest, and generally bitter toward life since I stopped believing in God. I get that you think you’ve got the answer, that someday I’ll be back in some weird emotional spiral where I dissociate from my own brain and project it on a being in the sky who was weirdly into a really horrible way to kill people a couple thousand years ago. Once you realize that that’s all it is, you can’t go back. Not unless you’ve got strings attached – as so many people do, being forced to profess love for Jesus in order to maintain wealth, status, health, community, and good graces.
 
But as I’ve learned about what it means that I grew up white – a privilege in itself, though my childhood was anything but normal. The world was just a more happy-go-lucky place when I could afford to not be homeless, to not be separated from the good will of my friends and family, to know I was in the good graces of the God up above who loved me unconditionally, though I sure did worry a whole lot about all the billions of people God didn’t seem to be helping very fast. In fact, I felt incredible guilt that led to complex trauma and depression because I felt if only I could take on the suffering of others, as Jesus did – dying for him as a martyr would be the only way to accomplish this, I learned as a toddler. I started hurting myself to prove to God that I was ready to die for him. Heaven didn’t matter to me – it was the salvation of all those hurting people across the world that I wanted, and if I could die a martyr and convert many to Christ, my life would be worth something.
 
And then I found out none of that was true. I read a lot, and asked a lot of questions, and all of my questions had answers that got me into trouble with Christians. A lot. Answers like, does Paul’s use of the word “scripture” when he says “all scripture is God-breathed” refer to the 66-book Protestant canon, or the Catholic version, which includes the Apocrypha? The answer is neither! And there are hundreds of options for that multiple-choice question! The truth is we have no fucking clue because they were letters from an underground movement that treasured the voices of its political martyrs under the tyranny of some sick bastards who liked conquering and torturing people. Kinda like our leadership of the world today. But I digress.
 
Anyway, it got worse: not only was I disenfranchised with Christianity, I fell in love with a man who’d never known the country I grew up in – white, privileged, conservative sister-mom that I was for the first 23 years of my life. The emotional abuse and physical exhaustion of being a caretaker for all that time has taken its toll, but I learned that while I was spanked and I feared corporal punishment, I was not a homeless child, like 2.5 million children today. I was not stripped and beaten mercilessly by my caretakers, or kept in chains. I was the golden child to narcissist parents, not a scapegoat, until I rebelled. I had seen America through the lens of white supremacy – an embellished history was taught by my only two teachers I ever had, mom and dad. We came here, there were a few indigenous people around, we politely asked them to move, slavery was like a thing that happened forever ago and what wow look over here no questions about how they got here in the first place, industry! Schools! Labor! Work yourself to death and don’t ask why!
 
Also I was taught absolutely nothing K-12 about world history except if it was about convincing an already politically conservative parent in my sheltered little world that Israel was cool and Russia was like a thing to present policies about. But the truth is, debate was the perfect place to hide for HUNDREDS of parents who wanted to get away with “encouraging critical thinking” among their Christian children. And it fucking worked. To this day, for every one person I know who has risked everything they had – their status, their community, their access, their very survival – to come out as LGBTAIQ+ or to come out as non-religious. And yes, I include that, because I’m looking at you, too, white privileged moderate liberal able-bodied (and even Christian/religious) gays and lesbians and bi/pan people who want to wave from floats at Pride but won’t think to ask if your privilege is still built on a system of genocide against people who don’t look like you.
 
I am not always going to be perfect at judging situations, communicating what I really want to say, and being inclusive. I know for a fact that I’m so damn naive from all the being-sheltered that I am racist. It’s okay to admit that, because I sometimes repeat things that I didn’t know was inappropriate, and am called out by a person of color to check myself.
 
I can be self-confident and grow amazingly and exponentially! If only you knew! I want to tell you all about the wonder of the universe, how I have learned that I am made from the dust of stars, not placed on this spot of land by an equally sadistic and apparently benevolent creator. I can actually recognize and accept WHY life is meaningless, and that’s amazing! How lucky we are to live in such a time as this, with such access to knowledge!
 
But I cannot tell you, because you’ve said, “I’m praying for you,” “I want reconciliation between you and your parents,” “I don’t trust you not to spend money on something I don’t approve of,” or simply left me on read for years in messenger because you cannot bear to unfriend me. I cannot share the wonders of the whole universe, literally, with you, because the wall between us is that you insist that your white privilege is something you deserve, not something you inherited from violent ancestors who TO THIS DAY still own all of the shit they stole and destroyed. The slaves and poor of those days are now in prisons and dependent on wages to survive, and you have the audacity to believe that your job or your access or your family’s wealth fell into your lap, because you’re afraid to grapple with the fact that the little voice in your head that you think is God is just random neurons firing off in a brain that evolved in an animal.
 
That fear is your betrayal. You would rather live well and give to charity than demand justice for the poor and destitute in Flint, across the world where we are depleting resources and bombing innocents, much less admit that MAYBE GOD IS NOT PUNISHING ME, MAYBE THIS COULD HAPPEN TO ANYONE, AND YOU DIRECTLY BENEFIT FROM HOW THE SYSTEM WORKS.
 
The utter irony is that your faith literally demands that you be willing to sacrifice all this for the sake of Christ. If you love your family more than me – welp, good thing your family’s all Christian! Whoo! Wouldn’t want to think about going down that road.
 
I long for there to be union between us, as humans. But you are not willing to admit the full reality of what the United States of America is – a short-lived experiment in which white people kill everybody, feast atop their corpses, and then wonder why they’ll still die once they’ve destroyed everything.
 
If you are selling your soul to a corporate enterprise because you have access to opportunities that many other people don’t, think very seriously about what it means to be a white Christian in this country. You may be simply clinging to God because Yahweh spells White Privilege to you. And if you are marginalized and you believe in God, I will ask: can you honestly say that this religion, if true, isn’t highly convenient for reinforcing this colonial madness that has wreaked havoc on this once-flourishing land?
 
Final note: there are exceptions, as always. If you are an exception, you know it already. But I implore you to think about what your faith does for you, and continue the good work you’re doing in distributing resources. I don’t have the energy to go into the whole question of how this applies to all religions, but right now Christians are the ones killing Muslims, and Israel is not synonymous with Judaism but that country is also killing Muslims. Therefore my biggest gripe is with Christianity because that was my experience, and it’s the bully in the world right now.

Cheaper by the Proxy: Why the Majority of Abuse Victims Don’t Escape

“A dancing puppet doll made of wood
I bet he’d run away one day if he could choose to leave or stay
He’s got a string attached to every bone
She’s got him round her little finger so she’ll never feel alone…” –Aurora, Puppet

I was originally going to write today about nutritional abuse and the development of my eating disorder, and the recovery foods and diet that have helped me. But for the past hour, I’ve been glued to a story with even more complexities than my own, but seems familiar in so many ways. And this is going to be very difficult to talk about, because food, sustenance, survival, health, medical care, and bodily autonomy are so universally interconnected to our identities and to politics that it’s an emotional maze to get an essay outline to lay flat.

The story I’ve been reading isn’t particularly new, and there was a documentary about it released last summer called “Mommy Dead and Dearest.” In 2015, DeeDee Blanchard was murdered because her daughter had asked someone to kill her. Gypsy Rose had been forced to feign multiple illnesses, under threat of a violently abusive and controlling mother. Experts differ on whether Munchausen by Proxy is a real mental illness, and many victims have little to prove their claims. But this case is so extreme that there is little room for doubt: DeeDee had been lying to everyone, using her daughter’s “illness” to get attention and praise for her seemingly loving self-sacrificing duties as a mother of a disabled child.

The abuse is shocking. Gypsy was confined to a wheelchair shortly after her parents split. She was removed from school, “homeschooled to take care of her.” Her birth certificate was destroyed in Hurricane Katrina, so her mother had the opportunity to lie about her age, making people think she was younger than she really was. Her mother shaved her head to convince people she had cancer. Her teeth rotted out, and it’s unclear how exactly that happened, but it was an excuse to give her an unnecessary feeding tube. She then used this tube to torture her daughter, depriving her of normal food, and refusing to feed her for days at a time when she was angry. She was beaten and threatened, and when she had tried to escape, her mother smashed all her electronics with a hammer and threatened to the same to her fingers if she tried to leave again. Their house was constantly a hoarder-level mess, except for her carefully labeled walk-in pantry of medicines. Today, Gypsy is serving a ten-year sentence for the second-degree murder of her mother, but she is thriving and healthy, there is color in her face, and her once-bald head has grown long dark locks. Prison has been better for her than her own mother ever was.

This story is shocking because it has so many different types of abuse involved. But it does not surprise me. This mother was able to torture her child for more than twenty years because our society overlooks every red flag. These cases are not unheard of. This January, the Turpin family was discovered hiding 13 children, ages 2 to 29, in their home, also using violence, starvation, torture, and chains as means of control. In May, the Allen-Rogers family was discovered torturing their ten children. And in a heartbreaking case that reveals LGBTAIQ+ people are not immune, a homeschool mother drove her wife and their adopted children off of a cliff, killing them all, in March.

Abuse comes in as many different types as there are people who are hurting and are looking for a proxy to take it out on, instead of dealing with their own pain. It happens in many kinds of relationships, not just parents and children. Munchausen by Proxy is hard to identify, because the caregiver (parent or guardian, in most cases it is the mother), comes across as doting, loving, charming, tender, and likable. They make people believe in what a wonderful person they are, for taking care of their sick child, or making unnecessary sacrifices for them, like quitting their jobs to spend more time with them.

Illness and disability is easy to exploit because medical professionals genuinely care, and will listen to the mother, especially if the mother lies and says her child can’t talk, like DeeDee did. It is also easy to hide abuse in plain sight – taking both support and sympathy for something others cannot question without looking like a heartless person who can’t see clearly how very very sick their poor child is.

Children will look right into a camera and smile brightly when they are in a terrifyingly violent or controlling situation. Gypsy is 26 years old – my age. She asked someone to murder her mother in 2015, just a little after I was ostracized from my own family. I never considered murdering my parents, but I definitely felt the need to escape. Lurking beneath these similarities, there is more: my mother has many cupboards filled with meticulously organized medicines. The one in the kitchen is overflowing with countless vitamins, prescriptions, drugs, alcohol, ointments, band-aids, and many bottles of liquid homeopathic remedies, essential oils, and sugar pills.

In the case of my parents, my father is the narcissist, but my mother uses illness to keep control. I’ve been informed that they are still acting as if I am nothing more than a wayward child who wanted to live at home longer, even though they generously provided me with a place to live until the age of 21. Nobody needs the small details that they drained our bank accounts and refused to sign paperwork to help us get an apartment, then started yelling at us about not moving out already. We had to seek shelter from friends at a moment’s notice, with no way to pay them, nor did we have rides to our part-time jobs and my college classes. It had never occurred to me to leave, I was too busy trying to work four jobs including childcare and keeping laundry and dishes done and somehow have time for my homework that nobody had ever taught me how to do. Besides, I had never had sex, and was still waiting for my prince charming to come along, who would want to marry me. 

My parents have always wanted to be in front of the camera, so they’ve made their own little brand around it. Their shared need for attention is what keeps my dad blogging, my mom mothering, and both of them united on breeding by the dozen. My siblings are not vaccinated, we’ve been prayed over to heal injuries and illnesses, and homeopathic remedies are praised right next to teachings about being a submissive wife. Have as many babies as possible, make them sick, and keep them dependent. That was how my parents thought the concept of love should be expressed, and it’s why so many of my adult siblings still haven’t left. It hasn’t occurred to them to leave.

Demonizing me, and seeing how much my life sucks without the family, makes the threat of losing their family enough to keep control. That’s just how scapegoating works, it’s nothing new. But for people who have not known what it means to be trapped well into adulthood, being worn down and unable to say, “Can we stop with the having so many babies thing?” 

As if I would say it. Ha! The thought would never even form itself in my mind – I firmly believed that having as many children as possible, because I didn’t know how birth control worked, was God’s way, and I would have to endure the pain of childbirth over a dozen times, as my mother had. I would smile, chuckle, and say to my friends, “I’m not afraid of childbirth!” But the truth was that I was well acquainted with enduring pain quietly, so a life of raising a brood of my own was something I tried not to think about. Besides, I had never met my future husband, and it was sinful to think about sex or reproduction, so I did my best to distract myself from sinful thoughts by keeping myself busy. The devil makes work for idle hands, and I had practically memorized the rulebook for womanhood, Proverbs 31. Many of the people I know actually got married with these expectations. I am so very lucky that I escaped before I could follow through with trusting my parents to choose a spouse for me, and pressure me into having children, on my own to figure out how to communicate sexually with a new person.

This is the norm! We have also come a long way since just a century or two ago, arranged marriages were quite common. But we know about consent now. It should come as no surprise that it’s an all-or-nothing thing in the public eye: most victims don’t escape. We’ll never hear about the ones who didn’t make it, or know how many of the people close to us are keeping their child sick at home, or controlling those bright smiles with some horrible form of control behind the scenes. In the Christian world, the Duggars are highly respected because they have never had a child rebel. To lose a child to the ways of the world is an incredible shame for parents, and my own parents have often described it to me as the worst pain ever, when it was my sisters in the cold seat instead of me. But the fact that the Duggars have not lost any children – Josh is still considered a Christian, so he’s forgiven for whatever happened between their kids when they were younger.

But not a single Duggar has decried Christianity, ATI, or even bothered to cut their hair. They are trapped in front of cameras, still being milked for entertainment. To my parents, that’s a point for them. To me, it’s a point against – those parental puppet-strings must be lodged pretty deep into those kids to ensure that not a single one questions the faith.

That is why victims don’t escape – adults and children alike can be victimized, you would never know who is being threatened, beaten, screamed at, sickened, or raped in their own homes. It’s nearly impossible to think your own thoughts when you are constantly on edge, constantly being questioned, constantly being watched. The exhaustion of constantly being worn down with physical abuse, combined often with a distribution of power that resembles master and servant. The victim serves the abuser, does a majority of the work, and has no right to complain about it, or they’ll suffer dire consequences. The parent-child relationship is just one of perhaps billions of types of relationships.

I refuse to have a proxy for processing the trauma of my own childhood. That is why I am childless right now. I am choosing not to have children because I know I am not mentally stable enough to model emotionally intelligent behavior. I want to learn how to relate to my own childhood, seeking professional help as I go, so I know I will not lash out at my children, letting them endure the brunt of my unprocessed anger, grief, and need to inflict pain on the nearest person in my vicinity. I don’t want to have to apologize to my child for not being able to control myself, though I know it would be ridiculous to expect perfection from myself. And when I am ready to have a little human, maybe I’ll adopt. I don’t know. But I’m not trying to outpopulate any demographic, like conservatives do.

I don’t really know how to end this post, except to maybe link to my favorite TED talk about it.

Want to support my ad-free writing to raise awareness about abuse? I have a Patreon for that!

An Infinite Task

I’m working harder than ever before, and this website doesn’t show it.

The concepts I’m delving into are so intense, I wonder if I can blog about them. Here’s an excerpt:

You prepared a table before me in the presence of my enemies. Then we broke bread together, and they washed my feet and asked to partake of my cup of suffering. I realized when the aliens came to this planet that I was the enemy, and the prophecy was of unity, not gloating.

There was a time before the blog. I wrote plays late into the night when I was small, I worked on my autobiography, I told stories and journaled my dreams. I don’t know if there will ever be a post-blog writing life for me. This is for the regular updates, but I’ve needed a break from the pressure of daily, weekly, or even monthly posting. I’m exploring the infinite and the divine.

I hope that my audience that followed me through theological questioning and spiritual discovery and logical dissonance and familial abuse and alienation…will allow me to keep pushing, describing what I perceive as the edges of reality itself.

We count one, two, three, four.

Dot

Line

Cube

Time

Story is necessary only in time. Individuality is necessary only in three dimensions. What came before is beyond our language because we cannot count before one or past infinity without negativity. It was consciousness. It was one and many, not individual. They did not speak to each other, or it did not speak to itself, for it was whole and complete in its knowledge and understanding. What one part knew, the whole knew, and communication was unnecessary. It was, and they were, content.

So it was that the moment of spontaneous desire was the moment in which story and physical spacetime coincided.

One did not exist without the other, for story is linear. Conflict and resolution need time to play with each other. The consciousness was complete and content, so desire changed everything.

We count one, two, three four.

But the dimensions are not in this order. There is something that precedes the dot.

Consciousness

Desire

Space

Time

These four cannot be counted in hierarchal tiers, for they are in each other and around each other. For desire needs to chase satisfaction, and a chase cannot exist without physicality and time. Content consciousness had/has no need.

It is difficult to describe how what will appear to be a conversation took place. Our communication assumes time, space, and desire. Through our perception, it would seem to be repeated again and again, but it never repeated, for repetition requires time in which to invent and repeat. The conscious entity simply knew what I have here translated into human words. It did not speak to itself. What I will translate as “what will happen” is what has happened since desire manifested, and space-time came into existence as a natural result. Consequence is a concept that requires time, for a consequence follows what caused the consequence.

2016 has been indescribably hard. After my first long-term polyamorous relationship, I broke up with my boyfriend at the beginning of February and my girlfriend in March. I thought I was going insane, and couldn’t keep track of my own feelings and perceptions. Once I had grasp of clarity, it was hell to share living space with someone I loved, yet couldn’t trust.

I opened myself up… but the darkest sin I ever committed in the eyes of those I hurt was that I did not feel deeply enough.

It took a few years of not living with fifteen other people to be able to get inside my head without blasting very loud music. I still love music – and my spectrum of interest has widened to heavier metal and funkier EDM than ever – but it’s not a need. I’m not drowning anything out. I listen to it for the sake of listening to it, and not because silence is uncomfortable or disturbing. It used to be that if my music stopped playing for even a few minutes and I was alone in the house, it was too much to handle. I didn’t know this at the time. I realized it after music wasn’t a necessity anymore, and was more of a treat.

 Art decorates space, music decorates time. Space and time are illusory, perceptual, the speed of light is slow against whatever reality the universe has in Dark Matter. Music and art are lovely, but they are metaphors. We are all allegory. This life is a dream to teach us and prepare us for consciousness in another host, somewhere across this vast plane of existence.

Push again, dig again, give myself the grace to rest. To not beat myself up internally for a natural reaction to a fractured reality. The Lorax told me to climb trees and listen to them, and the trees became my teachers. The dirt healed my feet and brought warmth to my body, and I spoke to the plants in my forest garden.

Thousands of years ago, God told the prophet to take off his sandals, for he walked on holy ground.

A few years ago, the Infinite One told me to bare my feet and make the ground holy.

Now I understand that I am the earth as much as I am this human vessel, and the pain I felt in the broken earth was my own pain. To listen to another creature – no matter what form its vessel takes – is to converse and discover the self.

I cast off everything that binds me and tells me that I should not wholly fulfill my full potential. I know not what it is, but the song is the same, perfect verse after perfect verse, further up and further in. I will put this song on repeat it until I know it well, and re-live it again and again, learning every detail and then continuing to listen, until I can dance and sing to its every movement, until I can hit every note and play every instrument, until I can go back in time and write the song before it was written, until I can give birth to the musicians and the indigenous peoples who invented those instruments, until I can hear the planet sing in a time before it was touched with the evolution of man. That is what it means to live a million lifetimes and finally to learn to dance for the first time. If this is love, then I am eager to taste the cadence of fire-music, to feel the melancholy and anguish with which it touches my emotions every time the song hits a certain note, even if I’ve heard the song a thousand times. This is infinity, this is a fractal.

Discovering more than ever before, and putting it into words with the best precision I possibly can, no matter how insane I might risk sounding, is an infinite task. It stretches beyond time and space. This Latin lettering and this English language are limiting tools. This task is infinite, and I take it with the knowledge that my efforts are limitless.

How Christianity Became Just Another Religion to Me

This is a repost from the archives.

Well, in case you missed it…I’m not a Christian anymore.

My religion officially died sometime in February this year, when, during a conversation with the Infinite One, I realized I didn’t need anyone’s permission to stop struggling with the theologies I’d been trying to reconcile and defend for years.

When I was a teenager, I constantly repeated the logical argument: not every religion can be correct, because all the religions are so different, and Christianity was unique among the religions.

Which makes logical sense, but the premises are untrue. I don’t think anyone who’s actually studied world religions can possibly conclude that Christianity is much different from the rest. No other religion has a divinely inspired book. Except Islam, and a bunch of others. No other deity would die for his people. Except Odin. The list goes on and on.

After I lost faith in the Bible, I still wanted to read some dense ancient books, because they’re really enjoyable and insightful. I started reading the Quran, the Rg Veda, and a variety of Hindu and Buddhist philosophical texts.

I still considered myself a Christian, which helped with my approach to these other holy books. It was a massive relief to come across something I disagree with, and to be allowed to disagree. Reading the Bible wasn’t like that at all. If I ran into a story that bothered me, like child sacrifice, I had to pray about it and submit myself to its truth, and somehow reconcile that it belonged in the Bible.

Now I could read about the Hindu caste system, and be open but objective about it. They have some great ideas, and I took notes. Whenever I saw something I didn’t agree with, that was fine. There was no obligation to be consistent and to believe everything.

What I loved most about Indian Buddhism was how honest it was about not having all the answers. It was peppered with the same sentiment that Socrates expressed in his trial – that he was the wisest man in the room because he believed he possessed no wisdom whatsoever. I liked that idea a lot better than the line from the Bible I’d constantly heard from people who wanted me to shut up and stop asking questions: “My thoughts are not your thoughts, and my ways are not your ways.”

I found poetry, prophecy, philosophy, wise maxims and proverbs, and applicable insights. Kind of like what I’d found in the Bible, except I didn’t feel the need to explain and minimize the contradictions, violence, and hatred.

The other question that troubled me was this: why would a loving God only communicate with one small group of people on the entire planet? That’s the claim of Noah, Abraham, and Moses. I thought that while the Israelites were getting direct access to God, the rest of the world was lost in the darkness.

Someone told me about the Zend Avesta. She said that according to legend, the Arabian wise men who followed the star of Bethlehem were Zoroastrian. It’s difficult to actually back up this claim, but the Bible pretty clearly says that the wise men weren’t Jews. So while the Old Testament was being written, the rest of the world was also pursuing spirituality, and tapping into higher understanding and wisdom. It made anthropological sense, and besides, I don’t really want to have anything to do with a God that leaves most of the planet in the dark while favoring one small group.

One of my friends, who had been raised Christian and later became Buddhist, texted me one day to say she was also giving up on the Buddhist title. “I don’t believe everything about Buddhism,” she said. “I just like a lot of what it says.”

I liked that she could do that. I realized that I could do the same with Christianity. I don’t believe everything in it – I don’t think the god of the bible is consistent, I don’t believe in sin, and I don’t believe in an afterlife. My deity is the Infinite One, and I really love the myth of Yeshua, but that doesn’t make me a Christian.

I narrowed it down a lot, and I wouldn’t say my beliefs had ceased to be Christianity. It was still what many people might call Christianity. I just know that I was tired of struggling with a belief system, and I gave myself the space to explore, and I realized I’m a spiritual person who doesn’t adhere to any particular religion.

Part of the reason is that “Christian dogma” is suuuuuper inconsistent. If you self-identify as Christian, you’re a Christian. Most of the population of the planet self-identifies as Christian, but take it from a former apologetics researcher: good luck defining it.

One of my friends asked, “Have you found a title that fits you?” I told her that I liked my own name a lot, and I do. I don’t know whether I’ll try to find another title for my spirituality, which right now looks like lots of meditation, prayer, and chasing my obsessions and dreams.

I’m okay with people picking and choosing what feels right to them. That used to seem like such a bad idea, because Christians told me that they were doing something different. Then I realized that Christians weren’t doing anything different. They just said they were.

And Yeshua saved his choicest words for the hypocrites.

The Gray Area Problem

Fundamentalism may exist in a black-and-white world. But saying it’s full of the logical thinkers, and those outside it are in a murky cloud of gray with no sense of justice, is giving it way too much credit.

I know because I used logic, and I saw colors beyond my simplistic black-on-white battle lines.  It was hard to let go.

It was hard to realize sometimes emotions can’t be explained. It was hard to find out the evils of the outside world weren’t a threat, and there were threats inside. It was hard to look back on what I’d thought were careful, wise choices in my life and saw fragmented sharp pieces. It was hard to learn to live in paradox, and to exist between what I once thought were right and wrong. Most of all, it was hard to suffer betrayal and to lose companions when I chose this journey.

I’m realizing the gray areas weren’t gray at all. They’re not a sickening mixture of black and white, confusing wrong and right. I’m realizing infinity is more vibrant than black, white, or a mixture of the two.

I’m exploring, but I grow weary. It seems easier to go back, but I’m so far from anything I once knew as home. Nothing fits. I’m tired of floating in the in-between. But I’m flying or swimming here, I can’t tell which, because the atmosphere is rich. My mode of travel isn’t walking anymore. Finding my balance, learning to ground myself, takes muscles I didn’t know I had, and I’m so sore. I want to rest, but the only rest I found before was in certainty, and I’m not certain as I once was.

Wrong and right still separate here, they just look different than I thought they would. Injustice is even darker than black. The things I thought were black aren’t, now that I can see their colors, reflecting back light instead of casting a shadow. Justice is not mere white, but it is a fractal of colors, purity itself, casting rainbows with its fractured prism. Justice prevails in the face of injustice, and I see colors scatter.

That’s why we were taught to fear gray areas, right? You can’t tell what’s right and wrong when black and white bleed into each other. But what if, in exploring, we soared into a new dimension altogether, a perception that saw more and not less? Maybe the “gray area” problem was invented by people who exist in a dimension where they can only see two not-colors.

I’m not saying I see all of it. I can’t comprehend even what I do see. I’m learning to exist here, and I keep testing and growing. There are still colors I’ve never seen.

I’m finding safety in what I was told would be my end.  It was a risk, climbing up into this dimension. I was told I’d find only gray confusion here. That’s all it looks like from the world of black and white. I was confused, but I haven’t abandoned reason. Exploration brings with it the risk of discovery. I’ve left my pride behind, because if I saw so little in that black-and-white dimension, perhaps I’m also seeing only a little here in this dimension of color. I look up and hope there’s even more beyond.