“A Primer on Primordial Ooze.”

“Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?”

All right, now. Hold on. You mentioned shithole countries, sir. Which ones do you mean?

Let’s get technical just for a second. I’m sure you don’t mind, stable genius that you are. Do you mind a quick world-history refresher, albeit from a biased source? No? Good.

There is demonstrable proof—science-based proof, the kind I know you love!—that human beings…all of us…emerged from a series of hominid ancestors in Africa. There are fossils and other records telling experts very clearly that humanoid life-forms like ours have existed in some form for a couple million years…and that all of us owe our existence to a certain small subset of those hominids who developed sentience a few hundred thousand years ago in Africa. So, if you want to talk about shithole nations, here’s your first lesson, sir. We all come from the same shithole nation, and have no business throwing feces at each other.

Moreover! Each individual nation has its own unique brand of muck…or, at least, we thought of each other that way. My ancestors come from England (Somersetshire), Scotland (Dumfriesshire, as well as Argyll and the Inner Hebrides), and somewhere in Germany. Not so long ago—a few centuries ago—those nations hated each other’s guts. For instance, it would have taken very strong drink, or very strong firepower, to get a Highland Scot to come to table peaceably with an English person. And not so long ago, what we now call England, Scotland, and Germany were all considered shithole nations, too. The Greeks called everybody who didn’t speak their language “barbarians,” because they all sounded like sheep. Bar, bar, bar. And the Romans—the fellows who basically launched the brand of the eagle, long before your country—looked down on Britons, and later on Saxons, as uncouth in those same ways. These were people fit only to be conquered, with their women raped and their resources pillaged. To the best of my limited knowledge, the island of Britain has been conquered by individual invading armies…seven times? Maybe nine? Thus, if ever there was a shithole nation, sir, then Britain—the place most of my ancestors come from—was indeed such a region.

You’re still following me, right? You are, by your own admission, very smart, so I’m sure I’ve set all your wheels spinning. Pay attention, now. I have one more big thing to say.

I feel like your claim about “shithole nations” is missing the point. Like most nations older than the three here in North America, Latin American, African, and Middle Eastern nations have tons of cultural capital. Think about it: you’re a first-rate businessman, so I know that you love math. I think I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: nations where Arabic is spoken and written gave us the math we use now. They gave to history algebra and other forms of higher mathematics; they laid the foundations of religious tolerance in their law…for the love of Heaven, they preserved Aristotle when younger nations had forgotten his works…and they brought us coffee, which essentially makes the world go round.

Good. I haven’t lost you. Don’t reach for the big Coke button just yet.

I know that I’m preaching to the choir; I’m sure that you already know all the things I’ve pointed out to you, good hombre that you are. Let’s just recap: we all come from the same place, Africa; Britain and other European nations were also called garbage heaps back in the day; and the nations older than the one you govern have given the world important things too.

And you`ve told us that you have the best words, right? Here’s a word that I’m sure you’ve heard used recently: xenophobia. That means fear of strangers. But, I mean, you’re super smart, and you’re currently the head of state in a powerful country…so surely you don’t need to be afraid of anyone. That’s just something to think about, sir. Go talk to Mr. Putin about it.

I’ll send in the guy with the big red shoes with your cheeseburger on my way out. Good night.

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“Weeping Sky.”

This is resistance, take two. I hope you like it…but even more, I hope you can reach out to others with greater empathy after you read it.

I owe the phrase “power-mongers” to singer-songwriter Bruce Cockburn, and I adapted the phrase “red calamity” from a line in Tennyson’s “In Memoriam A.H.H.”


Weeping Sky: a Sonnet in Protest against the Passage of the A.H.C.A. in May 2017

The shadows elongate, and fill my heart;

They press their leaden weights upon my chest.

The terror tears my every thought apart,

And fills me with a violent unrest.

A racist, ableist, sexist health-care law

Deprives good people of their dignity,

While power-mongers trade in shock and awe

And feed their souls with red calamity.

I pause for breath. Despite the weeping sky,

And gloomy news that makes me feel dismayed,

I’ll face grim chaos with an open eye,

And let no thieving thugs make me afraid.

I pray for equity, and won’t relent.

From Trump’s new health-care bill, I here dissent.

“An Outcry for Outcasts: a Meditation on Donald Trump’s Executive Order Restricting Refugees in January 2017.”

On January 21st, 2017, I wrote:

Although a fascist reigns in Washington,

And Earth is steeped in hate and bigotry,

We’ll march until the chains all come undone,

And everyone—all humankind—is free.

All right. Freedom is a good end-goal, but what about now? How do I deal with the INCONTROVERTIBLE FACT that Donald Trump has just banned refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries entry into the States for months?!

  1. Access is a human right. ACCESS IS A HUMAN RIGHT!
  2. He’s certainly angered clerics and laypeople all over the Middle East…which does the multiple peace-processes there no favours…
  3. He would remove people like Ali Khoshbakhti Vayeghan, an Iranian nearly returned to Iran by way of Dubai, from places where, nominally, they can be SAFE.

Let’s back up. Let me be perfectly clear. If access is a human right, and if everybody—EVERY FUCKING BODY—has an inalienable right to life, liberty, and human flourishing…

Then Trump’s order banning refugees and immigrants from Muslim-majority countries is IMMORAL as well as illegal. Detaining, deporting, and violating innocent human bodies is WRONG! WRONG! WRONG!

The order is immoral because it violates Matthew 25:35, just as a friend pointed out indirectly the other day. In that verse, Jesus asserts, “I was a stranger, and you welcomed me…I was in prison, and you visited me.” ALL HUMAN BEINGS NEED WELCOME, because when we welcome each other we grow together, and we increase the possibility for flourishing for ALL…but no. Mr. Trump would cast people he doesn’t even know into regions of possible and unspeakable terror and pain. Holy fuck…I can hardly breathe.

Trump also ignores, and therefore violates, Leviticus 19:33-34 and 24:22: “When the alien resides with you, you shall not oppress the alien…” Oh, AND Numbers 9:14 and 15:15-16: “You shall have one statute for the resident alien and the native.” Trump doesn’t have one law. He has two. Heaven help us, he likely has many laws…which, of course, reminds me of Tacitus. “The more corrupt a nation is, the more laws it has.” And absolute power corrupts, absolutely…

Okay. What can I do? How do I resist Trump’s executive order from here?

  1. I can—and I do!—affirm the dignity of my neighbours who are Muslim, and I signal-boost them whenever I can!
  2. I also scour the Qu’ran for material on hospitality.
  3. I breathe deeply, and promise myself to begin (anew?) each day to treat people with dignity.
  4. I celebrate the achievements of Muslims and persons of colour. In the former case, these include architectural concepts, Arabic numerals and algebra, and (some) literacy…oh, look, coffee. Apparently, coffee comes from Ethiopia and/or Yemen. Did Trump forget?
  5. I cry out every time I hear of Muslims being killed.
  6. I complain every time, every time, I hear of our media misrepresenting Muslims or people of colour.
  7. I will pray with, as well as for, my Muslim siblings.
  8. I will read Rumi, and possibly Gibran.
  9. I will continue to listen to R&B, rock and roll, and soul…and I will expand my palette of sonic inspiration to Middle Eastern music.
  10. I will report to my brothers and sisters of colour that I am a person of safety.
  11. I will join in solidarity with those affected by the mosque-shooting in Quebec in January 2017.

That won’t be enough, but I know I can do those things…and with all these measures, I can take small steps to END THE BIGOTRY against embodied difference represented by this hateful order.

Ready, steady…go.

 

“The Reckless Ones.”

I wrote this on Friday night, to get out my very-messy feelings about Trump’s inauguration. Content / trigger warning: image of rape.


The Reckless Ones

The fear feels like a thousand swirling clouds;

It flows across my waiting, naive skin

And marks me as its own. In terror’s court,

The reckless ones are always kings and queens.

Thus every lizard vaunts his copper scales

And hisses, “I’m the best. I’m not afraid!”

He stands alone in his misogyny,

And rapes each docile female with his tongue.

 

My terror rushes over me like waves,

Engulfing me in chilly navy foam,

And forcing me to breathe in desperate gulps.

My fear will waterboard me till I drown,

Till I can scream no more from aching lungs…

 

Till suddenly, I wake up on the shore

Of empty grief and moaning, gaunt despair.

I need to be alone, to feel the void.

The hollow silence fills my vacant soul

And sweeps me up as though I’ve never been.

Then I am gone, and no one hears the waves

Still lapping on the shores of the abyss.

“Orbitals.”

I wrote thise arlier this evening. I’m pretty sure I got the physics wrong, but (I hope) I got the metaphor right. 🙂


Orbitals

The drowsy autumn sun can calm my soul

To hear its soothing mid-November song;

The full and lucid moon, with stately roll,

Will tug the constant earthly tides along.

No president’s decree can stop the night;

The moon continues on its silver way;

Nor can a frail edict impede the light

Of dawn that paints in rose the coming day.

As stars and planets have mobility,

And silently exist in their own sphere,

So human beings have integrity,

And need not spend their days in thrall to fear.

Sweet Love’s our motive power, and our source;

The planets teach us how to chart our course.

“I Feel Fear: Meditations on the Upcoming 2016 American Election on November 7th, 2016.”

About two hours ago, I was at the laundromat near my house, where I was trying to read for my thesis. I say “trying” because, as I read, I was feeling paralyzing fear concerning the impending U.S. election.

Why am I afraid? I’m Canadian, not American, so what have I to fear?

  1. I am afraid for the whole world should Donald Trump become President. I’ve been reading enough of the news since the summer of 2015 to know that Mr. Trump speaks and acts hatefully towards women, children, Muslims, people of African-American descent, and people with disabilities (among others!). I’ve read of violence enacted on multiple people at his rallies—rallies that strongly resemble those of the Third Reich—and I feel sickened. I fear that, if Mr. Trump “wins” the election (any “victory,” in a biased electoral system, is a cruel parody of democracy), some of the prophecies of the Hebrew prophets will come to pass, particularly the devastating ones, like the parts of Joel 2 about fire, blood, and smoke. I am afraid.
  2. I feel fear for myself. I am a Canadian theologian of disability who has spastic cerebral palsy. As a theologian in an oil-driven economy where jobs in the humanities are scarce, I may well have to emigrate to the United States to find a job…and by so doing, I, an outspoken young, liberal man who is passionate about God’s equality and justice, may be walking straight into the lair of a wily old lizard. Like I said, I’ve read about Mr. Trump’s feelings for people with disabilities…and because of that reading, I feel fear.
  3. I fear for our children, whether or not Mr. Trump becomes President. From him, from the Lizard King, they have learned the power of fear and hatred on their televisions, in the streets, and in their schools. And no matter who becomes President tomorrow or shortly thereafter, the younger generations of Americans, and of every nation, will still inherit a world marred by that fear and hatred. I fear for our children.

“Do not be afraid, for I am with you.” “Perfect love drives out fear.”

I know that perfect love drives out fear, but my love is not perfect. In that light, I call on the One who offers us perfect love to cast out our fear. Amen?