Apr 10 2015

Mathew 7 – 1

I have been thinking about writing this down for about a week. I first thought of it while reading articles and post about a bunch of people of a religious bent feeling all persecuted and discriminated against, primarily because they are not allowed to discriminate against others. I can understand how someone would choose to run a business without really considering what “public” means, and not really thinking through how that differs from just dealing with your own friends and those who are like you. However, I have a real hard time with people being Christians but not caring to treat others in a “Christ-like” way. I say “Christ-like” as opposed to Christian as there is currently a doctrinaire Christianity in the US that has less to do with Christ’s teaching or behavior and more to do with old testament text. I have no truck with that, except I don’t think they should advertise (and considering the money behind these churches, it is advertisement) as Christian. It should be the “First Church of Bible Worship” or something. I do recall, that Christ had words to say about those who judged. NO, he did not promise the sinner would not be judged. But he did fight to protect the sinners from judgement in this life and was pretty adamant about the fact that there was one judge and he did not live here.

The part of this whole debate that irks me most is not the points of view on either side about what should or should not be legal. I have an opinion, and I accept that others have a different one. Opinions are, indeed, like assholes. Yes we all have one. No, they are not alway a good thing to show in public. But I thought about it for a long time, and I realized what really irked me was the whining about how everyone feels “discriminated” against. And how Christians are being “persecuted” in the USA.

I thought about the Christians in the middle east being beheaded, and then about the people running a business in this country. Somehow, I can’t see the poor business owners in America as being “persecuted” or even “Discriminated” against for their belief. And I know this coming segue will not make sense to a lot of people, but this reminded me of an incident in a lunchroom in the employee section of the airport in Oklahoma city, with me, my brother, and two other guys from the janitorial staff, in the early fall of 1971.

You see, I am always struck by how so much of the news I see out of Oklahoma these days offends me. It doesn’t shock me, I saw a lot of discrimination and bigotry disguised as religion and decency back when I lived there. But it offends me because it’s always people in power acting out against those who have never had power and doing it because they are “being attacked”. But I still have family down there, and while some of the church stuff seems over the top to me, I don’t hold that as wrong, just not something for me. There was a day when I was really involved in that so I can’t knock it. And while the hypocrisy of many in churches drove me out, I don’t blame people in looking there for friendship, support, and community good.

But in Oklahoma, what I saw more of than religious prejudices was racial prejudices. Some of it blatant, some subtle. Some of it I did not even understand until I left there. But one thing I would like to say is I can literally think of no one in my family ever looking down on someone of another race or on someone of different or lesser circumstances. It was thinking of this family history, in the midst of a whole culture that was the antithesis of that, that I remembered the lunch break with my brother back in 1971.

Terry was sitting at the far end of the table I was at, opposite me, with his head down on his arms. This was pretty common for him then, he would get really tired when his blood sugar was low from his diabetes. I was munching away on some far from great vending food machine lunch. We both worked for a company that contracted to do the janitorial work at the airport. I was a window washer, Terry a regular janitor. There were two other guys in the room, at the opposite end of the room, who were across from each other and having a nice little cry over their current state of affairs. Terry’s hair was a bit long. Mine was short again after I cut it at the start of that summer when I was custom combining my way North from Oklahoma to Montana. The other two guys with had shoulder length hair. (What can I say. Hippie had just become in vogue in the midwest.) One of the guys was complaining to the other that some store clerk in the airport had given him a dirty look and followed him around as he shopped. The other was commiserating and telling him that “Yes. People are always treating me horribly, too. It’s like being black.” And the other responded that, “It’s like Abby Hoffman said, ‘America’s got itself a new nigger.’”

That was the point when my brother did something he was good at (and something that I could never do) he sat up and inserted himself right in the middle of this pity party. “You two are a couple of fucking idiots!”

“What?!?” they both protested at the same time. “What are you talking about?”

“You think being treated bad because you have long hair is like being black?” Terry responded.

To which one of them replied, “Yes. We get followed around. Stared at. I even had some guys threaten me, who were going to beat me up.”

“You’re and IDIOT.” Terry replied.

One of the two stood up, fist at his side, red in the face. He was obviously ready to defend his point with more than words. I was more of a wallflower (read coward) type and was checking for exits at this point. Terry Bruce, on the other hand just sit there and did not get up or move. At this point the two guys had moved close and were standing over him.

Terry looked up at the one closest to hime and calmly said, “On your way home tonight you can stop at the barber shop and have your hair cut, and ALL your suffering will disappear. You think a black man has that option?” At which point he stood up, turned his back on them and walked toward the door. As he left the room he stated again under his breath, “You guys are fucking idiots.”

I thought of this during the week reading about all these people whining about how they were “under attack”, “being persecuted”, and so on. I thought of this and how there are people who because of there race or sexuality are being ACTUALLY persecuted. And of people who are ACTUALLY being persecuted and even DYING for their Christianity. And I have to confess a prideful moment remembering my family, who even after being raised in a culture drenched in bigotry never treated anyone as lesser of as an outsider. And so I thought in his honor, to speak up a bit, and inject myself into a conversation (which I would never do without his inspiration).

To those people running public businesses who want to refuse service to people based on their “Christian” objection to what they do in their bedroom I ask this one question. “Who would Jesus turn away?” I thought about it a lot, and I can’t think of the person Jesus turned away. Even if he knew they would face judgment, he never judged. So all I ask is this. Stop calling it Christian.

Thanks for listening. I was going to do a short version of this for my brother’s daughters and post it for “throwback Thursday” on Facebook, but then I saw it was “Sibling Day” and decided I needed to do more. I want to say above all, I do not dare to judge those people who have taken the position on religious business rights. But I ask them to remember, “Judge not, lest ye be judged.” Mathew 7-1



Feb 07 2015

Exit Kansas. Stage Right.

Category: Family & Friends,The Transcendental Cowboy,TravelRandall Kelley @ 21:41

The Transcendental Cowboy headed out of Wichita about midday, after waiting around for the onion rings that the sitter had promised him were worth it (they were). His initial plans of revisiting the past where overwhelmed by his desire to exit Kansas, stage right, ASAP. Thinking himself immune to the feelings that most anyone else would have expected, he climbed back into the rented Impala and hit the fastest road he could find out of town.

About three hours down the road, he was overtaken by loss. Not so much the personal loss of ancestors making their painful exit, as the loss of the father he should have had. Like friends not made, or brothers not known, this was as close as he got to connecting with the loss that others feel directly. People who miss their fathers, brothers and friends, have a different experience. Direct and intense. The Transcendental Cowboy thought to himself, “If I can just get out of Kansas with my head on straight… I am sure I will be OK.” And as he rolled along at just under eighty (just over the speed limit), he distracted himself with roadside attractions and intermittent radio babble.

A story from a DJ of a late night non-car jacking that turned him into a soccer mom at three AM.
Weather people amazed at the mid winter eighty degree day.
Bad (and occasionally good) country music.
And of course his own observations:

“‘WaKeeney, it’s affordable!’ has to be the weakest claim to fame since ‘Oklahoma is OK’”.

“I’m stuck out in Kansas, where they sell their religion on billboards by the road.”

“Oh. It’s a little cow!
No. No!…
Coyote, mother fucker!…
Coyote!!
I’m in fucking Kansas!”

He made it into Colby in time to make his bid on the past, and won.

He made his plans for the following day.

And finally he finished the bottle he bought to get himself through the week in Kansas, because the week in Kansas was was done.

The Transcendental Cowboy counted his blessings, like sheep, as he tried to go to sleep.

“One wife.
Two daughters.
Three grandkids.
Four grandkids.
Five grandkids.
Six grandkids.”

And as he finally started to drop off, he thought to himself,
“Sleep or not… offspring give us a second chance.”



Feb 04 2015

Radio Static

Category: Family & Friends,The Transcendental Cowboy,TravelRandall Kelley @ 16:29

The Transcendental Cowboy is in a rented Impala rolling across the empty radio static plains. He is listening to antique rock and roll and huckster sales pitches that are hawking religion and farm implements (and pick up trucks). And he knows that deaths door is at the end of the road…

And the Transcendental Cowboy says, “There are worse places to die than Kansas.”

“But not much nor many.”



Dec 12 2012

It’s When the City Drops Into the Night…

Category: Daily Drivel,The Transcendental CowboyRandall Kelley @ 17:46

It’s when the city drops into the night
Before the darkness there’s one moment of light
That’s when everything seems clear
The other side… it seems so near.

– Jim Carroll (from the album ‘Catholic Boy’)

Seemed to fit today’s (tonight’s) shots. POSTED HERE.



Aug 18 2011

“Conservative” Politicians

Category: The Transcendental CowboyRandall Kelley @ 12:04

The Transcendental Cowboy was enjoying his spicy “pork” at the Korean deli when he noticed that it was, indeed, spicy. Under his breath he tossed out an idea, “I think it would be great if more things WERE what they said they were.”

This was picked up in his mind and kicked a few times, and then the response was thrown at him. “Yes. You know there really are no “conservative” politicians.”

“How’s that?” the Cowboy queried, trying to discern where his brain had come up with this bit of logic.

“Well, it isn’t a very conservative thing to spend millions on getting yourself elected to a low paying job in public office, now is it?”

The Cowboy was perplexed for a brief moment but then saw the fallacy of this position and quickly delivered this query, “What if they expect to make many millions more on the side while they are in office, and even more millions after they are out and no longer need to keep up any pretense of not being on the take?”

His original thought was taken aback, but quickly conceded the point. “Well… I guess there are ONLY conservative politicians.”



Aug 12 2011

Once Accused

Category: The Transcendental CowboyRandall Kelley @ 14:57

The Transcendental Cowboy was once accused of being smart. Not being sure he really liked the accusation, he responded, “I don’t claim to be smart. I know some things. I think some things. I know what I know. I think what I think. But I’m not stupid enough to think I know something I really just think.”

Seeing the puzzled look he had just put on his accuser’s face, he clarified, “People who think shit up… and then they think they know it? Just because they thought it up?? Those people are dangerous!”

Then after thinking about it for a moment, he added, “And they usually end up politicians.”

20110812-025541.jpg



Mar 25 2011

“You may find yourself…”

Category: The Transcendental CowboyRandall Kelley @ 23:29

behind the wheel of a large automobile.” as indeed the Transcendental Cowboy had. Rush hour in downtown traffic, to boot. And he was actually asking himself, “Well… How did I get here?” but it hit him that he was here, like it or not, and he had to get there, if for no other reason than to not be here. So he cranked up the stereo, and started trying to slow himself down to a state where he no longer cared about the time passing and and places he’d rather be.

He realized after a bit that he was mouthing the songs as he sat there and he suddenly became aware that he could have an audience. At first that made a feeling of discomfort sweep through him, but it was brief. And as he said to himself, “Why should I give a shit? I don’t think I know a single person here.” he realized that this could work both ways.

“If I can BE seen… there are bound to be others to see.” he said as he suddenly noticed the car right in front of him. “How could I have missed it?” the Cowboy muttered, as he watched in amazement.

Two Hawaiian girls dancing in their sky blue Christian Honda Civic Disco-Mobile. Not mouthing lyrics and gently head bobbing, mind you. No. These two were “DANCING. DANCING. Dance the night away.”

So, for the next half hour he rolled at a snails pace “Southbound (and down)” Second Avenue watching the show… and he didn’t once again think about the traffic until he turned left at Jackson while they went straight on.

At that point the Cowboy said, “Damn. I’m going to miss you girls… For the next four blocks, anyway.”



Mar 22 2011

Blackbird Passing

Category: The Transcendental CowboyRandall Kelley @ 11:52

The Transcendental Cowboy saw a blackbird go by with an ankle bracelet on. He was wondering what the bird did to earn it. Beat his kids? Shoplifting? And what does a blackbird do to earn actual incarceration? Man, the Cowboy hates allergy medicine.



Oct 09 2010

CUP OF COFFEE (say it loud)

Category: The Transcendental CowboyRandall Kelley @ 13:01

So this guy walks into Starbucks and he says, “I’d like a bran muffin and a CUP OF COFFEE.”

I’m in line behind him thinking, “OK. I know where this is going.”

Cashier asks, “Would you like the house blend, or the yada yada blend? The yada yada is extra bold.”

He replies, “Just a muffin then. That’s your problem.”

I’m thinking, “No. That’s your problem. You now don’t get the coffee you want because you can’t make a decision. Actually, you don’t get your coffee because you can’t handle the fact that a coffee shop sells more than one kind of coffee, because you could have said, ‘Surprise me.’ and been no worse off than at a store selling one kind of coffee. Or you could have said, ‘I don’t know what either taste like, can I try a sample before I decide?’ where upon she would have given you a sample, you would have learned something (and gotten two free sample size cups of coffee) gotten a smile and a nice interaction from the cashier, and it would have made no one uncomfortable.”

But then, not smiling and making other people not smile was really the point of the whole interaction, wasn’t it?

KK



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