Wednesday, March 14, 2007

181 reasons to run...

This past weekend a good friend of mine had his 31st birthday. Being who he is, my friend made grand plans on the Friday, Saturday and even Sunday. He loves the spot light.

Friday night we got together with alot of his oldest friends, most of which I know well, and went to dinner and a movie. Eating steak and drinking beer at a local roadhouse style restaurant we then went to watch the movie 300, the current epic retelling of the famous Battle of Thermopoly, wherein 300 Spartan warriors stood their ground against nealry a million Persian soldiers. The movie was truly a male retelling of the historic battle, riding the themes of self sacrifice and courage in the face of absolute death, echoing that free men choosing to die rather than become slaves is the ultimately noble sacrifice one can make. I left the theatre with the rare desire to impale an enemy with a spear.

Contrastingly, my friend chose the second night of his birthday weekend to go to the gay bar. He and his boyfriend have been "out of the closet" for less than a year and find their sudden ability to feel safe in a gay environment intoxicating.

I have never been comfortable with homosexuality. My friend even chose to out himself to me fairly late in his coming out timeframe because he feared my reaction. The truth is, the problem I have with homosexuality is that I believe it is a sin, it is wrong, but it's a tough sin to hide.

You see I would never claim to be a good upstanding Christian, but I have spent the majority of my life appearing that way to my family and church community. Being gay is a little harder to hide unless you want to live a very repressed life... I could have given my friend pointers there, but suffice to say he wanted to feel lioberated at age 30 and thus, came out and is living in a homosexual relationship now.

I love my friend dearly, and he's one of the most caring, sacrificing friends I could ask for. This is another inherent difficulty I have, love the sinner hate the sin? I try to seperate the two. He's my friend, and he's gay. I have lots of friends and I'm quite often an asshole. They look past it, the world keeps on spinning. Some day I will get into a dissertation on why I believe homosexuality is wrong despite the worlds slow acceptance of it as a biological make-up of an individuals genetic self.

Instead I promised I would write about my experience that Saturday night.

The evening started at the witches house: pre drinks and birthday cake. The only gay members of our entourage were in fact the birthday boy and his boyfriend, so I wasn't too worried. My girlfriend was there, along with my brother, and many old friends.

When we got to the bar I was a little taken back.. I suppose I pictured a more relaxed atmosphere for a place that's supposed to be "safe" for London's gay community. It was run down and dirty, which didn't help my preconcieved ideas about the homosexual community or their practices. My brother bailed, I think he and his girlfriend were having some problems... most of their problems arise from her drinking habits and I think just coming off a major fight, they decided a night out getting drunk wasn't what they needed.

Anyway, I was really uncomfortable without my brother there. He and I can have a good time where ever we are because our humour just plays off one another. When he bailed, I felt the control I thought I had on the night slipping away.

When we first arrived the debit machine was broken, which meant I couldn't pull out any cash to buy drinks with. Alcohol is a good way for me to handle uncomfortable situations, again, slowly my control slipped away. My girlfriend got money from somewhere and bought a few drinks... not only was it far less than I needed to be at that bar, but I hate being given things, not having my own money to buy drinks pissed me off a little.

Furthermore, the group we were with split up, most of the girls and the two gay guys went off to dance, the straight guys stood around (there was no where to sit) slowly nursing our beers. Mark is great, he and I had fun catching up and playing celebrity look alike with the gay people in the bar. It was an odd mix of obviously, flamboyantly gay queers and your average looking 20-something male who just happens to like the mouth on the end of his cock belong to another male.

Most people who know me would probably describe me as someone who enjoys attention, and to an extent I do. I enjoy female attention, and enjoy talking to females who may approach me in a straight bar. What I am not comfortable with is attention that I don't want. I dislike attention at church, I dislike attention when I am in a bad mood, and I found on Saturday night, I also dislike attention from gay males or people who assume I am a gay male.

One girl commented to my girlfriend (thinking she was my brother) that I was very beautiful and had a striking demenour. A compliment I would enjoy coming from someone I could flirt with and play around with, not from someone only saying it because they assume I'm gay, therefore safe. Furthermore, I dislike being sung "Baby, you're all that I want" to in the washroom by a trio of gay guys who said I looked "dashing". If my brother was there, perhaps I could have made fun of the situation enough to enjoy it, but I quickly found myself getting more and more uncomfortable.

When 5 of the girls we were with left along with the birthday boys brother and his buddy, it was just me and Mark standing with empty beers wondering where are girlfirneds were on the dance floor. I know Mark dances sometimes, and I stood there hoping to God he wouldn't decide he wanted to. My girlfriend was drunk, the witch was dancing up a storm and my gay friends were drunkidely attaching themselves to any gay person they had ever met with the screams and smiles of 16 year old girls at a high school party.

At this point I was ready to leave. I don't think my girlfriend understood that I had reached a point where I finally had to leave, or smoke, or punch someone... the first seemed like the best scenario.

Would I go again? Not for a long, long time. But that isn't to say I would never go back. I would just need an entourage I knew wasn't going to leave early and atleast a few people that share my own hatred for dancing...

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Forgive me Father

Forgive me Father for I have sinned. It has been 23 years and I have never confessed.

My entire life I've been told that the Lord has a plan for me. My father is a pentacostal minister and it has always been expected that I will eventually take up his cross and bare the burden of his ministry. It is a calling I didn't ask for, it is a calling I never want.

And yet night in and night out I lie awake in my bed with a pain in my chest that constantly reminds me of this calling. I look at my father and wonder if he really wanted what God had for him. He has served people for 25 years and I see the tole it has taken. His life seems so selfless, and despite his flaws, I can't help but admire his sacrifice. Maybe he never wanted his life anymore than I want it now.

We look at figures like Ghandi and Mother Theresa and admire their selflessness. Thier ability to set their own desires aside and serve a greater purpose. I doubt Jesus begged to be sent to earth only to be ridiculed by man and eventually pinned to a cross.

I have always resisted this so called 'calling' on my own life. But now, in my 23rd year, I can't help but wonder if I'm just not strong enough to give up my own selfish desires.

I work as the youth pastor in my father's church. I have become so attached to the kids in my youth I can't imagine letting go of them. And yet, the longer I stay in this position the harder I feel the tug on my heart. I feel like I'm playing tug of war with not only my father, but the entire church, and can't help but wonder which side of the rope God really is standing on.

I have never doubted God: His existence or His sovereignty. What I have doubted is which God is calling me... the God of my Father, or some other form of him.

Perhaps my dearest friend, my witch, my Virgil, often talks about the God of Love versus the God of Righteousness. The truth is I don't know which one truly exists.

The God my father preaches of and serves is clearly the God of Righteousness, and He is real enough for my father to live a life of complete and utter servitude. I once had a dream of my father and he was in a hospital emergency room. He was standing with three tables surrounding him. On each table was a faceless person lying unconscious. From my father's arm a needle ran into a tube, which ran into a blood bag, which in turn ran into each of the three patients. He was giving all three of them a blood transfusion at once, using his own blood. I think that image has stuck in my mind and I picture my father giving everything he has in him to the members of his congregation. The God he believes in is real enough to inspire such selfless sacrifice.

On the other hand there is the God of Love. And my witch lives a life of her own servitude. She sacrifices many of her own comforts to help whoever she can. She would do anything for one of her friends, and if I could count on anyone to kill for me, it would be her.

How can two people, who are so opposite, believe in two different forms of God and yet be willing to sacrifice so much for others-- quoting God as the reason they do so?

And where do I fit into this? Where does my ministry fit? What is my ministry and what God's jurisdiction does it fall under?

This hasn't been anything close to a confession. My chest still feels like it is slowly being crushed by a vice and I desperately need a cigarette. But as i lie awake in bed tonight I will pray that whatever my calling is, that I would be able to set my own desires aside long enough to step into it. In todays world everyone is so concerned with their own story. Our culture is obsessed with highlighting the importance of an individuals experience, their own life and their own reality. But as I look around at these people and admire their strength I am beginning to think that our individual lives are too insignificant to put any stock in. These days everyone is suffering so much that it seems all we have to feel good about is that we've somehow contributed something to the world. I suppose being a part of God's grand narrative is all we can take comfort in anymore. Which ever God He is, I can only hope that one of these days I can clear my head of all my own shit long enough to hear His voice.

I can only hope. Forgive me Father.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Births and Birthdays

I've heard that a birth story sets the stage for someone's life. If that is so, I have one of the strangest...

I was due on February 6th, 1984... but my mother didn't go into labour until early morning on the 8th. It was 10 am or something, so when she came in ready to burst the hospital filled out my registration as born on the 8th. Apparently I was a bit of a handfull even in my bith story though as my mother was in labour for over 30 hours and I wasn't actually born until February 9th.

After a long, difficult birth where there were a few comlications my mom went into a mild coma for 2 days (there were no long term results of this, she's fine now, though reminds me what a bastard I was right from the start). While in the coma, the onus fell onto my dad to fill out my paper work, on which he wrote my date of birth as my due date, the 6th.

So when my birth certificate came it said I was born on the 6th. When my parents tried to correct it they discovered the only day they could have it legally changed to was what the hospital records say: the 8th. Needless to say they didn't pay to change my birthdate to another incorrect day.

And there you have it. My birthday remains, on paper the 6th of February, I was actually born on the 9th, and well, if you ask the hospital, they'll tell you I was born on the 8th.

The story is far better with my animated hand gestures and facial expressions, but you get the general idea.

What does this say about my life? My parents celebrate a false birthday like they celebrate the false me. The world (or hospital) has their own idea of when I was born just like they all make up various identities for me. I am very good at letting people see what they would like to see. And the 9th... my real birthday, originally only celebrated by a select few. I have told more people this story as of late and have chosen to do something with friends on the 9th this year. Does that mean something as well? Who knows?

Today is the 7th... the day between my three birthdays. Yesterday my answering machine, text messages, e-mail and facebook were flooded with birthday wishes. Some were surprises, some were genuine, some dripped "fuck you" and some were... something else. It's funny who comes in and out of your life throughout the years and how something as simple as a birthday can bring people out of the woodwork.

My current female companion got me tickets to see my favourite band. The concert is the 8th, my worldly birthday... who will I be?

My ex-fiancee called and wanted to take me out for dinner. I don't understand girls in the least.

The Queen of Spades wants to take me out this week to a bar. I said no... and even though she's not supposed to be working Thursday when my witch has organized an AIDS benefit and I will be at Joe Kool's... QoS assures me she'll stop in for a drink... wonderful. Suddenly I remember Halloween.

Cheers to birthdays!

Thursday, February 1, 2007

The Queen of Spades

Today I talked to one of the females in my life. I will call her the Queen of Spades, QoS for short.

QoS and I went to highschool together many years ago and I have always found her extremely attractive, funny and an actual joy to be around. I know we are very different. I know she and I could never talk about literature or religion the way I love to. Yet I can't say her name without smiling. There is something about her I can't put my finger on that I am drawn to. Maybe it's because she was 'that girl' in highschool. You know the song "____ is the girl all the boys want to dance with, and I was the boy losing too many chances."

She and I recently reconnected and throughout Novemeber and December met up for several drinks and talked over the phone and computer. I must say the 'verbal foreplay' was intoxicating and when we would spend time together I had a lightness about me that could have been very easy to get used to.

Nonetheless I admitted to her today that I have been seeing someone for the last month. Her reaction was curious. She accepted it. She has had many boyfriends in her life and her and whenever her and I reconnect (every year or so) we always push it right to the line, but never cross over. Never cheat on whoever we were/are with. She said this time that she knows her and I will get together one of these days, and she knows it will be great. So she wasn't bothered by this, just made me promise to keep in touch.

I know that's dangerous. It was already deceitful for me to keep my late night discussions with QoS from the girl I am currently seeing. I told QoS that I wouldn't completely lose touch again, but that I couldn't do the flirty talks and the pre-planned run-ins at the bar etc.

I feel unburdened by telling her the truth but at the same time, there is a strange other feeling I can't describe. Like I can't put my finger on what it is that attracts me to her so much I can't define what emotion I felt as soon as I hung up...

3 months ago when I broke up with my fiancee I thought I would be able to start getting to unravel the real me. It seems though I'm not finding any answers, just more questions that I throw into the big black unknown.

Who knows...

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The Dark and the Light

I suppose it seems fitting that my first post deal with the issue of evil. It has been a prominent theme in my life: a delicate navigation between the worlds of good and evil. I have always been curiously attracted to the darkness. Something that terrified me as a young person. Growing up in the home of a Pentecostal Minister isn't the easiest place to understand why you find yourself so attracted to villains and concepts of evil.

I think I am beginning to understand now that this curiosity came because it was never truly discussed. In a house, in a church, in a family obsessed with redemption, salvation and righteousness, evil was a subject more avoided than explored. I am at a time in my life when I am trying to discover what I truly believe. What is underneath all the programming and expectations of my upbringing and really there under the surface...

That said I had a very interesting conversation the other day with one of the females in my life. We argued for over an hour over the issue of whether mankind is inherently good or bad.

We hear all the time in our society that man is basically good, and yet the heinous acts we see everyday by people worldwide suggests otherwise. The Bible teaches that man is inherently evil, that after mankinds fall in the garden everyone is born a sinner, everyone is born with wrong desires. Growing up with this belief instilled in me, I had always assumed it was right.

Look at some of the horrible things human beings do to the earth, to animals and to one another. It is so much easier to be a bad person than it is to be a good one. For some reason we need to put effort into doing the right thing, whereas wrong acts seem to come naturally. Furthermore, I think the inherent nature of man is an important subject where the existence of God is concerned.

If man is basically good, then we don't need saving. If we are evil by nature, than we need an external force to "save" us... to help us ultimately make it from the darkness to the light.

This is the point in the conversation when an Athiest friend of mine came in. He said that the inherent evil of man (which he also believes to be true) is a testament to the non-existence of God. He says there is no way he could believe in a good God who allowed such horrible things to take place to his creations. Children dying of starvation in Africa, cancer plaguing families, children who are sexually abused by authority figures... how could a loving God allow these things to happen.

I thought for a moment and then used what I like to call Christian sleight of hand... I didn't realize however that it would get me into a sticky situation.

I told him that the very idea of these things bothering him was a testament to God. You see if God doesn't exist and this is a survival of the fittest world, then starving kids in Africa shouldn't bother us... it's merely the weak dying off. It doesn't affect me, why care? Furthermore, looking at suffering, at an abused child and saying, "that's not right, that's not what it ought to be" means that we, as humans, have some sort of preconcieved notion of what IS right and what ought to be. The existence of such an internal sensor that gauges right from wrong and discerns suffering and unjust acts as wrong proves the existence of some sort of greater good. If we look at an act and judge where it falls on this "goodness" meter it means we are judging it against a concept we have instilled in us of an ultimate goodness... and well isn't that just another name for God?

Here's where I got jumped on. Does this internal sensor gauging right and wrong then mean that inside of us we have a concept of what is right? Yes. Well doesn't that mean inside us all, humans are inherently good and decent?

Shit. Well no. I thought about this long and hard. We do, as humans, have an idea of what is right and wrong outside of our upbringing. There is something inside that makes our hearts sink when we see suffering... yet, look at our culture. There is also a side of us that desires destruction... the most popular movies being made right now are slasher horror films like the Saw and Texas Chainsaw Massacre series'. What is there inside of us that resonates with horrendous violence?

The other night when I came in from work my roommates were watching Saw 3 and I jokingly said I was going to make a movie about Cancer patients. Show the horrors of kimo therapy... show the torment of the patients and the heartbreak of their loved ones... my room mates were appauled, and yet they applauded seeing a mans ribcage torn open by some hollywood torture device.

What is it inside of us that has these conflicting views? It seems as though there is a cosmic battle inside humans that rages between the side of us that is good, and decent and knows the difference between right and wrong and the side that is able to treat others horribly, to watch and enjoy gore... the need to stop and see an accident on the side of the road... the need to read about the latest celebrity sex scandal.

How do we balance these conflicting natures? Which one will win in the long run? I don't know any of these answers...