I Want to Write More

…which I think means that I have to be more spontaneous if I don’t want blogging to take over my life. Right now, I have three or four posts I’ve started within the past week that I haven’t finished because they involve double checking some facts. Believe it or not, I do try to do that before posting, or I indicate when I’m speaking off the cuff. I know that I’m as subject to biases as anyone else, but I try to check things. After all, I don’t want to continue to hold beliefs that are untrue.

So I feel a bit torn. For instance, I read a short historical article the other day and it made me think of a few other things I’ve read in the past. I began to write about it, but then I figured that I should check and make sure I remembered what I read years ago correctly. It’s just a matter of rereading a chapter of a book that I read about a decade or so ago, but I haven’t been in the mood and the post is just sitting there.

There’s a question that I’ve tossed around with my sister a few times recently. I’ve said many times recently that I don’t remember religion as being important during my childhood. I keep asking her if I’m remembering things correctly. She assures me that I am, or that my memories parallel her experiences. Some people have suggested that I grew up in a marginal subculture. I guess that’s possible, but it doesn’t seem that way to me. It seems to me that people who were raised in a fundamentalist household that limited or policed their interaction with people of other backgrounds were in a more marginal subculture.

It was only about five years ago when I realized quite how freaky fundamentalist Christianity is. One day, I was listening to Earth Wind and Fire and I was singing along with the music when I realized that the words I thought I heard in “Serpentine Fire” were a little weird and I decided to look up the song on the internet if it really said, “Going to tell a story, Morning Glory, wow, about the Serpentine Fire.” Now, I thought about it, and having read Foucault’s Pendulum right after reading The Name of The Rose way back when, the possibility that it could be about the Serpent Kundalini crossed my mind. Now, admittedly, that goes along pretty well with ankhs and the Egyptian symbolism that Earth Wind and Fire used. Still, I was flabbergasted, really totally blown away, when I came across a site that said that “Christians” shouldn’t listen to Earth Wind and Fire because of the pagan symbolism. Wow. I’m sorry that I have put scare quotes around Christian in that previous sentence, but if your church tells you that there are things you shouldn’t listen to or shouldn’t read you belong to a cult, not a mainstream religion.

I think there are a lot of these cults out there that fly under the radar because they call themselves “Christian” and members of the mainstream culture don’t think to question it. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that Earth Wind and Fire is “harmless”, exactly, because if art and music can be credited with affecting the way people perceive the world good art can’t be anodyne, still, it was widely popular. According to Wikipedia, Earth Wind and Fire was the first African-American band to sell out Madison Square Garden in New York City.

There were ways in which my childhood was not mainstream and I like to think I know what they are. For instance, as a teenager, I watched late night drag shows on the far west side of Manhattan from the lighting booth. Not typical. I know that. However, when people seem to suggest that having sex with my high school sweetheart or not going to church is indication of having grown up in a marginal subculture, it really makes me feel a little disoriented.

According to the Center for Disease Control in the U.S., in nineteen eighty-eight, fifty-one percent of girls between the ages of fifteen and nineteen reported being sexually active. I graduated from high school in the early eighties, not the late eighties, but that was the best I could do with a quick search. It’s apparently declined significantly since then, which most people probably think is a good thing, but I would disagree. Self-reporting differs from the actual numbers, but it seems that the majority of Americans don’t go to church regularly.

Aw, damn. I looked that up. I’m already wrecking my intention of being more spontaneous.

I actually have a pretty good memory. Another way in which I was not mainstream: I didn’t take drugs and I didn’t drink until I was seventeen or eighteen. I’m not going to look this up to confirm this so you’ll just have to take my word for it: I once saw a graph of drug use among high school students and the peak was my sister’s cohort, one year ahead of me. I remember casual drug use as being rampant in New Jersey around 1980.

So, when I’m told I don’t know things I’m pretty sure I do know, it’s disorienting and it makes me want to withdraw.

  1. makagutu said:

    You seem to recall a lot about your childhood.and from reading what you write I don’t think it was a marginal subculture

    • fojap said:

      My biggest problem is dating things. I’ve gone back and looked at when certain movies came out or songs were released. “I Don’t Like Mondays” was released in 1979. That would be about right. The very clear part of the memory is often a lot shorter. I’ve been trying to be as faithful as possible, but at the same time write a clear narrative.

      Actually, I’ve gotten stuck at a point that’s important but my memory is spotty. I have some brief moments that are really clear but trying to string them together is tough.

      Off-topic, I’m looking at the most outrageously clear moon right now. It must have just sunk low enough to have come into view. The night must be very clear.

      Now I’m remember a night in late September or early October walking across an apple orchard with my college boyfriend. I grew up close to New York where there’s a lot of light pollution, but the college was upstate ( the Hudson Valley, in New York State) and I was surprised how easy it was to see with only the full moon.

      The memories can be transient, though. Next month, without looking at the particular memory might not be as readily accessible. Maybe it won’t make it into my story if I don’t recall it at the right time. It’s almost a fascinating experiment – how much can I remember. It would be nice to go back and check it against reality. I’ve read enough studies about the unreliability of memories to only half trust myself.

      • makagutu said:

        My early years especially primary school days are spotty at best and I don’t think there are many remarkable events to mention.

        I don’t think they could make more than two posts

  2. I always seem to have 3 or 4 or 10 or 20 ideas started. Most never see the dashboard and some just sit in there. I don’t write essays so no fact checking needed.

    What makes Christianity amazing is that no two Christians believe the same thing. Most can’t even tell you what they do believe. Those are two facts that need no checking. 🙂

    • fojap said:

      Most of my Christian friends, or at least the close ones with whom I’ve discussed such things, don’t take the Bible literally at all, but then I suspect there’s a lot of self-selection going on with that. It’s not even that I have to not befriend Christians or other religious people. A friend from college is a physicist and also religious, but I think if it came down to believing in God or believing her equations, she’d believe the equations. She threads that needle by saying that God reveals himself in those equations, in the working of the universe, so to speak. If it doesn’t agree with science, it must be figurative or literary. I don’t agree with that, obviously, but we can be friends without arguing incessantly.

      Then again, I didn’t grow up in the Bible Belt. I have some family in parts of the south, but it’s not the “deep south.” Hey, technically, I live south of the Mason Dixon line.

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