When you are in between home and place, and attempting to allow The Universe to remold you—I prefer that phrasing rather than “extending your stay in the land of mid-life crisis”—and find yourself taking refuge in the homes of other people, you are bound to discover interesting items.
I came across a provocative brochure recently that truly captured my attention. Actually, I believe now that it found me. I was passing through the man cave of the home occupied by a Born Again Christian man and a woman who used to frequent the Catholic church. I had been staying at this home off and on for several months, in between book talks and attempting to discover if an official move back to the midwest was doable, or, if I was just too much of a California boy and needed to head back West. (There’s nothing like unearthing your ancestors’ survival under Stalin’s iron fist and attempting to explore the epigenetical ripple effects swimming through you to make you just a little confused about some things during this kind of transition.) That said, I could reveal who these people are to me; why they matter, but, alas, it’s best to simply morph into a Polish Sherlock Holmes and give birth to “The Big Reveal.”
A few days ago I noticed a pamphlet resting face up on a shelf below an old television set. The title, in big, bold letters, read: “Gay Pride: Planned By God As A Sign Of The End.” I knew that the pamphlet belonged to the Born Again Christian man in whose home I was staying. I knew that the man attended services in a mega-church that holds more than 7,500 Born Again Christians during any given service. I did not take offense to the pamphlet, sitting there, face up, as if to suggest it had been reading material in which one recently delved. People believe what they believe, I reminded myself. The minute I begin trying to force-feed them my beliefs, judge them for thinking the way I do and insist they accept me, then, well, GOD—how exhausting.
I did, however, take interest in the pamphlet. And so, in the early morning hours, I put on my creative savvy journalist thinking cap, and snuck into the man cave, swiped the pamphlet and took it into the laundry room. I simply had to take a picture of it, and some of the pages inside. So I did. I placed it on a towel on top of the washing machine, and then I noticed that the color of the towel was pink. Fitting.
The pamphlet was written by Harold Camping. You may recall that Camping was a popular American Christian radio broadcaster, author and fiery evangelist. He retired from broadcasting in October 2011, but remained in the public eye until his death in December 2013. Of prominent note: Camping issued numerous failed predictions for the dates of “the End Times.” Well, all that fuss temporarily delivered unto the man a massive global following and millions of dollars of donations to boot.
Since I am a gay man, and a SIGN FROM THE UNIVERSE/GOD freak, I found it amusing that this one came in such a blatant form.
“The worldwide success of the Gay Pride/Same Sex Marriage movement is a dramatic sign provided by God to warn the world that the world is on the threshold of Judgment Day,” Camping wrote. “In the Bible God has given a number of signs to warn the world that Judgment Day and the of the world are very close.”
And shirtless gay men in thongs on a float during summer is, apparently one of them?
Well, anyway, I read on, under the heading The Gay Pride Sign ...
“But no sign is as dramatic and clear as the phenomenal worldwide success of the Gay Pride Movement. In the Bible God describes His involvement with this dramatic movement. Remember, each and every world in the original languages of the Bible came from the lips of God.”
The passage goes on to note the city of Sodom (Genesis 19), and how a man named Lot was warned by God to “immediately leave Sodom” because of its imminent destruction.
It reads: “God came to Lot’s house appearing as two very distinguished holy men. The men of Sodom, both young and old, had seen these distinguished visitors enter Lot’s house. They demanded that be allowed ‘to know them.’ ‘To Know them’ is Biblical language that means that they wanted to have sex with them …”
I noticed that the word “Know” had been underlined in pen.
I continued reading.
“… They were so demanding that they were ready to tear down the door of Lot’s house.”
In other words: These guys were horny?
“… Finally God blinded them to that they could no longer find the door.”
Well, I thought to myself, gay men are enterprising. I mean, I would find that door. Just feel around. Helen Kelley did it and so gays.
But I digress.
“… The next morning after Lot and his daughters were safely out of Sodom, God completely destroyed it and the three neighboring cities by fire and brimstone.” (Genesis 19:24, 25).
Wow. The temper on that version / vision of “God.”
I closed the pamphlet. I placed it backed where it rested and I ventured forth.
Several things occurred to me. First, the writer in me found all of this darkly comedic if not ironic. I mean … a gay man gets a “sign” to write about his Polish family surviving Stalin, suddenly loses his job after months of über meditation, and embarks on a whirlwind cross country adventure to complete the book, give his ancestors justice and move on with his life … only to find himself curiously mirroring / echoing his Polish ancestors’ homeless refugee experience as he bounces from one home to the next, braving mood swings, depression, a gaggle of miracles, a 90-day surprise trip to Maui … until he ends up finding refuge—or, to coin a biblical passage, “room in the Inn”—in the home of Christians who are not quite able to understand or accept gay people at all.
Why haven’t I pitched my tale to the FX Network?
Another thing arose from the nether regions of my mind, and it was this: A deep sense of knowing that I did not require this Christian man with the pamphlet to change—at all. And, in fact, if the Christian man was so intent on believing the things found in that pamphlet then, perhaps, the best thing I could possibly do was love myself even more and practice some compassion.
And then there were the facts: The Christian man had been kind to me. Giving. Understanding during a time of major transition. So what if he doesn’t like the fact that men like to kiss each other? Maybe there was a way people can meet in a kind of luscious “middle ground” and be accepting of one another? Then again, why does it always seem like it is those who hang out LEFT of center that seem to be so willing to do that?
It rolls like this for me: I do not believe in a higher power that is destructive. It defies any sense of reason or emotional balance. Besides, in my humble eyes, The Universe, God—however one wants to define it—surpasses gender. (Although, I would not be surprised if “God” is a woman, because, really, when you think about it, it is the females of the Universe that typically “give birth” to things.) It’s curious to me that it seems like it is only those souls who are so entrenched in Fear and Doubt constantly assume that an imminent kind of destruction is always afoot by a Supreme Being, and, like a child who cannot have their way, always insist on having their way, and having people believe what they believe.
And then again, maybe the pamphlet was on the mark to some degree: Maybe “end times” are near—the “end times” not being loving and inclusive.
Surely there is a Spiritual C.O.O. written in the Bible that would agree. I think his name was Jesus.