Posts Tagged ‘Jehovah’s Witnesses’

By None Other Than A Man Named George Rounthwaite


13 May

one person

One Person

samplex

Date: Tue May 13, 1997 6:29:29 PM

Well here they are George, taken from the Ferrar Fenton translation (copyright 1931) given to me by none other than a man named George Rounthwaite in 1979 as a gift from his personal collection as I was departing Texas in my Camaro lock, stock, and barrel, for parts yet unknown. After a few months in south Georgia failing to integrate the two racially divided Episcopalean congregations of a small town named Darien under one roof I ended up at a chicken farm in NE Florida, all of 23 years old, but that's another tale, yes another tale of days gone by. As I said before I have "never engaged in this sort of thing before" (yet another Dylan line), but I had suddenly found myself wanting to lay it on the composite line so to speak with you, revealing at least to one other interested literate person a lifetime of influences specific to mine and and perhaps thine own struggles and differences, an exercise perhaps engineered to help us move past the milk and cookie stages to the meat and potatoes corridor of our respective faiths.

The fact that Jesus himself suggests the closet as the best place for prayer doesn't encourage me to break out of this penchant for privacy as it regards communion with the Everliving God.
I realize that I open myself to possible criticism (if not from you George, then from that all deceiving enemy within) because these selections are rather lite on the touchy feelie praise the Lord Sunday School sort, omitting the likes of John 3:16, and so many pastoral sayings of Jesus, uplifting and relevant, but if I might be so bold to stand behind this weedy crop I've listed here as the twelve most troublesome, and therefore most influential chunks of scripture, I cannot help but to identify the pivotal marks challenging my adult faith starting with the Jehovah Witness years and on past the Rounthwaite era as the transition of Gabriel Thy from Richard Spalding Nix has opened me up like a can of worms. Even when I broke away from the Bible, having nearly drowned myself in it for several years, I would still return to most of these sections for a refresher sip of mystery and intrigue, joy and correction.

Also, I need to amend a statement I recently made about my usage of the word L-O-R-D. There exists a deep-rooted problem I have struggled with since childhood: praying in public. In fact doling out secular praises in backslapping and bluster just ain't my style. This may simply be a negative by-product of a volatile childhood upbringing, but while I tend to pray and communicate rather vigorously in my own privacy, having written to you on this topic, I suddenly realized that I DO UTTER the word L-O-R-D with ease in my own audible but private prayers and supplications. Yet I still cannot comfortably free myself enough to engage in public worship of any sort save the debate on which I thrive (no doubt as splendidly as Paul's sophists). The fact that Jesus himself suggests the closet as the best place for prayer doesn't encourage me to break out of this penchant for privacy as it regards communion with the Everliving God.

And yes, twelve is a lonely number. I could have easily expanded this list to 24 pieces, but then that was not the original parameter agreed upon. Any commentary or questions you have concerning my own list will of course be welcomed, and perhaps we can both refer back to our lists over time to help clarify an issue of current affairs and the like, should we continue this friendship of letters. They can be read here in Scripture Bleed.

Meanwhile, peace, love, understanding, and great sailing, yon skipper!

Gabriel

A Fuzzy Sort Of Genius Said The Surveyor To The Inventor


22 Apr

music-survives

Music Survives

samplex

Date: Tue Apr 22, 1997 1:35:25 PM

George, it's quite eerie to be shooting the breeze with a fellow named Rounthwaite, not the one I used to know, but, hey, it's a living!

Well, I note you are about my wife's age. Sue was born in October, 1949. The Gabster in 1955. I also recall that our poet's "assumed" name was often mispronounced as Dye-lan in those early days, much the same way nine of ten people will pronounce my name TIE, and still stumble after I correct them, saying "it's THY as in THESE." Meanwhile, being somewhat younger and mostly absorbed in Little League and the Boy Scouts when Dylan made his first big splashes across the psyches of a generation I discovered Bob in 1974 off some midnight radio show in Atlanta then playing whole album sides. Dylan was featured on Blonde on Blonde. Instant fixation. Within six months I'd bought ALL of the existing 25 or so albums Dylan had produced to date, and have not missed one since. Well, there was that Dylan & the Dead reprise I've never owned, but, you get the picture...I don't worship Dylan, and actually disagree with him on some of his public stands, but I do proclaim him the unmistakable prophet of the rock-n-roll era.

My first George subscribed to the "all rock music is satanic" school of critical analysis. Where I would read freedom and God's thunder into a line of lyric, he could read only slander and blasphemy into the most innocent or profound statements ever voiced. I recall a 1976 Manfred Mann tune off the Roaring Silence album, as melodic as Brahm's lullaby, and as innocently worded as Jesus Loves Me, Yes I Know, called Questions. The opening lyrics:

          "In a dream it would seem
          I went to those who close the open door
          Turning the key I sat and spoke to those inside of me...
          They answered my questions with questions
          And pointed me into the night
          Where the moon was a star painted dancer
          And the world was just a spectrum of light."

Well, when I played the tune after inviting him to my apartment after work to specifically hear a rock song I thought he would love, George paused and then translated for my benefit what he heard. Sodomy! WHAT? I exclaimed, pulling out lyric sheet to validate the words I knew I was hearing, while he summed up his position with a solid, "They know what they are doing." After regaining my composure I listened again, and tried my best to twist "inside of me" into what George wanted me to hear. It was fruitless. I gave up, and never mentioned music again until a few years later.

He seemed perplexed with the question, obviously having had forgotten his explanations of evil roots in rock music some three years before, which of course to my young, casual, then 22 year-old mind, had been carved in stone as holy writ from a man I respected while at the same time suspecting that indeed he was in need of me as godsent to help free him from the risky constraints of a Mosaic law he practiced so alone and terrified as vigorously as any Hasidic Jew roped to the Wailing Wall yet without that group's traditional support system or long veritable history in place.
Even the rock beat was anathema to George, contrary to the natural rhythms of the heart, he said, aiming from the two-one versus one-two heart rhythmic flow argument, or some obscure nonsense like that. While certainly not wrong at face value, George submitted himself and his family to a rather starke, even stoic lifestyle, harrumphing all art and costumery as missing the mark, all biblically tweaked interpretations of God's will, mind you, but the despair of not ever audibly hearing the strong voice of God reach him with the purpose of clearing up all the confusion of love for his dedications was noticeable not only in George but in his family. His elder son Robert, for the whole of the four years I knew the Rounthwaites, suffered a strange illness. George had taken Robert to every doctor imaginable, every medical specialist, every faith healer, herbalist, kosher practitioner he could finger in the Houston and nearby areas. Nobody, not a single wit, could diagnose or cure Robert's problem. Apparently he recovered and grew into a normal healthy 21st century fellow, but as a youngster of 8-12, his belly was bloated out in proportions easily recognized in this country as the byproduct of emotional and physical distress characterized by starving African children seen on American television via those fundraising segments. A thin gangly youth with a ninth-month pregnancy bulge. It was a sad situation, particularly since I had suspicions, once a nervous kid from a stress-hungover dysfunctional family myself, that Robert was both undernourished and severely anxiety-plagued. All the vitamin-popping, yogurt-skimming perfection-driven regimentation in the world is no replacement for the harmony of social normalcy, despite its own obvious pitfalls. But George was savvy to all these advicemongers. He boasted that he didn't want Robert to be normal. He was a top achiever at the stellar magnate school in Houston. He was being groomed for greatness by God's own will, George must have told himself a thousand years packed into a few a mere child must live. George had a way of shutting down the most vocal of protestants, myself and his wife Ann included. As I left Houston that Sunday afternoon after a weekend of being throttled at every grasp for light my own artistically-inclined fevers had prompted, I finally worked up enough courage to tell George that he had an uncanny way of drowning the crying voices of those he claims to love. As the words left my mouth, his wife Anne hysterically burst into tears nodding agreement and thanking me profusely for my purposeful word. George, actually, took the news very calmly, not that he was ever a vigorously harsh man, and suggested that he sort of felt that indeed he did have a problem along these lines. As I say, George was a strong personality with a huge impish grin that never left his face even when he strongly disapproved of a point of order. I am sure he was capable of powerful thunders with family, but this potential thunder was well-concealed by a quiet strength among those outside his jurisdiction.

When I saw a Tchaikovsky cassette (and player, wow, great strides!) in his home this last time I visited, after I thumbed my way from Corpus to Houston with a severe urgency to somehow quench an agonizing spiritual thirst I was suffering at the time with what I'd hoped to be George's keen insight, having not seen him in about three years since I left Texas for a 15-month chicken farm stint in Florida, I asked him about the beat notation of the classical composer on his shelf. He seemed perplexed with the question, obviously having had forgotten his explanations of evil roots in rock music some three years before, which of course to my young, casual, then 22 year-old mind, had been carved in stone as holy writ from a man I respected while at the same time suspecting that indeed he was in need of me as godsent to help free him from the risky constraints of a Mosaic law he practiced so alone and terrified as vigorously as any Hasidic Jew roped to the Wailing Wall yet without that group's traditional support system or long veritable history in place.

In my travels I'd get invited into Negro churches, and be summoned to the dais, and those pews sitting on the right hand of God's very spokesperson, be put on display, and then hear the pastor mouth the words five, ten, fifteen times throughout his sermon that they didn't see color there. Uh, obviously they did. That's how I became part of the spectacle, sir, so it seems I am now a troublemaker. I have been physically chased out of some of the very same churches for politely asking a simple question about the flag standing there in the corner as it relates to Jesus of Nazareth. I wanted an honest response from an honest man of God, and in return I literally had to flee like Jesus from the cliffs of the dove as curses were hurled at my head...
Oh man, I'm sorry for being so top-heavy with my own blatherings, but it seems that you have indeed perfected the love so many of us struggle to achieve while mouthing all the right things at all the right times but can never seem to embrace the now. Both my parents are very much alive, generally healthy, but hardly free from their own particular insanities. A younger brother, who is much more fiscally sound that I am, has taken the responsibility for keeping a roof over their heads these past few years. I wish I could report that my family ties are as rewarding as your own, but despite our best intentions, we are an arrogant bunch, and arrogance will always conflict with itself, if not today, then tomorrow...

Put plainly, we are mostly a bunch of underachievers who feel somewhat abused by the world around us. Our earlier enthusiasms have turned to chafe and disillusionment. Despite our talents, we require the world to offer us a silver platter, and when that is not forthcoming, we sit around in sackcloth and ashes and foam at the mouth. We are terminally unhappy, while boasting in glee. We want to help others but we can't help ourselves. We speak from our spirits while loathing our bodies. We are a sterile bunch because even our goodness is shared for a price and a draft choice to be named later. This is why I know the other George so well. He often declared that we were similar, had had similar past lives (not in the Shirley Maclaine, but in the temporal sense) and that he wanted to help prevent me from falling into the same ditches he had fallen. It's always amazing to me how helpless we are to prevent so much.

Kudos! Both my George, and I—to an even greater degree—are non-sectarian believers of a similar sort of inspiration you describe, however he seemed to assimilate best with the businessman charismatic variety of fundamentalist crowd. I went to a dozen or so of those meetings with him over time, and they revealed nothing but confusion in my presence. Speaking in tongues and interpreters it seems God had to remind this classy crew of Christlovers every time they gathered in the presence of somebody who wore sandles and puffy white long-sleeved shirts and of course the obligatory long but clean-stylish hair that God loved everybody. It didn't matter what they looked like. Geez, all this seemed so surreal and yet as petty as it gets to me, that this was what God always pointed out. In my travels I'd get invited into Negro churches, and be summoned to the dais, and those pews sitting on the right hand of God's very spokesperson, be put on display, and then hear the pastor mouth the words five, ten, fifteen times throughout his sermon that they didn't see color there. Uh, obviously they did. That's how I became part of the spectacle, sir, so it seems I am now a troublemaker. I have been physically chased out of some of the very same churches for politely asking a simple question about the flag standing there in the corner as it relates to Jesus of Nazareth. I wanted an honest response from an honest man of God, and in return I literally had to flee like Jesus from the cliffs of the dove as curses were hurled at my head...

While it may appear in retrospect that these are classic hippie manipulations, let me be clear that I had little truck with the drifting fools of that era, being a hardworking surveyor by trade,and besides, hippies were out of fashion by 1978. Disco was in. And I was a dancer by night, worker by day, sandle shuffler in leisure. It wasn't until the wild-eyed punks came to town that I buried myself up to my neck in filth and arrogances enough to choke an elephant, all in the name of exploring the myths behind the matters most of us simply take for granted. And of course, I haven't told you of an earlier marriage to a Jehovah's Witness in 1973. I was eighteen, a virgin. She was 36, mother of three, including my best friend at the time. I had just left home in Florida for Indiana after graduating highschool. It was a sexual mishap, guilt, end of the world, more guilt, et cetera, ad nauseum. The bizarre is my norm, as you surely surmize by now, George.

The fact that I sit sequestered in my house without stepping outside sometimes for seven to ten days, and that may be just to take out the trash, doesn’t help my situation, but then in the 1980s-until present, I have proven myself ill-equipped to deal with the cliquish public.
I am a writer, and have always known myself to be such a creature since childhood, and yet I never finish a project. A tragic lack of self-confidence as indicated above as a family trait cripples my resolve. And while I know I should focus more on the reality of getting something substantial written, and then published, I always pop in with another project while the other simply withers on the vine. Oh, I have been published in little bits and pieces, but the rejections have finally snuffed out almost any desire to succeed in this all so iffy and trendy area for which my path I believe entitles me to exploit for the sake of giving back to a world that gave so much to me. My spiritual quandry is this: am I revelling in all the gross insanities of my life seeking to cash in on disgrace, or would I perhaps be doing a small segment of humanity a great service for allowing them to share a life so pockmarked with good intentions while paralyzed by the sheer enormity of the struggle, of wrestling with the angelic trumpets of freedom? And don't think I am not persistently, every day, all day pleading for guidance, direction, a stamp of approval. My problem is I believe in coincidences as the countenance of the Almighty One until I don't, am embarrassed by appearing gullible, and am forced to write them off as mere mathematical probability.

Yes, overintellectualization is a great procrastination tool. My wife has supported financially for the past seven years this fantasy of mine that I can actually write a book or two that will just vanish off storeshelves like gold bricks, or the Celestine Prophecy, or some other romping thriller, giving us a financial cushion for our later life, which seems just around the corner with increasing regularity these days, health crises being what they are. I now feel I owe her this success, and the weight of that burden is astonishing to me as I try to figure out a plan for making some money off something I obviously am quite prepared to do rather well. Over the years she buys these books titled, "Why Smart People Fail" and "Secrets for Self-Motivation." Of course she doesn't read them, and neither do I, but they make handsome additions to that growing library of motivational books we'll never have time to read because we're too motivated to reads much these days that isn't online.

Unfortunately she is not part of the business. In other words, while a quiet financial supporter of my will to genius, she remains aloof to my work. Her behavior is a product of her own flawed, introverted personality, and not because she doesn't care deeply for me and what I am about. She actually, and I've tested for flattery and whimsy, so she passes my own authenticity tests, but she believes I am some lurking genius of my generation, but two by two he sent them out, and ever since I wrote a poem in 1980 incorporating that sentiment, I have been looking for just a single devoted editor or sycophant who could rally me in my weaknesses, trumphet my successes, speak to those I can't and shut up when I am speaking to those I can, like Aaron to Moses, or Ginsberg to Kerouac, or something like that, but that personality has never found me, or if they did, they found me lacking. The fact that I sit sequestered in my house without stepping outside sometimes for seven to ten days, and that may be just to take out the trash, doesn't help my situation, but then in the 1980s-until present, I have proven myself ill-equipped to deal with the cliquish public. So currently I bury myself in E-mail correspondence and building the iMote website, still in its infancy, but a medium which delights me, and intrinsically exploits all the motives except the hope of financial reward I can fancy. I have even carved out a theory that once I have achieved a level of success with this site I will finally have enough confidence to churn out those books I know I must write to die a happy God-justified man.

Congratulations on knowing the truth, for it has set you free from the shackles of those who would parade their own righteousness before the world when we both know, there is no righteousness, just feeble measures on a one to one basis, and while we are admonished not to pine for that Great and Terrible Day of the Lord when fire will consume the earth, one can’t help but wonder, how much longer Lord, how much longer does each generation corrupt itself on the sins of its ancestors, all of whom are named and thus flamed with the shames of Adam, while the mirror remains cracked…
So George Rounthwaite, you have weathered a swirling pandemonious hurricane named Gabriel Thy. My hope is that my burden has not been more than you bargained for when you first replied to my query. I appreciate your motivations and your sharing of personal details. And to think my former mentor George made this long stroll across the posturing wires of yesterday and tomorrow possible with his memory in my head today. Thanks for your time. It pains me that Robert's pain is still greater than he can absolve. Maybe on second thought I might appreciate his phone number after all, at least to have on hand in case some future occasion arises where I feel I can actually do some good for the family. George gave me the name of a pastor he knew from Texas now located here in Washington, DC where I live. I called him, but the man while quite pastorally polite and forthcoming didn't quite comfort me with all his talk of demons and such. Not that I necessarily discount demonology per se, but this pastor said that when he first saw George at a distance (ex-wife Ann had discovered this pastor's church), he knew George was not someone he would want to meet. Duh? Judge not is his job, for Pete's sake! I knew from that mortal description this pastor would definitely not like my kind either, so I white-lied in vague terms about coming to his church in the near future after he asked. Apparently his gifts of discernment are not as effective over the telephone. If George, a Spartacus man for the ages, giftedly handsome, well-attired, and well-spoken failed to measure up to this man's doormat churchology, I knew Gabriel the Tattooed Elephant, would send him running across the street to catholicism looking to borrow some holy water to toss on the demons of my now rather crude likeness, my youthful prettiness long ago a thing of past photographs and miserly inventions. The Jehovah Witnesses are right on this point: the Great Whore of Babylon in the Book of Revelations is the church, but unfortunately they think they are separate from christendom while mere ruthless pretenders to the same legalistic throne of all its predecessors, just another lovely cult of lonely people misunderstanding their humanity. When the admonition "to flee from her" is interpreted properly, your own interpretaion is the correct one. Congratulations on knowing the truth, for it has set you free from the shackles of those who would parade their own righteousness before the world when we both know, there is no righteousness, just feeble measures on a one to one basis, and while we are admonished not to pine for that Great and Terrible Day of the Lord when fire will consume the earth, one can't help but wonder, how much longer Lord, how much longer does each generation corrupt itself on the sins of its ancestors, all of whom are named and thus flamed with the shames of Adam, while the mirror remains cracked...

A fuzzy sort of genius said the surveyor to the inventor,

GT

"Don't ask me nothin' about nothin'. I just might tell ya the truth"
-Bob Dylan

The Nice, Unpresumptuous, Commendable Kid From Darien


24 Jun

eye

I Just Want A Taste

samplex

Date: Wed Jul 24, 1996 3:02:48 PM

I'll be damned Ben. I just wrote that piece to Landry which I also sent you for your perusal, and then I log on to post & receive any new mail & what do I get but nearly a word for word reflection of everything I had pondered. Geez guy, you and I certainly think alike. About leather, while yes, I was a leather & mohawk phreak in the middle 1980s, and can find both the aroma and aesthetic appealing when confronted by it, in terms of punk rock's not dead and any arrive alive motorcycle culture, but when I speak of bondage I am drawn toward the composure, the counterpoint of cotton fabric, or office professional lace & latitude, long & short dresses, brassieres of all sorts, serious treatments where the woman is aggressive or submissive. I might find myself dressed in all white. Exotic places, dame or damsel, woman or wife in distress, railroad tracks, nurse and teacher, smacking uniforms but never cheesy plastic buffoonery. Admittedly drawn to clothing fetishes but since the mainstreaming of leather, and certain conditions of my own personality, my own soul I have dismissed the leather scene as pompously vain & vulgar. Ropes and clamps, perhaps more than chains & other strategic hardware, would be my own restraints of choice, must be the German in me, but frankly Ben, I have experienced, or experimented with little to none of the B&D protocol except pictorial literature exposed to me early in life by those True Detective rags found in the news stands of my youth. And as we have both pointed out, it seems only a tiny fraction of us get to fully experience our sexual desires in action.

Next, I found myself ridiculed then pursued by an intelligent, motivated, role-playing, self-measured, resolute socialite of sorts, nine years my senior who worked at the Center For Disease Control in Atlanta who aimed for personal control, and finally a very pretty, (even beautiful when her stylings fell into place for any given season), reserved, passive, benign, charitable woman whose strength is her compassion and loyalty, six years older than I am, not too delicate, but still somewhat adventuresome, dutiful, an accountant, the woman whom I married and bingo, I was finally set in stone.
I was a nice, unpresumptuous, commendable kid. White socks and checkered trousers, a nerd, a dandy, a boy scout, an athelete, a wallflower except when I knew what was under the tent flap, knew the rules, knew how far I could press the powers into a match point as I did throughout my school days with teachers who were no competition for their own academic mission or me, prowled everywhere by homosexual predators, the first time just after turning fourteen, and became an immediate masturbation junkie after my molestation by a man in his forties. Only three dates in highschool, both big prom events and one other disastrous outing, where I slid into first base and got thrown out of the game. I was too soft for the girls who preferred the more robust jocks and loud-mouthed cigarette-lipped hard rock hoodlums, gearhead thugs, strangely we didn't have much of a local music scene where I went to school, but this taste of Eden was even true for the good girls with whom I ran around town, in and out of class, but remained just friends as it turned out.

Still a virgin at 18 and having moved away from my parents and five siblings in white trash Florida to just outside Chicago to work for the big bucks of Bethlehem Steel Corporation on Lake Michigan, I was seduced by a woman twice my age. She was a Jehovah's Witness, mother of three kids aged 6, 12, 16, the latter, my only friend in that strange land of stranger consequences. I had been publicly considering moving those 1200 miles back home to my girlfriend Eva when this weak, dependent, vengeful, neurotic, not beautiful but handsome woman removed her blouse and brassiere to lay hands on me some snowy wee hour in December, 1973. My immediate sense of guilt, her immediate bucket of tears once she was entered, remorse, religious baggage, loneliness, the quicker pull out and collapse of boyish penury, hardship, guilt and feminine wiles at work plus her nude-on-the-sofa marriage proposal forever changed my life (or did it?). The five of us lived a hell of familial imbalance no one should ever live for three years. It was another ten years before her Jehovah God finally allowed her to properly divorce me (because someone else in the kingdom I imagine found her attractive enough to pursue).

Even after that frightening criminal affair, and the homosexual gags, I remained a kid of relative innocence, still shy around women, girls. Too smart, too tender, too righteous and well-behaved, a perfect gentleman further torqued by the demands of the first and second waves of the sexual revolution for the sexual plottings of young women my own age, but definitely did not ever consider myself homosexual (I refuse to use the term gay to describe those situations). In my twenties, goodlooking enough but neurotically unsure of it, I felt unsteady, desperate to annul my past, self-punishing, lost forever. Finally in my mid-20s a series of older women again invaded my youth. First lengthy post-marriage stint was with good-looking, highly sexualized woman 14 years my senior, unfortunately the mother of six robust children. Next, I found myself ridiculed then pursued by an intelligent, motivated, role-playing, self-measured, resolute socialite of sorts, nine years my senior who worked at the Center For Disease Control in Atlanta who aimed for personal control, and finally a very pretty, (even beautiful when her stylings fell into place for any given season), reserved, passive, benign, charitable woman whose strength is her compassion and loyalty, six years older than I am, not too delicate, but still somewhat adventuresome, dutiful, an accountant, the woman whom I married and bingo, I was finally set in stone.

That's enough for now. I just wanted to blather on about how remarkable my letter to Landry and your letter to me conspired to bring yet another strange smile to my face, and a loud thanks to my lips.

GT

S A M P L E X

"Ignorance and virtue suck on the same straw. Souls grow on bones, but die beneath bankers' hours.""


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