Tuesday, July 04, 2006

More about me...yawn...snore

I 'm SouthernBoy-cum-CitySlicker. By thirds of my life, living in Central Florida, Atlanta, and currently Southern California. People are mostly the same everywhere, Y'all dudes should know dat, huh?

Circumstances surrounding my birth had it that I was exposed to Southern Black Gospel Music for hours per day from age 0-2 years (No, my parents were not poor white sharecroppers. Dad was a liberal southern lawyer a la Gregory Peck in To Kill A Mockingbird). Suppose that affected me, sort of like the imprinting by which a baby chick thinks the first thing it sees after hatching is the momma hen. Even today, I hear that Gospel Music and automatically start twitching uncontrollably all over and raising my hands to the sky in a cross between calesthenics and the hokey-pokey, like some devil-possessed Pentacostal....and make no apologies for it. My tastes have since become vastly more eclectic, but I still love MoTown sound.

People in certain places only THINK they are different. After all, you have to have someone to be better than, or who are you, right? Not! Believe it or not, the average person in LA is quite provincial and very self-assured in their belief that everything was invented here. I just love to inform my friends that something new and trendy existed years previous on the Right Coast....that sort of bursts some bubble. The tougest one to swallow is that 6-time world surfing champ, Kelly Slater, is a Floridian...don't forget that lil' titdbit of trivia. A little mean, but I'm gentle with it.

I realized I'd lived in big cities too long when I went back to a HS reunion and found my former friends in a tightly closed circle, viewing me with circumspection of the sort we've all seen when that dusty stranger comes in from the prairie to some little one-horse, western town. Everyone's peeping through shutters until one brave soul approaches the n'er do well drifter saying "Howdy stranger, what business ya got here in Tombstone?" I managed to escape the citizen's commitee of Southern Baptists armed with an ample supply of rope, pitchforks and other implements of destruction.

It is that from which I came...raised in the Methodist Church and sang in the choir...all good things to which both moral and musical senses owe but I am no longer active. Maybe if I'd had kids I would return for their benefit. The church group did not bear the slightest resemblance to anything fundamentalist at which I would surely have chafed more and diverged from sooner. That experience left me with a curiosity and perhaps disdain for religious types whose faith is not enough. Some need to hear what they believe proclaimed as absolute truth and echoed in a well-understood form by all around them. Many are profoundly disturbed when these outward signs are not constantly present.

Q: You know why Baptists won't have sex standing up?
A: Someone might think they're dancing

None of this is to say that I am an iconoclast. I am respectful of all beliefs and religions. It is just that our beliefs erect barriers and that true understanding of another comes when you know something of the experiences and influences that led to the beliefs. Usually our beliefs are exactly what prevent us from gaining the knowledge that leads to understanding.

Having beliefs that do not resonate with core values can require reconciliation of biblical proportions as new facts are uncovered. If this gets to be too much either the mind refuses to reconcile further facts or ostensibly and deceptively rational information is accepted without question. Once one is in too deep rigidity is inevitable. There is no shortage of social, political and religious safe havens from all the confusion.

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