Maya Angelou Taught Me Too

[Word count: 429. Approximate read time: 2 minutes]

master-class-maya-angelou

“I bring everyone who has ever been kind to me with me. Black, White, Asian, Spanish-speaking, Native American, gay, straight, everybody. I say, ‘Come with me. I’m going on the stage. Come with me. I need you now.’ Long dead, you see? So, I don’t ever feel I have no help.

I’ve had rainbows in my clouds. And the thing to do, it seems to me, is to prepare yourself so that you can be a rainbow in somebody else’s cloud. Somebody who may not look like you, may not call God the same name you call God, if they call God at all!  You see? And may not eat the same dishes prepared the way you do. May not dance your dances. Or speak your language. But be a blessing… to somebody. That’s what I think.”

—Dr. Maya Angelou
(April 4, 1928 – May 28, 2014)

Continue reading

Am I Still a Christian?

[Word count: 561. Approximate read time: 2-3 minutes]

“Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves!  Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you— unless indeed you fail the test.” —2 Corinthians 13:3-5

Remember when I told my mom I wasn’t going to church or looking for a new one, and she asked, “Are you still a Christian?” I was annoyed at the question, but I need to revisit it. My adopted grandma says, “You don’t have to go to my church, but you do have to go to my god.” So I ask: Have I gone to God recently? Is my heart still there? Is there a Google Maps app that can tell you how far away you are from God? (First person to say The Bible gets punched in the face.)

From what I told you I believe, things get cold sometimes. Things get dry. But the relationship is not dead. Living things have been frozen solid, but cold does not mean dead. Anyone who didn’t know my background might look at my relationship… frosted, unmoving, and deathly still… and deduce with good reason that it is dead.

If my mom sees someone call themselves a Christian while living below the expected standard, she’ll say, “But they’re not a real Christian though.” Ma might snatch that membership card away quick if you don’t pay your dues. Continue reading

Low Self-Esteem and One Other Option

Neo in The Matrix Revolutions
[Word count: 597. Approximate read time: 3 minutes]

Having low self-esteem isn’t so bad. It’s no worse than sharing a bedroom with your worst enemy. If you don’t mind a sadistic killer trying to dissolve you from the inside all day long with acidic mind chatter, it’s a fine life. I had a minor disagreement with co-workers over where to have lunch and here’s what happened.

The negative voice started out slight:

  • “They don’t like you.”
  • “They don’t want you around.”
  • “You’re so difficult.”
  • “Why can’t you go with the flow?”

But if left unchecked, that trickles to a flood of:

  • “You’re always the problem.”
  • “Nobody wants you.”
  • “Nobody likes you.”
  • “That’s why your girl left you.”
  • “Who could love you when you act like that?”
  • “You’re going to be alone for the rest of your life. And that’s what you deserve.”

Isn’t that a little over the top? In fact, it’s ridiculous. But that’s what I’m dealing with—a constant stream of hateration and holleration in my dancerie. The problem is… it’s not all untrue. Sometimes I am difficult. And I usually won’t just go with the flow. The voice isn’t a total liar, but—like a tabloid—it exaggerates so much, I don’t know WHAT to believe. Continue reading

The Dirtiest Job In Church

Pulpit[Word count: 715. Approximate read time: 3-4 minutes]

“Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.”
—William Shakespeare

My good friend just became pastor of a prominent church in my hometown. Someone joked that his uncle would’ve been a better choice. The uncle barked a loud laugh as we all agreed, “Man, don’t nobody want that job!!” Anyone who intends to guide people into heaven will have to fight all of hell to do it. If you think it’s hard to be a Christian, try being chosen to coach a whole team of them.

The worst church members like to whine, criticize, and play the victim. Some have mental illnesses and think the pastor is a psychologist. Some are power hungry and would manipulate or unseat the pastor to satiate themselves. It’s a lot to fight off. Basically, these mufkas is crazy. And if you want to lead them, you might be crazy too.

Pastors are seen as proxy representatives of God. People look to them to set an ideal example. However, they have to constantly redirect people to Jesus. Everything a pastor does isn’t gonna be right. People always discover this. And when they do, if they don’t know to follow the example the pastor’s following more than the example the pastor’s setting, it’s gon’ be some smoke in the city.

Continue reading

World, Are You About To End?

[Word count: 551. Approximate read time: 2-3 minutes]

Blood moon during lunar eclipse.

“Is this the cycle recorded in the pages of history?
World, are you about to end?” —The Clark Sisters, “World?

On St. Patrick’s Day this year, there was an earthquake centered near the area of Los Angeles where I live. People jokingly called it the Shamrock Shake, but for those 10 seconds, nothing was funny. It was the closest and strongest quake I’d ever felt as a lifelong Californian. And it was enough to scare the piss out of Chris Schauble on live TV.

A 4.4 on the Richter scale is hardly enough to cause significant damage, but it can make you evaluate what you really believe. When the ground started shaking, I reverted to my training, which is to get under a desk… and then pray like my mother taught me. When I was young, she outlined what the Bible says about events that would occur before Jesus returned. It included scriptures like these: Continue reading

Breadcrumbs (aka Finding My Way Back)

1426350_10396917

[Word count: 221. Approximate read time: 1 minute]

My writing output has dropped to near zero in the last quarter. Around November/December 2013, I was extremely depressed and dealing with heavy family and personal issues. But those resolved nicely just in time for me to meet an exceptional woman in January. I won’t say I “fell in love.” Say I got vacuumed into it. After whirling around inside her turbulent machinery for a couple months, I found myself ejected, scratched up, dizzy, and disoriented. I’m still figuring out which end is up.

The purpose of Junkyard Salvation was to be a proverbial trail of breadcrumbs if I ever got lost—which I currently am. Ideally, it would track my journey away from (and possibly back into) church. But as I look at the trail I’ve left, the words don’t seem to resonate to me. I forgot what I was talking about, and I need to re-focus the scope of this blog.

So if I’ve written anything that spoke to you, illuminated you, angered you, encouraged you, made you double check your facts, or otherwise stuck with you… please leave a comment below letting me know what it was.

It’ll help me find my way back. Please and thanks.

***

Other Junkyard Salvation articles:

Misfire and I

[Word count: 627. Approximate read time: 2-3 minutes]

Diane Sawyer on failure:
“Sometimes, of course, it just teaches you that this is gonna be the funniest thing in the world… when it stops hurting.”

While recording original music, I got this brilliant idea to cover a song by my favorite artist Crystal Lewis. Although the original was mid-90’s CCM perfection, I was amazed how well my jazzy electronic cover turned out. So I did another, and another, eventually deciding I was gonna do a full album of Crystal Lewis covers and send it to her as a birthday gift! [Famous. Last. Words.]

If I had a time machine, I’d go back and talk myself out of it. I was so inspired though! Every song was a personal victory. I challenged myself to bend tempos, genres, phrasings, arrangements and pay tribute to the songs I felt most connected to. It was my best work as a producer, vocalist, and musician to date.

I was proud, but every time I neared her September 11th birthdate, I’d waffle. “It’s not good enough. I hate it.” Stop. Rework it ‘til you’re back in love again. Unfortunately, this went on for about 5 years. [Bang head against desk.] Continue reading

Fast As You Can (or Why I Ate Everything)

[Word count: 565. Approximate read time: 2-3 minutes]

Welcome to January. ‘Tis the season for loose commitments to new resolutions, changes in federal and state laws, and Christian churches going on fasts. I’ve got no problem with the former, but this guy right here will have nothing to do with fasting.

When I was in music ministry, we would traditionally fast for 2-3 weeks at the start of every year. But we had options. We could maybe give up specific meals, or do the Daniel fast (fruits, vegetables, and whole grains with limited seasonings and cooking processes), or the extreme option of drinking water only for a period of time. Some were lenient where others were extra diligent, but we all did something.

The following year, something different happened. After praying, the pastor felt the entire church needed to fast. As previous, the body at large was given options. Those in music ministry, however, were told that a Daniel fast was mandatory.

Mandatory? Objection, your honor. Continue reading

Question: What is the Crucifixion About?

This post is not a collection of my usually organized thoughts, witticisms, and musings. It is an open cry for help. There is a language barrier with the Bible. There are so many phrases that are said in Christianity. They are familiar, so people usually nod agreeably, but I am stopping today to raise my hand to scream, “I do not understand. Please help me.

All I ever wanted was for Christianity to make sense. And it doesn’t. If you say it does, then you don’t understand what “make sense” means.

make sense

Idioms
25. make sense, to be reasonable or comprehensible: His attitude doesn’t make sense.

As part of my quest to put back the pieces of my wrecked faith, I’m reading Ray Comfort’s How To Know God Exists. For the most part, I like the book. It sticks to the facts and rarely proselytizes. In stating the facts, the book has poked sizable holes in Darwin’s theory of evolution. [That theory, by the way, has never been proven, it’s just popular. And that only gets you so far.] But in gushing ecstatically about the value and importance of the gift of Jesus’s death on the cross, my ability to process what was being said started to falter. It was as if the words were written in another language whose words I’ve never learned. Continue reading

Let Them Eat Cake: How to Fail at Christianity

MinistryFail
[Word count: 651. Approximate read time: 3-4 minutes]

“Alone in a room
It’s just me and you
I feel so lost
’Cause I don’t know what to do…”

Initially, when my mom heard this opening line from Yolanda Adams’ “Open My Heart,” it turned her off. Apparently Yolanda’s confession wasn’t positive enough. Having weathered enough trouble for two lifetimes, I understand the aversion. But I disagree with dismissing someone’s truth as “negativity.”

“So I need to talk to You
And ask You for your guidance…
That’s why I open up my heart to You.”

Had she stuck around for the rest, she would’ve noticed ministry happening. But it didn’t sound positive, so it got passed up. The preoccupation with positive confessions is a byproduct of the Word of Faith doctrine, which since its 1980’s prominence has come under fire. I’d like to fire a couple rounds into it myself. Continue reading