Thursday, March 07, 2024

Fire and Water

Summer of 2005 I got on a bus at Port Authority to Richmond, Virginia. I was going to meet up with my very hot new girlfriend. We had started dating in March, on my birthday, and she was already talking about marriage. I didn’t feel secure about that, I didn’t think I was really the material for being a good mate. I was more of a phase a woman went through in her search for a mate. I expected her to dump me before long.

Anyway, the bus was leaving late at night. I sat near the front. it would be an all night bus trip. An all night bus ride is a state of consciousness close to sleep but not sleep, not at all restful, but a sustained hypnagogic revery until the dawning destination arrives.

As the bus was pulling out of Port Authority some passenger in front of me started a conversation with the driver about a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico that was supposed to hit New Orleans soon. I guess I knew there was much media hype about it, but I was surprised when the conversation turned apocalyptic.

Well, we know the world won’t end with a flood, the driver said. “God gave Noah, the rainbow sign.”

That’s right, the passenger replied. No more water, the fire next time.

Bus Driver of the Apocalypse, I thought. Weird.

I drifted into that altered state of nocturnal Greyhound dreamtime

full of strange thoughts I couldn’t really put into words.

The rainbow is God’s promise to destroy the Earth by global cremation, I thought. Modern cosmologists hold that the sun will one day engulf our planet, some billion years from now. If all goes well humanity will figure out utopia by then and we’ll spend our time becoming intergalactic immigrants, or attaining a state of consciousness beyond life and death. Maybe this is what the belief in a “Rapture” is about, a dream of our evolutionary future as collective enlightenment. I dreamed on.

My girlfriend, as it happened, was in New Orleans, but left before Hurricane Katrina hit. She was with her sister, who was in town for a medical convention. She’s a pediatrician and would invite Lori to stay with her in a hotel in whatever cool city the convention was being held . They were out of the city by now. Lisa back in Houston and Lori in Richmond, so my interest in hurricane news evaporated.

Lori and her friend Jimmy met me at the bus station. We stayed at Jimmy’s house in a neighborhood where old houses had front porches where neighbors would stop and visit.. Lori and I were in art school at the same time, but in different cities. Oregon Hill reminded me of my old neighborhood in Cleveland. Jimmy carried the air conditioner he rarely used up from storage the basement to the second floor room we slept in. It was very hot and humid that August. 

Lori showed me around. We did a lot of walking.  She wore a green halter top I liked very much. Hollywood Cemetery is at the end of Jimmy’s street, near his house, and we’d go there. There is a big granite pyramid that serves as a memorial to more than 11,000 Confederate soldiers buried there, sacrificed to the lost cause.

I like Richmond. Lori went to school there, at Virginia Commonwealth, got her undergraduate degree in Commercial Design. She became a painter years later. When she was a student she wrote reviews of punk shows at local venues. She loved the Ramones. I think she wrote under the name Lori Richmond. I liked Lori’s many friends there and now they are my friends.

We walked to Monument Avenue where statues of Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee and other Confederate figures stood. Richmond was the the capital of the Confederacy and was abandoned and burned by the soldiers fleeing Grant’s army. The statues were put there in the Jim Crow era to show that even if they lost the war the White power structure had not surrendered. It seemed like they would stand there forever. It was not a site to be proud of. I wondered when they would finally fix this boulevard of civic shame. It took another fifteen years, a global pandemic, and a video of a Black man choking to death under the knee of a White cop. During the protests that followed George Floyd’s murder the idols of Monument Avenue began to fall, until the only statue left is of Arthur Ashe, the Black tennis champion.

Praise God.

We didn’t watch TV at Jimmy’s. Maybe he didn’t have one and I think he still had to dial up his internet. What he has is thousands of vinyl record albums, because that is what Jimmy deals in. He buys and sells vinyl records. Lori played The Fall’s cover of the Kinks’ Victoria and I played her some Fred Neil, who became a favorite of ours. 

But no TV, and no news, and it wasn’t until we went to DC, where we’d take Amtrak home, that we got caught up on what was happening in New Orleans. We had lunch in a Nigerian restaurant that had a big screen TV where we all watched Americans standing in flood waters, who had lost everything, and who were crying out to an administration that only knew how to destroy.  Dubya was still Commander in Chief and we were in the second year of the War in Iraq. With two wars going on, Katrina was another fiasco he could claim. As in the 2020 pandemic, most of the suffering and dying after Katrina was among the poor and people of color. It is much easier to pull down flags and statues than it is to change a rotten and unjust system. James Baldwin warned us, if we don’t change it we will destroy ourselves. He might be wrong about next time, though. Next time it might be both fire AND water, and maybe a virus in the air.

But we didn’t know the bad news of Katrina when we were in Richmond that golden summer. We didn’t get married until a year later. but In my reminiscence, that week in Richmond seems like our real honeymoon. Jimmy came to the wedding and gave away the bride, and the following year we went on our official honeymoon, a gift from Lori’s sister, in New Orleans.

Thursday, February 29, 2024

Level 7


You are about to arrive at Level 7.

The elevator door will soon open and you will be a septuagenarian.

You will be given a bundle of old man problems. 


Hello. My name is Lars and I am your greeter. That’s right, I am you. You yourself. Thou art that. Some of the surprises are being saved for your next wellness check up. Each year there will be more surprises. As you know, your financial situation is not secure, which in America means you are not a millionaire. Be careful. Your diet could be better. Many of your comrades have already fallen. You are fortunate you have made it this far, so once again, congratulations!

I am afraid of wasting time.

Time is all I have and I too easily lose it.

I misplace the time and don’t know what I did with it.

The time clock is on my phone and my phone is shackled to my wrist. A chain is attached to the phone and to my wrist so the phone won’t lose me.

Dig this time. Dig into it. Dig into the dust from which you came.

I know there is something buried here.

A thought is buried here.

I could use a thought detector or a dog trained to sniff out thought,

A thought detector that would locate the insights and inspirations and theories that are HERE in front of me or HERE in my memory or HERE underneath the paper or inside the paper and if I scratch or tickle the paper with this pen it will burst out with laughter or cry out with pain and then I’ll have something of value, something to make you laugh or cry, or even think, or even act.

All I have is time. All I ever had was time and now it is running out and I don’t know how much I have left and I’m afraid, scared, terrified, of wasting it.

I’m writing these notes on the back of this week’s work schedule. I have a little more than two minutes left to have a thought.

I’m sitting in the Marketplace at 8 in the morning, waiting to sell a good portion of my day for a few dollars. I’m a member of the labor force, a unit in the economic system of an Empire, and my free time is almost up.

Today is February 29 and it is Leap Day. If we don’t have a leap day every four years Halloween would eventually occur on Easter, which would make for some peculiar theology involving a zombie Jesus. Why seek the living among the living dead? Why seek the living among frozen eggs? If we were formed out of dust is the dust a person with the rights of a human? When you return to dust, does the dust claim its due? Food turns into shit, but I don’t eat shit. I return to dust, but I am not dust, even if I’m dusty. 

This morning I read on my phone about the young man who was brought up in a Christian community that practiced a militaristic discipline. He left the community and joined the Air Force. He poured gasoline on himself in front of the Israeli embassy and set himself on fire screaming, Free Palestine!  There is a story that connects these three facts of his life but I don’t know it, we don’t know it, and you don’t understand it. He was twenty five years old.

Israel bombs hospitals because Hamas wants them to and Israel seems committed to doing what Hamas wants as long as it involves killing Palestinians. Hamas kills 1200 Israelis and Israel kills 30,000 Palestinians, and counting. Israel is almost as bad as America. I can’t say I understand it and I can’t really say what Ezekiel would say about this, or Isaiah, or Jeremiah, or the minor prophets. Did that young man’s Bible teachers tell him this is God’s plan and these are the End Times? Did he realize this is crazy, but it drove him crazy also? What God or Devil pours flames on the heads of the confused? What Zombie Christ calls for genocide and suicide? What do you do when you look for life among the living and only find the dead? What do you do when you look for truth and only find lies? We live in the fantasies we’re given and then move on to new fantasies. Easter is Halloween. Ash Wednesday was Valentine’s Day. This calendar is a mess. Independence Day is April Fools Day. Day becomes night becomes day becomes night. I wake up and dream. I fall asleep and work. Labor Day is for veterans of the class war. On average, seventeen military veterans kill themselves each day, and that’s down from 17.2, so that’s supposed to be good news, seventeen military suicides a day, but I think the military is losing an invisible war.

I dig a couple of thoughts out of the ashes:

Memorial Day is for survivors to pretend that organized killing is a force that gives us meaning.

When the church becomes an empire the Christians become the crucifiers.

Behold, the Door opens.

Welcome to Level 7.

Watch your step.

Mind the gap.

You either leap or you fall.

Friday, January 26, 2024


 Melanie Safka died this week. She was a few years older than me and I didn’t know her and didn’t have any of her records, but she was on the second Woodstock album, which I did own, and she sang a song called Beautiful People, which I suppose is a corny flower child song but it has a line I’ve carried in my head all these years that sometimes comes to me, usually ironically, when I’m on public transportation:

Beautiful people

you ride the same subway as I do

every morning

That’s got to tell you something

We’ve got so much in common

I go the same direction that you do

So if you take care of me

Maybe I’ll take care of you

(Melanie singing Beautiful People is on YouTube)

How could I not have a crush on this cute hippie girl from Astoria?

Half Ukrainian, half Italian, and one hundred percent from Queens, but the family moved to New Jersey and I guess the people there didn’t get her because they taunted her for being a beatnik, so she dropped out of high school and became a folk singer in coffeehouses in Greenwich Village and somehow got some recognition in Europe but she wasn’t known by American audiences until she appeared onstage at Woodstock. While she was singing it began to rain and people were lighting candles and it looked to her like half a million fireflies and gave her an idea for a song that became a hit and made her a star.

She had a couple of songs on the radio, but the performance that got to me was the one I saw her give on TV at a Phil Ochs tribute a month after his suicide.

I have to tell you that I cried when I heard Phil Ochs had died and I cried again when I heard her sing his song Chords of Fame:

I found him by the stage last night 

He was breathing his last breath

A bottle of gin and a cigarette 

Was all that he had left

I can see you make the music

Cause you carry a guitar

But God help the troubadour

Who tries to be a star

(Chords of Fame, sung by Melanie, also on YouTube)

I’m no troubadour and I don’t want to be a star. I don’t know what I am, some kind of artist, and maybe if I had the right kind of lever and found a place to stand I could move the worlds of some of you beautiful people the way these troubadours moved my world. 

(I Ain't Marching Anymore sung by Phil Ochs, also on YouTube)

Sunday, January 21, 2024

star struck


It came up recently in a conversation, I didn’t bring it up, but someone else was talking about the clear blue sky of September 11. 

I recall leaving the house that morning before dawn to go to the Trade Center and seeing Orion bright and dominating the Eastern sky over the house across the street. My father taught me how to identify Orion and how to follow the line drawn by the three stars of his belt to identify the Dog Star, Sirius, the brightest star in the sky. I read that the ancient Egyptians called that constellation Osirus. I think nomadic hunters looked for the rising of Orion the Hunter as a sign of summer’s end and the coming of autumn and time to head for the winter home.

September mornings before dawn I see Orion out my kitchen window when I’m making my oatmeal. Orion is my 9/11 memorial, so even those phantom towers, whatever they’re called, that light display in Lower Manhattan is irrelevant, although those twin beams always takes me by surprise — Yikes! — they still do that?

That day, after the attack and I got safe distance, I needed to call my parents to tell them I was OK, but none of the pay phones  or cell phones worked. When I finally got home to my landline there was a voicemail from my father.

His voice said, “I know the Lord is blessing you today.”

Many heavenly lights, you might say, are hidden in the city light, so my stargazing is limited to a handful of celestial objects. The sun, moon, Orion, some of the planets. I keep track of the lunar phases by looking out my windows.

I wonder about that time in human evolution when people began naming heavenly bodies they recognized and began to discern regularity in their movements until they could chart the paths of the sun, moon and other stars and begin contriving ways to organize their time, creating sciences and belief systems. But the driest physical description of the mechanics of our solar system doesn’t distract me from the amazingness of it all.

I get star struck by the miracle of a celestial array. Heaven is not really “Out There” and apart from us because we are part of it, flying on another celestial object flying around one of the stars. The heavens are among us and within us in our stardust bodies — this whole crazy scheme of matter in motion — this constant cosmic metamorphosis we are undergoing together. Radiant emptiness or whatever.

The veils of urban light pollution only reveal a handful of stars, nothing like the explosive light show of the night sky in upstate rural places. Only the biggest stars appear in the Manhattan sky. The smaller ones disappear in the city lights. If you’re walking in Midtown at night you might look up and see a planet like Jupiter or Venus or bright star like Sirius, the brightest star, which, as you can recall, you can identify by following the line of stars that are in Orion’s belt. I mean you can see stars in New York City but many people never look up at them. Sometimes I see shooting stars. I was walking on Manhattan Avenue in Greenpoint one night and saw the fiery trail of a meteorite. I looked around me and saw that no one else had noticed.

A monk is reading scripture to a corpse:

Hey, star child!

Now you have arrived at so-called “death.”

You should conduct yourself according to your conception of the spirit of enlightenment.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil.

Behold, I tell you a mystery!

We will not die, but we will be changed.

Whether or not the departed is still in some sense present and can hear the words and be liberated by them, the monk who is reading these words could hear them as a call to pay attention, to this holy moment in the presence of this corpse to whom he is reading, this holy moment of so-called death, I want to believe. 

I wanted to be able to say this without too much transcendental schmaltz.

A few weeks ago I in fact saw a man who might have been dead. He was flat on his back on Broadway. Not the famous Manhattan Broadway, but the gritty Broadway of North Brooklyn. I couldn’t see his face. He was in a black suit and he had black leather shoes and he was lying on dirty pavement, his ankles crossed like he was taking a nap on a sofa. He was surrounded by concerned neighbors and strangers who watched the police officer try to administer CPR. 

I don’t know if the resuscitation effort was successful or if the man was taken straight to the morgue. My own thoughts surprised me — that might not be a bad way to die. Maybe better than a hospital bed with sorrowful loved ones present. 

I was in this morbid frame of mind because at the time I was waiting for the results of a biopsy. Something on my shoulder had caught the eye of my dermatologist. She murmured something about melanoma. She cut the pimple off and sent it to a lab and meanwhile I thought about it a lot. This might be it. 

I wasn’t afraid of death, but I wondered what dying would be like. Rather than a slow lingering hospital death, dropping dead on Broadway didn’t seem so bad.

I made a End of Life To Do list, things I want to get done before I die:

First, finish assembling my book and make a few copies.

Second, put house in order, clean the studio and organize my art work so whoever has the task can easily take it to the dumpster when I’m dead.

Last, gather the required paperwork for death — a contact list, a DNR, a will and testament or some written statement of intention regarding my possessions, insurance,  cremation and interment costs, arrangements, etc. Get the place organized so it’s easy for my loft mates and neighbors to deal with.

I imagine I’m at my own graveside. Why do I seek the living — myself — among the dead? 

Why do you seek your life in your death?

My legacy will mean nothing to my ashes. It is hopeless to look for immortality in your work, but you can look for life while alive, if you truly live, and here I go into schmaltz.

Creator Spirit, or Spirit Creator, inspire me to write or paint something true, something that is worth being thought about for a while after I’m gone. Something that does not obstruct human evolution and is somewhat beneficial to the entire space full of sentient beings.

The lab report came out negative. It was a benign growth called a seborrheic keratosis.

After too many overcast days, there is a perfectly clear pre-dawn sky and I see Venus has arisen over a rooftop.

Hail morning star! 

Identified with Isis and Christ, the Queen of Heaven and the Bridegroom.

One night right after I turned twenty, half a century ago, I took some LSD and watched television with some friends. TV was a trip into the inferno so I went home and read the Revelation of St. John.

 After wrestling with the psychedelic angel all night, I sat at my bedroom window and waited.

I was certain something was going to happen, 

cosmic metamorphosis, the great unification, or my even own ascension or death. 

I was looking out my window into the dark before dawn and a light appeared over the Eastern horizon. I could almost see it move. I didn’t know if it was the Mothership or an ICBM or the Comet of Doom. 

I woke up my father. 

There is something in the sky, I said.

“That is the Morning Star,” he said. “The planet Venus.”

He had even written a song about it.

50 years later, I still look for it when it is there, and there it is. 

I raise my hands.

Hail, Morning Star!

What name do I use for the creative source of our lives?

Spirit Creator? Creator Spirit? God?

Or better to give no name to the abyss of the creative ground?

Monday, December 18, 2023

Life on Earth


I look out the kitchen window and watch planets rise and stars fall
I’ve eaten breakfast and I washed the bowl and I’m waiting for the sun to rise over the rooftops of Brooklyn.
I’ve been up for two hours, awake in Brahma time, praying and meditating, reading and drinking the black medicine.
I am standing at the kitchen window looking at the sky and waiting for sunrise. This is how I celebrate Advent.

All of my life I’ve watched the shadows of imaginary lives on screens.
The shadows of TV movies computers phones pass through my skin and into my nerves and live there inside my body filling my mind with dreams of a life. I am irradiated with shadows. I am infected with language and symbols that reproduce the human order of things, the human pandemic.

I am up before dawn with coffee and immerse myself in contemplation, taking my brain for a walk. The brain pulls at the leash trying to chase after the shadows

Any human child is a little god who possesses infinite potential at birth
The divine child is eternally born in the ground of the godhead 
The child is placed under the care of human adults and nurtured in a social environment 
By the time the god is a teenager, conflicts may appear with the adult world and the social environment the child will inherit
The divine child who is celebrated in December became a teacher who promised to bring generational conflict and an overturning of the social order

I read in the Times that the first single celled organisms appeared when the Earth was 700 million years young. According to the Times there are more living cells on Earth than there are stars in the sky or grains of sand on Earth and scientists try to count them all, a million trillion trillion — a one followed by thirty zeroes — living cells on Earth.
They probably lived in undersea volcanic vents, the article says, and feasted on the chemical energy around them, ancestral bacteria inventing photosynthesis by learning to split sunlight to split water molecules to make oxygen and sugar. This great oxidation event was 2.4 billion years ago.

clever little critters, our bacterial ancestors
why were they doing this?
was it fun?
were they in a hurry or just taking their time?
is the history of the universe simply about stuff having fun? stuff dancing and making things happen
Did bacteria create for the same reason I work in my studio? Because I am created in the image of the creative source? or is it all matter in motion ruled by chance and so is my art?
Chaos in search of form, form pursuing chaos. It’s all child’s play. Try to explain the serious work that is child’s play.

 550 million years ago multicellular organisms appeared — were they running late?
— if they got here in time maybe we wouldn’t be in the trouble we’re in now
who were these ancestors?
are they still here?
who are they?
who are you?

you made your bed in a volcano vent under the sea and you don’t want to get up but it’s another work day in the mines, splitting molecules
pick up the nine pound hammer and get to it

you fear your job is eating you
but of course we are food
it’s a god eat god universe
where bacteria learn photosynthesis,
that was work, I gotta tell you, although for the bacteria it might have been a sweet miracle to make sugar out of water and very pleasurable
maybe they had the munchies 
sometimes I long for the simple time of being a single cell in my volcanic vent under the sea
Instead of just another greybeard shlub batttered by the daily assaults on body and ego

It’s Saint Nick! A man exclaims, laughing as we pass on the sidewalk 

The young men of Satmar Williamsburg ask me if I’m Jewish
I say no, sorry, have a good holiday
If I say yes they might give me a free menorah

A few days ago I heard shouting and singing and look out my window and see 
people in sombreros are dancing on the street in front of our building
it was the feast of our Lady of Guadalupe

the new moon was a few days ago and solstice is next week.
End of winter I will be 70.

I stand at the window and see the universe unfold

Venus is clearly visible around 4 in the morning
she rises like Our Lady, like Isis, as she always has for those who look out windows

A squadron of birds is doing maneuvers. Lone birds, with or without flight plans, and birds in pairs,, and airplanes to and from Laguardia and JFK and elsewhere, and cloud types I’m unable to name as I’m unable to name the species of birds.

I’m drinking Bustelo’s black medicine and watching the the sky and 
the sun suddenly appears like a burning coal between two apartment buildings. The sun crowns over Brooklyn looking even more like a metaphor for birth than I’d expected.

We have to do more than hope the next generation is better than ours, if our planet is to stay alive.
We have to do all we can to make the universal reconciliation possible and get out of the way 

Get out of the way, old man,
The young god shouts

Out of the way?
What child is this?

Monday, July 31, 2023

Lori with ghost train

 Eight years ago I was looking for pictures of Lori and found this in a thumb drive. When I uploaded it on a computer and the image appeared on the screen I was shocked to see the train arriving like a premonition. Lori with Ghost Train at Marcy Avenue station. I couldn’t remember it being in the picture before, or if I had deliberately timed the shot.

We were going to Battery Park City to meet friends for a picnic she had organized to celebrate our marriage. I’m not sure if this was our first anniversary or if it was only weeks after we got married. Was this in October 2006 or 2007? When I found this picture 8 or 9 years later Lori was in home hospice, in her studio, in her death bed, and I was looking for photos of her and found this one and she died that night, 2:30AM, August 1, 2015. 

Our friends Jimmy Blackford and Liv Mette Larsen and my beloved sister in law, Lisa de Ybarrando, were with us when she stopped breathing.

Among the treasures I inherited from Lori are many of her many friends who loved her and were with us in spirit or who were able to come over and help in some way, and many more waiting on Facebook who flooded her page with comments and hearts as soon as I posted the news. The presence of all that love and compassion sustained us and still sustain me. 

Thank you for your continued presence in my life.

Love, Lars.

Friday, June 23, 2023

Dear Theophilus

 Dear Theophilus, 

My brother in Christ,
for Christ’s sake,
what on Earth is wrong with you?

I give up.
I should just give up, I guess, trying to change your mind.
I didn’t want to argue with you, my friend, but for Christ’s sake!
You’ve abandoned Christ to join the crucifiers.
The crucifiers must be good Christians, you think --
look at all the crosses they have!
And look at all the converts they’ve nailed to them.

We had avoided confronting each other and I meant to refrain from arguing with you about “mere politics” but, for Christ’s sake!

I hear you declare your support for Trump.
I hear you proclaim your belief in his innocence and in his ability to lead and protect the country.
How can you dare associate the name “Trump” with that of Jesus?
How can you be so blasphemous?
If you can still listen to this man for even a couple of minutes of his CNN rally, falsely billed as a Town Hall, and feel that this utter human disgrace is a man your god chose to achieve the Master Plan, then your god is not mine, because your god is made in the image of the monsters in your brain, a miserable product of your fear and shame, an agent of your own paranoia and intolerance.

And I know it’s not just Trump, it’s not really Trump.
Trump thinks it’s Trump, but it’s not Trump.
Trump is only a tumor, a foul odor, a creeping corruption, and so forth. A symptom of the spiritual disease, the mental disorder, that rots the hearts and brains of certain religious folk who long for an authoritarian big daddy who will do the thinking for them.

Pat Robertson died a couple of weeks ago, unrepentant. Pat Robertson, the former frontman for this movement did so much damage to our country and to the American evangelical religion, our country seems beyond repair. His toxic gospel of intolerance and fear, threatening everybody with eternal damnation if they took care of their gay children, who said 9/11 was his god’s punishment for homosexuality and abortion. We should neither mourn nor celebrate his passing to the beyond. I can only consider my own legacy and my own complicated relationship with the American evangelical cult, and my complicated relationship with you, Theophilus.

I know I’m not getting through to you, because I know you think I’m not as good a Christian as you because I don’t think the Bible is completely without error and I do think it was written by human beings.
But you blaspheme scripture by worshipping it rather than studying it. You think I’m not as good a Christian as the hate mongers and fear peddlers because I smoke marijuana and I am not sorry I’ve had sex with people I loved but wasn’t married to. Well, that’s too bad.

Trump was anointed by a small group of cynical preachers and businessmen who claim they believe the Bible is without error and claim to believe Christ died for our sins to redeem us all from sin, but their actions show that they are only corrupt capitalists who have faith in nothing but power and money.
The power god and the money god own them and these gods own Donald Trump.
They can’t claim to know what Jesus died for when they refuse to understand what he lived for.

You surrendered your moral consciousness to the delirium dream of an authoritarian ideology that demands absolute belief in an absurd doctrine you cannot understand. Their god is a god of the ashamed and confused, a creation of ashamed and confused souls, and you sold out to it, Theophilus, and I don’t know why and I guess I should give up.

Most of what you say you believe about Trump and his record in office is just false. You say he believes in the Constitution and that he can return America to a mythical past glory, to make it great again rather than to make it good for once. Just by listening to his own words and observing his actions you can see his words are false, if you bothered to see and hear. I don’t know what your sources of information are but they are not good.

Trump’s mismanagement, or refusal to manage, the pandemic crisis is reason enough to condemn his term in office. His irresponsibility is a lesson in why someone who is both incompetent and morally bankrupt should not be put in charge to manage anything at all, let alone a nation.

You praise him as a defender of the Constitution, but his first official act, the Muslim ban, was a blatant attack on the First Amendment — “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” — or do you always skip over that part to get to the Second Amendment?

You praise him as a man of faith, a follower of Christ, this man who does not follow the biblical injunction to care for the stranger, the immigrant, the poor, but who pledges to build a wall to keep the refugees out and tries to abolish Affordable Health Care while making no effort to replace it with anything at all.

You claim he is loyal to Israel when he abandons the prophets to embrace Netanyahu and other brutal nationalists. What is wrong with you, for Christ’s sake?

You know your opinions on abortion and homosexuality are contrary to mine. I’m sorry you think that men should write laws criminalizing women who need to terminate pregnancy, forcing even girls raped by their fathers to bring their pregnancy to term, to force women who know that childbirth will be hazardous to their health, women who are not only taking their own needs into account, but the needs of any child they might bring out of their bodies and into the world, who are faced with the ultimate existential decision — but you think these women are murderers? You think those politicians should decide their fates?
What is wrong with you, Theophilus, for Christ’s sake?

I’m sorry you believe that your god wants to punish us because we not only tolerate LGBTQ+ folk, but befriend them, work with them, love them, and hang out with them, and try to be their allies in their fight for justice and mercy.
Why do you and the preachers you follow keep forgetting what Ezekiel said about the “sins of Sodom?”
“This was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease but did not aid the poor and needy.” (Ezekiel 16:49)

You believe Trump professes his faith in Jesus Christ and has confessed his sins and asked forgiveness for grabbing women by the pussy, for committing adultery with Stormy Daniels, and paying her off with campaign funds. What? Who told you that he confessed and asked for forgiveness? Whoever told you that is a liar. Listen to Trump’s own words, for Christ’s sake.

Trump is not a man of faith, Trump’s only religion is Donald Trump. I am sorry I don’t know how to reach you on this, Theophilus. I’m sorry I don’t know how to talk to anyone caught up in this cult.

What is wrong with you, for Christ’s sake?

How did you get lost in a fascist cult that claims absolute faith in the Bible, but ignores the prophetic call to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God?

Let me make a theological digression:
In the gospels arises the figure of Jesus, who started a free school and taught the same principles of justice and mercy as the prophets in the Hebrew scriptures, and who led this student movement to the center of political and religious power, a nonviolent revolution to confront the religious establishment and the agents of empire with a demand for justice.

I refuse to submit to a state religion like the one Trump and his followers want to establish, promoting hypocrisy by enforcing public prayer, censoring books and thought, bullying and terrorizing children whose sexual struggles you do not understand.

I’m writing out of love and a broken heart, Theophilus.
There is a great difference in our judgments between right and wrong and between good and evil and between true and false and now I don’t know how to talk to you.
I’m afraid I never did.
Should I just give up?