ffc leaving presently

[LISTEN TO THE ARTICLE/EPISODE ON ANCHOR.FM]

the vast majority of songs that i’ve written over the years could be described not as situationally specific, but as thematically general. in other words, though all of my writing is deeply personal + serves to record my lived experience of actual circumstances that i’ve faced, i typically zoom out in order to examine the bigger picture (as opposed to capturing single events). however, the song “leaving, presently” is different. and while it can definitely be read as a broad/unspecified critique of any sort of fundamentalism – i.e. it is unquestionably a slight against conservative christianity – it’s also much more than that. in fact, the song arose from a particular place of pain + precisely details a moment when i was treated by someone once close to me as anathema.

it’s hard when people change, but it’s inevitable. and i’m certain that those who have known me over the past number of years probably find it difficult themselves if ever they take the time to read/hear about how my own views have evolved (or devolved, depending on one’s perspective). that my convictions are unorthodoxly vacant/missing of late is surely as unsettling to friends/family as it is to myself. and i think that needs to be stated emphatically: i personally don’t want to be in a space where my faith is in complete disarray. it’s disturbing to me, which is why i keep wrestling with it. but what i find most burdensome is how other people don’t seem to share my experience of doubt/disbelief/divine silence. how is it that i can feel so lost + uncertain about life, while others are so confident + resolute in their position regarding some iffy otherworldly reality? am i missing something? perhaps. i’d be first to admit that i could probably try harder. however, it’s not like i’m in a vastly different place than anyone else, so i would assume my access to whatever people call “spiritual” knowledge would be the same. how is it, then, that the absolute quiet that i consistently apprehend is taken by others to be some kind of direct communication from God? and if i don’t “hear” it – though i’ve been actively listening for years – how is it that i’m the one who’s “crazy” (and not visa versa)? something is plainly wrong. yet, i’m not convinced that it’s me – especially if a so-called “loving” religious stance leads people to routinely dismiss + forsake those who don’t fit into the right boxes. like when i mistakenly opened up to a friend of mine about how i don’t know exactly what i believe anymore.

the problem with being honest with what one actually thinks – as opposed to opting for a position of pretending – is that people quickly become defensive. and as carl jung is apocryphally remembered to have said: “thinking is difficult. that’s why most people judge.” granted, insulating/isolating/sheltering oneself against differing views is understandable. we all prefer the security of having unchallenged viewpoints. no one likes to admit that they might be wrong. but when one is willing to sacrifice a relationship with someone else on philosophical grounds, there might be an issue with said outlook. now – i do want to be fair. i admit that i have very little in common anymore with anyone who would self-identify as an evangelical christian + that i find it hard to maintain friendships with those who espouse any sort of conservatism (which for me is likely motivated by a “guilt by association” mentality). and while i’m willing to “agree to disagree” about some things, there are other matters – such as the full equality of all people – that are completely non-negotiable. still, it would take a lot for me to renounce a close friendship (which seems to have taken place). so i wrote a song about being effectively dropped for being unable to unquestioningly accept taken-for-granted doctrine; for finding it untenable to settle for uncritical acquiescence (theologically-speaking). and the song is highly sarcastic, since dealing with this type of rejection head-on would conceivably have resulted in a much more caustic song. but i wasn’t willing to go there. because in spite of all my misgivings/cynicism related to confessional christianity, love as a guiding principle remains an ideal for me.

accordingly, as i allude to in the song “leaving, presently,” a person’s embodibent of love is what i would consider a “shibboleth” for me; it’s a tell or sign that reveals something hidden (just as the way one pronounces certain words gives away where a person is from). i first heard about the concept via something peter rollins once said – most likely on a podcast or video of his. there he made mention of a city in northern ireland that i had a chance to visit back in 2017, which is a place that has two names: “derry” or “londonderry.” the name one uses is a shibboleth, as catholic nationalists generally tend to call it “derry,” while protestant unionists prefer “londonderry.” especially back during “the troubles,” how one referred to this particular city served to distinguish one group from another, thereby disclosing one’s allegiances. the same could be said of religious beliefs + behaviour – especially in christian circles. because as much as neo-evangelical folk like to speak about God’s love making a way for everyone to belong, more often than not this “love” in practice is highly conditional/limited/reserved (and lamentably ends up being expressed as prejudice, condemnation, hate, indifference + willful ignorance). i don’t have time for that sort of “love” + i guess that currently makes me an outsider. but to be honest, so long as insiders emphasize mental ascent to belief to the exclusion of actual relationships, it could be there’s only room for me on the exterior.

next time on the fringe faithful collective, the song “insolent” that was almost never recorded + is both the darkest song on “lunacy” as well as the track that i’d consider to be my favourite. until then, here is “leaving, presently” (which you can freely download or stream anytime at soundcloud.com).

peace + love sisters + brothers.

 


 

LEAVING, PRESENTLY

it’s cool you found all of the answers
i guess that means that i am lost
thanks for writing me off like a defect
as if i haven’t counted the cost
surely i am the one who’s mistaken
cause your sources are much better than mine
it makes me feel so great when you judge me
for being deaf, when my hearing’s fine
must be nice sitting high on that royal chair
aiming pity at the creatures below
if i’m lucky, i might be acknowledged
maybe told something i already know

i’d like to stay, this way my home
but the more i say, the less there’s room
we were the same not long ago
once comrades fighting well-defined foes
yet, battlelines have been redrawn
so, it’s not clear whose side i’m on
i’m tired of being for or against
i just want to be, take down the fence
if only you could bracket out
those things that cause you fear (like doubt)
and be done with all pretense
admit that life does not make sense
screw absolutes, they’re all contrived
stories to help us stay alive
the only certain thing is death
until then “love’s” my shibboleth

it’s cool you found all of the answers
i guess that means that i am lost
thanks for writing me off like a defect
as if i haven’t counted the cost
surely i am the one who’s mistaken
cause your sources are much better than mine
it makes me feel so great when you judge me
for being deaf, when my hearing’s fine

One thought on “æ 17: leaving, presently

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