Wow, this has been quite a weekend of recognizing and celebrating minorities in Denton. There was a massive LGBTQ Pride Day event on the square and a big ol’ Gospel concert at Fred Moore Park for Juneteenth and, of course, it’s Father’s Day, when boomers post that photo of dad in his WW2 uniform. Those photos remind us all how often Father’s Day rolls around, which reminds us all how short a year is. Jane and I did discover no one dines at Panera on Father’s Day. We had the place to ourselves, baby! And we rocked it! By the time we left, the joint was in shambles, from us having so much unbridled fun. Not to complain, but I must complain about the iced tea at Panera. It all tastes like flowers. I love flowers, but I don’t eat or drink them, although I know some people do. But flowers are not even on the menu at Panera. They just sneak flowers into their tea and it tastes like Flonase smells. It’s always an expensive disappointment, every time I foolishly get their iced tea, hoping the flowers will be gone. But they’re always there. So I dump the tea and get a Coke. Nope, they have Pepsi. Oh, well. Otherwise, it’s a fine place to eat. I’m sure you’ve been there.
As you may or may not know, I grew up in Texarkana, Texas; a medium-sized city straddling the tips of northeast Texas and southwest Arkansas. Texarkana is one city in two states, but it’s actually two cities which share a name. Whatever, that bizarre reality was normal to me. As was being a Southern Baptist in the south. 100% normal. My father even worked at our church, First Baptist. We were at church all the time. I was even named after the then-current president of the Southern Baptist Convention, Carl Bates. I experienced years and years of Sunday School and Prayer Meeting and mountains of sermons and hymns and myriad choir practices and performances. I was there, right in the middle of a whole lot. And, although it was required that my brother, Jimmy, and I go to church, I generally had an okay time. Getting up early (before about 10am) always sucked for me, no matter what I had to do, and it hurts as much now as it did any Sunday morning when I was a kid. Brave Combo’s had to perform for a few morning news shows during our career and it was never fun. When we’re on the road, we never check out before noon, unless there is no way around the motel’s or hotel’s policy. But, between you and me, there is almost always a way, and I will find it, for that extra hour of sleep. Jeez, I go to bed between 3:00 and 4:00am. How can I check out at 11:00? That is inhumane. Hey everyone, FYI, night is a cool time of the day, mainly because most people are unconscious! Anyway, the fellowship/socializing part of church was okay. It was a big place, so there were lots of cute girls my age. I did try to pay attention to the life’s lessons I was supposed to learn, whether in Sunday School or big church, but my mind wandered a lot. So, during big church my mother gave me tablets of paper and pencils, to keep me occupied. None-the-less, I contend I heard and internalized most of what was being explained to us by the Biblical scholars of Northeast Texas. And a bunch of it made sense (love your enemy, don’t throw stones, pride and prejudice are bad, turn the other cheek) and much of it makes sense today. I was taught, in a Southern Baptist church, mind you, that much of the Bible is not literal. Rather, parables, designed to explain or teach lessons. I also heard that we were not to brag about our inner peace and joy. We were just supposed to live in such a way that no one else could exist without whatever magic we were supposed to exude, because we were so sure of our salvation, it made all things Earthly, like money, possessions, and power, somewhat irrelevant. I also remember hearing, over and over, that once Jesus hit the scene, the Old Testament became simply history and was no longer a reliable source of information on how to live with others. Ultimately, I realized, no matter where I was or am, I’m an outsider and a tribe like church, in particular, just didn’t fit my being. But, although I left the flock, I still had lots of friends and family involved and I trusted their interpretations of the Cosmos for themselves, because I believed their bottom line would be similar to mine; that all people should be equal because, above all, our pathway to enlightenment depends on our ability to not judge others. Jesus said it, Buddha said it, Mohammed probably said it, the god of common sense says it to us today. Atheists and devout Christians can come to the same conclusions about how to get along with, and benefit from, each other.
Believe it or not, we can think for ourselves because we already know the truth, when it comes to the big picture. Now, it seems, most “Christians” in our “great” country are the very angry, pride-infested “God and Guns” style. If that isn’t the case, I hear almost nothing from an opposing point-of-view, so I must assume, this is where Christianity in America has landed, which seems pretty far from all that Prince of Peace stuff, to me. Where is that radical, WE’RE TAKING BACK JESUS, movement inside all of the so-called houses of worship? Just thinking out loud here. Sorry if it’s coming off judgmental.
Hey, Brave Combo is doing some weird stuff every Wednesday evenings in June at Red’s Yard, in quaint little Denton, in-person and live-streaming, so you can witness it, no matter where you are, theoretically. No promises are made, concerning what you might see or hear. We might be acceptable, perhaps even intriguing, or we might just suck. Check our itinerary for details.
I have much more to say about lots of topics, but I can’t in good faith, take up more of your time. Have a fab month and, remember, think for yourself. Sorry this is so long.