Query Letter (never sent) – Albert

XXXXX madison avenue
new york, new york

January 21, 2012

Joey C. Kantor

Dear editor,

Has love been abandoned in American Christianity? Let me explain my personal conundrum. I am a 47-year-old writer from Las Vegas, Nevada. In 1973 my mother opened a store called Alpha Omega Bibles, Books and Art. My mother became “born-again” in 1973, the same year she opened the store. When Jesus’ love walloped my mother, boy, did it hit hard. I grew up with a mother who praised Jesus all day long openly. She was a beamer, a woman who shone with the love of the rescuing power of Jesus Christ. Hence, being 8 years old at the time, I was introduced to the Christian religion. I was immediately saved, of course, and Jesus took the place of my saying my “word” which was a part of the practice of transcendental meditation that my mother had been involved with just the year before.

It became Jesus Jesus Jesus. Jesus loved everybody. I mean everybody. He loved His enemies even. When people got mad at Him for telling the truth for some reason they actually put Him on a cross, hung Him there to die, and He still asked God to forgive them. He had a lot of patience, this Jesus. There are many more examples of Jesus preaching love in a way that most people would find difficult to follow. I learned them all. Because Jesus was such a nice guy I thought nothing of being a Christian too. I prayed and took the Bible seriously. It was all good until my first bout with His followers “other side.”

When I became a teenager I went to a non-denominational church, one of those big ones. The pastor was really cool and really smart. To this day I think that, but I remember one day an associate pastor telling us something that just didn’t jibe with what I thought I knew about Jesus. He said that unless you became a Christian, you were going to go to hell. He mentioned Hindus. Gone. Buddhists. Finished. Muslims. Forget about it. Hell! Pure fire for eternity. Pretty harsh. He wasn’t the only pastor who had said this. It just took until my teenage years to finally feel uncomfortable about it. I had heard it my entire Christian life.

Think about it. You’re going along love love love when suddenly, boom, hate. Okay. Now, did Jesus say this? No. He didn’t say it. But all of the churches believed it. If it were true why didn’t Jesus Himself say it? The philosopher child grew confused. God is love, but hellfire actually hurts. Hmm. Okay. Keep going, I told myself. Jesus loves me this I know…

This started a journey of many years which eventually led me to take a Masters degree in Mythological Studies with Emphasis in Depth Psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute. This school promised to teach me all about the beliefs of other religions, since religion for one is myth to another. I was somewhat of a renegade for going to this school or even having these sorts of thoughts. Most Christians wouldn’t look at a Buddhist text for fear of Satan himself jumping out at them from the pages. I knew I had to take the chance, but what I found was quite different. Time after time the religions that I studied did the same thing, they said the same things that Jesus said but in different ways. I saw the game clearly. There is one God but different masks, just like Joseph Campbell proclaimed in his work The Masks of God. All of the Christians in the churches were throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Jesus’ kind words were also these other religions’ kind words. I realized there was no way that they could go to the Christian hell. The loving God I had known wouldn’t be so stupid as to do that just because they spoke a different language, had a different mythic vocabulary.

I was saved. I could believe in the love of God again. I went on to become a reporter, then a writer of novels and stories. All was going well until another conundrum appeared. George W. Bush.

George W. Bush was the salvation of the evangelicals. All of the work put into the process of making Christianity a part of politics put forth by people like Ralph Reed and Pat Robertson had paid off and here was the result. Bush was a no-nonsense kind of guy who was also born-again. With him in office the country would finally become a Christian nation once again. The game had been won and the liberals could go take a hike because Jesus was coming to town. But was He?

Along came 9-11 and then Iraq. Suddenly, for the first time, I again saw that “other side” that I have mentioned. Now, as a writer, I follow the news. From day one the push to go into Iraq smelled like a dead carp. I believed that you should do anything that you can to solve a problem in at least a sane way. You can at least go out of your way to avoid doing something tragically permanent, but they pulled back Scott Ritter who wasn’t even finished searching for the nuclear weapons there. It was a mad rush to war, and who was cheering it on the most? The Christians. The good Christians of America were shouting for the death of innocent men, women and children because their Christian leader said that they must. I guess they thought it was a new form of Christianity or something to kill innocents. I don’t know. I truly don’t know and that’s what I want to find out.

Would you be interested in an article on this topic as I embark on a journey of discovery through the land of fundamentalist Christianity? I will look into how they can continue, to this day, to vehemently support notions of violence against anybody they fear. Could it be that they are so trained to fear those of other religions that it is merely a natural next step to wipe them out, a notion as richly disturbing as the Muslim notion of the infidel?

As Republicans choose their candidate and applaud such bold statements by people like Newt Gingrich that you are to kill your enemies straight out, I will seek the answer to how they square this with Jesus’ command to not kill but to love your enemy. The fundamentalist world is filled with fear that things are changing in a way that will ultimately wipe their brand of Christianity out of the picture. Homosexuality and Abortion are two of the issues that scare them. Is paranoia the driver for abandoning love altogether? Is the siege mentality of the Christian right responsible? Is it what makes them rife for being used by others who seek power by any means necessary?

I am not a pacifist. Being half Jewish on my father’s side, I recognize the need to sometimes fight physically against tyranny as proven by the necessary war called World War II, but today’s fundamentalist Christians don’t seem to mind what the cause is anymore. They will be for war no matter what, it seems, and that stance shows anything but the love of Christ. Do they even notice their brethren’s perpetually bared fangs? Has love died in the American Christian church?


Joey C. Kantor

Published in: on November 27, 2012 at 12:50 am  Leave a Comment  
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on joyce and novels over your head

…hiding from a novel here. I’ve got this big novel over my head. It’s not a lot of pages, just one big page that hovers over me like an about to strike extra giant pteredactyl with it’s pointy spine fingers hovering over you. It’s a horrible feeling. Having this large book over your head like this. I guess this is why you cannot be sane to choose to become a writer. After awhile you must either drown your sorrows in either alcohol or drugs or some other vice, I guess.

So. So much for that novel. It really does try to stop over me and pick me up into it’s maws or jaws or leaflets or logic or whatever. I can do very little to stop my fear of it as it is over me. It happens all of the time. Every time, when writing, that I don’t want to use the voice that I feel most comfortable with. I don’t think I have one writers voice per se. I have a lot of voices. As many voices as to aspects of my personality. What is personality anyway but the amalgamation of a thousand voices, aspects of ourselves. We are either going forward or we are floating. If we are floating that is okay. Some of the greatest artists and creatives floated through this world pretty good. Learn to deal with it. It is not as easy as the other thing, the running through things. That’s harder to do than floating. Both are difficult and both deserve equal respect, I guess. Life kind of sucks in the end because of death anyway that we can’t complain too much about it. It’s just another bad idea. A worried thought. Meaningless words, the giant novel, joycean in scope, perhaps as an art form he would have said, polishing his big, fat glasses through which he saw logic and logic and logic and then no more, the logic having gone to his head, he’d understood everything and praise Jesus! Trademark. And he said to his sister, Emily, Lord, the fun involved in learning the amalgamations of personality having to do with aspects and business deals with fat elephants walking to moons yet unexplored, but seen and sometimes eaten as if in blue cheese the elephant world would contain themselves, wondering. Wanderingly, again, joyce, the novel outside of the novel, big fish little fish, ronald laing, whom I do not clearly understand and the hope that someday this exercises will have at least consumed my fingers for a few moments. The exercise of the mind is the precursor to the exercise will power button belonging with the body.
Then the world came back and your fingers, though tiring, continue. Past loves can’t remember why they loved you anymore. You seem so tawdry. So cheap. Parameceum. Love.

Published in: on November 13, 2012 at 11:16 pm  Leave a Comment  
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A Story too ___ to ___.

The two children played on the sidewalk in front of Mr. William’s two story brownstone, but they didn’t know that. They had never had trouble before. Mr. Williams was home watching t.v. at the time when he looked outside and saw one of the boys, Tyler was his name, but he didn’t know, draping superheroes one by one on to the spikes of his black wrought iron fence. He watched when suddenly the other one, Mickey, jumped up and began the process of hitting each one of the superheroes off of the fence one by one: Captain America, gone, into Mr. Williams’s ten square foot front yard. The Incredible Hulk, bam, right behind Mr. Willliams’s two feet in circumference planter which held exactly one dead cactus. A scream of protest went up by the younger child, but Mickey didn’t care. Whack. Mr. T flew as far as the second step of Mr. Williams’s staircase. Tyler started to cry.
Jesus Christ! growled Mr. Williams and he got up and slammed open the front door. Both children looked up at him in abject fear, but did not run away.
C’mon, you guys, you’re too close to my house. The last thing I need right now is some crying brat screaming outside my window. I’m trying to sleep!
He hadn’t been trying to sleep, but was actually pouring over the Wall Street Journal to find out how a few of his companies were doing. Things were looking pretty bad and now this.
He did it, cried out Tyler, the tears streaming down his face.
I did not!
Yes, you did! And he turned and hit Mickey. Mickey took the punch because he was more concerned with Mr. Williams. He was the older and he was the one who would be getting in trouble, not Tyler.
Just go, said Mr. Williams, just get out of here and don’t play around here. Where do you live?
Mickey turned and pointed.
Up on Wallerby.
Well, then go play on Wallerby. What are you doing playing around here anyway. Who cares. Just get.
But I need my toys! Pleaded Tyler before breaking into a full out cry.
Oh, Christ, where are they. What toys?
Over there. The Incre-di-ble Hulk is behind that thing. Captain America is right there, he said, pointing. Mr. Williams looked down and saw Mr. T on his step.
Christ! he yelled and the kids almost ran, but didn’t. Mr. Williams moved forward fast and bent down quickly and in anger to pick up Mr. T so he could throw it back over the fence when he felt a sharp pain shoot from the small of his lower back and then sort of zigzag around the rest of his back before the momentum made him fall forward and he fell headlong down the staircase of exactly eight steps.
The boys just stared at Mr. Williams lying there at the bottom of the stairway. He did not move and they both briefly thought that he was dead until they heard him groan, a long, sad moan that proved he was only hurt. Suddenly Mickey darted. Tyler forgot about his toys and sprinted after him. After a moment they were around the corner of Wallerby. Mr. Williams would never see them again.

Williams? What is Williams anyway? British.
Of course.
So you’re probably not catholic unless you’re Irish/British, right?
No, I’m catholic and British/British, British-American.
Like me.
Like you, Calvin Williams smiled. He liked the feeling of this girl.
A lot of people asked about Catholicism at Notre Dame, especially at the beginning after first arriving as freshmen. Both Calvin and Sarah were new, both standing in line together. Neither knew another living soul at this, their first meal at the dining commons just outside of the dormitory that they soon discovered that they shared. Sarah led them to a table without turning to look to see if Calvin had followed. Calvin followed knowing somehow that it would be alright.

This girl seemed to play her silences in a way that he had never really known before. The girls in high school had been a lot of fast lip jabbing together and eyelash flashing at strategic moments. This one seemed to float on a cloud. Her silence did not lend itself to interpretation and because of this Calvin knew he could follow and sit with her. As she sat down she checked only once out of the corner of her eye whether he was behind her. She smiled and acknowledged him. Perhaps he was being too brazen, but she didn’t give that signal. They were, from the first, just right.
What’s your major, she asked.
Her eyes fluttered up then back down as she sipped through her straw.
A doctor.
That’s what my parents think anyway. That’s what I’ve told them. And here I am.
She took a little time before she spoke again. It was odd for Calvin. Time passed and they simply just ate. It was suddenly as though she had forgotten that he was going to be a doctor, something he had hoped would service him well in his pursuit of girls ala the standard dream of the young college man. It wasn’t until she was finished with her salad that she spoke again.

After they accepted one another’s companionship at that first meeting a little void inside each of them was partially filled, the lonely part of the overall void of coming to a new place, the scared part of themselves they tried to cover in their new clothes and sure knowledge of what they thought they wanted to do in the future.

Published in: on November 1, 2012 at 5:29 am  Leave a Comment