I hung out with Jesus once…

I was at Red Trolley the other night with a dear friend.  I overheard a woman talking to a couple of friends about her drama.  She is in love with this guy that asked her to marry him.  But she isn’t marrying him because he isn’t a man of faith, “He isn’t a born again.  How am I supposed to marry him?”  She said. Whoa!  That’s literally what I screamed in my head.  Who still thinks this way?  Riiiiight, I get it, as I remind myself that I usually have the same reaction to conversations about monogamy, lol.  She went on to talk about how burdened she felt by the fact that her best friend of 12 years is also not a born again and therefore needs to keep the most important part of her from their friendship.  I think my heart sank at that moment, not because I am judging her, but because it got me to the thinking.  Mostly about my own experience as a born again, and who I was then.

Then I remembered that over the summer, I had an amazing, yet short lived conversation with an old friend I once knew about religion.  Apparently when we were in high school (CVHS vs Eastlake!) one year for his birthday, I gave him a book titled, The Politics of Bad Faith.  The title is misleading of course.  I have no recollection of this at all, but even just the idea that it might have happened doesn’t seem surprising to me, although it does leave a bad taste in my mouth.  So I have been feeling a bit reflective.

I recounted my experience as a born again Christian, it was a complicated time period where I somehow felt roped into an institutionalized religion at the most vulnerable point in my life, surviving an abusive relationship.  I realized that I wasn’t seeking religion; I was seeking a relationship with spirituality, some kind of kinship and understanding with the order of things.  Although I felt connected to a core set of values, I mostly inhaled and exhaled my way through bible studies and spent most of the time challenging the “word of god,” or feeling resentful towards my brothers and sisters for judging me so harshly.  Me + Christian rhetoric never made a good couple, ever.  And is it all that surprising considering my politics on monogamy?  During that time, I was always assured that it was a healthy thing to question the bible, that we all have doubts, they said.  Uh huh sure, just as long as it was sealed tightly in their home made and evenly distributed candy wrapper.  At one point I began to feel like Mary from the movie Saved, minus getting shoved into a mini van and getting a bible thrown at me by Mandy Moore.  I assure you however, a number of people did indeed pray for me in fear that I had fallen off the path.

I spent so much fucking time feeling guilty.  Once at a retreat I was told, in not so many words of course, that I shouldn’t be hanging out with so many non-Christians unless I had been planning to “evangelize.”  I spent so much time listening to other people confess their  indulgences and hearing how guilty they felt, and I spent so much time feeling self conscious about how good of a “Christian” I was that I lost sight of what I was really searching for: a relationship with faith and the order of things.  And maybe a relationship with myself that felt empowered by giving into my indulgences. =)

I am sure this entry will piss people off, and quite frankly, I hope it does.  But I am not talking shit about individuals; I am not talking shit about Christianity.  I am engaging in a thought process that questions religion as an institution and the impact it has had on my mental health.  I am interrogating the process of taking Christianity and stripping it of its integrity and calling it something else: a religion based on hypocrisy.  I guess that’s why I can appreciate punk rock Pastor Jay Bakker, even though I am not a Christian.  He talks about grace and I can get down with that.

These days I like to joke about how I am a recovering Christian and I have been clean about seven years now.  Sure I joke about it, but my experience as a born again Christian was nothing short of traumatizing.  Yet I survived it as a more spiritual person now than I have ever been.  So Augustine, my old friend, sorry about giving you that bullshit book.  I am so glad that ten years later we can laugh about it.

Here is a poem I wrote a few years back about my trajectory in becoming born again and finally, developing a relationship with the cosmos, with faith, with trusting that the universe has a plan for us.

*****PS.  I have tried posting this a  bunch of times but the formatting always messes up.  Oh well.

My Love Affair With Sin

by Eneri Rodriguez

I learned a lot when i was a kid.
Like how when my brother and I used to thumb wrestle during mass
It wasn’t just because I was young

or trapped in a language of religion never broken down into syllables for me,

It was because I fell in love with sin.

He proposed a love affair with me
that stretched over ten years of orgasmic guilt,

It was the casual encounters and lonely hotel rendezvous’ type of a situation,

over gin and tonics, illegal parkings and sinful spreads in the park.
During a gap when sin and I weren’t speaking

I met a new lover.
But sin would still visit me at night, bring me insomnia
Hound me about the in town hook up type of arrangement

Jesus and I were having.

Sin embodied every step I took.
He painted images of himself as I dozed off during worship on Sunday mornings.

He planted himself inside me in between every flirtatious gaze, weightless kiss and pink pearled bunny rabbit;
he lived in the particles of my inertia,

clammed up in every drink of beer and bong rip I had

to prepare me for “Investigative Bible Studies,”

that’s what they called it.

He even branded my name into his arm.

One night among the scent of sea breeze,

cracked sand dollars, broken beer bottles and enveloped seaweed

he found Jesus and I swimming in our swirls of erotic lust, legs stretched and entwined,

drops of sweat dripping from his body through mine dampening the blanket beneath us.

Sin called me a whore!

These elusive affairs consumed me,
stretched me and shot me out to present day orgasms that define my identity,

that have deconstructed my calamity into melodic clarity.

My entire being was meant
for so much more than Holy Communion,

fifteen Hail Marys and

stale dark confessionals that I longed to make out with boys in,

touch myself and fantasize in.
Confessionals that haunted me as a child.

All in all, Sin and Jesus have only ever taken me so far.

The last twenty six years have left me tired, worn out,

exhausted and hungry.

My religion has blasted
out of my soul like a spare electron.
It lies somewhere in the resentment of

being strapped into a straight jacket and institutionalized

and the shakras of a past lover,

a lover who has transcended religion

and now speaks in tongues with their higher being.

He showed me how to love.

I was hungry,

starving for someone who had been shot out to oblivion like me.
To exist on multi-dimensional planes with,
to grow recipes for my continuum and sanity

and build cookbooks about the order of things with,

I lusted for someone new.
But a new person to undluge with in and out of back seat wasn’t the answer,

a new soul lost and erratic would only taint my quest, my journey,

my entrance into the now.

And then one day I met her.

Around the corner from Jaycee’s Market she stopped me in the alley,

smoked my bowl and introduced herself to me and her family,

the cosmos.

I had never read a book this thick, listened to a song so long,

written an epic poem or hiked on this long of a journey.

But she was all of these enwrapped into divination.

The universe stopped moving,

time lapsed and I saw the order of things stand still,

The words of the I-Ching popped right out of that binding and into my being,

It indicted and forgave me, branded and made love to me.

I have lost the photo strip of Sin and I from that old stuffy booth that one time.

And the memories I have of Jesus and I have become faint, cold,

and simply just that: memories.

The nightmares have fled

I will sleep for days,

because I am a wild spirit.

And I am full.

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4 Responses to “I hung out with Jesus once…”

  1. Wow, love the poem. I even love this post more because I was born again, December 31, 2009 and it has been the most confusing, heart breaking birth ever. I am confused about my future, confused about what i feel and what I want. I always knew where I wanted to go and what I wanted but the minute I got baptized everything became difficult and hazy. Every wrong I did felt like a lash from a whip and all the good I am trying to accomplish feels like I am slipping away from self. how can I want to be in a poly relationship, have sex with women when I am supposed to be a Christian now….everything feels wrong.. nothing I do feels right anymore… Thanks for this post, it was a bit of enlightenment

    • Kayla,

      Thank you so much for your comment! It made me smile and also compelled to read your writing, so expect something from me soon! I know what you mean when you speak of how challenging life can feel like after being born again. I think my struggle was/is with religion as an institution, its binding, restricting and ultimately, not freeing and liberating in the way I needed at the time. In the end we are all our own people, we make our own decisions, and we choose to live and approach the world in a way that is most liberating, sexy and inspiring for us. I trust that my afterlife will not be impacted by whether or not I have premarital sex or sex with a woman for that matter. I trust that the universe has a plan based on something more sacred than the “How good am I?” game. My advice to you is continue to challenge everything, it’s how we do the most growing, continue to question, to inquire, to speak out. I knew that the christian religion wasn’t for me when I was told being queer was not acceptable. Spirituality on the other hand is an entirely different element.

      Kudos on asking questions, and excited to hear and read more from you blog posts on being Bi and poly!

  2. Hi DjQueenB,

    A new post by you, yay. I have similar feelings towards my old religion. It had the added angle of conflict for me, that my particular ‘church’ was labelled as a ‘cult’ (upon reflection I would call it unorthodox christianity with some pseudo-jewish beliefs thrown in) which was even more difficult to grapple with, during the recovering stage, a lot of that due to all the negative connotations people associate with the concept of ‘cult’. [As if we were out sacrificing virgins at midnight or something!] I’ve come to my own realization (in my opinion) that more socially acceptable religions are just more socially acceptable cults, which might seem oxymoronic, but it makes sense for me. Blah.

    This part is a bit of an unrelated rant:

    My church even preached the end of the world from the pulpit, which I found unusual shortly after quitting (well, I still do). But you have the media preaching that the world will end (this time in 2012, the last cycle of this for me was Y2K) , and I have to come to a bit of a conclusion that certain aspects of the media are like some sort of new-age religion for so-called ‘non-believers’ – even though they may not be aware of it. – I’m sure this stems from stupid beliefs in Revelations. Pisses me off to no end. Like, if an unusually large solar flare, or even a nuclear holocaust, destroys the earth tomorrow, it’s just a natural order of events for me. I just wish people didn’t have to live in fear. I relate this to you, because I don’t have so many feelings of guilt, which you talk about, but a lot of feelings of fear, that I gained and am now trying to unlearn, thanks to my ex-religion.

  3. Obviously, media itself has been fear-mongering for a long time, so it’s a bit of a double whammy with mainstream religions and mainstream media both doing this.

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