Black Lives Matter at the Second Baptist Church

As the TRUMP regime is ending and the BIDEN world is coming in, there is an almost palpable shift in the energy work of the blog — so much government work has been a part of my Goetia life. And now LEYA: you haven’t been through a regime change, WHIPPET. This post was begun before the election, and the tone is not what it would be now, but I am going to honor it, because it is accurate for what these people lived. 

Mountain Home, Arkansas, where my mother and her second husband TRACTORMAN retired, is about 85% Anglo, and frankly, that was part of the reason they retired there. Their old neighborhood in North Houston, where TRACTORMAN had lived for, I don’t know, thirty years, had grown progressively more bottomed out as the Anglos moved out to the suburbs and he stayed, working a backhoe at the Airport, and raising four kids, in some ways by himself. A progression of wives came and went — all with the same first name until my mother came along with the crazy cooked-up name of Marilee that wasn’t quite Southern but wasn’t not — the kids grew up, and he stayed stuck there in that now-ethnic neighborhood with an old blue truck that he cherried out like nobody’s business. I’D RATHER BE DRIVING A FORD THAN PUSHING A CHEVY. So it was that my mother came into a series of brand new Fords, a pretty bauble every year on her birthday, and a homie who came and never left. 

They were so happy I bit my lip about the fact that he only finished second grade and couldn’t read or write. 

Like GRANDFATHER.

Part of what they wanted in their new retirement life in the quiet BURGLARY-FREE town was to go to Church. 

As I recall, half the burglaries at the old place were by white people.

YES, THEY WERE.

It was all of a piece.

Anyway, they started out with this awesome freaky pastor-teacher who was an autodidact of divinity — probably meeting in someone’s house — plying the trade of Baptist because that’s what everyone is — while also veering into some Angel summoning that was, frankly, Rosicrucian. They sent me write-ups of some of their work, and I could see that what was going on was playing off of my work. I’d be scared to call those Angels. They were serious old sky powers. In a bygone era and with the Cabala, those Angels could have gone Pentecostal on everyone with candle flames leaping up and secret power deals being cut. As it was, my mother’s life was twice saved in the nick of time and I was with her when she passed, lasting four years in Stage IV cancer. All this in that old country town in the Ozarks dotted with home-made cemeteries going back to the Civil War. 

They had a Greek world in the Deep South, and it suited TRACTORMAN. He had grown up with power out in the country in Kansas and he was more than he looked in OWLS. That is part of my beef with all of this new sorcery. This is family and it is more beautiful than everyone in smallville being taken to the cleaners by THE CLUB. I am grateful for that family. They might or might not have done actual work themselves, but in their souls they know what to do with the roots. Even the old Mason stuff goes back in deep worlds with them. 

IF YOU JEWISH, IT DOES. 

After a while this old-timey forest situation lost steam, the little study group closed, and they switched to the ever-deluxe Second Baptist Church, with the blessing of the pastor-teacher, whom they remained close to for the rest of their lives. 

Now this was a plush church, the exact opposite of the old timey one, and for some reason that was the one that was chosen.

There are many reasons to go with a plush church. I understand this, having been a Mormon for twenty years. Here is a poem I wrote about the plushness of the Mormon world:

Approval

We were in that tunnel leading underground

Awaiting the day when the secret writings

Would be given,

The writings that would tell us,

Once and for all,

Who we are.

 

Standing by the door was the Prophet,

The True Prophet,

The Real True Prophet,

Not that other one

Who turned out to be a dud.

He wore black and said little

And his smile was kind, if absent.

 

It was damp and dusty in that place.

The amenities were scarce,

And there wasn’t any food.

 

It wasn’t like this with the Mormons, I said.

With the Mormons, there was always plenty

Of food, mountains of food, stockpiled

In caverns, against the Judgement Day

Or Y2K, whichever came first.

 

Have you tried the toilet paper

At Temple Square?

It’s soft as mother’s milk

And twice as white.

Just one more proof

That the Church is true.

 

The old witch said,

They may have fed you well,

But look at the gouges in your soul.

 

I had to admit she was right.

The freed slaves of Israel also reminisced

About the fleshpots of Egypt

While crossing the Sinai Desert.

That can’t have been comfortable.

 

The rejection notice didn’t say much,

But to a poet, not much is plenty.

I wanted to know why they didn’t like my poems.

If only I knew why, I might do better next time.

I found the Judge of poetry—

He, too, was a Mormon.

He said merely, We prefer poems that rhyme.

 

I thought I detected movement in the tunnel underground.

I went down to have a look,

But there wasn’t any light.

I asked the old witch if she had a light.

She said she could see in the dark if she chose,

But generally preferred not to.

I thought if I just believed hard enough,

The Prophet would show us something.

 

The old witch said merely,

Believing was never good for the soul.

Both the Mayans and the Vikings will assure you that Christianity is a religion that is mostly about a building whereas we have THE GODS. The portal of our ancestors in our houses and our fields, with our horses and fowl, with the trees who remember our dead, and all things a mishmash of WHICH WORLD IS REAL?

THE EMPIRE cows a centralized top-down theology instead.

I have decided that in many ways the building is, in fact, a good thing. It heals. 

What we have here at the Second Baptist Church is a lot of lower-middle-class people — some lower than that — and all expected to attend — and the SUBTLE CUES of nobless oblige everything gonna be all right. I like that. It is good.

Rural Arkansas is where you go to retire on eight hundred dollars a month, with an efficiency apartment for the 55+ set, a cable subscription, food stamps, and some cigs. Having a nice Church with a lot of nice upholstery is a smooth way to relax in finery you can’t yourself afford. It’s SHOWBIZ, and nobody in the lodge hall is unaware of how our pretty robes bring in the CROWDS. 

The nearby White River is one of the fly fishing meccas of the South, and out-of-towners abound in the summer with their $150K RVs that are mostly kept on ice, patronizing elegant cabins down by the river, and that private club with the catfish dinner I never got. No one ever got that fancy catfish dinner, and here we are, too late.

The biggest industry in this ole town is bottomed-out affordable retirement, with its comcomitant plethora of geriatric medicine, piles of Baptist churches everywhere, and maybe one junior high school. Folks from as far away as Chicago retired in this little town and brought some of their big-city flash to that quiet country wonderland with so much gumption. One grocery store still looks like it did in the 1970s, and everywhere you go, chickens, cows, and gravestones. It was a wonderful place, and my folks were lucky to be able to afford a string of lovely houses, each one successively smaller and more regular, until at the end, a subdivision a few blocks from the hospital.

THIS IS A WORLD OF COWS

When I first met TRACTORMAN in the late 1980s, his speech was peppered with the “N” word and his longing to be in a world that represented an Anglo like this country used to be. What happened to my America? It is not easy to be illiterate in the increasingly automated work milieu if nobody can be trusted to keep your secret and work with you. They can read and I can pick up the slack. That is the WEALTH of my racism. Good jobs in the working class are scarce, and he relied on other people to put it together for him. 

With my mother’s assistance, he eventually did achieve about a second grade reading level, his stress eased up, and he mellowed out beautifully with the well-deserved funding of a life of hard work.

But it was not easy for me to sit there and listen to him rant about the stupidities of the dark races when I was clearly half dark and not a bit stupid. I bit my lip and continued to show respect for my elders, visiting often when I could and always a phone call away.

Here is where we pick up with those Angel summonings and the gorgeous power of the Bible.

I am not right when I complain about the broad strike of this power. 

This is the culture that designed, built, and implemented much of the infrastructure of the modern world: electricity, cars, telephones, packaged food, radio and television, the personal computer, the internet. All of the ways in which we ARE today were put together by the WASP culture. 

That is the rich and crenelated spirituality of the Red State POWER. 

We do not honor our being when we pass over it in disrespect to those who have picked up the tab for the Blue State world to race ahead in everything, make broad social changes that were legislated but not agreed upon by all, and HAVE A GOOD TIME in stupid while the old folks were left behind. 

Then there is the culture of Arkansas, weirdly reminiscent of that of Utah. ALL ROADS LEAD TO ROME. It is the Church that is in all things, and God who makes many calls.

I have the luxury to be Hermetic Crypto-Jew with a Master’s degree because my elders liked me sassy and fine, and in their grinding lives did not have the moment to say THE EMPEROR HAS NO CLOTHES, which we always knew yet could not frame in our third-grade wordthoughts.

A man who cannot read in a world of words, with a wife and children to support, has to figure out how to work it, man. That is your friends.

You need to come in at 11 on Monday after a weekend on the liquor? I’ll cover you, but you got to show me what these paper scratchings mean. And that is a secret between us.

I can’t be laughed at, and the out group might give me away. The price was a lifetime of perfect sobriety and half again as much hard work so very COWED on the Anglo side of the family. 

It is a question of life and death.

The body looks a certain way in race, and it not just skin. It has an entire culture that goes along with it, and the unstated understanding that my uncle might have jumped the fence, and you could be my cousin.

The animal gives food to its family. It is the preservation of this our genetic patterning at the expense of that over there, and it is part of how all animals are.

When times are lean and we have to SCRATCH about for food, things can get kind of mean, and racism is part of that.

We are now in a social crisis the likes of which we have not seen for a long time. There are many calls for WHITE SUPREMACY and many more calls for BLACK LIVES MATTER, and it is really down to the food bank lines that snake around the block and back. It is hunger.

Our society has enough food to last out this crisis, and we just need to hold on.

Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions holds that new ideas come in with young scientists, and the way the accepted ideas form is that the old scientists who held the old ideas die off, and the new scientists with the new ideas take their place.

Racism will eventually die off because the root causes of it are no longer in effect and there is much goodness in the hearts of humanity.

But we don’t necessarily have to wait for everyone to die.

The minister of the Second Baptist Church was very fine about race, and managed to pretty well stamp it out in his congregation’s public discourse. 

Once that idea was fully established in this family’s life, I never heard another cross word about race even in private, despite a lifetime of listening to the “N” word, aghast.

I attended this Church with my mother on a number of occasions. The African-American members were scattered throughout the congregation, not all shivering in a clump of self-defense, and everyone greeted everyone. I was shocked and pleased and began to hear positive comments about the dark-skinned culture that was half mine. 

It wasn’t about Covid. Not a decade ago. It was simply time to open up our hearts and let the LOVE OF GOD be real. 

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