Better A Living Dog Than A Dead Lion

Acting is the expression of a neurotic impulse.
It’s a bum’s life.
Quitting acting, that’s the sign of maturity.
– Marlon Brando

 

 

 

Preface:
The following is not a conversation. It is an introspective monologue with accompanying commentary, perhaps spoken by a chorus, a collective I’ll call ‘Rael’. If you can figure out who the ‘Id’ is, you’ll understand at least half the story.

They say that discretion is the better part of valor. They also say that “the discretion of a man deferreth his anger; and it is his glory to pass over a transgression (Proverbs 19:11). Actually, they say a lot of things, but these days, I try hard not to listen anymore, and in the end, I’m glad that I have forgotten probably more than I ever knew.

Id:
Once upon a time there was me. Some years later I was taken away from whom I was in order to live a life I did not choose, or want.

Rael:
Choice is an illusion. Your path was chosen for you long before you were even born. In fact, it’s in your blood to be who you are supposed to be. As far as ‘wants’ are concerned, you need not want for anything, for wants will be your downfall.

Id:
In fact, it was less a life, and more an existence. I say ‘existence’ in that I was existing, but it really wasn’t a life, at least not the one I had previously imagined for myself.

Rael:
Children have limited capacities to understand the true meaning of life or to understand responsibility, which is why they are exempt from keeping the commandments. Children are easily led astray and must therefore be educated in all things proper.

Id:
When I was young, I was very self aware of the world around me. I had a very clear definition of who I was and what was important to me. I was very in tune to the world around me, and I don’t mean my immediate surroundings, I mean current affairs, social issues, and even to a certain extent various ideologies of the times, some of which I embraced. I was very fascinated by TV. It was a conduit to all that makes us human in terms of art, culture, and knowledge. It was also something around which our family would gather and to some extent bond.

Rael:
TV is the ‘idiot box’. It is a sewer pipe into your home, bringing a cesspool of filth and perversity, all the devil’s work, to corrupt your soul and deviate you from your divine providence and purpose.

Id:
It’s easy to say television can be a bad influence on children, but I don’t, and didn’t perceive it as such. I watched things that made me smile, think and become more aware of myself and others. If anything I’d say that television was a school of sorts, bringing me an education that the traditional institutions of academia failed miserably at providing me with.

Rael:
All the knowledge you ever need is written in the scriptures.

Id:
From television I learned to dream of what I may be and what life might hold for me. It opened my eyes to possibilities beyond my front and back yards. The world, and even to some extent space and time, opened up before me with the promise that one day I might blaze a trail to distant lands and learn of different cultures.

Rael:
Your destiny is not fulfilled in the company of strangers. Stay in your own backyard.

Id:
Now at the time, my family was not religious. If anything, we were conservative, and I had no particular bones with my heritage that I had been told was a part of me … and of who I was.

Rael:
There is no black and white in religion. Either you are orthodox or you are a sinner. There are no gray areas. Moreover, the reformed and conservative are worse off than the ignorant, for they know there is a true path, and they deny it. They willfully transgress the word of the law. I would sooner visit the church of another nation than a temple of conservatism or reformism, dens of iniquity such as they are.

Id:
As soon as I went to school and learned to read, I began reading the newspaper, daily. I began to understand that American society was in a state of flux. I understood what a non-conformist was, as well as a conscientious objector. I identified with the tenements of counter culture and anti-establishment movements, though I didn’t fully appreciate what the establishment actually was. From the cancellation of the Smothers Brothers comedy hour, I learned of censorship movements and was repulsed, that such things existed in America, the ‘land of the free’.

Rael:
Pray for the integrity of the government; for were it not for the fear of its authority, a man would swallow his neighbor alive.

Id:
There was very little I learned in school, except how to read and to do basic math. My parents sent me to a private school. Little did I know that the school’s establishment came on the heels of the passing of desegregation laws in Miami (Dade County, Florida), and the threat of ‘busing’. I didn’t put these piecse together until later, but basically my family’s jump to orthodoxy was motivated in part by fear and Southern racist motivations.

Rael:
One has to go out of one’s way, if need be, to circumvent houses of ill repute. If you play with dirt, you get dirty.

Id:
I learned of the plight of the American Indian, and immediately stopped playing ‘Cowboys and Indians’. Instead, I dreamed of eloping with a Native American Princess. The concept of ‘love’ was something that had dawned on me very early. The sentiments of the ‘flower children’ that were so pervasively paraded and often lampooned in the mainstream media had impacted me in such a way that I yearned to ‘make love’ and not war … and I hadn’t even hit puberty, yet!

Rael:
In your rebellion and abrogation of your blood, you allow others to lead you astray to engage in acts of abomination, or worse, idol worship. Do not be a willing participant in what is tantamount to a second silent holocaust.

Id:
I didn’t know what the conflict in Vietnam was all about exactly, but I saw it on the news. I read the headlines in the newspapers and saw ink smudged pictures in which you couldn’t tell corpse from foliage. I knew that young men were dying there. I knew that people, older than me, but younger than most, objected. I thought the draft was wrong. I could not fathom one fighting for one’s country, but by the same token I understood that many did. I fathomed the rift in my county’s demographics.

Rael:
Correction: the country of your birth. You owe no allegiance to this foreign land. The holy land of our people’s forefathers beckons you still. Perhaps someday, when you return to your faith and you will emigrate there, like many before you have done. The political and social affairs of the rest of the world are of no matter to you.

Id:
But still, as fascinated as I was with the world outside my homestead, there was a much deeper calling that beckoned me, resonating throughout every fiber of my existence. A gift from a muse perhaps, or a life force emanating from the beating of my heart. A rhythmic art form of melody and harmony, tempo and texture. Truly a medium of more than just sound and silence, but rather a purveyor of consciousness, a facilitator of perception, and a means of communication. Music is and has always been something as elemental to me as water and air. For as long as I can remember, my ears were glued to a portable transistor radio. I remember aspiring to be a Beatle, or at least a Monkee.

Rael:
Manna stems from the heavens, not from the radio. Moreover, music is an expression of its composer’s soul, and listening to it puts you in touch with that person’s essence. Music is a medium that allows the composer’s thoughts, feelings, and emotions to affect you … to touch you. When the music stems from unholy sources, it does more than simply touch you, it defiles your soul and pollutes your mind and spirit.

Id:
I don’t know how young I was before I knew I wanted to play music, write songs and lyrics, and bring them to others’ ears.

Rael:
Who are you to write music and speak to others? The creation of music is reserved for the pious and holy from whose writings and studies gave life to songs that inspire others to divine service. Hold your tongue and repress your foolish worldly notions. You are no one, as insignificant as a speck of dust from whence you sprang and will one day return.

Id:
Music also was an escape for me. The music of my youth was indicative of a period in my life when I was the happiest. As I grew, and my life was abducted and shackled, music would always take me back home. It is no wonder Simon & Garfunkel’s ‘Homeward Bound’ always resonated deeply within me. After all, it was the second 45′ record I had owned; the first being Johnny Cash’s ‘I Walk The Line’.

Rael:
You have but one savior. All else takes you away from your divine purpose, which is to serve him.

Id:
Anyway, as the liberal and dynamic sentiments, notions, and impression of the 60s mutated to those of the conservative and self-centered 70s, I too changed. I began to look to the future, and wonder what my future might be, who I was and what I might become.

Rael:
What you consider ‘you’ to be is what separates you from divinity. Enlightenment through self-nullification is the path to righteousness and piety. It is the devil that feeds your ego. ‘You’ do not matter in the total scheme of things. Walking in the ways of our teachings and heritage is the only path. ‘You’ are nothing and should desire only to make yourself nothing in order to serve with all your being.

Id:
Change was less than gradual. My world transmogrified into a prison of faux existence. I was not asked, I was told and expected to follow. My good nature was taken advantage of. Blind faith was demanded as a life was stolen. A yoke was placed around my hopes, dreams, aspirations, mind, … and very identity. Instead of reason, there was oppression. Instead of spirit, there was doctrine. Instead of love there was guilt and irrational torment. Instead of ethics there was a higher power… or at least interpreters of his will. Don’t touch your ‘pee pee’ or you’ll go blind.

Rael:
It is not your place to question your lot in life. Like Job, and others before him, you were being tested. You failed spectacularly.

Id:
I wasn’t a rebel. I was an artist. Perhaps at times a minstrel or court jester. I was a lover, not a fighter … and thus I allowed myself to go with the flow. I did not speak up, but rather feigned obedience and took the role of the wheel that did not squeak. Oil did not follow. Instead, I was driven through crap … that took me many years to finally scrape off the bottom of my shoe. It soiled me in ways I still cannot come to terms with or forgive myself for.

Rael:
Repentance is always an option. Otherwise … you’re going to hell.

Id:
No, I’ve already been there.

———————-
PS. Thanks for reading.  Have you ever had a crisis of faith, or is your faith your crisis? It’s no wonder I always say, “I used to be religious, but now I’m just happy”.

Suggested Reading:

F**k It: The Ultimate Spiritual Way  When I Say No, I Feel Guilty Godless: How an Evangelical Preacher Became One of America's Leading Atheists Does God Get Diarrhea?: Flushing 4,000 Years Of Lies, Myths, And Fairy Tales Down The Toilet

 

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8 thoughts on “Better A Living Dog Than A Dead Lion

  1. Yes, have had a crisis of faith. Many years ago and now my life is scarier than ever. Stepping outside of religion is scary as shit. This may be why most never do it. I consider forgiveness to be my faith of choice now. Which requires me to forgive myself and see others as aspects of myself. I consider it to be a brave life with no thethers or strings but I would have it no other way. I love finding creative blogs like yours. What a great read – thanks for sharing.

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  2. Nicole, thanks for your insight and kind words. I agree with you in that I am certainly much happier with who I am these days as a person. Thankfully, forgiveness comes easy with me … forgetting is the hard part in some cases, but not always. Gaining new perspectives does wonders, as well as allowing myself to enjoy the luxury of just being 'me', even if that means defying the expectations of others.

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