Monday, April 7, 2014

A Sunday of Self Reflection

It's been a long two weeks for me recently, hence why the blog has been silent. A lot of hassles with trying to get my home loan, which is being resolved right now, and I have had more fatigue and pain than I have had in years. Add to that a lot of emotional whiplash from a book that is an absolutely great and profound book, but highly triggering for anyone who grew up in a fundamentalist background, and it's been a mess.

The book is the brilliant work 13:24 by M. Dolon Hickmon. An investigation into a brutal string of murders in a small town leads to all the town's dark secrets spilling out. One of the biggest secrets is a minister who openly advocates child abuse from the pulpit, and whose ideology is remarkably similar to real life fundamentalist leaders.

There were scenes were the minister's son, Josh (who later becomes a lead singer of a death metal band) was having flashbacks to the beatings his father gave him. It was so raw, so vivid, that it was giving me flashbacks, not because of the violence, but because the lines that he used were the exact same lines that were told to me as a child.

There were so many profound statements that really spoke to me through the character Josh. A friend of his asks while he is in a mental hospital due to a suicide attempt and cocaine use. His friend asks them if he wants to bring back an old band that they used to have, he said he wasn't sure about that, and his friend said he used to be passionate about the music. This was his response:

I don't have a clue what I am passionate about because my father stripped away every shred of independence. It was never enough to follow orders. He had to pry me open, to make sure I didn't have any feelings or motivations that he hadn't given me permission to have.
Then, in a scene during a group therapy session for survivors of religious abuse, he talks about why he can't believe in Christianity anymore.
"I was raised to believe that  there was a God, who loves and helps people. I believed  that, and I prayed, with the faith of a little child. God was supposed to listen; but year after year my father stood in his church, daring him to intervene. God never did a single thing. He never lifted one finger to help or comfort me" 
When a Christian woman in the group become offended by this, implying that she thought he wanted everyone to become atheists, this is what he said: 
I'm not saying that. I'm saying that we don't always get to believe what we want. Somehow we have to reconcile our desire to believe with the reality we have seen."  

More and more of Josh's words described so much the way I have felt, and why I can't believe in Christianity. I can't wrap my mind around the concept of a loving, merciful god, i don't understand how it's possible that people do believe this. If someone does believe it, and that brings comfort and hope into their life, I won't try to persuade them out of it, but I just simply don't understand how it's possible to believe that.

Between my health issues and being tossed around emotionally by this book, by the time Sunday came around, I needed some rest, I stayed off Facebook for several hours, which is highly unusual me, and went to the Unitarian church that I have been attending since this December. After services, on the drive home, I spent some time touring some of the sights along the Mississippi River.

One of the sites was the Lewis and Clark Confluence Tower, in Hartford, Illinois. It's a tower that has 3 observation decks to overlook the Mississippi River.

It's just several hundred yards down the road from a museum dedicated to the famous expedition of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. Their campsite that they spent time at before advancing up the Missouri was somewhere within a mile radius of the museum, though Lewis and Clark made detailed maps of the locations they visited, it's rather impossible to pin down the exact location of their encampment.

This is due to the fact that the Mississippi River has changed course slightly due to the effects of locks along the river such as the Melvin Price Lock and Dam in Alton and many more similar locks on the river it all the way down to Memphis, and the effects of the infamous New Madrid Earthquakes of 1811-1812.

The tallest observation deck on the Confluence Tower is 150 feet:

I kept going farther south on my way down Illinois Route 3 towards home, and made a detour to the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge outside of Granite City. This bridge was built in 1929, was closed to vechicle traffic decades ago, and was rebuilt to accomdate traffic on foot and bicycle from a regional bike trail network, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2006. During the time it was still being used for vehicular traffic, it was a part of the historic Route 66 network of roads.
I walked out onto the bridge, there were a few people walking or biking across, but at times when there was no one around, I just listening to the rushing water, and the roar of traffic on I-270/New Chain of Rocks Bridge, which was built to replace the old bridge in 1969, about a mile north. The stillness of it was comforting, reminded me of when I spent time at my family's property in northern St.. Francois County, Missouri.
Here's a few scenes from the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge.
It was a two lane bridge when it was used by vehicles, if you can imagine that. It's maybe 10 feet wide at most:

Looking north towards Interstate 270/New Chain of Rocks Bridge:

Wider view of the river:
View facing south, the small building there housed pumps for St. Louis' public water district, lines ran under the river, and to a water treatment plant. Now, there's a pump station on the river banks.



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