I don’t believe in unconditional love. My love is conditional.
If you’re going to comment, be kind. If you can’t be bothered with kindness, go ahead and be cruel. If you’re not getting-off on cruelty, it’s your own damn fault. If you have to ask what someone else thinks, maybe you should hit “pause” instead of “post comment.”
Do you want to pass the Gatorade? Or see what it feels like to cross the finish line first. Do you need permission? Or are you prepared to kick the beast when the dog starts barking.
Spent the weekend in Nashville, TN.
3-guys knocking around the honky-tonks. 2-guys divorced. 1-guy never married. Needless to say, none of us know a thing about love, besides what we’ve learned from singing along to love songs.
All You Need Is Love.
All Together Now.
All You Need Is Love, Love, And An Upside Down Mortgage Payment.
Drove the 7-hours between Chicago and Nashville to rescue a friend from the self-imposed sadness of the Recently Divorced Post-Unhappily-Married Blues. Too many years of being treated like a sexual afterthought, you start believing it’s all you’re worth, you start craving hostility.
Alan spent too long getting divorced. Along the way, he lost faith in Jesus. His wife said if he couldn’t accept Jesus in his heart, she couldn’t accept him in the marital bed.
They got married too young. She was a spoiled brat living out the princess fantasy. He was a pity party champion living out the unappreciated provider myth.
Stay too long, the sadness is self-imposed. Stay too long, the hostage situation is self-imposed. Stay too long, it’s your own damn fault.
If you have to ask permission for anal, maybe you should call-off the engagement instead of formulating an actionable plan in regards to the seating arrangement for challenging guests who’ve earned their seat at the table by finger banging your wife’s wedding registry fantasies punching in their credit card number, followed by expiration date, on Bloomingdales.com.
I’m not cynical.
Alan is the first man down, telling me why I can’t swim past the sandbar when the lifeguard blows his whistle. Alan is the first man down, telling me why he’s glad I didn’t start trouble outside of a honky-tonk when an obese white trash 16-year old girl, walking arm-in-arm with her obese white trash 16-year old boyfriend, begins flinging racism into my ear with the same deliberate faux-authority used when placing an order at the drive-thru window.
“Welcome to Burger King. Can I take your order?”
“I’ll have the White Supremacist Happy Meal.”
“Will that be all?”
“Diet Coke. Super Size.”
The Mighty Men Christian Revival is for men between the ages of 72 and 90. Last Sunday it was held in Nashville, Tennessee, at the Bridgestone Arena, the same venue where, 2-days earlier, Justin Timberlake had ushered women, between the ages of 14 and 41, to the gates of Heaven.
We stumbled upon the audience by accident. Or maybe it was destiny. Who am I to judge? Judge not lest thee be bored.
I’ve never seen so many gay men, older gay men, obese older gay men, held back by institutionalized homophobia, held back by institutionalized self-hatred, afraid of attraction, afraid of their penis, afraid of going balls deep in the deliciousness of attraction, seeking fellowship in regret.
I wanted to see.
A part of myself would like to convince you I did it for Alan, giving him an opportunity to experience, with outsider eyes, the truth about religion, the truth about organized religion, the truth about God, the truth about his God fearing ex-wife. But the part of myself wanting to convince you is a liar.
I wanted to go.
I wanted to see.
Alan is the first man down, shushing me at the Mighty Men Christian Revival. Didn’t mean to get shushed. I was having a hard time settling-in. My voice carries. When I’m nervous, I’m like a child who needs to be reminded to use his inside voice. Maybe I was being loud, deliberately loud, as a coping mechanism, trying to prove I was okay with being outnumbered, and Jewish.
“Shhhh,” Alan leaned into my face.
Alan is conditioned: stand up, sit down, bow your head, shhhh. Most of all, at the Mighty Men Christian Revival, I was struck by how easily we’re conditioned: stand up, sit down, bow your head, shhhh.
Scotty McCreery, the country western pretty boy who won the 10th season of American Idol, sang 2-songs. Charlie Daniels, the country western fiddle playing icon, sang 2-songs.
They were the opening act for Angus Buchan, the potato farmer turned preacher from South Africa. Angus Buchan is the South African version of Ross Perot: a feisty, over-the-top, finger-wagging little man.
“Discipline your children,” Angus yelled, “and they’ll respect you.”
“Put your wife in her place,” Angus yelled, “and she’ll submit.”
“You need a game plan, man.” Angus yelled.
Angus got-off on yelling. Angus got-off on underscoring his points with “man.” It made him look tough. And matched his cowboy hat.
Imagine Ross Perot having an out-of-wedlock Gay Love Child with George W. Bush and moving to South Africa, during Apartheid, so they could openly exploit institutionalized segregation, while raising the adorable White Supremacist Gay Love Child they named Angus, on a Zambian maize and cattle farm, man.
Got the picture?
“You need a plan, man. Not your plan. God’s plan. You need to go home and get your house in order, man. Not your house, God’s house. If you’re thinking of leaving your wife, think again. If you’re thinking of going back to the bottle, think again. If you’re a man thinking about another man, think again. You need a plan, man.”
We’re conditioned to be yelled at: stand up, sit down, bow your head, shhhh, don’t be gay! The audience was there to be scolded.
“God is the father, not the mother. Jesus is the son, not the daughter. We’re men. Mighty men. We fish. We hunt. We’ve lost the right to be men. If my kid talks back, I’ll knock my kid down, man. Can I get an Amen?”
“That’s not how you say Amen. We’re men. Mighty men. I’m going to say Amen. Then I want you to say Amen. Like this: AMEN.”
Angus barked. The crowd barked back.
The louder he said it, the louder the crowd barked back.
Over and over, until a warning light began flashing in my head, and I was reminded of a similar phrase, staccato, with a one-two punch.
If you bark the command, if you say the command loud enough, with a one-two punch, over and over, it’s amazing the power words have to unify a crowd of men, angry men who left something behind, be it financial security, a sense of purpose, a willing hole to go balls deep…
Before you think my sole purpose was looking for an opportunity to roll my outsider eyes, I’ll leave you with this. When Alan agreed to go to the Mighty Men Christian Revival, I offered to pay, knowing he was strapped for cash by the resounding victory in divorce court of his ex-wife, the princess.
As I approached the box office, reaching for my credit card, I was tapped on the shoulder.
“Do you need a ticket?” I was asked by a gentle voice.
“Yes,” I said. “How much?”
“God be with you.”
Within 30-seconds, I had a ticket. Within 90-seconds, all three of us had tickets. I’m not cutting down the time to make a point. In fact, I might actually be stretching the time, so I don’t misrepresent the invitation, which was an invitation to share the comfort of a message resonating deeply in the lives of men who feel the opposite of mighty.