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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

I AM SABE

karl-horst hodicke

My world is peaceable and calm. I turn on the radio, it's dissent and turmoil, talk today that the liberals are getting Mad, meant to imply that liberals can go into action and make a difference politically now that they're mad. Gotta get mad first. It cracks me up when I see an intro to an article that says, "This ought to really make you mad." Why do I want to see something else to make me mad? What if I don't want to get mad? What if I've already been mad and learned that when I get mad over some politician's public persona I go around with a mad attitude all the time. This one aint right. That one aint right. Recalling a conversation with old-time preacher, Millard Pruitt, who went to school in my house and grew up a third of a mile up Waterfall Road. I was at his house visiting, the tv news was on. It was the time of the Ayatollah, Iran, hostages, Reagan. The news video showed a few seconds of a big square full of people on their knees praying. Millard said, "They aint no religion over there." He paused and added, "I'd go so far as to say they aint no religion outside these United States. I'd go so far as to say they aint no religion outside Alleghany County." I stepped in, "And they aint no religion outside Laurel Glenn church and they aint no religion outside that recliner you're sitting in." He said, "No, I wouldn't go that far." I said, "That's the direction you're headed." He didn't mean it like that. This was in good humor. We were not getting excited about it. Just talking like a cat ran across the lawn out the window. Another time in the same news cycle he said of the network's standard prayer shot for whatever country USA is attacking or threatening to, in this case Iran, "We oughta nuke em." I said, "You start nuking everybody you don't like and the time will come you're the only one left." He said, "That'd be all right." And the time we were watching klansmen taunt a 5 year old black girl walking to school, every one of them with a beer bottle in hand, beer bellies and white tshirts that read, Invisible Empire. Millard said, "Now, there's a bunch of boys I'd like to be with." I said, "What? You want to drink beer with them?" "No, I wouldn't need the beer." 

karl-horst hodicke

Many times I felt an urge to address his racism and contempt for foreigners. Always came to it's his business, it's his life, he's 80, it's his culture. It's not my place to correct anyone. It is only my place to correct myself. If I don't think racism is the way to go, I don't have to go that way. I was wanting to learn the ways of mountain culture. I don't learn anything if I step in and correct every opinion I don't share. That would only alienate the people I want to know. I never talked with Millard like I shared his racist views or his Reaganista views. I listened to him talk, astounded that someone whose life has to do with God, love, can use God so vehemently to justify hate. It was too complex. More evidence that the human mind can justify any kind of thinking to whatever the occasion. I feel like it is a self-unaware mind while at the same time self-centered. It is the self-centered part that prohibits critical thinking around self, inhibiting self-awareness. I was thinking self-awareness the path. Know thyself. I told myself many times with Millard that his path is his path, my path is my path. Sometimes I felt sad for him with such limitations, then I'd ask self, Why? To him, it's the nature of the universe, the way things are. He was on track. I was the one out of step. I was looking for something in Christendom I could live with. Never found it. I came to a place where I accepted that the way of negative mind is just right for the ones who embrace that mind. Early on, I too entertained negative mind. Negative thinking fell away from me over my time of self-education until I was not comfortable with the negative minded anymore. I told Millard when I started the church that I would leave one day, I didn't know when. I knew it was a step along my way, not the end. When the time arrived, I told him I had to leave, he took charge and let me know in no uncertain terms my decisions are not mine to make. I differed, but didn't challenge him. I just did like I said, stopped going. Big problem. I reminded him I had said before I joined, a day would come I would leave. It wasn't allowed. Uh, yes it is.

karl-horst hodicke

I had to flush that adamantine attitude out of my mind, absolutes, good and evil, no shades of life in between. Living everyday life is about sin, beware, sin. One day with Millard, in our lengthy conversations, I said, "If everything is a sin, I'm free. I can do anything I want.When everything I do is a sin, and I can't avoid sin, then sin ceases to matter." His reply, "It don't work like that." I said, then sin is just another word for experience. We can't avoid experience. I don't go about feeling guilty because I have multiple experiences each day. What it came down to, it was a sin if he didn't approve. He had the rule book in his head, knew all the laws. Zero tolerance. Millard and I drifted apart. I didn't believe his theology and grew weary of negative mind, grew weary of dancing, drinking and playing cards the cardinal sins. Drinking beer was about the worst sin of all, but it was ok when Ronald Reagan drank beer on tv. He's running for president, he has to, to win votes. I told him I'd driven to Winston-Salem to see Coal Miner's Daughter when it was new. He said, "I wouldn't go into one of them houses of sin." I said, "You bring it into your living room. You made your home a house of sin when you brought in the television." No, it aint the same thing. I was playing with him. I knew he could not entertain any point of view but his own. I found when it was over that I did not miss Millard, not even a little bit. I did not grieve when he died. It was like the same as nothing. I've never visited his grave. It's not that I have a bitterness in the heart toward him, not at all. He would never accept I have a right to my own decision making, and I would never turn my decision making over to him. It came to the irresistible force and the unmovable object. The very same stand-off as with my mother. Seeing the pattern repeated, I said, this is it, no more humoring Christendom. I will not put aside my own understanding to let a preacher, who doesn't even practice what he preaches, judge my life. If he knew the kind of music I listened to at home, The Clash, Nina Hagen, Patti Smith, he'd have paid for me out of his pocket a one way ticket to hell.

karl-horst hodicke

To celebrate leaving that mind to the past, I drove to Raleigh to see Siouxsie and the Banshees and Jane's Addiction in concert. Loved the concert so much, I almost felt guilty. Sixteenth Century mind was interesting to know in someone as adamantly pre-Copernicus as pre-Darwin. We had two cosmologies between us. And the bridge was out. I liked going to the church until it became oppressive. It became oppressive the day they denied the old black man, Sabe Choate, his humanity as I watched broken-hearted. I knew in that moment I did not belong there. They snubbed me later and I was glad. I felt like the new French phrase going around the tv and internet, je suis Charlie Mine was, I am Sabe. I can say without exaggeration, Sabe Choate was perhaps the most honorable man I've known in my life. I've known several I'd give the title to, but Sabe comes out on top. For his humility. Sabe told me after a trip to Chicago to see his daughter, "They was so many people, if a man was to fall down, he'd be trampled to death before he could get up." He had a good old dog that was his sidekick, rode on a hand-made wooden trailer that Sabe pulled behind the tractor to carry his tools. I felt like I chose life over living death, the very same as the first time I left church upon leaving parents. The idea behind living a dead life is God never changes. It is, therefore, God-like never to change. And my interpretation of God is continuous change, never a repeating pattern. The best thing for me to do is stay outside religion, any religion. Religion is of the mind. I was unable to see in my early years that religion and God were not the same, no more related than salad and Exxon. It would have helped my understanding a great deal to see young that God is beyond mind and religion is indeed a creation of mind. I had to throw out God with religion, the baby with the bathwater, and sort through the debris for something real.

karl-horst hodicke


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