Most of my life, from somewhere around birth then amplified a thousand times 30 years ago, I’ve faced exclusion, misrepresentation, demonization. Whether deserved or not, and I’ll admit I did start to bring a lot on myself there for a while, is really besides the point, which is: shifting perspective away from the perspective of the dominant narrative. We’ll skip over my Freudian beginnings (although a change of life baby, I was no accident, I was kind of a “Fuck you!” to my early adolescent brother, so I was the thief who stole his mother) as all families are fucked up. I think Floki is right, “Families shouldn’t be happy.” I digress, which I am prone to do. Ever read One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest? I love the perspective of Chief, the psychotic narrator who hallucinates and when he goes, you go (brilliant writing). Is that digression squared, digression about digression? Or just doubled? But it’s not so much the digression as it may appear since this is a post about perspective, alternative perspective, but I’m not there yet (kinda like Alice’s Restaurant, you have to wait for it to come around, and hope I don’t miss it.)
Oh yeah, dominant narratives.
Somewhere in mid-childhood a narrative began to appear about me, or so it seemed. I’d have people I’d never met tell me that other people I’d never met had said something or another, always bad, negative. Not a lot until I was about 14 when i was introduced to the Juvenile Injustice System. I had become something of a wild kid, might have something to do with being abandoned (virtual) and left to raise myself at somewhere between 12-13. Not sure I can really blame them. I was a weird and hard to love child. My mom indulged me and I think my dad was afraid of me from birth, so they fled. Again I digress and am doing what I said I wouldn’t and that’s talk about family, because All families are fucked up, nothing special or interesting in that (mine). So, I had friends in my own neighbourhood, I had friends in neighbouring towns. My neighbour friend decided he wanted to go rob the kid up the street of his awesome record collection. Sure, Ed, let’s go. they knew who did it and the police were called, I fled. I went to hang with my friends a couple towns over. I’d stolen, I used to say took, but let’s be real, I stole my mom’s car to get there. Well we partied that night and in the morning I noticed the police rolling up and got everybody up and into the basement and quiet. They went voluntarily, I didn’t make anyone do anything they did not want to do. When the cops walked away, we all went up, out and into my car. We left. A high speed chase did ensue, but after a mile or two I’d lost them, dropped everyone off and headed off.
I was not on the run long. Within the day I was in the police station, being questioned. I was the last in. Everyone else, both from my neighbourhood and the other towns had been in. A narrative has been set. The court paperwork from my juvenile proceedings had me listed as though I were Socrates, a corrupter of youth. I was separated from my peer group by court order. There were lists of people needing protection from my corrupting influence. Off I go, to a series of mental institutions. I never returned to school, to my peer group. I tried, but it just didn’t work. I’d built up fears of them and they a narrative about me (one day hanging out at the arcade by the high school someone came up to me and said they’d heard I killed people for money NEVER!). During adolescence the Jesus People decided I was a Satanist and started in on their bullshit. I have no idea what it is about me that attracts this but it must be something.
Now, you’d think that someone with experiences such as mine would be the first to recognize that the dominant narratives about people is oft false. Yeah, didn’t connect the dots for a long, long time. But it kind of does help explain my desire to defend Judas. My attraction to characters like Jean Valjean, The Man with No Name from the spaghetti westerns, Samara Morgan, Abbie/Eli, Niamh–antiheroes. First I had to learn about dominant narrative and counternarrative. I did this in training for grass roots organizing and activism, where re-casting the narrative is the goal, because change the narrative, change the world. So, I spend a lot of time considering narrative.
I spent some time as a Christian. I can’t call myself that anymore, I have many reasons, but the biggest is the damage to people coming from those who utilize that label. When most non-christians hear christian they hear hater and that is well deserved. People using that label do the most horrific things to people and feel self-righteous in so doing. Vile creatures, so many are. I’ve felt their wrath, way back in my adolescence and more recently. You see, I let myself soften towards their religion since the daze of my youth and gave them a chance. Even as I was going into the ordination process I had to wonder if we got it all wrong. Never really seriously, well I tried to be dismissive of those thoughts. this week I wrote a short post for facebook in which I switch perspective. It is a short post in which the serpent in Genesis 3 is not a devil aimed at hurting humanity, but a liberator come to free us from the tyranny of privilege. Is this a counter narrative? Is it derivable? You can’t even explore it from the dominant perspective, all you can to is reject it. But, what if you switch perspective. Kingdoms tend to tyranny, monarchs by their very nature are tyrants that oppress. Anything short of self-determination and self-rule is oppression and, therefore, tyranny. What if the people that created the bible had an ulterior motive? What if they wanted to create sacred texts supporting monarchy, divine rule, and by extension divine right to rule? What if we considered that the texts were written by privilege?
My friend suggested I work the post into something a bit longer. I’m no writer, as you know, but I have started outlining a structure. It is a fun adventure. I like tossing ideas out on the table, like rolling bombs, just to see what happens when they go off. What new ideas will come?