A good friend of mine from the men's Jacob Group I used to go to, until even they told me my behavior and verbal productions were even too over-the-top for them. One of them told me I was "inappropriate," at least for his taste in friends. And this is a man whom I've known for 35 years, with whom I've shared some of the most confidential information about my life, mind, and soul, and he with me about his life, mind, and soul.
So, when the men who've known you for decades, who've hung around with me, and I with them, once a week on Tuesday for more than three decades (at least some of them), and then on Sundays at First Church, think you've got a screw loose, or worse, then you know it's either time for the mood stabilizers some of them think I should be on or, what I think, time to move on from the Jacob Group and First Church, which I've done.
I have not returned to the Jacob Group since a meeting in early June when the good friend I mentioned above, who shall remain anonymous, gave me a written list of what seemed like the Roman Catholic Church's complaints about the "inappropriate" nature of Martin Luther's 39 Theses, which he hammered with a nail onto a Roman Catholic Cathedral in Germany as an indictment of everything he deemed needed to be changed in that Pauline, but arguably un-Jesus-like institution. And every school boy and girl knows that the Church's condemnation of Martin Luther's demands for radical change in the Church's religious practices triggered the beginning of The Protestant Reformation.
In a way, when my dear old friend handed me his written "indictment" of what he thought was my "inappropriate" and (to him) offensive behavior, his officious meddling in my decisions about how to conduct my life was the final occasion for my decision to make some additional radical changes in my life. I stopped going to the Jacob Group, stopped going to First Church of Christ, Congregational, which I sarcastically call The White Bread Church, switched for a few weeks to South Church of Christ in Middletown, another White Bread Church, thinking that I might find there the spiritual support and solace I was seeking. But, after a kind of performance art piece during the South Church "Concerns" time during a service in July, in which I graphically acted out the incident in Honduras in June in which my son, daughter-in-law, and grandson were held up at gunpoint by three masked Hounduran men and the incident on July 2, 2011 in which my wife hit a road defect on her bicycle and was thrown off her bike, breaking her neck, I could tell from the reaction of one of the self-styled "heads" of South Church, and the minister there, that my Reformation-like fundamental shift in my way of being-in-the-world would never find a proper home there, either.
So after meeting, serendipitously, a man named Hosea, who worships at Zion First Black Baptist Church next to the YMCA parking lot in Middletown, who warmly invited me to try out his church, I did. After four weeks of services at First Black Baptist, as the only "pink-skinned" person in regular attendance and full participation, I know I've found a spiritual home I'll be quite comfortable with. They're happy to have me there, and I'm very happy to worship with them, in a much more spiritually, physically, and emotionally free, intense, and liberated way than any White Bread church, Protestant or Catholic, I've ever experienced.
One of the other long-time members of the Jacob Group, at First White Church of Middletown, wrote the following in a long email analyzing what he thought of my newly developing persona:
Actually Bob, your outward state as I see it in your rants and acts have recalled George Carlin to me. That would be a compliment, but your intentional sarcasm and drama often lack key elements which Carlin perfected in creating his appealing style. Still, but you and he both seem to share some sort of loud and often outraged search for honesty inside and out.
Of course Carlin is dead but remembered.
This man, who says relatively little in the Jacob Group, but when he does, people listen to him, also suggested that people should see again a classic George Carlin routine from several years ago on the Jay Leno Tonight Show. This comedic performance is only 3 minutes and 54 seconds long, but I find it side-splittingly funny, almost pee-in-your-pants hilarious, every time I watch it:
I find it flattering, but probably a bit "over-the-top," that my friend compares my "rants and acts," as my old friend put it, to George Carlin's very artful comedic performances. But what the hey, maybe there's actually reason to hope that I may be able to make a living if I continue "ranting and acting" as I have been, gratis, all over Middletown and beyond! Or maybe I won't. Only time will tell. Until then, it's partly in my hands, but always totally in God's hands.