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The Singing Protest-ant Missionary-To-Be
by Leah Sellers
2009-06-01 08:39:44
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Somewhere in the United States of America, in the vast state of Texas there is a Southern White Girl, who was born into a White Collar Household and raised within a White Protest-ant tradition, inside a White Ivory Tower.

From the age of five, when asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” She proudly answered, “A Singing Missionary!”

Like her great grandfather, the Singing Missionary-To-Be wanted to ride and gallop on the back of a great bay gelding Singing and Teaching the Love of Jesus Christ. She believed that Human Beings did not have to wait to die to Live a Utopian Life of Peace, Love and Prosperity - to Live in Heaven. The Singing Missionary-To-Be believed that Heaven could be Created and Lived within upon the beautiful, blue-green gemstone - Earth - That Human Beings could Manifest Heaven on Earth through the Disciplines, Practices and Compassionate Actions of Universal Love.

She had been raised to be Obedient within a Rebellious Protest-ant Tradition. Any time the Protest-ant Church’s doors were open, she, her Mother and smaller sisters were there. Dressed to the tee, and singing like angels. If there were any Protest-ant activity or service to be performed, they were right in the middle of it. They practically lived at and lived for the Church.

At the age of 17 the direction of the Singing Missionary-To-Be’s Life Changed.

The Summer before entering her 1st year of University, the Singing Missionary-To-Be decided to participate in Community Missions Work in the Irish Channel district of New Orleans, Louisiana. The Irish Channel was an area known for its economic and social challenges, and crime rates.

During her Summer in New Orleans, the Singing Missionary-To-Be truly came to Realize, through unexpected (and unsuspected) Experiences, just what a privileged Ivory Tower Bubble she had been raised within. She came face-to-face with the raw Realities - Causes, Effects and Consequences of Poverty, Lack of Education, Lack of Concern and Caring, and the Suffering created by Social and Individual Abuses and Careless Violence of all Shapes and Forms.

Women beaten by drunken or drugged-up husbands or boyfriends. Drunken or drugged-up Mothers (married and unmarried) inadequately attempting to raise Babies and young impressionable Children in recycled Poverty and continued Ignorance. Young impressionable Children having the Breath of Life sucked from their Lives and Souls while being raised upon ’mean streets’ and within ‘mean environments’. Many choosing to Escape and Survive by becoming drunken or drugged-up run-aways and/or prostitutes.

The Singing Missionary-To-Be witnessed the many Faces and Forms of Whores and Whoredom. How easy it was for Everyone (including herself, if she were not Careful) to develop ’whorish’ attitudes and behaviors. People (willingly or unwillingly) selling their Souls to other People or Things in order to get what they wanted or just to Survive. The Poor, unEducated, unEnlightened, Self-made and Other-made vampiric Whores created more Whores. How every Environment they touched ultimately became a Community of Whorehouses. A Community of ‘Rich-off-of-the-backs-of-the-Poor-Whores’ members, and just plain ’ole Poor Whores. Each gluttonously and carelessly feeding off of the Other.
The Lessons of the Irish Channel of New Orleans became a Terrible, but Valuable ‘Ah-Ha Moment’ for the Singing Missionary-To-Be. These ’tired, poor huddled masses yearning to be Free’ Needed much more than a Bible forced into their Hands, a Friendly Pat on the Back and a Well Intentioned Smile.

The Singing Missionary-To-Be came to the full Realizations of the Spiritual, Mental, Emotional, and Physical Woundings inflicted by Poverty, Ignorance, Drug Addictions and Violence. She learned that Poverty and Ignorance of the Self, as well as Economically and Socially were Societal Killers, because they were Killers of the Individual. That when we allow the diminishment of Others, we diminish Ourselves. One lost, unloved, starving (physically and emotionally) Soul leads to a Community of the Lost - a Nation of The Lost - the Starving - the Loveless. The Singing Missionary-To-Be learned that the Need for Education, Thoughtful and Compassionate Societal Changes, Hope and Resurrection of the Self - the Enlightened Self were Imperative to Humanity’s Survival.

‘Lord Have Mercy’ took on a very different meaning for the Singing-Missionary-To-Be.

However, while in New Orleans, the Singing Missionary-To-Be also fortunately Experienced the other more vibrant, aromatic, historically and romantically evocative parts of the City. She fell in love with the warm, undulating, spicy and colorful currents of various cultures within the famous Belle of the South (New Orleans). She delighted in New Orleans’ international Architecture, Art, Music and Cuisine. And immersed her senses and Curiosity within the sluggish, smelly activities, wildlife, and ever changing moods of the Mighty Life Sustaining Mississippi River, as it bled into the Salty Gulf of Mexico’s busy trade wharfs and ports.

Six days a week, the singing Missionary-To-Be Educated and Played with the Community’s Children at the Mission’s Day Care Center. In the afternoons, she and other Mission Workers made ’house calls’ intended to help Families within the Community and lead them to the Word of God and the Mission’s Church. In the evenings, the Singing Missionary-To-Be played guitar, sang and shared the ’Word of God’s Love’ with the Community’s teenagers at the Mission’s Coffee House.

On Sunday’s, the Singing Missionary-To-Be sang and shared the ’Word’ and helped to prepare lunch for the Community’s Families and the Homeless. All were invited, and their Needs listened to and attended to, according to the best of the Mission Workers and Reverend Klosedmynd’s Abilities and Resources.

Then came the Day of Reverend’s Klosemynd’s New Edict. We were all informed that only adults who attended Sunday Church services could have their Children attending the Mission’s Day Care Center.

The 17 year old Singing Missionary-To-Be thought this new Rule - this new Edict to be Unfair and Unwise. So, she requested a meeting with Reverend Klosemynd.

During this unexpectedly Fateful meeting, the Singing Missionary To-Be explained to Reverend Klosemynd that she ‘didn’t think that Christ would close any doors of the Church - the Mission to anyone. That Christ would leave all doors Open - all channels of his Work and Love Open - the Day Care Open to Everyone. No matter what. Because what benefited the Children would benefit the Parents whether the Parents came to Sunday Services or not. Because one Pathway to Christ’s Word could easily lead to another. That all of the Mission’s Pathways of Service were equally important to Christ’s Work and the Sharing of His Love.’

Reverend Klosemynd’s furrowed brow and red face surprised the Singing Missionary To-Be. Reverend Klosemynd not only disagreed with the Singing Missionary-To-Be, but let her know that she had overstepped her place within the church. That ’women were subservient to men within the Protest-ant Church. That they were to be obedient, compliant and subject to the Rule of Men of the Church. Reverend Klosemynd let he know that her ’young opinion’ was of no value. That she was to bend and mold her Will to the judgment of the men within the Church - to his Will. He told the Singing Missionary-To-Be to pray for a more obedient and less rebellious Spirit.

The Singing Missionary was taken aback. She did not say so aloud, but she immediately thought, “You sound just like my father. He was always telling me, my mother, and sisters that we were second-class citizens. He told us that we were the weaker sex, and made to be subservient to him - to all men.”

In fact, the Singing Missionary-To-Be had suffered many ’beatings and groundings’ because she verbalized her disagreements with her father’s assertions. She was always interjecting that “Men are not better than women. That men and women were merely different from one another in complimentary ways. And that those inherent differences did not give one or the other the Right to Make one the Ruler or Master and the other the Slave.  She believed that men and women should be treated equally, and appreciated for all of the different things each could bring to the Table of Life. One was not more important than the other, but just as important.

Ultimately, over Time, the Singing Missionary-To-Be was ’beaten and grounded’ into Silent Submission. She learned not to vocalize her thoughts and feelings, but to submit to her father’s Will and obey without question. But within her Soul she Sang, “You may break my Body and quiet my Outer Voice, but you will not break or quiet my Spirit - my Soul. My Soul is not subservient to you! My Soul will not be beaten down!”

And yet, here the Singing Missionary-To-Be was sitting before another man demanding her Silence. Her Subservience. Her Willing Diminishment of herSelf. He was a Man of the Cloth. A Man of God. And he was feeding her the same ’poison’ her father had force-fed her.

There is always a price to pay for Standing Up for yourSelf or for the Things you Believe In.

“Excuse me, Reverend Klosemynd. I don’t mean to be disrespectful, but I don’t believe that Christ oppressed women in or out of the Church, sir. Anymore than He would keep people out of his Church who wouldn’t or couldn’t put money into his coffers.”

Reverend Klosemynd, fearing the Singing Missionary-To-Be’s influence and effect upon all of the other Mission Workers, and the Mission as a whole, decided to send her Home.

With that, the Singing Missionary-To-Be got up and said, “Thank you for your time, sir.” Turning around, she reached for the golden knob of his office door, and with New Decisions-To-Be-Made tumultuously churning within her Heart and Mind, she quietly closed the ignorantly misogynistic Reverend Klosemynd’s door behind her.

Being raised as a Protest-ant, the Singing Missionary-To-Be decided not to be (a Baptist Protest-ant, that is). No, she would remain a Protest-ant. Rebellion and Protest-ations against misogynistic Tyranny pumped through her veins- through her arteries - to her Heart-of-Hearts. True to the Protest-ant tradition she had been raised within, The Singing Missionary-Not-To-Be would take what was Best from this Experience. Her Belief In Christ’s Teachings, Practices and Disciplines of Universal Love and Compassioanate Action- of always Seeking to Reach Out to and Understand Others - of Seeking Justice and Fairness in every unJust and unFair situation - and her Dignity!

Anyway, the Singing Missionary-Not-To-Be had never really cared for the Church’s treatment of Eve either. She was not a weak seductress. And in many cultures, the Serpent was not a symbol of evil, but was seen as the symbol of Transmutation. It represented Transformation of a Being from a cellular level. A Changing Transformation so powerful that the Being undergoing it was completely Changed from the inside-out.

Of course, an Element of Change - of Transformation (the Serpent) would have offered Eve the Fruit from the Tree of Life - of Universal Knowledge and Wisdom. The Element of Change was responding to Eve’s Curiosity.  And Becoming Enlightened (we have discovered through Experience and Observation) has a tendency to Transform any and all Human Beings.

Of course, Eve had eaten the ’Apple’ from the Tree of Life and Universal Knowledge and Wisdom. Of course, she had. Eve, like Pandora, had been Curious, and Curiosity normally signals an Intellectually Aware and Astute Mind and Being. Why should Eve (and all women) be looked ’down upon’ or punished for being Curious - for being Intelligent - and Making decisions with and Acting upon that Intelligence?

And, of course, when Eve had become Enlightened, she had wanted to Share it with the only other Human Being she knew - the partner she Loved - Adam. It was only natural. We all want to Share the most Important, Exciting, Mind Altering, Life Changing Moments of our Lives with the People we Love. Why should that very Natural Expression of Love and Sharing make Eve and evil seductress? Who thought that interpretation up and passed it down through the Ages? Probably some man who had difficulty controlling his own lust.

 The Singing Missionary-To Be had learned from her own Experiences and Observations those Interpretations, even of God’s Word, depended largely upon who was doing the Interpreting. Everything, every Point-of-View is always about Perspective.

Anyway, and so, of course, Adam and Eve were driven out of the Garden of Eden. They had become Enlightened - Spiritually Aware. The Quest for - the Curiosity for more Knowledge - further Enlightenment drives Human Beings continually from one Place in Time and Space to another.

There is much to be learned from and attained within the Gardens, the Mountains, the Valleys, Oceans and Deserts of our Lives and our Experiences. The Experience of one, leads to another.

Of course, eating from the Tree of Life and Universal Knowledge and Wisdom drove them from the Garden and into other areas of Life affirming Experiences and Explorations.

Humans, like all other creatures, are Nesting Nomads. We naturally ’drive ourselves - move ourselves from one Place and Space to another. We are always simultaneously static and dynamic. It’s our nature. It’s the nature of the Universe - the Cosmos. It’s not a Sin. Especially, not an Original Sin. It’s an Original Inheritance - the Curiosity - the Thirst - the Quest for the Essences of Life, Knowledge and Wisdom and All of the things they bring - Positive and Negative - Light and Dark.

And, of course, God had warned Adam and Eve not to eat from the Tree of Life and Universal Knowledge and Wisdom. God knew that the Enlightenment received from the Universal Knowledge and Wisdom was Freeing and Inspirational, but also burdensome. To eat from the Tree of Life and Universal Knowledge and Wisdom would immediately make Adam and Eve Aware. Would make them CareGivers of the Garden - of the Earth. The Days of languid Innocence and Irresponsibility would be over. Adam and Eve would become Responsible Participants and CareGivers of the Garden’s - the Earth’s flora and fauna. Earth’s rich and beautiful abundance and bounty.

No Loving Parent wants their Child to have to Grow up and leave the Nest sooner than they have to. But then again, perhaps, it was merely Time for them to Transmutate - Transform and Move on.

And all that tripe about the pain of childbirth and menstruation being ’the curse’- the punishment placed upon Eve - upon all women - for having had Intellectual and Spiritual curiosity for Knowledge and Wisdom - for Enlightenment. what poppycock!

Ask a hen why she squawks and cackles and flops around when laying an egg or a mother cow or mare why they moo or whiney complainingly and thrash around while giving birth to a calf or a foal. It hurts when large packages get pushed and squeezed out of small (albeit fortunately elastic) portals. Something’s gotta give!

Having been raised in the country and city the Singing Missionary-Not-To-Be’s views about this topic had always been ’different’ - less punitively lofty and more down to earth.

Anyway, as far as the Singing Missionary-Not-To-Be was concerned, Reverend Klosemynd needed to try to be more Christlike and seek more internal Wisdom regarding ’his Flock’. Why was it so important to him that women be ’kept in their place’ within (or without of) the Church? What was he afraid of?

She made up her mind to pray for his Enlightenment out of the chains of misogynistic and oppressive thinking.

The Singing Missionary-Not-To-Be was preoccupied and deep within these thoughts as she quickly walked the steamy, sticky sidewalks to her little apartment within the adjoining building of the Mission‘s complex. She didn’t notice the mutt who had begun following her until he nuzzled her hand.

“Hello there”, she called out in greeting to her unexpected canine companion. she stopped and bent down to pet him. The Singing Missionary Not-To-Be had seen this particular neighborhood, street dog before. She had never discovered what Home he belonged to. All of the People who lived within the area of the Irish Channel seemed to accept and feel kindly toward the friendly dog. Everyone fed him. He was quite The Charmer. He looked to be part long-haired Collie and part Chow. The Singing Missionary-Not-To-Be enjoyed his jaunty, self confident stance and strut. And the way his fluffy tail perpetually curled into a half-moon.

 In the habit of naming unknown people, places and things, the Singing Missionary-Not-To-Be had taken to calling him Lobo. The Lone Wolf.

Immediately, the Singing Missionary-Not-To-Be thought of an old Native American legend about Wolves. She couldn’t remember the tribe the story had originated from. But she did remember that to this tribe, the Wolf embodied and symbolized the Energy of the Teacher.

According to this particular legend, the Lone Wolf went out into the Wilderness to Experience, Observe, Examine and Acquire Knowledge and Skills which would benefit its Survival and Way of Life. The Wolf then returned to the Pack to Share its Knowledge and Skills in order to benefit the Pack - the Tribe as a Whole, which, in turn, increased the Pack’s - the Tribe’s ability to Survive and Sustain Itself. The Wolf was revered as the Great Teacher.

Smiling at Lobo, and stroking the caramel fur on his neck and back, the Singing Missionary-Not-To-Be whispered in his perky ear, “Thank you, Lobo. Thanks for Sharing your Knowledge, and this Moment of Enlightenment with me.”

She had it! Another ’Ah-ha Moment’ had arrived. The Singing Missionary-Not-To-Be would become the Singing Protest-ant Teacher. She would become the Singing Wolf!

With a slightly new Spirit Song in her Heart and Mind, and brightly humming her favorite hymn, ’Amazing Grace’, the Singing Wolf began the Journey upon her New Life’s Path.

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Emanuel Paparella2009-06-01 15:05:13
Thanks Leah for those insightful inspiring albeit somewhat poignant comments. Indeed, the original blessing (the affirmation of God that everything he had created was “very good”) is there in Genesis’ narration before the curse and the closing of the garden (you shall roam the earth and eat bread by the sweat of your brow). Just reading the daily newspapers ought to convince anybody that this nature of ours is far from perfect. You say that it was necessary to leave the garden in order to perfect such a nature. On the other hand, to borrow T. S. Eliot’s concept, it could be that all our roaming out of the garden, all our bold explorations, may be impelled by nostalgia for the garden we left, for the purpose of returning to the place we left and know it for the first time. Which means we did not have to leave it in the first place but it was our choice to do so and it is our choice to return to it, even if only here on earth, or stay mired in materiality devoid of spirit. (continued below)

Emanuel Paparella2009-06-01 15:05:58
You know Leah, Michelangelo’s narration in the Sistine chapel does not begin with the creation of light as most visitors assume as they enter and glance upward. As Michelangelo himself told us, one needs to go to the other end of the chapel and glance up at the first scene presented by Michelangelo: the drunkenness of Noah; which is to say the present existential situation of man mired in the “existential dread” of radical freedom misguidedly placated by our idolatrous addictions (be it wine, or money, or even our own cleverness, or any other created thing). As I tell my students, take the whole narration now and make a hermeneutical circle of it. Then the narration can begin at any place and any time on that circle and in its beginning there is the end and vice-versa. Now necessarily one has to go through the creation of light (the perfect symbol of spirit) and it begins to dawn on us that what Michelangelo was telling us 300 years ahead of Darwin is that the journey will end where it begins, in a place where we will be light again and where the spirit and not matter is primary, even if one were to postulate that the cosmos, like God, is eternal. Which means that the journey is indeed necessary now but it was not so at the beginning, that was our choice as humans. Surely Michelangelo, even more so than Darwin, gave us plenty of food for thought in that narration on the Sistine Chapel.

Leah Sellers2009-06-01 15:47:00
Hello Brother Emanuel,
Your arguments are sound, dear Sir. And I also agree that Anyone can start at - begin at (and move within) any Place and Space within the Circle (the Cycle) at any Time.
Thank you for your Wisdom and Insights, and how beautifully you relay them.

Emanuel Paparella2009-06-01 17:09:36
Welcome to the "conspiracy of hope," Leah, and may the dialogue like the journey be ongoing.

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