Knotholes

We said we would wait for God
before we did anything.
We ate our meals with a third seat between us
vacant, so He could sit and observe
our pure conversations
stilted devotional rhetoric
church banter
musings of creation;
amongst the blades of glass on the table
filled with apple juice
that cast chlorophyllic shadows
across the white table cloth
and reflected on the silvery pools of knives and forks
which glimmered in blank response.

You used to telephone me in the morning
so we could pray together;
at night for Bible study.
Visits round mine consisted of sitting by the coffee table
Bible open,
and our bottomless eyes staring at newsprint
becoming entranced in the thees the thys the thous the therefores
It seeped through in your prayers, this language
to take me back to a buried age–
your words fell upon me till I was foetal and surrounded
hands tied together, noose around my neck, shackles on.
Men calling–

WITCH

–to my face.

Our Bible was imperative to our meetings,
the paper thin, like the skin of a cocoon
fragile, wings of a moth
pure, like doilies on wedding tables
family, friends and anonymouses crowding around us
as we dance, Bible confetti snowing down on our heads
Bible petals falling on a consummation bed
dotted red with consummation blood
red turning to auburn, auburn to chestnut
the wild of me as we interlock, hidden in knotholes in the forest
and back again, to meet the disappointment
of cyclical blood: burnt umber,
the ashes of my hope swirls like dust unearthed
from a rug.

Trivial things of married couples
arguments, torn wedding dresses
reconciliations in bathtubs
counting down menstrual days like prophecy
until you can try again.

You and I failed to get there.
I remember staring at the ceiling
as it swam in my wetted eyes
and feeling forbidden blood oozing down my legs.
We were still young
and illegitimate.
Our Bible open above us but cold and foreboding
every swirl of the letter was like a dismayed Eye.
We were on the floor, by the coffee table. Behind us,
was the vacant chair
where God should have been.

Grey Areas and the Christian

One of the things I really dislike about Christianity … or Christians (I’m not sure which at this point), is that the over-simplification of life tends to be part of the “territory”. The Bible does say that you are either for God or against Him, there’s no denying that, but there are things that I feel need debate because they’re not explicitly addressed in the Bible.

The Novel, is the main one that comes to mind. I love reading–absolutely adore it. I thank my mum who, even though we had little money growing up, made sure to take my sister and I to the library every Saturday so we could pick up books. My mum really inspired me to read and there were books everywhere in the house. She’s not a Christian and back then she had no interest in Christianity either, so there was no religious material. Lots of horror stuff, actually. Gore. Crime thrillers. I know she read loads of Stephen King, Shaun Hutson, Tom Clancy, Deen Koontz, Lee Child and John Grisham. There were loads of Pattersons too, and Ruth Rendells and Danielle Steels… I was attracted to horror when I was young (I think most children are. Who didn’t love telling scary stories to their mates during sleepovers?) and I read a lot of mum’s tomes even if I didn’t understand all the words. I think I read Deathday when I was about 7. ‘Twas fun.

As I got older, tastes changed, but I never stopped reading. Sadly, though, the main feeling I get, since coming into the church, is that reading anything other than Ellen White or the Bible is wrong. I find that really worrying.

Because what is the argument here? That anything secular is wrong? So does that mean that auto/biographies are wrong? Or history books? Or science books? Or poetry anthologies?

Or are novels the problem? Things that are fictional. Why so? Fiction is fiction is fiction. Events that happen in most novels are actually more believable than the Bible, in fact. No author tries to manipulate their readership into believing something that is never going to happen.

I wonder if it’s the popularity of novels? The Harry Potters and Similar Tales. The things that draw people away from what’s “really important”? What I’ve realised about the people who are anti Harry Potter, His Dark Materials and other popular fantasy stories is their over-zealous, almost obsessive hatred for these stories because it’s easy. In the same way it’s easy to be against certain strains of rock music (Black/Death metal in particular), because of all the black, the upside down crosses, the explicit lyrics; but get annoyed whenever someone speaks against acoustic music, or jazz. All of those genres are secular, but only with music do people intelligently discern between the “good” and the “bad”.

When it comes to novels, though, something just doesn’t compute with people. It’s all a bit higgledy-piggledy, because I know people who say that novels are wrong (whilst quoting E.G. White’s comments on the dangers of novels), and yet they’ll read 1984—A novel. Or they’ll read Austen, or Dickens. Or Shakespeare plays. These are all fiction, can they not see how confused they are?

And why, pray tell, do none of these people have a problem with The Pilgrim’s Progress? A book cherished by Christians. Or similarly, Paradise Lost? Allegories are literary devices used in fiction all the time.

I know how to be discerning. I know that there are some novels that are just unedifying. Twilight is unedifying (even if it was written by a Mormon), 50 Shades is unedifying, anything by Dan Brown is unedifying (haha, I kid), but for me, as an aspiring writer, the first criteria I give for a novel being unedifying is: will it make me a better writer? Will I learn anything from it? Will it teach me how to write well? Then I think about the sort of responses it’ll induce in me; the thoughts it’ll put into my head; if the novel is glorifying  violence and crime? (note: describing is not glorifying, otherwise we shouldn’t be reading the Old Testament).

Those sort of things.

If I ever have children, I want to give them the passion of reading. Especially as Black children, children who society has already called “second-class, unintelligent” (“What’s the best way to hide something from a Black man? Put it in a book”). I don’t think that just because you’re a Christian then you should never read anything fictional. What’s wrong with imagination? (Cue Spongebob)

I also say this because I write fiction… and I’m currently writing a novel (haha), so I’ve always wondered if I’d be dis-fellowshipped from the church for being such HEATHEN? ; )

xXx