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October 25, 2011 / attilashrugs

Through the Rabbit Hole

I was raised in a secular family Jewish mother from the Bronx and non-religious son of a Mormon woman, who was raised in Nebraska in the Depression. After WWII my father and his good buddy from Italy, a Jew, went to a Young Israel dance. And in that magical night they met, eventually wed, on Christmas, and a few years later I was born on March 30.  In 1953 that was Nissan 14, but after dark, so technically between the First Passover seder and the second. It was a Monday after Palm Sunday and before Easter Sunday. My mother had great trouble conceiving me. After one missed cycle she had high hopes but then dashed again. Walking down the street crying she entered a Cathedral, to get off the street. An old woman asked her what was wrong. She told her that she just had her period and thus not prego. This woman told my mother she would say Novenas and that my mother will NOT have another period until I was born. My mother said “But I am Jewish.” The woman said “No matter, just I ask you allow HIM to learn about Christianity.” And it was so.  Though my mother had somewhat affirmed though did not promise to expose me to Christ,  no education given. At least it was not provided deliberately.
When I was a child of 9 and 10 my father had been getting visits from Mormons seeking to bring back the lapsed. Not having much money then, my parents accepted a discount summer camp in the Poconos. “Deer Park” I recall the name! He told my mother that no fear, it was totally non-denominational. Which it was, all Protestant Denominations were present and no Book Of Mormon was read. To the Missionary this Protestant camp was non-denominational; but my mother assumed it was secular; or secular with perhaps a brief ecumenical prayer in the morning.  But we had to memorize a verse each day of the NT. My cousin, a girl my age also of a Jewish mother, my aunt, and a Catholic father (non-lapsed, but non-missionary whatsoever) went with me. It was like entering a parallel universe for both of us. She lived in Laurelton Queens, and I in Long Island suburbia. We boys had boxing. Boxing! Getting in a ring and allowing oneself to get punched or to punch? This is fun? So though raised non-religiously, there was an internalization of Jewish Yiddishe mores in our bones.
Ironically, I had to pretend to hate the Bible Study like all the other boys. But secretly I was interested! Weird, because my cousin was like allergic to it. But I had been drawn to something even before that camp. I recall the Mormons having given my family a huge black leather bound Holy Bible with prints of famous Religious Paintings in it. My mother found me staring at the painting of Jesus with a crown of thorns, and blood dripping down his face. I asked her what this book was about. “Where did you find that book!” She was much, much less upset a few years later finding Penthouse under the bed! She hid the Book, and I found it and was intrigued by the Pictures. What IS this all about? One Christian friend (we lived in a very ecumenical neighborhood of Jews, Catholics, and the various mainstream Protestants), seemed embarrassed when I asked about the cross hanging in his room. He turned red and said his Nanni (his mother’s Greek mother)insisted on it. He doesn’t believe in it. But what is it you don’t believe? He wasn’t quite sure. I asked many friends those who went to Hebrew School, those who went to Catholic School, those who were dragged off to Sunday school to explain to me this religion thing. They seemed embarrassed by my asking. There is a Who song called The Seeker: “I’ve looked under chairs I’ve looked under tables I’ve tried to find the key To fifty million fables
chorus: They call me The Seeker I’ve been searching low and high I won’t get to get what I’m after Till the day I die
I asked Bobby Dylan I asked The Beatles I asked Timothy Leary But he couldn’t help me either.”
Yes, I sure asked Timothy Leary. But I was also reading the Bible. I would go to bars and get as wasted as anyone. But, when High enough, I would get my courage up to ask people about what they thought about God, about Consciousness, about the Why We Are, and WHY is anything? A circle of space would spread with me at its lonely center. I learned to shut up about this stuff. And since I was deep into partying, there was no way in the world I would go talk to a Rabbi, Priest or Reverend. I hitched from Long Island to Guatemala with a pal. Mushrooms, peyote, LSD, pot beer wine whiskey women! But still I wondered. Especially on Mushrooms and Peyote. I prayed once in that state and prayed for understanding of the Bible what is the TRUTH, what is it for, why am I here. Not a voice, but a thought almost from outside, or deep inside told me that one must choose TRUTH OR HAPPINESS in this world. I said I know, and I did. I chose TRUTH. Hitching through Flagstaff AZ we camped out in a student lounge at the College (these were often nice interludes of soft couches and hot showers, like a hippie hotel chain around the country in those days!) There I saw a tiny pocket size Green fake leather bound NT with Psalms. No one looked at for days. No one knew whose it was. I took it thinking it was for me. From there we went to Grand Canyon. We hiked down to the Tonto Trail and planned to get to the bottom, camp for a day or two and head back up. Down on the lower plateau The Tonto, almost down to the Colorado River, we met Perry, who was just waltzing along alone, grinning, perhaps skipping but that maybe was just an impression. He had 100% pure blotter acid. He sold us a sheet of 50 hits for like very little money, and money was useless in Grand Canyon! We had brought food for 2-3 days. But we ended up walking along the Tonto several days, tripping. It was May, and on the top pine forest our canteens froze solid the night before we descended. But as one descends it becomes more and more Tropical. Along the trail there were scores of sub-canyons we’d explore. A small Thunder head rolled down a subcanyon. We could see the entire thing in its entirety. It was that small. What to do? Set up the tent, which we had never been forced to since Mexico, or just stand there with big smiles? Or stand under a slight rock overhang? Or stand in the middle of a drenching downpour with a Lightning Show, and Thunder Chorus and laugh hysterically? We “chose” the latter, though probably more out of lack of any decision. Eventually we were eating a bit of Cream Of Wheat and summer sausage and stretched 2-3 days out into 6. Finally we had to come up to the surface. It was a most intense experience that, Grand Canyon trip.

But then hitching down to New Mexico bound for the Warm Springs at Jemez (which I had “found” the year before when a contingent of us left the World’s Fair in Spokane to join the Rainbow People’s meeting there in New Mexico. Lot of side roads and off the interstates there were long periods between rides. I’d start reading the Gospels with Blotter on board. Say what you want about Satanic drug usage. I believe it is a morally neutral thing and one can aim that energy towards God the Creator or towards Creation. New Agers did the latter.  To many Christianity was too mundane and lacked the direct link to that special oneness.  These folks were the vast majority and they became Buddhists, and other New Agers.  To me however, The Bible was exotic as the Vedas.  I was reading the Gospels. I had started reading the Bible many times. Many times I’d make it to the first third of Exodus and then get bogged down in the Mishkan and the “pointless details” of YHVH’s commands. But now I started where I should have. Or not. I started where I did and then hit the Gospels for the first time in the right frame of mind: EXPANDED. Yeshua’s parables were like arrows directly into my mind. It was like a direct flow of information, and every parable exploded into myriad applications. But my pal, from Long Island the product of a Jewish family of divorced parents, was raised nominally Jewish. I was not even raised nominally anything. No religion whatsoever. But he for some reason was resistant to hearing me read a parable aloud and see it expressed in all of human interactions. He became irritated with my reading and raving about it. Finally we went back to Long Island. I put away the Road, and the Book and joined the “Real World”, which never seemed all that real too me after Grand Canyon! Like Jonah, I was shown and expected to do something. But I did not know for sure.  I did have a deep sense of understanding of Bible Prophecy.  But no one I knew, was interested.  I felt torn. Torn hurts. Booze helped. Painkillers helped even more. I built a life on sand. And for one with divided interests I managed to build pretty high. But built on sand, I saw it crash.  I was Jonah whining as if Job. God arranged it so that I’d have time to learn Hebrew, study The Torah, and New Testament. I have long been drawn to the TRUTH of Bible Prophecy and what I KNEW was going to occur from back in the 70’s is now occurring to a startling degree.
SO here I am.

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