I was in youth group at the church. We played a game called Bible baseball where you were tossed a question and if you got the answer right, you got a hit. Once I was asked how many sins Jesus committed. I said, “One.” I was asked by our kindly minister why I said that. I said, “When He went off to the temple, he didn’t tell his parents where he would be.” It was that kind of childhood.
And then along about high school time our church hired a youth minister. He was charismatic, recruited several of us to meet with him several times a week for breakfast, took a deep interest in us. Before long we were praying together and he was teaching us about the “Truth” of Christianity. I’d love to tell you his name. He stole my life and after a while my very self.
Today there is a psychiatric term for what he did–Gaslighting.
45 is a gaslighter. He says the news is fake. He turns those who care about people into enemies of the state. He makes lies a means to an end. He calls revenge patriotism. It’s all about him. You don’t need me to tell you this. The youth minister was a gaslighter. He terrified me with damnation until I realized that I had to be converted. Soon he had me convinced that certainly all my friends, along with all the little town — help your neighbor, church going souls — were not real Christians. In the diction of 45, they were fake Christians.
This “correct Christianity” had nothing to do with Jesus, and a lot to do with double binds, terror, brainwashing, and the inculcating of a cult. Gaslighting by its very definition. All of us who contradict 45 are the evil ones. Lindsay Vonn after her stumble at the Winter Olympics received a deluge of tweets (I hate that word. Poor Chickadees!) declaring that this happened because of her criticism of 45 and her saying that if she won Gold she’d not go to the White House.
I went off to college. How’d that go? My sophomore year, my whole cruel gaslit psyche broke into a thousand pieces. After class one day, my roommate found me catatonic. Thirteen shock treatments, five stays in four different psychiatric wards, years of panic attacks, depression and PTSD followed — that’s how it went.
That so-called Christian minister and his like–ie. 45–always wash their hands of anything they inflict. It’s our fault. We’re wrong. We’re believing fake news. Kinda like the 1% who have never pulled a weed from their multiple gardens saying it’s the poor’s fault, that they need to work harder for their money.
We’re being gaslighted. Know it, and resist.
I asked for two fried egg sandwiches
and a blueberry milkshake. I got soup.
And it was raining so instead of trying
again to read Middlemarch,
I lay on my side and watched the rain
glide down the window. I used to love
to go outside. My sister was a high school
cheerleader, someone everyone loved
to be around—if anything was good,
it was great. I needed to know. My God
spoke only in doubt. The nerves at the ends
of my fingers never slept, and when my fists
bloodied my forehead, only the comfort
of bandages let me look out across
the parking lot, out over the vans, Audis,
and pick-ups into the trees where I could
see how the leaves held to the limbs.
At home my father stayed alone in his
gardens. My mother carried her knitting
to a neighbor’s and talked about dinner.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Click here to subscribe to receive Jack’s poems and news in your inbox.
Click here for Jack’s entire collection, In Time — poems for the current administration.
And, of course, click here to visit ridl.com, check out what Jack’s been up to, maybe say hi!