Thinkin' about Amy and John and Kurt and Jerry, too...

I was rattled when I saw the FB posting that Amy Winehouse had died at her London home. Rattled and saddened. Look, it is bullshit to be judgmental in this life time, ok? That is God’s work – and if God is anything like Jesus as my tradition teaches – then there is a whole lot less judgment going on for broken, wounded, loving and beautiful people like Amy Winehouse than we can ever imagine. And a whole lot more grace… “Come unto me all ye who are tired and heavy laden.” That’s how I take it and trust that God does, too.

Now let’s put this into perspective: a wacked-out Christian fundamentalist in Norway – that’s right, god damn NORWAY – just killed 93 people because he thought the Nordic world was losing its soul to multiculturalism and a creeping Islamic presence. THAT, dear people, is judgment – the judgment we bring upon ourselves – when we become so certain that we have a monopoly upon the truth that we’re willing to kill others to save them. Remember back in the 1960s when Ed Sanders and the Fuggs sang, “Kill for Peace?” Well, here we go again: a Viking Timothy McVeigh – a Christian Osama Bin Laden – what’s the difference? (Like my friend, Chris, suggested: let's have Congress open up a hearing into the actions of Christian fundamentalism, too, ok?)

(Yes, ok, this is a rant… I confess that it isn’t insightful, measured or even overly rational.)

The Right Wing in the US is willing to sacrifice the economy and our limp economic recovery – sending the bond market into a downward spiral and creating more economic uncertainty – because they hate President Obama. They think he is a socialist – they can’t get over that a Black man is in the White House – and they are addicted to the fear and mean-spiritedness of the Tea Partiers. The Democrats are caught between a rock and a hard place: they’ve sold out their principles for so long they don’t know which end is up – AND – they can’t let the ship of state go down in flames so they’ll take whatever half-baked scheme Eric Cantor et al come up with just to keep us afloat. 

And then there is the fact that Michelle Bachman is actually taken seriously as a presidential candidate. Lord, have mercy.

Three times before in my life I’ve been knocked on my ass by the death of a musical icon. Yes, I was in my early college prime when Jimi, Janis and Jim Morrison all died – I was sick and sad – but I saw that one coming. So the first rock and roll death that took me down was when John Lennon was assassinated. I was in seminary – my first year – and John was my childhood hero. He was my role model when Ross and I formed our high school band; I was John to his Paul. And he was gunned down outside his apartment – right across the street from my dentist, for Christ’s sake – shot down just when he was coming back into his groove. I wept – wept and prayed – and Ross called me after a long silence and we wept together.

During my ministry in Cleveland, Kurt Cobain, of Nirvana put a gun into his mouth one night and took his life, too. My kids – and some of my younger friends in local politics – had turned me onto Nirvana. I loved them – they sounded like what so many of us felt – and needed to feel in those days. And at the height of his popularity, he killed himself. I wept again – feeling both his emptiness and my own – and grieving that one of the broken saints of the Lord could not find a way out of the darkness. He was the genius of angst – and he couldn’t take it anymore.

I think that was when I started to seriously look at my own emptiness. Workaholism wasn’t cutting it any more – I was a minister so whoring around and getting trashed was out – so into therapy I went. It took me another 15 years to truly recognize that Augustine was right: there WAS a God-sized hole in my heart that I could try to fill with other shit but in was never enough. And then freakin’ Jerry Garcia of the Grateful dead OD’d while in treatment. Damn it all to hell! He was supposed to be getting better! He brought such joy and light into the world. Like Dylan, I was knocked on my ass by that death – and started to take my therapy and prayers a WHOLE lot deeper after that.

And now sad, sad Amy… I wept a little for her today, too. No judgment for her – she did the best she could – but she couldn’t find enough light. Not her fault because sometimes there really isn’t a way through the maze; at the very least, sometimes we run out of time before it becomes clear where we might go next, yes?

So for everyone out there who doubts and fears the empty times, I guess I just want to say that we really aren’t alone; there is a love that is bigger than our darkness and if you need to talk… give me a call cuz I’ve been there,too, ok?  And this IS NOT bullshit!


just as I am said…
Thank You Pastor for your Blogs. I enjoy reading them, understanding them and seeing them. I was feeling bad that wonderful people had to put off their own life! Isn't it our duty to reach out to the lonely, the broken, the diseased, the war-struck, or the poor?
Black Pete said…
I think that any death can serve to remind us that we are not alone, that we need to reach out and help. It does not mean that our help will turn the tide. James is right: sometimes, there is no road out of one's personal darkness.What could any of us have done for Amy, but not judge her? I, too, saw this coming. And yet, a few years ago, Robert Downey Jr. was Hollywood's Amy Winehouse. He is clean as far as I know, alive and working, praise God.
RJ said…
Thank you, friends, for your love and wisdom. You are part of God's light in the world... keep on shining.

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