Thanks to all of those who visited my last post about heading north. Even four likes makes me feel good to know that there are others out there who can empathize. Having returned from Grimsby, I can say that my mother in law is as well as can be expected. However, her dementia is severe enough that she will probably never return to her home and will live out her remaining days in a nursing home. In her case, that’s not such a bad thing. But thanks to all who shared their concern.
It’s been a roller coaster fortnight for me. Last week I had all the heavy metal thrills of going to the Download Festival, this week my wife and I have received news that her mother has been sectioned by social services for 28 days. Naturally, this has had a devastating effect on my wife and I’m doing my best to support her. However, it hasn’t left me time to write and at the weekend, we’ll be heading North to Grimsby to see my mother in law. Thank you all for your patience and hopefully, things will return to normal next week.
Many Born Again Christians who knew me in my teens and young adult years blamed the Marine Corps for my straying from the faith. Many but not all because some blamed music. The funny thing was the fact that there was a great deal of truth in that but not as some might imagine. See, I wasn’t turned from my faith because I began listening to Motley Crue albums, no, music played a role in my disassociation with Born Again Christianity in a different way, which I will now explain.
When I was fifteen, I worked the first of three summers at a Bible Camp based on the one mentioned in “He Was Weird.” My musical knowledge at the time was limited to AM radio and it was meeting people at the camp who had much more extensive musical knowledge who enlightened my musical experiences beyond that of mainstream radio. During the summer of 1976, I was introduced to musical artists such as Bob Dylan, Led Zeppelin, Jim Croce and even KISS. Although I knew of the Beatles, thanks to one friend, by the time the summer finished, I could practically sing the Sgt Pepper album by heart. What all of these musically wise co-workers all had in common was the fact that they were all very strong Christians. When the summer was over, I further investigated my new knowledge and began exploring musicians on my own initiative. That’s how a became a big Jefferson Starship fan. Furthermore, my musical knowledge would grow deeper when I would return to work at the camp over the next two summers.
Sure, there were those of the older generation and some younger ones who declared rock music to be of the devil. It was after the third summer when I heard someone from my local church youth group state that KISS was an anagram for Knights in Satan’s Service and I stopped listening to them. But for the most part, I listened to what I wanted without any finger pointing. In addition, when the church went roller skating, no one stopped the rink deejay from playing main stream music. So, I saw nothing wrong with listening to music.
My musical knowledge and appreciation expanded thousands fold when I joined the marines. It opened up my experiences to all sorts of music including my love for Southern Rock. Therefore, when I left the service, I had all sorts of musical knowledge and experiences to build upon and was as knowledgeable as many of my contemporaries. As for being a Born Again Christian, I still had the faith but by that time, I was using Ephesians Chapter 2 verses 8 and 9 to justify not bothering with the works. That didn’t stop one of my old friends trying to bring me ‘back to the fold.’
I went to church with my friend and even to some of his young adult evenings. I found them fun but there was no spiritual uplifting for me. Then at one such function, those Christians began talking about the evils of rock music and how it was of the devil. My friend even confessed that he was having a difficult time in destroying his record collection to which one person advised him to simply put them in the bath and turn the water on to warp them.
This is what I found confusing. I had come to love rock music through friends who were just as good Christians, maybe better, than the ones who were now denouncing music. This contradiction caused great confusion in my mind because I saw nothing spiritually wrong with most music. If anything contributed to my divorce from this form of Christianity, it was this confusion over music.
Yes, KISS was still a religious football kicked around by these Christians as an example of the evils of rock and roll but further artists were being thrown in. Michael Jackson was attacked because he was a Jehovah’s Witness and buying his records was supporting that ‘false’ faith. Then more anagrams came in. The band WASP was awarded two: We Are Satan’s People and We Are Sexual Perverts. Furthermore, female artists Stevie Nicks and Grace Slick both supposedly practiced witchcraft and a couple of years later, so did Ann and Nancy Wilson from Heart. To me, it was just getting ridiculous. Then the final straw came after Live Aid when these so called Christians condemned the artists who performed saying they should have given 10% of their money instead of twenty minutes of their time. I wonder how many of these ‘Christians’ gave that much of their money. If it wasn’t that, my final straw with Born Again Christianity would have come a year later when these persons would show up at concerts and tell us we were all going to hell for seeing a concert.
My attitudes towards music remained with me when I began investigating the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, (Mormons.) During one of the discussions, I was ready to come out and ask the missionaries teaching us if I joined their church, would I be expected to burn my AC/DC albums. Fortunately, my then wife was a bit more diplomatic and managed to steer the conversation to that vein so my question was answered. Mormonism is more of a play on the conscience. When listening to any music, one is supposed to ask themselves, “Would they feel comfortable listening to it if Jesus were listening with them?” If the answer is no, then don’t listen to it. When I was young in the faith, there were a few albums I could answer yes to. Most had swearing in the lyrics and there was one song where the singer came right out and sang “Hail Satan.” But most of what I listened to I felt okay with. So, if anyone asks, music had nothing to do with my choice to leave the faith.
Contrary to what some Born Again Christians might think, I haven’t chosen music over God. In fact, I can listen to Christian rock just as I do non-Christian rock. I do really like Stryper. Just don’t tell me that I’m worshiping Satan because I listen to music because I’ll tell you where to go.
To buy He Was Weird, go to https://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1484762670&sr=1-1&keywords=he+was+weird
academic achievement, Americans, anxiety, Asperger's Syndrome, Autism, bullying, communication, confusion, D.A.M.P., Family Guy, Great Britain, He Was Weird, relationships, schools, stereotypes, teachers
This question has been asked of me for more than fifty years now and after that many years of reflecting on it, I am finally going to answer that question myself. I will do this by first looking at some of the reasons put forward by others. The first one put forward by my mother and I will say from the beginning that there is definitely truth in it. When my parents split when I was five, we lived with my grandparents. My grandfather was from a different time who firmly believed that children should be seen an not heard and he applied that philosophy towards me. He wasn’t harsh or cruel or anything like that, he just had the idea that children should remain quiet. As with people who have Asperger’s Syndrome, I took grandfather’s belief literally and kept quiet, at least around him. While it could be pointed out that my grandfather passed away when I was 22, having that theory instilled in me at such a young age still had its effects many years later.
An off shoot to my grandfather’s philosophy was the belief that you should only say something if its worth hearing about. Children were even more to blame in this respect. My grandfather never retorted “I couldn’t care less” if I spoke about things that didn’t pertain to the situation or if it was about me exclusively. In fact, during my three years of hell, many of the other children didn’t want to hear anything I had to say and would react threateningly if I said anything. Bullies would always use this on me, threatening to use violence if I didn’t keep quiet. That experience alone was enough to make me fearful of speaking.
Let me be the first to acknowledge that I have spoken in the past without thinking about it properly. Sure, we all have done it but it seems that with me that my slip of the tongue broke through what was socially acceptable or was the wrong thing to say at the wrong time and I ended up getting in trouble for it. The result of this was that I came to the conclusion that everything I said was going to be wrong so it was best not to say anything at all.
One interesting finding from all this was when I was in college. I took a course in interpersonal communication and while I was criticized by fellow students and my professor for being too quiet, they were also amazed that when I did offer something to the group, it was very key to whatever the discussion was about. I know that this was from having instilled in me in my youth that I shouldn’t talk unless I have something worth contributing. Therefore, in class discussions back then, what I said was almost always beneficial to the discussion. So, maybe that was a positive.
There was one additional thing which contributed to my unwillingness to speak. This came along in my early adult life when I came to the UK. Always trying to avoid the negative stereotypes about Americans, I found sometimes going the other extreme at times. In this case, it was the stereotype that all Americans are loudmouths. Not wanting to be tarred with such a brush made me think that it was much better to be quiet.
Anxieties are making me think that some people might read about this and conclude that I am just trying to make excuses for myself. This is not true! I have lived with myself for over half a century and the above contributors to my quietness are genuine. It has taken a long time for me to come out of my shell but I also know that I could very easily retreat back into it at any time.
Next post: With Friends Like These
To buy He Was Weird, go to: http://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1427226458&sr=1-1&keywords=he+was+weird
Some might say that I’m having an Asperger’s type moment and I wouldn’t debate you on this. My problem is that I started a series of posts teachers encouraging bullying and already, I had posted about my own experiences in regard to this and those experienced by Peter Houghton in Jodi Picoult’s novel “19 Minutes.” I have every intention to carry own with the thread and although last week’s post, “Another Victory For the Bullies” wasn’t officially part of the series, it certainly related to the thread. Now, some events have come up in the recent weeks that had me wondering what to do.
See, in the world of Michael, (that’s me for those who didn’t already know) this spanner in the works had my brain housing group spinning as to what to do. I could carry one with the thread I am currently posting on as there were three more posts to write in it but if I did that, I might forget to post on the developments happening now and they would be lost. The alternative would be to post the developments but I then worry about the lack of continuity in the thread and readers might get annoyed about it.
Most people would easily choose one or the other and have good logical reasons, at least in their own mind, about their choice. The worry with me, as with many who suffer with Asperger’s Syndrome is more the consequences of their choice. The dilemma is too great and whatever they choose, the choice is going to be wrong. That’s me in a nutshell. Worse for me is that my mind brings variables into the argument that might not even be there. That’s why I am convinced I have DAMP. DAMP sufferers perceive the world different than your average person. I know many instances from my past that some things that seemed very logical to me, seemed foolhardy to many other people and the thought of this creates extreme anxiety within me.
You’re probably wondering what event is so different that I would worry about the whole thing. To most people, this would seem like nothing but to me, it is a big deal. See, next week, I’m going to the USA for two weeks. I haven’t seen my mother, brother and sister for eight years and my mother’s accident at Christmas time was sort of a wake up call for me. My sister has been running around for her and I thought my visit would give her a break as well. Plus, I have two nieces and a nephew I’ve never met. I have some other activities on the agenda as well. One of these is the opportunity to do something I have always wanted to do since I have been officiating American football in the UK. Bearing anything unforseen, I will be officiating some high school games and I’m looking forward to that. Another and being an American male, I’m a little ashamed to admit this but I have never been to a live NFL game. If the Philadelphia Eagles are at home either of the two Sundays I’m there. I hope to go to the game. If I get to do one of both, this would lead to a second post of things I would still want to do, some of which you might find interesting or at least amusing.
In my mind, I hear some of you shouting, “Listen to your instincts!” but my problem is that I don’t trust my instincts. Right now, they are telling me to post about my experiences and carry on with the teachers encouraging bullying thread after. This is supported by the fact that I may not have access to a computer whilst I’m in the States so the continuity is already broken. Taking a deep breath, I am going to go with my instincts, I just hope I can drown out the other side of my mind telling me I’m making a mistake. BTW, in “He Was Weird,” Mark has a very big debate inside his mind.
Neat post: TBA
To buy He Was Weird, go to: http://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1413229026&sr=1-1&keywords=he+was+weird