BREAKING NEWS: In a very strange set of developments, Steve Alexander, also known as Unabashed Left, finds himself on the campus of Hartford Seminary (HartSem) in Hartford, CT about to sit in on his first class as a student of divinity. This Kafkaesque development, most bizarre, finds this Left Wing Christian about to listen to a Lebanese Islamic scholar lecture on the history of Shi’ite Islam, in the first of a 15 week course. I am that left wing Christian, and was to attend class for the first time on Tuesday evening, but my very tired, but loyal 15 year old Ford Minivan, affectionately known as “Windstar,” wasn’t up to the 20 mile trek that day, and found itself at the side of the Merritt Parkway that morning, steaming and aggravated. So was I, and I, too, like my friend Windstar, was having a bad day medically. We both rested and recuperated from that day’s events, and with a little bit of TLC, Windstar and I have arrived as of 5:30pm tonight! : ) A dear friend with whom I’ve become acquainted and reacquainted, Debbie Mut-Erickson, possessed of a doctorate in things divine herself, and an inspiration of which she may not know herself the breadth and depth, had her cell phone die and come to life this week, I learned in emails. She emailed today that the cell had healed itself. If I may be so bold as to dispute Dr. Deb’s analysis, I believe God, Jesus, Allah, Jehovah, or “Light” if you prefer, deserves some of the credit, some energy beyond the battery powering the inanimate cell phone itself. Just my choice to believe that. Lol, Deb.
It was just a few days ago in a relative sense that I found myself in 4 point restraints at the Yale New Haven Hospital Emergency Psychiatric Ward (the mid-1980s sometime—a prior millennium). I had been misbehaved that day and recall being placed in an illegal tie-down by the uniformed security in that unit, referred to colloquially as a “6-point restraint” which involved the original legal 4 point leather tie downs onto a plastic mattress, but an added sheet tied from one side of the hospital bed to the other traversing my arm pits in such a manner as to cut off circulation to my arms in an extremely painful manner that constitutes torture in an extreme way, and is thus not allowed by any state or civilized nation. Something akin to waterboarding perhaps in its torturous nature, and something that DICK Cheney would probably like as an “enhanced interrogation technique,’ but which he certainly would not be likely to volunteer for given his history of 5 heart attacks and the electric pump implanted in his chest which keeps him alive.
The pain was so severe that I issued a foxhole prayer, elegant in its simplicity: “God please help me!” I pleaded. I closed my eyes, opened them and all 6 restraints were gone, and I had the benefits of clean sheets now, not sweating on a bare plastic mattress any longer. This was my rebirth in the Christian sense. The miracle was likely explained by what was likely to have been my passing out, a shot of some psychotropic or tranquilizer or other, followed by my coming to after the restraints had been removed (particularly the illegal ones, I’m sure they hastened to remove them) and sheets applied as I was rendered unconscious. Ironically, following that stay at the Yale Ward, I was shipped via ambulance to Connecticut Valley Hospital in Middletown, CT where this Unabashed Lefty was not too happy with all the terms contained in the paperwork he was being compelled to sign upon admission (involuntary—ordered by my local law enforcers—like I said, I had been a bit of a bad boy the day I was sent to Yale), so I was editing the forms by crossing out the offending passages. Once again something illegal happened to your pacifistic correspondent, while other staff in the locked unit at CVH looked on, the admitting staff member stood me up, pushed me against the locker, and punched me in the belly. OUCH! I stopped abridging the forms, and signed on all the dotted lines, outnumbered, locked up and understanding my chances of exercising any rights whatever at this point. Badly misdirected in life, realizing that God had a purpose for me, but not stupid pretty much describes me at this point in that millennium.
Shortly after that stay, my last inpatient stay, and my last time breaking out in handcuffs thus far in this particular life, I became active in the Episcopal Church of my upbringing and considered carefully a possible calling to ministry and consulted with those appropriate, my Minister, my congregation, Yale Divinity School, recent ordained deacons and ministers and what-not. I loved Jesus, God and the Church and have from day 1, it seems. But it was not to be then, I had other things to traverse, most notably addiction and alcoholism to address. Oh well.
In 1993 I wound up at a 12 step meeting and began working a program by fits and starts, and now here I am, finally a Seminarian, a student of Divinity at HartSem. Wow. Wow! WOW! When I hit Rocky Hill, CT on interstate 91 tonight headed north from my home in Wallingford, and it became evident that I would, in fact arrive for my first class, I cried tears of joy and more while Neil Young sang “Out of the Blue, Into the Black….Rock and Roll will never die!” Wow.
My best friend on earth today is Tom; and Tom says “I’m back.” I like that. I love Tom, his wife Carlene, their son Brandon and their daughters Megan and Erica. They have forged one family where once there were two. Wow. Wow. I can never repay Tom for all he’s done for me. I will pay it forward, though. Remember that great movie? One day at a time that’s my main mission.
Way back when, I had an academic career as a budding Political Scientist and teacher of International Relations with a specialization in Arms Control and Disarmament. I’m back. This time with a different angle here at Hartford’s awesome liberal Seminary.
It’s all part of this Unabashed Left thing. If you’ve read regularly and will continue to do so, you understand. A note to my thousands of Atheist and agnostic friends. I LOVE YOU. You teach me far more than I ever will teach you. I’ve toyed with atheism at times, agnosticism, Maoism, Marxism, Leninism, you name it. Anyone with a brain who doesn’t is dishonest or a fool. You’ve taught me that atheism and agnosticism are very legitimate and reasonable life choices. And I firmly believe that not merely tolerance, but love of diversity is the key. LOVE. LOVE.
If someone in a Kafka play can be ecstatic, there I am tonight. Please accept my simple prayer for all of you and for this planet, GOD BLESS YOU. AMEN.
Yoko Ono has continued much of her hubby John's work following his handgun assassination in 1980, and her website details her contributions to his legacy, her annual memorial to John, The Lennon Peace Prize:
yoko-ono.com :) <3