Louisville, Ky., where I live, is arguably the buckle of the Bible Belt, possessing, as it does, the enormously influential Southern Baptist Seminary, an institution that has dismissed from its staff any biblical scholar who will not sign an affidavit stating that every word in the Bible is literally true.
Louisville also boasts the mega-congregation of Southeast Christian Church, whose attendees take orders from the pulpit as to the political candidates approved for their votes. This is true of many fundamentalist churches all over the United States.
There is no separation between church and state here, and that is precisely the way the politicians who presently run this country and the powerful preachers who run such churches as Southeast Christian want it. In a marriage that seems to me personally to be exceedingly dangerous to our republic's Constitution, the police forces of this city have adopted Southeast Christian as their official church, thusly merging politics, religion and the military.
What I have come to realize as a channel is that it does not matter where you live, in terms of receiving judgment. Those who consign me to hell because I channel are not, in point of fact, only those who go to Southeast Christian or who teach at Southern Seminary. They begin with my brother, Tommy.
Tommy was born when my mother was getting her graduate schooling completed and working at a full-time job as well. He arrived, neatly enough, in the break between her summer and fall terms, when I was 14. Mom went back to class, and I was the instant baby sitter. I raised Tommy until I married at the age of 21, seven years later. According to psychologists, I should have had him nicely trained by then in my belief system, which is that of mystical Christianity, with no dogma attached.
However, in high school Tommy was "saved." To this day, he can remember the day and hour. He left the Episcopal Church of his childhood and began attending Fellowship meetings. When his schooling took him to Baltimore, he found a Fellowship there. When he got a job in Washington, he again found a Fellowship group. There he met the woman he married. Tommy is, today, a successful man. I could not be prouder of him or happier for him and his wife and three children, who continue to attend Fellowship meetings. I support him in his faith.
However, far from his supporting me in my faith reciprocally, Tommy's inerrantist belief system turned him into a relentless inquisitor. From the age of 16, when he converted to his new faith, until the age of 39, when I finally distanced myself from him, he ceaselessly proselytized. It did not matter at all to him that I attended services regularly and led a blameless life. All Tommy could see was that I was a channel and that my soul was therefore in danger.
At every family gathering I listened politely to his endless harangues. I sympathized with his feelings. What I could not do for him was abandon my own thinking or beliefs. Consequently Tommy was never satisfied. Every holiday would find me stranded, late at night, while Tommy tried to coax me into abandoning my channeling.
Tommy and I had sung together for years, creating Christian songs from my poems and his music for family and friends. Ultimately this resulted in an album being produced by Dusk and Dawn Productions. It was called "The Journey," and I believe one can still purchase it.
Dusk and Dawn was a Christian recording company. The producer and all of the staff at the studio making the recording were Tommy's brand of Christian. When the taping was finished, all five of them had at me. For six of the most intensely miserable hours of my life, they took turns badgering me to give up the channeling. Anyone who feels that inerrantist Christians love one another as Christ loved us needs to observe the ruthless persecution of this kind of treatment. After that session, when we were again in private, I told Tommy that this was quits for me. I would take no more. I thought he agreed to leave off the bullying.
I was mistaken. The next Christmas, when I went to the annual Rueckert gathering, Tommy again started his lecturing. I asked him to stop. Tommy explained that he could not. He was responsible for saving my soul. It was his duty to chastise me until I repented. I explained that in that case, this was goodbye.
Almost two years went by. I had happily stayed away from the annual gathering. It was Thanksgiving of the next year when I got a call from Tom. He had had a breakthrough, thanks to a Jewish friend of his in D.C.
As usual, Tommy had been proselytizing. His friend said, "Tommy, if I never convert, am I still your friend?" "Of course," said Tommy. "I would never let this matter come between us." Then it hit him that he had allowed this same matter to end his relationship with his only sister.
That very day, he called me up and made a promise, which he has kept ever since, never again to discuss the differences in our belief systems. I know it costs him a lot to keep his mouth shut. However, he sees now that loving his sister includes tolerating the differences between us.
I have a sound reputation as a channel. However, that reputation means nothing to Tommy. In his heart he still worries about my soul. I can do nothing to assuage his concern, for I also feel called by the Holy Spirit. I also follow the path I believe I have been called by my Christ to follow. I will not let Jesus down. He is counting on me.
Who is right? We both are. Tommy is right for him. I am right for me. This matter will never be resolved at this earthly level of existence.
I suspect that all these sore disagreements will fall away like the tattered garments they are when we pass through the gates of death into larger life and see the wider viewpoint of eternity. I look forward to all seeming disagreements being resolved in the light of truth supernal.
Meryl Streep once was asked what she thought the Creator would say when she met Him at the gates of Heaven. I loved her response. Her God said, "Everybody in!"
This is the inclusive and loving Creator that I know. We are all equally acceptable to our Creator, who loves us all the same. If I am a prophet, that is part of the message I have received so far.
I open my arms and embrace your spirit. May you walk your path fearlessly and share the love you have for the Creator with all whom you meet, no matter how different their belief systems are from your own.