This week, I decided to have a brief intermission.
For several months, the age-old subject of God and The Devil has come up often. When topics or themes tend to present themselves more often than usual, I pay close attention. One of these times happened at the San Francisco Opera earlier this month.
Opera is something I have loved since I was a child. An opera is often a dramatic story that rarely has a happy ending; opera singers convey every emotion their character is feeling, through song. A wonderful opera experience can have you laughing or crying throughout it. All of that to say, when a good friend of mine invited me to the opera a few weeks ago, I jumped at the chance. She chose Mephistopheles, once again giving me a glimpse of the God and Devil theme that continues to pop up.Mephistopheles tells the story of a wager between God and the Devil. When the opera begins, you see a blue sky, filled with clouds and angels, while beautiful music plays; this is a glimpse of Heaven we are seeing.
Suddenly, a red ladder reveals itself against the stage, through the orchestra and up climbs The Devil. The Devil enjoys chatting with God for a while and he begins a conversation about which of them is the most powerful and popular deity amongst the mortals. The Devil is convinced that he is far more popular than God, so he makes God a bet.
The bet involves a man named Fauste, who follows and respects God wholly. The Devil wagers he can get Faust to sign over his soul to him instead of to God. The bet is made and the Opera begins. When the Devil appears to Faust to tempt him away from God, Faust initially puts up a good fight. However, all it takes is The Devil promising that Faust would get laid; Faust signs over his soul without even reading the contract, filled with future consequences for acting upon immediate desires. This is one of the eternal questions for those who believe in God or The Devil; who do you leave your soul to.
Faust is taken to Hell by The Devil so he can see what his eternity may hold. Hell is filled with every sort of debauchery and it looks fun and ferocious all at once. The friend I went with, said that Hell reminded her of the Sexy Circus I used to throw. My brow furrowed and I waited for intermission to respond to that.
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During intermission, I told my friend I wasn’t sure how I felt about her comparing my old circus to Hell. She laughed, saying it was a compliment and then said: “But check it out, Hell is way more fun than heaven. I would totally think we would prefer to go there than heaven.” I looked at her and said, “How can you say that? We were never actually shown Heaven. How do we know Hell would be like that all the time?!” She laughed and reminded me that I sounded like I was in law school at one time. We returned to finish the show which was remarkable, beautiful and emotional.
People go through ebbs and flows. For the longest time, my relationship with God or The Devil was complicated: I was raised as a Jehovah’s Witness. It was so traumatic, I wrote off God completely. Eventually, I grew to be an Atheist, then a bit Agnostic and finally in limbo. Over the past 2 years, dealing with a lot of death and very strange occurrences which were hard to ignore, I came to the conclusion, that I definitely believe in God…I’m just not a big fan of most of His so-called followers. I find it funny that while I make my way back to God, all of these different themes of God and The Devil find their way to me.
A week after the opera, I read Jessica Drake’s blog and began to investigate faith based organizations, who claim to honor and love God while helping His people. This is actually a project I’ve had on the back burner since early 2011. Reading the words of Jessica Drake and hearing from others made me realize there is a story to be told.
Part of why I take this series so seriously, is because I have come to believe over the last 3 weeks of writing this series, that some people who claim to love and serve God, are living and acting like they were offered something they wanted and without reading the contract, signed the contract and chose Hell.
It’s disappointing to me that these people have ruined it for many of us. Countless people stray from a belief in God, due to a horrible experience with religion; that is what I am tired of. That is why I have been giving push back, speculating when something does not ring true, questioning people from all angles and being accused of some truly deplorable things. Now, I refuse to be bullied by some I have interviewed within some of the organizations I am covering. When fear based antics are directed towards a writer covering a story, it means someone does not like or want questions being asked. Maybe they feel they are beyond being questioned.
It also means at times, that there are things which someone would not want others to know. In this case, it means this story is worth pursuing. I hold these people to a higher standard – because they all claim they are doing God’s work. When in reality some of them are doing anything but. I posted an intermission because many more people have first hand experiences to add to this series. Since I am being accused of not being fair or balanced, an extra week of research may help. As the not politically correct saying goes, the fat lady has yet to sing.
Next week: I will be covering the Las Vegas based Cupcake Girls at length and San Francisco based solaceSF. Both of the women who lead these organizations have a few things in common: Pastor Craig Gross, a tremendous reach to the sex worker community, cupcakes and a shared, uncommon knack for loving people to the best of their abilities. Thanks to Joy Hoover and Laura Lasky for enduring me for the past week!