Essay: Please Delete Me... But First Read This
A hometown Wake Up Call by Rev. Jack.
To my Indiana friends and acquaintances Please Delete Me…- But Read This First.
In late 2016 I had an occasion to visit my brother in Columbus Indiana. It was a trip filled with nostalgia. We celebrated his 75th birthday, talked old times and laughed. I actually longed to rekindle the sweet familiar feelings of family. So much so I did a Zillow search of a few quaint little farmhouses. Fantasies of being Winchester’s own Walt Whitman, Cole Porter or at the very least, Jessica Fletcher danced in my head. I also mused that I can now afford one of those big old luscious houses on East Franklin Street if sold my “little” place in California.
Or perhaps a cute little farmhouse like the one my grandfather owned on Huntsville Road. Wow, that would be perfect for the playwright within me. My retirement was just four months away. My brother
was a realtor. All sort of possibilities were dancing in my head. But then when I mentioned this to my brother, he was short and to the point. “No. You need to stay right where you are. It’s better for you out there.”
I got it. No more words needed to be spoken. It was in that moment that I realized, what I was longing for, never existed. Cabot Cove, Mayberry RFD and even my memories of Winchester never really existed. I told myself, “Leave the lovely people alone Jack. You are too progressive, liberal, and gay for them.” Besides, way too many people have guns, voted for Trump and hide behind the skirts of Christianity for you to be happy here. You might as well be in Fresno.”
I felt sad. There are people living in Winchester that I adore, and I won’t get to be around them. Every “Remembering Winchester” post on Facebook, still draws me in. Each week I visit the Walker Funeral Home’s website and read the obituaries just like my mother use to in the News Gazette. Live and let live, I thought. Embrace the memories and release the rest. Then, mentions of my 50th high school reunion started to pop up on Facebook. Would I go? Would I want to go? As I’m believing now, I probably wouldn’t be welcomed.
As I read posts from classmates, more hateful postings seem to pop up as well. Now, nearly daily, I read hate filled posts, penned by some in my hometown. They’re ranting about the election, the pandemic, Biden’s win, and the insurrection on January 6th.
Their posts are absolute looney tune rants. My hometown neighbors are causing me to ask: “Who would want to go back there. Is Fox News the only channel on the cable boxes in East Central Indiana? Doesn’t anyone read a newspaper anymore? Facebook is not a News platform people!” The anger boiling up in me will not tolerate the ignorance This preacher, has to preach!
The advocate in me simply will not be silent. Run me out of town if you want. Delete me from your “Friends” category on Facebook, that’s fine. But hear me out, before you hit delete.
Folks, we need to talk. We need to have a hard conversation about how we nearly lost our democracy on January 6th, and too many of you are too ignorant to realize it. And here’s the deal: I hope you don’t believe a word that I am about to say. Fact-check me. Do your due diligence and google what I say. Go to snoops.com find out if I am telling the truth. Debate me. I love a good debate. Mr. Casey taught me well. In his debate class we were taught to argue both sides of every issue! That meant we had to research both points of view.
Read a newspaper! In fact, read as many newspapers as you can. If you think America’s press is fake, read a foreign source (There in English too.) I thank God my parents subscribed to 4 different newspapers. Two liberal and two conservative leaning. They listened to both sides, discussed the issues, and then voted. Mostly democrat, but sometimes republican.
My parents were proud Union members who shopped at Loidl’s Hardware instead of slipping over to Muncie to shop at Walmart. They shopped at Bunsold’s Grocery rather Marsh because they wanted to local businesses to survive. If he were alive today, Everett would be having his coffee at Everett’s Place rather than McDonalds. Thank God I had parents who could expand their consciousness to consider multiple points of view. So, here we go. Buck up. Someone needs to tell you the truth.
• Joe Biden is the 46th, President of the United States. He won the election. There was less fraud in the 2020 election than in any previous election. Stop the lie that this election was stolen. You sound like whinny babies that didn’t get their way.
• Your hypocrisy is showing – BIG TIME! You go absolutely crazy when an NFL Player takes a knee during the National Anthem. (He does it because the lyrics celebrates slavery, oh, you didn’t sing that verse?) However, when a cop, on January 6th, is beaten and nearly killed with a flagpole still holding the American Flag on it, you say… “Well, it’s to be expected.” No, it is not! No, what you are affirming is that Blue Lives Matter when it’s a black person being assaulted, but if white terrorists kill a cop with bear spray, “well that’s to be expected.”
• Mexican’s are not talking your jobs. Your manufacturing jobs left town because you started shopping at Walmart, Kmart and on Amazon. You wanted it cheap. So, they had to go offshore to build it. And yet, you text on your Chinese manufactured iPhone, that we should buy American.
• You are reading the wrong parts of the Bible. In the basement of Main Street Christian Church Mrs. Stocksdale, taught me the most profound bible passage of all. Matthew 25:35. “For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home.” You know, if you are working your “get into heaven plan” know that this Bible verse pertains to the children separated from their parents at the border. It applies to the migrant field workers that come into Indiana each year to pick tomatoes for the canning factories.
• America is a multi-cultural tapestry of diversity, and that scares the hell out of white people. Every immigrant that came here wanted to close the door behind them. But unless you are Native American, your ancestors came here from somewhere else. My great, great, great grandfather captained a slave boat from the United Kingdom to New Bern, North Carolina. He brough poor, orphaned children from Ireland that were sold into slavery until they turned 21 years of age. Other ships entered that same port from Africa; however, those enslaved beings did not have the privilege of be freed because they were not “free, white and 21.”
• We must pay for the sins of our Fathers if we are to survive. While ‘pay’ often takes us to financial remuneration, I suggest we think of it as “atone” rather than pay. We must tell all of our history, so that we can own it and work to atone for our ignorance of how we treated other people.
• America is neither a democracy nor a republic. It is a Democratic Republic. And we are a work in progress. Our Constitution is our governance. It only will survive it if honor it above all else. Our government is an experimental one. We are merely 245 years of age. On the world stage, we are just entering our adolescents and we’ve been acting like the entitled teenagers. It’s time for us to grow up. I have been blessed to travel to many places around the world, and at some point, I am always asked: “Are all American’s really like those people on Jerry Springer?” I would plead my case to prove it wasn’t true. But then we elected Trump. I had to admit nearly half of us are just like those people on Jerry Springer.
• Another Sunday School Teacher told me that we must remember our calling. She’d remind us that compassion (for all), empathy and advocacy where the keys to entering Heaven. Here’s what I believe: The lack of compassion, empathy and advocacy is our great sin. We’ve missed the mark. And just like any child that knows they’ve done wrong, we deny, and we hide. We’ve hidden our sin under the vail of our hypocrisy. We spit out biblical epitaphs as to why I and others like me, shouldn’t love and marry who I love, but at the same time engage in affairs, divorce and multiple marriages.
We scream “socialist” at any progressive that suggests raising the minimum wage to $15, but bitch because we haven’t received our $2,000 stimulus check from the government. We are fine with a black or brown boy being arrested for selling a joint to a buddy but want to freely walk into our apothecary shopped to buy our legal weed.
• When people find out that I am an openly gay ordained minister, they immediately ask: “But do you know Jesus?” I often want to respond, “Yes, I do; do you?” I have studied theology for nearly forty years. I have learned things about the man born Yeshua that the world came to call Jesus, that many will never know. And what I know is, he would have never looked like the white European Jesus in the portraits hanging in many of our Churches now. And, I am just fine with that.
• After I’m asked if I know Jesus, I’m usually asked: “Do you believe in the literal word of the Bible?” I usually follow that up with “Which Bible?” Typically, what comes back is: “Well the King James of course.” It always reminds me of how many pastors I’ve had to educate to know that the “James” as in the King’s James version of the Bible, is not lifting up the Gospel of “James” like they believe. They don’t even know how the king James Bible came to be. So no, it not literal. I do accept the Bible is the inspired word of God and I am fine with that.
• Another hard fact: America was not discovered by Christopher Columbus. It was already here. Much of America was already settled by the people that the state we live in was named after. Indian-a. We took it from them! The western ¼ of the United States was inhabited by the same people we don’t want to cross the border now. It was a part of Mexico. We took it. We willed our white privilege and sense of entitlement and claim what was someone else’s as ours. We enslaved people to grow our crops, cook and clean, nurse our babies, and build our capitol.
Our white supremacy reached a tipping point in the civil war. Our Democratic Republic barely survived it. And it’s nearly failing now. The Emancipation Proclamation prevailed, but barely. We merely figured out new ways to enslave those we needed to do the work. Even worse, we had the audacity to believe that someone not White was somehow less than human just so we could feel better about ourselves.
Now, we are at a time of great reckoning. The veil of our hypocrisy and privilege has been pulled back and we are standing here naked.
Here’s the deal: Hate me if you will, just stop being so ignorant. AOC is not feeding babies to Hillary in a Pizza Shop in Washington D.C. Jews are not setting the wildfires in California with Star Wars like lasers. Black lives do matter and saying so, does not imply your life doesn’t matter. And no one wants to take away your hunting gunP. Stop saying and sharing that shit on Facebook.
I am asking you to wake up. All God’s children are equal in God’s eyes. God does not favor one race over another, or America over other countries. When God casts his eyes on the earth, he only sees his children. He does not see our man-made boarders. God sees a prosperous earth. There is plenty of food and water for ALL,
There is enough bounty on this earth to feed, cloth, and house everyone of God’s children. If only we’d live by Matthew 25: 35.
We were given the 10 commandments, but we decided to pick and choose which ones apply to us. There is no asterisk next to “Thou Shall not kill”. We were also taught the Golden Rule but modified it to meet our needs. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you – only if they look like you.”
Compassion, empathy, and advocacy; these are the keys to the kingdom of Heaven. There is a philosophy that transcends most religions, tribal traditions, and spiritual practices. Don Miguel Ruiz called them the Four Agreements. Be impeccable with your word. Don’t take things personally. Don’t make assumptions. Do your best – always. That is what I have endeavored to do here. Shun me if you want, that’s fine. I needed to be impeccable with me word as I know it.
I do believe that Yeshua is the Son of God, the Christ Consciousness. And I also believe that as we work our get into Heaven plan, we must not leave one of God’s children behind (unfed, clothed or sheltered.) If we do, we will all be separated from the flock. This is our great lesson to learn. Let’s do this. We are better than we’ve been acting. Wake up. Love is love, is love is love. If it isn’t about love, then it must not be. - Rev. Jack
P.S. Can I get an Amen up in here?
Rev. Jack Elliott is the Founding Spiritual Director of ElderPride Incorporated. You may reach him at email@example.com.
Main Street Christian Church, Winchester, Indiana
Downtown Winchester, Indiana - South Side of the Square.
Downtown Winchester, Indiana Randolph County Court House on the Square.
Rev. Jack Elliott, Class of '71, Winchester Community High School
Poet, Amanda Gorman
"...When day comes we step out of the shade,
aflame and unafraid
The new dawn blooms as we free it
For there is always light,
if only we're brave enough to see it
If only we're brave enough to BE it."