Saturday, October 28, 2006
I wrote a scathing retort, and I received a letter back from one of the members of PASE, then I answered him back. So, here it is.
I appreciate your response and I do understand your concerns regarding our PASE letter. I want you to know that we agree with you on many points that are made in your show and do not harbor anything against you personally. But you must understand the frustration that we feel as parents who "give a damn" as you put it, when our schools continuously remove instructional time for pop shows on political correctness and diversity. And before I continue, I do owe you an apology for misinformation that I received about you, which was, that you were an atheist. This of course, lent itself to my further frustration as this is obviously not a mindset that is in tune with God. After reading your blog I will accept your response that you are a Christian. So for that misinformation, I am very sorry.
Now, regarding our frustration, we are becoming very weary of our schools placing the sanctimonious crown on their heads as the newly appointed judge of what is to be our children's correct view of society. And please don't take any offense, but who decided that Michael Fowlin was the answer for our kids? And what do you think would happen if we asked the school for a day to make a presentation on how to love one another based on what Jesus said in the Bible? We would be ridiculed and laughed out of the building. That's not fair. So what we are saying is, let moral and social topics be issues that fall under the domain of the home and the parents. Let the schools stick to reading, english, math and science, and keep their social agendas out of the process. And does what I just said mean that we do not embrace diversity in our schools and our homes? Of course not. All of the PASE parents abhor the bullying or mistreatment of any child for any reason, especially in schools. We all teach our children to reach out in kindness to those who seem to struggle in their school and social life. We teach them to act as Christ would in any situation. And many of us have homosexuals in our families and we have only had love and caring for them as well, and will continue to love them always. But again, this is a topic for the home and not for a school agenda. In short, we are just fed up with school boards that decide who can and who cannot speak to our children without any parental consideration whatsoever. So this reply may or may not give you a better insight into PASE, but maybe it will help you understand our frustrations. You claim that you have many miles to walk. So do we. And yes we will pray for you, pray for us too.
So, there was the PASE response to my blog, and now, here is my response, plus further thoughts, concerning this letter.
Thank you for writing me back. I think you are correct about our parental responsibility to teach and instruct our children about these issues of diversity. However, I do not believe that schools are just relegated to math, science, history, etc. When I do my show I prefer to work on a three tiered system: teachers/staff, children, and parents/community. PASE does an important work when they teach their children, however, let's be honest, not all children live in PASE homes. School violence, racism, discrimination, gender insensitivity, and other issues are not sufficient to trust to the homes. Do you really believe that segregation in schools would have ended if the education of these issues were limited to the homes? Furthermore, you were a student once, and thus, you know that parents have a limited amount of influence on their children. The peer group in which the child travels can be a positive or negative influence reinforcing or dismantling parental influences. Where does the child, who has misinformed parental influences, go to find out how to properly treat other individuals, if not in school where that child spends countless hours for 13 years? And I know you will want to tell me the church, but the church has failed many of these same children. The church has forgotten how to love people who Jesus will never stop loving.
Through my shows, there have been individuals who have gotten the help that they needed. Through God's blessings, I have altered the minds of children who were contemplating suicide, homicide, and rape. Once, I was able to intervene in a situation where a child, who had detailed plans of his schools layout, was stopped from setting off a series of explosives. If I were into bragging, I would detail to you about the thousands of individuals who have opened up their lives to being more loving because of my show. Yet, it is not I who takes this credit. I am humbled that God has used me when I am not worthy. I am like Sampson, blinded because of my disobedience, yet, willing to allow God's grace and power to be shown one more time, even at the expense of my own life. This is my ministry given by God to do great and mighty things.
We must all remember: God transcends our boxes, our limitations. God works out of God's plan and God's design. If God needs a mule to speak his truth, he will use a mule; if God needs a [burning] bush, God will use a [burning] bush; if God needs a prophet, then a prophet shall be brought forth; if God needs a home with loving parents, then a home with loving parents shall be the forum; if God needs a school, then a school shall be the vehicle of God's message.
I have learned in my short time on this earth that just when I think I know how God works, it is then that God shows me how God works. I am constantly learning, and I thank you Rick for being a part of this learning process.
So much to pray for and about . . . and you will certainly be in these prayers, as I will be in yours.
with [more] understanding,
Friday, October 13, 2006
"Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds." -- Albert Einstein
I haven't written in such a long time. There are times when writing tends to be a heavy burden. I get stuck; words are only apparitions, they elude me. I am glad that this morning I am ready to write. I am fired up! Why am I fired up? I will get to this point shortly.
Firstly, I would like to tell you about my most recent trip and performances. I just got back from a trip in Michigan. I had some performances in the Grand Rapids area. I performed for all the freshman and eighth graders in the Grand Rapids city school. They were difficult audiences. That was Monday. Tuesday, I had two wonderfully delicious performances for Warner Norcross & Judd LLP, a law firm located in several cities throughout the state. I was really on for these performances, though I was somewhat anxious before the show. It was my first law firm performance, and I wasn't certain how it would carry over. After Monday's difficult performances, I was so happy Tuesday went well.
On Wednesday and Thursday I was in the Forrest Hills School district. I had four performances in three high schools during those two days. The performances themselves were wonderful! The students of this school district are a delightfully, passionate and compassionate group of children. I can't say enough about the teachers and administrators of this district, as well. They are trying to walk the talk. My hat goes off to them.
Before my first performance, I was informed by the principal at Eastern that there would be a group of parents in the audience to hear me speak. I stated that I believed this was a good thing. I stand behind what I do. I sensed that the principal was a little concerned about who these parents were, but I had no fear.
Apparently, these parents belong to a conservative "christian" fundamentalist group that is rather active in their community in blocking or yelping about any issue they feel may destroy the fabric of their belief system. In general, this action is commendable. Parents who "give a damn" are needed desperately in these times. I applaud this general behavior. However, if this behavior is conducted out of ignorance or fear, I have zero tolerance for it. I've dealt with my share of annoying skeptics. We've had discourse, and at times, some intense verbal confrontations, but I don't back down with truth. I love the confrontation that makes them look at their self-righteous behavior; I delight in watching their toes curl, if their attitudes are one of discord, not unity.
I slightly altered my show to drive in some specific points for my critics. For instance, I started off the show by reading random selections from this book called "One Child". I was completely random and only read one sentence from each page to which I flipped. After doing this, I asked the audience to tell me what the book was about. Of course, no one had the right answer. I told them that it would be near impossible to understand what the book was about without reading the entire thing, and that just pulling from the bits and pieces of the story, does an injustice to the whole story. Then I said, "You will do my show an injustice if you do not watch and listen to the show in its entirety. Do not sit there and pick and choose what you want to see. See my play in its entirety."
After my show, a dissident mother approached me to ask about a critique I had made on Amazon.com about a book called Seeds of Deception. Obviously, this had little to do with my show, but like all fickle and cantankerous people, she did not need to focus on what she saw; it gave her great pleasure to pick a fight based on her own agenda. It was much more fun for her to get a clarification concerning a mistype in my critique than to deal with the show itself. In short, in my critique of the book, I used the word, "hate-mongrel" instead of "hate-monger" in my description of the author, an innocent, yet fascinating, mistake, but one which probably kept this mother up for nights on end. (And as they say in Texas, "Bless her heart. She's precious.")
As she approached me, her minions remained off in the distance to watch their fellow pharisee at work. I informed her that she did not own a corner on God, and that my attack on the book was not an attack against Christians as she was inferring; my critique was against hateful and misinformed people who claim to be followers of Christ. I informed this woman that I was a believer in Christ, a red-letter follower. I told her that I believe in Jesus' words and deeds. She countered by telling me that she believed in the whole Bible, every word. I asked her if she believed in an eye for an eye, and she stated, "Yes." I then informed her that the Jesus she believed in said that he came with a new law to love your enemy and turn the other cheek. I asked her if she remembered reading that verse as well. She had no answer . . .
In any case, I left somewhat annoyed after my interaction with this woman. I allowed her to get to me, because my attention was split between this woman and the dear students who wanted to speak with me. I was applauded by staff members at this school because of my handling of this malignant dissenter.
But this was only the beginning. The next day, a friend of mine sent me a copy of the letter that was sent out to all the parents of this specific school prior to my arrival. It is to this letter I would now like to address my retort. But allow me to share the letter this delightful, slanderous group called PASE sent to build their case against me. After sharing this letter, I will separate the fiction from the facts, and the facts from the slander.
Hello PASE supporter, We are writing to inform you that Forest Hills Eastern High School is going to utilize an entire school day to promote diversity and political correctness to our children this Wednesday October 11. That means none of the students will actually be attending their classes but rather, they will be escorted to a school wide assembly that is being presented by Dr. Michael Fowlin. Michael (also known as Mykee) will be using his singular skills to encourage kids to raise their level of tolerance for others, and their cultural differences. On the surface this appears to be a wonderful idea as we don't know anyone who would be in favor of mistreating anyone due to their culture or ethnicity. However, these events are rarely presented in the spirit of brotherly love or the selfless advancement of the human condition. Instead, the intent will be to propagandize your children into a belief system that has everything to do with political agendas and beliefs that are counter to God's instruction. The goal is that by the end of this wonderful "Day of Diversity" your children will be inspired to tolerate, believe, and accept any bizarre notion that the world may wish to impose upon them. This will include the embracing of the homosexual lifestyle, and all of its agenda, as well as many other offensive notions. Of course those who may feel uncomfortable with this line of teaching, and either question it or flat out reject it, will be quickly labeled as intolerant, backwards, and my personal favorite . . . narrow minded! We ask that you please help us put an end to the continued barrage of senseless, imposed, political correctness that is forced upon our students in the name of diversity. We urge you to keep your Eastern High School student home on that day to let the schools know that we are fed up with this agenda. If you cannot keep your kids home, have them wear a white shirt as a symbol of their independence from this topic. If you wish to educate them on how to love their fellow man just remind them of how much Christ loved us and then have them love others likewise. It's just that simple. Please contact Principal Laberteaux, you may reach her . . . and ask about the content of this program in detail. You may also want to ask her how much of our taxpayer dollars are being spent on this event. Please act on this and help make a difference in our schools. Please forward this email or contact your like-minded friends at Northern and Central as well. We understand that Mykee will be paying a visit to those high schools too. Thank you for your support. Please continue to pray for our students and our school leadership. Sincerely, PASE Group
Allow me, if you will, to address this letter directly. You, my readers and friends, get a peek into a private letter made public. I am writing PASE, and if you don't follow the religious overtones, read between the lines and understand the message I send.
I had the most interesting opportunity to read a letter sent out by your group to the parents of Forrest Hills Eastern. I was somewhat perplexed by a number of assertions made in the letter. It seems as if you wrote a letter about me and what I do in performances without ever seeing the show for yourselves. You sent out the letter on the 8th of October, but my shows were on the 10th and 11th. An unfortunate mistake, on your part, I'll grant you that, but, a forgivable error. Readily forgivable, if what you were saying had truth strewn throughout, but this was not the case. What was more surprising is my understanding that you may be Christians. This was shocking to me! As a believer in Christ who is in exile, I tend to remember a number of verses that address slander and slanderers, gossip and gossipers. Here's a couple of them: I Corinthians 6:10 and II Corinthians 12:20. Remember them? Still, this was only a general concern. Allow me to be more specific about what really irritated me. I will now break down that wonderfully, false letter you constructed, and explicate what is true. By the way, your letter was distributed to many of the parents in your community. My retort is being distributed internationally. Why? I just felt that your letter was symbolic of a much greater problem I've seen in recent times, and my response needed to reach the masses, not just some fearful, hate group. Are you ready? Let's go.
You wrote, "On the surface this, [bringing in Mykee Fowlin], appears to be a wonderful idea as we don't know anyone who would be in favor of mistreating anyone due to their cultural or ethnicity." Is this really true? You don't know anyone? Hmm . . . interesting. I would suggest that you stroll through the hallways of any school in America; peek at governments, including ours, all across the world; listen to the conversations that you and/or your friends may have about certain "individuals" (e.g., Mykee Fowlin) or particular groups (e.g., homosexuals). Mistreatment starts in the verbal arena and the spreading of lies, and not just in the behavorial sphere. Q: What made Hitler great? A: His ability to tell a story. Even he knew the ills of disrespect start with verbal assault. People support mistreatment all the time. They give justifications, but they support it. In fact, if you have read or listened to the news lately, you will know that our government has just passed legislation to legally mistreat people with coercive techniques (i.e., torture). I won't belabor this point any further. I am counting on you to get the point.
You also said that rarely these programs are presented in the spirit of brotherly love and the selfless advancement of humankind. Are you kidding me? This IS what my show is about, but of course, you wouldn't know that if you haven't seen my show. Perhaps, you would benefit from actually speaking from a position of intelligence, not ignorance; I have 1000s of letters to support how I've furthered brotherly/sisterly love and the advancement of humankind. Where is your data for the opposite? What evidence are you bringing for the lies you spew, the slander you purport. Shame on you for this. Shame on you!
"The intent will be to propagandize your children into a belief system that has everything to do with political agendas and beliefs that are counter to God's instruction." Then you went on to ramble something about my show's goal: making students accept bizarre and offensive notions. I think you got Michael Fowlin confused with the PASE Group. Unlike your group, my show is not slanted to support some political group, but it is there to decrease violence, increase inclusion, and to lower the disrespect that is formed when people are afraid of differences. Moreover, the only thing that is bizarre and offensive is the existence of a group who utter slanderous, infertile diatribes that leave mold infested residue that has the stench of freshly spewn vomit. That, my friends, is what is offensive and bizarre. I could wax poetic for days on end, but why waste my talents in this letter. Instead, allow me to give you and my readers the evidence of what my show is, thus rendering your words, your organization, and your perverted version of Christianity as pointless and debunked.
Here's how my show commences. I open up speaking with the audience. I vary what I say during this part, but the general gist is to warm people up by encouraging them to be like a moth, not a goldfish or zebra. In short, the moth moves closer to light during its time alive; the goldfish has a 30 second memory; zebras stand around and watch when a fellow zebra is attacked. Or at times, I will get the audience to talk about what they have observed through their hand proclivity (i.e., right-handedness and left-handedness). I will then draw some conclusions about these ideas. Nothing earth-shattering with these revelations, and most certainly, no little bolts of lightening striking me down.
When I go into characterizations I play the following characters:
Jermaine: six year old boy who has been called a monkey in class. He punches the other child and gets suspended for his actions.
Octavious: high school senior who plays football. He is the star running back going to college the following year on a full ride scholarship. He speaks about being the hero on the football field, but feeling like a fake on and off the field, because he is gay. He passes for straight. He states, "I wear a mask. I pretend to be straight. I date and flirt with girls. I have NEVER been with a guy, but I know who I've been attracted to since age 10."
Frank: a 23 year old guy who has been stopped by the police for being "different". He's white and gothic. He wants people to be aware about what really contributes to school violence.
Sabine: young girl (17) who is in her therapist's office talking about the imbalance of gender. She is bi-racial, as well.
Qwame: black student who does not fit into the black stereotypes. He wishes to be accepted for being himself. . . . and for being black.
I then insert a poem about date rape, very powerful, very moving. Of course, I am speaking out against rape, not supporting rape. Now, this may seem obvious, but I just thought I'd be specific about it, in case someone from your group would try to be sneaky enough to suggest that I was embracing rape. Now, wouldn't that be bizarre and offensive?
Tommy: a boy who has Down's Syndrome who wants to be accepted like other kids. He loves calling people beautiful and having people call him beautiful.
Jose: Hispanic/Latino male who talks about one teacher who saved his life. When he asked Ms. Garcia how she knew what to say, to save his life, her response was, "Jose, every child needs at least one adult who is going to make them feel like the most important person in this world, but if that child fails to find that one adult, that child will have the most difficult time at surviving. Jose, I am so blessed by God to be chosen to be your one adult." I know PASE, God must hate being given the praise for saving our lives. What a bizarre and offensive notion, huh?
Now, in between the date rape poem and Tommy, I speak to the audience about rising above the typical ways in which we hurt and respond to each other, then I let them know that they are inherently beautiful. Do you know where I got that bizarre and offensive notion? Check it out: Psalms 139:13-15. In case you don't have a Bible on hand, here it is:
"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place."
I then encourage the students to smile and say hello to 10 people they've never smiled and said hello to before, because it may brighten up a day or even save a life. Now, if I were being as ignorant as the writer of your letter, I could make that asinine leap to infer that saving someone's life is counter to God's instruction, but I am too wise to create this meaningless chatter.
So, what is this really about for PASE? Let's cut to the chase, it's about homodium. No. No. I am not speaking about the chemical homodium bromide. I am talking about the word that I made up. Homodium: an aversion or strong dislike towards homosexuals. How did I create this word? Well, it's a combination of homosexual and odious. Your PASE group is reacting to the rumors that I have a character in my show who is gay, and my character is telling children to accept the homosexual lifestyle and any other bizarre and offensive behaviors. Is that close to what you believe my show is saying? What about now? After some of you have seen my show, is that what you still think I was saying? Were you even listening, or did your homodium limit your auditory abilities? I hope for the former, but I am so afraid of the high probability of the latter.
The trouble with you, PASE Group, and others like you, (note: I am not referring to general blanket of Christians), is that you believe that your hatred towards homosexual people is ordained by God. And you tend to counter with the famous Augustine quote, "love the sinner, hate the sin." What you fail to acknowledge is that in my show I address homosexuality in orientation form only, (though I am certain we would disagree about homosexuality in general), not behavior. The Bible NEVER mentions homosexuality in its orientation form, and the nine verses you will pull to support your homodium is contextually unsound in discussing orientation. You don't have to approve of anyone's behaviors; we can agree on this. I am sure that amongst the lot of you, there are some of you married PASE members that have a rather uninhibited, peculiar, and randy appetite when it comes to bedroom tactics with your spouse. These behaviors, I would like to inform you, may not sit very well with other members of your outfit who, quite frankly, make Pilgrims look like harlots.
I understand your contention. It is one of jealousy. I am doing what Jesus did. I am reaching out to those who are oppressed; I am doing the work of a believer in God or Christ. And it is no shock that you slander my name and hate me. Was it not Jesus who said, if they hate you, it's because they hated me first? And I know with what you will feebly attempt to counter. You will say, "Jesus was talking about those in the world who hated him." And I say, "Yes, he was. And those who hated him the most, in the world, were the religious people of his time." It wasn't the poor, the down-troddened, the homeless, the harlot, the lonely, the sick, or anyone else who was rejected by the powers that be. No, it was the Pharisees and Sadducees who hated Jesus. They were the ones who accused Jesus of not being from God, of loving people they wished to hate. They were the ones who rejected him and called for his head. Let me ask PASE members, do you think the homosexual individuals in your district see the love of Jesus more through your actions, or through my actions? Do you see the gay, lesbian, and transgender students as Jesus sees them, as people, not titles? By your homodium, do you think that GLBT students understand better about Jesus' love after they've met you or after they've met me? I am not saying this to boast. I have so many miles to walk, so many issues to overcome. I acknowledge my weaknesses, but I do not deceive myself about what they are. They are shortcomings and weaknesses. In fact, I had to ask God to show me how to love the PASE group and others like you . . . God is still working on that one within me. Have you prayed for the same when it comes to homosexual individuals? When it comes to loving me?
Finally, I want to inform you about something in the overall attitude of your letter. Jesus had nothing to say on the topic of homosexuality, but he did have plenty to say about our treatment towards people who are oppressed, and he said much in line with blessings and curses. God has blessed this show that I perform, and God continues to bless me. Is it prudent for you to curse that which God has blessed?
In closing, I am reminded of a song by Bob Dylan that seems so appropriate right now. I will leave you with this.
Someone's got it in for me, they're planting stories in the press
Whoever it is I wish they'd cut it out but when they will I can only guess.
They say I shot a man named Gray and took his wife to Italy,
She inherited a million bucks and when she died it came to me.
I can't help it if I'm lucky.
People see me all the time and they just can't remember how to act
Their minds are filled with big ideas, images and distorted facts.
Even you, yesterday you had to ask me where it was at,
I couldn't believe after all these years, you didn't know me better than that
Idiot wind, blowing every time you move your mouth,
Blowing down the backroads headin' south.
Idiot wind, blowing every time you move your teeth,
You're an idiot, babe.
It's a wonder that you still know how to breathe.
I ran into the fortune-teller, who said beware of lightning that might strike
I haven't known peace and quiet for so long I can't remember what it's like.
There's a lone soldier on the cross, smoke pourin' out of a boxcar door,
You didn't know it, you didn't think it could be done, in the final end he won the wars
After losin' every battle.
I woke up on the roadside, daydreamin' 'bout the way things sometimes are
Visions of your chestnut mare shoot through my head and are makin' me see stars.
You hurt the ones that I love best and cover up the truth with lies.
One day you'll be in the ditch, flies buzzin' around your eyes,
Blood on your saddle.
Idiot wind, blowing through the flowers on your tomb,
Blowing through the curtains in your room.
Idiot wind, blowing every time you move your teeth,
You're an idiot, babe.
It's a wonder that you still know how to breathe.
It was gravity which pulled us down and destiny which broke us apart
You tamed the lion in my cage but it just wasn't enough to change my heart.
Now everything's a little upside down, as a matter of fact the wheels have stopped,
What's good is bad, what's bad is good, you'll find out when you reach the top
You're on the bottom.
I noticed at the ceremony, your corrupt ways had finally made you blind
I can't remember your face anymore, your mouth has changed, your eyes don't look into mine.
The priest wore black on the seventh day and sat stone-faced while the building burned.
I waited for you on the running boards, near the cypress trees, while the springtime turned
Slowly into autumn.
Idiot wind, blowing like a circle around my skull,
From the Grand Coulee Dam to the Capitol.
Idiot wind, blowing every time you move your teeth,
You're an idiot, babe.
It's a wonder that you still know how to breathe.
I can't feel you anymore, I can't even touch the books you've read
Every time I crawl past your door, I been wishin' I was somebody else instead.
Down the highway, down the tracks, down the road to ecstasy,
I followed you beneath the stars, hounded by your memory
And all your ragin' glory.
I been double-crossed now for the very last time and now I'm finally free,
I kissed goodbye the howling beast on the borderline which separated you from me.
You'll never know the hurt I suffered nor the pain I rise above,
And I'll never know the same about you, your holiness or your kind of love,
And it makes me feel so sorry.
Idiot wind, blowing through the buttons of our coats,
Blowing through the letters that we wrote.
Idiot wind, blowing through the dust upon our shelves,
We're idiots, babe.
It's a wonder we can even feed ourselves.
We are all fools and idiots . . . the lot of us. May we all learn to listen to still, small voices.