Saturday, October 16, 2010


I know well of the things no one wants to hear and must nevertheless be accepted. I refer to those things which bear everlasting cost both to deny and to accept. Of these, my life was one long, unbroken chain.
I know it when I see it. I will now set about to proving this assertion by putting my own life on the examining table and show you some of my scars.

During the early 1980s, I spent a week out of every summer with my father’s mother, Helen (known to me forever as Grandma), in her home in New Haven, Connecticut. My brother Jonathan and I joined our first cousins, Kareem and Omar, and later their younger brothers, Nuri and Iman, for a week of cartoons, drawing our own comics, 3 high pops, kickball, Trouble’s pop-o-matic bubble, the art of the proper, slow-motion downfall of a toy villain (played always by yours truly), and genuine family togetherness.  We cared for one another as brothers. None of the rare moments in which we were in disagreement ended in any other way than renewed, replenished bonds of friendship and deeper understanding. When we parted company, we were crushed. When we saw one another again, we were overjoyed.

One day, I was told that my cousin, Kareem, second eldest to me and his mother’s Firstborn, possessed of a gentle soul that belied what became a mighty frame, had cancer in his blood, and would die.

I didn’t want to hear it. I didn’t want it to be true.  What is wanted, however, is completely irrelevant, when it is at opposition with the Truth.

I hoped it would be different.  I hoped that the medicines he was given would somehow cure him. I wanted it because of how unfair it was. He would not live to see 20. He would not be permitted to share his enormous heart with a woman he loved, and be loved in return. We would never see our own children play together in brotherhood and love, as we did.

My hopes were in direct opposition with the Truth, and so fell to nothing.

I saw his spirit burning brighter through his eyes as the disease stole his flesh and trapped him between his skin and his bones. I saw him smile at me with his same smile on a face with cheekbones too prominent. I felt myself want to scream in rage at my impotency to in any way help him. I learned that he had died mere weeks after I had seen him last. I watched them put his body in the earth. I saw my grandmother cry and need to lean on me for strength. I felt anger with myself, the eldest, for being unable to stop crying even as Kareem’s brothers stood in silent, poignant grief, their explanation that they had cried all their tears out already doing nothing to soothe my wounded pride, and if anything making it worse in that *they* who lost their brother, had to spend time to comfort the likes of *me*…


I betrayed the unspoken responsibility of my status as the eldest, to be there for *them* and not some blubbering heap of flesh in the corner. My sorrow poured out of me and would not be held back for all my vaunted self control. It became such a torrent of strangled sound and unnumbered tears, that I almost stood beside myself to watch it and shake my head in derision. I was dragged through the whole gauntlet of grief without any control.  

The result was the inevitable, and the inevitable cares nothing for that which hopes against it.

For in the end, the gentlest among us, who loved me without condition and possessed real, unsullied joy in his heart, was fled from this mortal coil, and my world darkened from the absence of his spirit. My memory of his ready laugh and loyal support will remain with me for as long as I have breath in my lungs.

I was raised within the United Church of Christ.

Their banner of “That They May All Be One” was not where I met God. I met Him at the age of 4, while living with the same grandmother (and grandfather, as he yet lived, then) in Connecticut, and she taught me of His Word and precepts there. My grandmother, Helen Fortt, taught my sister and me all of the Books of the Bible in sequence, and I was given my first King James Bible in 1974. I read a few halting verses before the church we attended there, while I was still in Kindergarten. It was a few years later, when we began life with our father full time, that I attended the Congregational churches my father would pastor across a span of two decades, from the mid 70s through the mid 90s.

The first church was the Congregational Church of South Hempstead, Long Island. I remember a few kind people from that place. What dominates my memory of it was the fact that the school I attended for the 3rd and 4th grades had only one Black student in it. Me. I learned, therefore, at age 6, what KKK stood for, and that I was labeled a word every single day that rhymed with bigger but started with an “n”.

I didn’t want to hear it. I didn’t want it to be true.  What is wanted, however, is completely irrelevant, when it is at opposition with the Truth.

My father would cajole me to courage at age 7, and yet would one day defend me like a lion when a rock, thrown at me to begin the regular ritual of chasing me halfway home, struck my forehead and drew blood. The racism bordering on violence ceased, but the cruelty inside the building intensified. It was a place of torment, and all too familiar to many who both grew up in this country and had the misfortune of possessing a high melanin content in their skin, and therefore African ancestry. I hoped things would change. I desperately wanted the people there to like me, to forget how differently I looked from them. Sometimes, a few would do so and become friendly, until the pressure from those who feared and hated the skin I dwelled in would crush all chance of that friendship from flourishing.

I hoped. But my hopes were in direct opposition with the truth, and so fell to nothing.

The two years I lived there and attended that school were devoid of true friendship and all semblance of self respect. I broke out in hives and would pass out in school, my body short circuiting in an overload of fear at random moments in and outside of class.


My own body proved faithless to me. The community I lived in taught their children to despise those who resembled me and thereby joined in the treachery.

The result was the inevitable, and the inevitable cares nothing for that which hopes against it.

I left South Hempstead with my family in the summer of 1979, as a result of the experience, with self respect no bigger than a grain of sand, and was thoroughly convinced that my skin was inferior to that of those who so hated me. There must be a reason for it, I deduced, being left with no rebutting opinion, and no one to realize one was desperately needed to reverse the effect.

I see my oldest child, almost the same age I was when I endured these things, and am moved to tears at the thought of her subjected to so much oppressive hate and unwarranted malice. The LORD is merciful.

Fortune passes everywhere, and did over me, when we left. Brooklyn changed everything for me. The neighborhood people, and especially the people in the school I attended (for the most part), taught me that my skin did not determine my worth, and that I did *not* have to take abuse from people who thought otherwise. By a pivotal event that occurred midway through the sixth grade, the school I attended presented me with the gift of self respect.

Many blessings accompanied this sojourn of 6 years. I came to love Nazarene Congregational United Church of Christ, where my father was now pastor. Built like a small medieval fortress in the middle of Bedford Stuyvesant, it appealed to my C.S. Lewis / J.R.R. Tolkien-fed senses. I was confirmed in that church. I was taught its doctrine, as it was presented to children. I sang its songs. I served as acolyte, sang in the choir, served in the Teen Fellowship, and as Vacation Bible School counselor. I loved the people in it, who loved the Lord and showed it in as much as I could fathom. I loved all of my friends, who were their children. I loved its stained glass windows, its confirmation class banners, its sanctuary, narthex and balcony. I can close my eyes and hear the fans blowing within the crowded sanctuary in the summertime. I can see in my mind’s eye The Fellowship Hall, and its tributary rooms and hallways on different floors. I remember my father’s office, with all of its books, and his robes on a coat tree by the door. It was a place of peace and warmth to me, where all my worlds juxtaposed. Some of my friends there also attended the same school in downtown Brooklyn, so that sometimes I saw them on weekdays *and* weekends in one continuous flow of time. It was a level of continuity I had never experienced before, nor would again in my young life.

This love made it exceptionally difficult for a 14 year old to bare suddenly the burden of having to leave.

I didn’t want to hear it. I didn’t want it to be true.  What is wanted, however, is completely irrelevant, when it is at opposition with the Truth.

I was told a year in advance that we would move to either Chicago or Washington, D.C., admonished by my father to tell no living soul before he addressed the congregation, if I didn’t want my behind, as he commonly threatened, to belong to him. I set about the task of avoiding this impending fate with everything I had in my power. I hoped, surely, that my mother would take me in and let me stay for my final two years of high school. I had begun forming serious, lifelong bonds with people. I hoped she would see that I had a girlfriend who shared my soul… who laid claim to me and loved me, friends and family throughout the five boroughs, familiarity of surroundings, all that came with being embraced, accepted, and loved by communities of people.

I hoped. But my hopes were in direct opposition with the Truth, and so fell to nothing.

My mother would neither harbor me nor listen to any of my well crafted reasons for permitting me to stay. My reasons became shameless begging. All were met with an expression crafted from stone and just as immovable. I had to then squelch the bitterness of knowing that my sister, entering her junior year in college, would not have to at all share in my fate. I would have to squelch it from erupting, as I moved her very belongings into my mother’s apartment; squelch the bitter irony that inanimate objects, delivered by my own hands, were granted sanctuary I so desperately needed and was to be so thoroughly denied. Finally, when my father decided to tell the assembled congregation in June of 1985, he also added, from the pulpit, that he had sworn the family to secrecy a full year in advance, and that we had known of it nearly as long as he did.


This was the first time I truly applied the word personally. I branded it on my heart, when my friends, hurt to the point of being on the cusp of anger, cornered me separately and in small groups, and asked me why I didn’t confide in them. “You couldn’t even tell *me*?” I could do nothing but bow my head.

I applied it also to my father, and it would remain in place until I had children of my own and we met as equals, in decades far flung into the future. He had revealed the fact that I had kept the secret from them all, for no good reason I could fathom to save my own life. That it was done on pain of the severe penalty for willful disobedience in my home meant little to those betrayed. I had obeyed his command, and it had cost me dearly to do it; a higher price than that paid by anyone else in the family. Rather than receive any reward, or any form of recompense, for my obedience to him, I was revealed as one who had betrayed the trust of his friends--friends who had no reason to think that I would ever leave them…who had no reason to deduce why I had to be constantly roused from melancholy during that final year, or why I had become so dark and brooding, founding the wellspring of materials in my heart which would become the Dark Armor in a few short years. I resented having to leave them, the sanctuary of peace Nazarene was for me.

The result was the inevitable, and the inevitable cares nothing for that which hopes against it.

I had to leave all of them. My mother… My sister… All of my friends, the bonds meant to last a lifetime pointlessly shattered… The girl I loved… The home that accepted me... My neighborhood that cared for me… The school that taught me self respect. The families who showed me love and compassion when my own were too busy making plans to be so bothered. They were stolen from me, and I would be forced to live with the total loss.

So I went to Washington, D.C. (see: 9th plane of Hell) on August 15th, 1985. If the sign along the side of I-95 saying “Welcome to Our Nation’s Capitol!” morphed in my sight to read “Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter Here!” one might presume it an illusion wrought by a marginally creative teenager stricken with grief and devoid of hope. Hindsight, however, suggests more stark warning than despairing illusion.

This requires explanation. What I will explain is founded on the truth: THE TRUTH; not something so flimsy and illusory as my *opinion*. Some who will read this will hear it for the first time and be angry. Others will hear it and know it for truth, and still be angry.

Be warned. When I describe the events in Washington D.C. and their outcome, it will contain the inconvenient truth. If you went to church with me in Washington, D.C. between 1985 and 1987, you will read things which will anger you. So if you are not a fan of the inconvenient truth, and are easily angered by it, get out now. If you are determined to face the truth, or to break the cycle of remaining in chains shackled to all who avoid it, read on.

…Because I will tell it. For upon the Truth, the Christ, the Solid Rock, I stand, and all other ground is sinking sand.

The new church my father would pastor was called Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ. I wanted to call it something decidedly different when I found myself shipwrecked before its immense outer doors, washed whiter than the valley of dry bones. In just a few years, one prominent, respected, even beloved minister of that very church, who stood as interim minister when their deeds against my father were committed, described the edifice as a place where “you’d be hard pressed to find two actual Christians” among their hundreds upon hundreds of members claiming to hold the label. I knew only that I was in Hell with no way out, having no Virgil to guide me. It was a journey that would take two years to successfully navigate.

What was worse is, there was no returning home.

I visited Brooklyn twice in 1985, for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I saw she whom I loved more than my own life. We exchanged gifts and letters, and seeing her was like coming home from fighting a war for a moment’s rest in paradise before redeploying. I would treasure every smile, every expression, and place them in capsules to dwell within my chest, to sustain me. I supplied her with the same inasmuch as I was able, pouring the essence of the knighthood I espoused, my chivalry, my fealty, my undying love, into every word, that she might know that what I offered was permanent, and that I was hers. For that brief period at the end of the year, I felt as though perhaps the dreams that had all been shattered could be forged again in the flames of patience and endurance.

But there was no returning home.

All communication abruptly ceased when 1986 began. My letters went from patient waiting and understanding to queries of concern for well-being, to bewilderment and grief. That which lived in my chest hoped there would be an explanation that in some way coincided with the love she had professed for me. I clung to the memory of her with diligence as I passed through Hell, making friends and feeling myself go through motions among them, while dwelling nowhere near them on the inside.

One day, my stepmother, seeing me looking dejected when the mail came and there was nothing for me, took it upon herself to tell me that waiting that way was useless, because, “she stopped thinking about your nappy-head a long time ago.” She saw the words sink home, and when they drew blood, she reversed the blade, applying the same descriptor (albeit false) to the object of all my affection and thought, admonishing me to stop thinking about her. What passed through my mind upon hearing this will not be written, since it is inadvisable for a writer to cause the reader’s eyes to melt from their sockets. I suspect that in such a case they probably won’t come back to read it in Braille.

I could not properly receive the essence of her message at that moment, as a result of the towering anger the unnecessary descriptors elicited. Whether it was intended to be packaged in barbed wire soaked in lemon juice, or not at all, is entirely irrelevant, but so was my inability to receive the truth once sifted from the suffering.

The truth is, I didn’t want to hear it. I didn’t want it to be true.  What is wanted, however, is completely irrelevant, when it is at opposition with the Truth.

When word came to me that the Teen Fellowship of Nazarene planned not only to return to Deer Hill, the site of innumerable summer retreats and the place where my girlfriend and I walked in joy among the trees of early spring in 1985, but had voted to invite me to come, it was an affirmation of all that I believed right with the world. A place and time where I could speak to her, find out what I must have done for her to stop speaking to me, and make it right--recover the joy that had fled from me and left a vacuum which had begun to be occupied with something else… something uninvited that had taken residency and not revealed itself. This trip would surely evict it. So I went to my mother’s apartment, where I had once hoped to find refuge, and made my way to Nazarene, where I had once hoped to someday marry the one who confessed the same hope, the one who I would finally see after 6 months of silence.

I hoped. But my hopes were in direct opposition with the Truth, and so fell to nothing.

She was stunningly beautiful. She seemed to take the sunlight and harness it in union with her own light source, only to return the warmth and light in form less harsh, more restorative than the original.

And she would not look at me.

All attempts to deny the evidence of my own eyes were met with the stark truth. Her avoidance was deliberate, active, and it was permanent. I was therefore forced, for the weekend, at the place that had been the sight of our bliss scarcely a year previous, to watch her smile and nourish all those who were about her light and warmth. And be denied of that sustenance... I who craved it above all things the LORD had made, was left in the outer darkness.


At age 16, I had yet to learn that not everyone believed in their hearts as I believed. Not everyone held the same depth of love and commitment as I carried within my chest. Not everyone who said “forever” truly meant or even cared to comprehend its meaning… or the effects of a covenant when it is broken. I was every bit to blame, for my naïveté, my gall, to think that I could move away from Brooklyn and believe that she would wait for me... that just because I possessed the will and desire to see the dream fulfilled, no matter the circumstance, that she did, too.

The result was the inevitable, and the inevitable cares nothing for that which hopes against it.

In short, I was a fool, and paid the price of a fool.

I listened to one of her relatives, who took note of my suffering, and took me to the side with the explanation that people change, leaving me to wonder what manner of freak I was, for both not changing at all, and for actually meaning precisely what I said. I watched as this same relative had to force this being of light whom I loved, and who no longer loved me, to sit with me on the charter bus back to Nazarene, and thank me for coming. That the act was a stark reminder of my new position in the world… that the light of my Sun had to be forced to shine upon me for even a moment, after having dwelt in darkness for the entire weekend… I am certain was not intended. I am sure it was, in fact, meant as an act of kindness, when in truth nothing could have been more cruel, apparently for either one of us.

I was to receive one more lesson in this subject before the beatings finally ceased.

I stopped at their family home before I departed for my mother’s apartment.The reason for this was that I was notorious for packing clothes too warm for the occasion, and had brought jackets and a coat too warm for the trip... so the family graciously offered to allow me to leave the things with them until our return. I did so and thanked them, and on my dejected way down the block to the bus that would begin the long journey to my mother's apartment, I watched her, my sunlight, wait for me to pass where she stood with some of her friends, and proceeded to plant a kiss on a boy that was more powerful and enduring than anything I had ever dreamed, even in my most secret thought, regarding her and I.
The last 
thought, then, of the persona I had borne among them; of Tam, of Cutter, Chieftain of the Wolfriders, beloved of Leetah of the People of the Sun… his last thought before he died right there in the street, was, “Why...?”

It would be many, many years… 25, to be precise… before I would learn the whole of why things had happened the way they did, and not a second before I was finally obeying God in total submission to Him.

That the healing came only after this moment is no coincidence.

If you take nothing else from reading this, take this with you; healing comes only after total submission, reliance, and obedience to God, the giver and sustainer of life, and not one second sooner.

For me, that moment was far flung into the future. The death whisper of Tam echoed within my chest as I made my way to my mother’s apartment, no longer caring if I lived or died. I held no fear of anyone or anything in that moment. I was an empty shell of what had once been a magnificent structure, now gutted and condemned for demolition. I closed the apartment door when I arrived, put my bags down, sat beside my mother, and told her of all that had happened. She then placed her hand on my head and permit me to curl into a ball at her feet and weep for what seemed like an eternity. I had the presence of mind to wonder why she would not permit this the night before I left that past summer-- and such was the condition of my ravaged senses, that I had to leave early due to this thought... I had to leave before my resentment with my mother, for not letting me stay with her, caused me to blame her for it all and erupt in futile, white hot rage. I did so without her ever knowing of what passed inside me, such was the strength left to me to hide my feelings and grant that tiny victory.

I returned to Hell in defiance now, rather than dread. I went as one who knows full well that he will die, in glorious battle, against an overwhelming enemy that would utterly defeat him at last. I accepted my perceived fate on *my* terms, and would meet it with my contempt in bladed form, more aligned now with Satan than I could ever have imagined possible, had I but known. I resolved that I would seize hold of Virgil with my left hand and run him through with the sword in my right hand, for leaving me there to wander and be destroyed, and whisper the words of Ahab in his faithless ears, “To the last… I grapple with thee… From Hell’s hot, I stab at thee... For hate’s sake, I spit my last breath at thee!”

Falling once more through wrath and a great burning, I encountered the thing that was in my chest at last. It called itself Despair, and began whispering promises to me, in the midst of my growing pride, fed by my by then inexhaustible supply of towering rage, that no human being on this earth would ever harm me in that way again, if I but listened to it. It fastened itself to me as a parasite, and its poisonous energy caused my pride to grow powerful.

…And very, very dark. All my dreams had been burned to ash, and I joined with those spirits which wrought their destruction, and caused others to fear me even as Despair laughed at my foolishness and in glee of my fall. No one was there to help me, or comprehend that I was in dire need of aid. Everyone I had depended on had abandoned me to the four winds with their own problems. So Despair said, Wield me, as only you can, and you will never suffer at the hands of another again.

The whispers were lies, but they were strong, and catered to the wounded things inside me. And I hearkened to them, and made the dark matter from which they were formed into my strength.

Now for the matters which will cause lovers of Plymouth, in fact the whole of the United Church of Christ, to begin assigning labels to me for their revelation.

So be it. I do so in the hope that those who assign the same blind love to that church, as I once did, will be awakened to the Truth, and receive it in their hearts. I do it because I bear love for those who would read this as the Holy Spirit gives me the grace to deliver it, and want no one to be led off of a cliff to their death by that which they came to trust with their lives. 

As you read and begin to chew on what is written here, recall my experience. Recall my open revelation of my scars, as proof of full knowledge of what it means to hear that which one does not want to hear.

Know that I write to you now, truly delivered and free from the pain and suffering from the uncaring, the inept, the faithless, the heedless ambition, the abandonment, the petty hatred, the loss of people and things.

I am delivered and free because I have accepted the conditions required for that deliverance, and the responsibility required for that freedom.

“On Christ, the Solid Rock, I Stand.
All Other Ground Is Sinking Sand.
On Him Alone I Will Depend.
His Every Word I Will Defend.”

That these words were sung by Stitchie, in his gospel reggae song "I Stand"--a fusion of my West Indian heritage to the Heritage I have been given by the grace of God, is not why I spend energy fighting tears when I hear them, and fail the fight even now. Nor is it because my elder brother Cyril Jermin, whom I respected as a child of 10 in Brooklyn and now am blessed to know and respect as an adult on the cusp of 41 as my Brother in Christ, put me on to the existence of this version of the gospel song.

It is the summoning of the Most High God to my calling to service to Him. My Battle Cry from my post upon the walls. My anthem.

It is that I could not possibly be more unworthy to be saved by Him, let alone know His truth and speak it to others as the Son of God commanded.

It is my kinship to the man who sired me beyond DNA and last name. It is my birthright. My declaration of purpose. It is the mandate of the Master, the Most High God, Who loves me and sent His Son to die for me in spite of my corrupt, selfish, sin-accursed self.

It is the sure knowledge that HE ALONE is worthy of the gifts He gave me, to love both without condition and absolutely, to defend His Word.  That HE will keep safe what I have within me, and will never permit it to come to harm, never leave or forsake me, never abandon me to the four winds... not as Depsair, that servant of Satan less evil than its master only in that it serves another and not itself, not that architect of the Dark Armor, which feeds upon the soul it protects and suffuses it with the world’s ecstasy and its agony in suffocating potency.

He loves me. God loves me and will never treat me like garbage, never stab me in the chest to watch the emotions play in my eyes and feel the warmth of my blood spill over His hands. God’s love is all my heart and soul have ever truly wanted. My freedom, and the Truth, are declared by the words of His Son Yahshuah, Jesus the Christ, in John 8:31-59,

31 Jesus said to the people who believed in Him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. 32 And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 33 “But we are the descendants of Abraham,” they said. “We have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean, ‘You will be set free’?” 34 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35 A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son is part of the family forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 37 Yes, I realize that you are descendants of Abraham. And yet some of you are trying to kill me because there’s no room in your hearts for my message. 38 I am telling you what I saw when I was with my Father. But you are following the advice of your father.” 39 “Our father is Abraham!” they declared. “No,” Jesus replied, “for if you were really the children of Abraham, you would follow his example. 40 Instead, you are trying to kill me because I told you the truth, which I heard from God. Abraham never did such a thing. 41 No, you are imitating your real father.” They replied, “We aren’t illegitimate children! God himself is our true Father.” 42 Jesus told then, “If God were your Father, you would love me, because I have come to you from God. I am not here on my own, but he sent me. 43 Why can’t you understand what I am saying? It’s because you can’t even hear me! 44 For you are children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 So when I tell you the truth, you just naturally don’t believe me! 46 Which of you can truthfully accuse me of sin? And since I am telling you the truth, why don’t you believe me? 47 Anyone who belongs to God listens gladly to the words of God. But you don’t listen because you don’t belong to God.” 48 The people retorted, “You Samaritan devil! Didn’t we say all along that you were possessed by a demon?” 49 “No,” Jesus said, “I have no demon in me. For I honor my Father—and you dishonor me. 50 And though I have no wish to glorify myself, God is going to glorify me. He is the true judge. 51 I tell you the truth, anyone who obeys my teaching will never die!” 52 The people said, “Now we know you are possessed by a demon. Even Abraham and the prophets died, but you say, ‘Anyone who obeys my teaching will never die!’ 53 Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?” 54 Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. But it is my Father who will glorify me. You say, ‘He is our God,’ 55 but you don’t even know him. I know him. If I said otherwise, I would be as great a liar as you! But I do know him and obey him. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced as he looked forward to my coming. He saw it and was glad.” 57 The people said, “You aren’t even fifty years old. How can you say you have seen Abraham?” 58 Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, before Abraham was even born, I Am!” 59 At that point they picked up stones to throw at him. But Jesus was hidden from them and left the Temple.

There is so much truth in His words… so much Inconvenient Truth. Even those who were listed in verse 31 as “people who believed in Him” were looking to stone Him by verse 59, when He told them not merely the answer to their query of who He thought He was, but Who in *fact* He Is, and whose children in *fact* they were.

We must recognize the conditions required of us to receive the benefits of God’s love. The Living Word, Jesus, the Christ, is very clear on these conditions, and spoke them boldly, even when it made people want Him dead for the telling. The church, which claims to follow Him, in its metastasized state as a money-generating institution, has gone out of its way over centuries to distort and disobey that clarity--throw away the command of Jesus, to do as He has done (John 13:15), in favor of making new converts holding money purses, comfortable and willing to give what they have to them by appealing to their desires and the emotions that feed those desires. As listeners of their modifications, having our itching ears scratched with what we want to hear, we dare hope that the Word of God will change to suit us, make our entry into God’s Kingdom a comfortable one, permitting us to remain as we are, requiring no change, no conforming to the image of Jesus, no transformation by the renewing of our minds.

We hope. But hopes in direct opposition with the Truth fall to nothing.

Thomas Jefferson took this to new heights with his very own “Jefferson Bible”. He went through the Bible and carved it into pieces, cutting away everything he couldn’t stomach, didn’t want to deal with.

“Hell? It can’t exist.” >snip<

“The supernatural? A waste of time to even consider--there must be logical explanations to all of that.” >snip<

“God’s wrath against sin? No way.” >snip<

Audacious? Yes.

What if I told you the United Church of Christ did the same thing?

Behold the Betrayer

On May 5th, 1985, while I was still in Brooklyn and dreading my fate, a minister preached a sermon that Sunday at Riverside Church in Manhattan. The Reverend Channing Phillips spoke from his pulpit the Inconvenient Truth, steering away from the habits of the wolves who inhabit most pulpits, those of fattening their Word-ignorant sheep into being siphoned for reliable financial sustenance, and chose rather to follow the example of the Master, who taught us to tell the truth even when it made people clamor for your head.

In simplest terms, he preached to those assembled that homosexuality is a sin.


This w
as not his opinion. It was the Truth, as clearly denounced in the Bible as are murder, idolatry, and a lying tongue. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 is but one of several Scriptures that leave as much room for interpretation of this inconvenient truth as the meaning of an octagonal STOP sign at a street corner.

“Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God.” 1 Corinthians 6:9

It gets no plainer, no clearer or more stark, than that. No collegiate level understanding is necessary to read and comprehend those words. Don't fool yourselves. Do not be deceived. It is an IF – THEN statement. IF you want to enter the Kingdom of God, THEN don’t do any of this. By transitive property, IF you do any of this, THEN you will not enter the Kingdom of God.

This tale is of how the United Church of Christ became the Betrayer of all who went to its doors to receive the truth, because it embraces mammon over the salvation of God, and values numbers of members over numbers of souls that are brought to God through acceptance of Jesus’ sacrifice and lifelong obedience to the Word of God.

Back to Reverend Channing Phillips.

He completed his sermon, bowed his head, and closed his eyes in prayer.

When he opened them, there were hundreds of people before the altar, protesting what they had heard.

They didn’t want to hear it. They didn’t want it to be true.  What is wanted, however, is completely irrelevant, when it is at opposition with the Truth.

They were so angry that, as recorded in the New York Times Article regarding the event and published on May 26th, Reverend Whit Hutchison, a Methodist minister associated with Riverside, walked to the front of the church and invited people with “a strong need to express their difference with the words spoken from the pulpit” to gather in a circle around the communion table. Around 200 people joined him there.

“to express their differences with the words spoken from the pulpit” – as though Reverend Phillips were expressing his opinion and not the Word of God, which is sovereign above all opinions and DOES NOT CHANGE—not for me, and not for you either. We submit to it, or we are judged by it. Their flesh cried aloud against it. AS IT SHOULD, FOR THE FLESH WARS WITH THE SPIRIT. And the Methodist minister in attendance worked to soothe that flesh, make it forget the truth, make it remember who is boss in that war.

Betrayer. There is no third alternative.

If submission to God’s Word, the Truth, was sovereign in their lives, and not submission to their desires and feelings, there would have been nothing to express at the communion table than acknowledgement of sin, cries for mercy, humility, repentance, and acceptance of God’s will over their own. As Jesus, who these people play at following, had done when it cost Him. But they professed following and loving Christ and did not obey Him. They revealed who their father was by their actions. When you love and follow someone, you do what they tell you. Jesus said so Himself in John 14:23 *in direct language,*--

“Jesus replied, “All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them.” John 14:23

--yet these people do what the ruler of this world, that selfsame father of lies, Satan, does. He proclaims that our feelings and pursuit of our desires are what we are here for, not glorifying God. He has been doing this for thousands of years, from the Garden of Eden on, "What--He said you'd die? Oh, no. You won't actually die. You'll become more like Him... take a bite, Eve." They either had no knowledge of His Word, or had >SNIPPED< OUT THE PARTS THEY DIDN’T LIKE, and expect it to work just as Thomas Jefferson did.

To alter the Inconvenient Truth to more closely soothe their own flesh.

What audacity, what life-crushing pride, to change the Word of God to more closely suit our own agendas, as though the Apostle Paul were a liar in Romans 8:29 when he said we were chosen to be conformed to the likeness of Jesus, or in Romans 12:2 where he said “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

It means anything we are that falls against the rules we are to deny, to submit our will to that of God, whose will is perfect.

It means change, not stay as you are. It means that change will be painful, where the things in opposition to God are things we believe we must keep to survive. To be at odds with this is not to be at odds with my opinion, or Reverend Channing’s opinion, but with God. And to be at war with God is to be at war with the inevitable.

And the inevitable cares nothing for that which hopes against it.

This tale is of how the United Church of Christ went >snip< to those verses.

At the 15th General Synod in Ohio in 1985, The United Church of Christ governing body, opted to defy the Word of God in open rebellion against the Almighty, because feelings and desires of people, the purposes of the father that governing body serves with their actions, are held in higher esteem than the clearly defined precepts of the Living Word.

Against the words found within the Bible like “Conforming to the Image of His Son” and “Be Transformed by the Renewing of Your Mind”, they set the following:
Open and Affirming.

Behold the Betrayer, disguised as shepherd, in truth Ravening Wolf.

In the charter of the church I was confirmed in, and loved above all houses of worship I had ever known, (that is, before I learned that the temple where the Lord is to be truly worshipped every single day is my body, that I am to present in living sacrifice to Him, (Romans 12:1)), the United Church of Christ asserts the following on their website on the definition of Open and Affirming;

“To say that a setting of the United Church of Christ (a local church, campus ministry, etc.) is “Open and Affirming” means that it has publicly declared that “lesbian, gay, bisexual” (LGB) people (or those of all “sexual orientations”) are welcome in its full life and ministry (e.g. membership, leadership, employment etc.) It bespeaks a spirit of hospitality and a willingness to live out that welcome in meaningful ways. Transgender people or gender identity and gender expression is increasingly included in ONA declarations, statements or policies.”

Open and Affirming is a policy founded on the will of people who either do not read the Word of God or take scissors to entire chapters of it where it rubs their feelings and desires the wrong way. Open and Affirming is a policy of Open Rebellion against God and His Word with the surety of Lucifer’s declaration that he would make himself higher than his Creator, for which he was hurled from heaven for his audacity. It says that what *they* want is higher than what God wants. Devaluing the Truth and compliance with the world and the prince of this world, instead of refusal to conform to the world, as the Most High God commands us. 

That, my friends, will inevitably get you killed.

And the inevitable cares nothing for that which hopes against it.

Don’t get it twisted. I did not give you chapter and verse of my opinion, so you could label me a bigot or hater what ever the denizens of this planet wield in excuse when the truth hurts. I gave you chapter and verse of the Word of God, in DIRECT OPPOSITION to this defiant charter, so if you don’t like what you are reading, guess what? Hate and revile me all you wish, but none of this places you at enmity with me.

It places you at enmity with God. Your true fight is with Him, and there’s only one outcome to that.

For this “church”, or any individual, to embrace this, is to declare God’s Word to be a lie. And once you are in a state wherein you believe your word is better than God’s Word, you elevate yourself to god-like status. There is surely no need to remind any one reading this of who did just that, and lives in defiance of His will even now, awaiting judgment for his audacity.


So I awakened from nightmare and entered Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ in D.C., and was impacted by an undercurrent that was more than my skin crawling at having to be there in the first place. There were several people who smiled warmly, some few were actually genuine. The young people my age welcomed me among them. I sang in the choir, participated in the Youth Group, made genuine friends I have to this day (and may well lose if they ever read this to the end)… But it was the 11th grade. Bonds were made that had taken years to form and I could never truly enter in among; a fact I knew all too well, as all of mine had been torn asunder. I found their echoes more welcome in my heart than any opportunity to bond where I was at any rate. Any Idiot could see this was a situation built to do one thing only, and do it exceedingly well; fail in epic fashion.

Any Idiot, however, also had other things to do than observe what was taking place with me, having its own problems like everyone else. So in the end, no one saw it coming.

People in the school presumed I had a superiority complex for being from New York, and wanted to fight me on a regular basis… a situation I initially received the way Charlie Brown would when accused of something similar.

“I don't believe it…someone actually thinks *I* am superior to *them*!!! Gee!”

I later laughed at the bitter irony, as actually feeling superior to others was the complete antithesis of what lived inside me, and I wanted to be gone from the place, by a factor of 2 to the 8 billionth above what value they assigned to the thought of my leaving. I became indifferent to what I identified as the inferiority complex of my accusers, and became a self-fulfilling prophecy.

As I said. Epic Fail.

When I somehow graduated in 1987, I took the first acceptance letter from college and fled Babylon, literally heedless of any and all other choices that came afterward. DeVry Institute of Technology (well before they became an accredited university… back when they were “serious about success”…). Not the one in New Jersey, either, in spitting distance of both Washington, D.C. and New York, but the one in Ohio. The word du jour was AWAY. If you look closely, 23 years later, you can still see, as the dead air there has failed to dissipate it, a smoke image outline of me breaking out of that place like Neo, trench coat flared, walls buckling, fresh from whooping on some agents, about to do his Superman-thing.

I am only partially kidding.

The poison, which came to a head while I was in college and would erupt into the lives of my family--causing a testimony of the grace and power of the Almighty in the face of spiritual wickedness--, had its origins long before the Fortt family found itself there.

Plymouth congregants allergic to the truth, avert your eyes. I will cry aloud, and spare not my throat in the crying. The truth will be heard. When Jesus spoke it, he didn’t tone it down to spare the feelings of his hearers or change his tone when it angered people; he spoke it boldly in all circumstances. I am His follower, and will show it in my actions.

There was an influential core of homosexual men in positions of power within the church before my misfortune at coming to live there. It was so rampant within the building’s confines, reaching so high in the positions of power within it, that a fire, which was sufficient enough to force renovation of private offices, revealed a cache of pornographic photos and films of men and young boys.

The following sentence in parentheses is Steven Fortt’s actual opinion and does not express what the Spirit of God dwelling within me says. It is the only such place where it will be expressed in this missive.

(For that fact alone, that building should have been a smoking crater in the ground from an atomic explosion, with fallout sprinkles, long before I suffered the calamity of having to live amongst those Babylonian wolves and goats playing at church, with the rare smattering of actual sheep.)

There. Now no one can say I never offered my actual opinion on the matter, or that Steven Keith Fortt Sr., whom I deny and lay before God in living sacrifice to Him every single day, never made his opinion known. We now return you to the missive.

This was in an edifice called a “house of God” by the way. Which goes to show you that pretty labels, even when combined with songs of praise and well dressed people on a Sunday add up to precisely jack squat if there is no obedience to the Lord. 

This… faction of individuals, sought many things of my father that he would not yield to them, and they had apparently been accustomed to receiving from one who preceded my father. When he refused them, he used the Word of God as the foundation for his decisions, rather than the feelings of defiantly sinful people, as Senior Pastor.

One such individual approached him with the request to use the church property to introduce and offer what my father describes as a “crystal chanting ministry”. My father, who it turns out is neither a blithering idiot nor ignorant of the Word of God, told them no, and told them why. Such a thing is of a cult, and has no place among the people of God, who are supposed to be concerned with giving glory to God and to God alone.

These men apparently decided that this was the last straw. When one of their more promiscuous homosexuals ran for chairmanship of the Board of Trustees and won, he declared before my father, “My first order of business is *you*.”


Not long afterward, before an assembly of Deacons and Trustees to which he had been summoned, my father before this new head of the Trustee Board and the moderator, was asked if he was aware of the document the United Church of Christ had drafted, containing the Open and Affirming policy.

My father replied, “Yes.”

They followed this question up with, “Do you concur with the message of Channing Phillips regarding this matter?” As if they were discussing a new budget or confirming a bake-sale date rather than a heresy in open defiance of the Almighty.

My father replied again, “Yes. I do.”

My father said that at that statement, on both sides of the sanctuary, some of the women in the assembly began to cry. They seemed to know what this meant before he did. He offered a prayer to God right there for truth and understanding. When the meeting adjourned, a couple of those women approached him and thanked him, tearfully, for standing for the truth.

It cost him.

You see, this new head of the Board of Trustees *just happened* to be the Vice President of the bank that held the mortgage on the parsonage we lived in.

When the assemblage had completed what had become a character assassination attempt against my father, 13 people, including the moderator and Trustee chairman, locked my father out of the church.

When I say they locked him out, I mean they posted people at the doors. I mean they would not permit him to enter his office and retrieve his robes and other belongings for several months.
They locked him out, stopped paying him his salary, and waited for the mortgage loan to default so they could throw us all out into the street.

No, I can’t make that up. I’m just not that good.

This is what happens when men that are enslaved by heir lusts, in defiance of God, don’t get their way, and men that stand for righteousness are delivered into their hands because they told them “no.” Not unlike when an undisciplined child is told the same thing. Accustomed to satisfying their impulses and unaccustomed to being thwarted, they throw a fit caring nothing for consequence or collateral damage.

And there were plenty of both.

First, for standing tall and defending the Lord’s truth, the Lord defended His servant from the machinations of his enemies.

It so happened that a wealthy man met Jesus through my father’s ministry to his family. This man--and his wife, who had known Christ as her Savior and Lord for longer--was praying together as a couple one evening just after the decision of the “church” was made public, and when they were both done, asked each other who they were praying about.

Both of them spoke the same name, and summoned him to their palatial mansion to talk with him.

My father entered their home and sat in a spacious room, and before much time had passed, the wealthy man said, “You have ministered to my entire family. Could you stand for me to minister to you?”

Something about the manner in which he asked it caused a feeling of awe to steal over my father, struggling past a lump in his throat, he managed, “I hope so.”

“How much does the church pay you?”

My father answered him, whereupon the man told him, “We are going to pay you until you are employed again.”

This is what happens when men that choose enslavement to Jesus and obey Him, denying themselves and what they want in favor of the truth even when it costs them, trust God even when delivered into the hands of evil men.

So the people of Plymouth, both villains and bystanders, could not fathom how we were still living in the house. How the mortgage was being paid. How the lights and phone were on and we had food to eat. The VP of the bank holding the mortgage must have been perplexed at the very least, when his carefully crafted destruction failed to detonate at all. We would get calls at the house by these people, they were so mature (see: sharp as a bag of wet mice) that they did nothing to disguise their voices, whispering nastily about when we would be out of their house and in the street. I can only surmise from this that they thought we were living off of some depleting savings and were so filled with worry their foul, poison tipped phone calls would drive us to hysterics that simply never came. One might hope that the hysterics would have backfired on the perpetrators. Some less forgiving teenagers might even have imagined them doing us all a favor and blowing their own brains out from sheer frustration.

What is wanted, however, is completely irrelevant, when it is at opposition with the Truth.

That was mildly facetious, but it should illustrate how constant the truth is, and how it applies to absolutely all of us.

9 months went by before my father was able to get out of the contractual situation *he* had not violated, and could get the job as a Chaplain at the Veteran’s Administration Hospital in downtown Washington, a position he held for nearly 20 years and retired from on full pension.

And what of Plymouth, you might ask? Or I’m going to tell you whether you ask or not…?

In the span of a couple of years from their Babylonian behavior, their membership had fallen to such all time lows, their thousands reduced to a mere few hundred, that the then current leadership sent questionnaires to all the members listed on their directory and asked them why they did not come to the church any longer.

The Number One reason they entered: “What was done to Reverend Fortt.”

Now this next can not be invented but any stretch of my imagination. It just can’t so don’t ask me if I made it up, I’m telling you right here, it happened, and there are way too many people from that time still above ground to corroborate it all.

The leadership of Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ, in their effort to “redeem themselves” for the foul things they allowed to occur before their wooden, green and gold-draped pulpit, held a service of apology for my father, inviting him, all of us, to come.

I was away at school at the time. Amusing myself with word from one of the few friends I had there that some of the perpetrators thought they had seen me, in my black trench coat, standing in the balcony on one particular Sunday. Mind you, I lived in Columbus Ohio, and my intense revulsion of Washington, D.C. had not abated enough to even visit home when school was out, let alone show up out of the blue for no reason. Still the story tickled me.

Anyway, when my Dad told me about what these people wanted to do, when I personally would not, at the time, have pissed on them if they were on fire (oops, more personal opinion there. But it’s all in the past now, all in the past…) was a deep lesson in what following Jesus truly meant. So I put on my nicest clothes, flew East across the River Styx, got my clearance from that two-headed dog guarding the joint, and walked in with my family.

I’m not even going to talk about that service… that attempt to use duct tape and ball bearings to fix what they had so willfully taken a wrecking ball to. I remember neither the service specifically, nor the message beyond some mea culpa style rituals that carried about as much weight and substance as one of those balsa wood rubber band-powered airplanes I used to play with as a child. I only remember that my father was eloquent and gracious, and that his example was one I would never, ever forget.

These people, who I pretty much had to be dragged to meet, my home planet destroyed in the journey, had tried to crush and bury him, with his wife and children, because he stood tall in the face of their sin they were so blinded by that only a tiny handful of people actually cared about what was right anymore. I learned that there is literally no length a person harboring sin will go to stifle the truth rather than face it and bow before their Creator in repentance. They will believe anything, do anything, ignore anything, to be comfortable.

The Apostle Paul described this to a tee in his second letter to Timothy, Chapter 4, verses 2-3.

“2 Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching. 3 For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.”

People are choosing, with the choices they make in their lives, whose side they are on; with the LORD God, or with the prince of this world. The Word of God is clear about this. Jesus says in Luke 16:13 “No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.”

In James 4:4, the Word says “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.”

There’s no future in being an enemy of God.

Do you believe that the Bible is the Word of YHWH, that it is unchanging? Psalm 119:2 says “Happy are they who keep his unchanging word, searching after him with all their heart.” Isaiah 26:4 says, “Let your hope be in the Lord for ever: for the Lord Jah is an unchanging Rock.” 1 Peter 1:23 says, “Because you have had a new birth, not from the seed of man, but from eternal seed, through the word of a living and unchanging God.”

How many scriptures did the leaders of the United Church of Christ >snip< out of their Bibles to conclude that the times had changed so drastically that the blatantly defined sin of homosexuality was what the *world* says it is rather than what God had defined it as for thousands of years? Suddenly these people know better than God? They’re more enlightened than the giver of enlightenment?


Betrayer! The  United Church of Christ has betrayed their sheep, and are scattering them in the name of being aligned with the world, when the Word of God they profess to proclaim says the church is supposed to be comprised of enemies of this world! They have taken part in the watering down of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to serve their own purposes, and have both joined the enemy and dragged all of those who love their “church” more than the Truth of the Living God down the wide path to Judgment and Death.

“Yeah, well, the UCC does a lot of outreach in the community, and you have no right to say that they’re corrupt, because—“

You know what I say to that? A broken, busted clock, as I was told recently by my elder brother Cyril, is right two times every day.

The truth is right there in plain language.

Choose, and choose wisely. Your choice is between the truth and what you want. 
Remember in your choosing that what is wanted is completely irrelevant when it is at opposition with the Truth, and all hopes to the contrary
 fall to nothing.

1 comment:

  1. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.(John 4:23-24)

    Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth. For I rejoiced greatly, when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. (3 John 1:2-4)