Wednesday, August 15, 2012


Anaheim raised :)

Anaheim-- I might have to say that I am sad.  Most of my life Anaheim was known by everyone as the Happiest Place on Earth thanks to Disneyland.  Especially to the tourist or communities surrounding it.  Anaheim was just a place you came to rub elbows with Micky Mouse.  

When I grew older and moved from Anaheim and I mentioned I grew up poor in the hood people always asked, "Where, East LA?"  I guess they figured since I was from SoCal and was Mexican then that was probably my hood.  Then when I told them Anaheim they all looked at me with a grin followed by a chuckle and smile. "Anaheim isn't hood."  So they told me.

It would seem that even in Anaheim everyone denied the hood.  They let it sit and fester and grow; and so long as it stayed where it couldn't be seen or avoided mixing with the "good parts" of the city then so what?  

Now, now the police and public are screaming foul.  They want to point the finger at the problem and do something about it.  They want to incarcerate gang members and their known affiliates.  Now, they have their ears close to the street.  Now, they want action in the ghettos.  Now, they see it acrimoniously instead of ignorantly.  Now, they believe them to be belligerent instead of ominous. 

Where was all this, "now", when I was young in those streets?  When I was hungry, bullied, and wanted a way out?  Yes, I found my way, but I'm not here to boast and brag about how I made it out.  I'm here to fight for an injustice that permeates our culture and society today.  MLK spoke of this disease (and I paraphrase): If things are going to change...then we need for the white moderate in America to wake from its apathetic slumber and make that change.  

Apathy is the name of our disease here today.  And the white moderate isn't only whites, but all of us who show contempt for ghettos and barrios across this nation.  We ignore them until they bother us and then we act without remorse in punishing them.  

All I am asking from those who cast stones on my city of Anaheim, where was all that, "now", when the ghetto was small?  Where was your outcry when it needed your support to keep it growing in the right direction?  I lived on my my hood...15 years.  And each year it slowly got worse.  There was no "now", there was no how; we were simply ignored and left to one day die in the streets.  Have riots in the streets.  Make news and enemies in the streets. 

I am writing this today because I was asked by my editor to do so because it is timely; but I also do it because I am a writer who has always written to promote positive change through greater understanding.  I hope I have helped you to change "now".  

I think of a line from my awaiting first published novel, Nobody's Hero, where the protagonist, Adrian Calvillo (who by many's assumptions grew up in the hood in Anaheim), "How do you get out of the hood...have a dream."  For what it's worth, if it wasn't for my experiences in Anaheim; on those streets in the hood and surrounded by middle class white folks I guess I wouldn't be here today writing these lines.  Nobody's Hero, is a novel that offers redemption; not only for my life, but for the entire community that shared my life.  My dream...the dream that got me out of the hood, was that one day I could inspire the rest of my hood to dream their way out. Am I my brother's keeper...Well, yes I am.    

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Sex & Love

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth…and everything in it.  He created man in his own image.  From the first bite of the forbidden fruit, man’s desires have been insatiable.  From this one sin man has deviated from the straight and narrow path of righteousness, and is forever working his way back to walk intimately—hand in hand along the beach—with his Creator and true love.
            Imagine, two lines that start off at the same point—will call them line A and B.  From the begging line A follows the prescribed path towards the goal.  Likewise, in the beginning line B starts.  BUT, in the beginning line B takes a nanometer step in the wrong direction; and it would seem for the most part in the early going of the path that they are on the same path; in fact, one line.  As time goes by however, that nanometer begins to show itself.  And, the one line slowly begins to separate itself into two distinct lines.
            Sin is our deviation from the path of God.  The more we sin and continue on taking steps on the path of sin, the farther we are from him and from walking hand in hand.  Our steps become noticeable in the sand along the beach.  No longer are we following in his footsteps, but we are making our own.  We are so far off the path of righteousness, that we cannot see it from where we are.  We become completely lost.  So, lost and alone at the beach we begin to show fear.  We look in every direction:  in front of us we’ve never been; behind us we’ve already been; and to the left and right we are very unsure.  If we could only find the path again.  If we only knew the way, and if we only knew where we were going then we could make our next steps in the direction towards him.
            But how can we make steps towards him when we don’t know what direction?  What if we are led by a human agenda that is more concerned about policy than humanity?
            When we consider sex as a sin, for whatever reason, we consider it to be the most ugly, nastiest sin we could commit against God.  It wasn’t sex that separated Adam and Eve, it was vanity and the pride of life.  Sex does seem the most convenient way we demonstrate our vanity and pride for life: and this is where our problem begins.  Sex is viewed as the main sin in our lives.  This view would have you believe that if you take care of sexual immorality then you could overcome your sin.  So, maybe I disagree. 
            I do agree that in our culture sex sells.  It is because of this that we’ve waged a bigger war on stopping sex than we have on stopping vanity.  Sex is hardly ever the first sin we commit in our lives.  Nor is it the root of our sins.  And, let’s face it, some people are truly hurt individuals, for whom sex is the answer. 
It has been argued within the Christian community that sexual behavior (or misbehavior) is a cry for intimacy.  I can’t deny that for some it may be.  Sex is the closest thing on earth that we have that resembles the deep intimacy of God.  God gave Adam and Eve sex to enjoy and to procreate.  When we think of God being intimate with us we want to feel him inside and out, caressing us and holding us, and kissing us as little children.  We want to be like babies in our mothers arms.  You see how much a baby cries when their parents leave them.  They long for them.  We long for God, and when we feel departed from him, or we feel he is no where around we are scared and we cry for him to please come back, as children do.  And when we go so long without feeling he is there our tears and hearts begin to think, “I just need anyone or anything to come hold me now and bring me any form of comfort.” 
Having said all of that in the afore mentioned, for others intimacy is the last thing they are looking for in sex.  Sex is their escape from intimacy.  After all, why would sex be intimate to you when your father or mother; or family friend or relative; or stranger or Pastor are the ones who introduced it to you as, “Our little secret.” or “This is just what special friends do.”  Sexual abuse might lead you to never have sex again, or to at least take away that special moment.  I say this because I don’t believe that Love makes Sex better.  The epitome of Love isn’t Sex. 
            Does a Porn Star seek out intimacy when he or she makes a movie?  This is usually about seeking out pleasure, and escaping pain, or both.  What kind of intimacy can you hope to find when you decide to video tape yourself in a threesome, or foursome, or gang-bang, or an orgy?  The hope in all this is to expose yourself in such a way that it becomes O.K.  “It is O.K. that I have sex like this, this is how I enjoy myself and find pleasure.”  Seeking pleasure, and intimacy are two different things.  Seeking sexual pleasure, for these individuals, is the result of fearing intimacy and loneliness.  How intimate do you want to be with someone when sex has been used to bring you pain in your life?  The easy fix is to have sex bring you pleasure.  What these people need is Love.  We all need love.  Sometimes…NO…A lot of times we engage in sex for love.
            I do agree that for some it is a need for intimacy.  We are a lost people, off the path, who are seeking our long lost love.  We are lonely and missing what we need:  His Love.  Humans have always hungered for transcendence:  to be a part of something grander than ourselves.  For those who seek God, we know that our transcendence comes in the form of being intimate with God—Abba Father.  For others, it comes in the form of the pleasure in vanity and the pride of life.  This translates into money, drugs, and/or SEX—which is what we are talking about.
            When it comes to sex, there is nothing like it.  Don’t kid yourself.  For pure physical pleasure nothing beats the euphoria and the excitement of sex.  This pleasure can be increased in as many ways as you can imagine.  A beautiful woman with the perfect body, who walks by you most seductively.  Two women who want to entreat you to something taboo.  A man who suggest you try something new.  Our curiosity and our sexual arousal gets the best of us.  To suggest that men and women aren’t tempted by sex, and to pass it off as “seeking intimacy” would be plane dumb.  The pure fact is that sex is good.  Sex feels good.  Sex satisfies a basic human need.  And, despite popular belief, it’s a natural biological act.
            To suggest that sex is something “special” is both dangerous and inaccurate.  The big problem today (and I’m sure back then) is that we put a huge emphasis on sex.  We teach our children that sex is a precious gift from God to be given to the ONE we love.  Sex is held in the highest regard.  Sex has become a “Big Deal.”  Too much is left to curiosity and “wait until you’re married.”  A teenagers first thought is, “Wow, sex is that good?  Why wait until I’m married.”  We give these kids the wrong ideal about sex:  that it is Love.  Sex isn’t Love, it is a part of love, but in no way does it make love.  Teens fall in love.  Teens believe in romance.  And, because they have been taught that love and romance equal SEX—Guess What!!!—they are quick to engage in it at the presence of love or romance.
            As Christians in today’s church we are taught that the sinners of the world conduct themselves as animals in regards to sex, and that we are not animals;  we have sex without romance or love, just like animals.  They argue that since we are created in God’s image we are given a greater purpose for sex than are the animals. 
            Sex in the Bible is described as something between a man and a wife.  But wait…wait one second. What about sex with the handmaid?  If sex is so precious and between a husband and wife, then what was sex with a handmaid?  The New Testament makes no mention of what to do in the case of a barren wife, and I’m not one to condone taking the handmaid and knocking her up.  But if we as Christians are going to proclaim that sex is sacred above all else, and that  it is a special moment to be shared between husband and wife, then why did God allow for men to take the handmaid and have children?  By the way, did you ever here of the man being the problem and the woman hooking up with another man to make a baby in the Bible?  Again, to romanticize sex is proving to be dangerous.  Why do you think Prom night is such a wonderful fantasy for a woman?  Because, women believe it’s part of being romantic, and it’s part of the fantasy. 
            Just a personal example:  I didn’t drink for the first 33 years of my life nor had I ever experimented with drugs.  I grew up a poor Latino kid in the hood whose parents did a lot of drinking.  A lot of my friends drank and got high because of the great feeling the buzz gave them.  There was a certain amount of “coolness” with it.  In fact, alcohol and weed were glamorized heavily when I was growing up.  But for me, I never saw the glamour of it.  I knew that it wasn’t something that I wanted in my life for two reasons.  First, alcohol cost money and growing up poor and seeing beer but no milk in the fridge wasn’t very pleasing to me.  Secondly, it is a sin to be a drunk, and I don’t want to sin any more than I am already.  As far as drugs are concerned I saw first hand the devastating affects it has on a person’s life, and I wasn’t willing to take a chance on that.
            My point is, I knew beyond the glamour and coolness of drinking and drugs.  I knew the truth.  I wasn’t fooled by the glamour. 
            On the other hand, sex was something very appealing to me.  Breast, women, Modona, were all things that gave me good feelings about sex.  I never had a bad feeling about sex growing up.  There was nothing that kept me away from having sex—well, except the fact I was ugly and there was nobody for me to do it with.  Sex isn’t a treasure or a gift.  That’s our problem.  Sex is viewed as the greatest thing.  So of course we all run out looking for it like it’s gold in a mountain.  There has been too much value placed on it. Sex is a method by which man and woman reproduce.  It will not bring you closer to God. 
            I once heard this quote in church, “Love is not ‘making love’; it is expressing love.  When sex becomes a pursuit of something, rather than an expression of something, it will lead to disappointment and despair.”  I believe this to be wrong.  Sex should never be related to love.  Don’t get me wrong, sex should be in marriage and love and marriage give sex a greater meaning, thus a better feeling.  Also, there isn’t much love involved when there is a society of prearranged marriages that the people in Jesus’ time believed in. 
When Paul speaks on love in 1 Corinthians 13, there is no mention of sex.  Earlier in the same book Paul gives us a Biblical view of sex:  It is good for a man not to touch a woman.  Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.  Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence:  and likewise also the wife unto the husband…for it is better to marry than to burn. 
For Paul, sex fills a desire that is better met between married couples.  We as Christians go as far as to say that sex is an important part of God’s will for us.  God’s the creator of this wonderful gift of sex.  I don’t like it when people tell God how to feel about anything.  Stating that God is somehow judging us on our sex life is demonstrative as to the emphasis I feel we place on sex:  as if it is the most important thing to consider in the way God would have me live.  You know what?  I’m sure in the beginning Adam and Eve knew what sex was for.  For one, God told them.  Secondly, it’s obvious that it felt pretty good.  If you need a theology for how to have sex, then you probably aren’t getting my point.
I don’t think sex means that much to God, but for some reason it means everything to us.  We can’t imagine life without it.  How pathetic are we.  Sex in marriage won’t make things better if love and God aren’t there.  While at Biola University (a prestigious Christian college) the divorce rate for those who married while attending or who married someone they met at Biola was 65%.  These people honestly believe that because they want to have sex with this person it must mean that they love them.  They are also consumed with fire because they want to have sex so bad they will marry just for the sex.  Where’s God in all that I ask you?
The problem is that we’ve given sex such a great value.  We’ve romanticized it.  It has become the “greatest” sin, when in fact it’s a sin.  People are curious to how great sex can be.  Sex is exploited to be better than it is.  Sex isn’t that beautiful and it’s not that great.  Love is. Love makes sex better.  Sex just fills a need.  Fornication is a sin, homosexuality, beastiality are abominations.  If sex weren’t such a big deal we wouldn’t have so many of these problems.  
I leave you with this.  One day a group of female students came to me (about 6 of them) and asked me, “Why can’t we have sex until we’re married?” I told them a few things here and there, but when pushed I said this, “Sex will never get you what you want.  It won’t get you love; it won’t get you coolness; it won’t get you respect; it won’t win him over; and it won’t stop him from leaving or bring him back.  Now, if what you want is a family, then it can get you that.”