Random quote of the day:

“I’m proud that I can represent, within Cyborg, a couple of different groups. One being people of color, but also, Cyborg is a superhero that is in many ways disabled. So, being able to give representation from that end as well is something that’s really powerful to me.

—Ray Fisher, Los Angeles Daily News, November 14, 2017

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Key and Peele, Celine Dion, or Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

I got a weird “spam” call the other day. I don’t usually answer numbers I don’t recognize, but I did this one. An older-sounding man said, “Hello. My name is Joe. We have so much bad news these days that I wanted to give my neighbors some good news.” “Okay,” I said in my skeptical I-don’t-know-who-tf-you-are tone. He continued, “It says in the Book of Isaiah—” At which point I hung up.

It reminded me of the summer when I was seventeen and fell in with a bad crowd. This all came about because of a super huge crush I had on one of my classmates in high school, and because I was graduating and not entirely sure of my direction, and because I was an introvert who wanted to feel part of something, and because of music. Lots of fun music and riotously fun Tuesday night rival-like meetings at a local church where they had gigantic, rollicking singalongs and talked in tongues and laid on hands and all that jazz. So I spent the late spring and summer of my seventeenth year on a journey of attempted indoctrination into the cult-like world of the Evangelical Christians. This was also the summer my BFF and I volunteered at the La Brea Tar Pits working in the labs there. A weird science/religion combo if ever there was one, but I was confused and exploring my options.

I won’t mention the particular sect I got involved with because I don’t want to paint an entire group of people with a broad brush. It all began with my crush, a newly minted born-again Christian, talking to me at lunchtime about Jesus. I had not been raised in any religion. My mother had always encouraged me to listen and make up my own mind about things. But I had “sampled” many of the Christian churches of my friends, both Protestant and Catholic, and I had been enchanted by the occult from my early teens. So I listened politely to my crush, mainly (if I’m honest) because he was cute and I liked the attention. Sometimes my BFF would join us in these lunch discussions. She was always more skeptical, asked more questions, had more objections to blanket declarations than I had. I suspect my crush had a crush on her. At any rate, he invited us to a Christian coffeehouse with him one Saturday where they played Christian-themed folk-rock and it was something to do for two introverted girls, so we went along. It was actually a lot of fun. The music was good, everyone was friendly, and there was a dynamic young long-haired preacher from New Zealand who made the rounds talking to the kids. (And he was really cute—with a dishy accent.) Things at the coffeehouse usually broke up about 11 and afterwards we’d pile into my crush’s car and drive all over L.A. and into the canyons to look down on the lights of L.A. and go to the all-nite eateries—all innocent, good clean fun. It was a blast, so it got to be a regular thing. Me, my crush, my crush’s BFF, and my BFF. Kind of like dating, except not.

The young preacherman at the coffeehouse would come around and chat with groups of kids. He was quite charismatic and emphasized over and over again how we needed to stop random people on the street and start quoting scripture to them because even if they resisted the message and scoffed, you could be planting a seed that would allow God into their hearts and save them. I won’t even get into how dangerous that would be for young girls to do on the streets of L.A., but regardless, I wasn’t about to do it. First of all, I was far too introverted to even contemplate such a thing, and second, I couldn’t help thinking that if God was such a mighty being why did he need my pissant help to open somebody’s heart? Seemed like he could do that on his own if he was into forced conversions. No, what the preacherman was talking about was a human need to spew scripture, a way of proving something to the same human doing the spewing. Like, I don’t know . . . that they were holier than thou? Or maybe, as I suspect was the case with my telephoning Bible spammer, something that made them feel like they were taking positive action in a world that was confusing and often terrifying and often felt like it was spinning out of their control.

But I won’t say that I was unfazed by all this, especially by the really cute preacherman and the sincerity of my crush (even though it became clear as summer waned that he wasn’t interested in me in that way). I was enchanted, to a certain extent, and briefly felt part of something larger and there was. . . fellowship. I can’t emphasize enough how powerful the draw of fellowship was to a questing, confused little introvert like I was then. (That’s how cults get you.) That enchantment even went so far that I allowed the preacherman to convince me that I needed to burn my tarot cards. Yeah, I know. (And for anyone who might be justifiably horrified by this, please know I would not do anything remotely like this now, but it was a weird time in my headspace.) I’ve regretted that so many times I can’t even tell you, but I was caught up in the moment.

Preacherman wanted to burn them with me present so I could be “released from Satan’s bond,” but I declined. I was already feeling uncomfortable about the whole thing and they’d been a gift from my two best friends who had pooled their resources to buy the deck for me, so I was feeling like a foul betrayer of their friendship and thinking I should just call the whole thing off, but, I mean, like, I’d already brought them there and everyone was staring at me expectantly . . . In retrospect, I realize the preacherman wanted that audience of kids to watch me watching those cards burn, hoping my reaction to being “liberated” would play into their acceptance of his message, but I didn’t get that at the time. I just knew I didn’t want to be part of it. Those cards did liberate me, but not in the way the preacherman anticipated.

He took them out to the parking lot with a group of followers (they didn’t want the fire marshal to come down on them for burning something inside the club) while I stayed inside. He was out there for quite a while and when he came back he was flushed with victory. He started preaching about how those cards of Satan had really resisted the flames. He kept lighting them and Satan kept putting out the flames but he prayed and prayed and finally they caught fire and burned with a great, bright fire. And all the while I’m thinking, “They had a protective coating on them. That’s why they resisted the flames. And that’s probably why they burned so bright afterwards.” The preacherman’s house of tarot cards collapsed in my mind at that point. It wasn’t the final final straw, but just about. I couldn’t help thinking that if he was full of shit on that count, what else was bullshit? I eventually came to realize it all was.

So a deck of Smith-Waite reproduction tarot cards—and science—saved me from an Evangelical cult. Something inevitably would have, I think, because I was never a true convert and my BFF had already called bullshit and I was much more accustomed to listening to her than preachermen (even really cute ones). But those cards were the catalyst. I still regret the loss of them, and I kind of wonder if maybe that’s why I can never get decent readings from Smith-Waite decks. They are almost always overwhelmingly negative. I can’t say I blame them for holding a grudge.

Random quote of the day:

“People always say that I didn’t give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn’t true. I was not tired physically…No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in.”

—Rosa Parks, Rosa Parks: My Story

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Key and Peele, Celine Dion, or Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“To be totally understanding makes one very indulgent.”

—Mme. De Staël, Corinne

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Key and Peele, Celine Dion, or Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“Highlight reels are about that one person. After a barrage of highlight reels, you get the sense that you can do it without a team. But music thrived the most when groups were involved. People lose sight of that—that community makes the world run.”

—Questlove, “Tall Glass Of Rock Star-Ness: A Q&A With Questlove,” NPR, April 15, 2013

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Key and Peele, Celine Dion, or Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“I really want to keep my mind open to all possibilities. If I make up my mind in advance what I believe about something … I stop listening. We all stop listening once you’ve made up your mind … I want to be curious. I want to maintain my curiosity about what the answers to the question might be. And I want to hold out for the possibility that someone will surprise me.”

—Gwen Ifill, interview, Television Academy Foundation, Oct. 20, 2011

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Key and Peele, Celine Dion, or Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“I learned long ago that winning doesn’t always mean you get the prize. Sometimes you get progress, and that counts.”

―Stacey Abrams, Our Time Is Now: Power, Purpose, and the Fight for a Fair America

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Key and Peele, Celine Dion, or Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“We are not trapped or locked up in these bones. No, no. We are free to change. And love changes us. And if we can love one another, we can break open the sky.”

―Walter Mosley, Blue Light

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Key and Peele, Celine Dion, or Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost.”

—Arthur Ashe, as quoted by the Arthur Ashe Institute, June 2, 2020

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Key and Peele, Celine Dion, or Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“A lot of people refuse to do things because they don’t want to go naked, don’t want to go without guarantee. But that’s what’s got to happen. You go naked until you die.”

―Nikki Giovanni, quoted in Black Women Writers at Work by Claudia Tate

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Key and Peele, Celine Dion, or Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

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