Are they old enough to know

The last sentence of the first chapter of Dear Mom and Dad and the last sentence of the book end with a quote from a Hank Ketchum’s classic comic strip character Dennis the Menace. “I wish I was three again knowing what I know now”. The idea being that I would have made different decisions about my life’s direction. I don’t think there are many of us in this world who wouldn’t agree with that statement. We all wish from time to time that life had a rewind button. I bring this up because of an article I read recently in Hillsdale College’s publication Imprimis.

The article was written by journalist and author Abigail Shrier and titled Gender Ideology Run Amok. Naturally, when I saw the title, I felt compelled to read the article in its entirety, something I don’t often do with any article in any publication. But this one I did read all the way through and I’m glad I did because it raised some serious questions about the way decisions are being made on how gender identity is being addressed in our country’s mental health community today.

Shrier points out that in 2007 there was only one pediatric gender clinic in our country. Today there are hundreds. Her question is: How did we get to this point? It’s an important question. The fact that she says gender issues have become a big issue in our schools doesn’t really address how and why it has become a big issue, just that it has become a big and destructive issue which it is. I have my own theory and ideas about it which you can, no doubt, imagine.

Let’s get to the root of the problem, which in my opinion is our educational system and the group that has the biggest influence in in it … the teacher’s unions in general and the National Education Association in particular. The last year and a half of the Corona Virus epidemic has brought that groups true colors into focus. It’s my belief that while a large number of teachers really did want to be teachers with the best interest of the children they teach at heart, there are just as many, if not more who have become teachers with ulterior motives at heart.

A teacher who is not mentally or emotionally capable of addressing the mental or emotional issues they are confronted with in the classroom will inevitably look for a scapegoat to deflect attention away from themselves. Enter into the classroom a child that is struggling with their personal identity. Instead of taking the time to really help the child and the family it is far easier to pin the problem on the current hot button issue … gender identity. That way the problem for the child becomes a way for the teacher to avoid looking incompetent and instead look like a pioneer in childhood gender identity  solutions, which of course the teacher is not.

The fact that I refer to wishing I was three again does not imply that I wish I could have lived my entire life as Georgia. It does imply that I wish could have understood why I didn’t feel “normal” much earlier than I did. The fact that I struggled with feelings of unease in being who I was does mean that in many was I going through what most adolescents go through. I feel for the children today because they are not being allowed to be children. They are not being allowed to develop their own self-image. At the first sign of an identity issue, it’s not being treated as part of the normal growing up process. No, it’s immediately identified as a gender issue that must be treated with the current fad treatment. They and their parents are instantly steered into mostly irreversible decisions.

When I made that decision to transition it was with an adult mind and after more than a few years of self-examination. I could never have made that decision intelligently or with a clear understanding of self as a teenager and I sincerely belief that scant few, if any at all, teenagers today are any different.

In my presentations to college classes about gender identity I try to make a point of saying that gender identity is a matter of learning to know who you are at your core and that transitioning isn’t going to solve any problem that isn’t solved beforehand. I liken it to something I heard repeatedly in AA. Alcoholics have a phrase for people who think that if they just change their location, move from New York to Los Angeles, it will solve the problem that caused them to drink. It’s called “a geographical”. It never works and it doesn’t work because the problem is not external… it’s internal. All you do is drag the issue along with you to a different location. Fix it where you are before moving on.

I think the same principle applies to gender identity. Adolescents are historically known for emotional issues. Encouraging them to believe that it’s because they were born in the wrong body is like a geographical. Psychologists and educators need to understand that they must quit looking to gender identity as the root of the problem. That solution will ultimately create even worse problems in the years ahead. All the gender identity solution is, is today’s way to deflect from a problem as old as mankind … adolescence.

A Vision Is Not Enough …

12:25 PM August 1, 2021

I would have normally been on way home from worship service at the home of one of New Foundation’s Pastor’s. But not today, and more than likely never again. I have had few things sadden me more. The natural and immediate reaction to the events of the last few months leading to the last 2 weeks is to point fingers and cast blame. While there is plenty of that to go around that is not my purpose here. My purpose is to look back over the last 12 plus years and record events and actions, of the people I have interacted with as a result of my participation in the decisions and actions of the leadership of New Foundation. If that is taken as finger pointing, so be it. But if we are not honest about how we got here then we learn nothing and we are left with nothing.

I wrote about my introduction to New Foundation in very last couple of pages of my memoir. I had been bitterly disappointed in the results of ego driven performances of the leadership of my previous church Healing Waters Ministries and had finally walked away. It shut down shortly thereafter. Two of the people I had known there had persisted in asking me to visit the new church they had found when they walked away. I finally agreed to attend one service.

As I said in my memoir, one look at the face of Jabowa Whitehead and I felt I knew why God had closed Healing Waters. I felt it was because He had been holding open the door of New Foundation Christian Fellowship all along.

It must have been several months before I was invited to the Society of Sipping Saints. Being a recovering Alcoholic who worked weekends in a bar I had no issue with going to a bar with a few of the congregation and the pastors. I enjoyed the social atmosphere with the people I had just worshiped with. It became a regular occurrence. I had never had a social experience like that at any church. It truly gave meaning to the term church “family”. Since Jabow had asked me to take over the communication I found that time a good time to text all the people who hadn’t been in service that morning.

I had some disagreements with Jabowa, most of which were political. For instance, it was about that time when the issue of gay marriage came to the fore in the news and commentary sections of the various media. In a phone conversation with him I voiced my politically conservative opinion on the issue. He quickly informed me that it was extremely important to so that he could marry the man he loved, Pastor Juan.

Over the next few years our congregation grew quickly, and we soon found that we needed a larger facility. I, along with a few others, put in many hours making the necessary modifications to the new facility and soon we had moved from the small second floor rooms across the street to new larger free-standing building with a large parking lot which we needed with a growing congregation. We had room for Children’s Sunday School, and it too was growing.

But a change began to take place in the spiritual environment. I was still happy with all the people, new and old. Pastor Jabowa began adding people to the dais behind him and soon the front of our church began to resemble a holy roller church. I have to admit that I didn’t think some of those he chose should be up there. But I also felt it wasn’t my place to say anything. In addition to that change Pastor Jabowa abandoned his nicely but casually dressed appearance and started wearing a black robe. But we continued to grow.

Then one morning Pastor Juan wasn’t there. At the end of service, Jabowa requested all the leadership to stay behind for a private meeting. He informed us that he and Juan were separating, and that it was the result of 8 months of counseling. Pastor Juan was visiting family in Alaska.

I was personally in tears and stayed behind to tell him how heartbroken I was. I asked him at the time there was someone else in either of their lives. He said, no. I took him at his word. This all occurred in either late February or early March.

It may have been a couple of weeks, but no more when Jabowa told me he was seeing someone else. When I look back on it, I see it as the moment before the fall from grace. I reminded him of what he had said about Juan being the love of his life. He denied having ever said it.

Pride weekend and Sunday morning, when he should have been at the church preparing for the service, he wasn’t there. No one knew where he was, and no one had heard from him. He didn’t respond to text messages or phone calls. Pastor Cherry grabbed her laptop and pulled up a sermon.

The next week half of the congregation was absent. And the week after that half of those were not there. I had the opportunity to ask one of the men, someone I admired for his faith, if he was going to leave too. He responded with, “Yes, God has withdrawn his blessing from New Foundation.” The downhill tumble had begun in earnest. It could have been avoided if Jabowa had only offered some kind of apology and committed himself to a renewed commitment. But he never did.

The church was moved from that building to a conference room at hotel. That lasted for a little over a year. Then we found ourselves meeting to a bar. One of the last times I saw Pastor Cherry she said flatly that “we’ve got to get out of this bar”.

Just before Covid hit Jabowa and his next husband Pastor Freddie announced that we “would be meeting at their home. And that’s where we have been until a week ago when none of the pastors, including the one who was supposed to give the sermon showed up.

I have put all this down because I want to emphasis the importance of a pastor’s devotion to his duty and while no person is perfect, using the excuse that “I’m only human, is merely a way of self-justification for failing in one’s duty. Sadly, I have to say that I heard Pastor Jabowa use that very excuse on a number of occasions.

The word pastor is from the Greek word “poimen” which translates as “shepherd”. I came from an agriculturally oriented family background. My dad had a favorite saying for situations like this: “You don’t go to town when the ox is in the ditch”.

Unfortunately, just as the shepherd who puts his own desires ahead of his responsibility to care for the sheep in his charge, New Foundation has suffered entirely too much from personal priorities been placed ahead of the Shepherd’s duty. Sadly, for all Jabowa’s good intentions and amazing concept for a church configured like the early church before Constantine took over, that original concept of welcoming “all people” and giving them a family that maybe many of them never had, was lost in personality flaws of leadership.

  1. C. “Jabowa” Whitehead was a very loving person and everyone who ever knew him was forever changed. I was blessed to know him and worship with him and share his vision, but a vision alone is not enough. A vision requires effort, dedication, planning, execution of the plan, leadership and unfailing commitment to purpose. If New Foundation is to survive, it needs to be re-born with a commitment by all involved to dedicate themselves to the execution of all these facets of purpose and remember how we got to this place.

Just to Clarify

A recent communication from a good friend pointed out that a description of some people, in my last blog as “stupid” was probably not the best choice of words and as a result somewhat detracted from the point I was trying to make. In retrospect he was probably correct. I undoubtedly could have been a bit more, well considerably more, diplomatic.

When I was in early sobriety and learning to assess my previous behavior in an honest and forthright manner, I was told in confessing my transgressions that when I followed up my confession with, “but” such and such or so and so did such and such to cause my behavior that I totally negated my personal responsibility in the interaction. So, no “buts” here.

I am angry. And I feel justifiably so. I will apologize for using the term “stupid” but not for the assessments that followed the term. I know that I am only a single voice in the choir and that I have, in that respect, a total inability to carry a tune. But I will not let that keep me from singing as loudly as I can.

All that being said, I need to express an opinion regarding gender identity politics and what I see as a major flaw the thinking of many in our community. That flaw is the idea that everything we express must be expressed from the platform of our gender identity.

When I first became involved the activities of the world of the transgendered, I of course was primarily concerned with being an accepted part of the community. Having always been outspoken about my political views, which by the way included my religious views, I saw no reason to suppress those views just because I was wearing a wig and a dress. I immediately found that, for many in the organization, I was a heretic. After all, conservative religion and politics were joined hand in hand in the denunciation of the transgendered community.

While that was true to a certain degree it was definitely an overgeneralization of the situation. If you have followed my blog over time, you know that I certainly have not let the opinions of those I disagree with stifle the expression of my views. If I had a bigger following, I would probably be banned from Facebook and Twitter, but so far, I have not.

Enter stage right, Caitlyn Jenner.

She is the embodiment of what I have felt and expressed in the past. She is what the transgendered community needs badly because what she is saying, to me at any rate, is that gender identity is not going to keep her from expressing her conservative political opinions. To date I have not heard anything from her that reflects her gender identity. She has been strictly focused on issues that have nothing to do with gender; issues that affect average people in her state. If her gender identity is brought up it’s the interviewer who brings it up and not her. So, what if her transgendered status draws attention. It has nothing to do with what she feels the people of California need from the point of view of a very successful businessperson.

She should be an example to the transgendered community to put gender identity aside and be a contributing member of society … like any “normal” person would do without making gender the issue.

My parents never expressed an opinion of anyone based on issues they had no control over, ie … skin color, sex, physical handicaps. As a result, I learned to look at the character of people in my life. Did Caitlyn have a choice to visibly express her gender identity? Absolutely! But she had no choice as to the set of emotions she was born with and that is what she is expressing in her appearance … and to my way of thinking, an expression of her character.

In closing this blog entry what I want to say is, to our transgender community, stop with the gender identity excuses for not living up to your potential. Stop with the gender identity excuses for thinking you are a victim. Stop parroting the opinions of those who are telling you that you are a victim. There are no victims here, only people who have been convinced they are victims by those who need victims to support their own self-centered aims of controlling other’s lives … since most of them, from what I see, have had trouble controlling their own.

Dear Mom and Dad, P.S.

P.S.

A lot has changed since I last wrote to you … a lot! I hardly know where to start. But, I’m going to give it a try.

I’ll start with what’s happened in the nation in general. The panic over the nation of Islam and the terrorists it spawned has pretty much subsided. We endured eight years of a Democrat in the white house who was elected primarily because he’s African American on his father’s side. And then re-elected because the Republicans nominated a gutless wonder by the name of Romney.

The damage of that eight years was nearly irreparable, but one of the most unlikely people to be nominated by the Republicans and then elected president, Donald Trump began cleaning up the swamp. The only reason he doesn’t have a lock on election this time around is a Chinese originated virus that has killed over 150,000 people. The democrats and their willing accomplices in the press have done a pretty thorough job of blaming him even though he was the first president to stand up to the Chinese and begin the process of renegotiating all of the previous administrations’ bad trade deals. I can’t help but wonder if the Chinese didn’t deliberately spread the virus world-wide in order to derail those talks.

Now the democrats have swung so far to the left toward a near totally socialist agenda that even Granny would have to vote Republican, and you remember what die hard democrat she was. You should ask her about it. I’m sure she’s around up there somewhere.

So much for that. In my world, things have changed a lot too. After my letter to you was published with visions of royalties just pouring in and offers of a movie deal coming in by the day, I started working weekends at bar in Phoenix called The Cash Inn. And no, I didn’t start drinking again. I just liked being there and made a lot of friends there over the ensuing 5 or 6 years. The owners at the time Lisa and Adele, especially Lisa were some of my biggest supporters.

I got a considerable amount of support from others in the LGBT community. Keith, who I identified as “Keifer” hired me to help him re-model two houses. Unfortunately, he died suddenly one day owing me a substantial amount of money and his partner refused to pay me the balance.

Then I went to work doing remodel and repair work on another bar, Plazma in Phoenix. I got to know the owner Jim through my pastor, Jabowa Whitehead. We used to go over there after church on Sunday afternoon and spend time getting to know other people in the church. At one time Jim gave me an advance on work I hadn’t done yet so I could buy books to sell at a college in California. Which brings me to another person; someone who has become just about the best friend I’ve ever had, with one exception, that of course being The Blue Magnet.

I have to admit that I don’t remember exactly what year it was when Christine Curtain, The Little Green-Eyed Blonde introduced me to Jimmy Urbanovich, but it had to have been at least eleven or twelve years ago. Since that time, he and his wife Renee’ have become not only important supporters but have also become good friends. Jimmy has invited me back to speak at Crafton Hills College in Yucaipa every year but this year and that being the result of Covid-19. Renee was instrumental in getting a promotional video produced by her son for me to use, in an effort to book speaking engagements, but before any could be arranged Covid-19 hit.

However, the really big, I mean REALLY big events of my life have been one event leading to another, leading to another.

Seven years ago, this last June my financial situation had become desperate. I had been applying everywhere for jobs; Circle K, Quick Stop, Walmart, Lowe’s and Home Depot just to mention a few. I was really desperate. The leasing agent I leased my townhouse from had given me notice that they would no longer accept post dated checks for half of my rent. It was either pay all by the third of each month or face eviction. I would have taken any job offered at that point.

The last Monday in June I received an e-mail from The Home Depot central hiring in Atlanta. It said they had attempted to call me for an interview the previous Friday, but I had not answered. Was I still interested in applying for a job there? I couldn’t dial the number fast enough. After an initial phone interview at that time an interview was scheduled for 8:00 AM the following Tuesday at Depot 469 in Mesa.

My interview with ASM Vicki went so well that she asked if I could possibly return for an interview with the Specialty ASM Jeremy the next day. I said “Of course.” Then she asked if I was willing to come back that afternoon. “Heck, I’ll wait if it’s this afternoon.”

She responded that Jeremy wouldn’t be in until 1:00 PM. So, the appointment was set for 2:30 that afternoon. Jeremy and I talked twenty minutes or so and then he took me out to the kitchen showroom and asked me to sell him every product they had. I honestly don’t think he believed that I had as much experience as I did. At any rate he said he would call me the next day. I thought, “Sure you will.” Several years before I had been told that by another Home Depot and never heard a word. But, he called me the next day and said I was hired.

My first official day was July 17, 2013. I anticipated a year or so at The Home Depot. But seven years later and I’m still there.

In the meantime, Mom passed away the last week of September 2014. After all was settled and her home sold, I was the recipient of a third of her remaining estate. On my way home from Utah after having emptied her home of seventy-five years of memorabilia, treasures and personal things of no value to anyone but family, I realized that something I had thought would never be possible, would be.

I had been living and working as Georgia for more than seven years even though the name change hadn’t been legally official until January 5, 2009. At the court hearing for the name change, when it was my turn to stand before the judge, he looked over the papers, and then looking at me said, “I think this is very appropriate. Petition granted.”

I had been on hormone therapy for almost as long and had become used to the idea that whatever was under my skirt wasn’t nearly as important as what was in my heart and head. So, with the realization that a complete transition was now possible, but also having witnessed the tragic result of hasty decisions in regard to Gender Reassignment Surgery I decided to take my time and be sure it was the right thing for me to do. So I waited and I considered all the implications of what I was contemplating.

The first person to learn of what I was considering was Christine. The first Thanksgiving after we met, I had spent with her and family and friends. After all the hoopla was over and everyone had departed and we were alone I had asked her if it would make any difference to her, regarding our relationship if I ever did take that step. Her reply was, “Of course not and she would go with me wherever I needed to go and hold my hand as long as necessary.”

I called her sometime in the middle of December and asked her if the promise was still good. She said, “Of course.” I told her I hadn’t made a firm decision but was thinking about it.

I waited until sometime in February to contact Dr. Marcy Bowers. Over time I had always known that if I ever took that step, she was the only surgeon I would consider. That was because she, herself was a transsexual and had taken over the practice of Dr. Stanley Bieber in Trinidad Colorado.

My first appointment with her was on March 30th, 2015. I still wasn’t sure that I wanted to go ahead and planned on waiting another couple of months before I made a final decision.

Naturally I gave her a copy of “Dear Mom and Dad” when she entered the examination room and after introductions she asked me if I had any questions for her and I said,

“Am I too old?”

“Why do you think you are too old?”

“I’m seventy years old.”

“You’re what?”

“I’m seventy years old.”

“When I first saw you, I assumed I was dealing with someone in their mid-fifties.”

I could have kissed her right then and there.

But to answer my question, she said that I wasn’t too old. She had performed the surgery on people in their eighties.

As the interview was winding down, she said that her good fortune was my misfortune because she was booked out for two and a half years. My heart sank. Then she added, “But for you, I will get you in within nine months if I have to work an extra day of the week.”

Before I left the office, I filled out the necessary paperwork and left a deposit.

About two weeks later I got a call from her practice manager, Robin. She was calling to verify my insurance information that Aetna was my primary through my employer and that Medicare was secondary. I told her yes but that I didn’t want Home Depot hassled about coverage; I had the money.

Robin said she didn’t know what I had heard but that they didn’t hassle the insurance company. All they did was send a letter asking if it was a covered procedure. I said that if that was all they did then fine, but the answer would be “no”. Then I went on with my life.

The last week in June, I was preparing to go on vacation in Monument Valley and Durango when I received a letter from Aetna. There’s my denial of coverage letter I thought. I opened it up and started reading. In the middle of the page was the following:

“Gender Reassignment Surgery: Covered procedure.

What? No! That can’t be right. I folded it up and put it back in the envelope. I waited a few minutes and took the letter out again and re-read it. Yup! That’s what it said. “Gender Reassignment Surgery: Covered Procedure”

I called Robin the next morning and told her about the letter and asked if she had been notified. She said no, but they usually didn’t hear until a week or so after the patient did. So, I went on vacation and returned to work on a Thursday in mid-July. The next day, Friday, Robins office was closed at noon, so I e-mailed her and asked if she had received confirmation of coverage.

Monday morning, about 10:00 my phone rang. It was Robin. She said yes, they had received a confirmation from Aetna and that all I owed was $4,000. Then she said,

“So, how about September 2nd?

“For what?”

“Your surgery.”

I was speechless. I couldn’t breathe. Finally, Robin said,

“Are you there?”

“Uh Yeah.”

“Do you want that date?”

It took a few seconds for it to sink in; that the final decision moment had arrived. I finally said, “Yes, I do.”

“Do you want Dr. Beck to do the breast implants at the same time?”

“If it’s going to happen that soon, yes I do.”

“Then the date is September 1st.”

It had been just five months since Dr. Bowers had said she would get me in in nine months if she had to work an extra day of the week. I called Christine and told her I was making plane reservations for August 31st.

The only other thing I’m going to add is this; I had not been anesthetized since I had my tonsils out when I was 5 years old. I had no idea what to expect. The anesthetist came in to pre-op and said he was going to give me something to relax me, then something to put me to sleep and then would use general anesthesia for the surgery which all together would last six to seven hours.

The next thing, I’m awake and wondering when are they going to get started? Then,

“Oh crap, it’s all done!”

Then, what I knew was possible but didn’t think would happen to me, happened.

“Oh my God, what have I done. I’ve made a horrible mistake.”

But there was no turning back now. I had crossed the Rubicon. I immediately went to work on my own emotions and within two hours I was okay and have never looked back since. It was the right thing for me … Georgia.

George? He’s still there … in my subconscious now just as I was in his for sixty plus years. And he gets in his two bits worth from time to time just like I did to him.

It was not quite a year later that the love of my life, Georgia’s life, entered my life and has made me happy beyond belief. The Blue Magnet makes every day memorable and generally fills it with laughter.

If you are new to my blog, you can read about her and our relationship in posts of February 21st, 2017 and again September 3, 2018.

And the last thing of importance, though tragic, has been the untimely death of my pastor, brother and friend, T.C. “Jabowa” Whitehead. A blog entry on June 2 of this year is a tribute to him. His importance in my life is one of the very last things I wrote about in “Dear Mom and Dad.”

Well, Mom and Dad, that’s pretty much all that’s happened in the last 8 years and not that I don’t look forward to seeing you, I’m just not ready to call it quits down here. I still have books to write and I haven’t had near enough time with The Blue Magnet yet.

Love,

Georgia

P.P.S. And oh yeah … I’ve been ordained an Elder in my church and have actually delivered 3 sermons in the last 2 months, not to mention a lot of introductory messages over the last 4 or 5 years. You can catch them on my Facebook page when you have time.

Frustration is turning to Anger

My frustration is turning to anger. Maybe the final straw was seeing a mob; that’s the only word for it; pulling down a statue of Francis Scott Key in San Francisco. So what if he was a slave owner. If what I recall of my education is correct; and I’m pretty damn sure it’s because the NEA hadn’t corrupted the system yet; most of the signers of the declaration of independence were slave owners. My guess is that there wasn’t a single one of those fools involved in the destruction of that statue that’s had any seriously accurate education in our history.

It’s highly unlikely that any of the people who did own slaves were the ones to go to Africa and kidnap the people they “owned”. The slave traffickers in many cases weren’t even the ones to kidnap the people they trafficked in. In most cases the unfortunate people to be sold into slavery were captured and sold by other black tribesmen or Arab Muslim slavers.

But all that knowledge is secondary to the root cause of all the turmoil in our country. That root cause is total and complete lack of basic education and sense of responsibility for one’s own actions. Parents are turning the education and upbringing of their children over to the state. And the cities and states that are the most affected with the problem are those run by liberal politicians like Bill DeBlasio of New York City.

I know that conservative news and commentary outlets see this, but why don’t people on the left at least give lip service to the issue? Can it be possible that they really don’t want to see it because it’s such a glaring example of what liberal progressivism does to the soul of the communities it has taken root in? I tend to think that is the case.

Everything Marxism and Maoism teach is on full display with each and every march and riot that’s occurring on a daily basis. Has our education system become so badly directed that the average person is totally convinced that they owe nothing to the society they live in and that the government is there to provide them with not only the necessities of life but all the goodies that come from a free enterprise form of economy?

So yes, I am angry that people I know, people I care about and people I love are so totally ingrained with an attitude of hatred toward everything that has made this country the one place on the face of the earth where everyone wants to live.

I’m angry that everything about this country that I love and hold dear has become a target of hatred and a form of reverse prejudice.

I’m angry that the press in general, the liberal politicians, the entrenched bureaucracy in Washington, the public education system have all been co-opted by the notion that only a relatively few elites have the vision and correct idea of what is right and what is wrong.

I’m angry that those same people who have made common sense a thing to be laughed at and belittled, are the ones making decisions that affect my life and the pursuit of happiness embodied in our declaration of independence.

And I’m angry that those people who are supposed to be the defenders of free speech; the educators, the liberal politicians and most of all the press, think that I am ignorant because I am a Christian, a politically conservative Christian, a politically conservative Christian trans-sexual; that since I’m all these things, I can’t have an opinion worth voicing.

I could go on indefinitely about what started out as frustration and has now become anger and how that anger makes me want to lash out, but I don’t believe that’s productive, so I won’t.

If you’ve read this far, I think you get my point. I’m angry.

Jabowa

I don’t know quite where to start. So I will start with a passage from the next to last page of Dear Mom and Dad …

“Within minutes of walking in the door, I felt that I knew why God had closed the Healing Waters door. He’d been holding open the door of New Foundation Christian Fellowship for me all along. I was home at last. I sensed blessings of our maker in the face and presence of everyone, but most of all Pastor Jabowa Whitehead, in a way I’d never felt before in any church. The peace and sense of purpose we’d searched for all our combined life was finally ours.”

Yesterday evening June 1st 2020 at 5:33 and 59 seconds Thomas Cohen “Jabowa” Whitehead took his leave of this world and in so doing left in his wake a multitude of lives much better off for having known him and having been loved by him. And I say “loved” by him because he did love everyone who entered the sphere of his life.

I have met many people who claimed to love everyone, but there has always been a somewhat hollow tone to their claim. Not so with Jabowa. He did genuinely “love” everyone in his life. It was that quality that allowed him to change in some way every life he touched. When one loves as genuinely and completely as did Jabowa Whitehead one cannot help but leave a lasting mark on the lives one touches.

I will never forget the first moment I saw Jabowa. I had been talked into attending a church service for which I held no expectations or even hopes of some healing sense of what I would experience there. As I entered the “Upper Room” as I came to refer to the place on 16th Street and Osborne in Phoenix, he was busy at the front of the room but he glanced up and flashed that Jabowa smile at me. It was a brief but knowing smile that said, “I’ve been expecting you.”

Was our relationship flawless and without chuck holes? No, of course it wasn’t. In fact, at one point I walked away from New Foundation convinced that my time there was at an end and it was time to move on, so I did. But, true to his character, 4 months later I got a text from him. It said he would understand if I chose not to, but he wanted me to know that he would like it if I would worship with him the following Sunday. I responded that I would talk to Abba about it and if He said I should, I would. On Saturday I received another text from him asking what the answer was. I responded that Abba had been totally silent so I took that to mean that He was leaving it up to me so I would probably be there. And I was.

I have not looked back since then. A testament to what he had created was the reception I received when I entered the room, not from him, but from the “family” I found there overwhelmed me. It took awhile for the two of us to heal our relationship, but he had such a forgiving and loving heart that I had no choice but to forgive and heal.

It is important for people who read this to understand what Jabowa’s vision for New Foundation was, as he shared it with me.

It was first and foremost a place for everyone to worship. No formal membership required. And by “everyone” he sincerely meant “everyone”; the broken, the cast offs of society and organized, mainstream churches. As he frequently put it, “gay, straight, trans, bi, Methodists, Baptists, Pentecostal, or as he would phrase it, Methobapticostals; All had a home at New Foundation Christian Fellowship.

The second part of his vision was a fellowship in the form of what the early church was like before Emperor Constantine of Constantinople had his vision of the cross before his victorious final battle with Rome and attributed that victory to the God of the Christians. That vision led ultimately to the Holy Roman Catholic church and the endless requirements of organized Christianity today.

The Christ of Jabowa’s faith was a friend and a brother to be talked to and listened to on a nearly continuous basis. I wrote in Dear Mom and Dad that none of us is ever going to be completely privy to another’s relationship with our maker, and as open as Jabowa was with his faith and his prayer life his most intimate relationship with God is something none of us will ever know.

When I try, through the tears, to understand why he was called home so soon I can only think of it this way. In a forest there can grow a giant pine tree and over time it sheds many cones which lie dormant for years never giving rise to new trees. Only when a forest fire destroys that tree does the heat from that fire cause the many seeds the tree has shed over its lifetime, to break open and germinate. Only then does the promise of a future for other life to grow, uninhibited by the shadow of the giant tree.

The giant tree, in the person of Jabowa Whitehead, is no longer here among us, but we as the seeds of his love and acceptance must now germinate and give life to his vision. His vision must now be our vision. His mission must now be the mission of every life he ever touched.