Seeing the Whole Picture
by Yvonne Palmer
Even Jesus Got Really Angry
by Paul Moore
I definitely still identify as Christian. … What I kind of identified is there's a Christian culture that I just don’t fit into. And every time that I come back to reading the Bible for how I see it, which I guess you’d call me a quote-unquote Red Letter Christian, because I focus on what Jesus says. And if you really focus on what Jesus says, in my opinion, I think it becomes a lot more simple.
Chapter 1: Religious politics
Probably before I started elementary school, my earliest memory is going to the desert with my family riding quads with my immediate and extended family. That was like a regular thing that we did. That was pretty important on both sides because I'm half white and half Mexican and so there are definitely cultural differences and family differences and the way they interact. I think you know - somewhat racial influences or at least cultural influences. But the family was strong on both sides of the family it's just in different ways.
My dad was usually home on the weekends. He worked Monday through Friday. I would spend time with him a lot because on the weekends he would take me to baseball games and watch my baseball games because I played little league. And sometimes he’d take me out to ride my quad. So we’d load that up and it would just be me and him. Later on my siblings joined but it was cool. So I had a very supportive family that was very involved in my life, especially both of my parents. Especially my mom and definitely my dad too.
I was homeschooled once school came around from elementary school until my sophomore year in high school. So during that time that I was in elementary and middle school, most of my friends - all my friends obviously - came from extra circular activities or the neighborhoods. So, like baseball or sports in general, like neighborhood kids, which there were a lot of neighborhood kids back in the day. You actually had neighborhood kids then because people just went outside. If you saw kids cross the street you’d go out, like, “I'm a kid; I want to play with you too.” It just worked out that way back in the day.
And, what else? Neighborhood kids, sports, … and music; because I just liked music lessons even in elementary and middle school and met people through that, private music lessons. I’d say I did all that stuff. It was cool. I don’t think I was really awkward, socially, because I got a lot of compliments on how I was at my age. Probably because my mom like cared about how I interacted with people, enough to where I could just do it. Like it made sense. Like, “Oh I look people in the eyes, and I talk to them like that’s an easy thing to do.” And I just would look people in the eyes and talk to them. And they would be like “Wow! Your kid is so like well-behaved and social” and this and that. Lots of compliments my mom would receive and I'm just like “I'm just looking at people and talking to them, whatever.” I said please and thank you. Easy.
Random point, I did get spanked. I and all my brothers got spanked. We were maybe 13 or 14 although it was like before, I think the also time I got spanked I was 15 and I just kind of I laughed and was like "Mom, what even is the purpose of this like this is like fucking weird" Like I'm not disciplined; I think the whole the spanking thing is over.” It was like a weird, [like she said], “I think this whole thing’s over too I don’t even know why I did that.”
I do not think that affected me in any negative way. I actually only see it as a positive thing. Like it was a well-understood method of discipline. I never saw it as abuse. I don’t see it as abuse now. I was never like it's so hard that I got like a bruise or like have blood or anything. It was like it happened, then we talked about it and then whatever that was my punishment. Looking back on it now it was better than being grounded Being grounded sucked. I'll take the spanking whatever. To add to that, because I do feel like it's such a hot topic, I don’t think I'm any more of a violent person because of it. I never have been. There are certainly people I know that have violent tendencies who didn’t experience that as children anyway. I was like oh cool. That helped.
Then I got into middle school. Middle school was more or less the same, still doing sports. Still homeschooled, kind of just being friends with people I met before through music or people I would hang out with. I still had a fairly social life even though I was homeschooled up until my sophomore year in high school. I did a lot of airsoft in high school. So, playing with play guns and stuff. Did a lot of that on the weekends, still rode motorcycles, still just hung out and did anything with people. Like normal stuff, like sometimes I'd go to the mall and hang out with friends, but I didn’t really like that. I tried to avoid the mall.
I started umpiring baseball games when I was 14 until I was 18. So that was a thing where I was technically working kind of young, I guess, even though I still came from an upper-middle-class family and didn’t really have to. They were still teaching me the value of money and like, you know, I wasn’t some spoiled kid that just could ask for anything from my parents. That was the last resort. Like asking my dad for money or asking my parents for was always the last resort. It was just like that.
But it was good. I felt like learned, even though I came from a privileged family. It was important for them to demonstrate to me values that often only come from people that are marginalized or poor I guess you could say.
I guess you know my politics were influenced by religion for the vast majority of my life that I've lived thus far. So basically, ever since I've had actual memories, I think my engagement in politics was rather passive - like really passive and “let's be a good person to people.” I was pretty politically innocent, and my politics were just religious values from the bible when I was up until I was seven or eight.
I was still passively political kind of through high school. Although, I will acknowledge that I was... that yes, that 2008 thing came around when they were trying to ban gay marriage. Unfortunately my ignorant self was on board with that and I'd think that was a political side in high school. That was the first one I remember. It's embarrassing, but that’s like the first one I remember taking a stance on. I was like, “Oh yeah. Well I'm a Christian. I go to church and I'm like ignorant so I'm just going to go along with this ‘yes on ‘08’ thing because people that I associate with are also doing that.”
Chapter 4: The Flip
Community College was cool. I went to community college for two years so, right after high school. And that was really cool. I met a diversity of people from all walks of life: rich people, poor people, like any kinds of people. There's everyone there. And so that was really cool. That opened up my eyes and just meeting people at my classes, not even in debate, taught me a lot about the world and life. Debate did that even more or just added to that. So, it was really like an information overload. I felt like I didn’t learn anything in K-12. And then I really felt like community college just super shot me out into the world. It was a lot of things or a lot of different people and that was just like eye-openers every day.
I went through my first year of community college more or less thinking the same things. And then the second semester, the second year rather, I had a lot of my views challenged when I joined debate. This is when politics in every context was presented to me. Like because it was a debate I had to know. I had to learn. I didn’t know about economics, but I had to learn about economics. I didn’t know about a lot of racial prejudicial policies, but I had to learn about those. I had to learn about leadership and religion in different places. And just all of the interacting so...
I was definitely, in that environment, surrounded by more quote-unquote liberal people. It was a time when I also - also another embarrassing moment. I was more like, “Oh I'm not a feminist because” and then I would point towards some quote-unquote feminist groups that were really just full of misandrists and were actually man-hating feminist groups. And later on - I’d say it took about six months to a year - I gradually, over that course, I was gradually kind of changing my political views because I was in such an educational environment.
Because I was in debate, I was forced to be part of a group that most of these people were like, “Hey, I really am looking for like the best argument and I am looking for what's true in order to do something as trivial as win a debate round.” I fell into that category, too. Like I wanted to have as much knowledge as I could have so I could win a debate round. And between doing my own genuine research and doing it with other people and trying to like, I guess you could say be an objective speaker of truth during those times, I ended up being able to make statements like, “You know what? I am a feminist and the things that I believed before I don’t believe anymore.” That the things before I believed were just based on things just as simple as - even though it's kind of a cliché – as hate.
My views where homophobic even though I didn’t really understand how before and they were patriarchal even though I didn’t understand how before. And after educating myself I definitely flipped my political view. I went from being like a Republican to being conservative to being in the middle. A centrist I even personally identified as for a while too. I never really quite identified as a liberal or to the left because I kind of went straight from being centrist to, "I don’t like the Democratic Party either.”
Now I've realized their both kind of full of it. And I think I went from those things, from Republican to conservative to centrist to revolutionary. Although I would say the revolutionary part was a little slower too because I think the policies I was supporting still may have been left-wing or like just generally liberal, even though I didn’t identify as liberal. I still made it clear that I didn’t identify with like the Democratic Party because I did not like who was in the Democratic Party.
The Green Party was all right. I felt like they had some things going. I even like, even as a centrist, I was kind of a fan of Gary Johnson. And he was a libertarian, although I think he was a little further away from libertarianism as it is defined by mainstream politics. Like for example when I told people I was going to vote for Gary Johnson in the 2016 election. I was like, “I'm going to vote Gary Johnson. Democrats were going to win the state in California and I'm trying to bring this boy up.” And people were like, “Oh he’s a libertarian. You must hate poor people and free health care.”
I'm like, “No man, that shouldn’t matter. Just like Gary Johnson said there needs to be a safety net for people and we can't abolish Medicare.” So, I guess you could say I was reluctantly libertarian, because I think I've seen plenty of libertarians and I was just like, “Nope I wouldn’t vote that guy.” But there were a couple, Gary Johnson being the best of that bunch. I was like yeah, this guy has got a good couple of stuff going on.
So, at that point, bouncing in between the liberal pros and cons... or right-wing and left-wing policies ... I was in the center. But if the policy was a little more Republican... or a little more right-wing or a little more left-wing… I might be down with it because they were usually central. But now I'm kind of revolutionary. I think that everything kind of needs to just burn.
I don’t think that we’re going to be thriving in a word that’s controlled by Democrats or Republicans. I don’t know if we could be thriving in a country where the things that we call the House and the Senate still exist. I literally think of it in terms of it’s got to be totally different. Like there shouldn’t be such as a thing as a senator, or an - I don’t know. I guess or like a Representative, as in the House of Representatives. Obviously, we should have some type of representation. I don’t really know what that looks like yet. I have some alternatives that I feel like would work better immediately off the bat, but it's hard to say what it is in the long term.
What I think is we will kind of learn if we get back to just being who we are as people and have more influence over politics than we do now. I think we have so little influence over politics it is hard for so many people to get involved. Even like myself, someone who I consider to be passionate about politics - it's still hard for me sometimes to have any kind of motivation to inform myself or be involved just because it takes so long to get to the top and I don’t know - make a difference without doing something terribly unethical like setting off a bomb, you know what I mean? So, it’s tough.
[After community college], I transferred. Transferring to [a four-year university] was cool but I did not meet very many diverse people. Like everybody was kind of the same at the university, which was really kind of unfortunate, but whatever. I started doing a lot more like music stuff. Once I moved, once I transferred that’s when I also moved out of my parents' house.
I started doing a lot more art and music. I started constructing a self-identity as a higher rate. I started identifying or constructing political identities at a much higher rate. I don’t know, let me think what else. What else do I have to add to that because I felt like there was more?
I stopped going to church. But like I definitely still identify as Christian. I don’t [only] believe the stuff in the bible I just like. My view on the way it is interpreted to me has changed. I think most churches, for me, that I've visited, ended up being very specific about what the Bible means. So, what I kind of identified is there's a Christian culture that I just don’t fit into. And every time that I come back to like reading the Bible for how I see it, I guess you’d call me a quote-unquote a Red Letter Christian, because I focus on what Jesus says. And if you really focus on what Jesus says, in my opinion, I think it becomes a lot more simple. Like Christianity and the process of being saved and the laws that we are required to follow as Christians become a lot more simple. The New Testament and the Old Testament are so much different, and I think that the Old Testament gets referenced a lot, not as a way to figure out what Christianity is asking of you, but as a way of reinforcing cultural Christian values.
Once I got to [university], I stopped going to church mostly because I stopped going to church with my parents. So that kind of make it easier. I'd just wake up on a Sunday and I was like, “Oh shit, I'm so tired. Like my parents aren't here to wake me up to go church” But I still read the Bible. Still think about God all the time. Still think about Jesus. I still have that stuff like guide my decisions and stuff.
But it's to the point where when you look at that with my politics, there's a lot of people that I know that just don’t think I'm Christian. They probably think I'm Atheist probably - just think I don’t even care about religion or I'm not religious in general. But I still am very much personally and spiritually involved with that stuff. And, like I'm not ashamed. I don’t push it to the side. It is just that, I've seen, at this point in my life, it is in my politics a lot. I still feel, for the most part, they fall in line with my Christian values. Not all of them but most of them. I’m working on some of the other ones.
[If I could give this book of my life to anyone,] who would I give it to? I'd give it to my best friend. He's kind of like an older brother to me. He's a couple of years older than me. He's always been a couple of years ahead of me in life in general. So for example when I was a senior in high school, he had already low-key flunked out of college, but he was joining the military at that point. Which I will also add to by saying he is extremely smart and was in the top 100% on the ISAT and could choose from any job that he wanted in the army so... he flunked out because he played too much Mario Kart in his dorms and would skip class, not because he’s dumb.
But I would give it to him because he's somebody that, spiritually, I can - I don’t want to say depend on because I don't think you can depend on anybody spiritually really. But if there were some issue with my spiritual beliefs, I know I could go to him for sound advice. I would want him to know more about me at the very least. Because I know if he knew more about me I trust him more than anybody to tell me what I either need to hear or you know… If I would want some criticism on my book or something like that from one person, I could give it to anybody, and they could be like “oh cool dude.” But if I gave it to him, I know he would have something more to tell me about it. And it would probably lead me to be a better person and thinking about things differently. If there was something more out of giving the book to someone, I would get something from giving him that book.
Even Jesus Got Angry Sometimes: Table of Contents
Chapter One: Religious Politics
In which Paul Moore describes his early childhood and the roots of his politics in religion and family.
Chapter Two: Cartoon Politics
In which Paul Moore begins to be aware of politics, but is more focused on how his community says to think than making his own arguments or understanding the politics involved. “I was like passively Republican. I didn’t know what was actually different. Like whatever I’ll support what my parents will support but I don’t really know.”
Chapter three: Church Politics
In which Paul Moore describes his high school years and his first year of college, when “I still wasn’t actively engaged. I just kind of passively agreed with it I think is the best explanation. That information came from pastors, and parents, and also people at church. And I didn’t have a lot of friends that weren't Republican, and even if they weren't Republican, it still wasn’t that big of a deal to me. I still just didn’t really care.”
Chapter four: The Flip
In which Paul Moore joins the debate team at his community college and has a political awakening.
About Paul Moore
Paul Moore writes, "Dear reader, I don’t know what year you’re reading this is and I may have totally changed, but here a reflection of my current state. That will more likely than not guide you to understand what I believed in this time. And it's probably the same more or less to who I am now. But you won't know unless you really talk to me." He aspires to use his art and music to get people to connect politically. He wants to have people comes to his shows and to be able to say something "that gets people to go do something after the show or just to get them to think about something in their life." He writes, "I don’t care if that’s one chapter or five chapters or ten chapters down the road like I think that would be, for me, ideal. I'd love to just do my art and have political influence and political capital because I do my art."