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WHO RUNS THIS CIRCUS?

Hi. I'm in charge here. I'm Z.

And what do you need to know about me?

Well, like all spiritual seekers, I seem oddly in place

on the Island of Misfit Toys, and stand out as

a bit of a novelty in the normal world.

My oddness started at a young age.

While kids around me were afraid of monsters

and dinosaurs, I was afraid I might grow up

to be a prophet someday.

Because, honestly, the horror.

I heard about prophets every week at church

(and at home, before bed, on all the days in between).

I learned how, when speaking hard truths, their words came out so harsh

that people were willing to hurt, kill, and maim

when decided they could not handle a prophet's words

a moment longer.

They'd actually kill them.

For telling the truth to a bunch of people

who would greatly benefit if they listened.

Yet they never did.

Rather, they mocked and jeered the messenger

before driving them to an early death.

The end.

In my young mind, being chosen to be a prophet was

the stuff of nightmares — a no-win game I did not want to play.

And it was my great fear that one day God would pick me

to mansplain the fruits of sin to a 

city of people who didn't even believe in it.

Honestly, it was hard for monsters to keep me awake back then

when I had tales of Biblical prophets as my storytime before bed.

I was raised by devout Mormon parents, you see,

and in my family religion, prophet is a very desirable status and role.

But even my parents' best efforts could not sway me into

seeing them as glamorous.

I remember when I was approaching my 8th birthday (which is

when you are allowed to be baptized a member of

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)

and my dad sat me down in front of the TV,

popped a VHS tape in the player, and explained to me that

members of the church had to sit quietly through all the sessions

of General Conference (8 hours across 2 days)

and do things like pay tithing.

Thus, prior to being baptized, I needed to 

sit through a full session of General Conference

to instill in me that parts of me had to grow up

once I was baptized a member.

When the VHS tape started playing, my dad pointed to the screen and said,

"Do you know who that is?"

I don't remember what I said in reply, but his response was,

"That man is a prophet of God. When he speaks,

it's as if God himself is speaking to us. And we need to listen."

As reverent as I was trying to be in that moment, 

I know I must have been frowning at the screen when I said,

"That's ... a prophet? I don't get it."

"Get what?" my dad asked.

"Why everyone likes him," I said. "I mean ... in the scriptures,

those guys can't get a word in edge-wise before

offended people are trying to kill them.

But everyone I know can't get enough of this guy.

He could talk all day and everyone would say he's inspiring

and his words warm their souls in ways that

make them feel more alive for weeks or months.

I've just never heard of a prophet like that before, I guess."

I was suspicious.

And I also think I was allowed to go out to play shortly after that.

Why do I tell you this?

To make it very clear that Z Urban Mystic Academy does not exist

to tell anyone what to think or believe.

From childhood, preaching has literally been my worst nightmare.

So this academy, by design, is not that.

Rather, Z Urban Mystic Academy is more like

a place for mapping the world's stage

and the players on it

to promote the exploration and understanding of

the common ground we can share on this planet.

And if that sounds like fun to you

then welcome to the circus.

We've been expecting you.

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