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.
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.