The Matchbook Diaries

Beginning when I was 3 years old I was raped and tortured nightly by my mother. I lived alone with my mother for ten years. The following ten years I lived in rich households dominated by emotional violence and alcohol addiction.  We experienced both suicide and insanity. The events of my life drove me into a lifelong study of redemption. My diaries give one perspective on the use of faith as a way to harvest power, dignity, and peace. If you choose to read these diaries, know that I disguise nothing. There are horrors here. Those horrors were emphatic catalysts. My drive was to find real redemption, to find life that was in no way deformed or enslaved by what was done to me. God has never once disappointed me. I bludgeon God with all of my intellectual and emotional might, and yet I have never left any encounter empty handed. God is certainly not petty, and so, whilst I am a Jewish Christian, I claim no monopoly on words for God. It’s monumentally absurd to think that if you call God up on the phone, God won’t answer unless you use the right name or pronoun. Jesus is the lens I use, but I will not use that name in these diaries as it is a stumbling block for millions. The name I use for God is God, without gender, without attachment to any faith. I’m an artist and I’m an evangelist. These are my twin callings. The faith I call you to is a liberating, empowering faith. Redemption does not look a certain way externally. Redemption is not service or lifestyle. Redemption is the power of the truth, the power of love. You’ll know instantly, upon opening this diary, if it is of any use to you. May God bless your life; may you know and believe that you are a child of God, beloved beyond price, and of infinite value.

#1 Witness and Partner and I, the Trinity of Faith

When I was a terrorized child I told myself, “No one knows. No one knows.” At the time this expression partly reassured me that I was unexposed, my secret life of shame was not public. I comforted myself by acknowledging this fact.  There was a second, important message in my CONTINUE >

#2 Un-Average Joe  (Cayman Brac, July 2015)

My mother and father on Fire Island
prior to their marriage.

We live overseas and have for decades.  My son, who is 13, has never lived in the United States.  Expats are fond of saying that we’re all running from something.

We’d been on vacation for three weeks when Qatar CONTINUE >

#3 Hell and Heaven

My mother and I dressed alike.

I’ve spent a considerable amount of time thinking about hell. Hell is the place God is not. I cannot conceive a world without hope or light and saturated in despair. But often I cannot abide my own company. I writhe in shame. In CONTINUE >

#4 Evangelism on the Fly

I ferreted out a fellow Jewish New Yorker once when I was leaving Miami for Dar.  I’d been alone, away from my family, to fetch supplies for a summer trek and a NY accent really gets my attention.  The time came for us to line up and board our flight CONTINUE >

#5 Initial Contact

In Southampton, in my mom’s room, is gray haired old woman.  I say, “No, I’m looking for my mother.”  Then I realize it is my mother.  She turns and looks up at me from her bed beside the window with the expression of someone who is used to being surrounded CONTINUE >

#6 The Liberating Power of Grief

I have a lot of grieving to do.  The agony hits me night after night. Once in a while, I have a night or two when I am not crying.  More often than not, as the sun begins to set, my heart starts to race.  Over the hours that run CONTINUE >

#7 Be Still And Know That I Am God

Holy man in Bhaktapur, Nepal giving me his blessing.

Raped nightly at the age of 3, life was scary so I ran.  I sprinted into imaginary hyperspace.  My soul remained frozen in my mother’s bedroom, trembling in horror, self-talking in quiet triples: “Help, help, help.”  Every night until I CONTINUE >

#8 Voluntary Blindness

Me in upstate New York on our family farm.

When the damage from the past is incomprehensible, the byproduct is that our own behavior becomes such. We can’t control our self-destructive behavior because the fuel for that fire, the catalyst for it, is shrouded. I do a lot of CONTINUE >