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. By the time I was 13, I’d been raped more than 3,000 times. The following ten years I lived in rich households dominated by emotionally violent women and alcohol addicted men. Behind those walls I witnessed suicide and literal insanity. I knew, from the beginning, that I was fucked -I lived in terror.
The events of my life drove me into a lifelong study of redemption. My diaries offer one perspective on the use of faith as a way to harvest power, dignity, freedom, and peace. I disguise nothing. There are horrors here. Those horrors were emphatic catalysts. My drive was to find and to articulate real redemption. I’m not selling books, building churches, raising money, or running for office. I’m revealing what I know about recovery because I’ve spent my entire life doing nothing but art and God.
Not everyone is interested in the things that fascinate and enchant me, but looking at the world as I do, I see a lot of human pain, collective and individual. Many people would like to stop hurting. I know a great deal about that process.
God has never disappointed me. I have lived in the Middle East, in China, in the islands of the Pacific, and now in Africa, and I have spent my entire life studying their philosophies. I am a Jewish Christian, but 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. I sell my art, but I give my faith away. I’ve always run GypsyFaith this way – from the beginning I sold matchbook magnets, but in the end, or right along side of that process, I wound up talking to customers about faith.
I sell God my own way. I don’t make anything pretty that isn’t. I am fanatically and unapologetically devoted to the things that I love – truth and beauty. I have repeatedly been attacked and rejected for the views I share here as well as for the manner in which I share these views. Nevertheless, I persist.
Recently someone who wishes I would shut the fuck up labelled me as intractable. Yes. If I can stand between any victim and the oppression that radiates from every direction and arm that person with their own power and truth, so help me God I will do so. My intention is to distribute freedom, power, and peace and to overthrow tyranny.
Redemption does not look a certain way externally. Redemption is not service or lifestyle; it’s not about who you love, how you vote, or what you eat and drink, and it’s not about going backwards in history. Redemption is the power of the truth, the power of tolerant love. The hallmark of one who really knows God is humanity. 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.
Several decades ago, in a dream, I summoned the devil. The devil answered my summons with slavish obedience, appearing at light speed. I was stunned. I sent the spirit away. But then, in that same dream, a moment later, I summoned the devil again, and a second time the same CONTINUE >
William Blake in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell writes about this idea exactly. His words have long sat in my heart until I was able to understand them. (If you like, see the entire text below.)
When I am in agony and dialoguing with God I remind myself, “I know CONTINUE >
In movies people chase one-of-a-kind substances required to save a galaxy. But in holy stories the substance or approach used by a true prophet lacks theatricality. You get to the part where the holy person is making the big, splashy move and oh, – the person asks for a handful CONTINUE >
Quality of life is determined hour by hour, moment by moment. We enter this realm with three tools: freedom (will), time (life), and heart (passion). How do you make decisions? Do you make them based on profit (social, fiscal, professional)? Do you make them based on comfort (pleasure, freedom-from)? Do CONTINUE >
I have been to remote monasteries in Nepal, to centuries-old churches in the snowy forests of Romania. I’ve been to jungle shrines on a tiny island in Thailand. I’ve been to dozens of temples in a small city in India, as well as to many holy places in China, Vietnam, CONTINUE >
In every holy text I’ve studied there is a universal theme – if you are faced with an impossible situation, the constructive and most accurate path is to proceed at your own expense. Those crossroads routinely come in small ways. However, there are times when I know I’m on a CONTINUE >
When there is a very big problem, one that effects the lives of millions, there is a way to address it meaningfully and forcefully through prayer. When there is a pernicious, persistent, slippery personal issue, the same is true. Prayer is often referenced, but it is referenced as a last CONTINUE >
When there is excessive suffering there is an instinctive desire to get out of the pain. By excessive I mean substantial trauma over a period of years and years, not the kind of minor or even major irritations that are part of daily life. It’s particularly hard to navigate long-term CONTINUE >
The application of a label escalates and facilitates positive or negative connotations to almost everything. A common strategy for those seeking attention is to boldly connect with a label and then to slide publicly to extreme end of that label. A label is not alive. A label nearly always implies CONTINUE >
Children and animals are charming because they are themselves. Animals remain unselfconscious for their lifetime, so, whilst they loose the cuteness that they have in their infancy, they retain their enchanting authenticity forever. Years and years ago I was in some swanky downtown area of Palm Beach with my Uncle CONTINUE >
Faith is the opposite of magic. Magic is a violation of the limitations we believe exist – I am not interested in determining the value/truth of illusion for the sake of profit or entertainment. Wishful thinking can often lead to a desire for magical outcomes, a way to avoid the CONTINUE >
Going public about faith, I feel how it must feel for someone else who comes “out of the closet” about something they are. I think this is how it must be to admit something you know will be judged, misinterpreted, flung back, or rejected. Most public pronouncements of faith are CONTINUE >
Because of what happened to me, anytime I feel close to someone or something ugly, I am terrorized. Ugly is intolerable; it’s torture. As a child I was connected to something ugly. My mother once reprimanded me severely for asking her a question she disliked. She picked me up from CONTINUE >
In adulthood I repeatedly dreamt I was in public without underpants on. In childhood I was required to spread my legs widely every night, and then they were held down while my mother performed long sessions of oral sex on me. I was not allowed to move or to speak. CONTINUE >
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 >