Blake I. Collier | The Dirty Deacon

B.A. in History from The University of Texas at Arlington | M.A. in History from Texas Tech University | Contributor for Mockingbird | Co-creator of Son of Byford | Lover of horror, hip-hop, beer & anything British | Sinner saved by the grace of Jesus Christ
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Some of you know that back in October of last year, my dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s; it was something we had feared, but not dared mouth. No matter how much someone prepares to hear those words, it doesn’t ease the sudden dread that washes over in the moments after those words are spoken or read.

For me, it took place while alone working on a rent house for my parents. I received a text with the results of my dad’s tests. Alzheimer’s. There is a brief period of shock where the words are detached from any meaning. They are simply that, words. I remember calling my mom and one of my dad’s friends who was deeply involved in the testing period and the telling of my dad a couple of weeks later. I talked to them, calmly. You see, it was still a word. It was not something based in reality. A mere concept. Nothing more. It didn’t affect reality. Yet. After those phone conversations, I remember going into that rent house’s kitchen, where I was planning on doing something and that is when the words became embodied.

I broke down. I couldn’t help it. If the residents next door were home, they may have heard. Once those words became something real and grounded, the dread came flooding over me. I wouldn’t just lose my dad, but I would lose himslowly. My family would witness the cruelty of disease and death in slow motion, stretched out over days, months, years. Watching as death gains more ground every day. Memory, function, life, going one by one.

I wrote the article on the before and after of getting the diagnosis for the Mockingbird quarterly during this time. And there have been moments when I had been disgusted with myself about the concept of writing about his disease and how it affected me. I felt like maybe I was stealing some sort of sick glory for myself. All the while, he was the one dealing with the diagnosis and the inevitabilities that come with it.

Would I write the article over again and hand it over to be published? Yes, I would. Because whatever inferior motivations there may have been in the writing of that article, I think are overwhelmed by the positive elements. The church is often silent about suffering when, throughout its history, it has been anything but silent. This American culture of self-help, -improvement and prosperity gospel refuses to acknowledge and lean into suffering. Because it’s not a happy endeavor. I want my dad’s struggle to be public, so public that people cannot ignore it. Suffering strips away intellectual scapegoats. I also want people who may be going to through the same thing to know they are not alone. Also, I want them to know the origins of joy amidst the “abyss.” Joy only comes, in those dark places, through a Christ who suffered, himself, and died on the cross. Period. Any other origin ends in death and disease being nothing but cruelty and futility. And, plus, this is one of the ways I am dealing with the news and the days following. I write about it to keep myself sane, to release all that is bottled up throughout the days. 

Things have changed since I wrote that article. My dad has shown moments of depression and his responses to the disease have not been near as life-affirming. He knows what is coming and, according to him, he doesn’t want his family to go through it. 

Do you know how hard it is to encourage someone to keep fighting when you, yourself, know that those would be your exact sentiments if put in his situation? Talk about hypocrisy. 

My dad tears up more than I have ever seen in my life now. They are still bright, blue and full of life, but the tears are evident. 

I took a trip to the Louisiana coast a couple of weeks ago with my dad, my uncle and my best friend to go deep sea fishing. While the shadows of the disease lingered throughout each day of the trip, there were moments of joy. One of the pictures taken of my dad holding up a fish he had caught on a particularly turbulent day on the water has him bracing himself with fish in hand and giving a big ol’ smile. That picture gladdens my heart. 

I am coming to realize that it will be those small windows from now on that will keep the darkness at bay. It is these moments that will be the grace of God in a shitty situation. That is the substance of hope in the breakdown of this world.

It is currently raining in Amarillo on Easter Sunday which makes my heart happy. And, yet, all I wanna listen to is Gaye’s cover of “I Wish It Would Rain”

form-and-void:

CRUELEST ANIMAL - the complete TRUE DETECTIVE soundtrack - Every song from every episode of the first season. The soundtrack is made up mostly of country, folk, and blues, with heavy Southern gothic influences and a dark, lonely sense of moodiness.
OpeningFar From Any Road - The Handsome FamilyEpisode I: The Long Bright DarkRocks and Gravel - Bob DylanSign Of The Judgement - The McIntosh County ShoutersYoung Dead Men - The Black AngelsEpisode II: Seeing ThingsUnfriendly Woman - John Lee HookerOne Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer - John Lee HookerThe Train Song - Vashti BunyanYou Better Run To The City Of Refuge - Reverend CJ Johnson and FamilyMeet Me In The Alleyway - Steve EarleIf I Live Or Die - Cuff The DukeKingdom Of Heaven - 13th Floor ElevatorsEpisode III: The Locked RoomStand By Me - The Staple SingersDoes My Ring Burn Your Finger - Buddy MillerI’m a One Woman Man - Johnny HortonEvangeline Special - Jo-El SonnierThe Heart That You Own - Jo-El SonnierEpisode IV: Who Goes ThereA History of Bad Men - MelvinsAmerican Life - PrimusHoly Mountain - SleepClan In da Front - Wu-Tang ClanHoney Bee - GrindermanAre you alright? - Lucinda WilliamsIllegal Business - Boogie Down ProductionsBring It to Jerome - Bo DiddleyRainin’ in My Heart - Slim HarpoSur Le Borde de L’Eau - Blind Uncle GaspardEpisode V: The Secret Fate Of All LifeEli - Bosnian RainbowsCasey’s Last Ride - Kris KristoffersonTired of Waiting for You - The KinksEpisode VI: Haunted HousesWaymore’s Blues - Waylon JenningsToo Many at ears In My Eyes - Ike & Tina TurnerEvery Man Needs a Companion - Father John MistyCore Chant - Meredith MonkVariations Goldberg, BWV 988: Aria - Glenn GouldThe Good Book - Emmylou HarrisLes Champs Élysée - Bobby CharlesEpisode VII: After You’re GoneDid She Jump Or Was She Pushed - Richard and Linda ThompsonLungs - Townes Van ZandtFault Line - Black Rebel Motorcycle ClubFloating Bridge - Gregg AllmanTrance Figure - School of Seven BellsAngel of the Morning - Juice NewtonRed Light - Vincent and Mr. GreenEpisode VIII: Form And VoidThe Angry River - The Hat, Father John Misty, & S.I. Istwa

form-and-void:

CRUELEST ANIMAL - the complete TRUE DETECTIVE soundtrack - Every song from every episode of the first season. The soundtrack is made up mostly of country, folk, and blues, with heavy Southern gothic influences and a dark, lonely sense of moodiness.

Opening
Far From Any Road - The Handsome Family
Episode I: The Long Bright Dark
Rocks and Gravel - Bob Dylan
Sign Of The Judgement - The McIntosh County Shouters
Young Dead Men - The Black Angels
Episode II: Seeing Things
Unfriendly Woman - John Lee Hooker
One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer - John Lee Hooker
The Train Song - Vashti Bunyan
You Better Run To The City Of Refuge - Reverend CJ Johnson and Family
Meet Me In The Alleyway - Steve Earle
If I Live Or Die - Cuff The Duke
Kingdom Of Heaven - 13th Floor Elevators
Episode III: The Locked Room
Stand By Me - The Staple Singers
Does My Ring Burn Your Finger - Buddy Miller
I’m a One Woman Man - Johnny Horton
Evangeline Special - Jo-El Sonnier
The Heart That You Own - Jo-El Sonnier
Episode IV: Who Goes There
A History of Bad Men - Melvins
American Life - Primus
Holy Mountain - Sleep
Clan In da Front - Wu-Tang Clan
Honey Bee - Grinderman
Are you alright? - Lucinda Williams
Illegal Business - Boogie Down Productions
Bring It to Jerome - Bo Diddley
Rainin’ in My Heart - Slim Harpo
Sur Le Borde de L’Eau - Blind Uncle Gaspard
Episode V: The Secret Fate Of All Life
Eli - Bosnian Rainbows
Casey’s Last Ride - Kris Kristofferson
Tired of Waiting for You - The Kinks
Episode VI: Haunted Houses
Waymore’s Blues - Waylon Jennings
Too Many at ears In My Eyes - Ike & Tina Turner
Every Man Needs a Companion - Father John Misty
Core Chant - Meredith Monk
Variations Goldberg, BWV 988: Aria - Glenn Gould
The Good Book - Emmylou Harris
Les Champs Élysée - Bobby Charles
Episode VII: After You’re Gone
Did She Jump Or Was She Pushed - Richard and Linda Thompson
Lungs - Townes Van Zandt
Fault Line - Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
Floating Bridge - Gregg Allman
Trance Figure - School of Seven Bells
Angel of the Morning - Juice Newton
Red Light - Vincent and Mr. Green
Episode VIII: Form And Void
The Angry River - The Hat, Father John Misty, & S.I. Istwa

Week 4 | April 1989 | Takin’ No Shorts by Too Brown

"Big Spender" | Track # 7

On Good Friday

In my mind, our society is obsessed with winning, victory, and conquering adversity. I think our Christian culture is obsessed with the Resurrection. Jesus wins. Jesus the victor. Jesus, the conquerer of death. All good and great and true, but it doesn’t mean a damn thing if Good Friday had not happened. Jesus loses. Jesus is the victim. Jesus was conquered—even if temporarily—by death. Why is the Resurrection the very substance of our hope? Because, first, he came and he died. Focusing on the Resurrection at the expense of the Cross is focusing on the American obsession.

Jesus willingly went to the cross, willingly lost, willingly gave in to adversity. And he did it to raise those who did and would believe in him, as Son of God, up. Sacrifice at the core is the emptying of self so that others may be filled. And God in His Son emptied himself so that we may be filled, saved, and adopted into His family, His kingdom. 

When that curtain tore, that sound was also the sound of history tearing apart. Nothing would ever be the same and, yet, dishearteningly, every bit the same. However, now suffering, pain, grief, depression, abuse, suicide, etc. had an object in which to identify and reconstruct life and being. The cross with the Son of God going to the grave gave all of the shit in that happens in this world meaning. When that gun is in our mouth, we look to the Divine suicide of Jesus on the Cross. When we find ourselves the victims of evil abuses, we look to the Christ who took all of our abuses. When we find ourselves in grief, we focus on the mysterious moment when Jesus descended into hell and there was a tear in the relationship between the Trinity. Perfect, harmonious intimacy, community and love broken apart on the Cross. Christ fully identifies with us in every moment of our being as we live in a broken and sin-stained world.

The fullness of the descent must, too, be understood by every person in coming to faith in Christ. We must be emptied, like Christ, in order to see our need, in order to be filled by the sheer grace that is free for us, but ever so costly to God. Every believer must go through Good Friday and the in-between day before they can see, savor and taste the victory that Christ won for us. That Christ won for us. We didn’t win this. He did. Good Friday, in this day and age and culture, may be even more important to emphasize than the Resurrection. 

We currently live in the days of Good Friday. We believe that the Resurrection truly was a historical and spiritual victory, but we don’t know the fullness, the sweetness of it yet. We are still in the days of bitter herbs preserving our wrapped bodies as we wait for heaven to break through the death and sin-rattled world that we all know. The Resurrection gives substance to our hope, but Good Friday gives substance to everyday living. It gives meaning and focus in the midst of hard living. In the midst of sin, abuse, violence, and all other natural acts of humanity, we look to Christ on the Cross and we are assured that it is not all for naught.

He came, He died…

Week 4 | April 1989 | A Shade of Red by Redhead Kingpin & The F.B.I.

"The Redhead One" | Track # 5

I can’t not post this. Gospel According to Al Green (1987)

Full documentary. No frontin’. This is soul!

Trust me, you ain’t got nuthin’ better to do. This is grace for yo’ face.

A very special born day to THE Reverend Al Green. Here he is doing Soul Train and singing one of my favorite songs in his catalog, “Jesus Is Waiting.” 

Fitting, as well, because it is Palm Sunday. Enjoy. And remember Jesus knew how to get down, too.

Taking an almost creedal structure and inspiration, Ben Kyle and his band create something rare in the world of folk music. Something akin to liturgy set to bar-room style theatrics. God in the profane places. And, yet, the wording and soul-searching that accompanies this track stick with the listener just like the creeds and prayers of old. One of my favorite tracks from one of my favorite recent folk bands.

Oh Lord, have mercy
Oh Lord, have mercy
Oh Lord, have mercy
On us.

Thy kingdom come, thy will be done
Forgive us all the shit we’ve done
Leave the writing on the wall
Don’t let it fall
Don’t let it fall

Take this cup
Let it pass
Wipe this moment from our past
Save the one who touched it last
Save the one who touched it last

Forgive us, Lord
We are so tired
Our wills are worn, our minds are fired
We are not much for holding on
To what is old, past and gone
What was once when we were young
Let it be done
Let it be done

Lord, have mercy
Lord have mercy
Oh Lord, have mercy
On us…

To the end.

If this song—and the Soul Train video featured here—doesn’t make you joyful and wanna get down wit’ ya bad selves, then something is wrong with you. 

The Bar-Kays | “Holy Ghost”

I’ve got to crucify myself if I am gonna believe you
I’ve got to promise that I’ll finish all the things I said
I’d do to begin with too

I’ve got to make my bed if I am gonna lay with you
‘Cause a disaster’s a disaster
No matter what Christian language you drag it through

"Wolves at Night", Manchester Orchestra | I’m Like A Virgin Losing A Child 

-one of my all-time favorite lyrics.

This is the Panhandle of Texas for you. Spring is officially here, at least for now. Bring on the storms.

This is the Panhandle of Texas for you. Spring is officially here, at least for now. Bring on the storms.

Week 3 | April 1989 | No More Mr. Nice Guy by Gang Starr

"Jazz Music" | Track # 2

Samples:

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