Book Review: The Last Closet: The Dark Side of Avalon

I’m only on Ch. 19, but I have to get in this review now.

I’m blessed to call Moira Greyland one of my friends.  We met on Facebook through mutual friends; she is the daughter of gays, I am the ex-wife of one. We have exchanged numerous comments and messages; a number of months ago, she became my voice coach, and we have talked numerous times.  She is a joyous woman, enormously talented, expert in several fields, energetic, cheerful, and beautiful.

She is also a walking miracle.

And a very fine writer.

Moira’s parents were famous writers; I’d come across Marion Zimmer Bradley through her Mists of Avalon (which I bought but never could get into, and eventually threw away), but I wasn’t acquainted with the name of Walter Breen until I met Moira.  Both Marion and Walter were brilliant and famous in their respective fields; I was surprised to learn that she was one of the cofounders of the Society of Creative Anachronisms, and other Faires.

Walter, it turns out, was paranoid schizophrenic. Marion didn’t have a formal diagnosis, having never been institutionalized, but my hunch is that it would have been very bad, had there been one.  Nevertheless, both of them were brutal child molesters and abusers.  Moira was raped by both her parents, she watched her father bring into their home and seduce dozens of young boys, her mother go through bouts of insane and irrational rages.  How she has emerged from that hellhole to be the vibrant and powerful — if sometimes shell-shocked — woman that she is leaves me in utter awe.

There are moments in this book of wry humor (Walter would have sex with “anything with a pulse” — in my head, I can see and hear Moira speaking those words). There are recountings that are so carefully navigated to avoid the salacious but still leave one wanting to scream with fury, to reach through the pages and to rescue that little girl she was.  Moira had told me she has panic attacks in the shower, and now I fully understand why.

But the book is more than just her story; it is also the story of the fomentation of the gay rights and pederasty movement (I’m sorry, the two really are inescapably linked — and Breen wrote about “Greek love”) out of Berkeley in the 1960s and 70s. Walter’s schizophrenia thankfully left him incapable of playing the system by self-editing his thoughts and words, any more than his impulses, he was very vocal in his advocacy of sex with children, and wrote about it, and his words and attitudes have been recounted by more than just Moira, which allows us to see the train of thought of an active pederast. His testimony in the criminal trial that put him in prison for the rest of his life was appallingly candid; he actually seems to have believed he could persuade the judge that he was in the right in seducing young boys, that he was doing them an enormous favor. Moira weaves others’ writings, remembrances, and testimony through her own story to demonstrate that these events she recounts were not the creation of her own mind but a well-documented, publicly-known “secret” in the various communities where the family were connected.

There are hard paragraphs to read, yes, but overall The Last Closet is a story of survival and of triumph of love.  Moira shows us the brokenness that each of her parents brought into their marriage, and the tragic and twisted love they shared (they were so in tune with one another on many levels, that they would regularly buy one another the same gift). She shows us her carefully-forged escapes and survival techniques.

As I said in opening, I’m on Ch. 19.  But I know how the story will end, because I know Moira:  in triumph.

Right now, The Last Closet is only available in Kindle format. It will be available in hard copy soon.  And — I don’t know where she’s going to find the strength to do it all — in audiobook.  Yes, Moira’s going to record it herself.

An Open Letter to Lauren Pearson — Janna Darnelle

Janna Darnelle has written a very fine letter to Janna Pearson, wife of “Christian rock star” Trey Pearson.  Somehow “rock star” and “Christian” never have gone together in my imagination.

Anyway, Janna has written a fine letter, and although I’m late sharing it, it deserves to be shared even late.  It’s not the answer I would give, but it’s an important one.

Healing begins with Forgiveness

Hard week. Can you tell? I haven’t posted in days. It’s been one of those anniversary weeks where a bunch of junk has come out of the background noise, where it usually sits, to the fore of my brain, distracting me and wearing me out.

This has been accompanied by a small surge of emails and contacts from people who’re reading this blog. One of the really hard thing about doing this blog is hearing from so many people – I’m astonished how many people have contacted me! – to tell me “I’m going through this,” or, “My close family member is going through it. The really upsetting thing is the acknowledgment of depression in 100% of the people I’m hearing from.

And being angry for you compounds my anger – because I’m really angry for me, right now.

The balance of holding on to my joie de vivre, my joy of living, is sometimes fragile. Weeks like this, the memories of incidents, words, attitudes are vividly close. Believe me – I get depression.

But I am not willing to let DH have me this way. I mean, holding on to my anger and resentment like one of our daughters used to cling to her “blankie” doesn’t inflict a moment’s unease or discomfort on him. It only eats away at me – at my soul.

So I – so you, too – have to let go. This letting go is the practical process of forgiveness. It’s refusing to cling to the hurt. It’s recognizing that rampaging about what a selfish bastard he is doesn’t have the minutest impact on him – but it will rot me from the inside out and turn me into something bitter, selfish, hostile and ugly if I don’t let go.

Forgiveness means recognizing that there’s really only one justice for us – and that’s the justice of the Judgment Seat of Christ. He’ll get his, on that Day…

And so will I, by golly! So I’ve got to keep laying it down. Every time it sneaks up on me and throws itself in my way, trying to dominate my thoughts and feelings – I’ve got to lay it down.

Our Lord told Peter – we have to be willing to forgive 70 x 7. That’s not for 70×7 offenses – it’s 70 x 7 for a single event. Every time the bitterness rises, when our gorge rises… that’s one time of forgiveness. Now we have 70 x 7… minus 1 to get through.

But this really does have a redemptive value. This really, truly does serve to our good. Here’s another verse for you: all things work together for the good of them that love the Lord… (Rom. 8:28) All things. God will take our sorrows and wounds and sufferings and use them for our greater good and for His greater glory…

But we have to begin with forgiving.