June 29, 1998

Hello Carl,

        I was just reading the bits of material you sent me.  This is my second time through the e-mail stuff.  I wanted to be sure of the content before answering your letter and adding a few of my own comments about the various topics that I found most interesting.  I appreciate your enthusiastic and tireless efforts in publishing the Iowa NORML News Letter and keeping current the information sites that you maintain on the Net.  But, as you undoubtedly suspect, these latest outbursts of unmitigated agony from "Niah's brethren", Sister Debbie, and "Piper, Gary" are of more than usual interest to me.  When I add my input to these topics I am standing on ground that is familiar to me and I know that I cannot be buffaloed or bullied by anyone concerning these matters.  I do not, however, consider myself the only soul possessing a knowledge of our mutual experiences.  I do, however, realize that almost everyone who may have something beneficial (I am presuming, without being presumptuous, that the simple truth could be beneficial to us) to offer is either feigning indifference - pretending this is all inconsequential, claiming that they are somehow ignorant that corruption may have occurred in high places, or stubbornly refusing to acknowledge that what they saw and heard and did during that period of time did not actually occur.  Under any of these pretenses the participant is rendered pathetically inert.
        I will try to answer the one point that you addressed specifically to me.  You said that you found my question, "How have you treated your sisters and brothers lately?", to be of great interest to you and that you assumed that I must have an answer in mind.  Also, that I must have a reason for asking such a question.  I must say, initially, that I simply plagiarized this thought from you.  Your last paragraph in your reply to Sister Debbie was "Oh, and by the way, Goud won't judge you by how carefully you avoid the sins of the flesh, however admirable that might be.  Goud will just you by how you treat your brothers and sisters."  I can only take credit for rephrasing the thought into a question and putting sisters before brothers as I am wont to do these days. :-)  I do, however, know that there is no difference here.  A semantic play on my part which I consider to be significant in light of the antiquated and inane gender ideology that we adhered to, blaming the woman for almost everything that we couldn't explain or refused to accept responsibility for.  But that's another matter altogether.  I do think that the question, "How have you treated your sisters and brothers lately?", strikes to the heart of this conflict that is upon us.
        Allow me to refresh the collective memory of anyone who may see this and who was part of this cast of characters we all know, regardless of how pompous their role may seem to be in their own minds or how insignificant their role has been deemed to be in the eyes of their contemporaries within this saga.  We are all, alike, divine.  No difference here.  When we first encountered Brother Ivy, we were infused with an evangelical zeal which knew no limitations.  Everyone was a candidate for this newfound knowledge or redemption. Everyone fell within the parameters of forgiveness and restoration.  We quickly and unselfishly sought out the slightest trace of goodness in anyone we met.  If someone among us faltered in any way, if someone couldn't come to grips with their own misdeeds or guilt, if someone condemned themselves as unworthy for whatever reason, we were quick to comfort, to encourage, to share our own frailties.  We were quick to expound on the unrequited love, mercy, and forgiveness that was available to all those who chose to partake of this holy gift.  We were not in the business of condemning anyone.  We actually possessed humility seasoned with a confident security in what we represented and this equated to a bond so powerful that it could not be broken.  The tie that binds.
        Even after Brother Ivy died, or departed, or whatever terminology is suitable to describe that event, our faith in one another and our confidence in our purpose never wavered.  Most of the sisters and brothers who embraced this divine spirit actually did so after our dearly beloved was no longer amongst us in that body we knew as Brother Ivy.  But he did leave us with something.  The question is now whether we will revive this thing in ourselves.
        The first remembrance of some cosmic division that I personally have which arose among these members was when I went to the camp in Papine shortly after Brother Ivy died.  Bob Eckard and Kathy, Mike Matteson and Leslie, Tony Burns and Sara, Sal, Judy, Brian and Jennifer, myself and many more whom I cannot completely recall all ventured down there with a childlike reverence to simply revitalize.  I think Cliff and Jackie were also along.  All the black brothers, turds that they were, were squabbling among themselves about who was to be the heir to the high priest role that Brother Ivy has so obviously fulfilled prior to his death.  I won't detail the idiocy that took place during those few weeks, but we left and no one returned for almost a year until Cynthia finally went to see Keith for a bit of sacrament.   Once reconnected with JA, it was simply a matter of time before the great schism rent us asunder, before the great heresy brought us distress.  As a matter of history, our history as a group, the first marked gnashing of teeth upon one another, the first taste of division among us, my first recollection of us condemning each other and venting hatred toward each other came at a camp we had in Fort Myers, Florida.  Marv and Andy went down to see Keith as emissaries from the white brothers and sisters in America and, of course, to procure a little sacrament for our needs.  The experience is remembered by all who were present and plenty who were not there at that time heard of the utter chaos and maliciousness which ensued.  Along with the herb came a cockatrice which they innocently ingested from Keith that resulted in the most vicious accusations and cruel treatment that scattered us like frightened puppies.  A tale reminiscent of some of the truly callous and mean-spirited behavior and conversation that is being embraced by those who know better than to harbor this fruitless ill will.  If Keith has a legacy, I say he is the father of this animosity that has reared its ugly head.  This has no place among the sisters and brothers of love.  The world is in a turmoil and the ones who have a knowledge of love are still at odds.
        I heard through the grapevine, I'm reluctant to mention any names because the last time I did it resulted in some of this vicious meanness I'm referring to, that it is thought now by some that the gathering we always talked about has already happened and that the gates of Zion are closed.  What has really happened that someone could harden their heart against another living soul?  Especially someone they know and once professed love for.  I'm sure that sincere love of one another is not something that can grow cold and turn into something malevalent.  Some may retort that, if this is as I say it is, how could I say those things concerning Keith and Wally?  Anyone can accept my answer however they choose to interpret it, no matter to me.  I say plainly that I was dedicated to Keith and to Wally and I did not shirk from any task or duty which I perceived as being necessary on which I was called upon to perform.  What I am saying about this experience is nothing more or nothing less than the truth.  In fact, I restrain myself from a much more detailed account of too many occurrences of similar episodes because it is just more of the same.  I don't hate Keith or Wally.  I do not regret this prolonged diversion from what we were originally shown.  I was under the hypnotic spell of these guys as much, if not more, than any of us.  But that still doesn't change what took place and that counterfeit fellowship which masqueraded as love cannot be passed off as "Let perfect love and friendship reign".  It just isn't so.  Everyone will have to reconsider the matter one more time. Each of us knows that blessedness we've shared with others of similar persuasion at some cherished moment on our journey.  This is the real thing.  How did the malicious doubts about one another enter in?  Remember, your integrity cannot be tarnished from without by another person, neither can your blessing be taken from you by anyone.  Trials and crosses in the way.  The clandestine nature of the commercial side of ganja distribution is not conducive to manifesting the integrity of the gospel that we claimed as ours.  The herb is our sacrament and we lost sight of what this means.  I know that, collectively, we do have the understanding. This includes the sisters.
        Your exchange via e-mail with the mysteriously handled "Piper, Gary" seems almost too coincidental to be some anonymous child from the past.  I'm not sure of the vague reference to a Burning Spear song entitled "Niah Keith" but I will tell you of a certainty that no one in Burning Spear, including Winston Rodney, knew Keith Gordon other than, perhaps, superficially.  I knew Keith and Wally, as did most of the brothers and sisters of our little group.   If we all were to sit down and honestly recollect our experiences, not eliminating anything that we witnessed and participated in, then we would all become more familiar with the true characters of these fellows and certainly we would become much more acquainted with one another than just the limited facades that were prevalent under the restraints of the corset-like Coptic choreography.  I know it has been suggested that "Piper, Gary" could be our own Brother Gary.  I hope not, mostly because it would grieve me to see such a cowardly and deceitful shenanigan coming from my old buddy at this late date.  But regardless of whom it turns out to be, some interesting topics were broached.  Can a simple dialogue be carried out to determine what actually transpired?  Probably not.  Someone may have to start talking again instead of hiding behind some mesmerizing chant and psalm.  These are instruments of rejoicing and praise and they actually carry a significant and uncomplicated understanding.  But as long as the truth is being denied, they are meaningless tokens of infidelity.
        Carl, as always, I laud your marvelous performance.  Please get Jeff and Lance and Greg in on this stuff.  It can't hurt anyone.  Perhaps a cause for thought.


    James Tranmer
    P.O. Box 26030
    USP Beaumont
    Beaumont, TX 77720-6030