Cold Fire

At the end of this Christmas holiday, I had some time to be outside and feel the crisp air on my cheeks. The cold weather tonight is knocking loose a few odd memories, particularly this nugget from the year 1984 which, dare I say, is the golden age of heavy metal and hard rock.

Dokken wasn’t exactly a band I followed religiously. They were on the radio for a span of time during my formative teenage years. But, taken out of context, their lyrics are fuel for all of the Satan-rock street preachers who had screamed for our rapt attention in that era. There were so many bands out who played up the Satanic connection just to increase their magnitude and pump sales. Unfortunately, most of the kids in my world (and some adults, sadly) bought into it and thought they were the real deal; the same kind of chumps who would carve “666” into their schoolbooks and think they were summoning the Dark Lord himself.

Really, “Into the Fire” was the inner struggle of a man that keeps running back to a bad lover who burns him on every touch. Image notwithstanding, that’s basically all it is; a bad relationship that he won’t let die. But the over-the-top music production, the expensive video, and everything about the entire product screams excess, waste, and sex for the sake of itself.

That sound still sticks with me decade after decade.

And don’t get me started about “Dream Warriors” — that’s wedged so deep into my psyche, it’s soothing to the touch.


Many of you may remember me from the days when I was a fervent believer, when I held high the banner of Evangelical Baptist doctrine. Many of you may also have noticed that this banner no longer defines me and my lifestyle. A few of you have asked me what happened, what caused my change in heart; I’ve responded, in personal channels, so that you may know where I stand now and how I got here. But with this blog, being read by mixed company, I’ve not hazarded a public statement on the matter. However, for some reason, I feel it necessary now to relate my story for the record so that I may point all queries to this page and be done with most of the conversation. It’s a method of saving my breath.

Hello. My name is Shawn Thomas. I am no longer a Christian, and here is my witness. Continue reading “Stairway”

Silver Tongue

If the Devil himself confronted me and told me I could have one superpower in exchange for my soul, what would that Satanic superpower be? It would be language. Language. Like being able to speak and understand any language known to humanity, to be able to convince and sway. To communicate with any and all. The silver tongue.

When I saw “The Devil’s Advocate“, what impressed upon me most was the Devil’s ability to speak to anybody. The confrontation with the aggressive Chicanos on the subway; he got out of that by speaking fluent Spanish, omnisciently describing the color of the sheets the assailant’s girlfriend was cheating on. In the lounge, his whispering convinced the girl sitting with him to go down under the table and give him service. He was able to speak to anyone and have his way. He understood humanity, and his ability to talk to them in terms they understood gave him power.

Tonight, as I sit watching the horrible English dub of the excellent Swedish production of “The Girl Who Played With Fire” (part 2 of the “Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” series), I’m wishing that I could communicate in fluent Swedish, that I could enjoy it in its original tongue without having to read subtitles or listen to any out-of-synch translations with phony-sounding voice actors. I wish I could enjoy any movie, any song, or join any conversation in the speaker’s lingua franca and not miss a beat.

Language is a powerful force. The variation in languages serves to divide us from the Others and serves to unite us against the Outsiders. It is both a community-builder and a world-destroyer. Anybody who can leap from tongue to tongue like a Satanic goat who leaps between rocks on the mountainside, anybody who can transcend any language and cultural barriers that separate us, anybody who can sway and convince and enjoin, that man is a force to be reckoned with.

That is why I want the power of language.

O’er the Years That Have Mov’d Me

For the most part, the trip home was ok. Saw my family. Drove for 13 hours total. The drive up was wet; when it wasn’t raining, it was foggy. The return trip was faster than expected (ssssh), but I was heading straight into the heart of the sun for most of the voyage. Saturday was soggy, but we still had a cookout at my mother’s place; grilled hot dogs with saurkraut, pasta salad, potato salad, baked beans. Good eats.

Headed out for a drive around town Saturday night; seems the construction progress has slowed down a bit. Saw only two brand new churches. God Boxes. Cruised by the houses where a few of my best friends in high school lived; it was strange to see the houses without the original families inside. Things change, I guess. People move on. I have; I’m nowhere near where I was, or who I was, back then.

As agnostic (and as atheistic) as I have been in the past 2 decades, I’ve been thinking more about the supernatural, about higher levels of existence. The Big Thoughts, the kind of stuff that used to keep me drunk in the 80’s. I haven’t asked questions of faith in a decade. Three weeks ago, ABC’s Nightline program hosted a panel about Satan, and the four panelists presented four completely different views on the Red One.

The most notable panelist was author and philosopher Deepak Chopra. Of the four, I agreed with him the most. His point is that the existence of Satan is an extension of our desire to push off blame for our actions onto an outside party, and that it takes an amount of self-delusion to believe such an entity exists. I agree with this. After my fall from faith in ’93, the one realization I found that hit me the hardest was that once I take God out of the equation, the entire Devil complex falls flat like a cardboard box. Poof, gone.

What the show did, eventually, was get me thinking about the invisible again. Since then, I’ve looked at notes on Gnosticism, Buddhism, stuff about spiritual awakening. I don’t believe anything…yet. But it’s got me thinking, and remembering back to a time when I felt something higher and bigger than myself. It was a fire that kept me warm. It was a wind that drove me. And I pushed, and produced, and felt something. I haven’t done that in years, and now, after this spark, I’m burning to write again.