[Editor's Note: Exene Cervenka is a writer, visual artist and punk rock pioneer. The OC transplant is the lead singer for X, the Knitters and Original Sinners. Her column, Exene Says…, is her space to basically just write what's on her mind, everything from crazy life stories to political theories and observations about what's going on in this fucked up world of ours. To contact her, send all messages to firstname.lastname@example.org.]
I recently visited my sister Tracy and her family in Florida. I'd love to tell you about making sandcastles on the beach with my nieces and nephew, but that's not what this column is about. It is about my sister.
In 1974, our mother passed away at the age of 40. I was living in St. Pete, Florida, with a job, an apartment and a boyfriend. I was 18 years old, and Tracy was 6. I left everything behind and moved to a town of 300 to help my father and two sisters (the other being Lorraine, who was 12). I did everything my mother had done, just not as well. I enrolled Tracy in first grade at Catholic school. When my father remarried about a year later, I moved away.
Tracy became a very devout Catholic and wanted to be a nun. That changed after she attended her first Christian youth-group meeting. She found an entirely new religion; 30 years later, Tracy is still a bible-believing, unapologetic Jesus-lover.
Tracy homeschools three children, each of whom tests at higher grade levels than his or her age. She works with teachers in various subjects, and her kids have classes with other homeschoolers.
When I was younger, I thought Tracy was judging me. She probably thought I was evil because of my band, demonically called X, and must've hated my tattoos, drinking and wild ways. I changed my name from “Christine” to “Exene,” while Tracy wanted to “put the Christ back in Christmas.” Yet, it was Tracy who always called, wrote and stayed in touch. She wasn't judging me; I was judging her.
Due to her sisterly efforts, we became closer. I grew to respect her more and more, as she put a different face on my image of Christians.
Tracy gets news from the Blaze and Drudge Report, but she questions everything. She believes in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. She knows, as do I, that something terrible is happening to this country. My views on Jesus are formed more by the Gnostic Scriptures than the King James Bible, but both books dovetail in many respects when it comes to describing Jesus as a man of love and forgiveness.
What we all need to do–and quickly–is realize that more unites us than divides us. Christians are not "The Other” and neither are Pagans, Atheists, Muslims or Jews. We are all of the same substance, created equally by God, the Universe, accident or Higher Power. Let's start acting like it. Or better yet, let's start believing it.
Tracy left me with the following Bible quote: from Galatians 5:6, "The only thing that counts is Faith expressing itself through Love.”