sophie, hi. sorry it’s taken me a while to respond to your essay, but that’s exactly what i want to do. i felt the essayistic tones at the beginning of the essay. i’ve also experienced some of these raw teen mormon feelings (though your’s seem to be much more teen (i was a rather sad teenager (and i mean that both by saying that i was depressed, but also that i wasn’t much of a teenager, in that i stayed at home, was obedient, nerdy and without friends. i don’t think i ever did the teen thing until i was in my twenties and for this i feel rather behind in my life (socially at least))))) anyway, the second time your essay caught me on the inside like a branch that gets caught on your shirt-sleeve (you know the kind when you are hiking in a particularly ample sweater and the branch gets stuck in it as you walk through some brush and you can’t help but just stop and try to untangle yourself) well, i felt that when you said that you needed monkey jesus more, and to be honest i was talking with truedson, and i know how you feel about truedson, but he was talking about god as the tradition of the possible and i couldn’t help but think that maybe this is why i would also say i needed monkey jesus (as you have named him) more than american suburb jesus. i think monkey jesus returns me to the spirit of religion, or what i feel the function of religion is (at least this is where i am at this moment (and if life has taught me anything it is that if you put a tree in a field it will grow, and that life is not stasis) and so i find that i am invigorated by monkey jesus because he becomes freshly to me a symbol of possibility. and i suppose that i feel my world is so disparate from the images i normally see of jesus that that i am held off, that his features wash out in the distance. but as a meme, he seems very possible, even alive in our system. i almost find that he is resurrected by becoming a meme, that he is given new life, and i often wish that i could be given an extension of life, a way of being alive outside of my body, and i think this is why i write, to extend my presence, to give myself way in which to continue after my discontinuance. i also, very much, like your phrase religious kitsch (which may or may not be your phrase (which probably is a common phrase (but i had never viewed my upbringing as kitschy until you have pointed it out in your own life, which makes me wonder if this is not the purpose of the essayist: to self-indicated in order to inter-indicate (yes, the essayist is an inter-indicator, someone who spends their moments indicating the indications that connect our experiences, which is why i feel that the writer (and many others for that matter) are often seeking truth. truth, it seems to me, is a universal, and the wider the inter-indication the more lasting it becomes. but the difficulty arises in that the inter-indication is one that points (singular) like a single finger at one place, but in so doing that single indication invokes a large multifaceted thing. this is why poetry tries to bulid tension to be released by a single word, or why we hope our lives will accumulate into one dramatic gesture (such as most movies will ask you to believe). i really do enjoy the essay, and i think (if you haven’t already) you should find a place to publish it (or at the very least post it on one of your own publishing platforms).