Archive | July 2015

An Amazing Land, Far, Far Away

Thailand continues to amaze me. The people are remarkable, kind, gentle, open hearted. And while my dietary restrictions won’t be lifted until Wednesday, others have assured me that the food here is divine.

The monsoon rains come late in the afternoons, pouring for a few hours, then lifting, leaving the gardens where our cottages are located wet and sparkling in late evening, early night. Flowers open during the days and close at nights. The scents in and around the cottages.

Our next door neighbor, a woman from Spain here with her sister who just had surgery Friday, made a big skillet of pasta and invited those all around to come and partake. I had to pass this time, but I’m told she’s done this before so maybe I can catch the next impromptu “dinner party” at the cottage next door.

I’m having to work my breast massage regularly for now. It’s actually rather demanding and I’ll have to keep at it for the first few years to soften the implant and help it conform to the natural breast shape. I’m not dilating yet. That should begin on Wednesday.

Hopefully by this coming weekend, Julie and I can get out and about around Bangkok a little bit. There’s an amazing desserts shop just two blocks down from the Rama hotel that I want to try! We have 21 more days here to explore and experience the local culture. I’m looking forward to it.

Deliberate Mistranslations – The Bible Used as a Weapon

ChristA recent article that I read pointed out that the word used to describe the Roman centurions companion was “pais”. Modern bible scholars translate this word as “servant”, jumping through all manner of hoops to reach that conclusion. Why? Because among the Roman legions, which prohibited heterosexual marriage while serving Rome, same sex relationships were extremely common and the word pais was almost always referring to a Roman centurion’s shield bearer who was also almost always his same sex lover.

So we have yet another verse, deliberately mistranslated, in which Christ himself encounters a same sex couple, heals one of them, and praises the faith of the elder of the two.

Modern Christian scholars deliberately ignore the cultural context of Roman soldiers. Aside from being banned from heterosexual marriages, bisexuality was the norm in ancient Mediterranean cultures. Greece, Assyria, Babylon, and even in Rome there was a longstanding tendency towards bisexual behavior. Wealthy men often had wives as well as male lovers. It was routine for victorious armies to subjugate and rape the males of the losing army (when not outright executed) and then take them as slaves.

It was extremely common for Roman soldiers, especially centurions to have same sex lovers because of those prohibitions on heterosexual marriage while serving as a soldier of Rome. And in all other known historical cases of ancient Greek about Roman soldiers, pais is used to designate same sex lover of such soldiers.

So this case is actually very strong in this situation that this is about a same sex lover for the centurion, which means the translation presented by modern biblical scholars amounts to a lie deliberately trying to obscure that truth. What better way to corrupt the church than to turn it into an organization of hatred, bigotry, discrimination, and torment? Who is the church really serving with its hateful, divisive, bigoted campaign against LGBT people while quietly ignoring adultery, divorce, and dozens of other sins?

Words like “zakhar” in Leviticus (zakhar is not ish and ish is ancient Aramaic generic “man”) mean that 18:22 and 20:13 do not say “a man shall not lie with a man in the bed of a woman”. What they say is a man (ish) shall not lie with zakhar in the bed of a woman. And zakhar is not ish. What is zakhar? Perhaps you should find out, but it is most definitely not ish.

Paul’s admonition in the new testament so translated so often as “homosexuals” is a Greek word that appears to have been coined by Paul himself to make a very precise description, not a generic one. What was Paul condemning? Upon analysis of context and the word that Paul created it appears that he was condemning pedophilia with underage male sex slaves and indeed just a few verses later, Paul condemns the slavers who create this condition for these young males.

Every single verse assumed to be translated as expressing against same sex relationships suffers from similar translation difficulties. Every single one. Then, in addition, modern translators ignore the relationship between David and Jonathan, which properly translated suggested that David loved Jonathan “as a man loves a woman”.

Modern scholars deliberately try to gloss over the relationship of Naomi and Ruth. Every indication was that Ruth and Naomi were lovers, and God approved.

When you begin digging, you discover this ugly deliberate campaign by the church to translate in the manner most allowing outright lies as a means of assaulting LGBT people throughout the second millennium of the church, yet we now know LGBT people are born as they are due to biological forces outside their control. That campaign of bigotry appears to have really taken off with archbishop Nicmar of Reims in the 8th century AD.

There is even archaeological evidence that the first and second century churches conducted same sex weddings.

Modern biblical scholars have set aside scholarly attention to detail in favor of centuries old deliberate manipulations and lies that were created for the sole purpose of persecuting LGBT people. Their assumption and that of so many other Christians is that these centuries old lies are the truth, so their first inclination is to defend that lie and they refuse to consider the alternative when the alternative runs counter to the propaganda with which they have been indoctrinated.

There are even openly anti-gay scholars who, in examining the passage about the centurion admit that the most likely meaning in this situation, given the nature and restrictions of Roman legions and cultural context, is that pais is the centurion’s same sex lover.

When I watch the mental gymnastics that Christians go through to butcher the ancient Greek and ancient Aramaic in order to maintain their hatred and ugly treatment of LGBT people, it is nothing short of astounding. And don’t give me the “hate the sin, love the sinner” nonsense – the treatment of the church of LGBT people is unique. Divorcees are not treated that way. Adulterers are not treated that way. Rapists are not treated that way. Pedophiles (like Josh Duggar) are not treated that way. Thieves, even murderers are not treated this way. Don’t try to cover hateful bigotry by trying to call it love. Because if that is what the church calls love, I do not want to see what they call hate.

Face it, the only reason so many Christians focus so much on LGBT people is this is the one thing they cannot see themselves committing so that excuses their full wrath, anger, and bigotry against LGBT people, while quietly accepting divorce, adultery, pedophilia, and so many other sins.

But the modern fundamentalist church is losing this discussion. Their viewpoint about LGBT people will soon pass into history as absurd as the church’s insistence that left handedness was a sign of demonic possession or that the “curse of Ham” was a valid biblical basis for racism (yes, the church argued that for centuries). Indeed, the 8+ year running trend of the Southern Baptist Convention of losing members, even while the US population is growing, means that organizations like this are being seen as more and more isolated, more and more irrelevant, and more and more in denial of modern medicine and science.

I have a saying I’ve used frequently before and it applies here – faith that denies science and reality is fantasy, and dangerous fantasy at that. Large segments of the modern church (not all but many) are largely engaged in one of the most hateful, cruel, and dangerous fantasies in history in its unjustified persecution of LGBT people. Within 50 years, our children’s children will look back and ask how anyone could have held and reconciled such beliefs. How will they remember you?

One Week And Counting!

In one week, I depart for Thailand. At this time, one week from today, I will be in the air with Julie Jeznach​ headed for Seoul, South Korea, with a short layover, then on to Bangkok, Thailand.

Crossing the international date line means we will arrive at 9:10pm, on Saturday evening, July 18th Bangkok time.

I am both excited and nervous, excited because this is finally happening. Nervous because I have to travel so far to get it, and as with any surgery, you hope nothing goes wrong.

I plan to make posts to my blog about the trip, but I can’t say it will be daily, just as often as I find appropriate. Since my blog auto-posts to Facebook, they will be visible there as well when I am writing.

And post surgery, I hope to also be active on social media once I am awake and fully cognizant again.

A lot of people have been there for me leading up to this, and I thank all of you. Because there is some overlap, I’ll get to see two of my friends, one who is there already and has completed her surgery and one who is scheduled to arrive after me for her surgery. I look forward to visiting with both of them when I can.

My final comment here is to my trans brothers and sisters who are struggling to reach this point. To all of you I say, please don’t give up, and please do continue persevere in your goals. Our situation in the United States is changing rapidly for the better so while it may not be feasible for most of us today, in a few more years, these medical procedures may be fully covered, giving you more options. So hang in there! You’ll get there too someday.

Unexpected Blessings

When I came out as transgender to my adult children, the reactions varied. The strongest and most negative emotional reaction came from my youngest son. My daughter was, as she told me, heartbroken, not because I was trans but because she realized what would happen in my marriage to her mother. My eldest was angry, and it turns out, the most dead set against me, but it was my youngest son who showed the strongest emotional reaction.

I wasn’t sure I would ever get to speak to him again, or that I would ever be invited into the presence of himself and his wife. His first child was born in January of 2014 and I was not welcome so I stayed away.

Each year, I tried to ensure that happy birthdays were sent, holiday cards sent. I expressed wishes to convey to them through my spouse to them. And I continued to work my way through my transition.

In early September, 2014, my youngest son reached out to contact me. It was an email, brief, but wonderful to see. He wanted me to know that he still cared for me, that he loved me. I’ll be honest, part of me wanted to ask if he felt that isolating me for two plus years was really a form of love but I didn’t. I fought down that temptation because I knew that would create division and instead focused on the wonderful fact that he had reached out to me at all. I wanted healing for us, not further separation.

Over the next few months, our communications continued, sporadic but they continued. About Thanksgiving they became a little more regular. And then, the week before Christmas, my son, his wife, and the grandchild I had never seen came to visit. That was a moment of pure joy, both at seeing my grandchild for the first time in person, but that both he and his wife came over and still cared. That wasn’t the only visit that week. I’m deeply appreciative of those visits, and at seeing my grandson.

More communications followed as 2015 dawned. He came over a few times and one time we chatted for a few hours. We didn’t and probably won’t ever agree on everything, but we can disagree with love between us. And importantly, despite disagreements, he doesn’t want to see me or anyone like me denied our basic rights, and for that I applaud him.

Later, we became friends on Facebook. His wife has been friended to me on Facebook for a long time. It was through her that I got occasional photographic glimpses of my grandson, until that day when I could finally hold him in my own arms. But now I could interact with my son directly, which was a pleasure.

JohnsPost2And then yesterday, this happened, which made me and lots and lots of other people happy too.

We were discussing the Supreme Court marriage equality decision and there was some back and forth about either side not being considerate of the other side. I saw this piece and I sent it to him via Facebook PM, because this article wasn’t about sides, but about opportunities the body of Christ missed this week by focusing on “sides” rather than showing love, joy, and support.

Yes, he misgenders me. 🙂 Yes, he uses the wrong name for Caitlyn Jenner, And yes, I gently remind him of that. But thankfully, he says he’ll try. I don’t expect perfection on that front, at least not at first. But he said he would try! Do you know how good that made me feel? That made cry, happy tears, but I cried.

My daughter and her husband chimed in as well (all names other than mine removed) and lots of people close to us both “liked” that post.

I don’t feel welcome in Texas churches anymore. There are very few trans people I know who feel welcome in churches around Texas these days. But this week I got to see the Holy Spirit move, in my family and then in a separate article about someone whose eyes finally opened about his LGBT brothers and sisters.

We (LGBT people) are not demanding special privileges. We just want the same rights as everyone else. And the way that will happen, eventually, is just like what happened here this week, the Holy Spirit moving to bring my son and myself closer together again and heal those wounds. And that was the miracle this week for me. May you each have blessings and miracles in your own lives as well.