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Why Do We Need A Church Anyway?

That thing that we all call the “church” was doomed from its inception. Frail, flawed human beings are going to fail, including in their conception and execution of the church. They are going to place themselves first, their wants, their needs, their narrow interpretations of a boundless deity who created a universe so vast we can barely comprehend the size, let alone all that is within it.

And you know, now that I think about it, Jesus didn’t preach creating churches, planting church seeds, none of that. He didn’t demand confessions or tithes or looking down one’s nose at those less “Christian” than he was.

Instead, he taught his disciples to simply spread the good news. And he said where two or more are gathered in my name was sufficient. It didn’t need a building, an organization, a tax break, an organ, a choir, hymnals… none of that. No megachurch, no TV stations, no fake games by the power mad.

And speaking of those power hungry, where I see those things, I see too often people, very often usually men, who seek nothing but power and dominance over others, as well as fame and fortune. Creflo Dollar, anyone? Pat Robertson? Jim Baker? How many people must these con men fleece before your heart awakens to the truth.

What truth? Jesus never needed those men. Neither do you.

Christianity, as religion, is as much a sham as the Old Testament rules were – rules that God gave Israel not because he wanted to but to show Israel that rules alone are never enough.

Maybe Jesus gave us the church to teach us the same thing – that we need to grow up, look past rules, look past the church, and learn to just love. Maybe it’s time to be the adults that Christ and so many other religious leaders have told us to be, to be kind to one another, to cherish one another, to lift up one another.

Because in far too short a time, we will all return to the stardust from which we came. And all that will be left are memories. If you live a life of rigidity, coldness, cruelty, all in the name of some hellfire breathing thunder god from Mt. Ararat, just what sort of memory will you leave? Not one that people will hold to, or cherish, I can guarantee you that.

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Who Are The Real Sexual Predators?

The right wing has been on the warpath against transgender people using the bathroom of their expressed gender, as opposed to the gender assigned at birth. In that entire discussion, I’ve seen the conservatives find one single incident in Canada several years ago where a man pretended to be transgender to get into a women’s homeless shelter and assault them. One incident.

Conservatives are notorious for telling us that criminals don’t obey laws, and point to gun free school zone laws as proof. Yet now, somehow magically, criminals are going to obey a law that says to not enter a women’s restroom? And that’s the justification for violating the rights of transgender women, because some non-trans man will maybe do something wrong?

I suggest they focus on an area where there is proven sexual assault. I suggest they pass a law mandating that women and children are not allowed in churches since pastors and church staff have a proven record of being sexual predators of both women and children.

Here’s a list of recent stories in the last few months. This is just a few months of quick stories collected together. Imagine how bad it must be for a full year! Imagine all those women and children being violated by religious authority figures! So if Republicans want to really protect women and children, pass a law barring anyone who works in a church from having contact with women and children. (I say this in jest, in case anyone is stupid enough to believe I mean it, but I say it to show how stupid these laws are.)

And here’s that list.

Man accused of sexually assaulting 6-year-old girl at Raleigh church | abc11.com

Cedar Hill youth pastor accused of sexually assaulting 3 young boys | | Dallas Morning News

Update: Former Atkins Youth Pastor Charged with Sexual Assault –

Cedar Hill youth pastor accused of sexually assaulting 3 young boys | KDFW

Maryland Baptist Bishop Arrested, Accused of Sexually Assaulting 22-Year-Old Woman | NBC4 Washington

NC pastor charged with indecent liberties with a child | myfox8.com

Monroe pastor charged with indecent liberties with a child – | WBTV Charlotte

Teen rape accusation: Ex-pastor’s return to U.S. expected, police say – CNN.com

Pastor accused of sexually assaulting youth member | KXAN.com

Former Mesa pastor accused of sexual assault arraigned in Pennsylvania

Texas Youth Pastor Beaten by Witnesses Who Caught Him Sexually Assaulting Kindergartner: Report – The Root

Pastor who warned of “transgender predators” sexually harasses and assaults women | The TransAdvocate

Trinity Fellowship sued over accusations of sexual assault of child by volunteer pastor | KVII

Pastor, a convicted sex offender, charged with sexually abusing child – Aurora Beacon-News

Pastor Accused Of Sexually Assaulting Woman During Exorcisms | News One

Jury convicts former Las Vegas pastor in sex assault case | Las Vegas Review-Journal

TX pastor accused of sexual assault; given leave of absence

Shevlin Pastor Found Guilty Of Sexually Assaulting 2 Boys « WCCO | CBS Minnesota

Fort Worth Pastor Accused of Sexual Assault | NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

Former D.C. Police Officer, Pastor Sentenced To 18 Years For Sexually Assaulting Minors : DCist

Teen claims local pastor sexually assaulted her | www.ajc.com

Greenville County Pastor Arrested on Sexual Assault of a Minor Charges

Canaan youth pastor accused of sexually abusing young girl — Mid-Maine — Bangor Daily News — BDN Maine

Greenville County Pastor Arrested on Sexual Assault of a Minor Charges | WCBD News 2

Cumberland County pastor pleads guilty to sexually assaulting child | Local News – WGAL Home

Youth pastor at local church facing local sexual assault charges | Picayune Item

Texas Youth Pastor Sexual Assault

Pastor Arrested for Sexually Assaulting Church Member | NBC 6 South Florida

Pastor charged with sexually abusing child at North Aurora church | WFLD

Suffer The Little Children: Almost 12 Cases Of Christian Pastors Sexually Assaulting Kids In Just The Last Month | Left Wing Nation

A Visit With Dr. Chettawut And Other Random Thoughts

IMAG0099-resizedIt’s Wednesday morning in Bangkok and  I had my final visit with Dr. Chettawut today. He said I am healing “beautifully” so far. We took photos and while I guess I look less than stellar, no makeup and clearly physically tired, I’ll excuse myself with it having been just three weeks since surgery.

My only remaining medication is my antibiotic, which I was told to finish. Judging by what’s left that will be sometime next week.

My dilation schedule with #2 changed this week. That’s the dilator that’s getting most of the time now with #1 just basically helping me to relax and loosen up. Strangely enough, unlike a lot of the other women I’ve met here, my most relaxed session is the morning, and I’m at my tightest in the evening, so that session takes the longest.

I’ve stood a few times looking at myself in the mirror now, both dressed and undressed, both frontal and sideways. I don’t think I’m doing too badly for a woman my age either. And I will admit that I’m starting to see what my daughter must see when she teases me about a bikini next summer.

I recently participated in a long Facebook thread started by a woman who posted publicly (if you don’t want dissenting comments, post for friends only!) about her opposition to transgender protection regulations in a Houston suburb school district. I provided fact after fact, but these people refused to consider these facts, or the professional opinions of the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Medical Association, or the American College of Physicians. They refused to accept the scientific research, with one paranoid delusional claiming that science and professional medicine had been taken over by “liberals” and “Satan”. Well, buddy, when you’re that paranoid and delusional, you are the one that needs psychiatric help, not transgender kids. And they refused to accept the criminal evidence provided by the states and major cities that have enacted transgender protection ordinances, again claiming “liberal” conspiracy.

This little discussion was absolute proof that these bigots don’t care about facts. They just twist facts to try to justify their bigotry. They totally lack the compassion, empathy, and love that Christ himself told them to show.

That’s what dealing with transphobic bigots is like. Deny, deny, deny, fall back on “cuz Gawd”. It’s a blatant display of willful scientific and medical ignorance. And they are often proud of it!!! You’re left with a sick sinking feeling that these people are the exact sort that would gladly load cattle cars with human beings just so long as nobody disturbs their comfort. And granting equal rights under the law to transgender people? They just don’t want to. One practically admitted he wanted someone else to mock. These are sick, sick human beings.

In other matters, Tuesday evening (last night), Julie and I went to the Japanese restaurant just outside the Tesco department store about 5 blocks down the street. It was a feast for 950 Baht total (roughly $26). We got the beef and seafood. They put hot coals in the little burner in the center of your table and you cook your meal there, with over half a dozen different seasonings provided. We had more beef than we could eat, plus mega-shrimp, small salmon steaks, and various vegetables we could put on the grill as well. There was also a rice bowl that basically looked like fried rice unstirred, so we stirred that and ate about half of that as well. Julie and I split the salad and it was gone, and we each also got Miso soup with the meal. All in all, I came home stuffed and happy. It as delicious.

Today Julie is at the Tiger Temple. I have her looking for a few things for me for other people, plus I told her I wanted my own stuffed tiger if they’re available. She’ll be gone all day as that trip is 3 hours drive each way north of the city and 4 hours at the temple proper. She’s going to try to sign up for the chance to get a tiger photo where the tiger puts its head in her lap. I hope she gets it! If I can return someday, I want to see the Tiger Temple too, when I am healthier.

Our trip to the other side of the world is drawing to a close. Julie and I will see one of the local temples tomorrow, and maybe one other local sight on Friday. Saturday we rest and pack, as our ride back to the airport comes to the hotel at 9pm that evening and our flight back to the US begins just after midnight. We’ll arrive back in Houston on Sunday, August 16th, at about 8:30 am at international terminal D. I need to help Julie get over to terminal B for her flight home to Memphis that leaves around 10:30 so it will be close. We have to come in through customs, collect luggage, take the train to terminal B, then she has to check in at the counter and check her bag again for the separate flight home. We’ll make it but we’ll be busy. After she’s set, I’ll arrange to meet my ride outside terminal B at the arrivals pick up area. And then home, where the process of settling back in, re-establishing my dilation and massage schedules begins, and where I get comfortable for a week before resuming work on Monday, August 24th.

To all who have helped distract me on this trip, keeping my mind off the difficulties of healing early on, thank you. You have my gratitude for simply being there. But don’t worry. I’m not going away, and as I recover, I do hope to meet more of you who are in and around the Houston area.

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?

The Bathroom Myth – Again!

It seems no matter how often this myth is debunked, no matter how often the statistical facts disprove the bigoted presumptions of radical right wing religious zealots, they still try to create fear, uncertainty, and doubt about transgender people (especially transgender women) by raising the threat of assault in bathrooms.

But what is the reality? This is the reality – 15 experts, including multiple state law enforcement heads, confirm that there is no problem from transgender women using the women’s restrooms. None. Nada. Zip. It doesn’t exist.

The statement from Massachusetts is particularly strongly worded:

The argument that providing transgender rights will result in an increase of sexual violence against women or men in public bathrooms is beyond specious.  The only people at risk are the transgender men and women whose rights to self-determination, dignity and freedom of violence are too often denied.  We have not heard of any problems since the passage of the law in Massachusetts in 2011, nor do we expect this to be a problem.  While cases of stranger rape and sexual violence occur, sexual violence is most often perpetrated by someone known to the victim and not a stranger in the bush or the bathroom. [Email exchange, 3/7/14, emphasis added]

Other states also note no known cases of assault in that state. Three cities chime in with similar comments. Even the single incident that the antis love to trot out, about Colleen Francis, was never about sexual assault. It was about two thirteen year old girls entering an area clearly marked “adult only”!!

So how would people feel about two boys complaining about naked women when they snuck into a strip club? How would they have felt if two boys had snuck into that adult-only sauna? And note, Colleen Francis assaulted no one. She is simply non-op transgender and was in the sauna.

It’s time to bury the trope about sexual assault in bathrooms. In Colorado that trope was used to try to roll back transgender protections in locker rooms. One Democrat who voted against that bill (which was successfully defeated) was Representative Joe Salazar, who said, “I don’t mean any disrespect towards you, but I’m offended by this bill because this is rinse-and-repeat prejudice.” Further, he said, “The reasons for non-desegregating in the 1950s and ’60s was because Mexicans and blacks somehow were sexual perverts.”

See? Same old religious arguments about a problem that does not exist being used to support hate, discrimination, bigotry, and superstitious nonsense. It’s time to end this. And we should remind these bigots that we’ve seen all these same arguments before, against blacks, against hispanics, against interracial marriage.