Tag Archive | religion

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.

A Response to the Lies of “A Sacred Androgen”

Recently, the Antioch Review has published an article full of hateful lies, stereotypes, and absolutely incorrect medical information about transgender people titled “The Sacred Androgen” (link marked as “nofollow” so as not to boost the page’s rank).

In response to this, Brynn Tannehill wrote a scathing condemnation of the article and The Antioch Review itself, titled “Antioch Demonstrates Why Mid-West Kills Queers from the Inside Out“.

And in addition to Brynn’s article, I sent the following email to Christina Check who is listed as the contact for The Antioch Review. I encourage all of you to do likewise. The more they hear from us, the more they may realize they have done something ugly and horribly wrong, and perhaps retract and apologize for that piece of garbage they published.

My letter to the editor lies below this line


 

Really?

If you had published such a pile of garbage laden pile of tripe about black people, your offices might have been buried under angry responses from across the nation already.

If you had published such a garbage laden pile of tripe about gays, you would have been dragged through the major press and rightfully pilloried publicly destroying your reputation.

Yet you think you can get away with it against transgender people?

Your author uses every bad stereotype, ignores all the current medical evidence including neurobiological evidence that has led the American Medical Association, the American College of Physicians, the American Association of Pediatrics, the American Psychological Association, and the American Psychiatric Association all to conclude that:

1. Being transgender is not a mental illness (and it’s no longer listed as one in the DSM)
2. Being transgender is a neurobiological medical condition caused by in utero hormonal ratio variations during early pregnancy.

Your article goes on and paints trans women as sex obsessed fetishists which couldn’t be further from the truth and which theory has been totally destroyed. Bailey’s work on “autogynephelia” has been refuted because what he thought was solely trans obsession turns out to be common natal female behavior as well.

Your author asserts that transgender people are mentally ill while mental health professionals say that being transgender is not a mental illness. Your author then goes on to support reparative therapy which has been proven to increase suicidality, and never ever “cures” anything.

Your author cites the 41% suicide attempt rate as proof of mental illness and ignores that mental health professionals cite that as proof of the deep systemic hatred and oppression our culture has displayed towards transgender people. Mental health professionals say YOU need to change your attitudes towards trans people, and not that trans people need to change.

Your author launches into rape culture objectification of women and then tries to use that as a reason to see trans women with disgust.

Your author tries to assert that trans women are just gay men but ignores actual biological evidence that trans women are as different from gay men, in the brain, as they can possibly be.

The above microscope slides are just one of many studies demonstrating that trans women have brain structures very similar to cisgender women and nothing at all like gay men.
In short, your article, “The Sacred Androgen”, is hate speech targeted at a minority group that is being actively attacked and oppressed today in popular media and by right wing politicians and churches for being different. Yet the medical community, across the board, supports trans people and who they say they are. There are only a few old fossils, like Paul McHugh, Bailey, and others who get regularly trotted out by the right wing to support these hateful views.

With the publication of “The Sacred Androgen”, The Antioch Review demonstrates that it is not a rational nor respectful publication and that anything it publishes should be ignored, discarded, and that the Review itself should be driven into the ground as a purveyor of hate speech.

You should be ashamed of yourselves but bigots never are. Just like racists have been hiding in the closet for the last 40 years until Trump came along, bigots never give up their ugly ways and we now know that The Antioch Review is a publication of bigots and bigotry.

Cara Ramsey

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?

A Comment About Human Sexual Orientation

This is just personal musings, call it a hypothesis, but one which I neither have the qualifications, nor the personal situation to pursue and verify.

Much has been made of “gay sex” in the animal kingdom and that does occur. There’s lots of same sex activity, especially among us mammals! Over 1500 species have been identified as engaging in same sex activities.

But I raise the question is this really gay sex? Or, as my hypothesis states, are mammals naturally bisexual?

I ask this question because the lions that engage in same sex activities will immediately turn to heterosexual activities if one of those males ascends to leadership of the pride. And the former pride lead, will move to same sex activities after having been engaged in heterosexual activities as well.

What’s going on? I think we’re seeing evidence that animals and especially mammals tend to be bisexual.

I further examine history and non Judeo-Christian-Muslim cultures, and I see a lot of reference to “gay sex” again in cultures like ancient Greece. But was it gay sex exclusively? Or was there a lot of bisexual activity going on? Many of those men famous for having male lovers, also had wives and children and appeared to love and cherish their wives too. Again, this, to me, hints that homo sapiens is naturally bisexual.

So why the heavy emphasis on heterosexuality and homosexuality in Western culture? Because our culture is wrapped around a religious myth about gender binaries and a religion that is often interpreted to look down with disdain towards anything related to non-heterosexual relationships.

I really suspect the “stomping out” of our naturally bisexual tendencies comes from Judeo-Christian-Muslim cultural sources.

I’m not denying that some people will be way over on the homosexual side of the spectrum and that some people will be way over on the heterosexual side of the spectrum. But I really suspect cultural conditioning forces most of us to choose one side or the other, when many of us might really be happy somewhere in that center. And guess what? That would probably look like a more normal bell curve too… hmm… things to think about, right?

As I said, this is simply a personal hypothesis based on reading about heterosexual and homosexual behavior in other species, coupled with reading about both kinds of behavior in non-Judeo-Christian-Muslim cultures historically.

So what is my point? If you think you might be bisexual, my reply would be that I’d tell you to explore it, because that really does, to me, appear to be the normal human default sexual orientation. 🙂

FFS Done, Back Home, Musings and Preparing for July Now

I’m back home from Guadalajara, still pretty swollen and bruised, but the surgery went fine. I’ll be taping my nose every four days until May 22nd, when I can stop. The bruising and swelling should be mostly gone by then.

Dr. Cardenas and I chatted and he suggested I give this 12-18 months to fully heal but that I may want to consider a facelift at my age to go along with the FFS work that was done. I could see even before surgery where that  might work out well for me, and given that we did some jaw and chin contouring, there may be a bit too much loose skin on the lower face for the long term. We’ll see.

I can tell how much the lower face is still swelled just by trying to smile. I can’t smile a completely wide smile because the swelling just blocks it from happening, but it’s getting better each day as the swelling continues to go down.

I did a profile pic just for myself today. I think the brow ridge is much improved, though he might have reduced it a tiny bit more. In any case, it looks a lot more feminine to me now. And I can see the difference. My old brow jutted forward enough that I could see the brow just by looking up hard. Now that’s not an issue at all. I think my eyes look more open and I even with the tape, I can tell the nose is much improved. I’m eager to see everything once the swelling is cleared up and I can remove the tape finally.

So now I need to begin preparing for July and GCS. That’s the next big thing. I’m going to rest for one more week then begin stairs 4-5 nights per week as my exercise routine for preparing for July. The bike is comfortable but the stairs really push me and that’s what I’ve done in the past to get ready for mountain hikes with my brother. It really is challenging but definitely makes a difference in a few months time.

I saw the Bruce Jenner interview while I was in Mexico. I felt it was handled very well, considering where transgender knowledge is for the majority of people, and probably for Diane Sawyer as well. I think the support from family was very important to express. When they said “There’s another way”, I almost cried. So many families simply turn their backs on transgender family members or even reject them, sometimes violently. For Jenner’s children to be so supportive and accepting is a wonderful example. Let’s hope that people take it to heart.

And, in a stunning statement (stunning to me), Rick Santorum made the following statement:

“If he says he’s a woman, then he’s a woman,” Santorum said to reporters Saturday at the South Carolina Republican convention. “My responsibility as a human being is to love and accept everybody. Not to criticize people for who they are.”

Given Santorum’s harsh anti-gay and anti-marriage equality stances, this surprised me. Most right wing “Christians” reject transgender people as part of the overall “LGBT agenda”. I’m always amused by that claim as I have no idea what that is. Can one of you conservatives mail me a copy? I seem to have missed the handouts.

The EEOC keeps moving forward, including transgender people under “sex discrimination” lawsuits and handing out fines and other punishments to businesses that insist of mistreating transgender employees. This is good, so far as it goes, but we still need a trans-inclusive ENDA for other areas of life, such as medical care and housing.

I’m in a good place right now as the pains of the past continue to recede. I know that I didn’t close certain doors, others did, so it’s their problem if they want to reopen those doors or not. As for me, I continue to move forward with my life. If someone wants me involved in their life, that’s their choice. And if not, their failure to include me won’t deny me my happiness or satisfaction with my own life.