Murmurs and Antagonisms

Orthodoxy via Heresy

Month: June, 2014

On Words

I cannot speak for myself. I use the words of authors, singers, poets, and characters on TV to speak for me. Too often the words I need are four letters long and carry the weight of years of argument. Because of the baggage these words bring with them, I must to go to those who can express more clearly.

I know I write like a pretentious fool, I’m aware that my writing borders on mediocrity and I know that that’s okay. I speak my truths how I need to speak them in the time I need to speak them. No one can take my truths from me. No one can take how I choose to convey a thought, an emotion. If I want to mess with the minds of those who hold dear certain anachronisms then I will. Words are toys, meant to be played with.

More than that, words are subject to change, abuse, pain, emotion, all the sensations and feelings we ascribe to them anthropomorphically are very real to each word. Words, since the Incarnation, have become physical beings. Words have existentia. They no longer possess a simple essentia. Words now exist in a way, which, maybe seen previously, they didn’t. Actually, let me amend this paragraph: words since time immemorial have had existentia. Words since the Incarnation have taken on a new particularity of being-in-world.

Words are toys. Words are weapons. Words are whatever the hell we want them to be when we need them. Words are malleable creatures, personalities and without any form then what is written on page by computer or hand. Words haunt and prescribe. Words enliven and free. And words, ultimately, are safety.

Incarnation makes for us a new command: go, be like the embodied Word, redefine the language of existence.

Response to Kevin Williamson

[TW: transphobia]

Cox’s situation gave him an intensely unhappy childhood and led to an eventual suicide attempt, and his story demands our sympathy; times being what they are, we might even offer our indulgence. But neither of those should be allowed to overwhelm the facts, which are not subject to our feelings, however sincere or well intended.

This from arguably one of the most poorly articulated pieces on trans folks I’ve ever read. I get what Williamson attempts, and in some misguided sympathy, can admire what he is trying to do. But shock for shock’s sake ought to be governed by some kind of sensibility. And, thankfully, unlike Matt Walsh, Williamson actually writes well and with some sense of vigor. But his article is still garbage.

The main flaw I find with his idea comes down to biological determinism. He constantly appeals to scientific “fact” as if it were some new deity we can bow our heads to in submission. Scientific “fact” however is malleable and extremely subject to change. Never mind that Williamson appeals to basic observable facts and ignores the studies done on the minds of trans folks themselves which seem to indicate more to this discussion than initially thought. So, for all the appeals to science he seems to not actually care about science as it continues to evolve and develop (isn’t that sciences purpose?).

Additionally, for one who presents himself, seemingly, as opposed to the tyranny of the government he seems hell bent on imposing tyranny of science upon a portion of society the tyranny of “objective fact”. Nikolai Berdyaev, in his classic Slavery and Freedom,  states, “The free man ought not to bend the knee either before history or before race or before revolution or before any objective unity which makes pretensions to universal significance” (71). The point being that sex is an objective unity which makes claims to being significant. Male and female somehow mean importance on a universal level. Mr. Williamson engages in a monism which is, “. . . the denial of personality and freedom” (68). Williamson assigns categories to people and thus denies their personality, he objectivizes them and makes them into a mold, an item and cog in the machine of societal functionality.

Look. I doubt Mr. Williamson will ever see this brief response. Heck, even if he does I could care less if he were to acknowledge it since I’m an eighteen year old kid who has a passion for people and loving on them as best I can. All I do have are a few things I wish to say in regards to this topic, stemming from Williamson’s Laverne Cox piece and his previous Chelsea Manning piece:

1. Comparison of a man wishing to be tigress seems inane and superficial. There’s a difference of species to species change and identifying and experiencing dissonance between assigned sex and gender.

2. Seems to lack appreciation for the intersection of language and science.

3. While I appreciate that in his Chelsea Manning piece Williamson actually provides stats and extrapolates on his argument he seems to lack sensitivity to those who experience gender identity problems. In fact, suggesting that there be some sort of therapy to better help people cope with their gender problems (sounds startlingly similar to reparative therapy for gay folks) misses the point. I appreciate his concern for the duty of doctors but I wonder if he realizes some of the more recent statistics regarding trans folks?

4. But I have a problem with how he went about these articles. He has a tone which strikes me as divisive, schlocky, and frankly, poor. Instead of engaging he seems to want to sit on his pedestal and speak “truths”. Instead of engaging, opening up, he shuts down. He misgenders (which is violence) and perpetuates the idiocy of trying to discuss without patience and openness.

So, Mr. Williamson, please reconsider. I admit these are the half formed thoughts of a soon to be college student and I don’t have all the answers. But there’s more to this world, Mr. Williamson, than is imagined in your philosophy.

Bible vs. People: People Win

The bible is a book written by men and inspired by God.

No more, no less and too often we treat it as more. The bible is a book and like any book tells a story. That story isn’t about creationism, predestination, homosexuality, or any myriad of issues we want it to be about today. Heck, the bible is minimally about ethics as understood in the Western world. Ethics, biblically, are linked to Jesus. The book we too often idolize is the cradle which holds Jesus.

And I’m tired of everyone treating biblical faithfulness as the litmus test of salvation. Though, maybe not directly, far too often people imply that lack of biblical faithfulness (which usually means any disagreement with their specific interpretation) goes hand in hand with heresy or some other kind of idea that we’re not saved.

The bible is about Jesus and somehow we lose that. And Jesus tells me to love my neighbor, the least of these. And, frankly, that love has led me to support a less than traditional idea when it comes to lesbian and gay folks. When people have died, are dying, being subjected to injustice, that’s not God’s heart. I get Romans 1 leaves little room for some but I don’t know where I stand on that passage and, frankly, I really don’t care. If I’m ever asked if being gay or lesbian is a sin I’m gonna say no. Being “something” or “anything” (I know those words are stupid) cannot in and of itself be a sin. Orientation is not a sin. People are made in God’s image and because of our sinfulness we’re gonna mess up, we’re gonna over emphasize certain biblical ideas and interpretations. And I know I could be wrong. But I can’t hold a view that has been about silence and death.

Love your neighbor, admire the beauty within, see God in the Other because that’s where God is to be found. But never forget the bible is not deity, it’s special/beautiful/disturbing/all kinds of jacked up, but it is primarily, solely, about Jesus. And if what we believe does not love our neighbor (and letting kids die because we tell them they’re sinners, abominations, committing mutilations etc. isn’t loving) or help us better love then, sorry, I can’t hold it.

“I rest my faith on nothing less than Jesus and His righteousness…”

Jesus Doesn’t Care

I quit caring so much about gender, about sexuality, about providence, about creationism, about all the inane topics which come up regularly among (especially) homeschool kids because we’ve got no life (kidding).

Everyone wants to focus on whether or not the Church is being over run by the gays. Everyone cares so much about whether women dare to be pastors because, well, breasts cause men to lust. Everyone cares about how you express yourself whether it be by shutting you down or confining you to a societal gender role. Everyone cares too much about the age of the earth. And no one seems to care enough about what Jesus cared about.

And I’m one of those people.

(Parenthetical: I know that Jesus’ concerns relate directly to some of the forementioned topics but that’s not the point so shhh)

Jesus didn’t seem to give a rip if God created in six days or a million or if God used evolution or not. Seemed to be low on his radar. Which, thank God, is why we have Ken Ham, to help Jesus out and bring out his deep concern for the order of creation and mechanics thereof. I wonder how much a first century desert walker, despite being God, knew about science?

Jesus didn’t seem to care whether or not God ordained everything, or elected everyone. And of course we want to say, “But he says, ‘Those you have given me . . .'” and all  I can think is, Really? Really?

Look. Jesus didn’t seem to prioritize these things for the simple reason that (shocker here) they’re pretty boring. If Jesus had gone around talking about creationism half his audience wouldn’t have gotten it. Much less divine sovereignty and election, at least the current way we present it.

Jesus spoke to things which concerned the people at his time, and concern us now. But we’re too lazy to see the radical nature thereof.

Example 1: Jesus fought against the Empire. Rome ruled the world (as anyone with basic knowledge of history ought to know) at the time and Jesus comes in declaring himself deity, king, and lord. Pretty radical stuff at the time. His death, understood rightly, is a political death. He challenged the Jewish leaders and the Roman leaders at the time. The irony, though, is that unlike other revolutionaries who tried to revolt his was a subtle, silent, nonviolent one. As he told Pilate: “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.” Jesus cared about nonviolence. Something American aren’t too fond of.

Example 2: Jesus cared more for the poor than we can ever grasp. It’s actually pretty fair to say that he gave priority consideration to the poor. He elevated them by equating those who are beaten down by systems of oppression (another key) with himself. Try telling that to American evangelicals.

Example 3: He cared about life. And no, I’m not about to rant on abortion. Jesus cared about all aspects of life (birth, creation, living, death, birds, bees, trees, etc.) and he even said he came so that “they might have life to the full.” Somehow that part got missed in evangelicalism crusade to tell people how to dress and be human.Guess what? Jesus wants people to live life to the full and, as Joel Osteen-y as this is gonna sound, that means Jesus wanted people to live in a way which makes sure that they can enjoy life. And telling people to not like who they want or dress how they like has led to too many young deaths, so sorry evangelicals, checkmated by Jesus.

My point in all this: Jesus had bigger concerns than the crap evangelicals seem to care about so much and want to worship and die on. I’m glad you want to defend dinosaurs but seriously? I think Jesus had bigger concerns.

The Least of These

[Trigger warning: homophobia, suicide, Christianity, religion]

Today I was told I wasn’t a Christian because I was a jerk.

I was told I’m irritating.

I was told that my refusal to adhere to God’s law spoke more about the state of my soul than any words I could speak in my own defense. Today, once more, I saw the true heart of evangelical Christianity. At least, the false evangelical Christianity. And I’m pissed. And I think it’s okay for me to be pissed off.

The conversation came about because this kid posted an article by Al Mohler in which he deals with a congregation within the Southern Baptist Convention who chose to affirm gay folks.  And the thread on this kids Facebook page devolved into the same poorly formed, half-thought arguments too often perpetuated by the conservative end of Christianity. All I said was: lol. I laughed. Not at Mohler’s point, the SBC can do whatever it likes (though kicking that church out seems to me to be the height of inane action), but at how quickly the thread devolved, at the very simplistic understanding of our relationship to scripture. I was then messaged by this guy and asked, and I quote, “Do you think sin is hilarious bro?” to which I responded harshly. But I think I have a right to be harsh.

I understand the arguments for an against same-sex marriage, for acceptance or not. But my opinion changed not because of great arguments (frankly, both sides have mediocre arguments mixed with a good one here and again) but because of stories, art, and listening. I remember reading this article and nearly sobbing. It tells the stories of gay teens, kids, who have killed themselves because of bullying. And then this:

Anti-gay backlash was instant. Minnesota Family Council president Tom Prichard blogged that Justin’s suicide could only be blamed upon one thing: his gayness. “Youth who embrace homosexuality are at greater risk [of suicide], because they’ve embraced an unhealthy sexual identity and lifestyle,” Prichard wrote.

I remember reading those words. “Greater risk because…unhealthy sexual identity…” and I paused.

I had to rethink my own developing thoughts on LGBTQ issues. If people die is that ok? Through it all I kept hearing, Love the sinner but hate the sin. Like a song on repeat: lovethesinnerhatethesinlovethesinnerhatethesin, the voice of “right” and “wrong” echoed onwards through my head. I went to camps where I heard people say we need to take a stand for biblical marriage, fight the decline of Christian morality. But I couldn’t help but wonder if it was all a crock of lies? If you can really love someone but not their actions when it comes to sexuality and gender.

It seems to me to be a distinction founded on air. I realized then that when people are dying because of a belief and no one does anything that that belief is inane, wrong even. And I quit fighting against gay people and tried to love on them and embrace their beauty. But all this goes deeper and is ten times more personal.

Berdyaev states, “No man can be an incarnation and personification of evil, the evil in him is always partial. For this reason, there cannot be a final judgement upon anybody.” And reading that line and re-reading it gives me pause. And it brings me to the realization that I cannot be judged except by God. My lack of biblical faithfulness, or my biblical faithfulness, are not the determining factors of my salvation. Just because I don’t buy into one interpretation held by the Church for centuries does not make me any less likely to be saved. And like the Ethiopian eunuch my brothers and sisters ask, “Here is water. What prevents me from being baptized?”

So, someone tell me. What prevents me from being baptized?

What prevents me from partaking of the grace of God?

Unrepentant sexual sin, is the answer too often given. But I don’t put my stock in my faith in God, when I confessed Jesus as lord. I put faith in my baptism by which, and through which, Jesus chose to lay his grace on me.

So, tell me. Why am I jerk for not tolerating beliefs which have caused no end to suffering for my brothers and sisters?

Why am I jerk for refusing your interpretation of the bible?

Make my day, Christians. Go ahead, make it. I dare you. Because as long as kids are dying, AIDS is an epidemic running rampant without anyone caring, as long as people are being murdered and imprisoned for things they cannot change, I refuse your biblical faithfulness. And that might make me less a Christian, it might make me a heretic, it might mean I’m not saved. But somehow, I think Jesus still loves me, flaws and all.

So, make my day. I dare you.

 

AIDS: An Ongoing Epidemic

I’m angry.

Angry at people, society, the past, the Church, and how people are silent today. And I’m angry for my friends, fellow members of humanity. My friends who have suffered, who know people who died and are suffering still and face the unbearable wall of silence from . . . everyone. Since the 1980’s, when, for America, AIDS hit home, it took the normal swell of social controversy. Up went the outrage (rightfully so) and after pills came out to help down the swell went. Privilege called and finally the epidemic seemed to recede. But it hasn’t. America and Canada and the Western world generally may have achieved equality for gays and lesbians but only at a cost, a cost which now rages onward, with little to nothing done on the matter.

I’m linking to a post by a friend who says everything much more aptly than I can. He’s opened my eyes to the singular vision that we have in the US, a vision too narrow to get past our own comfort and see how much there is in the world still needing to be done. Read. Listen.

(Side note: I think I’m gonna do a blog series about AIDS and probably post more about it on Facebook and social media. Something needs to be done even if all I’ve got is emotion, a computer, my privilege and social media and time.) Please read the linked article below after the jump.

If LGBTs are scapegoated abroad as the source of the spread of a pandemic that people in the west, in rich nations are blind and clueless to now.

If I express outrage at the horrors inflicted against my brothers and sisters in the news that I see, but not at its source and cause.

If that points right back to our own silence and inaction. If it points to teachings of lapses of morality that we’ve sown in foreign lands.

Then let me stay single and unmarried.  Silence the voice that only cares about my own narrow scope of rights. Silence the voice that has seen much and should know better.

(If I’ve Survived to Achieve it All by Kenny Pierce)