Monday, March 31

Every good Lewis mention deserves some Tolkien, too. In my wonderful Sunday School yesterday Father Pat taught, in part, about the dream of Pilot's wife. There's a remarkable likeness of her dream with the dream of the Magi. Both occur concerning Jesus at the end points of his life and both try to save Jesus from deaths plotted by the Jewish leaders. What's most interesting is they both spring from the minds of Gentiles - polytheistic, heathen, "unsaved" Gentiles.

These Gentile, Christ, dreams were crucial to JRR Tolkien's understanding of the nature of God, Jesus, salvation, and his fiction. Dreams are just another kind of form of myth, like a sonnet to poetry. Tolkien saw Jesus scattered all other European mythologies; they were God's whisperings to peoples who had never heard God out loud. Matthew acknowledges this twice in his gospel. The Gentiles recognize the Messiah as a king and a just man and a strong desire to stand up against the political forces to preserve Jesus' life. Their beliefs aren't comprehensive creeds, but they are faith and that's enough. Likewise, the Greenman and Odin don't match up with Christian theology at every detail, but for those who latch on with faith and act, the myths are enough.
So good that I had to re-post it, stolen shamelessly from Paradoxy. To anyone who thinks America should use Scripture Protestant tradition as its moral compass, this will sound downright blasphemous. Until you read see the author.
"I am a democrat because I believe that no man or group of men is good enough to be trusted with uncontrolled power over others. And the higher the pretensions of such power, the more dangerous I think it both to rulers and to the subjects. Hence Theocracy is the worst of all governments. If we must have a tyrant a robber barron is far better than an inquisitor. The baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity at some point may be sated; and since he dimly knows he is doing wrong he may possibly repent. But the inquisitor who mistakes his own cruelty and lust of power and fear for the voice of Heaven will torment us infinitely more because he torments us with the approval of his own conscience and his better impulses appear to him as temptations. And since Theocracy is the worst, the nearer any government approaches to Theocracy the worse it will be. A metaphysic held by the rulers with the force of a religion, is a bad sign. It forbids them, like the inquisitor, to admit any grain of truth or good in their opponents, it abrogates the ordinary rules of morality, and it gives a seemingly high, super-personal sanction to all the very ordinary human passions by which, like other men, the rulers will frequently be actuated." -C.S. Lewis, A Reply to Professor Haldane
I think it fascinating the Evangelicals have all but canonized Lewis while ignoring his beliefs like this. Or gay marriage. Or teaching evolution. Or the salvation of non-Christians.

Friday, March 28

Gender semantics

It's not often that a trans-condemning author writes something worthwhile on the topic, so I want to give credit for really trying, even tho we ultimately disagree: http://www.touchstonemag.com/archives/article.php?id=18-10-036-f
The bulk of Young's article is a examination of the etymology of "homosexual," "heterosexual," "sex," and "gender" which is beautifully done! It's fascinating that it lays the basis both for my affirmative thoughts about gender (and sexual orientation) and Young's condemnation. If everyone was familiar with this history I think we'd have much better dialogues. We can't talk constructively about conclusions until all parties have a common set of data. Kudos to Young.
I don't want to get lost in a tirade on where I disagree with Young. I'd rather be encouraged by his good scholarship. So I'll be brief to say that we differ because Young allows linguistics to be both descriptive and prescriptive for understanding, as if dictionaries should replace universities. And not just any dictionary, but only the very old. Every definition younger than at least 140 years he dismisses and every definition older he accepts point blank. He demands that Christians stop using the words "homosexual" and "heterosexual" and use "sex" and "gender" interchangeably. This would not be so bad if he gave us alternative vocabulary. He does not and it's easy to see that a vacuum of vocabulary will feed the vacuum of dialogue between LGBTA Christians and others.
For example, just as the First Testament equates sex with gender, so does it equate Heaven with the heavens. That was all well and good for them on both counts. Even if a astronaut-feminist came and split their vocabulary, I'm sure they'd just remain as synonyms in all usage. But we live in a different age and our languages need to advance alongside our psychology and astronomy. It's now quite significant to understand that Jesus doesn't live on Mars and every person with a vagina need not use excessive qualifiers.
Many of my conversations get no where because people don't understand the difference in sex and gender, or at least the feminist understanding. It's quite fine for those people to believe they are synonymous but if those same people are incapable of understanding a different set of definitions, they can't understand what I say and feel and, well, we simply cannot dialogue. I might as well speak Norwegian. Young is quite right that words change the discussion and someone who doesn't differentiate between sex and gender will never accept my sexuality. My criticism is that neither will they ever deny my sexuality. They will simply be incapable of comprehending it; they would live in an ideological isolation. The astronaut could never explain to the ancient Hebrew that while she comes from the heavens and God resides in Heaven, she's not an angel. Gender gives sex another dimension, from a flat earth to an astronomical cosmos - a dimension whose possibility Young and others are unable unwilling to acknowledge.

Tuesday, March 25

Genders in marriage

I read a great article on sex and gender as ingredients for marriage: http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com/2008/03/25/1692

Included is some ways, historically, that trans people marry. One of the points is that marriage has traditionally relied on having different genders, not different sexes. Since my gender is different than everyone I've met, this feels like good news to me! As well as the note some marriages don't involve any sexual activity.

Friday, March 21

Blog of Facebook

My blog is now fed into Facebook, so you can read the same stuff there and I don't have to copy and paste everything. Nice feature.

My opinion of anti-gays

At best, ex-gay advocates are ignorant - people like my family and some friends who don't know anything about homosexuality, but they know it's bad. Those same people who start climbing the ladder of information will either stop encouraging ex-gay ministries or will filter out what they don't like and/or twist the information to conform to their previous ideas that were based on ignorance. Psychologists on the whole cringe at every claim the ex-gay ministries make. Just let them read from NARTH or the Jones-Yarhouse study. In my mind, they qualify as bigots.

Then there are the scribes and Pharisees - they only accept the science that doesn't contradict their theology. "We don't change our beliefs just because science disagrees with them," one said. Theology is very subjective, so I give them more credit than the bigoted "scientists." Their problem, like those who are innocently ignorant, is intellectual and not discriminatory or at least I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. However, they need to learn to reconcile science with religion for the conversation to move from opinion to testable facts and simply to become a full citizen of the 21st century.

Oh, and all this applies to those not affirming transgenderedness. Still waiting for Jerry Leach.