Ajanta Caves

Ajanta_Padmapani cave 1

From 200 BCE, the Ajanta caves in Maharashtra, India, were Buddhist monasteries decorated with art which is particularly alien to the Christian eye.


These are art-works for monks, celebrating the beauty of the human form. The people illustrated are sexual beings.


In Christianity, sexuality is suspect. Not for all times and in all places- the Song of Songs is sensual- but celibacy is praised, and sex may so easily be sinful. Here are religious works for separate monasteries, which celebrate human life with sexuality simply a part of that. It is liberating to see them.


I am addicted to this hobby. Having several comments gets me a little high. I find checking the blog compulsive. Self-control! I urge myself.

Ajanta_Paintings 4 An_art_on_wall_depicting_lord_Vishnu_with_goddess_Lakshmi_at_Ajanta_Caves Coming_Of_Sinhala_(Mural_At_Ajanta_In_Cave_No_17) OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA World_of_bliss


Sickness behaviour

the rowI cycled up the hill. There are just sixty yards which are really steep. Before and after that it is uphill which would not be a problem but for those sixty yards- where I have to stand on the pedals, and give my all, if I want to stay on the bicycle. Maybe my lowest gear is just too high. And going up, I twisted, and felt something strange in my back.

I went for a walk because of the sunshine, and could not stand up straight because my back felt funny. Not in pain, though I cut short my normal walk. It feels like I am bent over and waddling, though perhaps I don’t look strange: Paul or someone apologised, his back was out, but he looked perfectly normal to me. Then bending to put something in the oven, I twisted again, and had to stay bent over, my back terribly painful. I could not sleep prone as normal, so had a disturbed painful night.

I understand that feeling is a muscle spasm, where the lower back muscles go taut to form an internal splint, in case the spine itself is damaged. I heard when my shoulder was particularly painful that I should move it, through the pain, or it would seize up. So I don’t know whether I should rest my lower back or try to use it, rest it for a day but move it after, and I also seek to learn what I can do, what causes problems.

What is the most effective way to care for and develop myself? If you have arthritic knees, it is painful to stand from sitting, but if you keep moving you get the knees moving again. Some people show “inappropriate sickness behaviour” which in that case includes refusing to go out, because your knees hurt. There is an optimum.

Sitting with two people, I found (I had not thought about it) that I turn at the waist to face someone. This gave a twinge, but if I turn at the neck, which I need to think about, there is no twinge.

In the Bookie’s window, there is a sign. “Know your limits. Set your limits. Bet responsibly.” Or, “We know you’ll get addicted to the drug we peddle. We blame you.”

Female Privilege

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e9/Boldini_-_Ava_Lister%2C_Baroness_Ribblesdale_%28The_Black_Sash%29.jpgSites talking of female privilege are terribly whiny. Is there any merit in the concept at all?

I looked at Men’s Resistance, and the occasionally valuable Thought Catalog. They seemed ridiculous. TC: 1. Female privilege is being able to walk down the street at night without people crossing the street because they’re automatically afraid of you. Oh, brilliant. And male privilege is not needing to cross the street. Go figure. This is not the only one which is a corollary of male privilege, and I know which I would rather have.

2. Female privilege is being able to approach someone and ask them out without being labeled “creepy.” And male privilege is being able to approach someone and ask them out without being labelled a slut, unfeminine, or desperate. You are creepy if you are out of your league.

3 is where it gets really nasty. Female privilege is being able to get drunk and have sex without being considered a rapist. Female privilege is being able to engage in the same action as another person but be considered the innocent party by default. Well, sex is a bigger deal for women than men. It depends how drunk, doesn’t it? If she is unable to consent, then don’t. Given the level of evidence necessary to prove rape, convictions for drunken sex where the woman was too drunk to consent are rare.

6. Female privilege is being able to decide not to have a child. Mmm. So he says the birth control is the woman’s problem, then objects to the result. Wear a condom!

OK, enough. I read this and feel disgust and contempt. Is there anything in these lists I could agree? Just a grain of truth among the exaggeration, victim blaming and stupidity?

8. Female privilege is never being told to “take it like a man” or “man up.” Indeed. I was told “Big boys don’t cry” aged 4. My escape from that has been transition, which is further than most men want to go. Acceptable male roles are Procrustean. They fit very few.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/7c/Boldini_-_Franca_Florio.jpg10. Women normally get custody of children in divorce. Yes. But this comes from traditional conceptions of women’s roles. OK, guys, you can have custody when women’s pay and promotion chances, and representation in Parliament, are equal. How’s that? This might be soon: 15, more women go to college.

Men’s Resistance, now. 7, Women don’t get conscripted. Actually, in Israel they do, though their term is two years rather than three for men. In a volunteer army with a high degree of technical training this may be seen as an advantage for men.

16. If I am a partner in crime with a man I will likely be charged with lesser crimes even though I committed the same crimes even if I was the ringleader. This is the basis of Dickens’ Mr Bumble the Beadle saying “The law is a ass- a idiot.” However rather than impose a strict rule, courts now consider evidence.

20. Males make up nearly 100% of workplace fatalities. Mmm. There are “men’s jobs” and “women’s jobs”, still: I tend to feel that the balance is against women- consider earnings. But, yes, this has bad consequences for men too.

But- 42. Women initiate the majority of domestic violence. This is not true, in Britain at least: 1.2m female and 800,000 male victims estimated by the British Crime Survey in 2010/11: physical assault figures were too low to be extrapolated.

70. Women’s loos are nicer. As a trans woman, I would agree; but a trans man told me he much preferred men’s loos.

Try harder, chaps.


hanged-man1 I have always been against euthanasia. I have been happy with assisting suicide being criminal. Might I change my mind?

Having been suicidal, I know that it is no solution to any problem. I feel that any life is better than death. And, I know what it is to Want something ridiculous or disgusting in others’ view- my transition- and from that can empathise with bodily integrity identity disorder- those people who want parts of themselves amputated.

I would want not just anybody to be able to assist someone to kill themselves. I would want this restricted, so there was a clear evidence trail: so my scheme would need particular licensed, medically qualified killers, a psychiatric assessment, and an independent witness of the person’s desire.

I loathe the idea that someone might kill herself now, because in a year she will have no quality of life, and will be unable to kill herself. If you can get yourself to a high building and over the parapet, you can kill yourself- though in a selfish way, hurting the people who have to find you, and scrape you up. Incidentally, there are some very very bad places to throw yourself from the cliffs at Beachy Head: you might land on a ledge, broken but conscious, then die of exposure because no-one could find le pendu_finalyou. A coroner’s assistant told me this. And a man who hanged himself with a sisal rope had scratch marks at his neck: he had changed his mind, but been unable to loosen the knot.

Having been suicidal, I can report that there is a ghastly unreality about one’s fantasies. I imagine myself relaxed and content, slipping off, whereas the threat to life brings forth primordial brain structures, raging at the dying of the light.

Suicide is utterly horrible, the declaration of final hopelessness. My friend said “It is a permanent solution to a temporary problem”. But not in these cases: someone terminally ill whose illness will slowly strip away mental and physical function and cause increasing pain-

A year ago I would have been unequivocally against euthanasia. It is an easy way out for the medical profession, too: they strive for effective palliative care, because that is their only option. I want them to work very hard on palliative care. They still will, many of them. Any mercy killing is an admission of failure for them.

Over the last few months I have been coming round, and this morning sitting down to think it through, here, I have come round to supporting euthanasia for the terminally ill. I am not quite there for everyone who wants it: not for depression, not for someone paralysed from the neck down as I dare to hope such a person, forced to live, might find some meaning in life.


van Gogh- Olive trees 1I met my neighbour today. He saw me bringing my wheelie-bin in, and followed me. So I went in my back door, and he stood on the mat, looking in, making wordless sounds. I told him he could come in if he wanted. This is my bicycle. He tapped the light, which was just below head-height on him. Then his grandmother came round after him, and called him out, scolding him, and apologising to me.

-He asked, and I said ‘yes’, I said, to excuse him.
-Sorry, no speak English, she said. At least she wasn’t accusing me of being a pervert.

His toys, a beautiful big lorry and an ambulance, were on a rug outside, as it was so warm, with his older sister’s tricycle.

At the bus stop, a lad was complaining about someone else at the college. “He said, ‘you said “Death be upon you!”‘ That’s stupid, fam. He doesn’t understand Arabic, he doesn’t have a clue, fam. My dad speaks Arabic.

“You could tell him anything! You could tell him Bismillah [in the Name of God] meant anything you like, and he would believe you. If you say Salaam Aleikum he says Salaam Aleikum.” Rather than van Gogh- Olive trees 2Wa-aleikum O-salaam, or indeed Slamakum- well, “Goodbye” is contracted from God be with you, then further to ‘bye. That was the first time I was aware of Muslims locally, there is a large Hindu temple on Victoria St and when it has come up Asians have been Hindu.

Not sure about the word “fam”. I guessed it meant something like calling a friend Family, close friend I can trust: to my mind, a need to keep telling someone “I trust you” implies something else, and also implies that those guys over there can’t be trusted, it’s just you an me, bro.

How do you spell ‘bide’? asked the child. Mmm. It is an odd word for a child, a bit archaic, dialecty, not a word I thought he would get in primary school. “As in I buy a toy”. Oh, it’s “bought”. Yes, it is a bit odd for a verb. I remember my nephew saying “goed”, when just learning to speak: he knew the general rule, and applied it.

There was a pong from the landfill, which is 2km away. You only smell it when the wind is in the right direction, but that is the prevailing wind. There used to be a pong from the chicken factory. I remember the Coupar Angus chicken factory, the smell of guts and death: far better to live the other side of Marsby.

Acceptable homophobes

kalb_triptych left kalb_triptych right Among the homophobic churches, there are bad and not-so-bad examples. There was the preacher who wanted gays stuck behind an electrified fence, to die out because we could not breed, and there are those who even accept gay people in their congregations, as long as they remain celibate.

I don’t know about the worst. They have the words of Jesus, “God is Love”, and of John, “Perfect love drives out all fear”, and they seem to subsume this love entirely in Judgment: “I love you but you’re going to Hell”. God loves by prescribing rules, demanding obedience and submission, and in the end by judging and casting people into Hell. The idea that God smites with weather systems, catching the Evangelicals and the Gays alike, killing people randomly in his smiting, is ridiculous and pictures a weak, neurotic God: but people say these things.

Homophobia blinds the Roman church to the pastoral gifts of gay men. In 2005 the Vatican decreed kalb_triptych centrethat men with “deeply rooted homosexual tendencies” or who “support the so-called ‘gay culture’” could not be ordained. Yet their catechism says gays “must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.” So, gay people should be accepted in congregations, as long as they remain celibate. Not trans folk, though: Maledict claimed we are destroying the very essence of the human creature through manipulating their God-given gender to suit their sexual choices…when freedom to be creative becomes the freedom to create oneself, then necessarily the Maker himself is denied and ultimately man too is stripped of his dignity as a creature of God. We would have to revert. I was welcomed at Turvey Abbey, but then, I was sniffing around, not seeking membership.

saliger_dianas_restIn the least bad, there may be “ex-gays”, who are a varied lot. Some are bisexual, and now have opposite sex marriages: they make money by preaching to gullible fools that God cures gayness, and the fools are encouraged to persecute gays. Others accept that their “same-sex attraction” will always subsist, but go along with the lie that it is necessarily sinful. I read of an ex-gay gathering, which an “ex-ex-gay” found terribly sad: it was wonderful to be with people just like him, and sad that they all felt their sexuality a Burden.

How much are they required to conform to an ideal of masculinity or femininity? Some imagine that the “narrow way which leads to life” is one of rigid conformity, rather than that way which is idiosyncratically you. Hence my choice of pictures, saliger_judgement_parisfrom this fascinating article. But only in the centre of Dante’s Hell is humanity frozen with no chance of movement: humanity’s natural tendency is to heal and grow, and cast off shackles.

Some Christians will have gay friends. Their aim is to convert, but some just might not be totally blind to the humanity of the other.

Whether I engage, or just refuse to as in yesterday’s post, is a matter of how sick of them I feel. For example, I can answer Maledict: when rules to promote humanity become rules to assuage the fears of the ignorant, then God is denied and humans stripped of dignity. Sometimes it feels too much like hard work.


Unacceptable Christians

Ziegler the four elements central panelChristians should accept gay members, including in teaching or eldering roles, and accept gay marriages and gay cohabiting couples. That is the position of my denomination, Britain Yearly Meeting of Quakers. There are some Christians who preach that parents should disown a child who comes out as gay. There are other Christian groups who welcome gay members, but do not support gay marriage: they say celibacy is the ideal for gay people.

Even among gay Christians, there are many who wish to be celibate. They are “Side B” on the Gay Christian Network. They are the “ex-gays”, some of whom say they “suffer” from same sex attraction but do not wish to act upon it, any more than a married person should act upon sexual attraction to people other than their spouse.

Mrs Thatcher said of Mr Gorbachev, “We can do business with him”. This was during the Cold War, when Russia and America pointed ICBMs at each other, and peace was allegedly maintained by “Mutual Assured Destruction”. Can we “do business” with other Christians?

In Christianity there is the paradox of the wholly wretched man- “Nothing good dwells within me” who is nevertheless justified, sanctified, glorified. Should we accept remarried divorcees, or Expel the Immoral Brother? If we accept divorcees, should we also accept gay couples? Love, fear and judgment circle.

Ziegler the four elements right panelThose churches which condemn gays loudest suffer most, for they are the ones with the most restrictive cultural ideals of what it is to be a man or a woman. They limit manhood: just as the Koran says women should dress “modestly” but Muslims put their women behind veils, they push ideals to the extreme in a search for an illusory purity.

There are churches which celebrate gay members in our relationships, and there are the least bad of the homophobes. They would require a gay person to be celibate, which leads to the oddity that a succession of one night stands, each of which is a separate “sin” which may be repented, is less threatening to them than a settled relationship. They would preach Love for all their members, all of whom fall short of an ideal. It might be possible, there, to be camp, as long as you did not have a relationship. They might have the possibility of movement: once a gay member becomes a friend, the restrictions they demand for that person become less onerous.

I am unsure, here. In a world which so idolises Relationships, to be told your desires are always wrong is very harmful.

I am unsure from the Christian point of view, as well. “The Bible says so” is not a moral argument for those outwith the church, and the moral argument is that celebrating diversity profits everyone, as it allows everyone to develop their gifts most fully for the good of all. Moral people look at the gay-restricting church and feel moral distaste: they see the church enjoin something harmful, for no worthwhile reason.

So, no. There are no homophobic churches that I can “do business with”. If I will worship with anyone who will worship with me, it is in hopes that they will accept me as I am.

Ziegler the four elements


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