Pillow Christians

A ‘pillow’ Christian is soft and accepting of all people, no matter their lifestyle. The alternative is to love people enough, and respect them enough to warn them there are eternal consequences for their moral choices. I heard that from this man. He deleted my comment, but I said something like,

Others want us not to marry, but you want us not to have  homes. I pray that God hardens your heart, so that people see your hatred, are repulsed by it, and come to God’s truth.

He emailed me. I am truly sorry, no one has had the courage to share these truths with you before. Well, people have. On the bus from Newport to Cardiff, a little runt of a man repeatedly evangelised passengers. He spoke to a woman and her partner threatened to thump him, and the driver threatened to throw him off. To avoid violence and out of interest, I talked to him. He rambled on about Christ, love, sin and hell, incoherently, in an impenetrable accent. And a colleague who believed all the rubbish which makes Evangelicals despised and ridiculed by reasonable, thoughtful people- creation less than 10,000 years ago, all that- tried to talk me into it. Fortunately, Christianity made me immune to such stuff.

I am a little worried at myself, shouting at the Internet like this. All that anger. Maybe it’s the election campaign. I would rather a useful outlet for all that energy, and found it in cycling to Swanston this morning: I was happy when I got there, with all that adrenalin used well.

I asked him, Have you any blog posts warning people of the eternal consequences of their choices, apart from gay people? Before he answered, I had a look, finding this insane comment about US Gun culture: God’s kingdom is within us, and the fruit of the Spirit within us are the strength and honor of this country. Self-control, meekness (strength under pressure), longsuffering, gentleness, patience. This is the heart of honor, the heart of the gospel, and the heart of America, that Jesus is developing in each of us. This is the love of God, and freedom worth defending.

This is the spirit of the 2nd Amendment, in right to bear arms. Should free citizens be allowed to own firearms to protect themselves, their families, and this country from enemies within or without. Emphatically, YES! He cites Jesus at the Last Supper, he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one, in support, and starts with a meme calling for armed guards in schools.

He also has a go at abortion, though only by reblogs: it is pre-meditated murder. He whines about the hypocrisy of the pro-abortion folks and the lengths they go to deny a baby is a baby but also says that Christians who have an abortion and repent will be forgiven. So that’s all right, then.

He claimed he had had a go against other sinners, listing ten posts. The first had nothing at all to do with bashing any particular sin, though it did have a vile picture of Christ on the cross covered in blood, and this silliness: Although the Bible says little about his first thirty years, the baby we celebrate at Christmas did not remain a child. Really? Amazing!

So I shout at the internet, and feel ashamed, but he feels he is being Christian and Loving. If it is loving to warn people of Hell, he can shout his hate at those he disapproves for ever, and call it Virtue!

The chief reason for not shouting at the unconverted about their Sin is that it does not work. It does not bring souls to Christ, it alienates them. It does not follow Jesus, who met people where they were with Love not thinly-disguised hatred. The sin will go as Jesus sanctifies the new believer, in His good time. Chris Walsh drives people from Christ.

Goya, fight with cudgels

Control freak

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/a/a8/Francisco_de_Goya_y_Lucientes_091.jpg/340px-Francisco_de_Goya_y_Lucientes_091.jpgI would rather not be upset. I would rather not be upset at that.

My gas boiler, which should provide heating and heat water, is only providing heating, though as I type the plumber is fixing it. Turning the hot tap on, I hear the rush of a flame, but no heat gets to the water. So yesterday and today I had an all over wash after boiling a kettle, which in a bathroom at 10°C is not fun.

I phoned the landlord’s agent, who said she would call the landlord about sorting it and call me back. I told her, don’t phone my mobile. I keep my mobile switched off. She said OK. Later, I thought, I should probably switch on the mobile, they will have called that. I will watch this TV programme then I will check it for messages. Before I did, the plumber came. I would have preferred my front room tidy for him- though I did not tidy though I knew he would probably come. And I did not switch on the mobile before, though I knew they would call it. I have just called them again to tell them to delete the mobile number from their records, and phone the land line.

I am upset that things have not gone as I would have wished even though the main thing I wished- getting my hot water back- has happened; I could have tidied earlier; it does not matter that the agent called the mobile except that I requested them not to, because it is not normally switched on. So I am upset that they called the mobile because I wanted it otherwise, and I have not behaved rationally- tidying the mess- and upset that I am upset at something which should be so trivial. If I were to get a job, I would either be overwhelmed by similar irritations, or find a way to sublimate them. I don’t know.

I went to Charing Cross, had blood tests, and on the advice of an endocrinologist my GP has just cut my hormone intake. How I feel about this-

-Messing about with my hormones can only set me off
-A change in hormone ingestion may initially unsettle me, but because it is the endocrinologist’s decision can only do good in the medium term
– they don’t know, and nothing they do will do any good

can actually affect how I am, and even my actual hormone levels.

By acting as if what I wanted- agent phones my landline not my mobile- would happen, rather than what I knew would happen, I caused any negative effects, and lessened my control. I understand how I thwarted myself, and at the time I partially understood how I was thwarting myself, and that particularly worries me.

22:5

Pedro Berruguete: Burning of the HereticsA woman shall not wear that which pertaineth to a man, nor shall a man wear a woman’s garment: The Lord hates those who do such things.

That is Deuteronomy 22:5, quoted from memory. Most of the Bible texts are against the gays, but this one is just for the trannies. The Evangelical Alliance also thought “male and female God created them”, Genesis 1, was relevant.

The EA read the verse simply. Men and women are different, and a man who thinks he is a woman is plainly mentally ill. He should be given counselling until he accepts what sex he really is. However, such treatment does not work, and the only treatment to give us any equanimity is transition, so that we present as our true sex. Or gender, or whatever.

I look at it differently. Women are named first. At the time, priests soldiers and judges, male roles, had specific clothes, and they still do. Could the verse be saying that women should not take on these male roles?

Is context useful? This is a chapter which says that if a woman is not a virgin when she marries, she should be stoned to death for prostituting herself in her father’s house, and that if an Israelite sees his neighbour’s sheep straying, he should take them back to his owner. Parts of it enforce Neighbourliness, which is next to Love; and parts are obsolete and repellent.

As for “male and female God created them”, men and women are different, and of equal value, but that does not mean that God defines “woman” in such a way as to exclude me.

However, let us suppose that the meaning of the Bible can be precisely determined, and it means that no-one should be allowed to transition because it is morally wrong, as well as mentally ill; and that absolutely all homosexual acts are against God’s will. My answer, as a Christian, is I don’t care. Clearly we are born that way, so calling us “unnatural” is ridiculous.

The reason why I keep saying these things to my very small audience is to get it into my own skull. I grew up believing that my natural way of being was utterly Wrong, and that crippled me: unable to change, I was unable to be myself either. So, I keep saying, it is OK to be who I am. Whoever denies that, Princis, prelotis, and potestatis, on whatever authority, I contradict them.

And- There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. That is, there is no out-group, so we do not need to define who is or is not Jew or Female in order to exclude or include anyone.

Goya: The Inquisition Tribunal

In his one man show on transgender in the Bible, Peterson Toscano portrayed the man carrying water, the sign for the disciples to prepare for the Passover meal. But men never carried water, it was women’s work. He imagined that water-carrier, trans, coming out as female. The moment of carrying the water was a liberation for her- and for me.

Hell and depravity

Here is a gay manhttps://i2.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f8/Francisco_de_Goya_y_Lucientes_-_The_Yard_of_a_Madhouse_-_WGA10018.jpg who believes gay sex is sinful. He has “turned to Christ”, but does not believe that will alter his desires.

He has selectively read the Bible, and found the complete depravity of humanity. We all deserve Hell, he thinks, but he has accepted Jesus as his saviour and lord so hopes he will escape it. His Christian journey now is to grow in faith struggling with his temptations, which will always recur- not just same sex attraction, but all kinds of vileness.

I believe that is false. With a few, diseased exceptions, human beings are born loving, social beings. We all do our best under difficult circumstances. This is observable. And, given that only a tiny number are Christian in Matt Moore’s sense, how is it that anyone creates beautiful things, or acts well? It is not even the sole Biblical view: “I am fearfully and wonderfully made”, “Your works are wonderful, and I know it well”, “God saw what God had made, and behold it was very good” are just three quotes which spring immediately to mind. Also, imagining that human beings are so entirely perverted is to give far too much power to the Devil. We are Christians, not Zoroastrians.

So, his belief that his homosexuality is sinful perverts all his Christianity. He is in Hell now: he sees himself in continual temptation to wrong, with no power of his own to counteract it. He needs to exert eternal control, and his control will never be enough.

Similarly, a heterosexual Christian who believes homosexual behaviour is sinful is caught in the same trap. He has no reason to believe himself any better than the gay man. He too is born Wrong, all his aims and drives are against God’s will, and he must resist doggedly. He can only rely on God’s forgiveness, and never on any good in himself.

The belief that homosexuality is wrong is not just a trivial error. It vitiates Christianity, turning it from a view of human beings with God which gives life and health to a view of us which makes all of life a miserable struggle, with endless grovelling to idols. Thank God it is dying away.

The Saudi border authority has a new service. Women are not allowed to travel outside the country without the permission of their male “guardian”, and now when one does, the border authority sends a text message to that guardian. Initially the guardian had to opt in- the woman had no choice in the matter- but now it is automatic.

Infantilisation of women is not good religion. Unfortunately it shows how extremist religion tends, whether Salafist or the nuttier extremes of Evangelicalism: it is impossible to be Pure, and the fuckwits get the idea that greater extremism is more “pure”. So Complementarianism ends with women unable to work. I must be a better Christian than I was before, they think, because I take it More Seriously. It is but a short step from there to denying the Christianity of others.

Why do I care?

https://i1.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/82/Francisco_de_Goya%2C_Saturno_devorando_a_su_hijo_%281819-1823%29.jpgI despair.

It got to me, going to Edinburgh, all the anticipation- how would my life change if I got that job, what would I make of it? All the effort. And then the refusal. I get interviews. I have usually got an interview for each application I have made. And then I do not get the job. After going to Edinburgh, I did little the following week. I found that thinking “I will do X at Y future time” had no meaning. Y time came, and I did not. The thought, I need to do X, and I have time to do it Now worked.

Two client meetings got to me at the CAB. I phoned the tax credit office, to find what had gone wrong with a claim, since on the basis of what the claimant told me she was entitled to more than £100 a week- means-tested benefit, her family need that to live on- and it had been refused. It is not particularly generous. She seemed vulnerable, and in need of an even break. There is a dedicated phone line for advisers, but the person on that phone line could not find any details of the decision. It took 29 minutes, as indicated by the phone, for her to give me the contact number of the man who made the decision.

He wanted my full name, the address and post code and phone numbers of my office to prove I was who I said I was. I asked him what had happened and he said, “Why don’t you ask her?” Because I want to know what your position is. He told me I was arrogant, and he did not have to speak to me, after talking over me. He found me “condensating”, and by that time my brain was fried. I knew he meant some other thing but the word “condescending” eluded me. It was as if, rather than checking whether someone is entitled, he was seeking out excuses not to pay.

I have a law degree and benefits experience going back to 1993. File:Goya Dog.jpgI asked about why a claim for a benefit with simple entitlement criteria and clear entitlement had not been paid, and I could not get a straight answer. I could not even find out what the dispute was.

Man this morning, slightly more complicated benefit rules applied, involving two separate claims systems. He had asked the jobcentre what he should claim, and been told one thing but not the £30 a week more generous alternative. There had been a half-arsed attempt to get the claim right, the less generous way, but it was not followed through. Actually, they were getting more than they were entitled to, but that means that absolutely all of it might be recovered at some point in the future, without deducting the amount they would have been entitled to. This started six months ago. What should be done now? What should be done about the past period, given the near-impossibility of backdating? Why did that particular payment stop? Why has that particular payment not started yet?

I came out, and started weeping in the loos, and our lovely Peruvian receptionist consoled and hugged me. Why does it matter so much to me? There is the mirage of a system with clear rules for clear outcomes, fit the rules and you get the money. But put it into practice, and that does not happen. I have made appeals on serious knotty points of law, and here am I helping with claims. People who are entitled are not getting what they are entitled. The man this morning had a responsible job and has average intelligence, certainly greater than some benefit claimants, as benefits tend to be for the most vulnerable people. And he needs a lawyer to sort his claim out. The system is mad.

Written 15 October.

Authenticity

I do not “want to be a woman”. I want to be who I am, and not to hide that from others or myself.

All my accretions and pretenses and lies to myself and habits which get in the way of that are things I have taken up in order to Survive, and they are the things in the way of my flourishing now. On this blog and in my retreat from the World I am working out what that might mean. Possibly it is anatomical: the amygdala in conflict with the frontal lobe- and the idea of the Real Me, under all the attempts of my parents and society to “civilise” me, is so attractive to me.

So much for the origin of this post, written in a Tea meditation, a desperate search for how to be. On the bus, a woman says, “these chairs are so uncomfortable, so uncomfortable” and I note how I place her immediately, the word “chehs”- one of those decanted from London- rather than the more correct and educated “seats”. When we all get off, and queue by the stairs, a little girl tries to push ahead downwards, and her mummy tells her to wait. Then a man with them grabs her by the back of her coat, and she immediately starts to struggle and cry out. Just to rub that in, for my benefit not yours, she fights the restraint of a man so much larger. I note a red heart just above her bottom- what a gorgeous birthmark! If it is a tattoo-https://i2.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/34/Hombres_leyendo.jpg

He picks up their pushchair from the lower deck, and says “cheers, mate” to the driver in a gruff but cheerful, salt-of-the-earth manner.

In the street, I note a woman in a long floral dress and a bulky floral headscarf, Muslim “modest” dress made beautiful. Is it just the Autumn sunshine making me feel this good?

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes. The Struggle for the Real Me.

Thing is, the pain and distress are real, the unknowing, the old self-protection mechanisms which I have taken up to survive and now hurt me, the difficulty in perceiving all this, because I feel that my false perception is reality and the constrained way of behaving is Right and Good- all Real. And so are the flashes of insight, and the Progress, and the absolute commitment to do this work, and the necessity of it. I thought my opening a bit whiny, and then looking back at it, it is positive.

What do I want from anyone else?

Nothing.

Ah. Can I say that, really? I know that is the right thing to say. I know that any other response causes me needless pain, am I really there yet? Not sure.

I know that is the place to be, loving the beauty of all good things, undaunted by bad, and that further on good and bad cease to have meaning for all is good. Actually, I am fair pleased with mysel that I have the theory!

Goya

Robert Hughes on “The Shock of the New”, 1979- prime Australian manhood, an intellectual with a sportsman’s force and drive. Beautiful. Twenty three years later, he did a programme on Goya. He had had an accident,  and walked around with a stick or crutch. Still, beautiful. “Goya could get more pathos into that dog than Rubens could in a whole crucifixion”- trenchant, take no prisoners criticism. “The combination of fury and control [in the Black paintings] announces the genius.” So, this is part cribbed from him. How did Goya change from painting pictures like the one above, to the one below?

Consider that group in the foreground.

A couple embraces on the right. Two men in tricorn hats, to the left of them, have a darker look than the happy crowds; and that is the drama and darkness in the painting. Happy people, nice people having a nice time. The women are smiling and pretty, the men are relaxed. I love the detail in the painting, the work on each of these tiny figures. This was in 1788, when Goya was 42.

Around 1792, Goya had a serious illness, blinding him temporarily, deafening him and leaving him with tinnitus.

Two bandits cover their faces. A lunatic screams. People huddle together staring out in terror at something we do not see. Terror, or exhausted resignation, or desperate anger. Against the darkness, white on shirts, neckerchiefs and pallid skin stands out.

A comment which I read thirty years ago from Alasdair Gray, Glasgow artist and novelist, lives with me: an artist can only paint a facial expression which his own face can wear. These people are part of the artist. They are real, living people because he knows them. They move me, because they are in me, too. So how was he able to pain that Pilgrimage? Because he knew the people, they were in him, and his own experiences introduced them to him.

Aged 80, in exile in France, he wrote, “I am still learning”.