Bosch, The Adoration of the Magi

The Wise Men pay homage to the King of Peace.

Why are there four of them? Four richly dressed men, one hurriedly covering his nakedness but wearing his crown. I love the tassel on Balthazar’s sleeve, and the embroidery. His page looks at the naked man, not the Baby. Here’s Mary, calm and regal.

Above them, there is the star, and a far city with a windmill and fantastic towers.

The side panels have some lovely details: the people in the fields have no idea of the rich gifts, or they’d be over for a gawp. A man in a woman’s headdress tries to dry nappies before a fire. The smell of smoke might mask the smell of Jesus-poo. St Peter escorts a donor, portrayed in piety, identified by his coat of arms and motto “One for all”. How strange, to buy your way into Heaven!

The fleur de lys identifies a female donor and her same-named saint Agnes. A wolf menaces a woman, and a bear engulfs a man. At least the sheep is peaceful. I wonder what those long spoons are for.

When the triptych is closed, the faded outside shows Christ crucified, and a devil taking Judas’ soul to Hell.

Here is the whole.

Behold, the man

More Ecce Homo pictures.

Rubens, Ecce Homo

At first I thought Rubens had got it completely wrong. His Jesus made me think of frown, and wrinkled lip, and stare of cold command- quite the wrong passions for the Passion. And then I saw this Christ as holding your gaze: demanding to be seen, as a human being, but any challenge is in the viewer. We may project, but Christ accepts. Pilate is defeated. He wants to release Jesus but politically has no power to.

Willem van Herp, Ecce Homo

You would expect a Dutchman of the time to give the Romans Spanish helmets. The soldiers mock, jeer and prod, and even the dog challenges, and Christ sits, powerless- the crossed wrists exemplify that for me- yet straight-backed. This is art as resistance.

Bosch or follower, Ecce Homo 1590s

More Bosch. Below there is tumult, and in the upper left- many possible stories there.

Understanding trans

When considering transition, you may come across rubbish like this: Self identified trans individuals are interested in perpetuating understandings of gender identity disorder only in so far as they affirm their transgenderism in the terms which are most comfortable to them. So claimed a transphobic commenter. He claims to be a fetishist, and to believe that we are fetishists too.

In my blog you will find the case for transition. It is not for everyone- my transvestite friend once spent a whole week in drag, and at the end was heartily sick of it- but if it is right for you, it is really, really, right. There is evidence of that everywhere: teachers, doctors, academics, writers, members of parliament– with Caitlyn Jenner it may be too early to tell, but generally transition is a good thing.

I am interested in understanding. I have no need for the autogynephilia hypothesis to be false- if I were convinced that that was what was really happening, I would not change from expressing myself female, and would not consider that a reason for anyone not to transition, if they wanted to. But I believe autogynephilia is not true, because where there is desire to express female, and arousal by that, it is more likely that the desire causes the arousal than the other way around. Blanchard’s theory fails to explain what else could cause the arousal.

No, femininity causes our desire to express ourselves female.

That transphobe commenter claims to imagine that we are fetishists, turned on by the thought of being emasculated rather than of expressing ourselves as the feminine beings we are. This is merely silly. My femininity has a positive value. It is expressed according to the terms of my culture; its attributes, such as kindness, can be a man’s as well as a woman’s; yet taken as a whole I am feminine. I do not have to justify that to anyone, and certainly not to the transphobe wxhluyp, whose response to the strongest evidence is blank denial.

He alleges we are only interested in affirming our understanding of transgenderism. Clearly not: I have wrestled with the concept of autogynephilia, at one point believing it.

Human beings lie to ourselves. We create stories to justify ourselves. When I say I am female, and feminine, nothing will stop wxhluyp the transphobe from grinding out “You would say that, wouldn’t you?” We seek out arguments to justify our gender expression. But that does not apply to the trans woman considering whether to transition. Certainly in my generation, we are terrified of it, and run as hard as we can away from it. We take up macho professions such as the armed forces.

Thirteen years after I “went full time”, the picture is more mixed. There are children who against great resistance have convinced their parents they are trans; and yet if a lesbian aged 25 can be ashamed of her sexuality, there are certainly adults who have not yet transitioned, and are terrified of doing so, or in denial.

Denying and self-loathing, we seek out arguments like autogynephilia to buttress our desperation to remain male. We are so desperate that we might even consider “masochistic emasculation fetishism” as an explanation. Even recently, I gave far more weight to arguments against transition than I need to, and considered reverting.

Against this self-loathing, I give you- common sense. You know you want to transition. You know how feminine you are: you will come to value that, in time. It is a long journey, but it is worthwhile. It will make your life better. Those trans children are not interested in the arguments about whether it is right– they know who they are, and work to realise it. That is all the understanding you need.

If you have come from Reddit, please tell me what you think, and what your interest is. There is a comment box below.

Hieronymus Bosch, The Temptation of St Anthony, detail 5

Stating the problem III

My problem is not that I am trans, though it never makes anything easier. Writing on Trans- a memoir, the Guardian shows how the difficulties of transition may be overcome, how a trans woman may pass simply as a woman- though that is a bother, as she gets cat-called in the street- and how trans moves on, and young trans women are finding their own way not following the paths of those before them.

Clearly. Outing now is a complete taboo. Mischievously, I asked my friend if she knew other trans women in our social group, and watched her embarrassment. “Well, er, there’s that lady who…” she stumbled. “Juliet,” I said, definitely. “Juliet…” she said, still embarrassed. Ordinarily I would circumlocute: “Whether there are any other trans women who are Quakers, I could not possibly comment.” And yet, there is nothing embarrassing about it, is there? My friend is not ashamed of being diabetic, and showed off the electronic device which calculates exactly the speed at which continually to release insulin. That thing, penetrating her body, is arguably more personal.

These things move in fashions, understandings flow across the culture, the way we do things morphs but is always quite definite in the moment. Channel 4 has a programme of excerpts from 1980s programmes, and warns of casual racism and homophobia “from the start and throughout”: so often, the movement is improvement; and yet it is so constricting!

My problem is not that I am trans, but that I have been taught so well to devalue, despise and hide my femininity that even now I loathe it, deny it and see it as weakness. My first question is always “How am I wrong?”

And, I doubt myself so completely that I procrastinate everything, imagining that I will just get it wrong. These come from childhood and adult experiences.

The problem is not who I am nor how I may act, but my attitude to it. I can change my attitudes, a bit; and yet I get that letter and just feel fear.

Paintings now: details from The Temptation of St Anthony by Hieronymus Bosch.

Hieronymus Bosch, The Temptation of St Anthony, detail 9


Hieronymous Bosch, SuperbiaI am inspired by Nana Rhonda, who opens her mind and heart to people who feel differently to her. I have tried it as an intellectual exercise, imagining what could motivate someone with opposite views to my own: but there are boundaries, and the Catholic Truth blog crosses them. The editor was whining about the St Vincent de Paul Society (SVP) giving €45,000 to an LGBT resource centre. A bishop had criticised the grant, but the SVP is unrepentant.

€45,000 out of net funds of €73,129,000 is a tiny amount for needy people. I went in with my standard issue knockabout comment- when homophobes whine about gay people being treated decently, I write “Thank you for sharing this good news”. They piled on to me, with seven people (or sockpuppets) answering me- not bad for a brief troll. Confitebor Domino [I praise the Lord] wrote A single penny directed to such a cause is too much. The editor suggested people go see my blog, and I have had twenty clicks so far- clicks from such blogs rarely get into double figures, so they have been terribly interested in me. To wind them up, I wrote, Ooh, let’s see. What is the most important part of the definition [of Christian]? “Not gay”? Tell that to the disciple whom Jesus loved. I enjoyed that, and I am sure they enjoyed their silly-clever put-downs too. I thought the editor would delete that comment as blasphemous, but she was content to call it “scurrilous”. Then, they began discussing my gender- they think I am male. “Michaela” said This whole “transgender” and “transsexual” stuff comes straight from Hell. “Margaret Mary” said How disgusting that anyone would undergo operations and dress up to pretend they are the opposite gender, for real.

Goltzius, SuperbiaBut this crosses the line: In my view all Catholics ought now to make no further donations to the SVP until:

1. the grant to Amach is revoked
2. an apology is issued to the SVPs supporters for this scandalous misuse of funds
3. the Irish National Management Council is replaced by people with a functioning
moral compass.

SVP must be turned upside down, and its management humiliated. Nothing else is enough for this person, and s/he would be happy to starve it of funds until that happens. But consider what SVP does: Our focus is on practical approach to dealing with poverty, alleviating its effects on individuals and families through working primarily in person-to-person contact by a unique system of family visitation and seeking to achieve social justice and equality of opportunity for all citizens. That is, while not requiring its beneficiaries to be Catholic, it strengthens community and Catholic faith in volunteers and beneficiaries through personal service. It allows Christians to do the work of the Lord.

“Direct assistance to those in need”. SVP does not assess the moral value of the poor whom it helps. Jesus would not. He calls no-one who is perfect already, but brings us to our potential. Confitebor Domino would rather destroy that, than let a grant go to gay people. I cannot understand that. I cannot value it. I find it abominable.

Petty crime

Hieronymus Bosch- The ConjurerRon at the bus stop. “In detention centres, they get the highest priority, for NHS, doctors and everything”, he moaned. Woman agreed. She used to work in the Swanston prison, and it was like a holiday camp.

The man complained about the police, who do nothing. In the shop where he works, shoplifters took £150 of goods and all the police would do was issue a crime number for the insurance. Notour shoplifters, he knows exactly who they are. The security guards in the mall are useless. He chased after a shop-lifter, and the security guard stopped him, for running. “Look,” he said, “I’m a middle-aged man, I don’t run for nothing.” It was no good. The police did get involved when he sold a phone to someone, she took it elsewhere to get it unlocked, the man charged her thirty quid then said he could not unlock it because it had been reported stolen. It hadn’t, of course. This policeman spent two hours trying to get his friend’s thirty quid back, which should be a job for trading standards.

He gets threatened routinely. The young woman in his shop was threatened with being gang-raped. He gets threatened with knives. Bloke came in to sell games for thirty quid, but needs photo ID. It’s the law, they get audited about five times a year on that. He produced an out of date passport. That is no good, it’s expired. So he claimed it had been accepted before (it wouldn’t have been) then pulled a knife.

-“Oh, come on. What’re you going to do with that?” I said. So he started threatening and swearing. But I’m a karate brown belt and an ex-nightclub bouncer, and the manager is a black belt.

One time, a bloke did swing at him, but he blocked it and hit back. Not long after, the man came back with the police, to have him arrested. He explained- a whole shop-full of customers had seen it, and the police asked if he would like to press charges. He declined.

The woman said that she had seen two “gypsy ladies” in Iceland, stuffing their bags, but when she stopped them the security guard took their side. I don’t expect people on my estate to be aware of the latest political correctness, but that smells a bit, to me. Why mention their origin? I did not challenge it.

I said I was going to the TTIP protest, and we got onto UKIP. He disapproves- but then, his wife is an immigrant. UKIP frightened the Tories at the local elections, and they decreed that he had to earn £26,000 for himself and £3,500 for each child before Immigration would accept that he could support her without being a drain on the State. She has leave to remain, but it will be reviewed in June and probably revoked. He wrote to the MP, got a signed letter back- pleasant enough, but saying there was nothing he could do.

He said he should stand for parliament. His platform would be introducing to schools lessons in defusing confrontation and backing down without losing too much face.

Hieronymus Bosch

The Unexplained

It begins with a photograph, of an attractive normal family, and a claim which is remarkable yet credible. A man “surfed” down fifteen floors of the North tower of the world trade centre, and survived with only a twisted ankle. I don’t like the source they cite, but believe it on this.

Then my friend’s facebook share makes six pages of A4, moving through less believable claims. Private weapons/defence/security corporations carried out the 9/11 “investigations”, but had a conflict of interest which led them to cover up the real story. Companies may have a conflict of interest, but one likes to believe in a human capacity to tell right from wrong, and that enough people would have enough integrity to bring out the truth.

It warns us to be cautious and sceptical, because the usual run of 9/11 conspiracy theorists are wrong. Of course explosives could not have brought down the WTC in that way. How silly. Instead, directed energy weapons, using the Hutchison Effect, brought down the building. A look at its website shows that in 1979 John Hutchison while attempting to duplicate the experiments of Nicola Tesla found a source of free energy with the effects of shattering metal and cancelling gravity.

Unfortunately, those bad people at Wikipedia, who seek to exclude such benefactors of humanity as John Hutchison from that website, have removed the article on him. See here and here for comparisons. The only reference to the Hutchison Effect is in an article on a TV programme. I deleted the link to that TV programme from the article on Mayor John Hutchison: no need to give it too much prominence.

Back to facebook. Only one researcher has meticulously analyzed ALL of the easily verifiable physical evidence from 9/11 …[and] has offered a scientific conclusion that explains ALL of this easily verifiable physical evidence from 9/11 but unfortunately she is the victim of a wide spread internet campaign to slander, criticize, marginalize, disrespect, discredit, and censor information about her… Several [Internet discussion] groups claim to be 9/11 “Truth” groups, but if you even mention Dr. Judy Wood or the important evidence she has discovered, they will often censor you, ban you from their group, or ridicule you for discussing her.

Wow. When the conspiracy theorists exclude you for being too nutty, you are in a bad way. The explanation is that they are part of the conspiracy.

Yet my fbfnd shares this stuff. I think it is a conspiracy. If the Big Corporations put out enough refutable conspiracy theories, sensible people like you and me will be jaded, and not spot the real conspiracies.


I am delighted to have penetrated the Great Firewall of China! I would really like Greenland, but the problem there is population, 56,000. Even in the UK I have not reached 0.01% of the population yet. Onwards and upwards!

page views map