Merry Christmas with William Holman Hunt

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with them, and they with me.

In my beginning is my end: the Resurrection.

Jesus in the Temple

The triumph of the innocents.

Paintings by William Holman Hunt. The Church Fathers discerned that Christ’s humanity and Jesus’ divinity were intermingled and inseperable like water mixed with wine; and so, therefore, are ours.

Johns Hopkins

Johns Hopkins University ceased performing gender reassignment operations in the 1970s. Steve, or Stevo, has been clicking links on the Internet, never an easy way of achieving understanding, and felt the need to tell me this. He read an article, I think he said by a surgeon, which argued against the operation, claiming it did no good.

I felt such anger, and expressed it pungently. The reason surgery does not always do us much good is that we are so damaged before we get it. I went on to Sam Hashimi, who transitioned to Samantha Kane and wrote or had ghosted a book about how she had been Liberated to be her True Self, then reverted to Charles Kane and started making complaints about her psychiatrists. As if there was a discrete group of people who are “Transsexual”, whom psychiatrists can recognise, and who on reassignment will live Happily Ever After; and another group of people, always wrong about their desires, whom a psychiatrist should recognise as Not Transsexual and discourage from transition. Kane now has this hydraulic thingy which in some ways resembles a penis. (As opposed to the organ which some trans men acquire, which is one.)

I am not attached to the identity “woman”. If you want to call me a man, go ahead- though you will have to stretch your definition of the word to include me, with my desires, feelings, actions and way of being; and indeed stretch your ideal, for I am in no way an “inferior man”.

Transition is difficult. Living authentically as who I am is difficult. It does not mean that I am wrong to try, because living in denial of my feminine self is impossible.

What may I do with the anger? I went back to the Circle after this conversation- I have been on retreat with HAI- still feeling my anger. I felt the need to share. The only identity I am attached to is “Abigail”. This is so difficult, with various groups saying that I should not transition for various reasons, often linked to the fact that I do not have a uterus. This is who I am. My anger has been a burden, as I have been frightened of it, and frightened of showing it.

It can be my power source. My anger is energy, which I can waste energy on suppressing or holding back, or use to live life more fully. I get up, and prowl around the circle, looking people in the eye. Hello. I am Abigail. Hello.

In the closing circle, the instruction was say a few words. I said, “Gift. Gratitude. Love. Respect.” Then I laughed. After, someone said they wished some of my laughter could be not ironic. Some of my laughter- more and more of it- is joyous.

William Holman Hunt, the Lady of Shalott

Homophobia II

File:William Holman Hunt - Amaryllis.jpgSome people get steamed up about the word homophobia. They are not afraid of LGBT, they say. Well, OK, perhaps they are not. As a matter of tactics, we could stop using the word. There are others, after all. What about-

Prejudice. Our opponents have come to a position on us without knowing us. They have prejudged. They might have less wiggle-room to challenge the word “prejudice” than “homophobia”.

Lack of empathy. Not everyone feels disgust about the same thing, and so saying “That’s disgusting” rather than “I find that disgusting” betrays a lack of imagination. If you find two people holding hands disgusting rather than lovely or sweet, that says more about you than about them.

Meanness. You want your relationships recognised and privileged by the State, but not those of other folks. This is mean-spirited.

Judgmental. If you think gay lovemaking is a sin, don’t do it yourself. Don’t tell other people how they should live their lives.

Obsessive. There are blogs by straight people entirely devoted to the issue of LGBT rights- arguing LGBT rights are a bad thing. File:William Holman Hunt - The Birthday.jpgDon’t you have anything else to worry about? And if you find gay lovemaking disgusting, stop thinking about it. All sex is more or less weird. Or, complete loss of the sense of proportion: here is a bizarre fellow in a pink waistcoat who imagines that a candidate saying “homosexuality is normal” is, by itself, a reason not to vote for her.

Discourteous.

The problem is that “homophobia” is a word recognised by a majority of the population, but resented by a minority: some even call it a slur. So, if someone gets unduly het up, and denies feeling fear, the solution is simple: there are plenty of good simple descriptive words to apply to them. Tell them they fall below the standard expected of civilised human beings.

I got the idea for this post from Joshua R Ziefle, who asked for alternatives. Vera’s comment there illustrates the point perfectly: she is not fearful, she says, she “disagrees” with the “homosexual lifestyle”, as if there were only one. Fearful or not, she is certainly prejudiced. I suggested the new coinage antihomoïsm- from which I get antihomoïc, antihomote- but it is unnecessary.

The poor will be with you always

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/9/97/William_Holman_Hunt_-_Isabella_and_the_Pot_of_Basil.jpg/363px-William_Holman_Hunt_-_Isabella_and_the_Pot_of_Basil.jpg-So we needn’t bother trying to help?

At the house of Simon the Leper, or Lazarus, at Bethany, an unnamed woman, or Mary, who was Jesus’ friend and Lazarus’ sister, pours pure nard, an expensive perfume, on Jesus’ head. The disciples, some of those present, or Judas Iscariot object, saying the perfume could have been sold for a large amount, and the money given to the poor. Jesus said,

The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. In Mark, he adds, and you can help them any time you want. The perfume was for his burial. Matthew and Mark then tell of Judas agreeing to betray Jesus. John says Judas was a thief, who would have taken that money.

Footnotes refer us to Deuteronomy 15:11: There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be open-handed towards your fellow Israelites who are poor and needy in your land.

Work like you don’t need the money.
Love like you’ve never been hurt.
Dance like nobody’s watching.
Sing like it’s Heaven on Earth

We may always give to the Poor, but this could only be done now. It is a Sign of beautiful, extravagant Love, or a Sign that Jesus will die.

Menis Yousry told us to listen to the cabin crew when next we fly: when the oxygen masks drop down, put your own on first, or you will be unable to help anyone else with theirs. I thought of GJ, the Wise Woman in Top of the Lake, who speaks so contemptuously of her followers- first they look for love, and can’t find it, so they look for Enlightenment, and they don’t find that either.

So you’re on your knees? Good. Now die to yourself. To your idea of yourself. Everything you think you are, you’re not. What’s left? Find out.

Stop. Stop thinking. –What are these crazy bitches doing? Meditating? You’ve got to work. No-one will pay you for closing your eyes.

You people all want to help someone. That one wants to help Africa. Help yourself first.

Why should I tell you when you don’t listen? All you hear are your own crazy thoughts, like a river of shit, on and on. See your thoughts for what they are. Stop your helping. Stop your planning. Give up. There’s no way out. Not for others, not for you. We are living out here at the end of the road, in a place called paradise. How’s it going? Perfect? No. You are madder than ever. You are tired? So lie down right here. Be like a cat. Heal yourself. There is no match for the tremendous intelligence of the body. Rest.

I copy it out, because I am thinking about Enlightenment.

Spiritual discipline

File:John Everett Millais - Isabella (Walter Deverell face).jpgI get up in the morning and kneel for ten minutes in my ritual space.  I get aware of my breath, practise metta meditation, or channel Qi to my chakras. Some say ten minutes is pointlessly short, but it is what I like. Before going to bed, I have a similar ten minutes.

Except I don’t. I lie in bed until I have got to get up and no longer have time for it, and I waste time with facebook and blog comments and telly until it is too late, and I just go to bed.

I know it is good for me. I know it makes me think more clearly and creatively and perceive better, and I remember feeling better after, and I still put it off, often until I just decide not to. There is something in me which finds it uncomfortable and difficult, as well as something in me which finds it beautiful. It might be useful to have a dialogue of those two parts.

I think human beings are created Good, and Romans 7-8 is therefore a difficult passage for me. Romans 7: 15, 21-25:

15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do….21 So I find this law at work: William Holman Hunt: the Light of the WorldAlthough I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

A dialogue.

Inner being: Before we start, can we think of a different name for me? Kind of judgmental, “sinful nature”, v.18, don’t you think? Paul’s word is “sarx”, “flesh”. Remember “The Word was made sarx, and dwelt amongst us”.

-mmm. I love my ritual space. Why do you not?

Sarx: “Sarx” will do me.
-It is uncomfortable. How often have we knelt there and just started crying? I hate crying. It is uncomfortable. It looks silly, and people deride and despise me for it. Feeling feelings is really painful. Suppressing them stops the pain.

Inner being: Suppressing them is really difficult. They come out in other ways, and the whole process is destructive.

Me: OK. It is beautiful and constructive and creative and healing and all of that- but it is also painful and difficult, and sometimes even the delight is too much. And sometimes, afterwards, I feel so open and vulnerable, and that is difficult, and so going out or applying for jobs or seeing people is just too much for me- though it is too much for me when I suppress, too.

So it takes discipline to go into the ritual space. I cannot just imagine ooh, it’s lovely, of course I will do it. It takes courage. I go where I have been badly hurt. It is worthwhile.

Conscious incompetence III

At midnight on Saturday I was pacing the floor with Dick, wrestling with my situation. I am doing nothing, not working, not looking for work. This is OK now, but not for more than a year from now. I need an income stream, and I want it by the start of the next Mayan Great Age. So. What are the problems? How have I got to this situation?

How have I thought to move on? Feel the old suppressed feelings, mourn the old hurts, pass through these and move on. Having gained great respect for my mother doing as she did with the difficulties she had, doing her utmost best always, now I feel I can mourn for the happy childhood I did not have, and accept that. All this feels good and valuable, but not enough, and while I hope I am healing and growing and becoming capable, I fear that I am just vegetating. With Dick, I enumerated the problems, and the solutions I had found, and these did not seem enough; and I punched a cushion a bit, having got it out to scream into it, but that did not seem particularly useful either. Eventually, needing to go to bed, we just stopped.

The Importunate Neighbour- Wm Holman Hunt

The idea came forth the following day. I need to trust myself and the world. I do not trust either. I know, intellectually, that I can trust myself and the world, and now I choose to take that into my heart. I knew, then, how to do this: I will enumerate my good qualities, and the evidence that I have them, and I will think on them. Always I have felt terrified because I am not Perfect, and though my idea of perfect has changed over the years it has always been different from who I am. Now, it seems, I may be good enough.

This is really a conscious incompetence thing, which I could not do without having chosen to be positive rather than negative. It seems everything is coming together.

Also at the HAI weekend, I felt moved to offer spiritual healing, and did what I felt moved to do, offering at the solar plexus chakra, the seat of power. This makes no intellectual sense to me, indeed my inner rationalist could easily produce the arguments to refute it- but it felt real, and right, and my inner rationalist does not feel, itself, any need to produce that refutation. The person felt something.