1000 years of bread

When people set out to do something spectacular, sometimes they just make it silly or asinine. For example, the song Organ²/ASLSP (As SLow aS Possible) is currently being played out of a church in Germany, having begun in 2001 and intended to conclude in 2640. Despite having been playing for 13 years come this Friday, the song is currently only on its thirteenth note and the next note change will not occur until September 5th of 2020.

That’s not very interesting to listen to, obviously. It’s just an organ softly humming a single note for the next six years. Every couple of years, I check in to see their progress, but it’s not something I’d want to livestream, if you know what I mean.

This, however, is.

When I first read about Longplayer and its projected one millennium duration, I expected something similar to ASLSP, but it’s more than that. The notes change regularly. I’ve been listening to the song for about forty minutes now and my feelings are mixed, but only because I can’t decide whether the song is soothing or eerie. Produced by Tibetan singing bowls and gongs, it has a sonorous quality that I could see in the background of a horror movie just as readily as I could see it in more innocuous places (which, indeed, it has occupied).

I recommend you give it a listen.

For at least a little while.

Love in Christianity

I am not Christian. I read the Bible (typically the Revised Standard Edition, although I often compare with other translations) as an exercise in understanding the perspective and motivations of the most common religion in my culture, and there are some parts of it I genuinely enjoy. Whether I like reading it or not, however, it is inevitable that I will hear it quoted at me.

So sometimes I quote it back.

To build an extended case here in favor of Biblical approval of same-sex marriage, I submit the following.

1 John 4:7-21 establishes the premise that God is love, that loving is equivalent to godliness and that disdaining love is the very opposite. Point in fact, it states that anyone who claims to know God while disdaining love is a liar.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 explains the nature of love, which I quote here for emphasis: patience, kindness, never jealous or boastful, nor arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way. It is not irritable or resentful. It does not rejoice at wrong, only right. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things — and it is everlasting, whereas everything else, even scripture, is doomed to decay. Notice some of these qualifiers: it does not insist on its own way, it endures all things, believes all things, bears all things. If God is love incarnate, then how can these not apply to God as well?

The word “rejoice” invokes Romans 12:9-21, specifically verse 15 where it says to rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep. This calls back to Mark 12:31 and Matthew 22:39 which invoke the law we have collectively come to term the Golden Rule.

Jesus commands love for each other in John 13:34-35 and states that the love of his followers will make them recognizable to others, evoking Matthew 7:15-20‘s “knowing them by their fruits” and then describing that the bad fruit is indeed evil. This love is commanded to be universal as both Matthew 5:43-48 and Luke 10:25-37 assure us.

All the law is summarized in Romans 13:8-10, and it is summarized as “Love your neighbor as yourself,” and further clarified, “Love does no harm to a neighbor.” If you should happen to be a person who thumps the Bible and invokes Romans 1 and 1 Corinthians 6 and say you do this out of love, and your neighbor tells you that your love is causing harm, then it cannot be love — and with that bookend, those who do not love, do not know God.

As for the nature of sin, Paul described it in Romans 14:13-23 as, to invoke Martin Luther King Jr., an inescapable network of mutuality. Those who love without reservation are closest to God regardless of their orientation, and if the sight of those lovers brings you such a crisis of faith… well, I won’t quote any of the three passages regarding what Jesus would rather you do to your eyes than stumble. We can be quiet in our love, but if you demand that our love cease or be hidden away so as to make us quieter still, then the time has come to lose the part of yourself that is so intent on violating the law.

In this case, I recommend it be the part of your faith that has demanded you invoke the final item in Proverbs 6:16-19, but ultimately, it rests with you.

Originally published in Kimberly Knight’s blog, Coming Out Christian, with slight modifications.

Words, binary and biphobia, or: why “bi” is binary but “FTM” is not


I found this pertinent to recent discussions.

Originally posted on Bi radical:

This text also appears in my book Bi: Notes for a Bisexual Revolution. If you like it, please consider buying a copy.

Before I write – a disclaimer: this post contains criticism of the non-bisexual-identified transgender community and discourse. Please be aware that I am writing this criticism not as an outsider, but as a genderqueer person involved in transgender community, and activism. I hope this criticism is taken in the same spirit in which it was written – that of passion and solidarity.

This is a long post. But trust me, it is good. Take your time in reading in, it will be worth it ;)

A(n) (long) introduction

It appears increasingly acceptable of late, in transgender/genderqueer communities and activist discourses, to portray bisexuality as a binary identity, and thus intrinsically transphobic. As the claim classically goes – since the word “bisexuality” has “bi” (literally: two) in…

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Bisexual / Pansexual discussion

I would like to open a discussion which has been on my mind quite a bit over the last year. I have heard the term “pansexual” used specifically to dissociate an orientation from bisexuality by suggesting that the former includes trans and intersex people, while the former excludes it. In my experience, this has never been true of any bisexual person who did not possess a negative attitude toward such people.

While the term “pansexual” may be more accurate (there are more than two possible biological sex categories, much less gender identification!), I find myself uncomfortable about this shift in terminology for reasons I am not entirely able to articulate. It sometimes seems like those who claim the term pansexual are doing so out of a wish not to be identified as bisexual, and that leads me to wonder if the specificity they claim is really unique.

Hence, I would like to ask a question: For anyone in my audience who identifies specifically as bisexual, if you are comfortable with making this information known, do you also experience attraction to trans and/or intersex people? Have you known any people who identify as bisexual and do not?

Basically, I would like to gauge how many people would hypothetically fall under the pansexual identification while instead identifying as bisexual for any or no reason.

Faith in humanity – I wonder if I have too much?

Following is an except from Good News:

Creative Commons License
Good News by Samael is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

“This was one of the first regions to dissolve their ban on capital punishment.” God, she made it sound like she was just reporting a fact. “You have executed 73 people in the past twenty years, including six men and three women for trespassing, three men and eight women convicted of adultery—“
     “That’s completely irrelevant,” someone tried to interrupt, but she went on without even pausing.
     “—nine women for prostitution, sixteen men and four women for murder—“
     “Enough!” shouted the first Councilman.
     “—and twenty four people in total for the crime of blasphemy.”

The last few days have had many ups and downs, and I wonder now, examining this piece of writing… 73 executions over 20 years for a village of a few thousand people. Even granting that it would take some time for a region with a long history of never using capital punishment to work up a full head of steam on it, is this too much or too little?

According to public records, Texas has executed 444 people over the past 20 years. The population of Texas is obviously much greater than a single village, and yet arguably, the village has the greater incentive to execute people wantonly, having the advantage of isolation and the privilege of claiming properties left by the deceased.

For some reason, it disturbs me that I am unable to intuit a reasonable number on this.

Slogging your way out of it

You know the worst thing about fighting depression? Having to pretend you care about feeling better when, really, you’re having such a hard time convincing yourself that there’s any point to trying, because it feels absurd to fight so hard to continue doing something you don’t enjoy. The terrible part is, maybe you would enjoy it if you weren’t depressed — but it messes with your mind. It sucks the joy out of memories. You can’t remember ever enjoying anything. It just seems like one big uphill slog for no good reason, but you’ve got to put on the brave front and pretend it’s all going to work out.

Being in the middle of it is the worst possible time to try and decide whether it’s worth fighting it. You’ll just have to take someone else’s word for it: It is. Whether life continues to suck or not, it’s still worth it. At least then you’ll know. You’ll have the choice, the perspective, the capacity to differentiate between outcomes.

Don’t take depression’s word for it. Depression is a lying jerk.

World Vision kneels to the Antichrist

So World Vision, a humanitarian aid organization, changed its rules two days ago to allow their company to hire married gay Christians. They already had gay Christians, but specifically forbid married couples because, they argued, marriage was only marriage if sex was involved, and gay people could only be tolerated if they were abstinent.

In light of the inevitable backlash, today they did a 180 and reverted back to the original rules. They then issued a profound apology for the hurt and confusion their decision caused.

The problem is, they were apologizing to the conservative groups who were threatening to pull their support and leave thousands of children without aid. Not the people who genuinely want to do their part as Christians to feed, clothe and care for others. Not the children whose welfare would be put at risk. They apologized to millionaires and gatekeepers who wield extortion as a club to uphold their theological power, their self-granted capacity to determine who is and isn’t Christian.

How do the fruits of these thrice-damned sons of clay taste? Can you see God when you look around the bulk of these arrogant, overfed and unconcerned goats among men who stand defiantly in the face of mirrors?

It’s a small wonder they’re so eager to portray starvation as a temporal suffering, less important than to address eternal matters. These are the descendents of men who told African slaves, “The role of a good Christian is to obey without complaint, to forgive trespass without question, to abstain from any dream of worldliness.” To prop up their own power, vested in them by bloodstained hands, they turned and continue to preach that the only sin which is not forgivable is one against themselves.

Their vision of God, of necessity, is one of hate and exclusion. If it were ever come to pass that they were wrong, that God was inclusive and welcoming, they would have no excuse–NONE–for the harm they have inflicted and allowed to be inflicted over the centuries.

Paradise will be Hell for them.

Eulogy for Fred Phelps

We have learned today via his son, Nate Phelps, that Fred Phelps is in hospice and is expected to pass soon. His family, keeping to their hatred, have prevented any family member who spurned the Westboro Baptist Church’s hateful theology from saying their goodbyes.

I am not one who usually turns to the Bible for comfort, but a verse comes to mind which I wish to share.

Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not kill, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this sentence, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

In the face of such a petty evil as one who knew only contempt for others and preyed upon them in their weakest moments, a call to love Fred Phelps would seem ridiculous. I do not ask for passion. Indeed, I am unable to summon any such thing. I wish I could offer something to ease the many justifiable feelings of those who think of this man and his legacy, but the imminence of his passing leaves me with a hollow feeling and little else. I am not angry or glad, I am tired. I hope that regardless where he goes, a lesson will be learned that this is our eventual fate, each of us, and if love is forgotten more quickly when those who have felt it pass beyond remembrance, we need only remember that hatred endures but is never praised. Better to fade into the long night than to be remembered, nor for our character, but for horrible deeds and incalculable harm.

And so I ask this instead: Do no harm. If we cannot feel joy for his life, then seek no joy in his death. That is love enough. It is perhaps a vain hope, an unfair hope, but hope is what I have.

I hope Fred Phelps steps upon the plains of Paradise and finds himself alone save for those who can educate him. I hope he learns the error of his ways, not as a punitive device, but so that he will know well and truly why his name will live on solely in infamy. I hope that he swiftly learns to regret that, not by ceaseless torture, but by the dawning of newly discovered empathy in his heart. Whether he returns to Earth in some form of reincarnation or remains in Paradise to join others as his enlightenment allows, I hope he turns his efforts to the antithesis of the life he lived on Earth and becomes a blessing upon whatever world in which he lives.

In short, I hope the same thing for Fred Phelps as I do for all evil people – to become good, to reverse course and seek amends, and I hope–have chosen to believe–there is never a point when this is impossible.

I used to have wings

About fifteen years ago, I was introduced to the Otherkin by a good friend from a collaborative writing community I frequented. I was young and slowly piecing together the fact that I wasn’t like most people. I was frequently uncomfortable to be in my own skin. I sometimes stood in the shower and stared at my body, loathing what I saw, every fiber of my being screaming “This isn’t mine! This looks nothing like me!” This was before I was formally educated in psychology and long before I found my way into the LGBT community, so I didn’t have the knowledge or vocabulary that I have today. It took a long time before I realized that I was genderfluid and even longer before someone gave me that word to describe myself.

I say this as a caveat, to make clear that I recognize the fact that I was already dissatisfied with my body before this friend then informed me that I was an Otherkin and that this could only have fed into my desire for an explanation. I was very conflicted over it. I felt like I stood apart from most people and this would have been a very good reason as to why. I still wrestled with the remains of my Christian faith, and this could have shed some light on why I seemed to have such an antagonistic relationship with God. It would have explained why I so often felt like I didn’t belong in this body at all.

The most important distinction with an Otherkin is probably whether or not they actually want to be one — that’s probably the crucial difference between spiritual beliefs and species dysphoria, as a psychological disorder can usually only be diagnosed in the presence of the four Ds: Distress, Danger, Dysfunction and Deviance. To believe one’s self to be (in spirit) another species might be deviant, but by itself won’t necessarily cause any distress or dysfunction, or pose a threat to one’s self or others. If the mind both cannot accept this belief or dismiss it, however, the person could suffer greatly or even become suicidal, satisfying the other categories.

That said, there are Otherkin of many different kinds: elves, fae, dragons, animal people and just plain animals, people of different worlds… and angels. Obviously, I was an angel. (I mean, what else would I be?)

I wish I could convey how much I struggled with the idea. There was a specific angel to which I was identified, and a lot of the lore surrounding that angel sat uncomfortably with me, but I couldn’t dismiss the idea. Whether it was because it fit so neatly with my yearning for an explanation for feeling so different from other people or because there was some merit to the claim remains unknown, but either could have been the reason why it clung to me (if you will forgive me, this scene comes to mind).

I compulsively researched this angel’s background, sifting through ancient scripture and folklore. I’m not sure whether I was looking for something to refute or something that would verify whether my feelings were true. I was disturbed by how often I sided with the angel, who frequently ran afoul of God and was punished in unspeakable ways. Although usually described as the antagonist who rebelled against God and other angels, I found him to be the more sympathetic figure. It was even worse when I came across quotations that seemed like they could have easily been things I might have said which had been distorted by time and translations.

Then there were the encounters.

One night, I reading in a public place to pass the time after an evening class, waiting for my ride home, when a young man I had never met before addressed me. He then asked, “Do you believe in reincarnation? You and I were once companions in another life.” He then gave me a name. This had the makings of a poor pickup attempt, but I recognized the name from my research. I looked it up again when I got home to be sure and confirmed it: this name was often associated with my angel as an alternate name or perhaps a companion occupying a similar sphere of mythology.

I never saw that person again, but there were other incidents which were sometimes just as unnerving.

People with whom I spoke exhibited bizarre, inexplicable behavior. Many would spontaneously begin speaking of things which appeared to shame them, “confessing their sins” as it were, without prompting or encouragement, apparently unaware of doing so. I often found myself able to locate lost items in places I was visiting for the first time. People would often overlook me and be surprised to know I had been there, even when there was no reason for them to have missed my presence in the room. Dogs with no history of wild behavior would bark and howl when they saw me, while cats known to be moody and aloof would purposefully seek out my attention. A hematite crucifix necklace literally fell out of the sky and landed in front of me one day. It survived the impact and I still have it. It has no markings to indicate its origin, although it is clearly man-made.

I seemed to be a magnet for strange activity, and as odd as some of the things I have listed are, there were other events which I hesitate to put into writing simply because they are that unbelievable. Lights turning on and off by themselves, faces which appeared in reflections, fire in the sky — all occurring in the presence of others, who verified that they had seen them happen as well.

At last, like conceding an argument, I had to admit that I was exhausted from wondering all the time while strange things constantly seemed to be happening in my life. I decided that the closest I would ever come to an answer was to be agnostic about it and so I made a kind of mental bargain. I said to myself, “Self, being an angel doesn’t have to mean anything at all. You can just be. So here’s what we’re going to do. You be an angel, and as long as that doesn’t change who you are, we won’t have any problems. Agreed?”

Or something like that.

Sometimes I wonder if there’s a point to bringing it up, which I don’t do often. The explanation is long and adequate. It makes people treat me differently, sometimes poorly. If I prefer my alleged angelic nature not to change anything about me, then why is it important enough to tell people about it in the first place?

Because it’s who I am. Sometimes that’s enough, whether anyone likes it or not.