Christ For Us

I started reading Christ for Us in the Theology of Dietrich Bonhoeffer by John A. Phillips. It was published in 1967 and it’s a bit dry, but I’m a big fan of Bonhoeffer, so I’m slogging through it. I’m interested in Bonhoeffer’s theology because it sheds light on Bonhoeffer’s actions which are where the rubber meets the road. Theology is a lot of thinky-thinky and doesn’t have much impact until people start doing stuff, which is where I will make the first digression of this post.

Before I started Christ for Us, I read The Case for God by Karen Armstrong, which I wouldn’t’ve read if it had been by anybody else because the title sounds like somebody arguing that anybody should believe in God, which I think is kinda pointless. Nobody comes to believe in God because of an argument, no matter how well written it is. But Armstrong is a wonderful writer so I went on ahead and it was well worth the time. The first thing that really grabbed my attention was Armstrong’s explanation that our modern concept of “belief” is a modern concept. We think of belief as an intellectual action – I believe the earth is round because I’ve been convinced by scientific evidence. This way of thinking about belief came about during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, when the natural sciences were blowing up all over the place. Apparently, some folks were confused about the long established distinction between “logos” and “mythos” – that science and religion were different ways of thinking about different aspects of reality and were not in conflict with each other. Using science to talk about religion is like talking about upper-case and lower-case numbers. It doesn’t make sense.

Before the modern period, belief was like loyalty. All those places in the Gospels where Jesus talked about believing, He was saying “make a commitment and stick with it”. This is a huge thing. Many people have a hard time giving intellectual assent to many of the claims of Christianity – I know I do – who nevertheless show up and do what they do. I’ve handled it by accepting it – I mean, I find myself reciting the Apostles’ Creed and wondering if I actually, really believe some of the points – “resurrection of the body” is one – what does that even mean? Then I just let that go. I believe the big picture of the Apostles’ Creed and the finer details don’t bother me. Armstrong gave me information that rings true in my experience – I can certainly say that I give my loyalty to God, to Jesus Christ, to Christianity, and to my particular denomination, and I ain’t concerned about the exact details that some literal-minded fools seems to get all worked up about.

Back to Bonhoeffer – that kraut was put in a pretty tough corner. If ya don’t know anything about him, I’d suggest ya look him up, ‘cause I’m not gonna do a bio. The moral stand he took was possibly not the best – it’s about what I’d do, but I’m admitting the possibility that some other course would be better. The thing is, sometimes you have to pick something and then do that. It’s like saying “I’m not really sure I believe all these things, but I’m gonna act like I do”. Bonhoeffer made a choice and he saw it through to the swinging end.

So here I am, hunkered down in my house, quite aware that the coronavirus is only just starting to mess everything up. People gonna die. I’ve been doing quick guesstimates when they give the numbers on NPR – X people sick, Y people dead – and it’s seeming like the mortality rate is in the 0.14 neighborhood, with a wide margin of error because many people have it and don’t know, and because many more people will die. That’s a lot lower than the 1918-19 flu, which ran between 2 and 3% and was a lot harder on young adults than pandemics usually are. Still a lot of people.

And COVID19 is happening in an America that was in pretty shitty straits already, what with the lying, racist, orange dumbfuck in the White House. America is a spot on a world that is warming rapidly and no way of knowing how that’s gonna play out. It’s not hard to imagine that the planet just decided to release a deadly virus in self-defense. Back in my pagan days, I woulda been shouting that on a street corner.

Tough choices are coming. I’ve been really interested in people’s thoughts on God &c. for a long time for a lotta reasons, but one of those is I’m trying to get as many perspectives in my brain as possible so I’ll be better prepared to make choices and stick with them.

Before all this shit, I left a job and started looking for my next position. One of the places I looked -and sent a resume – was Open Doors, the local cold-weather, low-barrier homeless shelter. I think I could do a little bit of good there. When the first confirmed case of COVID19 in my town was reported, and local folks started to stockpile bread and toilet paper, I stopped by the Open Doors office and told them I was available to volunteer if needed. I got the email yesterday, saying they need people. So tomorrow, I’ll be hanging out with the homeless at this week’s location which is a Brethren church out in the county – Open Doors doesn’t have a building; they rotate around some of the area churches, which I think is a great idea. It keeps the overhead low and gets the local faith communities involved. Homelessness is a community problem, so the community should be involved in solving it, or just alleviating the worst of it. Christians are instructed to care for the poor, so they can step up.

There’s obviously some risk there – the homeless are disease vectors in the best of times – but I ain’t worried. My immune system is a badass muthafucka, and God has my back. I’ll do what needs to be done until they nail the lid on.

I always have mixed motives. That’s something that goes along with being a descendant of original sin – there is a selfishness in everything I do, no matter how altruistic it might seem. I want to work at Open Doors. Volunteering during a pandemic is one way to get a foot in the door and make myself look good to the boss. I’m hoping that I can make meself valuable and get on the payroll.

Or this thing’ll turn into a 28 Days Later scenario. That could happen.

Anyway, I’ll be digging into Bonhoeffer, praying, meditating, napping with the kitten, going out occasionally to connect to the internet, not worrying. I’ve got some art projects going on, some writing for school and some creative writing that I’ve been neglecting long enough. I know some loony preppers who are old and vulnerable, so if things really go south, I know where to go to get canned goods, guns and ammo. And I am fully confident in God.

20 March 2020

Some weeks into the COVID19 outbreak. I was gonna say “in the middle of the COVID19 outbreak”, but then I realized there’s no way of knowing that. We could be barely starting.

I am not bothered. I left my job back in the middle of February, experienced a week of severe depression, and then ate a lot of pancakes at my church on Shrove Tuesday, at which point I realized that I was wallowing in despair and self-recrimination because I had taken on a burden that I didn’t need. God is in charge, as I’ve stated and known and forgotten and figured out again and again. So I gave up for Lent. I didn’t give up chocolate or cocaine or any o’ that – I just gave up. Since then, I’ve been contentedly letting God do His job. And I’ve been thinking, reflecting, making art, reading – some fun books on fonts, how the sudden appearance of eyes in the Cambrian era blew up evolution, Karen Armstrong’s The Case for God, and the Bible, of course. It’s been a very beneficial time – I’ve learned a lot about myself – I’ve analyzed my actions and attitudes and had some major insights about how I contributed to the toxicity at my last job, as well as how handicapped I was by other people’s prejudices and fixed ideas. We all co-created a reality that, ultimately, none of us liked. It might’ve been fixable, but I was the only one who was willing to try, so that was that. I’m glad to be out and hope to never see the inside of a restaurant kitchen again. I had a pile of money in internal accounts, which I got when I left the business, so I’m not strapped for funds. Yet.

Church is canceled, of course. Makes sense – congregations tend to be mostly older people, who are more vulnerable to diseases. There’s no need to potentially expose someone else to a virus that might harm them – I take it as given that I’ll be fine. I’ve never had the slightest doubt that I’d survive any form of mass death – disease, alien invasion, red comet, zombies… I ain’t skeered.

The other group activities I take part in, which are necessary for me to maintain my sanity and good morale, and to stay clean and sober, have been happening as usual – though peple have been keeping their distance.

My truck took a dive. A friend and I diagnosed the starter and tried to replace it, but we couldn’t bust the nuts, so we rolled it – literally across the road – to a shop, hoping they would put it on the lift and get those nuts off, which they did. Then it seemed like they might as well just put in the new starter and then we all figured out that the distributor was fuct and that had to be replaced too.

The guys at the shop were some classic cranky old rednecks. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed hearing them cuss and gripe about everything. The job I just left, after six years, had me surrounded by touchy-feely, politically-correct-but-emotionally-ignorant, knee-jerk liberals, who were apparently incapable of making a direct statement and who were wildly prejudiced against anyone who wasn’t just like them. So interacting with people who just said what they meant was incredibly refreshing. Yeah, they kinda sucked in another way and they’d’ve been happy to run me outta town on a rail if they knew much about me, but they didn’t. I grew up around cranky old rednecks and I know how to speak the language. I can pass. To wit:

One cranky old redneck held up a piece of machinery and said to me “You know yer way around cars” – I took this as confirmation that I had successfully presented myself as one of “us” – “whaddaya think this is?”

I allowed as how I didn’t know what that was.

“Would you believe this is a waterpump?”

I allowed as how that didn’t look like any waterpump I’d ever seen. Cranky old redneck then went on a rant about how cars used to be simple, but in recent decades they’d gotten all fucked up and stupid and what kinda dumbass would make a waterpump like that? I was able to knowledgeably agree – I’ve noticed the same development – but really all that was wonted was validation. What he wanted was someone to hear what he was saying and say so. When I did that, he looked at me a moment and then said, “Well, I guess I’m done complainin’. I’ll get to workin’ on yer truck.”

The hippies at my old job wouldn’t’ve been able to do that. That’s why I say they were emotionally ignorant. It’s really basic – people want to be heard.

In the end, I drove away in my truck, which is purring like a kitten. Not like that annoying little orange kitten that wakes me up at 4am everyday – like a ‘92 Sonoma kitten. A red one.

Nobody’s hiring, of course. The non-profits where I wanna work are in skeleton crew crisis mode. I kinda wish I’d been able to get hired at one before all this so I could pitch in, but I also know that I’ve gained a lot from this down time. It’s a shame that nobody on NPR is talking about the benefits of sitting quietly in a room. I guess the culture doesn’t really include that.

I been checking in via text with a friend – 32, female, Catholic, about as crazy as me. She’s bugged. She said that this was God firing “a warning shot”. I replied that it could certainly be taken as a wake-up call, then shifted it away from the End Of The World vibe she had going and toward our own responsibility to be God’s people on earth. The end of the world can be a trouble spot for people with mental health issues – and it’ll be a happy thing for she and me when it does happen.

God is no more and no less God today than any other day and He’s got the whole world in His hands. That ain’t gonna change.

I’ma drive up the county in a bit to hang out with some friends. They invited me come up and futz around in the garden. I am gonna do my best to convince them we should go to the woods and jump in a river, because I am always inclined to play the part of the grasshopper – who James Joyce called the “grace hoper” – and play today. They might be more like ants, but either way is really okay.

Hmm… maybe I should get Finngans Wake off the shelf. That could be fun.

Bruised Violet

I was in a coffee shoppe t’other day, listening to music I like – Gogol Bordello’s “Immigradiada (We’re Coming Rougher)” is my new jam – and I decided to hit some old faves, so I called up Babes In Toyland and rang through a few tunes, including “Bruise Violet”, which is reportedly about Courtney Love, who was once associated with Babes, but who left for greener pastures and then sold out harder than 40 Mule Team, eventually becoming the plastic surgery shitshow she is now. The song is a prime example of the kinda raucous, crashing, fuzz-boxed punk rawk racket that a buncha angry women were blasting in the 90’s, at a point when I was gobbling it up because I was desperate to survive my own self-destruction and, for some reason, it was what worked. Babes In Toyland, Team Dresch, 7 Year Bitch and Bikini Kill were the tops, and the ones that never let me down. There were some others that I dabbled in, but then they turned out to be duds – I’ll leave those unnamed. So, I wrote a quick note in the comments section about what I remembered as a sweet moment in the Third Wave of this here feminist movement, and didn’t think any more about it ‘til a couple days later when I got a notice in my inbox that someone had responded to my comment. I clicked and found out that I had been called out for “mansplaining” and called “patriarchal”. Whuh?

I will admit, I reacted. In retrospect, I was not nearly as unnecessarily aggro as I mighta been – I am being slowly transformed by my relationship with the Prince of Peace – but I am a workingclass redneck-turned-punk who has been battling for life more often than not for a good handful of decades, and I do have an automatic sugar-for-sugar/salt-for-salt response. To quote the Clash, “when I get aggression, I give it two times back”. That’s from “Hate & War” – as a Christian, I’m trying to do somethin’ other.

But I reacted, and it was not necessary. Still, the criticism was purty dumb. I recently left the restaurant where I was working – and which I was a part owner of – because I was trapped in a cycle of criticism and reaction. One SJW in particular had decided that I was an ignorant savage and that I had to go. He started digging at me and kept on for two years, and I didn’t see what was happening. I kept thinking we had resolved the issue, but he just kept on. I was on the ropes for a long time. He got other people in on it. I finally saw what was happening and filed a harassment report, but that went nowhere. It ended up with him and his cronies drawing a line in the sand and me deciding to just go. I was trying to get out anyway, and it was just time to quit. I got a decent bit of scratch when I cashed out, so I’m on vacation right now.

Anyhow, still getting over that, I got that stupid comment on my comment. So I came out swinging.

And it is a stupid comment on my comment. No reasonable person could think that I was making a full statement about What Feminism Means To Me, as if the comment section under a video was the place for that. I was just riffing my love of a specific song. But somebody decided to project their shit on me. And didn’t even get it right – what I did was not an example of “mansplaining”.

And my reaction was what I meant to say – feminism has been hijacked by petty sniping and in-fighting. Somebody decided to attack me because they perceived me as male and therefore, the enemy. Certainly, I been a feminist presenting as male for thirty years and I’m used to being attacked by born-females with a grudge. I’ve been called out on my privilege by younger, better educated females who never had to worry about money more times than I can remember. Its gotten worse – I used to get the benefit of the doubt when I showed up at feminist conferences and female punk band shows. I dunno if it’s ‘cause feminism has been dragged down or because I’m older and therefore look more like the evil old white man of myth. Prob’ly a combination of the two.

I’m honestly not sure if I oughta fight that battle. No – I am. I’ma keep on stepping up when someone challenges my right to be a feminist and state my mind because that’s a big part of what feminism is – and Jesus paid extra-special attention to marginalized peoples which makes me think He would be cool with me stepping up. I been marginalized by the marginals all my life.

Trying to get a job in peer recovery, or at the local low-barrier homeless shelter. The outcast, rejected and shit-upon are my peeps.

We’re coming rougher.

Job

Hey – the agency where I applied for a peer support specialist position called me back for a follow-up interview, so I didn’t totally suck the first time. I went back – wearing a tie and a nerdy sweater-vest – for the second interview, which was way more intimidating, and now I’m in the giddy headspace of waiting to find out whether I got the job. I’m swinging back and forth between trying to figure out what art I wanna put up in my office and wondering which knife I should use to commit seppuku. It’s kinda like being on crazy drugs.

And I finally “finished” a literature review that I was supposed to have done a month ago for a bullshit class – “Organizational Research” – for the bullshit Bachelors degree program that I’m slogging through. I don’t believe in research papers, don’t give a rat fuck about the class and would be happy to see the “instructor” fall off a cliff, but I am being forced to do this paper anyway. I’m writing about the falling membership rates in the ELCA, which led to the decline of Christianity in the US, which led to the general decline of American society. It’s been depressing as all hell, but that’s what happens when I do research papers. I should’ve chosen another topic – like whether or not people should spay/neuter their cats. But I did what I did and I sent the douchebro instructor (he got no teaching degree – I think he got the job because he’s related to somebody) the sprawling litany of APA-cited collapse of a godless civilization that I wrote, and now I don’t have to think about that for the weekend.

So. Occasionally, I remember that I’m theoretically headed toward the ministry. I accidentally mentioned that in the job interview – then back-pedaled wildly. Ya never know if identifying yourself as a Christian is gonna disqualify you for a job. But I certainly didn’t act like someone who was gonna bother anyone with my traditional “belief” in a “God” or whatever, so hopefully it didn’t hurt my chances too much.

I read the daily meditations from Christ in Our Home and The Word in Season every morning, and sometimes I read the Psalm that is associated with the day. There are a lotta Psalms about how God will see us through persecution and get us to a better place, which is nice. Also, I been reading Job, which I used to hate because it seemed like God was being pretty mean to Job, but now I love it because that’s just the way it is. Sometimes everything is pretty shitty and there ain’t fuck-all you can do about it. and it ain’t necessarily your fault.

When I hated Job, it was because I thought my opinion mattered. I thought that I was qualified to decide how God should run things – which is exactly what the book of Job is about. The whole point of it is that we aren’t qualified to decide how God should run things. God is God, we ain’t. Which doesn’t make it easier for me to pay my bills, but does relieve me of the responsibility that I take on myself to figure shit out. I actually don’t have to worry or wonder about the job interview. I showed up on time and answered their questions and I didn’t cuss or put my feet on the desk or nothin’. I am qualified for the position, so I’ll get it or not. Then some other shit will happen and I’ll deal with that somehow. And I’ll keep on reading and praying and going to the 11am service on Sundays.

Being a neurotic, anxiety-filled recovering alcoholic with chronic depression isn’t always fun. But then I look at douchebros like the one “teaching” the class on organizational research and I think “would I rather be like that asshole? Sure, he’s confident and makes more money than me, but he’s also a craven coward who has never even considered the possibility that anything is not exactly how his formula says it should be. He believes all data sets because data sets tell him he should. He thinks he’s doing a great job because he’s doing the things that his research says he should do. When students ask him to explain the instructions, he reads the instructions to them because he believes the instructions are clear. He doesn’t know that the whole class thinks he sucks because that information doesn’t fit into his spreadsheet. But we do think he sucks. I’ve asked around.

I’d rather be who/what I am, and have God figure things out. I’m sure He’ll do better than I would. And maybe I’ll get the job.

Epiphany

Yesterday was Epiphany – the date that we celebrate the Revelation of Jesus to the Wise Men, who were more like astrologers than anything else. And I had an epiphany Sunday when I was driving back from taking my daughter to her mother’s house, a drive a little over an hour. See, it’s like this –

I applied for a job as a peer support specialist at a local agency, which means I’ll be working with addicts and alcoholics, some of whom will also have mental health issues and/or trauma – if I get the job. The interview was this past Friday. I put on some nicer clothes – not church nice, but better than usual – and reminded myself that Christ told His disciples not to worry about what they would say because the Holy Spirit would speak through them. Got to the place on time, sat in the waiting room in the exact same seat where I used to wait for my therapist to come out to collect me, back when I was strung out, stoned and trying to figure out the least painful way of committing suicide. I gotta say, I think I nailed the interview. If I don’t get the job it ain’t because I didn’t do my part.

So I was driving back over the mountain, thinking about how I would do that job, how I’d talk to clients about my experiences and try to help them find their own way to recovery, and I got to thinking about what kinda state I was in when I got sober and then – ding – I understood how the story of Job fit into my life. Like, I was aware of the conversation between God and Satan, when God says “Okay, do anything you want to him, just don’t kill him.” Because I was in a state not unlike Job when I got sober. I wasn’t covered in sores head to toe, but Job wasn’t psychotic. Otherwise it’s about the same. I’d lost everything, was estranged from everyone, was totally devastated and had no hope whatsoever. I would’ve been dead sooner than later – I knew that then and know that now. God kept me alive through a lotta shit that coulda woulda shoulda killed me, and then He gave me the insight that there was an end of that on the horizon. Time to get right.

And it was right around 6 Jan. when I had an epiphany that led me in another direction. I’ve written here about Christmas Eve, 1997, when I had an experience of God that blew my frickin’ brain, but I was too far out to get straight right away. I needed a lotta help. In the first week of January, 1998, I was in the local public library, where homeless people can go to use the bathroom and sit inside for a while, and I was wondering what I was gonna do that day. Kill myself? Get drunk? How would I find the funds to get drunk? And a thought came into my head – I mean it came into my head, not from my head – that I could go seek help. I didn’t have to get straight on my own. There are people and agencies and organizations that exist to help drunks get sober and all I had to do was get up and go to one. So I did. It was still seven or eight weeks ’til I actually got detoxed and was able to stay drug- and alcohol-free, but I started the process that day at the library which was within a day or so of 6 Jan. I really like it when dates and numbers match up.

Epiphany. I’ve started reading The Cost of Discipleship, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Now, there’s a Lutheran. I gotta admit, I envy Bonhoeffer. I think it’d be easier in some ways to be imprisoned at Buchenwald and hanged at Flossenburg than to live in modern America, which I experience as a daily battering. Every day, another emotional beating by the twenty-first century Babylon. (The orange Fuhrer did some dumb shit last week that will involve US in another decade or so of idiotic mayhem in the middle East.)(Also, I hear that a Tarantino movie about the Manson murders won an award for “musical comedy” and that a movie about a comic book clown is being hailed as “drama”, so the priorities are all fuct up.) It’d be less pain and suffering to just pray in a cell for a few months and then go to the gallows.

But it’s God’s will, not Mine. If He wants me to keep trudging, I will. Bonhoeffer returned to Germany from the USA in ’39, knowing he would be a target of the SS, because he couldn’t participate in the rebuilding if he didn’t share in the suffering. That means something to me. I’m hoping to get a job which will allow me to sit down with people who have suffered and try to convince them to do things to change their miserable lives. I’m somewhat qualified by my own history, but the way of the Cross is the way of suffering. Being a disciple of Jesus Christ does not mean skipping through the daisies eating ice cream with kittens. It means sharing in the suffering of the world.

About kittens. The black kitten that I’ve mentioned here was hit by a car and killed in front of my house a few weeks ago. I buried her on the backyard. My daughter and I grieved and cried. Then we went out and got another kitten – an orange and white domestic short hair, from a rescue agency. The grrrl named him Simba. He’s really a puppy cat – licks hands and faces, carries his toys around in his mouth, loves to play Fetch. Delightful little beast. And a male kitten, too. I’ll be honest – I’m prejudiced in favor of female animals. I would’ve held out for a girl kitten, but my daughter, who does not share my biases, was determined to have that kitten right there, the orange one. So I’m learning to love a little boy cat. It’s a minor thing, perhaps, but these minor things add up. I am an opinionated ass and it is necessary for God to break that down, so that I can serve any and all.

Epiphanies all over the place.

Churching Of Women

So, I gotta write some fuggin’ research paper for a class, which I’d prefer not to do, but I gotta do it anyway because I can’t get into seminary to get an M.Div. until I get a token Bachelors in some shit and this research paper is a hoop I gotta jump through along the way. The young person who I will be paying to help me cheat assures me that “pretending to care” is a crucial part of doing a research paper, so I’m working on that. I do have some experience with pretending to care – I keep a straight face and act like I’m listening when my kid’s mother talks to me, fr’instance.

But anyway, I’m doing my paper on declining church attendance, specifically in the ELCA, which has been shedding members at an unsustainable rate since the denomination was founded, and I was skimming peer-reviewed research papers on church attendance in general, when I found one that focuses on the decline in happiness among women – https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/5cb5/761c0935f19501d7dc107f296605724ad00b.pdf . You can read it, but I wouldn’t – because why would anybody read a research paper if they weren’t being forced to write a research paper? – but I’ll give ya the general jist (or gyst, if you prefer).

Over the past few decades, as second wave feminism morphed into third wave and now to fourth wave, women have made massive advances in every field, but women are not happier, according to them, than they were. During the same period, general church attendance in the US of A has declined. The paper I mentioned uses some variables and data, and some kinda mathy shit to make a correlation between women’s decreased church attendance and overall happiness. Comes down to this – not going to church makes women unhappy.

That is, of course, a gross oversimplification. Going to church is a form of participatory religious activity which indicates feelings, beliefs and certain identifiers. The changes in these invisible factors are surely more directly related to decreased happiness than showing up to a specific place at a specific time on Sunday mornings. Women aren’t necessarily happier when they see stained glass or listen to organ music. But internal attitudes can’t be measured, so we’re using church attendance as our marker.

It should also be noted that the inverse of the findings is not a given – it does not follow that if women start showing up to church they will become happier. Again, merely sitting in a pew for an hour isn’t the important thing here. What matters is the cultivation of a sense of community, a relationship with a Power greater than oneself, and a demonstrable commitment to both community and Power. Women might also enjoy volunteering more than men, seeing babies in little dresses and shaking their heads at what crazy ol’ Mrs. Johnson wore this week, but that’s all beside the point.

I will certainly be using this data in my research paper, in the end section where I propose some kinda solution to the problem of the ELCA’s bleeding out of congregants. In all honesty, I think the ELCA started out with a shitload of free riders who were just showing up because they were raised in one of the Lutheran bodies that merged to form the ELCA. The decline in ELCA numbers jumped after the Statement on Human Sexuality – https://www.elca.org/Faith/Faith-and-Society/Social-Statements/Human-Sexuality – came out, which indicates that a lotta people decided that they hated queers more than they loved their church. I can’t say I’m all broke up that them folks went someplace else. The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod is a great place for homophobes to worship Jesus, who never said a mumblin’ word about the LGBTQ+, but who did say that His followers should love their neighbor as themselves and don’t judge.

I will certainly not be bothering my Bishop with some bullshit research paper, but I will be talking to people about women and queers, because they’re the people we, the ELCA, should be focusing our efforts on. We already ordain them, so we can lead off with that – Hey, ladies – and LGBTQ+s – we want you in our church so much that we’ll let you be preachers! And we should include some indication that showing up might make them happier. (Kathy what’s-her-face, who has given up on asking me to be a Crucifer, would love to have people show up and be worship assistants.) maybe they’ll drag their husbands/partners/squallin’ brats along and we can reverse the trend. Plus, it’d give LC-MS bloggers more fuel for their ire – they really don’t like that we don’t condemn the people they condemn.

For meself, as a woman who just happened to draw a Y chromosome in the sperm lottery, I know that attending church has certainly increased my own self-reported level of happiness. By the time Sunday rolls around, I’m generally pretty eager to get to church, and I always feel better when I leave.

(The phrase “churching of women” refers to an old ceremony that was related to giving birth – it was a blessing and a celebration that mother and child survived. It might still be done someplace – I dunno.)

(I am wildly, totally and completely of the Third Wave of Feminism, though I do acknowledge the problems with the “wave” model of describing the on-going efforts for equality. we understand intersectionality better now than we did when Riot Grrrl was almost a viable social movement, and that’s a good thing, but I’m attached to the 90s form over against the Fourth Wave which I see as a bit self-indulgent and whiny.)

LGBTQ+ Arts’n’Crafts Bible Study

I had this idea – LGBTQ+ Arts’n’Crafts Bible Study. It’s kinda ridiculous, but I’d love for it to be a real thing. I imagine a buncha dykes, twinks and trannies hanging out, doing arts and crafts, talking about the Bible and how we can use God’s Word to help us navigate our lives in this modern Babylon. You might notice I used “we” and “us” as if I count myself among the LGBTQ+. Not an accident. The thing prob’ly won’t happen – it’d require me finding a place to host an event that would pretty much turn out to be me, alone, drawing and thinking about the Bible, which is what I do anyway, and I’m not very sociable or likely to invite a buncha people to my house. I started making a flyer because I think it’s funny and I’d want i to happen and maybe if I show people a funny flyer they’ll express an interest in actually doing it.

Then I read an article at Bitch Media about some pop singer who is kinda queerish – https://www.bitchmedia.org/article/is-harry-styles-queer-complexity-of-queerbaiting – which also mentioned Kurt Cobain and posited that he was a trans-woman and I was like “Well, fuck. Am I gonna come out?” ’cause if Kurdled Cokain was a trans-woman, then there just ain’t no ambiguity no mo’.

Was a time when I thought “trans” meant wanting to b the other gender. Wayne County got what was called a “sex-change operation” and became Jayne County. That seemed kinda weird, but it didn’t affect me much. In the 90’s – my mid-20’s – I came across a deeper understanding of trans as being about how a person perceived their self, not necessarily including any positive or negative feelings about one’s body. It was immediately obvious to me that I was a woman who was attracted to women in a male body, and I immediately said so, out loud, and was immediately informed that the thing I just said was not cool. My attempt to get info from the local PFLAG went unanswered. My girlfriend thought I wasn’t serious – that relationship was toxic as shit. She was all kindsa abusive – though she was less successful with physical abuse because I was able to grab her wrists and hold them so she couldn’t hit me – mostly with the psychological shit. I wasn’t sober, wasn’t getting appropriate mental health care, and was easily battered into a state of confusion and general agreement that I was a piece of shit. I got clean and sober and started taking the right meds, but our pattern was established, so for a few years I continued to endure her bullying, cheating and gaslighting. She finally dumped me.

During the course of all that, I never changed my mind about being a dyke with a dick, but I did learn to keep it on the down low to avoid mockery and/or rage. Nobody else I knew seemed to know anything about the whole girl-in-boy-body thing and it didn’t matter much in a purely practical sense. I got involved with women and did the stuff that people with my kind of body do. How I felt about me as an abstraction separate from this particular meat-carriage didn’t have to enter into the conversation. Sometimes the GF would make some assumption about me based on “how guys are” and I’d remind them that “I’m not that kinda guy”. I mighta mentioned feeling like a dyke occasionally – actually, I think I told one of ’em that, because she was bisexual and into LGBTQ+ advocacy and shit, but it really go anywhere because the relationship never seemed all that stable to me, which translated into “safe”, so we never got into all that. She was pretty demanding and controlling and I never felt like she was listening.

I quit being involved with women in any kinda sexual/romantic way about seven years ago. The last one I was with was a bisexual who only wanted an open relationship. I was okay with that for a few months, because I wanted to fuck her, but the fact that there was no possibility of a long-term, monogamous relationship meant that it couldn’t last. When she started talking about having a three-way, it was done. I’d love to have a female partner. I’ve given up on finding one I can actually feel safe enough with to really communicate who I am. It’s not something I think about alot.

I never thought about transitioning. Surgery and hormones wouldn’t give me the total experience of being female – lotsa women complain about their periods, but menstruation is an intrinsic part of being female and I’d want the total package. Otherwise, it seems like a lotta trouble and expense for less than all. The body I have is fine – it’s a good body. I’m healthy, able to do all the stuff I wanna do. Various women have told me that I’ve got better than satisfactory equipment. No problem. The women I tend to wanna be around are generally not the typical women in America – they tend to have hairy legs and armpits, to dress practically and to embrace both “male” and “female” activities and interests. That’s the kinda woman I’d wanna be. It’s just easier and simpler to keep the body I have. Also, I’d be an ugly woman.

But I really hate being treated like a “guy”. I hate the stereotype of what a “man” is at least as much as I hate the stereotype of what a “woman” is. I don’t want any of that shit. I was someplace recently – a big room with a coffee counter. There were a buncha women of various ages standing around talking. I was leaning against the counter and this man I’ve known for years walked over to me and said “Which one would you do?” I was kinda stunned because he’s a college professor and I wouldn’t’ve expected that, which is kinda stupid on my part. I mumbled something about how I wouldn’t want any of ’em. It was awkward and weird. I guess I could’ve called him out – that’s popular with the kids these days. I get called out often enough for failing to toe the PC line. But I didn’t call him out because our relationship does not include that. I didn’t want to call him out. In retrospect, I see that I wasn’t clear that his question made me uncomfortable, but that’s how it goes. Sometimes I’m surprised and don’t know how to respond in the moment. Point is, I don’t want to be included in that kinda shit. I already knew that me and him ain’t gonna hang out, so it don’t matter much to me.

So. What? What do I do with all that? I don’t wanna shave my beard or wear make-up. I’m happier single and celibate than I ever was when I was in relationships with women. I wear a skirt around the house sometimes ’cause it’s comfortable, but I need pockets when I go out. I’ve got some yoga pants a friend gave me – they’re really comfy if I shift the front way over to one side – I wear them under regular pants when it’s cold. I don’t care about pronouns, which are a linguistic convenience and not reflective of my inner being. And I really don’t want to explain a buncha personal shit to anybody. That’s a big ol’ chunk of it – I really have no fuggin’ interest in explaining to anyfugginbody that I am, despite all appearances, a butch woman. Unless/until I’m thinkin’ ’bout getting into some deep romance with somebody, it ain’t nobody’s bizness. And that ain’t gonna happen unless/until God taps me on the shoulder and says “Hey, I am the Lord, your God, and I want you to get with this woman, this one, right here” because I ain’t doing it otherwise.

Coming out as a trans-woman in this format is safe and easy. Nobody reads this and if’n they did, it ain’t my real name. I dunno what to do with it. I do know that I’m doing the level best I can to do God’s will and I do know that God understands that I am a fallible and completely screwed up individual in a completely screwed up world of sin. So however this works out, I’m fine with God.

Maybe I’ll do LGBTQ+ Arts’n’Crafts Bible study on Tuesdays.

Other Sites

It’s Thanksgiving and I’m at work, alone, using the internet. I finished the first part of some useless research paper I gotta write for a class. The instructor is one of those very normal, but kinda cool men who I think of as “douche-bros”. I don’t like him. I also hate research papers because they’re boring, useless and part of the wrongheaded notion that people can be classified and categorized. I hates it.

But I’m done with that shit. For now. And I got a coupla hours before I go to my Aunt Karen’s house where we will eat, watch football and talk shit about my Aunt Julie, who has been a bit of a pill lately because, sigh, you know how Julie is. Unless Julie shows up in which case there will be tension and no one will mention it. So here’s some of the sites I look at when I’m wasting time on the internets:

The Babylon Bee https://babylonbee.com/ I like that they hit the progressives and conservatives equally. Some of this, you have to know a bit about Christianity to get it.

The Hard Times https://thehardtimes.net/ If you know about punk, this is sometimes almost painfully true. The rest of the time, it’s really painfully true.

The Onion https://www.theonion.com/ The Gold Standard for news satire.

Introvert, Dear https://introvertdear.com/ I’m an INFP in a world that constantly tells me that ain’t good enough. The articles here are generally spot on and make me feel like less of an outcast/loser/freak.

Bitch Media https://www.bitchmedia.org/ This is the online version of Bitch magazine, which was the best feminist mag in print from ’95 – ’06 or so. I admit I liked the print version better, but that might be because I cared more about popular culture then. Now, I really don’t give a shit and I often don’t know what they’re critiquing. Still good feminism.

Cake Wrecks https://www.cakewrecks.com/ Funny cakes.

The ELCA https://www.elca.org/ That’s my church. I wander around in the site occasionally. Just checkin’ things out.

You’ll note there ain’t a news site. I do look at the headlines occasionally, but it’s gotten pretty boring. Trump says something stupid and offensive every day. Mass shootings have become as common as rain storms. The world is going to Hell in a hay wagon. I don’t need the blow-by-blows.

I used to watch stuff on Netflix, but the person whose account I was poaching got their identity hacked and changed all their passwords and I don’t want to ask her for the new one because then she’ll get all snotty about me poaching her Netflix.

Oh yeah – DeviantArt https://www.deviantart.com/ I started putting pictures up there because I want to put the images into the world, but I don’t want to have art shows. I used to do art shows and it’s boring as shit. Also kind of annoying. DeviantArt lets me feel like I’m communicating or something. A lot of what’s on there is pretty trite – anime cliches and women with big tits – but there’s some good stuff.

And that’s it. I don’ do much online. No F’book or any of that. I’m pretty sure social media is a tool of Satan. It’s certainly contributing to the debasement of humanity and the destruction of society. I encourage everybody to boycott all social media, but F’book especially.

Now I’ma go lay around for a bit before the Thanksgiving.

Protevangelium

Hey. Here’s another picture I made. This one is “Protevangelium” which might be a word ya never heard so – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Protevangelium – but if ya know anything about Christianity, the basic concept oughta be clear.

There’s an in-joke here that some people will get and some of them will be pissed off and I’m too much of an old punk to give a shit.

Other shit going on – I asked to have my interview with the candidacy committee pushed back a few months – I just got too much going on right now and I can’t get all the things together that gotta be got together. Also – I’ve mentioned that I was postulating for the Order of Lutheran Franciscans – I was writing something for that and I wrote myself into “Why am I trying to get into this club?” The answer has something to do with community – but the OLF is mostly an online community. The nearest OLF Brother is a couple hours away. I really don’t care about online communities because they’re not really communities. So I hain’t told anybody yet, but I’m kinda thinking I’m done with that.

Any pictures I put up here can be janked for whatever use. I’ll eventually get around to doing some pics that could be used for church bulletin art. I’d really like to do some shit that might just end up in the pool of images that get used for peripheral art or whatever. I’d love it if that “Coffee is proof that God loves and wants us to be awake” image got printed off and put up near the coffee maker in church kitchens. That’d be hilarious. I’ll sue the shit outta anybody who makes any scrillas off any of my pics, of course, but free use is free. The originals’re fer sale. Price on request.

Tomorrow’s Sunday and I gotta write a paper for a class.

Something Like A Title

In the last one, I asserted that I do not want to be a drug/alcohol rehab counselor with an M.Div. which is what the candidacy people seem to think – I acknowledge that I played a part in creating that erroneous impression. I started off saying “Well, I’m a recovering alcoholic and I do want to help people….” and it just kinda slid into everybody thinking that I wanted to do Bible study at a 28-day rehab or something. I didn’t protest it because I didn’t know what I was called to do specifically – ministry to marginalized people, yeah, but I had no clear idea how that would look. Then I did a raft of psych evals and got the results of all that shit, which were about as inaccurate as I expected, but in the process of going through the report and crossing stuff out and underlining and writing notes in the margin like “This is bullshit” and “Who are they talking about?”, I started thinking about who I am, as opposed to who the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory  says I am, and what I actually want my ministry to look like, on the off chance that I do manage to slog my way through all the hours of “higher education” that stand betwixt me and ordination. And now that I know what I’m s’posed to do with my ministry, I have to figure out how to articulate that to anybody who doesn’t have total access to the inside of my head, where visionary visions and exploding abstractions are swirling and bursting into being at a feverish rate like a kaleidoscope of fractals on acid – the really good stuff that I dropped in South Carolina that one time when I saw the future, but didn’t know it at the time. It’s complicated slightly by the fact that I don’t have a good read on the committee – like how much they’re committed to the way things are supposed to be which is a terrible that I am forced to deal with sometimes. I’m in the midst of some kerfuffle at work right now because of an unimaginative goon who worships at the throne of the way things are supposed to be and can’t recognize the validity of any position other than his own and that sucks. And it’s sad, but there is no way of enlightening those who will not be enlightened, so the rest of us just have to let the thing play out and pretend to care about what his algorithm or whatever dictates is the way things are supposed to be. Either I’ll find a way out of the business and not have to put up with him or he’ll get a sweet gig micromanaging the nitpickers at Stick In Ass Co. and go to his reward, whichever. But the point is, I don’t know if the candidacy committee is in thrall to right-brain, logical, rational braindeath or if they’re open to the mysterious workings of the Holy Spirit and totally cool with vague aspirations to, ya know, minister to marginalized people and, ya know, feed the sheep, ’cause Jesus told one of the guys to feed sheep and stuff.

Chances are, they’re somewhere in the middle. And there’s a half-dozen of ’em which makes it a lot harder to figger out how to play the thing. My natural first inclination is to figger out how to work a situation, how to manipulate people to get what I want. That’s not too hard when y’re dealing with a college professor who has a clear and blatant bias – I’ve been able to get an A when I shoulda got a C by working the angle. This thing is set up to prevent that kinda behavior – not that I’m totally giving it up – but a frontal assault might be the best way to go. Walk right in, bold as brass, and tell ’em “I’ma try to get dopers and crackheads to come to church and I ain’t even gonna ask ’em to get clean first. I’m gonna do the best I can to fill the pews with sex workers, neo-Nazis, fall-down drunks and barking mad screwballs. Them’s my people.” (Not the Nazis so much – I got kinfolk buried in Europe ’cause they went to fight the Nazis the first time – but I have sat down with dudes who had Gestapo insignia tattoos and had conversations and I ain’t scared.) The more I think about it, the more that seems like the right attack.

I’m also writing some stream of consciousness shit for the Order of Lutheran Franciscans ’cause I’m trying to get into that club, and Frances had a habit of marching into the Pope’s office and making outrageous requests and getting what he wanted because the Pope knew that Frances was not asking for anything for himself – he was always after the greater glory of God – and because the Pope knew Frances wouldn’t just go away. Frances was not above standing on the front steps naked in the cold shouting at people when he was determined to get something. I can totally dig that crazy shit. I will try to get things done the right way, respecting the chain of command and all, but if I gotta, I’ll drive down to Roanoke and barge into the Bishop’s office and demand whatever it might turn out to be. I should prob’ly be up front about that – not totally, of course, but kinda. I can see me getting into some kinda kerfuffle that’ll have the Bishop hanging his head and saying “The fuck? What’d we ordain that guy for?” and when they come to bail me out I wanna be able to say “Hey, you knew what I was like when ya gave me the job.” So I gotta stroll a fine line right now.

Right, then. Seems like we got a plan.