Office of the Governor Rick Perry – [Press Release] Gov. Perry Declares August 6th Day of Prayer and Fasting for Our Nation’s Challenges

“Given the trials that beset our nation and world, from the global economic downturn to natural disasters, the lingering danger of terrorism and continued debasement of our culture, I believe it is time to convene the leaders from each of our United States in a day of prayer and fasting, like that described in the book of Joel,” Gov. Perry said. “I urge all Americans of faith to pray on that day for the healing of our country, the rebuilding of our communities and the restoration of enduring values as our guiding force.”

Governor Rick Perry

Office of the Governor Rick Perry – [Press Release] Gov. Perry Declares August 6th Day of Prayer and Fasting for Our Nation’s Challenges.

Gender In, Gender Out?

From the perspective of having worked with a para-church group that has ministered to free people from the cycle of homosexuality, I would like to address a concern of mine…

Recently I saw a huge sign outside a mega-church that offered a “Biblical” approach to gender. The wording was directed at teenagers. Though seemingly innocuous this is a type of inferred legalism.

When a Church or seminar group puts the word “Biblical” in front of its messaging it is clearly inferring that this is the domain of Christians, that this is what a Christian in this subset must do or be.  GIGO-300x249

But desired male and female “characteristics” or conformism should never be taught as gilded pages of Scripture lifted out and fashioned into tablets of “Biblical” mandates. One may say that these approaches are just “guidelines” but the word “Biblical” in front of something conveys the idea of de facto Sola Scriptura truth.

As mentioned, in the past I have been around and served in a para-church ministry based on what was termed “gender symbolism issues” (a cautious reference to Carl Jung). The speaker’s main thrust was to employ an admixture of psychology terms, quotes of the Inklings and of Scripture with the application of soul-healing prayer. It all sounded good to me at the time.

Within this context seminar leaders and counselors urged attendees to pray and ask God for the “True Masculine” and the “True Feminine.” But, these prayers, of course, will not be answered because there is no such thing. The best a man or woman can ever become is being Spirit-filled. It was out this time that I came to realize how insidious this kind of psycho-spirituality was.

It is not hard to understand the Christian Church trying to stabilize the culture surrounding it. But, in this case, it is doing so by adding unnecessary “traditions” onto the message of the Gospel. By placing added strictures and burdens regarding the masculine and the feminine, the Christian Church removes itself from the Gospel and becomes, in a sense, the fashion police.

Recall the early Christian Churches of Jerusalem and Galatia which demanded that new Christians follow the strict tradition “soaked” Law along with the teachings of Jesus? Today’s church in similar manner, as I see it, is seeking to propagate men and women of the “Biblically” masculine or feminine tradition. It would appear that the Christian church is in the process of “canonizing” romantic notions of what they consider to be masculine and feminine qualities.

As a former student of Moody Bible Institute and over the course of a lifetime having read through the Bible several times I have yet to find any description of “Biblical” manhood or womanhood.

What is written are what characteristics a man likes about a woman (see Song of Solomon and Proverbs 31) and what characteristics a woman likes about a man (see Song of Solomon). None of these “characteristics” – physical and pragmatic – carry the moral weight of the Ten Commandments. These “characteristics” should never be used to propagate more sons and daughters of the “Biblically” masculine and feminine.

I believe that the Church with regard to its “genderfication” of males and females has become a stumbling block for the weak.

There are those in the church who are perfectly comfortable conveying the macho role that men play in on TV. And there are some in the church who base gender roles on the corn-fed lyrics of country music. There are women’s conferences about “Biblical” womanhood based on Proverbs 31. And there are many more instances of role play.

I have no problem with role play. Role play is a given in relationships. But I have a problem with a rite of conventionality outside of conforming to the image of Christ. This statement may be too much for some people in the church, I understand.

Yet, the weak, the searching, may easily stumble when such stereotyping is placed askance to their faith.

One could say that Proverbs 31 was written by patrician authors who imagined the qualities of an ideal woman to be in relationship with or for King Solomon’s court. Proverbs 31 definitely speaks of a pragmatic woman and not of a physical woman, as does Song of Solomon. (Platonic men would later consider woman’s physical beauty a type of entrapment and something to avoid.)

But in this day and age Christian men also enact Proverbs 31, do they not? Should we delineate gender based on Proverbs 31? My answer is “No.”

Why create extra yokes called the “Biblical Masculine and Feminine” to be placed on people’s necks? Isn’t a “Biblical” manhood and womanhood referenced only at the conjunction of men and women? And, isn’t marriage of man and wife the nexus that is the positive anti-thesis to same-sex anomalies.

Now it is common knowledge that people do not like ambiguity. We demand black and white. We demand inerrancy. And, we demand “Biblically masculine and feminine” males and females. Our minds are wired to alert us to any differences to a norm. When a perceived threat to a norm occurs we seek to reconcile things as quickly as possible.

Any ambiguity comes off as a potential threat to our understanding of how life should be. As related to gender we tend to overemphasize male and female “roles” in order to reduce our anxiety over ambiguity. Here it is, I believe, that some of the fear of non-conformity has grown out the Christian Fundamentalist movement that was raised up in the early twentieth century against the threat of Liberal theologian’s textual infractions. The Conservative Christian world sought to tighten its reins on what is and isn’t “Biblical.” And in so doing it is also now putting a noose around each gender.

Yet, there is no gender typecasting or stereotyping in Scripture, only sacrosanct relationships established and reinforced. And, more importantly, the message of the Gospel offers everyone freedom from fear. This includes freedom from the fear of the ambiguous and the unknown, whether the fear is of material nature or of the fear of gender “status.”

We should not live with the fear of the not being able to follow the letter of the Law and especially as conjoined with the added impedance of “Biblical” gender.

The current falderal about “Biblical” manhood and womanhood are gooey sentimental and romantic notions mandated under the banner of the “Biblically” acceptable. Let’s not go there. Let’s not make the freedom and fun of romantic role play into religious rule pretense. Let’s be free to be men and women without the yoke of the man-made gender laws placed on our necks. And then, perhaps, homosexuals will then feel free to come home and find new hope under the roof of Christ-like relationships.

In my estimation the best how-to books to lead a Spirit-filled life are the Bible and My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers. Forget the OTC self-help books and seminars on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. You would be wasting your time and money. Worse, you would most likely seek to adapt to someone else’s notion of what it is to be a man or a woman. Run from this nonsense. GIGO.

~~~

"Jewish Wedding" by Jozef Israels (Dutch, 1824-1911)

“Jewish Wedding” by Jozef Israels (Dutch, 1824-1911)

The closest we come to “Biblical” manhood and “Biblical” womanhood in the Bible, as I read it, is within the Apostle Paul’s circular letter to the churches at and around Ephesus (Ephesians chapter 5). It is there that he instructs Christians as to how men and women should relate to each other and he does so with equanimity and, more importantly, in the context Christ and His Bride, the Church.

Paul’s circular letter should be read in the context of Ephesus being the protectorate of the Temple of Artemis aka Diana. “There was no other Greco-Roman metropolis in the Empire whose ‘body, soul and spirit’ could so belong to a particular deity as did Ephesus to her patron goddess Artemis.” (Oster 1990:1728) Many in the Greco-Roman world came to Ephesus take part in the seductive sexuality of Diana’s worship, worship which included prostitution. Adored as life givers women were given inordinate prominence. As such, they were placed above men.

Sadly, so many sermons and books and seminars parse out “wives submit to your husbands” and “husbands love your wives”.  As I see it, Paul wrote to these churches – churches situated in the context of the worship of the female deity Diana, and specifically this passage to promote a Kingdom view of women as opposed to the Artemis view. In the Spirit’s way, Paul let it be known that women were not to be placed on a pedestal as an idol or to be used– not as a Madonna or as a whore.

Paul writes to the Ephesian church outlining a Kingdom of God view of relationships. Husbands are to love their wives and not submit to prostitutes.  Wives are to submit to their husbands and not to those who would put them on a pedestal to worship or in a bed as a prostitute. Paul advances the true characteristics of Kingdom of God people: concomitant respect and love of husband and wife.

More than any pretense of “Biblical” gender teaching, the Scriptures order our relationships as it orders our loves: Love God with all your heart, mind, body and soul and love your neighbor as yourself.

Husbands who love their wives love their closest neighbor and are in fact submitting to the Lord within her.

Wives who submit to their husbands submit to their closest neighbor and do so out of love for the Lord within him.

This gamboling of submission and love resembles, I imagine, the relationships of the Trinity and Their dancing embrace.

Indulge me:

~~~~

Related:

Here’s what culture says:  27 Ways to Be a Modern Man

Added:

Scans prove there’s no such thing as a ‘male’ or ‘female’ brain

The Transgender Moment

Caution: Compassion Exposed!
After reading the following web article from Christianity Today…

The Transgender Moment
Evangelicals hope to respond with both moral authority and biblical compassion to gender identity disorder.
By John W. Kennedy

…I would like to take a Transgender Moment and reply with a few comments:
The words chosen for this article (compassion, gender identity disorder, mental malady, etc.) regarding trans~gender-ism are purposely segregationist both in their deceitful use and in their condescending tone. They certainly imply that there is a normal and moral barrier being breached by the trans-gendered (TG) individual. The implicit warning in this article is that THE CHURCH should be prepared for this ‘PROBLEM’. When Mr. Kennedy put the word Biblical in front of ‘compassion’ in his opening title, he knew what he was doing – fostering a position of “we are in a Biblically correct position to help you” and “you need our help” type of separatism in the hearts of all evangelical Christians who peruse Christianity Today (maybe while having their hair dyed an unnatural shade of blond. I say, why mess with creation?).

The words “moral authority” invoke a wrath of God type of dealing with the TG individual and needlessly, whether or not the word compassion is used, gathers up the storm clouds of anger and dissent over and around this person. Mr. Kennedy wants to draw a line in the sand (As I see it, this is fine because God has sand moving all of the time.) Who or what is this ‘moral authority’ he ascribes to? I assume the Bible ~ Sola Scriptura! Mr. Kennedy, in this rather weakly thought out article, is using the word Bible or Biblical as the wedge between them and the TG person.

The word “Biblical” often summons up a devious self ~righteousness into every one who reads this word. He wants the reader to believe that they are on good moral ground with him and others just like him who read his pulp magazine when he talks about the issue of trans-gender-ism. I would call the others like him “CT clones” (Christians Trans-morphed into Clones). But, I won’t get into name calling. At least not to the degree that Mr. Kennedy has, anyway. Mr. Kennedy, in his article, has used almost of all of the psychological terminology he could muster to leverage his ‘moral’ (?) authority and to posture the TG person as a person with a “Biblical’ sized disorder.

Trans-gender-ism is not a disorder, not in the sense that Mr. Kennedy wants to use it  ~ as a psychological and moral weakness. I understand that Mr. Kennedy wants the church to be scandalized by his article on trans-gender-ism. Where did the author of this article come up with the term “gender identity disorder” or GID? These words probably came from a psychology textbook, the DSM-IV manual, a Psychology Today article or perhaps via the internet. Now, apparently, these sources have become infallible (‘Sola Scripturian’) in their description of a TG person’s ‘disorder’ especially if theses sources serve to make an implication of sin and moral weakness, Mr. Kennedy. And, since when does a psychological profile of someone (an infallible profile in your estimation since it is the bedrock of your article) demand an inquest into its moral grounds? Is it in order that you may withhold your anticipated judgment with your parsimonious grace? Biblical moral authority is invoked but there are no grounds to do so.

Someone, at some point in time, wrote down a psychological profile of trans-genderism and saw it as an anomaly ~ a deviation (let the reader understand that I am using the word ‘deviation’ in the scientific sense and not the coined Biblical sense!) apart from other more prominent behaviors and understanding. Because some book gives trans-gender-ism a label called Gender Identity Disorder (GID) does not make trans-gender-ism a disorder and certainly does not make it into something sinful or something you need to ‘fix”. This label, GID, as I see it, only provides a handle to help people understand the issue ~ a person’s disconnect between their mind and their body. But now, this profiling is becoming ‘Biblically ordained’ by Mr. Kennedy’s article as a morally and a psychologically handicapped condition. Has anyone ever done a psychological profile on an Evangelical, fundamentalist Christian who wants to set boundaries on grace every chance they get? Wipe that smile off of your face!

As I see and as I understand gender confusion from the perspective of being a TG woman, the ultimate confusion does not lie prominently within the TG person but in the eyes of the person viewing them. This is the confusion Mr. Kennedy should prepare the church for. As I have seen in my fifty-one years in the Christian church and in my many years in “fix-it” counseling and healing prayer seminars, the fix or healing prescribed is only to make the person like “the rest of us” ~ their ‘prescriptions’ are made to only conform the TG person to what is generally understood and accepted.

Trans-gender-ism, by itself, has nothing to do with sin or sinfulness or psychological maladies as Mr. Kennedy would imply: I do not hate my father. I do not adore my mother. I do not envy women. I do not idolize women. I do not have a psychosis, a fixation, on women. I am not neurotic. I do not have an obsession of women nor do I have a phobia of maleness. I do not hate my body. I am not full of lust and I am not perverted nor am I in denial. I did not have birth trauma (See Frank Lake’s Clinical Theology). And, I do not have attachment issues or separation anxiety. I have understood, though, from the very beginning what gender I am. (Hmmm, this sounds like predestination!  Does DNA contain predestination?)  Beyond all this, it does take time for a trans-gendered person to understand why they are different and to come to terms with their gender.

In the article, Jerry Leach, director of Reality Resources, a ministry in Lexington, Kentucky says, “This is a psychological and emotional malady. It’s not like taking an appendix out.” Well, Mr. Leach, it’s more like having a C ~ section. C-sections are invasive and ‘unnatural’ procedures. Creation suggests the birth canal. Creation ‘pushes’ a woman into using the birth canal. Yet, there are times when this ‘un-creation like’ procedure is the only way to give birth to another human life or to save a human life. Now, would someone be diagnosed as having an emotional malady if he were to cut off his right hand because it made him sin? This is what Jesus taught. Or, would he be psychologically troubled if he became a eunuch for the Kingdom of God as the Apostle Paul writes about? This is Sola Scriptura fleshed out! Wake up!

(Yes, Mr. Kennedy, I will be taking estrogen the rest of my life. I will also be receiving communion every week for the rest of my life. I will also be confessing sin the rest of my life and I will be receiving absolution from sin the rest of my life. I will be reading my Bible the rest of my life. I will be praying the rest of my life. I will be worshipping God the rest of my life. I won’t be reading Christianity Today, though, the rest of my life.)

Why mess with God’s creation? Is it OK for a church building program to take over several acres of prime Creation and build a huge structure upon it? When a boy is circumcised or a young girl’s ears are pierced or a woman’s hair dyed or teeth whitened or air polluted or when cats and dogs are castrated or . . .? What is happening to creation? Are we meant to subdue creation for our own well-being and benefit? And from this, a TG person has the same unction to change into wholeness as does a repentant sinner who wants to become a saint.

The title of Mr. Kennedy’s article, The Transgender Moment, can be taken in two different ways, as he already knew. He is either asserting that trans-gender-ism, perhaps a fad in his eyes, perhaps not viable, will vanish just like all other fads (e.g., WWJD). In this case he is being dismissive and condescending. Or, he is asserting that the evangelical church will quickly stomp out its existence (or at least its access to ‘their’ church) with its ‘higher-ground-than-the-TG person’ rhetoric. In this case, he is promoting crucifixion. (It should be noted that Jesus had His “moment” on this earth, too.)

Here from the article  is Mr. Kennedy’s smug and schmoozing closing sound bite to the Evangelical church:
“The challenge before conservative evangelicals is persuading trans-gendered people, their families, and faith-based advocates that gender identity disorder is not beyond the reach of God’s grace, compassionate church-based care, and professional help.” (Are you saying that TG people should be accepted into ‘your’ church so that you can then put them within the crosshairs of your pseudo-psychology-‘professional’ preaching and your Biblical compassion (whatever that means)?

I am a Christian TG woman. I attend a Christian, sola-scriptura based church. I take communion every week. Because of these things and my belief in Scripture’s truth, I do not practice homosexuality nor do I promote it in any way shape or form. I fully accept a God-given (Sola Scriptura) binary gender distinction –male and female. I am female. I am not beyond God’s grace whatsoever or outside of its boundaries (even though you want to set its boundaries)! I do not accept cheap grace (as described by Dietrich Bonhoeffer). I live a quiet and peaceable life. I do not want to stand out. True Trans-gender-ism is not a Mardi-Gras parade. It is a person, a human being. And, I do not believe in adding any new Civil Rights laws unless, you incite uncivil behavior against me. I also believe that it would be malevolent journalism to insinuate that trans-gender-ism is equal with homosexuality, bi-sexuality, cross dressing or trans-sexuality. These activities are sexual adaptations (Biblical ‘deviations’) and life style choices, life choices which have become sexualized.

If someone were to ask me why I don’t go back and be what I was before my change (i.e, ‘normal’) my answer would be the same as that of the character Hazel Motes in his answer to Mrs. Flood at the end of the novel Wise Blood by Flannery O’Connor. Mrs. Flood asked Mr. Motes why he doesn’t go back to preaching after he had blinded himself with lye.  Motes replied “I don’t have time.”

Like Mr. Motes I now stare in wonder at the mystery of the gospel. And though my flesh is ‘disfigured’  in the sight of the world, the ‘eyes’ of my spirit are now able to see.

I want you to see God’s grace in a new way and not through the myopic lenses of those who would hold court over me, those who view grace only as it accords with ‘normal’.

 Finally, I do not accept a binary compassion (a ‘them – us’ type of compassion) Mr. Kennedy. The journey to wholeness is difficult for everyone on that road. So, compassion all around.

****

 

Related Posts:

 A Naturalized Woman

What’s Biblical About It? Is there such a thing as Biblical Masculinity and Femininity?

*****
Chicago Tribune Article:
New Science on Gender, Hormones and the Brain
New evidence shows how hormones wire the minds of men and women to see the world differently
By Ronald Kotulak, science reporter

****

Apart from such well-known irreversible“ organizing” effects of sex hormones on the developing brain, the possibility of a direct action of genetic factors on sexual differentiation of the brain should not be ruled out .

 From the following limited research study:

MTF Female Neuron Numbers in Limbic

Sisterhood of the Traveling Ya-Ya

Dreams serve to help us resolve day-to-day problems while we sleep. Upon waking, dreams most often vanish into cerebral thin air while the effect of the dream, the mind’s resolution, goes on with the person into their day. It is also known that vivid dreaming will often happen during periods of personal emotional upheaval and stress. They have for me. One dream in particular stands out. I am living it.

In 1995 I struggled with the issue of gender-dysphoria. I had struggled with this issue since my early childhood. But that year, the question had become the pea in the princess’s bed: I could no longer sleep, eat or work properly. I was deeply unsettled about the matter. Being in a relationship with someone at that time made the issue all the more acute. When I finally did sleep I had many dreams. One dream stands out as being clearly prophetic in all of its symbolism.

The dream: I am standing at the end of a long dark tunnel, a tunnel deep underground. My sense is that I have been on a subway train for a long ride. I get off the train and was face the exit. Looking up (since I am way below street level) I see light coming through a long rectangular opening. I start walking up the slightly pitched exit ramp towards the light. As I walk I notice, appearing directly in front of me, a tall chest of drawers. I open the top drawer and inside there are women’s things and jewelry. I close the drawer. I feel good.

The closer I walk to the entrance, the better I feel. At last I stand at the large rectangular opening. The dark tunnel is behind me and a bright sunny day is out in front of me. I see tall buildings and behind them I see Lake Michigan. I see myself working in trenches along the shore of Lake Michigan. Unlike the tunnel I just came from, the trenches are open to the blue sky and warm sunshine. I sense that I am extremely happy working in these trenches. I feel a sense of peace. Then I see myself lying in a lounge chair on a sandy Chicago beach. I am looking out at the water, a great open expanse before me. My journey has ended and I have reached my final destination.

This dream, of course, is rich with symbolism. Carl Jung would call it an “archetypal dream” – it is mythic and grand, completely vivid. Within the dream I seek to integrate my feminine and masculine qualities – the anima and animus. Compared to my life at hand, it was the impossible dream.

This dream occurred during a time in the 90’s when I attended a church in the Chicago area. The church was, at that time, coupled with two local para-church organizations. One of the organizations is a ministry directed toward helping homosexuals leave the gay life style. It is led by a former homosexual. The other church ministry is dedicated to the “healing of the soul”. “Healing Prayer” teaching seminars were led, at that time, by a Kathryn Kulhman type figure – a self-styled prophetess.

The prophetess wrote books which were filled with quotes from notable Christians such as C.S. Lewis. Her writings spun off into different directions using her own spiritual experiences to formulate a point. After reading several of her books, I wasn’t exactly sure what her point was. It seemed to me that she tried very hard to appear intellectual and bookish and to be taken seriously. An aura of mystery surrounded her person. This invoked an image of a feminized Elijah who was often whisked away by her crew to pray in the Spirit out in the wings.

To give you an idea of the confusion that was wrought when she spoke I’ll share with you a conversation I had with someone in the lobby of Wheaton College’s Edman Chapel where she spoke. I was there attending a healing prayer seminar given by this woman. I was seeking some kind of resolution to the gender issue in my life.

During one of the healing seminar sessions, I got up to stand in the lobby. I was tired after sitting for several hours. Out in the lobby I met the doctor who was also attending the session. This doctor had delivered my son. We struck up a conversation.

Like me, he had been sitting and listening and he had also decided to get up and stand in the lobby. Standing in the lobby together, he asked me directly if I knew what the prophetess was talking about and I said, “She keeps saying it will make sense later, but I don’t know. It hasn’t made sense yet” The doctor looked puzzled. He was hoping that I could bring some meaning to the mishmash of words spoken in the auditorium that morning but I couldn’t. In fact, my own confusion was becoming deeper. I gave her the benefit of the doubt because she talked about gender issues and self-image issues, applying healing prayer to wounded-ness.

The soul healing seminars (and books) offered by this ‘prophetess’ would deal with a host of psycho-sexual issues including homosexuality. Many of the people who came to the seminars had been wounded in their youth. The wounding would include rape, abandonment, neglect, beating, mistreatment and even a possible traumatic birth (breach births, cord wrapped around neck, etc.). In essence the seminars were like spiritual LSD. Through healing of memory prayers, the attendees would relive some of the painful memories and then have those memories prayed over and then supposedly vanquished, leaving the person to go on with their life without the burden of the past. At least that was the idea.

Having been around this woman for many years while attending the afore-named church I can say that she is a wonderful person with discernible good motives. She seeks to help others who had been wounded as she had been early in her life. Her seminars bring many hurting people together including homosexuals who desperately want to leave the gay lifestyle. The healing prayers offer a place to start looking at the core issues of homosexuality, issues born out of deep neurosis and family life situations.

Her seminars would talk about the re-symbolizing. Re-symbolizing is important when a person wants to leave a bad pattern or life style behind. It helps someone, with a ‘healed’ imagination, to focus on what is good, pure, noble and true. In this process, re-symbolizing replaces the image previously fixated on and even idolized and gives the person the image of the cross – the suffering Servant, arms open, who seeks to embrace you. This message was always abundantly clear from her talks and writings.

Misogyny, the hatred of women, was one driving motive behind the origin of the ‘prophetess’ healing prayer seminars. As she recalled in one seminar, the prophetess had endured misogyny early in her life. Her mission, she felt, grew out of a need to help others who had endured oppression, hatred and worse from misogynistic people, mostly men, but women could also be misogynistic to other women and to themselves. This calling was made clear from the beginning of her writings and talks. When she related in one of her talks that she considers her misogynistic uncle an “Ass” you knew she has an axe to grind and a hatchet that needed a burial.

What wasn’t clear to me and to others are her words about the “true self”, the “true masculine” and the “true feminine”. She pointed to God as having “the True masculine and the True feminine”. What was the “True self”? What was the True Masculine? The True Feminine? And, why parse things so finely?

Many of the seminar prayers (and writings) included prayers prevailing upon God to bring a person out of their wounded past and into their true self, into a true masculine or true feminine identity. I have since learned that there is no true masculine or true feminine identity, only the sexed body, male or female, that you were born with. Gender identity, though rooted in the sexed body, is fluid and mostly a social construct. Consider these words from Miroslav Volf, a Christian theologian and currently the Henry B. Wright Professor of Theology at Yale University Divinity School:

“Nothing in God is specifically feminine; nothing in God is specifically masculine; therefore nothing in our notions of God entails duties or prerogatives specific to one gender; all duties and prerogatives entailed in our notions of God are duties and prerogatives of both genders…”
Men and women share maleness and femaleness not with God but with animals. They image God in their common humanity. Hence we ought to resist every construction of the relation between God and femininity or masculinity that privileges one gender, say by claiming that men on account of their maleness represent God more adequately than women or by insisting that women, being by nature more relational, are closer to the divine as the power of connectedness and love.”
Miroslav Volf from Exclusion and Embrace, 1995

I attended many of these healing seminars. I did so because I was desirous of walking in the Spirit and hopefully finding a reason for the gender disconnect within. The teaching/healing prayer seminars were described as praying the soul into well-being. The prayers were not a one-shot fix but a starting point from which the soul which had been wounded or cut off from its “true self” would bring God’s touch to a place of deep wounding. Then, the process of healing could begin.

Back to the dream. During the healing prayer seminars participants were prayed over by the ‘prophetess’ and her prayer team. I was prayed over several times with prayers spoken in tongues using holy water and a crucifix. It was during this week of healing prayer sessions that my lucid dream occurred. I considered the dream, at that time, to be symbolic and nothing more. Recently, I now understand the dream to be a prophetic dream. I’ll explain.

Several years ago I made the decision to live as woman. When I did, I understood that God had given me the grace to do this and to be in a relationship with Him. God was willing to embrace me as a woman. God was not threatened or put off by my change. In fact, I have certainly been blessed throughout the process.

Recently, while riding the train to work, my tunnel dream and its fullfillment came to mind: I am a ‘new’ woman; I work (in the trenches) in Chicago near the lake front; I am settled and laid back (as the dream’s lounge chair would symbolize). I am at rest. A dream come true.

But, my dream is used as a nightmare by my ex. In my ex’s hands, my change has become a wedge between me and my children, a way of alienating the children from me. It is my ex’s ‘normalcy’ argument that hammers the wedge deeper and deeper: my ex’s position is that she is normal and that I am not. She tells my children this in so many ways on a regular basis. I know. I hear back from them. Children will learn prejudice from their parent/s over time. This is true wherever there is any off-putting’ of people and groups throughout our world.

My change, by the way, never absolved me from responsibility to my children. I continue to parent my children and give them what they need.

While the attempt to heal the soul is a massive undertaking, I see any desire to heal the soul as laudable. At the same time I am concerned about the specific ideation of the true self, the true masculine and the true feminine identities. These definitions could drive people into further confusion and perhaps into more despair. Perhaps, it would cause a return to a bad or broken symbolization because her teaching embraces the new idols of the masculine and feminine: her teaching identified the “True masculine as the man being the initiator (thrusting, pushing forward, aggressive) while the True feminine is the woman receiving (actively passive), relational and integrating life.” More mishmash. Each of us has masculine and feminine qualities and their amounts are negotiated within the society each of us live in.

On closer examination, the true self, not seduced and influenced by TV and the media, is the person who finds his or her identity in a relationship embrace with Jesus Christ. Gender identity, anchored in a sexed body, free-floats. It can be active and passive, giving and forgiving (think marriage of a male and a female, an Adam and Eve narrative). Harbored in Christ this identity is able to be open to others. It is known for its ability to accept changes in the other and to do justice.

A prophetess, a dream and a reality. The Divine Secret of the Traveling Ya-Ya finally makes sense.

“Now you can understand the quantity of love that warms me toward you, so that I forget our vanity, and treat the shades as the solid thing.” Dante’s Purgatorio 21.132-135

How Shall I Then Live?

I have just finished reading Saving Leonardo: A Call to Resist the Secular Assault on Mind, Morals & Meaning by Nancy Pearcey, B & H Publishing Group, Copyright 2010.

As a student of art, music and literature as well as some philosophy and a good bit of theology, this book, found at a local book store, caught my eye.

Saving Leonardo gives the reader an overview look at the history of modern man’s fact/value split (known as the “lower story” and the “upper story” in the book).  It seeks to help us to understand the two basic worldviews that are prevalent today: Continental and Analytic. These two streams are manifested throughout today’s art, music, literature, politics and pop culture.

Pearcey uses the following dichotomies to describe our evolved mindsets:

Facts/Values
Box of Things/ box of the mind
Machine/ghost (Descartes)
Nature/Freedom (Kant)
Formalism/expressionism
Mind (autonomous self)/body (biochemical machine) – in toto, the Liberal view of the human being
Imaginative truth (art)/rational truth (deterministic world of science)

Discussing the Continental worldview Pearcey notes that there are the schools of idealism, Marxism, phenomenology, existentialism, postmodernism and deconstructionism. The Analytic worldview stream holds empiricism, rationalism, materialism, naturalism, logical positivism and linguistic analysis. She quotes John Stuart Mill in talking about “the antagonism already separating the two traditions: The lower story, with its materialism, “is accused of making men beasts” while the upper story, with its irrationalism, is accused of making men lunatics.””.

Culture has reflected the dueling mindsets along the way. Artists, composers and writers have portrayed the philosophies of the day through their art. Saving Leonardo gives prominent examples of artists who have either mirrored the prevailing thought or who have worked to oppose it.

The book is divided into two main parts: The Threat of Global Secularism and Two Paths to Secularism. As a trans-gendered woman I became particularly interested in Chapter Three of the book’s Part One. The title of Chapter Three: Sex, Lies and Secularism.

In the section “Hooking up, Feeling Down” Pearcey begins “Let’s move to the most contentious sexual issues of our day such as homosexuality, transgendersism and the hook-up culture.” She then goes on to say that having an understanding of the two-story dualism of modern thinking will help the Christian in providing a holistic biblical alternative. Because of her shotgun approach of scoping trans-gender-ism within the same sights as aberrant sexuality, Pearcey does, I believe, relegate trans-gender-ism to be on par morally with acting out homosexually and one-night stand sexuality. I would state emphatically here that trans-gender-ism is not about acting out sexually. Trans-gender-ism is not homosexuality. It is about gender identity/gender dysphoria. My concern with anyone reading Chapter Three and Pearcey’s own reductionism of the trans-gender-ism issue as being a person with a deluded worldview interlocked with a self-hatred would be that the reader would certainly be misguided and misinformed about trans-gender-ism and gender dysphoria.

To be sure, trans-gendered (TG) people can act out homosexually or bisexually. Certainly, anyone can act out sexually and do it from a broken place in their psyche. Sadly, though, I have witnessed this same type of marginalizing before in the Christian community:  trans-gender-ism aligned with homosexuality . In doing so, Pearcey sites the same article that I have contended with previously. Interestingly, though, she doesn’t mention the mindset behind the 50% divorce rate rampant in the church of Jesus Christ. (There appears to be enough biblical grace for divorcees but not enough grace for the trans-gendered individual who is at odds with their own body.)

Saving Leonardo is an overview of culminating worldviews. Because of this, suffice it to say, I read the rest of the section and the chapter and there is no detailed understanding given about trans-gender-ism, only inferences made about being able to flippantly choose your gender. The assumption here being I guess is that Pearcey is going to tell you what to understand about the issue. These assumptions are revealed in the section titled PoMoSexual Alienation. This section does mention that there are people using a postmodern point of view regarding gender.  These people contend that gender is fluid and changeable, rejecting “the binary male/female system a mere social construction.”

One of the challenges for Christians coming out of this chapter should have been, “you should seek to understand other people’s world view but keep your own sexuality pure and undefiled by laciviousness.”

The effect of mind/body sanctity and wholeness, including an enduring marriage, is a strong testimony to the rest of the world whereas the elitist knowledge of psychologically determined ‘good and evil’, provided in this book, doesn’t go very far with anyone. Also, the word “compassion” is used by Pearcey. For all intents and purposes and in practice it is just an empty word that is used to frame talk about “contentious issues” by Christians in the ‘know’. In the context of this chaper it is also a condescending term.

  As I have mentioned in a previous post, I have provided some identifying ‘sexual’ definitions for the LGBT community that I have witnessed first hand. I made these definitions so that I could talk about differences with the LGBT community. In the community itself the definitions overlap. Definitions, within the community, are secondary or even tertiary issues behind getting people to affirm and codify their behavior as being OK (most recently, the repeal of Don’t Ask; Don’t Tell). The LGBTQ community has changed labels (from homosexual to gay; from homosexuals to community and so on) to massage the message, to make what they are doing more palatable to others. But, they will also use the word “Queer” and other evocative terms when they need to describe their ‘personhood’s’ ‘empowered’ and ‘liberated’ uniqueness.

Some general definitions: trans-sexual men are men who want to appear as women to gain sex with other men. Trans-sexual women are women who want to appear as men to gain sex from other women. I don’t need to give examples here. You have seen this acted out in daily life. I assume that because Saving Leonardo is an overview of the generation of worldviews these sexual distinctions are not noted in Pearcey’s book. Only blanket statements are wielded regarding sexuality/gender issues, perhaps to rattle the cages of the Christian hamsters asleep on the wheel.

I mentioned earlier that transgender people identify themselves by their gender disconnect from their body and not by their sexual preferences. Pearcey does talk about the mind/body brokenness in modern thinking and there is some truth to what she is saying, especially as it relates to the LGBT community, but also to the general public. We are a people who say that bodies can be disposed of (abortion, euthanasia, embryonic research) and can also be used for sordid pleasure (homosexuality, bi-sexuality, trans-sexuality, hook-up sex, etc.) and who augment, plasticize, starve, binge-purge and reinvent our bodies, our looks, to fit a certain desired idolized self-image.

Pearcey writes about gender issues later in the section Bodies Matter. She talks about the Gender (psychological identity and sexual desire)/Biology (physical identity and anatomy) split. She talks about the divorcing of gender and anatomy as a means to denigrating the materiality of the body. She gives her psycho- socio-theo-opinion: “A genuinely biblical view honors and respects our biological identity. Psalm 139 says God “knits” together our bodies in the womb. Masculine or feminine identity is a gift from God to be enjoyed in gratitude.”

I agree with the latter-Psalm 139. I believe in a binary gender/sexuality – of male and female as separate and distinct beings. The physical boundaries of gender are represented by the unique anatomical differences of male and female. Psychologically, male/female boundaries are generally more fluid, hence sexuality issues and gender issues can more easily arise resulting in conflict and a resolution or repression of the conflict. Sexual identity may be influenced by environment, social constructs, psychological trauma and/or biology (hormone secretion on the brain in the womb). All of psychology’s assumptions about how gender identity is ultimately derived are just that, assumptions. None of them are verifiable. Psychology does, though, seek to relieve a person’s distress by trying to understand the cause of distress. The biblical wellness scenario: the whole person is a mind and body, one unified whole, either male or female, who is not in distress or despair.

What God has created is good.  He knitted me together in my mother’s womb  – with the gender disconnect.  Because of this and the fact that there is also the work of redemption going on in human history, I made the decision many years ago to make the changes needed to live as a unified whole and as a woman. This was after many hours of ‘rationale’ sessions with counselors, psychologists and psychiatrists and healing prayer. I came to the understanding that I could make the change because God gave me the grace to do so within the framework of a Christian worldview of redemption. I do not embrace a post-modern worldview of gender.

Born in the fifties, I was raised in a Christian home, without psychological trauma or encouragement to be a female. I had never heard of a postmodern (PM) view of gender as described by Pearcey in her book. Of course, I knew of Woodstock and Warhol and of the ’60s sexual revolution. I also knew at the same time that I had a strong Christian worldview and that I was female. My understanding of being female in a male sexed body can be likened to a Spirit-filled Christian who views himself as a saint in a sinner’s body – a mind/body disconnect that is dwelt with daily within God’s purview of grace.

No trans-gendered person I know of, and there are many, had made their changes based on this PM worldview premise that Pearcey describes in her book. Rather, each one at various times has told me that they knew their gender identity when they were a small child. They may have, later on, used the PM gender theorist’s justification of gender fluidity to endorse their change from a secular worldview point. The real genesis of their change, as told to me, was inherent in them from the start of their lives. Generally, when a person writes about something they have no first hand knowledge of, they make assumptions and generalizations based on the loudest proponents banging their drums off in the distance. That is the case with Saving Leonardo, Chapter 3.

In doing so I feel Pearcey blacklists transgender people. Beyond this, I have also heard Nancy Pearcey, during a recent radio interview, mention the same “contentious” connection – trans-gender-ism and homosexuality.  She undoubtedly set some teeth on edge about the subject of trans-gender-ism. I heard her say this on a Saturday morning MBN broadcast program called In the Market with Janet Parshall (I am a former student of the Moody Bible Institute.  Therein lays my interest in the radio program.).   When a person talks in this way they continue to propagate, I believe, a fear of the unknown (gender dysphoria).  And, when people don’t understand something they often will reject it wholesale, out of fear.

Nancy knows, I have no doubt, that Scripture is very definitive about sexual sin whether its homosexual sin or hook-up sin. She also knows that Scripture does not define or mention trans-genderism (TG-ism). Because of this, Pearcey has to make inferences regarding TG-ism. I don’t agree with the inferences she has made in this section, the first being that it is related to a “contentious” sexual “issue” such as homosexuality or hook-up sex.

Here’s something of what compassion for a trans-gendered individual would look like:

1. Understanding that trans-gender-ism is not the same as acting out homosexually. It is not a sexual issue. It is a gender identity issue. (In general, most people are not confused about their gender. Some people are confused about their gender and then, there are a few people who are gender dysphoric.)

2. Understanding that trans-gender-ism (gender dysphoria) is a disconnect between mind and body that usually originates in infancy or early childhood and carries on into adult life. This disconnect may be due to a traumatic childbirth (see Frank Lake’s Clinical Theology), perhaps due to a deep psychological neurosis, perhaps due to a biological imbalance of hormones before birth). In any case, it is a heavy burden to carry. Christians are to bear one another’s burdens.

3. TG-ism may or may not be treatable or changeable in this life. The person may not be able to overcome his/her disconnect through counseling and Christian social ‘shock’ therapies (Dobson-esque tough love). In any case, this person has to choose the path to wholeness. The desire for wholeness, I would suggest, is inborn in all humans (the underlying point, I believe, of Saving Leonardo). I chose wholeness and unity of mind and body and spirit and a celibate lifestyle to walk in.

4. Tough love results in an even tougher resolve in the matter presented here.

5. Accept the trans-gendered person at face value. Don’t be dismissive of them. (I don’t know how many times I’ve seen a wife whisper to her husband, letting him know that she knows ‘about’ the trans-gendered person. This woman only wants a laugh at the TG person’s expense.) There is no need to create a social leper colony, keeping TG people away from the church. Embrace, not exclusion.

5. A trans-gendered person can have a happy life. Much of what I hear from Christian articles about trans-gender-ism is that trans-gendered people go off into despair and perhaps even become suicidal.  This is not true, at least in my case and for others that I know.

6.  It should be noted that a gender dysphoric person is not a neat little cataloged item found in a DSM manual or some coordinate on a worldview system map who may be pointed out with a “contentious” disdain.  Rather, gender dysphoria is a person with their own personal dichotomy of mind and body who seeks complete and utter wholeness.

Having said all this, I do not think that trans-gender-ism should be promoted as a life choice by any group. It is a unique and difficult situation that should not be marketed in a gender ‘mall’. On the other hand, though, I do think that when all possible remedial actions have been considered to resolve the TG person’s identity conflict and a resolution is not forthcoming – is not towards a material end as presented by nature, then a material adaptation of nature can be accommodated to match the TG persons understanding and bring about wholeness. In other words, living with a separation of mind and body is not an option for anyone. For a person who is not trans-gendered this would be a difficult concept to understand. Especially since there are trans-sexuals who do play the gender game.

I realize that a Christian rationalist psychologist will say that a trans-gendered person should live with the tension and find ways to ‘deal’ with it. In other words, live out a Jack London novel of man struggling with nature and the beast. You should understand that this tension can be exceedingly unbearable. Trans-gender-ism tension, unlike sexual tension, does not seek to resolve itself in sexual relations with another person or in emotional relationships with another person. It seeks wholeness of being. Trans-gender-ism is not kitsch posing as a woman. That is trans-sexual-ism. There are, of course, varying degrees of Trans-gender-ism. Every person is different.

Finally, I don’t need the pity or compassion as construed at the end of the chapter. The chapter begins with the mention of “contentious issues” and ends with words about having compassion for the trans-gendered person. As usual, the “contentious issues” are spelled out by the ‘Christian’ but, the word “compassion” is rarely fleshed out.

What is fleshed out: I live as a Christian woman with a Christian worldview as a unified whole. I do not hate my body. I never did. I do hate, though, Christian psychological snobbery disguised as ‘knowing’ compassion.

On the whole, I think the book is an OK attempt to help Christians understand modern man’s dealing with two combating worldviews, Analytic and Continental. This book (actually, more of a collection of topical brochures) offers Christians a place to begin discourse with those who are wishing to find a resolution to the worldview conflicts they are facing on a daily basis.  In discussing these topics Christians can introduce the Gospel’s answer of an alternative narrative history of redemption and wholeness to those who have lost their way:  The Way, the Truth and the Life.

************

Endnote:

I certainly don’t agree with the author that art has to have unifying narrative to be of value.  One of the earliest painters I connected with was Jackson Pollack.  I remember seeing a painting of his in a Life magazine article and then later at the Art Institute in Chicago. This was a time back in my junior high school days.  Jackson’s drip paintings reminded me of a brain’s neural network being charged with emotion. Perhaps, his paintings are a one-nanosecond glimpse of a much larger narrative. In any case, art is something you can take or leave as you see fit based on your own life narrative.

In the final words of the book, Pearcey encourages parents to not push their kids into being conservative (keeping things as they are).  Rather, she encourages parents to push for “revolutionary” children. From my reading of Saving Leonardo, there seems to be no direct context given for defining her word “revolutionary”.  Perhaps she means being an ‘out-side-the-box’ artist, composer or a unique Christian writer (she apparently hasn’t read Flannery O’Connor) or… ?

I’ll supply my own context:  one revolutionary thing that I have done (something outside the box given me) is that I did not conserve (keep things as they are). Instead, I began living as woman to create a unifying whole, a life narrative of redemption, an autobiography of grace bestowed. And in doing so, I seek to emulate C.S. Lewis, a romantic-rationalist.  Lewis, as revealed by his writing and talks, integrated the upper and lower stories.

Finally, I find it rather strange that the author never mentions the spontaneity, sonority and musical improvisation of jazz.

How Shall I Then Live?

I have just finished reading Saving Leonardo: A Call to Resist the Secular Assault on Mind, Morals & Meaning by Nancy Pearcey, B & H Publishing Group, Copyright 2010.

As a student of art, music and literature, as well as, some philosophy and a good bit of theology, this book jumped off the shelf and caught my attention. Saving Leonardo gives the reader an overview look at the history of modern man’s fact/value split (known as the “lower story” and the “upper story” in her book) and helps us to understand the two basic worldviews that are prevalent today: Continental and Analytic. These two streams are manifested throughout today’s art, music, literature, politics and pop culture.

Pearcey uses the following dichotomies to describe our evolved mindsets:

Facts/Values
Box of Things/ box of the mind
Machine/ghost (Descartes)
Nature/Freedom (Kant)
Formalism/expressionism
Mind (autonomous self)/body (biochemical machine) – in toto, the Liberal view of the human being
Imaginative truth (art)/rational truth (deterministic world of science)

In the Continental worldview, she notes, there are the schools of idealism, marxism, phenomenology, existentialism, postmodernism and deconstructionsism. The Analytic worldview stream holds empiricism, rationalism, materialism, naturalism, logical positivism and linguistic analysis. She quotes John Stuart Mill in talking about “the antagonism already separating the two traditions: The lower story, with its materialism, “is accused of making men beasts” while the upper story, with its irrationalism, is accused of making men lunatics.””.

Culture has reflected the dueling mindsets along the way. Artists, composers and writers have portrayed the philosophies of the day through their art. Saving Leonardo gives prominent examples of artists who have either mirrored the prevailing thought or who have worked to oppose it.

The book is divided into two main parts: The Threat of Global Secularism and Two Paths to Secularism. As a trans-gendered woman I became particularly interested in Chapter Three of the book’s Part One. The title of Chapter Three: Sex, Lies and Secularism.

In the section Hooking up, Feeling Down Pearcey begins “Let’s move to the most contentious sexual issues of our day such as homosexuality, transgendersism and the hook-up culture.” She then goes on to say that having an understanding of the two-story dualism of modern thinking will help the Christian in providing a holistic biblical alternative. Because of her shotgun approach of scoping trans-gender-ism within the same sights as aberrant sexuality, Pearcey does, I believe, relegate trans-gender-ism to be on par morally with acting out homosexually and one-night stand sexuality. I would state emphatically here that trans-gender-ism is not about acting out sexually. Trans-gender-ism is not homosexuality. It is about gender identity/gender dysphoria. My concern with anyone reading Chapter Three and Pearcey’s own reductionism of the trans-gender-ism issue as being a person with a deluded worldview interlocked with a self-hatred would be that the reader would certainly be misguided and misinformed about trans-gender-ism and gender dysphoria.

To be sure, trans-gendered (TG) people can act out homosexually or bisexually. Certainly, anyone can act out sexually and do it from a broken place in their psyche. Sadly, though, I have witnessed this same type of marginalizing before in the Christian community:  trans-gender-ism aligned with homosexuality . In doing so, Pearcey sites the same article that I have contended with previously. Interestingly, though, she doesn’t mention the mindset behind the 50% divorce rate rampant in the church of Jesus Christ. (There appears to be enough biblical grace for divorcees but not enough grace for the trans-gendered individual who is at odds with their own body.)

Saving Leonardo is an overview of culminating worldviews. Because of this, suffice it to say, I read the rest of the section and the chapter and there is no detailed understanding given about trans-gender-ism, only inferences made about being able to flippantly choose your gender. The assumption here being I guess is that Pearcey is going to tell you what to understand about the issue. These assumptions are revealed in the section titled PoMoSexual Alienation. This section does mention that there are people using a postmodern point of view regarding gender.  These people contend that gender is fluid and changeable, rejecting “the binary male/female system a mere social construction.”

One of the challenges for Christians coming out of this chapter should have been, “you should seek to understand other people’s sexual issues (their world view) but keep your own sexuality pure.” The effect of this kind of mind/body sanctity and wholeness, including an enduring marriage, is a strong testimony to the rest of the world whereas the elitist knowledge of ‘good and evil’, provided in this book, doesn’t go very far with anyone. Also, the word “compassion” is used by Pearcey, but, for all intents and purposes and in practice, it is just an empty word used to cushion talk about “contentious issues” by Christians in the ‘know’.

  As I have mentioned in a previous post, I have provided some identifying ‘sexual’ definitions for the LGBT community that I have witnessed first hand. I made these definitions so that I could talk about differences with the LGBT community. In the community itself the definitions overlap. Definitions, within the community, are secondary or even tertiary issues behind getting people to affirm and codify their behavior as being OK (most recently, the repeal of Don’t Ask; Don’t Tell). The LGBTQ community has changed labels (from homosexual to gay; from homosexuals to community and so on) to massage the message, to make what they are doing more palatable to others. But, they will also use the word “Queer” and other evocative terms when they need to describe their ‘personhood’s’ ‘empowered’ and ‘liberated’ uniqueness.

Some general definitions: trans-sexual men are men who want to appear as women to gain sex with other men. Trans-sexual women want to appear as men to gain sex with other women. I don’t have to give examples here because you have seen this acted out in daily life. Because Saving Leonardo is an overview of the generation of worldviews these sexual distinctions are not noted in Pearcey’s book. Only blanket statements are wielded regarding sexuality/gender issues seemingly to rattle the cages of the Christian chipmunks asleep on the wheel.

I mentioned earlier that transgender people identify themselves by their gender disconnect from their body and not by their sexual preferences. Pearcey does talk about the mind/body brokenness in modern thinking and there is some truth to what she is saying, especially as it relates to the LGBT community, but also, as well to the general public. We are a people who say that bodies can be disposed of (abortion, euthanasia, embryonic research) and can also be used for sordid pleasure (homosexuality, bi-sexuality, trans-sexuality, hook-up sex, etc.) and who augment, plasticize, starve, binge-purge and reinvent our bodies, our looks, to fit a certain desired idolized self-image.

Pearcey writes about gender issues later in the section Bodies Matter. She talks about the Gender (psychological identity and sexual desire)/Biology (physical identity and anatomy) split. She talks about the divorcing of gender and anatomy as a means to denigrating the materiality of the body. She writes, “A genuinely biblical view honors and respects our biological identity. Psalm 139 says God “knits” together our bodies in the womb. Masculine or feminine identity is a gift from God to be enjoyed in gratitude.”

I agree with these words. I believe in a binary gender/sexuality – of male and female as separate and distinct beings. The physical boundaries of gender are represented by the unique anatomical differences of male and female. Psychologically, male/female boundaries are generally more fluid, hence sexuality issues and gender issues can more easily arise resulting in conflict and a resolution or repression of the conflict. Sexual identity may be influenced by environment, social constructs, psychological trauma and/or biology (hormone secretion on the brain in the womb). All of psychology’s assumptions about how gender identity is ultimately derived are just that, assumptions. None of them are verifiable. Psychology does, though, seek to relieve a person’s distress by trying to understand the cause of distress. The biblical wellness scenario: the whole person is a mind and body, one unified whole, either male or female, who is not in distress or despair.

What God has created is good.  He knitted me together in my mother’s womb  – with the gender disconnect.  Because of this and the fact that there is also the work of redemption going on in human history, I made the decision many years ago to make the changes needed to live as a unified whole and as a woman. This was after many hours of ‘rationale’ sessions with counselors, psychologists and psychiatrists and healing prayer. I came to the understanding that I could make the change because God gave me the grace to do so within the framework of a Christian worldview of redemption. I do not embrace a post-modern worldview of gender.

Born in the fifties, I was raised in a Christian home, without psychological trauma or encouragement to be a female, I never heard of a postmodern (PM) view of gender as described by Pearcey in this chapter. Of course, I knew of Woodstock and Warhol but I knew at the same time that I had a strong Christian worldview and also that I was female.

No trans-gendered person I know of, and there are many, had made their changes based on this PM worldview premise that Pearcey describes in her book. Rather, each one at various times has told me that they knew their gender identity when they were a small child. They may have, later on, used the PM gender theorist’s justification of gender fluidity to endorse their change from a secular worldview point. The real genesis of their change, as told to me, was inherent in them from the start of their lives. Generally, when a person writes about something they have no first hand knowledge of, they make assumptions and generalizations based on the loudest proponents banging their drums off in the distance. That is the case with Saving Leonardo, Chapter 3.

In doing so I feel Pearcey blacklists transgender people. Beyond this, I have also heard Nancy Pearcey, during a recent radio interview, mention the same “contentious” connection – trans-gender-ism and homosexuality.  She undoubtedly set some teeth on edge about the subject of trans-gender-ism. I heard her say this on a Saturday morning MBN broadcast program called In the Market with Janet Parshall (I am a former student of the Moody Bible Institute.  Therein lays my interest in the radio program.).   When a person talks in this way they continue to propagate, I believe, a fear of the unknown (gender dysphoria).  And, when people don’t understand something they often will reject it wholesale, out of fear.

Nancy knows, I have no doubt, that Scripture is very definitive about sexual sin whether its homosexual sin or hook-up sin. She also knows that Scripture does not define or mention trans-genderism (TG-ism). Because of this, Pearcey has to make inferences regarding TG-ism. I don’t agree with the inferences she has made in this section, the first being that it is related to a “contentious” sexual “issue” such as homosexuality or hook-up sex.

Here’s something of what compassion for a trans-gendered individual would look like:

1. Understanding that trans-gender-ism is not the same as acting out homosexually. It is not a sexual issue. It is a gender identity issue. (In general, most people are not confused about their gender. Some people are confused about their gender and then, there are a few people who are gender dysphoric.)

2. Understanding that trans-gender-ism (gender dysphoria) is a disconnect between mind and body that usually originates in infancy or early childhood and carries on into adult life. This disconnect may be due to a traumatic childbirth (see Frank Lake’s Clinical Theology), perhaps due to a deep psychological neurosis, perhaps due to a biological imbalance of hormones before birth). In any case, it is a heavy burden to carry. Christians are to bear one another’s burdens.

3. TG-ism may or may not be treatable or changeable in this life. The person may not be able to overcome his/her disconnect through counseling and Christian social ‘shock’ therapies (Dobson-esque tough love). In any case, this person has to choose the path to wholeness. The desire for wholeness, I would suggest, is inborn in all humans (the underlying point, I believe, of Saving Leonardo). I chose wholeness and unity of mind and body and spirit and a celibate lifestyle to walk in.

4. Tough love results in an even tougher resolve.

5. Accept the trans-gendered person at face value. Don’t be dismissive of them. (I don’t know how many times I’ve seen a wife whisper to her husband, letting him know that she knows ‘about’ the trans-gendered person. This woman only wants a laugh at the TG person’s expense.) There is no need to create a social leper colony, keeping TG people away from the church. Embrace, not exclusion.

5. A trans-gendered person can have a happy life. Much of what I hear from Christian articles about trans-gender-ism is that trans-gendered people go off into despair and perhaps even become suicidal.  This is not true, at least in my case and for others that I know. 

6.  It should be noted that a gender dysphoric person is not a neat little cataloged item found in a DSM manual or some coordinate on a worldview system map who may be pointed out with a “contentious” disdain.  Rather, gender dysphoria is a person with their own personal dichotomy of mind and body who seeks complete and utter wholeness.

Having said all this, I do not think that trans-gender-ism should be promoted as a life choice by any group. It is a unique and difficult situation that should not be marketed in a gender ‘mall’. On the other hand, though, I do think that when all possible remedial actions have been considered to resolve the TG person’s identity conflict and a resolution is not forthcoming – is not towards a material end as presented by nature, then a material adaptation of nature can be accommodated to match the TG persons understanding and bring about wholeness. In other words, living with a separation of mind and body is not an option for anyone. For a person who is not trans-gendered this would be a difficult concept to understand. Especially since there are trans-sexuals who do play the gender game.

I realize that a Christian rationalist psychologist will say that a trans-gendered person should live with the tension and find ways to ‘deal’ with it. In other words, live out a Jack London novel of man struggling with nature and the beast. You should understand that this tension can be exceedingly unbearable. Trans-gender-ism tension, unlike sexual tension, does not seek to resolve itself in sexual relations with another person or in emotional relationships with another person. It seeks wholeness of being. Trans-gender-ism is not kitsch posing as a woman. That is trans-sexual-ism. There are, of course, varying degrees of Trans-gender-ism. Every person is different.

Finally, I don’t need the pity or compassion as construed at the end of the chapter. The chapter begins with the mention of “contentious issues” and ends with words about having compassion for the trans-gendered person. As usual, the “contentious issues” are spelled out by the ‘Christian’ but, the word “compassion” is rarely fleshed out.

What is fleshed out: I live as a Christian woman with a Christian worldview as a unified whole. I do not hate my body. I never did. I do hate, though, Christian psychological snobbery disguised as ‘knowing’ compassion.

On the whole, I think the book is laudable in its attempt to help Christians understand modern man’s dealing with two combating worldviews, Analytic and Continental. This book gives Christians a place to begin discourse with those who are wishing to find a resolution to the worldview conflicts they are facing daily.  This opening will then enable Christians to reveal the Gospel’s answer of a complete narrative history of redemption and wholeness to those who have lost their way. The path to wholeness is difficult for everyone, even for Leonardo. So, compassion all around.

************

Footnote:
 In the final words of the book, Pearcey encourages parents to not push their kids into being conservative (keeping things as they are).  Rather, she encourages parents to push for “revolutionary” children. From my reading of Saving Leonardo, there seems to be no direct context given for defining her words.  Perhaps she means being an ‘out-side-the-box’ artist or composer or a great Christian writer or… ?

I’ll supply my own context: One revolutionary thing that I have done (something outside the box given me) is that I did not conserve (keep things as they are). Instead, I began living as woman to create a unifying whole, a life narrative of redemption, an autobiography of grace bestowed.

Finally, I find it rather strange that the author never mentions the spontaneity, sonority and musical improvisation of jazz.

The Transgender Moment

Caution: Compassion Exposed!
After reading the following web article from Christianity Today…

The Transgender Moment
Evangelicals hope to respond with both moral authority and biblical compassion to gender identity disorder.
By John W. Kennedy

…I would like to take a Transgender Moment and reply with a few comments:
The words chosen for this article (compassion, gender identity disorder, mental malady, etc.) regarding trans~gender-ism are purposely segregationist both in their deceitful use and in their condescending tone. They certainly imply that there is a normal and moral barrier being breached by the trans-gendered (TG) individual. The implicit warning in this article is that THE CHURCH should be prepared for this ‘PROBLEM’. When Mr. Kennedy put the word Biblical in front of ‘compassion’ in his opening title, he knew what he was doing ~ fostering a position of “we are in a Biblically correct position to help you” and “you need our help” type of separatism in the hearts of all evangelical Christians who peruse Christianity Today (maybe while having their hair dyed an unnatural shade of blond. I say, why mess with creation?).

The words “moral authority” invoke a wrath of God type of dealing with the TG individual and needlessly, whether or not the word compassion is used, gathers up the storm clouds of anger and dissent over and around this person. Mr. Kennedy wants to draw a line in the sand (As I see it, this is fine because God has sand moving all of the time.) Who or what is this ‘moral authority’ he ascribes to? I assume the Bible – Sola Scriptura! Mr. Kennedy, in this rather weakly thought out article, is using the word Bible or Biblical as the wedge between them and the TG person.

The word “Biblical” often summons up a devious self –righteousness into every one who reads this word. He wants the reader to believe that they are on good moral ground with him and others just like him who read his pulp magazine when he talks about the issue of trans-gender-ism. I would call the others like him “CT clones” (Christians Trans-morphed into Clones). But, I won’t get into name calling. At least not to the degree that Mr. Kennedy has, anyway. Mr. Kennedy, in his article, has used almost of all of the psychological terminology he could muster to leverage his ‘moral’ (?) authority and to posture the TG person as a person with a “Biblical’ sized disorder.

Trans-gender-ism is not a disorder, not in the sense that Mr. Kennedy wants to use it  – as a psychological and moral weakness. I understand that Mr. Kennedy wants the church to be scandalized by his article on trans-gender-ism. Where did the author of this article come up with the term “gender identity disorder” or GID? These words probably came from a psychology textbook, the DSM-IV manual, a Psychology Today article or perhaps via the internet. Now, apparently, these sources have become infallible (‘Sola Scripturian’) in their description of a TG person’s ‘disorder’ especially if theses sources serve to make an implication of sin and moral weakness, Mr. Kennedy. And, since when does a psychological profile of someone (an infallible profile in your estimation since it is the bedrock of your article) demand an inquest into its moral grounds? Is it in order that you may withhold your anticipated judgment with your parsimonious grace? Biblical moral authority is invoked but there are no grounds to do so.

Someone, at some point in time, wrote down a psychological profile of trans-genderism and saw it as an anomaly – a deviation (let the reader understand that I am using the word ‘deviation’ in the scientific sense and not the coined Biblical sense!) apart from other more prominent behaviors and understanding. Because some book gives trans-gender-ism a label called Gender Identity Disorder (GID) does not make trans-gender-ism a disorder and certainly does not make it into something sinful or something you need to ‘fix”. This label, GID, as I see it, only provides a handle to help people understand the issue – a person’s disconnect between their mind and their body. But now, this profiling is becoming ‘Biblically ordained’ by Mr. Kennedy’s article as a morally and a psychologically handicapped condition. Has anyone ever done a psychological profile on an Evangelical, fundamentalist Christian who wants to set boundaries on grace every chance they get? Wipe that smile off of your face!

As I see and as I understand gender confusion from the perspective of being a TG woman, the ultimate confusion does not lie prominently within the TG person but in the eyes of the person viewing them. This is the confusion Mr. Kennedy should prepare the church for. As I have seen in my fifty-one years in the Christian church and in my many years in “fix-it” counseling and healing prayer seminars, the fix or healing prescribed is only to make the person like “the rest of us” – their ‘prescriptions’ are made to only conform the TG person to what is generally understood and accepted.

Trans-gender-ism, by itself, has nothing to do with sin or sinfulness or psychological maladies as Mr. Kennedy would imply: I do not hate my father. I do not adore my mother. I do not envy women. I do not idolize women. I do not have a psychosis, a fixation, on women. I am not neurotic. I do not have an obsession of women nor do I have a phobia of maleness. I do not hate my body. I am not full of lust and I am not perverted nor am I in denial. I did not have birth trauma (See Frank Lake’s Clinical Theology). And, I do not have attachment issues or separation anxiety. I have understood, though, from the very beginning what gender I am. (Hmmm, this sounds like predestination!  Does DNA contain predestination?)  Beyond all this, it does take time for a trans-gendered person to understand why they are different and to come to terms with their gender.

In the article, Jerry Leach, director of Reality Resources, a ministry in Lexington, Kentucky says, “This is a psychological and emotional malady. It’s not like taking an appendix out.” Well, Mr. Leach, it’s more like having a C – section. C-sections are invasive and ‘unnatural’ procedures. Creation suggests the birth canal. Creation ‘pushes’ a woman into using the birth canal. Yet, there are times when this ‘un-creation like’ procedure is the only way to give birth to another human life or to save a human life. Now, would someone be diagnosed as having an emotional malady if he were to cut off his right hand because it made him sin? This is what Jesus taught. Or, would he be psychologically troubled if he became a eunuch for the Kingdom of God as the Apostle Paul writes about? This is Sola Scriptura fleshed out! Wake up!

(Yes, Mr. Kennedy, I will be taking estrogen the rest of my life. I will also be receiving the Eucharist every week for the rest of my life. I will also be confessing sin the rest of my life and I will be receiving absolution from sin the rest of my life. I will be reading my Bible the rest of my life. I will be praying the rest of my life. I will be worshipping God the rest of my life. I won’t be reading Christianity Today, though, the rest of my life.)

Why mess with God’s creation? Is it OK for a church building program to take over several acres of prime Creation and build a huge structure upon it? When a boy is circumcised or a young girl’s ears are pierced or a woman’s hair dyed or teeth whitened or air polluted or when cats and dogs are castrated or . . .? What is happening to creation? Are we meant to subdue creation for our own well-being and benefit? And from this, a TG person has the same unction to change into wholeness as does a repentant sinner who wants to become a saint.

The title of Mr. Kennedy’s article, The Transgender Moment, can be taken in two different ways, as he already knew. He is either asserting that trans-gender-ism, perhaps a fad in his eyes, perhaps not viable, will vanish just like all other fads (e.g., WWJD). In this case he is being dismissive and condescending. Or, he is asserting that the evangelical church will quickly stomp out its existence (or at least its access to ‘their’ church) with its ‘higher-ground-than-the-TG person’ rhetoric. In this case, he is promoting crucifixion. (It should be noted that Jesus had His “moment” on this earth, too.)

Here from the article  is Mr. Kennedy’s smug and schmoozing closing sound bite to the Evangelical church:
“The challenge before conservative evangelicals is persuading trans-gendered people, their families, and faith-based advocates that gender identity disorder is not beyond the reach of God’s grace, compassionate church-based care, and professional help.” (Are you saying that TG people should be accepted into ‘your’ church so that you can then put them within the crosshairs of your pseudo-psychology-‘professional’ preaching and your Biblical compassion (whatever that means)?

I am a Christian TG woman. I attend a Christian, sola-scriptura based church. I take communion every week. Because of these things and my belief in Scripture’s truth, I do not practice homosexuality nor do I promote it in any way shape or form. I fully accept a God-given (Sola Scriptura) binary gender distinction –male and female. I am female. I am not beyond God’s grace whatsoever or outside of its boundaries (even though you want to set its boundaries)! I do not accept cheap grace (as described by Dietrich Bonhoeffer). I live a quiet and peaceable life. I do not want to stand out. True Trans-gender-ism is not a Mardi-Gras parade. It is a person, a human being. And, I do not believe in adding any new Civil Rights laws unless, you incite uncivil behavior against me. I also believe that it would be malevolent journalism to insinuate that trans-gender-ism is equal with homosexuality, bi-sexuality, cross dressing or trans-sexuality. These activities are sexual adaptations (Biblical ‘deviations’) and life style choices, life choices which have become sexualized.

If someone were to ask me why I don’t go back and be what I was before my change (i.e, ‘normal’) my answer would be the same as that of the character Hazel Motes in his answer to Mrs. Flood at the end of the novel Wise Blood by Flannery O’Connor. Mrs. Flood asked Mr. Motes why he doesn’t go back to preaching after he had blinded himself with lye.  Motes replied “I don’t have time.”

Like Mr. Motes I now stare in wonder at the mystery of the gospel. And though my flesh is ‘disfigured’  in the sight of the world, the ‘eyes’ of my spirit are now able to see.

I want you to see God’s grace in a new way and not through the myopic lenses of those who would hold court over me, those who view grace only as it accords with ‘normal’.

Finally, I do not accept a binary compassion (a ‘them – us’ type of compassion) Mr. Kennedy. The journey to wholeness is difficult for everyone on that road. So, compassion all around.

****

Related Posts:

A Naturalized Woman

What’s Biblical About It? Is there such a thing as Biblical Masculinity and Femininity?

*****
Chicago Tribune Article:
New Science on Gender, Hormones and the Brain
New evidence shows how hormones wire the minds of men and women to see the world differently
By Ronald Kotulak, science reporter

****

Apart from such well-known irreversible“ organizing” effects of sex hormones on the developing brain, the possibility of a direct action of genetic factors on sexual differentiation of the brain should not be ruled out .

From the following limited research study:

MTF Female Neuron Numbers in Limbic

Dead to Rights

 

Close to 800 000 people die due to suicide every year, which is one person every 40 seconds. Many more attempt suicide. Suicide occurs throughout the lifespan and is the second leading cause of death among 15-29 year olds globally… There are indications that for each adult who died of suicide there may have been more than 20 others attempting suicide. –Mental Health, Suicide Data, World Health Organization

 

Overdoses killed young and middle-aged Americans at a breakneck pace as the country battles a crippling opioid crisis, adding to the first two-year drop in life expectancy since JFK was President.

More than 63,600 people died of a drug overdose in 2016, the National Center for Health Statistics found. The startling rate was 21% higher than the number of fatalities a year earlier. – Opioid overdoses kill more people in U.S. than guns or breast cancer

 

The numbers quoted above are not insignificant. These instances of mental illness are not insignificant. And, these statistics represent only a small fraction of the de-humanizing effects of mental illness. Most of the effects of mental illness are hidden from the public eye until a person’s mental illness reaches a peak. The media then reports the violence done to others or done to one’s self in the form of suicide. Mentioned briefly by the newscaster: mental illness and the need to find a way to deal with it.

Again, the numbers quoted above are not insignificant. The quotes tell us in effect that mental illness influenced a person’s choice to self-harm. The quotes (and newscasts) do not tell us the choices that led to a mental illness that in time led to an act of violence. A post about mental illness could go in many directions. Here, I will take the path less traveled. I want to talk about what I see as the genesis of most mental illness – people’s choices.

 

Certainly, there are forms of mental illness which are not based on a person’s choices. Some prominent forms of mental disorder such as Bi-Polar Disorder have been ascribed primarily to a person’s genetic make-up. Some mental disorders are related to a chemical imbalance. Either abnormality can result in abnormal brain structure and function. Much progress has been made to mitigate the effects of these disorders. Some mental disorders may have come about through a child’s early environment. Talking in therapy and building good trust relationships can bring about healing.

Beyond physiological and early childhood causes, there is a spectrum of mental illnesses due to a person’s choices, choices that have been assessed and weighed based on one’s belief system and emotions. Each of us make deliberated decisions using our free will.  We may choose to act in a mentally healthy way or in a mentally harmful way. We may choose to turn the other cheek or we may choose to imitate revenge (Copy-Cat Revenge). We may choose to endure pain or we may choose to commit copy-cat suicide (the Werther Effect). Choosing to choose to act against God, oneself and others is evil-based mental illness. Evil-based mental illness involves a person’s choices.

Adam and Eve made a choice and learned of evil through their disobedience. Their son Cain made a choice when he murdered his brother Abel. God, acknowledging Cain’s mental distress, let him know that his choice figured in his distress:

Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”-Genesis 4:6-

One’s choice makes all the difference for one’s mental state. And, when a person makes the wrong choice, there are public and private consequences. There are mental health consequences. A descent into madness is one of the consequences.

“This is the interpretation, Your Majesty, and this is the decree the Most High has issued against my lord the king: You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like the ox and be drenched with the dew of heaven. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes. The command to leave the stump of the tree with its roots means that your kingdom will be restored to you when you acknowledge that Heaven rules. Therefore, Your Majesty, be pleased to accept my advice: Renounce your sins by doing what is right, and your wickedness by being kind to the oppressed. It may be that then your prosperity will continue….

Immediately what had been said about Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled. He was driven away from people and ate grass like the ox. His body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a bird.

At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever. – Daniel 4:24-27, 33-34 (emphasis mine)

We live in a world where choice is king. And, people want to reign as king or queen of their choice. What you won’t hear these choice-driven folks say is that they are responsible for the choices they make. If their choice doesn’t work out the way they planned they blame others, including the government. Scapegoating is a characteristic of evil-based mental illness. For example, I was once accused by LGBT advocates on Twitter of likely going on to cause the depression and suicidal death of gay community members because I spoke out against homosexuality. The advocates of the LGBT will tell you that any resistance to the homosexual lifestyle equates to depression and death for the LGBT. People want choices and want to rule in them but it their choices which cause the mental breakdowns, depression and worse. Resistance to accountability is another characteristic of evil-based mental illness. The Apostle Paul insists on accountability to the Lord as he reminds the Ephesian church that there are those who by their choices have darkened their minds:

So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed. But that isn’t what you learned about Christ. -Ephesians 4:17-20

A darkened mind, evil-based Mental illness, starts with small concessions to evil. One acknowledges and then accepts these concessions and compartmentalizes them in part of the psyche. They are filed away from the conscious and away from public view. One goes on to absolve and protect oneself from outside reference with a half-truth: “It’s a hard life and I must do what I have to do to make it”.

One goes on to concede more ground to evil because the appetite for defiant free will choice has been whetted and there have not been any immediate consequences. The addiction to compromise has begun. The conscious is silenced. One’s mental health begins to deteriorate because thoughts are confused and growing darker; the light has been switched off. One becomes duplicitous. A public face is put on because one’s sanity is on shaky ground but others must see you as proudly self-assured and in control. And what better place to hide your self-deceit and look respectable:

Since the primary motive of the evil is disguise, one of the places evil people are most likely to be found is within the church. What better way to conceal one’s evil from oneself, as well as from others, than to be a deacon or some other highly visible form of Christian within our culture? … I do not mean to imply that the evil are anything other than a small minority among the religious or that the religious motives of most people are in any way spurious. I mean only that evil people tend to gravitate toward piety for the disguise and concealment it can offer them. – Martin Buber 

When mental illness is discussed, evil-based mental illness should also be discussed. But I believe the reason evil-based mental illness isn’t discussed is because it involves putting people’s choices under scrutiny. Twitter users become afire when I speak against homosexuality as a lifestyle acceptable for the church. They have told me that I am not like Jesus; I am judgmental. In truth, as a Follower of Jesus, I am trying to help the world around me become fully human. In the process, I’ve come to learn that Evil is defensive of its territory – humans.

Because Evil is nothing and has no substance, it must have access to human choice to act. Evil can, by human will, pervert what God created and called good. A glaring example of this hideous conversion from the good and absolute to sliding scale values and Epicureanism is the growing Christian acceptance of homosexuality as an acceptable good. In truth, it is a queering, a perversion, of the good.

It is a curious state of affairs today and a clear indication of evil’s degenerative effect: there are those today who demand rights for this and that while at the same time say they have no control of themselves or they can’t help themselves in their behavior. They want special human rights and the right to live as animals at the same time. They take Pride (Month) in this. De-humanization (e.g., giving over your free will and conscious to animal impulse) is a guaranteed effect of the choice to dwell in mental illness. Renouncing sin and turning back to the One true God will begin restoring your humanity and sanity. Just ask King Nebuchadnezzar.

 

The church should be the place for evil-based mental illness to be addressed. Sadly, many mainline churches have been comprised and now affirm evil as good, thereby increasing evil-based mental illness among its members. Read the Word and receive the Eucharist. The Word and prayer can help put you back in your right mind.

I am laid low in the dust;
preserve my life according to your word.
I gave an account of my ways and you answered me;
teach me your decrees.
Cause me to understand the way of your precepts,
that I may meditate on your wonderful deeds.
My soul is weary with sorrow;
strengthen me according to your word.
Keep me from deceitful ways;
be gracious to me and teach me your law.
I have chosen the way of faithfulness;
I have set my heart on your laws.
I hold fast to your statutes, Lord;
do not let me be put to shame.
I run in the path of your commands,
for you have broadened my understanding. -Psalm 119: 25-32

 

 

Are You a danger to yourself or to others? If so, what choices have you made to bring you to this place? You are dead to rights accountable for the wrong choices. But your life doesn’t end there. Have more fear of what you may end up doing than talking to someone. Seek out a Christian and begin talking. Ask God for wisdom and do so with no doubt of receiving it, as a matter of mental health. For, “A person who doubts is like a wave of the sea which the wind blows and tosses about. Someone like that should not suppose they will receive anything from the Lord, since they are double minded and unstable in everything they do.”

 

Interactive media has influence on your mental health, if you let it. Added 6/19/2018:

What is gaming disorder?

Gaming disorder is defined in the draft 11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) as a pattern of gaming behavior (“digital-gaming” or “video-gaming”) characterized by impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming over other activities to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other interests and daily activities, and continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.

For gaming disorder to be diagnosed, the behaviour pattern must be of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning and would normally have been evident for at least 12 months.

 

Getting Back to Outside-of-Spacetime Normal

 

“Elsewhere on the Las Vegas Strip, things appeared to go back to normal quite quickly.”  -Quote from a Oct. 4th, 2017 Daily Mail post

 

“I am please asking your prayers for the late 13 year old J— T—— and for his family and friends. J—, a neighbor of ours passed away unexpectedly on Tuesday, Oct. 3rd. J— was a smart, kind young man. He went through a lot of pain in his short life. May J— be surrounded with God’s unconditional love and may God lift J—’s family and friends up at this time. Give them peace, comfort, and spiritual healing over the loss of their family member and friend.”

-a recent prayer request from a church’s prayer email list

~~~

Whether be it hurricanes, floods, tornados, mass killings, local armed robberies (my town) and the loss of a child, there are life-events that seem to come out of nowhere. And, they are beyond our control. There are also cause-and-effect circumstances that follow from our own actions. These consequences often situate us in a place beyond our control. After any such occurrences, whether thrust upon us or resultant, it becomes clear to us that there is no going back to before. One passes through an event horizon* after which things will never be the same.

Those in the world who experience any of the above will likely face the situation initially with shock, hurt and outrage and then, as some time passes, turn to a “let’s return to normal” Epicurean palliative mind set -“the show must go on”. Later, they may turn off their feelings altogether within a Stoic apathy, especially if life-events ‘pile’ up. The cycle of indifference then ‘piles’ up until “action must be taken”.

After a horrific event most will seek a motive when great harm is done to others. They will ask “Why?” because they want to discover the means to stop all pain in this life, pain which so often comes home with them. A Christian will view the events from a Kingdom of God perspective, one which is Outside of Spacetime Normal.

“I am persuaded, you see, that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor the present, nor the future, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in King Jesus our Lord.” -Paul’s letter to the Roman church, 8: 38-39

Those of us who call Jesus “Lord” are being conformed to the image of the Alpha and Omega, the One who is outside of spacetime ‘normal’. As such, we are a royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9) and are summoned to do the work of a priest – stand between heaven and earth and intercede for the world. We are to take the hurt, the pain, the sufferings and the groanings of the world and bring it to the Father and to do so without ceasing.

Maybe you have witnessed the following in your spirit. I have come to understand, after 55 years of a relationship with the Lord, that the Holy Spirit is constantly in conversation with the Father and the Son through me. The Spirit is constantly interceding. I am made continually aware of those around me. I lift them to the Lord. In my spirit I hear the cries of thousands who are hurting. When I see news reports of disasters – natural and manmade – I pray in the Spirit. Most times I do not have words. The Spirit, helping me in my weakness, prays through my very limited understanding.

“…the spirt comes alongside and helps us in our weakness. We don’t know what to pray for as we ought to; but the same spirit pleads on our behalf, with groanings too deep for words. And, the Searcher of Hearts knows what the spirit is thinking, because the spirit pleads for God’s people according to God’s will.”  -Paul’s letter to the Roman church, 8: 26-27

For some, prayers begin with a “Why?” and end up with “How could you let this happen?”

For followers of Jesus our often-wordless intercessions begin with, “How long, Sovereign Lord Jesus?” and end with “Come Lord Jesus. Maranatha.”

 

~~~

*event horizon is a boundary in spacetime, the shell of “points of no return”. Nothing inside the event horizon can ever cross the boundary and escape beyond it, including light. Nothing that enters a black hole can get out or can be observed from outside the event horizon.

So You Want to Give World Peace to Your Mother for Mother’s Day?

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

World Peace. Now there’s something your mother would love-the kids not fighting! But it will take some doing. FTD is not showing this item on their webpage. Hallmark may have a singing “What a Wonderful World” gift card. Good luck finding that one right now.

In the meantime-between War and Peace, that is-I suggest that you at least call mom and thank her for her wisdom, her support and her prayers on your behalf.

 

World Peace. If you think about it world peace comes when the world is ordered in such a way that man, a free moral agent, doesn’t repeat the history of self-centered reason leading to violence and to exclusion. I’ll tell you what I mean a little bit later in the post.

To better understand man’s secular attempts at world order read former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger’s new book “World Order.”

As a foreign diplomacy expert and an experienced and well-read confidant of several presidents and policy institutes, Kissinger provides the reader of “World Order” years of insight into centuries of cultures, societies and homogenous people groups that have formed political entities. In the aggregate, these entities whether during strife or in peace, would become known as the “world order.”

World Order by Henry Kissinger

World Order by Henry Kissinger

Out of a political will based mainly on reasons of security through power, countries with formal boundaries and armies would form. But, this did not happen without the give and take of diplomacy and frequent battles over territorial claims. The flux of national wills would determine the world order at any given moment.

Today’s tenuous world order, as viewed from the U.S., includes aggressive-always seeking to expand Russia, passive-aggressive imperial China, the tinder-box known as the Middle East and the ever obtuse North Korea.

Today’s world order also includes the incendiary radical Islamists who are central to Iran’s deployed political will of “do or die” theocracy. There are non-state terrorist groups aligned with Iran. All this and sectarian strife: neighbor against neighbor.

As I see it, the stability of today’s world order borders on chaos. Cyber black-hat communities and international terrorists may hack, steal, deface and destroy information systems necessary for a nation’s financial and political security. There are no territorial borders in cyberspace, no rules of engagement, no easily determined policy of retaliation and only a faint hope in a firewall as means of deterrence. As technology rapidly advances, Kissinger warns, so do the implications of world order rapidly taking a turn for the worst.

In talking about the role of internet as it affects human consciousness by tailoring truth to the user Kissinger notes, “Western history and psychology have heretofore treated truth as independent of the personality and the prior experience of the observer. Yet, our age is on the verge of a changed conception of the nature of truth…

The concept of truth is being relativized and individualized-losing its universal character. Information is being presented as being free. In fact, the recipient pays for it by supplying data to be exploited by persons unknown to him, in ways that further shape the information being offered to him”

On the same page Kissinger asks, “Where, in a world of ubiquitous networks, does the individual find the space to develop the fortitude to make decisions that by definition, cannot be based on consensus?

AND thanks to nebulous foreign policy decision-making by the Obama White House, nuclear proliferation is increasing! Nuclear armament is now considered a necessity by countries such as Sunni Saudi Arabia. The Saudi are concerned about Shia Iran and nuclear asymmetry.

Currently, U.S. foreign policy appears to be a policy based primarily on President Barack Obama’s vision of himself and his desired legacy. Could it be that Obama wants to see himself as egalitarian with Iran to the point of doing to Israel what he does to America over and over?

The only sure thing we have learned about Barack Obama’s World Order policies which effect both domestic and foreign issues is that Obama’s allegiance is to his far left political ideologies and has never been with America and its lessons-learned traditional values. Oh sure, nice ‘flowery’ speeches are made in kabuki theater-like moments but his passive-aggressive actions and his evocative denigrating words are reminders of his early-60’s radicalized mindset. He is not for peace. Obama is a divider of classes, races and genders. World Peace is the last thing on Obama’s mind. He wants “transformational change”, whatever that is. It could mean that the U.S. becomes the People‘s Republic of Obama.

Remember, Obama was mentored by radical leftists, leftists who pledged their allegiance to the “Goddamn America!” flag. Barack Obama was taught to denigrate America within a vision of world order that does not embrace our historical roots. Those roots are of no value to him.

Obama mentions Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King and yet has no clue as to the depth of moral character or the extent of sacrifice each of these larger than life men had brought to America. These two men so endeavored with their prayers and decisions to bring about reconciliation and peace, not Obamic division for political gain.

Obama’s “Dreams from My Father” reveals to us that he is always looking over his shoulder, looking for Jim Crowism, for colonialism, for unabashedly proud Americans. He wants to shame America and Israel into submission to his political will, a will that only knows a radicalized world order. Little wonder he ‘empathizes’ with the Iranians, giving them the benefit of many realized doubts. But, that’s enough writing about our lame-blame President. He will be out of office in twenty months. Mothers, rejoice!

 

  1. Let’s start over.

So you want to give World Peace to your mother for Mother’s Day? It will take some effort on your part to make this happen.

First I recommend to you Miroslav Volf’s book, “Exclusion and Embrace: A Theological Exploration of identity, Otherness, and Reconciliation”. This book is mentioned in a video within my post “The Problem of Evil, A Good God and a Different Way to Be Human“. N.T. Wright brings up the book while discussing forgiveness.

Exclusion and Embrace by Miroslav Volf

Exclusion and Embrace by Miroslav Volf

Here is one passage from the chapter, “Violence and Pain”:

The Enlightenment has left us with an alternative: either reason or violence. Nietzsche and his postmodern followers have demonstrated aptly that reason itself is violent (Nietzsche 1990, 43), adding in their honest moments the horrifying thought that violent reason can be transcended only in the violence of un-reason (Foucault 1988, 285). The cross of Christ should teach us that the only alternative to violence is self-giving love, willingness to absorb violence in order to embrace the other in the knowledge that truth and justice have been, and will be, up held by God. Does the cross teach us to abandon reason along with violence? Is its message that the immediacy of self-donation is the only antidote to the immediacy of violence? Certainly not. We cannot dispense with reason and discourse as weapons against violence. But the cross does suggest that the ‘responsibility of reason” can replace neither the “consciousness of sin” (Apel 1988, 17f) nor the willingness to embrace the sinful other. Instead, reason and discourse themselves need to be redeemed to the extent that they are implicated in the agnostic and sinful relations of power. Only those who are willing to embrace the deceitful and unjust as Christ has done on the cross, will be able to employ reason and discourse as instruments of peace rather than violence.” (emphasis mine)

Second, in the same video mentioned above N.T. Wright discusses forgiveness in light of Volf’s book.

Is forgiveness weakness? Is forgiveness capitulation of power, a loss of reason? Or, is forgiveness true power, true freedom and true embrace of the other. Is forgiveness the means to true World Peace?

Forgiveness is part of a larger reconciliation package: where evil has happened, it needs to named for what it is and in a sense shamed and then dealt with. “Where real evil has happened it needs to be addressed.” Forgiveness and reconciliation addresses what has actually happened. Within this context of embracing the “other” people are brought together. New life, new order is restored. Amazingly powerful and new possibilities including healing of communities will occur. World Peace ensues.

As Wright describes in the video, shutting the door of your heart to God’s forgiveness leaves us on inside looking out. I would add that a root of bitterness begins growing down through the floor boards making you decision to move through the growth to open the door difficult and then, later, almost impossible.

These are heavy concepts but you love your mother so take on these truths and become a peacemaker for Mother’s day.

“Blessings on the peacemakers! You’ll be called God’s children”-this Mother’s Day.

~~~

Added 8/12/2015: “Every politician who is involved in this (#IranDeal) will have blood on their hands.”