A Curse for Protection

We
draw the circle…

To
the Guardians of the Watchtowers of the East, the West, the South,
the North, and the Center; to my gods and dæmons
and guiding spirits: BE HERE NOW.

In
the Names of the Oppressed and Marginalized, I come to the altar of
Hell.

I
call Great Earl Halphas and his six and twenty legions: to your siege
Towers go! “Armed, alert, and awake,” as the Oracle of the Silver
Wheel sang. Furnish us with the weapons we need, and send us forth to
the places appointed.

I
call the Crimson King—who is known as Lucifer, the Light-bringer;
who is known as Be’elzebub; who is known as The Adversary; who is
Satan—arise and bring aid us as we bring adversity to those who
would destroy us.

Curse
them! I curse our would-be destroyers! These hypocrites! This den of
vipers! I curse all who would take our health from us! May they know
suffering many times greater than what they seek to force us to
endure. Curse them! May they feel the Lake of Fire here on this
world, here is this life!

In
the Names of the Oppressed and Marginalized, I come to the shores of
Purgatory.

I
call Great Cæsar
WALWARWAT—who is the Pangender Serpent, the wingéd
snake with “golden skin and eyes of flame”—cover us with your
protective wings, encircle us with your mighty coils, let us take
refuge in your strength, O Beloved Progenitor.

I
call the Blue God—who is known as Melek Ta’us; who is known as
the Peacock Angel—your tears once quenched the fires of Hell. Weep
now, with us. Weep now, for us. May your holy tears extinguish the
flaming hatred of our assailants. May your holy tears soften their
hearts as steady water erodes rock.

I
call Antinoüs the
Healer—rejoice! This is where life comes from! O Divine Boy, heal
our troubled hearts; heal our troubled minds; heal our trouble nation
and protect those with the least from those with the most.

We
are betrayed. We are cast aside. Show us how to protect ourselves as
we strive to protect one another. We wade through the Lake of Fire
every day of our lives. Soothe us even as we are forged anew.

In
the Names of the Oppressed and Marginalized, I come to the gates
of Heaven.

I
call Mary Magdalene—greatest of the disciples—give us the courage
to let our intentions be known.

I
call Yeshua—the Lamb who is the Destroyer—cast down the mighty
and lift up the lowly. Make the first to be last, and the last to be
first.

The
Trinity is of the Inverts, turning power structures upside down.
Guide those in power to see the harm that they cause. Guide them to
reverse this process of suffering and death.

By
all the powers that are mine to command and request aid from, may it
be so.

To
my guiding spirits and dæmons
and gods; to the Guardians of the Watchtowers of the Center, the
North, the West, the South, and the East: I give you license to
depart. Stay if you will, go if you must, in perfect love and in
perfect trust. May there be peace between us, now and for ever.

We
open the circle.

Sermon Reflection: The Road to Emmaus

CONTENT WARNING: suicide, suicidal ideation

I grow weary of Christian mysticism.

This Sunday, the only church I went to was Grace North Church, and I was playing bass again this week. The Gospel reading was The Road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35), and I had a very difficult time following the preacher’s connection in his sermon illustration to the possible meaning(s) of this reading.

The sermon illustration revolved around the life, and death, of a man with depression who had been known to the pastor. This man’s life ended in suicide. The preacher spoke of the anger at this man’s funeral.

Weariness #1: I grow tired of hearing about how angry people are after somebody commits suicide.

Is it so difficult to have compassion for those who commit suicide? Just fucking imagine: if they’d been shown a little more fucking compassion during their lifetimes maybe they wouldn’t have fucking committed fucking suicide. Maybe if mental illness wasn’t so fucking stigmatized and fucking healthcare providers would understand that there a lot of things that can’t be fixed in six psychotherapy sessions, more people would be getting the fucking help they need to stay alive. Stop fucking blaming the suicidal. We grow weary of that.

The pastor went on to preach about how his generation, Generation X, wasn’t born into a culture in which the world had intrinsic value. Instead, his generation—my generation—had to manufacture reasons why the world had value. He also preached about how Barack Obama had said, “Hope is an audacious thing,” and how such a statement wouldn’t have made any sense “twenty years ago.”

Weariness #2: I grow tired of those who presume to speak for an entire generation.

I, too, am from Generation X. A great many of us recognize the intrinsic value of the world. Do not attempt to speak for me until you have asked me what I think and how I feel. Even then, do not dare to quote me out of context. Speak for yourself only, and refrain from making sweeping generalizations of entire segments of the population.

As a member of Generation X, the pastor should also remember that twenty years ago was at the tail end of the AIDS epidemic, an epidemic that ravaged my communities. The existence of this epidemic was praised by conservative so-called Christians as being “the gay cancer” and the plague mentioned in Revelation that had come to cleanse the world of homosexuals. Then, they realized straight people could get it too, but still blamed them gays. We had hope during those years, those decades. We had to. And our hope was every bit as audacious then as it was during Barack Obama’s campaign. Don’t erase the hell we’ve lived through for the sake of a sermon illustration.

The pastor preached about how if there was a greater foundation of religion in the lives of Generation X and the following generation, the Millennials, there would be less of a need for antidepressants.

Weariness #3: I grow tired of those who speak out against medications, especially psych medications.

This also ties into weariness #2, as once again the pastor made sweeping generalizations, not to mention he left Generation Y, the generation between GenX and the Millennials. And while he did mention using antidepressants in the past, he seemed to be implying that one could just pray one’s mental illness away. And, it’s not that GenX, GenY, and the Millennials lack religion and that’s why we use medications to help with our mental illnesses, it’s that we reject the suffering. While the quote, “God helps those who help themselves,” is not in the Bible, it’s one of the most powerful quotes out there. Those of us in GenX, as well as those in GenY and the Millennial generation, are seeking help for ourselves in the various ways that work best for us. Judge not.

He made some other comments that just didn’t make sense to me, such as asserting that beliefs can be proven. Um, no, that’s not necessarily true. Facts can be proven. Beliefs, especially religious beliefs, are the type that probably can’t be proven. That’s why we believe; that’s what faith is.

He also said that the promise of a Dead Man living again is the source of hope, and isn’t it a wonderful thing. “If a Dead Man can live, the impossible becomes possible.” Of course a Dead Man can live. That which is remembered never dies.

I grow weary of Christian mysticism. It offers great promises for after we’re dead, but leaves a great deal to be desired regarding the suffering in this life. Lack of faith isn’t what caused me to be diagnosed with depression, anxiety, dermatillomania, and psychosis. Rather, the various forms judgmental abuse I deal with on a daily basis are the “adverse experiences” that have led to my mental illnesses. And for the healthcare-industrial complex apologizers: no, that’s not me making things up. That’s the professional opinions of the psychologist and psychiatrist I’m working with in order to stay the fuck alive.

If your Christian mysticism doesn’t lead to practical theology and works of faith, your mysticism is worthless to me. Maybe it’s time for me to find another church.

Amen, and Blessed be.

16 April 2017: Resurrection Sunday

[I feel I should apologize for the lateness of these Lenten posts. I’ve been prioritizing my self-care as my mental health has been quite poor lately. Thank you for bearing with me as I try to work up the motivation to write about these important days in the liturgical calendar.]

I started Resurrection Sunday worship at Good Shepherd Episcopal Church in the morning and finished at Grace North Church in the evening. This is one of the most important days, if not the most important day, in the Christian calendar.

Resurrection Sunday, commonly called Easter, is a story or rebirth. In fact, the word “Easter” comes from “Ēostare,” a month named for a Pagan goddess. Easter/Resurrection Sunday is a day of rebirth and fertility, as is Eostara. That which has lay dormant in the earth has sprung up in new life.

Being an adversarial theologian and a practical theologian, Easter is a difficult day for me to understand from the points of view of my theologies. The mystical victories that are joyously described seem to leave something to be desired, to me at least. When I encounter cissexism and heterosexism in my daily life, it can be very difficult to hear and believe that sin and fear and death have been defeated. Those victories serve to guarantee us our places in heaven, our life after death. But that doesn’t necessarily comfort those here on Earth for whom suffering is a way of life. That death will free us from suffering? No shit. Now, give me comfort for this life in the here-and-now.

The followers of Christ are the Body of Christ. So, it’s not just that He is risen. It’s also that We are risen. But, risen to what? Risen for what purpose? Well, it could be said that those of us who are out about our Marginalized Genders, Orientations, and Bodies (MOGAB) are risen to being visible so that our MOGAB identities will be normalized instead of marginalized. Those of us who are out about our mental illnesses are risen to being visible so that our illnesses are no longer stigmatized.

We are the Church. The Church is the Body of Christ. Christ is risen. We are Christ. We are risen.

Amen, and Blessed be.

2 April 2017: the Fifth Sunday of Lent

The fifth Sunday of Lent 2017 was another two-church day that started at Good Shepherd Episcopal Church in the morning and ended with Grace North Church in the evening. And, it’s Sundays like this one that really demonstrate how it can be challenging to be both an Adversarial Theologian and a Practical Theologian in the pews. Not so much with readings such as Ezekiel in the valley of dry bones (37:1-14) or Psalm 130, but definitely with Romans 8:6-11 and John 11:1-45.

It’s bad enough having body issues as a transgender person. To hear the words of Paul’s letter to the Romans talk about how one’s body is death can be just a little too much, especially with all his criticism toward people who are focused on their bodies. Looking deeper into this selection with the help of my New Oxford Annotated Bible, it seems that Paul isn’t castigating simply because they have bodies, but because they seek sensual pleasures for their bodies. This is why bodies are sinful, because they can experience pleasure. It seems to me, then, that Paul’s true complaint should be with God for giving humanity bodies capable of pleasure. I reject the idea that resisting pleasure is supposed to be a test of faith.

And then, there’s John. I really don’t like the Gospel According to John. So much of it seems anti-Jewish to me. And then the story of the raising of Lazarus? According to this story Jesus delays intentionally so that Lazarus would die so for the glory of God. Now, of course, this is a spiritual truth and not an historical account. It’s an allegory. But, WTF? No wonder there is so much backlash against religion when humans are the pawns of God as if they’re some living props in an ancient live-action Godly Play set.

What do I mean when I say I’m an Adversarial Theologian? I just can’t bring myself to take the necessary intellectual steps to try to force scripture written for a vastly different time and culture and twist it so that it applies to our times. Instead, I preach against the text as is necessary. And with this selection from Romans, I feel it is absolutely necessary to preach against it. Paul’s words about the sinfulness of human bodies is disrespectful not only to God who created those bodies, but to us who have them.

What do I mean when I say that I’m a Practical Theologian? I just can’t bring myself to focus on the mystical aspect of the Gospel message when there is very real suffering in the here-and-now. Sinews will not grow on the bones of our beloved dead. Once gone, they will not return to us here on Earth. The Transgender Day of Remembrance (yeah, I’m bringing that up again) is a reminder of this fact.

I must preach against texts that do not seem to value our lives on Earth. I must preach against mysticism as a platitude when intentionally arriving late to a preventable situation to provide a solution doesn’t stop the suffering.

Letting suffering happen to prove a point is evil.

Amen, and Blessed be.