Antinoe

The Adversarial Theologian Strikes Again

Friday, 10 August 2018

Really, I should have known better. A friend posted a suggestion to refrain from using gender binary language for a month. When one of their friends challenged this, saying they don’t care about gender, just “be human,” I had the feeling that person might be a problem if I were to get involved in this post. I should have just liked my friend’s post and went about my merry way.

Instead, I commented about using gender-neutral pronouns for G’D in my sermon on August 5th. As I expected, the other commenter asked why I would do that. I offered a theological reason, and the commenter literally blasphemed (“J’sus Chr;st!”) and took me to task for preaching.

And yet, I must thank my friend or their thread. The other commenter’s diatribe came at a point when I was once again wondering if I should just throw it all away and give up on ordained Christian ministry.

The other commenter’s comments rekindled the flame of my Christian ministry. And if I can’t be ordained by any Christian body, then I will found my own Christian order and ordain myself.

I rather like the sound of Constance Antinoë Magdalene McEntee, Pontifex Maxima.

The Baffling Case of Faith and Works

Sunday, 5 August 2018

I
think I was in fifth grade when I first learned that names had
meanings. This idea fascinated me, and I decided to look mine up. My
birth name was David, and the definition I found of that name was
“beloved.” Years later as an adult, but still before my gender
transition, I was in church listening to a sermon―it might even
have been about the same reading as today―when the preacher offered
another possible definition of David: lover boy.  

Today’s
readings from Second Samuel (11:26 – 12:13a) and Psalm 51 (1-13)
are related, and they’re related to beloved King David being a
lover boy.

During
my short time at seminary, I got to be part of the worship play
Stories
Seldom Told

by one of my mentors, the late Rev. Lizann Bassham―may she dance
barefoot forever with the Cloud of Witnesses! It was a very casually
set play, designed to be read dramatically by the performers rather
than acted out. This play is a feminist retelling of several stories
in the Bible, stories told from the points of view of women who are
regarded as minor characters. One of those stories was that of
Bathsheba. In her story, she describes how it simply wasn’t
possible for her to refuse King David’s advances. The concept of
consent was irrelevant. David was  king, second only to GoD and
chosen by GoD themself! It simply wasn’t possible for her, or
anybody, to deny him.

King
David was overthrown by Bathsheba’s beauty, to paraphrase the
prophet Leonard Cohen (1984). In last week’s reading from Second
Samuel (11:1-15),  David has Bathsheba brought to him. He has sex
with her, getting her pregnant, and then panics. The text said David
“lay with” Bathsheba. But as we know she wouldn’t have been
able to truly grant consent due to the power difference, it’s more
accurate to say David raped Bathsheba. He then tries to get Uriah,
Bathsheba’s husband, to go home. But since Uriah had prepared
himself―body,
mind, and spirit―for
battle, he would not go home even to have sex with his own wife as he
felt it would be improper for him to do so while there was still
fighting to be done for GoD and king (McKenzie, 2010, p. 450). David
realizes he won’t be able to pretend Uriah is the father of the
child he got on Bathsheba, so he contrives to have the man killed in
battle. A dead husband would never be able to tell how he hadn’t
sired Bathsheba’s child. David making Bathsheba one of his wives
also helps hide this rape. The prophet Nathan isn’t fooled by the
David’s treachery, and calls the king out by cleverly telling him
parable of a powerful man who takes advantage of a marginalized man.
David is incensed, saying the powerful man should be destroyed. Then
the prophet tells his king, “Thou art the man” (McKenzie, 2010,
p. 451). This revelation shakes David to his core, inspiring “the
baffled king [to compose]” (Cohen, 1984) Psalm 51, begging to be
forgiven and praising GoD’s compassion (Clifford, 2010, p. 815).

Pulling
meaning out of these first two readings didn’t seem that hard to
me. The message seemed fairly clear, and seems reminiscent that
lesson they drilled into us in high school literature classes:
absolute power corrupts absolutely. These readings certainly show
that David abused his power as king. There was no one person on Earth
who was more powerful than he. GoD themself had granted David the
power to rule. But David abused this power, actually condemning Uriah
to death in an effort to hide that he raped and impregnated
Bathsheba. But there’s something else to be found in these
readings. That is, even those chosen by GoD are still human,
fallible, and prone to being seized by vice. That even those who seem
to have GoD’s favor will still do things that would need to be
forgiven (Clifford,
2010, p. 815). Another way to word the high school lesson power’s
ability to corrupt is to be vigilant against power’s corrupting
influences, and to be prepared to call out our beloveds if they seem
to go too far.

When
have we acted like the “baffled king” (Cohen, 1984) and lover boy
David, abusing our power and acting selfishly, then causing harm in
an effort to hide what we’d done? When have we expected too much of
somebody because of the position they held, holding them to
improbable standards for the power they wield? When have we acted
like Nathan, and “[stood] up to our friends” (Rowling, 1998, p.
221), to quote Professor Albus Dumbledore?

Shifting
from Second Samuel and Psalms to the epistle, when have we been
unaware of the power we ourselves have? When have we been uncertain
how to use our power, especially trying to combine our power with the
power of others?

The
Oxford Annotated Bible

calls today’s selection from Ephesians (4:1-16) “Appeal for unity
amid diversity” (Berenson 2010, p. 2057). My initial reaction was
to think, “Yeah, sounds like Paul, alright. We mustn’t be too
individual!” Researching the text, I learned there’s quite a bit
of debate regarding who really wrote The Letter to the Ephesians, and
I found compelling arguments both for and against Paul as the author
(Cohick, 2010, p. 15; Coogan, 2010, p. 1973). This letter, the
commentaries suggested, is somewhat unlike the letters that are known
to have been written by Paul. It’s possible this letter was written
by somebody else in Paul’s name, perhaps even one of his disciples
(Coogan, 2010, p. 1973). I have the tendency to be wary of Paul. He
and I don’t always agree, and knowing that the authorship of
Ephesians is in question means … Actually, I’m not really sure
what it means to me.

But
also in my research, I found that it wasn’t so much that the author
was speaking out against diversity, but admonishing the Ephesians to
harness that diversity to a single unified purpose. So, my fears
about the author being opposed to diversity was unfounded. I’d
jumped to an erroneous conclusion.

The
first three verses of Ephesians 4, to me, seem unlike some of Paul’s
other letters. Here, the author seems to be saying faith alone isn’t
good enough. We have to do the work, too. The text seems to suggest
that orthopraxy―correct
behavior―will
lead to orthodoxy―correct belief. Those first three verses seem
more in line with The Letter of James, chapter two verse 17:

“So
faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.”

That
verse in James, plus the three before it,
seem
to directly contradict what Paul says in The Letter to the Romans
(3:28), that it is by “faith apart from works” that we are saved
(Cargal 2010, p. 2119). The idea that faith without works is a
problem ties into the readings from Second Samuel and Psalms. David’s
“works” regarding Bathsheba and Uriah betrayed his faith. David
had faith in the GoD he professed to serve, but his actions weren’t
in line with this faith. The prophet Nathan pointed this out,
prompting David to compose Psalm 51 as a song of shame.

And
the very start of Ephesians chapter 4 is interesting, too. The author
calls themself a “prisoner in the Lord” rather than identifying
themself as an apostle. The author also suggests we should all be
bound together in this faith, sharing being prisoners in Christ
(Cohick 2010, p. 111). It’s an alarming analogy for those who look
to Christ for liberation, but one that doesn’t seem so out of
character for the scriptures. Inverting earthly power structures, as
baffling as it seems, runs all throughout the Bible.

When
have we been like the church in Ephesus, having to be reminded that
while our individual gifts might seem insufficient to the tasks at
hand that together with others we can do great things?

Today’s
Gospel reading (John 6:24-35), like Second Samuel and Psalm 51, seems
fairly straight forward and easy to follow. Some of our multitudes
from last week (John 6:1-21) want to know where Jesus went. But,
we’re told these multitudes weren’t his true followers. They just
wanted to be fed. They challenge Jesus, going so far as to ask him
for signs proving he is who he says he is. They referenced Moses and
the manna from heaven. Jesus responds by interpreting Exodus to be a
prophecy about himself (Neyrey 2010, p 1892). It’s as if Jesus is
establishing
a form of apostolic succession
for himself even as he’s establishing scriptural fulfillment.

In
today’s Gospel, the crowd is demanding works so that they might
have faith in Jesus. Jesus rebukes them, saying they must do the work
of believing to demonstrate their faith. This seems almost at odds
with the reading from Ephesians and might leave us baffled,
wondering: “Well, which is it? Are we justified by believing or are
we justified by working?” Maybe it’s both. To me, at least part
of the message seems to be clear. We need to be there for those who
need us, and we need to do be there for those who need us regardless
of the doctrine of justification.

When
have we been like the multitudes, challenging others to prove their
worth to us rather than taking them at their word? How have we
reacted when others challenge our identities?

My
first name is no longer David and my middle name is no longer
William. I am Constance Anne. When I chose those names in January
2011 and looked them up, I found that Constance means “steadfast”
and Anne means “grace.” At that time I thought it was a prophetic
choice as I would need the steadfast grace of GoD to get through
gender transition with my psyche intact. But now, I see how it’s so
much more than that. Our works might sometimes or even most of the
time seem baffling when compared to our faith. And yet, GoD is there
for us anyway, offering grace in that steadfast way.

_____________

Sources

Berenson,
Jennifer K. “The Letter of Paul to the Ephesians.” In The
New Oxford Annotated Bible: New Revised Standard Edition with
Apocrypha
,
edited by Michael D. Coogan, pp. 2052-60. New York: Oxford University
Press, 2010.

Cargal,
Timothy B. “The Letter of James.” In The
New Oxford Annotated Bible: New Revised Standard Edition with
Apocrypha
,
edited by Michael D. Coogan, pp. 2119-25. New York: Oxford University
Press, 2010.

Cohen,
Leonard. “Hallelujah.” From Various
Positions

(sound recording). New York: Columbia Records, 1984.

Cohick,
Lynn H. Ephesians:
a New Covenant Commentary
.
Cascade Books. Eugene, Or. 2010.

Coogan,
Matthew D. “Introduction to the Letters/Epistles in the New
Testament.” In The
New Oxford Annotated Bible: New Revised Standard Edition with
Apocrypha
,
edited by Michael D. Coogan, pp. 1973-74. New York: Oxford University
Press, 2010.

Matthews,
Christopher R. “The
Acts of the Apostless.” In The
New Oxford Annotated Bible: New Revised Standard Edition with
Apocrypha
,
edited by Michael D. Coogan, pp. 1919-71. New York: Oxford University
Press, 2010.

Neyrey,
Jerome H. “The
Gospel According to John.” In The
New Oxford Annotated Bible: New Revised Standard Edition with
Apocrypha
,
edited by Michael D. Coogan, pp. 1879-1917. New York: Oxford
University Press, 2010.

Rowling,
J. K. Harry
Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

London: Pottermore (Barnes and Noble Nook digital edition), 2012.

Integrity versus Purity

There’s been a lot of talk about Trans-Exclusive Radical Feminists in Paganism lately, and this was a topic of discussion in my coven recently. Why would people decide who’s worthy to worship in a group based on the genitals they were born with? The idea seems so strange. The vicar at Good Shepherd Episcopal Church touched on this in her sermon today. The ritual purity that Jesus so often preached against is very similar to what trans/gender-diverse Pagans work against today. This, in turn, reminded me of something mentioned by last week’s preacher at Good Shepherd: that Jesus’ so-called miracles of healing might have been him simply touching the untouchables of his society.

A lot of Jesus work included inverting ideas of power and purity. I feel that we, in the Pagan world, should do the same. Integrity is greater than purity.

Amen, and Blessed be.

Judas Quincy Priest!

Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), a major public transit system where I live, has seen three murders in the past five days. BART police only admitted to the public the first two after the third took place. I used to take BART on a daily basis, and my nerves were always rattled. I never knew when a transphobic rant would turn violent. My sexual assault on a crowded evening commute train was a source of entertainment for the men and women in the train car near me.

News of these murders, including the third that happened at a station I used to rely on, have left me both grieving and enraged. I’ll be going to through various ritualized prayers tonight, including prayers to my lord Antinoüs and His Infernal Majesty.

As of the time of this post, the suspect in the most recent murder has been arrested. I still haven’t heard about the other murders.

In the Names of the Gods, why can’t people just live their lives without fear of some random person slashing their throats on a commuter train?

Circle of Cerridwen Statement on Family Separation

27 June 2018 The current US administration has recently enacted a policy of separating children from parents as they are caught crossing the border without prior authorization. Such entry to the country is a misdemeanor and few if any other misdemeanors in this country result in children being forcibly taken from their parents. These parents…

The Banishing Dance

This was inspired by the last time I ran through my negativity banishing musical meditation. 

CONTENT WARNINGS: nsfw text, sex mention, sex
magick, sacred sexuality

/*—————————————————————————————*/

The
Banishing Dance

by

Rev.
Constance Antinoë Magdalene
McEntee

/*—————————————————————————————*/

It
had been a long time since I went clubbing or dancing. Depression and
a flexible mobility disability will do that to you. I decided to use
my cane instead of my wheelchair and if dancing with the cane was too
hard on my body I’d use the wheelchair next time.

I
was mostly people watching and grooving, sitting at the bar so I
wouldn’t have to walk far when I got thirsty. And I was being very
careful with what I was drinking. lack of strength in one’s legs
and drunkenness do not mix. The music was a good mix of stuff from my
youth, newer stuff, and older stuff. Most was uptempo, but
there were always those who would slow-dance to just about anything,
like those two middle-aged gay men slow dancing to There is a
Light that Never Goes Out
. Oh, God, they were adorable! Singing
to each other, swaying back-and-forth in each other’s arms. I
couldn’t help but smile even as I wished for somebody to dance
with. If a partner was able to steady me, I could slow-dance without
my cane.

“Can
I buy you a drink?” this ageless man said. He
hadn’t taken a seat and wasn’t leaning on the bar next to me.

“That’s
an old, direct line,” I said, “But your distance suggests you’re
either a pickup artist or you’re genuinely respecting the
possibility of a rejection.”

“If
this where I’m supposed to say something smooth, I’m gonna fail,”
the guy said, and I still couldn’t decide if his charm was real. “I
think you’re beautiful, you’re grooving in your seat and look
like you’d like to dance. But the pink cane makes me think
you’re not feeling up to dancing.”

If
it wasn’t for the fact that I was people watching in a nightclub
with said cane, it would almost be
stalkerish of this guy. But at the same time, he was spot-on.

“Kahlua
and cream,” I replied smiling. “I’m Dana.”

Gently
shaking my hand, he introduced himself. “Mel. My I sit here?”

“You’re
buying me a drink.”

“Yes,
but that doesn’t ‘buy,’ for lack of a better word, the right
for me to sit next to you.”

Please
don’t be a woke misogynist
, I
thought to myself.

“I
would be delighted to share your company,” I replied as if I was in
period, penny dreadful novel.

Mel
was an easy and awkward conversationalist. I was really starting to
think he was genuine, and not a creep at all. It was always so hard
to tell, if I were to go by the stories of others. I really hadn’t
had all that much experience with men. Well, not dating experience
with them. It could be argued I grew up as one of them before my
transition, though I’d describe it differently. My experiences
dating men, albeit limited so far, had been mostly positive. A lot of
what I heard from other women, trans and cis alike, was a mixed bag.
Since it seemed bad experiences were common, it made me wary. And, of
course, that bothered me as women like me were called “traps.” It
felt odd to judge an entire group of people in much the same way the
group I was a part of was judged.

Yeah,
all that ran through my mind while we talked at the bar, song after
song thundering around us. Mel didn’t seem to be trying to open my
legs with alcohol, and when I requested a glass of water instead of
another mixed drink, he didn’t try to talk me into more booze.

He
must have noticed the way I perked up when All Night Long
by Peter Murphy started playing because he asked, “Would you like
to dance.”

“I’d
love to,” I replied. “But I don’t know if I can.”

“We
can slow-dance, if you like.”

“Okay.”

He
stood first, offering his hands to me. As soon as I touched them, it
was as if the pain in my hip and knee were suddenly gone. Looking
into his eyes, I swear I saw blue flames.

“You!”

“Good
evening, priest. Shall we dance?”

“My
king,” I said, smiling up at the Blue God.

“My
lady,” he replied. My hand in his, Mel led me to the dance floor.
And in his arms, we danced. “We don’t need to be touching for you
to be pain-free. But I understand how the minds of mortals can work.
I know there are those who wouldn’t judge you for slow-dancing.
They’d simply assume I was helping support your weight. But if it
looked like I wasn’t holding you up, they’d accuse you of faking
with your cane.”

“I
don’t mind you holding me,” I breathed.

“So
mote it be,” he smiled.

I
was dancing! Yes, it was because the Blue God was here, but I was dancing! It was a lovely
thing. I hadn’t been planning on staying until the club closed at
two, but that’s exactly what ended up happening. The Blue God had a
hotel room nearby, and he had asked if I would like to spend the
night with him.

This
was the Blue God. The Peacock King. He would top me in all ways if I
didn’t top him back or set clear boundaries. Relationships with
supernatural beings could be tricky.

“I
will spend this night with you,” I said, both accepting his offer
and clearly setting a boundary at the same time.

I’d
never had sex with a god, or a goddess, before. And here in the real
world I was still pre-op. But in the bed of the Blue God, my body took
whatever form I desired at the moment. How much time between arriving at his room and sunrise did we spend making love and having sex? Was it really
the whole time? I didn’t remember taking any time to sleep, and yet
I felt like I’d been dozing on his shoulder for at least a little
while before sunlight began pouring through the window.

“Good
morning, priest.” He kissed me again, and then I did indeed fall
asleep.

When
I next awoke, I was in my own bed in my own modest apartment, and
only shortly after sunrise. My body was as it was originally, but I
was still in what was unmistakably the afterglow. And it was one hell
of an afterglow.

Though
I woke alone and in the mundane world, for a time my negativity and
physical pain had been banished. I guess I should go dancing more
often.

Sermon: Exile, Adversity, and Reconciliation

image

There
is a painting called Mary Consoles Eve by Sr. Grace Remington of the
Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance
. It has a golden-yellow
background, and foliage of what looks like pear or quince branches from both
bottom corners up to form an arch above the two women, who are both shown in
profile. Eve is on the left, nude but with extremely long hair draped about her
body, holding what looks like an apple to her breast with her right hand. Her
left hand is outstretched to touch Mary’s very pregnant belly, and Eve’s gaze
is fixed on this belly. A serpent coils around Eve’s left calf and right ankle,
which is positioned ahead of her left.

Mary,
dressed in a white robe and blue veil, stretches out her right hand to touch
the side of Eve’s face, looking directly at the other woman. Mary’s left hand
grasps Eve’s right on her belly. The serpent’s head is upside-down, under
Mary’s left foot. While the look on Eve’s sorrowful face seems to say, “I’m so
sorry I put you in this situation,” the calm look on Mary’s face seems to say,
“Don’t worry: it will be alright in the end.”

The
reading from Genesis today details what happened after Eve shared the forbidden
fruit with Adam, fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Life and Death. Adam
blamed Eve, who in turn blamed the serpent: Satan. All three of them are face
consequences for their actions (Carr, 2010, pp 15-16). In Psalm 130, God is
addressed as if far away, as if to lament the distance created as a result of
two disobedient mortals, one possessed snake, and the sins of the psalmist
themself (Clifford, 2010, p. 880). And then we come to Paul and Second
Corinthians. Now I’ll admit it: I struggle with Paul. A lot of his writings
just rub me the wrong way. Here, he says that enduring suffering and adversity
brings us closer to God (Wan, 2010, p. 2030). Finally we have Mark, who tells
that overcoming adversity brings us new life. I would add to that, it brings us
to a new lifestyle as well, as we live in the New Community born of
Christ’s guidance (Horsley, 2010, pp. 1797-99).

During
my short time at seminary, I quickly earned the reputation for being an
adversarial theologian. But almost more importantly, I’m a practical
theologian. I look at these readings and wonder how they can be applied to our
lives in these current times. The themes seem to be exile, suffering adversity,
and reconciliation.

So,
when have we been exiled? When have we exiled others? What might be some
examples?

  • Cissexism (transphobia) and heterosexism (homophobia, lesbiphobia, biphobia, queerphobia, and the like)
  • Racism and colonization
  • Misogyny and ageism
  • Classism and ableism

These
things are all ways in which we have been exiled and have even exiled others.
These aren’t necessarily done against us as punishment for some transgressions,
though.

That
said, we’ve certainly heard that we often make our own exiles worse through the
things we do and say. I’ve been told by living openly as a transgender person,
as a person who is queer, as a person whose religious practice—I’m a
Christo-Pagan—is less than pure, that I make my own exile possible, even
aggravating it by not changing who and what I am. If we respond to our
oppressors with any tone of voice than what the Pagans call “perfect love and
perfect trust,” we’re told we make our exiles worse. We here things like, “So
much for the tolerant left.”

We’re
told that suffering builds character. My personal joke in response to this bit
of problemetic theology is, “Well, I’ve gotten this far in life without
character. Why would I need it now?” Growing up in the Roman Catholic Church, I
learned that suffering was the way to joy. That might not have been exactly
what they were teaching, but it’s what I learned. The more suffering we
endured, the more God was with us. This was said to be true because we were supposed
to pray when we faced adversity. This praying, this asking for help would bring
us closer to God. Or, so the theory goes.

But
as I said, I’m a practical theologian. What does this mean? I know we’re not
supposed to answer a question with a question, but an answer might be: “When
might we ask for help among those around us?” We are the Body of Christ here on
Earth. When we turn for help to those around us we encounter Christ in them,
and when others turn to us for help they encounter Christ in us.

There
might be times when we feel that we’ve cut ourselves off from God. The psalmist
reminds us that God’s love is steadfast. Paul reminds us there is help in
Christ. We are the Body of Christ on Earth, and Christ is part of the godhead.
Let’s call out to each other in our times of exile, and answer the cries for
help from others in their exiles. Doing so is practical theology. To paraphrase
the prophets Lennon and McCartney, “[We] get by with a little help from [our]
friends.”

And
I think back to the painting Mary Consoles Eve. It’s a work of art that
ties today’s readings together. Eve seems guilt-ridden for having been
instrumental in what many Christians call the Fall. She hasn’t necessarily
asked for Mary’s comfort, but she’s getting it anyway. And Mary, answering the
call to be the mother of Jesus, is instrumental in defeating Satan and undoing
the Fall. Between these two women and from these two women, we experience the
help and power and community that is the Body of Christ, both in the receiving
and the giving. Eve attempts to offer some measure of comfort to Mary with her
apologetic gesture, and Mary offers consolation to Eve in return. Both women
know they will suffer because of the Fall, and they reach out to each other
knowing that the New Community will be born of them, too. This is practical
theology.

Amen,
and blessed be!

______________

Sources:

Carr,
David M. “Genesis.” In The New Oxford
Annotated Bible: New Revised Standard Edition with Apocrypha
, edited by
Michael D. Coogan, pp. 7-80. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010.

Clifford,
Richard J. “Psalms.” In The New Oxford
Annotated Bible: New Revised Standard Edition with Apocrypha
, edited by
Michael D. Coogan, pp. 773-894. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010.

Horsley,
Richard A. “The Gospel According to Mark.” In The New Oxford Annotated Bible: New Revised Standard Edition with
Apocrypha
, edited by Michael D. Coogan, pp. 1791-1825. New York: Oxford
University Press, 2010.

Wan,
Sze-kar. “The Second Letter of Paul to the Corinthians.” In The New Oxford Annotated Bible: New Revised
Standard Edition with Apocrypha
, edited by Michael D. Coogan, pp. 2025-39.
New York: Oxford University Press, 2010.

The Vine: The Paraclete and The Tetrad++

[image courtesy revjohnkc.blogspot.com]

Friday, 25 May 2018

I’m really getting a lot out of The Vine at Grace Cathedral. These Wednesday evening Masses seem to use the lectionary for the Sunday preceding. So the Gospel reading used for 23 May 2018 was the selection from John about the Advocate, which is the common translation of the Paraclete.

I cannot for the life of me remember the name of the woman who preached that evening, so I can’t name her here. I ask permission before naming folks in my blog posts anyway, and I just wasn’t thinking that far ahead when I was talking with her after the Mass. But, she had offered various definitions for Paraclete, saying that the closest English translation would probably be, “the one called to our side.” This really spoke to me.

Her sermon illustration revolved around a women’s jail ministry she’s a part of. She talked of how the women in Pod D of the San Francisco jail reacted to the idea that the Holy Spirit is usually represented by a divine feminine energy. The women were amazed and uplifted by the idea of their bodies being seen as godly, as the Paraclete could be seen as a sort of spiritual doula or midwife.

I found this odd. I’m transgender: designated male at birth and raised as a boy even though I always felt something was not quite right about this. But never in my Christian life, as a Roman Catholic child or as a Protestant adult, had I ever thought of my gendered body as being reflected in divine imagery. The idea that God made wo/man in his God’s image never really “clicked” for me regarding gendered anatomy. Apparently this is not necessarily the case for others, as evidenced by the story of these women reacting to the idea that their bodies were images of God.

The first time I ever thought that my gendered body could somehow be reflected in divinity was when I attended a ritual at PantheaCon 2013, a ritual devoted to The Tetrad. The Tetrad was a four-being deity group in which all four beings are transgender in one way or another. That group is now known as The Tetrad++ as the priest who divined them divined two more beings. Of the six beings in the Tetrad++ (Panpsyche All-soul, Panhyle All-body, Paneros All-love, Pancrates All-power, Paneris All-strife, and Panprosdexia All-acceptance) transcend gender in very specific ways. So while I can certainly understand being taken in by the idea of my gendered body being holy, I really don’t experience that in Christianity. The closests might be in “eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven,” but even then that’s not so much divine as it it pledging one’s body to the divine, to me.

But, this is just one of the reasons I’m a Christo-Pagan. My soul is fed in different ways by my different faith traditions. It’s not that The Vine this past Wednesday didn’t feed me, it’s just that part of the sermon didn’t quite work. And that’s okay. We come to worship, take what we need (which isn’t necessarily the same as what we want) and leave the rest.

Amen, and Blessed Be!