Today is Monday, 25 December 2017. It’s Christmas, the celebration of when Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love were made incarnate in Jesus of Nazareth, the one Christians call the Christ.
Christian. It’s an interesting word. It can be used both as a noun (as I have above) or as an adjective. These days, I call myself a Jesist rather than a Christian. There are various reasons I do this, one of them being I don’t like where modern American Christianity seems to be going a lot of the time. That said, I’ve encountered welcome among the United Church of Christ, DignityUSA, the Progressive Christian Alliance, and the Episcopal Church (my current “home” denomination) to name just a few organizations. At the individual level, I’ve encountered more welcome than resistance to my existence. This welcome is Love, which gives me Joy, bringing me Peace and Hope.
What can be very difficult, is remembering in the midst of my oppression to bring the Gifts of Advent to those around me. Others seem to be better at remembering to do this, which leaves me somewhat ashamed as a clergy person. Ritualizing life can help with this, and Episcopal worship seems more formally ritualized than a lot of what I’ve been experiencing since leaving the Roman Catholic Church in 1988.
There’s been a lot of talk lately about making various things “great again,” and it’s even been suggested this needs to be done with Christmas. But, that’s just it: Christmas celebrates how the Almighty was incarnated in a life so delicate it had become a refugee. Greatness starts small. That is growth. Also, the greatness that came out of Christmas stood against the empire and the wealthy and the powerful. The Gospel is full of inversions, and Christmas is when those inversions really started for Christianity.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, help me to remember to bring the Gifts of Hope, Joy, Love, and Peace to the world, bringing blesséd Inversion to the empires of the world, in whatever small ways I can.
Today is Sunday, 24 December 2017. It’s the fourth and final Sunday in Advent and the theme is Peace. Again, this is a bit odd to me as I’m used to Peace being the second Sunday and Love being the fourth. Anyway…
I have the tendency to think of the liturgical season of Lent as being about confronting our inner demons. Well, it seems this Advent I’ve been confronted by the demons of others. Anti-LGBTQIA+ hatred, harassment, and violence seems to be at a level I’ve not seen in a long time. Maybe it is at an all-time high, or maybe it’s just that I’m noticing it more. But considering what’s happened in the US after the disaster that was the November 2016 election when the populace elected one candidate and the electoral college chose another, bigots have become emboldened.
If Lent is a time to reflect on what our inner demons tempt us to do, then perhaps Advent is a time to reflect on what our inner angels are guiding us to bring out into the world. I’ve long since accepted that I cannot rely on my society in general to give me Peace. Yet, there have been those individuals and particular groups in society that have brought some measure of Peace to me.
Advent is about bringing Gifts out into the world. As I have received the Gift of Peace from others, I should strive to bring Peace to others. I will not fix society. That’s too big for me. But if I can make existing in society a little easier for others who don’t often enough experience Peace, then that’s something I should do.
Today is Sunday, 17 December 2017. It’s the third Sunday in Advent and the theme is Joy.
My Advent season this year started with a huge influx of Joy on Saturday, 2 December, the day before Advent 2017 actually started. It was on this day when I was at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco to bear witness to the ordination of three wonderful queer women to the priesthood. Two of them I met at seminary, the third is someone I met at Good Shepherd Episcopal Church in Berkeley, which has become my current church home. To be present when the bishop declared them fully ordained priests was a moment of tremendous Joy for me.
In fact, the Joy of bearing witness to their ordinations carried me through some difficult encounters the following days and weeks. This is an amazing thing, to me. The Joy in witnessing the achievements of others was healing to me.
And then, last Thursday was another Joyous time. I had a productive session with my therapist after work and later went onto karaoke with my coworkers. Circling back to today was the first time I sang with the choir at Good Shepherd. While I make more of a Joyful noise than an aesthetically pleasing one, singing is always a gift of Joy to myself.
There is much to be concerned about. But, find and spread Joy where and when you can.
This past year has been the most violent on record for trans and gender-expansive persons. There was a record number of Names for the TDoR. Love and compassion for our destroyers goes only so far…
A Lakeside Cabin
Rev. Constance Antinoë Magdalene McEntee
“What happened to that lovely beach with the resort-slash-residence carved into the cliffside?” he asked me. I was sitting in front of my cabin, the one that I built on the lakeshore as a retreat and refuge.
“Oh, I still have that place, too,” I assured him. “It’s just that …”
“It’s just with all the curses you’ve been casting, formally and informally, you needed a place more conducive to those intentions. Am I right?”
This was no ordinary cabin on the shores of some ordinary lake. No. This was the Lake of Fire.
“They hate us so much,” I said, staring into a fountain that was where one would expect to find a campfire. Hey, we were on the shores of the Lake of Fire! We didn’t need more fire. “They tell us we’re going to burn in hell. So, I created this place and I come here to feed—”
“To feed your soul when you feel you want to curse your tormentors,” Lucifer finished for me.
“It seemed like a good idea to me.”
“And, should there be any adverse effects returned to you from your magick?” the Light-bringer asked me.
“I will accept any and all consequences of my actions,” I declared, standing to face the Fell Lord with swords in both of my hands. “Do you have any fucking idea what we go through?”
“They won’t stop!” I swung at him, a strike he effortlessly blocked with casually conjured blade of his own. “They never stop!” I swung at him with my left this time, and again Lucifer summoned a weapon to parry my blow.
Before long, we were locked in a full-on duel. My protests ceasing to be words and becoming screams of undeniable rage. The camp fountain burbled placidly and the flames of the Lake of Fire licked the shore, and all the while we fought.
Reversing the grip with my left hand, I plunged my sword into Satan’s heart. With the sword in my right hand, I slashed through his neck, beheading him. His weapons were gone.
“My child,” he said, his head floating above his shoulders. “Restore yourself. Do me this harm. But remember: rage will carry you only so far.” My chest heaving from the exertion, his words broke through my wall of furious hate. Tears began to burn my eyes, as he healed his wounds. With open arms and outstretched wings, the Light-bringer invited me into his embrace. “Come to me, priest.”
Sobbing, I stepped up to him, his arms and wings enfolding me.
“Why won’t they just leave us the fuck alone?” I wailed into Satan’s bosom, knowing he wouldn’t offer any simple answer. In fact, the only answer he offered was to croon soothingly to me, stroking my hair as I wept bitterly.
“Priest, my lovely child, you are not a necromancer,” Lucifer told me. “But you can raise the Dead nonetheless. That which is remembered never dies. Let your heart and mind be crowded with the memories of them. Carry them with you in your heart wherever you go, always.”
“I’ll try, my Lord.”
Satan through his head back and laughed. “My lady, you already do! It’s why you feel all this pain all the time. Do you understand what you’re enduring? Yes, maybe there are others who can bear the pain better than you. That’s why your doctors have prescribed the medications they have. There’s no shame there. You already carry their memories and the pain of those memories. Remember: I’m here for you. And so are the Others.”
At his reminder, the Others appeared. Melek Ta’us. Antinoüs. Jesus and his bride, Mary Magdalene. All six of the mighty Tetrad++: Panpsyche All-Soul, Panhyle All-Body, Paneros All-Love, Pancrates All-Power, Paneris All-Strife, and Panprosdexia All-Acceptance. And not just beings such as these, but the Great and Blessed Mortals as well. Saint Fred Rogers. Saint Carrie Fisher. Saint Alan Turing. Saint Matthew Shepard. Saint Gwen Araujo. They surrounded me, imbuing me with their love and power there on the shore of the Lake of Fire.
I turned once again to the Light-bringer.
“Carry your beloveds in your heart always,” he said to me. “We will help you bear this burden.”
Today is Sunday, 10 December 2017. It’s the second Sunday in Advent and the theme is Love. This was a bit odd to me, as I’m used to Peace being the second week. But, I digress…
I’m beginning to wonder if using Facebook is detrimental to my ability to Love. This is the second Sunday in a row that I’ve encountered heterosexist/homophobic and cissexist/transphobic comments on a friend’s post. I know there are a great many people out there who hate persons like me, even without ever having met me. It’s always so shocking, though, to encounter their sentiments. If somebody tries to post things like that on my page, their comments get deleted and they get blocked. If their comments violate the Facebook terms and conditions, they get reported, too. While I would greatly appreciate it if my friends would do the same to people who comment on their posts, I understand that it’s their FB pages. They can handle them as they see fit. I’d like to say more on this, but that might not be construed as very Loving on my part.
I know there are people I will never be able to reason with. I have blood relatives who were rabidly anti queer and anti trans before I came out. And, I have at least two cousins who are older than me who are gay. So, it’s not like I’m the first LGBTQIA+ person in the extended family. But it wasn’t until I went from second son to first daughter did some of the bigotry end. What bigotry ended? The jokes. That’s about it. These relatives still vote for candidates and politicians who work to make my life illegal, restricting or rescinding my rights. I’ve tried bringing the Advent Gift of Love to them to no avail, and they won’t bring Love to me either, not while they vote the way they do. And since I can’t transition race, I know I’ll never get through to them on issues of racism no matter how hard I try and have tried in the past. If they won’t change to defend me, their kin, what makes me or anybody else think I can change their minds about racism?
Every day of my life, I am confronted by those who seek to destroy trans persons. The only “Love” they offer is telling me how damned I am. I know from experience that I can count of men and women of all races, orientations, and classes to hurl hate in the direction of my community. I could offer them Love, but to what purpose? It will be rejected out of hand. I know they won’t extend to me the Love I desire and require. And when so much of this hatred comes from people who identify as Christians, saying they are justified by GOD, it should come as no surprise I call myself a Jesist.
So, I bring the Advent Gift of Love to others like me. If I can offer them some measure of comfort, I will do so. To my allies, I will offer gratitude. I would not be alive without them. And since I use Facebook to connect with my allies and the members of my community, I won’t be giving it up any time soon. For those who seek the destruction of the trans and gender-expansive communities, may the Light-bringer hold them and keep them, now and for ever.
Social media platforms are great ways to share our views on various social justice issues, informing others of our beliefs and work. The privileged and marginalized alike do this. I am grateful when I see persons privileged in ways I am not (cisgender, heterosexual, able-bodied, mentally healthy, neurotypical, ordained by a widely recognized mainstream denomination) use their privilege to stand up for and stand by those of us at the margins. That said, I respectfully ask more of you.
When you post something pertaining to social justice, such as outrage at the way various sects of Christianity treat LGBTQIA+ persons, please be sure to follow-up on your posts. When those of us who are in the marginalized groups you’re defending speak up and post our comments, don’t sit back and quietly let your social media friends and followers use slurs against us. Challenge their bigotry publicly. Demand that they retract and apologize for their verbal abuse. Don’t leave us alone to expend the emotional labor to defend our right to exist.
Sharing your beliefs about social justice issues and keeping us informed of the social justice work is a great start, and I am grateful for what you do. But, there must be more than that. I am transgender and queer. Every single day of my life, I am confronted with voices explaining why I’m an affront to all that’s right and good in the world and how persons like me should be eliminated. We need you do shout down those voices, especially the ones in your communities both online and in “real life.”
You cannot truly hope to help fix society if you let hate go unchallenged. Yes, not all people can be reasoned with. For those persons, you delete their comments and deny them to voice their contempt in the places where you defend us.
Today is Sunday, 3 December 2017. It’s the first Sunday in Advent and the theme is Hope.
A friend and ordained minister (I’ll call him RR) posted on Facebook his displeasure about a letter describing the Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) church in Northern California’s official discriminatory stance on LGBT persons, including disciplining pastors who allow persons like me to join their congregations. The father of a gay man himself, he has very strong feelings about a church claiming to be aligned with the teachings of Christ making such statements and taking such positions. I posted my appreciation of RR’s assertion that folx like me have a place in the Body of Christ. And, I should’ve known better.
Several commenters made attempts to take me to task for being a tranny, saying I was just as mentally ill as a “schitzo,” saying people like me dressed like freaks, and were just like people who wanted to have sex with animals.
Did I mention it’s the first Sunday of Advent, when Christians would be reflecting on Hope?
I posted of the ordination I attended at Grace Cathedral the day before. Of the three women ordained priests in the Episcopal church, one is lesbian (SW) and one is transgender (IS). I do not know the gender identity and orientation of the third woman, and it’s irrelevant anyway unless she chooses to share that information with me. It is important to the ministries of SW and IS that they be known as there are so many in the world who would find them unfit to minister. And, that’s among those who do believe it’s acceptable to ordain women. Many denominations still won’t ordain women at all, even if they’re cisgender and heterosexual.
It’s statements like those of the SDA and its defenders that make me hesitate to call myself Christian. They are part of the reason I describe myself as a Jesist: I attend to the message of Jesus as it’s recorded in the Gospels, and not so much to the message of Christianity which can be more heavily derivative from the message of St. Paul than of Jesus. I had been warned that the Bible wasn’t meant to be popular. Yet what Paul did was to take the Gospel of Christ and make it more palatable to the Gentiles.
What does all of this have to do with Hope?
As I mentioned above, I was at an ordination of three absolutely wonderful women yesterday. They give me Hope. The Episcopal Church gives me Hope. The AIDS Interfaith Memorial Chapel in Grace Cathedral, in spite the horror it is a testament to, gives me Hope. That my own faith community and order continue to see me as one worthy of the title of high priest and teacher in spite of my flaws gives me Hope.
Oh! And to the comment that trannys (sic) and crossdressers look like freaks in church, this is what I was wearing at the ordination yesterday:
These things continue to give me Hope in the face of “such reckless hate.”
CONTENT WARNING: death, murder, rapeThe lucky ones were shot and killed quickly.Some were burned to death. At least one was beheaded. Some were shot and thrown into traffic. One was shot more than 25 times. Many were suffocated, beaten to death, ston…
Sunday, 12 November 2017 Matthew 25:1-13 (The Parable of the Ten Virgins)
After I blogged about walking out of church after a sermon I found particularly offensive, an ordained minister (my co-parent), emailed me offering a very different view of that parable. Rather than read of the wedding banquet “through the eyes of the empire” (McEntee, 2017), it suggested that the ostracized guest who was bound and cast into the outer darkness was actually Jesus (Smith, 2017). That interpretation really resonated with me. But in addition to a Jesist, I’m also a Luciferian. I’m an adversarial theologian. I question things a lot.
The gospel lesson for this Sunday was Matthew 25:1-13, the Parable of the Ten Virgins (or Bridesmaids). In this story, these ten young women set out at night with their lamps to meet the bridegroom. Five them them brought extra oil for their lamps, the other five did not. They’re referred to as the wise virgins and the foolish virgins. When the bridegroom arrives, the “foolish” virgins need more oil for their lamps. The “wise” virgins refuse to share, saying if they do there won’t be enough oil for all of them. The “fools” go to buy oil and by the time they’re back, the bridegroom has locked them out. The moral? Be prepared!
There’s something about these parables that really irk me. In this one, the usual interpretation is that God is the bridegroom. If we accept that idea, we have to accept that God can be a petty, vindictive ass sometimes. How is this interpretation supposed to mesh with the idea of an omnibenevolent God?
How would Lucifer, the Light-bringer, have fit into this? By coming to the five so-called “foolish” virgins and giving them what they need. He might be stern in his lessons about being prepared, but he’d bring them Light. In this interpretation, the bridegroom is the wider church and the “foolish” virgins are the ones who don’t accept doctrine readily. They’re the ones branded “heretics” and abandoned by the church.
I’m also a Universalist. I don’t believe there can be an omnibenevolent God if there are any who are cut off. Therefore, I would warn preachers against these common interpretations. When have people approached your churches whose preparations didn’t live up to your standards?
Amen, and Blessed be.
McEntee, Rev. Valerie (2017-10-16). Personal communication.
coven celebrated Samhain on Saturday, 28 October 2017. The guided
meditation part of the ritual was a journey to the Isle of Apples to
commune with our Beloved Dead. This is what happened to me…
boarded the boat with the others, but there was more than just seven
of us from the coven. Where did all the others come from?
set out, and it wasn’t long before we sailed into a heavy mist. The
mist got thicker and I couldn’t see the other passengers, or the
pilot. Soon, I couldn’t see my own hand in front of my face. It was
cold and wet and I was suddenly naked, clutching my breasts against
the unexpectedness of it all. Emerging from the mist, I was alone in
a much smaller boat, even though the pilot remained the same. We
arrived at the shore, and I was clothed once again. The others were
there, and we all set out from the beach toward the forest on the
Isle of Apples, a forest made almost entirely of apple trees.
child met me as I made my way toward the forest. She was about
seven-years-old, and I became aware of how long it had been since we
last spoke. She was Karen: my spirit baby. She was my daughter and
myself, had I been born as I should’ve been. It’s odd, you know,
being greeted by yourself who’s also your daughter at the island of
the dead. She led me to meet my Beloved Dead, and I wasn’t really
sure who’d I’d encounter there. I saw some of my great aunts, my
maternal grandparents, and my paternal grandparents, though they were
so far away I couldn’t really see them. But then, Karen led me to
somebody I had no reason to expect to see here among the Beloved
was a boy of about twelve-years-old. His name was David. He was me.
Age twelve was about when I first really began to experience
depression and suicidal ideation.
are you doing here?” I
cried, looking from David to Karen and back again. How could my soul
be in three fragments? How could I be alive, be a spirit baby, and
reside among the dead on the Isle of Apples all at the same time. “We
aren’t three different people!”
we aren’t,” David agreed.
lied to me!” I said accusing David of … what?
I didn’t,” he replied. “You promised to forgive me, and I
promised not to kill you.”
“Well, I haven’t killed
you!” I protested.
you haven’t. But I’m on the Isle of Apples anyway. So is Karen,
and no one ever hurt her.”
my spirit baby,” I said defensively. “She’s the spirit of one
who never got to be born.”
didn’t kill himself, if that’s what you’re thinking,” Karen
told me. “You didn’t kill him either. But you’re both here
was stunned. That I’d meet my spirit baby at the Isle wasn’t a
surprise, really. But to meet my youthful self? That was unexpected.
David has always been a part of my narrative as a trans person. He
was me. Although, it was more accurate to say that “David” was
the name given to the person who should’ve been Karen.
need to talk,” I said to David.
should talk, too,” Karen said to me.
was time to go. The girl who was was me led me back to the beach
where the ferry awaited to take us from the Isle of Apples back from
whence we came. Again, there seemed to be more than just the seven of
us boarding the boat. Sailing back through the mist, we returned to
port, offering two coins each to the pilot, who smiled at me.
pilot was my lord Lucifer, the Light-bringer.
It seems my coven mates are right: I do need to do more shadow work.