Thursday, June 30, 2011


We hear a lot about whether other people's choices about what to do with their bodies is "natural."

Two cis women, or two cis men, for that matter, who have sex with each other are held to be "unnatural" because they can't reproduce without scientific help and a donor of some kind.  Heterosexual couples who don't want children are called "unnatural" because apparently everyone should want to pass on their DNA regardless of whether it's actually a good idea for them to do so.  Women who like sex are "unnatural" because sex is really just for heterosexual couples and, in that context, it's just supposed to be all about men's satisfaction; women are just supposed to lie back and think of dinner or jewellery or marriage or whatever else it is that the man is supposed to have given them in payment for sex.  (Pardon the pun, but fuck that.)  People who are in polyamorous relationships are called "unnatural" because everyone knows that no normal human being has ever been able to love more than one person at one time.

And perhaps the most vitriolic rants about the "unnatural"-ness of people's desire and decisions to do as they please with their own bodies are levelled against people who, for one reason or another, don't stick to society's still-rigid ideas about what women and men should be.  Trans people, Genderqueer people, drag queens and kings, tomboys, girls who like science, boys who like the colour pink, and anyone who subverts the concept of gender or (as in the case of the child whose parents refuse to reveal hir gender to the rest of the world, many people in which seem to be disturbingly interested in knowing what kind of genitalia said child possesses) completely throws the concept out the window...all of them are dismissed and even attacked for being "unnatural."

As if being "natural" were the only yardstick by which we can measure whether it's right or wrong for a person to be doing something.

Being yourself to the best of your ability to do so is a hell of a lot more natural than playing golf, but I've never heard any big moral outcry against people who hit the links.  (Jokes about doctors who golf when they're supposed to be working don't count and are not welcome.)  Making music isn't natural.  Wearing clothes isn't natural (though it's a good idea when it's cold outside, and if you try not wearing clothes outside of your own home or a nudist colony, you normally run a very heavy risk of being arrested or otherwise punished in most societies).  Space exploration isn't natural.  Watching TV, driving cars or riding bikes, domesticating animals, agriculture, science, medicine, any concept of justice we've been able to form, pretty much all of the Arts and Humanities, playing sports, cooking our food, even (Dare I say it?  YES!) involvement in religious and/or spiritual activities...all completely not natural.  Granted, some similar behaviours to some of these things do exist in other species, but for the most part, these things (especially in combination) are things that only humans do.  We're unlike any other species that currently exists on this planet.

To be human, in short, is to be extremely unnatural.

So don't talk to me about whether someone else's choices regarding their own lives and bodies are "natural".  Unless you want to renounce everything that humans have made and done, which would include any and every luxury you've ever enjoyed in your life (even the most basic things like the clothing that replaces the fur we don't have and the languages that let us communicate with other humans), then as far as I'm concerned, you have no right to look down on other people for being "unnatural."

They may be unnatural...but as long as you're a human being, so are you.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

A (relatively) quick observation...

Those who insist on upholding the sanctity of human life also tend to be the ones who don't mind if a longer life means more suffering.  Are you looking for an abortion because you were raped or the fetus is missing something rather important, like most of its lungs?  Tough, you're just going to have to give birth anyway, because human life is so sacred that it should have to suffer as much as possible before it dies; an excruciating death by suffocation is vastly preferable to a relatively quick death in the womb, and being forced to bear your rapist's child is a fitting punishment for whatever you did to deserve being raped in the first place.  Want the right to determine the time and circumstances of your own death because you've got Alzheimer's and you want to leave this world before the disease completely consumes your mind?  Not a chance; your life is sacred, so you're just going to have to suffer through the whole damn thing, and your family will be forced to watch your heartbreaking decline.  Are you in so much physical pain that you need large doses of painkillers just to make you even halfway comfortable?  Well, you're not going to get nearly enough because even if you're terminally ill, it's wrong to hasten your death like that.  Human life is sacred.  You'll just have to suffer until you die.

Life is sacred.  That doesn't mean, however, that honouring that sacredness means that life has to be preserved at all costs in all situations.  To do so robs people of their dignity and makes them suffer in ways that wouldn't even be considered necessary if it weren't for the religious excuses that are so often held up as reasons to make it happen.  And honouring the sanctity of life doesn't necessarily mean the preservation of Earthly existence; sometimes, when the most compassionate thing to do is to let that life end, or to cause it to end, then honouring the sanctity of life means accepting the reality of death.

"Everything that has a beginning has an end."
—The Oracle, "The Matrix Revolutions"

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

My Quarrels With Christianity

It seems odd, doesn't it?  A Christo-Pagan who has capital-"I" Issues with Christianity.  But it's true.  I've said before that I do have a lot of problems with things related to the faith that makes up about half of my current spiritual life.

Actually, my problem isn't even with Christ himself.  (I'd hardly be a Christo-Pagan if that were the case, after all.)  Even when I was most adamant that I was not in fact a Christian, I thought that Jesus was a pretty cool dude.  He embraced the people that most of his contemporaries hated and scorned; he helped the ill, even those with leprosy, that most-feared of Biblical diseases; he comforted the grieving; and he told us in no uncertain terms that we were to love each other, no matter what.  Even in his final hours, he tried to cheer up one of the other men who were being crucified when he was, and he made sure that his mother, who was now a widow and totally without the means to provide for herself, would be taken care of and provided for.  For all that his name is invoked by hordes of extremely conservative folks whose sense of compassion (particularly for non-Christians) is very nearly non-existent, the stories that are told of him are very clear about one thing: he was a loving and compassionate person whose gentle subversion of the status quo was so threatening to the leaders of his time that they thought that the only way to keep control of their people was to have him killed.  He was held to be extremely dangerous just because he told people to help each other, to love each other, and to take care of each other.  Son of God or not, I've always thought that he was pretty awesome just for that.

What I do have a problem with, though, is the way that Christianity has been used over the centuries.

It's the tremendous harm that so many Christians have inflicted upon other human beings while using their religion as a convenient excuse.  It's the tremendous power to do good that so many Christian groups and denominations have, but that they ignore because doing what's actually right isn't held to be Biblical because it would help poor people or same-sex couples or women who've had (or are seeking out, or may someday have) an abortion; I get a strong feeling of "those people are garbage and deserve what they get" from a lot of these folks who use the name of Jesus as an excuse for their hate.  It's what's been done in the name of Jesus by people who claim to love and follow him, even if much of what they actually do is very much opposed to what we're told he taught and what we're told he did.  It's the quoting of the infamous speech in which Jesus said he came not to bring peace, but a sword; this passage is so often taken so badly out of context that practically nobody pays attention to his next statement: that the sword he was talking about was metaphorical and he came to cause controversy, not to incite violence or start a war.  It's the subjugation of women, discrimination against LGBTQ (etc.) people, and the hate, fear, and suspicion of people who are "not like us" that I object to.

In short, it's all the ways in which Jesus has been used, mis-used and abused in the name of kicking people who are down and grabbing hold of as much power as is humanly possible.  Because the Jesus we see in the New Testament is totally not like that.  And because so much of this has gone down in his name, perpetrated by people who claim to love and follow him, I really cannot blame people for becoming jaded about Christianity.  Despite the fact that at its best, Christianity can be a force for tremendous good in the world, it's more often a tool of oppression and subjugation.  We see more closed-mindedness and hypocrisy in the pews than we're prepared to admit exists in the world at large.  And you know what?  As a Pagan and as a Christian, I utterly loathe that.  I can't stand that a message of love has been perverted into a doctrine of hate. I abhor the way that people like me have caused so much damage to the world in the name of their God.

And as a Christo-Pagan, someone who's embraced the love of the Goddess as well as the love of Jesus, I believe that there's a better way.  It's not just down to whether or not we have common ground; it's that we all need to show a lot more love and a lot less judgementalism, no matter what path we're walking.  Christianity's exclusionary approach to life, while hardly unique, is extremely damaging, particularly in view of the large majority of people who still, regardless of church attendance, claim Christianity as their religion.  What we need isn't more struggles for power or stricter rules governing what can be done to aid the most vulnerable in society.  What we need isn't more kyriarchy, the "wealthy white male supremacy" thing that's been getting so many boosts in recent years.  We don't even need greater church attendance, though as a church-goer myself I do admit that it would be nice.  And we certainly don't need greater power in the hands of the churches; we've already seen what happens with that.

What we need is for Christians to pull our heads out of our collective backsides and start actually living by the words we claim to respect instead of using the Bible and the Cross as weapons of war.

Come on, folks.

We can do it.