on spiritual poverty

My engineer brain wants to cure all material scarcity.

While climbing a long staircase up a mountain to the Savitri Temple in the holy city of Pushkar I encountered a man whom I believe lived in the forest and collected firewood to sell to the villagers. Didn’t know if he was an ascetic or perhaps an untouchable. But I did conclude, without evidence beyond educated guess, that I make more money in a day than he makes in a year… or a lifetime.

I own X number of hats and Y pairs of shoes.

Suppose we did cure all material scarcity: Everyone is fed, housed, and clothed. Everyone has smart phones and computers and transportation to the farthest reaches of the planet. We can accomplish this with little additional technological innovation, and I think it a noble goal.

Then we’ll all want art and meaning. We’ll want to convince each other we are right. We might annihilate ourselves. We’ll create new scarcity with intellectual property—we might all be clothed but some of us will get haute couture—we’ll still use our plumage to create rank.

Stars upon thars… We might annihilate ourselves.

My communist soul wants a leveling revolution. My Christian soul wants the Golden Rule to underpin material society.

But we might annihilate ourselves in attempt to create that world. And I can’t argue with the fact that capitalism has lifted more people out of poverty than communism or religion combined.

My anarchist soul just wants to love God. No popes, no trips to Mecca. Just ecstatic prayer transmitted from the RV that I live in.

I own X number of hats and Y pairs of shoes. I’m a fashion legend in my own mind. I’m more creative than most. My IQ falls in the 98th percentile.

But God can raise a 1,000 of me out of the dust. I don’t mean much.

My favorite holiday is Dia de los Muertos; reminds me that rich or poor, we all snuff it in the end.

My engineer brain wants to cure all material scarcity. But does God really care about that? We are spiritually impoverished in the Global North. Spiritual malnutrition is destroying us.

Spiritual malnutrition is destroying us.

I don’t give a rat’s ass who you fuck, what you drive, or who you pray with. I just want you to talk with God.

god likes scientists

I don’t believe in astrology, but I do firmly believe in the Resurrection. As far as scientific evidence goes, both prove equally absurd. WTF? Why accept even one of them? Why not both? I have no good answer for this!

I could say that “events” in my life confirm my Christian experience, but that might be pattern recognition bias—seeing confirmation of my faith in patterns that my brain constructs out of non-patterned signal (because brains do that [1]).

Similarly, because I’ve never bothered to look for confirmation of astrological interpretations of my life, I’ve never “found” them in my life narrative. Again, pattern recognition bias.

Perhaps—and I am so completely unfamiliar with astrology to know for sure—astrology is about finding comfort in the universe’s design—that there is a “plan”. Is there anything in astrology that is meant to be uncomfortable? I don’t know!

The Christian experience is not comfortable; at least I don’t seek it out for comfort with regard to my place the universe. If God asks me to, I’ll perform God’s work in Hell.

Maybe its about love: I do not perceive that the universe as expressed as stars, planets, mass, and energy “loves” me. But I need to feel love and the Christian narrative offers that. The Resurrection itself is a love story.

Perhaps I created God in my image—an image of a human who needs love. And the need for love comes from evolutionary psychology; human-to-human attachment driving tribal cooperation, driving survival, driving gene propagation. The selfish gene [2].

“What is truth?” retorted the Pilate [3].

I’m going to continue trusting God and continue trusting my faith in God, even without these questions answered. And the God I believe in wants us to wrestle with these matters; God gave us brains and expects us to use them critically.

God likes scientists: “Doubting” Thomas just wanted evidence. He was not rejected for asking for it.

“Faith” and “belief” mean different things. I see “belief” as getting hung up on the facts—where science and logic matter to defining reality. “Belief” has its place: For example I believe in “F=m*a” at appropriate velocities and definitely believe in God’s existence and love.

But I do not emphasize belief in my spiritual practice, which is where “faith” comes in. “Faith”, in my book, is trusting the divine deep within my soul without needing to understand all the particulars about where things are headed.

Sometimes faith doesn’t even require much commitment to reality. I tell a story in my article “an allegory of affection from a Hindu goddess” about a visitation by Durga that I experienced during a dream. I do not worry about whether this visit really happened or not; the experience enriched my faith in the Christian god while enhancing my understanding of Hinduism. I’m not going to argue about what is “real” in this situation. Rather, I’ll just accept the personal growth that came of it.

This is the embrace of faith.

References

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apophenia
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Selfish_Gene
  3. John 18:38 (New International Version)
  4. The image below is copied from https://www.wikihow.com/Be-a-Good-Scientist.

transgender people love

Lost in the ongoing ecclesiastical debate about whether transgender identities hold validity in the eyes of God [1] are interactions between (cisgender) Christian thinkers and transgender individuals themselves, particularly those of faith.

Many faith-leaders and Christian scholars intellectualize us into sub-humanity:  Their idea is that God made humans male and female strictly in God’s own image and that to be fully human therefore requires full embrace of one or the other polarity, the polarity matching one’s genitals. (We are ignoring the intersex population in this argument for convenience–however the body of Christ will have to come to terms with intersex individuals’ existence too). Because transgender individuals cannot live healthy lives under the constraint of this particular sex/gender model—a model believed quintessential to the construction of a human by many Christian thinkers, we are regarded as having rejected God’s gift of humanity.



However, one knows a tree by its fruit [2]:

God gave humans the ability to love. And transgender people love. We love deeply. We love just as much as as cisgender people.

The fruit therefore is the love produced, and only a human can produce it.

It follows then that we fully received the gift of humanity.

References

  1. https://www.ncronline.org/news/people/transgender-issues-next-battle-culture-wars
  2. Matthew 12:33 (NIV)

the real reason I live in an RV

Not paranoid, just a student of history.

Even CNN and President Obama are concerned about the development of authoritarianism in this country [1]. That is saying something.

I don’t just live in an RV to save money or live portably. (Both good things in my ethos).

I live in an RV primarily so I can flee to Canada or Mexico if things get bad for transgender people in the United States.

Berlin in the 1920’s welcomed transgender individuals to some extent. The city served as a hotbed of transgender medical research. By the 1930’s the Nazis started arresting LGBT people.

I do not trust the “religious” right. They do not understand Christianity. They do not know Christ. Pharisees, the lot of them. Given power they would lock me up or execute me.

I do not trust current trends to protect my liberty. While I 100% trust and expect California to intervene on my behalf, a U.S. state can only do so much.

Going to stash money in the Royal Bank of Canada soon, in case my U.S. assets are frozen.

I’ve memorized the highways to Canada so I can turn off my smart phone if I flee. (To prevent tracking). Already know how to drive to Mexico from where I live.

Keep my RV in good repair for sudden travel, with my propane tanks and battery array full. Keep the fuel tank in my truck at least half full.

See Also

RV chic

References

  1. http://www.cnn.com/2017/12/09/opinions/obama-hitler-germany-democracy-warning-ben-ghiat-opinion/index.html

draft lyrics: “Small Battles”

Dreamed of a fabulous city
couldn’t tell if it was God’s or otherwise
then I realized it wasn’t
that it very much wasn’t
and I stopped trying to build it

Let the adults die on a cross,
but give the innocent children the mark.

We are all influenced
even a Christian must tolerate that
or at least acknowledge it
sometimes its better not to fight small battles

Let the adults die on a cross,
but give the innocent children the mark.

I’m going to fight the Church and the State
and the Law and the Culture
because I only trust the Prophets
and I only trust the one that sends them
because I don’t trust myself
and I don’t trust the one that influences me

Let the adults die on a cross,
but give the innocent children the mark.

taking abuse for not being “ladylike” enough

I expect that many women receive abuse from their loved ones for not being “feminine” enough, by which these loved ones mean not being “ladylike” enough.

I received such abuse for the first time in my life last night, from a mentor and dear friend. He is a keen observer of woman and generally a wise man, so I rely on him for advice about my presentation. He also loves me greatly.

Something masculine in my behavior really lit a fuse with him yesterday though, and he sent an extremely abusive e-mail detailing his dissatisfaction. I won’t post it here. He obviously holds some deep insecurity that came out in that moment.

But I will post my response; it demonstrates how I’ve learned not to accept abuse but still can reach out with complete love, forgiveness, and compassion. I’m setting an example for others.

The lesson in this for me is that I need to refrain from oppressing myself. I place a lot of pressure on myself to become the “perfect lady”, but to me this is fun. As long as I maintain that perspective, and keep things real, things are alright. In my response (below), I observe how it is far more important for me to exhibit stereotypically feminine characteristics of empathy and kindness than, for example, manage how I walk or gesture.

And why do I consider the pressure I place on myself to become the “perfect lady” fun?  Because I am claiming the oppression and re-spinning it for my own ends. I accepted this oppression upon becoming a woman and decided to make a game out of it. This is punk.

And the fact that I’m now receiving the oppression from someone else shows how successful at feminine assimilation I’ve become.

Two days ago at a restaurant I observed a woman with the perfect presentation: Elegant gestures, graceful stance, etc. Then she slapped her kid. Disgusting. Poise without compassion is meaningless.

Anyway, here is my reply to my mentor:

——,

I am a lady, and therefore expect better treatment than you presented in your last e-mail to me. I expect an apology. I forgive you whether or not you give that apology.

I also know you wrote this out of both love and frustration. I am empathic to that. But ask yourself: Why the insecurity?

In my recent feminization work, I’ve pursued becoming a great “woman” over becoming the perfect “lady” (for now). So I’ve been maximizing my empathy and kindness.

I’ve also asked you before never to bring up my weight. Never do that again!

While I’m not perfect, please remember how far I’ve come! When one is acculturated as a man (think guzzling beer for instance), one cannot expect to change habits overnight.

Again, I’m focusing on the “woman” side of the coin right now, versus the “lady” side. So I’m studying fundamental examples of Christian women. Perhaps you noticed that the last time you were angry around me (about the PBS series on Viet Nam), I gently comforted you. That is the femininity I am concentrating on building right now.

I value your coaching tremendously, and appreciate stern correction. But your last e-mail was abusive. You are better than that.

With absolute love and complete forgiveness,

Emily

Update One Minute After Publishing This

About 1.5 years after my public transition, an emerging transwoman leaned on me for support. We had coffee together.

She is extremely tall, and carried a purse not much larger than her hand. I advised her that having a large purse would prove more appropriate to her body frame. Really stressed this when she resisted. (She likely resisted due to anxiety about having to spend money or anxiety about shopping as a woman).

I told her it would make a difference in how well she passed.

The thing is:  Saying it once was fine. But the fact that I persisted reveals some anxiety I was carrying at the moment. I fake nobility and rationalize that I was concerned for her safety, but I was actually really anxious because her look was incongruent. As if it reflected on me. As if it “outed” me.

I’m sure my mentor feels the same way, that my incongruencies reflect badly on him. As if it “outs” him as trans-friendly.