Mad world gets madder by the minute

Lately I’ve been casting my eye over politics again. A friend of mine asked why. My response was that its the most laughably dysfunctional process run by the most intellectually dishonest people, so I guess its morbid curiosity. But if at the moment politics is a dark comedy its about to become a serious nightmare. Ed Miliband looks utterly hopeless but the worst thing about it is that EVERYBODY KNOWS this and Labour are still neck and neck or slightly ahead in the polls. The question arises why?

The answer isn’t political, its cultural. It started with the way universities were subverted by communists in this country during the cold war. In fact a lot of red professors were open about their loyalties to the Soviet Union. This led to left wing school teachers who are also public servants so public spending will always be a good thing in their book. Then we had the rise of anti-Thatcherism on TV. Ben Elton and co. That is what really began to push the needle left in this country. Politics became a matter of what was cool and what wasn’t and lets be clear it became so ingrained that Ben Elton could walk onto a stage and say ‘Margaret Thatcher’ and people would boo like trained monkeys. Tony Blair’s ‘cool Britania’ was the logical conclusion of this vacuous movement, when being seen to be a ‘cool’ politician trumped everything, spin was vastly more important than substance. Barack Obama owes a lot to Tony Blair in this way.

The final result is we have generations of people at voting age who have been raised in a culture where TV is king and TV is left wing. They will vote accordingly. Conservative voters are almost always either old or very old. The demographics are destiny because the culture war has been fought and won, by the left.

Now it doesn’t matter how effectively you argue that left wing ideas are poisonous to the poor. It doesn’t matter how effectively you argue that wind ‘power’ is utterly bonkers. It doesn’t matter how many horror stories about the EU you uncover. You can’t compete with two hours a day of brainwashing. People do believe what they see on the news, especially the opinion. That is the interesting part, people do often feel able to question facts of a piece (not enough in my opinion but still) but they don’t question the manipulation of the heartstrings.

A typical BBC report on anything, will have the right wing politico say something, then rather than find a lefty politico to debate the issue they’ll go find someone who will make a sad face to camera and say look what that horrible politico is doing to the average Joe. It is this blatant manipulation that makes me tear my hair out. This goes on at the highest levels at the ultimate lefty institution and waste of oxygen, the UN. Logic does not prevail today, we live in a mad age. When will the world wake up? Probably the day people dispose of their TV’s.

In Catholic news, the lefty media has picked up on a couple of not quite damning things a Bishop has said about gay people in a position paper for the Synod on the family. This is apparently big news. It really isn’t. The left wing media should get its sources in their correct context and stop getting people’s hopes up. The Church needs to be obedient to its own Catechism first in regard to being truly accepting and compassionate to gay people. Once that happens eventually it will have to listen to gay people and discover that they do not consider themselves to be ‘intrinsically disordered’ when it comes to who they fall in love with. I expect change to come gradually, probably long after I’m dead, I’d say five hundred years is an ambitious estimate. By which time western civilisation will have long since fallen so I guess it’ll be a moot point.

My mind is made up, I am now in favour of gay marriage.

Yes, this is something that was obviously in the offing, that my past reluctance to endorse gay marriage was gradually eroding with the more loving gay Christian couples I met. Gay marriage is the only honest response to the romantic love God seems to be giving gay christian couples. It never occurred to the early Church that gentiles might become the vast majority of its members, until God gave gentiles the Holy Spirit, likewise the Church now has to recognise the reality of gay love. Because I knew that secular people have a warped idea of marriage to begin with it took gay Christian couples to convince me.

Christianity invented the idea of marriage being about love, but just as Jesus said the Sabbath was made for man, so marriage is made for love not the other way around. When you find gay people with this christian desire for the sanctity of marriage for their relationship it is eye opening, when you see that they really do genuinely and deeply love one another it takes a certain kind of callousness to grope around for reasons to tell them that their love is not worthy of the Church’s blessing.

It seems to me that gay love is a mirror of God’s limitless love for humanity not bound by our human frailties. That there have been gay people since the dawn of time and there are now seven billion people on the planet. Maybe Christian homophobes seem to think that everytime two women or two men kiss a child dies? Actually if straight Christians obey the Church when it comes to contraception then there will be plenty of sons and daughters to become priests and nuns, and there will also be enough of us so that the one in ten of us who are gay will not cause any harm to the survival of the species.

I’ve been ruminating a lot on this in my sleep, because for the first time I went to bed genuinely happy to be queer last night, I’ve finally realised why ‘Courage’ is so incredibly discouraging and its the same reason they ceaselessly use the term same sex attraction. They cannot use the term gay because for them it would be a lie, because they are miserable, they are deeply unhappy to be the people that God created them to be. It does not have to be this way, God calls us to life and life in all its fullness.

The reason I went to sleep happy was that I went to another fantastic LGBT Christian event and heard the newly minted (Catholic) ceo of Stonewall talk about their work and simply and powerfully about how right it is that gay people be true to who they are. The theme of the event was Desmond Tutu’s quote “There comes a point where we all need to stop just pulling people out of the river, we need to go upstream and find out why they are falling in”. Or in the case of gay Christians, why we are being pushed in.

It is within this context that I can look past the psychological hurt done to me by the Church that does not seem to care it is crucifying its own members on the issue of homosexuality. Remind myself that I am just one person, and that actually there are many more like me, and that whilst keeping my head below the parapet might be a good survival technique I owe it to my gay brothers and sisters in Christ to voice my dissent against the machinery of this institution that really does grind so many of us into paste.

The Catholic Church does not realise how brutally it erases its gay members. It seems to think that insisting gay people never do anything gay is somehow a loving acceptance of gay people. No it is not. It is annihilation. The Catholic Church has said in the Catechism decades ago now that gay people need to be loved and accepted, but when it comes to what that actually might entail it still needs to be educated.

Being gay absolutely is not a ‘cross to bear’, being gay is wonderful, what is a cross to bear is the Church’s small minded refusal to truly accept gay people for who they are and who they love. I am happy because the gay Christians I’ve met are wonderful and from now on I will endeavour to put my head above the parapet for them, I will not be beaten down because now I have other people I can stand up and be counted for and be vociferous in their defence.

Independence day?

So the Scottish referendum is upon us. I think its a harbinger of the apocalypse, not because Scottish independence would be bad for everyone, which it would, but that so much energy is being wasted on such a nonsense, a self inflicted wound. There are so many real life issues we should be more concerned about rather than creating new ones. The cost to the UK monetarily will be staggering, but the cost to our cohesion, to our identity will be huge and is already huge.

The Orange order were marching in Endinbrugh. We do not need sectarian tensions being given fuel. Violence is being predicted on polling day, and the no campaign has been somewhat understated because people don’t want to open themselves up to the virulent nationalist attacks. We do not need to be weakened with infighting when it seems the wheels are falling off the wagon of the post world war two war peace dividend.

Pope Francis has called the current level of global conflict a piecemeal world war three, which is maybe a slight exaggeration, but there is that feeling in the air similar to Japan’s invasion of China that showed the league of nations was a powerless talking shop (just as the UN is seen today) Obama’s desire for peace is manifesting as inaction and allowing evil to flourish. Putin is a cold war relic reacting to EU over reaching. But the vast majority of the conflict has been Islamic in motivation, when are people going to start saying the blindingly obvious on that front?

Obama threw away the hard won peace in Iraq with his premature retreat. His weak and slow reaction to ISIS has meant the effort to stop them will have to be bigger, and will probably have to fall to the next US president. But the other thing the world needs to get used to is that all wars involve civilian casualties, wars against a terrorist state especially so because they hide amongst civilians and positively revel in civilian casualties. They commit deliberate acts of mass murder precipitating war, then point to the inevitable collateral damage of war and say “see you are just as bad as us”.

Moderation in war is madness, you need to destroy your enemy as quickly as possible, long attritional wars always cause more death and destruction. But that’s what we’ll get with president weak sauce. Meanwhile the rest of Nato has slashed defense spending to the point that without America we can do little to nothing.

British defense spending has always been slashed just years before a big war. This is how its been for hundreds of years. By that reckoning there is a storm coming. It seems the only politician with any balls is Tony Abbott of Australia, committing troops, his decision to confront evil head on is inspiring, it is better to be on hand with ten men than absent with ten thousand, its time the western world followed his example, the more troops you send the less you’ll lose and six hundred Aussies isn’t going to get it done.

Gay marriage?

Yesterday I spent a significant amount of time perambulating with and conversing with gay Christians either at Yorkshire sculpture park or in the car on the way to and from said park. All lovely, a few more talkative than others (although maybe it was just me, I was operating on zero hours of sleep which is not good). We walked around the park, sadly not looking at enough sculpture, but more interested in talking. I was the only Catholic there to my knowledge, no surprises there.

The more I talk to gay Christians the more certain I get that gay love and gay relationships are as perfectly valid as straight relationships. It struck me that people who want to defend heterosexual marriage by attacking gay marriage have things perfectly backwards. Seems like “I like my toy so I’m going to throw yours out the window” to me, thoroughly childish thinking of the nastiest variety. If you want to defend heterosexual marriage, love your husband/wife, love your children, be a loving family.

Somewhere around 1 in 10 people are gay or bisexual, it has been thus since the beginning of time and will be at the end of time. This hasn’t stopped humanity from procreating. Complementarity of the sexes is all well and good, but what if God also created gay people and straight people, and what if gay love is complementary to straight love?

Gay people should never enter into crushingly depressing attempts at heterosexual marriage, living a lie, causing incredible harm to their spouse, their children and themselves. Therefore they are not a loss to the heterosexual marriage pool to begin with. Two people falling in love does not affect two other people falling in love, unless its adulterous. If people are so obsessed with non procreative relationships being evil then celibacy should be the first thing out the window.

The other psychological motivation for preventing gay marriage is the worry that being gay is contagious, that somehow at the first sight of two men or two women pledging love to one another they’ll suddenly be overcome with the desire to shag the nearest person of their own sex. If that is the case then I have good news for you, secretly you are one of us.

Gay couples can do lots of things, they can adopt children, they can work for the Church, they can serve the poor, they can do any number of things, and they can do these things just as well as straight couples. Just as good marriages can be about love so can good gay relationships. I was never massively on board with gay marriage, and I’m still not 100% convinced, but I’m beginning to lean that way.

The Christian ideal of marriage has developed over two thousand years, it is significantly different to the time of Jesus, which was significantly different to how it was in the old testament, which is where a lot of modern Christians get most of their ‘understanding’ of homosexuality from. What is to say that it won’t develop some more? But the survival of Christianity depends on straight people having more children, so if you are straight and you want to save heterosexual Christian marriage, throw your contraception away, or the Muslims will be taking over before too long. Talking of which here is a video about ‘moderate Islam’ for you to enjoy.

“To whom shall we go? you have the words of eternal life”.

That really is an interesting phrase isn’t it. There is a real ambivalence to it. “I think what you just said about eating your body is freaky as heck but at least we don’t have to worry about starving with your miraculous catering skills” might have been more what Peter was thinking.

But as a queer Catholic I feel a bit of that ambivalence every time I get ready to go to altar serve Mass. I love the Church, I love the Mass, I love the Catholic faith. I will never give it up, even if the Church cannot escape this straight jacket it has made for itself on the issue of homosexuality. I will still be here, because to whom shall I go?

I asked my parish priest if I could put up a poster for the next meeting of the LGBT Christian group I’ve been going to, I got a rather predictable no. The worst part of it is no matter what his personal feelings on the issue he cannot be seen to be in support of anything that might get him in trouble. But what that means is that gay Catholics will just be left to feel isolated and the majority just lapse. Catholic means universal, we are supposed to have diversity, but as it happens we only have the ‘diversity’ imposed from above, whether that is in the guise of rubbish liturgy, mediocre priests, or no place for Gay Christians to be accepted, grow in faith and discover they are not alone. (Don’t talk to me about Courage either, five minutes on their website was enough to make me want to kill myself)

Anyway its an open event: 2pm, Saturday the 11th of October, St Ninian’s Church, Chanterlands Ave, Hull, HU5 4DL. A talk followed by a Q&A with Ruth Hunt, the newly appointed Chief Executive of Stonewall (who also happens to be a Catholic) and Tracy Byrne Chief Executive of LGCM. Obviously you don’t have to be gay, bisexual, lesbian, transsexual or anything else to come along, yes you can even be straight! If you don’t agree with the speakers feel free to ask tough questions in the Q&A. But yes the experience of the past shows that people who have problems with homosexuals don’t turn up because they don’t want to be confronted by the human faces of the people their reading of the Bible hurts.

Jesus never mentioned homosexuality, and St Paul made a couple of throw away comments, I heard that all told homosexuality is mentioned seven times in the Bible. Think about that. How many times does the old testament recommend genocide? (I don’t know the answer to that but its at least a couple) How many times is love mentioned? hundreds, maybe even thousands. Whilst I think Pope Francis’ papacy has been a big PR smokescreen with not a lot of action, the message he is sending out, of being willing to risk doing the wrong thing in order to try to do the right thing, is a good one, and a brave one, because otherwise Christians risk doing nothing to reach out to those in need, and we are all in need of God’s saving grace.

Queer Catholics most likely will never be told by the Church that it is perfectly possible to be Christian and gay. Or more precisely the Church says its fine to be homosexual, just never do anything about it, never talk about it, and for goodness sake don’t fall in love with someone that is just disgusting. So we work ourselves to serious mental and physical illness because of the pressure of being in the closet, just like Vicky Beeching did. I did not come out of the closet for other people, I came out for me, because it was killing me. If people have a problem with who I am that is their problem, not mine, but the Catholic Church always shifts blame away from itself. It is pushing people into the river on this issue, and we have to climb out and fish each other out as best we can.

I’m a traditionalist LGBT Catholic

So then, I just went to an LGBT Christian act of worship, followed by the obligatory LGBT act of going down the pub, which seems to be the same order of service as straight people, funny that. Anyway, it was, as usual wonderful. The Anglican ‘liturgy’ was as to be expected, rather excruciating, apart from the communion, which to be honest was almost identical to the Catholic communion, except there being no transubstantiation, which tells you something about the protestantisation of the Catholic Church.

There was a cradle Catholic there who felt comfortable receiving communion, but that isn’t for me. I want the real deal, I accept no substitutes when it comes to Jesus. I’m sure that is her view too, but that as she sees it she has a broader mind. I certainly believe that all Christian fellowship is blessed by the presence of God, but sacraments are very specific things, they give me reassurance that it doesn’t matter what the people around me believe, I will be ministered to by God.

I caught myself thinking, as the Anglican priest said the words of consecration (identically to the Catholic Mass) well if he believes in transubstantiation could I receive communion? But no, that’s why I left the Anglican Church, there are too many questions, too much woolly theology, muddling through. I need certainty. I need to know that it doesn’t matter what is going on in my head, that Jesus is 100% guaranteed to be present in the blessed sacrament, whether or not the priestly orders are valid is a thought, but actually not the highest of importance to me because the priestly orders of the C of E are only really invalid because the Anglican Church historically rejected the sacramental understanding of the priesthood and the mass.

We were in a URC church building, and to be honest it looked more like a courtroom than a Church, with a communion table rather than an altar. Because there is so much difference between the two. The effort that is gone to to stipulate that it is a table not an altar is both hilarious and tragic. Seems to me they want their religion without eating it. *boom*

Anglo Catholics have rediscovered the belief in transubstantiation, but again this is a belief that has never gained official backing from the C of E, and when it comes to sacraments nobody should compromise. Jesus said people must eat his body and drink his blood and everyone bar the disciples abandoned him, and when Jesus asked why they wouldn’t leave Peter said “to whom shall we go? we know you have the words of eternal life”. Yes indeed.

Then again, interestingly, the validity of the Mass does depend on the belief of the priest, he does have to believe in transubstantiation to confect a sacrament, which I don’t think all people realise. I’ve seen some dodgy Catholic priests in my time but only one I’d go so far to say I was genuinely worried about their belief in the Eucharist. In fact I once heard the worst sermon of my entire life, but then when the priest moved to the Mass, everything changed, his entire demeanor changed, I knew he believed. Whereas I’ve seen a witty stand up routine of a sermon, followed by a not so witty stand up routine of a communion rite and I decided not to receive communion, the disrespect shown to the blessed sacrament was too much.

As Catholics we have a religion, we don’t (or at least shouldn’t) make it up as we go along. Catholic priests get on with it, and a certain amount of ad lib, is sometimes required, but outside of the Mass. I can honestly say the best priests to altar serve for are the ones who follow the book, because you know exactly what you are about to be doing. There is a reason why things are, as they are. There is a real beauty. We may complain about some of the ‘translations’ but often the beauty and important part is taking the ego of the priest out of things, which I think is a massive relief to any priests who have an understanding of humility. It is Christ who works the sacrament through them, they have to do what the book says because who are they to presume Christ will work through their ego?

Anyway, I get this way every time I go to a protestant service really. Its interesting that I may be an LGBT Christian, but I will hopefully always be a traditionalist Catholic. I don’t think those things are mutually exclusive in the least.

The worst feeling in the world is when people confirm your prejudices.

I read a lot of articles complaining about the recent expansion of a settlement in Israel in the west bank. People saying all sorts of nasty things about Israel. I thought “there is something not right here”, and indeed there wasn’t. My prejudice was that the vast majority of the western media has taken to hatred of Israel like a duck to water. Then I read this, and yes it all made sense.

Last Sunday one of the intercessions at Mass was that ‘jihadists will see reason’. I’m sorry but as far as they are concerned, they have seen reason, it is us who are the deluded ones. They think beheading people is fun. There is a phrase used to describe pirates during the ‘golden’ era of piracy, enemies of all mankind. I’ve actually studied the golden era of piracy and whilst their brutality was similar they didn’t have the same kind of religious motivation (obviously).

The pirates were often social bandits, they needed to be able to sell their goods and there were plenty of neglected European island colonies desperate to buy them. In fact Britain engaged in some rather dubious privateering to enable all of our Caribbean colonies to flourish, only calling it piracy when it no longer suited us. The Spanish considered every non Iberian ship in the Caribbean pirate, which was somewhat of an egotistical statement that they were the only ones with a right to be there, but since British colonies certainly flourished due to rampant and ill regulated privateering for them it might as well have been true. Pirates had all sorts of ways to justify their brutality to themselves, and to be honest their reasons were far better than Isis. The Spanish treatment of locals was effectively a genocide (as highlighted by Jesuit tracts on the issue) and this was used as justification to attack any Spanish shipping.

ISIS on the other hand have a religion, have a global vision, and it involves beheading everyone who doesn’t fit their exceptionally narrow idea of what it means to be a good Muslim. They are enemies of all mankind. There is no way to negotiate with people of this mindset. They have to be ended. One other interesting thing I noticed is that the Christians were ruthlessly driven out of Mosul and Syria, even being crucified, and few people gave a damn, then the Yazidis were being butchered and suddenly it was an international war crime. Funny that.

If the west gives a damn about the world, humanity, then it needs to act, yes war is horrible, but do you think people who behead other people for fun are going to stop after a stern talking to from uncle Barack and baby Cameron?

In personal news, the guy I really fancied on that dating website has dropped off the radar, I’m pretty depressed about that, and I got a letter from the NHS saying I’ll be waiting for a very long time before they even consider putting me on a waiting list for gender reassignment services. Then I know how needlessly slow their process is. To say I’m depressed about that is the understatement of the century. When will people wake up and realise that the NHS is shit, its slow, its expensive, its absurd and almost downright cruel.