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.

Peace in the middle east.

So then, there is an indefinite ceasefire in Gaza, in return for some small (assuredly heavily scrutinised) humanitarian aid through the ‘blockade’ Hamas has decided to stop firing rockets. They will sing and dance saying they have won a great victory, (and in fact they already have) which gives you a clue. They haven’t won a great victory, Gaza is devastated, but what they have achieved is they have clung on to power so they can continue to execute their own civilians and stock up on rockets for two or three years time when they’ll do exactly the same all over again.

Most Gazans will be celebrating but deep down they know that they are celebrating because their rulers have finally stopped fighting a ‘war’ they could never win whilst using them as human shields. In fact it is rather interesting that several Hamas leaders were killed just before this ceasefire, the little people can get caught in the crossfire but as soon as the bigwigs start dropping there is suddenly peace, and peace on the terms that were laid out by Egypt eight days into the conflict.

It is hard to see this as a victory if you are Israeli either, just delaying the inevitable resumption of hostilities until further down the road, but they’ll have a couple of years of peace and quiet to get on with building the only free democracy in the middle east and they’ll have to be building more settlements too, all over Europe Jews are noticing the rise in antisemitism and are contemplating moving to Israel. In fact since Israel is one of the only countries that doesn’t kowtow to multiculturalism it could end up being one of the safest places to live before too long.

Israel will have also learned that they can’t rest their fate on the mood of the oval office, it will only take a couple more golfers in chief and they will be hung out to dry. Iran’s nuclear negotiations are ongoing, as is their nuclear program, which if completed could become a nuclear pogrom but nobody fear, I’m sure the EU’s apparatchik of the day will be able to talk down the Ayatollah. We live in truly absurd times.

Meanwhile the media in the west relentlessly presses all the Hamas g spots, I’ve seen writers in the Telegraph even refuse to call Hamas a terrorist group. If there was any way to do radical Islam’s bidding on the matter of Gaza they would do it. That is one of the key reasons why antisemitism is on the rise. This has been one of the most perfect propaganda campaign ever conducted in the history of modern telecommunications. Lots of pictures of Gazan destruction and suffering, no pictures of a solitary Hamas fighter at all. If the wider world doesn’t see Hamas fighters fire rockets from launch sites adjacent to schools, mosques, hospitals etc, then people won’t believe it. People need to see that for what it is. That a free western media could do Hamas bidding is the shameful part. If the western world doesn’t want to go under a tide of Islamic radicalism then we need to saddle up, philosophically and culturally and it needs to happen right now.

Happiness at the restaurant at the end of the universe.

So then, I seem to have found a very nice chap on this dating website. I feel like I’ve hit the jackpot. He’s lovely. A history student like I was, interesting, kind, and most importantly seems to be just as interested in me as I am in him. Basically I shouldn’t be getting ahead of myself but with regard to my previous history, that doesn’t seem likely does it? Now all I need to do is somehow get thin and hot… that doesn’t seem very likely either :-S especially if you struggle to get out the flat like I do, but anyway it still feels good to have some rather conventional romantic emotions about someone.

In other less happy news, I’ve found out that in all likelihood, the NHS will be incredibly slow to deal with my transition. We are talking years. I feel like I’ve wasted so much time already, I’m rapidly approaching my 30th birthday and still haven’t done anything concrete about it. In reality I’ve been becoming more psychologically ready so it hasn’t been a waste of time… but it doesn’t feel like that.

In the world of politics I’ve become convinced that we are in the last three or four decades of western civilisation. America is rapidly losing its sense of liberty and its national debt is truly staggering. Britain is even more of a basket case and we are joined at the hip with the EU. To say the lunatics are running the asylum doesn’t do the gravity of the situation justice. We are living in the last years of decadence before the fanatics pull the curtain down, so enjoy it while it lasts.

In religious news apparently the Vatican is feverishly working on the next encyclical. Will it be about militant Islam? religious freedom? the liturgy? no… apparently its going to be about Ecology. Anyone else looking forward to the next Pope yet? I know I am. If the Vatican gets on board with the global warming myth it will make itself a laughing stock when that particular bubble bursts, if the Vatican goes against it will get lots of smug atheists telling us we are cave dwellers, then nobody will remember it when the bubble bursts. This is a definition of a lose lose subject and also one that has very little to do with religion as far as I can tell. 

Nobody believes in burning the world for the sake of it like some villain from Captain Planet. Even places like China are beginning to realise that there is a cost to ignoring the environmental impact of industrialisation. We shouldn’t be wasteful, we shouldn’t be obsessively materialist, we should avoid pollution as best we can, but none of this needs an encyclical. All it will do is give succour to the tree hugging Gaia worshiping hippies who have infiltrated the highest levels of our society. The people who make millions from wind turbines off the backs of poor people who can’t afford their electricity bills and drop dead in the winter. These people who promote Bio-fuels, inflating global food prices. These people who cause indoor pollution deaths in the third world because cheap electricity is held out of reach because of CO2 caps. Will this encyclical point any of this out? I wouldn’t bet on it no.