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Monday, October 23, 2006

You are all one

Sunrise, window at the First United Methodist Church, Corvallis, Oregon

I've become obsessed with three albums by Joni Mitchell -- Ladies of the Canyon, For the Roses, and Blue. Especially Blue. Especially Carey. We have these on wax, and whenever Beloved is out, I find myself doing housework or whatever to Mitchell, turned up high for my almost nonexistent hearing -- I'm sure the neighbors are tired of this music by now -- I'm not.


Over the weekend I went to an historic Trans/Religion conference, where 175 attendees, more than half of whom were trans, attended sessions and workshops and sat down together for great meals. The opening reception was hosted by the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, and everything else was at the United Methodist Church. The keynote address was given by Virginia Ramey Mollenkott, considering, among other things, the nature of God as revealed in the Genesis story of creating both male and female in 'his' (unitary) image. The Sunday morning sermon was delivered by Erin Swenson (from Atlanta!), and the closing plenary address by the Rev. Dr. Justin Tanis from NCTE. These were earth-shaking events for me, but I think I felt most at home with the Shabbat service led by Eugene's own Rabbi Maurice Harris and the presentation of Call Me Malcolm, with Malcolm Himschoot himself answering questions afterwards.

I know, of course, that the very same passage used by Mollenkott is the one used by Evangelical televangelist types to justify discrimination against transfolk. They think it means 'male and female created he them' -- with God as male in a sense that makes Adam something like God, and Eve, at best, something a little like Adam. As if God, being perfectly male, were mostly just better hung than Adam.

But the same crowd is ignoring Paul, who said, 'There is neither male nor female, Jew nor Greek. For you are all one ... (Galatians 3:28).

The Country Rabbi is no help to their case either, as he says: 'For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are like God's angels in heaven.' (Matt. 22:30). Sounds rather like androgyny to me.

In the long run, those who insist that they are Christians, i.e. 'of the anointed one,' whom they identify as being this one and the same Country Rabbi, must surely give up persecuting others who have done them no harm, and do as he tells them to do, noting: 'Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves? And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise' (Luke 10:36-7).

The other two that had passed the man on the road were fulfilling religious requirements. Handling the bloody, beaten body by the roadside would have made them unclean (King James for unclean: abomination). The Samaritan, by definition unclean, proves himself the neighborly one, because his kindness trumps his need, if he even has one, for ritual cleanness.

And the Rabbi's favorite passage? 'But go and learn what this means: "I desire mercy and not sacrifice."' (Matt. 12:7).

Mercy again.

The way to the eternal, he says, is through kindness, kindness again, and kindness yet again.

Why anyone would think that the way to please the Country Rabbi is treating other people, and by pushing government to treat other people like dirt, I have no idea.

Unless maybe they fell for the argument the Other Guy tried on him once! ... "I will give you all of these things, if you will fall down and worship me."' (Matt. 4:9).


Ah, well, you can't argue with that crowd. There's no heart in them.

I sat out in the sunshine at lunch today. It was chilly but bright, and I was able to convince myself I was warm. Then a stiff breeze came up. I was sitting just out of reach of the acorns raining down from one of the mighty English oaks round the quadrangle. The acorns clattered down in troops, and passersby ducked away from the sidewalk in an effort not to be pelted. I enjoyed the show, but had to shift five sections of books in the stacks before I was warm again.

For lunch, I had three apples and an acorn.


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