RAINBOW QUESTIONS IN A GAY MONTH

RAINBOW QUESTIONS IN THE GAY MONTH

It’s an irony of Taylor Swift’s latest music video “You need to calm down”, that its support of the gay community in its gay month is almost clearer about blind opposition to gays than who and what gays actually are. They are humorously portrayed/caricatured in a semi- surrealistic, magic realism kaleidoscope of types which includes a Trans and a celebrated straight actor….which borders on misrepresentation however unintended.

To gather from some quarters of American Christian media like the evangelically inclined Christian Post, the chief reason those who most dislike the“Gay Pride” concept (especially as represented by Pride parades), is because they feel it’s Luciferian, the reflection of an attitude raised like a fist against God….

Even allowing room to criticism and family friendly issues, that’s still a heavy take seeing  that Pride parades differ  little from the less criticized Rio Carnival; and if parades include  the occasional float with kink, they usually have more people in shorts and tee shirts supporting this or that hospital, agency or even occasionally church. Stressing  the devil fell through pride overlooks how people of all persuasions say things like “have  you no pride?” meaning self-esteem, and even Christians will say “I’m proud to be Christian”.

Simple self-acceptance was the original meaning and likely remains so for the majority. At parades many feel  they are affirming or reclaiming themselves against histories of personal confusion, social and domestic rejection and in some countries police violence and legal ban. For some, the carnival, like any carnival, is a chance to let off steam, laugh, perhaps even parody oneself; but though fifty years on from Gay Lib’s foundation there’s more party than protest in the West (places like Turkey and Georgia are another matter), what’s certain is that most gays are not usually like the exhibitionists of some parade floats. If drag queens retain some prominence it was because Pride originated among a revolt of drag queens against  police violence.

All this conceded, now that Gay Pride has extended itself beyond parades and rights campaigns to a more cultural and ideological appropriation of a whole month that  celebrates “pride” and “diversity”,  new questions are posed about meaning and representation. And  no song, video or tweet can hope to reach into some of the issues now involved.

I was prompted to write this in reaction not to the Swift contribution but  a youtube titled  Madness and Chaos at 2018 Tel Aviv Gay Parade https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LoWU6jCnasE   In this some Christian preachers declare against the sin of the many Jews partaking in, or just come to witness, a Pride parade that the preachers consider unworthy of the land of the Bible. They of course ignore facts like how Ultra-Orthodox Jews have rallied against and assaulted gay Jews – at Pride 2009, two were killed and fifteen injured and in 2015 a gay Jew died from a stabbing at Pride. Jewish society would rather celebrate its minorities than endorse their exclusion. And while mass levity doesn’t belong to popular images of what serious Israel is about, the preachers also haven’t absorbed that the festival of Purim isn’t vastly different including that sometimes men will be dancing in drag.

The video embarrassed me, not least because I consider it misguided whether in relation to Jews or anybody, to make acceptance or rejection of the gospel you’re preaching dependent upon acknowledging a person’s gay orientation is something root and branch evil to be repented of. This is to play with people’s minds and integrity because, sexual issues apart, save for people abused, drugged or somehow compelled into it, gay is normally an inborn orientation, a psychology early manifested and before any sexual expression. Also in addressing lesbians, the preachers ignore that nowhere does Hebrew Torah actually forbid lesbianism. (It’s an interesting omission which raises questions what and who any ban on male same sex in Leviticus might imply – one answer and even from Philo is sacred prostitution).

FLAG SYMBOLISM

But there’s no smoke without fire, even if it’s not quite hell fire, and the idea of a damnable “Gay Pride” whether Jewish or any other, has undoubtedly been encouraged by activist adoption of just the Rainbow flag. Objection to the flag derives from the fact that a rainbow like an emerald is around the throne of God (Rev 4:3). Also seven, the colours of the rainbow, is the number of perfection and in Genesis the rainbow is the sign of divine promise and covenant.

Rainbow flags have nonetheless been adopted over the centuries by numbers of groups from the Protestant peasants of the German Peasants’ uprising in the sixteenth century to Jews of the Ben Ohr movement in the twentieth century. It got adopted in San Francisco in 1978 following the assassination of the city’s gay mayor, Harvey Milk, though perhaps helped by the fact that for years, the rainbow sung by gays’ icon Judy Garland had been a symbol, rather as for the German peasants, of a quasi-millennial hope for improvement.

Originally, designer Gilbert Baker’s flag had eight colours, but hot pink for sex(uality) was dropped because of problems finding the right fabric and then, due to problems with vertical hanging and display of the flag, the Pride rainbow was given six instead of the seven colours of nature and the bible. This still wouldn’t redeem it to the most theological minds because 6 is the number of mankind -which is why the notorious 666 represents “the wisdom of a man” (Rev 13:18) which never arrives at the spiritual and divine 7.

It follows that you can, if you wish, perceive the gay movement as encroaching on the divine or anticipating the Antichrist’s world order by implicitly claiming for itself a power and perfection that denies all Christian notions of sin and perfection. If tact and the best social relations were the aim, arguably a different flag, one less liable to inflame already sensitive feelings should have been adopted, but compromise was never the prime gay characteristic. Besides which, Gilbert  Baker’s aim  was to reflect LGBT (now LGBTQIA) diversity. And since 1978 this diversity has certainly been increasing!

LGBTQIA (which now makes for a 7 letter logo ) means Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transexual, Questioning or Queer, Intersex and Asexual.

AN UMBRELLA TOO LARGE?

The problem with this enlargement of the umbrella is that it can finish subtly misleading and be undermining of some basic aims and ideas worth retaining. Gay/Lesbian is by far the largest constituency (90% or more) of these affiliated minority groups. Given the preponderance it is, or at least was, possible following the line of founders of modern gay lib like Harry Hay, to define beyond any justice claims, something more essential: a distinct mindset and philosophy, even theology. This could better answer to conservative charges gay is nothing but a chosen “lifestyle” and by implication an indulgent one to be cast away like old clothes because it represents nothing essential or purposive.

The other lesser groupings, though they can share a similar sense of grievance and will to change conditions, bring different stories and can represent a different outlook needing its own definition, but which taken together are often closest to  agnostic, anti-essentialist Questioning/Queer  division.

The most authentic “gay pride” flag would arguably be purple in harmony with many long held traditions and symbols. Be that as it may, today a rainbow flag declares less “gay pride” than a virtual takeover by “queer pride” And that’s a distinction that matters, certainly where religion and spirituality are concerned, but also very much general political and legal direction in today’s increasingly, at times dogmatically and eccentrically PC and identity politics driven society.

PROBLEMS WITH QUEER

The most fundamental fact about Queer and the associated Queer theory, which originally owed a lot to bisexual thinkers, is that it affirms “identity without essence”. It does so rather as for postmodernism there is no true and final author of a book; authorship and meaning are produced by all its readers. If there is nothing innate, this means (and it can play right into the hands of the conservative critics of gays) any gay identity represents wilful sin. But since for classic Queer there is nothing purely spiritual or transcendent anyway, there is not only no sin but no objective system of ethics outside of what political engagement might more materially achieve in service of your chosen tribe. Queer acknowledges neither God nor soul (it may even mock and satirize them like the Indecent Theology of Marcella Althaus-Reid).

A SORT OF REVOLUTION

The Queer person can make up their lives and assume personas as they go. Life is a long, as good as pan-sexual experiment or living theatrical production of selves, experienced with whoever fits at the moment. Family as under the early Soviet regime which regarded family structures as transitional at best, is undermined and almost irrelevant. Progress through life can be about pleasure in harmony with Queer theorist Foucault’s “The invention of new pleasures” (such as he fatally pursued in American bathhouses) and even possibly biblical forecasts of the end times, “and they shall be lovers of pleasure rather than God” (2 Tim 3:4).  But with everything and everyone  “equal”, people must be accepted as they are or think they are (as in the recent startling case of a six foot male with a beard insisting on being called Madam on pain of being sued for disrespect of his equal status). In this materialist’s virtual dreamworld there is no moral judgement to make – unless as regards “tolerance” and “acceptance”, values borrowed from Christianity and Liberalism but differently interpreted and  applied.

Though so-called would-be queer theologians do exist proclaiming a marginalized protesting Jesus, in its purest, most authentic form, Queer is one more version of materialistic hard left, cultural Marxist doctrine. Cultural Marxism, based on the “critical theory” originated in the Frankfurt school of philosophy which included the likes of Marcuse and Adorno, substitutes traditional Marxism with revolution in the hands of a new proletariat. Its revolution is less economic and class-based than socio-cultural. It is composed of a coalition of the discontented, marginalized and aggrieved such as women, gays, students, blacks, indigenized peoples etc. who can be educated and  stirred, as especially American campuses have been stirred, to outrage by activist academics, who hand insurgents the gun of dogmatic, legalized PC principles. These theoretically can be used to land the opposition in court and jail to the point law almost overtakes government.

Cultural Marxism, popular in academe and reaching schools in modified form,  aims to undermine existing society, traditional democratic and liberal values along with religion by bypassing or progressively outlawing them, portraying them as nothing but forms of oppression. Its Marxist/Leninist outlook does not scruple to use democracy to undo democracy and will opportunistically combine with those parties like radical Islam who may help further  globalist, totalitarian aims, even if they can  hope to be dissociated  from such rival radicals later on. (It has been noticed one won’t find many or any feminists or gays opposing oppression of women and gays in Muslim majority societies). Everyone and everything is reduced or reducible to the will-o-the wisp state of “equality”. Any sensible, traditional Socialist would, like the very Socialist Bernard Shaw, accept that, practically, complete equality is an illusion, inequality of talent and situation will always see to that and it’s only sensible to recognize the point. But cultural Marxism’s revolution is not sensible, it is dogmatic and almost rejoices in its refutations of the real.

GAY “DIFFERENCE”

Queer’s large umbrella is now so wide it will include, as some Gay Pride parades do, persons who lay no special claim to be gay at all but who just want to party and be seen, but who certainly believe in “diversity” and “inclusion” to the point of orgy in one direction and in the other consent to “equality” to the point of marriage for all (even in pan sexual groups of three or four if need be).

Just as some feminists have taken alarm at elements of Trans theory, one can well argue (and I warned of this two decades ago when I was thought alarmist for it), Queer subtly undermines the very notion of being gay. But for queer style identity politics and its cultural revolution, this doesn’t matter. Queer undermines because to the original questions of gay lib founders like Harry Hay, about what  gay is and what for, the truest answer,  is quite simply meaningful “difference”, the contribution of a needed liminal consciousness.

Gay psyche and vision are nature’s necessary contra naturam variation on a theme…… Except that there has to be a theme. Thus, the Renaissance was a particularly gay associated movement that helped take society to a new place; but it could not have done that given an anarchy within society in which just everybody and equally was changing society or themselves, (even assuming they could do that, which they couldn’t). One would always need to privilege talent, vision and genuine character difference above queer’s privilege of those with only grievances and interests.

THE MARRIAGE EQUALITY IDEA

A classic example of “anything goes” queer values ignoring or denying any vocation to gay difference, but instead if anything confusing values (in some cases dividing families and churches to have its political/egalitarian way), has been the widespread movement towards so-called marriage equality.

Most gays are not strongly disposed to marrying and having families – the urge seems strongest in America with its strong conformist streak and Israel where without a family one may feel anonymous  and unfulfilled. Regardless, a truly gay marriage (and I do believe in some such ideal form of partnership) but representing “difference” and its responsibilities, would need to have been some form or name of “union” (such often already existed before the equality drive). It could have been an arrangement not calling itself marriage and not claiming complete “equal” freedom as regards offspring (I’d say there is more case for adoption than various surrogacy arrangements if there must be children). It was two gays, one Catholic and one agnostic, who led the campaign against Marriage Equality in Ireland in 2016 and were left with serious complaints regarding the treatment they received from media and how the campaign (much helped by overseas funding) was managed. The pair had expressed severe reservations about gays and parenting. As have sometimes  those so raised. In a  recent  youtube feature on gays in Israel, asked how he felt about having two fathers, a young boy, plainly unenthusiastic, said “It’s OK, but a bit weird.”

The gay leaders of the Irish No campaign  weren’t exceptional. Many gays, including notable ones like actor Rupert Everett and fashion designers Dolce and Gabbana, have voiced serious reservations about gay marriage and gays having children, but they have been either dismissed or  screamed at as traitors to the cause by the anything but representative “inclusive”, virtually communist gay/queer, anything goes establishment, some calling for the censorship of these dissidents from the new dogma. I myself was in Ireland during the Referendum and having reservations about some of the things being said and assumed.  But I could obtain no interview or feature with the Irish Times despite having a world first and published doctorate in issues of gay spirituality, so that I was more qualified than some to be expressing views at that time.

But people need to realize media generally is now considerably globalist and not disposed to whatever or whoever could  stand in the way of the related Cultural Marxism. (I was long puzzled by treatment of me by The Irish Times on various counts, but now I see that long time investigative journalist of the Independent, Gemma O’Doherty accuses the Irish Times of being an arm of a globalism threatening many aspects of national life, it makes more sense to me).

SOCIAL RE-EDUCATION

The promotion of CM’s notion of “tolerance” is even fuelling an entire re-education system and an over-stated one. When decades ago I was at school, an evidently rather enlightened biology teacher taught us about sex but allowed some people could be different too. It didn’t need entire text books and cartoons and demonstrations for children to make and absorb that difference point. One or two gay fairy stories like Cashorelli’s (I should have appreciated them in junior school), would have been quite enough and might have encouraged some notion of the responsibilities of being different as opposed to nowadays in California leaving children with the impression gay is so totally normal it’s something pupils could well be trying on like a pair of shoes to see did they fit!

In the final analysis what can one say but this. People need to know what queer and the rainbow means in the hands of those with influence rather than just those harmlessly riding a colourful float. It’s good to be accepting and tolerant, but not necessarily in the way of the rainbow. One can’t just treat the gay month and Gay Pride as only fun and entertainment.

Gay Pride is meaningful. For its implications Queer Pride is rather more controversial and to endorse it to be trendy or deemed broad-minded is not helpful; it may even in the long run  put a noose round your neck to the extent democratic freedoms and the systems of education are at stake and you risk being libelled as “hard right” and “fascist” or “racist” by persons who in fact are far more “hard left” than  you could possibly be any shade of right.

And where religion is concerned, if sometimes it is possible to be right for the wrong reasons, then may be some truth in the idea that the rainbow, (confused with a more innocent pride) is against God and/or supports values that genuinely free people just don’t need.

NOTE

The Gay Pride and “Nudity” Question

A subset of the charge of “pride” as nothing but shame and shamelessness and biblically a “calling evil good and good evil” (Is 5:20), attaches to the reported nudity of the parades. But rather as the pride concept is misunderstood, so too nudity can get misrepresented.

The reality is nudity is usually absent from any parade, either because local authorities ban it or gay organizations self-censor to the chagrin of bona fide nudists who protest rainbow rights are not as inclusive as advertised. Only a few parades (Toronto, San Francisco – where it gets not altogether incorrectly pointed out St Francis was a nudist – Berlin and Madrid) actually allow naked participants. So…what is routinely called the “public nudity” or “open pornography” of parades is liable to mean gay males gyrating in swimmers or G strings and a few lesbians flashing bared and usually painted breasts. While critics will still protest this is exhibitionist and lewd, it isn’t strictly speaking nude; and ironically, if and where nudity is permitted, it could be called less or not exhibitionist at all by comparison.

It’s so widely assumed, and not just by conservative Christians, that nude is lewd, or at least not family friendly, that Net content warnings are put out for any Pride parade video that includes nudity. Given that some displays of kink could be a good deal more disturbing to children, this is odd. The idea of nudity, the notion that it must be shocking, prevails over any reality. If you question that statememt take a look at a conventionally warned youtube of Madrid 2017’s Gay Pride which on and off between about 11.30 and 16 minutes and amid the extreme confusion of the scene (who is in or out of the parade?!) briefly shows members of an Orgullo Nudista (Nude Pride) group. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ec0tNj8NQXw&t=346s It’s mostly male as is usual for this kind of exposure, and I would expect the average viewer to be underwhelmed and/or just amused at this contribution to carnival, but hardly shocked, infuriated or feeling corrupted.

However… despite my liberal approach to this whole theme (and in relation to religion see “Naked in Thessaloniki: Riddle and Sign” https://wp.me/p6Zhz7-2F ), I can still be critical and push an anti-queer position as regards, for example, the stand-out case of this year’s Pride in New York (which is not nude friendly like Toronto over the border).

Near the beginning, a tall male in a mankini, itself as good as transparent so that he could be considered nude, skates about wildly waving a notice with simply LOVE on it. If nudity is above all about honesty, the notice should reflect that in any such front-of-parade message, especially one commemorating the bi-centenary of a revolution for which words like “Freedom”, “Rights” “Liberation”, are more to the point, or at least for a carnival “Celebration” or “Fun”. Given what I say in the main article, the problem is that rainbow values aren’t primarily about “love”. They are super-political and “anything goes” to the point of unlimited experiment and every kink. In a sense it’s typical of the wonky, controversial value system of the rainbow now overtaking gay parades and consciousness itself with pure party, that it can highlight an as good as naked skater but not “include” actual more natural nudists (like those in Madrid).

Christians and people generally should be more discerning about who and what they are supporting when they welcome the rainbow and its ideology because all is not what it seems. But to be fair, the Love placard wasn’t rainbow surrounded but rather fire surrounded as though it might even be part of America’s neo-Luciferian movement. In which case perhaps we should be talking about devil’s lies. But this would be to enter deep waters if not high flames, so I can leave the subject there!

 

 

 

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PC GODTALK and ESSENTIAL SPIRITUAL ENERGIES

[ The following is not directly about gay issues  and theology, but it is indirectly relevant, especially as regards the excesses of Queer theology when directed upon the faith matters which cannot automatically follow certain trends]

PC GODTALK AND ESSENTIAL SPIRITUAL ENERGIES

Nothing might seem more reasonable today than the move among Catholic schools in Australia (and other places, and doubtless soon many non Catholic schools as in Sweden ) to introduce gender neutral language around God whom it’s assumed  should be easier by this to relate to. To be dropped are such words as “Father” “Son” and “Lord”. It seems to be assumed, rather in line with radical feminist Mary Daly’s once groundbreaking Beyond God the Father, that such words bespeak only the patriarchy.

Since the bible anyway nowhere categorically states that God is male – there are even places in the OT where God is compared to a mother, nurse or wife, – the new emphasis would hardly strike anyone as an inappropriate adjustment. It can still seem reasonable even though, as Catholic journalist Ann Widdecombe insisted on TV, Jesus always referred to God as his Father  so that should be good enough for us. Even so, we have to consider that Jesus also maintains, God is most essentially Spirit (Joh 4:24). And Spirit is, and is reflected through, certain energies more personal than abstract. Disposing of common names and terms for God risks leaving us with only the  abstract, impersonal deity of the philosophers.

I suspect that what is going on has more ramifications than meets the eye and especially for Catholics these may be linked to the Pope’s surprising swerve, signed into being last February with Islam’s leading imam, towards a new ecumenism of faiths with special and surprising reference to the often hostile Islam.  (See article on this site “St Malachy’s Last Pope, Ringing down the Curtain?” https://wp.me/p4kNWg-oM )

Before going further, let’s consider three problematic biblical verses for the project of dropping such key, familiar words as “Father”, “Son”, and “Lord”.

“….and every tongue should confess that Christ Jesus is Lord to the glory of God the Father” (Phil 2:11).

“no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor 12:3)

“This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son” ( 1 Joh 2:22).

These verses accord the “patriarchal”, non PC words a special spiritual status in the realm of belief;  and undeniably, if you aim for a very strong Chrislam union of faiths, Christianity would need to downplay or cancel out especially the third quote because the Koran (Sura 23:91)  is dogmatic that “God has begotten no Son”. Indeed for Islam anything Trinitarian is as good as pagan and polytheistic.

What is Christianity trying to say with and through its “patriarchal” words attached to a religion for whom God is Spirit?

I suggest the matter is a bit confused by the fact the whole of the West (including somewhat St Paul) until the Enlightenment and modern science, had what Thomas Lacqueur would call a one-sex theory rather than a two sex view of reality. Women, like children, were regarded as less and below men but in some sense the same sex; the understanding of human relating was hierarchal throughout. Had there been a two sex theory (as we implicitly assume today) it might  have been possible to speak in terms of something more like a continually interacting, equal but different energies in the style of Yin/Yang.

This doesn’t sound like it would be much help to a Christian view of reality, but in fact it helps quite  a lot and tidies up what might not seem to fit, everything from the Spirit impregnating the waters at creation to Jesus declaring himself subordinate to the Father in John’s gospel and not being the fully, mathematically equal being that Augustinian and western philosophy has made him.

Where sex and gender are  concerned, there is of course a spectrum which contains a fair amount of difference so that male and female display a variety of styles and degrees in expression of their masculinity and femininity; but the core/archetypal energies are, and always will be, basically more or less yang active first and yin receptive. Though God is Spirit and male and female only reflect, imitate or symbolize transcendent divine energies, the fact remains that Yang more nearly “begins”, is “first” or creates just as the male impregnates the female, starting a process the female brings to term.

Accordingly, to refuse to admit God is “the Father/Creator” or to think of Jesus as “Lord” can amount to denying God orders things and represents order rather than chaos. The created needs to acknowledge the Creator short of precisely chaos – in contemporary life a fair deal of mental disturbance and crime is associated with males raised without fathers. Though historically women have too often suffered from male domination, the fact seems to be that many men themselves crave some degree of domination by other males. (Gay S/M makes this particularly evident but many male groups and clubs show the trend). God may be imagined as anything from pure light to a figure enthroned, but a deity without the quality  of an initiating power and authority is no deity, or not one that spirit and soul can ever quite adequately interact with. And it belongs to religion’s duties to help keep the doors to spiritual communication open. Which is something PC revisions may not psychologically and spiritually assist.

A strong case for Christian understanding of the Trinity, especially against the background of our two sex apprehension of reality is as follows. It is not as per Augustinian, western  and less than strictly biblical notions of a total, mathematical equality of the persons, but rather a complementary union and semi-subordination in harmony with statements like “The Father is greater than I” (Joh 14:28).

…………………..GOD (the Father/Creator)

JESUS…………………………….HOLY SPIRIT

Both Jesus and the Holy Spirit,  as the Eastern churches even split from the West to affirm, proceed or emanate from the bosom of the Father (who can also be like the Mother) who contains both energies analogous to male and female. (The West makes the Spirit proceed from the Father and the Son, which is most unlikely, not least in view of how much Jesus waits upon the Spirit!).  Christ and Spirit are however  the fundamental  ying/yang who together help materialize things “below” the level of the hidden and transcendent deity of which  however they are part.

While it is feminist and queer theology trendy to propose the Spirit is feminine, the Holy Spirit, as Jesus insists (Joh 16:23),  is “he”, essentially male in terms of energy (like the Spirit who impregnates the waters at creation). It is Jesus –  who will do nothing until the father first wills or the Spirit moves him –  who is effectively the female principle hidden in plain view. He is self-described as the mother hen who would like to protect Jerusalem and the world.(Matt 23:37). Practically and to human view obviously Jesus is male, the Logos or Word of God. But he is also called by St Paul the Sophia, the Wisdom of God which is feminine. Jesus is a face of, and the principle of change within, deity; he is deity’s visibility and invisibility.  One needs to realize this, in effect a mystical realization in its own right, but as Jesus remarked, “Wisdom  is justified of her children”  (Luk 7:35).

All this and more would be much easier to absorb given only a few mystical and esoteric understandings that Christianity is by and large determined to pass over and dismiss. It cannot be adequately covered here.

However…sufficient to stress that though the historic and sometimes present misuse of terms like “Father”, “Son” and “Lord” can be acknowledged, any easy dismissal of their current usage is still a danger to Christian spirituality.  What has been to many the unexpected Catholic role in this radical change belongs to a wider problem, namely that Catholicism is at heart the least Judaeo-Christian and biblical of the branches of Christianity. It has too often, as now, inclined to impersonalize God, substituting relation to deity for a cult of saints, angels and especially Mary. The latter has received an abundance of titles and roles drawn straight out of especially biblical Proverbs and the Jewish apocrypha where they apply to the mysterious figure of Wisdom. Christians understand this figure to be the Jewish Messiah, Jesus, not any “Queen of Heaven”, a title that especially the prophet Jeremiah denies the right of existence to.

At a certain level, mystically, Catholicism is all of a potential  world faith though scarcely Christian with it but Neo-Platonic in the style of Plotinus.  This thinker would shape Christian mysticism from  St Augustine onwards right up to the popular Thomas Merton who from his many impersonal, as good as non-theistic realizations, easily slipped into the position of virtual or actual Buddhist convert. Questions can well be asked what Catholicism and its controversial Pope is doing and preparing behind its various adjustments to contemporary trends  and realities.

THE PETE BUTTIGIEG “GAY CHRISTIAN” ALL CHANGE

“GAY CHRISTIAN” TOWARDS THE WHITE HOUSE

If like myself you’re not American and not deeply into American politics, you probably won’t know much more about Democratic presidential hopeful, Pete Buttigieg, than the well touted fact he is a self-declared and partnered “Gay Christian” – one who has declared being gay has improved him as a person and brought him closer to God. But that’s more than enough to be getting on with.

It is so not only because the Democratic party is increasingly faith shy and secular in public, but it seems to have brought a lot of conservative Christian persons out of the woodwork. And as though gay rights and theology of recent decades had never existed, these people are declaring that no such individual as a “gay Christian” can ever be said to exist.

For some, Buttigieg is just a shameless deluded “sodomite”, the heretic of an evil new “faith of feelings alone” cult in which God is anything you like because God is yourself and whatever you want. The politician is judged a liar because it is considered impossible that any gay  (meaning disobedient and rebellious) person could ever have a relation with God.

The expressions of shock and alarm quite ignore Buttgieg’s claim is far from novel, but of a kind well enough known and heard among gays, including some who have become priests and pastors. They will tell how they were emotionally dead, psychologically blocked in all directions including to God prior to coming to terms with their orientation. The idea should be understandable because human eros is on a continuum which ranges the widest field. Historically it should be obvious that homosexual feeling didn’t just help inspire the likes of a Michelangelo and many artists, it shouldn’t be too hard for moderns to perceive the orientation has long engaged the mindset of mystics and prophets like Jeremiah, (a favourite of Michelangelo’s imagination as it happens).  See Jeremiah’s Loincloth : A Poem of faith and  phallos  on this site.

If one gives any benefit of the doubt at all to gay perception, it can  only seem downright hostile when  as in a recent Christian Post article (shorturl.at/gnuyN) critics speak of an “evil” gay faith based on feelings as opposed to what in many cases is genuine, time-tested convictions  about one’s nature, convictions however socially inconvenient they might be in some cases. A too easy  conservative opposition of the kind can amount to an attack on people’s integrity itself (and to be blind to many a biblical hint too). The preacher Franklin Graham, a poor successor to his famed father, Billy, but a person who nowadays feels a need to comment on almost anyone and anything, tweets that the very notion “Gay Christian” is “something to be repented of, not to be flaunted, praised or politicized.” as in Buttigieg’s case.

Buttigieg mostly ignores these onslaughts and has suggested if such is how they see things, critics should instead just go and argue with the Creator. The ambitious Indiana mayor, himself a Protestant Episcopalian raised a Catholic, insists he knows his bible, that book now so often cited against him.

THE AMERICAN CHRISTIAN CONSERVATIVE MINDSET

The “gay Christian” idea is not new. It began amid writings of the seventies but took off in the eighties following the ground breaking scholarly work of John Boswell’s Christianity, Social Tolerance and Homosexuality (1982). The most recent and bestselling of GS statements was the summarizing and popularizing God and the Gay Christian from Matthew Vines in 2014. As though GC had never happened, (or had happened only to be confused with the distinctly less theological, Queer theology), amid the opposition to the “gay Christian” Buttigieg we are confronted with the latest expression of a pretty typical, perennial American mindset.

As regards the abuse and condemnation involved, it is a reminder how much America contains the original trolls. For aggressive attack upon people or their mean dismissal there are few places to compare – “hate speech” is almost an American invention. Few places outside some African Christian nations exhibit religious set-ups so close to the behaviour of regimented cults. (But….. in a swing of the pendulum reaction, few societies are fast becoming quite so “inclusive” and legally PC as America, sometimes to the point of soft persecution of traditional Christians who are not to be tolerated for their beliefs).

You can call this redneck and it sometimes is, but it has a lot to do with certain psychological frustrations and an artificial sense of clarity born of an extremist either/or, black and white treatment of people and subjects. The Prohibition era is emblematic for a perennial trend in many circles. The idea was No one should drink alcohol, (a mad idea given wine is even part of Christian sacrament). Absolute literalism has famously given religious America exaggerated problems around seven day creation. It was never possible any poetic word(s) might be involved in the Genesis record. Then today we hear, no one should have an abortion. There are no special cases and exceptions to discuss, it’s all always murder. And it’s another mark against him that Buttigieg hesitates about abortion because there can be reasons.

READING THE SAME BIBLE DIFFERENTLY

Against the background of regularly black and white arguments, Franklin Graham and Pete Buttigieg both read the bible but differently. I am not sure quite how PB reads his bible, but probably he accepts, as I and many would, that it is inspired without being totally inerrant. And surely to hold the literal/inerrant position is foolishness, a prescription for a species of cultism. Strictly speaking, it means one should accept without any cultural, historical or philosophical filtering, that the bible is right even in the case of the notorious and obviously wrong Ps 137, which suggests Babylonian children should be smashed against the rocks (How you accept such a bible then call all abortion murder, I don’t know).

The above cited assertion from Franklin Graham attaches to one in which he says that the bible is “the same yesterday today and forever”. Not only is this idea untenable in view of how terminology and values do change – how many even conservative Christians insist with St Paul that women should have their heads covered and be silent in churches? – but worse, it is itself heresy because Franklin should know perfectly well it is supposed to be Jesus, not scripture, who is called “the same yesterday, today and forever” (Heb 13:8) . Jesus even asserts scripture is valueless if he is not found there (Joh 5. 39-40).

Let’s be plain. The great American conservative (and homophobic) Christian hermeneutic results from a bibliolatry that makes a paper pope out of the bible and does not reckon to listen to “what the Spirit says to the churches” (Rev 2:7). Instead it explicitly or implicitly denies that ever since the bible canon was drawn up, the Spirit has anything to say to the churches!   Taking everything at literal face value and as “dictated by God” (even when St Paul is talking his personal business?!), and never taking hints and reading subtexts, conservatives are confident that “homosexuality” is always wrong, banned and unmentionable, never a mindset. It is only ever certain acts of a chosen “lifestyle”, a position so patently absurd (disinformation in fact) that many gays, and straights too, refuse to pay serious attention to Christianity which increasingly presents as a would-be smiling, but rather insulting form of subtle oppression.

Imagine what people today think  when Franklin  Graham addressing the Buttigieg phenomenon even reminds the public of the Leviticus same sex ban with the obvious implication gays shouldn’t really be alive, and without a hint that there could originally have been various meanings. Even the Jewish philosopher Philo understood a ban on sacred prostitution (such as King Josiah dismissed without executing from the courts of the temple). Doesn’t Graham, (who says the bible has settled it all and always for “homosexuality” through one verse in Leviticus) know such things, or is he unscholarly pastoral ignorance incarnate?  Doesn’t Graham who has shamefully approved Russia and Uganda  in its treatment of homosexuality realize he and his devotees is one of the causes that while innocent Christians round the globe are shockingly persecuted in ever increasing numbers, people and media remain controversially indifferent to this and there is not more western protest. It’s in part  because people like Graham give the impression of Christians as bigots and oppressors not worth defending. May God deliver us from his type!

It is because the bible is deemed totally inerrant by conservatives and can always be taken literally at face value in its English, preferably KJ version (which is as full of bad translation as it is of high lit! ), defence of this bible means many people like Buttigieg and Gay Christians must be proved wrong, and gay cure stories must if need be forced in order to keep the absolutist edifice intact. Bibliolatry, like a mini inquisition, must justify itself rather than address human need….. However, despite everything, a concession of sorts can be made to the opposition.

GAY NOT QUEER CHRISTIAN

Although I would suspect it is for reasons of political respectability that Buttigieg calls himself a “gay Christian” as opposed to (more trendily among academics and some of the LGBTQI activist elite) a Queer Christian, this is the right thing to do.

Queer theology emerged over a decade after Gay theology. Like queer theory it is more or less neo-Marxist/materialistic, and despite occasional historical and psychological insights, is unchristian almost by definition, at permanent risk of arriving at the unbelief and gratuitous blasphemies of Marcella Althaus-Reid’s Indecent Theology and The Queer God.   It does not seek to “build up” persons in the Christian manner (Eph 4:12), it aims rather to demolish and undermine arguments without necessarily replacing what remains from its “hermeneutic of suspicion” with anything concrete. Though many today claim the queer name without more thought than to be in the swim, suggest a difference and be trendily “inclusive” (everything and everyone under the rainbow from quirky feeling straights to Trans youth with dilemmas), one can never really be a Queer Christian as one can be a gay one. You can’t because Queer denies “essence” and with that the ethics, (unless political PC ethics) that give individuals responsibilities consistent with who they are...

A tribal being “included” in terms of  a victim-aware identity politics, is about all the queer individual is. The  queer Christian to whom questions of soul like those of faith are irrelevant, is almost a mirage, one who can be and feel anything they like, their whole life spent in  experiment, even a practitioner of Queer philosopher Foucault’s “invention of new pleasures”. To the extent they believe in any God it is as a function of social history and organization, more a concept than a being. The Queer Jesus has  his numerous images, none of them historical or privileged over another.

It would not be unfair to attribute to queer theologians and Christians the kind of “false god of feelings” (one might almost say whims!) getting attributed to “gay Christians” with genuine faith. And because they can fall foul of many in both Christian and LGBTQI circles, gay Christians may be persons of great faith! A good American example would be the terribly devout Justin Lee of the autobiographical statement Torn whose highly significant and engaged subtitle is: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs- Christian debate. The churches, and even proper toleration for Christianity’s voice, is being wrecked by the oppositional attitudes represented by the likes of influential non thinkers like Franklin Graham.

AT THIS POINT IN HISTORY: THE HIDDEN ORDER OF REALITY

At this point in history Christianity cannot afford what the intransigent conservatives and the queer style ultra-liberal Christians of planet Queer are doing to it and I am prepared to be prophetic here….weary though I am of the role of true but ignored prophet. Way back in the late seventies when I was living in Asia I was protesting and writing the Chinese church must prepare itself towards the time of Communist take-over, must change its music, art, style and be rid of its too westernized ways. I met incredulity, but now the Chinese government is tearing down and persecuting the churches and on the pretext Christian means non Chinese and believers must be sinicized according to government rote. At the beginning of this century I was warning, and accused or being alarmist, that queer and queer theology was extreme and unhelpful to gays and Christianity but my suspicions are being realized  with queer Christians saying almost anything like calling Jesus a sex slut. But this time in the days of Presidential hopeful, Buttigieg, I can be a little more optimistic.

The entire gay (and queer) debate over “inclusion” and pain and spiritualities and “feelings” belongs to the current last gasps of the outgoing Piscean era which began around the time of Christ’s birth and like all zodiacal-based eras lasts approximately 2100 years. Significantly, it is the names with most clout and an audience like Boswell, and Vines and that philosopher of Queer, Judith Butler, belong to Pisces   (those of us who don’t so belong are much less heard regardless of any qualifications!). Likewise  one of the most vocal opponents of the GS identity, Michael Brown, who has a cottage industry of books going on why one cannot be Christian and gay is of Pisces.

Whether or not you believe that the incoming era equates with the biblical Millennium and is involved with the Second Advent (see Apocalypse as a Gay Issue on this site), Aquarius is the sign of anything future, ahead of the times. And given the affinity (rulership) by Uranus, what’s gay is liable to get highlighted. In the approach to the new era it is less decadence than the times themselves that propel society towards greater gay acceptance.

So….though I don’t believe he will make the White House, it is safe enough to take Buttigieg as a sign of the times and of a future beyond the disputes of late Pisces Pisceans. Gayness with a new kind of individualism is on the menu for the time that approaches.

On the cusp of the new age, the rear guard action of  bible citing conservatives will not  succeed. Almost nearer to a work of the devil than  of God, apart from having too often certifiably wrecked lives over the years, causing self-doubt, depression and suicide, it will only cause a lot of trouble and alienation for Christianity, an excuse for globalist and secularist opponents to sideline and discriminate against the faith for as long as its one note disinformation and protests continue.

I don’t think this is true, I know it as certainly as years ago I knew and protested  Chinese churches were buying themselves trouble for the future and compromising their witness with their contemporaries. I don’t say Christians have to agree with everything gays say, do or claim and they certainly shouldn’t have to fear the law if they tell Facebook they disapprove of gay marriage, but it is imperative they accept that people can be born gay and accordingly can be “gay Christians”. There will be no improvement, no proper dialogue unless and until this is recognized.

(Also topically relevant see McCleary’s Additions, Understanding Folau Folly at https://wp.me/p4kNWg-qT re controversy around fundamentalist anti-gay statements in the Australian context.)

 

 

THINKING ABOUT THE VATICAN GAY CLOSET

[ This article was first issued on McCleary’s Alternatives but given the theme it seemed appropriate it should appear here too ]

The inevitable response from Catholic critics to Frederic Martel’s In the Closet of the Vatican is that it lacks substance, he’s got it wrong about his probably 80% gay Vatican and that it’s all worth little more than gossip. While of course it’s possible Martel has got a few facts wrong, one can wonder how often in his over 500 pages. Hadn’t controversial reports since 2015 from such journalists as Emiliano Fittipaldi and Gianluigi Nuzzi made no impression or given no warning that more was present to be revealed? I wouldn’t expect the critics to consider any astrological dimension, but the guilty charge is so strong that even  “the heavens declare” in this case. Uranus (anything to do with gays) is in the Vatican’s sex sector making easy trine to Mars (any men and sex) in the sector of the hidden!

Though I’m not suggesting Argentina’s Pope Francis is gay – and Martel insists he isn’t – did conservatives never hear the common saying in the Pope’s nation of origin, “todas las curas son maricones” (all priests are faggots)? People get the idea, even if most priests don’t care to be as hypocritical,  or on occasion blatant, as some Vatican gays about their preference. Hidden, undeclared (closeted) homosexual clerics is a massive problem for Catholicism .  But Martel makes no claim that his 80% are all active. The most many can be accused of, but it’s bad enough,  is assisting covers-up through complicit silence, sometimes reluctant, of serious scandals. That situation is surely even a reason why, when given the opportunity by an outsider (in this case a gay French writer) to just talk, so many are ready to blab to someone  used almost as a therapist or Father Confessor.

Before offering a few original perspectives and imagining improvements, I must emphasize what should be obvious, namely that for professed Christians hypocrisy is unacceptable and corruption more so and there’s no cure for them but repentance. Scandals known before Martel’s expose like the 2017 revelations about a top Vatican official Msgr Luigi Capozzi’s cocaine-fuelled gay orgies, are disgusting; and it’s unpleasant to hear of sexually harassed Swiss guards and arrogant, high placed clerics using migrant male prostitutes whom they insult and underpay (others who do pay properly feel so guilty they get embarrassingly tender with them!).

This said, I am neither so shocked as conservative Catholics at the given picture, nor smugly assured like some American evangelicals that we are only witnessing further proof of the “end times” evil of the Roman “Whore of Babylon” soon to fall (which the Vatican might well since  it’s impossible for any institution to carry too many scandals too long). What I believe is finally coming to light is a more perennial, ingrained problem that is too often a tragedy for those involved and the result of chronic misunderstandings of theology and psychology that must be addressed, though I am not confident they will be.

Years ago in Latin America I was invited to give a talk to a group of self-confessed gay priests. It was the rather neat, pretty but queeny priest among them who took sudden exception as utterly ridiculous something I said about the book of Revelation  as regards the erotic (see the sub section “An erotic and esoteric moment” in ‘Apocalypse as a Gay Issue”. https://wp.me/p2v96G-1eT . The fact he didn’t grasp or refused to consider the rather obvious point involved, has its connection with the ongoing problem of gay priests in the Vatican and beyond it.  Because there really shouldn’t be quite such a problem with homosexuality. And what the gay Martel perceives as an irony – the strangely “homoerotic” Vatican with its images from Michelangelo including the ignudi (nude youths) painted around the Sistine Chapel alongside a clothed prophet Jeremiah,  a figure with whom the artist identified himself,  carries its own hint towards the solution. 

THE TRAGEDY OF IGNORANCE

But first things first. The “tragedy” I refer to is the one well represented by Martel’s lead-in story with ex-priest, Francesco Lepore. For him as for so many youths in Italy until quite recently, there were few places beyond entering orders for the more introverted, sensitive type of youth to go to hide or cure an attraction to the same sex. He might hope to self-cure through denial, or, if he couldn’t quite achieve that, as one who was often mother’s boy, he could feel the Great Mother, Mary, would always forgive him anyway. But there was often something more.

Lepore admits to how the church positively drew him towards itself through the senses, the scents, sounds, colours, the mysterious rituals and costumes in which you could lose yourself – plainly a bit like being in mother’s skirts and in parallel to the way gays almost dominate the woman’s fashion industry. And  that’s a point I take to be rather important because of things that emerged pre Martel among the earlier revelations from Fittipaldi and Nuzzi.

In harmony with the tendency of especially people of Latin background to assume a role or pose (recall singer Madonna’s hit, Vogue, with its “strike a pose”) some Vatican clerics felt easy with being distributors of mass when dressed for the ritual, but equally easy with going to gay bars for fun nights and pick-ups once they were in civvies. Dress made and unmade the man, the personalities, their roles and responsibilities.

Something is going wrong here and it’s more than a case, as evangelicals might plausibly maintain, that these priests were never remotely “born again”, because similar problems can be found among the community of the born agains too. It’s more like a whole historic blind spot is involved, one that can’t imagine being gay to be anything but (as Pope Benedict had it), a condition “objectively disordered” if not plain evil rather than in the majority of cases something perfectly natural to those involved, inborn, and even in its way vital to religion.

It is customary to start citing Leviticus 18 or Romans 1 (Protestants) or Natural Law (Catholics) against any idea of anyone being born different and meaningfully so. However, if I am not to get immediately and lengthily bogged down in answering the objections (which can be done), I must say directly that, psychologically and spiritually dominated as it clearly is by the Puer archetype, Christianity is “ascensional”. It is earth-denying and/or nature-denying more than any other faith. To that extent it is arguably the most “gay spiritual” of the world faiths with Buddhism perhaps some rival (its monks and attitudes are often quite gay).

This means Christianity is indirectly, and in some fashion that needn’t automatically affect woman’s rights (though ignorantly and crudely it may do so), against the feminine, the Dionysian swamp or raw nature. The point is well stated in Camille Paglia’s “Sexual Personae” which underlines the vital importance and inevitability of gay vision to human culture which is ultimately always a war against nature.

So much about Christianity is anti-gravitational, “contra naturam” – St Paul even says divine election and salvation itself are “against nature” – that just this standpoint is likely a cause, psychologically and historically, the faith sets its face against anyone or anything that, as though in rivalry, claims to be “naturally” against nature. Witness the tirade of St Paul in Romans 1 which I am quite prepared to state (as I do say in the poem and notes to A Saint’s Mistake https://wp.me/p2v96G-yS ) includes some real error and exaggeration and constitutes something Jesus never intended or would approve, something one can tell given certain hidden, unexplained facts concerning even Jesus’ original address to Paul which speak to him at more than one level. 

POSSIBLE REMEDIES

In quest of remedies for the gay clerics problem, it must of course be acknowledged there can be none at all without first some transparency, especially for those within the Vatican which is supposed to function as beacon and example for all of Catholic persuasion . It’s unholy to remain silent in the face of, say, child abuse, from fear you yourself might be outed as gay (which is not the same things as paedophile). Better to be openly gay and better far to be able to affirm the positive value of being so.

So, for a start, obviously and ideally one would  simply hope that the gay priest could sooner or later be out as gay (not automatically banned from orders as is increasingly proposed) and  free to find the soul mate …..which might also be the best term for whatever partnership could be established and hopefully not changed by the week.

Gay marriage (described by Pope Benedict as “the legislation of evil”) and the drive to so-called “gay marriage equality” represents an essentially secular ideal involved with wider social movements to equality. It was originally necessitated by legal problems over inheritance and adoption. Marriage is nonetheless very much about the making of families and this is not what gay relationships are usually or chiefly about. They are friendships, partnerships, unions and should probably be called such, and in the case of priests, perhaps not even too precisely defined. Who knows precisely how the unmarried prophet Jeremiah and his secretary Baruch with whom he lived might have described their connection, or again the centurion with his boy/servant that Jesus healed in what is the nearest thing to a blessing accorded a same sex union? I don’t consider there should even be any need to formalize the connection except by personal declaration. (David and Jonathan simply declared they had a berith, which can mean variously covenant or marriage, but the matter was purely between themselves, not subject to public ceremony). To whatever extent the priestly relation would be sexual (and I would define chastity in this case as principally involving sincerity and fidelity) would be a private decision perhaps influenced by – despite everything! – such principles as St Paul’s “better to marry than to burn”.

I say all this because I believe, ideally and usually, relationship should be aimed for, and as far as possible acknowledged too because it is vitally  important not to be attached  –  as plainly many  Vatican and non Vatican clerics are attached – to the closet. This reduces life to a kind of perverse game filled with rumours, secrets, gossip and an often demeaning humour. At times it is a sort of Catholic version of Genet’s The Maids with the priest as a species of bitter drag queen rather than any representative of God. In this uncertain space whose very repressions are almost loved, objections like the Latin American priest’s can be raised as soon as eros and change are frankly broached, and Mother Mary’s pardon can be lazily preferred to any engagement in the life of the Creator. Indeed, as Martel emphasizes, some of the most ardently homophobic, traditionalist priests are the most self-indulgently gay. This truly is unacceptable, but one might have to go into the subject of the poles of pleasure and self-denial to understand how the contradictions involved might ever come about.

THE PRINCIPLE OF PHALLOS

It can be made to seem, and in the early Christianity of the Fathers, influenced not least by ascetical values of Greek philosophical thought, it was made to seem that Christianity is all about self-denial, especially where any eros is concerned. We are, after all, told to take up the cross and deny ourselves (Matt 1:24)…so shouldn’t we be denying sexual pleasure? As with so much of the bible there is paradox and apparent contradictions to resolve. Jesus also tells us to love our neighbours as ourselves, an almost impossible task if one is to hate one’s deepest, most self-defining urges. It is even easy for some to claim just this is meant if one takes the statement that if possible we should be eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven (Matt 19:12), eunuchs however being by Jesus’ time a broad term that didn’t automatically signify castrate or even chaste but instead different and out of the family way. Origen who decided to take Jesus literally and castrated himself, later believed this was sin.

It was certainly rather crazy too, but was related to the idea that God somehow disapproves pleasure and punishes those who desire it. However, as has been observed, and most recently so by would-be church sex reformer Nadia Bolz-Weber, God created the clitoris which has no function at all outside of female pleasure. So we may well ask, is it likely God would wish to deny men all pleasure? (For reflections on Bolz-Weber and her recent book, Shameless see https://wp.me/p4kNWg-nD )

In the post-Freudian, post neo-Buddhist world that shapes our vocabulary and expression, I think we would be well justified to understand the demand to deny our selves as meaning something more akin to denying the ego with its wilfulness and cravings, while to love our selves means not ego but our deeper, greater selves that are related to God and others. We are not meant to be pleasure addicts, but we should still love our natural being and be able to take some pleasure in its affirmation.  And men, certainly, should not, like the neo-platonically minded St Augustine, regard every sexual feeling as arrogant uprising by the flesh in defiance of a holy God!

For gay men, and even to a degree straight men (for whom the penis is a form of power, or competition and at worst inclining to just control and even rape), there has to be a new acceptance and appreciation of phallos, the physical but also, beyond it, the spiritual dimension of the phallic. Something to the effect could hardly be more stressed in the inevitably little commented, little known story of Jeremiah’s loin cloth which again I have poeticized https://wp.me/p2v96G-Hm

From the beginning of life when the Jewish male is circumcised, the phallus is made to seem of interest to God, something that belongs to and, as it were, partakes in God. What this may do and mean for women is a subject in itself that need not be dealt with here; sufficient to affirm there is a subtle danger that amid contemporary emphasis on the rights of (and wrongs done) women, a new kind of de-spiritualizing, emasculating of men sets in that is not healthy but which unexpectedly gay men and vision might even help to overcome.

Emasculation did not take place in the case of the gay Michelangelo who stands in the Vatican pointing a way out of the confusion Vatican society has got itself into. Like Jeremiah who opposed the cult of the Queen of Heaven, but unlike the Vatican gays who look to mercy from Mother Mary, for the Sistine Chapel’s Last Judgement fresco, Michelangelo’s Mary, hardly any queen, is almost cowering away from the decrees of her Son. But at the same time, beyond the wall fresco and between the depictions of the prophets on the ceiling frescoes are the twenty Ignudi, the naked youths. The late art critic, Sister Wendy Beckett, found them highly enigmatic. She couldn’t understand their function (and nor really has any art critic unless to say they represent a perfection) but I think this should not be so difficult to grasp. It is simply a complement to other tendencies of Michelangelo’s essentially gay thought and vision.

SOME NAKED TRUTH?

   

Only recently a new star tennis player, the Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas, shocked and puzzled fans by posting to social media: “I like me better naked….when you put clothes on you immediately put a character on. Clothes are adjectives, they are indicators….When you don’t have any clothes on it’s just you, raw and you can’t hide”.

A real point is made here. While the side of nudity one tends to hear about from  religion is some version of a “naked and ashamed” theme, this isn’t the only side the scriptures present, and neither is the “just sex” meaning that a secular world gives to nudity by contrast. The prophet Micah, for example, declares “I will go stripped and naked” (Mic 1:8).  There are a variety of functions and meanings to nudity (I interrogate this subject in Naked in Thessaloniki Riddle and Signhttps://wp.me/p4kNWg-fD), but what is certain is that the prophetic tradition that the Vatican tends to downplay in favour of its rituals, is a rather nudity-as-truth one.

It is psychologically and symbolically correct that Jeremiah and Isaiah (another “naked” seer) should be set among the ignudi. It’s all part of the same thing: the clothed and the unclothed psychologically complement one another and interact; and in many respects nudity as for the ancient Greeks is a male, not a female theme. As a point of symbolism, it is male nudity that symbolizes “truth” because the male genitalia are exposed, exterior to the body, “solar”, not hidden as for females and “lunar”. Woman can symbolize truth as beauty, but truth is not always only beautiful. A mixture of Christian and secular values have rendered art and Hollywood and Playboy’s display of women natural in a way it traditionally wasn’t and spontaneously, symbolically it isn’t. Put on an event like the World Naked Bike Ride that is legally able to dodge the “indecent exposure” charge and there will be more males, often gay, in attendance. Throughout nature it is the male of the species is colourful and/or exhibitionist.

At the risk of more self reference, I would point to the message of a chance realization in my poem Baroque https://wp.me/p2v96G-IS  It is based on an experience had while in Sicily where I visited a church, not without charm and power of a kind, but ultimately oppressive in its highly ornamented style (like a weighed down, over-decorated wedding cake – the pic below is not the place in question but a typification). Because I didn’t care to sensationalize,  I didn’t outright state the chief thought  prompting  the piece. This was the feeling upon stepping outside into a sunlit square, of an imperious need for a kind of renewal by just light, sun, and endless blue of sky being naked to which would be like a  baptism in its own right. Enough to say that the poem which ends

The point of reception is here, now, even
This temple, the body; with this I greet change.

carries  more the thought of the second image than the first.

   

The statement is a purely personal one. It doesn’t belong with any programmes queer or other encouraging people to disrobe inside or outside of churches to protest something. However I would say that, just as Martel found some of the most rabidly homophobic Vatican clergy were the most actively gay, I am suspicious of those gay clergy and some non clerical gays  who too readily deny any real value to eros for their own or anyone’s condition and so treat nudity as little more than something else to ban and little more than an aspect of modern pornography.

What dismissal of the erotic as part of the gay equation (which is taken up instead with rituals of the closet) can mean in real terms, is a flight from reality and change. It can accompany a disappearance into Mamma’s, or Mother Church’s or Mother Mary’s skirts, with a whole idolatry of clothes and ceremony  at the expense of a more “naked” and abrasive “male” truth. And  this must sometimes be pursued if there is ever to be reform. The ignudi as symbol of truth, change and perfection got painted in the right place.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

APOCALYPSE AS A GAY ISSUE

[ This article was first issued on McCleary’s Alternatives but given the theme it seemed appropriate it should appear here too ]

APOCALYPSE AS A GAY ISSUE

Improbable though it sounds, upon examination Apocalypse and associated themes like Antichrist and era change, can be considered a rather gay theme both as regards its definition and opposition to the idea. I don’t say this – however relevant it is in a minor way – to  sensationalize or simply because of a recent controversy in Philadelphia. That American city, name of one of the seven churches of Revelation (Rev 3 7-13) and meaning Brotherly Love, has had strife around a drag queen, hired in the interests of “diversity”, to storytell to children in a public library. Controversially the drag queen is named Annie Christ.

The Drag Queen Story Hour, not itself new, was launched in San Francisco in 2015 but struck a more radically odd note in 2017 when a drag queen called Xochi Mochi, dressed ominously as a five horned god/demon, “entertained”, if she didn’t frighten, children at Long Beach. What’s different now is that Philadelphia’s storyteller is suggestively named Annie Christ (quickly spoken, Antichrist)…. Well, at least she didn’t call herself “Rapture”, something implicitly promised to those souls past and present symbolized by Revelation’s church of Philadelphia.

RAPTURE AND THE ARCHETYPAL

There are Christians who question whether the doctrine of so-called Rapture (of the believing prepared section of the church) was ever traditionally held, though something of the kind does seem indicated by certain parables of Jesus and St Paul to the Thessalonians. Some maintain it was the nineteenth century invention of an Anglo-Irish priest, but that’s disinformation (see “Ireland’s Apocalyptic puzzles” https://wp.me/p2v96G-19s ).

Yet even if Rapture belief could be proved to be only modern, that still wouldn’t favour its automatic disqualification from consideration. Since truth about the end times is said to be largely sealed up until its time approaches (Dan 12:9), new realizations are theoretically possible with the passing of time.

By those who emphasize it, the end is usually forecast as something due “soon”, though suddenly or quickly would seem nearer both the original sense and the perennial one. Whether one believes Rapture teaching is old or new, it should be recognized that parallel to the biblical theme there’s a more mythic/archetypal one.

The chief mythical/archetypal equivalent of Rapture to heaven and the marriage banquet of the Lamb, is the story of the youth Ganymede suddenly snatched to heaven to serve at the banqueting table of Zeus who seizes him in the form of an eagle. Over time, suddenly disappearing Ganymede would even became a symbol of resurrection in a Christian art that stressed an immortality that entails being specifically, materially, raised from earth to heaven. The Thessalonian account of Rapture has those in their graves first taken up before the living are snatched away (1 Thess 4:7).

Jupiter is the Bethlehem Star and thus a major planetary symbol of Christianity (see “Christianity and the Jupiter Difference”, https://wp.me/p4kNWg-mb ), but the largest moon in the solar system orbits Jupiter and has been called Ganymede.
The Jupiter/Ganymede connection represented symbolic logic for sky-mapping astronomers, but for skygazers and as regards Christianity, the connection of this unlikely pair overlooks how in essence Ganymede also represents a gay myth and archetypally Jung’s ascensional Puer (child, boy or youth) impulse more psychologically. As such it has all the elements of special fate, shock, novelty, separation and speed liable to surround gay persons and/or issues. It’s a typology which, however, celestially has more to do with Uranus than Jupiter or any moon of Jupiter. Suitably, at the Pentecost birth in AD 30 of a would-be raptured Christian church, Jupiter and Uranus were in perfect fortunate aspect.

Myths of Uranus (Father Air) symbolically encompass birth control (Uranus tries to prevent Gaia from giving birth) and also castration; Uranus is castrated by his son Saturn who is restrictive Father Time – Uranus is a free principle outside of or ahead of time and the times one lives in, which allies Uranus with the futuristic/prophetic grand plan of anything.

PROPHETIC URANIANS

Given the wide and shifting range of reference, it follows that Uranus enjoys associations not just with the prominent castration theme of his story, but “different” sex, or at least whatever or whoever is out of the family way – mythically Uranus is not well related or even clearly related in any family terms. His origin is abnormally uncertain – he can be fathered by Aethyr, or by Chaos or parthenogenically by Gaia. He can be born from day (Hemera) or from night (Nyx) or Gaia who can be seen as his mother parthenogenically but may also be his wife!

In harmony with such fabulous levels of variation, across time and cultures we find that the crucial “eunuch” word linked to Uranus’ castration theme can itself prove ambiguous and changeable. It’s a floating signifier that may or may not be taken literally where castration is concerned. Cross culturally, and certainly by Jesus’ time, eunuch was a quite loose, broad term that could include anyone different and out of the family way. It was thus nearest to the modern concept of “gay” or traditionally suggestive expressions like “confirmed bachelor”.

All astrologers know that unless Uranus is somehow prominent and emphasized in a (male) birth chart, the individual will not be same sex inclined. It’s the reason in the early modern period that produced the first Gay Lib movements in Germany, gays were called Uranians (surely a more accurately descriptive term than gay or queer!).

Apocalypse is associated with above all two biblical figures, the prophet Daniel and John the Revelator who plainly knew the book of Daniel very well, while Daniel admits to some major influence from the much less apocalyptic Jeremiah but nonetheless revolutionary, almost heretical proponent of a “new” covenant.(Jer 31:31). What joins all three prophets is a strong handle upon the Uranian principle in some fashion.

DANIEL THE EUNUCH

According to Jewish tradition, which  Josephus seems to endorse, Daniel was a eunuch in Babylon. We can’t be certain of this and Josephus only implies it, but it’s highly likely and the claim lets character and themes fall into better place. The prophet Isaiah anyway tells King Hezekiah (2 Kings 20:18) that even some of his sons will be taken away and made eunuchs in Babylon, and undeniably it was common for royals and elite males of defeated nations to be rendered eunuchs.

It is indicated from the outset that Daniel belongs in the royal/aristocratic bracket (Dan 1:3). That he was chosen with some other Hebrew youths for a special courtly education and because he was “handsome and without blemish”, might just indicate he was not castrate; but in context and for the king who had ordered it, castration would not be deemed any blemish in the way it could be for Jews to whom it would impose an outsider status. (You couldn’t enter the temple, but this would soon be  destroyed, so Daniel would not be affected at that level). Also relevant is that nowhere do we read of Daniel’s marriage or offspring.

It is impossible to tell whether Daniel’s radically protesting Puer style character could have owed more to inborn traits or the psychological effects of castration (though it’s said unless castration occurs before adolescence there is no real alteration to the nature and direction of the sex drive); but in no time the Uranian, in-your-face type factor kicks in. Though Daniel sits at the royal table, he does not wish “to defile himself” with the king’s (doubtless non-kosher) food and drink, so he appeals to Ashpenaz, the palace master of eunuchs to help him and his immediate Hebrew friends.

Many Christian conservatives are obsessively attached to the supposed superiority of the dated, often inaccurate King James bible; but it is believed that at this point in the story the KJV is more accurate than newer versions with its “God brought Daniel into favour and tender love (rak, tender heartedness,  a love word rather than just the modern “goodwill” or “sympathy” of modern translations)  with the chief  (prince) of eunuchs” (Dan 1:9). Ashpenaz is favourable to the request but fears for his own head if Daniel should look worse for wear on a different diet; however he won’t interfere with his guard or steward with specific care for Daniel. The latter agrees to a test that Daniel and his friends, drawn into the challenge, must look as well or better after ten days for their vegetarian and teetotal regime. This test they manage to pass with flying colours and in consequence the steward arranges for them them to continue the whole of their royal training under the same conditions again with success which after three years the king recognizes.

It’s pretty clear what’s going on here. Handsome eunuch Daniel has taken the fancy of the eunuch/gay palace master, who has affinity for his style. Uranian tastes run to the original, different, revolutionary and futuristic, so the palace master is more willing than most would be to lend a sympathetic ear to an attractive stirrer. There is some parallel to the case of the unmarried Jeremiah (who for all sorts of reasons we should assume was gay orientated). When his prophecies bring him to imprisonment in a miry pit, it’s a kindly Ethiopian palace eunuch appeals to the king to secure his rescue. (And as though to repay the deed centuries later, it is an Ethiopian eunuch through the intervention of the apostle Philip, becomes the first African Christian and noticeably, though not himself a eunuch, Philip is uniquely recorded as being raptured away from the eunuch’s sight (Acts 8:39) – horizontally, not vertically like Elijah, but my point is that “eunuchs” and rapture themes have a way of going together (and if Elijah wasn’t a eunuch, then his unusual lack of family and his running war with an aggressive woman, Jezebel, puts him somewhat within the Uranian frame).

Reverting to Ashpenaz, the club, the gay grape vine do exist and things happen. Favouring needn’t automatically imply it’s done for expected sexual returns. Looking back I could cite at least three cases where I have radically intervened in lives, pulling strings in a way that changed personal prospects, and for little more than that I had an idle fancy for or curiosity about the youth concerned. Of course such interference in fate happens outside gay society too and notoriously so in the casting couch as the #MeToo movement keeps reminding us; but it has traditionally happened rather more within gay circles due to their being at society’s margins.

Involved in the case of Daniel is the rather spectacular point that – so far as I know – not even gay theology has stressed and developed, namely that God is seen as using and working through the Ashpenaz connection and its attraction. In which case, how much are you prepared to argue God disapproved and never intended the nature of such attraction?

Daniel survives his diet and worse (most famously the lion’s den – celestially the lion is the opposite sign to Uranus-ruled, skies and air associated Aquarius) and with suitable originality went on to describe, as no biblical figure had ever done before, the grand plan and course of the ages. He is shown into the far future and the finale of the little horn, the presumptuous prince, the Anti Messiah who becomes the Antichrist and Great Beast of John’s Revelation.

JOHN THE BELOVED

This youngest of the disciples who leaned on Jesus’ breast at the Last Supper has been portrayed in traditional Christian art as coy or feminine for doing so. Art’s “feminine” John tradition (the basis of Dan Brown’s crazy theory that Leonardo’s Last Supper John is really the Magdalene) perhaps began as art’s nod to the way that believers, male as well as female, are (almost queerly) rendered “brides” of Christ. This however can ignore the church is also a “male child” snatched/raptured to heaven (Rev 12:5) like Ganymede. However, historic John was not notably either bride or child but rather Jesus’ “son of thunder”, bold enough to be at the cross unlike other disciples, and another of the “in your face” protesting types as I think we can detect from his writing.

If in line with tradition and Jung, who detected psychological connections between the Gospel and Revelation, you believe that John authored Revelation, then the “son of Thunder” certainly found his voice and his roar in the last book of the bible! As against much of the bible, Revelation is pictorial to the point of cinematic, and I would suspect that there are points in the text where its words simply attempt equivalence to something seen or felt rather than anything uttered for the author’s hearing.

Given how unlike Jesus’ voice-print and usual expression it is, one might question whether the Jesus of Revelation specifically said he will spit or vomit the Laodiceans from his mouth, as opposed to just indicating severe disapproval. The given words (Rev 3:16) sound more like a “son of Thunder” utterance!

In the same way, no matter what the mystery of the 144,000 of Israel symbolizes, it sounds more like John interpreting something than the reported angel speaking to him when the Revelator is shown a crowd of men who it’s said are virgins who haven’t “defiled themselves with women” (Rev 14:4). Though I will attempt an explanation here near the conclusion, at face value this is a rather impossible idea. It is in contradiction of suchbiblical statements as the marriage bed is undefiled (Heb 13:4). So unless, improbably, orgiastic extremes were envisaged, the men couldn’t automatically be defiled with women. But just like Daniel who doesn’t want to “defile himself” with royal foods, thundering John doesn’t want sex with women and favours in-your-face attitudes from protesting persons with lives  lived according to Uranian impulses favourable to separation and difference, persons who belong like Uranus more to heaven than earth.

The character, attitudes and eros of the Beloved Disciple is a subject in itself. I interrogate it in Part Two of Testament of the Magi, (https://goo.gl/x8KASy) so there’s no call to enlarge on it here. But this much can be said. We do know a few things about John from extra-biblical sources which, whether they represent literal historical truth or more likely just reflect a general impression of him, are still in keeping with the rather Uranian profile proposed here, like for example the explosion against the heretic Cerenthinus in the bath house or the strange doting on a rather church-troubling nuisance of a youth at Smyrna as reported in Eusebius The Church History sourced from Clement of Alexandria.

AN EROTIC AND ESOTERIC MOMENT

And then, in Revelation itself, surely one of the most futuristic, in-your-face testaments of all time, there is a strange, almost erotic but certainly esoteric moment when the Revelator sees the triumphant Christ returning to earth as the White Horse rider. His robe is evidently fluttering and raised by the speed of the horse, allowing the Revelator to glimpse the name “inscribed” (tattooed?) upon his thigh.

It happens that by tradition Jupiter is not just arbiter of truth, exponent of any doctrines or philosophies but also ruler of horses and in medical astrology ruler of the thighs, For someone like Jesus born under Jupiter, that planet’s bodily zone can quite appropriately declare the identity of the person, especially when it also amounts in itself to a doctrine of divinity: “King of Kings and Lord of Lords” (Rev 19:16). But to be realistic here, nothing quite alters that where we focus attention is a key to our mind and preferences. And in the final analysis, it cannot be said that the average straight male will usually direct focus on the thighs of other men.

However true and revealing John’s observation may be in itself, at this point there is still surely something homoerotic in the vision and uranian in the mention of it. But then there may be things one might need to be uranian to be able to see or know at all, which is perhaps why Isaiah controversially implicitly ranks the eunuch higher than those who have offspring (Is 56:5).

THE TURNING OF THE AGES, CHRISTIAN AND AQUARIAN

Isaiah may not rank the heteronormative as high as some conservative Christians, but almost nowadays it’s a commonplace among those who anticipate a “soon” Rapture,Tribulation, Antichrist and Millennial age under a returned Christ, the gay revolution, and its toleration , is itself regarded as a harbinger of the end. It’s all part of “as in the days of Noah, as in the day of Lot” (Luk 17:28). So in their view Sodom and Gomorrah necessarily returns. And disregarded amid this despite everything scholars remind them, is that the men who want Lot’s daughter, (not to say sex with angels!), are clearly bisexual, even satanistic rapists; but even at that, and no matter how irregular Sodom’s sex may have been, sex sin in not even cited by Ezekiel in his summary of the city’s evils (Ezek 16:49/50).

As there’s no smoke without fire, there is however no point denying that there can be an element of Sodom returned in, for example, the kind of exploitation of the under-aged in everything from prostitution to porn that the highly politicized gay establishment hasn’t help correct lest exposure harm the reputation of the larger community; and there has been a controversial hostility towards freedom of conscience and belief in the sometimes vindictive cases brought against Christian businesses by gay activists. And let’s not talk about problems like the behaviour of exhibitionists and those drag queens who interrupt Christian services and suggest a kind of demonic opposition a la Annie Christ.

But none of this is the whole or even the main story; and it is certainly not because any Antichrist is approaching that there are more gays in the world and we keep hearing things gay. Obviously gays are more visible and “come out” because there is no longer legal ban on their very existence and voice. But it’s more complex than that, and it belongs with what might seem to some the “mystery” that so many people are also turning vegan or that there is a move to renewable energy and that technology makes remarkable advances.

Quite simply, while on the one hand society is disintegrating  in ways consistent with the sign of the current era, Pisces, (and negatively so through such themes as drugs, addiction, fake news, confused mysticism and misplaced permissiveness to the point of decadence), as against this situation themes of the incoming Aquarian age also impinge. The general drive is thus increasingly towards Uranian individualism, self-perfection, a refusal of what seems earth-bound, which can even include consumption of meat. Increasingly the impulses are Uranian, upwards and aerial, a case of “there’s nowhere to go but up” a la Ganymede. But along with this, sex and relating themselves becomes more Uranian.  This means, means there will be more same sex attraction and less standardized gender roles – many Aquarians like Princess Stephanie of Monaco have always even looked more androgynous than the average person.

Unless as regards the terrible hypocrisy and corruption allowed to surround it, there are no “signs of the times” and here shouldn’t  even be extreme shock, in the revelations concerning the Vatican and its ubiquitous (supposedly 80%) homosexuality just revealed in Frederic Martel’s In the Closet of the Vatican. An  institution supposedly run on total celibacy is not going to attract too many red blooded heterosexuals and the chart of the Vatican shows gay relevant Uranus in the house of sex in easy trine to a hidden Mars (men) in the hidden twelfth; so that matter has always been pretty obvious and hardly news.

Quite what the new customs, values and laws and even understanding of love might be when the Aquarian age is finally, fully arrived we can’t yet know. It is however impossible that the gay/Uranian theme, which biblically and in many societies is only a hidden stream in previous ages, under a specifically Uranus-ruled age will not become more accepted and mainstream. The controversy around gays is a battle that conservative theology and attitudes will lose. Rather like insisting on the basis of the bible that the earth is flat, conservative insistence on the inherent evil of anything gay associated as already caused irreparable damage to individuals and churches in its failure to reach new understandings; but one reason it can and will hang on to its position in the immediate is because what I have been saying can be too easily dismissed as explanation through the supposedly verboten, or just foolish distorting lens of mere astrology. There is, it will be said, no behaviour and values modifying Aquarian age on the horizon, there is no such thing…….Really?

WHY THE BIBLICAL MILLENIUM SEEMS NECESSARILY IDENTICAL WITH THE AGE OF AQUARIUS.

  

It should be noted that in Revelation Jesus is pictured more than once as a Lion, the lion of the tribe of Judah. The ideal or lodestar of an era will always be in its opposite sign, which for Aquarius is Leo, the lion. In the currently ending era of Pisces, Jesus, born under Virgo, sign of bread and the wheatsheaf, is the bread come down from heaven, the ideal of many in the Piscean era. But more is involved than just this.

The Second Advent proper, which is the visible return of Christ to earth at the end of the Great Tribulation, (not any more hidden Rapture event which furnishes the opportunity to escape the Tribulation time), is plainly envisaged as an Aquarian/Uranian event. The symbol glyph of Aquarius is lightning and the Coming of the Son of Man is compared to the lightning which crosses the heavens (Matt 24:27). But this is still not the clincher.

During the Millennium, a vast temple is to be built. It is described in great length and technical detail by the prophet Ezekiel. In Ezek 41: 18-19 we learn of the interior: “And on all the walls all around in the inner room and the nave there was a pattern. It was formed of cherubim and palm trees, a palm tree between cherub and cherub. Each cherub had two faces: a human face turned towards the palm tree on the one side and the face of a young lion turned towards the palm tree on the other side.

There are echoes here of Ezekiel’s introductory vision of the divine chariot with the four living creatures with their faces, one of a human, to the right the face of a lion, to the left the face of an ox and then an eagle. These are clearly the four elements (air, fire, earth and water respectively) and also their signs Aquarius, Leo, Taurus and Scorpio, the latter anciently often represented by an eagle rather than a scorpion. Whereas however Ezekiel’s initial and initiatory vision is on the level of all that’s permanent in existence, the millennial temple keeps to the symbolism of the age: the axis polarity sign of the human but would-be angelic/cherubic Aquarius is with the more divine, messianic lion.

GUYS FEELING “DEFILED” BY WOMEN.

I will now have a speculative go at interpreting the almost impossibly strange statement from John the Revelator about the 144000 Virgin Israelite males who have not “defiled” themselves with women. As I’ve said, this is not even a regular biblical idea – it sounds almost more like a gay one than anything. It does so even though it can be conceded many men do feel a little compromised in their being by women to the extent woman is “earth”, the Dionysian swamp of nature so vividly described by anti-feminist feminist Camille Paglia who is sympathetic to those men, often gay, whose masculine protest against the female principle has functioned as a motor to much civilisation. On the religious plain, however, I think immediately of the gay poet, Auden, who was pretty self-indulgent around men, yet felt he had sinned against God when he went to bed with a woman. It wasn’t natural to him to do it.

Whatever else the 144,000 are and mean, when they are first referenced in Rev 7 they are to be ‘sealed” (protected?) before Tribulation plagues can manifest, so they stand at the midpoint of something – specifically the ages or aions. It would be symbolically fitting if the dying age of Pisces, “ruled” by Neptune which is about mysteries, the hidden and disappeared, were to end with the disappearance of the Rapture…. and “Behold I show you a mystery” writes St Paul in connection to that subject. It would also fit if, by contrast, the new age of Aquarius were birthed at the lightning like return across the skies of Christ’s return to Jerusalem. But whatever one envisages or believes, in-between an end and a new beginning John seems to assume an interval between the two ages, an interval taken up with the marriage in heaven and the Tribulation on earth. The 144.000 could thus be seen as marking a crucial transition point, a point of rest, reversal and a taking breath rather like the half hour of silence in heaven at the beginning of Rev 8 which follows the first reference to the 144,000 in the previous chapter.

To appreciate the meaning one also has to consider how Revelation presents its extreme subject matter. It describes in the only way anyone would be able to millennia in advance, what sounds like and could be a description of a super-destructive global conflict, a WW111. It describes these effects as though direct judgements God, a sort of Jove’s thunderbolts rather than what God permits, though biblically “the wrath of God”, like damnation is really always the absence of God. Mindful of just this kind of active/passive reversal, on the same basis, if we were conveying the same vision today, we might as easily speak of the 144,000 women who had not defiled themselves with men. It could well amount to the same thing as men not defiling themselves with women, if it reflected those concerned were are all essentially Uranian and they had not, like Auden, done what was unnatural to themselves.

I don’t wish to suggest my speculation unlocks the only possible meaning of the very real mystery of the 144,000, but it would make a degree of symbolic sense that, at what is effectively the brief interval or midpoint of two ages during which a marriage is celebrated and one which itself queerly renders both sexes involved a “bride of Christ”, there should be a still point. At this point and with and through some persons or principle can occur the reversal of energies towards the new age which releases a new eros with a fresh sense of what’s natural and will unite people. The 144,000 who sing “a new song” ( Rev 14:3) can represent the new force of reversal.

CONVERGING PERSPECTIVES

To admit the archetypal and symbolic to the subject of revealed apocalypse is liable to place a more perennial, eternal “now” upon the more future orientated “soon” of prophecy. The big question of our times is nonetheless whether the two perspectives are drawing ever closer together towards a more literal crisis and fulfilment. What about the uptick of quakes and volcanoes, the radical climate changes, the fact that according to a centuries old prophecy the current pope is the last, that prominent Jewish rabbis expect the third temple will soon be built, that their Messiah will soon arrive (even this year) and even a red heifer necessary for dedicating the new temple has been born?

In some articles on McCleary’s Alternatives and also McCleary’s Additions, I have tried to keep up with developing ideas and possibly significant events in this area. These are not trivial questions. Certainly they are more serious than the irreverent trivializations of the subject into which the people of Philadelphia have been caught (unless even that could be considered an unconscious, negative sign within the greater picture the manner of issues and symbols examined in Naked in Thessaloniki: Riddle and Sign  (article on this site).

IF THERE’S A BIBLICAL GAY THEME, CALL IT A CALEB THING

WHAT’S IN A NAME?

Recently that stringent critic of the very idea of “Gay Christian” and a Gay Christian theology, Dr Michael Brown, protested in yet another feature article in The Christian Post, that there isn’t a single verse in the bible that says a single favourable thing about homosexuality.

Of course it depends quite a bit upon what you even mean by “homosexual” and “homosexuality”, words the bible doesn’t use. Also whether you assume such a thing as an inborn orientation is involved or a temporary chosen, addictive “lifestyle”.  Still, I thought one moment and my response was that if one wants to look at this whole subject in Brown’s way, negatively and literalistically, then it’s true there is not a single verse explicitly favourable to “homosexuality”…..no more than there’s a single verse that says a good word for man’s best friend, help of the blind and elderly, aid to the police pursuing crime, namely the dog!

The dog is traditionally unclean and despised, even an abuse term for gentiles. All of which is an unhappy and to moderns unsatisfactory biblical situation. However….it also happens that as against this, the bible’s Caleb or Kaleb name means Dog. In case you didn’t know,  Caleb, though a natural outsider by the fact of his gentile origins, was a national hero of Israel, approved by God because he has “a different spirit” (ruach acheret).  He was the leader who believed the Promised Land could actually be taken when all the rest but Joshua doubted and feared (Numb 13,14). So the Caleb name can signify difference and  the fearless and faithful dog side of character that is devoted to God. And faith with vision is something which some gay Christians may need in spades and to the max!

A REALM AND BIBLE OF PARADOX

This kind of paradoxical relation to its own stated values is nevertheless fairly common, even typical, of the bible and its mysteries. But it means that any “homosexual” theme can be, and is, something of a “hidden stream”, present but to be sought out by the discerning  – if there had never been words, statements and  stories to follow up and interrogate, no revisionist gay theology could ever have seen light of day. The classic gay theme is especially the unexpected thing that is nonetheless to be expected. Anything homosexual is very much the “Uranian” surprise (I’ll revert to this  itself unexpected use of a term presently).

Although I accept that in context his meaning is primarily spiritual, it is entirely fitting that one of the OT characters with upon examination most claim to be gay, namely Jeremiah (1), cruelly rejected prophet of the “new” Covenant, should have God declare: “Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known” (Jer 33:3). Needless to say the sola scriptura, traditionalist and fundamentalist literalist does not especially believe there is anything new to discover. Everything has been said and fixed in stone. Any addition, revision or new perspective is automatically lies and heresy.

I won’t get side-tracked here into arguments about astrology, but in passing I would say it’s a great pity for religion and gays alike that certain astrological factors are not allowed to contribute any symbolic signs or provide any grammar to what is much involved in the gay theme. Because what is involved is the “Uranian” principle of the different, the new, the surprising, the paradoxical, the variation on a theme, and, as said, the unexpected person or event which upon reflection is nonetheless seen to be expected.

And  just this surprise principle often associates with the work of the Holy Spirit, who often erupts, sometimes loudly, sometimes quietly, within the bible itself. A  major expression of the point is made in Ps 118’s famous statement repeated by Jesus who applies it to himself: “the stone that the builders rejected has become the head of the corner” (Ps 118: 22).

The statement is only consistent with the way in which Isaiah takes the despised and temple-banned figure of the eunuch and gives this individual a status (Is 54: 4,5) declared to be more exalted and lasting than the standard  – in effect and in context, heteronormative – one of family and children.

It can be hard to say quite who the biblical eunuch is. Most essentially he is a rather liminal figure dependent upon the changes of history and cultural norms for definition. In the times of Isaiah it would mean chiefly a castrate or impotent male, by the times of Jesus it has cross culturally obtained a wider range and  can signify difference more generally – being out of the family way and even something nearest to “confirmed bachelor” and the modern gay word. It didn’t automatically mean only one thing like impotent or celibate; and what perhaps most links it to Christian identity as in Matt 19, is the need for Christians to be “outsiders” to the world if they are ever to be insiders to the next world.

MORE THAN ONE THEME

I wouldn’t say that for the discerning there is one gay theme in the bible awaiting their appreciation – there can be several. Indeed I believe the variation upon a theme that authentic gay orientation can provide, should be considered a vocation and gift in itself, a potential contribution to life, church and society. Even so….if there is a lead gay theme in the bible, then it is surely the mentioned “Uranian” one of the hidden treasure, the reversal, the unexpected event or person such as appears to have made the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8) the first gentile, (but certainly the first African), member of the faith.

The matter is complex and beyond present scope, but the “hidden stream” and the despised but at any time suddenly reversible status of all things gay, is involved with (as arguably it was especially in Jesus himself) a certain union of Logos with Sophia, male bodily being with female soul. Since what is female is often misunderstood, not to say despised (even today and sometimes by women themselves), it follows that what is gay and different is likewise misunderstood and prone to rejection.

However, now and again the hidden stream emerges as fountain and river not to be ignored (but not necessarily to be confused with the shifting identities theme of academically popular queer theory which has much to do with especially American society’s being traditionally gender rigid. Closed to the considerable possible variety of masculine and feminine expression and the need to accept that, in reaction some  assume individuals may need to keep experimenting and adjusting, or  even as in the trans movement change gender identity outright, to be fulfilled).

Relative to the endlessly expressed hostility to any ideas of “Gay Christian” identity from the Jewish born Michael Brown, I have pointed out before that it has been Jewish Christians like Bishop Hugh Montefiore and Canon Paul Oestreicher who have proposed that from today’s perspectives we might perceive even Jesus as a gay figure. The subject of Jesus’ orientation is one that gay and queer theology has scarcely dealt with unless in trivializing and irreverent ways (like recently with queer theology’s Brian Murphy and his “Jesus was a slut” “Jesus was polyamorous” type discourse).

This subject accordingly remains a challenge and a bridge for crossing by gay Christians. If I have ever raised the subject I have been either ignored or misrepresented, but increased understanding here could be very helpful.

Meanwhile, no matter what one believes in this area, I imagine it can be said that if there is a biblical gay theme, think of it all as words for the wise and what might be called “a Caleb thing”.

[For the case that biblical gay themes could even  also be a bit of a Daniel thing, see the next article on this site, “Apocalypse as a gay theme” https://wp.me/p6Zhz7-4p%5D

Note

1) See Three Gay Theological Poems on this site and “Jeremiah’s Loincloth”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE MUDDLE OF CHRISTOPHER YUAN’S “HOLY SEXUALITY”

Christopher Yuan’s Holy Sexuality and the Gospel is the kind of book and argument that only America and especially American Evangelicals would publish, praise and promote. It contains some less than holy thought muddle that shouldn’t be given  so much oxygen. And only a mixture of ignorance and insensitivity would be quite so indulgent.

Granted I haven’t read this just published book, but having read the interview with “Bible Teacher” Yuan in The Christian Post that covers its essentials (see https://goo.gl/yHs3cR), I don’t believe that I (nor you) need plough through the work to get the message unless for curiosity’s sake or academic reasons of the kind that engaged me years ago when I worked on a then ground breaking, subsequently published doctorate on the varieties of gay spirituality. shorturl.at/fjsJ1   Quite simply, if Yuan is right, then among other things you could dismiss (as perhaps only some Americans might), a large portion of world culture since Plato that has been influenced by the insights of gay thought and eros.

GAY IS MEANINGLESS UNLESS AS SIN?

For Yuan, who was formerly a drug addict and dealer, to claim you are born gay is no different from stating you are an alcoholic. This belongs with a clear refusal on his part to distinguish what a person most essentially is from what a person does. Yuan’s assumption, similarly to that of many conservative Christians, is homosexuality is a chosen “lifestyle”, not an orientation. (Yuan has in effect the mind of Alice in my Songs of Puritania on a Gay Theme  which you can read on this site

…..Gay love and desire have no function or meaning
Such could never define you, they’ve nothing redeeming )

However for Yuan, to be subject to same sex desire is proof positive of nothing short of “original sin” itself, our fallen state, which must be cured. It simply does not belong to being “in the image of God”, which we all ultimately are, to have any same sex feelings.

For Yuan it is wrong to be defined by any sexual identity because one’s identity is given by God alone – a dissolution of the problem a bit like saying because one is a Christian citizen of heaven there is no reason to call oneself Chinese or American! The fact no one can and should be wholly defined by an orientation doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be so defined at all.   Yuan does not even agree with those cure-seeking conservative Christians who try to discover “causes” for sexual self- definition in background influences, family problems, child abuse, disappointments in love etc. These for Yuan would be at most “catalysts” for a more fundamental, universal sin nature of which gay is merely another random, burdensome facet. (I feel like saying this reasoning is a good example of the  frequently and usefully  radical tendencies of gay thought gone right off the rails!)

The biblical statement “you must be born again” is taken to mean you must and can be forgiven and cured of, (or else constantly be at holy conflict with), your “homosexuality” like any other human weakness – the massive weight of evidence against the result of substantial cure programmes and even the outright damage that efforts to eradicate the orientation have caused is blithely ignored, at least in the interview.

For Yuan, if the supposed condition and behaviour that acts on it is wrong, then the desire for it in any way must be sinful and wrong too. So he can no more accept Christian groups like Revoice which allow for purely chaste “romantic” connections, than others of the school of Matthew Vines (God and the Gay Christian) who would  advocate same sex marriage, still less those who imagine other, looser arrangements.

Yuan’s book title is lengthy, almost complex. It’s called Holy Sexuality and the Gospel: Sex Desire and Relations shaped by God’s Grand Story, but the core message is simple to the point of myopia and seems summarized in his mantra“ Chastity in Singleness, Faithfulness in marriage”. He says true holy sexuality is not about heterosexuality or homosexuality…but in that case all one can say is it sounds like his ideal model is hugely heteronormative!

BIBLICAL COMPLEXITY AND EROS

And here the real problem starts, because the bible and “God’s Grand Story” is in parts only superficially the heteronormative document some imagine.

I don’t subscribe to the neo-queer theology of Brian Murphy which, almost in counterpoint to Yuan, has been garnering recent attention for outspoken views. I maintain any version of Queer as opposed to Gay theology inclines to an at once materialistic and non essentialist view of the self which disregards or misunderstands the sacred in sex which could use some esoteric perspectives these days. Even so….we do have to recognize, as Queer is more likely to stress, that all manner of things in the bible destabilize the text and common assumptions including what St Paul may or may not have said or implied about Roman sex mores. Certainly these variant elements don’t allow one can take,  as Yuan would wish, the Leviticus ban on same sex as not simply relevant to but central  and fundamental for the entire inquiry past, present and future. (Does scholarship on Leviticus count for absolutely nothing? Didn’t even the Jewish philosopher Philo recognize the primary reference was to cult prostitution?)

Anyway….one need only consider  the intense love attachment of the polygamous, hence bisexual, David to Jonathan sealed with a berith (covenant or marriage); the marriage of Jesus to his “bride” composed of both male and female members; the fact that Jesus is in himself both the male Logos and the female Sophia, and then features in the character of some biblical figures like the prophet Jeremiah which upon examination turn out to be on the gay side (see my poem on this site under Jeremiah’s Loincloth and so on). There’s plenty more, all raising questions.

Christians of Jewish background like the late Bishop Hugh Montefiore and Canon Paul Oesterreicher, more sensitive than those raised Christian in the West to what would constitute difference in Jesus’ case, have even opined that today we might well perceive Jesus himself as a type of gay male.

That idea has been a half submerged tradition, a hidden stream throughout Christian history, suggested in art, sometimes achieving a degree of statement as with St Aelred of Riveaulx who held that the relation of Jesus to John was special, different and like “a marriage”. Try and even discuss these perspectives and you risk finishing up told, as I have been, you are too wicked to be even heard. I long ago grew sick of the brash,  aggressively insulting dismissals that issue from  circles in mainly America. Yet until we understand the eros principle in life, the bible and Jesus, almost no progress can be made; by closing down the inquiry, most religious conversation among, or directed towards gays,  degenerates into virtually just political arguments around gay rights and/or marriage. And there certainly won’t be the “witnessing” to the LGBT community that is hoped for by Yuan and his supporters and which sounds like little more than telling it can be redeemed from the fact it even exists!

CAUGHT BETWEEN SEX NULLITY AND QUEER EXCESS

Not least because I am not an American or resident in America, my hands are doubly tied in terms of any weight of influence I might reasonably be expected to enjoy speaking with some background and authority on these sensitive issues. As things stand, one is liable to be caught between the latest version of the extremes currently  represented by the inclusive love-in and crazy self-and-Redeemer-as-slut theology offered by Brian Murphy, and the would-be generous but narrow and closed views of Yuan. To have influence it is better to be totally outrageous than quietly original. Moderation doesn’t make news!

There is little choice but to withdraw from the fray and for years I have mostly done so in preference to being insulted or ignored for any efforts. Only a certain love of truth and justice occasionally prompts me, as here, to protest something  because I realize the misunderstandings and even outright damage the  parties of left and right, of Murphy and Yuan, risk causing people. I say that even while I can agree with at any rate Yuan on two simple points. First that the LGBT mantra “love is love” is too simplistic. Love can fail, be misdirected and just be plain wrong for gays as for anyone. Second, we should resist the queer, PC style pressure which maintains that any minority should enjoy privileged hearing  and is even more right than the rest simply because it is a minority. This doesn’t always and automatically follow.

Having said that, I revert to my criticism of Yuan. I don’t like to be intrusive and consider living people’s backgrounds too closely, but Yuan’s troubled life story has not been hidden and he does belong with a certain  profile I mention in Part One of Beyond Marriage Equality, Queer Fantasy and Christian Disinformation on this site. People strongly inclined to drug addiction are prone to be without, or to lose, normal “boundaries”. Accordingly their understanding of sex and any gay identity inclines to notions it’s all something almost bisexual, addictively polyamorous or orgiastic. They will scarcely understand the distinct meaning of gay (by far the largest single constituency of sexual difference) and hence assume whatever it is can be renounced, like drugs and orgiastic behaviour, given enough faith and/or willpower. (1)

AN IGNORED IDENTITY AND SUPPOSED “CURE” CATALYSTS

Over the years I have noticed that the occasional highly publicized alleged gay cure stories tend to derive from persons of considerably abused or addicted or prostituted lifestyles, when it’s not a case of women (and women are more sexually flexible than men) who had reasons, some quasi-political, to be lesbian). It is noticeable by contrast, that many who insist they were born gay derive like Matthew Vines or Justin Lee from backgrounds they would consider perfectly normal, caring and that they would not fault.

Yuan was highly motivated to convert away from all he had become as addict and promiscuous individual because, first, his non Christian parents rejected him for being generally difficult and gay, then later his mother converted to Christianity and wanted her son to convert. To judge from Christian Post’s title of their interview with Yuan as being  a “same sex attracted pastor”, it sounds as though the cure was, as is commonly the case, far from successful. So poor, mixed up Yuan is probably gay, though he thinks his feelings in that direction are nothing but sin; but at least this outlook lets him feel happy with his family and with God as he believes in him and the bible teacher in him now has something to teach.

I realize that by any standards America is rather sex-ridden and sex experimental in a way that doesn’t help people to settle down, keep healthy, marry and raise kids successfully, hence anything which promotes some standards (and concentrated spiritual life in a materialistic world) may seem welcome. It can even seem like pure revelation and a voice from heaven. But I remain troubled that the message comes at the expense of real truth. And truth includes that we all have a degree of eros and that eros, which exists on a continuum, is the source of human creativity as well as love. Our very perception of life and a great amount of culture is dependent upon gay eros. (The point is well illustrated by Camille Paglia’s Sexual Personae).

Homosexuality mustn’t be seen as just the enemy of God and “God’s image” but as something intended and purposive to be expressed in the best possible ways. It is the variation upon the main theme (endlessly cited as being Adam and Eve without any Steve), because themes do have and even need variations. Music itself would be unthinkable without variation upon main themes. (Personally I don’t terribly like  insistent talk, especially political, of gay “equality” because it gets in the way of recognizing and managing precisely difference which is where the gift and the meaning lie).

Before Christians rush to congratulate Yuan for “witnessing” to the LGBT community, let’s remember the terrible misery and cultural oppression across  the centuries caused by selfish Chinese parents’ determination to have grandchildren at all costs and now the current atheistic, not Christian, Chinese government is forcing homosexuals into brutal conversion therapies. I doubt The Christian Post will be highlighting or protesting that situation and as to Yuan…..

Note 1.  Almost certainly it is the prostituted, abused life experience that accounts for the statement, often noted by cure advocate conservatives of 1 Cor 6:11 “and so were some of you” which falls in a passage believed to include reference to homosexuals in its vice list  – the NRSV translates “sodomites and male prostitutes. The fact is that in the Roman empire, many slaves and orphans were raised for a life of sexual service causing inevitable resentment and confusion. It is dangerous and controversial to apply the statement to those claiming an orientation from birth.