Last year on May 17, Guy Clark passed away. A song writer and a poet, a true Texas Troubadour.
In spite of having been raised Catholic I have always had a very hard time relating to Christianity. But as a hippie I’ve read the works of various philosophers and theologians as well as both the Bible and various works of mythology.
Seems like most religions that have made it to the modern age have an element of behavior towards others at their core. I haven’t come across one that really teaches lie to everyone and abuse your fellow humans. Thou shall not steal or commit murder seem pretty basic and universal. The sort of thing one shouldn’t need to have a God tell them: “Don’t do this.”
I always thought that how one behaves and especially how one treats others was an important part of morality.
Imagine my surprise over the last 20-30 years or so and the rise of the New Evangelical Christians for whom proclaiming their faith (what ever the fuck that means) is all important and as long as you do that it doesn’t matter if you are a lying thief who abuses and even murders people. Because you proclaim your love of Jesus all is supposed to be forgiven.
Lately I’ve been reading about the history of Judaism. We owe much of what we think of as ethic, humanism and even Christianity to the often murdered and abused Jews.
It may come as a shock to many but Jesus was a Jew. Much of his message came from Judaism and the teachings of Rabbis such as Hillel.
Maybe if people are going to call themselves Christians it would highly behoove them to try to actually act more like someone who follows the teachings of Jesus instead of running around proclaiming, while shrouded in ignorance and pompously abusing your fellow human beings.
Maybe if Christians acted more like Christians instead of pretentious bullies people would respect them and their commitment to their religion more.
Reading Thomas Cleary and Thomas Merton might be a good start.
Monday 8 May 2017
I was listening to a radio chat about the bishops’ election message the other day, encouraging us to vote, when I heard something rather startling. Apparently, in 2015, when the bishops last wrote a letter, there seemed to be a danger of them advocating a leftwing perspective. No chance of that this time, although they did daringly mention concern for “the weak, poor and marginalised”. But whatever is wrong with a leftwing perspective? Jesus had one. “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on Earth,” said he (Matthew 6:19), and the people of Sodom got into frightful trouble primarily because of their selfish economic behaviour.
I don’t want to sound naive, or corny, but I’ve often wondered how Trump and many members of our current government can call themselves Christians, while trampling on the weak, poor and marginalised, depriving them of healthcare, homes, food, decent jobs and such like, while goggling at the ghastly rich list, out again yesterday, and rewarding those tremendous show-offs included upon it.
Come on bishops, be bold. Promote some real Christian principles, because Anglicans are, according to YouGov, almost twice as likely to vote Conservative as Labour, which suggests that they haven’t quite got the hang of their own religion. And hurry up about it, because the world’s morals seem to be going down the plughole, and we’re beginning to worship the rich again, which no religion approves of. “He is not a believer, who eats his fill while his neighbour remains hungry at his side”, says the hadith, while Proverbs 14:31 states: “He that oppresses the poor blasphemes his maker.”
I don’t want to sound like Dot Cotton, because this is meant to be a secular country, and the church is not solely responsible for, or the only wellspring of, moral values. We atheists also should, and do, have moral values, I promise you. And like anyone else, we succumb to evil, which I did yesterday, by feeling a tiny but immoral spark of joy when I heard that cybercrime is becoming a threat to superyachts and their increasingly boastful owners. “Ha ha,” I thought, viciously. “Serves them right.” And I can’t even pray for forgiveness.
Misguided, overzealous rules wind up not being fair to anyone.
By Katelyn Burns
May 4, 2017
Last week, a Texas court dismissed a lawsuit that sought to ban Texas transgender high school wrestler Mack Beggs from wrestling in the girls division. Beggs was assigned female at birth and has been taking testosterone to raise his hormone levels to that of any other teenage boy as part of his medical transition. Since the University Interscholastic League has explicitly stated that Texas athletes must only compete in the gender divisions of their birth certificates, Beggs wrestles against girls and dominates his competitions.
The policy in Texas is unfair to cisgender (non-trans) female athletes, who are forced to wrestle against boys like Beggs, as well as to transgender girls who were assigned male at birth but are on hormone replacement therapy.
Texas’s policy, along with the six other states that define high school athletic gender divisions according to the gender on birth certificates, has no basis in scientific reality when it comes to how hormones work. The difference in musculature between men and women comes entirely from the difference in how efficiently our sex hormones build muscle. Testosterone, the primary sex hormone in cisgender males, is better at building muscle more quickly, which is why men have larger muscles than women, on average. Having more muscle also helps burn fat faster, which is evident when you hear the common lament from women how “it’s unfair that men lose weight faster.”
When transgender boys like Beggs medically transition, they get testosterone injections to bring their hormone levels in line with cisgender boys and reap the athletic rewards of doing so along the way. You can see this very clearly by examining Beggs’s dominance against female competition, as well as just looking at his muscular development. The lawsuit that was dismissed claimed that by taking testosterone, the boy was effectively taking a performance-enhancing banned substance.
When those assigned male at birth take additional testosterone, the resulting increase in muscular development also comes with significantly dangerous side effects, including liver, kidney and heart damage, impotence and suffering from “‘roid rages.” This is why taking testosterone to raise T levels above the normal range for cisgender boys and men is banned, both legally and in sporting contexts. It should be noted that cis men who have been diagnosed with low T are also prescribed the same testosterone injections as trans men. By taking just enough of the hormone to move his levels into the normal boy range, Beggs is not seeking a performance enhancer; he’s just trying to live a normal life as the boy he really is. So why would Texas go to the lengths that they do just to ensure that Beggs plays in his birth-assigned gender category? The true answer lies on the other side of the gender spectrum.
There’s a common societal perception that trans women and girls are really men, and with athletes, this perception translates into an assumption that trans girls and women have a permanent advantage from birth. That’s wrong. When trans girls medically transition, they need two separate hormone treatments, one to block testosterone production, and then an estrogen regimen, which brings their levels in line with those assigned female at birth. Because trans girls hormonally become indistinguishable from any other female athletes, requiring them to compete in the boys’ division would be unfair. Opponents of trans girls’ participation in female athletics often point to other advantageous physical traits such as height as reason enough for a wholesale ban. But that ignores the natural variance that cis women have in height and dismisses the fact that height is not an advantage in sports such as gymnastics.