Action Through Inaction

This may sound counter-intuitive, but… well. It’s not. The idea comes from the Taoist mantra of Wei Wu Wei (literally “doing not doing”).

The idea is that trying to force things only impedes them.

“The world is sacred.
It can’t be improved.
If you tamper with it, you’ll ruin it.
If you treat it like an object, you’ll lose it.”

– Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, chapter 29

I think this becomes especially noticeable with art. Think about a dancer, who moves gracefully without even thinking about it. True, it takes a lot of work – a lot of “doing” – for the dancer to reach that point.

But a good dancer knows when to step back and let go. I’ve learned this for sure with my music. The more I try to enhance a mix, the less harmonious the tones become. The more I try to perfect my lyrics, the more clunky they become.

“Fill your bowl to the brim and it will spill.
Keep sharpening your knife and it will blunt.”

– Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, chapter 9

A large part of any art is knowing how to not force things. And knowing when to step back and go on to the next thing. “Doing” should ideally come naturally. And it should pass just as naturally.

“Therefore the Master
acts without doing anything
and teaches without saying anything.
Things arise and she lets them come;
things disappear and she lets them go.
She has but doesn’t possess,
acts but doesn’t expect.
When her work is done, she forgets it.
That is why it lasts forever.”

– Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, chapter 2

When we allow our actions to simply flow through us, we in essence become the action.

When I’m most impressed with dancers is when the dancer becomes the dance. When I’m most satisfied with my own music is when I forget that I’m playing an instrument, and I simply become the instrument.

A good fighter simply becomes the fight. Their body moves freely and reacts before they’re even mentally aware of what they’re responding to.

This is where the saying of going with the flow achieves tangible results.

“Less and less do you need to force things,
Until finally you arrive at non-action.
When nothing is done,
Nothing is left undone.”

Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, chapter 48

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Satan as the Underdog Hero

When reading the Bible, I always saw Satan as sort of the underdog hero of the story. You have to read very closely of course – the devil is in the details.

Let’s start at the very beginning. In the Genesis story, God creates Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Among the many plants in the garden, God places the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.

God then tells Adam and Eve not to eat of these two special trees.

Now here’s the rub: we’ve established that Adam and Eve have no knowledge of good and evil at this point. Right? I mean that’s the whole point of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil – to give them knowledge that they do not yet possess. This is also explained by them not being ashamed of being naked until after they eat from the tree.

Thus, if Adam and Eve have no knowledge of good and evil, then how can they be expected to know that it is right (or good) to follow God’s request and wrong (or evil) to disobey? They don’t have that knowledge yet!

“Knowledge forbidden?
Suspicious, reasonless. Why should their Lord
Envy them that? Can it be a sin to know?
Can it be death?”

– Lucifer in John Milton’s Paradise Lost[1]

Similarities Between Satan and Prometheus

In other words, Satan here can be seen as the giver of Knowledge[2]. Compare this to the Greek story of Promethius, who stole fire from the gods and gave it to us mortals. The theme of both stories is that a powerful being stole something from the gods (knowledge or fire) to help humanity to advance.

Appropriately, the Latin  word “Lucifer” translates to “Morning Star” (a possible nod to Venus). But when used as an adjective, “Lucifer” can be used to mean “light-bringer”, which is essentially what both beings did: Lucifer, by bringing humanity to the light, and Prometheus, by literally bringing humanity a light source.

Another possible correlation (though it may be a stretch) is that Prometheus was punished by Zeus by being bound to a rock and having an eagle (Zeus’s symbol) swoop down and munch on  Prometheus’ liver – which would promptly grow back – each day for eternity.

Interestingly enough, Satan was punished by God by being forced to slither on his belly like a snake(Genesis 3:14), which is a known prey to eagles.

A perhaps more obvious correlation between the stories is how humanity was punished for their new gifts.

Initially, Adam is punished by being forced to work the land for his food and Eve was punished with painful childbirth. But as a further implication, Adam and Eve are believed by many to be responsible for original sin. Similarly, Zeus punished humanity for Promethius’ gift by having Hephaistos create Pandora, the first woman, who is known for unleashing evil unto the world.

Death By Satan

It’s also important to note that the only people Satan is said to have killed were Job’s family and servants – and only after being told to do so by God. Meanwhile, God is responsible for countless of billions of deaths all throughout the Bible.

For that matter, Satan even tried to feed Jesus when he saw that he was starving. I mean, okay Jesus was only fasting, but why is the Bible so quick to shit all over Satan? I swear, the man can’t do anything right by y’all!

At any rate, I simply cannot see Satan as a violent monster as I feel many make him out to be. At worst, he might be a bit of a trickster entity, like Enki or Loki. Appropriately, Prometheus was also considered a big trickster. Some folks just can’t take a little joke here and there apparently.

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Notes:

[1] Obviously Paradise Lost is not Biblical cannon. But it is some of the most beautiful poetry out there. Also, considering that Milton was a friar, I think it’s safe to say he was well informed with his tales. At the very least I think we could consider it a supreme work of fan fiction, if not a revered part of the Extended Universe.

[2] While the serpent in Genesis is not immediately related to Satan, it is in Revelation 12:9 and 20:2. Though obviously the significant distance (both space and time-wise) between the supporting passages puts some doubt that the serpent of the Creation Story was ever intended to be known as Satan, the correlation is nevertheless widely-held all throughout Christian literature.

Non-being in Taoism

This is a difficult topic to explain to most people. This is because we’re so use to speaking, and thus thinking, in relative terms. The problem with this is that:

“When people see some things as beautiful,
other things become ugly.
When people see some things as good,
other things become bad.

Being and non-being create each other.
Difficult and easy support each other.
Long and short define each other.
High and low depend on each other.
Before and after follow each other.”

– Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 2

It’s an entirely different way of thinking. We have the tendency to view things in comparison to other things, when oftentimes there’s no need for comparisons. Because comparisons tend to offer us an oppositional view of the world.

But the world doesn’t exist in a massive dichotomy. That would be utterly chaotic. I’ve noticed that a lot of people can’t seem to appreciate another person’s beauty without immediately considering their own non-beauty. What an ugly way to live!

And sometimes it’s not the aspect of something we would immediately expect that makes it beautiful.

“We join spokes together in a wheel,
but it is the center hole
that makes the wagon move.

We shape clay into a pot,
but it is the emptiness inside
that holds whatever we want.

We hammer wood for a house,
but it is the inner space
that makes it livable.

We work with being,
but non-being is what we use.”

– Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 11

So a Taoist walks into a therapist’s office.

The therapist asks, “How do you feel today?”

The Taoist responds, “I feel empty inside.”

I couldn’t resist. So oftentimes, we overlook important – even necessary – qualities. We do this with objects, with other people, and especially with ourselves. We have this tendency of trying to mold ourselves a certain way. Usually in a way that we think will help us fit in with societal expectations.

But what would happen if you molded a cup too much? You may end up ruining it’s original purpose of holding things. What if you spent too much time filling the interior of your house? It would no longer be livable.

Get comfortable with the being and non-being that exist within you. You don’t need to know your purpose just yet. In general, Taoism is all about going with the flow. The more you attempt to mold or to lead or to do, the farther away you get from the Tao.

“Stop thinking, and end your problems.
What difference between yes and no?
What difference between success and failure?
Must you value what others value,
avoid what others avoid?
How ridiculous!”

– Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 20

Here again is the problem with drawing comparisons. When others do the “right” or “successful “things, it implies that you are doing the “wrong” things or that you are “unsuccessful”. But your value is not determined by other people’s choices.

Why can’t we all be “right” or “successful” in our own ways? Again, there’s no utility in trying to mold ourselves a particular way. As Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet (Act 2, Scene 2), “there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”

So, to repeat Lao Tzu, “Stop thinking, and end your problems.”

God Transcends Gender

I know, I know. Some tranny is trying to bastardize your religion again. Okay, but hear me out.

The Abrahamic Religions generally view God as a male deity. However, there are various hints in the Bible that may clue us in that maybe God had some feminine qualities. We’ll start with Genesis 1:26-27, which states: “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”

See? Females were created in God’s image too. Since we’re all made in God’s image, could we perhaps conclude that, at the very least, we all encompass various aspects of God? In other words, rather than (or maybe in addition to) seeing God as an archetype for the Universe, perhaps we could see ourselves as archetypes for different aspects of God?

This implies that every person of every gender, ethnicity, et cetera is a unique representation of God’s image.

Adam and Eve and Genetics

Another thing to consider is how Eve was made. It’s interesting to me that the mantra of so-called marriage traditionalists is “It was Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.” Except that if you look at Genesis scientifically (I know, ironic as that may be), we’re basically looking at an example of cloning. Right? God cloned Eve from Adams rib. I mean otherwise what was the point of jacking Adam’s rib?

Even taking a loose interpretation of the passage, Eve was constructed from a male (XY) bone. Eve was made from male parts. Now I’m not saying my girl Eve was a transgender woman. But I don’t see any reason it couldn’t be read that way.[1]

Further, the entirety of the Creation story ends with God saying “and it was good.” The only thing that God saw as not good was when God saw that man was alone (Genesis 2:18), which prompted God to create Eve, possibly because God saw that Creation was incomplete. Perhaps God felt incomplete as a result.

God as the Father/God as the Mother

In various verses, God is referred to as “Father” (Deut 32:6 ; 2 Sam 7:14 ; Psalms 68:5 & 89:26 ; 1 Chron 17:13 ; and many others). In fact, God is frequently referred to as a masculine figure.

In other verses, however, God’s motherly qualities are revealed, such as:

  • Exodus 19:4 “‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.'”
  • Isaiah 66:13 “As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you”.
  • Isaiah 66:9 “‘Do I bring to the moment of birth and not give delivery?’ says the Lord.”
  • Isaiah 42:14 “I have held My peace a long time, I have been still and restrained Myself. Now I will cry like a woman in labor, I will pant and gasp at once.”
  • Hosea 13:8 “Like a bear robbed of her cubs, I will attack them and rip them open; like a lion I will devour them—a wild animal will tear them apart.”
  • Psalm 22:9-10 “Yet you brought me out of the womb; you made me trust in you, even at my mother’s breast. From birth I was cast on you; from my mother’s womb you have been my God.”
  • Psalm 36:7 “How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.”
  • Job 38:29 (When God challenges Job from the whirlwind) “From whose womb comes the ice? Who gives birth to the frost from the heavens?”
  • Song of Solomon 2:1 “I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys.”

As you see here, God carries us under Her wing, comforts us as a mother would her child, delivers us into this world, and protects us like a bear or a lion protects her cubs. You’ll notice that God will even occasionally use feminine pronouns for him/herself.

In Exodus 3:14, after Moses asks God what he should call them, God responds, “‘I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’’”

“I am who I am.” That’s pretty deep. It’s also pretty unassuming.

Additionally, various Jewish texts use the Hebrew word  Shekinah (שכינה‎‎) to denote God’s divine “presence”, and is notably a grammatically feminine word. The word comes up in II Kings 3:15 (Tractate Shabbat 30b), in the 17th blessing of the daily Amidah prayer, and others. Shekinah also plays a large role in the conception of Moses in the Zohar (Book of Enlightenment).

Hebrew Differentiations

It’s also important to keep in mind that Hebrew is a highly dynamic language that, especially in the beginning, was heavily concerned with action. It’s somewhat abstract for us today to think about. If something behaves like something, then it is that something.

Thus, when God behaves like a father, then he is a father. Likewise, when God behaves like a mother, then she is a mother.

It’s a very different way of thinking that I think makes more sense when thought about in the context of the relative time period. If we reflect back on one of my previous post Of Satanism and Paganism (no, the irony of referencing a Satanic post in a Jewish discussion is not lost on me), we’ll remember how the Canaanite Ba’al Zebul (“Lord of the Heavens”) may have been referred to as Ba’al Zebub (“Lord of the Flies”) when called upon to rid a city of flies (or disease). Likewise, the Greek Apollo was sometimes referred to as Apollo Smintheus (“Apollo of mice”) when called upon to rid a city of mice.

So we see that various civilizations around the same time frame would commonly refer to their deities as being whatever they were encompassing. The Hebrew God was not very different.

It’s honestly a beautiful way of thinking. I don’t just act like a mother – I am a mother. I don’t just play music – I am music (this is actually very similar to the Taoist mantra of Wei Wu Wei, “Doing/Not Doing”, which I’ll discuss in a later post). It’s an amazingly empowering concept.

As Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan says in his essay “Understanding God”, “[E]very name and every description that we may give to God can only apply to His relationship to His creation.”

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Notes:

[1] The only problem here is that the X chromosome contains far less genetic material than the Y chromosome, and the Y is also 1/3 the size of the X. Thus, some scientists believe that the X chromosome may have developed first, and then the Y chromosome may have arose as an underformed X. So perhaps it would make more literal sense if it were Eve who were formed first and Adam were made from her rib.

There Are Only Two Religions (Satire)

Ya know, people talk about us LGBT folk just making up words for our various identities. But no one raises a fuss when different conservative ideologies do the same thing. I mean, isn’t modern religion basically on a spectrum?

It’d be like if I said there are only two religions: Catholic and Protestant. Everything else is just a bastardized version of one or the other invented by holier-than-thou heathens to get attention.

I really don’t get it. It’s been two denominations for the longest. Then Next thing you know there’s special snowflakes like Calvinists and Adventists being made-up. Nowadays there’s at least a hundred different denominations, even though we all know Mennonites are just a slightly less hippy version of Anabaptist.

Methodists are basically just whinier Catholics. And what the fuck are the Mormons doing? Seriously, they are trying way too hard to be special. “Look at me, I wear magic undies and am gonna get my own planet when I die!” And as if that doesn’t make them special enough, they just have to preach that Jesus was American. Jesus Christ!

Christians even have other ways of describing themselves beyond their hundreds of made-up “denominations.”

Evangelical Pentecostal…?

Young Earth Creationist Fundamentalist Southern Baptist…?

Just what the fuck is a Northern Baptist anyway!?

Some of these special snowflakes even go numbering their congregations whenever enough factions get split off from it in an area. First Baptist Church of Waco, for instance, would literally just be the first church of that made-up name to arrive to the area of Waco, for instance. And if enough people split apart from that church (over some disagreement), they have to form a “second” church of that area! It get’s so ridiculous in some places that they had to name a Tenth Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia and even a Twenty Eighth Church Of Christ Scientist of Las Angeles. Seriously, you were too damn special to get along with any of the first twenty seven!?

We get it. You all have your own very unique ideas of what God is like and what rules from the Bible he’s okay with you cherry picking around. But I’m still only considering you either a Catholic or a Protestant.

All these other protestants are just Lutherans crying for attention. And then Mormons and nondenominational, who aren’t even really either religion, apparently. Really, you felt like there were just too many different denominations, so you decided to reconcile that problem by inventing a new denomination around the idea of not being a denomination?

We have these hipster Messianic Jews, who call themselves Jewish, even though they follow Christ, which makes them at least etymologically Christian. But no, they feel a misalignment with the christian church(es), and so have to have their own little club. “Look at me, I was Christian before it was popular. Christianity just wasn’t the same after their first interpretation.”

Some people even claim to “convert” from one religion to another. But that doesn’t really make sense, because religion is deeply, fundamentally rooted in our upbringings. I’m sorry, but if you weren’t socialized as a Catholic, then you’ll never truly be a Catholic. You can’t be raised feeling reasonably good about yourself and then suddenly be as unworthy as your nearest pedophile (you probably wouldn’t have to go far, considering). There’s no way you’ll take it seriously without that kind of shame rooted deeply in your nurture.

Bottom line, quit making up stupid words to identify with. No one’s impressed that you’re an apologist evangelical young earth creationist who goes to The Forty Second Reformed United Seventh Day Adventist Church of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. If you really need that many names to identify by, you’re obviously just mentally ill.
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A note to my neckbeard religion experts:

This post is completely satire. Yes, obviously since Protestantism itself was a modification of Catholicism, this analogy isn’t exactly perfect. Sure, I could’ve gone with Eastern Orthodoxy and Catholicism from the Byzantine empire as my examples, but this post is more concerned with using examples that the lay audience can resonate with, and less concerned with historical accuracy (seriously, if your takeaway from this piece is an attempt at a religion lesson, then you’re really not paying attention).

What Even Are Gender Norms?

Everyone seems to have an opinion on transgender culture. But hardly anyone asks the real question: what is gender anyway? Well that’s a broad-ass topic, so we’re going to split it into parts, starting with the more specific question of: what the fuck are gender norms?

Does being a man mean wearing pants and flat shoes – and definitely not wearing makeup – while being a woman means wearing makeup and heels? If that’s the case, then our perception of gender norms is a pretty recent construct.

The Scottish have worn kilts (they get triggered if you call them skirts) since the 16th century. In Asian cultures, men were wearing makeup as early as 3000 BCE, and even later in 18th Century England, men wore makeup and fancy powdered wigs (though for sexier reasons).

Men first started wearing high heels in the 9th Century by Persian horsemen as a practical means of keeping their feet from slipping off the stirrups (similar to cowboy boots today, which keep men from slipping out of a different stallion). The style later became common among men in England in the 1600s.

Heels became a status symbol, likely originating from the fact that mostly horsemen wore them, meaning that wearing them indicated that the wearer owned horses, and therefore was likely wealthy. However practical they may have started, heels started being worn by regular ol’ rich men and soon became steeper so that the man wearing them would appear taller, thus accentuating his boyish figure. In fact, French King Louis XIV wore some ridiculously high heels because he was short.

Later in the 1600s, women in Europe started wearing heels to appear more manly! Not long after, heels began becoming more affordable so that even the lower class was wearing them, so the upper class made their heels higher and more fabulous! to differentiate themselves from the peasants until the style eventually phased out altogether by the early 1800s.

In other words, gender norms are based solely on the time period and culture. But apparently few people regard history, instead insisting on judging others based on sets of arbitrarily defined rules that hardly govern anything practical about the world.

A Side Note For Your Consideration

Now here’s what really gets my panties hard. So I’m just an ordinary trans girl. I positively LOVE wearing skirts and makeup. So now I have to wonder, would I have been more comfortable living as a man in 16th Century Scotland or 3000 BC Asia?

I can be a girly girl, for sure. But if I had been born much earlier in a masculine feminist Amazon warrior tribe, would I still feel like a girl? (Like my interpretation of what it means to be a girl, that is).

I suppose my question is: is my gender dysphoria more a misalignment with my own biology? or with my time period’s interpretation of gender roles?

Trans Military Ban – Denied!

I never did get around to writing about Trump’s transgender military ban. I enjoy writing about academic topics rather than topical topics, but this news is exciting to me so here it goes!

Let me start by sharing my story. I joined the Navy in September of 2011. “Don’t ask; don’t tell” was actually repealed while I was in Boot Camp. Then I separated from the service in September of 2016, shortly after then Secretary of Defense Ash Carter lifted the ban on transgender personnel.

I was honored to be a part of such progressive history. (On a side note, women were first allowed on board ships while my father was serving, so we both got to be a part of some neat history).

I was never out while I was in. In fact, I didn’t even know I was trans at the time, though I did embrace my gender fluidity from the comfort of my own home. My contract was already ending by the time transgender people were allowed in, but I thought it was pretty swell anyway. Only for the ban to be reinstated shortly after I left active duty.

And this was pretty upsetting to me. I mean I served honorably for five years and now I’ve been told by our new Commander in Chief that I’m not worthy of service?

Now I’m not going to get too deep into the reasonings for why I believe trans people should be permitted to serve, since I’m sure most people interested enough in the issue have already heard it. But since the typical arguments against trans people serving argue from a medical stance, and I served as a Hospital Corpsman, I may as well debunk a thing or two while I’m here.

Medication Dependency Myth

A common argument I’ve heard is that service-members shouldn’t be dependent on medications. While it is true that some medical dependencies can result in a discharge, I can’t tell you how many active service-members I’ve personally given ongoing medications to.

I personally was taking Prozac (for depression) and Propranolol (for anxiety and to ease my essential tremors) for the last few years that I was in. And yes, for anyone who is wondering, quitting Prozac for any length of time does result in withdrawal symptoms.

Active service-members I’ve been involved in the care of have taken blood pressure medications. Some even took hormones. Yes, even cisgendered people sometimes go through Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). Some men don’t produce adequate testosterone and take supplements.

True, if a cisgendered service-member relies on testosterone treatment and must be deployed to a setting where hormones may not be readily available to him, he may have a bad time. But he won’t be alone. I mean how many service-members become dependent on alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, et cetera only to deploy and experience a bit of an awkward period? It happens. We’re trained to deal with it like adults.

Interestingly enough, I found out after getting out that I have (had?) a serious testosterone deficiency. If I had known this while I was still in, I could have easily received testosterone supplementation through Tricare. So please tell me, what exactly would have been the difference if I had started MtF HRT while I was serving?

Rise in Military Healthcare Costs

According to a RAND analysis employed by the DoD, allowing transgender individuals to serve would only result in a 0.04 to 0.13 percent spending increase. This is assuming a $2.4 million to $8.4 million cost associated with transition related expenditures,

For context, the military currently spends $84 million per year on Viagra. During my time in, I’ve seen active service-members and their dependents receive procedures that were technically cosmetic. They just had to come up with a reasonably compelling argument for why the procedure might produce some kind of therapeutic benefit.

But It’s a Mental Illness!

No, it’s not. See my recent post on the topic: Is Transsexuality a Mental Disorder? As a quick recap, we can’t even seem to firmly define exactly what the fuck sex or gender are. There’s a great many biological components to consider as well.

Seriously, it’s a natural phenomena. Society is the one with the mental illness. Here, I’ll prove it: can society, as a concept, join the military? No. See my point?

Aside from that, even if one could prove that transgender is a mental disorder, the military already spends hundreds of millions of dollars a year on mental health treatment. And, as I mentioned earlier, I was a part of these statistics pre-transition.

Lack of Facilities

Another argument I’ve heard is that permitting trans people to join would create a unique burden on military facilities such as barracks and bathrooms. But I don’t see any reason why trans service-members can’t just utilize the facilities that match their gender identity.

Sure, some service-members would be bound to take issue with this. For that matter, some service-members take issue with having to bunk with gays. Some don’t like having to bunk with people of different ethnicities or religions. Know how they reconcile these issues? They get the fuck over it.

Besides, if we’re really so concerned about the added costs of separate facilities, we could always take a page out of Battlestar Galactica’s book and just make everything co-ed. co-ed is the future anyway.

Now Back to the Ban of the Ban

Now that my long overdue rant is over, I’m pleased to announce that just yesterday  Judge Marvin Garbis of the United States District Court for the District of Maryland ruled that the U.S. government must continue funding transgender procedures for service members.

In his order, Judge Garbis opined that the transgender service members

“demonstrated that they are already suffering harmful consequences such as the cancellation and postponements of surgeries, the stigma of being set apart as inherently unfit, facing the prospect of discharge and inability to commission as an officer, the inability to move forward with long-term medical plans, and the threat to their prospects of obtaining long-term assignments.”

Of course, other judges have also stepped up to challenge Trump’s trans ban by calling for the ban to pend formal investigation, but this was the first official ruling to finally stop the ban dead in its tracks.

And I do hope this ruling sticks. I really hope this is the last time I have to talk about this.

Why You Should Date a Marxist

It’s so sad that people tend to take unconditional love for granted. I’ve looked up this problem on different occasions and pretty much every relationship blog says the same thing: people value that which is perceived as scarce.

A common example is diamonds. People want diamonds so badly just because they’re scarce. (Or, more accurately, because they’re made artificially scarce). And we’re taught in society to value things that appear scarce.

That’s capitalism for you! If you have this problem, you should really consider dating a Marxist.

You should never feel the need to win or earn anyone’s love. Love isn’t a damn commodity! And it’s not naturally scarce in any sense of the word. Love should flow through us like the Tao. Because damn it, love is the way!

We learn to only love when it’s earned but to hate everything for any and no reason at all. It’s so ass backwards!

Seriously think about it: people who freely produce unconditional love are like a nuclear fusion reactor fueled by love atoms (so basically a love star) and yet people would apparently rather have a steam engine love machine? (We’re gonna ignore that that would make for an amazing punk cabaret band).

It’s terribly frustrating. And to these love capitalists, another’s love is just an object they can manipulate.

TRANS-fer Error

I’ve recently decided to change my major to IT.

That way when people call me an “it”, they won’t technically be wrong.

Plus, I’m already obsessed with PC culture. Macs have no place in society.

Even  more appropriately, when I think about it, our brains are a lot like computers. I’m sure we’re all familiar with the analogy that our short term memory is like RAM and our long term memory is like our hard drive. With enough of a stretch, we can extend the analogies to explain what I mean when I say I’m trans (I don’t pretend to speak for the whole community – they can get their own blogs).

This analogy may be too binary for some readers, but let’s continue anyway.

So what do I mean when I say I feel a misalignment with my body? Well, let’s stretch our analogy to it’s furthest bounds, and consider a PC with a few incompatible parts.

So let’s say somewhere in the manufacturing process, certain cables got placed to the wrong drives or something.

Maybe the machine reads my floppy drive as having a floppy inserted but the computer reads that it’s not. So the processor goes around disk driving it up, while externally, there’s a damn floppy flopping about!

Clearly there’s a misalignment here. One that can be solved easily by simply installing the proper software. Well that’s basically where I’m at. I’m installing the proper hormones into my brain so that my “hardware” will start reflecting more with the way my processor was trying to interpret the data all along.

I don’t know it this is the best analogy out there. Listen, it’s complicated. I don’t even understand it myself! It truly does not make sense. But I’m trying to make sense of it. More so to myself than to the two people who might stumble on this.

Biologically, we’ve gathered that transgender people tend to have brain makeups more similarly related to the sex of the gender that they identify with, which in Male-to-Female transsexuals may be a result of the undermasculinization of the brain due to elongated androgen receptors compared to their cis counterparts (sources cited below).

This sounds somewhat like a syntax error, if you think about it. The elongated androgen receptor in participating MtF patients acts sort of like a string in our genetic code that’s out of place, if you will.

Unfortunately, the damage has been done. We can’t just go into our genetic code and rearrange the sequence until our system reflects what the code maybe should have been. Our brains are what neurologists call “plastic”, meaning that they physically and chemically change construction based on experiences.

I’ve already experienced the female experience. I’ve lived it my whole life. Even if I’ve only recently stopped shaming myself for it. My brain has grown and molded into the woman I am inside. And frankly, I don’t want to change that.

Hell, sometimes coders will make mistakes in their codes only to find that those mistakes are actually useful. It’s the same with any art form. Without mistakes, art would be mechanical and dull.

With that, I’ve chosen to find the beauty in my genetic errors. Rather than hide them, I’m going to do all I can to enhance my external systems in order to agree more with those beautiful errors. Maybe I’ll become some kind of happy hybrid machine.

One thing is for certain: Machines are complicated. Biology is doubly so.

Sources:
Hahn, Andreas, et al. “Structural Connectivity Networks of Transgender People.” Cerebral Cortex. Oxford Journals. https://academic.oup.com/cercor/article-lookup/doi/10.1093/cercor/bhu194
Hare, Lauren, et al. “Androgen Receptor Repeat Length Polymorphism Associated with Male-to-Female Transsexualism.” Biological Psychiatry: A Journal of Psychiatric Neuroscience and Therapeutics. http://www.biologicalpsychiatryjournal.com/article/S0006-3223(08)01087-1/fulltext

Of Satanism and Paganism

Okay, let me start this off by saying that no, Pagans do not worship the devil. They don’t even believe in a devil. So with that knowledge, you’re probably asking “what do Satanists and Pagans have in common then?” I’m so glad you asked!

Various verses in the Bible equate the worship of Pagan gods with the worship of Satan (Deuteronomy 32:16-17; Psalms 106:35-38; and 1 Corinthians 10:20 for instance). It’s kind of a rude thing to do – to claim that anyone believing differently must be worshiping evil.

But now the question we must ask is: Is Satan really evil?

It probably sounds like a ridiculous question – even a blasphemous one – to most people. Just calm down though. Take a breath and hear me out here.

Pan

pan-whistling-at-a-blackbird-1863
Pan whistling at a blackbird, 1863 – Arnold Böcklin

Consider for a moment where the popular depictions of Satan come from. If you’ll notice, Satan generally is portrayed with goat hind legs and horns. Does this sound familiar to you? It should! Because it’s a complete rip-off of Pan, the Greek god of nature and music. And it turns out Footloose was right: music does indeed lead to dancing! Because Pan hung out with the nymphs who were known for their dances.

In other words, Pan embodied everything the Christians despised: nature, music, and dancing. Additionally, despite being a minor god, Pan was very popular among the Greeks, making him a broad scapegoat.

Ba’al Zebub

Ba’al Zebub literally translates to “Lord of the Flies”. Weird name for a god, right? Ba’al Zebub was a Canaanite god (present day Palestine), referred to in the Bible as the god of Ekron (2 Kings 1:16).

The meaning of his name is thought to refer to his ability to control flies: either by driving them out, or by leading them into places, or perhaps a combination of the two. Note that it was plenty common to refer to gods by the pests that the people wanted the god to relieve them of. For instance, Apollo was sometimes referred to as Apollo Smintheus (“Apollo of mice”) when he was called upon to drive mice out of a city.

Another consideration is that Ba’al Zebub (“Lord of the Flies”) may have been modified from Ba’al Zebul (“Lord of the High House” or “Lord of the Heavens”), in order to vilify him. Alternatively Ba’al Zebul could have been called Ba’al Zebub when called upon to get rid of flies (or possibly to get rid of diseases that flies were commonly associated with). Either way, this Ba’al was a proper god and in no way a demon.

Ishtar

Ishtar (pronounce it “Easter” and I will dive through this screen and end you) was the Babylonian goddess of sex and fertility, associated with the planet Venus (and a precursor to the Greek Aphrodite and Roman Venus).

Being associated with the planet Venus, Ishtar was commonly referred to as “Evening Star” and “Morning Star” (since Venus appears as a bright star just before sunrise, and again right after sunset). As Evening Star, she brought sex and love, and as Morning Star, she brought war.

You’ll notice that Lucifer is also referred to commonly throughout the Bible as “Morning Star” (some translations use “Day Star”). Jesus is also sometimes referred to as “Morning Star” (2 Pet. 1:19). This has led to some confusion. A common explanation is that “Morning Star” in the Bible denoted a title rather than an identity. After all, Lucifer was initially an angel and considered to be the “light bringer” (from the Greek Phosphoros).

So it’s quite possible that the title “Morning Star” was simply transferred from Lucifer to Jesus after Lucifer fell (alternatively, maybe they’re the same person – I’ll write on that later). Note, however, that Lucifer was the only being I recall being referred to as the Morning Star in the Hebrew Bible and I don’t know of any instance in the Hebrew Bible where the prophesied Messiah was referred to as “Morning Star” (please correct me if I simply missed something). So it’s pretty clear that Lucifer was a blatant representation of Ishtar and that the whole Jesus equals Morning Star thing was some obscure afterthought.

Ishtar was also a common symbol of temple prostitution, which you can imagine the Christians were not too fond of. Christians were so not fond of this, in fact, that she is referred to repeatedly as the “Whore of Babylon” in Revelation (Namely, Revelation 17:1-18). The “Whore” in these passages is associated heavily with the Beast.

Conclusion

There are numerous more possible examples of the demonizing of Pagan gods by the Church. In fact, the terms “pagan” and “satanic” easily refer to the same things: “pagan” was initially a pejorative term for any religion that wasn’t Abrahamic.

People didn’t actually begin self identifying as pagan until the 19th Century Neo-Pagans as a countermovement to industrialization. Meanwhile, Wicca didn’t come about until Gerald Gardner in the 1940s.

In other words, the demonizing of “pagan” beliefs was essentially a vast smear campaign against everyone different from the Abrahamic systems (to be fair, most religions demonized other religions; Christians were just the most efficient).

The term “satanism” was used identically. People didn’t begin self identifying as Satanist until 1966 with Anton LaVey’s Church of Satan. Prior to that, “satanists” were just anyone that the Church didn’t like – to include even fellow Christian groups like the Knights Templar, who were accused of worshiping some guy named Baphomet (they didn’t). LaVey later decided to use the term as a means of embracing outsider status and revering what “satanic” gods like Pan represented (namely, self indulgence).

So pagans and satanists in the pejorative sense were used to refer to the same people. Meanwhile, modern self-identified Pagans and Satanists refer to different beliefs that draw off similar “pagan” literature to find archetypes for different principles (except that Neo-Pagans and Wiccans tend to be more spiritual while Satanists can sometimes be seen as adversarial for the sake of being adversarial).