A Happy Panic Attack

I was paying my bills earlier today and I finished paying them and looked at how much money I had in my checking account and I had a tiny panic attack, like, “Oh, holy shit, what have I forgotten to pay?” And I went through my bills and I went through my receipts and I realized–the Butcher has a job.

I have extra money because I don’t have to pay for everything. The ship is slowly righting.

Oh gods, please let him keep this job for a long time and not leave it unless something better comes along.

Whew, this is nice.

Some Thoughts on Marcus Bachmann

I have some thoughts. Here’s my main one. For centuries, Catholic priests have been required to remain celibate and, while I think we all can see, when this strategy backfires, it really, really backfires, I also think we have to acknowledge that most Catholic priests do indeed practice celibacy more or less successfully. This does not mean they are “cured” of their sexuality (whatever it might be) but that they refrain from the practice of it both in non-sinful ways (through marriage) and in sinful ways (the fun stuff) (kidding!) to further certain spiritual ends.

Celibacy as a spiritual strategy is, you know, an actual thing. It’s not for everybody, but, if you feel called to do it and you can do it and it brings meaning and depth to your life and you don’t try to impose it on me, more power to you.

And Catholics believe there is a Biblican basis–scriptural proof–for priestly celibacy.

Okay, fine. Cool.

If there are sects of Christians who wish to adopt a requirement of… I don’t even know what you might call it… spiritual heterosexuality–that you must practice heterosexuality, in spite of whatever your actual sexual desires might be, in order to be a part of their community in furtherance of the goal of some kind of spiritual fulfillment–I honestly, though I would think it was weird and perhaps counterproductive and bound to lead to a lot of needless dissatisfaction with life, would say, “Fine, more power to you.” There are folks who believe in scriptural proof of a requirement for heterosexual marriages and the forbidden nature of homosexual activity. If they want to say “In order to be a member of our community, regardless of how you feel, as a part of your spiritual discipline, you must practice heterosexuality and only within the confines of marriage,” I would think it was weird, but I think that’d be pretty analogous to Catholic priests having to be celibate or along the lines of telling Amish kids “You  can choose whether or not to continue to be Amish after you’ve seen the world a little bit, but once you choose to get baptized, you’d better live by our rules.”

But this is a far, far cry from claiming you can, through God’s power and Christian counseling, “cure” gay people, which, of course, you cannot, since there is nothing for them to be “cured” of.

So, here’s what I don’t get. Religious people have a framework for understanding the modification of their lives to spiritual ends–“sacrifice” and “discipline” and “mysterious ways” and all that. So, why, instead of saying “Whether you’re gay or not, we require you to practice heterosexuality as a part of the modifications required to your life to bring you into line with God’s plan for you as we understand it.” do they try to frame homosexuality as an “illness” to be “cured”? Christianity has a long history of physical deprivations for spiritual ends.

Why not say “This is the sacrifice required of you if you want to be a part of this church” rather than saying “no, no, we can fix you”?

I don’t know what, exactly, but I feel like there’s an important problem with some contemporary churches (beyond the homophobia in general) that they’d rather promise a cure than require a sacrifice.

I’ve been in a kind of ongoing email discussion about the state of the church for a long time and we’ve been talking about this Meghan O’Gieblyn article about Contemporary Christian Music. And one thing I said is that I think a lot of churches are leaning towards the “you’re at a rock concert” vibe because a lot of people have a lot of experience with the “you’re at a rock concert” vibe, either being a part of it in the audience or setting it up to happen through the creation of music or the proper sound and lighting. People know what they’re doing and can assure that you’ll have a passably interesting aesthetic experience. And if it feels holy because the vibe came about due to you being at church, great. Everyone felt the presence of God. It happened for everyone. People got what they expected.

But that’s not always how genuine mystical experiences happen (and I have to qualify that with a “not always” precisely because sometimes they do). Sometimes you, alone, have to go into the wilderness for 40 days and eat some locust. Sometimes you hear a voice no one else can hear telling you to do something everyone finds foolish. Sometimes everyone’s praying and only one person gets an answer.

That’s some hard shit to market. “Come and Share in the Presence of the Lord!” is much easier than “Come on in! Everyone here is also scared they’re crazy and uncertain about their path and wondering if they can do the difficult thing they alone have been called to do!” Shoot, the second one isn’t even going to fit on a church sign.

Which brings me back to my original point. I don’t doubt that there may be people whose spiritual journey would require them to practice a sexuality contrary to their nature. Shoot, I know a lot of members of heterosexual monogamous Christian couples who would love to be fucking as many people as they could get their hands on, but that’s not the spiritual requirement of their marriage and so they don’t.

And I don’t see any problem with some churches deciding requiring perfectly ordinary gay people to practice heterosexuality is stupid and not worth sweating over any more than worrying about whether ministers are married or not or whether congregants are divorced or not is not worth sweating over. And if some churches want to say “In order to belong to us, you have to curtail your sexuality in these ways,” okay, fine. But be upfront about what you’re asking–for a difficult sacrifice on par with (or equivalent to) requiring someone to remain celibate. And respect that they may say “Oh, hell no! I’ll find a different church.”

But don’t promise that you can “cure” people and that that’s a real thing any more than flashing lights and a huge crowd and a rock concert vibe necessarily makes anything more than the pleasure of being in a crowd of like-minded people.

Marketing the assuredness of an outcome (whether true or not) and calling that spirituality just squicks me out.

(Not to mention the whole Medicaid angle, which I’m not even going to touch on.)

Back to the Grind

Well, shoot, that vacation was both long enough and not long enough. It was nice to get away, but I tell you, it would be nice to have an actual vacation where I leave town and go someplace I haven’t been before. Well, a girl can dream.

Still, life has a certain rhythm when you’re in the office between nine and five and I look forward to getting back into it.

I had a nice afternoon with the Professor, who’s finally back from overseas. It’s good to have a friend you can share all your ugliest worries with and she just listens and hears you without trying to assure you that your worries are unfounded or cringing from them.

I have always been very fortunate to have good friends, though. I try to remember to be grateful for that.