So far, chivalry has been the scariest thing I have dealt with as a transgender woman.
It is scarier than coming out to my entire Facebook friend list. Scarier than the first time I used the lady’s room. Scarier than giving a speech as a woman to a room of hundreds of people.
And all those things were scary.
But chivalry? Worse than those things? Yes. Let me explain.
Tonight I took two of my children to a traveling magic show. My parents had two free children’s tickets. I only had to buy one adult ticket for myself.
We sat near the back. The performer thanked the local Masonic lodge who organized the event. He pointed out the row of half a dozen Masons, sitting in the row directly behind us. We all clapped to thank them.
The show began. At one point they paused the show to give parents an opportunity to buy their children an overpriced candy bar. Some of the wrappers had red dots inside them, which meant you won a free glow-stick magic wand. I didn’t have much cash on me, but I was going to buy one for the three of us and we could split it.
One of the Masons behind us says, “Do you kids want candy bars? I’ll get them for you? Do both of you want one?” They said yes. We politely thanked him, and the two kids went up with him to the back of the line at the stage. He proceeded to buy seven candy bars, two for my kids,one I saw him give to someone else on the other side of the room, and I don’t know about the other four.
Something about it felt weird. Then it dawned on me. There I sat with my son and daughter… and no wedding ring.
Now someone could say, “Well, that could have happened to you as a married woman or as a single man. You don’t know that’s why.” No, you’re right. I don’t. But I’ve lived a lot of years as a man. And no man ever came up and offered to buy something for my kids.
No, men do not typically offer gifts to other men, or to children of other men. It would be perceived as… what? I don’t know. It’s hard to say because it’s all non-verbal. But if I had to try to put it into words, it would be perceived as attacking his masculinity. You’re implicitly saying that he cannot provide for his kids.
And that’s why it’s scary for me. I just benefited (or rather my kids did) because I was presenting female instead of male. But what if he finds out I’m transgender? What if he finds out that he just crossed this unspoken “man-boundary” because I “tricked him?” Would it hurt his pride? Would he want to retaliate? Would he want to hurt me?
Moreover, having lived most of my life according to the “man-rules,” I actually DID feel like he was attacking my… well, not masculinity… but competency, I guess. I may be a woman, but I still have that old knee-jerk reaction to defend my masculinity. What if I had unintentionally acted non-verbally? A flash of the eyes, a facial expression, a body posture. Would I have given myself away?
Probably not. But it’s a very scary space for me to occupy as a recently-transitioned woman.
Then after the event, one of the other Masons came up to me and told me how much my son was getting into the music. My son has musical ability, he said, and I might want to look into enrolling him in some musical program. I told him I’d consider it, and we quickly left.
Again, I could be reading into it. It is possible that he may have said the same thing if I was presenting as a man. But I highly doubt it. Men don’t give advice to other men on how to raise their children. Well, not to strangers, anyway. But to a single mom, who’s lousy husband left her alone to raise the kids, well maybe he thinks she “needs” that masculine input.
Actually, it felt more like maybe he was looking for an excuse to strike up a conversation with the single mom without a wedding ring. What would he do if he found out that this average-looking soccer mom he was considering hitting on actually used to be the lousy husband?
I’m not saying (yet) that I think chivalry is necessarily bad, though a lot of people I respect would say exactly that. At this point though, I’m more concerned about making sure I present well enough that I’m not scared for my safety.
Image: God Speed! by Edmund Blair Leighton, 1900
I have so many things I want to tell you.
And a lot of questions I want to bring up again.
It’s been a long time since I’ve posted here. In the meantime, I’ve been doing most of my writing in other forums and places where I could be anonymous.
I think most writers do their best writing anonymously.
I started this blog anonymously. But then it all changed.
The problem with writing anonymously is that, once you start writing things you’re proud of, you want to show your friends what you’ve written. So eventually you break the barrier and tell them about it. But then you can’t be anonymous anymore, and you start to feel the pressure that you can’t write the kinds of things you used to write.
I’ve changed a lot since I stopped posting here. I came to some surprising conclusions about my view of the Bible. That led me to rethink my conservative beliefs. A couple months ago I voluntarily gave up my ordination. I’m rethinking the ethics of sexuality, particularly in regards to sexual orientation. And I’m sorting through some personal issues in regards to my own gender identity.
Yeah, I’ve got some stuff to talk about. Am I ready to come back? I think so.
I thought about starting a new blog from scratch. But I’ve getting between half-a-dozen and a dozen random visitors a day to this blog. I hate to just let it go.
And I think I’m done with trying to hide this stuff. It’s time for me to start talking about it. That’s one of the reasons I gave up my ordination, so I can deal openly with this stuff without feeling the pressure that I need to “be someone.”
So here I am back again, blogosphere. Time for a restart. I’m finally ready to get real with you. I’ve missed you, old friends.
Can a Christian believe in both creation and evolution?
Of course not. Creation and evolution are mutually contradictory. But as is so often the case, reality is not as black-and-white as you have been led to believe. There are more than two possible positions on the creation and evolution debate, forming somewhat of a continuum. Millard Erickson (Christian Theology, second ed, pp. 501-7) identifies five major positions that people take on the debate between creation and evolution:
- Naturalistic Evolution – The position that God does not exist, and that each species evolved by chance through natural selection alone.
- Deistic Evolution – The position that God exists, but did not play a role in guiding evolution. At most, God created conditions that would facilitate independent evolution.
- Theistic Evolution – Similar to Deistic Evolution, this position holds that God exists but allowed physical evolution to play out on its own. Where this position differs from the deistic view is in positing that at some point God added a spiritual element in order to create humanity.
- Progressive Creation – This position holds that God created each individual species, but allowed for natural development within each species, which Erickson calls “intrakind” evolution, or microevolution.
- Fiat Creation – God made each species in its entirety as a unique, direct creative act. There is no sense in which humanity developed out of other species.
Erickson himself argues for position four because he believes it takes account of the biblical data as well as the physical evidence that there appear to be transitions between species.
Erickson’s mistake is in drawing a sharp distinction between natural processes and God’s intervention. Erickson’s posits that God sometimes acts supernaturally and sometimes acts through natural processes. But I would want to press him on exactly this point. If God is acting and directing in both cases, then is there really even a distinction between the two? It would seem more appropriate to say that God directed the entire process, but sometimes His direction was more evident than at other times. If this is the case, I fail to see why we wouldn’t just call it Theistic Evolution. It is essentially evolution at God’s direction.
If Erickson is wrong, then which of the other four positions should we adopt?
I’m not sure that any of them are right. Erickson’s five categories miss some of the most important distinctions in the debate. Before deciding on an answer, consider the following questions:
- If God exists, would it be more likely that life developed independently, or under God’s direction?
- Is it possible that God could have guided the process of natural chance? Or is this merely a contradiction of terms? Scripture seems to leave a place for finding God’s order behind apparent randomness. Does God direct every seemingly random event?
- Can it rightly be called creation if God worked through ordinary processes to create? Or does creation require supernatural intervention?
Erickson’s categories do not capture the importance of these questions. I suggest reworking the options as follows:
- Naturalistic Evolution – This position can be held independently of one’s view of the existence of God. But on this view one thing is certain: regardless of whether God exists, He was not the guiding force behind the development of life.
- Theistic Natural Evolution – God exists and brought about life providentially through the natural processes of chance. This view would require that it is possible for an event to be completely random and yet have the result be directed by God. What appears to be a contradiction is, on this view, merely a paradox that is difficult to comprehend but not actually contradictory.
- Evolutionary Creation – This position holds that life developed over time, as in Darwinian evolution, but the most important developments were due to God’s intervention, not the ordinary process of chance.
- Sequential Creation – God created life sequentially, from less complex to more complex, like a master architect, building upon the previous plans. God has never caused one species to evolve into another species.
This way of drawing the map differs from Erickson’s in several key ways. First, I don’t see any relevant distinction between Naturalistic Evolution and Deistic Evolution. The essential question is whether the process was guided. God’s existence is not particularly relevant to this discussion. Either way, on the Naturalistic Evolution view, it would be a misnomer to call nature, “creation.” Second, Erickson does not seem to consider the possibility that randomness could be divinely directed through God’s providence. If such a concept is not a logical absurdity, then it is not a contradiction to believe in both “creation” and Darwinian evolution; they would be two words for the same thing. Third, the term “Progressive Creation” is misleading. Erickson’s position is really a form of evolution; it’s just that he rejects naturalism. This is why I think “Evolutionary Creation” is a better term for his position.
So which position should a Christians hold? Historically, the most important element that theologians have stressed is the divine plan behind our existence. Thus a Christian may legitimately hold options two, three, or four. Only option one may not be held consistently with traditional Orthodox Christian theology.
It appears that Option four, Sequential Creation, sits somewhat uncomfortably with the physical evidence. But it is not as incompatible as Erickson would have us believe. “Sequential Creation” makes more sense out of transitional forms than when it is labeled “Fiat Creation.”
Options two and three sit somewhat uncomfortably with Genesis 1. But they are not as incompatible as our more conservative brothers and sisters would have us believe. There is a long tradition in Christian theology, going back at least to Augustine, that holds that Genesis 1 is meant to be interpreted as a poem (and thus we should be open to the possible use of metaphor) rather than a straightforward historical account.
My view of scripture is that it is primarily a covenantal document between God and His people. I have not found a compelling theological reason to invest the first several chapters of Genesis with the historical authority that conservatives want to give it. That is not to say that I reject these chapters, but merely that I am just not quite sure what to do with them. I am much more comfortable withholding judgment on the grounds of conflicting evidence than I am taking a stand either way and being forced to shut my eyes to any evidence that doesn’t fit my view.
Can you see all the red marks on this quiz? It has been I think four years since I took Greek exegesis I. Now I’m in exegesis II, which takes the first half of the semester. The second half, I take Exegesis III.
Admitedly, I studied the wrong word list, which is why I got all but two wrong. Don’t ask me why I thought hypakoe was a verb rather than a noun. Probably because I was so flustered.
But what I really hate about Greek exegesis is that it is so far removed from real life. Why do I have to know that a particular participle is an “instrumental participle of means” instead of an “attributive adjectival participle?” Okay, I get how the grammar is working. (Not the vocab perhaps, as demonstrated above, but I do generally get the grammar.) But why do I have to memorize a series of inane technical terms?
Do you know why? Because lots of people use these technical terms to overexegete the text and twist it to say something it’s not saying.
I am putting off studying right now. I am sitting down at the computer, frustrated, resisting getting into my exegesis homework. Why? Because I don’t want to have to pick apart every prepositional phrase and every clause in every verse in 1 Peter 1, and decide which dumb grammatical name to give it.
I was really excited because my professor put together a couple of PDFs that she called “The Least You Need to Know” (LYNK). Cool, I like that. I can learn the least I need to know. What is that? Like 3 pages of notes? A quick reference list? Something useful? Nope, none of the above. It is a 49-page grammatical manual. The least I need to know is 49 pages! What would I do if she had given me the Most I Should Know (MISK)? What, like 400 pages?
So what bothers me is that I should love exegesis. I should be eating this stuff up because it’s right up my alley. Okay, maybe not the vocab. Okay, maybe not the verb paradigms. But judging from my bookshelves, I’m supposed to love this stuff.
Why is it that I would rather shoot myself than do my exegesis homework?
So I get this e-mail a few weeks ago. It gives all my statistics for this blog. Note how many times I posted last year. One. One single time last year. And look at what it says about this blog. Fresher than ever. Fresher than ever? Huh? This blog is the red-headed stepchild of my life. Maybe it will draw me back to start posting again. Anyone out there in RSS-land still reading? Drop me a comment. Thanks!
Your 2010 year in blogging
Happy New Year from WordPress.com! To kick off the year, we’d like to share with you data on how your blog has been doing. Here’s a high level summary of your overall blog health:
|Fresher than ever|
We think you did great!
A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 11,000 times in 2010. That’s about 26 full 747s.
In 2010, you wrote 1 new post, growing the total archive of your blog to 232 posts. You uploaded 1 picture, taking up a total of 28kb.
Your busiest day of the year was May 29th with 135 views. The most popular post that day was A Trinity Analogy: the Computer.
Welcome back to Alhaj! I had interactedwith him for a few months back in 2007. Then one day his blog disappeared and I didn’t hear from him again. Having turned into a pseudo-blogger myself, I only pop back in every so often to see what’s up. Today I see that Alhaj has left me a number of comments. While I don’t have time right now to respond, I want to at least leave a quick note. Alhaj, I will be happy to converse with you again. Thank you for stopping back.
I have been reading The Sales Bible: The Ultimate Sales Resource in order to become better at my day job. The author, Jeffrey Gitomer, gives lots of little tidbits and ideas to get you thinking. I came across a quote today that got me thinking. I thought it worth sharing with my readers. He writes, “An hour of learning a day will make you a world class expert at anything in five years.” Now of course there’s some hyperbole here. You can’t be a world-class expert in literally anything, but I’d bet you can become quite close to expert in quite a lot of things. I read a Rick Warren quote that said that we tend to overestimate what we can accomplish in a year and underestimate what we can accomplish in ten years.
The hard part is to pick just one thing to focus in on. I want to be an expert in about a dozen different things, and every one seems like the most important thing while I am thinking about it. I am challenged to narrow it down to one. How about you? What would you like to become an expert in? Are you willing to make it a priority?