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This is very much my blog, so don't be surprised if this doesn't follow accepted patterns and norms. Obviously it started out as a blog about my cross-dressing but it has developed a great deal since then. It is a place where I can be anonymous and honest, and I appreciate that.

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Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Defining Moments

It was about that time in my life, except that,
obviously, I was not female nor
Catholic. This is, therefore, about as
far as it is possible to get from what I
was like in 1992.
I posted this last night, but it was a poor entry, so tonight I'm trying again. I've spent the day at Beth Shalom with some 13-14 year olds and... it was like watching Threads and then having the opportunity to meet and talk to one of the characters, in this case a survivor who was five during the events in question. And I was startled by how close to my own reading of the human condition his take on things was - though I feel I have more hope than he let on he had (it may be we share that hope, but his time was limited). It was not the experience I was expecting and I mean that as a good thing.

Then I've been at work until about twenty minutes ago, and had some of the challenges I expected from parents but mostly they were averted. Only one parent suggested I lacked experience (being new to the school it assumed that I have no teaching experience by many students and parents) and I was able to gently shoot that down whilst remaining supportive and polite. It was gruelling but I can't argue too much and it wasn't like it was an awful hardship. I am in for some busy days though if students follow through on some of my suggestions.

None of which is the point of what I want to talk about.

Way back when I was entering my teen years there was a song that I heard on the radio, a bit warbley and a bit pants that then changed character half way through. There was a lady with page boy haircut in the video I did not see until later and a woman whose name I later learned was Siobhan Flahey with a voice like a foghorn. I refer, of course, to the wonderful song by Shakespeare's Sister: Stay.


And why not?
And stay with me it has. In my Sunday School, at a very liberal (but also oddly high and liturgical) Church of England Church in the Borders of England, so vaguely Catholic by tradition, we didn't do much with religious meet involved. As a youngster we did our fair share of Bible stories without too much challenge and carefully arranged to hide the uglier parts. We did the vague discipleship thing and I asked a few questions that I got answers to that satisfied me (no mean feat) and it was nice. Now, I should point out, I have never really doubted that there's a God in Heaven. I've questioned various methods of worshiping that Deity and various traditions associated with belief in both that God and Jesus who was known as the Christ but I have never really questioned the existence of a Being that set all things in motion. Further, my understanding of God has always been... well, let's just say I have no problem imagining a God that is neither male nor female nor anything inbetween but all things at the same time nor imagining that a loving God can create, love and nurture homosexuality, asexuality, pansexuality, heterosexuality and so on. And this sort of 'understanding' that I had permeated my childhood as well. Whether as a product of my Church experience, my upbringing or something else I have no idea.

Hi there, have a Holy Hand Grenade. Three is the number
thou shalt count unto. Not four, for that is too far, and not
two except insofar as the next number be three.
So it was that, mostly, I have a faith that sits with popular culture. It challenges things, certainly (in the world but not of the world and all that) and calls me to repent but also to celebrate and share and be, well, human. Flawed and imperfect and occasionally an arse. Equally, my faith allows me to trust in God and The Plan - even if, mostly, it works despite what I do rather than directly due to what I do (my current job as a case in point). I can ride the idea that the Holocaust, volcanoes, tsunamis and bullies can be a part of that world and reality as run by a God. Doesn't make them 'right' or 'justified' just makes them... well, there.



When my Sunday School teacher wandered off into popular culture that morning then, I was somewhat unprepared. We had recently looked at relationships and, in a task I have since stolen and used to teach, we had been given some aspects of relationships and asked to put them in order. Things like "holding hands" and "kissing" and "statutory rape". We were also asked what was part of a healthy or unhealthy relationship (looking back, I believe that they were pretty clear of heteronormativity too, though I suspect marriage played a role) and, crucially, asked where different people would expect us to go and be comfortable with us going: Us, Parents, Church Family and God.

Relationships you say? I'mma just stay here and hug this
soft furnishing. Ain't gonna fuck up a soft furnishing with
my issues. Me, aged 12.
Obviously most teenagers, as we were becoming, generally said that they would go further than their parents would expect which, in turn, was further than they thought God would want them to go. Cue the teacher using this as an opportunity to show that God created sex and was happy with sex within the confines of a loving relationship (intriguingly I remember that marriage was only displayed as one option here, if a preferred one, and that cohabitation was also discussed positively if a life-long commitment). Except I was an odd child, I'm sure I've mentioned this before, and rated things thusly:

Where I would go: "just looking"
Where parents would expect me to go: "kissing and cuddling"
Where God would be happy with me going: "kissing and cuddling" but, over time: "marriage" and "sexual intercourse"

Let's see, how can I challenge the basic
concept of today's life lesson? What's that?
Lessons aren't all about challenging the
fundamental precepts of society?
Now, where's the fun in that?
Basically, I was the wild card. I share this because it helps explain reactions to what was about to happen with my new favourite song of the day, Stay. The Sunday School teacher, in a very rare moment of lecturing, warned us about a song that was out. It had Satanic tones (a term I've heard maybe six times ever and mostly in connection with incidents in the Bible) and was something that we should be shunning if we could. Most people had not heard of the song in question. It had a depiction of the Devil who tried to tempt a man to Hell with sexuality in a most negative fashion. Of course, the Sunday School teacher was referring to Stay. I was distraught, I loved the song and the sudden introduction of bass with the foghorn voice. I loved the lyrics ("You'd better hope and pray / that you wake one day / back in your own world. // You'd better hope and pray / that you make it safe / back to your own world. // Cause when you sleep at night / they don't / hear you cry / back in your own world. // Only time will tell / if you can / break the spell / back in your own world.") and I couldn't believe that God would denounce that love of the lyrics and the music as Satanic. I said so, of course I said so, and I don't really remember the conversation but the gist was that a clearly flustered Sunday School teacher agreed that my love of the music and the lyrics probably didn't mean I was being claimed by Hell and that not having seen the video didn't mean I just hadn't seen the evil of the song as the video was the Satanic part. And then, after further discussion, agreed that the video could be interpreted a different way, as the Angel of Death being denied by Love and thus could be an allegory inkeeping with Biblical teaching. Did I mention I was an awkward student to have in any class?

Anyway, it counts as a defining moment as it allowed me to argue a case based on my own faith and understanding. It was a similar argument of faith that allowed me to have sex with Tilly before we were married as I saw that as synonymous with marriage. Sex, in the Bible, is referred to as making 'one flesh' so, I figured, so long as I had one sexual partner then that was pretty much what marriage is and the ceremony was the public part of having sex. My understanding of God is that it's more about doing things right than it is doing things in a particular order. Ergo, defining moment when I was able to argue that the love of a song made the intentions of the people who made the song (who, for all I know, were aiming to be Satanic) irrelevant in terms of the effects that it had.

So... there. Also, cool video about sex and sexuality I found:


Aaand, yes, this is a better version of what I tried to post on Monday. Good.


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