Dualism

A parishioner of a local church that has chosen to connect outside the local, conservative diocese thanked me for offering my perspective on a “Welcoming Congregations” list.
I liked the sermon, so I told him:

I was able to see the homily today thanks to the Public Access TV, and I must say that I was impressed.

Starting out by calling the local Bishop a dualist, and by challenging the validity of dualistic thinking, be it the duality of good vs evil, or the more modern sick vs well was strong.

As a transwoman, the struggle against dualistic thinking has been at the foundation of my challenges.    The quote from the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas:

Jesus said, “If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you.
If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.”

has been vital to my coming to an understanding of self.

To me, the natural extension of the themes of today’s sermon was how the fight between good and evil is always, always inside of us.  My trans nature was defined as evil by those around me when I was growing up, and I was told to never bring it forth.  My struggle was a struggle to bring forth my nature in a way that did not bring forth evil, whatever that was.  I needed to find boundaries that affirmed the nature my creator put in queer people while still keeping a moral and holy centre.

How queer is too queer? How queer is not queer enough?  Those are the questions I struggled with, exactly the same questions everyone struggles with, though they put it in another way:  How wild and individual is too individual?  How tame and assimilated is too assimilated?

In my experience, the challenge isn’t about avoiding choosing evil, rather it is always about the strength to do good.  The example of the Nazi who was offended at a pledge to not steal, but not offended at his participation in the brutal murder of Jews and others, seems to me to be an example of someone who let his assimilation erase his personal responsibility to do good, who surrendered his conscience to the group because to stand up and face them just demanded too much wildness and offered too much challenge.

As a transperson, I know what so much of the world has demanded of me, assimilation to a set of norms and conventions.  And I also know that if that means not bringing forth what is inside of me, that means destruction.

Now, I struggle even inside of the LGBT communities to get people to move away from the duality of assimilation vs queerness.  How do we stand up for people who make choices we would never make for ourselves?  How do we know if those choices are evil or blessed?   It is a challenge I have had to find answers for.

My own mission statement came from an anthropologist.  “In cultures where gender is rigidly bi-polar,” she said, “rituals of gender crossing remind us of our continuous common humanity.”

Yup.  They remind us of the failure of imposed dualities, so many of them, and they remind us of how we each have a range of possibilities within us.

It was an interesting sermon, as far as it went.

In any case, thank you for making me aware of  your church and allowing me to share, via my television.

Cali

Gawd, I admit it.  I love theology, or at least real theology and not apologia.

(Going to the public access website, I found a digitized version of a pamphlet I wrote & produced 35 years ago, in 1978.  Yeah, weird.)

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