Monthly Archives: December 2014

THE CURSE OF AMERICAN RELIGIOUS CENSORSHIP

CENSORSHIP

NO INCOVENIENT TRUTHS

America believes in positive thought and American religious organizations mostly follow suit, often with a vengeance. Organizations don’t want your criticism however reasoned or justified; on the Net especially you are required to fill in boxes saying how a book or broadcast or crusade blessed you.

If you had messages from heaven for notable ecclesiastical figures or religious writers, you wouldn’t get through. Their system of minders or their publishing houses, their publicity machine or something will be in the way. They are just efficient businesses. And just as business corporations can be ruthless and immoral so too are many religious organizations. There is so little real, meaningful accountability because criticism doesn’t reach the top which hears what it wants to hear with the result scandals often go long undetected.

The system will however regulate you, the ordinary believer, the insufficiently connected nobody. I cannot for example even write any more replies to conversations on the Christian Post because on one occasion I mentioned and gave address to my Songs of Puritania on a Gay Theme. The word “Puritania” derives from famous religion writer C.S.Lewis. An automatic notice came up that indecent language etc is not allowed. I pointed out more than once to management the source of my vocabulary. I have never received a reply and there has been no correction to the faulty system be it of computers or values. I don’t trust American religious journalism and journalists but I won’t go into stories on that subject even though as regards discussion of the Bethlehem Star it would be seasonal enough to do so – be assured even to mention the word “astrology” where that subject is concerned can be red rag to a bull.

Enough if I relay here my most recent gripe over something refused publication……a decision conveyed me through a convenient noreply address….which I consider an insult. American Christians are just too street wise and clever altogether in their management of people. They corrupt other societies (as Africa and Asian churches have been corrupted with prosperity gospels) with the artificiality of their practices, and as it’s computerized America has almost invented the abrupt rude answer or none the “good” Christians follow suit!

NO TRUE CONFESSIONS

From Twitter I had seen that FashionedofGod was asking for Gay Christian experience stories of any length written or videoed. I gave one titled A Long Disappointment (I paste it below). It was a longish account (but I checked and found it not longer than one they had printed). It was consciously different in emphasis as stressed from the first, and it was certainly heartfelt, almost gut spilling. It genuinely constitutes my experience. It is not flattering to the gay (Christian) community of especially America, but it needs to be said. It received the following response.

After review, we decided that your submission falls outside of the primary focus of our website (to share and highlight personal memoirs of gay Christians as they struggle reconciling their faith and sexuality). Though very well written, your submission focused more on your struggles of an author and your views/theologies being rejected. We hope you are able to find a better outlet for your submission, but unfortunately we have decided not to post it to fashionedofgod.com. We are open to posting another submission that focuses more on your personal memoir of being gay and Christian.

Well, at least I wasn’t accused as I once was by an editor of the White Crane gay spiritualities magazine of not being able to write properly in English! But no, I shall not be submitting anything else. I have told the simple truth as I know and have experienced it. It is not an American story of happy endings, it is not a story of the gay person persecuted by straight conservative Christians. My struggle as writer, scholar, but also a gay Christian one, my effort to contact and communicate, that is very much part of my story even if it constitutes a different and inconvenient truth. And the kind of abuse indicated needs to be on record as much as any other kind of abuse or prejudice.

Any more sympathetic editor of more Christian sentiments ought to have regretted my situation and/or advised where the article might find the alternative home he hopes for it. But no, I don’t fit the American religion and culture factory size and that’s all that matters; and I so won’t get equal treatment with the rest to say my bit however deserved.

One of the concerning aspects of the gay movement as it has developed, is precisely that it speaks so much of “equality” and fairness but it isn’t necessarily about that and practicing it itself. (This unevenness of practice is a problem with especially queer theory and activism as this works out – the problem is the basis of a recent critique by an atheist about the way the gay marriage issue has been treated.(See Brendan O’ Neill’s Spectator magazine article, Gay Marriage and the Death of Freedom.)…..I also hint at it in my latest poem at McCleary’s Alternatives, see A Saint’s Mistake”: A Poem of St Paul. I don’t of course seek to blacken the entire Gay Christian community, but I do have questions and suspicions with regard to especially its leadership much as I likewise do of the secular gay movement and especially the American wing of both. Anyway, just for the record and to give myself some peace of mind, I reproduce my contribution here because I say NO MORE; I refuse this constant silencing and censorship, especially as a religious person by religious people. It is nothing short of a curse, one I refuse.

PASTE OF OFFERED STORY

What I shall say here will be different from anything else you will receive but it needs to be stated and put on record. Anyone interested in actual details of my life and beliefs as a gay Christian person can go to my memoir, Reflections of an Only Child (amzn.to/1rRagvl) which includes on such matters, so I will put the stress elsewhere. My feelings about being gay and Christian is that I might as well not be so as especially American and Canadian gay Christians, (the main core and source of identity and thought in this line), have never helped or supported me in the slightest degree. My record of dealing with them is so negative that I am left a species of alienated anti-gay gay, much as Camille Paglia is the anti-feminist feminist.

My doctorate, subsequently published as A Special Illumination: Authority, Inspiration and Heresy in Gay Spirituality (2004) (amzn.to/17b8z1b) was a world first on gay spiritualities from any religious studies dept anywhere. It was even hoped it could help make gay spirituality an academic study akin to women’s studies. Though flatteringly reviewed on Amazon by Jewish agnostic novelist, Perry Brass, and mentioned by former MCC leader Kittredge Cherry, that’s it in ten years.

Though the straight Prof Martyn Percy of Oxford opined I had probably given the best summary of gay theology to date, I never received any gay Christian mention, not even by the Gay Christian Movement in London where the book was published though I did ask. I was also shockingly widely misrepresented on media from Australia to America and beyond as someone paid by the Australian government to research Jesus’ sexuality, but no one came to my aid to undo this nonsense. Advocate magazine ignored an appeal to correct what they had repeated from false report. During the last year as the rarest of rare events, Jeff Chu of A Gay Christian’s Pilgrimage did nicely reply to a message of mine, but didn’t look at something I asked him to examine.

By contrast to the misrepresentation, if and when I have had intelligent things to say about Jesus’ sexuality, more reverent and theologically and esoterically coherent than the likes of queer theology and Robert Goss’s Queering Christ, or the often profane wanderings of Marcella Althaus-Reid (who privately worshipped the goddess Bast) nowhere have I got heard and supported by gays for that. In fact, it was the lack of essential support from within the right religious and academic circles that has meant that the kind of post-doctoral work I was at one time ready and able to do on the needed subject of gay ethics never went forward. Also that my book was not more widely distributed and translated into Spanish as originally intended and expected – I was told there were people in S. America wanted use of my studies.

I have been undermined. I was told by Soulforce they couldn’t give a link to a former personal website because I was “too commercial” having supposedly “advertised” my writings on it. I have got and get no replies out of anyone, even if it’s a person I have written or spoken favourably of like Andrew Sullivan. From the first the now trendy Matthew Vines has never contacted, or mentioned me. I have tried three times to make contact, but no more. Same with Justin Lee of the Gay Christian Network. But even here in Australia the MCC pastor in Sydney has never had the courtesy to reply to me. (As to the American MCC forget about it, I might as well never have existed). I tweeted Lee and numbers of others just recently because my blog has issued a quite meaningful, accomplished poem, A Saint’s Mistake: A Poem of St Paul, (http://goo.gl/gBL4oA) which highlights and explains something about St Paul that not even the theologians have been able to explain and which potentially helps resolve a problem about the apostle’s attitude to same sex matters.

Who bothers to look at this – except the straights?! I have had appreciation from readers of my blog, but gays or gay orgs I contacted made no comment. I wasn’t surprised. At this late date in time, I was merely curious to see if anyone might actually think to relent and reply. Last year (in the gay month) I had out a longish, satirical poem Songs of Puritania on a Gay Theme. (bit.ly/16ybdts). This almost summarizes and gives answers to the gay situation. It was again quite accomplished poetry – it could do for Brecht in a satirical moment – and it could and should have gone viral if it had had any appropriate gay interest and support. It had none just as many years before and even before my doctoral studies gays wouldn’t look at, wouldn’t publish and weren’t interested in some quality gay related verse of mine, belatedly issued as Puer Poems. Leave it to straights to appreciate that sort of thing. (Actually Songs of Puritania is to be videoed next year in Canada but I am not expecting gays will bother to look at it even then).

I haven’t told the half and I am not even prepared to depress myself doing so. I am moreover sick to death of straights telling me they now understand or like gays better now because of me, while gays I thereby help can’t be bothered to acknowledge of understand me. But sufficient I have made a point here. Today I am the carer of an elderly parent. Gays and their issues play ever less part in my life. I only ever write on the gay issue to support truth or to protest the worst abuses such as one may find in Africa or Russia which Christian conservatives have facilitated. One protests this kind of thing simply because human feeling and Christian conviction impel it, but for the rest I am dissociated from gays because they have too long been dissociated from me.

I know a former actor and one time leader of several gay groups here in Australia. He suffered various setbacks, strokes etc which have limited him in numbers of ways. He has told me he now thinks gays are useless, no help or support, they are made for parties. If you’ve got problems and need help, go to the straights! I should like to think he was wrong and still more that one could except gay Christians from his judgment, but I have no special reason to do so. If you are gay, and I believe most gays are born that way, you won’t and can’t be cured of being so, but you can be cured of needing gays and I have been. I have learned other social and intellectual interests.

Today I even feel more identity as a poet than as any gay person. It would be nice to be recognized for one’s work and ideas and I could have contributed so much more had that been the case; but I’ve survived without that recognition and now I don’t need it. I can forgive, but obviously I can’t forget, the appallingly insensitive treatment which has been in its way career damaging as well as demoralizing. Nothing would change now if somehow I or anyone shamed the community, as it should be shamed, into at least basic politeness towards me, a proper acknowledgement of my existence.

Really what I think is needed is nothing short of a whole new culture and value system for gays who are just caught in varieties of self-obsession, Americans more than most. I could laugh at all this recent talk from Vines about “New Reformation”, there’s more than any theological one is needed! My experience can be called a peculiar one. It is as though all the kind of problems of which gays complain in terms of no social acceptance, the prejudice and put downs, has come to me instead through the gay community itself rather than the straight society accused of so many wrongs..

It is too late to be rid of the long hurt I have experienced. I can only hope that my very negative experiences can become known and some kind of lesson can be derived from it. Some relevant articles and poems of mine are God and the Gay Gaps in the Vision of Matthew Vines bit.ly/1izBz2C The Fatal Flaw in the Matthew Vines, Albert Mohler Gay Debate (bit.ly/1mHDclQ) Songs of Puritania on a Gay Theme (bit.ly/16ybdts) A Saint’s Mistake: A Poem of St Paul. http://goo.gl/gBL4oA >

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IF THE POPE CAN’T READ, BUT ALL MAY PROPHESY

 A TRIP TO TURKEY

Pope Francis continues to surprise with paradoxes and contradictions. As he means well and often hits right, one dislikes even as a non Catholic to go against the  general spirit of reform and good will to criticize; but sometimes Francis  is plain myopic or eccentric, even  dangerously so.

On his recent visit to Turkey it was good that Francis urged Muslim leaders to protest the current terrorism of such as ISIL that threatens minorities, especially Christian ones. It’s nevertheless  doubtful that short of immediate political threat to their own nations those leaders  will notably speak out. I suggest they will not do so for the same reasons I gave in the article on Prince Charles who has likewise called for more protest in this line.  (See  http://goo.gl/dByOMa )

It was however highly controversial that the Pope prayed in Istanbul’s Blue Mosque (rather than like Pope Benedict before him just “contemplated” ) and towards Mecca. This will be read by some as symbolizing a kind of spiritual submission to Islam (the name means submission) and esoterically/spiritually may even in the long run make for something to that effect. It was still more controversial to declare the Koran a book of peace, perhaps especially so in Turkey where as even a recent BBC article pointed out (the very multicultural and sceptical BBC is not notably pro Christian), a century ago the population of Turkey was 20% Christian whereas it is not 0.2%. This situation owes much to a genocide of the Armenians under the Ottoman empire not admitted or regretted by Turkey but an example to Hitler for his “last solution”.

HOPING FOR PEACE

As stated in the mentioned article, in and out of the Koran, the peace understood by mainstream Islam is most essentially the peace which settles upon a world subject to Sharia Law. Mystics (like the Sufis) and heretics and nominal believers may see things differently or would like to, and there are unquestionably peaceful Muslims, but there is a strong warlike history and tone to the religion all the same. “Slay all the unbelievers wherever you find them” is explicit in the Koran at 2:19.

Anyway, a jihad/war theme is sufficiently emphasized in Koran and Hadith (the Sayings) for it not to be too lightly and easily dismissed as only “fundamentalism”. And it is surely inappropriate for Pope Francis to reduce all problems in Islam and across the religions to “fundamentalism” as though he himself is not capable of fundamentalism (not biblical but scholastic philosophical) when he supports, for example, an exceptionless doctrine of respect for life as in the case of abortions.

Pope John Paul 11 kissed the Koran. Pope Benedict rather dissociated himself from this kind of world religions ecumenism but now Pope Francis, who one wonders has he actually read the Koran, declares a scripture which has it that Muslims should not even be friends with infidels, is a book of peace,  the book  moreover which even if it is about peace contains radical denials of Christ’s status and meaning in Christian terms..

Perhaps the most peaceful thing about the Koran is its declaration that war should only be defensively pursued. This would encourage peace if it weren’t that given the many people and beliefs disapproved by the same scripture too many Muslims take the stipulation as a reason to be offended about many  things in order to go on the offensive, like the attack I mentioned on an entire Christian village because one Copt had merely put Like on a Facebook page referring to evangelism. This was deemed an insult to true religion, it must be avenged!  Few people groups are as  sensitive as the Muslim, but Pope Francis says he understands the offence Muslims feel that their religion is not considered a religion of peace. He is concerned they not feel this way. Indeed?!

LAST POPE POLICIES?

It all makes little sense, so little that one feels like saying the Pope can’t read. But it arguably makes some sense prophetically….and then, does not even St Paul hope that all might prophesy (1 Cor 14:5) rather than that the prophetic function should be limited to the smallest possible number. So I shall – sort of – declare and forecast.

It is very likely that this “last” Pope (at least the last according to the St Malachy prophecy) is intentionally or unintentionally preparing the way to a world religion through Rome that according to the late Catholic seeress, Jeane Dixon, will rapidly follow upon the death of the last Pope (whom she alleged she saw assassinated). The development should be  part of a larger Antichrist phenomenon at the end of the era. (We are at the end of the age of Pisces that Christ’s birth might be said to have inaugurated. The  Muslims of ISIL firmly believe they are in the last times, though of course they don’t link this to the age of Pisces and not even many Christians know or grasp the significance of this).

Having proposed that atheists can be redeemed by their good works, and oddly tried to make ecumenical overtures to Pentecostalism through its controversial prosperity gospel wing (in rank contradiction of his declaration in favour of a new church poverty!), Pope Francis now seems to be selling the idea that all people of faith are “walking the same path” are “brothers and sisters” and can work and cooperate beyond and against various “fundamentalisms”. http://goo.gl/B0OOOX.   Shortly before his trip to Turkey he presided over an ecumenical meeting of the world’s religions to discuss family values and ethics. “Dialogue” as against anything like the dirty word evangelization could hardly go further.

One may like to imagine cooperation does or could exist, but in reality there is, and always has been, such little cooperation between Christians and Muslims that in most places Christians have only ever been tolerated by Muslims. They are not allowed their natural human right (and even religious obligation), to declare publicly what their religion teaches. In Pakistan Christians are constantly threatened by vicious vigilante mobs ever ready to invent and believe new lies against Christians. In Egypt Christian girls and women are not safe against abduction and forced marriage. The list of abuses is endless. (In the face of this the West is either naïvely ignorant or grossly disloyal and unfair to Christians amid its bend-over-backwards concessions to multiculturalism and relativist secularist philosophies).

However, in line with Ireland’s favourite psychic Lorna Byrne who surprised many by alleging she saw a time when Christians would worship at Mecca, I suggest something of the sort is on the way – not worship at Mecca but as though at Mecca or towards Mecca like the Pope’s prayer. Chrislam, already gaining some traction in trend obsessed America, will be the next religious movement. Liberal Christians will join with Muslim moderates appalled by demonstrations of radical and medieval Sharia law. For Catholicism the drift will be facilitated through the Marian cult to which Pope Francis is much attached at the expense of Jesus. Francis is controversially opposed to anyone saying they have a personal relation with Jesus. According to The Catholic Reporter, the Pope has described as “dangerous” the temptation to believe that one can have “a personal, direct, immediate relationship with Jesus Christ without communion with and the mediation of the church.” http://goo.gl/OFYCLA

THE MARY FACTOR

It is Mary and the Church who present you to Jesus (rather than Jesus relating you to the Father/Creator who almost gets counted out of this Catholic equation). But it is nonetheless Mary who can unify Muslims and Christians – Muslims are impressed that Mary supposedly appeared at Fatima, name of Mohammed’s daughter. Mary is more revered by Muslims (and Hindus, Buddhists etc) than the Jesus who is not understood in special terms of Messiahship and Sonship, issues which liberal Christians have tended to soft pedal . They now ignore, are unaware of, or underplay how Jesus was understood to be the manifest side of God, the Angel of the Lord, in a perfectly Hebrew understanding of doctrine and not the late Graeco-Roman construction sceptical scholarship had made the divinity of Christ  in a way which now assists misunderstanding, doubt and apostasy from original Christian teaching.

I will not speculate or forecast on whether the Pope will be assassinated as per Dixon’s claims re a last Pope, but I do think that when ISIL (in line with the Hadith referring to the last times that inspires the radicals) promises it will overrun Rome, this can be taken as likely. If ISIL is not stopped soon, which I doubt, this could occur as early as 2017 when I think Italy, the Vatican, St Peter’s could all find themselves in some trouble.

But what we can be sure of, is no Vatican is going to have any divine protection against disaster if it imagines it can become the umbrella of some new world religious movement on terms which embrace anyone or anything based on unrealistic notions of what constitutes  faith and love. Wrong beliefs cause the candlestick to be removed as per Rev 2:5. (I won’t controversially speculate on the theme that certain churches might not have fallen into quite the degree of oppression and disaster they have if certain qualities and beliefs had originally been more in evidence). The Catholicism which once damned all other churches declaring no salvation existed outside itself, is now ready to cooperate with all unbelievers of good faith anywhere. It makes the switch not least because Pope Francis believes that we can know we are touched by the Holy Spirit whenever we have tender feelings of the heart and reach out to people – in short “feel good” and “together” (rather than experience the vision and knowledge and spiritual gifts the Spirit is said to give).

We may need to remember that according to the mentioned Jeane Dixon, the horrors of the times of the Antichrist would begin with people drawn to the very pitch of feel-good, idealistic emotions. It of course  good to be good, but God and religion are about  a bit more than that and some goodness when misdirected can lead to chaos.