Birthday Thoughts: Turn and Face the Strange

Today’s my 43rd birthday. Among the pleasures of being middle-aged are a positive body image that’s independent of others’ opinions, confidence in my own authority, and making peace with change. This last requires overcoming fear-based defenses from my chaotic childhood, and also questioning the presumptions of the religion where I took refuge from that chaos.

Scripture-based faith is inherently conservative because its highest authority is an static text, which cannot help but be in tension with the dynamism of social and personal change. Denominations differ in how they handle this tension, from Biblical inerrancy to “God is still speaking”. Yet even the latter statement is almost too defensive for me now. Why wouldn’t God be speaking? Why must we labor under a suspicion that change is random or self-serving until proven otherwise?

That suspicion still silences me at times. I look back at some of my passionate beliefs and interests from a few years ago, which bear little resemblance to what concerns me now, and at times make me cringe in hindsight. And I wonder, how can I ever speak again with confidence, knowing I could be just as far off the mark, no matter how clear it seems to me now? Well, one belief that continues to prove itself in my life is the grace of God, which doesn’t require us to be right in order to be loved. And perhaps rightness is a moving target, and a belief can be the best tool for the job at a certain moment and nonetheless become obsolete, with no shame in that. In that case I only regret being so enamored of my cleverness that I sometimes shared my opinions unkindly.

To keep myself humble and amuse the reader, here’s a little timeline of my worldview. Note that I was 13 in 1985. Be charitable.

My role models are:
1985: Ayn Rand, the Elephant Man
1992: Camille Paglia, the Phantom of the Opera
2006: Barbie, Cardinal Ratzinger
2013: Alice Miller, Tim Gunn
2015: Peggy Olson, Cthulhu

This book is everything:
1985: T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets
2000: C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
2009: Judith Herman, Trauma and Recovery
2015: Rachel Pollack, 78 Degrees of Wisdom: A Book of Tarot

I write:
1985: Depressing intellectual sestinas
2000: Libertarian law journal articles
2006: Conservative Christian anti-porn blog posts
2008: Insane feminist experimental poetry
2009: Gay Christian endless novel
2012: Poetry about diapers and insomnia
2013: Radical abuse survivor blog posts
2015: Gay male erotica

I identify spiritually as:
1985: Objectivist who believes in God and fairies
1995: Pro-life kosher Nietzschean Jew (it was a confusing time in my life, okay?)
2001: Gay-affirming conservative Episcopalian
2010: Bitter
2015: Tarot-reading Christian who believes in sacred Eros

Universal truth is:
1985: Whatever can be discerned by the free individual’s objective reasoning
2000: Most perfectly expressed in Jesus and Christian theology
2008: A catchphrase indicating that the speaker might be a self-centered patriarchal dickhead
2015: Each person should be respected as the authority on hir own experience

The world would be a better place if everyone:
1985: Took responsibility for their choices and followed their truth with integrity and courage
1996: Stopped fucking around
2000: Accepted the unconditional grace of God and cast off their shame
2009: Recognized abuse for what it was, stopped doing it, and stopped victim-blaming
2015: All of the above except the fucking, I like fucking now

The proper place for sex is:
1985: Somewhere I don’t have to see it
2000: In a marriage between two loving, committed virgins of any gender
2010: In my novel
2015: Can I watch?

If I could send one message to the world, it would be:
1985: Shut the fuck up
2000: Accept Jesus as your savior
2007: God loves gays
2010: Give me a baby
2015: #stfu

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Buy my book! Thank you and goodnight.

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