Break Like Violent Fetters: Chapter 7- Bridge Over Troubled Water: The War Against Homosexuality and the Feminine within Western Patriarchal Theology and Religion (Part 1)

I jumped in the middle of a waterfall in Iceland. I did it because I was unafraid. I jumped because I wanted to.

I did that to become the person I am today. It made me brave enough to write a book for whatever anyone may need it to be. That was last fall.

We are sometimes told that there is a deep brokenness within humanity. There are various reasons given to account for it and a myriad of responses in refutation of this belief. If there be a brokenness- it is not due to a primeval sin because that doesn’t exist. It is not about ethnicity or the color of one’s skin, although we’ve made those things matter throughout the course of human history. It’s not about religion, though it is through religion this message gets smokier, echoed, and pigeon-holed for centuries.

It’s not about who someone loves- when it’s socially accepted by the mainstream. It’s not about money, but access does change the equation. It’s not about geographical, time, or educational differences. These are variables we use to define ourselves and our values and our identities. To separate ourselves from each other. And From the Earth or from the possible higher planes of our present realities.

It doesn’t immediately start from a place of hatred- though the individuation and categorizing of objects or people or galaxies or plants can lead to that.

For the most part this idea of separation of one thing from another is so we can make sense of our lives. There are so many unanswered questions that can never be fully grasped. And also so many quantifiable answers that sometimes seem at odds with our day to day movements and hoped upon eternities.

It was through the beauty of nature that I came back to believing in a great union of connectedness between all beings. Emptying the egoic self in mindfulness even for a few seconds is the clearest I’ve ever felt.

Dynjandi Falls, Iceland- September 2017

Meditation is like a prayer lit by the Universe sparking your mind into a blissful presence of being aware of consciousness and confounded by simultaneously forgetting that awareness.

This is what a light year must feel like coursing 756,000 miles an hour through space. It’s like where all the drugs and booze and dancing is trying to bring us into. We have to booze the lover into our beds just to spill him, her, or them out by morning. Like this is the pulse that the Universe is beating to, and I’m thrusting my hips on a Spanish beach, to a multidimensional rhythm. This is how it’s all supposed to feel and be. It’s why we came here.

I think we have misunderstood the trials in our lives. See, theologians and other mostly well-intentioned persons have explained suffering and troubles as justification for God’s wrath or judgment. 3000 years ago most of humanity had not collectively risen to the level of self-actualization in the sense that we understand today. I have never lived off the land in a continuous way nor was I raised in a situation of complete poverty.

I am extremely thankful for the blessings and privileges of my life, comparatively speaking. But I just cannot see or believe in a vengeful god when I look at the beauty of this planet. We are fucking miracles!! This planet is a miracle!! Earth is an anomalous example of life brilliantly flourishing in a backwoods of the Cosmos. The clues are all around us.

It is often difficult to slow the mind chatter, but when I do let go of my resistance- energy and knowing flow like a stream. I can feel serenity pour through my body. Were it not for brutal tyranny that the deliciousness of freedom feel so ecstatic and integral to each of us. In the way that we don’t have to direct even one of our cells to behave in any particular way speaks volumes to the inherent ingenuity of Life.

Geyser, (the original geyser!) Iceland, Sept 2017

It is so frustrating and fucking awful when our cells turn against us. To justify disease or suffering as a test by god is so backwards, and serves as a disempowerment to each one of us. I cannot believe that there is a being of infinite intelligence dolling out blessings and curses due to some variance of personal belief or lack of allegiance.

We are expansive and wonderful. We are free radicals in the best of ways.

When we are ravaged by illness our focus stays on the illness. What if instead we focus on the wellness we are asking for?

We may be what we eat, but more importantly, we get whatever we persistently think about.

“Man does not live by bread alone,” Jesus Christ, Matthew 4:4.

Every cell performs a specific task in our bodies. Even bacteria plays an integral, albeit gross, part too. The villains of humanity are absolute scourges upon this planet. That’s what makes the triumph over pervasive darkness so satisfying.

You can feel that statement resonate within your soul. This triumph takes us all, as a species, as a collective cooperative whole, to a breathtaking new expansion. Future prosperity does not justify the suffering that we have endured or are enduring, in this moment.

If I could go back and save myself from the tribulations and sabotaging mindset of my younger self, I would do it. Birth is such a beautifully painful event, and we don’t even remember it. We are plants bursting through soil. That initial thrust into the earth must have been excruciating but so deeply satisfying. If suffering was the true nature of life then why does Life continue to perpetuate?? Through natural disasters and catastrophic loss of entire species- Life still abounds everywhere. Even on some of the pages of religious texts.

We live on a planet that has and is expressing itself through billions of different lifeforms. The disparate extremes of Iceland and New Zealand are a testament to magic in this world. A native inhabitant of these regions, though wholly appreciative of their natural wonders, will most likely never share the same sense of wonder as one who has not seen such things.

It is of profound detriment to all for one not to tell their story before it is completed. To doubt for a second that you do not also have a specific work to do to is of a profound detriment to the entire Universe.

You know that this is truth because it either resonates with or repels within your entire being.

We’ve cast things in piles of good and evil. Clouds and sun can be oppressive masters or offer wonderful relief from heat or cold. We stay too long in the drought places of the soul. There is abundance everywhere you look. I choose to see the beauty even in the ugliest places.

Life abounds in the most unlikely places. Have you ever heard of Earth?

If it is found that Earth is the only place in the Universe that contains life, which I am assured is absolutely false, then we must revel in knowing that within the entirety of the Cosmos, we, are tasked with the privilege of being the lone perceivers and experiencers of existence. And if there is only one life, of which seems ridiculous, then make it the best fucking life you can, and enjoy the splendors of the Earth and of one another.

I enrolled in a philosophy of religion class in college because it sounded interesting, and a bunch of my friends (and two roommates at the time) were also taking the same course, and because it was being taught by Dr. Frazier.

I had taken Dr. Brad Frazier’s intro to philosophy class the previous semester. Which was also the same semester I got into Theta. There was a 6 week pledge period before you could wear your Greek letters. I was definitely proud to be in my frat but Theta didn’t take it as seriously as the other clubs. Those were the real “good ole boys,” clubs- still there was definitely a sentiment of either embracement or disdain of Greek life in college- one I totally understand. I rushed my junior of college, not with the intent to make friends, but because I had begun to develop relationships with the guys in the club. They were and still are some of the best people and friends I have ever known. I bring this up because I don’t think Dr. Frazier took me seriously dressed in Greek letters, which I don’t blame him for lol. That changed later.

In a way a fraternity does become an aspect of your family. The espoused values offer an organization to pledge yourself too. It’s a wide friend group you share a common bond and goal with. The secrecy of the induction process isn’t so much as to keep others out but as a way to share a sacred ritual with one another. It’s akin to the Greece and Roman mystery religions of ancient times.

All cultures have a coming-of-age ritual relating to man-hood or womanhood. The vestiges of these ceremonies are carried out into modernity, we just know them under different names- Bar/Bat Mitzvah, Quincenera, debutante ball, Eagle Scout, Sweet Sixteen. But these rituals don’t carry the significance obtained by performing the sacred primitive rituals of becoming a cisgender man, or cisgender woman- and almost no rituals exist celebrating some other variation of sexual or gender identity.

I knew this moment, in class, was an important moment at the time though, I didn’t know why. Upon recollection, like most things, Philosophy of religion at Lee University- 2006, became the most personally transformative class I have ever taken.

I was listening to a lecture regarding the legitimization techniques theologians use to justify suffering or inhumane practices within the Bible. Because if God said it, “it’s got to be true.”

I remember having a visual image of a large impenetrable dragon in my mind’s eye, and then seeing all of the scales and wings fall away and leave a very large white boned skeleton, in its wake. Imposing and formidable- even in its bare and death state. Then realizing it can now, no longer, hurt you. In that moment I saw this as an allusion to the Christian church and metaphor for its theology. Hollow hypocrisies written into sand runes and parchment.

The pen is indeed mightier than the sword. You can justify cutting down millions of people with just the mentioning of God. Easier to subdue and manipulate the commoners if they already believe they’re lost and cutdown.

We’ve been being brainwashed and forced into self-subjugation for centuries. Those systems are collapsing and afraid of the internet. Afraid that people have discovered their own power. Well, honey, oppressors will always eventually lose, because life is the essence of the Universe- and how can one subdue the Great Creation that goes on with or without us for all time?

It is interesting to note that Western Christianity begins shifting the emphasis of human sin onto Eve in the early centuries after Jesus Christ.

“Male eschatology is built on negation of the mother. Rejection of sexuality and procreation is not merely a function of prudery. Or, rather, antisocial asceticism is itself based on the fantasy, that by escaping the female realm of sexuality and procreation, one can also free oneself from finitude and mortality. The escape from sex and birth is ultimately an escape from death which women as Eve and mother are made responsible. Male eschatology combines womb envy with womb negation.”

I have seen this very behavior play out by observing some of my female friends’ romantic relationships with men. I’ve seen it as an investigator for CPS as well. Men who place the woman they are dating on a pedestal as both mother and sexual partner.

The two great female archetypes perpetuated through history- the Cosmic Mother and the Cosmo Slut. They even have quizzes and inquisitions to find out, just how slutty or pure, you are.

Men resenting their girlfriends for not measuring up to some unrealistic expectation. Blaming the girlfriend for holding him back in his career, in the bedroom. Subduing, wooing, and delighting her with shiny objects and sexual desire.

The men who have not introspectively dealt with their own shadow self means have also not been able or want to integrate the feminine aspects inherent in all men. Anything but sheer brute strength is for ‘sissies’ and ‘faggots.’ The strongest men I know sometimes wear heels and headdresses.

The main purpose of the “Malleus Maleficarum”, or “The Hammer Against Witches“, was to refute all arguments that witchcraft did not exist, refute those who were skeptical about its reality, to prove that witches were more often women than men, and to educate magistrates on the how to find witches and convict them.

This book reflects that Sprenger and Kramer not only severely lacked a sense of humor and were obsessed with sex, but also that they had major issues with women; the book singles women out as the weaker sex, weaker in faith, lustful and easy by nature, and thus easy prey for Satan’s coaxing. The men even went so far as to state the etymology of “femina” (Latin for “woman”) as “fe” (“faith”) + “minus” (“less”), which it is not.

Indeed, the book uses the exclusively feminine “malefica” rather than the masculine (and more inclusive) “maleficus” to denote witches, a strong implication that only women were witches in their eyes. Also, Sprenger and Kramer stated that old women and Jews were most likely witches and should never be trusted.

The women who were most likely to be accused of witchcraft were no longer of child-bearing age, either widowed or never married, had a role in traditional or natural healing areas often involved with childbirth (midwives), and women who were independently wealthy through inheritance or land bequeathment, by a male. (Ugh.)

They were women who no longer served a purpose, in patriarchal society; and even more damning- they were women who could not be easily subdued. They were women who spoke and lived their truths despite persecution and torture. A woman like this would not be able to win presidential elections.

Nigerian Women accused of modern day witchcraft

Last witch burnt at stake in Germany, 1770

I didn’t immediately come out at work for similar reasons and because I was still figuring out if I was gay or bisexual at 27. I always had a secret fear that I could get fired for being gay and working with teens and families. Luckily I had an amazing mentor/boss who is an advocate for LGBTQI people. She made me feel safer than any employer ever has and she helped me come out at work. Gay men might as well be modern-day witches. We’ve received similar life persecutions. I hope that this book helps to end those sentences and not fan the flames even higher.

Women are inherently stronger than men in many areas- even in certain biological senses. The woman who is a mother will fight fiercely for herself and children. If I had to guesstimate I would say that at least 80% of the CPS cases I worked the father or boyfriend was not involved or was a large cause of the issues that caused social services to need to intervene. Honestly it was so much easier to work cases when the problematic male figures were not involved.

The number of cases where the mother or a maternal figure was not involved? Easily, less than 5%. The men who are often leaving have not done or even known they’ve needed to do their self-work too. Maybe it’s out of ignorance, or arrogance, or lack of time/resources. But there is a stigma of machismo within our cultures and subcultures that still see anything relating to emotions or introspection as weakness and vulnerability.

I cannot speak objectively for other cultures, but as a social worker, I saw firsthand the damaging effects of this stigma at work in many families but especially in some Hispanic, Asian, and African-American families. I point this out because this idea of feminine and weakness is so pervasive that it penetrates the lives of some of the most socio and economically distressed population and people groups.

Mental health issues were sometimes not talked about or understood constructively. I’m not saying this simply from the lens of a white educated privilege. I saw this happening time-after-time in the living rooms, the hospital beds, the foster homes of the children and 870 families I worked with, face-to-face, for six years.

I worked cases involving LGBTQI youth through out my tenure and for varieties of reasons. I never disclosed my sexuality to any of the teens or kids I worked with. Maybe some of the older ones could tell or maybe not- and not that it would have been bad for me to disclose this- it’s just that my involvement with these families didn’t involve me being there as an individual but as a social worker trying to figure out how to make sure these kids were safe and how best to help their families stay that way.

I could usually tell which kids may haven been dealing with their own sexuality and gender issues. not just because of the allegations I read about, but because I used to be one of this kids too. There was one kid out of all of them that reminded me of me. He and his two siblings had been adopted by an older African-American couple. He was 12 years old and bi-racial. I was at their house because he had told the school nurse he had allegedly tried to kill himself after his mom found “disgusting porn” on his computer and his mom didn’t care that he tried to harm himself. The allegations didn’t state what the disgusting porn was, but I instinctively knew what kind it was- gay pornography. And when I separately interviews the mother and child I found out I was right.

The kid ended up admitting that he did not try to harm himself and the mother showed me the discharge paperwork she received from the boy’s visit with a mental health specialist. The boy told me that he thinks he might be gay and he wanted to die because of it. I wanted to tell him that I used to feel that way too, and that he wasn’t alone. That he would find his way and he would thrive. I didn’t get to tell him that. I didn’t feel like that was my place to say this to him, given my role in the Texas department of Family and Protective Services.

But as human being I did feel it my duty to acknowledge the same wounds found with in another person. So I told him , thank you for sharing your story with me. It was a brave thing to do. I can’t really explain the details to you and you might not understand this until you’re older, but I want you to know that whatever happens or whoever you become- it gets better. Middle school and High school are hard for so many reasons, but this isn’t the end for you. Don’t give up. If you only remember one thing from out conversation it’s that it gets better.

I had similar conversations with many teenagers prior to and after that interview concluded. I don’t know why that one stuck with me. I had just begun writing this book so maybe I saw myself in him and his stories. To see how young and starting to learn your own strength at 12. I think it was also speaking to his mother, as well. She told me that she would support him if he was gay, but that 12 years old is too young to be dealing with those things. She’s right, in some ways.

I almost let it slide because although I am now aware I am still a product of an environment where sex is seemed as shameful and disgusting. I decided to disclose my sexuality to her.

I told her, “You are his mother, and you know what’s best for your son. I agree with you that 12 years old is way too young of an age for any child to be looking at pornography, and any way to limit that is very important. But kids do find ways around that- so just be aware and don’t think this is something never to be discussed again. I also just want to share something as a person and not as an agent of the state. I was your son’s same age when I started having same-sex attractions. It took me 15 years to embrace it and about 19 years until I was open about it. If I can offer you advice- Just keep the door open and let him know you love him no matter what. Because if you do that he will find his truest self faster and the journey might not be so painful. I didn’t tell your son that I am gay, but I want you to know that I did tell him “it gets better” because it does.”

We both stood there on the front porch steps quietly for a few moments. I don’t know what she was thinking, and I was wondering if I disclosed too much- I always feel like that as it is lol, but this was a professional setting- and I could get reprimanded if she wanted to complain.

Luckily, that’s not what happened. The mother turned to me and thanked me for telling her this and for the work that I do. She told me that she would support her son if he identifies as gay or straight, and that she would try to understand him better. This situation gave me even more impetus to write a book. Most of us have had that struggle. We don’t have to make it this hard anymore.

She asked if she could give me a hug, and I said, “oh my god, of course!” I thanked her for listening and being receptive. I gave her my business card, and told her she could call me if she had any questions or concerns relating to the case or pertaining to her son.

From the time I said goodbye, and left her at the doorway, I haven’t heard from her since.

Matazlan, Mexico
First Garden, Fort Worth, TX- May 2018
Ranger and I, Gatlinburg, TN- Christmas 2017
Mount Hood, Portland, OR

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