Hannah and Papa J

Hannah and Papa J

Saturday, June 4, 2016

So you say you hate the Dark Ages

Dear Hannah,

I wouldn't go as far as the Huffington Post and say that Jesus was transgender, but I feel very comfortable saying that Christians have been arguing that things are what they aren't for a very long time, and until recently were putting people to death over it.  This can be explained with two very casual observations.  The argument over the trinity (at best) is an argument about whether one is one or three; and the difference between transubstantiation and consubstantiation is an argument over whether bread and wine are body and blood*.

If this seems an unfair statement to make (and maybe a little sacrilegious), we need only consider that at the beginning of the establishment of Christianity, directly after the reign of Constantine, thousands of people could perish in an argument about the meaning of numbers.  The military occupation of Alexandria by the authority of Constantius, made for the purpose of ousting a popularly elected trinitarian bishop, the saintly Athanasius, resulted not only in the outright murder of Christians by Christians, but even in the rapes of innocent virgins and the sacking of Christian churches.

Edward Gibbon notes in The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire that during the first seasons of Christian establishment, the tumults between Catholics and Arians resulted in riots and rapes, exiles and assassinations; and that if there was any difference between the Christian government and the pagan, it was in the tolerance of the heathen toward the contemplation of metaphysics**.  In addition to this, the argument about whether something that looks like bread could actually be flesh has brought many scholastics (and other insane people) to discuss whether something that has all the properties of one thing can actually be something else; which has led many people who believe in our senses to suffer martyrdom, not even for an invisible faith given only to few, but for the sight that God has graciously given to all.

The difference between the ancient Catholic and the modern transsexual (and I'm happy to say one difference among many) is that the old Catholic was fighting for the meaning of the universe, while the transsexual is fighting to lose the meaning of his genitals.  Swearing publicly that his gender isn't dependent on his anatomy, he hypocritically mutilates his anatomy to "fit" his gender; and in asking for the freedom to think of himself as he chooses, has openly denied the freedom for others to think of him freely.  The senses and the sentiments of the public are subservient to his declarations; and while painting himself the victim, he intends to make himself the master, not even of the bodies of the masses, but of their mouths and minds.

The difficult thing to understand about the matter is why the secularists, who've pretended to fight so bravely against a Protestantism without power and a Catholicism almost without consequence, can so quickly abandon the one claim they ever had to rightness in the first place.  The importance of thinking for ourselves -- the reliance upon the senses and the most fundamental sentiments -- the science that triumphed under the scientists and the humanity that triumphed under the humanists, have been suddenly swept under the rug when we found the enemy wasn't religious.  Any threat to freedom of expression is tolerated when it wears drag instead of a ferula, and any insult to the dignity of our conscience is acceptable when it wears implants instead of a mitre.  We have lost the Catholics -- but we've retained the absurdities of religion.  We have lost our God -- and deified our sexual deviants.  
Perhaps more regrettable than the reaction of the secularists and atheists has been the reaction of the faithful.  There is nothing that carries less weight in a moral discussion than religious rights; and an appeal to a constitutional right to worship is tantamount to an admission of inferiority in principles.  No longer reliant upon the testable facts of human existence, but upon the dubious and inscrutable claims of priests and prophets, the worshiper appeals not to the tribunal of reason, but to a sanctuary for the unreasonable.  In denying his ability to stand, either on the rights of individual expression, or liberty of conscience, or scientific fact, and instead appealing to his constitutional right to worship anything a cultist could imagine, the Christian has abandoned the liberties so painfully secured by his Protestant ancestors, and exchanged them for the feeble securities of our meanest Muslim foreigners.

Our reliance on religious instead of civil liberties will be the downfall of the religious right, and ironically the end of social liberalism.  Shy of the inevitable consequence of our fanatical devotion to the transgendered community, which is the endangerment of our women and children by strangers in bathrooms, there can be few other insults to the sanctity of civil rights more invasive than a free citizen being told he has to accept what any other free citizen says about himself.  There can also be few more intolerable insults to the our freedom of speech than being forced to say anything another private citizen demands.

If our transgender activists were an enlightened and liberal people, they would have defended American rights with a simple and obvious solution reserved for the freest men in the freest and most celebrated ages: by letting men say what they will about themselves, and letting other men judge their statements freely.  If it can be proved without any shadow of a doubt that a man can turn into a woman, then I say let the transgenders give the answer by naturally removing the question, and by their irrefutable transformation look, sound, think, and give birth like a woman.  Until then let our unjust laws be a testament to four insulting, illiberal, and unhealthy lies:

1) That liberty is forcing others to accept your statements about yourself,
2) That the measure of a man's dignity lies in a pronoun, instead of an experience of his character,
3) That the safety of the entire fairer sex is less important than the feelings of the almost nonexistent number of the transgendered, and
4) That any one of us men could ever usurp the worship that so properly belongs to femininity, and that any woman could ever usurp the dignity that so properly belongs to manliness.

Your father,

*If we were to interpret church history as loosely as many Christians interpret the Scriptures, we might be tempted to joke that homoiousion and transubstantiation prefigured the current controversies over homosexuality and transgenderism; with the minor exception that the former schisms happened over something nobody could really understand, and the current ones happen over some things that nobody sensible can deny.  The look on a child's face the first time he meets a transgender man will tell us everything we need to know about the matter.  The most obvious and unspoken truths, if we've been too conditioned by the mandates of society, are oftentimes reasserted by the unblushing honesty of our children.     

**Few could have imagined, when Jesus said He came to bring a sword instead of peace, that He was speaking just as much about the violence between Christians as about the persecution of the Christians by the unfaithful.  Little else could have been expected by any impartial and enlightened observer, despite the expectation of many (including Constantine's close spiritual advisor, the eloquent Lactantius) that the establishment of Christianity would lead to a golden era of virtue and tranquility.

A steady increase in the machinery of government, and the gradual erosion of civil liberties since Augustus, both for the purpose of finding and persecuting any political dissidents, were quickly transformed from instruments of political power into instruments for spiritual supremacy.  A land permeated by a kind of secret police; laws which permitted torture without any regard to citizenship or age or sex; and a jealous division of powers for the prevention of open rebellion, may have secured the throne from any rivals, but intimately associated the concept of government with the idea of oppression.  Furthering the abuses of tyrannical authority, the conversion of Constantine immediately gave the emperor an unusual amount of power in what was originally a kind of republican church government, the last remaining elements of independence in an almost thoroughly enervated society.

The organization of the church, as well as the relative virtue and vigilance of its members, was able to restrain the emperor in many cases from acts of undue tyranny, and their habitual resistance to their pagan overlords had trained them not only in the arts of civil disobedience, but also in the distinction between temporal and spiritual authority.   But the once-oppressed Christians were incapable of resisting the temptations of power that once belonged to their enemies, and instead of establishing an era of the toleration they had so recently requested, were content, like any other political faction, with the power of persecuting their enemies alongside differences of opinion in their brethren.

Toleration is always the request of those in subjection, and rarely the interest of those in political power; and if Jesus is to be taken seriously about the surprises of the Final Judgment, we might infer that a church run by Christians might have taken Christian charity seriously, but that a faction in a state of supremacy always attracts impostors; and that if anything is to be expected, it is an increase of tares at the expense of the proportion (and inevitably the power) of the wheat.   Sincere Christians are capable of making mistakes.  But I believe that Christians are more frequently disgraced not for their own sins, but for the many vices, crimes, and the willful ignorance of spiritual pretenders.

It's also worth noting that Paul, perhaps with the noblest intentions of a thoroughly Jewish theologian, whittled down his political theory to two points, one of them necessary, and the other one pernicious.  The first is that government is God's instrument for the persecution of evil and the support of the good.  The second is that every ruler, whatever his quality, is personally appointed by God.  With this as the foundation of Christian jurisprudence, it is difficult to expect anything other than spiritual tyranny, and any ruler other than an absolute despot.  The complexities of Christian theology and the generality of their morals facilitate a government interested in the minutest details, while the absolute authority of their leaders keeps anyone from open rebellion.  We can only be thankful that as this is the teaching of Scripture, the masses of the faithful are frequently just as regulated by their temporal interests as they are in their pursuit of the kingdom of heaven; and that Christians, while oftentimes claiming an absolute allegiance to their princes and an unconditional submission to the will of God, are usually capable of being goaded into acts of legitimate and manly violence.

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