The REAL Issues in the Trans Debate

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Nicola Sturgeon, forrmer First Minister of Scotland, in a recent interview:

Ms Sturgeon also doubled down on her view that transgender women are women, and said in the on-stage interview with trans novelist and activist Juno Dawson that “people should be able to live how they want to be”.

She warned that “it seems like everyone in society is raining down on trans people” and despite forming 0.5 per cent of the population, they were used as “a battering ram” and that gay people and other marginalised groups were becoming “collateral damage”.

In my view trans people “living how they want” is not really the issue.

  • The issue is ignoring the instincts and wishes of most of the 99.5% of the people by criminalizing and ostracizing the view that binary sex is immutable and gender is merely a social construct.
  • The issue is threatening people with fines, jail, or “cancelling” for seeing an important distinction between biological women and trans women, and daring to say so.
  • The issue is denying physical women the safety of biologically female-only spaces.
  • The issue is expecting biologically female athletes to compete against trans athletes with the physique of a man.
  • The issue is whether we should allow children and adolescents who are still under their parents’ care and who need parental permission or agreement for most important decisions, to make this one life-altering decision without parental consent. Even with parental consent, irreversible treatments at such a young age are problematic.
  • The issue (not only in the trans debate but in many of these hot topics) is the notion that people have the right to everyone else’s approval and affirmation and the right not to have their feelings hurt, and that people who withhold that approval and affirmation or hurt someone’s feelings should be criminally prosecuted. This makes a mockery of freedom of speech and freedom of opinion. 

And “gay people” (specifically lesbians) and also other biological women, are becoming collateral damage when forced, against their preference, to share toilets, showers, changing rooms, etc ., with biological males who have self-declared as female, and are being slandered as TERFs when they object.

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Hartl on Mother’s Day

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Johannes Hartl from the Augsburg Prayer House writes on the occasion of this year’s Mother’s Day:[1]

Sorry if this spoils your mood, but Mother’s Day can also evoke very painful memories for some. Those who read my posts know that I hold the value of healthy parenthood extremely high. But today is about the opposite. I’m curious about your thoughts. And as always: Yes, of course, both men and women, fathers and mothers manipulate, and there is no rule without exception, and nothing and no one should be generalized. Nevertheless, the phenomenon I described exists. Or what do you think?

Mom is the be(a)st.
😳 Thoughts on momipulation:
Today is Mother’s Day, and the value of a loving, empathetic mom cannot be estimated highly enough. But what if one has experienced the opposite?
There are many forms of toxic patterns in mothers. Examples:

  • Punishment through withdrawal of love
  • Emotional coldness
  • Spoiling to the point of dependency
  • Narcissism: Self-promotion of one’s own greatness as a mother
  • Playing children against the father
  • Verbal abuse
  • The child has to take care of the mother, not the other way around

Mamipulation:

  • “Can’t you see how bad I’m feeling?
  • You have to do what I want!”
  • “You are here to comfort me.”
  • “If you really loved me, you would…”
  • “I only mean well, so do what I say, even if you are already 31.”
  • Interference in relationships
  • Having a fixed plan for your life
  • Clinging: not allowing separation
The mood of the entire family is shaped by her negative emotions and must align with her expectations.
Such behavior always stems from the mother’s own painful history. At the same time, it deeply hurts those affected.
I wish for you to be able to clarify and reconcile your relationship with your mother. But reconciliation is not the first step. The first step is to break the lie that your mom is infallible and beyond criticism. If you were hurt, you must first acknowledge it unreservedly.
If you have a mother who was good to you, you have an invaluable treasure in your life. Don’t forget that this is a privilege and many people have painfully experienced the opposite.

Source: Facebook post by Johannes Hartl; Translation Wolf Paul[2]

I am infinitely grateful to God that I had a mother, Irmtraut Paul, who was good to me (in fact, to all six of us children) because she also had a good mother and grew up in a loving family (with ten children — just like us, with six children, stereotypically Catholic 🙂 ). She passed away 13 years ago and is safe with God. In her final year she suffered from increasing dementia; this was one of the most difficult times for me and my siblings. I still miss her from time to time.

And because we don’t celebrate Father’s Day in our family[3] here is a tribute to my father, Walter Paul, who passed away 31 years ago: he was a good, though not perfect, father, an avid mountain climber even after he lost both legs below the knees, and I still miss him even after all these years.

__________
  1. I was going to post this on Sunday, but—understandably—obtaining permission took some time.[]
  2. With the aid of ChatGPT[]
  3. My father always thought Father’s Day was just a marketing gimmick, an opportunity to sell “manly” gifts, and I adopted his view[]
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You Do Not Go Out With Our Armies?

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In a recent prayer of lament over the state of the church and society posted on social media one aspect being lamented was “You do not go out with our armies”.

But where does the expectation come from that God SHOULD go out with our armies?

God went out with Israel’s armies of old because they are His people and they were fighting in direct obedience to His instructions and with His promise of victory.

Our armies, as a rule, have NO direct mandate from God, our wars are not commanded by Him, our nations are not His people the way Israel is, and our governments do not even acknowledge Him, so why should He go out with them?

Throughout church history whenever the church has invoked God on behalf of the nations’ military campaigns — frequently, in fact, both sides in a conflict invoked God’s help — the results were not to the glory of God.

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The Two-State Solution Isn’t One

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The obsession of many international politicians with a two-state solution in the Middle East is largely motivated by cynical, domestic political damage control. As a solution, the two-state solution is dead on arrival.

I am very pessimistic about the attitude of most politicians towards military conflicts and political or other crises abroad:

They make proposals for solutions that will not work but are meant to show their voters that they (the politicians) are not just sittin on their behinds and perhaps also bring a short-term relaxation so that the terrible images disappear from their voters’ TV screens, and which ideally do not produce any domestic political problems. Whether these “solutions” are viable in the long term or even worsen the situation in the longer view is not so important, because “by then I will have long been out of office, and others may worry about it.”

We see this in the attitude of many politicians and governments towards the current conflict in Gaza and their proposed solutions:

Apart from the absolutely necessary short-term measures to avert a hunger disaster (and the delay of which is primarily blamed on Israel, although the well-known facts suggest otherwise[1]), nearly all major international actors (USA, EU, UN, etc.) are pushing the so-called “two-state solution”, which would give the Palestinians their own state (in Gaza and the “West Bank”). This approach has only one serious disadvantage that will torpedo its implementation from the outset:

The “two-state solution” is rejected by the majority of both the Israeli and Palestinian populations (with over 70% each) — this according to current surveys by Israeli and Palestinian pollsters.

Palestinian leaders repeat—almost  like a mantra—the supposed command of the Prophet to annihilate the Jews and their own claim to the land “from the river to the sea” — but only on Arabic media channels, to the West they convey a different image. According to a current survey – by Palestinian pollsters – 73% of the population of Gaza approve of the massacre on October 7th, despite the immense suffering it has brought over them[2].

The Israeli population was predominantly in favor of a two-state solution in the 1990s; the continued Palestinian refusal to recognize Israel’s right to exist, as well as about 30 years of continuous shelling of Israeli villages and cities and countless other terrorist attacks, with the climax on October 7th, have turned this approval into rejection: The trust of Israelis of all political stripes that there could be a relatively peaceful coexistence or even just cohabitation with a Palestinian state is virtually at zero. A survey from February showed that 44% of Israelis believe that terrorism would increase if a Palestinian state were realized; in a survey at the beginning of this month, 79% of Jewish Israelis and 39% of Arab Israelis agreed with the statement, “There is no chance for a peace agreement with the Palestinians in the foreseeable future.” After October 7th, a two-state solution is seen as a reward for terrorism.

The obsession of many international politicians with a two-state solution clearly contradicts the will of the Israeli public and certainly does not match what the Palestinians want. It is primarily motivated by a cynical desire for domestic political damage limitation[3].

Sources for this article: “Who Wants a Two-State Solution? Not Israelis or Palestinians” by Israel Kasnett in “Israel Today“, March 22, 2024, as well as my extensive reading and media following on the topic.

 

 

__________
  1. Israel’s position is clear and justified: a ceasefire and thus easier provisioning in exchange for the release of the hostages from October 7th; so far, Hamas has demanded a permanent end to hostilities; there seems to be some movement on this issue now. Moreover, blaming Israel seems to be generally de rigueur: Although it is an open secret that Hamas embeds its terror infrastructure within civilian facilities and residential areas, and partly prevents the civilian population from seeking safety in order to propagandistically exploit the inevitable civilian casualties, and that Hamas seizes a significant portion of the international aid payments and deliveries to arm themselves and supply their fighters, and although the civilian casualty numbers, as published daily by the Health Ministry in Gaza, are statistically impossible and therefore unlikely (after all, the Health Ministry, like all official Gaza, is in the hands of Hamas), everything that comes from there is taken at face value by most international media and politicians, and Israel is blamed for the suffering of the civilian population[]
  2. From the Palestinian perspective, what was done on October 7th was simply obeying what they believe to be the Prophet’s instruction (namely, killing Jews), so they naturally see the Israeli counterstrike as completely unjustified.[]
  3. Currently in the USA, it’s about limiting the loss of votes in the presidential election in November ’24.[]
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Putin — A Religious Fundamentalist?

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This was an interesting conversation between Piers Morgan and Slavoj Žižek.

I would disagree with Slavoj Žižek on one major point:

I don’t think Vladimir Putin is a religious fundamentalist. He has a mixed motivation of Russian nationalism fuelled by imperialist delusions, and a limitless ambition and lust for power. He merely uses religious fundamentalists as tools, as useful idiots.

In that he resembles Donald Trump, who also has a mixed motivation, of American nationalism fuelled by American exceptionalism “MAGA” delusions, and a limitless ambition and lust for power, and he uses Evangelicals and Christian fundamentalists as tools and useful idiots.

The big difference is of course that Putin has invaded a neigbouring country and has had more than one political opponent locked up and assassinated. Trump hasn’t done that, but judging by some of his campaign rhetorik, the locking up at least no longer seems impossible.

Oh, and I agree with Mr Žižek that the political establishment on both sides of the aisle have made Trump possible because of their failure to listen to the real needs and concerns of the people they are supposed to represent, instead being preoccupied with their pet ideological projects.

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Politics or God — Whom do we trust?

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A guest post by James Kushiner of Touchstone Magazine

“So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth:
it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish
that which I please, and it shall prosper
in the thing whereto I sent it.

The future is the only thing in man’s field of vision that appears enticingly within his power to shape. So the present is dominated by plans for and promises about “the future.”

This is all grist for the rhetoric that will dominate media in another election year in the U.S. (where it officially began this past Monday) as well as in other countries. Candidates talk about what they will do in the future to change things for the better. The only problem is they can rarely deliver on their promises.

This does not stop the promises and predictions. Some of the predictions are also of what will happen if one’s political opponent is elected instead. Sometimes a candidate really believes he will be able to stop crime and lower taxes. At other times, a candidate will just say what he thinks he needs to say to get elected, and then, once in power, do what he wants, not keeping to his previous script.

In other words, “Put not your trust in princes, in the sons of men in whom there is no salvation.” Even the best, honest, and wisest candidate cannot control the future. And any president or prime minister may find himself (and his country) in circumstances not previously envisioned or prepared for (e.g., George W. Bush on 9/11 or Benjamin Netanyahu on Oct. 7). We cannot announce the future—unless we are a prophet.

Our grasp of the future is illusory, unless we base it on the Word of God. By that I mean recognizing not only that God alone has the final say, but that he has also shown himself to be clear about what will happen in the future, unlike the sons of men and unlike their adversary, the devil, who lies about the future to deceive us.

The adversary told Eve “you will surely not die” if the forbidden fruit was eaten, and “you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” A proposal was made with an assurance. Well, Man does, sort of, know good and evil in that he experiences them, but surely does not know what to make of evil or how to explain it to our satisfaction.

God, on the other hand, from Genesis on, clearly announced to man what he will do and what the consequences will be for man for the deeds man does. To Adam and Eve, he declared, “In the day the you eat of [the tree of knowledge] you shall surely die.”

Prior to the Fall, God needed to make no promise to mankind; only directives: “Be fruitful and multiply…I have given you every green plan for food.” It was all “very good.”

But after the disobedience, God began weaving a lifeline for man, who had severed himself from God like an astronaut drifting off into deep and deadly space. God began to speak of what he would do in the future; he made promises, in the form of covenants. “I will put enmity between you and the woman…her offspring…shall bruise your head.”

He made promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; promised a scepter to Judah; promised deliverance from Egypt to Moses, and a ruler of the line of David to redeem and save us. In all cases, God is able to call the shot, make it happen, and retrieve mankind from the jaws of death.

We have a choice: to place full confidence in God or mammon; in the Lord or the rulers of the earth. God has announced that the end of men’s delusions will come and none of their schemes will abide, while the kingdom of this world will become the kingdom of Christ.

Modern man denigrates all this as “pie-in-the-sky” religion. Perhaps he has it backwards: politics is pie-in-the-sky optimism. God delivers. He has not hidden his purposes. He warned Israel that they would suffer in the Land if they did not keep the commandments. That they would be exiled. The Lord said not one stone of the Temple would remain on another and all would be swept away. He said, and we confess, that he will come again with glory to judge the living and the dead, that his kingdom shall have no end. That is our anchor.

Who are you going to believe? Trust? Jesus said he would build his church. He did that. It struggles when it is faithless and sins (as warned), and shines when faithful to the Word and commandments of God. No other ruler can claim such an influence on the world, and Christ is not done yet. He is coming to clean house and make a final end to the devil and his works.

That’s the only right side of history to be on.


James Kushiner is Director of Publications for Touchstone Magazine — A Journal of Mere Christianity.

This article was first published in First Things’ e-mail newsletter for subscribers, on Jan. 20, 2024.

Copyright C 2024 by James Kushiner and Fellowship of St. James. Used by permission.

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Christian Ministry vs Christian Church

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In conversation with a friend who leads a Christian ministry, she said that the ministry has now “shrunk to health”: Several employees had moved to another, similar service, and she found clear words for those others who were just followers without actually pulling their weight, leading to a further exodus. Now she has a small team of people who are all pulling together.

In many ways, a church and a Christian ministry are very similar, not only because they both represent Christian values and pursue Christian goals: they are a group of Christians; now and then some migrate to the “competition”; people engage at different levels and some can actually be described as mere hangers-on.

However, it would be fatal to want to “shrink to health” a church:

A Christian ministry has, beyond the hopefully present sense of fellowship among the employees, a clearly defined task that needs to be fulfilled. For this, it is important that all employees actually pull their weight, and a “shrinking to health” can actually be healthy.

In contrast, a church is primarily a community, a family, the body of Christ: a place, a fellowship where Christ’s love is lived and thereby made visible. In every family or human body, there are naturally stronger and weaker members – people who contribute more or less diligently, with more or less skill, to the life of the community, and it is part of the calling of the stronger to bear the weaker.

A few days ago, a brother told me he had been kicked out of a church because he is ill. He didn’t give me any details of his illness, I don’t really know the church, and therefore can’t determine what actually happened; but this brother does not feel carried but abandoned in this situation, he has not experienced God’s love but indifference and a lack of compassion.

“Performance thinking” has its place in a business, a company; in a family, it is out of place.

“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ” says the Apostle Paul, and he also says that we should not judge or despise the weaker members but honour them.

When Christ talks about tearing out a member which offends or tempts us He was talking about our human bodies, and most of the time we do not literally tear off an arm or pluck out an eye; but, very importantly, he was not talking about His body, encouraging us to purge offensive members — as it is His body, only He gets to do this. On the contrary, He warns us not to try to distinguish wheat from weeds, and tells us to leave the weeds alone: He doesn’t say so, but seriously, He who changed water into the best wine can certainly change weeds into finest wheat.

“See how they love each other!” — that is what people outside the church should say about us, not “See how efficient they are.”

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Christmas Day

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Collect for Christmas Day:

Almighty God, you have given your only-begotten Son to take
our nature upon him, and to be born [this day] of a pure virgin:
Grant that we, who have been born again and made your children
by adoption and grace, may daily be renewed by your Holy Spirit;
through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom with you and the same
Spirit be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.

 

From the Book of Common Prayer (2019) of the Anglican Church in North America

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Fourth Sunday of Advent

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Collect for the Third Sunday of Advent:

Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among
us; and as we are sorely hindered by our sins from running the
race that is set before us, let your bountiful grace and mercy
speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to
whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now
and for ever. Amen.

 

From the Book of Common Prayer (2019) of the Anglican Church in North America

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Third Sunday of Advent

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Collect for the Third Sunday of Advent:

Blessed Lord,
who caused all Holy Scriptures to be written for our learning:
Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,
that by patience and the comfort of your holy Word
we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life,
which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ;
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
Amen.

 

From the Book of Common Prayer (2019) of the Anglican Church in North America

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