A Christian Take On Gay Marriage

I came across this post the other day on Facebook: “Support the Constitutional Amendment to Protect Marriage: This is a group for everyone who believes that marriage, as a tradition and as the fundamental bedrock of society, should be preserved as between one man and one woman and a constitutional amendment.”

….hmm….interesting….I thought so innocently I clicked the link that mysteriously appeared on my home page and read the first comment: “ugghh what are we gonna do with all these gays?” WHAT!?! Who is this guy, Hitler? “Amen to that!” writes the next person. Oh Lord, gay bashing Christians, what have I stumbled on? Surely people don’t confuse the rights of gays to marry as a Christian issue? Most people just need more rational information to make the right choices, so I decided to set them straight.

So I thoughtfully type: “Oh my! Same sex marriages are an important legal action to ensure the rights of both parties are honored in the event of legal and civil matters. It is not about Christian marriage, it is about legal rights and lawful representation.” A small little voice inside of my head warns me, but with a click of mouse I hit “send.” I dismissed the voice and now am smug and satisfied that I have done my civic and Christian duty to show these people the truth.
In just a few seconds my inbox alerts me that I have mail, then more mail. What’s this about? There are seven or eight emails about comments in response to mine. Oh joy, enlightened people, all voicing their intelligent agreement! Eagerly I go to the first email and am instantly slammed into an unexpected storm of hate.

“Adam and Eve!!! Not Adam and Steve!!!” declares the first post. Cute, I think, but over-used. I knew I should have listened to that inner voice. The next guy comments “One man one wife Gods law. And no one gets away with breaking Gods law, NO ONE!” What kind of statement was this? Does this person view God as their personal hit man? What a hater! The next guy writes “Amen!” Amen? Amen to what you moron? Aggravated but still hopeful, I continue to read: “Barbara is misguided!” I’m misguided! You’re the misguided one mister! I move to the next one. “Barbara, same sex legal rights are what’s important, not same sex marriage. Use your brain!!!” Use my brain!?! That is what I said in the first place, freakin’ weirdo! What’s next - the crazy lady in every crowd who cries hysterically “What about the children?” And next, “rights? So will they have the same right as having/adopting children? How will the child understand having two dads, moms? How will the child introduce his "parents" one day? Meet my dad and err...dad?” THE CRAZY LADY HAS ARRIVED!!! “Marriage wasn't invented by the legal system, Barbara; it was made as a covenant between a man and a woman by GOD!” What kind of statement is that? I suppose when God brought Eve to Adam he had a contract and a minister? Then Leslie says: “couples of same sex already have those rights Barb. No need to have more. The word "marriage" is an all-important concept, not a must for health insurance, wills, or estate inheritance, etc. The main reason some gays need to have a "marriage" is to remove the meaning for Christians worldwide and to include an "anti-Christ" life-style into its meaning.” OK! If gay couples had the same rights why is there such a drive to legalize gay marriage? OK, NOW WE HAVE THE ANTI-CHRIST THING - when all else fails it must be SATAN! It can’t be that you’re a brain dead idiot with the thinking capacity of a plant! “This nation is founded on CHRISTIAN BELIEFS and in those is NO GAY LIFESTYLE. I ban same sex marriage... god made Adam and Eve - not Adam and Fred - or Eve and Mary....If we allow same sex marriage to be legal what’s next - allowing civil rights to pedophiles? Heaven forbid! Why should we allow special rights based on who you have sex with? This is not a racial issue!” WHAT? First, capitalize God if you love Him so much; second, what do gay rights have to do with child-molesters? I doubt upholding gay rights will lead to pedophiles having the right to marital bliss with children. Yep we’ve got it all here with this loony-tune! God, Children and Country…Oh! Let’s not forget the oh-so-clever word play on Adam and Eve. And I don’t even understand the need to bring up racism. God help me, I think I am having an aneurism!

Really angry now, I read the next one. “De una costilla ...Hombre y mujer nos creĆ³ Dios... para complementarnos y uno al otro expresar lo mas sublime su amor.” I have no idea what this says, so in my mind I decide it says “Barbara, you are brilliant! I will never be the same after reading what you wrote. I was, until I was blessed with your words, an anti-gay terrorist who has taken many innocent lives. Because of you I have decided to give my immense fortune to support the legalization of Gay Marriages. As soon as I post this I am turning myself into the police. You are indeed a truly beautiful person”. Lost in this fantasy, I read on. “Barbra your prolly a faggot yourself.” Bastard name calling closet queen! “Judgment is bad and yall r being partial against gays god says to love everyone equally just talk to them about god and don’t shun them” Thank you Emily! The next one declares “You are all a bunch of Bigots” Tell it! Looking for more light I find “I am for a man and woman marriage but ya’ll are treating them like they r things and not human beings who have feelings.” Amen! Then dreadfully; “AIDS is a gift to mankind from the gay community! Homosexuality is sin and the wages of sin is death!” This one sickens me. I take a breath and move on: “I don't mean to sound bad, but God made Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve. People need to get there bible and read and get to know the Lord before it’s too late. Sorry to friends that are. They already have the same legal rights as heterosexual couples. They want the title of marriage because they think that with it will come social acceptance for their perverse lifestyle.” Did she really just call an entire section of society perverts? She must be Southern! “They are perverted, bless their hearts, but we should be nice anyway.” My exasperation is mounting again…“Marriage: the institution and process that should precede parenting. This should be protected from being slandered and altered so as to fit the political and/or financial desires of other unnatural influences.” So couples who choose not to have children or are unable to have children should not marry? What sense does that make, you dense person! Every whack job in the country is on this thread spewing hate and intolerance and they think I am the misguided one?!?! Idiot! Jerk! Hater! I’ll show you gay bashers!

In a temper, I type an onslaught of corrective advice to these brainless people who have nothing better to do with their time and whose IQs are obviously not high enough to contemplate issues weightier than “Amen!” Just before I made my opinion permanent for all to see the Spirit moved in me, quietly, and said “read what you wrote Barbara”. So I did. Well, I reasoned, it isn’t very good and it IS a bit strong, so I calmed down and wrote: “-David...I thought that is what I said....Same sex marriage is one step that ensures same sex rights. It can be very complicated and expensive in regards to legal issues. Legal Union - is this a better term? It would simplify things for them, not to mention it honors their right to love and be with whom they chose. -Leslie, again I say...this is not a Christian issue. This is a matter of legalities and rights. The New Testament sets the stage for forgiveness, tolerance and the power to repent if we choose to follow Christ. Only Christians are expected to follow the path. Our government was indeed built on a moral code that Christians adopted as in "Thou shall not kill," etc., but it is not built and founded on Christianity. It is built and founded on the freedom to worship and live without overbearing government interference. Our government is not meant to force us to be Christian, it is meant to serve ALL the people. It is meant to make certain we all remain free and are able to live our lives within a safe and secure homeland. Gay and lesbian unions threaten no one. They hurt no one. Your theory says Catholics (since some Christians do not consider them Christian), Jews, Muslims, Buddhist, etc must live for and worship Christ. It seems to me you are asking government to take on the job of The Holy Spirit and that is idolatry - worshipping a false God and not trusting in Our Savior. “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. ”1 John 1:8“ But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger . When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." John 8:7””

A new post pops up: ““1 Corinthians 6:12; …you may say, "I am allowed to do anything." But, I reply, "Not everything is good for you." And even though "I am allowed to do anything," I must not become a slave to anything. Believing the lie that anything other than marriage as one woman and one man is ok is allowing yourself to become a slave to the world and the way the ….” Clearly she is not listening. I should never have thrown scriptures in! Then another; “Romans 12:2, …do not copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.” Scriptural arguing, how I hate it. No one becomes enlightened when the only desire is to win. Blane comes back with: “And then Jesus said to the woman "go and sin no more." The Bible clearly states that homosexuality is a sin. You make some very good points Barbara but the fact of the matter is to re-name marriage as a civil union or legal union just washes down the importance of marriage. We already have a divorce rate of higher than 50 percent. Make no mistake; I know that it’s no better within the church. As a society we don't see marriage as sacred or worthwhile. We need to protect the sanctity of marriage and keep it one man and one woman. And I am not judging anybody, that is not my job, it’s God’s. History repeats itself...Rome, Sodom and Gomorra....you get my point. If we don’t turn from sin and turn to God, He will take care of it.” Some very good points Blane, but your argument is still lame although I hold respect for you and your approach.

Calmer now, the Spirit again is moving in me. So I carefully type “Thank you Blane for being gentle yet corrective...You leave my heart open to consider what you have so correctly and peacefully shown me. I am not suggesting we change the reality of Christian marriage, which is a holy covenant between God and the Man and Woman…I am saying why not develop another way, other than “marriage” that allows gay couples to protect themselves and to be “legally recognized” as a “legal couple.” There are millions of marriages that are not Christian yet are legal. There are millions of unions made outside the churches. These are legal agreements, not Godly covenants. Non-Christians cannot operate under the same laws as we do. They are not capable because they do not have the Holy Spirit indwelt. Until they do, they cannot make the same walk as we do. God will judge, this is certain, but He asks me to let Him make my life an example of Him and His love. Can I do this if I am busy judging others? Am I the example Christ calls me to be when I treat people harshly and with disdain and hate? If my intolerance repels them, am I doing what God calls me to do? Love conquers evil. No, this is not what Jesus would do.”

A few minutes later the first comment on my post comes up “It is a very Christian matter...we have stayed silent too long. Prayer taken out of schools, God removed from whatever they wish, and so frankly, America is no longer a nation under God but a nation needing God. When do we stand and say enough....without God we will fail and rampant sin will get worse and then what? I have a brother who got married to his partner in California and he has disowned me cause I told him it is wrong. Sin is sin. If you murder you go to jail....that is a sin in the word of God. Homosexuality is clearly defined by God also. Read your word.” I have yet to meet a silent Christian!!! No wonder her brother hates her. She is a legalistic ass! The next: “gays are sick and wrong.” Here we go again! And bigots are stupid and offensive! Bracing myself against the rage, I read “Gays pay taxes too - that they do not have the same rights as heterosexuals to legal union (which is defined by the state as marriage) is discrimination. There needs to be compromise here - heterosexuals need to lead the way to a fair outcome that allows homosexuals the same rights & homosexuals need to lay off the "marriage" moniker so as to not offend religious beliefs. The solution, marriage becomes only a religious union & the states change the word "marriage" to "legal union" in the law books. Would this satisfy everyone? No - but it would be fair & less contentious.” I then post “I think I'm in love with Russell...” Finally, oh Praise God, finally, a really smart one appears. “I agree with Barbara on this one!!” Nuff said! I logoff, still angry but feeling slightly vindicated!

To blow off the last of my steam (and to further confirm my rightness in this matter), I made many phone calls to friends and family with much ranting and raving about ‘those narrow minded Christians.’ During those phone calls a voice rises up in me and asks gently “what are you?” I kept pushing it way to vent my anger and sense of injustice. Finally when my overblown offense abates, the voice becomes louder, gently asking me again “What are you?” This quote comes to mind: “Wise are those who look at others with the same generosity they offer themselves, and at themselves with the same critical eye they have for others.” Suddenly, like a bolt of lightning, it hits me - I am a hypocrite! This terrible insight goes straight to my heart as THE TRUTH ABOUT ME. I am angry with myself more than the people who commented. How can I preach tolerance when I myself am intolerant of people who do not share my views? The level of judgment in my internal dialog while reading the comments of those people frightens me. The very foundation of my Christian walk begins to shift immediately. Then, once again, the Spirit lovingly tells me “Well done.”

Written by Barbara Rhyne-Tucker
Edited by Rhonda McLearen

Loss of Life

This is the first part of a series of articles about my life as a survivor of domestic abuse. I want to share my story but writing it takes a lot out of me emotionally. Therefore I will be submiting in segements. My hope is to show the stages in which my abuse happened so that even one person out there can understand how and why this happens to women. The stigma that the abused suffer is just another blow.

Black-haired Jane

When you smiled at me that night with that fox's face I believed that you were the man who truly understood me. I believed you were a man. It was your wit and easy smile that lured me in. All these years later people still ask what I saw in you and its taken me all of these years to sort through the dust and remember that. I was very young and I was searching for something I didn't even know I sought. I wanted to belong, to be secure, to be loved by a man who didn't want my body or my sex or just to be seen with me. I was attracted to the fact that you were confident in yourself and that you didn't seem to notice my breasts or my youth. You spoke to my eyes and seemed to appreciate the intellect that I prided so much in myself. The people around you seemed to appreciate you and I never thought that just under that calm facade lay a beast, waiting to strike...

When I married you it seemed no one was happy. It made it easy for you to villanize the people closest to me and push them from my life. They didn't understand our love and if they didn't love you, I shouldn't love them. The ones who loved me most and tried the hardest to make me see the truth were the first on the chopping block. I easily fell in line with your plans to dominate my life. I believed myself to be a strong and worldly woman, I could never do something I didn't want to do. You decided we would move away from the bad influences in my life and I was the farthest I had ever been away from my family and friends. My loved ones were out of the picture, all that was left was the two of us. My ideals were slowly being stripped away, my deepest most heartfelt beliefs; belittled, crushed, maimed and eventually, lost. As the months passed you took many things from me, even the little things were deeply felt but I was so lost and scared and now isolated from the people who cared for me I simply gave in. You burned my "inapropriate" clothes, threw out my makeup; you took my books. I was forbidden to read my writings to anyone but you.

I became pregnant.

Children added a whole new demention to my loneliness. I was so broken that being a mother to them was something I was incapable of. Knowing I was a bad mother further pushed me into depression. You had become distant and cold and your rules were absolute. Visits with my family were limited when I was able to go. I had a set time to see them and when I was there I was so anxious and worried about going over my time my stomach would do backflips and I would always leave early. They worried about me because they could see the damage this life was doing to me. I was pale with dark circles under my eyes, my hair was falling out, I was severely overweight, unkempt, I had unexplained bleeding episodes, blood from my nose, blood up from my throat. I was slowly dying and the instinct to save myself had long since abandoned me.

Eventually there was pushing when things didn't go your way. You would roughly shove me in arguments. Into walls, over furniture, onto the floor, once down a flight of stairs. "It's not like I hit you". But, you did, didn't you? Day after day, week after week, year after year, I became a worthless nothing. I was stupid, naive, ugly, a bad mother, a worthless wife. I was crumbling.


Eventually, I got away. That's a story for another time but know there is always hope.

People often say things of abused woman like "She deserves that treatement if she chooses to stay". I hope to show them that NO ONE chooses a life like mine was. Abuse is almost always a systematic breakdown of one's true self. Your self-preservation instincts are ground down, your self-confidence is stripped away. You are left in a place you could never had imagined you would be. No one meets a man and thinks to themself "Wow, he's completely insane and hateful towards me. It's love!"

About the Murder of Steve McNair . . .

Quite a while back, an upper-middle-age black gentleman (I'd put him close to 60) and I were chatting at the office about the Michael Vick case, shortly after that story first broke. At one point during the conversation, he stopped, looked around, lowered his voice, leaned toward me, and said in earnest,

"When you get out of the ghetto, you've GOT to leave the ghetto behind."

The statement rocked me, but not for a race-relations reason. I thought his statement profound because the idea behind it is universal.

Regardless of what one tries to bail, one must actually bail if he wants it truly and forever changed. Whether it's an abusive relationship, a drug addiction, being poor, co-dependency, alcohol, or even just a toxic group of friends, one can't dabble in the past and still get out.

I couldn't help but recall this conversation, and the getting out means leaving it behind concept, when I read about the murder of Steve McNair. I'm not trying to equate the horror of actively participating in a dog fighting ring to being the victim of murder. I'm trying to say that when someone "makes good," once he's achieved the fame and the money, he has to be even more vigilant in his personal dealings than before the good fortune (or just rewards for hard work) arrived because fame and money often cause things to spin completely out of control.

Michael Vick lost his empathy and his freedom. Steve McNair lost his marriage vow and his life.


And You Thought YOUR Room/Office-mates Are Jackasses!

I'm not really sure who's the bigger jackass on this one . . .

The person who's ignoring the need to clean up after themselves or the one who wrote this note, the likes of which we've ALL had the urge to write at some point . . .

The phrase "Let's call him Frank" has just entered my personal vocabulary as a snarky statement on unhygienic matters such as this.

Here's a hint for SkyNet.

As always, click through for the original, larger version.


I am full of unmitigated rage!

I am full of unmitigated rage at this very moment! If I am told by one more fucking medical professional that proper CPAP compliance is 100% effective in treating obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), I might just smack him.

I sleep for crap. I have moderate OSA. This means that, untreated, I stop breathing 30-50 times per hour while sleeping. My personal numbers indicate that I stop breathing roughly every minute and a half. (That means that my brain stem wakes me, almost to consciousness, roughly every third minute, so that I can breath.) This means that my REM onset is dramatically delayed, and, if it occurs at all, it occurs during an earlier stage of sleep than it should and is not as effective as it is in everyone else. As a result, I constantly display the mental and physical symptoms of chronic sleep deprivation.

Consider all of that for a few moments before I continue. Untreated, I wake up, just to the brink of consciousness, once every third minute the entire time I try to sleep.

I talk in my sleep because my REM isn't occurring during the correct phase of sleep. I walked in my sleep as a child. I'm not 100% sure I don't still do so occasionally. As a child, every morning began with my mother dragging me out of the bed, with me screaming and crying and begging to stay in the bed. My friends, family, and partners have known for years that I'm a "Ripley van Winkle" because when I'm not sleeping, I'm a temper-laden ass-kicking Tasmanian Devil. I was unsuccessfully treated for depression (through both talk and pharmacological therapy) for years before I swore both off.

Saying that "I've never had a good night's sleep in my life" is an epic failure in describing the magnitude of what I've dealt with on a daily basis ever since I can remember. Even with CPAP therapy, today, I have to allow 10 hours for sleep, that means 11 for wind-down and wake-up. Approaching 40, I'm beginning to develop health problems that I am positive are provoked by my physiological inability to sleep. I'm petrified of dying from an apnea-induced heart attack like so many untreated men in their 50s do.

I've quit college twice because of falling asleep at the wheel. I've been the only person "laid off" of jobs. I was publicly demoted from my only leadership position. I'm the smartest person I know, and the hardest worker I've ever seen, but the lack of the degree I can't manage to get, my unreliability at getting to the fucking office on time, and my emotional instability (read: temper) have crippled my career advancement.

I've had two general-anesthesia surgeries to complete three procedures on my nose, septum, and sinuses. These surgeries made my CPAP more effective, but it hasn't fixed me yet. All of my mental and physical sleep-deprivation symptoms are improved, but not gone.

The fact that I've even been diagnosed with OSA is odd because it's unusual in women. The fact that I'm overweight doesn't help because weight loss supposedly treats OSA almost as well as CPAP compliance does. The medical people don't seem to want to understand that I struggled with this daily as a child, not to mention when I was 5'6" and 120 lbs. They just keep saying, "Lose weight." I've been trying, but it's damned difficult when a lack of quality sleep leaves you constantly sluggish.

I can't seem to make any of the doctors, except one single pulmonologist who I honestly think doesn't know what to do with me, understand that if I'm a female with OSA, maybe something else is odd? Maybe? Only the pulmonologist will admit that OSA isn't 100% effective, but he has no answers. Oh, and a sleep technologist (puts the squid bits on your head during a sleep study, of which I've had 6) admitted it, too, but she's not a doctor, so she can't treat me. Oh, and my boyfriend doesn't believe it anymore, because he's seen me snore and apnea while I was wearing my mask.

And again today, I get told by an ENT surgeon who can do the surgeries (pulling tongue base forward, uvulectomy, etc.) that "CPAP is 100% effective when the patient is compliant."

Check it: My goddamned boyfriend is a medical professional, and he says that I am the most compliant patient he has ever seen. Whether it's taking antibiotics on schedule and to completion, performing painful wound cleanings at home, going to follow-up visits "when I feel fine," or anything else, my mindset is this: Why pay these people a ton of money to tap their education and experience just to ignore their guidance? What's the likelihood they're going to do their jobs (healing me) effectively if I don't do my part?

Just like everything else medical, I do what I'm supposed to do with my CPAP. I clean my equipment. I replace comsumables when needed. I pack it carefully and take it out of town on road trips, like a pet. I take it in for calibration every so often. I wear it every single time I sleep, even for a short nap. I do all of these things hoping against hope that somehow, after almost 10 years of compliance, it will give me the Holy Grail which I seek -- A.Good.Night's. Sleep.

And again, today, the backhanded "It's your own fault."

So, I hereby scream from the rooftop of The Jane Project, to every single person in the entire medical establishment who will look me in the face and tell me that the fault is mine, that I must somehow be non-compliant:

Fuck you.

I have this daydream where I win the lottery, the big lottery, and I have billions of dollars to play with. I will then track back every single medical professional who has ever said "CPAP is 100% effective when the patient is compliant," or some derivative of that statement, and pay them to sit on the left side of a conference room.

On the right side of the conference room, I seat the three medical professionals that have admitted to me that CPAP is only 99% effective when the patient is compliant.

Then I stand in front of them all and say, "You, on the left, go try and accomplish anything (anything!) with 11 hours a day taken from you, and the other 13 full of Benadryl. Just for a weekend. I dare you. See how I feel, learn what I deal with every.single.day. Remember that that's what I deal with every day when I know for a fucking fact that I do everything any of you has ever said to me. Then, all of you, hook me up to whatever you want, and watch me sleep. Watch my compliance. Listen to me. See what happens. See what I can't tell you. Listen to the man who's slept beside me more times than I can count, listening to me breath for more hours than anyone should have to. Listen to him, because he knows more than you do about me. Then, all of you, leave your preconceptions about what the textbooks say at the door and fucking fix me, and the rest of my money is split amongst you with an extra share going to the three on the right for actually knowing what they were talking about and for believing me."

Thank you all for listening.


The Nature of Jesus and the Point of Christianity

Something that's bugged me on and off for a few years now is a theological question upon which I'd like to receive Jane input . . .

What is the appropriate name/label for someone who generally believes in the teachings of Jesus and tries his best to follow them, but who cannot for the life of himself buy into the physics of the literal Resurrection? Someone who can't bring themselves to believe in the joint divinity/humanity of Jesus, and who thinks the Holy Ghost concept is strictly symbolic?

Since the early followers of Jesus were simply Jews who followed an eccentric Gallilean preacher and the Gnostics (an early Christian sect) thought that God's divinity shone within us all, is it possible to have a modern interpretation of Christianity that does not involve the divinity of or the literal physical resurrection of Jesus?

I've asked this question of intelligent people over the years who are well-educated in at least one Christian denomination (some in several). The interesting answers I've received over the years include:

I don't know what to call him, but he's not Christian. Jesus is nothing if not the Son of God.

An apostle.

The whole point to being a Christian is that your path to Salvation is given, not earned. To profess with your mouth and believe in your heart that Jesus was born in the flesh died on the Cross and, most importantly, rose from the dead to ascend to Heaven to take the right seat next to the Father is Salvation. No man may enter Heaven but by accepting Christ as their Savior, and any other interpretation is disinformation.

We'd probably call him an Episcopalian. ;-) Seriously, such a person technically still wouldn't be any sort of Christian. Belief in the Resurrection of Christ as a historical event is an entry requirement. He'd be closer to some Jewish splinters than a Christian of any sort. If you want big-tent Christianity as a warm fuzzy blanket of humanism and optional belief in the tricky bits, go US Episcopalian, not Anglican.

A secular theological scholar.

Anyone interpreting the teachings of Jesus and the rest of the Bible as simply some sort of New Age-y handbook of how to be a good person or some Ghandi-esqu guru instruction manual about being nice to your fellow man is dramatically misinterpreting the larger point of the Bible. There is no Salvation without the Resurrection. They go hand-in-hand.

An agnostic.

There's always been a healthy amount of room in certain parts of the Church for people who don't eat the dogma right up without a side of crow. I firmly believe that God loves nothing more than a doubter, and it's documented all throughout the Old and New Testaments -- from Job to Doubting Thomas. This is probably where we inherited our very human need to say, "I told you so!"

The very nature of Christianity involves the fact that no other religion has a "risen" Saviour. It is not a "works" based message -- You can't do anything to Save yourself. Only faith in Jesus Christ, who, through the power of God, was raised from the dead, can you be Saved.

I believe there is a higher power that we mere mortals will never understand, but if such power exists, why would it care whether we worship it or not? I do know darn well that whether I am happy / sad / rich / poor has nothing
to do with God.

As you can see, there's a dramatic variance among American Christians (not all do to sectarianism) as to the answer to the root of my above question:

Is it possible to have a modern interpretation of Christianity that does not involve the divinity of or the literal physical resurrection of Jesus?

I'd welcome your interpretations, thoughts, comments, and discussion.


Hair Coloring & a Likely New Use for Chapstick

My current psychology is evident in my hair. It grows longer and then I hack it off with seasonal frequency. Every few months or so I color my hair from a drugstore box of dye. I'm an old pro at dying my own hair, short or long, having done it with varying frequency since I was 14. Some years I'd do it every four-to-six weeks for root touch-ups, other years it would be dramatic color changes every few months.

In high school, my friends called me "Jane of the rainbow hair" because I had below-the-shoulder hair and wouldn't always focus on full-coverage during dramatic color changes. I called my sometimes four-color streaking "trailer highlights." Eventually I cut it all off and died the stubble platinum blonde. I bust out laughing now when I think of it.

Today I colored my hair again. Since I was going darker instead of lighter, I knew I was going to have to circle my hairline and cover my ears with Vaseline so that my skin wouldn't stain. My main irritation with using Vaseline is that it's a bitch to wash off -- I sometimes have to resort to dishwashing liquid to cut through it if I use too much (and I usually use too much because I've seen other women who stained their skin, and it just looks nasty). Needless to say, my face, ears, and neck do not respond well to dishwashing liquid.

The other irritation about using Vaseline is that, when I try to put it around my ears and the sides/back of my neck (i.e. places I can't see), it's difficult to get the Vaseline right up to the hairline and not on the hair. I've screwed it up both ways in the past -- I've had both lines of skin staining and lines of undyed hair around my hairline. Neither is great, but at least I can dye my hair again to fix the undyed hair.

When I bought my box of dye this time, I saw a new product. Called +Repelle, it bills itself as a product that keeps skin-staining from occurring and is very easy to wash off. It was in a small tube, and the instructions were straightforward: Apply it around your hairline and on your ears, color your hair, and wash it off when you wash out the dye. The cost? $5.00 @ CVS. I bought it.

The +Repelle worked as advertised: Easy to apply, easy to wash off, no skin staining.

While I was applying the +Repelle, the idea that it applied like a soft Chapstick occurred to me. That makes sense -- Vaseline, Chapstick, and +Repelle are made of the same sort of stuff (as far as my hair-coloring needs go). I'll use the rest of the stick of +Repelle, and after it's gone, I'll try normal Chapstick heated in a glass of hot water.

After all, a stick of Chapstick is a lot cheaper than +Repelle. :-)

I'm really proud of this find, and I'd love to know about yours. Do you have any tricks, tips, or alternate uses for common items?


ADMINISTRATION NOTE: The Jane Project does not agree with or participate in blogola. Brand names listed in any post are for clarity and information only and should not be considered editorial endorsement.

Woman "Not Guilty" should Son Rise from the Dead

Baltimore, MD -- A former religious cult member has agreed to an unheard-of plea deal: She has plead guilty and will testify against four others in the starving death of her 1-year-old son but reserves the right to rescind her plea if her son rises from the dead.

Ria Ramkissoon, 22, a native of Trinidad, is the prime witness in the Maryland's case against Queen Antoinette, 40, who purportedly lead the now-disbanded One Mind Ministries religious cult out of a Baltimore row house. Prosecutors allege that Antoinette instructed cult members, including Ramkissoon, to deny the child, Javon Thompson, food and water as punishment for the child not saying "Amen."

Prosecutors allege that Antoinette, believing that Ramkissoon would be weak and feed the child or give him water, instructed Javon be given to another cult member who followed her food-and-water-denial instructions. After the eventual death of the child, the cult members prayed over the body and the mother danced around it. When that didn't succeed in raising the child from the dead, two cult members purchased a wheeled suitcase in which to carry the child. Ramkissoon's attorney said that the cult believed that the child could be raised from the dead at a later date if they could carry the body with them. The cult moved to Philadelphia and asked a men they'd befriended there to store their luggage, and police found the body in a shed behind the man's house.

Javon's father, Robert Thompson, did not attend the plea agreement hearing due to illness, and is reported to have been incarcerated at the time of Javon's birth. Court documents indicate that Ramkissoon joined One Mind Ministries after Javon's birth. Ramkissoon left her parent's home with her 7-month old son, joined the cult, and moved into their house at the age of 19 because (according to her attorney) she didn't want to work or go to school but wanted to raise her son full-time, in Christianity, and the cult offered her this opportunity. At the time that Ramkissoon joined the cult, it had approximately a dozen members. Reportedly within the cult, cell 'phones and discussion of one's family were banned and marijuana smoking was common.

Prosecutors are charging Antoinette and three other cult members with child abuse resulting in death and first-degree murder. In a March 30 hearing, Ramkissoon plead guilty to the first charge (abuse/death) and agreed that she will testify truthfully against the other four. Should this occur, the prosecutor's office will recommend sentencing comprised of release from jail, a suspended 20-year sentence, five years probation requiring mental health assistance (including "deprogramming" treatment with a specialist in cult behavior). Sentencing is currently sheduled for August 11.

A prosecutor's office spokeswoman said that, regarding the child rising from the dead, the fine print of the plea agreement states, "This would need to be a Jesus-like resurrection. It cannot be a reincarnation in another object or animal."
"She [Ramkissoon] certainly recognizes that her omissions caused the death of her son," Ramkissoon's attorney said. "To this day, she believes it was God's will and he will be resurrected and this will all take care of itself. She realizes if she's wrong, then everyone has to take responsibility ... and if she's wrong, then she's a failure as a mother and the worst thing imaginable has happened. I don't think that, mentally, she's ready to accept that."
Ramkissoon's attorney also said,
"On one level, she certainly is competent to stand trial, because she does recognize that as far as her legal entanglements are concerned, this is a grand-slam resolution for her. On the other hand, she's still brainwashed, she's still delusional as far as the teachings and influence of this cult, and she certainly is going to benefit with professional help and deprogramming."
The current disposition of the four other charged cult members: (Leader) Antoinette, Trevia Williams, and Marcus Cobbs are currently incarcerated without bail. Steven Bynum is, for some reason, free on his own recognizance.

Source documents available for review.


Now I can Say Nothing

First, they came for the "child molesters," but I was not a child molester. So I said nothing.

Then, they came for the "terrorists," but I was not a terrorist. So I said nothing.

Next, they came for the "conservatives," but I was not a conservative. So I said nothing.

Finally, they came for the "middle class," and I found that I am middle class. Now I can say nothing.


Sudanese Women Flogged for Wearing Pants!

KHARTOUM, SUDAN -- Journalist Lubna Ahmed al-Hussein was one of 13 women arrested in a restaurant for wearing trousers this past Monday. The usual Sharia punishment for wearing "indecent" dress is 40 lashes. 10 of the 13 women plead guilty and agreed to accept a 10-lash punishment quickly in order to resolve the situation quickly, the three others are fighting the charges.

Khartoum, in northern Sudan, is ruled by Sharia (Islamic) law. Southern Sudan is not. Sharia law is not supposed to apply to non-Muslims, but the public order police nonetheless arrested the women in a restaurant that is popular with foreigners and journalists.

"I was wearing trousers and a blouse and the 10 girls who were lashed were wearing like me, there was no difference," she told the BBC's Arabic service, "I didn't do anything wrong."

Al-Hussein and the other two women who contacted lawyers instead of pleading guilty are awaiting their fates. Al-Hussein has printed and sent invitations to public officials and other press representatives to attend the expected trial in order to publicize the wrongdoing.


After the Rain

I am not a feminist. I have no problems with feminism, it's just a little rigid for me. I have always admired feminists, and have no problems with them, but I believe that I'm more for equality across the bored . . . except for assholes . . . but I digress. Not. A. Feminist. I just wanted that out of the way.

So, you won't be too disappointed in me when I say that I'm lonely. I'm not alone at all, and I have plenty of companionship, but I am lonely for a husband . . . or maybe an ideal . . . I'm not really sure. Let me tell you a story:

A long time ago, I fell in Love. I'm not capitalizing it out of some sappy ideal or stupid unrealistic idea about life, I was actually head over heels, having serious co-dependency issues, goofy in Love. He was The One, my everything. Problem was, he only loved me, and, therefore, he could live without me. Too many years have passed for me to untangle his motives out of all that, suffice to say that he was resolute enough in his beliefs that he ended it despite my begging him not to.

I fell apart a whole lot. I don't know what I would have done if a friend hadn't taken me in. I found that I tend to hyper-focus on lyrics* when I'm upset. I remember really agonizing over some doozies like:
Well, I guess you left me with some feathers in my hand
Did it make you any easier to just leave me where I stand?
If I could be with you again,
I would fall all over you like rain

You look like shit, what's your problem bitch?
Your legs feel like sandpaper, you can't do anything right

Cheerful stuff, right? Let's just say that I was a wee bit bitter. Regardless, the lyrics from one song really stick out in my memory from this period:
Stay by my side,
Stay here forever,
I'll be your heart of hearts,
You'll be my spring.
Don't you leave me alone,
Don't you leave me forsaken,
To hold you tonight, I would give anything
The song, by a band called Celtic Thunder, really captured my confusion, indignation and desperation. Over and over I listened to that song, to the point where I have it memorized backward and forward. I got even more indignant, I moved on and I built myself a life, brick by brick, with the help of my family and friends.

Fast forward a decade, and there was a tragedy. Most of those that I grew up calling family disappeared out of greed or cowardice; I don't know which to apply, and I don't care, the ones that count stuck around. I found myself longing to start a family of my own, to find a partner, and have some rug rats to give me gray hairs.

It's harder than it sounds, but I'm trying to figure it out bit by bit. The first step is getting over this concept of "one and only." That's when the last and most important verse of the song popped unbidden into my mind:
They say that true love comes once and once only,
And the way lover's start is the way they'll remain,
But I've got my eyes open,
In my heart I'm still hopin',
That the sun shines the brightest after the rain
I hope that's the truth, partially because I'm lonely, partially because I'm lazy, and partially because I really love kids, and would love to have a whole bushel of them. I just have to make some room, but that's do-able. Wish me luck.

~Lolly "Just Found the Sun" Pop

*Song lyrics were from memory, but they were, in order, Angels of the Silences by The Counting Crows, Mandocello by Concrete Blonde, That Day by Poe, and After the Rain by Celtic Thunder. I have no right to these songs, nor affiliation with the artists, just a deep and abiding appreciation for a good turn of phrase.

This Week's WTF Moment

I bring to your attention (and hope for you discussion!) this StrangeNews tidbit from the St. Petersburg Times:

TREASURE ISLAND — A woman has been arrested after accosting her live-in
boyfriend with a pink sex toy.

Kimberly Lynn Calvert, 45, [address redacted], was arrested Wednesday on a charge of simple battery.

Police say an intoxicated Calvert first yelled at John Anthony Gonzales,
with whom she has been living for five months, then "began poking" him "in the
groin area multiple times" with the sex toy.

Gonzalez called 911.

Is it possible for a woman to demand "Pay more attention!" any more strongly than poking him in the groin with her dildo? Why did he feel the need to call 911 for being poked? Poked!

And WTF is the reason for printing their complete address, including apartment number? The only purpose I can see is to shame her (or him, or both).


Hush Child, or We’ll All Be Killed (updated)

We are thankful for the effort that two Janes expended to collaboratively create the following contribution. The opeing paragraph (in italics) is a foreword from the Janes themselves.


This is a story of a life with an alcoholic father. It is a combination of many womens’ stories. It is more frequent than we like to admit. My friend Rhonda and I worked on this together. We consider it the first of many memories coming from many women’s lives. We will continue to share these stories as time permits… Please read them and comment.


"Hush Child, or We’ll All Be Killed"


Suddenly the tranquility of the afternoon at my grandparents' house erupts into a nightmare again. My father begins to beat his mother's front door violently with his. I believe the whole thing is, at any minute, about to come crashing in he is striking it so hard. All of us - my whole family, brothers, sister, mother - petrified inside. My grandparents run wildly, securing additional doors and windows to prevent another way in. A familiar drill. Familiar, but no less terrifying.

“He’s drunk again” the grown ones whisper. He’s drunk again. Oh God…


My three tender years of experience cannot understand what "Johnnie’s drunk again" means really. What I do understand is that Daddy being "drunk again" means violence. It means my mother being mercilessly beaten for imagined crimes against him. It means police and hospitals; and oceans and oceans of tears. In the aftermath comes the strange silence where no one speaks of it. All pretending the nightmare events of "Johnnie being drunk again" never occur. Daddy himself sheepish, or disappearing all together. Mother battered, bruised, weeping, and the family gathered in strange silent vigil.


“He’s got a gun!” my grandfather shouts from the door. “Johnnie!” my brave Papa shouts, “put that gun away! I’m calling the police! You aint comin’ in here drunk!”


I wet my pants. I begin to scream. My Grand-Mama grabs me up and whisks me to a closet under the stairs. She crawls to the very back with me and covers us with blankets in the pitch black. “No matter what, Lucy, you stay here. Don’t you move” she commands me. “Grand-Mama loves you. You stay here no matter what happens. Hush child, or we’ll all be killed”.


Grand-Mama tries to remove me from her arms so she can leave to help, but I cling to her, deeply afraid. The blackness of the closet eats away at my sanity. Her breath comes fast and hard. I could smell the terror on her skin, in her sweat. Rivers of it ran off her trembling body. Rivers of sweat ran off mine. I hear her fright in her quavering, unreal voice. I hear mine in my own helpless whimpering. There is more shouting from my father … more hammering at the door, more filthy yelling from the yard, straight into my Mama’s heart.




I bury my head deep into my grandmother’s breast in the darkness. We cling together, she and I, lost in fear. The frantic running of feet up the stairs. My Mama? My brothers and sister? Were they going to hide like me and my Grand-Mama? My Papa, was he hiding them safely away, as I was hidden? Would he stay with them and keep them safe? Why did Daddy do this? I weep silently remembering my Grand-Mama’s warning. I listen intently to all the terrible noises. I will not make a sound so Grand-Mama will not be killed. So my family will not be killed.


Silently tears flow from my Grand-Mama heart onto my head, they Baptise me in her pain. They stream down my face mixing with my own. Our fear, our pain, our love is one. She is me and I am her and I can’t separate the two of us. My heart/her heart hammering in my chest, my breath/her breath is too fast …We are nauseated, we are dizzy, we are petrified. Sirens wail coming closer and closer.

BITCH!!!! BITCH!!! BAM!!!!!! BAMMMM!!!!! BAM!!! BAM!!!!! BAMMMM!



Terrified screams erupt from deep within the house!!! Is it my mother? Is it my sister? Is it all of us? Someone is being killed! I begin to scream hysterically in response. "He is killing us! Heiskillingusheiskillingus!!!" My mind is lost in the overwhelming fear. My head is spinning out of control and suddenly all goes blank.

I wake in my grandmother’s bed to the smells of dinner. I hear the hushed voices of my family. It’s over I thought, we are all here, all safe now. Was it real? Was it a dream? It didn’t matter, because in my family, we don’t speak of it. Don’t remember it. IT isn’t real if we don’t acknowledge it. He has not killed us …… Hush child, or we’ll all be killed.

Or maybe we are already dead.

~Barbara Rhyne-Tucker (writer)
~Rhonda McLearen (editor)

Sexist Vintage Advertisements

I've assembled a collection of sexist vintage advertisements as part social commentary, part US sociological history lesson for your consideration and discussion.

Sexist Retro Ads

Interspersed amongst the vintage advertisements are instructions (we've called them "Wifely Notes") from the 1963 book Fascinating Womanhood by Helen B. Andelin. The sources used to compile the presentation are attributed and linked on the last slide.

Looking forward to a lively discussion! ;-)


Help with Container Gardening?

Having moved closer to the city, I no longer have a yard to plant in. I don’t feel like this should limit my ability to grow the plants that I want. I am currently starting a quest to grow a garden all within pots. I have read up a little on the Internet on how to go about this, but all the different varieties of plants and “rules” were kind of bogging me down. My goal is to have a veggie garden that I can use to make great salads and also to share extras with my friends.

I really, really love tomatoes! Big ones, little ones, I like them all! So, I have started out my garden in a pot with a tomato plant and 2 bell pepper plants.

You can buy plants at almost any store now it seems. Grocery stores, home improvement, discount stores, all carry a variety of plants. How do I choose the right one? Look for the words, petite, patio, husky, etc. More varieties of veggies that will grow well while pot bound are being created all the time. Make sure you have the correct lighting for it. If you live in a really shady area, be sure that the plants that you are selecting work well in the shade.

What are the watering requirements? One big problem that I am having right now is that it is so hot! I usually water my plants in the evening in hopes that all the water won’t evaporate off before they even get to drink it. With temperatures reaching 100 degrees or more, it is really difficult to keep my plants from looking like they are about to die. Unhealthy plants don’t produce flowers or fruit.

This is what I have learned so far. The experiment continues. I welcome any suggestions that you might have to improve my garden in pots. :) Hopefully, soon, I will be telling you about the “fruits” of my labors.


Operation Beautiful

I've discovered another (in addition to TJP) community blog I'd like to share: Operation Beautiful

Operation Beautiful's mission is to leave positive messages on the mirrors of womens' public bathrooms "at work, at the gym, at the grocery store. [...] Whatever comes to mind — “You are beautiful!” or “You are amazing just the way you are!” [...] Maybe some people read them and just smile, but I bet some people are truly touched by the effort of a random stranger."

Over time, readers have begun leaving notes in more places than the original public bathroom -- Cancer ward gift shops selling wigs, drug store Alli displays, elevators, grocery store SlimFast cases, menus, subways, gas pumps, et cetera.

Those of us who have found such notes, left such notes, or otherwise been touched by the Operation are encouraged to send snapshots and comments or stories to Caitlin, the blog owner, for posting on the blog.

While the messages do blend into obsequiousness when read one-after-another in a long stream of self-help book personal reaffirmation, the idea behind Operation Beauty is indeed worthy, especially for those who have a Karmic view of the world and an overriding sense of "Things happen for a reason."

Do yourself a favor: try not to view Operation Beauty for very long at a sitting, try not to read too many pictures in a row. Much like a fine single-malt Scotch, while valuable, this blog is best sipped.


Follow-Up: For Want of Selfishness

As some of you may know, I contributed an article called "For the Want of Selfishness" in early June. I was amazed at the amount of support that I received at the time, and it really helped to bolster me through some really crappy times. Thank you, all of you.

The odd thing is that I took away an affirmation ("You like me! You really do!"), but none of the absolutely fantastic advice that you all gave. It was really odd to me that that occurred.

People ended up in hospitals. I ended up complicating my life even more. I dropped out of my latest class (but not ouf of school). I did all the work until I couldn't even move any longer, and resented it the entire time. Through all of this, I carried your encouragement next to my heart.

I did do something selfish in all of that - I dropped the class. I got tired of the bullying and sarcastic teacher (I use that term lightly, as he would rather mock than teach). I had a major project due Tuesday morning, and gave up about 3am. I texted my mother with something along the lines of "I think I failed this class, I'm sorry. I'll pay you back soon" - 'soon' because I hadn't figured out HOW yet; the entire reason that she paid for the last class is because I'm not getting overtime at work right now.

Anyway, she called two minutes later, and I never thought to ask her what she was doing up. I sat and cried and listened to her tell me for over an hour how absolutely proud she is of me, and how much of an inspiration I am to her. She told me that I had never failed her, since every investment she's ever made in me has been repaid tenfold, and that my brother and I are the hardest working and most driven people that she's ever met in her life.


I felt like a million bucks after that. I felt like a work of art, shaped out of the words of my family, my friends and you.

So, ladies, let me tell you: I may not see your work, but I am SO glad that you are out there doing it. I am very proud to be posting here, and I want to hear what you've done lately. Something that you're SUPER proud of that maybe no one noticed? Or you already got praised for it, but it didn't get the attention it deserved. I don't care if you think it's silly, I want to see it in the comments.

This is supposed to be a place that we honestly communicate, and it's a place to rally together against adversity, but I think it should also be a place to CELEBRATE EACH OTHER. Leave your accomplishments below, and tell your fellow commenters what you think about their accomplishments. I'll check back soon; don't make me come over there to motivate you :-D

~Lolly "In Distinguished Company" Pop

Happy Independence Day!

A Woman's Way Through the Twelve Steps

A Woman’s Way Through the Twelve Steps

Essay: Describe Myself as Sane

Step Two

“Came to Believe That a Power Greater Than Ourselves Could Restore Us to Sanity”

The question is “When you think of yourself as “restored to sanity” what picture of yourself comes to mind?

There are several view points from which I could approach this question. From what perception am I taking this snap-shot? Is it a physical vision of my future and my station in it? Or is it a state of being or an approach to life? Is it asking how do I look to others or a dissertation of my desired future worldly successes? Is it a feeling? Is it self-love? Is it what I offer to others? Is it all these things?

This brings me to the first part of the second step “Came to believe that a power greater than myself” My first inclination is to be defensive (imagine that!) and argue I do not need to come to believe, I already do. The challenge here is to admit that although I believe I do not continue “to believe” on a daily basis. My God declares I AM and he not simply who I wish Him to be. I do not have a God-du-jour, God-in-a-box, Santa-God or God-as-I-See-Him (which is only me playing God again!) or my favorite, The-God-Of-My-Own-Understanding (isn’t “my own understanding” how I ended up doing this work book in the first place?). Mine is the One True God. My God declares I AM and he is not simply who I wish Him to be. Only when I can embrace the truth on a daily basis will I allow God to kill that old man habit of only “believing” after some self-inflicted catastrophe levels me. To Yahweh Elohim I must turn. To Him I must trade my will for His.

Here’s the second part of step two: “could restore us”. I know that God could restore me. But I am not since I have never been sane…to restore me, to return to me a grant me my previous condition is still casting me into insanity. I have always been insane. I will need to reword this to “could give me”.....there.....now that make sense to me.

“What is “sanity”? It is defined as “the state of being sane; soundness of mind, good judgment, reason, rationality, sensibility, reasonableness”. I am asking myself “How will I know when I have it?” How will I know when I am ‘in the state of being sane? See this is always the problem, when I am in my insanity I don’t feel insane! It is only after the fact, when things are once again quiet that I look back and say “boy was that crazy!”, or perhaps better put “boy, am I crazy!” Even though I do not always recognize when I am shifting from the world of sanity into the desperations of insanity I know I must be able to discern these changes. In my case, my very life depends on it.

Sanity some-times me when I some-time God. Mine is a spiritual malady so I must look to very core of my being. God is my creator and it is from him that I am. Every creation flows from the heart of The Creator. All expressions of my life, everything it bears, spiritual, mental, psychological, relational and physical all begin here and my inward worth and outward expressions all come from this. My usefulness to God, myself and others all begins here.
The question is “When you think of yourself as “restored to sanity” what picture of yourself comes to mind? : For me I guess it is when I willing turn to God on a daily basis and allow Him to reveal areas in which I am operating out of my insanity and letting Him teach me His ways.

~Barbara Rhyne-Tucker

Administration Note

One half of the brain trust that administers this website will be indisposed with personal business for the next couple of weeks. That leaves one of us moderating, editing, and posting. Please be patient during this time if updates are a little slow as a result.

We're out of submissions right now, so please, submit. Dig around the dusty corners of your memory sticks and hard drives, blow the bunnies off things you already have, and send them in. Look at past posts and find one that you feel strongly about and submit a companion/rebuttal piece. If there's something you have a question about and would like to see discussed, submit it! Be sure to use the submission links in the left navigation bar instead of sending to one of us directly.

The field is wide open, this canvas is yours, the power of TJP originates with you, Dear Reader.

Gender Neutrality: Pop and the X-Child

A young couple in Sweden have decided to raise their child in as gender-neutral a way as is imaginable: They've decided not to tell anyone which gender their child Pop is.

An article in the English-language Swedish news source The Local, tells the story of "Pop" and parents "Nora" and "Jonas" (all are pseudonyms). At the end of The Local's article is a link to an interview (original Swedish, English machine-translation) with the parents regarding the reasons for their controversial decision, their life with Pop to date, and comments from three professionals: a psychologist/newspaper columnist, a gender equality consultant, and a pediatric endocrinologist.

Pop's parents are raising Pop in this way as a result of the feminist belief that gender is purely a social construct (I personally disagree) . They believe Pop will grow up less constrained if allowed to develop without the societally-imposed baggage of gender role expectations. "If I can keep my child from being forced into a slot, I want to do it," Jonas said.*

Nora and Jonas believe that they can already see the effects in Pop of their alternative upbringing, "I believe that the self-confidence and personality that Pop has shaped will remain for a lifetime," Nora said. Nora and Jonas describe Pop as a confident and stable person.

Pop is currently 3 and a half and living with parents (no siblings yet, although Nora is currently expecting her second child in August). Pop has a range of clothing (from dresses to pants) and clothing colors to choose from daily, and Pop's hair changes regularly. More often than not, Pop chooses what Pop will look like on any given day. Though Pop is aware of the physical differences between males and females, the parents never use personal pronouns when referring to Pop. Much as this post is phrased, they just refer to Pop.

Nora and Jonas allow others to assume Pop's gender without correction. When asked directly, they respond with something to the effect of "I've chosen not to disclose my child's sex."* Some people approve of the concept, others do not, but the couple doesn't often have trouble with naysayers because, according to Nora, people are afraid of conflict. According to Jonas, Pop has remained as quiet to outsiders as he and Nora have.

The part of this story that I found most fascinating is that only other people don't know Pop's gender. Pop is fully aware of Pop's gender. Pop's parents have discussed gender in general and Pop's gender in specific with Pop, just not with others. The parents believe that the time to reveal Pop's gender is when Pop is ready to do so.

Nora and Jonas believe in what they are doing, and approve of how Pop is developing, so they're planning on raising their second child the same way, i.e. raising a child instead of raising a girl or a boy.

Pop's story, as Nora and Jonas present it, reminds me of a Lois Gould story purportedly published in Ms. in 1972 with the title "X: A Fabulous Child's Story." X is the fictional story of a baby raised without gender that focuses on the trouble this causes other people rather than the (mostly minor) troubles this causes X.

While I can't find a copy (digital or analog) copy of the 1972 issue of Ms. magazine, I did find the story itself republished in Issue 22 of Polare with the title "A Fabulous Child's Story."

Polare is an in-service magazine that provides a forum for the discussion/debate of gender issues and is published quarterly by The Gender Centre Inc. The Department of Community Services funds The Gender Center Inc. under the S.A.A.P. Program and is supported through Australia's New South Wales Health Department, AIDS and Infectious Diseases Branch.

In a gender-issue discussion magazine, this particular story found its home. It's a timeless piece that still speaks to us clearly 37 years after its (purported) first publication. Excerpts are below, click through to read the entire story of X.
Once upon a time, a baby named X was born. This baby was named X so that nobody could tell whether it was a boy or a girl. Its parents could tell, of course, but they couldn't tell anybody else. They couldn't even tell Baby X at first.
. . .
Also, long before Baby X was born, all those scientists had to be paid to work out the details of the Xperiment, and to write the Official Instruction Manual for Baby X's parents and, most important of all, to find the right set of parents to bring up Baby X. These parents had to be selected very carefully. Thousands of volunteers had to take thousands of tests and answer thousands of tricky questions. Almost everybody failed because, it turned out, almost everybody really wanted either a baby boy or a baby girl, and not Baby X at all. Also, almost everybody was afraid that a Baby X would be a lot more trouble than a boy or a girl. (They were probably right, the scientists admitted, but Baby X needed parents who wouldn't mind the Xtra trouble.)
. . .
But, finally, the scientists found the Joneses, who really wanted to raise an X more than any other kind of baby - no matter how much trouble it would be. Ms. and Mr. Jones had to promise they would take equal turns caring for X, and feeding it, and singing it lullabies. And they had to promise never to hire any baby-sitters. The government scientists knew perfectly well that a baby-sitter would probably peek at X in the bathtub, too.

The day the Joneses brought their baby home, lots of friends and relatives came over to see it. None of them knew about the secret Xperiment, though. So the first thing they asked was what kind of a baby X was. When the Joneses smiled and said, "It's an X," nobody knew what to say. They couldn't say, "Look at her cute little dimples!" And they couldn't say, "Look at his husky little biceps!" And they couldn't even say just plain "kitchycoo". In fact, they all thought the Joneses were playing some kind of rude joke.
. . .
On page 1654 of the Official Instruction Manual, the scientists prescribed: "plenty of bouncing and plenty of cuddling, both, X ought to be strong and sweet and active. Forget about dainty altogether".
. . .
Mr Jones wandered helplessly up and down the aisles trying to find out what X needed. But everything in the store was piled up in sections marked "Boys" or "Girls".

There were "Boy's' Pyjamas" and "Girls' Underwear" and "Boys' Fire Engines" and "Girl's Housekeeping Sets". Mr. Jones went home without buying anything for X. That night he and Ms. Jones consulted page 2326 of the Official Instruction Manual. "Buy plenty of everything", it said firmly.

So they bought plenty of sturdy blue pyjamas in the Boys' Department and cheerful flowered underwear in the Girls' Department. And they bought all kinds of toys. A boy doll that made pee-pee and cried, "Pa-pa". And a girl doll that talked in three languages and said "I am the Pres-i-dent of Gen-er-al Mo-tors". They also bought a story-book about a brave princess who rescued a handsome prince from his ivory tower, and another one about a sister and brother who grew up to be a baseball star and a ballet star, and you had to guess which was which.

Whenever the Joneses pushed Baby X's stroller in the park, smiling strangers would come over and coo: "Is that a boy or a girl?" The Joneses would smile back and say, "It's an X". The strangers would stop smiling then, and often snarl something nasty - as if the Joneses had snarled at them.
. . .
Finally, Joe and Peggy's parents decided to call an emergency meeting of the school's Parents' Association, to discuss "The X Problem". They sent a report to the principal stating that X was a "disruptive influence".
. . .
So the Principal reluctantly notified X's parents that numerous complaints about X's behaviour had come to the school's attention. And that after the Psychiatrist’s Xaminiation, the school would decide what to do about X.
. . .
Wiping his eyes and clearing his throat, the psychiatrist began in a hoarse whisper.

"In my opinion", he whispered - you could tell he must be very upset - "in my opinion, young X here -"

"Yes? Yes" shouted a parent impatiently. "Sssssh!" sssshed the Principal.
Click through to read "A Fabulous Child's Story" in its entirety.

What do you think about the real case of Pop and the fictional case of X? How much of gender is biological, and how much is societal? Are Nora and Jonas enlightened or barbaric? Short of physical damage, where does the parental right to raise a child as one sees fit end and insanity begin? How realistic is X's outcome when compared with Pop's parent-reported current status? Do we want to follow Pop's life with a series of interviews and psychiatric evaluations over the next 20 years, or would such have unintended side effects on Pop's development, therefore raising questions about the observations gleaned?

*The machine translation from Swedish to English is not of high quality, so these "quotations" are paraphrased.


I Am Your Lover

I am your wife, My Love
The isha of you, my ish,
My adam, my mate, my love, My Love
Your rib my source, My Love

Bone of your bone, My Love, am I
Flesh of your flesh, My Love
I am yours and not my own
Whose name I bear, My Love

Yet, here I am alone, My Love
Trapped in my love, my life
Bound in promise to you alone,
To you alone, My Life

My life, My Love
Is to yours, My Love
My love for you, My Life
Tell me what will I be, My Love
Now that yours has taken flight

*ish – Hebrew for Man
**isha – Hebrew for Woman

~Barbara Rhyne-Tucker