Underneath the Hood

When I manage to step back from myself, which is not very easy and prone to gross error, I can, at least, be certain of a few things. I seem to have developed some repetitive routines that occur each day automatically, and to which I am simply a helpless participant. I say “helpless” because these routines appear to be benign and I can find few reasons to waste any effort upon eliminating them simply because they are repetitive routines. And I like them.

One occurs in the morning, when I wake, with the mindless compulsion of the undead to locate coffee and brew it. There have been times when no beans could be found, but any description of this, for you, is impossible since the incidents have been psychologically repressed. Almost immediately I find myself in front of the computer screen, still in a zombie state, absorbing aggregated information until I somehow remember that coffee is brewing, and should be finished by now. Sometimes I forget the coffee. I’ve remembered the coffee today, by the way.

The other occurs in the evening when I start to get drowsy. I end up positioning myself in front of a television with a clear area around me to work up a sweat and stretch, and stretch, and stretch. The TiVo records things for me which I go through at this time. However, sometimes, like last night, I’ll just pick a random station to watch live. This is one of the reasons I’m writing right now. I don’t remember the station, and I don’t remember the show. But it was a Christian show, with a introductory segment that looked like a DJ with a headset standing in front of towering, backdrop video screens, pounding out tunes to the masses. But when the intro was done, we were left with a fairly handsome middle-aged man on a stage in front of a sea of people with a large masculine-looking bed sporting black and gold sheets. He said, sex is the worship of God.

He went on to say all sorts of Christian things, and also things about how sex has been removed from the church and he thinks it should come back because it’s very natural and God created it. He talked about how this bed behind him represented different things to different people. He sat down on the bed, and moved his hand across the covers, as he said, to some it represents rebellion. And to others, it represents fear. Then he stated his position: “I want to bring the bed back into the church.” I almost couldn’t stand this. Let me explain.

After I managed to sort out my own crazy sexuality, I was able to enjoy myself. There is not a lot of reason you can apply to sexuality and have it hold true. So, “sorting out” my own sexuality isn’t really the best description. How about, after having accepted I was a sexual being, I was able to enjoy myself. And even moreso, after having accepted that other people were sexual beings with just as much craziness. No matter how mentally disciplined we like to think of ourselves, the sexual factors always come into play, in one way or another, and to varying degrees. Sexuality is just too fundamental. Different people have worked out different ways of working beyond it to allow them to function more smoothly in society. In a terribly generalized way, men usually objectify their penis, instilling it with a mind and a will of its own with which they constantly battle — and wear like a badge. And women usually sublimate their sexuality as a means to elevate themselves in all manner of ways.

Now, the theory behind sexual abstanence in spirituality is to remove a very strong influence from your mind which can cause highly biased ideas and motivations to exert their influence over you. Particularly, when you are a spiritual leader of a large number of people, having such wild biases can make your leadership inconsistent amongst your followers at minimum, potentially leading to all kinds of chaos. However, if the spiritual “teachings” explain away inconsistencies, it should be fine.

But we’re talking Christianity here. We’re talking the Christianity that can put some personality on the stage and sell them as spiritual gurus based upon their Nielson ratings. And this handsome, middle-aged guy, talking the Christian talk, had a bed on the stage with him. This guy was selling sex. And, like Britney Spears, I didn’t see much inside to warrant anything but record sales.

Now, to be fair, there are a lot of problems with sexuality for most people. This guy is very right, it seems to me, when he says that our sexuality is perfectly natural and nothing to be ashamed of, nor hidden away until it develops into a neurosis of one form or another. But this goes far beyond just the TV Christian people. We’re starting to see it, more and more, reflected in our friends and acquaintances and even our politics. And last night, even in our religions.

We’re starting to see an open-ness. A diversity. It’s not a fad. It’s more like, even cliched, seeing people emerging from their variously-shaped closets, or even ourselves emerging from our own little will-imposed containers, to find ourselves standing out there in the same place we’ve always been, but with something just somehow lifted from our shoulders, or our eyes and hearts just a little more open beyond the confines of ourselves. Honestly, it’s a silly little thing, when all is said and done. An obvious thing. An inevitable thing. And the future people, if we manage to survive, will wonder at how it was possible we had to endure such silliness.

I have seen people enter into a spiritual life including celibacy as a result, in large part, of their inability to deal with their own sexuality. I have watched friend enter into a marriage of purpose and convenience with people they did not even love in an attempt to solidify their sexuality into an ideal. I have watched people lie, hide, threaten, trick, and even completely snap as a result of their own sexual disassociation. So in this respect, I admire what this Christian sexual salesman was trying to do. But I think I’m speaking on terms a little more broad than he.

A while ago, I told our Christian fundamentalist friend that you Christians have run us straight into war — thanks very much for all the death and suffering. Strangely, he was silent. I then began picking up on things — things such as doubt, and regret. He suspected that he might have bought something that was sold to him in pretty wrapping paper. I think, for the first time, he began to see that these Republicans (generalized) were interested in money and power, and little else. They put on the dog and pony show for the Christians, they offered the words, and the Christians bought it. They snapped right up that shopping channel item. And now they’re living with it.

It’s interesting, the corporations represented by the Republican Party; probably most of the major ones have policies of non-discrimination based upon sexuality. Many even have health plans that allow domestic partners benefits. However, Bush is aware most people can’t stand him any more, and see him for who he is. The Republican Party knows this as well. So now, as Congress is passing the legislation to fund the city of Washington, DC, Bush is threatening a veto if it contains money to fund an office for domestic partner benefits. Selling to the Christians again?

But I have to wonder, what does he really have to sell now? We have another very Christian family close to us that has a boy entering a major university on a sports scholarship. Before he could be admitted, he had to complete two courses with at least a ‘B’, and one of these courses was a sociology course. The topic he wanted to write about, despite the influence of others, was the situation of being gay while being on a premier college sports team. His mother told him that she loved him whether he was gay or straight, and he said he was straight — he just thought it must be a difficult thing and he wanted to write about it to help. I told him that he was very brave to take on such a subject in his current position and that I was very proud of him. And although he ended up writing about Mennonites juxtaposed against modern society, the whole incident said something about our future. Something encouraging.

I so often wonder how it is that people can get so caught up in their own heads that the resort to killing one another. I suppose it cannot be too surprising when we consider that most people don’t even allow themselves to truly exist. They bend under the pressures, in idealistic and unrealistic constraint, forever at odds with themselves, and feeling the pressure such disparity creates. After a while, a switch flips, and they say, this is just how things have to be, to function. And with that, the force occurs that makes young people wonder how the older people can never change society for the better ways that are so obvious to them.

And here we are then. Families and values. Wars. Love, legislated. Imagining what other people think, and making ourselves appeal to it, to maintain our status. Our influence. Our relevance. I suppose in some sense it’s really too bad we cannot cuddle up with our own sense of relevance. We can only work to maintain it. I don’t know if the Christians will buy what the Republican Party is selling again. And the Democratic Party doesn’t seem much better, except for the fact that they seem to care about things like seeing that we’re educated and that we can go to the doctor, and that it’s ok to love people, regardless of who they are, or who you are.

I am really proud of that neighbor boy, who completely loves his sport and his teammates, who wanted to write about someone like him who was gay. It’s taking a stand, despite everything. But he didn’t. Not now, at least. It really seems strange to me when people accuse me of being a pessimist. Perhaps they wouldn’t if they only knew how much I deeply believed in this young man.