Good Omens

Living a genderqueer life

Category: with my love

Biblical ponderings

My love and I had lunch with two friends on Friday. The company included a theologian, and myself, a student of comparative religion, both interested in the relationship between religion and ecology. So it’s maybe not so surprising that we found ourselves talking about just what exactly it is that happens in the second chapter of Genesis, that is, the Bible’s “creation 2.0”. And as we had to admit we weren’t quite satisfied with our knowledge of the subject, of course the book was opened.

Having created Earth, Higher-Power wants the proto-human (person/ze in the English translation, human/3rd p. pronoun in Finnish) not to be alone, so Higher-Power starts to create animals and birds (Gen. 2:18-20) from the soil, so that the human being would have somebody to be with. But instead of finding a suitable partner, the human being names the creatures presented, but doesn’t find them suitable company. (According to some philosophers of language, naming includes and indicates assuming a stance of power in relation to the named – how could the human find equal company in something that is presented to them as in need of naming?)

But if we don’t take account the power of naming, this myth presents the creation of living beings as aiming to being in relation to another. The human needs a partner, so a variety of choices is presented to them, until a suitable match is found – by Higher-Power splitting the proto-human in two. Only in meeting themself, looking at them as at oneself does the human find peace. A theology of meeting merging with a theology of existence?

Looking at the first chapter of Genesis (Gen. 1:26-27), this time I found the phrase “likeness of Higher-Power” strongly associated with the meeting of Moses with Higher-Power (Exodus 3:14), where Higher-Power describes Themself by claiming “I am who I am.” To me, this association was a whole revelation in itself, even though I’m not very much into believing in (a personal, written in capitals) Higher-Power right now. That the Bible describes a human being as the image of a Higher-Power who doesn’t have to define Themself to anybody, is to me a very powerful indication of the above mentioned theology of meeting. Not defining people we meet by our standards is only possible if we make an effort to get to know them – know them well enough to see them as whole human beings, existing (created, even?) in and of themselves, not because they (might) mean something to us. I am who I am, so you are probably who you are too. If only I could understand it fully enough to live by it!

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House-elves and werewolves

My love and I began listening to Stephen Fry’s audiobook reading of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series last summer, and with an average rate of five chapters a week, we’re now halfway through the last book, Deathly Hallows. I’ve read and re-read the books maybe once every two years since they were first published, but the real magic of the series is that the story grows with the reader. The various facets and levels of the – at first glance simple, even naïve – story are so manifold that I believe I could go on reading the books indefinitely, and still find new points of view from which to look at them.

Listening to Stephen Fry’s aural painting of the familiar scenes, I’ve felt compelled to visit the dark underbelly of the magicking world in a kind of anti-patriarchal, queer feminist reading of the series. Not being forced to adhere to the simple survey of the actual events happening on the page, my thoughts have been on what is left unsaid, which things are taken to be so “natural” or so self-evident that they need not be explicated.

In previous re-readings, I’ve found myself partly mirrored in Harry, growing up quickly in a world difficult to understand, or Hermione, trying to solve all of life’s difficult situations with booklore, or any of the half a dozen “real”, in-depth characters of the series. This time, I’ve been thinking a lot about the nameless, unimportant “evil” characters that abound in the series – especially werewolves, living on the margins of the society, being able to pass as fully human at will, but ultimately lacking the motivation to do so. And I’ve thought about house-elves, willing slaves to a ruling class able but not compelled to show mercy to its invisible servants.

And I’ve thought about myself, genderqueer in a world of people and people, and about people I love, and how I would love to “contaminate” them with the same invisibility I experience every day – about, ultimately, preferring the company of people like me to that of those, even loved, that can never understand my “condition” fully. And of all the people living their whole lives happily, without ever questioning the systems of oppression that patriarchy forces on us, until change is forced down their throats like a potion of clear thinking, unasked and unwanted, when there’s a flaw in the plan and systems come crashing down.

Walk a while with me

As a dog-owner, I’m used to walking a lot regardless of the weather. I’m also used to walking in a most non-talkative company, free to think things over. I like walking. Recently, I have found a way of walking I call my caretaker walk, because that’s how I move around at work. My caretaker walk differs from my usual walk in that it is at the same time completely immersing – I concentrate on the act of taking the next step, and nothing else – and thus also, in a way, liberating.

Walking like this, I’m freed from the usual hubbub of random thoughts bouncing off the inside of my skull, which leaves me an unusual amount of brain capacity to concentrate on my surroundings. I become aware of the trajectories people move along, of their facial expressions and the state of their shoes – I can see where they come from and so, because that is my job, will be able to point them at the right direction.

The caretaker walk also works when I’m not at work. The walk is in some way both the synonym and the opposite of being invisible. What I’m trying to say is, when walking this way, I become totally visible – people usually concentrate on their destination and not the way they are walking, so it is possible to stand out from the crowd just by doing this – and at the same time, I’m surrounded by an “invisibility cloak” of total self-confidence. People see me looking like it’s natural for me to be there, like I belong exactly there – and so they can put me out of their minds until they have a need for me.

But there are, of course, other important ways of walking. My love is also studying to be a teacher, and for three weeks (starting yesterday), ze is doing a teaching practice at a school near us. Hir “schoolday” begins every day at 8 in the morning, and because the school is just two kilometers away, ze walks there and back. My current study plan is “independent work” until Christmas, so I have been able to walk with hir (and the dog) to the school these two mornings, and will do so again tomorrow. It feels good to walk in the growing morning light with my love, holding hands and maybe not even talking. Feeling the closeness and affection we have shared for seven years gives me strength to face a new day of making myself visible.

How to sit still

This morning, my love and I shared a breakfast at the old café/restaurant Eliel at the Helsinki Central Railway Station. The food was OK, not really good but not bad either. The orange juice was really nice.

My love had an appointment with a dentist, and I stayed a while to finish my second cuppa tea. The Railway Station has tall windows that open to a street full (at that time) of people hurrying past. I sat at my table, looking at the people. Do I look like that, I wondered. Probably: I hardly ever stop to look at the buildings, or sky, or trees, of my home city. And how often do I look at the people on the streets like this, with my attention fully on them?

Having realized this, I will have to go back to the basic idea of my yesterday’s blog, and put in other words some things I may have been writing not so clearly there. This will be the topic of my next post. Now for some serious bass playing.

See you!