Friday, October 26, 2018

...And Yet She Moves

I had a few people ask me about a necklace they saw me wearing the other day. The short answer is, it signifies Endless Commitment to Love and Inquiry, Nature and Harmony with Diversity. - 

 


The full answer:
In 1990, I finally made a clean break from the stranglehold of Fear and the Authoritarianism of men who rooted their power in the peddling of metaphysics and pseudo-science. I had been coming to this realization since childhood. You see, I was raised in a German Lutheran household, I was confirmed in a Danish Lutheran church which became ELCA in 1988. I myself aspired to become a Lutheran minister which precipitated me earning a double major in Philosophy and Latin & Ancient Greek from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. But much of this was guided my innate curiosity and unceasing desire to inquire, to learn not only the text of the Bible in its oldest recorded languages, but also learn how it came together from multiple cultures through the ages, the origins and development of the myths of Heaven and Hell, then understanding why throughout all of the ages there are so many different ways Christianity has been practiced,, scripture interpreted with thousands of competing sects each claiming to know "truth" whereas the scientific method results in One reliable, testable, measurable truth. I was also trying to overcome what was my own apparent "sinful desire" to be a woman - because I had always known myself to be female.

Through my studies I encountered so many more writings and authors from antiquity through the modern age. Not theologians, sophists, and politicians whose rhetorical aim was to Win their points by any means necessary, but Philosophers and Scientists who sought to continually inquire and develop the tools to pursue an understanding of reality as it actually is. 

I recognized then that Religion is a closed system that works under its own beliefs and rules regardless of the Real workings of the World. And when people try to use Bible quotes and apologetics to convince me. Its not going to work because they are defending a position within a closed system, but they are not inquiring into the nature of reality. 

So, just as the Founders of the United States Constitution understood when they wanted to form a new secular government which cast off the Religious Dictatorships that empowered the oppressive nobility European nations (Divine Right of Kings) I recognized that the history of European Christianity is one marked mostly by fear, authoritarianism, violence, oppression, and discrimination. One that imprisoned, silenced, and killed those who sought the nature of reality.

In the Words of the James Madison, the 4th President of the United States and Father of the Constitution:

During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity, in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution.  Memorial and Remonstrance (1785)
The only thing keeping me Christian was Fear. Fear of Damnation. In elementary Sunday school being told the falsehood that one can only go to Heaven if they believe in Jesus, but those who don't AND even those who never had the opportunity to even hear of Jesus are damned regardless of the Love and Goodness they have lived on earth.

But what if I am wrong? If I reject the divinity of Jesus but then head to the afterlife and turns out God is going to damn me to hell because I didn't obey and believe in the divinity? - It did not take long then for me to realize, that way of thinking is not Faith at all. It is desperation. And any God who would damn me because of that is a tyrant, unworthy of worship, and unfit to be Lord of the Universe.

It was with this realization, that Love and Goodness are not in any way dependent upon Christianity or any religion for that matter, that I began to open my mind and heart to all; that honest inquiry with the tools of Philosophy and Science are obligations; that nothing is too sacred to be questioned.

When Krista was killed last year, the Sandstrom-McGuire's received an immense outpouring of support. I would write about my reflections of her, and our lives. I was writing from my heart and many people commented positively on my words of Love.
What Krista and I never really announced was that it was our lack of belief in Christian Metaphysics, divinity of Jesus etc. was something that did draw us together. She remembers as an anthropologist being disgusted by missionaries and business entrepreneurs on how little regard and awareness they had of other cultures, yet they felt compelled to "save these people." from their cultural practices which worked very well on their own. 

For those of you who attended our wedding, you may have noticed our purposeful location, Outdoors in Nature and we did not invite God to the wedding, nor were either of us going to "Serve and Obey" each other. So we wrote our own ceremony to reflect our beliefs. In 2016, having spent 23 years of our then 46 year old lives married, we tattooed our Sandstrom-McGuire Celtic Love knot over our hearts - a Re-commitment to each other, and our shared values. In many of my pictures since I came out, I wear a simple necklace with a leather cord and silver celtic knot. This necklace is one I got for Krista back in the 1990s. It isn't fancy but I was never one for distracting from Love with fancy jewelry. And this piece is far more important to me than any price I could put on it. 

The necklace in my recent photos: The Braided Wreath encircling the Pentagram is one I purchased in 1992. Yes it does have Reclaiming / Neo-Pagan connotations. For me, an agnostic/Atheist, Religion is Art / Music is Religion. It is a mood, a genre. Now, most Christians I know are indeed full of Love and don't care if I believe or not. There are some however who fell away from my family after I announced that I have always been female. Apparently their version of Christianity holds disrespect and ignorance as a basic tenet of faith.

The reality is that in this world there are many self-proclaimed Christians who are adherents to hate, exclusion, discrimination and reject reality, expert knowledge in favor of rhetorical tricks and junk science to enforce their beliefs as Government Policy. These are the Christian organizations like Alliance Defending Freedom, Focus on the Family, Family Research Council, Heritage Foundation, American College of Pediatricians, and all of them have unprecedented influence in all branches of our current Federal Government. For Decades they have been steadily pushing hate, division and distrust- tearing down the sources of expert knowledge: public education, academic history and scientific research and replacing it with simplified pro-puritanical Christian linear histories glorifying Pilgrims and Manifest Destiny to pseudo-science like Race Science, Intelligent Design, anti-climate change efforts, and now an uninformed policy on Gender and Sexuality. - They cannot combat Truth so they rely on propaganda and legal rhetoric to diminish it. 

These are the same types of people who through the ages burned innocence heretics, waged wars over heathens, condemned Galileo, tried "witches", endorsed segregation, exterminated Jews. Some self proclaimed Christians would rather defend their gun rights over their obligations to Love.
On the extreme still, there are many who believe in Armageddon as described in Biblical Prophecies. And there are people who take their metaphysical belief and try to enforce it upon those of us who prefer to find solutions through Love, Harmony, and awareness of reality over their metaphysics. 
So, while the 2,000 year history of Christianity especially in the current age has been hateful toward me for no reason other than enforcement of groundless metaphyiscs of some human's interpretation of scripture,

So while we live in a society where Christianity has been so overtly privileged, that politicians CAN make it a point to say they go to church, that our supposedly secular government has as national Holidays Easter and Christmas; that "In God We Trust" is placed on the money - I find it really hard to believe that Christians have been persecuted in the United States. 

Therefore I wear the symbol which expresses Love, Understanding and Nature - a Commitment to Harmony.

E pur si muove
Galileo Galilei (1564-1642)
Hunter's Moon of Como Lake - October 24, 2018

Addendum:

Junk science couldn't erase Galileo
and It Won't Erase Me
-
Xenia Sandstrom-McGuire


Scientists see a problem with Trump plan on defining sex: Biology.





The current administration and GOP at large uses junk science to deny climate change, push Intelligent Design, and most recently Gender and Sexuality, makes me wonder if the clarification of what science actually is in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, 400 F. Supp. 2d 707 (M.D. Pa. 2005) can be applied to strike down the Alliance Defending Freedom / Focus on the Family's / Heritage Foundation, American College of Pediatricians and other religious based anti-LGBTQ ideology which is guides all of the administrations discriminatory actions.
From the ruling:
"After a searching review of the record and applicable caselaw, we find that while ID arguments may be true, a proposition on which the Court takes no position, ID is not science. We find that ID fails on three different levels, any one of which is sufficient to preclude a determination that ID is science. They are: (1) ID violates the centuries-old ground rules of science by invoking and permitting supernatural causation; (2) the argument of irreducible complexity, central to ID, employs the same flawed and illogical contrived dualism that doomed creation science in the 1980s; and (3) ID's negative attacks on evolution have been refuted by the scientific community. … It is additionally important to note that ID has failed to gain acceptance in the scientific community, it has not generated peer-reviewed publications, nor has it been the subject of testing and research. Expert testimony reveals that since the scientific revolution of the 16th and 17th centuries, science has been limited to the search for natural causes to explain natural phenomena. (page 64) [for "contrived dualism", see false dilemma.]
[T]he one textbook [Pandas] to which the Dover ID Policy directs students contains outdated concepts and flawed science, as recognized by even the defense experts in this case. (pages 86–87)
ID's backers have sought to avoid the scientific scrutiny which we have now determined that it cannot withstand by advocating that the controversy, but not ID itself, should be taught in science class. This tactic is at best disingenuous, and at worst a canard. The goal of the IDM is not to encourage critical thought, but to foment a revolution which would supplant evolutionary theory with ID. (page 89)
Accordingly, we find that the secular purposes claimed by the Board amount to a pretext for the Board's real purpose, which was to promote religion in the public school classroom, in violation of the Establishment Clause. (page 132)


Friday, October 12, 2018

National Coming Out Day

October 11, 2018 is National Coming Out Day. While I had been out to a few for 30 years, I have only been out fully to the World since Friday, December 1st, 2017 at 18:00 CST. (original statement)
Xenia, Warrior Bassist
So to recap:

Name: Xenia (sounds like KSEN-ya - rhymes with Kenya) which is Ancient Greek for "Hospitality." (and a key theme of the Odyssey)

Age: 48 years old

Sex /Gender: Female (spiritually, medically, and legally recognized as such) - even for the 47 years of my life in the closet I never ever thought of myself as a man - I just don’t get how men think / react because my brain has always been biologically female.)

Most Significant Life Event: I was Widowed on June 1st, 2017 when my wife and best friend for 26 years was suddenly killed by a drunk driver in downtown Minneapolis. I just commemorated what would have been our 25th wedding anniversary (October 2, 1993) - Now I am raising our two young teenage kids. The hardest thing I have ever had to do in my entire life is tell my kids that their mother was killed. 

Other Events: I have been raped and sexually assaulted but never reported. A) I wouldn’t be believed, b) it is humiliating to have to open up C) my assaulters seem like such upstanding men they would deny and their supporters would think that I was just trying to ruin their reputation D) I would rather not relive those experience and turn my life and kids lives upside down. - for what in the end would result in no justice for me.

Spiritual / Religious affiliation: Empathy and Inquiry are the necessary components to ethics and morality. Love is not dependent upon religion. While I was raised ELCA Lutheran I have been Atheist/Agnostic for most of my life. I do not fear damnation and I submit to no one. I distrust the motivations of those who say they do good merely because their religious tenets command it. I am guarded against those who invoke Divine Right and Fear to serve their god's will over the freewill of others in order to influence and execute laws  This unchecked presupposition that all one needs say is, "I'm a Christian, therefore I'm a good person" has been an ongoing critique not just of the competing sects of Christianity, but of all religions since the time of Socrates. It is echoed by the Founders of the United States when they drafted our Secular U.S. Constitution.  In 1785 James Madison (Father of the Constitution and 4th President of the United States) remarked in his 15 point essay Memorial and Remonstrance which advocates for the necessity of separation of Church and State: "During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity, in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution."  
In 2018, we are still trying to wrest our Secular Government from the clutches of those who forsake empathy and love and use religion to enforce bigotry. This Proverb from Classical Antiquity is as true today as it was in the founding of the United States as it was in the time of Socrates:
"Religion is deemed true by the common people, false by the wise, and by the rulers as useful." 

Politics: I ignore memes, sound bites, short political ads (especially negative) and a.m. talk radio - my politics and life decisions is based upon peer reviewed and expertise of honest inquiry and evaluation of data and evidence. For this reason, climate change has always been my primary voting issue because without farmers and clean water we won’t last long. Nature exists to be nature, it is not intended for human enjoyment and exploitation. As human beings dedicated to learning we want to understand the mechanisms of Nature which enable existence of all things living and unliving and what we can do / not do to ensure we don't fck things up.

Reverence: Until they create a human who requires no food nor water nor the necessary elimination of waste products after consumption, every human being is equal and deserving of love and empathy. When other humans seize power and stand in the way over other human rights, we call them on it.
I do revere expertise in the peer reviewed interpretation of objectively verifiable evidence. Therefore the interpretations of climate scientists are revered in the field of climate science. The understanding of biologists are revered in the reality of Evolution; the evidence of medical and cognitive professionals in the field of sexuality and gender are revered above politicians. Civil Engineers are revered in safe building codes, professional plumbers and electricians are revered over the amateur unlearned home owner....etc. 

In conclusion: 
I am the embodiment of rural American values of one born and raised in northeastern Iowa: 

A 48-year old Metalhead bassist / Classical musician / Medieval & Ancient Greek scholar, Blackbelt Martial Artist, well-traveled solo adventurer who loves tent camping in all 4 northern climate seasons, rides horses, loves animals, Environmentalist, bicyclist, house building-do-it-her-selfer, widowed parent of two who had a favorite high school teacher in the late Lois West (Senator Chuck Grassley's sister---who would probably kick his ass were she alive today) who pushed this woman to seize the moment and embrace life.