disasters

Is it me, or does it seem like Noah’s Ark these days?

Today’s featured photo is a screenshot of a public domain photo of “Noah’s Ark”, painted by the American folk painter Edward Hicks in 1846.

Maybe this is a simplistic thought. I probably ought to flesh it out some more before I write about this subject, especially since I am no Biblical scholar. What I remember about the Noah’s Ark story is that God decided there was too much violence and awfulness in the world and he was going to destroy it with a great flood. But he liked Noah, so he decided to spare him, his family, and all of the world’s animals. He had Noah build an Ark to his specifications.

Noah and his family, as well as pairs of animals and their mates, all boarded the great Ark and were saved from the great flood that destroyed everything else. After 150 days, the floods stopped and Noah, his family, and the animals all came to land on Mount Ararat… special to me, because it’s in what was once Armenia and is now Turkey. There’s more to the story, of course, and if you’d like a pop version of it, just listen to “Rock Steady” by Sting.

I’ve always liked this song. Clever songwriting by Sting.

As I sit here reading the news about Hurricane Laura about to make landfall in the United States, as people are grappling with COVID-19, wildfires in California, watching Trump’s insanity at the Republican National Convention, and worrying about joblessness, potential evictions, racially motivated riots, and no school for kids, I’m reminded of the Noah’s Ark story. It’s almost like everything is being thrown at us to see what sticks.

I don’t know if there is a God, or if God has anything to do with the disasters that have occurred in 2020 so far, but it sure does seem like hellfire is about to rain down. But then, I’m probably thinking this because I was born in a relatively peaceful and prosperous time in history. Yes, the Vietnam War was going on when I came around in 1972, but after that, it didn’t seem so bad. Or maybe I was just shielded from the news better. That’s probably it.

I don’t remember any other leaders as horrible and toxic as Trump has been… I truly do fear for what may come if voters don’t get their shit together in November. I also don’t remember the weather being nearly as weird and destructive thirty or forty years ago, and although I did live through the AIDS epidemic, that wasn’t a disease that spread through the air like COVID-19 does.

So far, we’ve been fortunate enough to live in areas that haven’t been horribly affected by most of the disasters that are hitting the world right now. I’m not arrogant enough to think that God likes us. I think we’ve just been really lucky so far. Even as I write this, I hear the winds outside whistling. I think the weather is about to change in Germany, too.

Growing up in Virginia and living a significant portion of my life in the southeastern United States, I have experienced my fill of hurricanes. So far, I’ve always managed to be in places that haven’t been badly hit. Even in April 2011, when a tornado ripped through Sanford, North Carolina (where we lived at the time), and then traveled 200 miles northeast, hit my hometown of Gloucester, Virginia, and destroyed where I went to “intermediate” school, we were not horribly affected. We saw the tornado and heard it, but it didn’t damage the home we lived in at the time. However, it did strike the Lowe’s hardware store and decimated homes about a quarter of a mile away.

On my old blog, I wrote about how a little girl in Gloucester’s life might have actually been saved by that tornado. She was badly abused and neglected by her parents, who had two other children, one who was a healthy baby and the other who had died and was buried on their property. The little girl was probably days from death herself, but her parents had taken the opportunity to loot when the tornado destroyed homes. They had tried to pawn a gold bullion they stole, and a police officer came to their trailer to speak to them. He saw the little girl, emaciated, covered in feces, and sitting under an upturned crib that had been fashioned into a makeshift jail cell.

The little girl, aged six, was extremely malnourished and small for her age. She was saved and eventually adopted, although she may not ever fully recover from her ordeal. Her parents are now in prison. I guess that’s one more example of how good things can happen even in the worst situations. I’m sure there are similar stories coming out of today’s disasters…

I guess I have to repost that blog entry about the little girl now. It was a good one. Anyway, stay safe out there in this era of disasters. I’d like to hope there isn’t going to be a great flood that wipes out civilization, but we certainly do seem to be living in “interesting” times.

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homosexuality

“Going straight…”

The month of June has been set aside to celebrate gay pride. I happen to have several gay relatives and many gay friends. For some reason, I’ve never been particularly homophobic, even though I grew up in a very conservative, Christian town and, despite having gay relatives, I come from a conservative Christian family. Maybe it’s because I watched a lot of Three’s Company when I was coming of age. There weren’t any actual gay characters or cast members; John Ritter, in his role of Jack Tripper, was simply tasked with acting “gay” so he could fool the landlords into letting him live with his two female roommates.

That show would probably not fly today. People are expected to be tolerant of homosexuality. And, over the past forty years, I have noticed that a lot of people are less freaked out by homosexuality… at least on the surface. Then, there are people who can’t or won’t accept homosexuality and feel the need to speak out about it.

Last week, I read an interesting blog post about Bible translations of the past. The author of the post wrote:

“I had a German friend come back to town and I asked if he could help me with some passages in one of my German Bibles from the 1800s. So we went to Leviticus 18:22 and he’s translating it for me word for word. In the English where it says “Man shall not lie with man, for it is an abomination,” the German version says “Man shall not lie with young boys as he does with women, for it is an abomination.” I said, “What?! Are you sure?” He said, “Yes!” Then we went to Leviticus 20:13— same thing, “Young boys.” So we went to 1 Corinthians to see how they translated arsenokoitai (original Greek word) and instead of homosexuals it said, “Boy molesters will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

This kind of changes everything, doesn’t it? That passage that homophobic people tend to trot out whenever they justify their disdain or outright hatred of homosexuality isn’t necessarily about homosexuality so much as it is child molestation. The blog author looked at other Bibles from other countries and found the same thing. The Bible calls out pederasty, not homosexuality. Also from the post:

“I also have a 1674 Swedish version and an 1830 Norwegian version of the Bible. I asked one of my friends, who was attending Fuller seminary and is fluent in both Swedish and Norwegian, to look at these verses for me. So we met at a coffee shop in Pasadena with my old Bibles. (She didn’t really know why I was asking.) Just like reading an old English Bible, it’s not easy to read. The letters are a little bit funky, the spelling is a little bit different. So she’s going through it carefully, and then her face comes up, “Do you know what this says?!” and I said, “No! That’s why you are here!” She said, “It says boy abusers, boy molesters.” And, in fact, in the Norwegian version, she pointed out, that if you were to line up boys of different ages and say which group of these boys is this referring to, it would be the 8-12 year old group. That was how the linguistics were working and it was obviously referring to the pederasty, not homosexuality!” 

This morning, one of my super Christian relatives posted a video that turned my stomach. It came from a faith promoting Web site called Faith It. The video starred a young woman named Emily who had identified as a lesbian and used to say that Christians shouldn’t judge. When her dad noticed a hickey on her neck, Emily told her father she was gay and dating women. She implies that she led a sinful lifestyle, perhaps not just because of being gay, but because of promiscuity and, perhaps, partying too much. She was very young at the time, and partying too much is what a lot of young people do. I wouldn’t say being a lesbian had much to do with that.

Emily then had an epiphany after attending a Bible study. According to the article my relative shared: “along with the drunkards and other sinners, she saw that those who engaged in homosexuality were also on the list of those who wouldn’t enter the kingdom of God. Thankfully, the following verse offered hope for her redemption — along with all those who would repent of their sinful nature, by the blood of Jesus Christ.” Emily then, apparently, had a change of heart and a change of her sexual preferences.

To those who say they were “born gay”, she says, “It’s not gay to straight. It’s lost to saved.” She says Jesus has to come to lead homosexuals to the “right affections”. God wants us to have families and to have a family the usual way, one must have a man and a woman. Or… at least that’s the easiest way to do it. Being in a homosexual relationship won’t lead to having a traditional family.

Frankly, I find that mindset really upsetting. Plenty of straight people are married and have no children. Sometimes, it’s by choice. Sometimes, it’s not. Even still, I think about homosexuals who have tried to go straight, yet never really love their partner in the way they should. That’s not fair to either party. It’s not right to marry someone and pretend to be attracted to them for the sake of making babies. In fact, it’s often a recipe for disaster, especially for the innocent children who are born to couples that don’t really love each other.

I’m not very close to my super Christian relatives. The older I get, the less I have in common with them. They’re all Trump supporters and, though they spend a lot of time reading the Bible and going to church, they don’t seem to be very Christlike. The relative who shared this video has a niece who is a lesbian. As far as I know, they’re still very close to her. She has a wife and a son. We also have a male cousin who is gay and has been in a committed relationship for over twenty years. I can’t help but wonder what it must be like in their immediate families, dealing with this kind of cognitive dissonance. You have a close loved one who is homosexual and lives the lifestyle, yet you post this kind of trash on social media?

Bill’s sister, who was adopted by his dad and stepmother, is a lesbian. For many years, her Catholic mother lamented that her daughter was destined to go to Hell, just because she loves women. My husband’s stepmother’s best friend is also a lesbian, yet she evidently believed (and perhaps still believes) that her loved ones are going to burn in eternity only because of whom they choose to love. My sister in law and her wife are wonderful, kind, decent people. I refuse to believe they’re going to Hell simply because they’re lesbians. It wouldn’t be right or natural for them to try to be straight. That would be disastrous for everyone involved. If Emily from the video is truly gay, her life will not be easy as she tries to be straight. And it won’t be easy for the men she’s involved with, either, or the children that might come from such a union.

Anyway… I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m disappointed. I don’t understand the extreme religious mindset of people who profess to be Christians, yet don’t act as Christ would. Many of the comments on that video are pretty disheartening and some are downright sickening. I think of all the people I’ve heard about who have suffered because they have been told being gay is unacceptable and wrong. And they have been mistreated simply because of whom they choose to love. In American Bibles, it says that homosexuality is “sinful”, but other Bibles are translated differently. Could it be that those who are pushing this narrative against homosexuals have fallen for an agenda pushed by an organization rather than following the actual word of God? Not that I profess to be an expert on the word of God. I sure as hell am not. It’s just that this attitude against consenting adults loving other consenting adults is strange to me.

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