278. esoterica

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There hasn’t been much time to write recently, nor is there much time to write today, so this is going to be a bit scattered. We’ll see where this goes.

Eighteen days ago was the four-year anniversary of my breakup with Jay, the narcissist ex-boyfriend who nevertheless turned out to be—as I rightly feared—my likely last chance at a relationship before I turned 30.

I was hoping for some spark of insight about lessons learned about life choices, but instead I found little more than regret at having stayed with him for nine whole months.

Besides, there isn’t that much of my mind free to reflect on things like that these days.



One of the insights that I did have after things ended with my last therapist is that one of the reasons I feel so ambivalent about my parents is that there was a time when I was very young when I was happy with them.

This was before I was self-aware and able to internalize the bullshit theology that they were feeding me.

The world was simpler, brighter, happier, and there’s a part of my mind that still remembers what it felt like. A gulf of time and trauma now stands between me and that previous proto-self, and there is no way to get back.

You can’t go home.

I suppose that’s one of the things I most hate my parents for—robbing me of my childhood (and my future adult happiness) by teaching me to hate myself.

They also robbed me of the ability to truly enjoy things since I constantly view things that I like with suspicion or skepticism. There was always a fear growing up that one or both of my parents would disapprove of something I enjoyed or liked, for whatever reason, and would take that thing away.


I’ve also been thinking about my emerging asexual/demisexual identity as of late, where it came from, and whether I’ve always just been this way.

The present hypothesis is that, yes, I have always been this way. My hypothesis acknowledges that the relevant events happened between twelve and fifteen years ago, and that memory is an imperfect reconstruction of past events.

There’s also the reality that my sexuality formed under hostile, repressive circumstances, so it’s possible that my resultant sexual identity is a product of emotional trauma and abuse, isolation, and cult-like psychological programming.

That being said, while I definitely experienced the Saturn V rocket-like explosion of male sex drive during my teenage years, I do not recall ever being sexually attracted to specific guys. I had crushes, yes, to varying levels of intensity, but I don’t remember wanting to do anything sexual with any male peers.

Was that because I was unconsciously suppressing those desires on account of the then-impossibility of realizing them? Perhaps. I was intelligent enough then to have done that. Yet while my peers (even the Christian ones) seemed preoccupied by their sexual impulses (and, naturally, the struggle to resist and remain “pure”), I was more aware of the absence of such impulses in myself.

Piano, writing, research, or literally anything else held more interest for me than sex.

For my male friends especially, the struggle to tame their sexual needs and desires seemed ever-present, something that created a mountain of anxiety for them. I, on the other hand, struggled with just the reality of being same-sex attracted rather than any specific desires.

Being gay was largely an abstract concept for me.

What I experienced in terms of desire for other men wasn’t even necessarily sexual. Even today, I don’t have sexual fantasies about guys. What I do have are emotional fantasies—imagining going on vacations with a partner, buying our first house together, brushing our teeth, curling up on the couch together under a blanket while rain patters on the window.

It’s more the desire for intimacy than it is for sex.

That’s the homoromantic aspect of my orientation.


However, I’ve also been thinking back over my experiences as a sexually active gay man, because over the course of just a few years, I did have a lot of sex. I’ve been thinking about what that meant, especially considering how emotionally unfulfilling and empty it was.

To use a metaphor, I felt a lot like Dharma and Jane when they pretended to be German tourists and were confronted by an actual German speaker.

When I was sexually active, I largely went through the motions, doing what I grew up doing in most social situations—mirroring behavior, and generally faking emotions without understanding what was going on.

Fahrvergnügen?

At the time, I thought I was “discovering” my sexuality after years of repression. The discomfort I felt was internalized homophobia, I thought. Yet no matter how many guys I fucked, I didn’t feel any less confused or empty.

If anything, I actually felt resentful.


No automatic alt text available.

Wolf, Tikva. “Kimchi Cuddles.” Comic strip. 2014. http://kimchicuddles.com.

Reactions to my demi or asexuality have been interesting. There’s been a lot of Oh, I’ve felt that way before. I must be demisexual too.

Or: Are you sure I can’t convince you to give me a try?

Or: Your view of sex is just too traditional.

The notion of the absence of sexual attraction is apparently stymieing to many people. It’s the air they breathe, familiar and comfortable. Gay men especially seem to have a difficult time imagining life without being aroused by any hot or cute guy.

That’s one of my worries about dating again—finding a guy who:

  1. I manage to establish an emotional connection with that’s strong enough to move into sexual attraction;
  2. I find physically attractive;
  3. Is fine with not rushing into sex, and even waiting for me to determine if I’m attracted or not;
  4. Isn’t scared off by my crazy.

So yeah… I don’t know how this is supposed to work. Ultimately, my goal is to build a family of my own to make up for the one I didn’t have, but that doesn’t seem likely.

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51. terminiology

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I was just looking at an email that my dad sent me back in March of 2007, just after I’d left my home church of fourteen years when a new pastor took over and was steering everything in more of a “megachurch” direction. (That, and the executive pastor was just an evil, evil man.) These were from some notes he took at a church conference.

The language that you’ll often hear in discussions like this about churches is Seeker vs. Missional. Considering that I’m looking for a new home church, this conversation is pretty relevant at the moment. I’d have to say that most churches now appear to follow more of the “Seeker” model. See what you think. Where does your church lie on this spectrum? I’m curious if the four models outlined at the bottom are the only ones, or if there are more. It seems too simplistic, reductionist, and even dangerous to boil it down that much. Is it the nature of Emergent churches to have liberal theology?

As Jack D. Caputo observes, “Nutshells close and encapsulate, shelter and protect, reduce and simplify, while everything in deconstruction is turned toward opening, exposure, expansion, and complexification, toward releasing unheard of, undreamt of possibilities to come, toward cracking nutshells wherever they appear” (from Deconstruction in a Nutshell).


SEEKER

  • Business model mindset
  • Market-driven (surveys, polls)
  • Gain larger following
  • Dispenses services
  • Pragmatic
  • Bring ‘em in mentality, events
  • Programs to attract non-Christians
  • Sharing vs. preaching teaching/sermon format

MISSIONAL

  • Theologically, biblically led
  • Counter-cultural
  • Theology impacts culture
  • Christians reach out to non-believers
  • No evangelical events, no surveys
  • Go-out mentality
  • Christians gather to worship, fellowship; scatter to evangelize
  • Every believer a missionary, each trained to that end

Under “Emerging v. Emergent” [Mark] Driscoll lists 4 current directions churches may take in addressing a post-modern culture:

  1. Emergent – very liberal theologically, people-driven pragmatic approach
  2. Emerging – house churches, basically moderate evangelicalism
  3. Evangelical with upgrade to music (“edgy”)
  4. Missional – reformed theology (above characteristics)

002. Definitions

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Okay.

Before this goes any further, I think we need to establish a common vocabulary:

ho·mo·sex·u·al
adj.   Of, relating to, or having a sexual orientation to persons of the same sex.

gay
Can be used either as an adjective to refer to or anything regarding those attracted to the same sex, or as a noun chiefly for homosexual men. Lesbian is typically used to refer to homosexual women. Is often used synonymously with “homosexual” but tends to be more loaded, carrying associations with the GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex) community and political and social activism.

queer
adj.  Used in reference to the LGBT communities as well as those perceived to be members of those communities. Originally it was a derisive term but has since been claimed as an identifier by many in the gay community.

For my own purposes, I’ve chosen to go with “same-sex attracted” or “homosexual.” It’s more clinical-sounding but accurate. If we’ve had this discussion, I feel comfortable saying that I’m gay because you know what I mean, and more importantly what I don’t mean. If you were to ask me right out if I’m gay, I’d probably respond, “I’m attracted to men, yes, but I don’t identify with the gay community as it currently exists.”

So now that we got that over with…