Anthropology


Transgender people should not have to go through an “invasive” medical process to prove their change in gender, the Prime Minister has said.

Theresa May also apologised for her voting record on gay rights, admitting: “There are some things that I voted for in the past that I shouldn’t have done.”

[…]

The Prime Minister said: “Last year, I committed to carrying out a consultation on the Gender Recognition Act and I’m pleased to be able to launch that today. What was vert clear from our survey is that transgender people across the UK find the process of legally changing their gender overly bureaucratic and invasive. I want to see a process that is more streamlined and de-medicalised – because being trans should never be treated as an illness.”

The 16-week public consultation on the Gender Recognition Act 2004 in England and Wales came after the launch of a new £4.5 million LGBT action plan, including a ban on so-called “gay-cure” conversion therapies.

Prime_Jedi[This is full of spoilers for The Last Jedi]

I walked out of the Last Jedi a bit bewildered. There are some excellent scenes in it. I actually quite like the disillusioned Luke idea. The Snoke death scene is great (except if it turns out in Episode IX that he has no interesting back-story). Talking of which, the Rey-is-just-a-complete-random decision is also quite courageous and, in a way, interesting. Many ideas unfortunately are just terrible. The comic elements on Ahch-To deflate the significance of the entire sequence rather than making it seem real (as with Yoda in Episode V). In fact, Luke’s faliure to realise who Yoda is and the Master’s eccentricities in The Empire Strikes Back are genuinely funny but very Arthurian in tone so they work brilliantly. The roasting of the Porgs, the mocking of the nuns and the blue milk sequence on Ahch-To are just unpleasant. While, as I said, I think the idea of Luke realising there was an essential misconception behind the Jedi is quite good, the concept is badly underplayed. We don’t learn what this problem was or its true significance and, with the general bathos of Ahch-To, the whole journey of Episode VII ends up seeming as if it was a waste of time. Although the final confrontation between Kylo and Luke is quite good the stakes feel too weak. Why do these few survivors matter? Rey seems to be the only really important person and she is already safe. I suppose this is worsened by the fact that we know Leia will not be in the next film anyway. Perhaps if we thought Episode IX would be all about her the emotional impact would be greater. I’m afraid that from the Leia = Mary Poppins scene onwards the space pursuit, mutiny and Canto Bight story lines are incoherent, clunky and cringeworthily preachy.

In summary The Last Jedi is a failure with one or two good scenes. This is sad as I like the character of Rey and Kylo Ren improves in this film. I don’t want the sequel trilogy to fail. I thought The Force Awakens was weakest when it seemed like a remake of Episode IV and best when it concentrated on the new characters. J. J. Abrams now has an Episode IX to film with none of the original three protagonists (unless Luke isn’t really dead). If Luke appears as a force ghost that shouldn’t be too big a problem as Mark Hamill has been the best actor out of the original three in the sequel trilogy so far. J. J. Abrams needs to fix Episode VIII by making meaningful things which Rian Johnson has left banal. I don’t know what to do with Rose and Finn. They can’t be just dropped but perhaps some sort of sub-plot ending in heroic self sacrifice that exposes the stupidity of Rose’s obstruction of Finn’s attempt in this film might be in order. Poe Dameron needs to emerge as the leader of the Resistance to make up for the stupidity of his ritual humiliation in The Last Jedi. Something has to be snuck in to explain why hyperspace cannot in general be weaponised (and thus why no one had attempted this very obvious tactic before).

Most important of all the reason the Jedi went wrong needs to be explained. Star Wars – Rebels has already reintroduced the Bendu from the Legends chronology and he has referred to the ‘Ashla and Bogan’ as the two sides of the Force (which in the old canon were the two moons of the Je’daii homeworld of Tython which symbolised the two sides of the Force). In the teaser trailer Luke told (presumably) Rey that ‘the Balance’ is ‘so much bigger’ than either the Light or the Dark Side of the Force but this was cut from the film. My suggestion is this: The idea from the Legends chronology should be revived that the original Je’daii (the predecessor order of the Jedi) pursued the Balance between the Light and Dark Sides not the Light alone. The idea in the Legends chronology was that some of the original Je’daii turned exclusively to the Dark Side and the rest were so appalled that, when the devastating civil war this caused came to an end, the remainder decided to embrace only the Light.

Yoda tells us “Anger, fear, aggression; the dark side of the Force are they” but anger, fear and aggression are not evil. They are passions, one end of a continuum in the centre of which lies a mean in which virtue is found. The idea that anger, fear and aggression are mala in se is the central error of Stoicism. Perhaps therefore the Je’daii were Peripatetics who understood this. The first Dark Side users were Sophists who believed in succumbing to and indulging the passions to which we are most inclined and employing reason as the passions’ slave. The Jedi were Stoics, so shocked by the corruption of those who turned to the Dark Side that they either convinced themselves that our leading passions are evil in themselves or that it is best to devote oneself to the contrary inclinations because balance is too prone to give way to the domination of the Dark Side.

My suggestion is that the Prime Jedi – the founder of the Jedi order wrongly thought to have died tens of thousands of years ago (a mosaic of whom appears in The Last Jedi) – should be revealed to be Snoke. It should turn out that the leader of the original Dark Side devotees who triggered the civil war that rendered Tython uninhabitable was consumed by the Dark Side not because he sought it, but because he sought to embrace the Light Side alone and the reaction of his nature corrupted him entirely and led him to the Dark Side. When he realised that his revolt would fail and, while his war would destroy Tython, the Je’daii would prevail, he instructed his most talented pupil (Snoke) who had already long previously infiltrated the Je’daii, but at too junior a level to change the course of the war, to persuade the victorious Je’daii that the Dark Side must be abandoned forever. Snoke’s master realised that however good the Light Side Stoic method might be it could not suppress the tendency of some Light Side users to react and turn to the Dark Side. This would ensure, so long as the reformed order never realised their mistake, a steady flow of Jedi turning to the Dark Side and replenishing the ranks of the Sophists despite their seeming annihilation at the end of the war.

This would be the fatal error of the Jedi which Luke has half realised and which Snoke foresees Leia will discern in the ancient Je’daii texts if she ever sees them (hence the importance of killing her before she meets Rey). Snoke emerged from his millennia of concealment when Luke founded the new Jedi Academy because he feared that Luke would be the chosen one who would discern the original error of the Jedi and restore balance to the Force thus he needed to destroy him. In fact, Rey and not Anakin or Luke is the chosen one who engages with the Dark Side with no temptation to be dominated by it. She shows anger without wrath, desire without lust. Dark Side devotees are thrown up by the Force only because no one exists in whom the balance is maintained. Anakin brought balance to the Force by reducing the number of Force users to four: two Jedi and two Sith. The reason the Jedi were celibate (despite the transmission of the Force harnessing midichlorians by descent) was that the Jedi had discovered the children of exclusive Light Side Force users were far more prone to turn to the Dark Side. Rey will bring balance to the Force by achieving it in herself and her disciples. How this message should be elaborated in narrative terms I am as yet unsure…

 

Supernatural is a dangerous and difficult word in any of its senses, looser or stricter. But to fairies it can hardly be applied, unless super is taken merely as a superlative prefix. For it is man who is, in contrast to fairies, supernatural (and often of diminutive stature); whereas they are natural, far more natural than he. Such is their doom.

– J.R.R. Tolkien, Essay on Fairy Stories (1947)

“It is a characteristic common to all the perversions that in them reproduction as an aim is put aside. This is actually the criterion by which we judge whether a sexual activity is perverse – if it departs from reproduction in its aims and pursues the attainment of gratification independently.”  Sigmund Freud, A General Introduction to Psychoanalysis (1920)

“I believe that any such [contraceptive] practices would in time lead to unsound women & would destroy chastity, on which the family bond depends; & the weakening of this bond would be the greatest of all possible evils to mankind.”  Letter from Charles Darwin to Charles Bradlaugh (6 June 1877)

With ‘gay marriage’ in the bag, the BBC are now softening us up for Phase II with an article: How does a polyamorous relationship between four people work?

Chris and Tom bonded over video games (?!) and became firm friends. Before long, Chris had fallen in love with Tom’s wife, Charlie. “It had never crossed Chris’s mind not to be monogamous – now he says he could never go back,” says Sarah.

Tom admits it’s all a bit weird but he’s optimistic that the intolerant bigots (OK, he didn’t put it quite like that) will be won round in the end:

“Anyone who is expecting some massive social change overnight is terribly mistaken, but it will happen.” 

_69322312_s5030807

Tonight at 8pm on Radio 4 the BBC will broadcast Monogamy and the Rules of Love, presented by Jo Fidgen, “a leading Norwegian transsexual sexologist”.  (Imagine putting that on your form at the Job Centre).  Fidgen explains that the reason you are not “cool” with Chris and Tom and Charlie and Sarah is because you have a closed mind and a small heart:

“We don’t see any contradiction in loving more than one friend. No-one asks us to only love one of our children. Why shouldn’t it be any different with romantic love?”  Does true love really mean forsaking all other lovers? Most of us assume a conventional serious relationship depends on sexual fidelity. What happens when we open our minds and our relationships?”

Who knows what’s down the road?

 

Fr Malak was taken  by a priest friend to meet a German priest whom he’d met. They went to the chapel first.

“Come on” whispered Fr Kentenich.

When we got to the porch, he said “Let’s go to the bathroom, it’s empty at this time of day – we won’t find a better place”.

We sit on chests standing next to the wall. The conversation unfolds. Fr Kentenich makes ever longer contributions, and they turn into a sort of lecture.

(more…)

But if we refuse to make a choice between sin and receiving the Eucharist, it can only mean that we drastically underestimate what we expect to receive from the Eucharist. Receiving the Eucharist worthily means eternal life, fellowship with Christ, grace in hardship. Receiving it unworthily means a curse. Nobody likes to think about that.

Betty Duffy has a post that touches on some themes from Waugh that I have been pondering of late. It’s very good.

Still, neither one of us takes our Church’s teachings lightly, so I asked her, “Would you ever consider just not having sex for the remainder of your fertile years?”

She looked me square in the eye and said, “I would rather live the rest of my life without the Eucharist than without sex.”

Next Page »