Lyn Gala

One writer's journal through one version of reality


21 Comments

Disabled and in Love

Does a disability make a romantic hero less desirable?

I’ve been thinking about this lately. I had a fanfic story, Green Eyed Hope, where Blair loves Jim, but Jim is simply not gay. Trust me, when you are gay, this is an entirely too common situation. Anyway, Blair is disabled in a car accident, learns to trust that Jim loves him like a brother and moves on to find his romantic partner in another disillusioned soldier.

One of the most common comments I get on this story is that people are sorry Blair never recovered more. He gets to the point where he can use a cane for short distances, but he’ll never have the strength back in the legs to easily walk.

It reminded me of a big kerfuffle in fandom where someone else had written a wheelchair using Blair, but he was magically healed in the end by a shamanic ritual. Someone else fanficed the fanfic to rewrite the ending so that Blair stayed disabled and Jim loved him just as much.

I can see why someone would want that ending. If a person is disabled, where are the romance stories for him or her?

WilliamIn my newest story, William is never identified as disabled, and I doubt his parents ever got a diagnosis, but he is obsessed with his hobby (American history), has a job where he can handle numbers because he cannot handle relationships with people, he pisses off every boyfriend he ever had, and his social skills were so abominable that his very loving parents sent him to a boys boarding school in the hopes that he could learn to be more social.

I don’t think it’s hard to see the disability, but it makes my heart hurt a little when the comments come in with… Dallin can do better than him… William is just too antisocial… I wish Dallin would have walked out and stayed gone.

Even people who admit that William has a heart of gold are uncomfortable with him in a relationship, and then there are the comments about how William gets too involved too fast. Oh boy. Um… yeah, that’s part of the disability. Lots of Asperger’s kids have to be explicitly taught to not stalk because once someone expresses an interest, they often don’t know where that line between appropriate and inappropriate lies.

Which is why those on the autistic spectrum are so much more likely to abstain from sex. It’s just hard to find a partner.

Now, I’m not saying that William would be easy to love, and even at the end, Dallin has to move his stuff into another closet because William can’t handle having his stuff disturbed, and vacation consists of visiting historical sites that William’s interested in.

But on the other hand, William completely and totally loves Dallin and will do anything for him. There is an upside to having an autistic spectrum lover.

So, does the disability make William less appropriate as the subject of a romance novel? Should Blair be “healed” at the end in order to have his happily ever after? Can you have a happily ever after if one of the main characters is suffering and continues to suffer a serious physical or mental difficulty?


3 Comments

Submissives, fanfic, and an Apology to Jayne

code4Well, I finally updated my webpage, and I have to give up on Firefly.

No, don’t get your panties bunched. I still love the show. I still love the fanfic I have done with the show, but I just don’t write that much fanfic with it, so my fourth slot on my main page switched from Firefly to Stargate.

You see, the only thing I miss in Firefly is a sexual relationship between the characters. I started with Thoughts Colored Ugly where River’s telepathic powers allows her to see Jayne’s submissive nature, but she accidentally drives him away before she can step up and claim her man.

I then did Old War Horses, which I loved. Jim (The Sentinel) had been a Purple Belly government officer who had been turned into a government experiment. While fleeing from arrest, he runs into Mal and the Serenity, who have very strong Browncoat feelings. I loved watching these two try to continue a war when both of them had lost the war so long ago, and it let me play with my favorite dynamic—the strong submissive.

I love kick-ass submissives. I love the idea of someone having power and choosing to lay it at the feet of the person they love. I think you can see that in Liam and Tom and Ferro, and so many of my submissive characters.

Jayne is the ultimate strong submissive. When I see how, in canon, he was willing to accept his death if it came at Mal’s hands, when I saw him follow Mal into certain death with the Reavers when he couldn’t follow any other captain through a simple trade… I knew him. He was my strong submissive.

I thought I would be able to play with Jayne forever.

So I started Big Damn Dog, and I realized I had run out of fuel in the tank.

You see, there’s really nothing else I can change or fix in the series. Once I have my beautiful submissive Jayne settled, I’m happy with Joss’ world. I’m done. I don’t feel the call of any more epic stories—I can just go watch the series and be sated.

But Stargate? Oh, yeah. That’s just a hot mess.

The Not in Kansas series lets me totally stick my fingers in both SG1 (to poke Jack’s all symbiotes are evil button) and in Atlantis (to poke the let’s run this like a base and not the colony it is button). Face it, both ideas are pretty dumb. No species is evil as a whole—there’s just some other definition of right and wrong going on in that alien head. In my universe, the goa’uld are what happens when a perfectly sane symbiote has the bad luck to join with a psychotic/sociopathic ancient race and learn all about power and pain. And when Gibbs and Tony move to Atlantis in not one but two 100K epics, that poor city never saw it coming!

The Magical Cage let me poke at the Wraith/vampire connection by pulling Buffy in. The Shadows Universe let me use The Sentinel and their fear of government as well as La Femme Nikita to point out that the SGC is a scary covert ops world, we just see the friendly face of all the scary. We see that again in Dr. Sandburg Finds a Sentinel.

Dark Still Water gives Teal’c the voice he never got in canon, and lets the SG1 folk torture Jim (The Sentinel) for his most assholish season 4 behavior.  Airman Harris lets me poke at all the psychological damage these people take that rarely gets addressed in canon.

Yep, the Stargate universe feels more flawed. It ignores the very ideas I want to explore. It’s more interesting because it’s more flawed, so Stargate has now officially bumped Firefly off the main page.

I’m sorry, Jayne. I still love you!


Leave a comment

The Source of All Evil

Georgia teens indicted for brutal post-prom rape that left unconscious victim hospitalized

That’s the headline I read this morning. You can read it for yourself, but it’s a depressingly common story. It’s  HERE

It does seem like the tide is turning in the girl’s favor this time, unlike the Steubenville case; however, when reading the comments, I still ran into the all too common comments:

  • “He ate where I work Sunday and he was a really nice guy. With his girlfriend and his parents I really don’t think he did what they say…”
  • “He is the sweetest person out there. Thank you for that comment. The truth will come out!!!!”
  • “Thank you so much for posting this because it is true this kid has always been so nice and super respectful. I know his parents and live in his subdivision. This kid has always been nice as is his parents. Cannot tell you how much it is appreciated to see someone think about this objectively without even really knowing him. Praying for the truth to be revealed.”

You can be creeped out over  HERE

I think the problem is that people don’t understand evil.

They think evil stands out—that it’s ugly with meth sores or it’s a man with black, slicked back hair and a goatee. They watch television where evil is big and often overwhelms people until all they are is evil, even if they started with noble intentions and a desire to financially protect their families.  To them evil can’t be polite to neighbors or mow the lawn.

To them evil is something all-encompassing. It swallows everything

Which is stupid.

I grew up in a small town with a very involved and probably overprotective mother. The two biggest dogs on the block were our collie and the German shepherd two doors down. I dog sat when the family went on vacation. I walked the little boy home when he got in a fight at the bus stop. My mother gossiped with the wife, and the husband would ask me to play with the dog while he mowed the lawn to keep him out of the way.

They were normal.

Except for the part where the father turned out to be a pedophile who had killed and buried the little girl who had disappeared out of the neighborhood the second year we lived there. He wasn’t caught until after we moved, but the point is that evil doesn’t look evil. It looks pretty damn normal. Evil mows the lawn.  Evil gets upset when his son comes home with a black eye.  Evil plays with his dog.

And yet people assume that if someone smiles and treats their parents well that they can’t be fuck-all crazy or evil or just twisted up inside.

I bet these boys don’t even think of themselves as evil. They sodomized a girl with an object so brutally that she had to go to the hospital, but I bet they’d point to their girlfriends and grades and athletic trophies and say, “but look—I’m normal!”

Unfortunately, honey, evil is normal. Evil is about the choices we make, and making disgusting and morally bankrupt choices doesn’t require that you have a mustache to twirl or the sunken eyes of a drug addict. Hell, most drug addicts are too apathetic and lost to be evil anymore.

But every single one of us is one choice away from evil. That’s the real danger. And the second we turn evil into some black lagoon monster that eats Tasha Yar or a primordial force that threatens Buffy, then we can pretend that it isn’t in us.

These boys can pretend they aren’t evil.

That little twit in the restaurant can pretend Fields Chapman isn’t evil because he has a girlfriend.

The people in Steubenville can pretend that winning athletes aren’t evil.

But guess what? People can look perfectly normal and still make an evil choice. People need to learn that because as long as long as they think of evil as something “other,” they’re not going to notice the seed of it growing in their own heart.

 


3 Comments

Yep, I’m talking race

I’m proud to be Asian, said the Asian man.

I’m proud to be Black, said the Black man.

I’m proud to be White, said the racist.

 

This joke popped up on my Facebook feed today, and I have had it stuck in my head for hours. Usually that means I need to get the feelings out—although I suspect I’ll step on toes. Shrug. What’s new?

Okay, let’s start with the assumptions there.

First, this person (and I’m sure I don’t need to identify them by race or gender), assumes that any Asian person proudly proclaims, “I’m proud to be Asian.”

That’s an odd statement. I mean, I’ve known people who are proud to be Vietnamese and people proud to be South Korean, I’ve known people proud to be Chinese or Zhuang or Tibetan. I’ve known people who were proud their parents escaped communism in Cambodia and people who were proud of the contributions of the Philippians in World War II, but I have never known anyone to stand up and say, “I’m proud to be Asian.”

What would that even mean?

Asia is so large that there is no such thing as an Asian culture or Asian people. Hell, people don’t even agree on exactly where the line is between Asia and Europe.

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe people out there do say it. If so, I suspect saying “I’m proud to be Asian” is synonymous with “Fuck you because I don’t envy your white skin.”

Moving on to the second one. I suspect that people who talk about black pride are talking about being proud of being African American. They are taking pride in a culture rooted in family, in strength, and in survival. They should be proud of that. No question.

However, it’s not the skin color that’s inspiring the pride. It’s the connection to the culture and the history of Black Americans. No one in Africa ever said, “I’m proud to be black.” That’s not to say they aren’t proud of their heritage, but they’re proud of being Mende or Arusha or even of being Bantu. Although Bantu is a big umbrella for a lot of groups, it’s not nearly as broad as “black.”

So no one is running around exhibiting a lot of pride over their skin color. Nope. No one. People are proud of where they came from. If you want to be proud of being white, yeah, I’m going to call you a racist. And I am the whitest of the white folk. I burn when I think about going outside.

Now that doesn’t mean you can’t be proud of your people. I am proud of my mother’s white ancestors, strong Welsh folk who showed up in this country before the Revolutionary War and fought against the English. Yep, I’m a daughter of the American Revolution, and I’m proud of that.

I’m proud of my father’s family and their Irish roots. They took off from the old country even before the potato famine. They were too poor to even be tenant farmers. They settled in the deep south when the deep south was swamp-land and malaria and horrendous mortality rates—but they survived.

I’m proud of my German roots. Those tough old white folks that were my ancestors helped settle parts of Minnesota and Canada. They lived and died in an unhospitable world, and they made the world bend rather than get driven away.

But that doesn’t mean I’m proud of being white. My skin color is an accident. I’m proud of my German ancestors and my Irish ancestors and my Welsh ancestors.

And I’m proud of my African ancestors.

Most likely they were Ibo from West Africa. One of those dirt poor Irish fellows fell in love. She couldn’t pass for white, so they passed her off as Cherokee and ran as far west as they could. They made it around five hundred miles, which back then was one hell of a haul because this was back before the Civil War. I sometimes wonder what it was like… running when you knew your marriage was illegal. Hell, the family has no idea if she was ever legally freed or if my ancestor risked running with someone else’s slave. Some things get lost in the family lore.

That doesn’t mean I’m proud to be black because trust me… I do not look like I have a drop of black blood in me. But I’m still proud of that woman. I’m proud of a dirt poor Irish farmer who knew wrong when he saw it and followed his heart. I’m proud of a Revolutionary hero who was temporarily charged with desertion. It turns out he lost his unit in the woods… as in he couldn’t find them. He hooked up with another unit and he was cleared later when it turned out he’d been fighting the English the whole time, just with the wrong unit.

I come by my bad sense of direction honestly.

So you know that joke up at the top of this post? Fuck you Mr. Humorous.

And you can stop feeling sorry for yourself because you think you’re the only person in the world not allowed to be proud of where you come from. However, if the only thing you have to be proud of is your skin color, you really might want to consider that you are, in fact, a racist.

And if you aren’t, then you’re just whiny. And you know what? Whiny is almost as annoying. So stop it.

There. I feel better now.


14 Comments

Where’s my bondmate

In the past, I’ve commented that I don’t get mystical bonds or mated pairs or destined pairs or whatever it means when a couple is biologically driven together.

I didn’t get it when I read fanfic and Blair and Jim absolutely had to bond or they would die. Doesn’t that negate their love because they’re forced together instead of choosing each other?

I didn’t get it when Tony and Gibbs were telepaths or vampires or part of the Sentinel universe. If they were forced to stay together, then where is the beauty in them working through problems together? Where is the power of the relationship when biology trumps all?

When people read Long, Lonely Howl, they tried to read a “bond” into the relationship, but there isn’t one. Casey has a crush on Nathan, but he’s gone years without following up on that relationship, and when they choose to be together, they have to figure out how to make it work in a pack where there is a range of compatibility between the members.

But I think I’m coming around.

Right now I am so emotionally exhausted and whiny and alone that all I want is someone who is biologically required to stand by me, because trust me, I’m not safe around anyone else. My life feels so out of control.

Mom is recovering, but it’s going to be a long, hard haul. LONG HARD haul. My fiction has been sidelined by the need to become an in-home nurse while doing all the cooking, laundry, cleaning, and tending for someone who physically can’t do for herself. And because she’s a two hundred plus pound woman, it’s hard to manage some of these tasks. Nursing care only comes out every third day, and it’s hard. It’s so hard.

Normally when I’m this stressed, I write. I retreat into a world where I have more control. But I’m too tired and too frustrated. I try to sit down with Ondry and Liam, and I find my eyes closing as I type. And I can’t catch the thread of anything.

And god help me when I see a bad review because I don’t have the emotional reserves to deal with any of it. I look at the lack of interest in Drift (three reviews on Amazon, nothing on Loose Id), and I want to cry. I feel like such a failure, and I know I’m not being emotionally fair with myself, but I can’t catch my balance.

I want a bonded mate.

Right now, I just want someone who is forced to like me, even when I’m being a little (or a lot) unlikeable. About the only thing I am consistently finding time for is The Journey Home by Jilly. It’s over on keiramarcos.com/roughtrade.

So I logged on to see if there’s another chapter and if I get myself ten or twenty minutes of indulging in a fantasy of bonded mates and love that stretched across worlds. It’s NCIS/Sentinel fanfic, and it beats up on Gibbs who can be a bit of an ass, so it scratches all my itches.

But then I get a database error on the Keira Marcos site, and I swear I want to cry. All because I want to read a stupid damn chapter of a stupid damn fanfic that clearly means more than it should right now.

 

I hate life.

 

And Jilly, I love your story, even if I’m calling it stupid because I shouldn’t care so much about Tony’s damn bonded mate.

 


3 Comments

The Early Demise of Fanfic

Reading through the archives over at SGA Storyfinders, I have spent an embarrassing amount of time reading the adventures of John and Rodney, two seriously horny space explorers—at least they are in fanfiction. In the show John actually seemed a little clueless with the sexual relationships unless someone was knocking him over the head with it—often literally.

But I’m surprised at the number of stories that are gone.

Just gone.

It’s not that the authors stopped paying for their websites and so they vanished, only appear again through the magic of the web archive. It’s not that they deactivated their LiveJournal account and the fic died as an unfortunately side-effect.

Okay, sometimes it is exactly that.

But a lot of times, these stories were intentionally removed by the authors. The authors went through all the time and effort to create stories that people liked well enough to ask for them. In some cases, I see the same story asked for over and over and over.

Has anyone seen that one… you know… the one where they break away from Earth version 523? Has anyone seen the one with bug John where he’s in the crate?

Sometimes I can even track down the stories, and they’re good.

But they are, for the most part, gone. These children of some creative mind have been shuffled off to an early grave.

I wonder how many have died the death of the bad review?

Now, I’m not talking about professional texts. People are paying for that, so my tolerance for asshatary goes up.

gibbsEven the person who one starred me and ripped into me for having a child raped on screen gets a pass from me, and those of you who know me know that I would spork my own eyes out before I ever wrote that so I don’t know if the reviewer confused my book with another or if they were skimming so fast that they somehow got confused and honestly thought my character was underage. Oh, and the rape is off-screen, but whatever. I get paid to write that, so I should be able to take some hits, right?

It stings, and sometimes I think of taking up voodoo, but I take it.

However fanfiction is a hobby. This is a fun activity done by fans who want to geek out and writing stories gives them a chance to do that. I’m writing a fanfic series right now where Gibbs and Tony are in Atlantis and I’m having fun turning Gibbs loose on some of the general stupidity. They want to walk through with very few supplies? Well, Gibbs (and his tok-ra like passenger) have a few things to say about that. It’s fun. See? FUN… in a masochistic, carpal tunnel inducing sort of way.

But then I get someone announcing that he doesn’t like my logic and he refuses to read more. Why? Because I had John kidnapped on Earth. Oh, and no Stargate characters ever get kidnapped on Earth… no. *insert eyeroll here* I was setting this during the beginning of Season Two when the Trust is one of the big bad guys, but if John were on Earth for six months, they wouldn’t take a shot at him, and because I think they would, he tells me I’m wrong and he’s out of there.

Good. Don’t let the door hit ya where the Good Lord split ya.

Why do people try and treat fanfic like professionally published works? Guess what, I don’t pay to have my fanfic edited. *gasp* That means it has grammatical errors—a lot of them. If that were for actual publication, I would track those suckers down and kill every bad pronoun reference.

However, hunting pronoun antecedent references and split infinitives isn’t fun. It isn’t even on the same continent with fun, and I want fanfic to be FUN. If people send me corrections, I often (not always) get around to fixing things on my website while I watch TV. I refuse to feel bad if I don’t, though.

I guess I just wonder how much really good fanfiction has been shuffled off to an early death because a fanfic reader started treating fanfic writers like professionals? How many creative minds have shut down in the face of criticism that is really unnecessarily harsh for a playground? I am totally willing to call Damien Hirst’s work utter shite, but I’m not going to say that to the couple doing chalk art on the sidewalk.

It just makes me sad that link after link is dead, and many of those authors intentionally took their balls and went home—or John and Rodney’s balls anyway. If there’s no money changing hands, it’d be nice if people used the backbutton instead of the snark button.


Leave a comment

Size Challenged, Size Cheated.

When I was young, I spent a lot of time feeling miserable.  I weighed about 150, and every time I went to the doctor, he kept telling me I needed to lose.  I was twenty pounds overweight.  I was going to get sick.  My hypoglycemia was because I wouldn’t lose weight.

Yes, I wouldn’t.

According to him, it was all my choice.  I starved myself, followed strict diets, worked out until I was sick (and I damaged a knee).  I truly hated myself because he kept saying I should be 120 pounds, maybe 130 on the outside.

He based that on something like this.

Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but the point of medicine is to help us live longer with a better life.  Interestingly enough, look at this.  (the link is: http://www.healthchecksystems.com/heightweightchart.htm )

It turns out that I would have the longest life if I stayed between 137 and 155.  I use the 5′ 5″ chart on that one because they’re assuming women where a one inch heel, and my doctor always makes me take shoes off.

Wait.

I was at my ideal weight for health the whole time?  Before I made myself sick with round after round of diet, my body was actually doing exactly the right thing?  Really?

Doctors suck, because it turns out that the answer is yes.  Obese people put more strain on internal organs, especially the heart, and die from that stress.  However, people who are in that weight chart the doctors have pushed on us for years die of infection.  They get sick and don’t have the internal resources to recover as well.

Insurance companies know that.  They know if we’re twenty pounds “overweight,” that means we’re actually going to live longer.

It makes me wonder what would have happened if I had listened to my own body instead of the doctors.  It’s too late now. I struggle to listen to my body and its needs, and I wonder how different that might have been had I know a little more truth.

Oh well, you know what they say.  If wishes were horses, beggars would eat good horsemeat.  Wait.  That was Jayne Cobb.  I’m pretty sure that Jayne is smarter than the doctor I had back then.


7 Comments

Backstory Muses and A Good Trade

GalaClaimingThe Rownt muse strikes again. Actually, the attack of the backstory Rownt muse struck.  Backstory muses are very odd things.

So, I am trying to pull out a list of Rownt words before I work on the sequel to Claimings, Tails, and Other Alien Artifacts.  I reach the point where Liam turns over a Ginal coin, and I remember the backstory I had come up with for that little gesture.  I really like my backstories, although I rarely write them down. I think the success of a story set in an exotic location, science fiction or not, depends on having a backstory.  Nothing can feel random, and if the writer doesn’t know how the world functions, the reader is going to pick up on that randomness.

However, if every bit of backstory lands in the book, it is booooring.  People want a story, not an anthropological description of why someone turns over a coin when they finish a trade or what that coin means.  And actually, in the original book, Liam got it wrong. He thought it meant trading ended. It actually means that the trade ended well.

Back to my point…. I was pulling out these phrases and I hit that Ginal coin, which should have been a two line entry in this “glossary” of Rownt I’m creating. Instead, I kept wanting to return to Ginal, to tell his story.  Considering his story is pure science fiction with no romance at all, I tried to ignore the muse. After all, I’m supposed to be working on Liam and Ondry.  But no…. the damn thing insisted.  It demanded.  It practically reached out from the computer and grabbed me by the throat. That’s actually what the first book did too.

Anyway, here is “A Good Trade,” a short story from the Rownt universe featuring a traditional hero from Rownt history and a man trying to be a good father to one headstrong girl.

———————————————————————————————

Ginal crouched at the top of the escarpment, watching the Rownt of Lartal move about their lives. From this height, he couldn’t tell the difference between these individuals and those who made similar preparations for war in his own Pratoalta. As a trader, he visited both towns. Women, even grandmothers, from both places had claimed his sperm, and he suspected that more than one egg laid in Lartal came from his genes.

And yet.

And yet these people and his would soon go to war. Hand against hand, spear against spear and ordinance against ordinance.

“We should move the merchandise,” Ang said quietly. The girl was growing into a woman, and Ginal had no doubt she had large eyes and itching fingers when it came to their latest trade. The oils and spice would be worth much. However, the success of the trade was ash in Ginal’s mouth. He stared down at this town that would soon be enemy to him, and he could find joy in nothing, not even from the growing evidence that his daughter had her own schemes to steal some of these profits. His girl was growing up and if she had a less capable guardian, she would have stolen them blind by now. Pride grew in his stomach at the sight of her capable plots and machinations. One day she would be a trader to respect. Unfortunately that day was decades if not centuries away, and history conspired against him and his offspring.

“Father?”

 

removed due to the general assholiness of some people.


8 Comments

Religion in Odd Places

M/M erotica and a blind, white, albino rapper. What do they have in common? Well, for one thing, I’m fond of both. For another, both take religion into spaces where God sometimes gets exiled.

The rapper is Brother Ali who creates stories out of lyrics, like the story of the leper child turned out by a white family and taken in by the slaves—and raised to better by those folks. He becomes the preacher who warns his birth family that “All that gettin, so little givin; Led a lot of y’all to forget what’s missin; Built you a big pretty prison to sit in; Strut around here, convinced that that’s livin.”

I like that Brother Ali reclaims God for his lyrics.  However, in one of my favorite songs, “Tight Rope,” he admits that religion can turn dark.

Daddy was a preacher, momma was a Sunday school teacher

Big brother, football squad leader

Now far be it for you to disappoint or displease them

Your just being what you feel you see in

That mirror every time you peer in

Swallow the tears inside that empty feeling

Her boy terrified to let the world in

He has girlfriends but doesn’t want a girlfriend

He retreats inside himself

Where he lives life itself in secret

Daddy says people go to hell for being

What he is and he certainly believes them

Cause there ain’t no flame that can blaze enough

To trump being hated for the way you love

And cry yourself to sleep and hate waking up

Its a cold world y’all shame on us

I love that he has this honest relationship with religion. He sings of loving God, but he has this minister of God slowly destroying his own son for being gay. “Shame on us” indeed for having a society that allows our young people to hate themselves for being honest about our their natures.

As I’m working on my most recent story, I think I’m trying to find that same honest and brutally sharp edge.

In the Desert World universe, Livre has the soft and supportive side of religion. Shan believes in God utterly, and I love that faith. I love that God and the church gave Div a safe place to hide. In my own life, the church fails to provide that entirely too often.

However, the more I created that world, the more I realized that it existed only because these people were working together toward a common goal. When people don’t have a common enemy or goal, they turn on each other, and that’s when the sides try co-opting God. So, when Shan and Temar met the rest of the universe, the religion was dark and frightening. Paulists… nominal Christians who followed the words of Paul instead of those of Christ… had taken over the church.

To me, that’s scary.

Paul persecuted the early Christians and denied Christ. Heck, he murdered Christians. “I persecuted the followers of this Way to their death, arresting both men and women and throwing them into prison” (Acts 22:4). But then he claims he saw the light of God and heard Jesus’ voice and suddenly he was a changed man.

This changed man goes on to offer the following bits of wisdom:

  • Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man (I Corinthians 11:9).
  • Anyone who speaks in a tongue edifies themselves, but the one who prophesies edifies the church. I would like every one of you to speak in tongues (I Corinthians 14:4-5).
  • Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says (I Corinthians 14:34).
  • Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself… Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body (I Corinthians 6:15/18).

I guess that last one means that it’s better to murder than to have sex with a prostitute. Those were Paul’s two examples… sex between men and sex with a prostitute. Those are worse than all other sins which don’t affect the body.  I guess that would be… what?  Murder?  Yeah, I find murder so much less objectionable than paying for sex.  *insert eyeroll here*

The Ten Commandments aren’t ranked in order with some sins worse. This obsession with sex that’s in the modern Christian church doesn’t come from Christ or God… it comes from Paul. And Paul is a little scary (or a lot scary). He seems to think he’s more powerful than angels because he said:

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! (Galatians 1:6-8).

Yep, that totally sounds like someone who follows the humble teachings of Christ. Dude. He never even met Christ unless you believe his story of the voices in his head being those of God. When he worked for Judaism, he was a power-hungry little ass who sent people to their deaths for disagreeing with him, and as a preacher he doesn’t seem all that different. He uses his new “power” as a minister of Jesus to travel through Syria and Cilicia demanding respect. “And they praised God because of me” (I Galatians 24).

Wow, I’m long-winded today.

I guess I’m saying that Paul has driven people from the church and those who cling to Paul have given the rest of the world a strange idea of what it means to be Christian or religious in general.

Brother Ali is Muslim. He’s reclaiming the middle ground for his religion.

I want writers to start to reclaim that middle ground for Christianity.

I want m/m stories that have characters of faith, characters who can believe in God without the self-flagellation that turns religion into something self-destructive.  I want men who talk to God and trust that someone is listening. I even want characters I religious disagree with who can be religious without being nutcases.

In my new story, Stunt and Alex are deep in the Bible belt with people who believe in Leviticus and Corinthians; however, these people also believe in Christ’s words from Matthew 7. Judge not. That’s right, if we look at Christ’s teachings, all this judging is going to condemn the accusers faster than the sinners.

So, Elijah the old moonshiner who believes in snake handling and tongues and a lot of other stuff I’m tempted to call a little crazy, also supports gay marriage. Because he believes in the Bible, and as he explains to the protagonists:

“I figure you’ll go to hell seeing as how the Bible calls that one of those abominations. But until you get yourself dead, it ain’t none of my business. Actually, it ain’t my business even after you’re dead seeing as how I don’t intend to be down in hell with all the fornicators and such.” It was perfect hill logic, but Alex looked a little like a man who’d just seen the sky and earth switch sides. “But if you make a commitment in front of God, that means something around here. That’s not to be undertaken lightly. So don’t go promising to love and honor unless you mean it.”

I like Elijah. I disagree with his religion, but I like him because he is reclaiming the middle. He can hold his beliefs without casting stones at the rest of the world.

I guess I’m going to end with a part of the Bible I like a lot more than anything Paul wrote.

Matthew 7

1 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.

2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?

4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?

5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.


5 Comments

Emotional Hangover

I think indulging in story is an exercise in psychic vampirism. I’m a vampire, and I don’t want to give up the literary blood source—which might explain why I write my own stories when the vein goes dry. Psychologists would disagree since they call it the “paradox of fiction,” but whatever.

I have to say that right now I’m having the same sort of post-good-story fictional psychic spillover from Supernatural that I had the first time I read Brave New World or The Count of Monte Cristo.  Yeah, don’t just me.  I was nine or ten, and I was obsessed with the Count of Monte Cristo there for a while.

Besides, it’s not like Supernatural is some literary classic, but it pulled at the angst, the guilt, the pain in a way few shows do.  Buffy hit that note, but let’s be honest—most television pain revolves around broken relationships and self-importance.  I don’t feel for them, and I felt for the boys.

So, when we fall into this story funk, this place where the mind keeps rolling over the emotions and the events of fiction, psychologists call it the paradox of fiction, the idea that A) We have emotional responses to fiction.  B) “Emotions for objects logically presuppose beliefs in the existence and features of those objects” and C) We know fiction is fiction.  The quote came from Jerrold Levinson. I’d cite it properly, but honestly, who cares?

The Greeks called this same feeling catharsis and said we needed to let our negative emotions all hang out and have a good cry at a play before we got too caught up in our own lives and self-destructed.

So here’s the question… does everyone feel this psychic vampirism?  I feel like I’ve been emotionally feeding off the story, and now that the story has come to a logical conclusion, it’s like I’m full. I’m actively avoiding the sixth season because I don’t want to spoil the taste of a really good meal.  I want to start Joey W Hill’s vampire queen series, which Emma recommended, but what if it ruins this angst perfection?  The last time I felt this sense of perfect ending from television was Xena.

Yeah, I know.  Xena sucked at the end.  I don’t even want to talk about magical children because it will depress the hell out of me.  However, the ending was perfect.

Xena dies to stop a demon, and when she learns that she could return only at the cost of 40,000 souls trapped in a magical spell, she asks Gabrielle to let her go.  These two have died and come back to life so many times that it’s not funny, but Xena won’t live at the cost of other’s suffering. This after she tortured and burned her way through her corner of Greece. But that decision leaves Gabrielle alone.

And in the closing image, Gabrielle stands at the side of a ship going somewhere, and suddenly Xena is there beside her. Xena’s ghost will follow Gabrielle, waiting for the time when they can be together again.  It was a perfect image and I just wanted to live in that moment.

But the part that’s depressing (and that makes me wish I could unlearn some stuff) is that psychologists would call that a pre-programmed response… an emotional program triggered by stimuli designed to elicit a quick and consistent reaction in response to a specific problem.

Psychologist Katja Mellmann believes that the paradox of fiction—our ability to have real emotions based off fictional situations—comes from evolution.  These emotion-programs detect triggers, real or fictional.  Like she points out, we have the same emotional response to a baby as to a doll that has the specific features of a baby (awwwww… isn’t that cute???) Kindchenschema may be an interesting idea, but am I really that pre-programmed?

According to Mellmann, I am. The situational parameters or structural features trigger the program and as it continues, certain subroutines engage depending on which features the person observes.  She would call it perfectly logical.

Of course, that doesn’t explain why Susan dislikes Supernatural and its habit of killing women, and I really love the angst and see the women’s deaths (and the men’s too) as just part of the angst-mill.  It doesn’t explain why I adore the ending of Xena and other fans are still bemoaning it a decade later.

I guess I’m just going to hope that Mellmann is wrong and I’m right. My emotions aren’t pre-programmed, and while I am feeling my internal literary vampire, I have a choice about what blood to feed on.

Right now, I’m still enjoying my last meal so I’m going to go clean my house.