Ranting and Piskies

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A certain kind of joy dwells in me right now, a kind of celebration of the Anglican Communion and most especially the Episcopal Church.

The reason such a joy currently exists in me is because of a recognition that many in the Roman Church are not granting it at this very moment, an attitude and reality that I can see has blossomed in the Church and is something that is quite fair and definitely worthy of celebration.

What I mean to say is that we now see a return to ritual, a return to the Catholic liturgy of old, the return to the true nature and understanding of the Sacraments. It is unfortunate that in the Roman Church the mindset is extremely rigid among many members (of course, not all, but let us get to the point here) and things are either defined or not- that is, to a Roman Churchman, the fact that transubstantiation is rejected in the 39 Articles, and the fact that the 39 articles exist at all, is proof in the pudding enough for them to say that ALL ANGLICANS EVERYWHERE believe “only” that the Holy Eucharist changes in terms of consubstantiation.

Now I will say forthrightly as I have said before that I think the difference between transubstantiation and consubstantiation is not so vast as some would like to suggest, and what really happened was an attempt to explain why the Body and Blood of Christ still looked like Bread and Wine, and because of a cultural and mental shift at the time, the notion of what was going on became lost. More to the point, the fact that Aristotle and not Plato or the Neo-Platonists was used made transubstantiation even greater a target.

The human mind likes to be rationalistic about things, of course, so the deeper mystery is occluded by the clinging to the dogma without ever going any deeper into it.

But let us not get too far off track. The point I am making is that the Roman Churchmen’s mindset is that things are point-blank as they are- what is told to one is told to one, that’s that, there is no compromise, there is no debate, there is no personal opinion on the matter, so you might as well sit down, shut up, smile, and nod in agreement. What I mean to say is that the reality that people may have other opinions, ideas, or even insights into the Holy Eucharist, that there may be a spectrum of theological views, and that the spectrum may well end up supporting and refining one another is not something that crosses the person’s mind- Anglicans necessarily believe in consubstantiation, that’s the end of the story. Nevermind the Anglo-Catholics, declaring it is the very Body and Blood of our Lord, or the extremely Low Churchmen who would say it is merely a symbol, a meal of bread and wine alone- Anglicans only believe in consubstantiation.

Now let us consider Anglo-Catholicism, which is often mocked by the Roman Churchmen of the rigid mind. The attitude that they have is that Anglicanism is completely and utterly Protestant in nature, and that Anglo-Catholicism is a kind of hokey invention.

But the reality is that, even if Anglo-Catholicism is not necessarily what the Church of England came to look like after the death of Henry VIII, it is a sign of something much deeper and much more appreciable and something that the Roman Churchmen could take a hint from- Anglo-Catholicism is the great statement of Anglicanism that, when throwing out the so-called “Romanism” in the way that it happened, THEY GOT IT WRONG, and now they’re back-tracking (or have back-tracked.) What we see now is a revival of the great ancient rites because they are recognized as such.

Now, obviously, there are a great deal of Roman Catholics who are all too aware that the clergy are out of touch with the laity, and that their claims to be simply guarding the Truth are tired and that very few people buy such claims anymore. The issue I have is that the Church seems almost incapable of admitting that it can ever be wrong until, well, centuries later, and sometimes even that doesn’t work.

But ultimately, there’s a huge question of why Episcopalians seem to have a desire to call themselves Catholic in the first place, and this is where we should begin questioning things and delving into the matter.

To take a stab at it and guess, my own sentiments are that the Episcopalians want to distance themselves from the extremely low-church literalists and fundamentalists and Evangelicals. In other words, God’s Chosen Idiots, who largely are anti-Catholic and refer to the Roman Church as the Whore of Babylon and so on, and often fall into the category of “Protestant,” are NOT a group with whom the Episcopalians want to identify themselves, and rightly so.

That being said, I want to turn to a new subject. I looked into theosis today and saw several quotes given from the Church Fathers. What struck me as dumbfounding is that their statements seemed wholly and completely Gnostic in nature. I was shocked to see Ireneaus make a quote that any modern Gnostic would immediately point to and say, “This is what we’re doing,” especially since he was such an opponent of Gnosticism.

The problem with the orthodoxy is in the fact that it’s been reduced to a kind of political power puppetry, and the mystical core of Christianity becomes occluded. Time and again, I try to point out that what the early heresy-hunters argued against as “Gnosticism” is not what Gnosticism actually was or is; it’s a kind of straw-man they invented against which to argue. The radical, world-hating dualist carcicature is often cited, but it isn’t a dogma or necessary doctrinal position of Gnosticism on the whole, and the mystically flavored Christianity known as Gnosticism overlaps heavily with the orthodox mysticism, especially and specifically with regards to theosis.

Back to Anglicanism.

Certainly, I wouldn’t agree with a number of the 39 Articles, so I’m not too terribly worried about it. But it’s the idea that I would absolutely have to, or that anyone absolutely has to do things, that makes me really wonder.

In the words of a Red State Mystic, here endeth the rant.

Beaux


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The Trip to the Church

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The doors of the Church are supposed to always be open. Apparently, this is not what many churches this day and age do, but I don’t blame them- valuables inside the church could be stolen, people could desecrate it, and so on.

The Episcopal Church’s doors, at least in this area, are always open, in a strange sort of way. That speaks volumes to me. Of course, most people probably think that the doors are locked or have no idea what an Episcopal Church is.

Anyway, I go to to the local Episcopal Church a lot to pray. I’ve never been to Mass there, not in all the years I’ve gone in to pray. Sometimes, I just sit with God. Sometimes, I do a bit of exploring. The acoustics in the church are absolutely amazing- just barely talking creates an almost thunderous roar. I can’t imagine how powerful the Mass is with all the voices chanting together.

I opened the Book of Common Prayer. Now, as an esotericist and in reading The Science of the Sacraments, I could find a lot to criticize about the Book of Common Prayer, but of course, this is all in the matter of the measuring of spaghetti- my phrase for extreme head knowledge that keeps us shut out of experience and can lead us down a garden path of destruction.

Reciting the Creed, as I said before, is much different when one is in the church, standing there, and kneeling at the mention of the Incarnation and such- the experience of this is much different than simply imagining it. While imagination can help prepare us for some things, something about the power of mysticism defies this.

The recitation of the Creed in the church wasn’t to proclaim that I necessarily believe what the Creed says- but it was to take the action of saying it to see what the deeper meaning is, to feel what it feels like to say such a Creed, and to know the underlying power.

As I was trying to find the Creed in the Book of Common Prayer, I came upon several other prayers, and they were beautiful, absolutely beautiful, even majestic. I could scarcely believe it as I read many of the prayers and prayed them aloud to God- something about the Book of Common Prayer began to captivate me, began to be realized. Here was Tradition- and here was an honoring of the Holy Catholic Church, which is mentioned many times in the book, asking for God to guide her.

The gem of the trip, though, was when I went into the sanctuary. For those of you who are unaware of the Catholic tradition, the part of the church in which people sit is called the nave, and the sanctuary is only where the altar is. Naturally, here I was around at the altar and wanted to be extremely respectful and reverent to it, as this is where Mass is said- and I looked at the Tabernacle, where the candle burned, and even though the Tabernacle is plain, wooden, and in the wall, it still has a lock on it that keeps any random person from coming and taking the Lord out of it. I walked closer to it and felt a definite sensation in my third-eye- a kind of presence or energy was indicated there, and I knew Our Lord was there.

The gem: I walked to one of the seats near the altar and found a beat-up old copy of St. Augustine’s Prayer Book- an extremely beautiful Anglo-Catholic book of devotional prayers. I sat and read through it, noting all the popular devotions (to the Sacred Heart, for instance) that I myself maintain. What a magnificent and strange synchronicity!

One day, I’ll wake up early enough to go to Mass, and I’ll be glad for it.

Beaux


A Personal Lament

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As with all things, perhaps we can say that a blog has a particular feel or spice to it; this entry will have a definite ethos of honesty, as we’ll dive into some personal affairs and experiences of mine on a less religious sort of level, though indeed maybe it will all overlap.

The most recent development in my life isn’t exactly the best thing to happen to me, and perhaps I can give it up to God that something still deeper is happening in me, the depths of which I am unaware.

So begins the lament:

For years, since I first had the dreams of the beloved other, I have chased him in the waking world. I have been in love with that HIM for the longest time, and in so many lovers I have thought to have found him. Somewhere, I was promised that I was not indeed alone and isolated in the way I have felt for so long; this OTHER understood my plight, this OTHER would be my savior in this world, this OTHER would grant me strength and power where my strength and power had been taken from me from the people around me and the society into which I had been plunged.

I did not regard this OTHER male as being in any way my “completion” in the sense of my being purely and objectively a half and he my other half- but there was definitely a sense of “completion” that together, we had a mission, that together, we were something of a force in this world that would transform and change things in the overall story. In other words, there was a very deep and real sense inside of me that I would work in tandem with another man to transform the world, and I found that this archetypal pattern was told to me over and over again in stories I read and TV I watched- but it was somehow hidden beneath the surface, and only in recent years have I found the underlying psychological symbols dealt with in a direct way. For those of you who are interested in this, I suggest you check out the Archetype of Gay-Centeredness and specifically the archetype called the Double.

Yet I have continued to dream of him, again and again, and to feel the deepest and fieriest love burn within my soul in my dreams, a deep and powerful glow in the heart that warms all my flesh and makes me feel protected and empowered.

To have thought so many times again and again that I have found this person in the waking world, or that I and my companion somehow manifested this archetype, and then for things to have broken down for the very real reason that the person in question was always quite human and not some kind of eternal, internal archetype, has led me to being in a position of a somewhat jaded soul. This is through no fault of their own.

The realization earlier this year is that in all my relationships, I have essentially been the companion that was stronger- a strength that had depth, in other words, a strength that others may see but of which I am mostly unaware for whatever reason. The uneasy realization hit me that the original story of which I was told in my dreams- the other coming to me to help me, empower me, save me- has almost always been reversed in the waking world. My presence has been there to strengthen and sustain others, and when my energy is gone, when I can no longer cope, when I am pushed to my own threshold, often times the companion has been done with me.

The increasing reality that’s dawned on me is that relationships and marriage, while something I have wanted for as long as I can remember, are incredibly fickle in our modern culture. Coupled with my sensitivity and the past wounds, either I’ve succumb to the collective mind or I’ve simply become too exhausted to invest myself into the idea anymore, and the driving fire to find someone, the longing and passion and even reasonable notion that somehow I and another guy can mutually benefit each other in a relationship has all collapsed in on itself.

My heart feels dead, in other words.

Thus, the only remaining repose I have is in meditating or contemplative prayer. The strange nothingness of God is the only thing I have to drive me in life beyond bare survival- I could just heap myself up into a pile somewhere and rot for all the fire I have in me.

Of course, maybe this is temporary, and perhaps things will shift once again. Maybe my soul will erupt into flames of love tomorrow. Or in an hour. That would be lovely. (Hint, hint, Christ.)

But this is precisely the situation into which I’ve been thrown- here, I thought I would have deep experiences of soul-burning love or illuminating moments of God’s glory, and though they’ve happened, they’ve been few and far in between. Mostly what seems to have happened is that my contemplative prayer has simply eroded portions of me away slowly. In other words, meditating every night has slowly been changing me and taking things away from me and eventually, there won’t be any more of me to be taken away.

I lament that some kind of cynicism has taken hold inside of me. I lament that the lover I’ve wanted for so long may indeed not exist- and it isn’t that there isn’t a guy I like or aren’t guys I’ve liked, even recently, it’s just that the story I’ve lived is still true.

The only question now is, “How long, O Lord?”

Beaux


Another Rant about Gay Marriage and the Church

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One thing that seriously turns me off about the Roman Catholic Church is how many Catholics are just blind followers and seem to have their brain turned to mush. A tradition stretching back 2000 years should have a least a little more solid intellectual basis for statements that are made.

Obviously, not ALL Catholics are this way- and many are pro-gay and pro-women priests. I happen to know many good Catholic people who would call into question many teachings of the Church; I digress.

One commenter on a recent entry stated that it’s perfectly acceptable for an infertile couple to have sex because they didn’t render the condition of infertility upon themselves.

Excuse me? So as long as nature doles out the condition, it’s okay?

Well, by that line of reasoning, since gay people are born gay and are gay through no fault of their own, they should be able to get married- whether or not the sexual act is closed to the gift of life.

But let’s also get real. The reality underlying the situation is that you have Catholics who, like so many other people, just want to feel that they’re right and that they’re better than other people, and it’s much, much easier to condemn gay people if you yourself aren’t gay.

While some readers suggested that sexuality has to do with self-mastery, it’s also easy for a straight male who’s married and having sex to talk about that sort of thing.

It is entirely one thing if one decides, completely of one’s own free will, to abstain from sexuality as a sacrifice or devotion to God. I have no problem with that, seriously. That’s a personal decision. But when an organization begins trying to tell us something that just isn’t in line with reality that I’ve experienced personally and that’s been supported by the experience of many other people and as well as that horrible thing called science, I begin to get a little fussy when they continue harping on it.

The same thing goes for women in the priesthood. There are all kinds of pseudo-intellectual gymnastics that the Church uses to say why women shouldn’t be in the priesthood, and the idea that it could have been a cultural bias and artifact from the past, which is a relatively quick and simple conclusion, is not one of the considerations that’s made. Instead, the whole “Men and women are different and each have their roles” idea is taken and tossed around, and even if there are women who don’t feel that it’s an affront to them for only men to be priests, it doesn’t take a radical feminist to see that there’s some severe patriarchal abuse going on here.

Holy Mother Church, I suggest that instead of getting involved in gay marriage and continuing to bar women from the priesthood, you should align yourself with the Holy Spirit, get over your pride, reinstate the Tridentine Mass, and get back to being the Vehicle of the Sacraments instead of the Hypocritical, Pseudo-Intellectual Moral Authority Du Jour complete with Guitars and Drums at Mass. Your track record is not very good as it is, and you’re rapidly becoming the laughing stock of the world.

Your friendly neighborhood ranter,

Beaux


The Increase in Marian Devotion

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One of the titles given to the Blessed Virgin Mary is “the Seat of Wisdom.” Now, perhaps I misunderstand what this means, and I wouldn’t be the first Gnostic accused of “reading into” something, but the underlying meaning of “image of Sophia” jumps out at me immediately. Troy commented many blogs ago about Mary being an image of Sophia in the early Church, and I would be inclined to agree that this is why Marian Devotions simply refuse to die down.

A deeper reasoning is that one cannot stop the Divine Feminine. There appears to be a deeper necessity within the human psyche to honor the Divine in terms of the Feminine, and for whatever reason, the viral version of patriarchal consciousness has attempted to destroy the reverence for the Divine Feminine. Is it a matter of power and control? Perhaps- I’m not totally sure what the deal is and may never know.

In the modern era, the Divine Feminine has been such a major issue that many evangelicals end up leaving their tradition and heading on over to Wicca and various forms of Paganism- and who could blame them? Sadly, the opposite problem then arises in many cases where the Divine Masculine is ignored and underplayed and given a secondary role to the Divine Feminine.

There is no point in attempting to inwardly conform to the expectations of other people when it comes to religion. The issue I’ve had is attempting to justify why I pray to the Blessed Mother, and for a long time, I was even suspicious about the Marian devotion in the Catholic traditions.

Those days have come to an end. The reality of the matter is that the Blessed Mother is the major articulation of the Divine Feminine inherited in my own religious culture, and thus I will honor the Divine Feminine in the Blessed Mother, who also is the Seat of Sophia. Marian Devotion is synonymous in my mind to Sophian Devotion.

For me and a few others, there’s been a recent increase in Marian Devotion for reasons we don’t quite understand. I definitely am enjoying the new scapulars that I have, as they’re a form of “Worn Remembrance.” The scapular also hangs in such a way as to touch the back and front Heart Chakra, so I think that, too, points to translating Remembrance into a tactile mode that’s more efficient than the mental chanting of the dhikr. The dhikr hasn’t been disposed of, though- I’m not stupid, as I know what happened the last time I just stopped saying it. However, I do find that the Remembrance of God seems to be more direct now and less about reference, if that makes sense.

I remember writing a blog earlier this year where I gave up on Christianity again, only to be brought back into in some manner a fourth time. Boy, I’m just asking for it, am I not? I will say that the gumption I have now includes that fact that while I may not able to call myself “Christian” and while Christians may not claim me as one of their own, what I can say is that I identify with Gnosticism, and I will call myself “Gnostic” with no need for approval from ANYONE or ANY group. That doesn’t mean I’m not part of the Church; what that means is that I’m dealing with some pretty heavy esotericism that the Church Exoteric doesn’t handle very well, praise be to excessive legalism and pedantry.

The point is this: you will step on someone’s toes no matter what you do, no matter what you say, no matter where you go, no matter how you attempt to approach Nirvana, because most people are just too caught up in themselves to care, and most people honestly have better things to do (at least in their minds), and of course, THAT’S FINE. It’s fine if they want to go to Mass to get enough energy and grace to find a good career or be more creative, or if they meditate to build up self-esteem. That’s all fine and dandy and okay- no one should be judging people who do that, and it’s all too often that it happens.

But yes, someone is going to be silly and use only theoretical/book-knowledge to attack you for what you do, and some people can’t conceive of things otherwise.

What I mean to say is that for all the criticism that one can do of, say, the Nicene Creed, there’s a huge difference between reading the Nicene Creed on your computer on Wikipedia and saying, “It says, this, this, that, and means X,” and actually standing in a traditional Catholic church, reciting the Creed in Latin with the congregation. The Creed means more than is immediately apparent, than is immediately stated, but boy, you try to suggest that to a lot of Catholics and atheists and everyone in between that something may be implied that isn’t immediately stated aloud or read in the Creed, and everyone gets their panties in a wad and begins screaming “reading into thing” and generally have no idea why you would suggest that maybe things go a little deeper than the surface reading, and no, I don’t mean that you can just take the Creed and elaborate on it and give a general historical/rational commentary. I mean that the Creed actually says things in it, conveys things, that take some deciphering, that have mystical meanings, that will tell us about REALITY.

But the nay-sayers shall come, and it’s hard when BOTH SIDES are ready to come at you. Or maybe someone will wake up and see what I mean, and let’s hope that’s the case.

Beaux


Us vs. Them and Sad Dichotomies

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One huge issue that bothers me with religion is how so many people are under the impression that spirituality and sexual orientation (or any kind of being different) are mutually exclusive. Even my therapist once said to me that he didn’t know what they were going to do with me, and I asked him what he meant; he said I obviously had a strong devotion to God and deep spiritual calling, but I was gay, which was a lifestyle that some people would say is sinful.

My response?

I told him that maybe my sexual orientation was there to confound his way of thinking, to show him that the worldview that gay people aren’t religious or devoted or in tune with God may definitely be false.

On one hand, I think the issue is that religious people and gay people who are suspicious of the other group have a poor idea of what religion and homosexuality are, respectively, usually drawing on the absolute worst possible images. The point is, people often forget that religious people and gay people are PEOPLE, so in attempt to point out the horrible things that they do, they also forget that most people are, for whatever reason, either ignorant or stupid, and that those people are going to be the ones without the sense to keep their mouths shut.
Of course, I’m generalizing here myself- so understand that I mean “some gay people” and “some religious people” and have no intentions of lumping them all into one category.

Some gay people seem to think that “religious” equates with “comically conservative” in the sense of hating gay people, subjugating women, and despising pleasure of all kinds. This just simply isn’t the case. While Jansenism does exist within certain Catholic circles, at least implicitly, Catholicism and Anglicanism alike are known for their embracing the ordinary world and the pleasure it has to offer- if only people would look a little deeper into the matter, they might find this.

Likewise, some religious people think that gays are all horrible humans who lack any scrap of morality and are absolutely obsessed with nothing but sex, and they distort the fight for civil rights by saying that gay people are just trying to “normalize” gay sex.
Then you have the third group, the most important one, of individuals such as myself who are both gay and religious, who can give insight into both realms, who explain what it’s like to hang in the balance between two worlds that seem contradictory to one another, at least to other individuals involved.
First, the distortion of religion is a major issue with which we’re contending today; any mystic has to face this, as the exoteric expression of a religion often has forgotten the true esoteric meaning. Some people are still able to grasp at the Ineffable God as His Mystery is called into the Mass, but just as many are obsessed with rules and regulations, and still just as many want a concrete, solid set of rules they have to obey- the sheer amount of brain power it takes to question the rules and to try to find the underlying abstraction guiding them scares the hell out of these people, and they would rather not exert the necessary energy. To bring this to my point, it’s no wonder that gay people have a poor idea of religion, as religionists themselves often have a poor understanding of the religion.

Second, the distortion of gay people is just laughable to people who have common sense and actually know gay people. Most gay people are so normal that being gay actually makes them more interesting and saves them from being only slightly more interesting than tapioca pudding. To suggest that gay people are any more or less obsessed with sex than straight people is also ridiculous; have you ever spoken to a straight man? Yeah. Also, Erik recently directed me to an ex-gay organization of sorts that referred to “gay” as a “reductionist sexual identification.”

Here’s the issue: it’s about more than sex. It’s always been about more than sex. It’s about falling in love with someone of the same sex, it’s about husband and husband, it’s about two men who are pair-bonded, it’s about an expression of the Divine Mind of Christ that we apparently have neglected, and also, much to horror of the comical conservatives, the more we try to fight gay people’s expression and existence that God Himself is giving us, the more we’re going to see it. In other words, you’re setting yourselves up, dear comical conservatives, and the end result is going to be God laughing at you for trying to stop Him.
Anyway, having an identification does not mean it is a reductionist identification, as most gay people will tell you that being gay is only one part of their lives, albeit an important one. We are humans, we are people, who just happen to be gay.
Oddly enough, the author failed to realize that since he’s a priest, he could easily be said to have a Reductionist Religious Identity.
Of course, we all know people who seem to be one thing and one thing only; this is the basis of how stories are written, as we assume people in a specific role will have specific qualities, and that’s okay for a novel, but this is real life, and real life is far more complex than a story.
Whether or not religious people and gay people will ever get along is definitely a big question that’s looming over our heads, but hopefully, in the meantime, those of us who are in the middle will be able to address the situation the best that we can and try to keep both sides from hurting the other.
Another thing that gay people should realize is that for all the vocally anti-homosexual religious people, there are just as many, if not more, devout and extremely pro-gay religious people who are working FOR equal rights- and trust me, the not-gay-friendly religious people do not like them at all.
Beaux


Better

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This blog entry may be disturbing to some people, as it will directly challenge some of our most dearly-held notions as Americans. Going against the collective mindset can be a difficult thing, but someone has to do it, even if it can get one killed.

That being said, I would like to ask everyone to read very, very carefully (and perhaps multiple times) what I’m going to say here so that we’re all on the same page and no one comes flying at me angrily.

The first premise is that we are all human beings, and simply by the virtue of being a human being, we have inherent dignity and inalienable rights as human beings. Humanity, in the sense of the quality of being human, is important; so the point to be made here is that no one’s life or humanity is superior or inferior to anyone else’s, which is to say that in our human-ness, we are all equal.

Moving beyond that premise, that is where equality stops. That is where the equality of value stops. No matter how much we attempt to deny it, this is something we live out on a daily basis. Some people are simply more valuable to us, for whatever reason. We love some people more. We dislike some people. And so it goes.

But the truly disturbing thing that I want to discuss is something that will challenge both American culture and New Age thought: in terms of purpose, not everyone is equal.

Yes, I went there. I said it.

Now, some people’s mouths are probably hanging open at this point in time, as what I’ve just said is probably one of the most heretical possible things for me to say. My statement has already been qualified by the preceding statement, but let’s continue.

The point I mean to make is that not every human being in this world serves the same purpose, and not every human being is playing as important of a role in the overall “story” of the world. To go further with this, you have to also understand that, as mystics, we often assume that everyone wants to embrace their inner purpose or take up their cross or play an important role, and that just isn’t the case. Some people, believe it or not, just want to live out their lives peacefully, doing whatever it is that people in their culture do.

To sum it up, not everyone is interested in attaining Nirvana. Not everyone is interested in theosis or liberation or salvation or whatever your particular terminology may be. So their role may not be as important in this world as your role, and your role, in turn may not be as important as someone else’s role. This is something that we have to accept, and again, as Americans who want to feel equal about everything, it isn’t easy to suggest that someone may, well, be better than you.

But that doesn’t undermine your essential value, and this is where people get all up in arms and start making mistakes and would want to burn me at the stake. It is absolutely repugnant to suggest that one human being’s life is more valuable than another’s, or that one person is more human than another, or that some people aren’t human, and this is something I condemn whole-heartedly.

These are just more thoughts I have. Maybe a deeper clarification will be offered soon.

Beaux


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