Paula's Place

Paula's Place

Friday, 29 June 2018

I miss it

I know I must sometimes sound like a cracked record, going on and on about how busy I am, while all that busyness is my own fault because I simply can't say no.   Well at least I can't say no to something fun, exciting, or important, and of course when something is all three of those then why would I want to.

A while back I was asked to take part in a event happening a couple of weeks ago we were going to put together the first ever all women's brass band for "Processions". For those of you not living in the UK Processions was a major participant art work marking the centenary of women first getting a vote here. It involved thousands of women processing through the four capitals of the UK; Edinburgh, Belfast, Cardiff, and London, carrying embroidered banners, and with lilac, white and green scarves they formed a giant suffragette banner through the city centers.

In London we formed a Brass Band to play in Parliament Square as the women's Procession arrived, we only played music by women composers and of course all the musicians were women. I think there were about 70 of us in all, all ages experiences and abilities, we had a total blast (pun intended) and all agreed that we want to do it again. I think we had about seventeen trombones and three tubas, I would have loved to play tuba but was the only Bass Trombone so once again I ended up as a bit of a Tigger!


Of course there is always a down side, and with a rehearsal one Sunday morning and the event the following Sunday that meant two Sundays when I missed Church, then this week I was playing at a service at another Church so it is now three weeks since I last managed to get to my local Church ~ and I miss it. Now that I have found a loving community who appear to be accepting, worship in an idiom I understand and have solid preaching I don't want to get separated from them.   This Sunday is the LGSO concert where I will need to be in Town for an afternoon rehearsal, but at least I should be able to get to Church in the morning!

Photo credit Sam Benjafield Photography

Thursday, 28 June 2018

I'll hate myself later

It's one O'clock on Thursday afternoon, this should be working day, I have stuff to do, work, washing up, housework, laundry, finding my car key! yet I am sitting at my desk surfing the interweb "wasting time".  Indeed getting dressed would be a good start!


Last night I played in a concert with my wonderful Croydon Symphonic Band, I even had a little solo in Stuart Johnson's Circus Suite. During the interval I was introduced to a lady of senior years who was so pleased to find a woman playing the Tuba, she was struck by how unusual it is to see women playing these instruments (we also had a very good, very young woman playing trombone) and breaking gender stereotypes. 

Then there is Sunday's concert with the London Gay Symphony Orchestra, I am genuinely excited about this program, even after around 45 years plying orchestral music every now and then a program will hit me as truly inspiring, this is one of those! Tickets are still available, buy in advance a save a few pennies!

All this after playing in a service, a concert and a rehearsal on Sunday, an evening rehearsal on Monday, and an evening meeting to speak at on Tuesday evening. I have already written about Saturday's inspiring conference but, all this while trying to work as well.

I found that after this succession of meetings, rehearsals, and performances I just needed to crash out and take some time out.   I have been making mistakes, yesterday I lost my one and only car key, I need to find that or spend a lot of money and time sourcing a replacement! Tuesday I got a parking ticket, simply by not following my usual process, I need a break, but don't have a holiday booked till the end of September.

I should be concentrating my efforts more on making Croydon Pridefest even more brilliant than it -was last year, At the same time I am already starting to work out how we can make next year even more inclusive, especially of some of the more marginalised groups within the LGBT+ community.


I will hate myself later for getting behind with work, but just now I need the time and the space!

Monday, 25 June 2018

Proud

For many of us we are now entering the period known as "Pride Month" we have events going on at least every weekend for the next few weeks, between Croydon Pride; Pride London and Trans Pride Brighton I have those three events themselves I also have an LGSO concert next Sunday (which will be absolutely wonderful) a Croydon Pride Mix and Mingle event on Tuesday along with various planning meetings, rehearsals, parties and medical appointments.

The weather looks like it is set to stay warm and sunny but I'm not sure how I'm going to fit in the time to go to work, I really should be at work as I write this, but after a busy weekend I'm having a late start today.

But I digress, what I am feeling proud about is Croydon! I know a lot of people never think about Croydon at all, and then others will simply think of it as Chav Central, but for me Croydon is a vibrant multicultural society, it is largely inclusive, mostly friendly and something is always happening.   On Saturday I attended an all day conference on Gender Identities in Children and Young People it was aimed at professionals working in the field, and was largely a signposting event, but also included good information on what is available for young people, an all too short session on ethics, some performances by Gender Non Conforming local young performers and some short case studies. A lot was packed into a single day, but it was so good.

One thing that struck me was the apparent need for events like this, we had counsellors from as far afield as Scotland because they have nothing like it closer.   Last year Croydon led the UK by flying the Trans flag on TDOV, this year the town has lead again with this conference. A I said at the end of the event, I was born and brought up in Croydon nearly sixty years ago, I am now the Chair of Croydon Pride, and I have never been more proud of Croydon than I was on Saturday!

Saturday, 23 June 2018

Silence

I know I have been silent here for quite a while, yet that is not what has prompted me to post again. As I was walking through Croydon town center today I noticed that an informal shrine to a boy who was murdered there last year was still in place, we have also had periods of silent remembrance for the victims of the Grenville Tower tragedy.

Every November I lead an event in Croydon for the International Transgender Day of Remembrance, we include a minute of silent remembrance.   It has become a natural way of marking a tragic loss.

Across the Country we have observed a minutes silence for the victims of terrorists attacks in Finsbury Park, Manchester, and London Bridge.   these are all tragic events, the loss of life and disruption of others is terrible and deserves to be marked.

On remembrance Sunday at eleven O'clock we have a two minute's silent act of remembrance, this marks the time when the armistice for the first world war was signed at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. It is a time for remembrance of all those who have lost their lives in conflict, all those on either side, civilians and members of the forces alike.   When I was young the whole Country stopped at Eleven O'clock on Rembrance Sunday, the traffic stopped, all work stopped, church services stopped, all of London went quiet, on Crystal Palace Hill we could hear the field gun fired on Horse Guards.

As a Nation we went through a period when somehow all this didn't seem so important, traffic failed to stop, shops continued to trade, people just stopped remembering. Then our forces became engaged in other conflicts and these deaths became more personal again.   We all knew somebody in the forces and many of us knew somebody who had died in service of the Country.   We started to remember again, more and more people started to observe that two minutes silence, but the traffic still flows, trains and buses still run, shops sell and shoppers buy.

Now, please don't get me wrong, I do feel that these tragedies need to be marked, we need an opportunity to show our grieve, to share our sadness with others, those we know and with society as a whole. However, I also worry that at some level our outpourings of grieve, our collective acts of remembrance for all sorts of sad events, tragedies, somehow dilutes the major act of National Remembrance.   In no way would I want to stop people reflecting solemnly on loss ~ perhaps  I just want them to observe Remembrance Day better, perhaps I just want a little more proportion ~ perhaps I am just worried about nothing!

Saturday, 2 June 2018

Accidental Activist

When I was about 18 I had it all planed, I had started my career, I was engaged to be married, everything was set! I fully expected to be a middle manager of a major corporation, married to a nice girl with a couple of nice children. I expected them to go to a nice school, and of course we would live in a nice house.   Since none of that has transpired I have to wonder what went wrong, I do have a child and she is totally wonderful, but the word "nice" is not one that immediately comes to mind to describe her.   I did get married but not for another couple of decades; but the point is that I now a self employed gardener and musician, I live on my own in a tiny flat and struggle to make the money reach the end of the month.   I could ask what went wrong? But maybe I should ask what went right?

So much of my life has just happened, I know I have made some unwise decisions but mostly I have just gone with what felt right at the time so much of what has happened has happened more or less by accident. ~ it now seems I have now become an accident activist.

When I first started exploring my gender identity a few years back I thought it had nothing to do with anyone except me and my wife, I thought I would just work it out and spend a few evenings playing "Dress up". That was never going to happen!   Well I came out by accident, I became public by accident, I became ostracised (by some) by accident.   I never planed to be oppressed, I never planned to complain, I was just brought  up not accept injustice ~ I saw some I complained and suddenly found I was campaigning.

Well, over the last year there has been a lot flak coming at the Trans community from various sources, they are pretty vocal and have even managed to get themselves onto the BBC, I have felt obliged to "up my game". I think the best I can to do is to be present, to be visible and show people that we (trans people) are not sexual predators, that we are a risk to nobody indeed that we are the ones who are at risk. Strangely much of what I have always done has become activist ~ As a musician I will be affirming my womanhood again this month playing in the band for "Processions" Central London, and in a few weeks I will again be leading the Croydon Pride Fest Parade.

For trans people Pride has become more important again this year ~ The Government proposed changes to the Gender recognition Act has been delayed, opponents have seen this as weakness and have increased their campaigning, as a consequence I find that our identities are being questioned more and more. I will be marching in London, and leading in Croydon because my identity is not open for other people to debate, because we still have to go through a quasi judicial process to be able to assert our identity, because we do not have equal access to work, to healthcare, to services, and accommodation.

I know that we are not the only oppressed group, I know that there is much else to campaign about, I never planed to do this it has just happened by accident, but by joining an oppressed minority I am now so much more aware of all the other oppressed minorities ~ as I may have observed before ~ nothing makes you understand privilege like giving it up!

Monday, 14 May 2018

Friends

I see it is a long time since I last posted, I'm rather sorry to say that when I have felt the urge to post I have not been near my computer, and when I have had the time or the proximity I have not had the urge! Possibly more self discipline is needed!

Since spring has definitely now sprung, I find that it is a little easier to lose a little of the weight I have been hoping to shift, work is much more plentiful and I can wear shorts while doing it. All round I am feeling a lot more positive about life the universe and everything. ~ Indeed as I have been known to observe I have no problems that can't be solved with money!

Yesterday I had a rather wonderful if rare experience, I met for the first time a long standing friend!   The wonderful world of blogging is a truly international one, many of my Blogging buddies are from other Countries, Australia, New Zealand, and of course the U.S.A.   This week one of my friends from the States is visiting the UK and we managed to meet up yesterday in central London.

The Banqueting House exterior
Mostly we walked around, talking about London and how it differs from the States, how different is to live in these different places, all mixed in with a bit of feminism and military history ~ we are a diverse bunch aren't we! Sophie wanted to visit Westminster Abbey, but being a Sunday it was closed to tourists. We did have a bit of a wander around outside and a look at the Palace of Westminster, then wandered up Whitehall.

And the inside!
To my shame I had never been inside the Banqueting House, so we stopped there to have a look round, what a stunning place! Well worth the entry fee. This is the only remaining part of the great Tudor and Stuart Palace of Whitehall, and of course the site of the execution of Charles I. I was aware of the execution and of the stunning Rubens' ceiling paintings. I don't think I was aware that this is the first Palladian building in the UK and the template for all those that came afterwards.

I feel that like so many other Londoners I never go into these places because they are just there, they are always there and just part of the furniture. Likewise I haven't been inside Westminster Abbey, or St Paul's at any point on the last 40 years unless I have been playing there.

We did manage a pub lunch in the St Stephen's Tavern and then later a quickie in "Half Way to Heaven", the first time I have been inside this popular Gay / Drag pub in day light!

It's always nice to meet friends, even ones I hadn't met before, Sophie is a lovely, charming lady, exuding all those positive characteristics that American can, I hope that this will not be the only time we meet.

Saturday, 21 April 2018

My Office Today

I suspect that a search of my blog over the last couple of years would find that the most used phrase would be "I'm really busy at the moment" t happens so often that I can only assume that I must like being busy. I could plead that the weather plays it's role, but I could say no! Being busy is not always a bad thing, being self employed it does suggest that at the end of the month I might end up with enough money to live, and as a musician I am so bad at practising that the more playing out I do the better.

It's so nice to be working now, with the sun out, and some proper warmth everything is growing, and it's hard to keep up, never mind catch up.   It is at time like this that I am reminded why I do what I do for work. Having gone through a pretty long and miserable winter, to come out the other side, feel the warmth of the sun on my body get my hand dirty and just enjoy the exuberance of gardens in spring, make sit all worth it. At the moment I am just enjoying all the jobs, even sweeping up, anything that takes my outdoors uses a few muscles and gets into the sunshine.

It only feels like a few days ago that I was complaining that it was never going to get warm again, I was fed up with being cold and having to wear so many layers, I looked i n my wardrobe and was incredulous that I had ever warn shorts at all.   Now I am wearing them once again, making as much of that potential vitamin E as I can!

Sunday, 15 April 2018

Fresh Starts

It's been a busy old weekend, already and it's only just lunch time on Sunday!  Yesterday afternoon I went up to town for a meeting held at Bloomsbury Baptist Church by Two:23 ~ A Christian LGBT+ Network, it was quite inspiring and very informative. This is a group who as well as ministering to LGBT+ Christians, is working to make the wider Church more inclusive and bridge the divide that sometimes appears between the Church and some peoples identities.

One of the notices was about Christian at Pride they will be walking at Pride in London again this year, I rather hope that I will be able to persuade at least a few of them to join us at our own Croydon Pride Fest I really want us to represent the fullest diversity of our community.

I am inspired by the work this group does, even as I long for it not to be needed, but one of the best bits was meeting a friend from my Orchestra there, he was on his first visit and was glad of a friendly face. It is quite intimidating to go to any group for the first time, I know, I have been doing that quite a lot in my own search for a Church.

I'm hoping that search may now be over, I'm not sure I'm quite ready to make that level of commitment yet and join, but this morning I visited West Croydon Baptist Church again.   If anything I felt even more welcomed and included than I did last week. As a life long Anglican (even if for a large part of that life I had no real faith) it feels very strange to be going to a Baptist Church, but that may be where God is taking me now, He has often forced me out of my comfort zone, indeed that is when He has worked most in my life!

I feel a new chapter in my Christian walk, and therefore my life, is just beginning, I don't know what that will bring, but I do know it won't be boring!

Saturday, 14 April 2018

Spring Harvest time

I feel as though I keep writing about spring springing, and all that that entails. Of course for me the main thing is work really starts to get going again, even though I personally seem to be having a great deal of difficulty getting going.  

Looking at the weather forecast for the next week makes me realise that I may after all be able to wear my shorts and singlets again, as long as I lose enough weight to get into them OK. That of course brings on one of the problems most women are familiar with at this time of year; ~ Yes it's THAT time again.


Of course for some of us it is worse than for others, when I first started my transition shaving was a major commitment, not just my face but my legs, arms and body all needed pretty much daily attention.   These days after just over two years of HRT and even longer trying electrolysis it's not quite so bad.

With electrolysis most of my face is now pretty much clear my neck still has to be finished.   As for the rest the hormones seem to be doing their work and the general growth has slowed down.

I am very pleased to observe that these days my razors are lasting a lot longer. I have bought myself an epilator to see if that works for me, it is way too early to have reached any conclusions on that score, but I do know it hurts ~ the things we go through for our art!

On a totally different note, the more observant of you may have noticed that I have made a couple of changes to my links bar on the left of the screen, I have included a link to Trans Unite an on line facility to find a National or local Trans support or campaigning group.   I do hope that all my Trans readers are getting some support, if you're not please do, as this is far too tough to go through alone.

I have also promoted Croydon Pride up the list we're doing some great work, so pop over take a look at our site and sign up for the News Letter.


Friday, 13 April 2018

There's Something in the Air

The other day I wrote here about how I felt that Spring had Sprung! Since then the weather has not been great, a bit wet, a bit dull, a bit cold, all in all a bit sh£t! But the coming of spring isn't just about the weather and starting to cut grass.

There is also the impending Pride campaigns!

At the weekend I was part of shooting some publicity for Pride in London it was great fun, if a little surreal, we had a chance to be interviewed and give our opinions as to why we felt Pride is important to us, and had a few photos taken, of course there is an embargo on all the details, but the picture I'm sharing here was tweeted by Pride in London so I am assuming that this one at least is now in the public domain.

Indeed for me being in the public domain is very much what Pride is about, certainly that's why it's important to me. It's important to me as a Trans woman that all the time there are people who feel that our identity is a suitable subject for debate; all the time we don't get equal access to health care; all the time that we don't get equal access to employment, and housing then it is important that we have a public, joyful celebration of who and what we are, coupled with a protest that we are still not being treated equally.

The Chair of Croydon Pride at the
LGBT+ History month launch
That's why I am involved in Croydon Pride, we had our first Trustees meeting of the year last night, we reaffirmed that although Pride Fest on the 14th July will still be our biggest event of the year, we will be working for LGBT+ people in Croydon and the surrounding area all year round. We will be holding additional events, we will be facilitating other groups, we will be visible ~ so just like a dog's not just for Christmas, we're not just for one party in the summer.

We are very keen that we are fully inclusive, that we represent the full diversity of the LGBT+ community here in Croydon, as trustees we represent as much of the LGBT+ alphabet spaghetti as it's possible for four people to do, but we are conscious that we could do better. We are only just starting our third year, so far all our events have been successes, but we are not going to sit back, self satisfied and think we have it cracked. We need help, we need to communicate with the community, it's how to do that which is challenging.

So, can I ask you all please to go visit our website, sign up for our news letter, and tell us what you think, and what you want from us.

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Love, Simon

Last night I was taken to the cinema by a friend I hadn't met before. I know that sounds a bit odd, but in the age of social media it is increasingly possible.   It was really nice to meet in person, and it was a great film. Love Simon is a main stream film, with an important underlying message for it's audience.



I am so pleased to have been asked, but I am also so pleased that in these days it is now possible for a big Hollywood studio to make a mainstream Rom Com to be shown in high street cinemas about young, gay men.   The central theme is about coming out, but it is still very much a Rom Com.  I enjoyed the film, even if it did make me cry a couple of times.   Sure every one in the film is good looking and well off, everyone drives "nice" cars and lives in "nice", big houses, ~ yes it's a Hollywood film!

There were a couple of moments that I felt were just to unrealistic, and maybe too soppy, but then I'm a 60 year old, who's been through the mill a bit. The younger girls and boys in the cinema were actually cheering and clapping the romantic developments, so I think that means that it works!

Conclusions,
  • It's good to meet and go out with real people.
  • Coming out is now a mainstream issue.
  • Young people do care.
  • I enjoyed it, go and see it, take your kids, let your kids go with their friends.
  • If going to watch this, don't wear mascara

Sunday, 8 April 2018

Still looking

After what feels like a very busy week, but in fact only included three full days of work, last night I slept for about twelve hours. I would love to say that this morning I have woken up feeling refreshed and reinvigorated, I would like to!

A local landmark
Last Sunday I visited my local Methodist Church, they are a very friendly community, with a strong Bible centered faith, and exuberant worship. I did not feel entirely comfortable with some of the worship and I didn't feel that the church communality truly reflected the diversity of the local population ~ still it was nice to be in a different minority for once! More to the point I did not get that feeling that this was the faith community I should be joining. Maybe I am asking too much, but the last two Churches I joined and for the Church my Mother joined in Cardiff I did have that feeling of coming home, that I (or my Mother) were in the place God wanted us to be.

Today I intend to join with West Croydon Baptist Church for their morning worship. This should be an interesting experience as they occupy something of a landmark building, which I have known as long as I can remember as "Spurgeon's Tabernacle". I had always assumed that like Spurgeon's College (where I used to deliver the newspapers) the eponymous Charity and the South London Metropolitan Tabernacle this Church was founded by the famous local preacher Charles Spurgeon, however the other day it was suggested to me that this particular Church was founded by one of his sons.

While all very interesting ,much more interesting will be to see what sort of a Church it is and what sort of people make it up. I have looked at their website and am quite hopeful. I really do feel that I should be able to worship in the community in which I am placed, and that means being able to walk to Church in the morning.

Interestingly for the many people who I come across who will question how I reconcile being trans and a Christian, who wonder how any Church will accept me, my gender identity has not been an issue at any of the Churches I have visited so far. I do not flatter myself that this is because I totally pass I believe it is because the vast majority of Christians are accepting, even those who cannot bring themselves to be affirming.

Thursday, 5 April 2018

BOING! or My Office Today

This week it does finally feel as though spring has sprung, I am sure that this is a great relieve to everyone, for us gardeners it means that we can go outside and get on with the seasonal work we were expecting to be doing last month.  

I have pruned a lot of roses, but by no means all of them. I have a lot of gardens where I am still do a first cut of grass, and many where I have not yet managed to cut back all of the dead growth of the herbaceous plants.    I try to keep up with garden work all year round but I do have some customers who simply want me to stop during the winter, which always leads to frantic catching up in spring.

Of course in a year like this when spring comes late then that means a very few very busy weeks, and since this looks like it will be the first of those few very busy weeks, it does seem a shame that it is going to be a short one, I may even end up working on Saturday to make up for it.   However busy I may be it is a joy to be able to get out in the sun and cut some grass!

Of course the joys are not limited to the work, at this time of year some of the joys can be a little less obvious than other, but none the less valuable for that!

Having said all that about being busy, normal life still goes on as well, and since for me normal life is anything except normal, I will now be losing at least half a day as I'm off to an electrolysis session this morning.

Sunday, 1 April 2018

Happy Easter

After spending yesterday being visible today I will be celebrating Easter, this is not just another holiday, a chance to get drunk as there's no work tomorrow, this is something really worth celebrating for Christians today is the day when we particularly remember and celebrate the resurrection of Jesus.  Although it was through the death of Jesus on Good Friday that we are forgiven it is through His resurrection of Easter Sunday that we know the sentence is served, it is through His resurrection that we are reconciled to God, that we are allowed into His presence, that we know we are adopted heirs, that we can call Him "Father"

I will be starting my celebrations at West Croydon Methodist Church, after far too long I am still to settle in any one local Church, this is one I have not visited since moving, maybe this will be the one, I pray that God will guide me to the congregation that he wants me to serve, and be served by.

It will be after church that I will be breaking my fast with a friend.

Thursday, 29 March 2018

I Believe; week six


The resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting




When we say we believe in the resurrection of the body, are we thinking of our own body, the body of Jesus resurrected after the crucifixion, or maybe the body of the church?

"The resurrection of the flesh", the literal wording of the Apostles' Creed, means that besides our immortal soul, our "mortal body" will also return to life.

The resurrection of the dead has always been a central Christian belief. "If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised. But, in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep" (1 Cor 15:12-14).

In Jesus' time, the Pharisees believed in the resurrection of the dead. At the same time, Jesus castigated the Sadducees who did not believe in the resurrection. "You are wrong. You know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God, for God is the ‘God of the living'" (Mk 12:24-27).

Even more important, Jesus joined the resurrection of the dead to his own person. "I am the Resurrection and the life" (Jn 11:25). He promised resurrection to those who eat his flesh and drink his blood (Jn 6:53-59). He raised people from the dead as a sign of his future Resurrection (even though his was of another order). He proclaimed the "sign of Jonah," that he would be raised after three days in the tomb (Mt 12:39). The apostles became "witnesses to the Resurrection" because "they ate and drank with Jesus after he rose form the dead" (Acts 10:41).

Faith in the Resurrection of the body has always met opposition. "On no point does the Christian faith encounter more opposition than on the Resurrection of the body" (St. Augustine).

At death, the human body decays. The soul goes to meet God while awaiting reunion with the body. God will definitely grant incorruptible life to our bodies by reuniting them with our souls. All will rise: "Those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment" (Jn 5:29).

This gift comes from Christ who "will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body" (Phil 3:21). "The dead will be raised imperishable, for this mortal nature must put on immortality" (1 Cor 15:35-37). 

So maybe it will not be the actual physical bodies we live in here on earth, but a perfected body, like Adam’s before sin entered the world, a perfected new body to dwell in the perfected new Jerusalem.



 “With these final clauses of the Apostle's Creed, Christian commitment to life from the moment of conception is under-girded and Christian hope in the face of death, even death by violence, is affirmed.

On the one hand, the Creed implies that life in
this body is of everlasting significance and therefore must be tended, guarded and nurtured. It braces us with the reality that no human being is discardable or neglectable. On the other hand, the Creed comforts us with the hope that life goes on beyond the bounds of this world.

Though we may fail to protect life here, that failure is not eternal. There is more life to come. The forgiveness we seek is grounded in the sacrifice of Christ once for all in the past and also in the future he has established where the consequences of even our worst actions will be resolved.

The resurrection of the body
Our belief in the resurrection of the body is very different from the idea that what makes us essentially human is our immortal souls, which continue after the body is discarded. Our gospel shocked the culture of Greek thought that prevailed during the years in which the New Testament was written. The body was understood to be a prison for the soul. The goal of spirituality was to slip the bonds of corrupt, weak flesh through developing the mind or enacting mystic rituals. So, the gospel seemed foolishness to educated Greeks. What kind of God would actually take up residence in a stinking human body? The resurrection of Jesus in his body seemed contrary to everything they believed about spirituality. Even granting that God had come to the world in a body, why would he ever keep that body after death?

In that culture, bodies were often burned after death. There was no need to honour or preserve what had been only a hindrance to true life. By contrast, Jews and Christians tenderly cared for the bodies of those who had died. This was not done with some naïve idea that only an intact, preserved corpse could be resurrected. Rather, it was a matter of honouring the body because we have our lives in an embodied existence. Though these bodies will be healed, vivified and transformed into something more splendid than we can imagine, they will yet be our bodies. We will not be airy spirits floating on clouds with harps. We will be more real, more substantial, than we have ever known.

In a passage that has been crucial to the theology of the resurrection of the body, Paul declared: "But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it, we await a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself" (Phil. 3:20-21). We are going to be like Jesus. Jesus was raised and ascended in the same body in which he was crucified. Yes, he has been glorified and outfitted for heaven. But he has not forsaken his body. Because we are going to be like Jesus, we know that our bodies will likewise be transformed and decked out for life in glory.

With his usual clarity, C. S. Lewis writes:

"He goes "to prepare a place for us." This presumably means that He is about to create that whole new Nature which will provide the environment or conditions for His glorified humanity and, in Him, for ours.… It is the picture of a new human nature, and a new Nature in general, being brought into existence. We must, indeed, believe the risen body to be extremely different from the mortal body: but the existence, in that new state, of anything that could in any sense be described as "body" at all involves some sort of spatial relations and in the long run a whole new universe. That is the picture – not of unmaking but of remaking. The old field of space, time, matter, and the senses is to be weeded, dug and sown for a new crop. We may be tired of that old field: God is not”

Gerrit Scott Dawson ,



·        If our bodies are cremated they are totally destroyed, does that mean our bodies cannot be resurrected?

·        Should this effect our attitude to organ donation.?

·        Will I still be deaf in heaven?

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

I Believe; week five


This was of course written for general Church consumption, but this can be a difficult area for many LGBT+ people as we so often find ourselves rejected and ostracised by churches. I hope I make the point that this is not about any individual Church, definitely not about a particular denomination, but about the body of believers

5     I believe in the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins.


A lot of protestants over the years have struggled with this bit, thinking that this was a reference to the Catholic Church, the Roman Catholic Church and the veneration of Saints, I have very carefully not used capital letters to emphasise that this is the all-inclusive body of believers referred to in Revelations.   So often John’s symbolism shows us that salvation is inclusive, that it is available to everyone who accepts Jesus as Saviour, we should consider ourselves all part of the same family of God, His church.
The church is portrayed as the wife of Christ, to be united in perfect harmony with him at the second coming, that is Christ will bring all believers (the Saints) to himself, in a closer and more intimate way than we can imagine.
Some people believe that Saints are special super spiritual Christians, those who have been used by God for remarkable acts of faith, and through whom He has worked miracles.   It is out of this belief that some Christians will venerate Saints, seeking an intermediary between themselves and God.    The Saints are in communion with God as they are already in Heaven.
Yet when Jesus was crucified the Temple curtain was split down the middle signifying that God (through Jesus’ sacrifice to serve the sentence for our sin), had now made himself accessible to all who acknowledge Jesus, further John refers often to believers as Saints in Revelation, the saints are the individual believers who collectively make up the church, the saints are in communion with each other through their shared faith, and in communion with the father and the Son through the Holy Spirit.
When his disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray one thing he encouraged them to ask to be forgiven, and for help in forgiving “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us”  Not only should we accept the gift of forgiveness won by Jesus on the cross but in turn we need to practise forgiveness.   The whole point of Jesus self-sacrifice was that he should pay the price for our sin, therefore allowing us to be forgiven paying the penalty.   Once we have been forgiven for God it is as though we had never sinned.
God is without sin and totally Holy, so much so that we cannot approach Him in our sinful state, therefore it was essential if we are to be in continuous relationship with God that a solution be found to the problem of sin.   God knew that there was nothing we could do so He had to act.   The price for sin is death, that is not death in this world but eternal death, separation from God for eternity.   If we were to be reconciled to God that price had to be paid and God choose to pay the price through Jesus.   It is only through Jesus sacrifice that we are forgiven our sins and reconciled with God.   It is through His forgiveness that we can approach the throne, that our prayers can be heard, and that we can receive the Holy Spirit.

Sunday, 18 March 2018

More WOW!!!

It has been quite a week, and now it seems hard to believe that it is only a week ago that I was sitting on the platform of the Royal Festival Hall surrounded by women all coming to gather to make music, and a point or two!

This weekend I have virtually nothing on, and what I had planed couldn't be done due to the weather ~ Yes we've got snow again!  This has lead me to thinking, thinking about just why playing at WOW has, and does mean so much to me.   As an avid Women's Hour listener I have been aware of the festival for a while, but not specifically about the big finale event in the main Hall with Sandy Toksvig, so when back in 2014 a friend shared the call for musicians for the 2015 event it came as a bit of a surprise, a very pleasant surprise that they considered me to be a suitable applicant.

Orchestra and Choir ~ with many conductors!
 If I remember correctly the application form invited all musicians of a competent standard who are women, or identify as women, to apply. At that stage I was still very sensitive about being considered a woman, and felt that playing in this event would be affirmation of my womanhood. I was quite right, as  young trans woman, young as in accepting that I'm trans not in terms of how many rings there will be to count if my heads cut off, it was inspiring. I was still very nervous, I was constantly expecting somebody to call me out, shout out "That's not even a proper woman!" I certainly wasn't ready for communal changing facilities.   All the other ladies made me very welcome, accepted me as part of the orchestra and as part of the wider sisterhood. Nobody mentioned, or suggested that I might be Trans.

The second year was simply the coolest thing I have done in music, or just about any other sphere of life. It was hot on the heels of this that BBC started filming for the Great British Amateur Orchestra Challenge at about 17:30 in you can hear a few of us singing "We are family" as I recount the story of my previous weekend.   I was feeling a bit more confidence in myself, both as a woman and as a musician, this was about the time that I began to realise that I had been acting all my life, I had just been playing a variety of roles, husband, father, employee, musician, in many ways this was when I started to develop the confidence to be me, all the time.

Being asked to play for third year running was a great affirmation of me as a musician, it meant that I was good enough, that I did have a right to be on that stage, I did not have to worry about being found out (imposter syndrome is a big problem for a lot of musicians). It was also my way as a woman, of saying enough! time for a change!

Sneaky shot of the section during performance
This year was different, I wanted to play, not just because it's fun, not just because I enjoy the music and the camaraderie, this year I wanted to play to make apolitical statement, a political statement as a Transgender Woman and as a Feminist.   Over the last few years things have got better for trans people, we have attained a lot more general acceptance in society. A few high profile transitions have helped make it all seem a little less strange.   But then over the last year there has been a bit of a back lash, with some quite hateful stuff coming out, especially from a group who describe themselves as feminists. This hurts as much as when people claiming to be Christian show hate instead of love, where we should be getting the greatest support we find some of the worst rejection.   So for me to get on the stage of the Royal Festival Hall as a Trans Woman at the Nations premier Feminist event would be a real political action ~ Actions Not Words!

The opening Fanfare
When I found I was not going to play I was quite knocked back, I really wanted this year! But then I reflected that I had played for three years, it is great that other, younger women, are now playing at a standard where they can do this, and that they want to. I was just trying to decide how many tickets to buy when I got the e-mail calling me up.   Again a bit of a roller coaster as my first thought was personal elation that I would be part of this, my second thought was disappointment for the player whose place I was taken through sickness, and then fear as at that point I hadn't played the trombone since Christmas!

Of course it all went really well, I'm looking forward to a new venture Women Of the World Brass, but one of the most notable things about this year's event for me was that I was talking to other performers about being trans, and getting so much love and support, this for me is the true face of feminism.

Monday, 12 March 2018

WOW!!!

I feel so privileged, yesterday I spent the day with a couple of hundred of the most awesome women in the Country. I was part of an event which should not be needed, but I fear it will have to keep going for quite a few more years yet.   Just now I won't go into all of the issues that women still face today, I won't bang on about how women are obliterated from history, how women artists, composers and writers are forgotten while their male contemporises are celebrated ~ I suspect that I may be preaching to the choir, but then yesterday the choir was all women, just like the orchestra.

Quick selfie during rehearsals
I was a little disconcerted when I first heard that I was not going to be part of the orchestra this year, then I was pleased that there were other women tuba players applying, then please to be called up, and also sorry that the original Bass Trombone was too ill to take part. All a bit on an emotion rollercoaster.

I love my Orchestra, but the WOW Orchestra for Mirth Control is something very special.   We just gather once a year for this event, but I do believe it may well be the only all female orchestra on the planet.   A mixture of Professionals, Students and Amateurs we have a wide range of experience, and age, I think my trombone was older than any of the other brass players, I am certainly old enough to be their grand mother, but we all worked together for a great musical result, and had a lot of fun along the way.

Sneaky shot of the Royal Festival Hall audience ~ My Office Today
The Brass Section and Horns walked on stage first and sat there waiting for the beginning of the evening as we started the whole thing off with a fanfare. Joan Tower's Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman no.1, written in the 1960s as a response to Aron Copeland's Fanfare for the Common Man. To my shame it is the first time I have come across this remarkable piece.

We were asked to stand to play, so that did slightly restrict my choice of shoes ~ playing the trombone standing up, in front of 2,000 people while wearing stripper shoes with 6 inch stilettos felt like just too much of a risk. I also had a few restrictions on my choice of dress ~ having put on a bit of weight I found that on my first choice the zip wouldn't do up (actually it wouldn't even meet!) and my second choice made me look pregnant, I went for the classy option with my black velvet gown gold jewelry and nice shoes.   It was a good choice since I felt comfortable, but fabulous!


So pleased and proud to have been part of this truly fabulous section, I think these girls (sorry but they are all so young compared to me) show that you don't need to be butch, big or manly to play Tuba or Trombone! 

Saturday, 10 March 2018

There's always one!

This is shaping up to be a very busy few days, giving that I was not expecting to be rehearsing with the WOW Orchestra today, or playing tomorrow, I was quite happy to commit myself to stuff yesterday and Monday, Now that doesn't look quite so wise.

Yesterday afternoon was a friend's funeral, these things are never fun, but as a Christian for me they tend to be more of a celebration of a life rather than morning the loss.    My friend had a strong faith and I know he was ready, so although we will all miss him, we morn for our loss, not for his death. ~ Anyway that is not what I want to write about here and now, the thing that made it "interesting" is that it was at the Church I used to attend, led by the Minister who excludes me from activities there.   I try not to go there, there are so many memories, and so much hurt.  So I haven't been in that building for roughly a year, indeed not since this friend's wife's funeral last March.

Of course I met a lot of old friends, many people I have more or less lost contact with who were once a big part of my life, others who have made the effort to stay in touch, and offer me help, support and love through my transition.  My old vicar was there, I think I may have slightly confused him, but we had a good chat, I talked him through where I am and what's going on, after that we parted again on very good terms, knowing we had each others blessing.   The current Vicar, who has been less than inclusive, made a point of being friendly, indeed it was day when my friend and god should be the centers of attention not me, a day for remembering and sharing love. I had intended leaving straight after the ceremony, but as I was engaged in conversation I did stay fro a cup of tea and a sandwich.

Almost at the last moment one person, one I had deliberately not engaged with, made the point of coming over to me more or less forcing himself upon the conversation I was part of, thrusting his hand at me to shake, and dead named me.   Now for many there it is still new to them, they are not used to using my current name and may from time to time slip, that I understand, but this! this was a deliberate insult. Intentional undermining, sending a message that he did not value my personal integrity or my ability to understand myself or agree that I should have the right to make the choices I have made. This is the man who has whispered poison in the ears of friends, indeed the only man who has made a policy of attacking my transition.   He did all of this in a Church dedicated to spreading love, at an event remembering a friend who believed in the universal love of our God, and lived that love.

This morning I am trying to think of all the friends who have accepted and supported me, of all those wonderful Christians who may not understand, but have chosen to show love and compassion ~ not the one who has set himself the task of undermining all of that.

I believe, Week Four

I believe in the Holy Spirit



Although only getting one line within the creed this statement is a fundamental of Christian Faith.   It is through the Holy Spirit that God is active in the world.   It is the Holy Spirit who heals, who enables true worship, who teaches, who explains scripture.



To believe in the Holy Spirit is also to believe in the activity of the Holy Spirit.   The Holy Spirit is the bringer of gifts ~ the charismata ~


 


1 Corinthians 12:4-11


4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.


7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8 To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.

Romans 12


6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; 7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.   But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Galatians 5:22-23



These gifts are given to us for the benefit of others.   Gifts of the Spirit do not depend on natural talents and aptitudes or developed skills, though God gave you those, too. A gift of the Spirit is something that God gives for the purpose of building up others in a life of faith. It is the experience of Christians over the years that the spirit usually harnesses one's talents in the service of the purpose for which the gifts were given. Yet sometimes, the spiritual gifts seem to work against a person's natural endowment. This is, after all, the same God who led his people out of Egypt using a stammerer named Moses, made a shepherd boy/musician named David into a renowned warrior and king, and turned rural fishermen into leaders who left a mark on the course of history. There are examples everywhere of people who don't have training, aren't highly skilled, have no particular knack, but when the time comes for them to benefit others, the gift is there. The Spirit takes pleasure in surprises and on turning the tables on the expected. It's wise to leave ourselves open for such action. You can develop a talent, but the Spirit gives the gift it's meant to go with.” Robert Longman Jnr



The spirit also brings us fruit, the nine visible attributes of a true Christian life.  Throughout the Bible, righteous men are likened to trees, and Paul in Galatians 5 explains what fruit a righteous tree bears. Accordingly, these fruit are grown by those who have truly repented, or are truly followers of Jesus.   In John's account of the Gospel Jesus said, "These things I command you, that you love one another" John15:17 referred to as the New Commandment or the second greatest commandment. Paul illustrates with these attributes the kind of love that marks a true Christian life.



·        We pray to the Father and to the Son, the Holy Spirit is fully God should we pray to the Holy Spirit?

·        If we do not speak in tongues are we proper Christians?

·        As Christians should we still expect the Holy Spirit to be active, and bestowing his gifts today?

·        Are Paul’s lists of gifts exhaustive, or are there other gifts we might receive from the Holy Spirit?

·        How can we recognize these gifts in ourselves and in others?

·        Should we expect all Christians to show evidence of all the fruits of the Spirit?

~



It is also this statement that that emphasises the Trinity, later Creeds make a lot more of this as various heresies grew up denying the Christ as fully human, or as fully God, suggesting that the Holy Spirit was subservient, or indeed created by the Father.   This is how the fourth-century apologist and theologian Anathasius explained the Trinity, his teaching played an important role in defining and defending the orthodox doctrines of the Trinity and the person of Christ.



“Now this is the true Christian faith: We worship one God in three persons and three persons in one God, without mixing the persons or dividing the divine being. For each person -- the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit -- is distinct, but the deity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is one, equal in glory and coeternal in majesty. What the Father is, so is the Son, and so is the Holy Spirit.

The Father is uncreated, the Son uncreated, and the Holy Spirit uncreated; The Father is eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Spirit eternal. And yet they are not three who are eternal, but there is one who is eternal, just as they are not three who are uncreated, nor three who are infinite, but there is one who is uncreated and one who is infinite.

In the same way the Father is almighty, the Son is almighty, and the Holy Spirit is almighty. And yet they are not three who are almighty, but there is one who is almighty. So the Father is God, the Son is God, the Holy Spirit is God. And yet they are not three Gods, but one God. So the Father is Lord, the Son is Lord, the Holy Spirit is Lord; yet they are not three Lords, but one Lord.

For just as Christian truth compels us to confess each person individually to be God and Lord, so the true Christian faith forbids us to speak of three Gods or three Lords. The Father is neither made not created, nor begotten of anyone. The Son is neither made nor created, but is begotten of the Father alone. The Holy Spirit is neither made nor created nor begotten, but proceeds from the Father and the Son. So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Spirit, not three Holy Spirits.

And within this Trinity none comes before or after; none is greater or inferior, but all three persons are coequal and coeternal, so that in every way, as stated before, all three persons are to be worshiped as one God and one God worshiped as three persons. Whoever wishes to be saved must have this conviction of the Trinity.”