Archive for April, 2010

Not Coping


Well I haven’t been coping with life very well in the last week. Hence the decline in posts here. Just letting you all know. I will be getting back to writing more soon. I have had three good sleeps in a row and am feeling much more like I have the resources to meet life’s demands!




I suspect that there is a paradox at the heart of love.

I find it interesting looking back over my life thus far and seeing the idea fashions change. I am much more aware of these that clothe fashions…

One idea that was very trendy for a while in my life was the idea that we need to get over the idea that love is an emotion. The message of that era was that love is an action and that we can choose to do it even if we don’t have warm feelings. It was an important message and one that continues to inform my understanding of what mature love is. The decision to be kind even when one is exhausted speaks of profound love.

It is very incomplete though.

In the most profound call to love in the New Testament Paul writes,

If I speak in human and angelic tongues, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 1but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became an adult, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Paul’s aspired to learn to love. This, for him, wasn’t just loving action but something more. Paul feels that you can have deep wisdom, amazing faith and the most self-sacrificing actions and it all means nothing if you don’t have love. This love that Paul speaks of here is an emotional thing. It is not s simple one and it is not a transient thing but it is a feeling.

For me the door into love is learning to perceive the world’s beauty with gratitude. As I become more and more present to the world and more and more able to see the people in it I find myself loving it and them more. I believe it is a combination of learning to see the other, being present to what is and taking down the emotional barriers built up as protection from being hurt that allows us to love.

And from that love flows genuine loving action.

In one of her comments here Heather wrote that perhaps if we act lovingly then perhaps the emotional side will follow. I am not sure if this is a path I would recommend. I know far to many people, mostly women, who have built lives filled with the habitual acts of loving and have lost touch with what they want. They often wake up after their children have grown and grieve the loss of half of their lives to this habit. I am not saying that loving your children is a problem. I am interested in how we can support families to have enough room for the members to pause to be present to their own experience, perceive other and be open to love and the pain that comes in the package.

A Bit of Nietzsche


1. on the three metamorphoses

Of three metamorphoses of the spirit I tell you: how the spirit becomes a camel; and the camel, a lion; and the lion, finally, a child.

There is much that is difficult for the spirit, the strong reverent spirit that would bear much: but the difficult and the most difficult are what its strength demands.

What is difficult? asks the spirit that would bear much, and kneels down like a camel wanting to be well loaded. What is most difficult, O heroes, asks the spirit that would bear much, that I may take it upon myself and exult in my strength? Is it not humbling oneself to wound one’s haughtiness? Letting one’s folly shine to mock one’s wisdom?

Or is it this: parting from our cause when it triumphs? Climbing high mountains to tempt the tempter?

Or is it this: feeding on the acorns and grass of knowledge and, for the sake of the truth, suffering hunger in one’s soul?

Or is it this: being sick and sending home the comforters and making friends with the deaf, who never hear what you want?

Or is it this: stepping into filthy waters when they are the waters of truth, and not repulsing cold frogs and hot toads?

Or is it this: loving those who despise us and offering a hand to the ghost that would frighten us?

All these most difficult things the spirit that would bear much takes upon itself: like the camel that, burdened, speeds into the desert, thus the spirit speeds into its desert.

In the loneliest desert, however, the second metamorphosis occurs: here the spirit becomes a lion who would conquer his freedom and be master in his own desert. Here he seeks out his last master: he wants to fight him and his last god; for ultimate victory he wants to fight with the great dragon.

Who is the great dragon whom the spirit will no longer call lord and god? “Thou shalt” is the name of the great dragon. But the spirit of the lion says, “I will.” “Thou shalt” lies in his way, sparkling like gold, an animal covered with scales; and on every scale shines a golden “thou shalt.”

Values, thousands of years old, shine on these scales; and thus speaks the mightiest of all dragons: “All value of all things shines on me. All value has long been created, and I am all created value. Verily, there shall be no more ‘I will.’” Thus speaks the dragon.

My brothers, why is there a need in the spirit for the lion? Why is not the beast of burden, which renounces and is reverent, enough?

To create new values—that even the lion cannot do; but the creation of freedom for oneself for new creation—that is within the power of the lion. The creation of freedom for oneself and a sacred “No” even to duty—for that, my brothers, the lion is needed. To assume the right to new values—that is the most terrifying assumption for a reverent spirit that would bear much. Verily, to him it is preying, and a matter for a beast of prey. He once loved “thou shalt” as most sacred: now he must find illusion and caprice even in the most sacred, that freedom from his love may become his prey: the lion is needed for such prey.

But say, my brothers, what can the child do that even the lion could not do? Why must the preying lion still become a child? The child is innocence and forgetting, a new beginning, a game, a self-propelled wheel, a first movement, a sacred “Yes.” For the game of creation, my brothers, a sacred “Yes” is needed: the spirit now wills his own will, and he who had been lost to the world now conquers his own world.

Of three metamorphoses of the spirit I have told you: how the spirit became a camel; and the camel, a lion; and the lion, finally, a child.



I am fascinated by my cages. I have so many of them. Most of them are made of gold…

I started becoming aware of my cages when I was studying anthropology and we looked at culture. I started to become aware of the unconscious rules of behaviour that govern our lives. When I started to bring some of the rules to consciousness I started encountering the first bars of my cages. I would walk down a well populated path and consider this thing within my being that made it impossible for me to lie down on it. I would be so embarrassed! And yet why? I did not know any of these people around me that I should care for their opinion…

More and more I start posing my self challenges. Some I fulfilled out of a desire to see what would happen and some I just used the feelings that come up when I imagined flouting a rule to feel out the boundaries of my cage and familiarise myself with the shape and effect of each bar. I became overwhelmed with the multitude of cages that bound my life and all the feelings that composed the bars.

Many of my cages are made of gold. They seem beautiful and they are precious to me but they are nonetheless cages. One of the things that make my cages shine like gold is the idea of morality. The bars are made of guilt (no pun intended).

I was talking to a friend about stealing not too long ago.  I contended that it would be good to steal occasionally. This conclusion comes from my own anger at my lack of choice in this. When I consider stealing, say, a video from a rental shop, or a handbag or a car I don’t think I refrain from these activities out of a sense of care for their owners. I refrain out of fear. Fear of getting caught and fear of the guilt I would feel. Fear of losing my place in society. In the past this would also have been fear of God’s disappointment.  This fear is a cage that is made of gold. After all it helps me do the things I approve of. Ahhh. My cage is my friend! Lovely cage!

Yet these cages create a Fergus that does not love. He fears.

When you bake a cake for a friend out of a sense of obligation then it is not love. When I do because I ought then I do not love. Maybe my cage loves… but I do not.

Pain and Hope


I think that hoping is one of the hardest things to keep doing. In life it is the thing that keeps us reaching out for beauty, for love, for healing and so often the hand that is extended in hope is withdrawn, burnt. I feel like, in my life, I am tormented and inspired by a vision of the world (and a vision of my life) that could have so much more joy in it yet so often seems to retreat from me as I run toward it.

I remember hearing Chris Marchall speak once on the Beatitudes.  In particular one thing he said that has moved me deeply ever since is his understanding of what Jesus meant when he said, “Blessed are those who mourn…” Chris felt that this is the call to stay present to the world that isn’t. That is the world that isn’t all it could be, all it should be. Chris felt that part of following Jesus is being open to feeling the injustice and pain that weighs down the world and grieving for it.

It seems to me that in some ways it is easier to lie down and accept the world we find ourselves in as it is. The option is certainly there. The anaesthetic sleep of fitting in with “the way things are” such as how our culture trains us to be good little units of economic production is, I feel, the less painful path. It is however the path of a slow and painless death.

And here I find a truth that is core to my life. That when I make ANY decision out of a desire to avoid pain instead of out a desire to follow love than I die a little bit. I was going to say, “I would not say that the decision to follow love always takes us down a path where pain lives but it does a significant part of the time.” but I as I consider this I realise that pain always follows love. Whenever we make a decision to care it becomes inevitable that somewhere down this part we will suffer heartache.

I think it is worth it. When I am sick or tired, when I am in the midst of pain, it is easy to lose sight of hope but I find that most of the time the beauty that I see through the door that hope and love opens is worth all the pain it necessitates. I suspect in fact that the decision to stay open to the grief for a world in pain (and our own pain) is the thing that opens us to joy. I believe that Jesus’ promise is not for the future but for now.

“Blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted”

Sex related Blogs


In my experience the vast majority of blogs that focus on issues to do with sex are written by women. I am not quite sure why this is. I suspect it has to do with a greater ability to talk about their lives in a down to earth and intimate way.

I suppose it mirrors my experience of finding that women talk more about sex than the men I know…

One of the earliest sex blogs I stumbeled across and one I think is written by a truly amazing woman is Pursed Lips.

Being naked.


In my family, at least by the time I was becoming a teenager, we were very relaxed about nakedity. There was no great fuss made of changing together and I have been nude beaching with my sisters and their partners/husbands.

I love seeing nude people. I think we are all so beautiful. I have had a long standing desire to photograph all my friends male and female in the nude. I would love to have a 40th birthday party with as many of my friends who would would come naked. Largely this is because when I love people I want to know them and for me my friends’ bodies are important aspects of who they are that I am excluded from… I resent it!

I want to talk about this because I think it can be hard for people to believe how separate this is from pornography. In our society our media works to link nudity with eroticism by almost never displaying human nudity outside the context of eroticism. This has certainly conditioned me. When I am in the same space as a naked woman it sometimes takes a few minutes for me to relax out of the “nudity is erotic” space. I always do though. When you spend time with naked people it becomes easy to see the difference between naked and erotic.

In contrast my experience of looking at women in an erotic way comes when I am with a woman who wants this from me! Then it really doesn’t matter if she is clothed or not. For me there is nothing more erotic than a woman who is looking at me with that mischievous glint in her eye and that little smile…  sigh…

Pornography is a performance of this erotic relationship. Sometimes it feeds on our society’s eroticisation of nudity but most of the time it presents men and women in an erotic context.

Many people say that porn conditions people who enjoy it to see people as only sexual objects. In my experience this hasn’t been true. I enjoy a heck of a lot of porn but I don’t think there are many people male or female that experience me as having an narrow interest in who they are…

Well there is a lot more to say about this but I have to go to work.



For most of my life I have believed that if people are extremely different from me then there is something wrong with them.

The concept of otherness changed my life.

I love the idea that when we face any other person we face both kinship and the alien. For me the idea of otherness has led me to let go of phrases like, “No one could possibly think/feel/enjoy/resent that.’

When I started working at Telecom we were taught to use “empathy” on each of our calls. (Currently I work in a call cnetre) After some years of working as a counsellor I was surprised that this meant expressing sadness about whatever the customer was calling about.

Customer: Hi. My internet is going really slow.

Service Rep: Oh that’s no good but I can help you out with that!

There was no need to enquire or get a sense of how the customer was feeling because, as I was explained when I didn’t use a “consoling statement” in my opening sentence, no one is going to call our helpdesk unless they are unhappy about something.

I think that probably 90% of the time this is absolutely correct. (So it makes perfect sense to train your staff this way especially if the underlying belief is that most staff are functionally incapable of any real empathy and have to learn to fake it) The interesting thing about this though is that it removes the need to see the person. As I already know how the other person is feeling I have no need to be open to seeing them.

I don’t think Telecom does anything unusual here. It is just a very clear example of how we are taught to operate in the world.

I don’t believe we can always give up our preconceived ideas and prejudices. They are absolutely necessary for operating in life. The alternative is to be driven into complete inaction my having to consider every belief we have about everything over and over again…

But I am drawn to the idea that in order to love we must learn to see the other and in order to do this we must acquire the ability to, at times, give up our understandings of what it means to be human and to take up a stance of not knowing and naive enquiry.

It feels risky.


Writing this blog brings how much I self-edit into very clear focus. I fear the disapproval of my friends and my society keenly and that fear silences me about subjects that are dear to me.

So today one of the scariest: Pornography.

I have wrestled with this subject for a long time and over the last 5 or so years have settled to this position:

I believe that pornography, or performance designed to arouse, is at its heart good.  I do think that it has been reduced by shame to an often tawdry and abusive genre but only in the same way unhygienic illegal abortions were fostered by a judgemental legal system.

People say that pornography objectifies women, Andrea Dworkin said that pornography is the blue print for rape, and it is true that pornography has been used to degrade and dehumanise women and men but I maintain that this is perpetuated by the shame and fear that surrounds our attitudes to sex. I believe that pornography is what humans do and that if we believe that sex is harmful and dirty our pornography will reflect this.

While we maintain that showing a woman nude is a shameful thing to do, that being aroused by the sight of human genitals does violence to the possessor of the genitals, then that dark hatred of humanity which is so often directed at women in so many different ways will claim this genre as its tool.

In reality is the divine beauty of the human form and the glorious sexiness of us all is reduced in the hateful eye to violence.

I love looking at breasts and beautiful engorged clitorises and I celebrate others’ enjoyment of our delightful sexiness. In my viewing of pornography as well as the rest of my life I seek to nurture a sense of the beauty and sexiness of all body types and I also have accepted that my sexuality is not all a bright nice thing. It is not a tame lion.

The spirit of any piece of pornography is not the nature of the genre but the expression of the spirit of its creator.  In the coming weeks I intend to post pictures of people being sexy in lots of different ways and links to other blogs and sites that contain pornographic musings and content. Just let you all know.

As an opening I recommend: ErosBlog



I had an interesting comment about my blog yesterday. One that I wholeheartedly agree with. She said my blog seems like my heart converted into a “T” format.

One of the things that people often classify me as when they meet me is an intellectual or in the framework of Myers-Briggs a “T” or on the Enneagram a “5”. It makes me really sad because it means that I am hiding myself. At heart I think because I feel.

So much of my gender training has been about control of emotions and the hiding of them. I am in awe of my friends who can weep as they talk about some pain or some joy they or others have gone through. There is such strength in it. Such ability to connect with what is.

Even more restrained is my ability to express joy. I have never danced for it. It is another of my birthrights stolen from me. But I am learning. I have whooped in the surf and rejoiced in the pure delight of a perfectly timed forehand smash! One day I will be as free as a 2 year old!

I am sad that I am yet to learn to show my friends how much I love them. I am overwhelmed with their beauty and on a side note would like to photograph them all nude…