Priority 1 Transmission, Part 2

The conversation builds on what was said in Captain’s Blog: Stardate 10172021.7 and in the previous entry Priority 1 Transmission. Ray’s text is in italic and I respond underneath. This is his response to the priority 1 transmission.

There’s much I can say on the end times, but I don’t think you’ll hear me on it. So I’ll shelf that subject for another time. I want to give you an honest answer to a very important question.

You know I’ll hear you out on any subject but I’m more of the belief that every person is always living in the last days because you can be pulled in for judgement at any moment and thus should be ready to be held to account by God at any moment.

“I have always wanted to ask you, “Do you think that regardless of what I do/feel, because I’m trans/bi, that I will be deemed as living in sin and punished with the second death?” You may not say it cuz you’re a bit coy but I think you believe it is a sin and if I don’t change then I’m going to be cast into the fire. Am I just depriving myself not further indulging in sin cuz I know I am going to die anyway?”

Biblically speaking, the bible is clear that in the beginning, God made male and female. Anything outside of that is not God made, its man made. Either that, or because of sin, there may be an aberration in what was made (such as a hermaphrodite), but the pattern that God set at the beginning is the ideal.

Genesis 1:27: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

At first glance, this might seem obvious: God made two different, discrete sexes. But if we look at this line in its context, we see this creation account follows a poetic structure made up of a series of binaries that indicate the breadth of God’s creation: light and dark, seas and dry land, land creatures and sea creatures.

In the structure of the Genesis poem, these binaries are not discrete categories, but indications of a spectrum. The sea and dry land merge on tidal plains. Some animals inhabit both land and sea. Darkness and light meet in the in-between spaces of dusk and dawn. God didn’t create night or day, but night and day, inclusive of everything in between.

If we apply this same poetic logic to humanity, a case can be made for sex and gender diversity built into the very fabric of creation. A creative diversity categorically called “good” by God. Also, update your terminology. Hermaphrodite is an offensive phrase, intersexed is the sociological and medical term. I also would be interested to know if you’d tell an intersexed person that they were an aberration of sin; a concept not supported biblically. I believe intersex people were created just as God would have them, do you contest this?

Additionally, there is a natural cycle to things. We’ll call it the circuit of beneficence. Everything in this world takes… in order that it might give. Consider the water cycle. Evaporation, then condensation, then precipitation. Each has its role to play, not only for the climate, but for the living things in the environment. Consider the air cycle. The trees put oxygen in the air, we breathe it in, then we exhale CO2 which the trees take in, then give us oxygen again. The various food chains in their various habitats all minister to each other. Every bird, every animal that moves upon the ground, every leaf of the forest, every blade of grass, has its ministry. Each contributes to the life of its surroundings.

Trees are not the primary source of oxygen. Plants only produce 20% of the oxygen we breath. The remainder comes from marine creatures such as phytoplankton. They don’t require our carbon dioxide. It isn’t just a one to one give and take but EVERY creature is part of the chain. What benefit do phytoplankton get from us? There are many instances where you’re made up term “circuit of beneficence” isn’t nearly as encompassing as you seem to think. There are many parasites and viruses, those created by God, that don’t contribute to life at all but only destroy it. The food chain has no ministry in it. What is the ministry does the tick or mosquito give? Please support this concept biblically. I believe the only ministry that occurs happens when humans talk to other humans about God and during prayer. Correct me if I’m wrong.

The only thing that lives unto itself is the selfish heart of man. Why did God make male and female? So that they might minister to each other, and to the world around them. Let’s cut to the chase. For an orientation that is not straight (LGBT), what do those types of orientations minister to other than themselves? How do these orientations contribute to the life of their surroundings? There is much more take than give here. One might say that there is the gift of diversity/options, but this was not so at the beginning. God created a simple pattern for mankind in order that he might participate in this circuit of beneficence. Man has devised ways that deviate from this simple pattern. The example set here is one that appears very selfish.

Adam and Eve were created by God to take care of His creation (the plants and animals), to populate the earth, and to have a relationship with Him. Adam and Eve were not directly created to minister to others (though it is an activity we should do). Of those things, the only thing the LGBT can’t do is populate the Earth. As someone in the LGBT, I can and do have a relationship with God. My orientation doesn’t preclude that. It also doesn’t stop me from trying to take care of his creation. I can and do take care of plants, animals and even other people. LGBT folks contribute to life in all manners; from the arts, to saving lives, to being able to share God’s love with others. Your circuit of beneficence would be broken or at the very least, severely damaged without the contribution of LGBT folks. I’m also curious what the circle of beneficence has to say with regards to tree frogs (Rana clamitans) and their ability to change genders even in natural, unadulterated settings relatively free from human-caused pollution or the many animals that partake in homosexual activity.

Being a member of the LGBT also does not stop me from ministering to others. I have tried to share God’s word with my kids, others in my family and to the world in general. Me sharing my love with someone who is the same gender as me is not selfish nor is me wanting to express myself in the way I feel is not deviating from God. I am not harming anyone. In fact, I wish you could audit me and God’s relationship since I transitioned.

Finally realizing that God still loves me despite being LGBT has made me a better person to others and has transformed my relationship with God so much. It’s this idea that I’m harming others by living my life, it pushed me onto a destructive path. I hated the bible, myself and many others because I thought I had to hate myself just for feeling the way I did. This harsh view on the LGBT has caused so many suicides…violence and hate among fellow children of God. I am not being selfish just trying to be me. You want a simple pattern? Love everyone, reserve judgement for God.

I know you will jump on the not being able to reproduce bit. Being able to reproduce is not a prerequisite for being apart of God’s kingdom. There are infertile cis males and females. Maybe ideally God wants us to reproduce, but it isn’t necessary even for fertile individuals. There is no commandment demanding we have children.

Ok, enough philosophizing. As far as it relates to you – there are two reasons I think the path you’re taking is a dangerous one. The first reason has to do with the fifth commandment, which is to honor your parents. When your mother was alive, you did not come out the way you have over the past few years. You gave her and your late wife that respect. If your mother were still alive, what would she say about this? Do you think she would feel honored, or just the opposite? Back to nature’s circuit of beneficence. You honor her by perpetuating the species, a pattern she followed in order that you might exist in this world. Please consider this commandment and where you stand with it.

Although I didn’t officially transition when my mom and wife were alive, they both knew for a long time that I crossdressed and that I was bisexual. My mom even met a male love interest of mines before she passed. My mom was a very loving person late in her life and would love me regardless. I honor her by trying to raise the kids to the best of my ability, by developing a relationship with God and by taking better care of myself. I believe you’re projecting how your mom would feel. From my interactions with your mom and what I know of her, she comes off as a very harsh, obstinate individual. Once your mom has come to a conclusion, she refuses to consider evidence that may disprove her or otherwise cause her to change her mind. One thing I noticed within you is a much softer, open-minded approach. It is my inclination to believe that part of this modified approach of yours is because you didn’t want to emulate how you were treated growing up. I also believe that becoming a parent will soften you even more.

Speaking of kids, I wonder how you would handle your child becoming part of the LGBT. Perhaps its easier right now believing that you would be unwavering in your stance. However, I think the actual experience of holding your lil boy or girl in your arms, having them tell you that they love you, watching them as they make mistakes would make you reconsider your position and thus have a better understanding of how it must be like for God. Would you put out your kid in the streets if they came out? I’m fairly sure you wouldn’t, even if they were intractable in their feelings. How could you think that God would incinerate an otherwise obedient child simply for loving someone of the same gender or transitioning?!

As a parent myself, I prefer not to punish my children if I don’t have to. Still, kids make mistakes. Sometimes, there does have to be consequences when they hurt others or endanger themselves. Yet, ultimately I think what we want from our kids is for them to acknowledge their mistakes, fix any harm they caused and promise not to do it again.

The second reason has to do with the fact that you lower your life expectancy whenever taking hormone therapy. Your chances of getting cancer increase significantly, and I don’t think it is right to tamper with your health in that regard, especially for someone with a history of cancer. You know this – you used to send me your labs and ask whether there was any reason for concern. I don’t want you to wake up one day and question whether your decisions shortened your lifespan, or, God forbid, you end up with cancer AGAIN. You owe it to your kids and to yourself to take care of your body in the best possible way, and I think that’s what God would want for you too.

One thing I’ve learned is that my body is rather unique. Unlike most people, I didn’t go through puberty during my teen years. Without any medical intervention, my body is in deficient as it doesn’t produce hormones. Taking hormones help me live a fuller life as they provide me with energy and help my body function in other ways. You will need to cite some literature to me citing how taking estrogen increases cancer risk. I’ve been to a number of endocrinologists and done a lot of research and this isn’t something that is a concern when using estrogen as HRT for trans individuals. It is arguable that I am even trans. The fact that I don’t naturally produce testosterone or estrogen probably makes me more of an intersexed individual than anything else. Even if you did find the literature supporting the position that estrogen causes cancer in trans folks, which I doubt, I think my kids would benefit more from me being happy the years of my life I am alive rather than me living longer and miserable because I don’t have estrogen in my body.

The Bible talks about an unpardonable sin, and it is not being trans/bi. It is grieving away the Holy Spirit. It is when God is speaking to you and you ignore the voice. And He tries to speak to you, and you continue to resist. There is a point where you don’t hear the voice anymore. You become numb. And when that happens, then it becomes easier to confuse truth with error. So the big questions are, can you hear the voice of God? How are you sure that it is God’s voice? Where is your proof that it is truly God’s voice and not another? The way I answer this question is whether the convictions you have coincide with the Bible. If the Bible is God’s word, then the voice you hear should agree with the Bible. Otherwise, your only moral compass is your own experience, which can deceive you. Especially you, Tino. For the greater part of your life your experiences led you to believe that God was not real. Now your experience has changed. If there is truly a battle going on within you, you better believe that there is more than one voice out there. Without a compass, an authority, a credible source, you may as well be speaking in tongues. Try to tell someone who speaks in tongues that they didn’t catch the Holy Ghost. Their experience will tell them otherwise. So maybe the important question is, do you consider the Bible to be the word of God?

What if right now the holy spirit is trying to work on you with what I’m writing and you’re refusing to consider the possibility that you’ve been wrong?

How can I be sure I am hearing God’s voice and sure its not another? Because I was perfectly content to ignore the bible, be indulgent and live as an atheist. The guidance I have received has led me to being a more humble, caring individual. Yes, the writers of the bible were divinely inspired. Yet, God needs to talk to many people, some with no access to the bible, clearly He must have other mechanisms for conversing to others outside the bible. I believe the ultimate Truth can be accessed directly from the source, by a direct conversation with God or though any number of methods. If you were on a deserted island with no knowledge of the bible, God could still guide you.

We also have the capacity to be divinely inspired just as those who wrote the bible were. Yes, the bible is the word of God. But the word of God could also be found in other holy texts. God could even be found in episodes of star trek if God deemed it the only way to converse with you. When one opens their heart and mind to God, he can lead anyone to the lessons they need to learn. My credible source is my relationship to God and the infinite ways he has of proving His existence to me and anyone that seeks Him.

I can’t imagine questioning my own orientation. I don’t know what it is like to live in your shoes. Same here – you don’t know what its like to live in my shoes. Those same thoughts about envying what others had growing up – I had those too. I went through all of grade school without a ‘true Adventist experience’ – none of my friends growing up were Adventist. I didn’t have siblings to relate to. My childhood was quite lonely at times. I had to search for my identity on a spiritual level without any peers. I longed for an older person to take me under their wing and mentor me. I had to learn how to fend for myself, on all levels.

You are right in the respect that I don’t know what it is like having lived in your shoes. I do think we relate in that we both were sorta loners. I do find it peculiar that despite all the times I tagged along to go to church with you that you didn’t consider me an Adventist friend. Plus the Montereo girls were frequently present and trying to be adventist. Yea, the girls and I weren’t very strong adventists but I think we all tried to be. Though I will say none of the kids you met (that I know of) came from a strict Adventist home such as yourself. Even still, we all sorta did have to fend for ourselves.

For me, Adventism and black history have been the biggest boxes put in my face. And I ask myself: how much of that box, that groupthink is beneficial? And how much of it is not? Some scars can be avoided if you stay in the box. Some scars are part of character development. I’m looking for the balance between individualism and collectivism that seems most beneficial. If I seem to lean towards one side or another, talk to me next week. I might lean the other way on a different subject.

I can see that some of the adversity that you faced has helped you grow as an individual. I also can acknowledge that some of the groupthink has been beneficial for you. Yet, as a social scientist yourself, I believe that you can acknowledge the human disposition to become myopic when in groups. Adventists think they are the remnant, Mormons believe they are the one true church, Baptists think that only those baptized will see God…on and on it goes…Why can’t you even consider the possibility that you extracted all the Truth you could from adventism..that God can exist outside that box. There is no such thing as collectivism when it comes to God…I don’t think there is a sign on heaven that says “Adventists (or insert group) Only”. When it comes to God’s people, the only one that can judge that relationship is God. This condemnation and alienation of others based on a self-righteousness belief that you just so happen to have the one Truth is just so tribal. Just like you can’t judge a marriage from the outside, how could you try and say the relationship between another human and God is right or wrong?!

The Truth About the Numbers –

Consider the story of Noah and the Flood - God destroyed everyone on the earth except 8 people.  Is God concerned with numbers?  Jesus did say "As in the days of Noah, so shall the coming of the Son of Man be."


Consider the first coming of Jesus - who came to welcome him to this earth?  A few wise men.  All of the Jewish scholars didn't see him coming.  The wisdom was in the hands of the few.  Fortunately for the rest of the world, Jesus was on the earth for 33 years and many people eventually were able to identify him for who he was.  But how few were ready for his coming...


When Jesus was on earth, he said "Straight is the gate, and narrow is the way, that leads to salvation.  And FEW find it... Broad is the way that leads to destruction."


The final book of the Bible describes a people who are called a remnant - the leftovers - not many, just what remains.

“As in the days of Noah, so shall the coming of the Son of Man be.” When looked at in context, the idea is not about number of individuals in heaven but the amount of people who are ready for God’s judgement. The story of the wise men seems to reinforce the concept that many aren’t ready. Its interesting how there were so many Jewish scholars yet only 3 wise men were able to see beyond mainstream thought at the time to see the Truth. Right now, the mainstream demonizes LGBT people. They are more persecuted than Christians throughout the world. Are you wise enough and ready to embrace the diversity of God’s people?

“Straight is the gate, and narrow is the way, that leads to salvation. And FEW find it… Broad is the way that leads to destruction”. I believe this is a directive to follow the path of Jesus and not get distracted by life’s indulgences for indulgences are a path to personal destruction. As you talk about a bit after this, God set a gold standard which is the life of Jesus. Inevitably, we all stray off the path, and fall short of that standard. Again, I don’t believe this is about few people being in heaven but more about few are able to live such a disciplined life where they can find deliverance from the ills of sin in this life.

As an aside, I want to note that I spent literal hours pondering this one verse. I think its the kind of verse that can easily be skewed to create a fundamentalist stance. It’s a verse that can be used to create a “us vs the world” stance. A “we are the few” that follow the one True path and the rest will be destroyed. Going back to the parent analogy, I just don’t see God destroying the majority of his kids. We’re flawed, most will require a lot of guidance in the afterlife but I don’t think he will incinerate most that do stray. I do think he will judge us.

Romans 2:5-8 “But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. God “will repay each person according to what they have done.” To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger

I do think that God does enforce a sort of karma. I believe all will reap what they have sowed but I believe once the individual has reaped his lot, that eventually, God will provide a chance for redemption. Like a good parent, God just wants us know what we did was wrong, why it was wrong, how it felt to those you impacted and a genuine change in your heart. I think the wrath and anger will burn in the way that’s most efficient, psychologically.

At the same time, the Bible says “I do not wish that any should perish, but that all would come to repentance.” It’s not God’s desire for there to be so few ready to meet Him, but the pattern is quite troubling. I believe God has a few people – I don’t know who they all are, but I hope to be one of them – who are searching their hearts and asking whether they are ready for God to meet them face to face one day. They realize that the standard that God has is one that not many find, mainly because they are not prepared to make the necessary sacrifices to give their all to Him. In Jesus’ day there was a whole nation of Jews (God’s chosen people back then) that didn’t see him coming. If the Adventist church believes they are the modern-day Jews, the ‘spiritual nation of Israel’, how sad it would be for history to repeat itself. The pattern itself should trouble those who dared to preach that “we have the truth”. The few find God, mostly because it is only the few that are really looking. I don’t care which religion you’re in – you can ask yourself how many are sincere in their search for God, compared to the many who are just going through the motions.

If there is remnant end times church, it isn’t the SDA church as it currently is. Its pews are filled with complacent, well-dressed, judgemental and comfortable members. Again, I don’t believe God has a favorite church. His church is composed of individual people, not a particular denomination. God isn’t exclusive to just those of one belief. Imagine having 10 children but saying that you only have one kid that you really love. Sure, some kids will be better than others. But as someone with multiple kids, you learn that each has their strengths and weaknesses akin to how each religious beliefs has their own strengths and weaknesses. To me, I look at most churches like I look at kids boasting, “I’m dad’s favorite”. “He only loves me”. Ray, dad loves all his kids. Sda’s running around saying, “I’m the only one thats gonna get dad’s inheritance cuz I follow his rules the best”. Dad sees the good and the flaws in all his kids. One isn’t loved more than the other.

This is where I think you and I find common ground. I’m willing to admit that despite what I believe about God, my knowledge doesn’t equate to salvation. My pursuit of the relationship must be improved in order to hit ‘the mark’ and not sin. Part of this pursuit means surrendering myself, even my own presuppositions. I don’t know how objective or unobjective I’ve been about other faiths, and I don’t know how well you know me to call me out on it one way or another. But I think part of it may be this ongoing conversation we’re having here…

You and God know what best works for your relationship. If you feel that you must surrender everything to him in order to have that relationship, I say more power to you. I can’t truly know how objectively you pursued other faiths but given our interactions, I don’t hear you speak about much about the possibility of being wrong or at the very least, open to the possibility that Truth can exist outside the confines of the bible. You just so happened to be born and raised to the one True way of being. Ofcourse..everyone else thinks the same thing… Just saying…

The main goal of college is to teach critical thinking; to evaluate all the information available and come to an informed conclusion. If one only sticks to one source of information, they can’t say they fully explored a subject. How can you confidently say you have The Truth when you haven’t even opened up to the possibility of being wrong or explored other sources with more than a cursory effort. I’m willing to continue this conversation but it can’t be a one sided discussion where you believe I am just misinformed. I implore you to look outside the box with me and explore the possibilities.

Some text borrowed from Robyn J. Whitaker’s article, “The Bible Welcomes Every Color in the Gender Spectrum“.

Captain’s Blog: Stardate 11012021.2

Listen to this episode

It’s been a busy week aboard the USS Zamora. My crew has been diligently working on various projects for Starfleet academy (school). I don’t remember having such a heavy workload during my time at the academy. In order to help alleviate my crew’s stress, I have played a more active role in ensuring that my crew has ample shore leave when they aren’t attending classes.

I love Noah’s genuine smile here.

I’ve been spending a lot of time flying around the quadrant taking part in various interviews centered around the issue of homelessness. Additionally, it was the main topic of conversation at the political symposiums I’ve been attending regularly. Its hard not to notice the increase in escape pods (tents) in the sector. I believe that most captains would prefer that no one had to reside in interstellar space (on the streets). Still, there is a lot of disagreement about the causation of homelessness and how to best solve it.

New tree creature! Kinda looks like some sort of crocodile or something to me..

Some captains seem to believe that homelessness is a personal failing on the part of the individual. They attribute negative traits to the homeless such as mental health issues, drug use and complacency as the main cause for their malaise. Though it is true that many of the homeless are suffering from those issues, it is my position that the primary cause of homelessness is attributable to larger systemic issues within the Federation. Soaring housing prices, inflation, an educational system that doesn’t teach pragmatic skills, corporate ownership of houses, an inadequate social safety net…homelessness is a symptom of a broken society. It isn’t that we lack the resources to help, it’s that we have let psychopaths run our economy and dictate to us what is important.

This lil guy seems really chill. Bet he’s great at parties.

If it were up to me, there would be a lot more land allocated for permanent low-cost housing structures, a comprehensive program that rewarded progress with cash, a no-cost facility that provided mental health services and a heavily structured program for the frequently homeless/severely mentally disordered. Alas, I don’t have much sway within the Federation. Thus, I’m hoping to join an organization that isn’t just treating the symptoms of homelessness but is moving people from streets into homes.

Aside from my conversations about homelessness, I’ve begun to spend time assisting Retired Admiral Ellen. The former admiral lives in an independent living space station and I’ve agreed to help her from time to time. Saturday was my first time taking care of an elder and it’s quite a humbling experience.

Sometimes I bemoan the small injustices of life but working with Ellen has helped put things into perspective. I forget sometimes how blessed I am to be able to do things such as move about freely, to live without pain and not be dependent on someone else for something as simple as getting dressed. If this year has taught me anything, it’s that I need to really acknowledge that which I already have.

Priority 1 Transmission

To be viewed over a secured channel only

The following is Ray’s rebuttal to several text messages I sent him which are discussed in the previous entry. I follow his rebuttal with a reply of my own.

From Ray:

Hey –
I hope you don’t mind me emailing you a response to your last text.  It seems more appropriate to write long messages here.  I’m not a fan of long texts, I use those for short messages that I can both send and respond to quickly.  I prefer emails for the long stuff.  When I get a long one, sometimes I forget to take the time to respond because I don’t use text messages that way.  When I sit down at a computer, I’m in a better position to respond to a long message, and I have my keyboard which also helps.

So, in regards to your last long text –
Yes, according to Jesus, the first of all the commandments is to “love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind”, and the second is to “love thy neighbour as thyself” (Mark 12:29-31).  The motives of the heart are the emphasis here, and these should be a focus of everyone who would follow Jesus.
With that in mind, Jesus said a lot about a lot of things.  When He was among His disciples, they asked about the signs of the end, and when His second coming would be.  Jesus then starts off by saying, “take heed that no man deceive you”, and goes on to describe the conditions at the end.  Now, keeping the first of all the commandments in mind, why would Jesus answer them with a description of the end of things?  Why not just say, ‘keep loving God and in each other and I’ll take care of the rest’?  It was because that same love described in the commandment prompted Him to warn them about things to come, so that when they came, they would neither be deceived nor dismayed.  They could keep their heads up high and rest assured that a time of trouble would take place, but that it would end one day and they would reunite with Him when it was all over.

Of course they died long ago, and so the warning is now to the descendants of the disciples.  But the message is still the same.  The allegorical comparisons of Jesus’ words and their accuracy and relevance today would astound the most astute Bible student.  And just as the first commandment, as you referenced, is ‘what we should be doing’, let’s keep the entire Bible in focus.  I fear that the bigger picture may be missed if the pleasant words of Jesus are ingested to the neglect or overlooking of the entirety of His message, a sort of buffet-style approach to scripture.


You mentioned that, “what rubs me wrong about SDAs is this constant worry and emphasis about the papacy, the gays, other sin and the world.  It’s very tribal, very alarmist…”  My experience has been that the messages you will hear from an Adventist preacher are more comprehensive than just those things.  I haven’t heard those things emphasized often.  They may be mentioned within a message, but not necessarily a point of emphasis.  I’m sorry if this has been your experience.  I imagine that your identity/orientation may be a sensitive spot that gets poked in sermons at times, and you may be hyper-aware when it happens, especially when attending a church that you know holds an opposing view to it (correct me if I’m wrong).


Studying the Bible together would be great.  I agree with you!  I used to hold Bible studies at my house weekly and invite many people over for food and fellowship, and for study.  It would be nice to have something where we could all get together to connect and get to know each other better.  This suggestion should become an action item, hopefully soon.

Let me touch on Doug’s platform for a bit –
At the beginning of the year, he held a weekend seminar that was focused on getting back to Bible study and he emphasized the need for personal Bible study.  He shared about his study habits and the need for everyone to study for themselves, not just take what the preacher tells them.


A couple of months later, he held another weeklong series about the sanctuary in the Bible, and its ties to salvation.  He was one of several speakers on the subject, and as he usually does he held space for questions and answers for the panel.  If you haven’t studied the sanctuary and how it relates to Jesus’ life, you’re missing out on some BIG lessons that weave their way throughout the scripture and tie in to us today.
A couple of months later, a young adult conference was held that had messages geared toward young people and the challenges they face in their lives.  Guest speakers came from various places around the globe and energized the young adults.  This is where my sister-in-law and her cousin were inspired to attend AFCOE, aka Amazing Facts Center of Evangelism.


At AFCOE, a group of evangelism students learn how to study the Bible, how to minister in different capacities, how to go door-to-door sharing the gospel with others, all under the direction of Doug and his crew.  One part of their class is to participate in the evangelistic series that you and I went to (that was the opening night).  When they graduate, they will have earned a certificate they can use for work in ministry in other churches, and they will have earned college credits that they can use towards an Adventist college.  Many graduates become bible workers in churches, helping them to grow, put on programs, connect with their communities, and so forth.  They go on to become lay pastors, health ministry leaders, medical missionaries, youth directors… the list goes on.  This is one of the bigger efforts that Doug does yearly for the past couple of decades.


This is what I mean when I say the messages I hear are comprehensive.  I think I told you I don’t attend Granite Bay Hilltop SDA Church because of its size.  But to their credit, the work they do reaches far and wide, the messages focus on a multitude of topics, and they offer opportunities for growth to those who are dedicated.  Some of the people who attended the night we did were church regulars.  Some of them were students, working in various capacities.  And some were invited by those same students to come and learn about things they’ve never studied or looked at in-depth.  And some of those people will be baptized and will learn even more as Doug continues to put on series after series, touching on different topics and answering questions from these new people.


Let me add a quick note about the extravagance of that particular church – you’re not the only one who looks at it and questions whether funds could be spent more prudently.  But before we start counting the church’s money, consider this: they didn’t count yours.  When you came in, there was no admission fee or a charge for the materials.  They made it a point to say at the beginning that they would not ask for money throughout the presentations.  And, consider this: as far as the rules on how non-profit funds are spent, whenever a person marks their tithe/offering envelope and designates an area in which they want their donation to go, that non-profit is legally bound to spend that money for that particular purpose.  For example, if I give to a church and indicate on my offering envelope that I want the money I’m giving to go towards supplies for the children’s programs, they can’t spend that money on the potluck meal.  They are audited by an outside entity every few years and must give an account of all of their receipts.  If there is any foul play here, it will be caught sooner or later.  With that being said, I don’t know how many people give or where they are designating their funds to go towards, but it would appear that there is a good amount going towards the evangelism budget. 

If there is anyone to blame for this, it wouldn’t be Doug – it would be the donors.  And I don’t know what the strategy is for a church reaching out to an affluent community such as Rocklin where the church is located, but I think it’s better simply to question their strategy than to pass some type of judgment on it and ask questions later.

Ok, now my quick view on Adventism – when it first started, it was people from different faiths, coming together and trying their best to wrestle with the Scriptures to know the truth about the Bible.  It was ex-Catholics, ex-Lutherans, ex-Baptists, etc sharing their views on scripture and coming to some consensus on what the Bible actually says.  There were some arguments and disagreements, for sure, but there was sincerity in searching for the truth.  Their religion became the religion they found in the Bible, not the religion of their forefathers or what was handed to them.  I’d like to think that Adventism is what you get when you take the Bible for what it really says, and that may mean that you don’t necessarily agree with everyone around you, even within your own church.  And much of that comes from painstaking effort on the part of every true searcher for truth, having an open mind and being able to adjust your views on a subject when biblically warranted.


I have more to write, but I think that’s enough for now.  If you’ve gotten down this far, thanks for hanging in there with me!  I appreciate the space to write.  I wish we could get together more, maybe we wouldn’t need to write so much.  My Mondays are still open for us to get together.
Later,
Ray

My response: (Ray’s texts in italics)

Correspondence via email is fine. 

With that in mind, Jesus said a lot about a lot of things.  When He was among His disciples, they asked about the signs of the end, and when His second coming would be.  Jesus then starts off by saying, “take heed that no man deceive you”, and goes on to describe the conditions at the end.  Now, keeping the first of all the commandments in mind, why would Jesus answer them with a description of the end of things?  Why not just say, ‘keep loving God and in each other and I’ll take care of the rest’?  It was because that same love described in the commandment prompted Him to warn them about things to come, so that when they came, they would neither be deceived nor dismayed.  They could keep their heads up high and rest assured that a time of trouble would take place, but that it would end one day and they would reunite with Him when it was all over.


Of course they died long ago, and so the warning is now to the descendants of the disciples.  But the message is still the same.  The allegorical comparisons of Jesus’ words and their accuracy and relevance today would astound the most astute Bible student.  And just as the first commandment, as you referenced, is ‘what we should be doing’, let’s keep the entire Bible in focus.  I fear that the bigger picture may be missed if the pleasant words of Jesus are ingested to the neglect or overlooking of the entirety of His message, a sort of buffet-style approach to scripture.

In Matthew 24, the disciples initiated a conversation because they were curious about when the end times would occur and what the signs of Jesus returning would entail.  Jesus then tells them to take heed not to be deceived by false Christs (people claiming to be Jesus), he was not warning them to take heed of the end times.  A subtle distinction.   Then Jesus describes various things to come but tells them, hey, if you hear about wars or famine etc that isn’t the sign of me coming.  Wars, famines, pestilence, etc have been going on but dont look at that and say “its a sign of Jesus returning”

Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake.  That hasn’t happened yet.   But he who endures to the end shall be saved.  Here he’s encouraging endurance in the face of difficulty.  He then caps it off with a condition necessary for the end to come.  And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world.  I think its rather debatable that the gospel has been preached everywhere.

There is certainly an effort, but there’s massive swaths of individuals in the middle east, India, China, North Korea etc that it hasn’t arguably reached.  The time of tribulation described subsequently has not occurred.

Jesus then caps this off with the parable of the fig tree saying  Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.  Jesus is talking about one generation having to endure the great tribulation that is to come.  It’s unlikely that we are that future generation.

The chapter ends with the parable of the faithful and evil servant.  In that parable, the message is about being faithful and regulating our behaviors.  Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing In this context “wise” means judicious, prudent, sensible, showing sound loving judgment. It suggests an understanding of people and situations, showing unusual discernment and judgment in dealing with them. In short, Christ once again circles back to needing to be faithful in your behavior by showing love and not being indulgent. 

The focus is about what you can do in the here and now.  Its about being ready but not for the end times but to be judged by how you conduct yourself for you won’t know when he’s coming.  Be it in the sky or if you suddenly see him after dying.

You mentioned that, “what rubs me wrong about SDAs is this constant worry and emphasis about the papacy, the gays, other sin and the world.  It’s very tribal, very alarmist…”  My experience has been that the messages you will hear from an Adventist preacher are more comprehensive than just those things.  I haven’t heard those things emphasized often.  They may be mentioned within a message, but not necessarily a point of emphasis.  I’m sorry if this has been your experience.  I imagine that your identity/orientation may be a sensitive spot that gets poked in sermons at times, and you may be hyper-aware when it happens, especially when attending a church that you know holds an opposing view to it (correct me if I’m wrong).
I know the message is comprehensive.  It’s why I still attended other SDA sermons.  As I’ve told you, I enjoy and believe many aspects of the SDA belief system.  I know it isn’t always an emphasis but the anti-gay, papacy stuff, admonishing is interwoven into many of the sermons as touchstones.  So frequently I hear being trans or sexual orientation as the go-to proof of modern day immorality and depravity and sign of the end.  I have always wanted to ask you, “Do you think that regardless of what I do/feel, because I’m trans/bi, that I will be deemed as living in sin and punished with the second death?”  You may not say it cuz you’re a bit coy but I think you believe it is a sin and if I don’t change then I’m going to be cast into the fire.   Am I just depriving myself not further indulging in sin cuz I know I am going to die anyway? 

I was looking up the etymology of the word sin.  I looked at the Hebrew and other origins and the word has to do with archery, to miss the mark (bullseye).  It also has some connection with going off the intended path.  I argue that everyone misses the mark.  Romans 3:19-25.  We ALL fall short, gone off the path, missed the mark.  We are only redeemed by the grace of Jesus.  Everyone has their own thing.  Just because mines is visible, it gets picked at.  I think because most sin, those hidden away in one’s heart, can’t be seen, that no one should start throwing aspersions at certain segments of the population. 

The anti-LGBT rhetoric isolates LGBT individuals and creates a segment of hateful and discriminatory Christians under the guise of justifiably repudiating immorality.  It’s absolutely divisive and pushes people away from the otherwise encouraging words in the bible.  The true remnant, they embrace the outcasts, much as Jesus did.  Ephesians 4:1-6. The anti-Catholic rhetoric goes directly against that passage.  

Let me touch on Doug’s platform for a bit – 


I can objectively acknowledge the good he’s done.  I know he isn’t just an end-times preacher.  I’m sure he has assisted a great many with his Amazing Facts series and other activities.

Let me add a quick note about the extravagance of that particular church – you’re not the only one who looks at it and questions whether funds could be spent more prudently.  But before we start counting the church’s money, consider this: they didn’t count yours.  When you came in, there was no admission fee or a charge for the materials.  They made it a point to say at the beginning that they would not ask for money throughout the presentations.  And, consider this: as far as the rules on how non-profit funds are spent, whenever a person marks their tithe/offering envelope and designates an area in which they want their donation to go, that non-profit is legally bound to spend that money for that particular purpose.  For example, if I give to a church and indicate on my offering envelope that I want the money I’m giving to go towards supplies for the children’s programs, they can’t spend that money on the potluck meal.  They are audited by an outside entity every few years and must give an account of all of their receipts.  If there is any foul play here, it will be caught sooner or later.  With that being said, I don’t know how many people give or where they are designating their funds to go towards, but it would appear that there is a good amount going towards the evangelism budget.  If there is anyone to blame for this, it wouldn’t be Doug – it would be the donors.  And I don’t know what the strategy is for a church reaching out to an affluent community such as Rocklin where the church is located, but I think it’s better simply to question their strategy than to pass some type of judgment on it and ask questions later.


I know there are logistical costs/resources required and of course someone has to provide for those who receive the services for free. I do not bemoan them for having a venue. I was grateful for being hosted.  What I did have an issue with was the additional extravagance of high gloss materials, stars on the walls, the opulent facility (and expensive location), the props, the prizes.  Seriously Ray, prizes?!  All that was unnecessary and could’ve been allocated to God’s people.  Heck, in my opinion, that prime real estate should be sold off for something more humble with the rest given to God’s people.  There is a great need in the community.  I know they already do that too, you don’t have to tell me.  My point is that when managing God’s money, it should be on an absolutely need to spend basis. 

Doug absolutely shares some responsibility for the allocation of funds because he is one of the main voices within Adventism.  If he bemoaned the setting, saying, hey, we’re gonna be downsizing things and people will have to bring their own materials but we’re gonna use the extra funds to put shoes on those attending SDA services to those that are barefoot or something, it would have a massive impact.  I hate to bring up the old idiom but “What would Jesus do?”  Would he be prancing around in a fancy suit, in an opulent facility with props in a high-end neighborhood?!  I think not.  Just because the location is affluent doesn’t mean the so-called remnant have to reflect that.  And the fact that no one was encouraged to follow the laws of the land “masks indoors” seems hypocritical and reckless. 

Ok, now my quick view on Adventism – when it first started, it was people from different faiths, coming together and trying their best to wrestle with the Scriptures to know the truth about the Bible.  It was ex-Catholics, ex-Lutherans, ex-Baptists, etc sharing their views on scripture and coming to some consensus on what the Bible actually says.  There were some arguments and disagreements, for sure, but there was sincerity in searching for the truth.  Their religion became the religion they found in the Bible, not the religion of their forefathers or what was handed to them.  I’d like to think that Adventism is what you get when you take the Bible for what it really says, and that may mean that you don’t necessarily agree with everyone around you, even within your own church.  And much of that comes from painstaking effort on the part of every true searcher for truth, having an open mind and being able to adjust your views on a subject when biblically warranted.


Maybe at some point it was a search for Truth by a variety of people but at this point it seems like reinforcing entrenched beliefs.  I love our talks and though I don’t question your sincerity, I have come to doubt your open-mindedness.  I believe that for the most part that you believe that I am just misguided or misinformed and you have the answers. 

I wonder how seriously you have undertaken your own exploration of Truth outside the confines of seventh day Adventism.  You were heavily guided to it by your mom, have an entire community of friends that reinforce your beliefs and I have yet to see you even seriously question the possibility that you could be wrong.  I know you went through your own period of doubt and exploration before…but…at this point I do question your objectivity to some degree.  And the thing is, you are so much more objective and relatively open-minded compared to most of your peers…which quite frankly is disturbing.  I sometimes wish you knew what it was like for someone like me. 

You know much of my upbringing and how I feel about many subjects so I won’t go too much into specifics.  But for me, I have always been on the outside left to observe.  It was very painful.  I used to very much envy people like you that had a close relationship with their parent, had a good amount of friends and knew what you believed.  I don’t think you ever wrestled with your gender or orientation.  Do you know what its like to feel like not only does everyone not like you but even God himself hates you for something you just keep trying to change but can’t.  To not even be sure there is a God.  To believe all of existence is some random accident and that your destiny is to die slowly and fade into nothingness forever.  To be constantly unsure.  That has been me for a looong time. 

In my time wandering about mostly alone and unsure, I have come to embrace my experience.  I have no allegiance to anything and I have come to think it has helped me be objective.  Being an outsider, as painful as it has been, I’m not entrenched in groupthink, close-mindedness or a strong disposition to one viewpoint.  You may think I look at the bible “buffet style”, but I believe that when it comes to texts relating to the Truth of reality, that you haven’t quite opened up your palette.  You may’ve sampled a few small bites of Buddhism or atheism or Islam or Hinduism etc, but I am inclined to believe that you didn’t actually examine them as an objective examiner.

 It seems most sample other doctrines already with a bias assuming what they believe is the best and come away reinforcing a preconceived notion that their belief system, in your case Adventism, is the best.  And so it is…most in Western society will either come to Christianity or atheism.  In the rest of the world, they may dabble in looking at the bible but almost without fail, go back to the holy text of their upbringing. 

I’ll study the bible with you.  Ill listen to whatever sermons but will you really listen to me?  Just to me..I’ve really come away that God is too grand for his Truth to be relegated to a small segment.  It doesn’t make sense.  I’m far more inclined to believe that God will spread his Truth in whatever way you’ll take it and given that most require it to be culturally appropriate, that is the mechanism he (which why would he need a gender but anyways) uses to communicate the basic Truths.  I think God is a bit different than what you think…I think he gives free will to all and likes our diversity so long as we aren’t hurting each other and ourselves.  And if we call to God, God will help in a way we will accept, not necessarily constrained to what is said in the bible, Quran, or any other belief system. 

Captain’s Blog: Stardate 10172021.7

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Captain Raymond has been conversing with me about the bible and those conversations culminated with us rendezvousing at Granite 2 (a church) for a conference about end-times prophecy. He seemed excited to see me and introduced me to several others he knew in attendance. I was taken aback by the fact that no one was wearing masks. I made the sarcastic remark in front of Ray to my kids (who were wearing masks), “I guess covid doesn’t exist in here”.

The inflatable is representative of the statue mentioned in Daniel 2 in the bible. It’s symbolic of King Nebuchadnezzar prophetic dream. Also, an unnecessary expenditure IMHO

As I proceeded into the sanctuary, I forgot I was in the house of God; it felt like I entered into a game show studio. The picture doesn’t quite capture the opulence and frivolous use of money. Upon entering, everyone in the studio audience received a high gloss, high quality program/study guide, fancy pen-highligher combo, branded notepad and (I kid you not) the chance to win prizes.

I wanted to get a wider, cleaner shot but it wasn’t logistically possible with all the movement going on.

They make this claim about how they aren’t like televangelist because they don’t explicitly ask for money, that everything is already covered. The thing is, there is large sums of money that could’ve better been spent helping the needy. Additionally, nowadays they don’t need to explicitly ask for money because they have merch they know others will buy plus the series will naturally cause some donations.

The message itself was standard seventh-day Adventist eschatology about predictions that supposedly came true, how they alone are the one true church and things that are to come. The best part of the service was when they did a short segment asking people on the streets what they thought about the end-times and one guy said, “I think too many people worry about the end times and don’t spend enough time thinking about how they can be better to each other”.

This isn’t even the most expensive item on the site. Nowhere on the site is a pledge to dedicate proceeds to charity.

I later sent the following subspace transmission (text) to Captain Ray, “When I think about what Jesus wants from us, the greatest commandments come back to mind. To love God with all your soul (to have a relationship with the higher power) and to love one another. THAT is what we should be doing.

When I think of these end times prophecy series’ I think, what is the function? I suppose for some, it can reaffirm ones belief in God if you need to see that he is all knowing and can see the future. Aside from that, I’m dubious on the need to worry about what’s to come.

You could argue that you need to prepare but..if your relationship with God is good and you’re loving others, whatever else is to come is irrelevant..if anything, I believe it turns your focus outward, to the world, causing worry and anxious preparation.

Matthew 6:34 says “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. … Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

The latest of my tree monsters pictures.

If I had a large platform like Doug Batchelor , I’d encourage people to spend time with each other, in prayer/mediation and out in the community helping others. So troubles may be coming….history is rife with troubled times. I feel these sorts of sermons just amp up fear.

Initially, I was going to try to see if the specifics in the sermon were true but everything surrounding the service disturbed me so much that I stopped caring. I also came to the rather disheartening conclusion that Raymond, as much as I used to look up to him for being intelligent, can’t be objective. I suppose I can’t blame him.. most people have difficulty accepting the possibility that they can be wrong.

This scruffy looking cat was friendlier than he looked

For the most part, I feel alone in my quest to objectively look for the Truth. I know there are many others that are open minded as well…just…in my life..everyone I know already has their hands full with other responsibilities and don’t seem to be pursuing such questions with as much vigor or interest in conversing with me. I find myself in an unfamiliar region of space.

When I began my spiritual journey, I returned to Christianity and seventh day adventism specifically probably because it was familiar to me. I believe the lessons preached by Jesus: deference to God, living humbly, giving generously, and forgiveness (among other things). I love the symbolism present in things such as baptisms, foot washing, dedicating the sabbath to God and communion. I even came to appreciate the singing. Just..I can’t get behind the hatred of LGBT individuals, this belief that they alone have the Truth, and the end-times fear-mongering. As a result, I find myself moving away from Christianity. Now I am in uncharted territory.

The picture doesn’t quite capture how cool this was. As I got closer, I realized it was being used as a mini-fortress by someone; it had wiring and other fortifications around it.

There isn’t really any belief system that fits what I believe. I have started to delve into Taoism and Buddhism. I like their emphasis on balance, nature, mediation and detaching yourself from your emotions. I feel like I’m training to become a Vulcan! I’m not sure what lies ahead but at least for now my soul feels edified.

Captain’s Blog, Stardate 10122021.2

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We continue to find ourselves in an unstable region of space. Unfortunately, it seems as though things will get worse before they improve. Our ship continues to be hobbled by the effects of the gravitational eddies we passed by. Ensign Noah’s console (computer) has yet to be repaired due to limited (financial) resources. The primary shuttlecraft (the car) continues to have issues with its warp core (engine) despite replacing the EPS manifold (the starter). Our engineers (mechanic) are still investigating the issue but after running a level 2 diagnostic (running the check engine codes), there seems to be an unspecified issue with the dilithium chamber (transmission) and radiometric (catalytic) converter

At Starfleet Academy (school), we are taught as prospective officers to plan for rainy days. I have typically had enough to get us through the usual downpours that happen in life..just this particular time is more like a hurricane. The perfect storm of events has resulted in having to take additional measures to ensure passage through this rough patch. I’m very reticent to reach out, I’m sure I could get assistance if the situation became more dire but at this point, I hope to weather the storm myself.

I’m a bit weary of late. I’ve been making a concerted effort to reach out to others and make more allies with mixed results. I’m definitely becoming more familiar to others as I’ve become a regular at the Unitarian outpost, taken up choir and a political discussion group. My dating life has been up and down in part because my continued interactions with Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde aka Captain Eric. There’s a part of him I could see myself growing old with. He’s so fun, funny, insightful..but of course his usual emotional volatility sours our interactions eventually. I can’t bring someone like that aboard a ship filled with cadets (kids).

Sent out a few subspace transmissions to some older gentleman that seemed okay at first but may in fact be too old.. experiencing too many setbacks relating to age and seems intellectually intractable. I am kinda optimistic about this girl that reached out to me. She’s younger (27) and seems to have a good blend of smart, adventurous and warm…plus she got a cute friendly smile. I’m not really in the right situation to start wooing but at this point I’m a bit bored pursuing stodgy older guys. As much as maturity appeals to me, I really want someone I can be silly with. We’ll see..

I get frequent inquiries asking how the kids are doing. “Good” is my default answer. My oldest seems to have taken on a much heavier workload this year at the academy. I have seen him work on assignments late into the night and I am quite proud of him for his diligent work. Ensign Noah had a few rough encounters early on in the school year but seems to be getting along well with everyone now. First officer Bella is mostly a delight still. She radiates light during these dark days. I may be biased but I feel like I have the best crew in Starfleet.

Captain’s Blog: Stardate 10042021.5

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The ship is in a slightly more stable region of space than it was last week. Our chief engineer (the mechanic) identified the issue with the warp core (the car engine) and it seems the ship will need a new EPS manifold (starter). The EPS manifold is slotted to be replaced on stardate 10062021.

I love the reflection the sun casts on the water. I wish I was a tad more patience and snapped the birds right under the sun pulled back slightly more but otherwise I loved how the sky looked this day.

For the first time in a long time, a quietness pervades my mind and spirit. I’m not sure whether to embrace the return to silence or to feel reminiscent about the mental noise. I appreciate the fact that I can once again take comfort in my thoughts…but I also miss the feeling of my mind abuzz with thoughts that felt as though they originated from a source outside myself. I’m going to be a bit vague but this has been the anticipated outcome of an experiment I conducted. I had to see if one thing was correlated with the other and I do believe I have I isolated the cause.

Some people see a tree. I see a squid-like being.

The other day, I was landing my shuttlecraft (parking the car) at Starfleet Academy (the school) and I noticed that my cadet was trying to rush to the shuttlecraft while preventing a long-time peer from approaching the vessel. Tino opened the bay doors and insisted that I depart at full impulse. I left at one quarter impulse.

I asked the cadet what was going on and he was vague. I surmised from the context that he didn’t want to have his friend see me (being trans). I conveyed my disappointment to Tino and encouraged him to be dauntless. The other two cadets seem to be more accepting of my transition. I also heard Tino refer to me as “dad” when talking to his online friends. I’ve given him a lot of space and flexibility in terms of coming to terms with my transition although I am slightly disappointed that he hasn’t fully embracing it yet. Aside from that point of contention, things have gone well between me and the kids.

A part of me felt bittersweet that there was only the 4 of us celebrating Noah’s birthday. I very much envy larger families. I can’t throw the larger birthday parties that some kids get. As a kid, it was also the same for me. I never had a large birthday party. Growing up, it was just my mom, siblings and grandma celebrating my birthday. Nowadays, with my mom and grandma dead and siblings mostly indifferent towards me, its just me and the kids that celebrated my b-day as well. I hope next year is different.

I let Noah choose his cake and he picked this one which I thought looked adorable. It was quite tasty too!

I have found myself spending increasing amounts of time hanging out with my crew. Though I do pine for adult companionship, I am content doing a number of activities and outings with the kids. I’ve been making a concerted effort to pull them away from the holodeck (the computer). They really enjoyed riding around on the mini train.

I haven’t spoken much with former companions Captain Brandi or Eric. Brandi frequently talks about wanting my assistance in one matter or another but more often than not it seems that she just wants to be reassured of the opinions that she already has came to. I would not mind her venting to me if we had other things in common but our interests are too divergent. We’d still talk if not for the constant passive aggressiveness and profanity-laden communiques.

Eric is usually fun and interesting to speak with. That being said, Eric has a tendency to become emotionally volatile and verbally combative. He’s improved but my patience for negativity has waned. The captain still wants an alliance with the federation (get together in a relationship) but our circumstances will likely keep us from being together.

We all went out to ride on the lil mini trains. We used to do this more often when they were younger and I was happy to do this for them.

I’ve continued to make a concerted effort to expand my social network and I believe I’m making some progress. I’ve always yearned to be an integral part of some group and have finally taken steps to make that a reality. In addition to the political discussion group, I’ve joined the UUSS choir, a ukulele learners group, and 2 groups focused on different aspects of spirituality. I also want to volunteer somewhere but I haven’t got around to doing that yet.

Some things look better in pictures than in person. This actually looks far better in person.

At some point soon, I may be forced to work due to diminishing finances but for now I am trying to make the most of the freedom I do have. Between fixing the car, the birthdays (Bella’s is on the 16th), the computers, Halloween , Christmas and other things we need, I will need some sort of cash infusion. If the Biden child tax credits come in like they were supposed to, I’ll be fine but thus far I haven’t seen anything deposit since August and the IRS wont pick up the phone. I’m going to try my damnest to do some liquidating if I must in order to push off the prospect of having to ask for financial assistance. I want to continue to work on my writing, mental health and social network more than on finances. If everything went according to plan, I’d start working sometime in the second quarter of 2022. In addition to generating money, I do want to utilize my abilities to help others; hopefully doing something I enjoy. For now, I just thank the universe for the blessings I do have. Food is plentiful, bills are paid and everyone’s health is good. Everything else is just icing on the cake.

Captain’s Blog: Stardate 09272021.2

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Our vessel has been navigating through a turbulent region of space the last couple of weeks. The ship’s computers took substantial damage after we flew too close to a gravitational eddy. (Inexplicably, my laptop’s screen got cracked and my 2 son’s computers stopped working). I’ve had to allocate considerable resources (hundreds of dollars) in order to repair the damage. Additionally, our shuttlecraft’s (car) warp core (engine) continues to have issues. The boys at Jupiter station (the mechanic) still haven’t diagnosed or fixed the underlying problem. Still, I’ve been trying to embrace being grateful not just for the good things but even for these challenges in my life.

Ted’s Web

Intellectually being grateful seems like an easy thing to do. Yet, when challenges inevitable arise, it’s hard for me not to get upset at either the person causing it or even just frustrated at things not going my way. I wouldn’t be who I am today without having overcome the adversity I have. Overcoming life’s challenges have made me a stronger person. Moreover, part of me still just wants things handed to me. I think the struggle is to maintain perspective to remember all the blessings I already have.

I love the concept behind this and wish there was more of this everywhere

Last week I attended an informal discussion that centered on politics with several other captains at the Unitarian Outpost. Usually what happens with these sorts of discussions is that people already have their mind made up. Most either fall on one side of the aisle or another. I like to think that I bring a nuanced view of things that probably is not easily implemented into policy or able to be sold politically. One thing I’ve learned is that a lot of what happens politically is less about trying to find solutions and more about trying to galvanize popular support. Some politicians will say or do anything so long as it gets them more time in office or damages their opponent.

Riverton 8, near the expo beacon

One of the stances that I subtly took a jab at was critical race theory and the black lives matter movement. One of the captain’s stated that race shapes every social issue. It’s a very difficult subject because there’s undoubtedly systemic racism negatively affecting people of color. Some social issues can be attributed to race. I’m more inclined to believe its less about race and more about ethnocentrism. We like people who look like us ,come from the same educational background, the same class, political beliefs etc. I think it’s easy to generalize things that are happening and attribute it to race when sometimes other factors (usually the distribution of limited financial resources) are the primary reason there’s a social issue.

Just for the record, I support the black lives matter movement and its aim of increasing visibility for issues disproportionately affecting black people. The point I made with regards to it was that I wished that it was called poor lives matter instead because the name is polarizing and isn’t inclusive of Hispanics, Asians, whites and biracial individuals that also face the same issues.

Mystic the cat

I do have to be careful how I present my views because they can be skewed to justify rather unsavory beliefs. One captain took what I said and was like, “Yea, why does everyone have to go after white christian males?! Can’t we prefer people who are similar without being called racist.” When millions have that same view, it creates discrimination on a vast scale. If Earth is ever going to live up to the civilization presented on Star Trek, we have to make sure everyone has a fair shot while simultaneously convincing people like that guy that his logic implicitly causes racism even if he isn’t racist himself. The same individual, of course, had a conservative approach to the border crisis.

The border crisis is a difficult subject for me to take on. On one hand, we have finite resources, an insufficient infrastructure to process these individuals and the fact that most of those that enter our southern border are people that will end up competing with our unskilled labor force; undercutting wages. On the other hand, as humans, we have a moral responsibility to people coming to us and asking for help. As I stated during the discussion, if I was one of these people from an undeveloped country, I’d probably find myself trying to cross over to the U.S. and hoping for sympathy. Many like to cite the golden rule as a core tenet of belief but seem to forget that when it comes to political issues. There is no easy solution but I do believe we need a more efficient process for those coming from dire situations. There are logistical challenges that should be debated, but we mustn’t lose empathy for our fellow man along the way.

This specific view is inaccessible without hoping a barbed wire fence and traversing a rugged hill

Captain’s Blog Stardate 09112021.2

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Our ship was docked at Starbase 460 (SDA church) for repairs when I came across a retired admiral who engaged me in conversation. After some superficial banter, we began to converse about various subjects and eventually touched on music. She talked about not liking Janis Joplin because she didn’t believe in God. Our conversation ended shortly thereafter.

This fallen tree looked like some monster. I played with the lighting some to emphasis the features.

I always find it peculiar when other officers try to judge each other; especially celebrities. Most of the time, we only have a few low quality snapshots of those we come across. Only an omniscient being would be able to take into account a person’s biology, upbringing, intelligence, motivations over time to be able really judge adequately. Our primal reaction is to see someone acting or believing a certain way and to condemn them, assuming that’s how they’ll always be. I think a lot of times if we were able to see how far a person has progressed despite their difficult past, we would be a lot more sympathetic.

Another captain said the following to me, “I’m starting to accept the fact, I don’t know how to interact with others so well…. I find it hard not to tell em to shut up. how do you do it?”.

Me: “At different points we all have bad days, weeks, months, years even. I just assume that they are having a bad day/week etc.

At different points in my life, I have found myself saying things I shouldn’t. Not only that but I’ve lashed out at others who were only trying to give constructive criticism.”

Later this captain said, “I hate religions, all them. Catholics killed lots people, so f them, I get ‘notre dame though, the history that was lost’. Big whoop, it’s materials”

Me: “My take it on it is this:

I don’t necessarily think the problem is the main tenets of belief; the concept of loving one another, being humble, disciplined, not being overly indulgent, knowing there’s something more powerful than yourself and that you’ll be held accountable for your actions eventually.

I think what happens in most large organizations is that the power-hungry psychopaths get into positions of power and steer the organizations to follow their own corrupt goals.”

Captain X: “Maybe true, but why they gotta be know it alls? Or they say something I take offensive, and I say anything in regards to it, I’m the bad guy?”.

Me: “I agree with you on the know-it-all thing. When people feel like they have THE Truth, then by that logic , everyone else that doesn’t believe exactly like them is wrong and/or stupid”.

Captain X: “We worship celebrities, and inanimate objects..but then idiots be like. “Omg the art, history “

Me: “People donating money at the time wanted to do it to serve God’s will but then the people in charge use it to further their own ego and legacy.

Imagine how much more they could help people with all that money they’re spending on maintaining this fancy building…And a lot of the other people just are too brain dead or caught up in their own shit to really realize what’s happening”

There’s actually a coyote if you look closely nearly dead center

Captain X:, “Syria had advanced medical and other tech, but they had to March on em in Jesus name..You and I could be living in the Andromeda system and banging aliens.

Me: “Outside knowledge threatened the ‘all knowing’ popes and bishops ..The thing is there’s nothing in science that necessarily threatens the basic principles of being spiritual. It just undermined the powerful.

People like me need to rise up and take it to these fuckers. I just ..I dunno how.

Just…don’t let the bullshit of some believers distract you from the what’s out here… Most people are poorly educated, overwhelmed by life and just shitty..I can only encourage you to quiet your own mind and listen…there really is something else on the boundaries of perception here with us…”.

As I put in coordinates for my next mission, I find myself wondering about the logistics of trying to implement my perspectives.

This orchid looks like it has some mini alien inside of it

Captain’s Blog: Stardate 09062021.4

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As our ship flies out to its next mission, I find myself staring out the window gazing into infinity. Though time and space may go on forever, as far as I know being over 40 years old means my existence is just about halfway over.

During my existence, one of my top pursuits has been trying discover the Truth of reality. In the folly of my youth, I believed that everything was more or less knowable with enough time and effort. Experience has taught me that the more I’ve learned the more I realize how little is knowable within this life. It could be argued that I wasted my time chasing after something that can’t be caught. Realizing this, I’ve tried to become less serious.

The duck on the left looks like he has a cool hairdo! The one on the right looks like his friendly wife.

One of the lessons that I’ve learned that I try to convey to my crew is just being grateful, playful and present in the moment. It’s tricky because it’s a lesson that one intuitively knows even at 9 years old. Yet, it’s a truth that one can easily forget. Most non-federation planets push the idea that we need more stuff. Many people then become jaded because they cant reach what is ultimately unattainable; vast wealth, beauty and status. Unfortunately, it sometimes takes a tragedy for some to reflect back on the blessings they already had.

When something really bad happens it’s hard to stay present in the moment. There’s many captains that have a hard time feeling safe when they’re out in interstellar space because they came under attack from another ship. The most traumatizing attacks are those that come from friendly fire; especially during one’s formative years. Not being able to trust other ships that are supposed to be allied with you teaches one to always be on yellow or red alert. Although one should always be ready to defend themselves, constantly having your shields deployed can be taxing on system resources.

I try to teach the crew to not over- learn lessons as well. Being a captain, one uses experience to better interact during diplomatic situations. Still, its easy to learn the wrong lessons by using the past as a way to define yourself and engage others. Though one may know logically that each situation is unique , the human brain is wired to make correlations where some may not exist or using a logic set that made sense at it’s formation but is outdated. There are things that have happened to me as a kid that made me think and feel a certain way but reevaluating them as a dispassionate adult makes me recontexualize what happened and takes away some of the negative emotional impact.

Some of the most useful cognitions I have in place is that I know that as an adult that I have the ability to prevent or mitigate many of the bad things that can happen. I am better able to evaluate people as an adult to lessen the chances that I am hurt by someone else. I believe that the root of many traumatic memories is the sense of powerlessness and betrayal. Being aware of how to deal with certain individuals helps me comfort the child within and the children under my charge. I set out in the universe in search of peaceful coexistence but have my phaser banks charged and a full compliment of photon torpedoes at my disposal in case any friendly or enemy vessels open fire on me.

Captain’s Blog, Stardate 09022021.3

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As Starfleet officers, my crew and I always look forward seeking out new life and new civilizations. Lately, we have found ourselves exploring Bajoran space. Starbase 460 (Seventh day Adventist church) had an uncomfortably large amount of people crammed into the space station considering the galactic plague. I’m not fond of big crowds nonetheless I was interested in the potential message being delivered by speaker.

Starbase 460

I was not disappointed as the speaker gave an electrifying sermon about the need the need to come together as a community to serve others. I went to speak with the orator and informed him of my desire to be apart of the community service but was discouraged by the fact that I wouldn’t be accepted as a trans individual. He sort of sidestepped the issue. He did say that he loves everyone as Jesus does as well. He gave me some brief encouragement then seemed like he was ready to leave as his wife was waiting nearby.

A part of me loves going to Bajoran starbases because of their architectural grandiosity. When I pointed this out to Captain Eric, he said something rather poignant. He said that money would have been much better off spent on helping the poor instead of building and maintaining the opulent facilities. When he said that that actually brought to mind one of the previous times I was on a different Bajoran starbase where they were raising $100,000s to fix the roof, redo the carpeting and renovate other aspects of the outpost. In contrast, the Unitarian outpost is a lot more modest.

The Flaming Chalice is lit when services start, extinguished when it’s over.
Unitarian outpost banners
More banners

The Unitarian outpost is a lot more intimate. Fewer people makes it far more likely that I will actually get to know everyone who frequents the Unitarian outpost. What’s more, I believe that I can be a part of the group without changing who I am or misleading people about my identity.

Random school art event I came across

Shore leave has officially come to an end as the cadets have returned to Starfleet Academy (school). There’s always a certain buzz in the air at the beginning of the school year. I find myself trying to take care of a lot of neglected responsibilities and I’m finally near the end of my list. At the start of next week I’m going to commit several hours to sitting down in the library and actually writing my book. I will also have ample time for exercising and possibly some charity work.

In many ways I have come to look at myself as a bit of a charity case. All of my crews supplies and logistical support are provided via the Federation. I want to give back in some capacity. Eventually I will return back to work. However, when I do, I want it to be something I enjoy and will be about making the world a better place. In some ways, I almost feel like I’m a teenager all over again. Except the stakes are higher. With a crew compliment of 8 (3 kids, 3 cats, a hamster and myself), I can’t allow myself to falter.

Federation administrative facility

Speaking of the Federation, I went to a Starfleet administration facility to submit paperwork for my name and gender change. In 6 weeks I should have a decree from the county, then I’ll have to go around with the decree to legally change it with other governmental entities. Fun.