Wednesday, February 5, 2020

What I Think Of Nancy Pelosi Tearing Up Trump's Speech


I mean, for what it's worth, that's what I think of, every time someone talks about showing "decorum" or "decency" or says, "It's about civility."

Yeah, what she did was indecorous and uncivil. Sure was. It's just, well, that's Trump lying while making fun of a disabled reporter. Both of those things, at once, with a few extra layers of lie added on to the first.

For those who don't recall, he claims that he saw video of "thousands" of people singing and dancing on the roof of a New Jersey apartment building, celebrating the 9/11 bombings. No such video has ever been produced.

In his defense, his sychophants instead seized on an article about a police investigation into a few people celebrating 9/11 on the roof of a building, an investigation that never went anywhere, and whose claims could never be corroborated. Trump actually never recanted his claim he saw it on video so he's at the very least lying to himself.

In the picture above, he's talking about the article anyway, claiming that the reporter who wrote that article debased himself to apologize to him for altering his article after the fact. The reporter never altered the article, and there is no record of him speaking to Trump about the article. While telling this series of lies, he's mocking his disability. He has never apologized for it. He has never retracted any of his bald-faced lies. In fact, he claimed that he wasn't familiar with the reporter, despite the man having worked with Trump on a series of articles over many years, including multiple in-person interviews.

It is one of a series of turduckens of deception the man's foisted upon us, but for me it stands out because it's so simply obviously, starkly awful.

And, I get it, two wrongs don't make a right*. Speaker Pelosi had a bunch of options, up to and including just not inviting him to speak, as was customary prior to Woodrow Wilson. Honestly, as a Canadian in the States, it's weird to me how y'all spent so much blood and treasure to get out from under the rule of a pompous regent in order to, in a few short decades, reinvented the pomp and circumstance that surrounds a regency.

Ultimately, though, as someone who's looking at the expiration date of his immigration visa as the time when I'm going to have to start seriously looking at what will happen if my status is not renewed**, I find myself very much not caring that it was indecorous and uncivil. There are a bunch of Facebook posts about the rudeness represented by Speaker Pelosi's actions, but, she didn't mock a disabled reporter. She didn't refer to countries as "shitholes." She didn't belittle a POW's captivity. She didn't falsely claim that immigrants bring "crime and filth." She didn't grift money from a children's cancer charity.

Perhaps, perhaps you could argue that this is exactly why she ought to be civil, that we need to fight his rude incivility with "decent" behaviour, but there's a hard lesson I've learned over the course of time: being "civil" is nice, but "nice" isn't the same thing as kind, and when one person's incivility causes actual, measurable harm, responding with civility is appeasement.

You might also make the intimation that by ripping up that by tearing up one copy of a man's speech she's somehow insulting everyone he spoke about, but that seems odd, especially given that her defense for doing so is essentially what I've been saying here - that speech was, like Trump himself, full of mistruths and outright lies, and not worthy keeping around. I get that. Most of these speeches aren't great. Since I started paying attention to them, around Clinton, I just read the transcript the next day as that's all that really matter anyway.

The only argument that has any resonance for me is that it was a self-centered act and that, I think, has some validity, but it's not a particularly powerful one. You can complain about an act of self-centeredness performed to counter one of the most self-centered creatures in creation, a man who has said, simultaneously, that he doesn't think he's ever done anything that he needs forgiveness for, and that he doesn't like apologizing, but I'm not going to be paying much attention to your complaint.

In the end, it's turned out to be a pretty successful gambit - in the aftermath, there's been little discussion of Trump's actual speech, so maybe the Dems are finally figuring out how to get the media's attention and hold it.

So, that's it. In the game of politics, both teams scored some points that night, and everyone's arguing with the refs, again, even though nothing that happened during the speech actually broke any of the rules.

* Or, as in this case, that multiple wrongs from ones person, and then one wrong from another don't make a right. This isn't a particularly useful idiom here, is it?
** My son is on Medicaid, a publicly funded program. While the taxes I pay*** to the state and federal government more than cover the cost of the services he gets, this makes me potentially subject to having my reapplication denied. Yes, I could avoid this by becoming a citizen, but let's be honest, how welcome do you think you'd feel in a country that wants to kick you out for having the audacity to access the services your taxes pay for, but only because you're foreign?
*** Of course immigrants, even undocumented immigrants, pay taxes. Sometimes directly from our paycheck, sometimes just the ones we all pay every day when we buy gas, etc.

Monday, October 7, 2019

As yet unnamed crowd-generated Sentinels RPG character

Background: Struggling
Power Source: Experiment
Archetype: Minion Maker

Qualities
Close Combat 1d8
Creativity 1d8
Criminal Underworld 1d6
Fitness 1d6

Powers
Part Detachment 1d10
Shapeshifting 1d6
Size-Changing 1d6
Toxic 1d8
Vitality 1d8

Green Abilities
Make Minion
Create a Minion using Part Detachment. Reference the Minion chart to see what size of minion it is. Choose whether it can Attack, Defend, Boost, Hinder or Overcome. You can only use this ability in a situation conducive to shaping your strange, slimy form into novel shapes.
Power Up
Boost another hero or one of your minions using Part Detachment. Either use your Max die or use your Mid die and make the boost persistent.
Unflagging
At the start of your turn, remove a penalty on yourself.
Principle of the Debtor
Overcome a situation related to repaying your debt and use your Max die. You and each of your allies gains a hero point.
Principle of the Indestructible.
During Roleplaying: You ignore damage from unpowered close-combat weapons and attacks, such as clubs and non-powered fists, or basic ranged attacks, such as slings and arrows.


Yellow Abilities
Misdirection - When a nearby hero in the Yellow or Red zone would take damage, Defend against that damage with your single Shapeshifting die, the redirect any leftover damage to a target of your choice.
Minion Formation
Reduce any damage taken by the number of minions you have. Whenever damage is reduced this way, reduce the size of one your minions.

Throw Minion - Attack a minion using Size-Changing. The result of the minion's save Attacks a target of your choice.

Minions
Minion chart
Result Minion Die
0 or less 1d4
1-3 1d6
4-7 1d8
8-11 1d10
12+ 1d12


Autonomous The minion can take any of the basic actions, not just one. +1 or higher
Burrowing The minion can tunnel through the earth. +1 or higher
Explosive When the minion is destroyed, also remove a bonus or penalty of your choice. +2 or higher
Pack The minion adds +1 to its Attack for each other pack minion attacking the same target this round. +2 or higher
Reinforced The minion adds +1 to its roll to save. +2 or higher
Harsh When Hindering, the target also takes damage equal to that penalty. +3 or higher
Swift The minion rolls twice for its action and chooses the higher die. +3 or higher
Turret When Attacking, the minion may split its die into two dice of smaller sizes. +4 or higher

Saturday, October 5, 2019

The Bard - a Sentinels of the Multiverse RPG PC

I'm putting some of my character designs up on my blog so that I can have them in a place that's publicly accessible, so others can give feedback and so that I can also know where they are. This is the first of a few recent creations.

The Bard
With its sudden increase in size, Desoto’s had a commensurate increase in petty crime. Well, actually a greater than proportionate increase as the good people of the city desperately try to get enough good cops and law enforcement to handle things. Vigilantes have stepped in to fill some of the gaps, and few are as famous or popular as the masked, roguish Bard.

Known as much for his pranks, like photobombing the press conferences of the district attorney or trolling the mayor on Twitter, as he is for his crimestopping efforts, The Bard remains one step ahead of the law and the criminals. 

Background : Performer
Power Source: Training
Archetype: Close Quarter Combatant
Personality: Jovial


Disciplines
Acrobatics 1d8
Banter 1d8
Close Combat 1d10
Fitness 1d8
Persuasion 1d8
Stealth 1d8

Powers
Agility 1d10
Gadgets 1d6
Shock-Sword 1d8
Vitality 1d8

Green Abilities
Cruel Aside
Attack a minion using Banter. Whatever the minion rolls as defense Attacks another target of your choice.
Flexible Strike
Take any two actions using Close Combat, each using your Min die
Offensive Strike
Attack using your Shock-Sword. Use your Max die.

Principle of the Mask
Overcome using knowledge from your civilian life and use your Max die.You and each of allies gains a hero point.
Principle of the Veteran
Overcome a tactical challenge using knowledge of a previous conflict and use your Max die. You and each of your allies gains a hero points.

Yellow Abilities
Always Be Prepared
Boost yourself using Vitality. Use your Max die. That bonus is persistent and exclusive. Then, Attack using your Min die. You may use the bonus you just created on that attack.
Combat Stance
When you are attacked by a nearby enemy, the attacker also takes an equal amount of damage.
Dual Strike
Attack using Gadgets. Attack a second target with your Min die.
Flowing Fight
Attack using Agility. Use your Mid die to Attack one extra target for each bonus you have. Apply a different bonus to each Attack.

Red Abilities:
Inspiring Totem
When you use an ability action, you may also perform a second basic action using your Mid die on the same roll.
The Last Word
Hinder any number of close targets with Banter. Use your Max die. End your turn elsewhere in the scene.

Out Ability: Boost an ally by rolling your single Banter die.

Green: 1d10
Yellow: 1d8
Red: 1d8

Health: 34/25/12

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Care And Keeping Of Transgender Humans

The Wesleyan Quadrilateral
  1. Scripture - John Wesley insisted that the first and primary source of theological wisdom - which, in his estimation, constituted all wisdom - was God’s Word. In fact, he held that while the other three sources of wisdom can vie and compete with one another, Scripture should not.
  2. Tradition - While he allowed that tradition does change over time, Wesley was ultimately conservative, and believed that traditional evidence should be seen as strong, and that older traditional evidence is more trustworthy than newer evidence.
  3. Reason - We were made as reasonable creatures for a reason, in Wesley’s eyes, and while reason isn’t the sole purpose of human thought, the working of reason should be valued, and not disregarded.
  4. Experience - Wesley wisely argued that all the reason, tradition and Bible-reading in the world can’t make you believe something you haven’t actually experienced.

Forced Empathy: Part One
Between the ages of sixteen and eighteen, my world came as close to falling apart as it ever has. Honestly, I’m not quite sure how I got through it. Many of my friend’s parents were fighting with each other, and they’d talk about “divorce” and “separation” in front of their kids’ house guests. If those words were spoken in my house, I wasn’t there, but every relationship felt strained - my mom and dad, my dad and I, my mom and I, my sister and, well, everyone. There were bright spots, too - a girlfriend, friends to game with, lots of good books.
The biggest thing was this feeling of . . . nothing. It wasn’t like being sad, or being angry, it was just this great, hollow nothing that would, without warning, leave me feeling listless, bored and disinterested. I tried to ignore it, figuring it was just part of being a teenager, but it seemed to be getting bigger. In a little less than a year, I’d be told that I had bipolar depression - the man who told me that would counsel me through it for the next four years. No drugs, just lots of talking and learning balance.
This was late fall, and months before that day, and so I was sitting at home reading and trying to ignore how quiet and empty the house was on a school night when the phone rang. I walked to the kitchen and picked up the receiver with my left hand, a pencil with the right hand, ready to write down the message for my mom or dad.
I had a social life, of a sort, but it wasn’t one that involved a lot of people calling me at home. I was surprised, then, when the voice at the other end said, “What’s the haps, Jim? Can you talk?”
I didn’t recognize the voice, but I recognized the word choice - it was Kyle. Kyle and his family went to our church for a few years and he was, like me, an odd duck. Our parents tried to get us to be friends based on our mutual love of comic books. It didn’t work - he was a fan of Archie, Bugs Bunny and other funnies, and I was on a serious superhero kick. Still, we got along well enough, especially after we joined in our solidarity against Spire Comics.
The 80s was when Christian media producers seemed to give up on finding a distinct voice and decided to ape popular culture. At its best this gave us . . . umm. Something, I’m sure, I just can’t think of anything right now. (I can tell you that the worst it gave us was either Michael W. Smith’s “rap” on “Go West, Young Man,” or the Noah’s Ark video game.) Spire Comics did this with Archie Comics, to some limited success.
For those not familiar with Archie, it’s the story of an oversexed redhead who’s pursued (and in turn pursues) two girls and is surrounded by a variety of teens, including Jughead, the social oddball, Moose, a dull-witted jock and Midge, an adorable, effervescent cheerleader. In that era, at least, it wasn’t exactly high art and was mostly just a chance for teens and pre-teens to read about someone whose social and emotional life was hilariously scarring. Spire decided to chuck out all that characterization and social familiarity in favour of nakedly proselytizing the reader.
Robbed of any natural emotional heft, the comics were pretty awful - characters made decisions based not on what a person might do in that situation, but what the reader needed them to do so they could wedge in a favourite Bible verse in the final panel. A well-meaning Sunday School teacher bribed Kyle and I toward good behaviour with the promised reward of comic books - one copy each of a comic in which Betty vied with Veronica for Archie’s affections only to take a 180 degree turn on the last page of the comic where she inexplicably decided she wanted to “date” Jesus instead. Seriously, there’s no intro to Christianity anywhere in the comic, she just changes character (and clothing style, going from typical teenage girl clothes to a clunky set of overalls) during a page-flip.
I thought it was pretty terrible, but Kyle seemed honestly scarred by it. My copy’s still lying around somewhere in my garage; Kyle tore his in half and threw it out. I saw him do it, and asked why he’d done it. The only explanation he gave was, “They don’t understand how people work.”

Empathy ≠ Sympathy
Empathy is an interesting thing. From what we can tell, it’s an emotional connection that’s only available for a handful of creatures in the world, and it’s sharply limited in most other species. If sentience can be defined in part as being aware of one’s own existence as an individual, then empathy can be seen as a sort of group sentience - the awareness that other people truly exist, with their own needs and emotions.
A fair number of Christians seem to feel that empathy is an innate trait, especially for Christians, and that it’s unlimited. I think what they actually mean, though, is sympathy, which is similar, but different.
Sympathy, or “fellow feeling,” is the ability to find commonality with another person’s emotional state. Someone suffers the death of a parent; you did as well, some time back, so you feel like you can understand where they’re coming from, emotionally.
This happened with a friend shortly after my mom died. We met up in the foyer at church and he said, “I know her passing hurts, but in a way it’s kind of a relief isn’t it?” Amazingly, I didn’t deck him, but instead asked, “What?” I’m guessing my pugilistic intent came across in my words or my body language because he immediately went on the defensive.
He explained that his own mother had died a couple of years ago after a protracted battle with multiple sclerosis that had left her crippled and in constant pain. In fact, he went into a lot of detail about it - my pain forgotten, I spent the Sunday School hour helping him deal with some of the leftover experiences of those days.
He sought an empathic connection, but could only get as far as sympathy - I would find people to talk to about my mother’s death, people who let my needs and emotions be my own, but it wouldn’t be with him.

Anencephaly (Or, Anatomy Gone Wrong)
Anencephaly is a condition that you shouldn’t Google. Just trust me on this one. It’s a rare condition where the majority of the brain simply doesn’t develop when the neural tube closes a few weeks into fetal development.
There is no treatment, and there is no cure although regular intake of folic acid during pregnancy has been shown to reduce the chances of neural tube defects. No anencephalic child has survived to four years of age (you can do a decent amount of “living” with just a brain stem), and they rarely survive past the delivery room. With all the advances of modern medicine, some 70% are stillborn, and a good percentage die in the womb well before delivery, in the early to mid second trimester.

Forced Empathy: Part Two
I told Kyle that I had literally nothing going on that night, which was true, and he asked if I could meet up with him at the local Tim Horton’s. His voice was simultaneously excited and sad, an odd combination - I knew that this wouldn’t be just any casual conversation.
I did a sort of internal emotional inventory that’s probably pretty common for most people in this situation - what issues am I dealing with right now, and do I have enough space left for another one? I concluded that I might have the remaining headspace, and told him, as excited as I could be, that I sure could.
He told me he’d buy me a drink once he arrived and hung up. My heart sank. At sixteen, I already knew that if someone said that going out was their treat before you even left the house, and it was a platonic situation, they were probably about to drop something heavy on you. I hung up the phone, and sighed.
On the way, I reasoned that the conversation couldn’t be that bad. Kyle’s parents were happy, his grades were good, and just last week he’d seemed very excited to tell me that his garage band was actually getting a paid gig. By the time I got to Timmy’s, I’d more or less resolved that he was just so happy that he wanted to share it with something.
I saw him over in the corner of the place right away, in a table that could only be accessed from a narrow path, and that he was facing the window. I immediately knew that I was wrong - he has something to tell me and he really didn’t want anyone else to know.
I slid into my seat and took the coffee he offered me. I was raising it to my mouth when he said, “I’m not sure I’m a . . . guy.”
I put the cup down, slightly grateful for the chance to avoid sipping it, and looked at him. I’m sure I had something brilliant to say, somewhere in there, but nothing was coming out.
“It’s a lot, I know,” he said. I nodded, vigorously. He went on to explain that as a consequence of some circumstances in his family, everyone was getting some testing done, and one of these tests had told them that he “wasn’t exactly male.” I had no idea that this was even a thing that could happen, and said so. We went back and forth a bit until I kind of, sort of grasped what he was talking about, and then asked him what might be the dumbest question after someone tells you something like that:
“Was that what you wanted to talk about?”
Kyle’s eyerolling skills, like mine, were honed by several years of adolescence, but still, he really put them to the test in that moment. He did not actually say anything, and didn’t need to. I sat back and let him talk for a while, taking in everything I could only speaking to ask for clarification or repeat what he’d just said in a slightly different way to make sure he knew I was listening.
He leaned forward, intent, and the words kept coming out of him, but there’s a very good reason I’m not telling you more of what he said: I hardly remember any of it. I hope that he got something out of that conversation, that it soothed his concerns to at least have someone listen to him without judgement but, sincerely, I was still trying to figure out how this “not exactly male” thing works.

Superman vs. The Sentry
Superman has pretty much every superpower you can imagine. I mean that seriously - dig through the comics hard enough and you’ll find him demonstrating basically every superpower, including telepathy and mind control. The more modern versions of Superman have distilled his powers down to a relative handful: super-strength, indestructibility, flight, freezing breath, eye lasers. It’s common enough that people making superhero games will refer to this suite of abilities as the “Superman package.”
One power, or set of powers, that’s also remained consistent, are his superhuman senses. Not only can he see through objects, but he can also hear with remarkable acuity at great distances. In many versions of the character, he talks about how he can hear hundreds of people crying out for help, and how he desperately wants to help all of them and simply can’t. These comments are usually parenthetical, just something he throws up as an excuse for constantly being vigilant and trying to be everywhere, helping everyone.
In all honesty, this is the thing that makes Superman so alien to me. I have a hard time hearing anyone calling for help and being unable to do anything about it when it’s just a kid on a playground who’s scraped his knee, let alone the kinds of cries for help Superman must hear. The sheer pain of that has to be incredible, and yet he holds up under it. I couldn’t do it and I think if most of us are honest with ourselves, no one could.
That brings us to Marvel’s Sentry, who’s basically a psychologically honest Superman. He has “the Superman package,” and it very nearly kills him. He can’t handle the constant influx of emotion, the constant realization that there are people in his immediate vicinity that he wants to help - that he could help - and he simply doesn’t have the time to help and eventually that inability, and a very literal manifestation of his darker nature (The Void) drives him to insanity, and he retreats from the world for a time.
From time to time, a small group of Christians will jokingly talk about what they’d do if they were God, how they’d run the universe. I submit that we can’t handle being Superman (or -woman), let alone the kind of power that comes with being God, less because of the whole “avert your eyes, Moses, or you’ll burn up” thing and more because there are limits to the human capacity for empathy.

Rahab “The Righteous” Is A Big, Fat Liar
And I don’t just mean that she tells a little white lie, or that she “misleads with her tongue,” as an old Sunday School once described it. She tells a great, giant, detailed fib of the kind that my dad would spot from space, and she gets away with it. It’s a bold and audacious lie, the kind that, even while acknowledging that lies are sin, is kind of impressive in its breadth and attention to detail.
She has a stash of Israelite spies hidden in the flax drying on her roof, and when the soldiers come calling, they ask her directly where they are in her house. Her response:
“Yes, the men were here earlier, but I didn’t know where they were from. They left the town at dusk, as the gates were about to close. I don’t know where they went. If you hurry, you can probably catch up with them.”
Was “chutzpah” a Hebrew word by this point? Because if it wasn’t, I posit that Rahab’s whopper of a lie marks the date of its invention. We have absolutely no record that she atones for this lie, and the Israelites never bring it up either. Paul tells us that she’s “righteous.”

Hallway Etiquette
In my third year of high school, I took four courses in one semester that involved the heaviest textbooks I’ve ever had to carry - Western Civilization, Biology, Chemistry and Advanced Math. Western Civ was usually two books, one a massive textbook and one a slimmer reference book. This was the only year that I regularly visited my locker, which was down at the end of the tech wing, right outside of shop class, and about as far from my classes as you could possibly get. I would eventually get a locker right in the middle of the academic wing, but until then, I did a lot of quick movement between classes.
One day - it must have been early in the year, but I don’t remember exactly when - I was walking from my locker to my next class and had to step around a commotion at one of the lockers on the way. I was moving, but I caught a glimpse of someone getting shoved inside a locker. It was pretty obvious the guy wouldn’t fit. He was about my height, the locker was full and they weren’t large. Still, one guy kept him in place while two others repeatedly slammed the door on him. A few others stood around, some looking concerned, others smiling.
There is a rule regarding these incidents in the hallway of a high school - ignore them and keep running because they will only bring you pain. Thankfully for the guy in the locker, I either didn’t know or didn’t remember that rule.
“What’s going on?” I asked of the guy holding him in.
“This kid’s a fairy - we’re putting him back where he belongs,” he said.
“What’s a fairy?”
The bully scoffed. I mean, I know that sounds like a line from a novel or something, but he made a noise from his throat that I think would most accurately be transliterated as, “scoff.”
“A fairy, a fag, a fudgepacker.”
I knew what those last two terms meant, in the abstract, but more importantly I knew what it was like to be shoved into a locker. I went into the nearest classroom and grabbed a teacher, who came out and broke up the bullying. I mean, I presume. He headed right to handle the situation, I headed left to walk to my class. I wasn’t even a minute late.

A Complete Annotated List of All Bible Verses Including The Words “Transgender,” 
...

“Thanks, but no thanks”
I know three people who are transgender. I lost touch with the person I’ve called “Kyle” some time ago, and the story’s more than 20 years old. I put a few personal details into the story that are accurate and true, and a couple that aren’t and changed the name such that “Kyle” couldn’t tell the story’s about him until you get to the ending. And he won’t, because he’s dead now, anyway.
Two of them, I’m still in touch with. One has been quite clear about their desire to keep his transition as private as possible, so I never even asked.
The third seemed more private still but never actually said out loud exactly what their preference was. When I asked if I could talk to them about their transition, they balked at the notion and said, “Thanks, but no thanks.” They were concerned that it could cause them trouble.

Frequency of gender dysphoria
We like to think that genetics is really simple - you have an XY gene, you’re male, you have an XX, you’re female. It’s a rule that covers 1999 out of 2000 births, so it seems to be pretty well universal. Except of course, that means that 1 out of 2000 births don’t fall into that neat division, leaving us with, worldwide, about 3.5 million people who are intersexed and don’t have either an XX or XY gene. That’s roughly the population of Iowa. In the States, that works out to about 180 000 or a little more than the population of Merrimack County, New Hampshire, which I call home.
While 1 out of 2000 people have a clear genetic reason to say that their gender identity is unclear, somewhere around 1 out of 1000 people are sexual dysmorphic enough that they have genitals that are non-characteristic and require surgery or medical treatment to correct.
So, if you use public bathrooms to any extent the question really isn’t, “Have you ever shared a bathroom with a transgender or intersex person?’”, the real question is, “How many times?”
It should also be noted that all of these numbers are based only on the currently available evidence. We really have no way of telling exactly what it is that makes a person intersex, and the conditions I’ve talked about here don’t even cover chimerism and other genetic disorders that further muddy the waters, not to mention that some people might be transgender without a genetic cause at all. Genetics are not destiny.

Philip, the teleporting evangelist
We don’t know a whole lot about Philip, other than that he really, really earned the title “The Evangelist.”
An angel of God appears to him and tells him to leave town and walk next to a chariot. No, he doesn’t give him super-speed - the word can really be translated “carriage” just about accurately. It describes a larger mode of transport than the war chariot most people think of and was designed for prolonged overland travel. Still, he probably had to jog.
Aboard the chariot is a eunuch from Ethiopia, reading the scrolls of Isaiah. Not missing a beat, he hops aboard and starts explaining to him about the scrolls, the appearance of Christ, the whole gospel, such that the eunuch immediately wants to convert.
Of course, Philip takes him off to the side and explains the rules to him - no R-rated movies (although maybe it’s okay if they have Jesus in them, or it’s R-rated for violence), no dancing, no hard rock, and we’ll have to find a fig leaf to put over the whole “eunuch” thing, but, hey, it’s not the worst secret a church has hidden, right?
Oh, no, he doesn’t do that at all.
Philip says, “Sure,” hops out of the chariot and baptizes him.
Now, this is where the teleporting comes in - he steps out of the water and the angel who sent him to the road “snatches him up” and drops him off a long ways away, near a town called Azotus. Rather than falling down dead from the shock of the miracle that just got committed on his person, he goes on a 70 mile walk south, evangelizing the whole way.

My Bible is broken
It has to be. It’s the only logical explanation.
I’ve looked through it pretty carefully, looking for the place where it tells me that it’s my job to judge the mind and the intent of others.
Maybe one of the minor prophets? Micah? Nahum? Obadiah? Seriously, does anyone read Obadiah?
Oh, wait, that doesn’t help here at all - Obadiah just talks about how people who think they’re untouchable will eventually face God’s judgement, the same as everyone else, and that those who fail to extend the hand of help and charity to those in need will be judged too, and that when we stand and watch violence happen rather than intervene, it’s as though we committed the violence ourselves. Surely nothing useful there.
It’s strange, though, because it must be there somewhere, and it has to be pretty obvious. After all, there are hundreds of verses about our responsibilities toward the downtrodden, to those who’re hurt and who’ve fallen, dozens of them about letting God and God alone be the judge of the hearts and minds of the people of the world, so somewhere there has to be a verse that explains that He means that we should help only those who aren’t totally icky and gross and make us uncomfortable.
The New Testament’s no help, not the set of books where God makes himself mortal, eats, drinks, cries, laughs, lives and dies as a human - one who evidently has sharp opinions about infertile fig trees, but nevertheless, a human. He cares for everyone, even the unclean woman with the issue of blood, even the lepers, even the Samaritans? The Samaritans. Can you even imagine. Actually, I suppose not. When it comes to judging people unclean, we’ve moved on from those days, to Peter and his vision on the roof where God taught him that what he’s declared clean, let no one declare unclean.
So, I look for the verse about that, too, the one that tells me about the exceptions to His new rule about uncleanliness, but I can’t find it. I look to Paul, who tells me that there is neither slave nor free, neither male nor female in Christ, and that’s just no help at all. More questions, more verses I have to find so I can join the fun of putting people into categories once more.
But I can’t. My Bible is broken. It’s the only logical explanation.

“God Don’t Make Broken Things,” Or When I Stopped Listening to Christian Radio
I used to listen to Christian radio on the ride to work and on the ride home - about half an hour each way. Because of when I left - just off the hour - I never actually knew what shows I was listening to, but that didn’t really matter. The morning was usually hymns, and the drive home was a man with a brilliant mind for theology and a wonderful accent I could never quite place - Irish? Scottish?
Then my shift changed and now it was a radio call-in show in the mornings. Not my usual cup of tea, but I listened anyway, until one day when they had a special “guest host.” I forget the gentleman’s name, but he had a voice as bold and brassy as all Texas and accented much the same. The day’s show was going to be dedicated to issues surrounding abortion as this gentleman was apparently something of an expert on the topic, which struck me as odd as it seems like a strange thing to be an expert in, unless you’re an ob/gyn or something.
Anyhow, a couple of people called in to thank him for coming on the show and to show their support for one pro-life cause or another. The man gave his hypothesis that any woman who allows a child to be removed from the womb before the time of delivery is a murderer, and that all the doctors who talk about “medically necessary” abortions are just talking nonsense because, and I remember this well, “God don’t make broken things.”
I remember arching an eyebrow at that because so far as I could tell, all that God had to work with were broken things, at least if he was working with humans.
And then one of those broken things called. She was a housewife, married to a pastor of a small church in the South who worked a day job on a construction site. They’d had two kids when she got pregnant again and from the first visit, about two weeks along, the doctors were concerned. There were tests and tests, and ultrasounds, and about four weeks in it became obvious that they’d have to wait a spell before they could have their third child. They’d already diagnosed a number of deformities, most of them survivable individually, but disastrous when combined, and then an ultrasound showed the worst news of all - nothing developed passed the brainstem.
She said she herself could see on the ultrasound that the child’s head looked like a “deflated balloon.” Anencephaly.
Two weeks later, the baby died in the womb. Her husband insisted that she bring the child to term, because “God don’t make broken things,” and it would be wrong to do otherwise. She cried every night, cut her arms, culminating in a suicide attempt. He promised the doctors at the hospital that he’d get her counselling, but when they got home, he told her she didn’t deserve counselling and that she’d better not put “his child” in harm’s way again.
About three months along, she became very sick and made an appointment with her “baby doctor,” arranging to go at a time when her husband was unavailable. The doctors did their tests again and found that the fetus had detached completely from the uterine wall and was starting to decompose, causing her illness and an infection that, if left untreated, would kill her. They rushed her to the hospital and, with her consent, they removed the fetus, also removing all the infected tissue they could. That meant her uterus, her ovaries and a goodly portion of intestine.
She said all of this in a small voice, and said at the end, “So I want you to explain how it is that you can say that God doesn’t make broken things.” There was silence on the air for a moment before the guest speaker began to speak. He wished her peace and healing and offered to pray for her although he did not do so at that time. He talked about all of the women he’d spoken to who’d lost children in the womb, and then just baldly reiterated, “God don’t make broken things.” He offered no defense of it at all, that I could tell, in part because it’s not a defensible position.
I changed the channel just as he began to talk to the woman about her unfaithfulness to her husband because she had the surgical procedure done without his permission and had taken steps to make sure that he couldn’t give it. I did not change back again.

Woolgathering
If you’ve made it this far, you’ve probably noticed that this is a set of anecdotes, statistics and ponderings that don’t seem to provide any kind of context. Well, welcome to the inside of my head. I take in a fair bit of the world around me, but then I just kind of file it away, and not neatly, no. I just jam into my brain somewhere.
When I was a kid, on the rare occasion someone actually mentioned them, transgender people were scary sexual deviants who were especially dangerous to children. For some reason, they were almost men dressed up as women, and all of them wanted to seduce young boys. The nature and purpose of this seduction was never made clear, except that it was bad. Being transgender was always a choice, never a matter of biology because God wouldn’t make a “mistake” like that.
In my teens and mid 20s, events conspired to change that. There was my conversation with Kyle,  and I met my first person who’d transitioned from one gender to the other and they were utterly normal. I haven’t been given permission to talk in details here, but if you met them, you’d likely find them quite normal as well. At the time, I just assumed that it was related to how the  well-meaning grown-ups had tried to “save” me from the evils of Archie comics when I didn’t need saving at all. It’s not like anyone really had a handy Bible verse on people who are transgender. You need a full set of four pillars to figure some of this stuff out.

So, what do I think God wants you to do about transgender people? Well, pretty much whatever he wants us to do with anyone else. Maybe go out for coffee, or talk about our favourite books. Learn their recipe for fried chicken, or teach them how to make sausage gravy. Help them pick out cat toys for their new Russian Blue or offer to take their boxer for a walk while their in the hospital. I can’t live your life for you. They’re just another person - treat them like a person and you’ll probably do fine.