Transtemporal Discrimination in America

While pundits and politicians fuel the media fire storm surrounding the bathroom rights of transgenders, another “trans” group sits neglected in the shadows. They have walked among us for decades – if not centuries – hidden in plain sight at battle reenactments, theme parks, and cosplay conventions. They frequent their preferred watering holes like That 70s Bar or Pirates’ Cove Tavern and eat at establishments like 25th Century, a trendy molecular gastronomy restaurant in Soho. Who are these people? They are the transtemporals and they sense that their time for equality has come.

“Most Americans are oblivious to our plight,” lamented Archibald Pruner, president of the Past|Utopic|Transtemporal|Retro|Instants|Dystopian+ Society (PURTID+S), an advocacy group for all transtemporal and time-challenged minorities. “While the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 made great strides in protecting Americans of a certain age[1], it did nothing to help those of us who do not identify with the generally agreed upon time frame.” Mr. Pruner is serious and it is difficult not to take him as such dressed as he is his impeccable Victorian schoolmaster’s garb. “I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have this job,” he confessed. “I couldn’t degrade myself to wear the ridiculous clothing that sequentials call ‘business casual’. To me, it is the ultimate oxymoron. Why should business ever be casual?”

In case you missed it, “sequentials” is how those in the PUTRID+ community refer to those in the general public who maintain their ideals of straight timelines that flow from the past through the present to the future. What may seem obvious to most is not necessarily the reality accepted by transtemporals. Even their patron saint, Albert Einstein[2], appears to agree. He is often quoted as stating that “the distinction between the past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.”[3] This has become a mantra of sorts for many in the PUTRID+ community who feel that Einstein gives scientific gravitas to their temporal relativism.

“Frankly, we are tired of being made fun of,” confesses Cleve Zertron. We are sitting in Cleve’s basement apartment in his parent’s home. Cleve is a self-employed software developer who has been forced to freelance because no IT company will hire him, not even for a helpdesk position. “They love my résumé and my educational credentials are impeccable,” he tells me. “The phone interviews always go well. But the minute I walk in, it’s all snickers.” Zertron is dressed in a silver colored, reflective Zentai that covers him like a second skin from head to toe. “This is what we wear in 2215 se. I shouldn’t be denied employment because I’m from the future. You would think that IT companies would appreciate having a real futurist on their team. But they refuse to acknowledge my right to dress in accordance with my temporal identity.”

Mr. Zertron’s plight is unfortunately typical, especially for future transtemporals, or FTTs. While PTTs (past transtemporals) have been able to access public employment through historical theme parks like Colonial Williamsburg, FTTs are generally viewed as crazy even among many in the PUTRID+ community. “Were it not for the FTTs,” explains Ingrid Oldkirk, “our community would be referred to as PTRI [pronounced pee-tree, like the dish], which is much more clinical and less offensive. But FTTs come in two main varieties: Utopic and Dystopian. When they are not disagreeing with each other about what the future looks like, they are disagreeing with us about what the past was really like. Giving them the U and D in our society was the only way to make peace, even though most of us think it stinks.”

Dr. Malcolm Synclair is the H. G. Wells Professor of Transtemporal Ethics and Justice at Yale University. In 2014 he won a milestone concession from the trustees to provide time-appropriate restrooms for transtemporal students and staff. “For some PTTs, a flushing toilet is terrifying,” he tells me. “One should be able to have a bowel movement because one needs to, not when one is scared to.” A survey of the student body found that 65% of them were in favor of the outhouse installations popping up around campus, though only 5% said they would be willing to shake hands with a transtemporal exiting one. “It’s not just restrooms,” Dr. Synclair continues. “Our culture takes continual jabs at transtemporals. Why is it that in most movies, time travelers lose their clothes? From The Terminator to The Time Traveler’s Wife the unwritten rule seems to be that transtemporals must be stripped of their dignity and forced to scrounge for clothes appropriate to the sequential era.” His face is flushed and his gaze intent. Synclair feels the pain of the prejudices that transtemporals bear every day.

“It wasn’t easy coming out of the clock,” Sally tells me. Even now she is cautious, allowing me only to use her first name. “My mother was always offering to take me to the mall to go shopping for the latest styles. She was concerned that my closet had nothing but vintage clothing and claimed that all my friends were Goths pretending to be vampires. I finally had to tell her that I was a transtemporal, that I no longer identified with my assigned birthdate.” After that initial encounter, things were a little less tense in the household, but not by much. “They are convinced that I am delusional. One night in exasperation, my father pulled out my birth certificate and made me read it out loud. I told him it didn’t matter what sequential society thought I should be. What was important was that I identified as someone born in the 1880s, not the 1990s and that he should respect that.” She said that her father stormed out and remains a chronophobe to this day.

The recent monumental gains made by the LGBTQ+ community in redefining marriage and making the idea of sexually segregated public restrooms and locker rooms the icons of the new civil rights movement have given those in the PUTRID+ community hope. And progressive municipalities and religious organizations are starting to move in their direction.

The Portland, Oregon school board has ruled that the omnitemporal verbs iz, waz, and bilbe will replace the classic sequential verbs is, was, will be in all official documents to avoid transtemporal discrimination.

Ashville, North Carolina has enacted an ordinance that requires all restaurants to provide outhouses for PTTs and zero-gravity toilets for UFTTs. When City Council was asked about the financial burden this would place on restaurant owners, they replied that perhaps the owners should enlist the help of the Utopic Future Transtemporals for ways of building space toilets cheaper than the ones NASA currently builds. Regardless, if the restaurants don’t have the toilets in place by January 2018, they will be subject to punitive sanitation fees from the City. Ashville City Council plans to use the money to provide costume and housing subsidies to transtemporals.

Determined not to be left out of the progressive party, the 2nd Baptist Church of Mayberry, North Carolina is the first church in the country to ordain openly transtemporal ministers. Jamie Demple is the senior pastor at 2nd Baptist and he led his congregation’s move away from the Southern Baptist Convention soon after taking the pastorate there ten years ago. “The church should be about tolerance and inclusivity,” Demple says. “Our church is diverse enough for both old time religion and progressive relativistic messages.” Can I get an amen?

[1] The ADEA and several other facts in this post are real. I leave it to the reader to decide what is not.
[2] The great physicist was posthumously honored with the title Patron of PUTRID+ Relativism at the 3rd 5th Annual Beta PUTRID Convention in San Francisco in 2011 se. (I feel an explanation is necessary as the name of this convention might be confusing to the reader. It is referred to as the 3rd 5th Annual because that was the best consensus that the transtemporals at the convention could arrive to regarding which convention they were all actually participating in. SE is the transtemporal designation for the Sequential Era and corresponds to what is classically referred to as AD – anno Domini, “in the year of our Lord” – but has become in many militant secular environments CE, or “of the common era”.)
[3] http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/a/alberteins148814.html, accessed 5/14/16.

Love and Tolerance: A Resurrection Post

I grew up in Europe of the late 1930s. Fascism was in power, Communists were evil, Laurel and Hardy were funny, Errol Flynn was an action star, the Generalísimo was in charge, school uniforms were the order of the day, and Jesus was safely affixed to his cross where he could do others no serious harm.

Early 1970s Spain was a time capsule, capped by the Pyrenees and held captive under the tricorn hat of the Guardia Civil. The Luftwaffe weren’t bombing the north country, but the Basques were still violently upset over the last time they had. Terrorist tension ratcheted up to the sound of ETA bombs while Belfast refugees lived in unsettled ease, hiding from their troubles in the heartland of the Inquisition. It was in this country — Franco’s Spain, the land of my first immigration — that culture shock and anachronism became the warp and woof of my life. It was here that I would learn to be a militant Protestant just shy of being Irish.

I still recall the warm waters of my uncle’s baptistery. I was no more than five when I first waded into my official declaration of Christian discipleship. And though as a Southern Baptist minister fighting the culture wars of the sixties and seventies in central California, he was both compassionate and combative; his was a gentler faith[1] than the Protestant stand I learned in the land of revered icons and idols. Saints, signs, and superstitions assaulted us from every corner and crosswalk. I remember the day my brother Timothy joined the queue of children charmed by the nun. As he grew closer to her breast, he was appalled to see that they had lined up to kiss her crucifix. He ran away in shock as she declared him anathema for breaking rank. But simple abstention wasn’t enough.

One day in third grade, we were all given an icon of Mary on cardstock. My Protestant friend, Juan David, and I rolled our eyes as our classmates happily kissed her face in adoration. Recess was called and as was custom, we made our way to the restroom before entering the playground. As Juan David and I stood facing the wall of the group urinal, we came to the same decision in silence. We both flicked our cards into the water trough while still in full stream, showing no mercy to Mary or the boys who fruitlessly tried to save her from our indignation. The next forty-five minutes marked the longest recess I ever experienced in school as he and I alternately ran and fought until the whistle blew and called all boys back into the classroom, Protestant (just he and me) and Catholic (everybody else) alike.

When we moved back to the USA, I was full of fight and argument against a Catholicism few here practiced. Despite the paucity of Catholics in the buckle of the Bible Belt that I now called home, I dove into serious study of the pagan origins of Christian traditions during my early teens which fanned the flames of my anti-papal fire to a degree that it threatened to singe even my Protestant brethren. Babies in the baptistery were thrown out with the water as I surged forward in search a purer truth and practice. Somewhere along that line, I began to forget about the Person and the people he had come to save. I fell in love with dogma and grew cold to Deity.

Christians are often accused of intolerance. We are, perhaps, most intolerant of each other. The history of Protestant persecution and retaliation is well documented. You’ve read some of its remnants in the scraps of my life detailed above. Any Christian that doesn’t meet my level of devotion is nominal. Any fanatic whose faith isn’t as rational as mine is a radical. But that is not the sort of intolerance that the current culture rails on us about. They are mostly incensed at our framework of salvation and assertions of morality.

Hardly any would argue that murder is moral, but many will debate whether abortion is murder. Assert that it is, and you are intolerant, ignorant, and misogynistic. Hardly any would defend the pedophile on the grounds of sexual orientation. But call homosexuality a perversion and you are intolerant, homophobic, and puritanical. Few enjoy being cheated on, but call adultery sin and you are an intolerant prig out of touch with the polyamorous reality of modern man who is subject to his evolutionary inheritance. None care for the company of bratty children. But discipline your child away from his harmful nature, and you are an intolerant, abusive ogre intent on contorting and controlling his life.

Christianity loses its soul without sin. When murder, fornication, adultery, and rebellion become behaviors with no moral consequence, love your neighbor as yourself loses all possibility of significance. Love isn’t simply an undefined bag of sentiment and jumbled emotions. Neither is it the “live and let live” of the worshippers of tolerance. Love involves the discipline of moral behavior, of not crossing my neighbor’s boundary to do him harm. Tolerance demands that when others do, I remain silent. Love also demands that if my neighbor is being harmed, I should rush to his aid. Tolerance demands that I mind my own business. After all, they are consenting adults, right? Perhaps? Maybe?

Sin is why Christianity has a Savior. When Christians proclaim with Jesus that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life; our use of the definite article is seen as exclusionary. The central theme of our faith, salvation, brings light to its antithesis, damnation.  This is viewed as our greatest intolerance of all. How can you believe in a God who would condemn people to Hell, they ask. How could I not believe in a God who died and went there to save me from it, is my reply. Love isn’t tolerance. It is truth in action willing to save the perishing. It isn’t dogma, it is deeds. Its highest form isn’t human, it is Divine.

Nearly twenty years ago, a young lady in my church was getting married. She had been brought up Catholic and wanted a priest to officiate the wedding. She and her fiancée rented a small church and invited me to do the Gospel reading for the ceremony. And so it was that the priest and the house church pastor met in a Protestant church to marry a Charismatic couple. On rehearsal night, the priest ran me through the paces. At the appointed time, we would walk up; he to the altar, me to the podium. The music played and he nodded. We met in the aisle and walked forward, side by side. “Bet you never thought you would walk down the aisle with a priest?” Jesus said. For the second time in my life, I heard the Lord’s laughter.

 

[1] Glennon Culwell and my Aunt Jean brought Christ to the Larum clan. His autobiography, My Life in the Potter’s Hands is a candid retelling of the grace of God at work in all the messiness and trauma of life. If your view of Baptist ministers (or Baptists in general) is one of a bunch of stuffed, heartless shirts, you need to read this book.