Category Archives: community

Anthony’s Appetite (Zimbabwe Edition)

My Appetite

Several years ago I started writing posts about food, but I haven’t done any for a long while. The “Anthony’s Appetite” segments were meant to give me a reason to play an amateur food critic in hopes of getting free meals 😉 Well, I never got any free meals, but I did get to eat some interesting dishes.

*Speaking of several years, I just learned from WordPress that today is my 7th anniversary for blogging! Cool, huh?

Anyway, I will eat a lot of things at least once. I’m not as brave as Andrew Zimmern, but I am adventurous for an American. Therefore, it’s a little easier for me to travel to new places and eat food I’ve never seen before. My wife, on the other hand, would die of starvation.

Zimba-food

The average food I ate in Zimbabwe was chicken. This was the main staple meat. However, the main food of Zimbabwe is a thing called sadza.

One day I was the guest for lunch with a high-ranking professor at the Chinhoyi University of Technology (CUT). That day he took me to one of the small hotels that the university had acquired for its hospitality program. There, right in the open, food was prepared in an iron wok over an open fire and served buffet-style. Beef tips, fish, “vegetable,” and sadza was on the menu.

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What is sadza? Well, think of grits, only ground finer, then the consistency of heavy mashed potatoes. It’s made from corn meal, is designed to be eaten with your hands, and has the taste of grits with no salt or butter.

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Speaking of open fire, most all the food I ate in Zimbabwe was prepared by some lady in a mud hut. If it wasn’t made in a mud hut, it was made in an open area, but in every case there was a fire. And speaking of fire, I was terribly impressed with the way the folk in Zimbabwe were able to cook with such little wood! Where we in America would need to fill a fireplace, these people could cook a whole meal over three little limbs!

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The Taste Test

One night we decided to try a Zimbabwe version of a truck stop diner. Frankly, it wasn’t that bad. The only thing that stretched me was one of the little foods I was told people drive for miles to get – to eat with their sadza. It was called dried Matemba (kapenta).

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You know, Google it if you’d like, but whatever this fish was…I only ate one. One of these chewy little critters tasted like concentrated fish  – the kind of taste you try to cover up because it “tastes like fish” – and river water (river water around here tastes like fish). I about gagged. I can’t imagine eating a whole meal of these things.

Pizza Heaven

Our number one most frequently visited eating establishment of the trip was a little pizza place in Chinhoyi called Pizza Inn. Actually, it’s a combo type of place with a Chicken Inn, also (“with the flavor you’ve loved since 1987!”).

I’ve eaten a lot of pizza, but let me be very honest…Pizza Inn makes some seriously good pizza! And let me tell ya, Peri Peri Chicken pizza is da’ bomb!! Yessir! The pizza in the picture below was from the last night we ate there. It was four different types of pizza in one. AND, on Tuesday nights you could get two for the price of one!

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Every night after our individual revival service meetings, the three of us preachers and our driver, Agayi, would stop in for pizza. For crying out loud, a loaded medium was only six dollars! And that could literally feed two people! Good stuff.

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The other things was that Pizza Inn was the only place open that late (after 8 pm), and it was consistently clean.

But I Did a Bad Thing

Now, before I end this I must tell you about the worst thing I did while in Zimbabwe (except when I filmed myself in an area in the capital – who knew doing so was punishable by death?)…. I turned away some food.

Yes, I know it. How could I, right? One of the worst things you can do in a foreign country is offend your host by saying, “I’m sorry, but if I eat any more of this I’ll puke on your pretty table.” Well, that’s not exactly what I said, but it was close.

Most of the time when we think of dessert we never think of questionable contents, only sweet stuff. I mean, there’s usually nothing gross in dessert to offend the Western palate, right? Well, this time I ran into a culinary brick wall, one I could not get through or go around – I had to say “NO!”

What was it? What made it so hard to eat? How about I just show it to you and list the ingredients.

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The above dish didn’t look toooo unappetizing, especially since I recognized sliced bananas. And since I’d been to the Luck’s Bean factory and eaten desserts prepared with beans (like pinto bean pie which tasted like pecan pie), I was ready to give this food a try, even if I’d never thought of banana and bean going together.

But then the rest of the ingredients had a hard time going down my throat – in combination with the bananas and beans: Onions, leeks, yogurt, and a thousand island-like dressing.

One spoonful was all I could handle.

Fellowship, Not Food

But really, it’s not about the food – it’s about the fellowship…something of which we’re in short supply in the States.

Sitting around at lunch or dinner – or even around a table in a pizza joint – would be nothing much to write about had it not been for the great people we ate with. Our hosts and friends in Zimbabwe treated us like family, even royalty. It really didn’t matter what food was served, the fellowship with these dear brothers and sisters in Christ was the sweetest parts of every meal.

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If nothing else, anything is better than airline food!

 

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Filed under community, Countries, Food, places

We Are Family

Friends, all I know to tell you is that I have now had the privilege to meet one glittering jewel of a young blogger. Courtney’s blog is called 1 Timothy 4:12 Girl, and she is certainly “an example of the believers, in word, in conversation…” I’m excited to have her write a guest post for me. And in case you didn’t get it, she’s still a teenager!!


What does it mean to be a family?

Ask ten different people and you’ll get ten different answers.

To some, it’s the parents and siblings that they were raised with. To others, it’s their current family unit that they’ve created for themselves, through marriage and procreation. Still to others, it’s a grandparent or relative who raised them.

familypic.jpgFamily is a concept that is embedded deep within the human heart. We all long for a place to belong and feel at home.

A place to kick off our shoes after a long day.

A place where we can be fully ourselves—quirks and all.

A place to love and be loved.

Society tells us that family is limited to those related to us through blood or marriage.

The Bible on the other hand, tells a different story. When ­asked about His brothers and mother in the book of Matthew, Jesus turns previously held assumptions about family upside-down.

“Jesus asked, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?” Then he pointed to his disciples and said, “Look, these are my mother and brothers. Anyone who does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother!” (Matthew 12:48-50)

Jesus broadens the definition of family to include every believer who has been washed in the blood of Christ and saved by God’s amazing grace.

You are my brother. I am your sister. We are one giant family connected through the blood of Christ. Whatever your experience with your biological family, you have the guarantee of a family in Christ. This concept is reinforced throughout the New Testament, as familial language is repetitively used (1 Timothy 5:1-2, Hebrews 13:1, Philemon 1:15-16). The Bible even goes into detail about how to live this out, instructing us time and time again to love one and other and walk with fellow believers through times of trouble.

We live in a world that is starving for love. Look no further than the local news station to find that divisions between people are running rampant. This should not be so among believers. If we want to love a broken world, we must start by loving each other. Despite our many differences, we are one in Christ. This point is presented beautifully in Galatians 3:28. “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Imagine how amazing our witness for Christ would be if we truly lived out Jesus’ vision for believers. I have seen the concept of family practiced vividly in the Christian blogging world and pray that this becomes a reality worldwide. No one should ever feel left out in the body of Christ. The first thing that a person should know when the walk through the doors of our churches is that they are loved. When Jesus hung on the cross, His arms were spread wide open, embracing everyone willing to come and follow Him. We are called to live as a reflection of that, and live out God’s radical love here on earth as brothers and sisters in Christ.

Connected as one big, crazy, awesome, beautiful family of believers. 

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Filed under Christian Living, Christian Unity, Christianity, community, Love of God, Relationships and Family

Brethren, Pray for Us!

This Morning

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C. H. Spurgeon (1834-1892)

This morning (July 7) I picked up my cell phone and made use of a little app, the digital version of Charles Spurgeon’s Morning & Evening devotional.

The entry for this morning was based on the words from 1 Thessalonians 5:25, “Brethren, pray for us.”

The impact of this short morning devotional was twofold. First, it comforted me with the knowledge that someone else gets it, and that someone out there is encouraging people to pray. But secondly, and even more importantly, the items for which Spurgeon encourages prayer stood out as areas in which this preacher struggles – and I’m sure I’m not the only one.

Please take moment and read this, if it’s not already part of your daily devotional material. I added spaces for readability, but note the parts I made bold.

“THIS one morning in the year we reserved to refresh the reader’s memory upon the subject of prayer for ministers, and we do most earnestly implore every Christian household to grant the fervent request of the text first uttered by an apostle and now repeated by us. Brethren, our work is Solemnly momentous, involving weal or woe to thousands; we treat with souls for God on eternal business, and our word is either a savour of life unto life, or of death unto death. A very heavy responsibility rests upon us, and it will be no small mercy if at the last we be found clear of the blood of all men.

As officers in Christ’s army, we are the especial mark of the enmity of men and devils; they watch for our halting, and labour to take us by the heels. Our sacred calling involves us in temptations from which you are exempt, above all it too often draws us away from our personal enjoyment of truth into a ministerial and official consideration of it. We meet with many knotty cases, and our wits are at a non plus; we observe very sad backslidings, and our hearts are wounded; we see millions perishing, and our spirits sink. We wish to profit you by our preaching; we desire to be blest to your children; we long to be useful both to saints and sinners; therefore, dear friends, intercede for us with our God.

Miserable men are we if we miss the aid of your prayers, but happy are we if we live in your supplications. You do not look to us but to our Master for spiritual blessings, and yet how many times has He given those blessings through His ministers; ask then, again and again, that we may be the earthen vessels into which the Lord may put the treasure of the gospel. We, the whole company of missionaries, ministers, city missionaries, and students, do in the name of Jesus beseech you, ‘BRETHREN, PRAY FOR US!'”  – C. H. Spurgeon

Pray for Me

If you have a pastor – and I hope you do – please pray from him. Pray for your teachers, your ministers, and your missionaries; they all need it.

As much as ministers like to portray themselves as “just one of the people,” or “just like you,” there is a difference. The difference is not in quality, but in responsibility. Ministers are no “better” than the people they serve in the name of the Lord, but they are certainly more in danger of spiritual (even physical) attack. We have a real Enemy, and we ARE at war.

So, please, pray for your spiritual leaders.

But if, for some reason, you have no one else to pray for, PLEASE pray for me! 

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Filed under Christian Living, community, ministry, politics

Where Will You Praise Him?

“Praise ye the LORD. I will praise the LORD with my whole heart, in the assembly of the upright, and in the congregation.” – Psalm 111:1

Are you imitating the words of King David in Psalm 111:1?

You can’t do it in front of a television while watching your favorite preacher.

You can’t do it at the ball field watching your favorite child.

You can’t do it sitting in your boat waiting for a bite.

You can’t do it while doing laundry.

You can’t do it reading a devotional while drinking your morning coffee.

You can’t do it while listening to the radio as you make pancakes.

You can’t do it in a hotel room while on vacation.

You can’t do it taking a morning run.

You can’t do it out in the forest while waiting for a 10-point buck to walk by.

You can’t do it in your bed on your only day off.

So, how does one imitate the words of David in Psalm 111:1?

Simple. You go to church.

Hope to see you there!

church glad to go

 

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Can’t Trust Anyone?

Trusting Others

Who do you trust? Who would you trust with your bank account information? Who would you trust to watch your children? Even more so, who would you trust to shave your neck with a sharp straight razor?

Trust is something we give others based on experience and credibility. One doesn’t just tell his deepest, darkest secrets to a stranger. A wise mother doesn’t leave her 4 year-old at home alone for the evening. A husband doesn’t tell his wife’s best friend about the tool he secretly bought without his wife’s permission.

Who Do You Trust?

Personally, I trust my wife. So far, she hasn’t shared with the world all my faults and failures. However, she is human; if I make her angry enough, who knows?

My children are pretty trustworthy. I feel I can trust them with my reputation, my money, and my stuff. But on the other hand, there are times when chores and homework don’t get done as promised.

There are even a couple of friends that you could say I trust almost implicitly. But if the truth be known, even my best friends have let me down at different times. What can I say? I’ve done the same to them.

Most Trusted

Frankly, there is no one on earth I can trust 100%. Vulnerability is the price of intimacy.

But I can trust Jesus. He’s more than a friend; more than a confidant; more than a brother; more than counselor with a confidentiality agreement.

God is not a man who lies, or a son of man who changes His mind. Does He speak and not act, or promise and not fulfill? – Numbers 23:19 (HCSB)

He who calls you [is] faithful, who also will do [it]. – 1 Thessalonians 5:24 (NKJV)

Jesus is Faithful and True.

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Filed under community, Relationships and Family

10 Things Jewish Believers In Christ Want You to Know

The following is a guest post written by Melissa Zelniker-Presser. She has a unique perspective on being Jewish and a Christian which makes this post a “must read.”. – Anthony Baker

A Mom’s Perspective

My son has ADHD. He may very well be on the spectrum for autism. That has caused a lot of people not to understand him, to judge him or to treat him with scorn, malice and contempt. In the four years that I have ridden the roller coaster of a parent who has a child that is not “the norm,” it is the misunderstanding and opinions of others that are often times worse than the disorder itself. I have heard everything from:

  • You must have done something wrong in your pregnancy
  • You have too many kids so he probably doesn’t get enough attention
  • You work so you don’t spend enough time with him
  • Don’t expect him to succeed

This is just some of the commentary and ignorance that I deal with on a daily basis. And it has made me see his world in a whole different light.

Recently a friend of ours from church who has an autistic son gave me a book entitled, “Ten Things Every Child With Autism Wishes You Knew,” by Ellen Notbohm.  I haven’t finished the book yet because I’ve stopped to pause and reflect on every page. The book is written from the perspective of the autistic child which is wholly unique. And although of course it can’t capture everything that child may be thinking or feeling, it is a valiant attempt at getting people to understand how that child feels.

I wasn’t even a couple of pages into the book when I thought about a recent series of questions I was asked about being a Jewish believer in Christ. These questions can oftentimes feel like science experiments, making me feel different and not so good about myself. Gentile brethren are oftentimes misguided and uninformed, asserting their theological opinions on who I am and what my journey to Christ may or may not look like. If I didn’t hold back, I’d want to shout from the rooftops, I am just like you! I am a Christian too!!! Why must you see me any different?

Reading the beginning of the book, the quick overview of the ten things that every child with autism wishes you knew, immediately sparked an idea in me to express to people the 10 things Jewish believers in Christ want you to know. Jewish believers are often polite and not forthcoming about their struggles, and I am hoping that by revealing some of my innermost thoughts, gentile brethren will understand where I am coming from as  Jewish follower of Christ.

Ten Things … From a Jewish Perspective

1. Please don’t expect that I know everything about the Jewish religion- Most Jews don’t.

We as Jews are oftentimes more cultural than we are religious. Being Jewish is part of our identity just as if someone was Hispanic. But this does not mean that we speak Hebrew, know the Old Testament or can recite an entire Passover Seder. There’s nothing worse than being called on or questioned about our Judaism in front of other believers.

2. Please don’t tell me I am no longer Jewish- Jewish people have a heritage and identity that resides deep within their souls. We bleed Jewish.

When we as Jewish women are pregnant, we are tested for Jewish specific diseases based on our ancestral heritage. Jesus was JEWISH. Jesus did not stop being Jewish when he was crucified and died, so neither do I. And please do not cite your authority for believing I am no longer Jewish as Galatians 3:28, you are misguided. Respect my heritage and who I am. Yes we are one body in Christ but I cannot change WHO I am. Being Jewish is part of who God made me and part of my identity.

3. Please don’t single me out amongst our brothers and sisters- There is nothing worse than having your well-meaning  Christian brother or sister introduce you as a Jewish believer.

If it comes up in conversation fine. But please don’t shout across the room and draw attention to me. I want to be just like you, a Christian. I am saved and redeemed by the blood of the lamb just like you.

4. Don’t expect that I know other Jewish believers- This happens all the time, I expect because we are somewhat of an anomaly.

Hey do you know Sally Jones, she is also a Jewish believer. No, no I don’t know Sally Jones. Why would I know Sally Jones? We are no longer living in the desert in close communion with one another. There are millions of us. Don’t expect me to know Sally.

5. Don’t put us down because we choose to keep our customs and traditions alive; this is not legalism!- Jewish custom and tradition is inherent for us.

We are rooted in the foods and holidays of our Jewish culture, and guess what, so was Jesus! People want to make Jesus a gentile, but he is not. He celebrated all of the Jewish festivals and grew up Jewish. Hello, the last supper was a Passover Seder! For many of us, these traditions bring us closer to Jesus and help our children understand who they are in Christ.

6. No we have not all been to Israel- I am American just like so many of you.

I have not been to Israel. Although I hope and pray that God will grant me that trip one day, I’ve never been as I am sure most of you haven’t either.

7. Stop telling me that my Jewish relatives will never make it to heaven unless they accept Jesus- You don’t know that and you don’t know whether someone has accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

Jewish people are shunned once they become Christians and many may not outwardly profess Christ, but you never know what’s in someone’s heart.

8. Be sensitive to the fact that I am new to Christmas and Easter- Three years ago was our first Christmas and Easter.

It was hard for us to figure out how to celebrate and what to do. We have no traditions or family meals since we are Jewish. Do the Christian thing-invite us to yours, especially when you know we are new believers. Help us to develop our own traditions to pass on to our own children.

9. Love me for who I am and stop trying to make me a Gentile- I will never be a Gentile.

Love me for me, just as you would love any believer for who they are in Christ. Respect where I am in my walk with Christ, and encourage me in that as a Jew, not a Gentile.

10. You as a Gentile will never know what it’s like to be Jewish- No amount of bible school will teach you that.

Don’t try to be like me or try to use your biblical knowledge  to show me that. I’ll respect you more for the person that God made you, not the knowledge you have.

It is hard to be a Jewish believer in Christ. Friends and family will be sure to leave you. You are ostracized from your Jewish community and then many times inadvertently ostracized from your Christian one. We don’t fit in neatly, which is where you come in … to help us acclimate, to respect who we are, and to love us as Jewish believers in the Lord Jesus.

 

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Filed under blogging, Christian Unity, community, Guest Posts, Uncategorized

The Bathroom Controversy: It’s Not that Simple

My Two Cents

I have to drop my two cents into the toilet (dropping them into the urinal would mean I might have to take them back).

Seriously, I feel compelled to share my thoughts regarding the current debate over allowing transgender and transexual individuals into the bathroom of their choice, and not necessarily the one which corresponds with their anatomy.

It might even turn into 3 cents.

What You’re Not Hearing

People are giving North Carolina all kinds of grief over HB2, the law that requires one who uses restrooms in public buildings and rest stops to choose the one which corresponds to the individual’s sex at birth (or what’s on the birth certificate). Bruce Springsteen cancelled a concert; Paypal cancelled plans for a facility; and a whole bunch of politicians in other cities banned public employees from going there on public money.

I’m sure you’ve all heard about it by now, especially since President Obama has now sent a prime directive to all public schools and universities.

But what you’ve probably missed is that it’s not just about a guy who’s had a sex-change operation going into a woman’s restroom, or a young person who is totally convinced he is a she and looks and dresses the part to perfection.

It’s not just about the teenage girl who’s won the legal right to be called a boy because she’s always lived as one, dressed as one, and thought she was one.

It’s not even about the psychological term Gender Dysphoria (a mental disorder) which describes most of the above.

No, it’s about the fact that a small percentage of society are doing their best to render any traditional classification of gender and sexuality irrelevant. It’s about eroding any taboos regarding erotic behavior and forcing morality to conform to the image of immorality. This is a generation that is pure in its own eyes, and yet is not washed from its filthiness (Proverbs 30:12).

It’s not about the less than 1% of society having a safe place to relieve themselves; it’s about the rape of morality and common sense: “We’re going in, no matter what.” And when there’s no more fight left, they’ll just grin and move on to another ideological victim.

The Camel In the Tent

Do you remember the story about the camel (or it could have been a horse) that wanted to come inside the tent? He was cold, so he asked his owner to allow him to come into the tent where it was warm. The owner refused, but that’s when the camel said, “Oh, please! What about just my nose? How bad could that be?” Long story short, once the camel’s owner allowed the camel to stick its nose inside the tent, the head came next, followed by the neck, then the front legs, and then the whole body.

All we hear in the news is that transgender and transexual students are being denied their civil rights. They say it is wrong that these pitiful folk should be harassed by being made to go into the bathroom or shower which corresponds to their anatomy.

But it’s FAR more complicated and convoluted than that! Do you seriously think that once you’ve let the transgender/transexual nose into the bathroom the rest of the gender-confused will be denied? Of course not!

If you think it’s just as simple as male/female/trans, think again!

The following are a consolidation of the 56 (yes, 56!) gender options offered by Facebook. You can read the whole article at Slate.com.

1. Agender/Neutrois — These terms are used by people who don’t identify with any gender at all—they tend to either feel they have no gender or a neutral gender. Some use surgery and/or hormones to make their bodies conform to this gender neutrality.

2. Androgyne/Androgynous — Androgynes have both male and female gender characteristics and identify as a separate, third gender.

3. Bigender — Someone who is bigender identifies as male and female at different times. Whereas an androgyne has a single gender blending male and female, a bigender switches between the two.

4. Cis/Cisgender — Cisgender is essentially the opposite of transgender (cis– being Latin for “on this side of” versus trans-, “on the other side”). People who identify as cisgender are males or females whose gender aligns with their birth sex.

5. Female to Male/FTM — Someone who is transitioning from female to male, either physically (transsexual) or in terms of gender identity.

6. Gender Fluid — Like bigender people, the gender-fluid feel free to express both masculine and feminine characteristics at different times.

7. Gender Nonconforming/Variant — This is a broad category for people who don’t act or behave according to the societal expectation for their sex. It includes cross-dressers and tomboys as well as the transgender.

8. Gender Questioning — This category is for people who are still trying to figure out where they fit on the axes of sex and gender.

9. Genderqueer — This is an umbrella term for all nonconforming gender identities. Most of the other identities in this list fall into the genderqueer category.

10. Intersex — This term refers to a person who was born with sexual anatomy, organs, or chromosomes that aren’t entirely male or female. Intersex has largely replaced the term “hermaphrodite” for humans.

11. Male to Female/MTF — Someone who is transitioning from male to female, either physically (transsexual) or in terms of gender identity.

12. Neither — You understand this one: “I don’t feel like I’m fully male or fully female. ‘Nuff said.”

13. Non-binary — People who identify as non-binary disregard the idea of a male and female dichotomy, or even a male-to-female continuum with androgyny in the middle. For them, gender is a complex idea that might fit better on a three-dimensional chart, or a multidimensional web.

14. Other — Like “neither,” this is pretty self-explanatory. It can cover everything from “I’d prefer not to specify how I don’t fit in the gender dichotomy” to “My gender is none of your damn business, Facebook.”

15. Pangender — Pangender is similar to androgyny, in that the person identifies as a third gender with some combination of both male and female aspects, but it’s a little more fluid. It can also be used as an inclusive term to signify “all genders.”

16. Trans/Transgender — Transgender is a broad category that encompasses people who feel their gender is different than their birth sex—sometimes known as gender dysphoria. They may or may not choose to physically transition from their birth sex to their experienced gender.

17. Transsexual — Transsexual refers to transgender people who outwardly identify as their experienced gender rather than their birth sex. Many, but not all, transsexuals are transitioning (or have transitioned) from male to female or female to male through hormone therapy and/or gender reassignment surgery.

18. Two-spirit — This term refers to gender-variant Native Americans. In more than 150 Native American tribes, people with “two spirits”—a term coined in the 1990s to replace the term “berdache”—were part of a widely accepted, often respected, category of gender-ambiguous men and women.

Summary

Let me summarize this nonsense. If I, a grown man with children, decided I felt like I had a few female feelings, then I could literally walk unabated into a women’s locker room, disrobe, and stroll into the open showers, genitalia showing, and have the full force of Obama’s Justice Department backing me up (more like spooning).

“But that’s crazy!” you say. “Someone would stop you.” Oh, really? And whom would that brave soul be? Should you stop me, then I would sue you for violating my civil rights. Who are you to judge me by my looks? Technically, I’m a Native-American (really, I am), so how could you say I’m not Two-spirited? Even more, it’s all about how I self-identify, right? So if I claim to be Gender-fluid, how can you tell by the way I look naked? What would that matter, anyway?

Have you ever seen the movie Starship Troopers? Remember the shower scene? That’s where we are headed if this lunacy is not stopped. The only difference is that this isn’t science fiction; it’s reality.

Here’s the naked truth: When nothing’s sacred, NOTHING will be sacred. That much is simple.

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Filed under America, community, Culture Wars, current events, World View