I just feel like heaven and hell are a place that’s inside each of us and we’re the ones who choose which one to explore. I mean, like, you know, I think you have to have both to have an understanding of why they exist. Shit wouldn’t be balanced if we didn’t have hell. I don’t think you’d be able to appreciate how amazing it feels to sit on a rooftop with all your friends as you’re watching the sunset listening to your favorite Lorde song if you didn’t want to kill yourself sometimes. You know and I think we’re all like, you know, a step away from both. I feel like both universes are so near to us. I don’t really think that heaven is all the way up at the top of whatever all of this is, and that hell is all the way down at the bottom. I think it’s all right here in front of us. I think they layer onto our realities like filters on an Instagram image. We see our lives through heaven and hell, and I think we always have a say in which one we can choose. You know because, even when your life is dog shit, heaven is just as close as it was before. You don’t really get further away from it, you just lose the ability to take notice of it, I guess. But I know how you feel, man. I feel like God is really quiet sometimes in my stupid life. But I still know that it’s all still right there in front of my face. It’s not really a matter of looking or searching, it’s a matter of seeing things for what they are. It’s all so much closer to you than you think it is. It’s all just a breath away.
—  CAMERON BEYRENT

There’s a theme that keeps popping up in conservative Christian accounts of human sexuality whereby it’s supposedly natural for everyone to feel attraction for the same gender due to some sort of mystical, like-attracts-like affinity, and that attraction to the “opposite sex” is something that must be deliberately cultivated and vigilantly guarded against any sign of backsliding.

A lot of folks outside the conservative Christian community look at this stuff and conclude: “Wow, this was obviously written by a gay person in denial. Clearly these apparent virulent homophobes are really just self-hating gay people.”

This is not what’s going on.

I mean, yes, obviously a lot of folks in those circles are gay and in denial, but that’s not where this account of human sexuality comes from. We’re getting cause mixed up with effect there.

What you’re actually looking at is a calculated effort to make gay folks doubt their own sexuality by taking common gay experiences and reframing them as developmental speed bumps on the road to heterosexual maturity. They’ve basically weaponised their culture’s entire notion of human sexuality in order to trick gay folks into thinking they’re really just weak-willed heterosexuals.

I know that sounds pretty fucking extreme, but I’ve seen it from the inside - one whole side of my family tree is Jehovah’s Witnesses - and it ain’t just a handful of gay-and-in-denial Christians spinning confused theology; this type of pervasive deception is conscious and deliberate.

So, you know, maybe keep that in mind before doing the whole “wow, this homophobic asshat is obviously secretly gay” thing, eh?

4

The ruined city of Arg-e-Bam is made entirely of mud bricks, clay, straw and the trunks of palm trees. The Iranian city was originally founded during the Sassanian period (224-637 CE) and while some of the surviving structures date from before the 1100s, most of what remains was built during the Safavid period (1502-1722).

Bam prospered because of pilgrims visiting its Zoroastrian fire temple, which had been built early in the Sassanian period, and because Bam was a trading hub along the Silk Road. It was later the site of Jame Mosque, built during the Saffarian period (866-903 CE). Next to the mosque is the tomb of Mirza Naiim, a mystic and astronomer.

The city was largely abandoned since a series of invasions in the early 1800s. In 1953, work began to intensively restore Arg-e-Bam. Restoration work continued until December 26, 2003, when a massive earthquake hit the area – an estimated 6.6 on the Richter Scale. Almost everything in Bam was destroyed. After that, restoration was given up, and today Arg-e-Bam is at the mercy of the elements.

All jokes aside, MENTAL ILLNESSES ARE REAL! It’s time that black parents become more understanding of mental illnesses instead of washing everything away with religious beliefs. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a black woman with high faith but if someone feels different and is in need of some serious help that could potentially benefit their mental health don’t try to down them because that makes things worse. Be supportive, sometimes a simple “Just pray about” doesn’t fix the fact that a person just doesn’t feel right within. Be a listening ear, keep an open mind, and get your child some help.