On Racket Lake

March 19, 2023

This is a photo of Racket Lake. It’s called that because the snowmobiles make a big racket when they speed over the ice.

Actually that’s not true.

Filters have been applied to this cropped photo to make it wuzzier and more sherbert flavorful. The lake is spelled Raquette, not Racket, and it’s supposedly named for a pile of snowshoes, raquettes in French, found at the confluence of the water. At least this is the origin given by the area’s museum, Adirondack Experience.

Since people in positions of authority are, in 2023, the most likely to be repeating a mistaken belief, I looked up the word and found raquettes to indeed be the word for snowshoes in French. Whether abandoned raquettes were the inspiration for the name is still up for grabs, but the explanation is at least plausible. If I were going to write an authoritative tome on Raquette Lake (sans the final “s,” please note), I would seek historical documents attesting to the longevity of the name and the presence of French-speaking persons in the area at the time the word arose. If a contemporary account of a such a story was extant, I would cite this derivation in my Raquette Lake exposition, perhaps simply as anecdote or with a caveat. In other words, I would employ some conscientious skepticism. The explanation I threw out first about the name is, of course, patently absurd.

Our perceptions of the world are like a cropped photo, limited by where we stand and blurred by our perspective, which is never absolutely sharp. Furthermore, our experience is a lens we place over everything we encounter, lending the landscape a color unique to us.

But a distortion of reality (and we all have them) is not the same as a delusion. When confronted with a piece of information that sharpens the focus or clarifies the color, people usually make the adjustment without difficulty. This is how a subjective understanding that is rooted in objective reality changes and evolves. Experience teaches us that we don’t have a perfect understanding of reality, so we are able to shift our view, just a bit.

A delusional picture of Raquette Lake, on the other hand, might look like this

or this

or even this

Delusions do not accept skepticism or withstand scrutiny. When confronted with evidence that doesn’t fit into a delusion, people tend to defend the delusion. The defensiveness is a clue that there is a wholly false idea imbedded in the consciousness, and people express this defensiveness by censorship. It is especially hard for people to examine a delusion if it benefits them materially or socially. As evidence increases, despite efforts to shut down discussion, some people experience greater and greater distress until the delusion dissolves. Others fall too deeply into the delusion to swim out. I call this racket, where some are deluded, others are too apathetic to know what a delusion is, and others are forced to endure lies, “Racket Lake.”

What’s in a name? as Shakespeare once said, and stoned philosophers repeat often, thinking they’ve said something new. I suppose we could call this Raquette Lake

but it’s kind of stupid, and most people who already have seen Raquette Lake (or even seen a lake) would agree only if they were forced. Language does evolve, though it’s being willfully mutilated at the moment by the gender studies departments and their black-hooded minions. Still, that’s not exactly what I’m talking about here. The con goes even deeper. What I’m saying is that this

is not this

The ice on Racket Lake is rather thin. Mass delusions are dangerous for the apostates and the appeasers and the true believers. You may face consequences from the fearful or the powerful or the powerfully fearful for telling the truth. Then again, you may continue peddling delusions without recognizing that the weather has shifted. Because being forced to play along with delusions has the curious effect of making people value the truth. Falsehoods cannot survive forever for this reason.

People who endured decades of repression in Eastern Europe under Soviet domination maintain that although they suffered from economic stagnation, bureaucratic corruption, and lack of communication with the outside world, the worst part of the experience was playing along with the disinformation: stifling their observations; pretending to believe things they didn’t believe; honoring people they detested. Those who escaped scolded us in the West for not appreciating our freedom.

Now we in the US are being coerced into accepting that men can be lesbians. That castrating children is medical care. That sex stereotypes are carved in granite as “gender” while sex itself is sculpted in ice. That being male or female is “fluid” while your ideas about yourself are your very existence.

Well, the world is heating up. How solid is the ground under your feet (and how deep is the water)? We shall see.

Sex Changes: A memoir of marriage, gender and letting go ~ Christine Benvenuto

December 28, 2012

What happens when your world gets turned upside down and in the confusion of reevaluating all that you thought true, the people you regarded as allies distance themselves or judge you? Christine Benvenuto’s memoir of love, betrayal and change is getting attention for its portrayal of the somewhat sexy topic of sex change, but as the writer of a spiritual blog I was more drawn to the theme of community support, particularly support from religious community.

Christine was in a marriage of over twenty years with three small children when her husband “Tracey” announced his intention of exploring gender transition. (Note: Christine uses male pronouns for Tracey in the book.) Over the following year, Christine resisted each step of her husband’s transition. As events unfolded, Christine says “I clung to stasis like a fraying lifeline, kicking and screaming as it slipped through my fingers.” (Christine does not like the word “transition.” She explains, “Transition implied to me something ordinary, something gentle, something – dare I say it – natural.” Although her point is well taken, I will use this word here because it is the word we have for this process.) As the transition progressed and Christine became resigned to the ending of her marriage, she insists that a new Tracey emerged: “He didn’t seem the same. He didn’t act the same, didn’t sound the same. His values seemed to change along with his personality.” The new Tracey was controlling and abusive. He expected her to adjust to marriage with a transwoman. He made promises and concessions and repeatedly reneged on them, often insisting such agreements had never been made. When Christine insisted that the marriage must end if he persisted with the transition, Tracy took a page out of so many controlling husbands’ playbook and threatened her with loss of her children and possessions.

I’m always skeptical when I hear that a spouse has abruptly changed from a supportive partner to a controlling one. Particularly in a marriage as long-standing as this one, it seems more likely that those behaviors were there all along and became more pronounced. Still, Christine’s reaction to her husband’s transition was not one of a traumatized wife. When initially confronted with the changes, she argued that Tracey’s transition robbed her of a husband and that it was damaging to their children. When Tracey would not abandon transition she separated from him and fought for her rights under divorce laws. She also insisted on viewing Tracey’s transition from her own perspective rather than accepting Tracey’s narrative. And it was Christine, not Tracey, who longed to shroud the embarrassment of their disintegrating relationship in secrecy. She explains “I grew up in a family and a culture in which, if something bad happened, you didn’t advertise.” Fortunately for her, Tracey wanted their small town, religious community, and circle of friends to learn about and understand his transition, so secrecy could not remain an option. But this is the point where life for Christine, for awhile, truly became rough.

Tracey’s psychotherapist, perhaps not surprisingly, chose to view the situation from Tracey’s individual perspective and in his personal self-interest rather than in a systemic way, through family dynamics. Somewhat more surprisingly, Christine encountered judgment and ostracism from her liberal small town and individuals in her religious community. This was because, in their view, she had failed to support Tracey sufficiently in his transition. Also, because Tracey was angry with her, the community felt a need to side with him because he was transgendered. Christine charges that in the point of view of the community, his being transsexual means “Anything he does is justified.”

Perhaps I overidentified with this part of Christine’s narrative. The parallel between her experience and the persecution of Dianic witches in recent years is striking. Ostensibly both have been about supporting trans rights versus born-women’s autonomy. I would argue that this is a false choice, but it is a choice pagans believe they are forced to make, even if they would not frame the issue so starkly. That the interests of genetic women are abandoned in this situation is not surprising, really. The mutterings against a religious subculture defined by women have been long-standing in the larger pagan community, albeit rather muted before the issue of trans inclusion appeared as a politically correct cudgel. Applying this insight to Christine’s situation, perhaps the community was responding out of their ingrained bias that a wife should support her husband over her own interests. Tracey’s new presentation as a transwoman to people who had known him as a man, and doubtless still thought of him as a man despite their desire to appear otherwise, may have allowed the community to fool themselves into thinking that they were not acting out age-old patriarchal patterns. At any rate, it was the betrayal by community that was hardest to overcome. Christine says:

Because he believed he was doing what he had to do, it is easier, ironically, for me to forgive Tracey than the community who supported him and abandoned my children and me…. By these people, many of them women, many of them Jewish, many of them feminists, my children and I were betrayed. In the Valley of the Politically Correct, their choice wasn’t difficult or brave. It required them to be deeply true to nothing and no one. It was cowardice, pure and simple.

Tracey’s decision to transition was ultimately a good thing for Christine, despite Tracey’s selfishness toward her and their children, despite the harsh rewriting of what she had believed was a happy marriage, despite the loss of her religious fellowship, and despite the coolness of self-advertised progressives in her community. Her pain was too great to endure in isolation, and she was forced to risk an intimacy in her friendships that she otherwise would not have. She learned who her friends were and who they weren’t. “A religious community we thought we could rely on fell away; once peripheral friends drew close.” As dedicated religious fellowships became less central, Christine began to bring a spiritual perspective into her friendships, asking that close friends, Jewish or not, begin relating to her as a religious person. To her surprise, people who had not pulled away from her which she separated from her husband accepted her on other levels as well.

Sex Changes chronicles one woman’s acceptance of unwelcome changes that eventually improved her life. It also raises troubling questions about how communities are dealing with transgender issues.