Book Title: Trans Deus
Author: Paul Van der Spiegel
Publisher: Perceptions Press
Cover Artist: Paul Van der Spiegel
Release Date: August 11, 2020
Genre: LGBTQ – Christian
Tropes: Trans Christ in modern day England
Themes: Trans Christ persecuted by the religious, the transphobes, the haters; closeted Peter, terrorist Judas, addict Andrew, humanist Thomas.
Heat Rating: 3 flames
Length: 75 000 words/ 249 pages
It is part 1 of 4 Queer Gospels – each one is a different take.
Trans Christ born in a modern-day, transphobic England
The Word was with God. The Word was God. Nothing was created apart from the Word. The Logos became a trans woman and she dwelt amongst us, full of grace and truth.
Four men have their lives changed forever: Jude, the terrorist sent to kill the transgender Christ; Peter, the repressed gay man grasping after a religion of certainty; Andrew, the slave to his sexual appetites; and Tom, the ardent atheist with crippling financial problems.
From the towns and moors of northern England to the shadow of the cross in the City of London… the light shone in our darkness and the consumer, military technocracy comprehended it not.
Tom Bauer scanned the myriad titles in the Selfish Help, Mind n’ Body, Religion, and Pop Psychology subcategories, publications propped and penny-stacked on white MDF shelves.
Pop Psychology? What’s the world coming to? Tom thought. What he wanted was Death Metal Psychology, Hip Hop Head-Help, Roland TB 303 Counselling: anything but fluff and bluff. He started to laugh, at book shops, at life, at himself for being such a useless sack of shit. How have I ended up here? he demanded of existence, desperate for a fix of some arsehole’s fake positivity?
The woman stood next to him reading the inside cover of The Secret slid it back onto the shelf, then hurried away.
The man who didn’t believe in belief pulled a volume from the packed display and examined the recommended retail selling price printed beneath the barcode—the book was the same price as a leg of lamb, as three large chickens. How the fuck can I justify spending that? he thought.
There was enough money to last another couple of months. His personal account was overdrawn, as was the joint account. There was always the credit card and the emergency second credit card, the one that Kristin didn’t know about. The feeling of being overwhelmed, of drowning, washed over him. Tom was scared: scared that they could lose their house, scared that what had been certain, mundane, predictable was now fuzzy and nebulous.
He picked out a copy of the Selfish Help bestseller I can make you Bulletproof and tried to read the introduction, but the words expanded and went blurry against the paper. Kristin stepping up her working hours to full-time helped, but it wasn’t anywhere near enough to cover the shortfall in his wages: the choice was now which bills had to be paid.
Tom knew that he was not on his own: across the Public Sector thousands of people were being let go, especially, it seemed, in the north of England. Every suitable vacancy had hundreds, thousands, of applicants. His mind flicked to the visit he had made to the Didsbury Job Centre that morning: there was nothing, not unless he wanted to be an amusement park squirrel on minimum wage. He had asked the stony-faced Employment Agency manager whether a drug habit was a mandatory requirement for the role.
Some people have no sense of humour, he reminded himself.
Once he had been on an upward trajectory within society. Now, Tom visualised his family falling into the abyss of poverty.
Tom pushed I can make you Bulletproof with its free hypnosis CD back into the shelf. He stared at the rows of crack-lit books, at the dope publications, at the trash written by authors selling glass pipes and rocks to the vulnerable, pushers who peddled badly cut gear to existential junkies. Bluffers and bullshitters, he thought, the lot of you. And yet, I want to buy your product, get high, face the inevitable come down, buy the sequel. The thought compounded his sense of despair.
That was when Dave Lucas and Bob Nielson from the Salford Health Trust Planning Department strode past the end of the aisle and took their seats in the coffee bar. Tom had forgotten the two spreadsheet goons read manga and graphic novels for free during their lunchbreak. The last thing he needed was Dave—the Lurch lookalike in his X Files T-shirt—and Bob—his skinny anaemic monosyllabic sidekick—asking him how he was. And he certainly didn’t want to hear how things were going back at the office, didn’t want to see that “you-poor-bastard” smile, or, even worse, the sparkle of glee in the eyes of those spared the executioner’s axe. In Tom’s considered viewpoint, anyone who still believed in “love for your neighbour” need only set up a corporate redundancy programme to see the reality of the human: fuck thy neighbour lest thou too get fucked.
Bob Nielson—a sadistic un-helpful prick in Tom’s opinion—was the man widely suspected of being the elusive Phantom Logger, that desperado of the digestive system who delighted in cooking up foot-long turds and depositing them in the men’s third-floor toilets and leaving without flushing. A closed toilet bowl lid was a sure sign that Nessie was back in town. Neilson had been spotted giggling outside Trap One just before one particularly unpleasant discovery. Maybe Bob n’ Dave took it in turns, Tom considered, competing in their own ghastly gastrointestinal game.
How had those two morons survived whilst he’d been cast aside?
He needed to escape the book shop ASA-fucking-P. Tom knew that if he had to engage in any form of communication with Beavis and Butthead, he was liable to murder one, or both, of them; bash their heads in with a British Bake Off cookery brick.
Option One was to hide in the stinking toilets for an hour like a junkie. Screw that, Tom decided, which left him with Option Two.
Option Two was printed on the flyer that he had been given by a smartly-dressed woman outside Boots the Chemist on Market Street, a piece of paper that announced Manchester Cathedral were running a lunchtime programme of speakers with that day’s febrile attempt entitled, “The Myth of Eden—a new approach to Genesis.” Having someone attempt to defend the Great Book of Fairy Tales enraged and fascinated Tom at the same time.
He decided that facing down a representative of a misogynistic, homophobic, corrupt organisation staffed by paedophile pensioners would take his mind off his financial woes, even if only for a short time. Tom wondered if he could get thrown out of church for heckling. Watch out all you bishops and kings, he thought, the Pale Rider is at your gate.
He paid for a copy of The Times at the self-scanning machine, extended it to its full height, hid his head behind the newspaper, and strode through the main door. Once he was on Deansgate, he stuck his tongue out at Dave and Bob through the window. The two men didn’t notice, but an old man drinking a latte from a tall glass stared at him in surprise.
It took two minutes for Tom to walk to his favourite place in the whole world, the John Rylands library. Tom loved everything about the building—the décor, the stillness and, most of all, the collection of ancient writings, works that covered every aspect of the human experience across three millennia: legal, medical, science, and the history of tribes and lost nations. He could spend his entire life in this one library and still only scratch the surface of the knowledge within.
Plus, it was free admission.
Through the glass entrance, through the gift shop and café, up the modern staircase, past the Italian tourists, then into the red-stone vaulted cloisters, and up the stone staircase to the third floor where Thomas reverently entered the Reading Room. There, he was greeted by old friends: Luther, Milton, Shakespeare, Goethe, and Calvin, evidently no girls were allowed in Enriqueta Ryland’s library, apart from the lady herself. Tom sat at the mahogany table beneath the statue of Gibbon. Trusting in the presence of this enemy of Faith he read the newspaper, searching all the while for the one-liner that would transform his life.
Tom finished the easy, then started the medium difficulty, Sudoku puzzle. Thirty minutes later, he had ground to a frustrating halt. Checking his watch, he noticed he was late for the Genesis gig at God’s gaff. He had a choice to make—sack off scripture or go and put the righteous in their rightful place. Still holding the newspaper, Tom legged it from the library, dove down Deansgate, veered along Victoria, and arrived, gasping for breath, at the Cathedral doors.
The presentation in the Saviour Chapel had already begun and all the black metal chairs had been taken. Tom edged right and stood, leaning against the cold stone wall.
A blonde woman in jeans and a blue t-shirt prowled the front of the chapel. “Clothes are made from the cotton plant,” she said to her audience, “from animal hide, from nylon that is made from oil found under the seabed. Clothes are human constructs of naturally occurring materials. Gravity is a physical law, but our certainty that the universe is a matter machine is a human construct, a metaphor. Even when we are given fact, we fashion it into meaning to wear about our person.”
“Amen,” a man in front of Tom said.
“For fuck’s sake,” Tom muttered, shaking his head, realisation dawning on him that he had made a dreadful mistake.
“Our certainties adjust during our lifetime,” the woman said, “new knowledge and different learning become more important, people we love die, friends change, our pets grow old and die, the world around us changes, new roads are built, and our favourite breakfast cereal has a packaging redesign.”
To his left was a disabled man in a wheelchair—twisted limbs, twisted face, thick oversized ears, and jam-jar spectacles. Tom averted his gaze. Poor sod, he thought. It would have been better for him, for his family, for society, if he’d never been born.
“That which is our reality, our certainty, is but a metaphor. It is unreal in the sense that it is a construct of a construct. All our certainties are torn down at our death. We arrive at check-in stark naked and shivering, belonging to no culture and belonging to all. Stripped of all that we have ever wrapped around ourselves, what is left?”
You’re shit-boring, love, Tom thought. Wish I hadn’t come now. Behind the altar, a huge red curtain hung from the roof. Tom was struck by how much the church resembled the 2-3-74 temple in Ultimate Negation 2—the first-person shooter game that had used a digitised version of the building as the backdrop for all-out war between the remnants of humanity and hordes of gun-toting alien invaders. The Church authorities had claimed on the TV news that their Cathedral was a “space for grace,” and the Japanese corporation who had produced the game had violated this sacred principle. Tom had never heard anything so stupid in all his life: most city-centre tourist attractions would give their right arm for that kind of publicity.
About the Author
I am the author of Trans Deus, 7 Minutes, Parably Not, and A Particular Friendship. My stories are about the intersection of faith and sexuality. I am a William Blake obsessive, and I’m working on new books with Blake’s themes – sex and gender, revelation and rebellion – at the heart of the narrative.
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