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Diary of an Autodidact: John Piper Steps In It on Rape and Sex

I saw this yesterday and thought I’d share it because, although at first glance it looks as though Autodidact is making more of John Piper’s post than was really there, it is really a very good and on point analysis of how fundamentalist evangelicals view women and sexual sin.

So it’s definitely worth reading and considering.

And, needless to say (or perhaps not), if you are evangelical, please don’t just say “not all evangelicals”, chew it over and consider firstly whether the church you’re in may be preaching these twisted ways of looking at women, sex, power and abuse, and secondly, whether you have absorbed these ways of thinking and how you might change your mind.

http://fiddlrts.blogspot.co.uk/2015/04/john-piper-steps-in-it-on-rape-and-sex.html?m=1

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If She Tries to Resist, Assimilate Her!

Just a very brief outline of what was upsetting me yesterday, and will no doubt continue to unsettle for a while.

Last year when Mum moved in with us, I took her along to a Women’s mental health support group which was run by a national charity known as Rethink Mental Illness. I was surprised to recognise many of the members from the Fibromyalgia group I had previously been a member of, but had been uncomfortable with it being run by a mental health charity. (ME and Fibromyalgia have been dogged by inappropriate association with psychiatry for decades)

To cut a long story short, the group decided to break free of Rethink and set up on their own (there was actually a very acrimonious split but I won’t go into details).

It was decided that the group would amalgamate to be both a Fibro group and a mental health group and since we were all friends, we could divide the time informally and equally between the two. I thought it suited everyone.

But then, just after Christmas, there was a big, bad falling out and one of the members left/ was pushed out of the group, and one or two members made a complete turnaround and decided to ask Rethink to step back in, as though everything that had happened before and all the reasons we ejected Rethink were irrelevant.

I was given leaflets to re-apply to Rethink to be ‘assessed’ by them, and I filled them in but carried them around in my bag for weeks, really not quite comfortable about being involved with them again (not to mention the fact that I was unhappy about various aspects of the way the group was going, not least of which was the decision to offically call the group a Mental Health group and ignore the ME & Fibromyalgia).

On Friday, we weren’t able to get to the group and apparently they met with Rethink  without us. Rethink determined that nobody could be a member of the group anymore unless they were assessed and approved by Rethink and so we could no longer attend meetings until we got that sorted out. Not only that, but they stipulated that we were not even allowed to meet members of the group for coffee until Rethink had approved us.

Well, no.

Apparently the other members of the group all sat there meekly and said “Yes Rethink, whatever you say, Rethink, three bags full, Rethink.”

They seem to be honestly surprised and confused that I would disobey. They had not anticipated it and apparently everybody is reeling because I have broken the group up!

Of course I am very sorry and upset to have hurt or upset my friends. But by all accounts, I think these friendships must have been very weak and superficial if not entirely fake if they would submit to tyranny for the dubious promise of safety that Rethink offers.

I think I probably need to learn to say “no” louder and more determinedly at an earlier stage if I’m to avoid repeats. But in this instance, I think it’s all over and we need to stand our ground and be prepared to lose the group to Rethink. I’m not willing to submit to the malevolence or incompetence of a group that has already shown themselves to be untrustworthy and more trouble than it’s worth, and I doubt the others are strong enough to resist.

I hope I’m wrong and the friendships will survive despite the disagreement (and Rethink’s ridiculous rules). But somehow, I very much doubt it.

Your Desire Shall Be for your Husband

I have been contemplating my relationship with my husband recently. It is pretty good now overall but we have had our fair share of ups and downs, and for years I resented him – not because we had had miscarriages, of course that wasn’t his fault, but because he had decided, despite knowing that I desperately wanted another baby, to wait so long (7 years) between our last baby and trying again, by which time it was too late.

I think that probably I was too ill by the time we started trying again, although I didn’t realise until much later that that might have been a factor. (I read a couple of years ago that women with chronic conditions such as ME, Fibro, MS, PCOS etc. tend to experience miscarriage three times as often as healthy women) .

I have mentioned before that I am not yet at a point of acceptance, of being able to get some closure and say now we have finished building our family. But I have been thinking more and more lately about trying to work out for myself what the shape of my life should look like now going forward if there’s not going to be any babies in the picture. I’ll be 45 this year, so the chances now are next to zero – especially after 4 years of no conception at all (and obviously not using anything to prevent conception!) It’s not beyond the realms of possibility, but highly unlikely. I know that.

I remember once, before we started trying again in 2010, my husband asking me, “Why am I not enough for you?” That is to say, why do you need a baby as well? At the time I thought it was a ridiculous thing to say, the two things weren’t in the same category. But I wonder now whether there is something in it. What is it that makes women like me want babies, and keep wanting babies even with a big family? Well, as I’m sure I have mentioned before, I was raised on the Waltons / Little House on the Prairie as well as having family friends with a big family which seemed really idyllic which fed into the same fantasy. Large family life just seemed much more homely and loving and fulfilling than our quiet, standard small nuclear family. When I had my own family I knew which style I wanted to emulate, and it wasn’t what I had grown up with. But additionally, maybe also a kind of tender intimacy, feeling needed, having somebody to love and adore? (Come to that, why do most women not continually desire that?)

My husband had two sisters, so not a specially large or small family really and I don’t think he was fussed either way. But I do remember once discussing with him that I wanted ten children, and he actually agreed. I suspect now that he thought I was joking. (We have produced 9 in total though – including all our losses – so one more and I would let him off the hook!)

Obviously I have also had thoughts about having a career and started taking steps towards that, but there have been obstacles and it hasn’t happened so far. I have been toying with the idea of working but I think I am basically unemployable. I would be so unreliable with ME – most days I wake up in so much pain I can’t get up, and who would want to employ somebody who might need more sick days than work days? So I have begun to wonder about what sort of things I could do from home. But I would still be at home.

I’m not really convinced that I am cut out for housewifery. I may have the excuse of homeschooling and having the kids around all day and having lots of extra educational materials and books hanging around, but I do not keep a very tight ship. If burglars ever broke in, they might be forgiven for thinking they were too late and we had already been burgled. I wish we didn’t live in a mess but we do.

Perhaps if I were well enough I could take a bit more pride in the state of the place, try a bit harder to keep things ship-shape. But I don’t think I would find that very fulfilling, and sitting at home reading books all day for the most part does nag me with a twinge of guilt at times. So being at home without babies, now that my kids are nearing the end of their education, is beginning to feel a bit odd. What will I do when the children are grown and start to fly away?

I did start some serious writing projects, but I haven’t given them the time or effort to see if they could amount to anything yet. Too busy letting myself get distracted with blogging, although I have given facebook and twitter the boot recently and I have pleasantly surprised myself to find that I really wasn’t addicted at all. (It’s nice to be able to discover new things about yourself at a time when you’re beginning to feel old and staid and boring!)

Going back to my relationship with husband though, I have been thinking more about the necessity of adjusting to this different way of life as empty-nesters (actually I think it will be a long way off for us as youngest is still only 12 and eldest who is 20 seems to have no plans to leave to go somewhere he might need to cook and wash his own clothes). I know it’s not uncommon for some couples to grow apart and end up separating when the children are gone, but that is not something I want to happen to us.

I keep thinking about the phrase in Genesis in the Bible where God tells Eve, “Your desire shall be for your husband“. The context is that it is part of the ‘curse’ after the Fall, and I know that many anti-feminists interpret it to mean that part of the curse is that women desire power over their husbands. (Just as an aside, I posted a question about Christian feminism on a Christian forum recently, asking for reading recommendations, and wasn’t at all surprised to be told that the whole concept of Christian feminism was power-seeking and unChristian. Good grief.) Anyway, what was I saying?

Yep, I don’t honestly know what it means, what the relevance or significance might be to modern Christian women. Perhaps none at all. But I can’t stop thinking about the phrase somehow. I remember when we were first together, before we had children, he told me that he didn’t want me to let myself become dependent on him, because I was perfectly capable to look after myself. But inevitably, as a non-earning housewife and mother of course I did become dependent on him and I still am. I’m not actually too worried about that, as I don’t think it reflects my worth or capability, and I know that things can change in an instant – the universe turns on a pin, after all. There was a time when I went out to work and he stayed at home. It’s not inconceivable that the roles could reverse again. I might get well. (Pigs might fly, hopefully the former is more likely than the latter.)

But I would really just like to be satisfied. Content. With him. With our life as it is, without wanting or needing any babies, or a bigger house, or more money, or some great career or some other monumental success in my life. Is that lame? Or is it a reasonable way for a middle aged woman to think? Yuck! I hate that phrase, ‘middle-aged’. I’m just ‘mature’, right?! (Hahaha, who am I kidding!)

So we are back to gratefulness again. I am grateful. I am thankful. I have lots of good things in my life, and I am totally grateful that I do have such a good, faithful, long-suffering husband. He thinks I am crazy, but he still loves me, and thankfully he seems perfectly happy to accommodate my wish to keep quite a bit of baby-making practice going. 😀

 

Film Review: The Machine

I spent half an hour this morning writing a post about this fascinating film, and the internet ate my post. Ugh. So anyway, you can find the basic plot on Wikipedia.

Here are my condensed thoughts. Warning! Spoilers!

Netflix has this as a ‘G’ it is NOT a G or PG, it has some really brutal, bloody scenes.

Now, I know I keep saying I’m not a feminist, but I saw this from a totally feminist perspective and that’s one of the things that made it so fascinating.

It seems to me that Machine and the Cyborgs could be seen to represent a ‘new world, and perhaps the female world whereas everyone else represents the ‘old world’ of patriarchy.

One of the scenes that I couldn’t understand to begin with is Suri killing a guard in a horrible scene where he is dowsed in petrol and set alight. But after re-watching a couple of times, I noticed that Suri overhears him say that she is planning a revolution.

Suri is one of the brain-damaged former soldiers with an implant but she seems to have freedom and autonomy as the assistant to Thomson, although it is a limited freedom.

The main male character is Vincent McCarthy, and it’s unclear until later on whether he is good or bad. He is clearly tolerating what he must know to be a brutal, criminal system, for the sake of his brain-damaged daughter.

The main female character Ava is murdered, as was McCarthy’s previous assistant, so you have two ‘girlfriend in the fridge’ incidents right there to begin with.

Then a cyborg robot is made using Ava’s computer ‘brain’, and Ava’s form, despite McCarthy promising Ava he wouldn’t use her face in that way.

The implant has the side-effect of taking away the power of speech but Machine and the Cyborgs share a secret, machine language so they can communicate -and plan the revolution -secretly.

Machine’s female form is shown off when she dances, but Thomson has her fighting for him, and twice calls her an “angel of death”.

Thomson forces Machine to kill by manipulating her emotions, and calls himself her ‘master’. It was also Thomson who had arranged Ava’s murder. He is clearly without empathy and seems to be the embodiment of patriarchy.

Machine passes the Turing test, proving herself to be ‘alive’, but Thomson insists that cyborg soldiers with consciousness is too dangerous and blackmails Vincent into doing surgery to remove Machine’s consciousness.

During the procedure, Machine promises she will be a “good girl”. She also promises McCarthy that she can be less intelligent, less human, she can be what they want her to be. She also says that she loves McCarthy, but he doesn’t hear her.

The only males who survive the revolution are the ‘good guys’, McCarthy, (and the male cyborgs). At some point, McCarthy has to pick sides. He makes his choice by pretending to have removed her consciousness.

When the machines overthrow the establishment, Thomson disables as many of the cyborgs implants to try to stop the revolution, but Suri locks him out. Thomson shoots Suri but she survives.

Later, Ava, although she doesn’t kill Thomson outright, makes him “dead inside, like you tried to make me dead inside.”

At the end of the film, Vincent is talking to his daughter, whose brain or life essence he has saved in digital form, but she doesn’t want him, she wants her ‘Mother’ (Machine).

The taking away of the power of speech, the Naming of Ava’s robot as Machine, using her face and body form against her will, the fact that only the men have surnames…everything in this film seems significant.

Anyway, hopefully somebody with more knowledge can take this further. I would really like to read a proper feminist analysis of this film.

I’d give it maybe 4 1/2 stars as I didn’t like the blood and brutality, but I thought it was a great film, with really interesting themes.

Thoughts on Steve Chalke and Yoder: until women are free, nobody is free.

I have heard the name Yoder a few times but did not realise that his works were considered so important. How dreadful and sad that a man who wrote about pacifism should perpetrate violence, and on such a scale.

But perhaps even sadder still is the church’s continued dismissal of his sexual abuse as irrelevant and minimal.

At least the Mennonite church has now begun to deal with it publically and apologise, now ensuring that his works, where re-printed, will contain an acknowledgement of his crimes.

Another irony about Steve Chalke’s reference to Yoder in his book on “Being Human” is that Yoder appears to have displayed all the signs of having Narcissistic Personality Disorder (as many, if not all sexual abusers do), lacking that essential characteristic that makes us human: empathy.

Thoughts on Steve Chalke and Yoder: until women are free, nobody is free..

It’s Complicated…

torah1

I met with a lady yesterday, Alison, a newly ordained Deacon in the Church of England. One of the things that were on my list of things to do was to find myself a ‘Spiritual Director’ or mentor.  We had an amazing couple of things in common, one of which was home education – she had home educated her children (what are the chances?!).

She was very encouraging, and talked about how long and hard she had needed to fight in order to get to ordination.

“Don’t let them discourage you”, she said.

When she asked me about my vocation, and why the Church of England, I was able to say immediately how and why I felt I had been called, and why I am in the CofE. She said that I articulated that very well, which rather tickled me, as I did rather make it up on the spot.

But when she asked me why the Priesthood, as opposed to any other kind of Christian ministry, I was a little bit stumped. I tend to believe quite strongly in the Priesthood of all believers, which we discussed, and we agreed that this is a good argument in favour of women leaders / ministers / Priests.

But I realised that I do need to have a deeper understanding of what it means to be a Priest.

And I also realised that I am fudging things a bit. I am still Messianic, I am still evangelical. In fact, in many ways, I am still conservative, and as much as I embrace the traditionally liberal qualities of love, tolerance and social justice, I don’t think that will change. I don’t think those ‘liberal’ qualities are at all inconsistent with a conservative view of scripture.

But can I be consistent as a conservative, Messianic Jewish, evangelical, (Salvationist?!) not-really-feminist, woman Priest in the Church of England?

I don’t know. I hear the call, but I don’t know where it’s leading me. No decisions need to be made at this point; I am on a journey, so I will just keep taking small steps forward, and trust that I am following the right path.

I didn’t discuss all of these things with Alison. I think that, although I am keen to meet with her again, I really need to find somebody else to be a real ‘mentor’, even if she is willing to fulfill the official role of ‘Spiritual Director’. But I really need somebody who is familiar with, or has grappled with the same issues as I have to deal with.

So if you know any other conservative, Messianic Jewish, evangelical, not-really-feminist, women Priests in the Church of England, do please send them my way! (The Salvationist element is optional) 🙂

 

 

 

 

Missional Moms

I have been seeing the term ‘Missional Mom’ around about the place recently, and I followed a link this afternoon to a podcast on the Verge Network, which is an organisation that encourages mission and evangelism.

http://www.vergenetwork.org/2014/06/26/podcast-6-how-to-be-a-missional-mom/

The podcast is an interview with the author of a book of the same name.

I must say at the outset that I haven’t read the book. Nor do I intend at this stage to part with my hard-earned cash to get a copy. (If somebody would like to send me a copy to review, I will happily oblige, however.)

The central argument seems to be that Christian moms (mums for British readers) should not be ‘just’ moms; they should love Jesus more than their children (and apparently they should also love their husbands more than their children; hm, is this Biblical, or an American cultural bias, I wonder?), that they should not make idols of their children, with the implication that being ‘nothing but a mother’ is to do just that.

I think this needs answering.

Certainly, I can agree that we should love Jesus ‘more than these’.

Certainly, I can agree that we should not make idols of our children.

But it does not follow that a mother who has set aside the rest of life and career to give her all to being a mother has made an idol of her children. It does not follow that she loves Jesus any less than missionary moms or moms who are out at work in the Christian or secular workplace.

‘Missional Mom’ could so easily be used as a(nother) stick to beat stay-at-home mothers with.

I am very conscious of the ‘mommy wars’, and they really help no-one – not the women, not the children, not the family and not the faith.

We all follow the path we believe to be the right one, or the one we must follow, or the only one we can afford to follow, we do the best we can. We shouldn’t need to constantly defend our position, and we certainly shouldn’t attack mothers who are following a different path to our own.

But the fact remains that motherhood is a high calling, and one that should not be dismissed or taken lightly, nor delegated carelessly. It is a mission field in itself, every bit as valid as the mission field of other people’s children or indeed any other.

The idea that a stay-at-home mother, ministering to her children’s needs and training them up in the faith, is somehow deficient and lacking in ministry must be rejected. There is no greater mission.

I am already a Missional Mom.