Through women’s eyes

There’s a depressing phenomenon in the children’s book industry: girls happily read books marketed to both girls and boys, while boys usually only read books marketed to boys. What this means is that boys tend to have their worldview reinforced, whereas girls tend to see the world through the eyes of both girls and boys. It reminds me of the scene in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, when Trillian zaps Zaphod Beeblebrox with the point-of-view gun. Zaphod, a complete narcissist, suddenly sees the world and himself through her eyes. He reels in shock, then grabs the gun to zap her back. She looks at him and shrugs. “It won’t affect me,” she says sadly, “I’m already a woman.” Continue reading “Through women’s eyes”

Knitting in love

I remember being a child, legs swinging off the pew, when my mother gave a sermon on Dorcas. She began by holding up a copy of the newspaper’s weekend magazine. The cover showed her cousin, Col: a gold-chain wearing, chest-hair exposing boastful businessman, and close friend and associate of the now infamous Alan Bond. The accompanying article gushed over Col’s wealth, power and influence. Continue reading “Knitting in love”

Visions of an Angry Prophet

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I recently came across the idea of a life verse: that is, the idea that there is a Bible verse for each of us which encapsulates who we are, and guides our journey of faith. I rolled my eyes. Straightaway, two verses hit me. From Jonah: “It is indeed right for me to be angry, even unto death.” And from Psalm 139: “You knit me in my mother’s womb; I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” We like our pastors to be nice — but I can’t promise you that. For I have been fearfully and wonderfully made: as an angry prophet. And like Bartimaeus, my faith has opened my eyes; and as I look around, I see too many practices in our churches which deny too many people their full and God-given humanity. Continue reading “Visions of an Angry Prophet”

Esther

Esther is often portrayed as a love story. So let’s begin by making some observations. King Xerxes eliminated Queen Vashti when she refused to parade herself in front of an extended men-only drinking bout. Having got rid of her, Xerxes needed a new queen. His advisors suggested he seize all the beautiful young virgins, give each one a night to prove herself, and choose from among them. So Esther did not line up at the palace flapping an application form for a beauty pageant; nor did the king pick her for her personality. Instead, she was a vulnerable young woman who was noticed for her beauty and abducted by the king’s brute squad, and whose only hope for survival lay in pleasing the king’s eunuch – for then he “provided her with her cosmetic treatments and her portion of food (2:9). A year of beauty treatment and education prepared her for the next step in her survival: sexually captivating the king. In other words, Esther has less agency than a bunny in the Playboy Mansion and yet, even in such terrifying, humiliating and unpromising circumstances, her courage, obedience and wisdom saves the Jewish people from annihilation. Continue reading “Esther”

A Passion for Life

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Tonight’s story is often called “The Birth and Childhood of Moses”, or something similar. We care about Moses, because he grew up to be the person who led God’s people out of slavery in Egypt. But in this story, Moses is just a baby, with no special qualities. Instead, it’s the women who are interesting – they do stuff! The midwives disobey and mock Pharaoh. Moses’ mother marries, conceives, labours, hides the baby, builds the ark, places him in it, and finally nurses him again. His sister stands, watches, suggests, runs and arranges; Pharaoh’s daughter walks, sees, opens, pities and names. Moses is passive: things happen to him. But these women are active. They all embrace God’s passion for life so wholeheartedly that they are willing to defy Pharaoh and the powers of empire: and they act.  Continue reading “A Passion for Life”

Smash the Patriarchy! The sin revealed through Jacob’s wives

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The third time I was pregnant, I was regularly stopped by strangers in the street. Seeing only a woman with two little girls and a big belly, they would say, “I pray you have a son at last …”. And last month, I was at a dinner with a woman who asked about my children. When I said I had three daughters, she started and said, “What, no sons?” “No sons,” I said cheerfully and firmly. She gazed at me for a few long moments, then said consolingly, “That’s ok … that’s ok.” It certainly is, I thought to myself, proud mother that I am! Continue reading “Smash the Patriarchy! The sin revealed through Jacob’s wives”

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