Tuesday, November 17, 2009
But I still want to look good from time to time. One day, I'd like to lose a few pounds, get a hairstyle that actually works and learn to dress to suit my shape. Being an ugly duck teenager didn't really do me any favours. I'd quite like to be a swan now, please.
But am I undermining my feminist values in the pursuit of a more conventionally attractive me?
Well, browsing through the daily papers this morning, I came across this....
'You can be beautiful and still be a feminist'
Here's an extract:
Jill Berry, president of the Girls' School Association, which represents nearly 200 independent schools, told its annual conference in Harrogate: "Girls can be highly intelligent and interested in being seen to be attractive – the two aren't mutually exclusive. Caring about physical appearance and fashion and wanting to feel good about how you look doesn't have to be a betrayal of some feminist ideal. I love new shoes but it doesn't make me shallow. Girls can have fun and be taken seriously at the same time."
My first response was, "Well, duh!". But this does highlight an important issue for me. In my experience, female friends will espouse exactly the same views that I feel define me as a feminist, but preface them with 'I'm not a feminist but...', as if being a feminist is THE most unattractive trait possible in a woman. How can we challenge that myth of hairy, unwashed, (manly?) feminism without being accused of selling-out? (I realise there are many male feminists too, and that they're probably perfectly happy to be manly...this is really about the female face of feminism).
I am not solely defined by my looks, nor should anyone be. But I do have a body of which I am not entirely ashamed. A body I would like to improve, for fitness as well as appearance. The way I physically appear is one way I present myself to the world and, feminist or not, I want that world to view me favourably. This is partly from insecurity, no doubt, and the desire to 'measure up' to societal norms.
But there can be a more positive side to this - about owning my physical presence as much as my spiritual and intellectual presence. About being comfortable in my own skin and honouring what God's given me by looking after it.
This shouldn't be an excuse for self-obsessive preening, for damaging and unachievable goal-setting, for judging people solely on appearance. And no one should EVER be made to feel that they are not good enough because of the way they look. Thin should not be king. Self respect, confidence and an ease with who and what you are is the goal.
Ummm.... did I just fail my GCSE in feminism?
Wednesday, November 04, 2009
I love elvis from KORE uk on Vimeo.
As a youth worker, I'm always looking for something a bit different - cool resources that might connect with our youth group on certain issues, inspiring them or encouraging them to think more deeply about something. So, I was chuffed to bits when I received the Kore press release last week.
This is what the Kore crew say about themselves:
In 2006, KORE was founded with a passion for the core of the gospel and the core of who Jesus calls us to be. The vision is to explore the heart and roots of our faith and to discover what the Kingdom of God looks like in our world.
KORE is a place for fresh ideas, new ways to engage and opportunities to join the discussion. Our website provides you with resources to download and use, inviting you to be challenged and inspired. We provide consultation to provoke thought and discussion, helping others to form and develop their own ideas.
KORE is an ever-growing community of people whose conversation and collaborative creativity shape and form what you see here. At our heart you will find a desire to engage with the world around us and a confession to not having all the answers. The journey of KORE is packed full of partnerships with others, both inside and outside the church.
I especially love their video content, which comes from a range of different filmakers around the world. Take some time to check out their Flicks section.
I Love Elvis is produced by the Kore team and can be found in the Shibboleth section - modern parables for a church tucked up in bed.
I'm also excited about what might come out of their new Voices concept. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Monday, November 02, 2009
Here's a little taster:
"I don't have faith. I really don't. Rowan Williams does as do many of my fellow philosophers like Alvin Plantinga (a Protestant) and Ernan McMullin (a Catholic). I think they are wrong; they think I am wrong. But they are not stupid or bad or whatever. If I needed advice about everyday matters, I would turn without hesitation to these men."
I am so grateful for such an insightful piece, that challenges this ridiculous (and false) polarisation of atheist and religious world-views. Such a deliberately divisive world-view as that espoused by Dawkins et al can never be a route to better understanding and human growth.
So, more please, Professor Ruse!
Thursday, October 08, 2009
Here's a poem from my favourite poet (and good buddy) Paul Barrett.
During dinner break at work
I took a quiet and pleasant stroll
Into Sixteen sixty-eight.
The smell of timber still in air
I walked around an antiques fair
Along Westminster Bridge.
And shuffling in among the crowd
I bought a few old bits and things
From the Fifteenth Century.
I walked back to work,
And sold them (promptly)
By auction (of course)
For a good few thousand pounds.
How very strange! (I now reflect)
That people don’t do things
Like this more often.
Paul is an expert in Microsoft SharePoint, daddy to Zac, Luca & Lily-Rose and hubby to the fabulously gorgeous Katie. He is also author of the awesome and highly recommended book Time Ninety-Seven.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Friday, September 25, 2009
So here's my feelgood playlist - for the last 2 1/2 years, popping this on the iPod and pressing 'Shuffle' has been guaranteed to lift my day...
Dragostea Din Tei
Men Without Hats
5 Minutes of Fame
Sing, Sing, Sing (With a Swing)
Goo Goo Dolls
Here it Goes Again
The Producers Soundtrack
Hey Ya - a fine polemic on the breakdown of modern relationships and family values ;o)
Hindi Sad Diamonds
Moulin Rouge Soundtrack
Hips Don't Lie
Too Many Miles
I Wanna Be a Producer
The Producers Soundtrack
Interestingly, it's more the music and sing-a-bility that makes these tracks uplifting than the actual lyrics. hmmm....
Tuesday, September 08, 2009
* Beer n hymns
* Sixpence None the Richer performing their new material
Sixpence None the Richer lead singer Leigh Nash
* The launch of TheMediaNet - a network for Christians working in the media (check it out!)
* Spending time with lovely hubby Jim Drew (who took all these photos)
* Sunday morning worship (politically charged and positively dire - check out the Greenbelt blog for the criticisms)
* Freezing my butt off in the tent on Friday night
* Missing all the cool stuff scheduled for Monday (especially awesome fantasy author Jasper Fford)
* Sixpence None the Richer performing their old material. Some things are best left in the past.
All in all, though, I had a ruddy good time.
Wednesday, August 05, 2009
The article states that groups of liberal anglicans are planning some kind of takeover of General Synod at the quinquennial elections next year, in order to the steer the church into some kind of bright new liberal future...hmmm....
The statement from the groups is worth a read, and rather than focusing on liberal dominance at General Synod, it speaks of seeking to forge links between local churches that that are like minded. But for me it raises that enduring Christian problem ... the question of unity between people of radically different perspectives (and I'm certain it's not exclusively an Anglican issue).
So, here comes the $64 million dollar question - how do we - as a people of different theologies, beliefs and concerns - live, worship learn and grow together? Can we?
And a supplementary question for the bonus prize...
If we prize unity as highly as we seem to be claiming in the hallowed CofE, why does no one really seem to know what Anglican unity might look like?
Answers on a postcard please...
These are really difficult questions for me, especially in light of last week's Blackburn Cathedral story. It is painful to me that there are members of the Church who do not share my joy over the recognition of women's ministry (among other theological, scriptural and moral issues). I feel that I have a duty to actively seek out common ground with such people, even though I may sometimes find their views personally offensive, and I would hope they feel some duty to seek common ground with me. And it strikes me that the motivation for such pursuits must never primarily be so that I can 'win them over' to my perspective or vice versa.
Croatian theologian Mirsolav Volf has some very important things to say about identity and engagement with the 'other' that I feel are relevant here, but rather than try to do him justice I shall simply recommend his excellent book Exclusion & Embrace. One of his key points is that in engaging with the 'other', the move to shape them in your own likeness (rather than in the shared pursuit of learning from one another) is essentially an act of violence. It violates the integrity of the human person. How can I constructively communicate with those with whom I disagree in that kind of context?
Another question on this imaginary dialogue... how (for example) might I recognise their pain over the ordination of women, whilst remaining true to my own interpretation of the gospel? How can we balance our own integrity on key issues against the call to recognise, affirm and rejoice in others?
Many, many questions...
I might claim to value unity, but more often than not I feel that it would be great if everyone agreed with me... no arguments, no discussions, just perfect harmony.... or perhaps not. My theology says 'yes' to unity, but so often my heart says 'no'.
It is abundantly clear that in the formulation of Church law, policy and practice we will never be able to please everyone. In fact, in a sense it's not about pleasing anyone at all - it is about pursuing holiness and scriptural integrity whilst also seeking to honour our corporate identity as the body of Christ.
And it's not just Rowan Williams' job to hold the Anglican church together. We all have responsibilities in whatever capacity we hold - worshipper, priest, dissenting voice.
This will certainly be playing on my mind in the coming weeks...
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
The last supper (Matthew 26:26-30), and
Breakfast on the beach (John 21:9-14).
Ken reflected on these readings and after each reflection visitors and passers-by were invited to share in Holy Communion, presided over by Revd Martin Turner, of Westminster Central Hall fame.
For me it was about challenging perceptions of what church, what worship is and who worship is for. For thousands of years, art has been central to much of how Christians express and explore our faith and, in my opinion, Ken's appearance on the fourth plinth should be counted among such works of art.
It was a wonderful act of worship and I'm grateful to Ken for all his hard work in getting it off the ground (literally). But he was also supported by a fantastic crew from his own church and around Methodism.
PS. As a strange side-story, whilst waiting for the action to begin, I was chatted-up by a chap who appeared to be a Romanian gigolo....a most strange experience...
Monday, June 22, 2009
Thursday, June 18, 2009
The day before the wedding Brad & Jim decided that it was absolutely essential to do a spot of sand-castle building. Armed with a bucket and spade from the hotel reception (brilliant hotel) they constructed a rather impressive fort, complete with moat, some kind of rope reclaimed from the sea and some scabby bits of crab (boys!). And when that one was washed away? Well, they just started again!
The next day started with kayaking in the bay - a special activity arranged by the bride and groom for the wedding guests. On the way there, one of the blokes remarked that it was a rather cunning ruse to get all the men down to the pub without the women....then he spotted me and I apparently became an honorary man. It was fab. We were told that 'you really shouldn't get wet' and 'it's quite difficult to fall out of a kayak'. Clearly not that difficult. Mind you, it might have had something to do with the man standing on my kayak, trying to get back to his own one.
The wedding in the afternoon was lovely. It was in a beautiful church, the hymns were familiar to many and the message given by the vicar was accessible and touching. Claire and Jim are a wonderful couple and wonderful friends and it was great to share their day.
The evening celebrations were completely fab, with good food, nice wine and cheesy music galore. We danced our socks off and met some really cool people. But none could rival Alice for dancing! A gorgeous girl with some funky moves!
All in all, a very happy weekend!
Friday, May 29, 2009
Church dismisses BNP election posters
Churches urged to take action ahead of European elections
Church leaders in Lincolnshire speak out against the BNP
Church leaders in East Anglia have also made a statement, commenting that 'Christ calls us to love our neighbours as ourselves and in this forthcoming election we believe it is right to be vigilant about any party or individual candidate seeking to use people’s fears for their own well-being to stir racial or religious hatred'. (no weblink available)
Statement from Church leaders: vote next week, vote positively
The BNP cannot pick and choose the laws it will obey
Now for a confession. I have never been very enthused by voting at election time. Yes, I'm aware that women fought and died for my right to vote and am thus very ashamed to admit that I forgot to vote in the last general election. May shame be heaped upon me. BUT I have firmly resolved to give a damn in future and to commit to use my votes wisely. My friends and colleagues have suitably shamed and encouraged me to start taking democracy seriously.
So, in the words of Methodist, URC and Baptist Church leaders: vote next week, use your vote positively for the values and interests you believe in.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Church leaders in Lincolnshire published this joint statement asserting that the policies and __ of the BNP are completely inconsistent with the teaching and example of Jesus Christ.
The leaders represent more than 50,000 Christians in Lincolnshire, North Lincolnshire and North East Lincolnshire across the Salvation Army, Methodist, Anglican, Catholic, Baptist, Independent and United Reformed Churches.
They said; "We cannot stand by when groups and individuals are maligned, misrepresented and singled out for verbal or even physical abuse.
"In a democracy it is even more alarming when prejudices founded upon country of origin, race or religion become part of a political platform, and are offered to the electorate for endorsement."
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Zachary's Zoo is a window into an autistic brain. Katie's son Zac is nearly 8 years old and severely autistic. This blog is her attempt to get inside Zac's amazing brain and share what he is seeing, thinking, feeling. Zac has very little language of his own, so Katie is mostly saying what she thinks he might say, if he could.
Katie & her husband Ale are two of my closest friends and, at the risk of being gushy, I don't think Zac could ever want for more persistent, patient and loving parents. Because of their strength and commitment they have recently managed to get him a place in a school for children with severe learning difficulties - a major breakthrough in an underfunded and restricted education system.
Check out the blog and take a step into Zac's world....
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
I commented yesterday to my friend Ale that it seemed to be the end of a marriage of convenience, but thinking about it now I've changed my mind.
It seems to me that their coupling, rather being a media stunt to revive tired careers, had something really quite genuine about it. Now, you can't deny that it's done wonders for their media profiles - the music, book deals, TV shows, magazine profiles - but I think that's more to do with their completely shameless openness about every element of their lives, than anything else. In fact, there has been so little left to the imagination, that you could hardly accuse them of hidden agendas. They are a voyeur's dream. On one hand they seem too flawless, too plastic, too perfectly built, but on the other they have exposed themselves (quite literally), sparing no gory detail. Most celebrity marriages leave at least something to the imagination!
You can't deny that they've financially profited from their relationship, but the romantic in me says that's about the nature of their relationship, less than the drive to make money. They have lived their lives so openly that you can't help but be fascinated. But perhaps I'm being too naive! One way or another, it seems to be the end of a very short but intense celebrity era.
Wednesday, May 06, 2009
‘That Kabbalah sect kept droning on about how life was one big mysterious journey into the unknowable. I’m a single mother of three; I haven’t got time for all that ‘unknowable’ s**t. To be frank, I’ve had it up to here with those premium rate mystics; give me a decent Wesley hymn and a good solid working party report any day.’
She should be so lucky. Oh no, wait that's Kylie...we'll get her too. All in good time...
Brought to you by the good people at NewsBiscuit: The news before it happens.
Tuesday, May 05, 2009
Okay, I know it's a week old, but I'm still trying to catch up on emails from when I was away and found this little gem.
So these are what most caught my attention in the daily newspaper trawl...
Archbishop calls for Anglican unity
Rumours of God's return are greatly exaggerated
Birth control for men in one injection
Note to self
'I didn't know when I married him that my husband had a mental illness'
Will try to make time for some proper blogging soon...
Monday, April 20, 2009
The theme was the Word of God and what it means to speak of Jesus as 'The Word'.
So, here it is. All feedback welcome....
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Tomorrow the House of Lords will be debating Government proposals to double stakes and prizes on Category C and D gaming machines.
An alliance of 9 UK Christian organizations (including the Church of England and the Salvation Army) are calling on the Government to reject these proposals. If the proposals are accepted the prize limit on pub fruit machines will be higher than weekly benefit levels, at a time when many families will be struggling to make ends meet.
The campaign’s website is www.fruitless.org.uk and our recent press releases are here: http://methodist.org.uk/index.cfm?fuseaction=opentogod.newsDetail&newsid=333 and here: http://methodist.org.uk/index.cfm?fuseaction=opentogod.newsDetail&newsid=338.
Let's hope the Lords see sense on this one....
• Election pack highlights BNP threat
On 4 June 2009 every adult in the UK will have the opportunity to vote in the European Parliament Elections. There will also be some English County Council elections.
A briefing from the Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Methodist Church and the United Reformed Church explains the importance of citizenship and participating in democratic processes.
Check it out & get involved here.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Shouldn't be so excited about such a geeky thing, but this really is cool.
Now all I have to do is produce some audio worth listening to....
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Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Disparaging comments by adults about a children’s presenter have led to an angry backlash in support of Cerrie Burnell, the 29-year-old CBeebies host who was born missing the lower section of her right arm. One man said that he would stop his daughter from watching the BBC children’s channel because Burnell would give his child nightmares.
(See hyperlink for full story.)
This story makes me really sad. It's parents, not children who are making complaints about this presenter being given air time. Never mind the fact that she's a fantastic role model for disabled kids, she's also a bloody good children's TV presenter.
My 5-year-old friend Luca is completely comfortable watching Cerrie Burnell on CBeebies, and it's good for him to see that she's just as much a human being as anyone else and is a skilled presenter for children on one of the few channels to still offer decent children's TV.
Parents like the one who commented “I didn’t want to let my children watch the filler bits on The Bedtime Hour last night because I know it would have played on my eldest daughter’s mind and possibly caused sleep problems,” are symptomatic of society's rejection of anything that can be perceived as 'other' or 'different'.
Why can't they just simply explain to their children the nature of Ms Burnell's disability and that it is not something frightening? These children are being poisoned by their parent's prejudices.
Some days I wish people would just wake up and live in the real world.
Friday, January 09, 2009
Cindy McCain Claims Sheâ��s â��Just Like Any Other Female Humanâ��
Stephen Green and Christian voice are an embarrassment to Christianity - they don't represent me by any stretch of the imagination. What a wonderfully, tolerant, engaging and loving image they must be seeking to project...
Tuesday, January 06, 2009
It could be an atheist bus, but we're not quite sure
British comedy writer Ariane Sherine is the brains behind the Atheist Bus Campaign, hitting London today.
I met up with Ariane just before Christmas to find out more. You can find my interview on the Methodist Web Radio page.
We spent a lot of time chatting and she's very cool. We agree on many issues and I can't help thinking she'd be an excellent Methodist spokesperson if it wasn't for that whole God thing...
Also check out the News Stories page for the Methodist response when the Campaign was announced back in October.
Monday, January 05, 2009
Awesome first day back.
Maybe I'm just tired, but it's nice to be saying something important about issues that really matter.
I will now go to bed and stop all this silly web surfing. Have started purchasing random things online. We will soon be the proud owners of a 5ft bean bag. That's when you know you should have gone to bed half and hour ago...
Jackpots and stakes doubled as gaming industry given boost by ministers
A great comment piece by an expert follows the story here...
Fruit machines could start a life-long addiction
Tonight, the wonderful David Bradwell made his first TV appearance, speaking on precisely this issue. It was on the BBC News channel and I nearly cried with pride.
Not a bad first day back at work for the New Year, considering I expected it to be rather less exciting.