Categories
blame women

Who’s Fault?

Icelandic geyser. Hot steam coming from a fault line. Taken by myself Sept 2016

I am reading a fascinating novella by Claire Keegan called Small Things Like These and have learned the scary fact that the Magdalen Laundries, those places where unmarried mothers were sent to have their babies which were then sent off for adoption, did not all close until 1996. In learning more I discovered they were set up by the Irish Free State in 1922 to keep promiscuous girls “safe”. This is not just an Irish/Catholic thing. I remember volunteering for a old people’s mental health hospital and they had just found the old records as to why the people had been placed in there. For one woman she had been incarcerated there when she was 16 because she was pregnant. When I volunteered there she was in her 70’s and fully institutionalised.

This got me think about how is to blame for these women being there? The nuns who mistreated them? The State for setting up the institutions? The Church? The families of these girls? The men who had slept with them? The moral compass of the time? Fear? Probably all those things. But who gets punished? The girls. The women. The babies.

Were these girls totally innocent? I’m sure some were and some weren’t. Were they promiscuous? I’m sure some where and some weren’t. Did they willingly sleep with these boys and men? I’m sure some did and some were raped. But whatever it is the girls and the women who were punished.

Velveteen Rabbi has just written a moving blog called Choice in which she looks at again how it is the women who are being punished for being pregnant with these new laws being implemented in the US. Do try and find the time to read it all. And do not think that because it has happened in the US it will not happen over here. I think it might have been one of the Tory leadership candidates who said they did not think abortion should be included in the UK’s bill of human rights.

I did a binge watch of Liar last night and I mentioned it in a previous post. [spoiler alert] Her case has been dropped because of lack of evidence, which in reality is saying that when it is “his word against hers” it will always be his word that wins through. By not prosecuting he will not have a criminal record so will be innocent. She will always know she has been raped and it will effect future relationships. She will be the one punished.

So whether is it old Christian ways of looking at the world, Magdalen laundries, State institutions, human rights charters, the laws of government in a country, Police prosecution systems, or sometimes just the way we look at people and the things we say …. “she deserved it” amongst other things …. it is always the woman who is punished, who is to blame for being pregnant, for wanting to abort her child, for wanting more to life than parenting.

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

It is evil when a group of people take the blame and are then punished for something that it is not solely their fault. What are we going to do about it? What are you going to do about it? What am I going to do about it?

I hope that by writing about it I can open a conversation. Hopefully it will be a start. But also I can change my ways of looking at other women; by what I say, how I support, what I allow in my thinking. One starfish at a time I can change my corner of the world.

Categories
Straight Wait

Trust

Me and my dog on a walk alone at a local nature reserve getting some down time. Photo taken by myself, Diane Woodrow, mid July 2022
Llanfairfechan taken by myself July 2022

I don’t normally fill my posts with bible verses but for the past few days these Bible verses has been buzzing about in my head. Firstly –

Trust in the Godhead/the Universe with all of your heart, lean not on your own understanding. Acknowledge God in all you do and God will make your paths straight

Proverbs 3:5-6

There has been some stuff going on, and still is, that I’m not 100% sure about. But this verse, one that gets handed out regularly to those who are just starting out on their journey with Jesus, keeps buzzing around. And I have realised something …. It doesn’t mean just acknowledge the Godhead in the Christian activities you do, the things you think are “good” things, but it means acknowledge God in EVERYTHING YOU DO.

So that means in work, in family life, in church life, in therapies, in sport, in walking the dog, in making meals, in talking with people, etc, etc, etc. Now that doesn’t mean dropping God into all things, or even trying to be “holy”, whatever that means. I think it just means remembering and knowing that God is in all that you do – almost whether they are acknowledge or not. But it makes a huge difference when they are acknowledged.

For for instance I was somewhere and things were not going as I would have like and I was feeling a bit tense, but once I took myself off, did some deep breathing, did some remembering of the QEC things I had done and making sure I placed my whole trust, not just a bit of it, in God’s hands I felt so much calmer.

From there I acknowledge God in all that was going on and let go of what I thought was right and proper [my understanding] and from that moment things just went smoother. And things can only go smoothly if the path is straight and level.

Ok I had to keep coming back to that point of breathing, of remembering the QEC stuff and placing my trust in God not in my understanding, but each time I did I felt more at peace.

It did not change the situation but it changed my heart, changed my direction, changed what I was thinking and feeling.

Now I stand at a place where I feel I am waiting for something to happen. I can either wait for doors to open or I can volunteer for things and fill my time. Whilst pondering this another bible verse came to mind

Stand at the crossroads and look, ask for the ancient paths. Ask where the good way is and walk in it and you will find rest for your soul

Jeremiah 16:6

And I feel like as I am trusting God with all my heart and acknowledging them in all my ways so it means I have to stand and look and ask. I don’t know what my ancient ways are, but I do know that I’d love to go and do whatever gives my soul rest.

And I don’t think rest means doing nothing. I think it means doing what we are meant to do, doing what keeps us in flow, what gives us life.

So volunteering might be the right thing, waiting for doors to open might be the right thing, getting my writing out there might be the right thing. But for now I am going to stand, wait, ask and trust with all that I am, that God will let me know and give me peace as to which way to walk; that I will see those straight paths.

Categories
future past

How Your Past Interacts with Your Future

Seen on lots of Facebook accounts – not sure where it originates

This poster has been circulating Facebook for a while and I used to be very excited by it but actually the more I’ve done my QEC and other things looking at my past and I have come to believe that your past does affect your present which then determines/influences/inspires your future.

I know many of the people who have posted this have had rough pasts – abusive childhoods, drug addicts, etc – but I think those still determine/influence/inspire your future. I would not be sitting here typing this if I had not gone through the things I had been through. I would not have done what I did, would not have experienced what I did, etc.

My past has determined where I am today and so will have a influence on my future. I cannot change the past. I can change the way it affects my present and then my future but it will still be there – even when healed – to make me think.

I pick the jobs I do and the people I hang out with because of my past. I know someone who because of the way their teenage life was has devoted their life to working with young people. They would not have done that unless they had gone through what they had gone through.

I do understand that it is a phrase to say “don’t think you’re stuck because of what has gone on in your life before” but I do think it is a bad use of wording

So let us try to celebrate our past no matter how good or bad it was because that has made us who we are today. And through all of it God has loved each and everyone of us and whether we knew it or not has been there for us to turn to as and when we wanted.

Our past has made us what we are today and who we are today will inspire/influence what we become in the future.

Categories
gratitude hospitality

The Wild Hospitality of God

Pensarn beach, near Abergele. Photographed by myself Diane Woodrow
Taken this morning on my walk

I walked on the beach this morning, powerful waves pounding the shoreline [this picture does not do that sound justice at all], strong wind whipping my hair, images from the James Webb telescope in my brain, pondering the wild hospitality of God, because that is the latest topic on Godspace and I’ve been trying to write a post for it.

It amazes me that God gave us this earth to do with it as we wish, and it often looks like we have just trashed it, tamed it, worked it how we want, abused it. How often have we been disappointed when we have given someone, be that family member or friend, something special of ours and they’ve not down with it as we would have hoped? Don’t know about you but it makes me reluctant to give again. Yet God knows the beginning from the end because they are outside of time and place and yet still gave us this amazing earth. Now that is wild hospitality. But God also gave us the whole universe; too far away for us to trash, change or abuse yet there for us to marvel at and enjoy.

HOSPITALITY the act of being friendly and welcoming

Letting us, even once we have abused the gift we were given, be able to hopefully restore it, but also to be able to marvel at those awesome pictures from the James Webb telescope, sunsets and sunrises, a new born – whether human or animal, trees growing and changing, insects, I could go on and on. So much to wonder at, so much to explore. So much to show how friendly and welcoming God is.

I know if I was God I would stop giving good gifts because of the way my gifts had been mistreated, but God just keeps on giving. And for that I am going to marvel at the wild hospitality of God, the awesomeness of God and the forgiveness of God.

And as Jesus finished talking to the man who asked who his neighbour was I will try and go and “do likewise

Categories
Me Too truth

The Truth Will Set You Free

A view to the Llyn Peninsular taken on a day out with my daughter July 2022

I cried when I heard the result of the RoevWade outcome. How could a country that calls itself civilised take such a backward step? Not only is it saying that women cannot choose but that it is saying women are not able to choose. Then I hear our government saying that abortion doesn’t need to be on The Bill of Rights! Again a major step backwards.

There is that big argument that the child that is aborted could grow up to change the world. Well what if they don’t? What if the child that does not get aborted is brought up in a household on a low income with many different partners in the mother’s life? What if the child is brought up and hated because of what the mother could not do? One cannot talk of “what ifs” when one does not talk about choice.

Did you know it is only recently that Christians believe a person did not become a living being until God breathed life into them at that moment of birth

“I think we know that prior to the Lord putting breath of life into Adam he had a heart, he had a brain with vessels, and these vessels and heart were filled with blood just as the vessels and heart of a fetus are filled with blood. However, Adam did not become a living soul until after the Lord breathed into him the breath of life.

—Robert L. Pettus Jr., MD, As I See Sex Through the Bible, 1973

And “Rabbis have long written that the soul enters the body at birth, with the first breath. For breath is the gift of life from the one who created us. From the God who is both our origin and our destination.”

I know medical science can now keep a baby alive from very early in gestation. I have had friends who have been blessed by this new technology. But that was their choice and that choice has effected their lives since.

I have just read a great article by Nadia Bolz-Weber entitled Stories>Opinions [basically our stories are greater than someone’s opinions] In it she tells her own story of her own abortion, which is very similar to mine, except that she did have a partner with her and friends supporting her. For me, I was in an odd place, sleeping around and did not know who had fathered my child. I was, like Nadia, on a low income and also not in a place to have a child. [I once told this story in a Christian youth group and got cross questioned by the young people, which actually was great because it made me think about what I had done, and I know I did the right thing at that moment in time] Would I have been a good mother then? Who knows. But I chose not to be a mother then.

Later I got my life a bit more sorted and have since had two amazing children. Children that actually I would not have had if I had not aborted the earlier one. Strange that. As someone in my writing group once told me “each choice we make determines where we are today.”

Jon Kuhrt wrote a blog piece a while back on Francis Spufford’s book “Perpetual Light”, which is a story about the children that died in a WWII bomb on a Woolworth’s in London, and what their lives would have been like if they had lived. This got me thinking about what my life would have been like if my first child had lived. I don’t know but I know it would be very different and I know I would not have the children I have now, or the husband I have now, or the life I have now. It would have been different.

When people say about the life of the aborted child they never seem to talk about the life of the mother who has that child, or the father who has to decide what he will do. Also too often the mother is seen as the enemy, as a bad person, who isn’t really thinking properly. I do not know of anyone who did not think through their decisions carefully and how it would impact them and their unborn child. It is not a decision to be taken lightly. But then I did not take it lightly to keep my next two babies. But having an abortion is a taboo subject very rarely talked about in Christian circles openly. Why is that? God knows what I’ve done and still thinks I am amazing. I know this because my first God encounter was of being covered in what felt like a warm, visceral glittery substance and being told I was loved just as I was – unmarried mum who’d had an abortion. I’m not sure what my church would have thought of me if they’d known. I wonder if I will now be asked to stop helping with the youth group that I volunteer at now?

Please can we stop being ashamed of what we’ve done. Please can we start being open about every part of our lives and not just keep God for the clean and tidy bits and pieces. God is the God of the whole of my life – the good and the bad, the times I’ve got it right and the times I’ve got it wrong – and I am loved by God no matter what. That is totally amazing.

And now let us stand together and support those who have had an abortion, who are thinking of having abortions, and also those who think the whole this is an anathema. We are all made in the image of God no matter what we’ve done or what we think. And are loved because of and in spite of all that.

Categories
change expectations

Changing Attitudes

Last night we started watching Liar on Netflix and it made me realise how much women’s attitudes to sex on a date have changed – for the better.

Synopsis – A teacher goes on a date with a surgeon and accuses him of assault the next day.

When I was dating 35+ years ago I know me and my mates would half expect that we would have sex at the end of the night to “pay for the night out” so to speak. That didn’t mean we were compliant but just that we almost did not respect ourselves. I know that if many of my generation had woken up the following morning, like the Laura does, and believed we had not given consent but had been raped we would have just got on with our day. We would not have gone to the Police. Possibly even would not have told anyone. It was just what happened.

Even though the series looks as if it will unfold into something much deeper for me I am hooked by the way Laura stands up for herself. But also that her sister, Katy, at least in this first episode, is willing to support her. I know that even my most caring friends 35+ years ago would have just told me to get over it.

In fact I was assaulted by a boyfriend, and quite badly knocked about, and was encouraged by my boss, a Turkish hotel owner, to go to the Police about it. It did go to court but only because I had a lovely female Police officer who would not let me drop it. But the judge’s verdict was that it was my own fault for staying with this man. I’m not sure if things have changed that much there!

But for me it was seeing Laura, and I’ve seen too with my daughter and her friends, that many of them will now say ‘enough it enough and we expect to be treated with respect’.

So even if the many attitudes have not changed I was encouraged to see the protagonist in this series and also what I see from my daughter and her friends no longer being as me and most of my friends were.

Maybe it should not be the women who have to stand up for themselves but it is still a better way than my generation that just accepted having sex as part of a night out.

Categories
questioning Triune God

Does it really matter?

The grounds of Hawarden Castle. Photographed by myself July 2022

I’ve got an important post to write so I am procrastinating. So this one comes as my not quite so controversial post but still up there.

What does it matter what gender or sexuality God is? Have you ever thought that? Or do you just go along with what you have been conditioned by church and by society?

Jesus calls God Father but was that just to make it easier for people to understand? Would he have made things harder in a male dominated society if he had called God “Parent” rather than Father? Jesus himself compares himself to a mother hen wanting to draw Jerusalem under his wing. Also God made man and woman in their image. It isn’t that man was made in God’s image and woman was anything left over. It says clearly that man and woman were made in God’s image.

I believe “he” is used because of not being able to use “it” as that seems impersonal. Of course now the word for someone not idenitfying solely as male or female is “they”. God is all and so must cover all genders and none so they would be a much better pronoun to use – even if it is confusing after so many hundreds and thousands of years of God being he.

The triune God is not like the gods of Greek, Roman, Norse and other mythologies which have many gods, some male and some female. The triune God covers all genders. It must do otherwise they couldn’t have made man and woman in their image.

But does it really matter? Is it because of something deep within that makes us want to talk to a male god not a female one? Or a transgender one?

Also what about Jesus and his sexuality? In The Last Temptation of Christ there is a controversial scene of Jesus imagining having sex with Mary Magdalene; a temptation he never succumbed to. But what if Jesus was asexual, not interested in sex with either men or women? Or what if he was gay? Perhaps it was because of his asexuality or homosexuality that he was not betrothed at thirty years of age?

But my point here – as well as hopefully making you think – is to wonder why it matters what sex God is, what sexuality Jesus had. Why do people get so upset if one says God might be a woman? or Jesus might be gay?

Surely if God is totally amazing and made the whole universe and made us in their image it shouldn’t matter their sexuality.

Surely if Jesus came to take away our sin and pain and open a doorway back to full relationship with God it should not matter what his sexual leanings were.

Maybe if we could focus on the amazingness of God, of Jesus, of relationship with the triune God and stop worrying what pronoun to call God or who Jesus might or might not have fancied we could get on with loving ourselves and each other fully and stop making judgements.

My challenge to you today it to try to call God “she” or “they” and to try and wonder how Jesus stayed true to himself and resisted the temptation to fit in.