Star Trek, Faith and the EU

After freeing themselves from the Cardassian occupation, the Bajoran’s asked for support from the Federation so that they were able to rebuild their economy and move forward in their development. Although they had broken free by themselves they recognised that there was safety within a union of other societies. However, Bajor did not join the Federation. They applied, they were accepted but they delayed their joining because of the possible damage to their planet if they became an enemy of the Dominion. Instead, they remained neutral. This led to an occupation by the Dominion, except they called ‘allies’. For a planet who had just escaped occupation, they could see an occupation by another name was still an occupation.
They refused to join the Federation because they didn’t want to lose their identity but they ended up losing it without a choice.
For years, there has been talk about ‘Britishness’ and ‘British Values’. There is concern that too many people who live here do not conform to what it means to be British. There is a fear that Britishness could be lost. That there are too many of thems coming over here and destroying this way of life which we love.
I’ll be honest, I still haven’t fully worked out what British Values are….apart from queuing and tea….and we don’t grow tea here. Maybe British Values are the ones that led us to defend other countries against inequalities which led us to war. Maybe British Values are the greed which led us to swap people for sugar. What would I prefer?
But my identity isn’t rooted in the country I was born in. It is rooted in kingdom I was born again into. My identity is rooted in the ideas of defending the weak and the poor, of setting captives free, of going to all peoples and declaring good news of a God who saves. My identity is about a world where all are equal, all are priests of the Most High God.
My identity is in being called to put my neighbour first. So who is my neighbour and how they can best be helped?
My neighbours include those in the UK who suffer at the hands of austerity. They also include those in other countries. Those who my British grandfather’s went to war to protect. My neighbours include those who enter Europe daily, leaving the countries they love because they have been destroyed by wars. My neighbours include all of those in need. And I don’t think that isolating myself away from their problems is the best way to react to their problems. It may be easier for me. It might be best for me. But is it best for my neighbour?

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Trans Feminism

There has been a lot of discussion about the place of trans people in feminism and in some ways I can understand it. Cis women experience discrimination because society identifies them as women while trans women experience discrimination because society refuses to identify them as women. On the face of this it seems like two very opposite forms of discrimination. How can one group support people who are experiencing such opposites of discrimination?
However, in many ways both forms of discrimination are a response to the question what is a woman. When a trans woman is asked to live ‘as a woman’ can she work in construction or science? Can she wear trousers? Must she wear make-up?
Women’s bodies and women’s roles are under constant scrutiny. When boys are looking up girl’s skirts at a school in Milton Keynes, it is the girls who are sent home to change into more appropriate clothes. When women are fully covered they are being oppressed. When women wear make up they are lying to men. When women don’t wear make up they have let themselves go.
In my view, the actual discrimination faced by both cis and trans women is that neither are living up to societal standards of what a woman should be. When trans women are told that they are not female enough, cis women need to be challenging the notion of ‘female enough’ because it applies to them as well. Feminism needs the voice of trans women to remind us of how far we have to go. To remind us where the challenges remain. To remind us that femaleness is still being judged on the clothes being worn, on the jobs being held and on reproductive ability.

When he became a she – walking in love

just a jesus follower

walking in love blogThe other day, Zac and I went into a retail store and were greeted by an associate.

I soon recognized the associate as someone I used to go to church with years ago. Someone close to my age, who I had shared many years sitting next to in our small little church.

But, he had changed.

He was now a she.

I could tell my friend recognized me, but didn’t think I would recognize them. They helped me around the store and their hands were shaking almost uncontrollably the entire time.

I knew why.

They were afraid.

Afraid of what I might say if I caught onto who they were.

Afraid of seeing the shocked Christian look of horror on my face.

Afraid of my judgement or God knows what Bible verses I just might hurl at them.

Afraid of being shamed.

And it BROKE MY HEART.

I decided to…

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Living Life

There is an episode of Red Dwarf in which the crew wake up and find that they have been in a virtual reality game and that everything that happened on Red Dwarf was part of the game. As they talk to the technician who is helping them out of the game, they realise that they have been playing it wrong. Instead of having happy, successful lives with all their dreams coming true, they having been living in isolation, struggling through.
Sometimes, I think maybe that is what life is like. At the end of time, you look back on your life and realise that you did it wrong. You wasted too much energy on hate and negativity and missed out on all the joy that was there for the taking.
CS Lewis asked how solid would you be if your life was separated into all the moments of your life and only the moments where you were really you, only those moments where you grew and helped others grow were kept? How much of you would be left if the hate and anger and bitterness were removed? Would there be enough of you? Would you be solid enough? Would you be a ghost?
There was a man who said that he wanted to provide a way for people to live life…fully live it. Not just exist in it and have life happen to them, or have life happen around them but to have live life. To have all of their moments to be moments that would be saved at the end of time.
Sometimes I do things which aren’t me. They aren’t going to be featured in the moments of my life because they have nothing to do with my life. They are the moments when someone else’s life has been imposed onto me or when I have taken their life and prioritised above who I am. I think that I am helping them, I think that I am being supportive but I’m not. I’m not helping them to be them and I’m not being me. No one is benefitting.
Sometimes, it is easier to be someone else. Easier to forget that to be you means fighting against something, someone, everything. Sometimes it is easier for the bits of you that cause problems with the bits of the world to go away.
But there was a man who wanted all of everyone’s moments to be moments when they were fully alive. And he showed us how to do it. How to be fully yourself even when the rest of the world wants you to crumble under the weight of their priorities. Even when you feel buried under all the other things you think you should or ought to be.
Bad things will happen. Good things will happen. But to be you in all situations is living.

Sugar and Spice and Puppy dog tails

transgender20sign

Girls like dolls. Boys like football. Boys get muddy. Girls wear make up. From before birth the choices that a child will have, the expectations of what they will do and the opportunities a child will have is already limited by society’s understanding of what is right, what is acceptable and what is possible for children who are defined as female and those who are defined as male.

These definitions change over time and vary from culture to culture. There was a time when pink was seen as a boy’s colour and blue was seen as a girl’s colour. There are cultures where cooking is seen as the duty of men and women are not allowed in the kitchen.

People claim that there are inherent gender differences which is the reason for differences in gender roles. However, most gender differences are socially constructed.

The choices that we make and the decisions that we make in life are based on the expectations of other people.

The decision to stop binary definitions of gender is one that says ‘do not define me by your views of gender’, it says ‘my decisions, my life choices reflect me, not my gender’.

The decision to stop binary definitions of gender is one that does not give genders to items of clothing, job roles or issues. Dresses and skirts are just dresses and skirts. Science is open to all. Women’s issues are issues for all of humanity.

 

 

 

 

 

What if I stumble

At work, we have hot desks which means that although we mostly sit in the same sort of area we don’t have an allocated desk. This is because we are in and out of the office so often that it doesn’t make sense for us to have allocated desks. I am based in one location for four days a week and another for one day a week and then I do visits throughout the day with some occasions hours/days at the third office base.
Because of this there are some people we may only work nearby once or twice a week. There is one woman who sits near me about once a week, but not always. One time I was debating with another colleague – one who I sit by regularly. I won the debate and my colleague said ‘will there ever be a time when I argue with you and win?’ I responded that I only got involved in arguments if I could win. The woman laughed and explained that the last time she had sat near me I had said the same thing to someone else.
I suppose it is something I do throughout my life – I am successful in things because I do them knowing that I will be successful in them. I am currently undertaking a masters with the open university in childhood and youth studies. I’ve had no problems with the modules directly related to working with children and young people, however, really struggled with the unexpectedly not children focussed module about continued professional development.
I know that I am excellent at working with children and young people. I am able to build relationships quickly, take an interest, remember things and challenge behaviour. I have studied and have the relevant book knowledge. I have no doubt in my ability to work with children and young people in a variety of situations.
However, I have no idea what my abilities are. I don’t know how it is that I build relationships quickly. I don’t know what it is in me that means that when I took a week off work a young person refused to talk to any of my colleagues and instead, waited for me to return. I don’t know what I’m doing.
Perhaps, that is the reason why I found the module on continued professional development difficult. How can I develop myself as a professional if I can’t reflect on what I do? How can I develop strategies when my most successful experiences seem to have come out of nowhere? How can I continue if I don’t know where it is that I have started?
When I was a teenager some WEC missionaries visited my church and were involved in the youth club that I was volunteering at. They were shocked to find out I was only 15/16 and said that I should consider a gap year with WEC when I was 18. I think it was the first time that I realised that maybe what I was doing was something, was a skill, a talent, a thing.
In some ways I think it is important that I continue to recognise that I have no idea what makes a visit with a young person effective. I have no idea when my words will resonate. In the end, the skills, talents, success isn’t down to me. How can it be when I don’t know what I’m doing? There is something greater at work, something more than me that leads to an easy rapport.
However, that doesn’t mean that I should just walk into visits and hope that whatever it is will do its magic and everything will be ok. I don’t understand how it works so maybe it works better when I have a plan, resources, knowledge. And that is the reason why the boot of my car is full of resources and activities so that I never walk into a visit empty handed – even if I never use them when I’m in there. That is the reason why I put so much effort, research and planning into each visit. To make sure that whatever it is that helps me working with children and young people has the best chance of getting used.
And sometimes it is the game of top trumps or table top bowling that opens discussions, sometimes its a willingness to discuss minecraft, vampires or lego. Sometimes its my nails, my shoes, my hair. Sometimes its nothing, just a case of being in the right place at the right time and being willing to listen.
I think sometimes, it’s saying I don’t know what it is that I’m meant to be doing, I don’t know why I’m here but I’m here and I’m willing to do my best in this situation. I’m in the debate and I don’t join if I can’t win.
There are gifts that are given by God. There are situations that are used by God. There are things that are made sacred by God. It is my responsibility to make sure that the gifts I was given are in the best condition to be used. It is my job to make sure that I have gone into the situation and it is an honour to be able to reveal the sacred to others.