Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Paula in Bolivia

As some of you know and some of you don't, my twinny Paula is going to Bolivia for nine months to speak Spanish and work with street children. If you're interested in keeping up to date with what she's doing then her blog is Bolivian Blogging

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

The Comfort Women - take action

During the Second World War the Japanese forced thousands of women from Korea, the Phillipines and other countries into sexual slavery. These women were repeatedly raped and subject to enormous amounts of human rights abuses. Many of these women are still suffering from this trauma, but increasingly many are bravely coming forward and telling their stories in the fight for justice.

Japan has still not apologised for these horrific atrocities. Like I've said in earlier posts, apologising can seem almost meaningless, but actually I believe apologising is the first step towards real change, justice, and healing. No one person was responsible for this, those who abducted the women, those who raped them, those who authorised it, and those who simply did nothing, all have a share of the blame. This, like so many others, is the crime of a nation (probably nations) as well as individuals.

I believe that an apology from Japan, followed by real compensation for the women still living, and an acknowledgment that the attitudes to women that led to these abuses still exist and need to change are essential. (I think what I just said could be described as repentence, acknowledging the sin but going further than that and creating real change).

Several nations have called for Japan to officially apologise, including the USA, the Netherlands, Canada and the European Parliment. Amnesty International are currently calling for the Phillipines to join these nations in requesting repentance. particularly significant given how many Fillipino women were comfort women. You can take action to support this campaign here

p.s. I love this post you should read it!

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Recovering from ideas of God

When I was 15 I was convinced that God wanted me to leave school after I'd done my Standard Grades (like GCSEs in England) and start doing youth work (never mind that I was still a teenager myself!). This was basically my worst nightmare. I really liked school, was very good academically, and far too timid to work with troubled young people! I obsessed over it for ages, desperatly wanting not to do this, but feeling this immense pressure to leave what I liked and do something I hated for God. I finally changed my mind about doing this when an amazing woman came up to me randomly in a youth group meeting and told me that God had good plans for me, not plans to hurt me (see Jeremiah). I'm very grateful to her for being willing to faithfully tell me this when she had no reason to believe that its what I needed to hear.

This story, and a couple of others that I don't want to tell over the internet (privacy is a wonderful thing!) are representative of the idea of God that I'm still trying to fight, and I don't think I'm alone in this. Years of reading true christians stories about how people laid down all their ambitions to do something they never would have considered themselves have left a part of me still believing that what God wants for me is do the things that i want to do least. So although I don't like talking to strangers, I think God wants me to become some crazy street evangelist, and although I'm not very good at working with teenagers, that must be what God wants me to do because I would find it hard.

And I suppose this isn't entirely a lie, because the christian way is narrow, the gospel is full of challenges and (contrary to most 'megachurch' thought), no one ever said that walking in Jesus' way was easy. But through all those challenging things the bible says (love your enemies, give up your property so you can follow God, free the oppressed, bring about justice, live holy and pure lives), there is an infusion of love and grace and joy.

So right now I'm trying to teach myself that even though I've chosen a difficult life journey, that God wants GOOD things for me, not things that will hurt me.

Monday, 11 August 2008

We're back!!

Reclaim the Night Edinburgh is back, click on the link to stay updated on the planning process, get involved and add your comments and thoughts.

Monday, 4 August 2008

Action to Take

Thanks to Womanist Musings that I got this information from

"Equality Now is urgently concerned about Kobra Najjar, an Iranian woman sentenced to death by stoning for adultery who lost her final appeal for amnesty. Iranian women’s rights activists working on her case report that Kobra has exhausted all domestic legal remedies and that her execution by stoning could happen any time.

Kobra is a victim of domestic violence who was forced into prostitution by her abusive husband in order to support his heroin addiction. He was murdered by one of Kobra’s “clients” who sympathized with her plight. Kobra has already served 8 years in prison as an accessory to her husband’s murder. The man who murdered her husband also served 8 years in prison and is now free after paying blood money and undergoing 100 lashes, while Kobra faces imminent stoning to death for adultery - the prostitution her husband forced upon her.

Equality Now is also concerned about recent reports of seven other women and one man, all accused of adultery sentenced to death by stoning, whose executions are also reported to be possible at any time. In Iran, adultery is the only crime punishable by stoning.

Stoning violates the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to which Iran is a state party. The ICCPR clearly prohibits torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and punishment. It also limits the imposition of the death penalty “only for the most serious crimes.” No criminal or other act warrants violent and inhumane punishments such as flogging and stoning. Moreover, adultery is a private act and should not incur criminal punishment. Protection from arbitrary or unlawful interference under the ICCPR has been found by the United Nations Human Rights Committee to include consensual sexual activity between adults in private.

Please write to the Iranian officials below, calling for Kobra’s immediate release, the commutation of all sentences of death by stoning and the prohibition by law of all cruel, inhuman and degrading punishments in accordance with Iran’s obligations under the ICCPR. Urge the officials also to initiate a comprehensive review of the Civil and Penal Codes of Iran to remove all provisions that discriminate and perpetuate discrimination against women, including those regarding adultery and fornication, in accordance with Iran’s own constitutional provision for equality before the law.

His Excellency Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi
Head of the Judiciary
c/o Ministry of Justice
Park-e Shahr
Islamic Republic of Iran
Email:, and
Phone: +98 21 22741002, +98 21 22741003, +98 21 22741004, +98 21 22741005

Note: The contact information above may encounter delivery problems so please keep trying to send your message. Thank you for taking action!

Please also contact the Iranian embassy in your country. The following link may help you find the contact information:"

Friday, 1 August 2008

Do we call Jesus a feminist?

Firstly, the shiny new 'Carnival for Progressive Christians' is up at the wonderful Purteks. You should have a look, its fairly brilliant.

When I haven't been working and watching FAR too many soul destroying American TV shows (when did Smallville get so ridiculous??), I've been thinking a lot lately about whether or not Jesus, and therefore God (as I believe that Jesus is God), should be given the label 'feminist'.

Before I can answer this question, I need to have an understanding of what the word 'feminist' means. My working definition is that a feminist is someone who believes in, and works for, the liberation of women from the systems, institutions and beliefs that opression them. I'm aware that within that different people will have varying opinions of what is and is not opressive, but I think thats ok. I'm trying to practise a feminism that is a fairly large tent at the moment, and I think thats a good thing. Theres much more to be learned when we don't just agree on everything. I'm aware that my definition of feminism has its limits, but I think its a fairly good start.

So, using this definition of feminism could Jesus be a feminist? Well, to some degree, yes! Jesus taught women when most people considered women to be basically incapable of learning, going against beliefs of his time. Jesus trusted women to spread the news of His resurrection when women were not considered to be 'reliable witnesses' in court, going against the sexist systems of his day. Jesus had time for women (and men) who were considered unclean, and women who were judged. Jesus did and does, radically challenge all sorts of beliefs and institutions, including patriarchal, sexist ones. On top of this we are aware from all over the bible that God is a liberator, calling for and bring about our liberation both from spiritual darkness and all forms of earthly injustice, including sexist ones.

So I think I can say that I definatly believe that Jesus wasn't to liberate women and men from sexism. But does this mean I can call Jesus a feminist? Honestly, I don't think so. Feminism is limited, one of the many ways through which humans have and continue to attempt to understand all that is wrong with the world. Feminism CANNOT be fully true, because none of us fully understand. God does fully understand. God sees all of time and knows what is wrong and why, and fully understands the reasons behind it. Because of this I can never put the small labels through which I understand the world onto God.

More than this, to apply my labels to God is to do things the wrong way round. My ultimate aim is to live fully for God (although first I have to discover what that means!). I don't want to simply apply the values I already have to God. I believe that my journey in feminism has been part of this, but I need to be sure that feminism is on of the tools which I use in my attempt to understand my amazing Creator, and that it doesn't become the rule book through which I choose to define God. God is not limited to my politics.

What are you thoughts? How would you answer the question in the title?