Two weeks in to our summer series, and I'm fiding loads of interesting things to ponder. Each week, I've offered some 'going deeper' questions and invited people either to take them away, if they so wish, or to use them as conversation starters rather than listenign to my thoughts. For good reason - such as I haven't really pushed the idea, the papers haven't been that visible - the uptake has been minimal, no-one's 'fault' but mine. Anyway, having gone to the effort of preparing them, I've decided to share them here, in case anyone finds them interesting or useful!!
Going Deeper with Mary Slessor – Some Questions to Ponder or Discuss
My Own Story
Mary Slessor was, as are we all, a child of her time, influenced by the context in which she grew up and the significant events in her life, for good and ill. Her concern for the well-being of her mother, her strong views on the dangers of alcohol, her passion for justice and opposition to superstitious practices are examples of this. Her early racism (she thought white people were superior to blacks) is a negative example.
- Thinking about my own life, what factors have shaped my attitudes and values? What prejudices might I have absorbed?
- What is one thing that matters to me because of my experiences?
- What is one aspect of my character or values that I am less proud of?
Life and Death
Mary encountered practices that shocked her, from the killing of twin babies, to ritual trials where people were forced to drink poison, to murder as a means of settling disputes.
Throughout history, and to this day, killing (or abandoning to die) babies has been practised. In contemporary scientific, western culture, decisions are made to terminate viable pregnancies that pose no risk to the mother because the foetus is the ‘wrong’ gender or is believed to have certain genetic conditions.
- Almost everyone we know would agree it is wrong to kill or abandon babies because of their gender or (dis)ability, but what about genetic screening or even so-called ‘designer’ babies?
- How do my own views affect my attitudes to others?
- How to I handle the tension of such complex matters – how does my faith inform this?
Non-violent Protest and Subversion
Mary would physically place herself between powerful leaders and their intended victims, blocking the way, and pleading with them for alternatives that would meet their requirements without losing face.
Shifrah and Puah subverted Pharaoh taking advantage of his ignorance and arrogance.
Saffiya chose to smile at an aggressive racist who had invaded her personal space
- Have I ever employed subversion or non-violent actions as a response to an issue?
- How might I react differently in tense or conflict situations to be a person of peace?
All the women we ‘met’ today were (or are) flawed, with their own strengths and weaknesses, yet from each of them we can learn something that is valuable for our own discipleship of Jesus.
- What one thing will I take away from today, to encourage me in the days ahead?