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  • Winding Down...

    I'm just about to start some annual leave (first of the year, oh dear, I get no better at this!) which will include two free weekends.

    The first will see me travelling to Cambridge for my niece's wedding.  It promises to be a very lovely day, and I am really happy for her.  It also means that for the only time in my life I will get to stay in a college of the University of Cambridge!

    The second weekend, I'll be going to London to meet up with my 'chemo buddies' for our annual celebration of life.  Afternoon tea on the banks of the Thames, and a first chance to meet our honorary 'nephew', the miracle baby of our youngest buddy.

    In between, there will be some chilling, some decluttering and probably lots of sleeping!  Today, I really ought to tidy up my office which is a total disgrace, so that when I return to work it feels 'nice'.

    This 'wind down' week has been quite good, giving me a bit of space to focus on some of the tasks that get 'bumped' all too frequently, and also to reflect a little on the year that has gone by.  I think it's fair to say that I feel a lot happier and more settled than I did this time last year - probably because life has been far less turbulent and undoubtedly helped by the 'happy pills' keeping the menopausal monster under control (even if they do cause a lot of tooth grinding and other wierd side effects).

    Looking forward to the break - and then to returning refreshed and renewed for the next season.

  • Things that make you go, "Hmmm..."

    This week I've been reading biographies of Elizabeth Fry (a couple of weeks ahead of the service based on her story) and today I received two books related to the lives of the Careys.  As I've noted before, the order in which I've put these 'heroes of faith' is somewhat abitrary (other than alternately male and female) but each time, I've found/made conections between one person and the next.

    Elizabeth Fry and Dorothy Carey (OK we're focussing on her husband) take us into the very contemporary and important arena of women's mental health, explicitly in the context of Christian faith.

    If there was any doubt that God's spirit works in mysterious ways, this is evidence of how she does... and I love it!

  • A Woman Doctor (Who)... Assorted Thoughts

    Yesterday, unsurprisingly in my view, the new Dr Who was revealed... a woman.  This seemed to send social media into a frenzy, some of which was downright nasty, stirring up some old sexist comments.  I was a tad bemused - it's only a character in a television drama, people, it's not real life (OK perhaps it is for some),  get over it!  Various thoughts found their way into my head, so I thought I'd share them.  It's essentially a mind dump and not very considered.

    Dr Who is science fiction.  The Dr, despite appearances isn't human, but a Gallifreyan, having two hearts, and an ability to regenerate into bodies that are apparently older or younger physically, at least when viewed by human eyes.  No-one seems to get excited about the two hearts or the regeneration, or even the age-fluidity, but to appear as the opposite human gender is, for some, a step too far.  I know nothing of Galifreyan physiology or biology, so maybe the binary X-Y or X-X chromosomal thing doesn't apply...

    If - and it's a big if - Galifreyans are binary male/female in a similar way to humans, then presumably the same mechanism that leads to X-Y women (genetically male but outwardly female) may also apply - which immediately over-rules any objections.  And frankly, if Galifreyan's can switch their genetic make-up during regeneration, so what?  I'm not a great SciFi fan, but it does seem to me that the creators of alternative races/species are at liberty to devise their own biology.

    Some of the fuss seems to be that this is a woman in a man's role.  And here it does manage to ruffle my feather a bit.  Having spent my entire working life in 'men's roles' it really annoys me that such language is still used.  We no longer have WPCs, WRNS or WRAF, yet there are still 'lady doctors', 'women engineers' (obviously not quite so gentile!) and 'lady ministers.'  No, I'm not a 'lady minister' and I wasn't a 'woman engineer'.  Being a time-traveller and general saviour of the universe, it seems, is for some people still very much a 'man's role'... Let female superheroes stick to the skimpy leotards and Barbie doll figures ... Sorry, but no.  Let girls and young women be inspired by a character that affirms their inherent worth.

    All that is before we get to any theological or spiritual considerations... From page one of the Bible, where women and men together bear the image and likeness of God, via the apostle Paul who boldy declares that in Christ gender distinctions disappear, and via a whole series of stories where both women and men are essential, this tension is played out.  We say that God is beyond gender, and then use predominantly male language, even when some of it, especially in reference to the Holy Spirit, is blatantly feminine. There are theologians (and I agree with them) who distinguish between the 'Jesus of History' and the 'Christ of Faith'.  The former is inevitably particular, living in a precise place and time, and equally self evidently male.  The Christ of faith transcends all such boundaries, time, space and, yes, gender.  God's Christ could have appeared as a woman; I guess if there is a literal second coming, Christ could return as a woman (OK start building your heretic fire!) if God felt that was the better option.  Christian artists portray Christ as every ethnicity, and sometimes as female as well as male... all of which is a flawed human endeavour to express a profound mystery.

    So here's the irony... we believe in a God who is beyond gender, yet some people get very exercised by the possibility of a fictional, humanoid race, in which this finds some form of expression in the 13th incarnation of the Dr.