Tuesday Talks: with Fiona Kat Pickersgill

Tuesday Talks with Fiona Kat Pickersgill

fionapickersgill-farm

Fiona is a stay at home parent and book geek from Melbourne, Australia. She has a Bachelor of Arts with Honours (Sociology) from Monash University.

She is married to Matt, an engineer, and they have two children aged 13 and 10, and two cats.

Fiona, thank you for taking the time to chat with us today.  

Fiona is going to be writing for us from time to time on SundayEveryday so I thought it might be nice to get to know her.  Fiona has a very bright mind and runs her own blog called Streams & Desolations streamsdesolations.wordpress.com/

Fiona and I met around 8years ago at CityLife Church in Melbourne where Fiona and her family attend.  Intrigued by the way that Fiona thinks and the honest way that she writes led me to asking her to be involved in the blog.

Lisa:  Tell us a bit about where you grew up, your formative years? 

I grew up in Leongatha, a dairy farming town about twenty minutes from the beach. I was raised in the Roman Catholic community there, attending the local parish schools. In many ways my upbringing was the epitome of the rural idyll. The South Gippsland landscape is one of rolling green hills, ancient rock formations, coastal fossil beds, and cool temperate rainforests. Saturdays were spent working on my grandparents’ dairy farm in the Strzelecki Ranges. One section of the farm ran alongside the tourist drive, The Grand Ridge Road, known for it’s winding roads and beautiful scenery. I have always loved animals and enjoyed working outdoors with the cattle. My other grandfather was principal of the town’s public school. My grandparents seemed to know most of the families in the area and so I grew up with a strong sense of my connectedness to the community.

I moved to Melbourne in my mid-twenties, with my husband and two young children. My husband was Melbourne born-and-raised and had attended CityLife Church since his childhood. Prior to meeting him I had never encountered Pentecostals, though I had met some Charismatic Catholics. While I have learned much from Pentecostalism, my small-town Catholicism strongly informs my spirituality, which is linked with the liturgical year and the shifting seasons, and my Celtic ethnic heritage.

Lisa:  Fi, you have a degree in Arts which specialises in Environmental Sociology.  Tell us a bit about your passion for the environment?

I can’t remember a time where I didn’t have environmental concerns on my radar. In a farming community, the year-to-year survival of a town is very much linked to the health of the agricultural environment. A season of drought can be utterly devastating, for example, and some of my earliest memories are of school classes on the importance of water conservation and weed management. My parents are keen gardeners. They were influenced by the permaculture and organic gardening movements. I remember harvesting homegrown vegetables and frequent family outings to the native plant nursery. This led me to internalise an ecologically conscious perspective. In response to working with animals on the farm I also became a vegetarian, a lifestyle that I have maintained for twenty years. In my university studies I took these ideas and in the context of my coursework was able to analyse and research them from a more academic framework, which only served to strengthen my commitment to animals and the environment.

My honours research revolved around the links between systems of animal agriculture and their impact on the environment, particularly as manifested in anthropogenic climate change. It’s an issue that matters deeply to me on a personal level. On the one hand, rural communities face significant and complex social challenges. For example, suicide is notably high among farmers and rural people, with a variety of possible causes. On the other hand, the health of animals and the environment is also important in sustaining healthy human communities. Yet, sometimes there are tensions between the methods of agriculture and the welfare of humans and animals, as well as massive tensions between the animal activist movements and the environmentalists. My honours dissertation was an attempt to explore the common ground between the interested parties as a means of furthering positive progress.

Lisa:  When I look at the social issues taking precedence at the moment like: Mental Health, Violence Against women, Asylum seekers, Climate change, sexual trauma on many levels and the issue of gay marriage, homosexuality and the differing theologies around this in religious circles, which of these topics do you see as challenging us the most as we look into the next two decades?

Those are all really important issues. I am reluctant to approach them with a hierarchical outlook; all of those social challenges deserve thoughtful and compassionate attention. In the philosophical worldviews known as ‘ecofeminism,’ it is believed that systems of domination are interlinked. Negative forms of domination, whether a violent society that threatens its members with persecution, or a power-imbalanced relationship where one spouse controls and harms the other, are all issues that must be addressed. But not all of us are going to be equally well-equipped to address these issues. So, for the person who is skilled in helping others, such as a qualified social worker, they’re going to be able to do a lot to help individuals fleeing domestic violence. A different person might be better skilled in merciful and respectful dialogue with those marginalized by the community, and could potentially build relational bridges with refugee or GLBTQI people in a way that represents the love and compassion of Christ. It seems to me that if everyone works towards action in the issues they’re passionate about, they are contributing to the overall progress of society.

When we operate out of the love of Christ, we don’t need to fear “others” – we can meet them where they’re at and listen to them. To encounter someone different doesn’t even have to change our own behaviours or beliefs, but if we can find a common ground, even if it’s just in our shared humanity, we’ll go much further in demonstrating the hope and joy of the Gospel than we do when we are drawing defensive lines around our belief system and saying “no further!”

Lisa:  Which of these topics challenge you personally the most?

My great passion is animals and the environment. It’s not that I see those as necessarily the most important social issues – though without a healthy ecosystem to support humanity we really don’t have a healthy and functioning space in which to worry about other problems. But animals and the environment are the areas in which I feel I am best equipped to do something practical. When we find out where our personalities, passions, strengths and talents lie, we are better positioned to make decisions regarding which social causes we’ll put our energies towards.

A further point on all this is that to fight for better conditions for fellow humans, or animals or the environment, are not mutually exclusive choices. Too often people who care for nature are stereotyped as anti-human, but in practice often environmentalists and animal activists will also be deeply concerned and compassionate about human social issues. Our capacity for compassion is not finite, to be limited to only one or two causes.

Lisa:   How do you dialogue with your children over these issues?

I homeschooled my children for a year, and I think that really helped us open up the dialogue. They’re now in mainstream schooling again, but that year enabled us to take the time to explore ideas and issues to a greater depth. Prior to homeschooling my approach had been more reactionary, in that I would simply respond to questions they raised.

I believe that returning to my university studies better equipped me with a better vocabulary for discussing life with the kids. My children and I are fairly artistic, so we drew lots of pictures representing the various spectrums of human thought and experience. We’ve talked a lot about how over the course of one’s life we will meet people who view the world very differently. I introduced them to the concept of the “political compass.” This is a visual system representing not just the typical dichotomous view of “leftie” versus “conservative” politics, as it takes into account the varying degrees of authoritarian and libertarian approaches to certain types of issues. Rather than feeling threatened by ‘others,’ I hope my kids will one day be able to balance a sense of security in their own faith with a kindness to those who perceive the world differently.

Floating islands with trees

Lisa:  Finally – what do you say to those who 1:  don’t believe in climate change, who  2:  feel overwhelmed with the sheer size of the problem facing us and who feel like they can’t make a difference in their small lives against the backdrop of political spin.

Anthropogenic climate change is a broad term that usually refers to the overall and average changes in weather patterns, as affected by human activity. The short answer is that one’s religious faith does not have to fluctuate on the shifts in weather patterns. While our faith can inform our politics, it is worth asking whether our politics are doing more to inform our faith. In general, the public acceptance or rejection of climate change is heavily influenced by political and religious perspectives, rather than on science.

Many Christian denominations take environmental issues quite seriously and recent research has hinted that it is only a minority of Christian denominations that actively reject the existence climate change. To those Christians who are uncertain as to what they believe, I would encourage them to read up on the viewpoints of the scientists studying climate, as well as the social scientists (sociologists) researching the field.

For those overwhelmed by the size of the problems, I don’t have a simple answer. There is a lot of research necessary to adequately explore the causes and outcomes of climate change, not to mention careful consideration as to how the political and media contexts relay the scientific information to the public. However, there are many small environmentally-friendly actions we can take in our daily lives. A practical starting point is to take stock of how our daily choices impact on the world around us. For example, where does our food come from? Some types of food require a lot more energy, resources, land and deforestation, transportation, processing and storage than others. Learning to grow food can also be a part of it. For the beginner, maybe growing some heirloom tomatoes or herbs in a pot by the back door would be a good place to start. For the more experienced gardener, perhaps a community garden or involvement in food sharing could be an interesting challenge.

Fiona, its always such a joy to talk with you and hear your thoughtful and informed opinions.  Thank you for joining us today.

Love Lisa.

Further Reading

  • Soil and Sacrament: A spiritual memoir of food and faith (2013) by Fred Bahnson.
  • A Climate of Hope: Church and mission in a warming world (2014) by C. Dawson and M. Pope.

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References (all web links accessed June 2015)

Determination through Disasters

Tuesday Talks with Phil Wilkerson

Determination through Disasters

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Phil Wilkerson is TEAR Australia’s International Program Team (IPT) Coordinator.  This article was originally posted on For Tomorrow.org:  http://4tm.me/e/49485

Phil coordinates TEAR’s International Program Team, working with a dedicated team to strengthen relationships and bringing hope and life for families and communities facing the daily challenge of poverty.

Nepal

When the earthquake hit Nepal on 25 April, I was in the middle of writing a forTomorrow blog entry about a trip made to Nepal earlier this year.  A lot of the work I saw on that visit focused on strengthening the skills of people with disabilities to enable them to improve their social and economic security.

In some ways, my time in Nepal seems a long time ago now. Following the earthquake, our media was full of very different images of people who had lost family members, others whose homes had been destroyed, recognisable buildings that had collapsed, and the miraculous rescues of individuals many days after the event. News about Nepal returned again following the second large earthquake on 12 May. Shortly after, a tweet by the BBC seemed to sum up what was left for many people: “My world has been destroyed” – a legacy of fear in Chautara town, Nepal.

Determination through Disasters

As I return to finish my writing, the news stories have largely disappeared, but pain, fear and trauma remain with individuals and communities in Nepal.

My mind continues to grapple with the full extent of the struggles, loss and grief that so many people are facing today.

I find myself thinking about what it must be like for people who live each day with a disability to experience the destruction of an earthquake. How frightening it must be for someone to sense the ground swaying and buildings moving, watching people run but without being able to hear. How difficult it must be for people in wheelchairs or on crutches who have lost homes that were equipped with ramps and accessories. And for those who cannot see, there are now obstacles to overcome, as familiar paths have been destroyed.

What struck me about the individuals I met earlier this year, who were part of the disability work that TEAR supports, was their determination to overcome difficult circumstances. Through participation in a project implemented by TEAR partner the International Nepal Fellowship (INF), these highly motivated individuals were overcoming barriers faced in their own lives as people living with disabilities – and helping others to do the same.

Determination through Disasters

A member of one of the Disability People’s Organisations supported by TEAR partner INF.

I observed on my trip to Nepal how important supportive and encouraging relationships are to people who are living with a disability. Many had found a voice to speak because of the relationships they had found in their networks. Being part of a supportive group that meets together to discuss life issues was extremely valuable to them. INF works closely with Disability People’s Organisations that establish groups to reach out to others who are still isolated and marginalised. Rupa is one of those people. She is deaf and earns an income breaking large rocks into small ones – her income is $40 a month. Through the group she has recently joined she has an opportunity to learn new skills and improve her income. She also has an opportunity to connect with others and be encouraged and supported.

The earthquake has set back long-term development work in Nepal and individuals and communities will need to focus on recovery and rebuilding. My prayer is for those who were already on the margins, that they would not be forgotten. I pray for those who my faith calls on me to “prepare a banquet for”, that they will be especially looked after. I pray that their networks and relationships will be strengthened to enable them to cope with fear and trauma. And I pray for people like Rupa, who would not have heard the earthquake, but would quickly be aware of its devastation.

Determination through Disasters

Rupa earns $40 a month breaking large rocks into smaller ones. She is a member of one of the Disability People’s Organisations supported by TEAR partner INF.

International Nepal Fellowship (INF Nepal), a TEAR Australia partner, work in the areas of health and community development in the western and mid-western regions of Nepal. INF Nepal is a Christian non-government organisation aiming to “demonstrate God’s love and concern, and restore people’s relationships with each other, so they can live dignified lives to the full”. TEAR supports a number of INF Nepal projects including: long-term community development work; Partnership for Rehabilitation, which works with people living with disabilities; and Paluwa, which focuses on people living with HIV and AIDs. INF Nepal’s initial earthquake relief response was fully supported through other funding partnerships. They are in the process of planning longer-term recovery work that TEAR will have an opportunity to support.

By Phil Wilkerson

To donate to TEAR’s Nepal Earthquake Appeal go to: http://www.tear.org.au/projects/emergencies/nepal-earthquake

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Tuesday Talks with John and Olive Drane

Tuesday Talks with John and Olive Drane

In this clip John and Olive Drane are chatting about the course structure that they teach at Fuller Theological Seminary in California – Conversations on Theology and the Arts.

The structure of the course is built on the idea that we all have different rooms in our lives.

The idea of Gods house mirroring our homes.  Looking at the different rooms and spaces in our lives?

Cyber space, virtual reality, the street, environment, culture, church, home.
  • How do we bring all of this together?
  • What does it mean for us to be spiritual in the 21st century?
  • How does that connect in the wider culture?
  • What does mission and ministry look like in the 21st century.
We are made in the image of God.  We have 5 different senses and we need to integrate this into our lives and work with God.
This is how we understand new depths in God.  Theological reflection is being aware of who we are, how are our lives developing and connecting with both sides of our brain.
  • Who does God want me to be and what does that mean?
  • How does my faith and who I am becoming as a person reflect on those around me?
Life is visual and tactile.  Words and communication are just half the picture.
What does church and worship look like in a counter culture world?  Over the years worship has become noisier and noisier.  How do we become counter culture in a world that is noisy and full of chatter?

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Thoughts on Parenting

Some thoughts on Parenting.
Tuesday Talks with Lisa Hunt-Wotton

Lately I’ve had a lot of parents asking if I would do some posts on parenting. So here are some of my thoughts and observations.

I am a mother to three children in their 20’s and three step sons also in their 20’s.  I also have the delight to be a mother in law to two gorgeous young women and another about to be welcomed into the family.  Our 6 children were 5, 10, 12, 13, 14, 15  when I married for the second time after the death of my first husband.  So we certainly had our hands full.

Parenting can be an overwhelming business, full of expectation and hope.  Also full of doubt and fear.  There is a plethora of information, books and advice on parenting.  It is also one of the few areas in your life where family and even strangers feel free to give you advice, warnings and anecdotes.

A few years ago I had the delight of spending a few days with Tony and Peggy Campolo.  Tony is a well known sociologist, author and social activist.  One afternoon I asked him, “Tony, how do you know that you are a good parent”?  

Well, he said.  You know if you are a good parent if you have done three things.

1:  You love your child unconditionally

2:  You give them an education

3:  Importantly, you know how to let them go.

If you can do these three things then you are a good parent.

When he said this to me a huge load lifted off my shoulders.  In fact I hadn’t realised how heavy the load had been.  I felt such relief.  Wow I thought,  I’m a good parent.  What a relief to be able to say those words. Sounds simple doesn’t it.

Truly I believe that simplicity is the key to good parenting.  We love to complicate things and make them harder than they are.  We are also often too hard on ourselves.  So in the character of simplicity I will pass on some of my advice.

Six weeks after the birth of my first son,  I trotted of to my GP Dr Ramsay to make sure that everything was on track.  He said something to me at that appointment that has stayed with me for the rest of my life.

“Lisa, you are the expert of this child.  You carried him for 9 months, you know him better than anyone on the whole earth.  Trust that”.

1:  Parent – you are the expert. You know YOUR child.

There is no such thing as one size, book, technique, fits all.

Underwater portrait of happy child. Summer vacation

Underwater portrait of happy child. Summer vacation

Each child is fearfully and wonderfully made and is totally unique.  That is why I get nervous with  parents that spout techniques and things that you ‘should do’.  I despair of parenting courses that teach 3 steps on how to getting your child to sleep and the expectation that every child should be sleeping through the night by 4 weeks old – or whatever they declare.

Each of us have different sleeping habits, we all have different personalities, batteries, coping abilities and capacities.  It is no different for babies.  There are things that can HELP you.  But please…….these are guides they are not the bible.  YOU know your child.  You know your life and your rhythm and your unique family.

Relax.

None of my kids slept through the night until they were three.  I carried a lot of guilt over that.  If you knew my kids you would totally get it.  They are like ever ready batteries with huge capacities and very low tolerance for boredom.  They do not stop.

On the other hand, my three beautiful step sons I’m told slept all the time.  They are pretty much like that now.  Chilled, laid back, easy going, very calm and nothing bothers them. My eldest crawled at 6 months, walked at 9 months, and never stopped talking.   My eldest step son didn’t walk until he was 18 months old.

THEY ARE ALL DIFFERENT.

2:  SCHOOLS

With this in mind – remember each child has different educational requirements.  Again, very rarely does one size fit all.  At one stage we had 5 different schools.  A lot of that had to do with blending families and that is a different topic all together. However, what we learned out of this is that some kids are academic, some are social, some need face to face, some are artistic, some just want to talk, some love sport.  We had all of that.

It’s a waste of money sending a child who is NOT academic to a private school.  There are brilliant public schools out there.

It’s a tradgegy sending an artistic child to a school that is highly academic and science driven.  I have so many parents asking me advice on which school is good and which is not.  I ask:  What is your child like?  Are they a creative who struggles with rules and numbers and needs to be taught visually?  Then look for a school will cater to that.

Boy designing his skateboard

Four of our children went to a private school and two went to public.

Honestly now I look back and think that three of the six should have gone public, one did well at a lower end private school and the two mental gymnasts, they needed one on one face time, they needed smaller class sizes in a smaller private school.

My point is, know your child, find the school that fits.  The topic of Christian schools makes no difference to this picture, but again, another topic.    In saying all of that, you may have pretty easy going, normal, no fuss kids.  They will thrive anywhere.  How easy for you.  Enjoy.

3: Relax

I see so many hover parents, OCD parents and helicopter parents.  They get worried about the smallest things.

Your children will not remember how clean the house was, how many after school activities they missed out on or if the laundry was done.  They will remember the walks in the rain, the books curled up with mum or dad on the couch, the swims at the beach.  Kids want YOU.  They want to play with YOU.  They would prefer to swim with you, walk with you, read with you.  They want your TIME.

We had a huge backyard and our kids spent A LOT of time outside coming up with some pretty creative endeavours.  One event which still makes me laugh was when it was hard rubbish pick up in our area.  The kids spent weeks and weeks walking around the neighbourhood bringing back to our house, couches, junk, prams, bikes, tables you name it.  I’ll never forget seeing the six of them trailing home like a line of ants from school one day, each kid carrying something in their arms and the three eldest juggling a three seater couch.

I nearly went mad with all the junk.  Then one weekend, they made hilarious posters advertising a GARAGE SALE, and sold all the junk back to the neighbourhood.  It was hilarious and they made over $400.00 which was divvied up between them.  They worked together to arrange a price for each of the goods, each kid had their special area, they had to organise a float for change and bargain with the buyers. What a great lesson along with weeks of exercise and fresh air.

Anyway a small example of outdoor fun where mum and dad stood back and let the kids go for it.

RELAX.

Love Lisa.

What is Feminism?

Tuesday Talks:  With Lisa Hunt-Wotton.  What is Feminism?

Why is Feminism a Dirty Word?

Should Feminism be replaced with the more popular term Gender Equality?

Driving to Echuca over Easter this is a bit of the conversation that I had with my husband and my daughter.

To my husband:  Are you a feminist?

No he said, of course not.

I said why not?

He said:  well I don’t like aggressive women who burn bras and don’t shave under their arms.

I said why not?  He said I don’t know.

I asked him “Do you even know what a feminist is?”  He ummed and ahhhhed.   Hmmm not really.

I said.  Do you believe in equal rights between men and women.  He quickly replied, yes of course.  So I replied, well then you are a feminist.

He looked quite perplexed.

This is the story of my 20 year old daughter who is a model.  Earlier in the year she did a job for ‘Spanks’ in the Bourke Street Mall of Melbourne.
As she was promoting the all in one spanks ‘body suit’  a +50 woman stopped in the street and started yelling at her in front of hundreds of people.

Scary Lady:  “Do you know who Germain Greer is?”

Chloe:  “No”

Scary Lady:  “Well you should, your dancing on her grave right now, she worked hard for your rights and you should be ashamed of yourself”.

Chloe:  “I work hard for my money thank you”.

Chloe says to me mum, I agree with Phil.  ‘Feminists scare the hell out of me’.

Its common for people to describe feminism as the stereotype – the outspoken, hairy-legged, unfeminine, outspoken, man-hater.  Or in religious circles you could be called unsubmissive, or out of control, or even a jezebel.

This example shows how much is still misunderstood about feminism.  Admittedly I’m not suggesting that our domestic conversation is a good test case of homes across Australia but I wonder. Also I agree that feminism has a bad name and is misunderstood.  I do however also agree with this statement by Emma Watson.

Last year Emma Watson stood up before the Untied Nations and became the world wide avatar for modern feminism.  How appropriate that the annoyingly smug and bossy Hermione Granger from Harry Potter get up and suggest that gender inequality is our issue to.  She went on to say that;

For the record, feminism by definition is:

“The belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. It is the theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes.”

Many people I suspect, think of feminism as an unsavoury term.  They think feminists are; ‘too strong, too aggressive, isolating, anti-men and, unattractive’.  Yet if women and men do not stand up for gender equality it will be another ’75 years…before women can expect to be paid the same as men for the same work. 15.5 million girls will be married in the next 16 years as children. And at current rates it won’t be until 2086 before all rural African girls will be able to receive a secondary education’ (Watson).

How did this all begin.  Lets look at the history of feminism.

The first major feminist movement began in the 1890s and led to the right to vote being granted to women in some of the British colonies (New Zealand and South Australia). Although women had no legal vote, Christian feminists agitated for laws to protect women and children living in squalor. They founded social service agencies and promoted education and training—so women could support themselves and their children during the period of social and economic upheaval following the Industrial Revolution (Buckley).  The work of first wave feminists—in partnership with men—culminated in women gaining a voice in society: a legal vote. Their motivations stemmed from a belief that all humans deserve equal dignity and opportunity because they bear the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27). Their accomplishments reflected passionate pursuit of a God-glorifying culture (Genesis 1:28) during a turbulent period of history (Buckley).

This was followed by the wider-spread women’s suffrage movement which ended with the right to vote and run for office being granted to most women over 21 years of age in the UK, the USA, France and many other countries. This was dubbed the “first wave” of feminism.

The 1960s brought the “second wave” of feminism.  This second wave feminists pushed for more women in politics, universities and male-dominated professions.

Feminists increased attention to domestic violence, date rape and other sexual crimes against women,inequality: sexism, racism, systemic poverty, human trafficking, domestic violence, among other social injustices.

What are the thoughts of some Christian leaders concerning feminism?

Christians for Biblical Equality (CBE) is a global community.  It is a nonprofit organisation of Christian men and women who believe that the Bible, properly interpreted, teaches the fundamental equality of men and women of all ethnic groups, all economic classes, and all age groups, based on the teachings of Scriptures such as Galatians 3:28:

“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus”.

Galatians 3:28 NIV

CBE affirms and promotes the biblical truth that all believers—without regard to gender, ethnicity or class—must exercise their God-given gifts with equal authority and equal responsibility in church, home and world.

herstory

Tony Campolo goes as far as to say that he believes that Jesus was a feminist.

“Women have the same privileges and opportunities as men, given the New Testament. Relegating women to second-class citizenship was abolished when Jesus died on the cross. As it says in Galatians 3:28, “In Christ now there is neither bond nor free, Scythian nor Barbarian, male nor female; all are one in Christ Jesus.”

When the Holy Spirit falls upon the church on the day of Pentecost, Peter says, “This is what was spoken of by the prophet Joel when he said, ‘The day will come when the Holy Spirit comes upon His people, God’s people, and young men”–and then it says–“and young women shall prophesy, (i.e., shall preach).” There is a gift of the Holy Spirit that is given to both men and women in the New Testament. This is what makes the New Testament a New Testament rather than the Old Testament, in which women did not have such privileges.

Is Jesus a feminist?  Does he believe in equal rights for men and women?

There’s one instance that would validate that claim that Jesus was a radical feminist. It’s the story of Mary and Martha. He goes to visit the home of these two women. Martha takes her assigned role taking care of the kitchen, taking care of preparing food. Mary, on the other hand, decides to go and sit at the feet of the rabbi as only men were allowed to do in those days. Here is a woman breaking the social morés of the society, sitting, learning Torah from a rabbi with other men. Martha complains. At this point, Jesus says, “Martha, Mary has chosen the better thing to do.” Jesus is affirming a role for women that violates the prevailing morés of the day. What a radical thing to do.

One other instance, and I could cite many, is when he goes to Samaria and meets this woman at the well. In the ancient days, women did not speak to men without their husbands being present. It was a violation of Jewish law. Jesus says, “Look, I don’t care about the law. Here is a woman that’s in need. I’m going to minister to her.” He speaks to her, person-to-person. He wants to affirm the equality of women and minister to women just as he would minister to men’.

This is a statement from world vision:

“We have learned that our work fails if women are not among the leadership in a community, freely able to express their thoughts and concerns.  When half or more of our most talented players are benched, we aren’t likely to have a winning record”.

There is an african proverb that says, ‘if you educate a boy, you train a man.  If you educate a girl, you train a village’.   Women are known to spend 90% of their income on health and education for their families while men spend only 30% – 40%” (Stearns).  Empowering women is a matter of life and death in many parts of the world.

What about you?  Do you think that feminism is a dirty word?  Do you think that there is a place for feminism within the Christian faith?

What about the church?  Do women in churches get paid the same wages as men?  Is there equality on the platform in our churches for women in position of leadership, teaching and ministry?  Could we have a church service led by only women?  We certainly have church services with all men.  Male worship leader, male overseers, male preacher?

There are still huge gaps in what we say we believe and what we do.  Surveys on women in leadership in churches say that about 7% -18% of women are in leadership positions in churches today depending on the denomination.

Across all paid church positions, men are compensated 28 percent more than women holding the same positions. Male executive pastors earn nearly 50 percent more than women in this same role… churches still display a gender gap when it comes to compensating men and women ( Liautaud).

In America 51% of women hold professional and higher management positions, in Australia its less with 39% of women holding senior executive positions.  Whilst the gender pay gap in Australia is the worst its been in  30 years.  In the very latest figures out, women in Australia are still earning %19.8  less than men in the same positions (ABS).

We still have a long, long way to go.  I’d be really interested to hear your thoughts on this issues.

Do you think feminism is a dirty word?

Is there a place in the church for feminism?

Are you a feminist?

Shalom Lisa

References:

Amy Buckley, Why you should be a Christian Feminist

http://www.relevantmagazine.com/god/worldview/why-you-should-be-christian-feminist

Emma Watson, Speech given to United Nations http://www.unwomen.org/en/news/stories/2014/9/emma-watson-gender-equality-is-your-issue-too#sthash.Y6EBNYzj.dpuf

CBE http://www.cbeinternational.org/content/about-cbe

Tony Campolo Read more at http://www.beliefnet.com/Faiths/Christianity/2006/10/Let-The-Women-Preach.aspx?p=2#CK2RytHk0e6gq1CY.99

Richard Stearns, On Faith November 5, 2014.

Christianity Today, MARCH 29 

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Tuesday Talks: Domestic Violence with Satu Myers

Tuesday Talks:  Domestic Violence with Satu Myers

Its our National shame that women and children are suffering such high levels of domestic violence.  This year in Australia March 2015,  25 women have died at the hand of men in domestic situations.

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) describes the levels of violence experienced by the world’s women as ‘a global public health problem of epidemic proportions, requiring urgent action’.
  • In Australia, domestic, family and sexual violence is found across all cultures, ages and socio-economic groups, but the majority of those who experience these forms of violence are women. However, it is not possible to measure the true extent of the problem as most incidents of domestic, family and sexual violence go unreported.

The United Nations defines violence against women as:

‘any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life’.

We must also remember that men and boys suffer from domestic violence.  The Australian Bureau of Statistics 4906.0 – Personal Safety, Australia, 2012 (2013) is the largest and most recent survey of violence in Australia. It found that:

  • one in three victims of current partner violence during the last 12 months (33.3%) and since the age of 15 (33.5%) were male.

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Domestic violence may include physical, sexual, financial, emotional or psychological abuse. Emotional or psychological abuse may include a range of controlling behaviours such as the use of verbal threats, enforced isolation from family and friends, restrictions on finances and public or private humiliation.

**Please understand right at the beginning of this story:  Domestic Violence and Abuse is not acceptable in any relationship, it is not a Christian principle, nor does the bible support abuse in any circumstances.

I’m talking today with Satu Meyer about her experience of domestic violence within her marriage. Satu is a Finnish mother of 5 amazing and resilient children and gorgeous step son.  Born in Finland and raised by her grandparent in a small village of 100 people in the far north of Finland under the northern lights.  Satu has travelled the world, speaks 4 languages and is currently studying a degree in European Political Science. Satu was 22 when she came to Australia and met her husband pretty much straight away.  Married in a pentecostal church at the age of 23.  The domestic violence started about six weeks into the marriage.  A six week cycle of abuse that went on for six years.

Satu thank you for joining me on Sunday Everyday to speak about your story.  I know that you have worked hard to get to place of being able to speak out about this and to create a platform of open discussion.  Through many years of counselling and therapy you are finding your voice.

‘One of the most powerful takeaway from the 12 step programme is that you learn to tell your story.  You have a  venue to begin to articulate what has been silenced.  You are being heard and learning to put into words what has happened to you.  This is my story, its the worst story, because its my story and I had to live through it’. Satu

Lisa:  There are so many questions that I have for you.  We have so much to learn about this issue. Before we start – what is the one thing that you would say to women who may be in a situation of domestic violence and who could be reading this today.

‘Your story is the worst story because you are living through it and your story needs to be heard and believed’.

Lisa:  Lets talk about the cycle of abuse.

Satu:  If you are in it you don’t understand the abuse cycle because it is so exhausting.

  • There is the ‘honey moon phase’, everything is smooth, they are very charming.
  • Then starts the verbal picking and the verbal, social or financial control – in this season you are walking on eggshells. You do everything you can not to upset him.
  • Then one day you say something or do some minor thing wrong and then they shift into the ‘violent phase’
  • In the apologetic stage they excuse what they have done.  They become highly apologetic or they blame you.  You made me do it. You are not allowed to talk to anyone about it.
  • Then back into normal calm down, then into the honey moon phase.
Lisa:  Can you explain to me a bit more about the honey moon phase?

Satu:  Well, you are treated nicer.  Its a relief because your not getting raped or beaten.  The undercurrent and the threat has stopped.

Lisa:  Lets talk about the types of abuse.

Satu:  A lot of women say ‘he only beat me once’.  But that is how they control you because you shut up and do whatever it takes to maintain the peace.  There’s no freedom.  Your money and social life is controlled, you are especially controlled through the children. You are particularly vulnerable when you are pregnant or have small children.  You are absolutely reliant on the other person. What types of abuse did I suffer?  Physical, sexual, emotional, drugging, psychological abuse through the children, spiritual abuse and being tormented.

Lisa: What of these abuses was the worst for you personally?

Satu:   Two things.  Abuse through my children for example my son was drugged and kidnapped when he was three. The second for me was the sexual abuse it is the most dehumanising. In regard to spiritual abuse, he would justify the abuse by using the bible, using terms like submission and he would repeat christian words that I would hear in the church.  During all of this time we were both attending church.  The church condoned his behaviour and what was going on. I told the church leaders and pastor what was going on but they would completely deny the reality by saying that ‘I was exaggerating and making it up’.  My staying in the marriage was more important to them than any abuse that happened to me.  They would tell me to pray for my husband and thank God for him.

Once he severally beat me.  It was a very serious assault. I was been beaten black and blue on my face and my whole body.  After then he was more careful to not bruise me in visible places.

Lisa:  One of the most common questions people ask is ‘Why don’t you leave? ( We will be covering this question in next weeks post called The Shark Cage – This metaphor- explains some of the reasons why it is so hard for women to get out of abusive relationships).

Satu:  They don’t understand,  it is impossible to understand.

Within the first year of marriage I had to leave home and go into a refuge just after my first child was born  I told my church friends what was happening.  I didn’t have a lot of close friends because I hadn’t been in the country for very long.  I went to the GP with a displaced jaw, but my husband was with me and I couldn’t say anything. I told my pastor that ‘I don’t know if I should press charges or not’.  He advised me that I must stay with my husband and pray for him because he was weaker mentally than I was.

I now know that you cannot leave until you are absolutely safe.  You have to be very strategic.  You have to plan it.  You have to be very wise.  In the past when I tried to leave, he would stalk me.  He would find me through friends who were ignorant of the dynamics involved and they would give him my phone number.  Then when he found me the abuse would escalate, he would be in a rage.  The abuse was always the worst after he found me. He refused to allow me to walk away.

Ragazza relax

Eventually I found a safe christian community who helped me to leave.

God is amazing and eventually I did find prayer and healing.  It is a continually journey and I have discovered  an enduring strength and faith in God.  I have also found safe women willing to listen and believe my story.

It has also been a lot of hard work and disciplined application to meditation and other methods of therapy to support my healing journey.

Although initially I experience some unsafe advice, I believe that today, society as a whole, including Christians are more understanding and supportive of  people in abusive situations.  Its becoming more talked about, more understood and less tolerated.

Abuse is not acceptable in any relationship, it is not a Christian principle, nor does the bible support abuse in any circumstances.

Darling Satu,  thank you for sharing some of your story with us.  I know that there are many other women in similar situations.  My prayer is that your story will help people understand what its really like and help others to realise that you can get free and that it is possible to move on.
Satu, you are a walking miracle of grace, hope and love.

Lisa.

Help is available and your story needs to be heard.

Trouble at home, call WIRE womens’ support line 1300 134 130 which is a free and confidential Victoria wide service.

You can call 1800737732 RESPECT which is the National Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Line open 24/7.

To contact CASA and the after hours sexual assault Crisis Line simple call 1800 806 292

http://www.casa.org.au/

CASA provides counselling and advocacy services to women, men, children and young people who are victim/survivors of recent or past sexual assault. The service is also available to non-offending family members, partners and friends.

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Quotes:

World Health Organization (WHO), London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and South African Medical Research Council, Global and regional estimates of violence against women: prevalence and health effects of intimate partner violence and non-partner sexual violence and Executive summary,

WHO, Geneva, 2013, accessed 29 April 2014. Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), Personal safety survey Australia 2012, cat. no. 4906.0, ABS, Canberra, 2013, accessed 29 April 2014

United Nations (UN), Declaration on the elimination of violence against women, UN website, 20 December 1993, accessed 7 July 2014.

Only the Lonely

Mother Teresa once said:

“The biggest disease today is not leprosy or cancer or tuberculosis, but rather the feeling of being unwanted, uncared for and deserted by everybody.”

Doctors have now measured the effects of the loneliness disease, warning that;

“Lonely people are nearly twice as likely to die prematurely as those who do not suffer feelings of isolation. Being lonely it seems, is a lot more worrying for your health than obesity”.

“Loneliness is associated with a significantly greater risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease. It suppresses the function of one’s immune system and contributes to a faster onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Loneliness has also been known to interrupt the regulation of cellular process so that it predisposes people to premature aging and can take years off one’s life-span”- Cherese Jackson.

What is Loneliness:

Loneliness is a feeling of sadness or distress about being by yourself or feeling disconnected from the world around you. It may be felt more over a long period of time. It is also possible to feel lonely, even when surrounded by people.

Isolation is being separated from other people and your environment. Sometimes this occurs through decisions we make ourselves, or because of circumstance e.g. doing a job that requires travel or relocation (lifeline).

We now know that loneliness, a social emotion, can reach into our bodies and rearrange our cells and genes.

Today I am chatting with my husband Philip Wotton.  He has been saying to me for a while now that loneliness is a big problem in society especially with men.  I hadn’t really thought about it a lot, but as I began to research this and talk to people about it, I realised that Phil was right.  It is a big issue, one that is hidden, silent and comes with  a lot of stigma.

Here are some of Phil’s thoughts on the subject:

I feel that loneliness is one of the silent killers of the 21st century and affects many more people than we care to realize. I know from my own personal experience, that it is very easy hide in the crowd and to have many acquaintances, whilst in reality, being totally alone.

Personally, I have found that I can navigate my way through life, having social interactions at work or in the sporting arena, for instance, without having anyone in my life who actually knows me, or gets me or cares for me.  I have also learnt to like my own company, when I am on my own, in order to maintain a level of normality and functionality, but at the same time with the need to connect  and to fill a void, that I can’t actually explain.

I know that man was created, to be in relationship with his fellow human. So whilst we can survive in a bubble of social media and acquaintances, I have found that actually hurts the heart and soul to be separated from a deeper level of relationship and sense of belonging.

“People cannot exist in life without solid relationships. Contrary to what some may believe, no one is an island to themselves. Everyone needs relationships; they are important to humanity” (K.Eisold).

Gazing

There are probably two sides to this topic;

  • firstly those that struggle through life alone and the associated impacts to their health and emotional wellbeing.
  • secondly the community within which we live.
    • Perhaps people not caring or being aware enough of what is happening in the lives of the people around them.

Extreme examples of this are the stories that you hear about people dying in their homes without anyone noticing.  There are even stories about people who have died in their work environment, without people realizing!

One man in Helsinki was reportedly dead for 2 days in an office of 100 people, without being noticed.  Another man, in New York was reportedly dead at his desk for 5 days, before he was noticed by the cleaners on a Saturday, propped up at his computer. He apparently worked in isolation and was the first in and the last out every day, so no one took any notice.

It is a topic that we never really discuss.  Where do you go to say: “Hey, I am lonely, please help”?  Having said that, it is often easier to be alone and something that I often pursue.  People are messy, relationships can be messy and they all require hard work.

If we are being totally selfish, it is a lot easier to just look after our own space and to control what we can control, so I realize that you cannot expect people to invest their time to get to know you, if you are not prepared to invest in them!  It is a two way street.

Do you think it’s harder for men?

Well I think that men are not as good at making the effort to connect socially.  Men often put up walls to protect themselves, either perhaps because of past rejection or pain or to present a certain macho image.  Men don’t like being vulnerable, they prefer to be in control.  So men often make a lot of small talk but don’t like to confront the deeper issues.

There are maybe a few reasons for this:

1:  It’s sometimes harder for men to relate and to put the effort into relationships, particularly in the context of the busy lives we live. It is actually easier not to make the effort than to go the next step to dig deeper and to actually care. As long as their needs are being met the rest is really an effort.

2:  Also, men often aren’t interested in going any deeper than small talk.  They are not so good at noticing and are not interested in hearing the answer to say “How are you really”?

Understandably, people don’t want to take on others peoples pain, life is hard enough as it is. Sometimes it is easier to be alone, to go home and to simply zone out. It takes effort and hard work to involve yourself in other people’s lives. We often couldn’t be bothered but yet we are all constantly longing for someone else to reach out to us and to be connected. It’s a conundrum.

The fact remains that people need to feel loved, listened to and valued by those near to them.

Stephen Fry says it this way:

“In the end, loneliness is the most terrible and contradictory of my problems.  I hate having only myself to come home to…

It’s not that I want a sexual partner, a long-term partner, someone to share a bed and a snuggle on the sofa with – although perhaps I do and in the past I have had and it has been joyful. But the fact is I value my privacy too. It’s a lose-lose matter. I don’t want to be alone, but I want to be left alone (source).

Phil, what made the difference for you personally?

For me, I actually came to the understanding or revelation one day that there is a God and that he actually does love me, care for me and that he has a purpose for my life. Up until that point, I was a closed shop, with a very hard heart, that no one and I mean no –one, was going to get anywhere near.  All of a sudden I had a totally new perspective on life for which I am very grateful and it actually saved me.

I came to realise that I was not alone, God has a purpose for me and that there was actually meaning and hope to the crazy world I was living in. It was actually a huge relief. I was about to explode. From there I was able to reset and move forward, although this did not take away the for need for relationship and community.

It did take a crisis in my life to wake me up and as Richard Rohr explains :

“When a person is on a serious inner journey to his or her own powerlessness and is also in immediate contact with the powerless men and women, then community will result”.

Suffering seems to get our attention.  If you don’t have a conflict moment, you don’t stop long enough to explore what happened or to work out what you think and who you are.  I think that’s why there is so much small talk.  Either people have not faced serious conflict and have never learned to go deeper, or they are just not interested.

Thanks Phil so much, this has been a real eye opener for me and I’m sure there are many who identify with what you have said.

If you are feeling lonely and need assistance please talk to someone and tell them how you are feeling.

OR  You can call life line on 131114

Recommended Reading:

Richard Rohr – “Simplicity” The Freedom of Letting Go.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0824521153/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0824521153&linkCode=as2&tag=sundaevery-20&linkId=CAENFC66JQQ2YF4W

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Read more at http://guardianlv.com/2014/02/loneliness-the-silent-serial-killer/#3MpfsdxZyAoMzUTE.99

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/feb/17/loneliness-report-bigger-killer-obesity-lonely-people

Read more at http://guardianlv.com/2014/02/loneliness-the-silent-serial-killer/#3MpfsdxZyAoMzUTE.99

Post published by Ken Eisold Ph.D. on May 24, 2013

https://www.lifeline.org.au/Home

Welcome and Hello

Welcome to Sunday Everyday.

This is my first official post ahhhhhh…… faint.   I hope you enjoy navigating the site.  Have a look around and make yourself at home. By doing so you will understand a little more of how this is going to work.   Its been a nail-biting 5 months for me personally for many reasons.  One of them has been about me being brave enough to step out into the unknown and put this particular dream into action.

For the last 8 years the footnote of all of my emails has read:

“To live a creative life you must lose your fear of being wrong”

by Joseph Chilton Pearce

Which is quite hilarious really because the first email that I sent with this quote on it was actually spelled wrong.  My dear friend and colleague Llewellyn Watterson, in his gracious and quiet manner, walked into my office and pointed out that I had spelt ‘LOOSE’ instead of ‘lose’.  So I was wrong immediately.   Story of my life.  I guess what I’m trying to say is that being creative is risky, putting dreams into action takes courage.  We all struggle with fear but it doesn’t have to rule us.  I say this to myself as I launch this blog and hold my breath. 

motivational poster quote LIFE BEGINS AT THE END OF COMFORT ZONE

My story is complex and bumpy, hilarious and heart breaking.  Those of you who don’t know me will catch glimpses of my journey in my writing.  However, the primary reason for this blog is that it be a platform for conversation.   It is also designed to be a platform for other writers.   I’ve grown some wings and a voice in the last 15 years and there are some things that I want to say.  There are some conversations that need to begin.   I feel deeply and passionately that we need to hear other voices, other opinions, other ideas and visions.  I’m an artist, a creative, a prophet.  My primary obligation to this planet is to make people feel stretched, to make them think, to make them look.  To move them out of their Comfort Zone.

lisa07On Sunday Everyday, each week average people, artists, pastors, theologians, rebels, activists, poets and theologians will post their thoughts, ideas, passions and perspectives.

Please don’t lock down your brains, or dig in your trenches.  Please join the conversation.

There is a lovely story of the wolf-spider; it never builds its web between two hard objects like two stones.  If it did this, it would be rent by the wind.  Instinctively, it builds its web between two blades of grass.  When the wind comes it is flexible, it moves and springs back up.  I’m reminded of a verse in the bible that was given to me and my husband at my first marriage.  Psalm 92:12

The Godly will flourish like a palm tree, they will be like the Cedars in Lebanon.

What this is saying is that these two trees have two distinct characteristics.  You only have to observe a tropical storm to see that the palm tree is flexible, it bows low in the wind and then springs up again.  The Cedar is very slow-growing and has an extensive root system, but once it is established at maturity it is immobile.   I think that we need to be like this.  Until we are in our old age, we should be flexible and pliable.  Only as we reach the end of our lives and we are established in wisdom should we be more confident in our ways and thoughts.

‘We put terrible pressure on our minds when we tighten them or when we harden our views or beliefs; we lose all the softness and flexibility which makes for real shelter, belonging and protection’.

John O’Donohue

Creativity demands that we remain flexible, spontaneous.  Like a Violin, if the strings are too tight they snap.   We also need to be bridges.  Being a bridge means we understand the people on each side of that bridge and that we hold the tension perfectly so that both sides feel loved, both feel understood and that we become the bridge that hearts and souls can cross to meet and to unite and to solve the issues of this grief filled planet.  That is the definition of peace I believe.

So I encourage you to come on this journey with me.  Lets start some conversations, lets hear from some bigger minds and deeper hearts.  Lets gain some perspective as we hear the stories of our brothers and sisters.  I couldn’t say this any better than Richard Rohr.

Get ready for some new freedom.  Some dangerous permission, some hope from nowhere, some unexpected happiness, some stumbling stones, some radical grace, and some new and pressing responsibility for yourself and our suffering world.

With much love. Lisa.

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