Skip to main content

Posts

Christmas in Isolation

Poetry is what happens to you when you really should be writing essays... I'm rather fond of this one though. Enough to have a go at recording it (full text underneath): CHRISTMAS 2020 Please wait, the host will let you in; The meeting is about to start – You’ve got your Christmas jumper on, A rigid grin, a grudging heart,  A drink that you don’t want in hand, An exit strategy pre-planned. You love the faces on the screen; You’ve loved them, every day since March A little more – and even then You leave them daily in the lurch;  It feels as much as you can do To keep on top of keeping you. And meanwhile all the web-wide world Is page refreshing for a sign Of AstraZeneca’s brainchild, Or one, perhaps, of Pfizer’s line; A saviour in a chilled pipette By which our hopes and fears are met. For now, it’s carols from our doors, And reindeer in the windowpanes That rainbows graced not long before, And charitable food campaigns For jobless households scraping by, As businesses are left t
Recent posts

King Jesus

Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?” (He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) Jesus said, “Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.” ( John 12 :1-8) CONVENTION Zadok the priest, and Nathan the prophet, And Mary with about a pint of nard At dinnertime, and all the peopl

Sex, Lies, and Signet Cords

“Biblical Womanhood” is a pulse-raising phrase that typically describes a set of prescriptive (and subordinating) gender norms based on particular interpretations of selected portions of scripture. Funnily, those selected portions don’t typically include the accounts of actual Biblical women – many of which make for fascinating / inspiring / disturbing / all-round-complicating reading. When they get read at all, that is.  One of my favourites is that of Tamar, through whose initiative God extends the tribe of Judah , establishes the house of King David and, according to the Christian testament, selects the human ancestry of the Messiah. Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus actually goes out of its (patrilinear) way to honour her by name – and yet, I’m not sure I’ve ever heard her mentioned in church. Perhaps because we’re stumped for a Sunday School moral-of-the-story (though we have disturbingly little difficulty deriving neat takeaways from the lives of male biblical “heroes” whose action

Ecclesiology in Isolation

IF YOU’RE KILLED ON ZOOM YOU DIE HERE This is your body Breaking up At 50 megabits-per-second Straight to my front room A three-by-four of eyes and mouths Unanswerable sound I love you for an hour every day The pixels of our faces numbered We are better than a multiplex of data Gathered Each one to our own home On the night you were betrayed We took the slice and blessed it Everything is what you make of it A host of fragments un-assembled At our private suppers I have eagerly desired to be left alone Forgive me For I do not know what we are doing Carolyn Whitnall, 2020 The other day I requested a Zoom link that I never received. It was for a church thing. The common sense response would've been to ask again, over a different channel. But I was tired and lonely and sad and so I just skipped the session and chalked it up as the latest episode in the lengthy, rambling narrative of rejection that, when I'm tired and lonely and sad, feels like the en

All In My Head

My lockdown fitness / coping regime keeps reminding me of a thing I once wrote, so I re-made it better and 'now'... STAY IN PLACE   and: hold. you’ve found the secret of eternity, your belly button pulling in towards your spine –  eyes fixing, face like flint, as seeming poised as you can seem to be, remembering to breathe.  remembering to – ( one ) you count the ringing in of ( two ) the evening news. whole empires  ( three ) decline and fall between each ( four ) recorded chime; tectonic ( five ) contractions, famine, wars and ( six )  the rumour of a vaccine. steady now. your hips are up a little; bring them in but do not let them  sag; and: breathe. the world in solemn stillness tries to hold its own together, separately.  so focus on the headlines; keep your head in line and inattentive to the quiver at your core;  ten seconds more – and: rest. you have until eternity tomorrow.  Carolyn Whitnall, 2018/2020. "Physical training

Theology in Isolation

"Jesus died to save us". I have known this for many years, and "knew" exactly what it meant, perhaps even before I could've written the words down. But it turns out (you don't say?!) that not every believer in all times and places has "known" the same meaning. I've been reading and thinking about this a lot lately. About how familiar images and formulations that present as objective and universal are in fact rooted in particular historical circumstances and power arrangements. About how oppressed and enslaved people have encountered and received Jesus in profoundly different ways to those prescribed by the religion of the ruling classes. About how the various ideas that resonate with me knock up against each other seemingly irreconcilably. There is no "context-free" theology, and perhaps it is reductive to reach for such a thing. After all, God (I believe) was not content to remain an abstract idea, but consented (and consents) to

The Whiteness Of My Shelves (And What I'm Doing About It)

This is a post for white friends who, like me, are experiencing an increased awareness of our responsibility to educate ourselves about race, racism, and white supremacy, and to submit ourselves to be changed by – and to act on – what we learn. There's some great resources out there explicitly created to help us do this: Reni Eddo-Lodge's Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race , Akala's Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire  and Nikesh Shukla et al.'s The Good Immigrant  are among those I've read myself and benefited from. And Ben Lindsay's We Need to Talk About Race: Understanding the Black Experience in White Majority Churches ' addresses some of the particular issues arising in a Christian context. If all this learning feels like 'effort', it is effort that is due. Overdue. Let's keep on humbly at it, yes? But everyone needs downtime ... and (to state what should be obvious) we don't need to pause becoming