My friend William Crawley directed me to a documentary he made about faith in Northern Ireland and this has changed over a period of time. The documentary is called Losing Our Religion and can still be viewed here and is well worth a look.
William’s own story follows through from conversion at a tent mission, to preaching at several churches on a Sunday, to becoming a questioner and ultimately an individual whose faith is based on questions rather than answers. I met William through Peterson Toscano and spent several hours chewing the fat with them both – it was fun and they both made me think a lot.
I was fascinated with this documentary though. Watching William go back to some of his own haunts, re-examine where he has been from and ponder what this might mean him at the moment was really interesting. I wonder where the next stop on this journey will be though.
Tonight at our cell group we watched one of the Nooma DVD’s called Rhythm.
I love these little films. They are generally clever, make me think and encourage me to think about God in different ways. In this film a relationship with God was compared to a song… that the song is God, and it is always going on, but the question is are you in tune with the song? I love the idea of this relationship being like a song… the consistency of the tune, but how many ways can we hear the same thing? How many different instruments can we hear in the whole? How many different ways do we each experience God, and yet the song remains the same.
“Jesus is like God in taking on flesh and blood, and so in his generosity, in his compassion, that’s what God’s like.
In his telling of the truth, that’s what God’s like.
In his love, and forgiveness, and sacrifice, that’s what God’s like.
That’s who God is. That’s how the song goes.”
The question from this statement was “Is God compassionate, truthful, loving and forgiving OR is God compassion, truth, love and forgiveness?”
I simply answered yes because I both believe he IS all these things, but also that he is able to offer all these things.
“The song is playing all around us all the time, the song is playing everywhere, it’s written on our hearts, and everybody is playing the song. See, the question isn’t whether or not you’re playing a song, the question is, “Are you in tune?”
PS) I tried to add a Youtube video but couldn’t work it out… any advice from the experts?
Tonight on Channel 4 there was a programme called The Virgin Daughters. The programme was about the purity movement in America and focused on something called purity balls or father-daughter purity balls. Basically it was all these scary fundamentalist Christian fathers taking their daughters who are all dressed up like it is prom night to a ball where they dances around a cross and then sign a pledge to remain pure until their wedding night. Whilst I don’t think that sex is something to be taken for granted, the sheer pressure that these young girls appeared to be under was frightening. The programme interviewed one girl who had taken the purity pledge, then met a boy and got pregnant. She talked about how her parents, in particular her mother, have held her past behaviours over her head and treated her like a lesser person.
There were other things that scared me. For example, 11-year-olds talking about their fathers approving their clothing, the expectation that their fathers will inspect their potential boyfriends before they are even allowed to date their daughters. It was all scary and controlling behaviour and I wonder how any of these young women will ever be able to make valid, sensible and reasoned decisions for themselves. The other thing that really struck me was the absolute focus on heterosexual relationships. I mean I can’t even begin to imagine what it must be like for a young person who is gay to be involved in a family like that.
An article in a 2007 edition of Glamour magazine nailed it for me…
But the real challenge, in my mind, is for a father to remain loving toward his daughter and at the same time nurture her autonomy. The purity movement is, in essence, about refusing to let girls grow up: Daddy's girls never have to be adults. The balls are saying, I want you to be 11 forever, says Kindlon. These are girls who may never find out what it means to make decisions without a man involved, to stand up for themselves, to own their sexuality.
I don’t know. Maybe it is just me that found the whole thing quite creepy. Whilst I think getting the chance to spend time with your Dad is an amazing thing I found the whole purity ball event a bit weird. I mean I love my Dad, but I have no doubt that he wouldn’t have wanted me to remain 11-years old forever, mainly because I was a pain in the ass. Isn’t the reality that we all make mistakes and hopefully learn from them as we go along? I worry that the girls involved in this sort of movement grow up with an unrealistic view of love, life and marriage. Yes, women are sexual beings, but that isn’t all there is to them. The idea that their chastity is something to be given over by their father to another is pretty archaic. I wonder how many of them will grow up to be doormats… ruled over by their husbands in the same way that their fathers ruled over them.