Beauty Therapy

Sit on the chair and face me.
See how the mirror is framed by bulbs
that half obliterate the reflection
of a gaunt and pale individual.
Can you see the heavy clothes,
bending you forwards
until your chin glances against you knees
and your arms are lost in tendrils
of felt and tweed and stained
sackcloth. It frays around the edges.

Please, allow me.
There’s no need to flinch when I
pull the rags away, cut open
the clotted carcass that hangs across your back;
wrench wooden shoes off bleeding feet
unscrew rusted rings from bent fingers.
I wont leave until you’re bare
and even then,

allow me.
There is cloth to be used.
Let’s wipe away the dirt
and the black foundation that you wore
to hide away the things that caused you great shame.
And we’ll wash your hair together
to clear away all the mud
scrape the sludge from your nails.

In the meantime I’ll massage into your skin
my Grace and Mercy;
my Love, Peace and Happiness.
Anoint your head with oil
and tease Pleasantness to your scalp.
I’ll redress you in a slip
of Confidence and Humility so that
your skin will glow and gleam
and complement the brightness of your eyes.

No need for adornment.
Let the beauty come from within
and manifest in your mannerisms,
words, thoughts and conscience.

Time to turn down the bulbs
so you can see yourself clearly.

Time to set you on your way–
but don’t forget my card.
Testify your transformation
and tell others about
Me.

 

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The Virgin

Mother said
that if I wanted to marry a Christian man
then I would need to be a virgin.
Because he wouldn’t appreciate
a woman that had been tampered with too tough.

Imagine, she said
if you took a new Mercedes,
ran it through every station in the neighbourhood:
BP, Shell, Esso, Texaco
and shoved greasy nozzles into it
for days and days on end
filling her up with diesel and unleaded and leaded and diesel again—
mixing the three into a poisonous concoction
that would inevitably cause her to choke and decay and catch disease.
Before you know it, said Mother, Mercedes would be left in the garage
to grow old alone. And dusty. Her paint would peel and her shine would vanish.
And no one would care.

Do you want to be like that? Asked Mother.
No. I said. I didn’t.

Something Slightly Annoying…

Feminism. I’ve been struggling with this for quite a while. When I say to Christians that I’m a Feminist, they seem to have a problem with it. I’ve always wondered, is it un-Christian to believe that the sex you were born into should NEVER determine how much freedom and respect you’re allowed to have? I understand that there’s a lot of ignorance surrounding the subject: before I did my Sociology A Level I assumed that Feminists were just angry man-haters. Then I discovered just how unfair this world is to women—through unequal pay and glass ceilings to more extreme cases: Female Genital Mutilation; prostitution, female trafficking and the atrocious hold the Taliban have over women in the Middle East. I saw a documentary a few years ago where the women in Afghanistan were so distressed by their mistreatment and abuse that they were killing themselves by self-immolation.

And let’s not forget that 400, 000 women are raped a year in the Congo. Ah, and in our wonderful, forward-thinking country, the conviction rate for rape cases is 6%. Result!

When I think about these things, I get so angry and I just can’t understand why everyone isn’t a Feminist. Christians should be getting involved with it, letting the world know that these things just aren’t on.

But what do you do when you’re part of one of the world’s oldest misogynistic institutions?

God is for women, obviously. God loves women. But in the Dark Ages and other times when Christianity was the main religion in this country, you would have thought the opposite. It was well known back then that women were sinful by nature; seductive little creatures whose only purpose in life was to lead men astray. You can even look for examples in the Bible where women were abused due to the religious nature of the time: the woman who was caught in adultery and thrown in front of Jesus to be stoned couldn’t have committed adultery by herself, yet there she was, surrounded and humiliated by men who should have known better. This is the problem with religion: it’s a man-made concept, so you get people who’ll twist God’s word to their own ends. Sadly, women have always had the short end of the stick because of it.

What I don’t like is when people in church outwardly deny that these things happen. It’s almost stupidity.

One of my biggest gripes in church these days is the whole ‘women you can’t wear this because the men can’t handle  it’ thing. I’m not being unreasonable–I understand that men are wired differently; that they’re Visual Creatures™ and get more easily aroused than women, but it’s really frustrating that when I’m picking out an outfit I have to think about all the men that might be aroused by it. Surely the onus is on the man to control himself? Some guys just get lazy, they don’t take responsibility for themselves and blame the woman for every lustful thought that goes on their heads. I thought men were supposed to be the Leaders, the Heads of the family? What kind of leader blames the woman for all his wrongdoings? It’s especially annoying when you’re curvy and certain clothes would just automatically look more sensual, even if you don’t mean it to. Yes I know there are some women who dress for male attention—actually, I think we all do, at least sometimes. It’s nice to get male attention (and I mean from a gentleman. Most of time some intimidating man just comes up to me and starts pestering me for a number, and once I was followed halfway home before he left me alone. But when a gentleman does it, it’s nice: a guy just held my hand once and told me I was beautiful. It was sweet…)

I’m gonna be completely honest and say that I like things that show a little bit of cleavage—if I’ve got the boobs for it, why not?

I had a long chat yesterday about this topic. I suppose my problem is that I keep refusing to see it from the Man’s Perspective. My friend said that if I really thought about God in all these gender politics, then I would automatically think about the guys I might make things difficult for and I wouldn’t mind if I had to cover up a bit. I honestly hadn’t thought about it in this way before. It’s just that, when I hear people say “you’re going to cause your church brother to sin”, all that goes through my head are those misogynists who believe that the woman is to blame if she gets raped. Surely if she just wore a long skirt then the poor man wouldn’t be forced to do that to her? ‘Cause men are different from women, aren’t they? And, like, you know—women in burqas have NEVER been raped, right??

*Sigh* I’m rambling. Mutual understanding, Baker, mutual understanding. I would never want to make a guy feel uncomfortable–honestly I wouldn’t. I’m just tired of women always bearing extra burdens. And I’m becoming a bit of a broken record nowadays. I’ve discussed this with people time and time again and it’s always me against five or so others and I end up feeling inadequate. It’s got to the stage where someone might say something slightly inflammatory about dress, or women, and people just stare at me, waiting for an entertaining rant. I don’t want to become a predictable joke, so I’ll just leave it for now. I was worse before, believe me. In fact I think at one point I was guilty of misandry (although I still don’t see what’s so bad about wanting men and women to be equal and I don’t think my thoughts are extreme).

Ah, and one more thing:

WOMEN LIKE SEX TOO. Remember that it’s always been seen as un-ladylike for a woman to talk about sex, to be openly sexual. Men have always had sexual freedom–why do you think when a guy sleeps with ten women he’s a hero and a woman is a slut if she does the same? Look at it Biblically as well: how many women did Solomon have at his yard again? Hundeds, right? Don’t let tradition turn into quasi-scientific facts. Men, just because you’re allowed to be open about sex, doesn’t mean us women don’t think about it or that we don’t get turned on; doesn’t mean women aren’t visual creatures either.

So next time it’s SEC Sports Day, and y’all start strutting around the park, six pack and all, think about how many of your church sisters you’re causing to sin.

Mutual Understanding, yeah?

A Confession.

I haven’t updated this blog for a few days. This is mainly due to university assignments and my personal writing. I’ve been meaning to start sending off stories I’ve written to magazines and publishers, but I was always scared to do it. A couple friends of mine from my old Creative Writing class really got me motivated to do it: they’ve been sending off poems and things; getting rejections and great acceptances as well.

I was also trying to prepare for the Sabbath School class I was due to teach last Sabbath: The Teens. The less said about that the better.

But what I really want to do is confess something. Here it is:

I’m not a good  person.

I mean, I’m not the worst person and I wouldn’t like to think of myself as horrible to others, but as I get closer to God I’m beginning to notice things about myself that I’ve never noticed before. Very often I hear the Holy Spirit reproaching me; my conscience is pricked. I don’t feel guilty, necessarily, but I feel as though I need to change it. My main problem is gossip. I’m not a huge gossip by nature–in fact, I hate gossiping, but sometimes, when I’m with the right (or wrong, however you want to look  at it) person, my mouth just runs on its own. Especially if it’s someone I’ve known for a long time and there’s so much to catch up on, somehow we’ll always get into a discussion about who’s pregnant, who’s broken up with who, who’s done this and that. And I feel bad every time I do it.

And sometimes I say cruel things. After Sabbath, I and a few other people were consolling a guy at my church who’s been going through a tough time. My friend was simultaneously making a list of the youth at church that would be availble to take up a post for next year. After the guy was gone, we all said we’d be praying for him. Consequently two youths came and chatted to us for a bit, turned down the posts that were offered to them as they didn’t want to work with old people or children, and left. After they were gone, my friend asked if she should add them to–

Now I thought she was going to say a prayer list, so I said very flippantly: “oh yeah, we need to pray for them too”. She laughed, and added them to the list of posts for next year anyway.

Now that comment might not seem that bad, but in hindsight I can see why that would come across as a bit High and Mighty. Ironically, it showed that I need prayers more than them. I’d hate to turn into those Christians who always see the bad in everyone else before seeing the things that need to change in themselves.

These things I need to pray for. Jesus wouldn’t act like I do. At all.

Pray for me; and I’ll pray for you.

xXx

Text for the Day: Love

 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

1 Corinthians 13, NIV. A favourite of my friend’s. It is a beautiful passage…

Now is the Time

You’re going to prepare the bonfire of your life.
Everything that wasn’t you–
the CDs, the shiny mags
the hookahs, the pipes,
the obscure, salacious novels
and the browns, pinks and blues
that you used to decorate your face
and hide the real beauty that was crying underneath.

As flames dance before your eyes
and you watch the sceptres of your past
curl like the talons of the vultures
that used to feast on your life,
The New You emerges.
History has passed away without a mark of its existence
and the only thing you feel is relief.
Chains have been broken,
shackles removed
bear traps loosened
hearts patched and mended
and a myriad of blessings twist around your soul.
You feel the excitement–
no need for fear–
you’ll wait for the Old to become New
as God creates the better You.

 

 

The Venus Trap

I told you to be a good girl and make sure your dress was starched for church. You sat there with acid in your look, but you obeyed.

Because you were good and sweet then.

I ensured that you didn’t wear the make up and oils of the heathen women, so as not to contaminate the eyes of innocent men. I always knew your body was too shapely–rounded–like the curves of a loveheart, the arcs culminating into a point of desire. A soft, rose coloured Venus Trap set to enslave the souls of wandering brothers. You remained untouched, untampered.

Because you listened to me then.

I told you to shut up when the following were speaking:

Men.
Elders.
Pastors.
Friends.
People who were smarter than you and prettier than you and understood their Bibles and the importance of obedience.

You were nice then. Understanding.

But one day, your star fell and you plummeted from Grace.

When that happened, you never returned.

 

The Facebook Preacher.

Happy Sabbath.

I was talking to my friend yesterday about Facebook Christians. He’s a guy, so he knows how guys think. I wanted to know his opinion about someone from my local church who’s shown interest in me. It’s really useful having a close male friend…

He told me to be careful, gave his reasons, and thankfully confirmed my own apprehension.

‘Are you on Facebook?’ has become a casual greeting nowadays. You meet someone for the first time, ask the question, and hopefully get to know them more through Facebook chatting–or you probably never talk to them again, only reading snapshots of their lives when their status occasionally crops up on your newsfeed. That’s what Facebook is all about: giving people snapshots of your life. Look through the albums, see the pictures of what looks like an amazing scene at an amazing dinner party. How do you know the dinner party was amazing? There might have been stilted, dry conversation, awkward silences–perhaps an argument–but everyone’s managed to pull a smile together and give the spectators of said photograph the impression that the whole night was a success.

It’s actually quite an interesting sociological phenomenon. Anthony Giddens explores the concept of our Biographies in several essays. It’s all in relation to the concept of The Self in modern society. We try to maintain satisfactory biographies to gain respect and recognition from others; we feel shame when an exaggerated aspect of our biographies is exposed. In essence, Facebook helps us to maintain the appearance of an amazing, interesting life; a satisfactory biography.

How does this relate to Christianity?

Have you ever thought that someone must be crazily, unbelievably holy because of what they say on Facebook? There are a lot of Facebook preachers out there, writing Bible passages, quotes from Ellen White and warnings of the End Times as their statuses; they never forget to wish everyone a Happy Sabbath at the strike of sunset; when they post music, it’s strictly Gospel–and none of that jumpy Tye Tribbet, please. Old Skool hymns only. Don’t misunderstand me. There is nothing wrong with doing this. Many a time I’ve been uplifted by a poem or passage that someone has posted, but the question is, what does this person do when they’re not on Facebook publicly declaring their piety? Does their life reflect their Facebook status? The Facebook status only gives us a snapshot of the emotions and feelings of that person at any given time. In real life, would people ever know that they’re a Christian?

There are a lot of people on my Facebook that I don’t know personally. If I was to take them at face value, based on their Facebook Persona, I’d help them pack their bags for their First Class journey to Heaven. The thing is, we don’t know what happens behind closed doors.

So be beware of putting your entire trust in someone because they’re always spiritual on Facebook. Only God knows the heart.

 

The Christian

If I say ‘Amen’ the loudest
and I wear my hat the biggest
and quote Bible texts in the fashion of a parrot;

I shout on all street corners
and preach hellfire and brimstone
and chastise all my friends for going to secret raves;

If I vilify homosexuals
and shun the  excited, tempted unmarried
and criticize the divorced with great vehemence;

If I set fire to the drumkit
and tell the Praise Team they’re too lively
and petition all and sundry for the banning of girls’ trousers

Then I’ll call myself the best Christian.
Yea, the best Christian of them all.