When men hit women
Alison and I went to see Suffragette last week (spoiler alert). I was taken aback at the price of a cinema ticket once again but not as much as I was taken aback by the film (but we had fun messing with the buttons on the posh reclining seats at the Showcase).
A great film, but disturbing (the lead role brilliantly acted by Carey Mulligan). It wasn’t so much the contrasting attitudes to whether or not women should get the vote. I rather expected to be brought up short as we were reminded of how far we have come in acknowledging equality between the sexes (fascinating fact – Switzerland only gave women the vote in 1971 apparently).
Yes I know there is further to go, particularly in areas of leadership and employment, but I rarely come across equality deniers these days. Even in the church women leaders are coming to the fore – and we’ve always affirmed women leaders at Leeds Vineyard.
No, what shocked me was the violence meted out to the women in the film. Apparently sanctioned if not orchestrated by the authorities, the police laid into the suffragettes with truncheons and boots (and then there is the forced feeding scene). Femininity being punched instead of protected by guardians in uniform jolted me.
I am assuming that the scenes were based on fact but, in a way whether it happened or not doesn’t alter the reaction I felt. I became aware that I was one of only three men in the cinema. I pressed the buttons to recline further back!
I’m not sure where it came from but I grew up with a cast-iron rule, albeit an unspoken one, that boys don’t hit girls and men don’t hit women. I didn’t realise until I saw the film just how ingrained that is in my thinking. And, I am supposing, in most men’s thinking. What would I have done if I had been a policeman instructed to strike a woman?
But then I think, why is it more offensive to me when a man hits a woman than when a man hits a man? I played enough rugby to lose my qualms about that! But neither man nor woman, both created as precious in the eyes of God, neither is a fair object of violence. If, say, you (a man) are willing to strike a man down in order to prevent him doing violence to another, should you not do the same for a woman? What would Jesus do?
Speaking of violence, next weekend we mark Remembrance Sunday. And we have the tension between respecting and remembering those who have suffered in battle and yet worshipping the Prince of peace.
I winced instinctively as the truncheon smashed into the woman’s stomach – should I not wince in reaction to any violence?
Let us reflect and pray carefully on Sunday.
Immanuel – God with us
This is our theme for Christmas. Immanuel means “God with us”. According to some recent research (“Talking Jesus”, Perceptions of Jesus, Christians and Evangelism in England, conducted by Barna - see the attached document) four out of ten English people don’t believe that Jesus was a real person. “Immanuel” tells us that he was indeed a real person and he is God with us.
The same poll tells us that most of us are too embarrassed to talk about Jesus, especially with those who are closest to us. If that’s true for you, just invite the people around you to a Carol Service or a Christmas Family Service – and leave it to the carols and readings and my talk to tell them about Him!
We have a Carol Service on Sunday evening 13 December and a Christmas Family Service (morning) on 20 December – please start to pray about who the Lord wants you to invite. Invitation cards will be available soon.
With amazing help from Roman and Hannah you will find most of our teaching up on the website within a day or two of the Sunday. There is a recording of the talk and a copy of the text. We hope it helps you dig into the subjects a bit more.
Each a month a team of people led by Jerry and Pauline Wild go onto the streets of Headingley to pray for healing. In October the team prayed for eight people and had significant encounters with another couple, one of whom has started coming on Sunday mornings. If you would like to join in the next opportunity is on Saturday 14 November.
There’s lots going on this month
Make sure you pick up the newssheet for November and keep an eye on the website. There’s picnic in the church; events for students, twentysomethings, worshippers and intercessors.
I’m enjoying listening to Roo Panes' Little Giant album at the moment. Great voice, folksy, ballads. And not having much English rugby to watch recently (!) I have given time instead to reading The Power of Words about Winston Churchill, incorporating many of his speeches and writings, what a master of the spoken word he was!