Tag Archives: Relationships

“The Queen of the Tearling”: fight for women

I found Erika Johansen’s book The Queen of the Tearling on a list from the Calgary Public Library.  I can’t remember what the list was about, but I glad I stumbled upon it because I really enjoyed this book!

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Source: https://missnessiemarie.com/2015/03/22/book-review-the-queen-of-the-tearling-by-erika-johansen/comment-page-1/

This is a post-apocalyptic book that also shows an attempted fail at creating a utopia.  It’s good to get out of the real world and imagine what could happen if…

The book revolves around Kelsea who was raised by foster parents in the forest and on her 19th birthday becomes Queen.  She sees the devastation and poverty of the field workers as she makes her way to the castle.  She see the horrors of a complete unfair treaty with the neighbouring country and stops it her very first moment entering the keep gates.  As she tries to create a country that is equal, fair, and good for all, she faces years of corruption and violent resistance.  Yet she has a strong and loyal Queen’s Guard to protect her and guide her and she has two magical sapphire stones around her neck.

My favourite part of the novel was the scene where Kelsea, who in her dreams is able to see visions of what is happening in different areas of her kingdom, tries to convince her body guard and the head of the Queen’s Guard to leave in the middle of the night to go and save women and children from being exported to the neighbouring country by the black market king in order to keep his relationship with the corrupt Queen next door.  In the scene, Kelsea orders her Guard to get up, pack, and leave.  They try to convince her that it was just a dream, that she was acting hysterical, and that she needed to get some sleep.  They continued to dismiss her and even tried to physically restrain her.  Luckily for her, the magic sapphires allowed her the strength to push these men through the air and against the wall, and that convinced them to follow her direct orders. Think of what they missed out on by ignoring her and treating her knowledge as unreliable.  Think of what would have happened to hundreds of women and children if she didn’t have the power of the sapphires to help her.

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Source: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/343962490267800640/

The frustration of being told she was just a young woman, that she was crazy, and that the men around her knew better made by blood boil.  That powerlessness, and that feeling of righteous anger hit me hard.  There are moments in life where men wield their historical patriarchal power and physical power to try to control a situation that they have no business controlling.  There are also moments in my life where men have tried to tell me they knew better because they were men and that I was crazy.  I don’t know if men ever have these moments of complete and utter removal of power.  Do they even know what it feels like to be dismissed and controlled?

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Source: http://8tracks.com/explore/fight_the_patriarchy/popular

Today I am joining millions of women around the world to march.  I am marching because we have a lot of work to do in North America in regards to the treatment of women.  We need more say in political arena, businesses, schools, and homes.  We as humans need to recognize the benefit of giving power instead of striping away power.  It is a privilege for me to live in a country where it is a Charter Right that I am allowed to gather, meet, and march with thousands of other women in my city to show my solidarity with women’s rights and the fight for equality.

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Source: http://dailyhive.com/calgary/calgary-womens-march-on-washington-january-2017

Today I remember all the women whose voices have been taken away or silenced.  Today I remember all of the women whose power was taken away simply because of their sex.  Today I celebrate that women can make a difference and that we are persons.  The meeting point for the march today is at the Famous Five statue, a place that honours women fighting for equal rights.

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Source: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/calgary-trump-march-on-washington-women-rights-1.3940991

“Phallocentrism is the enemy.  Of everyone.  Men stand to lose by it, differently but as seriously as women.” (Helene Cixous)

“This is how women are trained to stay indoors, she thought, the idea echoing in her mind like a gravesong. This is how women are trained not to act.” (Erika Johansen)

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Source: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/274719645989890660/

“Milk and Honey”: loving yourself

I love that a book of poetry is a best seller.  I love that a book of poetry that is so empowering to women is a best seller.  Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur is the best birthday gifts I got this year.  For a moment at my family birthday party it got a bit awkward because my two-year-old nephew kept flipping through the pages.  He liked that it had pictures and black pages (too funny!).  I’m grateful that no one else really tried to flip through it because sometimes there’s a time and a place for conversations about sexuality.

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Source: https://www.amazon.ca/Milk-Honey-rupi-kaur/dp/1502784270

I quickly realized that Kaur’s collection was not a one-time read; I knew that I would need to read this a few times in order to let the honesty and the power of the words sink in.  I applaud Rupi Kaur for her bravery and honesty, yet I also understand her compulsion to write the collection, as written in her foreword:

my heart woke me crying last night

how can i help i begged

my heart said

write the book

This foreword set the tone for the entire collection.  It’s about revealing and healing from past hurt.  It’s about finding and regaining control and power over heart and body.  It is a journey of realization and surviving.  Mostly, it is about healing.

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Source: http://femmagazine.com/2015/02/24/rupi-kaur-the-poetess-behind-milk-honey/

One of the things I loved most about this poetry collection is her overall positive message about being women.  Women are constantly being stripped of power and dignity through media and through patriarchal systems, yet she reminds her readers that women are strong and resilient:  “collectively, we’ve seen the worst of humankind and lived.  we have a piece of god in us… we are soft even when the roughness comes and breaks our skin–we live.  we fall and get up and keep living. we live through it all.  so every part of us is worth celebrating.” (From “Rupi Kaur: The Poetess Behind Milk & Honey” by Sabrina Estrella from “UCLA Feminist Magazine“)  I love that line, “every part of us is worth celebrating,” because it is one thing to say this/ write this, but is an entirely different to believe it and honour it.

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Source: https://thebookwars.wordpress.com/2015/05/15/review-milk-and-honey-by-rupi-kaur/

Having just broken up with my boyfriend, I think that my sister, who gifted me this book, knew that I needed it.  I needed to see my relationship as a gift, as moments to treasure and moments to learn from.  I needed to feel confident in myself again, to love myself first.  I do see my past relationship as a gift, and I always did.  Yet now I needed a reminder that I am enough.  I needed to remember that I am beautiful the way I am.  I needed to remember that I am a whole person and I don’t need someone to complete me.  I can find a partner, yet if I can’t love myself I will never be truly happy.

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Source: http://rebloggy.com/post/relationships-poetry-poem-living-relatable-milk-and-honey-rupi-kaur-woc-writers/138170724635

Ever since my grade 13 English class, I have known that poetry is powerful.  Poetry can heal.  I am so grateful for Rupi Kaur for writing Milk and Honey and the healing it has allowed me to find.

rupi kaur

Source: http://www.hercampus.com/school/cincinnati/book-changed-my-life

“if you were born with /  the weakness to fall / you were born with / the strength to rise” (Kaur, Pg 156)

“So God created humans in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27)

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Source: https://www.theodysseyonline.com/10-rupi-kaur-quotes-girl-read

“His Majesty’s Dragon”: sharing a love of reading

Imagine the A&E series Horatio Hornblower had dragons!  That’s what I thought as I read Naomi Novik’s novel His Majesty’s Dragon.

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Source: http://naominovik.com/wiki/His_Majesty’s_Dragon

This novel is set in the Napoleonic wars in the early 1800s and tells the story of a British naval captain who suddenly finds himself caring for, and training, a dragon.

 

Novik creates a world where dragons are an essential part of warfare as it adds the aerial element that is so prominent in wars today.  Yet today we have drones and are able to maintain a distance between the plan and the execution of that plan.  Like a pilot who loves his machine, this story goes a step further to create dragons as sentient beings who are capable of relationships and thoughts (and their ability to talk adds a new level).  Throughout the novel, the main thread is the relationship that Will Laurence builds with the dragon Temeraire.

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Source: http://naominovik.com/wiki/William_Laurence

Throughout the novel Laurence and Temeraire develop a beautiful friendship (just like the line in Casa Blanca).   The ability of Laurence to transition and adapt from being a Naval Captain to a newbie in the Aerial Corps is the engaging part of the story.  Yes, there is a battle happening and the side with the most dragons and best tactics will win, yet the connection between dragon and man is the most interesting part of the story.

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Source: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/408138784953732645/

As a lover of books, I find it especially great that Laurence and Temeraire bound over reading.  Temeraire can’t read, yet has a very sharp and creative mind.  As Laurence reads to him from several different disciplines, both challenge and encourage each other.  I have to say that I would not have found this book without it being recommended and lent to me.  I also have a new person in my life and I love that we are able to share our joy of reading together.

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Source: https://beckisbookblog.wordpress.com/2014/11/23/reading-is-sexy-16/

Life is an adventure and books are a way of learning more and sharing ideas and concepts with others.  Creativity grows as we encounter art.  I am grateful that I am surrounded by people who read and enjoy the arts!

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Source: https://avdreader.wordpress.com/2014/11/10/2532

“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8)

“Temeraire said, ‘It is very nice how many books there are, indeed. And on so many subjects!” (Naomi Novik).

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Source: http://simply-irenic.deviantart.com/art/les-mis-temeraire-justice-348539323

“God and the Gay Christian”: is it still an issue?

I hesitate to write about this book–God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships by Matthew Vines. I don’t hesitate on my own account, but the issue of gay marriage and same-sex relationships is a topic/idea that very well might divide my family. A.) I have a cousin who is both gay and Christian and who is in a monogamous, loving same-sex relationship and I support and love him without reservation, and I want my family to do the same. B.) I have a lot of Christian family members who believe that same-sex relationships are sinful. Yet that is the purpose of Vine’s book: to start a dialogue between affirming and non-affirming Christians. Despite my anxiety and fear of offending people I love dearly, I do want to share my thoughts about Vines’ book (and hopefully open up the door to a deeper conversation about homosexuality and Christianity).

book
Source: http://www.godandthegaychristian.com/#about

At the beginning of his book, Vines writes that, “Christians who affirm the full authority of Scripture can also affirm committed, monogamous same-sex relationships” (Pg 3). I could not agree more. Reading Vines’ book finally gave me the depth of knowledge in Scripture and tradition and reason and experience (yes, the Wesleyan Quadrilateral) to understand my beliefs in support of same-sex relationships.

Being there for my cousin as he ‘came out’ was heartbreaking, not because I thought he was sinning, but because of the reaction of those around him. I was so angry that other Christians had caused my cousin to question whether or not God loved him. He thought that he was evil and could not be loved by God because he was created evil. How is that ok to do to anybody? I love what Vines’ writes near the end of his book:
“It isn’t gay Christians who are sinning against God by entering into monogamous, loving relationships. It is the church that is sinning against them by rejecting their intimate relationships. But if the church were to bless committed same-sex unions for gay Christians, we would advance God’s sanctifying purpose for their lives. Until then, we are distorting the image of God, not only in the lives of gay Christians, but in the church as a whole” (Pg 162).

Throughout the book, Vines looks at six key Scripture passages that non-affirming Christians use to condemn gay Christians. He looks at those passages in context and shows that the Bible is in fact not clear on same-sex relationships at all (and before you want to argue about this idea, read his book and then argue). He writes, “I want you to see how sexual orientation and deeply held beliefs are at odds in ways that injure those we love. This debate is not simply about beliefs and rights; it’s about people who are created in God’s image” (Pg 9). I think that some people forget that this is an argument about human beings, not ideas.

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Source: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/freedhearts/2013/09/12/can-you-be-gay-christian/

To my non-Christian friends, they can’t understand how same-sex relationships is even an issue. I am at the same place. How is this an issue? We are all human. We are all made to be in relationships. I cannot see the benefit of putting limitations on marriage based solely on gender. I just don’t get it. Again, I think that Vines says it better: “If the essence of marriage involves a covenant-keeping relationship of mutual self-giving, then two men and two women can fulfill that purpose as well as a man and a woman can” (Pg 137).

I have chosen to be part of a faith community that celebrates marriage for all and sees all people as God’s image-bearers. Again, I love what Vines has to say at the end of his book: “Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered people have inestimable dignity and worth. So how could the suffering they endure when their families and church don’t affirm them express God’s intentions toward his creation? Affirming same-sex relationships wouldn’t change the Bible’s core truths about sin, repentance, and redemption. In fact, given that same-sex orientation is consistent with God’s image, affirming same-sex relationships is the only way to defend those truths with clarity, coherence, and persuasiveness” (Pg 161).

For me, it’s a closed case. I know where I stand and I know why I stand there. Now, I’m just hoping and praying that my family has a change of heart. If not for the nameless LGBT Christians, then at the very least for my wonderful, strong, and brave cousin. And maybe they will pick up Matthew Vines’ book, because, after all, his two hopes for his book are these: “My prayer is that it opens up a conversation in the Christian community that is truly in the spirit of Jesus. The fiercest objections to LGBT equality—those based on religious beliefs—can begin to fall away” (Pg 3) and “it [the book] is, I pray, an instrument God will use to help bring healing, reconciliation, and hope to many who need them most” (Pg 4).

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Source: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/formerlyfundie/yes-gay-christians-exist-a-sincere-plea-to-my-conservative-friends/

“Saying that the only intimate relationships that can reflect God’s image are those between a man and a woman misses the Bible’s bigger picture of what his image encompasses”(Matthew Vines, Pg 153).

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3).

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Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/02/jesus-chicago-gay-pride_n_5551388.html

“Fried Green Tomatoes”: love, love, love

I’m not really a fan of American fiction, yet I find myself teaching it in my classes. It’s interesting how tradition can sometimes stretch our boundaries. Some of my Gr. 11 students are reading Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg for their novel study and I felt I needed to read the book in order to engage them in conversation.

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Source: http://www.amazon.com/Fried-Green-Tomatoes-Whistlestop-Cafe/dp/0804115613

I know that it would be an anachronism and complete out of geographical place, but I couldn’t help but think as I was reading that the theme song for this novel should be “All You Need Is Love” by The Bealtles. Love. This was a novel about love.

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Source: http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/love/images/31463394/title/love-wallpaper

Smokey Lonesome, a wandering man, loves Ruth the second he sees her wearing a polkadot dress in the Whistle Stop Cafe.
Idgie, a firecracker in Whistle Stop, loves Ruth and throws the world’s most amazing tantrum when Ruth moves back to her parents’ house after a summer of romance.
Sipsey, a black woman who works at the Whistle Stop Cafe, loves Ruth and would do anything (ANYTHING) to keep Ruth safe, even if it means bringing death.

Romance, friendship, passion, loyalty, and protection. Throughout the novel, the various characters demonstrate the power of love and how it transcends the binaries and rules of society.

I will admit that I was surprised to learn that this book was so popular, and taught in school, considering that it delves into concepts of racism, homosexuality, and sexual violence. Yet I suppose that is exactly why it is so popular: the people of Whistle Stop support and love each other, no matter what. For the residents of Whistle Stop Cafe, people are people.

I have to say, as much as American literature is not my favourite, I did enjoy this novel. Fannie Flagg writes some fantastic lines in her novel:
-“You never know what’s in a person’s heart until they’re tested, do you?”
-“Are you a politician or does lying just run in your family?”
-“The ones that hurt the most always say the least.”
-“It’s funny, when you’re a child you think time will never go by, but when you hit about twenty, time passes like you’re on the fast train to Memphis. I guess life just slips up on everybody. It sure did on me.”
-“You know, a heart can be broken, but it still keeps a-beating just the same.”
-“Remember if people talk behind your back, it only means you are two steps ahead.”
-“I wonder how many people don’t get the one they want, but end up with the one they’re supposed to be with.”

For a bunch of teenage girls (or at least the ones in my class), what an inspiring novel! To know that life twists and turns and plans don’t work out is important, yet it is even more important to know that the important things in life aren’t things. I can’t help but think of Michel Franti’s song “I’ll Be Waiting” because one of his lines says “The best things in life aren’t things, they’re living, they’re breathing.”

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Source: http://not-your-average-mom.com/making-mistakes-simply-means-you-are-learning-faster-2/

I am walking away from the novel with a sense that love is love. Restrictions, rules, parameters, and restrictions don’t count when it’s love. Love is love.

That being said, there’s one last song that fits with the novel: “I’m Alive.” “Life sounds like, I’m alive!” Life is a celebration, quiet or noisy, of the love we share and the love we see around us.

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Source: http://www.wearematerial.co.uk/blog/2014/02/14/i-wanna-know-what-love-is-i-want-you-to-show-me/

“I don’t want any of you sitting around on your hands. I don’t want anyone strolling off, down some path that goes nowhere. And mark that you do this with humility and discipline—not in fits and starts, but steadily, pouring yourselves out for each other in acts of love, alert at noticing differences and quick at mending fences.” (Ephesians 4:2)

“I think that people that are not sensitive, who seem to bang through life, do survive, but I don’t think they get the really soaring feelings that people who are more artistically bent can get.” (Fannie Flagg)

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Source: http://quotepixel.com/picture/love/mohandas_k_gandhi/where_there_is_love_there_is_life