Perspective: Oh, happy day (here she goes again!)
I was just going to post this in the comments section, in response to "I'm a Christian, get me outta here" but I rambled on for tooooooo long. For those interested, here goes...
Thank you for your comments with their varied mix of encouragement, enlightenment and criticism. All welcome, of course, and grit for the mind.
I have been reflecting on the post and your comments overnight (excuse the delayed reply - I work in Brisbane Tuesdays and am not online), as well as some emails I received in reply.
These more personal, faith-based posts (which have increased in frequency relative to the less frequent blog content I post) might be construed as my neglect of duty – of erring on the side of writing on faith as apposed to media/magazines in a professional sense.
While to my mind there's only value to be found in selling out for/following Christ, there is a definite "working out" process to be undergone before you can confidently do so in some practical way, thus these posts tend to reflect that process... the unburdening of old ways of thinking/seeing/doing in favour of clarity of purpose, belief and values.
While I think it's natural for a writer to move towards generating content that reflects his/her current state of being, I'm also aware that consistency can be a good thing – for readers as much as contributors and editors/publishers themselves – and to pull the proverbial rug out from under the blog (i.e. you come here expecting to read about magazines and media and body image and such things) is a bit unnerving, if not disappointing.
The self-righteous part of me says, "But it's my blog; I can do what I want!". And, of course, in a way that is true, and editors are forever refining their products, but it's also of little service to others if it's just me and my drum and a whole lot of ho-hum.
It's likely that in time there will be less reason for me to reflect on the process of coming into spiritual and personal maturity quite so intensely. I am aware that in the meantime some readers might be/have been alienated, but I hope there is still some nugget of value to be gleaned. It's also likely that once the product of GWAS is refined and simplified to the extent that I am happy with the direction of the content, and not facing painfully vexing ideological battles, that there will be greater frequency.
Life is a journey, and my faith has become the crux of that; the absolute linchpin. How this is turned into a relatively positive and constructive contribution to the world of blogging/writing/media/women has been a daily negotiation with God that is settling into something much more concrete. What a relief (it's not just you, but me who feels it too!).
In response to your comments, Marie, I'm sorry that you find offense in the faith-based posts, and would certainly never arrogantly entertain the thought that it is only Christians who have compassion or intellectual/spiritual awakenings (as Melissa says, there are parallels to be drawn with political and feminist lines of thought; and it feels like I have been undergoing all of these at once in a sort of intensive course!).
To be a hoity-toity Christian who sits in an ivory tower looking down on the world is certainly not what I want to be - Jesus, of all people, was amongst it all, the mess the misery the complexity, not hiding away with the Pharisees in the temple discussing his theology or how to whip all the sinful people into submission with the law of God. God, I've found, is much more concerned with our personal relationship with him - and the outworking of that in our private and public lives - than the pious preaching of religious law. But how can we hope to establish any sort of solid, deep relationship if we are not giving it its due attention?
As increasingly GWAS becomes less about turning inwards and more about how can I/we can discuss life issues, and engage with media and other cultural products in a way that cherishes what's fair-dinkim good above what's diminishing, you will hopefully find something positive to engage with.
It's my hope that truth, not necessarily myself, will shine through, and for me that always comes back to God/Christ as the focal reference point, if not ostensibly through quoting Biblical scripture, then at least referencing in value. No doubt I'll still cop flak - from Christians and non-Christians alike - but such is life.
In regards to my values around magazine/media reporting – part of the GWAS journey has been the (slow) realisation that ultimately our engagement with such things is very much dependent on our self-conception and personal experience, while appreciating also that there is a universality – a commonality – of experience in that itself.
It saddens me no end that body image is of such concern to so many young people and women, particularly because of what we might be missing out on in the process of the self-flagellation, the inhibiting self-loathing and relentless messages telling us we're not quite right.
But, deeper than that, I am concerned with where this not-quite-rightness is stemming from, and its various manifestations (anxiety, depression, broken relationships, eating disorders, addictions, worry, perfectionism, greed, exploitation, unhealthy or material distractions, idolisation of others, anger, jealousy, striving, guilt, hatred) and how to get past it so we might enjoy our work, our relationships, our lives, and also to give something back in the sense of making the world a more just, bearable place – something I share with most all of you.
Surely media plays a part in this, particularly in the elevation of celebrity and weight loss as the ultimate goals, if not The Superwoman in contest with third-wave feminism, but also in the way it can distract us from life's ultimate goals and seep the discretionary funds from more pressing needs – to advocate for magazines, in this sense, if there is no particular value to be gained, is in opposition to my very humanity.
Today's Australian Financial Review front page bears the copy, "The Reserve Bank of Australia has been forced to soften its hardline stance on higher interest rates amid concerns the turmoil in global markets is a bigger threat to the economy than inflation." To which I say, media that undermines women in particular, but men too, in the pursuit of its own capital gains can never be a good thing, in the same way that fast-fashion and fast-food rips at the fabric of our finances and health (i.e. if we must shop or eat, can we not pause and consider doing it ethically?).
I do understand that some magazines can help equip us with the necessary information and tools and inspiration to function more productively. They can help us revive and survive and thrive. For me, when I negotiate the newsstand, it always comes back to, 'What more can be gleaned that's not already laid out plain and clear in the Bible?', while not disregarding the idea that we humans were made to think, create, debate, discuss, relate and negotiate in pursuit of goodness and truth and a better life... and this is essentially what media – good media – advocate.
Unlike Lynne Truss, I'm not completely chucking in the reportage of media and magazines – that would be like throwing the baby out with the bathwater – but I did have to get to a place where I could happily assess such things from a more solid foundation (i.e. not being a slave to them). It is also more my delight to write, to create and to meet interesting people as apposed to interacting with inanimate things such as magazines (at least not all day long). That will be reflected here.
Out of darkness comes light. All's not right in the world and oftentimes the very worst is packaged up for our consumption (the excess of which, as with the News of the World, can lead to self-destruction; and my own experience attests to that, too). It's nice to think that in some places we might find stability, clarity and meaningful discussion, if not also good humour, amidst the clutter and darkness and corruption. My humble apologies if GWAS has for a while not been that source, or perhaps never was (violins!).
Time to set a lighter, brighter course. Oh, happy day...
Girl With a Satchel