November 2010

Books read in November:

  1. Wish for a Fish: All About Sea Creatures, by Bonnie Worth.
  2. Instructions, by Neil Gaiman.
  3. The Wonderful O, by James Thurber.
  4. Further Fables for Our time, by James Thurber.
  5. The Outlaws of Sherwood, by Robin McKinley.


A few notes and queries:

  1. Congratulations to Rebecca for graduating with a Master of Letters with Distinction in Mediaeval English today.
  2. Rebecca and I have had our two-part panel accepted to next year’s Leeds International Medieval Congress. Huzzah!
  3. Being homebound due to arthritis and inclement weather is lonely.
  4. Where can one find chipotle in adobo sauce in the noble Princedom of Fife?
  5. Oh, why should the shattermyth have to be a crumplehope and a dampenglee?
  6. And, though it ruineth the symmetry: I have an excellent supervisor.

From ‘The Cross’

One ague dwelleth in my bones,
Another in my soul (the memory
What I would do for thee, if once my groans
Could be allow’d for harmony)
I am in all a weak disabled thing:
Save in the sight thereof, where strength doth sting.

-from ‘The Cross’ by George Herbert, ll. 13-18

Sister Winter

From the front window.

Our back garden.

As pretty as the snow is, I have a love/hate relationship with it. I’ve pretty much been taking pain killers whenever I can since Friday night. Trudging up to Morrison’s to restock on food is going to be fun. I suppose I should go do that before it gets dark… in a half hour. Why hello, Sister Winter!


You don’t need the Macy’s parade, football, or Black Friday for it to be Thanksgiving. You don’t even need to be in America. All you need is good food and good fellowship. I forgot to bring my camera today, so instead you get words.

I am thankful for: friends and family seated around one table with good food, wine, and conversation to be had; learning to cook sweet potato casserole; playing and reading book after book after book to my favourites; eating three kinds of pie; watching the town’s St Andrews Day fireworks with my housemate from our spare room’s window; singing along to jazzy Christmas carols; living in Scotland; crunching snow underfoot; being friend, sister, and aunt.

Happy Thanksgiving.


I have a new favourite song. Go listen to ‘Benediction’ by Maeve.

May the Lord bless you and keep you.
May he shine a light upon your face
May you feel the heat of his glory in your bones
May you know his kindness and his grace

May His love define your ways of living
May you see his face among your friends
May you live your story empowered by his love
May you be comfortable walking in your skin

May you find your worth from your maker
And live in freedom all of your days
May you grow in the sense of who you really are
May his light show you the way

May you know that you have the power
To add beauty and grace into this world
May you discover all your gifts and give them generously
May you listen for God’s every word

Imago Dei

I was going to post pictures from this morning’s Raisin Parade, but instead I am going to write about some things I read and thought about today. Just let me pull out my soap box. I’m short, you see, and I want all of you to hear me.

It’s interesting how reading about medieval understandings of the differences in physiology between men and women leads to reflections upon modern day evangelical Christian perceptions of men and women, and how, despite our ‘modern society’, it still echoes the past. Namely, the idea that women’s bodies are inherently sinful.

In the Middle Ages, the idea was that women were not made in the image of God, and were therefore lesser spiritually and physically than men (and, because this was the point of my reading, were more susceptible to demonic possession). The human soul, of course, was sexless and was made in the image of God (see Aquinas), but regarding human physical form, only man was imago Dei; woman, on the other hand, was made in the image of man (and, in the Aristotelian view, an imperfect or deformed image of man). Along a similar train of thought, William of Auvergne claimed that good spirits only ever took the form of men and that the most appropriate form for evil spirits was that of women. Women are associated with the demonic, evil.

The modern evangelical church might not go so far as to associate women with the demonic today (however, the modern evangelical church doesn’t really like to talk about demons at all), but there is still a troubling and unhealthy perception of women’s bodies as being inherently sinful. There exists a double-standard regarding clothing and modesty: men can go about shirtless and wear swimming trunks in the pool, but women are told to cover up ‘so as not to lead astray their brothers’ and can only wear one-pieces to the pool. Women’s bodies are objectified even in the midst of modesty; women are told to be ashamed of who and what they are, how they look, simply because their bodies happen to be female.

Equally troubling and unhealthy is the implication that men are morally weaker than women. That is one thing that has been reversed since the Middle Ages: back then, women were the more carnal and morally weak, today that is the men. Both extremes are unacceptable. Neither is wholly true.

It makes me angry that we cannot see each other as persons. Though each and every one of us is sinful by virtue of being sons and daughters of Adam and Eve, we are also worthy of respect and love because we, like them, are made in the image of God. And if we have been washed by the blood of Christ — if we claim to be His own — then we are new creations, no longer bound in slavery to sin. Christians should be among those with the healthiest ideas regarding the human body; it frustrates and deeply angers me that they are not.

I am a woman. I am intelligent and tend to succeed at whatever I put my mind to. I can’t be a mountain climber or Olympic athlete or a Navy Seal, but I also have rheumatoid arthritis. I am a Christian and I read my Bible; I know that I am not inherently evil simply because I am female. My sisters aren’t either. Neither are my brothers because they are male. ‘So God created humankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.’ (Gen. 1.27)

Five thousand-words

For lack of anything else going on, five thousand-word pictures from the last few weeks:

Marking essays.


Sunrise (around 8.00 AM now).

Dinner and dessert.


Our fruitbowl runneth over.


When my housemate gets home from Evensong, she and I and a group of other brave souls are going into the town centre on Raisin Sunday, where we shall dodge drunken undergraduates and skip over prone bodies to get to the cinema, where we will gleefully watch the first installment of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

In the news

If you haven’t heard yet, Prince William has announced his engagement to Kate Middleton. Why am I mentioning this? Well, they were both students at my university.

Which means that when they made their announcement this evening, the media got on the ball. I don’t know which news agency it was, but a newscaster made the announcement in the university chapel — where my choir happened to be rehearsing at the time. The newscaster didn’t seem too pleased to see us there, but hey, it was our rehearsal time. We sang Josquin anyway.

By any other name

Who knew that moving across the sea meant that I would plagued with being mistaken for a famous popstar? I need to learn how to pronounce my name with an English or Scottish accent lest my identity continue to be confused. Then the pharmacists and shop clerks would no longer look at me in puzzlement, and bankers wouldn’t think that my housemate is trying to transfer funds to someone who already has millions. It’s too bad that no one makes the reverse mistake — particularly the bankers — because then I could pay for my education. I have one glimmer of hope: the shop clerk told me today that the popstar is no longer going by her married name — let’s hope it sticks.

At last!

It is with great joy on this rainy Remembrance Sunday that I learn that Aung San Suu Kyi is free at last! (Don’t know who she is? Read her BBC Profile.)

No, we don’t know what will happen next, but after two decades of imprisonment, she is free. There is still hope in the world for human rights, however long and difficult the journey.