A Curious Girl

The musings of a girl who is curious in both senses of the word. Life, God, and York. Oh, did I say York? I meant Bradford!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

WOMAN FEEDS BABY SCANDAL

Readers of a sensitive disposition advised not to read this article

YESTERDAY A WOMAN was caught feeding her baby in a public place, using not a bottle of formula made by Nestlé but her breast. Passers-by were shocked at this lewd indency.

Breastfeeding is a primitive practice primarily used by Africans and hippies, which involves using a woman's breast to feed an infant. In Norfolk, local hippie Margaret Boyle-White was caught in the act as she openly flaunted her breast on the High Street.

"I don't want to see this kind of thing. I think it's feminists trying to assert themselves." said Anon, 48, of Liverpool. Several others chimed in "If breastfeeding's natural, then can we urinate on the street?"

The old lady who raised the alarm, Mrs. S Freud, commented, "When I saw her doing it, I told a policeman straight away. I didn't ask her to stop because breastfeeding mothers are known for their violence against the elderly. It's disgusting that the baby was actually sucking her nipple. Highly inappropriate. Bare breasts should be reserved for the major tabloids where they belong, not in such blatant perversion."




But seriously, having read some of the comments on the BBC's Have Your Say... despite being amused that instead of complaining to the police, Mrs. Boyle-White complained to the Daily Mail (possibly the most evil paper in the history of mankind), I am still extremely disturbed by some of the anti-breastfeeding remarks. Basically story goes like this: mum breastfeeds. Elderly person complains to policeman. Policeman tells off mum, instead of telling elderly person to get a life and then going to do something useful.

I don't mind that people don't like it much. That's a matter of taste. It can make people uncomfortable. But some people seem to have decided that it ought to be banned. And many compared it to urination. One guy also compared it to nose-picking. Next time I get stopped by a policeman for nose-picking, I'll let you know...

I just really can't believe that anyone is that grossed out by a breast being used for its most important function. Especially given some of the semi-pornographic stuff on the front pages of magazines, in full view. Isn't breastfeeding better than a bawling baby? There also seem to be some people who'd, rather than children being seen and not heard, would like all children shipped off to an off-shore internment camp until their 18th birthday.

Why do people think they have the right not to be offended? Henceforth I will complain to a policeman whenever something offends me. And thus, the new world order:

Teenagers will only be allowed classical music in their stereos/iPods. They also will be banned from wearing any kind of jewellery with less than 50% precious metal. Television commercials will cease to exist. Anyone who uses the F-word more than 3 times in a public place will be silenced with duct tape. Babies will have three scents: Lemon Fresh, Alpine, and Fruits of the Forest. They will be entirely silent except for when someone waggles a finger, at which point they will break into utterly adorable giggles. No one will smoke, at all, unless it's a cinnamon incense stick. Anyone who uses the phrase "Political Correctness gone mad" will be shown every single episode of Balamory (perhaps the most politically correct children's show ever made). People who claim that A-levels are getting easier will sit A-levels. Politicians that claim that security comes before liberty will endure 90 days of detainment without trial. Authors of published works with obvious grammatical or spelling errors will be forced to write out the corrections 500 times. Little Britain will be cut by 80%. Tony Blair's nose will grow whenever he lies. And Michael Howard's smile will be pixellated whenever he is on television.

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Sunday, November 20, 2005

The Ring, Great Expectations


Rochester Castle
Originally uploaded by sweet-indigo.
'lo again.

Had a nice night last night. Met up with Chris and met his girlfriend and some other nice people. Dinner was very tasty indeed and thankfully no one uttered the criminal words "I'm just too full for dessert." Pah, there is always room for dessert, unless you're at a Harvester restaurant and ate three bowls from the salad bar before making it to the main course (Harvesters are the only restaurants that can genuinely defeat me. It's shocking to find yourself halfway through main course and discovering you couldn't swallow another thing). So we had dessert as well. Was nice to see Chris again and his girlfriend was cool :)

Not doing much right now. Slept in today and then watched Monk, the end of K9-11, and The Wild World of Records (Featuring Domino day 2005), and then Steven (housemate) and his friend wanted to watch The Ring so I watched the first few minutes but decided that the creepy kid was annoying me and I hadn't want to watch it anyway. When it first came out I went to see Chrissie in Oxford and her corridor mates had all been to see it. When I met them they were shivering, murmuring odd things about putting on video tapes and jumping at the slightest movement. Chrissie's next-door neighbour, a witch, gave them all red thread to wear because "red is a protective colour". Tried very hard not to laugh, and decided for the sake of my mental health not to bother seeing it. Decided tonight that it probably wouldn't be constructive even if I did spend the entire time mocking it. Once James (Dr. Who) told me an urban legend so scary that made me search the house and lock my bedroom door every night for a few days (it was quite naff really, one of those "...and when she woke up, her housemates were murdered!" type things. But hey, I usually returned to the house late at night and didn't see my housemates until the morning) Even if it is a good film, I'd rather be able to watch a video without fearing that someone'll call and I'll die.

I've been rereading Great Expectations (as mangled in this entry). I'd forgotten how much I like it. Forgotten how I thought I'd figured out the plot and it turned out I was only halfway there. Forgotten how much I wanted cruel Estella to open her eyes up and see that she has a man who loves her right there. Ewan McGregor would make a good Pip :) I am stuck thinking how old everyone is though. Joe doesn't seem to age at all throughout the book, and Miss Havisham is perpetually old, although I think she can only be in her forties or fifties at most, in the beginning. It's also funny reading about Uncle Pumblechook's house because there's a shop in Rochester that has a plaque boasting "Here lived Uncle Pumblechook" despite him being fictional and doing no such thing. Apparently Satis House still exists although I've never bothered to find it out. I'd probably find it disappointing.

Also Dickens uses lots of great words, like 'contumacious', 'adamantine', and 'obtrusive'. Poor man's been much maligned. We studied Great Expectations at school and the girl who sat next to me (who had to endure me being an insufferable smartypants and a terrible teacher's pet, poor girl!) remarked, regarding the unopened book, "I'd usually read ahead, but with a book as boring as this..." She hadn't read any of it. At all.

I had read 'A Christmas Carol' however, thanks to Gonzo's endorsement at the end of A Muppet Christmas Carol* - "Hey, if you like this, you should read the book!" and possibly also my Mum's comment, reading the book while watching Emily Cratchit (Miss Piggy) denounce Scrooge, "If he were here, I would give him a piece of my mind to feast upon!" - she remarked, "That's quite close to what she says in the book." The Muppet version isn't the most accurate film rendering but it's very faithful in its way (and extremely funny). And isn't Kermit the Frog the most perfect casting for Bob Cratchit?

So yes, I haven't read lots of Dickens and his habit of "by some miracle two characters turn out to be related!" is a little wearing, but I like him a lot, even if Miss Havisham now reminds me of a woman who went out campaigning for CCTV in Rochester wearing a yellowed bridal gown and plastic spiders. I've often wondered why Miss Havisham "up town" would be wandering up and down the high street and particularly why she'd want CCTV. The mind boggles.

*I watch this film every year. It's one of my favourite films ever. I'm sure this says something about me.

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Friday, November 18, 2005

Dream, party, Quakers


Birthday cake
Originally uploaded by sweet-indigo.
I really shouldn't have Radio 2 on my alarm (and no, Radio 1 would not be better). This morning I dreamed that I was in a pantomime for Children in Need and we sang "Don't Fear the Reaper" for an unexplained reason, then Terry Wogan made a joke about breakdancing and sang "Walking in Memphis".

Only I suspect it's just because I sometimes can't tell if Cher is female, because it was definitely Cher singing "Walking in Memphis", not Terry Wogan. Then my A-level chemistry teacher (Mr. E) made a cameo appearance, and this is probably because I was telling a girl yesterday that I'd written on a piece of homework that ethanol has a "pleasantly intoxicating" smell. Dr. C (my other A-level chemistry teacher) thought this was funny. Mr. E probably would have just scowled. I miss A-level chemistry :) (I could actually do it, for a start).

Final year project is going all right though. I have to do a radioactive labelling experiment on Tuesday. Hmm. Term is going much too quickly.

It's so cold in York. I'm in the computer room with a jumper and a coat on and still shivering. Btw, If you want to see some photos of York, click on my photos. OK, they're mostly ones of campus but I think they're still nice :)

Wednesday I went to Ceri's birthday party. Ceri is a vegan and a Quaker, and a Christian Focus person, so a small group of CF people were there (two of whom were her housemates). There was vegetable soup and a wonderful vegan chocolate cake (made by Sophie and Rachel. Sophie's a St. John's student). We all got hyper after the chocolate cake. We attempted to burn the Mr. Men candles in interesting ways and at numerous points threatened to set fire to the table cloth. Which was actually a bed sheet. Aah, student life!

I went to a Quaker meeting last Sunday, actually. I pretty much knew what to expect, but it was still interesting. Meetings are mostly silence so I tried to think holy thoughts but ended up thinking about duct tape and what the best way to write lines with Microsoft Word would be. Sigh. Not sure what I think. I like the Quakers a lot (once did a 'what religion should you be' test that reckoned I should be an Orthodox Quaker*) but I'm not sure if I want to become one or even what a Quaker is. Think I might go again on Sunday morning. (Either that or St. Catherine's where amusingly I was told that 'Oh Quakers aren't Christians'. No, some Quakers are Christians, tsk :) Still haven't settled on a church :) I like all the ones I've been to, though. And bah, even though faith is in an odd place, I'm still going to Christian Union. Heh.

*Quakers are unusual in that they don't have a specific creed, meaning that some are definitely Christians and some are fluffy theists, and some don't really know what they are. This is a strength and a weakness, in a way - on one hand, everyone is accepted. On the other, no one's quite sure what they're accepted into :) I'm sure that Chrissie would disapprove :) From what I read their method of worship is simply obeying "Be still and know that I am Lord" and they respect all people because all people have something of God in them. And they're pacifists. They like to live simply, be honest and support each other in prayer. I also like them because in the early days they made a lot of chocolate :D

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BreviT=soul/wit

i <3 da planz 2 mAk txt spk lit clasix, as reportd by da BBC. reminds me /r&j in 1337 spk.

if only i hd dis durin my gcses. dey wer CWOT. gr8 XpktAshns ws 2 lng.

pt. 1:
pip: im p00r.
cnvct: gimme f00d.
pip: eep, k.

miss hvshm: StLA, brAk pips <3
StLa: k
pip: I <3 u StLa.
StLa: *slap*

jo: pip, b blcksmth lyk me
pip: bt i <3 StLa!
jgrs: pips rich, sum1 gAv pip lOdza £££.
pip: yay, miss hvshm mst wnt me 2mari StLa.

Pt.2
pip: i <3 StLa.
StLa: im goin2mari bntly
pip: n0!!!!!111
cnvct:i gAv u da £££ pip.
pip: n00000!!!!!1111

Pt.3
cnvct:o no dey fnd me, im goin 2b hngd *dies*
pip: im p00r&sad. b1dE wil u mari me?
b1dE: i maried jo
pip: poo
StLa: im p00r2, bntly wAstd my £££
pip: w00t

da end. i fnk ull agrE its mch imprUvd.

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Friday, November 11, 2005

In praise of other people


Goodricke A
Originally uploaded by sweet-indigo.
I am quite an anti-social person, by which I mean not an obnoxious hooligan (although I do own a hoodie, it has a Gilbert and Sullivan quotation on the back), but a hermit. I actually quite enjoy my own company - I can spend a lot of time alone, thinking, writing, pondering, and of course, on the internet. I enjoy going to places on my own... I was in some sense quite pleased that my trip to Edinburgh (for Make Poverty History) was done independently.

This may be a great strength (people often tell me I'm brave. Huh.) but it's also evidence of one of my great vices. I have trouble trusting people. I'm frightened of ruining the trust that people place in me. I like being a free agent in many ways because I won't let anyone down and nobody will let me down. This means that I can be a bit of a rubbish friend who forgets to phone. And e-mail. Sorry guys (you know who you are) :(

I had a friend called Abi (wonder where she is now? hmm) who introduced me to Simon and Garfunkel and we both shared, if that is possible, the fantasy of becoming a hermit goatherd in the Hebrides. Paul Simon put it well - Hiding in my room
Safe within my womb
I touch no one and no one touches me
I am a rock, I am an island


And of course 'Stay home' by the aptly named band 'Self' also puts it well:
Simple life's my cup of tea
I don't need nobody but me
Watch me march to the beat of my own drum


Of course every now and again I do get lonely, but recently I've isolated myself quite a lot. On Saturday, however, I went out to a fireworks display (we Brits have them on Nov 5th :) ) and Lizzie (editor of the campus Christian magazine and Doctor Who companion girlfriend of James) invited me to her house for a party. James (wearing his 20ft. Tom Baker scarf) asked me what I'd been up to.
"Being a hermit," I said.
"Stop," he ordered me. "Come to Dougsoc. Come to G&S."
Which is one of the many things (the scarf is another) that I suddenly realised I'd really missed about seeing James. I also missed the crazy text messages (he sent me one saying "breathing concentrated otto", I sent him one saying "Are you my mummy", to which the replies were "an existence a la Watteau" and "Go to your room" respectively), and just general James-ness. Lizzie's lovely too, we seem to get on really well and she likes stripy socks, which as far as I'm concerned must indicate someone with taste :)

And then, Monday I went to Christian Focus. I just didn't realise how much I missed it. Despite the fact that we were discussing Divine Command Theory (the idea that God essentially defines good, so say if he asked you to kill someone that would be a morally good thing to do), which was pretty heavy going, it was a pretty laid-back evening - ended up going to the bar and talking about Christian Unions and the inerrancy of Scripture with a guy from Bradford. Turns out we both love "Liberal Backslider" by Martyn Joseph.

Gonna take a stand on justice, take a stand on race
Gonna take me a TV evangelist and punch him in the face
I sing about the hope that's in me, Ask why the poor aren't fed
But if I don't toe the party line, it'd be better if I were dead


And I somehow managed to get my hands on a copy of Messy Spirituality (I lent mine to a friend in Cambridge) which I've been wanting to reread since it's a book that gives me hope even when I'm doubting. The Bradford guy had borrowed it from a girl at CF, only she had gone home, so I got to "look after" it. I love that book. "Spirituality is not about competency, it is about intimacy." The whole evening was a welcome change from my angsting over whether I believe the right thing. Also I met a guy who was excited to meet me because Lois had told him about me. He asked if I'd read The Lost Message of Jesus (controversial book by Steve Chalke). I said no but curiously enough Chrissie mentioned that in response to my entry on Universal Reconciliation. Which is slightly worrying, perhaps I am a heretic after all! :)

Yesterday I went to a magazine meeting, met the most infamous writer at last (who once wrote a shocking, but funny, piece of satire on the Universities and Colleges Christian Fellowship), and met Rachel (who's in CF and studies philosophy) and we were just having a chat, when who should I see, but Mark?

Mark was dubbed 'Cheerful Mark' by Matthew and me, on account of him always being cheerful and having the name Mark. He is possibly the most enthusiastic man alive. He's currently training to be a teacher and he's the sort of person who doesn't seem to see negativity in anything. I referred to him in this entry.
Mark, being so pleased to see me, didn't just settle for a hug but kissed me on both cheeks. If he didn't always seem so happy on every occasion I'd feel so selfish being his friend because he makes me feel special :) So I introduced him to Rachel and spent the rest of the day grinning about his amazing unabated enthusiasm.

And a final anecdote I have to give in praise of other people - I was having one of those morbid moments the other day when I wondered how long it would take for people to notice if I went missing. I figured it could take up to a week, because of my hermit-like activities. Last night I stayed on campus working. Yes, all night, it's a student thing.

Got a text message at 9.30am. It was from 'Kate' my housemate. "Sorry to act like your mum, but you're not dead in a ditch, are you? I just noticed you didn't come home last night."

Time taken? Under 24 hours. :D

So yeah, hermiting hasn't been that profitable lately. On the other hand, my friends have been great (and I'll also mention Chrissie who's been available for phone conversations *hugs* miss you hun, and thanks also Matthew for putting up with my phone calls). I need people to keep me sane. So thank you everyone! You've been really great, please forgive me for not being as good a friend as I should be.

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Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Just a quick note to say...

I love Uncyclopedia. I've already had too much fun writing Bridget Jones's Dairy (about a 30+ milkmaid searching for love... the picture was provided by another uncyclopedian), the biography of Mediocre Britain's greatest screenwriter, Richard Curtis, writing a lengthy treatise on Why the chicken crossed the road, and a short piece on Charlotte Brontë. There are lots of articles worth a look, including the utterly bizarre article on Doctor Who.

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Monday, November 07, 2005

Surrender

Still feeling weird. Every time I think I've found a solution to my Hell angst I end up angsting again.

Actually, reading the Bible I'm convinced that salvation is a lot more complicated than some people would have us believe. I went to a party last night and we ended up debating Hell. There was a guy who agreed with me that Hell isn't scriptural (hopefully more on this later, but in short 'eternal torment' is an idea adapted from ancient pagan religions to scare people into behaving). I've been reading more of the Old Testament and feeling surprisingly cheered despite all the anger and lamenting. In Ezekiel it says that God takes no pleasure from the death of the wicked. I'm also comforted by the story of the tax collector and the Pharisee - the Pharisee revels in his righteousness and the tax collector says, "God have mercy on me, a sinner." The tax collector goes home justified. I feel this simple truth is one we Christians often neglect - that we have all done wrong, and that God honours a simple humble confession. I've been extremely proud lately, deciding I know exactly what's best and projecting my idea of truth onto God instead of asking him to project his truth onto me. And yet I think we put too much emphasis on doctrine and not enough on attitude. I believe and trust that God is compassionate - that he wants to heal us, that he longs for us to turn from destructiveness much more than he longs for us to learn the right Bible verses and go to the right meetings.

I don't really know everything - in fact, as usual, I find I know very little - but I'm cheered by Yancey's What's so Amazing about Grace?. I think we Christians (or me, at least, feel free to add your name here :) )often forget about grace. Jesus said the most important commandments were to love God and love other people (enemies included!) so, although he knows I'm in a mess about specific theology, I hope at least that he can accept me as I am, attempting, at least, to dedicate myself to what I believe is good and loving, and attempting to trust him! Through all this angsting, I'm simply reminded that I'm not perfect. So I simply throw up my hands and tell God so, and since he's God, he can do what he likes :)

I dunno. I actually feel that the more I read, the less I understand. But I do at least get the feeling that God would rather I be messy and loving rather than sound, sensible, knowledgeable... and not loving at all. He can enlighten me in his own time, and I can try and serve him as best I can now. Since I can't be perfect, I'll have to settle for being honest :)

"For when perfect comes, the imperfect disappears... I know in part, but then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known."

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Friday, November 04, 2005

Comfort from the prophets

It's a month until I'm 22... actually a month minus one day. Isn't ageing odd? It'll be my first opportunity to claim I'm 21 again.

Feeling a touch odd right now. Very confused and don't know what to make of the whole eternity issue. Suddenly I've discovered that reading the gospels - for a while a favourite pastime - has become difficult. I can't make sense of things. And I figured that if my faith and my morality are so opposed, then God can correct my faulty morality and make me realise the truth. So I've prayed for revelation, and reread What's so Amazing About Grace, so I reminded God that I'm not perfect and I know it, and all I can do is wait for him.

I have found an unusual amount of comfort in the Old Testament lately. "Once again you will have compassion on us. You will trample our sins under your feet and thrown them into the depths of the ocean! You will show us your faithfulness and unfailing love as you promised our ancestors Abraham and Jacob long ago." Micah 7:19-20.

"No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to live justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God." Micah 6:8

"Is not Israel still my son,
my darling child?" says the Lord
"I often have to punish him,
but I still love him.
That's why I long for him
and surely will have mercy on him.
Set up road signs;
put up guideposts.
Mark well the path
by which you came.
Come back again, my virgin Israel;
return to your towns here.
How long will you wander,
my wayward daughter?
For the Lord will cause something new to happen-
Israel will embrace her God." Jer 31:20-22

I don't know, I feel tired of reasoning, and as Hamlet says to Horatio, there are more things in Heaven and Earth than are dreamt of in my philosophy.

Now, I'm going to go home and sleep :)

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Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Is this the end of the angst?

Faith is a funny old thing. I spend years berating myself for not having enough, and yet I see that it'll take far too much effort to get rid of it. I found myself in a position of hating the notion of Hell and wanting to finally shake off the God who'd invent such a thing... and found that I couldn't not believe in Jesus, and his resurrection. Which rendered me perpetually confused and despairing, not to mention mad that God wants to either sentence me to eternity with him or to eternity in pain and suffering, and who would want to serve someone who sentences people to an eternity of pain and suffering for a finite life's sin?

It is somewhat amusing that Chrissie suggested to me the other day that once I've got to grips with Hell I'll either be a Universalist (ie. believing everyone will eventually be saved) or an Evangelist... because despite her implication that evangelism was much more honourable, I've been reading a lot about the idea of Universal Reconciliation lately, and find the doctrine a lot more attractive than the one I find I've been following. A lot of the material - I think Tentmaker.org seems to have the best - actually puts me in mind of Faith Camp songs: "Lord you are good and your mercy endureth forever", "All the glory and the power belong to you, King of Victory" "Your love is so beyond all measure, Its boundaries are too hard to find, On all the world You have compassion, You love to show that You are kind". And it makes sense that the God who, for example, healed Alice and drastically changed former gang member Nicky Cruz, really does want and plan to bring everyone to salvation.

My Jesus blog has more thoughts on Hell.

I suppose I ought to post a proper diary entry - my head has been full of all these thoughts for the last few days, to such an extent that I was even thinking about all the people I love and even those I don't like very much, those who don't know God being eternally damned. It felt awful, like how I imagine real depression perhaps and not just simple indulgent moodiness. I could hardly eat (and anyone who knows me knows how serious that is ;) ) and I went to bed obscenely early because I couldn't bear to think about it.

So although Paula (the woman I mentioned last entry) offered to go through Scriptural passages on hell with me, I doubt that I'll ever be able to stomach the idea.

Other than *that*... well, I played netball Sunday morning! Which was fun. I did it with some people from a church I visited the week before. It's funny how I still remember all the rules to netball but woefully my body won't comply. I'd like to carry on playing netball and help with the church's outreach projects but I'm afraid I might be straying a bit from the Christianity they believe in. Obviously with all this thought I'm not entirely sure where I'll end up (but somehow I doubt it's the eternal fires of hell).

And other than that... well, I've been attempting to do lab work, remembering how much I like Dr. H (my project supervisor) and hoping I can spend more time with my housemates soon. I really like them, but I've been angsting or working and haven't given the time to being with them that I should. Meaning that this diary is full of the personal pronoun as usual. Oh, and I've hardly been to societies either, which must seem strange to all who know me as a societies nerd... but never mind, unfortunately deadlines have to take priority over those.

Funny how once I refuse to call myself a heretic, I then discover that what the Church calls heresy seems infinitely more attractive.

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