Monday, May 22, 2006

no woman is born to be a whore

Last weekend I went to an exhibition at the Centro Cultural Borges (remember the name from the quiz?!) entitled ninguna mujer nace para puta which translates as no woman is born to be a whore. The exhibition was organized by a group from Bolivia and an Argentine group, Ammar Capital whose website includes photos of the exhibition.

The small exhibition space was packed full when we arrived with conversations and debate in full flow. One of the installations was a pyramid of cardboard boxes printed with information from the government identifying them as basic food cartons provided for low income families. Between the stacked boxes, packets of pasta, tins of corn and cartons of milk mixed with condoms. In conversation, it emerged that prostitutes were tired of the government's response to their situation: meager handouts creating more dependency. Prostitution and violence against women must be seen within their social and cultural context. We need to keep asking how any woman comes to depend on prostitution to feed themselves and their family. As the title suggests, it's not a career choice.

Three beds occupied the centre of the room. They were covered in words and images:
I am a woman
Not a thing
They commandeer my body,
the pimps, clients, police, politicians, unions
And I am here to say 'enough.'
My clients are your brothers, husbands, cousins, sons, and priests
I don't need your condemnation
It will turn on you
Prostitution isn't a theme for prostitutes
If you don't like me on the corner
Struggle with me
Shout with me
I am here to say 'enough!'

I've noticed a growing number of articles in the British media about prostitution during the World Cup, particularly about legalized brothels in Germany, and whether they actually protect women. There's also been some attempts to raise awareness amongst football fans about not using women who have been trafficked. There is an interesting debate on the feminist blog Gender Geek

Encouragingly, the exhibition I visited was supported by my local church, the Methodist Church in Flores. I wonder how many British churches are actively working with prostitutes, or helping their congregations challenge patriarchal ideas about women and attitudes to violence. Too often churches are part of the structures that enable prostitution to flourish.

This is my last post for a few weeks as I'm heading home a week today for a fortnight catching up with family and friends. I'm looking forward to seeing some of you at Beckminster (most likely at the evening services), others at the book launch at Sarum, and others elsewhere on my travels. See you then!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Argentine quiz: answers

1.Boca Juniors (I, sadly, didn't see the interview with Gary)

2.Martí­n Fierro is the eponymous (anti-)hero of the epic poem by José Hernández (published 1872, 1879.) It tells the story of the gaucho (cowboy) lifestyle.

3.There are around 400,000 Argentine Jews. This week, students and teachers from ISEDET participated in a conference organised by the Jewish-Christian Council on the impact of the Shoah (Holocaust) on Latin American theology.

4.Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986)

5. 655 Argentines were killed, half in the sinking of the ship, General Belgrano. Only today I read about the controversy over in which direction the ship was heading when hit. I was taken aback when during my first week here I was told that some Argentines 'thanked' Thatcher for the war which helped bring down the military junta led by General Galtieri. It brought home to me the great difference between the actions of the dictatorship and those of ordinary Argentines, which are conflated in much British discussion of Argentina.

6.Lunfardo. It translates, Hey mate! Shall we go out tonight for a coffee and to dance tango? Lunfardo has various elements but the one used here is to change the order of the syllables of common words, so noche becomes cheno; cafe, feca etc.

7. Nueve Reinas or Nine Queens. A great film about two con men in Buenos Aires - see trailer here. (I've also seen Ana y los Otros, a gentle story of a girl visiting her home town for a reunion.) There's an Argentine film in the running at Cannes this year: Crónica de una Fuga, about the military dictatorship.

8.Boliva, Paraguay, Argentina, Brazil. Many different indigenous communities and nations live in this area.

9.In Buenos Aires - it's the name for people from here.

10.There are many rules for drinking Maté: the gourd always moves in the same direction round the circle; between each drink, it returns to the 'master of ceremonies' who refills it with hot water; keeping hold of the gourd too long will not endear you to your fellow drinkers, some of whom seem to need maté more than air; it's drunk in Hebrew lessons, on the street, while out for the day, at home, in fact everywhere (although rarely in cafes or restaurants.)

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Argentine quiz

Ten questions about Argentina to distract you from work, study or other distractions. You can post your answers on the comments page or wait to see mine next week.

1.Easy one to start with, What team is Maradona most closely associated with? (and what did you make of the documentary with Gary?)

2.Who is Martí­n Fierro?

3.What is the approximate size of Argentina's Jewish community: 5,000; 80,000; or 400,000?

4. Which literary legend of Argentina once claimed:
The central fact of my life has been the existence of words and the possibility of weaving those words into poetry.

5.How many Argentines died during the Falklands war or Guerra de las Malvinas?

6.¡Che! ¿Este cheno vamos a tomar feca con chele y vamos a bailar gotan? What form of Buenos Aires slang am I using?

7.What Argentine film is this picture from? And how many Argentine films have you seen?

8.The Gran Chaco crosses the borders of which South America countries?

9.Where would you find a porteño?

10.Maté is drunk everywhere in Argentina, Uruguay and elsewhere, but what are the rules for drinking it?

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Never judge a book by its cover (or title)

SCM Studyguide to Biblical Hermeneutics by David and myself is finally published! Hurrah! I've yet to see a copy but can confirm its now available from Sarum College Bookshop, other theological bookshops, SCM press, Amazon etc.

Despite the academic title, the book attempts to be an accessible and interactive guide to reading and interpreting the Bible.

Enough with the shameless self-promotion!

John: something from nothing

After a few weeks since my first post on my class on John's gospel and letters, here's another snippet from our class on John 6.

In the passage, John contrasts the disciples questioning of what is possible and a child's offering. In the Greek, there is a play on words in verse 8 in that the disciple Andrew is the man (the Greek word for man is andros) and thus the one who is expected to be able to provide. Yet, he brings to Jesus instead a child (the Greek word is paidarion, a form of pais or paidos which could refer to a boy or girl since children were seen as without gender in some ways.) paidos could also be translated as slave, reiterating the idea of someone who is 'without,' without rights or possessions and often seen as without capacity. Moreover, the incapacity of the child-slave is emphasized by the tiny amount of food carried.
five barley loaves and two fish...What are they amongst so many people?
John 6.9
Yet true to form, Jesus sees the gifts and potential offered, finding riches amongst those society trivializes or ignores.

Today I'm working on a class presentation on John 14 (highlights to follow?!) I read a beautiful reflection entitled Journey Toward Wholeness by Frederick Buechner: