Tuesday, October 28, 2008

magical realism

Summer beckons. The blossom sheds purple scent on the people below, who stumble through the day confused by the abundance of light.

Beneath the trees, a child counts puppies only she sees. 'Hurry up querida,' calls her mother. The child laughs in delight, 'Cinco perritos! 5 puppies!' and runs on home.

At Primera Junta, outside the station, a man weaves through afternoon traffic. A black cat sits on his neck. They cycle past the bus, but only one passenger notices.

A group of boys call out to each other, as oblivious to the crowds as the crowds are to them. They are the ones who turn cardboard into bread.

The woman who sits on the pavement where the bus stops, is selling soft lemons and clasps of herbs. She bends her head to listen to the murmur of the crowd.

The walls speak words that the crowd can only hum: 'Yesterday we remember, today brings fresh trouble, and tomorrow there will be more.'

At the park, one pool is blue but dry. The other is overflowing with brown water and plastic bottle boats. A woman searches for words in her puzzle book.

Stopping off at the heladería on their way home, two friends deliberate. The owner looks at the girl, then scopes pale orange ice from a silver drum. He offers her a taste. 'Maracuyá!' she gasps, 'How did you know?'

Signs and portents, prophets and wise ones. The invisible made visible to those who look, who listen, who believe.

Still thinking about Luke 13: 6-9

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

this is not an invitation to rape me

In 2002 the UK Home Office published the findings of a British Crime Survey to which 6,944 women had responded. Nearly half (45%) of rapes reported to the survey were committed by perpetrators who were victims’ partners at the time of the attack.

Women who are raped by their partners are much less likely to report the assaults against them or seek legal redress than those attacked by strangers.

Fear of retribution, a sense of family loyalty or even a lack of awareness that what has happened is against the law, silences many women who have been assaulted by their partners, and prevents them from naming it as rape, even to themselves.

Rape in marriage has only been recognised as a crime in Scotland since as recently as 1989 (and only since 1991 in England and Wales).

The concept of “conjugal rights” may have died out in the context of our legal framework, but the sense of a man’s entitlement to sex with his wife or partner is still very much alive in the minds and imaginations of many people, and often used to excuse or trivialise rape.

From Rape Crisis Scotland's current campaign, This is not an invitation to rape me, which challenges beliefs that dress, behaviour, drinking or relationship status, invite or justify rape.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Marcela Bosch - Del Dios sacrificador de la Doctrina de la Seguridad Nacional al Dios de la Vida

When a centre of torture is considered an appropriate place for the ordination of a priest, we are led to ask what kind of God is being preached.

Marcela Bosch begins her thesis with a description of an ordination, which took place in 1989 at the Escuela Superior de Mecánica de la Armada, the Argentine Naval Academy that functioned as an illegal detention centre during the military dictatorship (1976–1983). How is it possible, she asks, for the Church to accept without comment, the torture and disappearance of thousands?

Through analysis of the documents and statements of the generals and bishops of that period, Bosch argues that the repressive Doctrine of National Security was supported by a theology of sacrifice, preached by the majority of Catholic bishops in Argentina at that time (Bosch 1992: 3).

At the beginning of the dictatorship, both Church and State claimed Argentina was in a state of chaos, infiltrated by 'subversives' who sought to destroy the unity and values of Christian Argentina. Sacrifices were demanded of the nation; and Argentines were called to place the 'common good' above any individual needs or desires.

The generals and bishops talked a lot about sacrifice. But despite the fact that the actual victims were those being kidnapped, tortured and killed, the dictatorship inverted the identity of victim and oppressor, so that the military appeared as the sacrificial victim, offering their life for the Patria. The military believed their blood shed in a battle 'without limits,' would redeem the country, and bring about peace and security (Bosch 1992: 248, 256-7). The blood of their victims: students and teachers, rebels and philosophers, nuns and priests, journalists and artists, did not have redemptive power. Such deaths were described (if acknowledged at all) as the removal of tumors, or the curing of diseases, that threatened the body of society.

The generals and bishops preached a God who crucifies without resurrection:
La Buena Nueva de la resurrección y de la vida se terminaría negando, para anunciar y practicar la buena Nueva de la Crucifixión y de la muerte.
The Good News of the resurrection and of life would be negated in order to announce and carry out a Good News of the Crucifixion and of death. (Bosch 1992: 261)

Bosch urges us to abandon a cross separated from Jesus - Jesus who died as a consequence of his 'subversive' ministry. For her, the crucified Christ is a sign of solidarity with all who suffer from hunger, unemployment, etc., and to follow Jesus is to be in solidarity with the poor and marginalized (Bosch 1992: 276-8).

In the midst of death, God nourishes signs of life. And it is everyday life that we seek God and God seeks us:
This generation cannot invoke God from a place of honour within a church, because God...long ago decided to take refugee in the streets. God sat in a train, was tied down on a table of torture and knew hell. God waits in turn in the waiting room of a ruined hospital in Buenos Aires, or waits anxiously for a first date. This God, who lives and whose heart beats, remains free of whatever ideology.. because human lives... are made up of tears, smiles, triumphs and failures. [They are] found in the small things. (Bosch 1992: 279)
Marcela Bosch is an Argentine feminist theologian and sexual health educator, working with young people and community groups on issues of self-esteem, violence and sexual abuse. She completed her Licenciatura in Theology at ISEDET in 1992, with a thesis entitled: Del Dios sacrificador de la Doctrina de la Seguridad Nacional al Dios de la Vida (Tesis de Licenciada).
See also "Alfie, la opción por un Dios de la vida"

She was awarded her Doctorate in Theology from EST, São Leopoldo, Brasil in 2001 with a thesis on developing an ethic of resistance for young mothers, entitled: 'El poder de la sumisión (una mirada desde la ética feminista militante y no violenta al embarazo de mujeres jóvenes de sectores populares. Estudio cualitativo y comparativo llevado a cabo en las Regiones Metropolitanas de Buenos Aires y Porto Alegre)' A summary article is available online.

*The photo was taken last month during a visit to ESMA, now a dedicated site of national memory, given over to various human rights groups.