Friday, 8 August 2008

International Blog Against Racism Week

posted by Rhiannon

I feel that this should be publicised, but have little of my own material to offer: here, then, is a selection of good posts and projects by other people.

The livejournal community which is the heart of International Blog Against Racism Week.

Skin Coloured is intended to be a collaborative, visual exploration of what it is to be non-white in a white culture. Make-up, plasters and tights - even when they’re marked “flesh-coloured” - are not the colour of skin that isn’t white. And whilst white women may have trouble matching these items to their skin, for women who don’t class themselves as white, this inconvenience is symptomatic of a wider problem.

To help illustrate this problem, therefore, Skin Coloured is looking for submissions. Send us photographs that illustrate the inadequacy of provisions for non-white people, and we’ll post them on the blog, and hopefully both those submitting, and those who’re here to learn, will gain something from it.

The issue of diversity among British MPs, and why it isn't likely to increase.

A post from earlier in the year about the American election.

In which Synecdochic introduces the N-Dimensional Privilege Graph.

Aunt Betty has good reasons not to use any analogies between racism and sexism.

A nice piece from the Unitarian Universalists on what is borrowing and what is stealing in the world of spiritual practice, which would be nicely followed by this extended metaphor which illustrates why you shouldn't steal.

From inside Israel, a discussion of racism there.

Two posts on defying stereotypes: vegans of colour, and fat women of colour.

A fascinating consideration of the way the covers of sci-fi and fantasy books hide the colours of characters.

Finally, what is common knowledge? Questions which cover common and hidden cultural knowledge, sorted by cultural group.

(Crossposted to my fandom livejournal.)

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Book Reviews and a Question

posted by Rhiannon

For the third time this year, I'm blogging from Woodbrooke. However, this time I'm doing art and poetry which I can't really share, so here's a post I've been meaning to make for a while: book reviews.

Beginning Again, John Pritchard

Writing for those on the edges of Christianity-either on the way out or the way in-John Pritchard gives very simple and down-to-earth advice about experimenting with different methods of prayer, Bible study, and ways of coping with church communities. There's a lot of highly approachable and adaptable material; for example, things to pray about during a boring sermon can easily be taken as prompts to consider when faced with ministry of any kind which doesn't, to use the Quaker phrase, speak to your condition. Even the section on lifestyles choices is non-abrasive (so often modern Christian works on such matters have little to say beyond 'Don't be gay!'). For myself, the most valuable part is the material on prayer methods, as I'd heard of, for example, the Benedictine method without ever being told what it actually was. It hasn't solved all my problems with Christian prayer (I don't like confession and I'm not sure about that Christ thing) but I've taken a lot away to adapt, use, or store for occassions when it might be useful-perhaps one day I'll find a Quaker Bible study group who are accessible and don't mind experimenting, and be able to put some of that section to use.

Praying Like A Woman, Nicola Slee

A mixture of prose, poems, and liturgy, this book is deeply feminist, at times intensely personal, and brought me to the edge of tears more than once. It does not shy away from the dark things in life, AIDs and winter featuring as themes, but also has space for enjoyment of life, with an especial knack for bringing to the fore very simple material things: summer fruits, for example, get a short and lovely grace. It remains firmly Christian, drawing from Biblical sources, but bringing new and modern readings, both in the form of letting women speak, and of letting God be female. I have only had a copy for twenty-two hours as I write this, and I am already beginning to see that I'll be turning back to this book for readings and meditations.

Quakerism: A Theology for Our Time, Patricia A. Williams

Setting out to take Barclay's Quaker theology and hold it up against modern science, this book is quite clear that Quakerism is the way to go (and not just any kind of Quakerism, but conservative (unprogrammed) Quakerism: the rest, it is implied, are only calling themselves Friends). Her descriptions of the testimonies are clear without over-simplfying; they have room to overlap each other. Because she needs to set Quakerism and science against 'orthodox' Christianity, she has to give very brief overviews of Catholic and Protestant postions-this is ok for me, but may be too short for someone new to the field; I'm in no position to critique the science, though I suspect that those better versed in it may find those summaries very brief, too. Generally, however, I think this is an accessible book on what is often hidden in Quakerism: what we actually think. Perhaps this is an inevitable offshoot of the fact that what we think is most important is not analysing but experiencing. On the other hand, I find analysis both fascinating and enjoyable, so this book was right up my street.

An Introduction to Quakerism, Pink Dandelion

This book also deals somewhat with Quaker theology, but what it actually does best is introduce Quaker history, all the tangled branches of it, alongside a snapshot of where some of those branches are now. At times I found myself a little impatient with bits I already knew, as it has the flavour of being aimed at non-Quakers; on the other hand, I discovered a good many things I didn't know and probably should, so evidently a mere twenty-odd years mixing with Quakers isn't enough to teach everything. A few months after reading this, what stands out are the quotes from various Quaker bodies worldwide. It brings me rather more compassion than I would otherwise have for the Anglican Communion to think that were Quakers to try and have the same kind of centralised meeting we would have as many or more problems than they do! I suppose the Friends World Committee for Consultation are the closest we get to a Lambeth Conference.

My question is this: what books have you been reading lately which have spoken to your condition? What do you read when you want to improve your prayer life, adjust your image of God/dess, or deepen your knowledge of your religion?