Tag Archives: women

Catching Fire Eclipses Twilight

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Never is it more crystal clear that Katniss Everdeen, the heroine of The Hunger Games movies, is the anti-Bella Swan, made famous in the Twilight series, than The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.

Bella is brave in her own way, of course, as a clumsy girl stumbling into one bad decision after another trying to save the man she loves – she thinks she loves. The Twilight movies spend time and money to stretch normal – to make Vampires and Werewolves really just like you and me. In fact, we all have a dark side, right? And Bella, even when she finally has strength, uses it to fight for her daughter and the right to allow good and evil to co-exist. And, aptly, even that turned out to be a bloodless fight that takes place in the mind.

Katniss takes responsibility for herself from the moment she volunteers to take on the fight against evil. There is no subtext of tolerance here. Evil in these movies wears false eyelashes, loves its indulgences and murders for play and manipulation. It’s an embodiment of the seven deadly sins – lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy and pride. The fight is not for balance. The fight is to the death.

One of Catching Fire’s most devastating moments comes when Katniss understands that winning was a lie, promises of life-long protection were more lies and the lies will never end.

“You are going to be on this train for the rest of your life,” explains the blowsy, boozy coach, Haymitch.

Katniss has to develop her own strength — get dirty, bloody and hungry. She has to be defiant and risk everything. Only when it’s Game Over does the idea of strategy find a foothold in Katniss’s passionate battle against wrong.

“Remember who the real enemy is,” we are reminded. And it’s not inside us. It’s real and it wants to devour us.

The movie itself is spectacular – far more than the first. Everything is intense and not just true to the book, but visually carving the book’s intentions into your psyche and you carry it with you.

When you leave the theatre, the glitter of the mall, the spectacle of Christmas and the pretense of Santa Claus might be an affront. Especially if you know that the real meaning of Christmas celebrates a defiant carpenter born in a stable, wielding a whip and headed toward death to overcome evil once and for all.

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Doing Battle – Foreword

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I’ve started my next book. The Truth Swing  was an intimate narrative of learning to surrender, to accept suffering, to face death and bow. Now, I am a widow. In this book, I hope to figure out what that means and how I can still hunger to become like God and like me, whom he loves. Anyway, here’s my first go at it. Please Like and subscribe if you think I’m on to something.

Foreword

Scripture says the Creator started a conversation saying, “It is not good for man to be alone.”  We’re not sure why. Maybe he was making up stupid names for the animals, or eating all the wrong balances of plants, or wasn’t picking up after himself. But Adam was alone – and it was clearly not good.

Nobody asked that about what would be good for a woman. Everybody in the Garden of Eden assumed that what was best for man was best for woman. And they’ve been assuming that ever since.

Okay, I’m kidding.  Partly.

In a perfect world there is diversity and unity. Some are in families, some are alone. But all of us need others and aloneness causes death, as has been proven in both prisons and psyche experiments. We are creatures of community and, like our three-in-one creator, the model of living in partnership and sharing/switching roles of leader, follower, and facilitator works for humankind just like it does for the Godhead. Some think of it this way – God the almighty and omnipotent as Dad; Holy Spirit, the comforter, reminder, defender, communicator as Mother; Jesus the compassionate, the rule-breaker and redeemer as Son or Daughter. On the other hand, it sometimes works out that the Holy Spirit is the teacher, who knows our language and everyone else’s; Jesus is the creator and sustainer of the universe; and God is crying out for justice and mercy. It’s a mash-up.

If we could reflect those revolving and interchangeable roles in our relationships, it could be heaven – and maybe it is heaven. But instead, we sinners tend to think about it the other way around. We take our flawed and rigid roles and try to make the Godhead a reflection of us instead – Father ever-distant; Mother invisible; sons taking off; daughters afraid.

How ironic that the greatest, deepest sin and temptation from Lucifer to fallen angels to Eve and Adam to Herod, to Hitler is wanting to be like God, while the mission of the church is to get everyone on earth to want to be like Jesus.  And the Holy Spirit? Well, that’s just scary.

Clearly we’re missing something.

The entire distinction seems to rest on one little word. It’s good to want to be like God, but not want to be God. Scholars call it being made in the Imago Deiimage of God. Or, put another way, it’s okay for us to want to better our own nature, but not to devalue it and want to become something else. Wanting to be God is this messed up, impossible and paradoxical trap, whereas wanting to be the man or woman God created us to be in that image – like that –  is being created for eternity. Being redeemed for eternity. Being eternal. Eternal beings.

Figuring out the impact of that one little distinction may take, in fact, an eternity. But for now, I’m willing to figure out what it means in a lifetime. Mine.

And since my lifetime started in the 1950s when women were excused from the factories and relegated to the kitchen, the nursery, and one side of the bed, being like God was obscure in my early church experience. Churches and parachurch organizations in post WWII America were organized on military models;  a commander and his troops doing the heavy lifting and women in support roles like praying, quilting, singing and running the nursery.  Men led evangelistic “campaigns” while women joined “societies.”

The battle cry of boys resounded off the walls of Sunday School rooms.

Onward Christian soldiers

Marching as to war,

With the cross of Jesus

Going on before.

Christ the royal master,

Leads against the foe,

Forward into battle,

See his banner go.

Onward Christian soldiers

Marching as to war,

With the cross of Jesus

Going on before.

Little girls in those same classrooms were singing, “I’ll be a Sunbeam for Him,” which may have been as close to the Holy Spirit that any of us dared go.

Lots of Christian girls from that era didn’t question that there was a Biblical mandate to be satisfied with being sunbeams while their male were expected to became soldiers. Some never caught on to the reality that girls can be soldiers, too, in their quest to be like God, and boys could be as tender as sunbeams for the same reason. But some did. I did.

The evangelical, stereotypical definition of womanhood has grated on me my whole life. As a married woman, a divorced woman, a re-married woman “unequally yoked,” a mother and stepmother. The mantle of disapproval chafed and blistered and was experienced in contrast to the utter love and delight in me that God showed again and again.

“God made a Francine because he wanted a Francine,” my friend Alice reminded me and it changed my life and blew my mind. He didn’t want the Francine who might be gracious and perfect someday. He didn’t want the Francine with the right kind of income and the right kind of children. He wanted me, got got me, and I am his. And he doesn’t want me to be humble like Mother Teresa or fake like Tammy Faye or to teach like Joyce Meyer or to write like Jerry Jenkins.  He wants me to be like him. And he wants you to be like him, too. In a way that only you can.

Knowing this to be true, I find myself a widow.

At this stage in life the last thing that I feel God expects is for me to become a ward of the church, to be patted on the head like a pitiful child, or to be dependent on the benevolence of dutiful believers. God expects me to take up my cross, not have it carried by others. He is looking for me to be part of the battle, not to wave a lace handkerchief from the sidelines. He wants me to speak truth and not fear consequences. He wants me to obey him and not conventions.

If I look carefully – past the gender restrictions and societal expectations that I have grown up with – I can find sisters who have always known this truth and lived it. Women who have circumvented those in their lives who wanted them to be “like other women.” Women who choose “the better part” of listening to Jesus instead of acting the part other woman want them to play.

There are examples in scripture and in history, of women who want to be like him. Not trying to be like men. Trying to be like God — because he says that’s who we are.

Let me introduce you.

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Obama/Shriver 2012

by Francine Phillips

It makes perfect sense to me. Joe Biden, no offense, can retire now, capping a significant career with leadership of the Senate. He offered the tie to the Old Guard that Obama needed to capture traditional voters the last time around. Thank you, goodbye.

Maria Shriver should be the Obama running mate in 2012. The charisma factor will shoot through the roof.  Shriver is media-savvy, smart, beautiful, she has the political pedigree, and is someone who gets things done.

In the last few years she took on the issue of Alzheimer’s in honor of her father’s battle with the disease and brought it out of the closet. She produced an award-winning HBO series, wrote a book about it (which included an essay from Reagan’s daughter, Patti Davis) and got on every news program in the country to start an Alzheimer’s conversation in America. If she can get people to engage with a horrifying, fatal disease that no one wants to admit happens to anyone under 70, think what she can do with issues of hunger, unemployment, and corporate gouging – things that America WANTS to talk about. I say let her at it. Especially now.

There are really three powerful women in America with name recognition – Hilary Clinton, Sarah Palin, and Maria Shriver. Ok, four. Oprah doesn’t count. Loudmouth Michelle what’s-her-name-running-for-president REALLY doesn’t count. She’s Palin-lite and since Palin herself is a lightweight, that makes her pretty much a – dare I say? – flake. No apology forthcoming.

Hilary is stodgy – which makes her a diplomatic gem. She gets the entire global connection while the rest of us are trying to remember who we are at war with, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan?  How many countries have Taliban presence?  Is there really a Muslimization of Africa campaign. (I first heard this term when I interviewed one of the  Lost Boys of Sudan and it made things so clear.)  Hilary should stay put.

Maria would be great as Vice-President. She can handle the media spin duties so Obama can get back to fixing the country and she can send the e-mails. She can talk the pants off talk show hosts.  She’s had an insider window into the Republican Party as wife of Arnold and knows where the weaknesses are hiding.  Ok, not exactly hiding. Even the Republicans know where their weaknesses are – they can’t unite. Maria could blow them all away in any debate.

Aside: Donald Trump and the birth certificate – really?  Isn’t this the same party that wanted to change the law of the land so Arnold could run for president?

And speaking of Arnold. This is a golden moment.  What woman in America wouldn’t want to support Maria who gave up so much for love – her political views, her home, her career – and got burned? Who wouldn’t want to elect her to an office higher than Arnold can ever attain?  Vice President Shriver is just too delectable to pass up as we stab our ballots in that little private booth.  It’s an extra bonus that Maria is doing what we all wanted Hilary to do – she’s leaving him.

America is just not going to go back to white men aging gracefully to rule our land. Sorry Mitt and that other look-alike guy.  Sorry Joe. 

I think Maria’s next step should be into the dais of the Senate Chambers. Adding her to the ticket will electrify voters. Leave it all behind and go kick ass. 

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