What can I say? I’m in Vanuatu! It’s a long story – not that long but too long for an expensive internet café. But here I am, and the ultra quick summary: Lots of pretty butterflies, lizards, millions of very friendly rainbow coloured fish. Staying in a very laid back rural area, walking and busing which means we get to see things we’d miss if we were doing taxies and tours. It’s warm, but not unbearable. I don’t normally like hot places, but I keep thinking hmmmm, this is actually quite pleasant.
Love the fish the most – I’ve never been snorkeling anywhere tropical before! My prescription goggles are awesome. Some of the fish look like holograms.
We’ve met some of the locals, including a friend of a friend who is a teacher, and we’re invited to her daughters birthday (9 or 10?) on Saturday.
And THIS is the photo I would have taken if I hadn’t slid on a rock and fallen into the pool at the bottom with my camera. So now I have a waterproof disposable camera, which sucks for close-ups and in many other ways is inferior to my beloved camera, but hey, waterproof! Photos of fish!
There are some very scary people out there. Can you remember what it was like to be ten years old? Probably your last year of primary school? Me, I remember being part of the Jelly Crystal Club. Members brought along packets of jelly crystals, and we ate them. Yup, that was our club. Oh, we were so mature back then.
Now imagine being ten years old, and you get to go to a ball with your dad. Yay! Pretty dresses! Dancing! But there’s a catch. At this ball you have to pledge to keep sexually pure until you give yourself as a wedding “gift” to your husband. And then your dad pledges to cover you as your “authority and protection in the area of purity”.
That’s the kind of ball these young girls got to go to.
Oh, but they got to wear such pretty dresses, so I guess it's ok.
And here’s what one of their dads had to say:
‘"How can you measure the value of your eleven year old looking up into your eyes (as you clumsily learn the fox-trot together) with innocent, uncontainable joy, saying, 'Daddy, I'm so excited!' wrote Wesley Tullis in a letter describing his grateful participation. 'I have been involved with the Father-Daughter Ball for two years with my daughters, Sarah and Anna. It is impossible to convey what I have seen in their sweet spirits, their delicate, forming souls, as their daddy takes them out for their first, big dance. Their whole being absorbs my loving attention, resulting in a radiant sense of self-worth and identity. Think of it from their perspective: My daddy thinks I'm beautiful in my own unique way. My daddy is treating me with respect and honor. My daddy has taken time to be silly, and even made a fool of himself, learning how to dance. My daddy really loves me!"’
More info here.
Oh, and why are there no mother/son purity balls?
On Thursday at St Andrew’s we had a panel discussion on Sex & God. Speakers were Dr Peter Lineham, Rabbi Johanna Hershenson, and Rev Dr Margaret Mayman. Although it usually seems to be the Church that tries to ban sex, and the media that flaunts it, we almost didn’t get our ad printed in the Dompost. Apparently the title was prohibited by the Advertising Standards Authority. “Sex” was out, and “sexual”, but we were allowed “sensual”. I wonder if the audience would have been different if we’d advertised “Sensual Massage and God”… I think this guy’s entire purpose in life was to read through all the ads looking out for anything off the list of banned words. The fact that it was advertising religious and academic leaders speaking in a church did not impress him. It’s not like we were going to leave condoms in people’s letterboxes… In the end though someone spoke to someone higher up the pecking order, and they said it was ok as long as we weren’t selling it!
I think the event was good… I missed the first bit of it because I was still running aound in circles at the airport trying to find one of the speakers who it turns out was already on his way to the church in a taxi.
Johanna talked about the negative ways we portray sex- all warnings about diseases and pregnancy. When do we ever talk to young people about sex as beautiful or sacred? This article makes a similar point:
‘…if you scratch such "comprehensive" sex education programs, what you find is that they're not all that different from the abstinence-only programs. The fact is, "sex education" in this country is a misnomer. What we get from both sides of the social/political divide is dangers of sex education. Both liberals and conservatives agree on the dangers: sexual coercion, teen pregnancy and STDs. Both sides also agree that abstinence is the best defense against all those dangers. Then liberals weigh in with the mealy-mouthed notion that, gee, abstinence is just maybe a little unrealistic, so, kids, if you can't keep it zipped, please use contraception, particularly condoms, which prevent both pregnancy and STDs.’
Johanna went on to talk about sex as peeling back the layers to find the “divine spark.” She did manage to make seeking the divine spark sound sexy... but she readily admitted that she set the bar very high.
I dunno, is it so bad if sex isn’t so sacred and earnest all the time? Isn’t this another way of feeling guilty about sex? So now it’s ok to be queer or unmarried, so long as it’s a spiritual practice... and if it’s not, if I don’t find that divine spark, I’m going to feel guilty…
I guess I hoped people might talk more about how sex is, rather than how it “should” be. I mean, we’re not all having sacred experiences, are we? Or is it just me?
Back when I was a fundie, a lot of the youth seemed to be pretty misguided about sex. I mean, they got the “no sex before marriage” message loud and clear, but most of them seemed to think that “everything but” was fine. As long as it wasn’t actual vaginal intercourse, it wasn’t breaking the sex ban. But because everything else wasn’t seen as sex, the safe sex messages weren’t getting through (well hey, don’t know about now but in my school days safe-sex pretty much just covered condoms for vaginal intercourse anyway.”
I was amused to find this article, where a Catholic school girl interviews some of her peers:
‘One girl told me, "It only counts if it goes in your vagina." I asked her what oral/anal/manual sex counted as. Her response? "Making out."’