Rising to the bait of double standards? #feminism #ABC #Remembrance

I’ve spent the evening catching up on various blog posts and in doing so I’ve realised that I been mentally arguing both for, and against, being seen to stand up for what I think, though the subject matter has varied.

First up, I was reading up on what exactly is understood by Christian Feminism in a post by Miranda Threlfall-Holmes. I found her explanation really helpful, but wondered about the need to constantly rise to the bait of people who either (a) don’t think through what they’re saying, or (b) are being deliberately provocative to get a rise out of ‘the opposition’.

In the midst of this there’s a conversation going on via Twitter about the next Archbishop of Canterbury. Apparently the Daily Telegraph’s word is good enough to count as an announcement of reality for many. Really, shouldn’t we wait until Lambeth Palace, Number 10, or Buckingham Palace make an announcement before passing comment and second-guessing a judgement on the brave man who will clasp what some might regard as a poison chalice? Aren’t we rising to the media’s bait if we don’t?

And then I read my friend Claire’s post on Remembrance and wearing badges – wearing as I did so:

  • 2 Twibbons on my gravitar (one for women bishops, one for the Royal British Legion),
  • 2 wristbands on my arm (one RBL, one in memory of the Royal Marine whose funeral I helped lead two years ago),
  • and a RBL poppy lapel pin that can be seen on my collar when my coat is on!

And so I realised that perhaps I was suffering a severe case of double standards! I want to be seen to be supporting certain things, yet I am unwilling to speak out against what I do regard as the misplaced understandings of others, whilst also griping about those who wish to close as soon as possible, an uncomfortable chapter of uncertainty in the church.

Or am I? I wonder if it’s a personal thing.

You see, I’ve never been particularly aware of the remarks or assumptions that people make about things I believe are important. Perhaps it’s because I don’t think very quickly, or I share with them a certain shallowness of thought. Usually it’s others who get upset on my behalf about things that might be said about me, or about the Christian faith I share, or how I am called to live that out. I prefer to ‘be’ and ‘do’, rather than speak – unless of course I’m in a pulpit or on this blog!

And though the next Archbishop of Canterbury will I guess be my Managing Director in the long term, or perhaps because of that, I’m not too keen to speak before being spoken to on that subject.

But over the last couple of years, the marking of Remembrance Day and the issue of women bishops, have become more deeply personal. Adam’s funeral turned out to be a huge turning point in my ministry, as I’ve talked about before. And as a woman now training for the priesthood who is finally coming to terms with the inheritance my mother left me, it seems right to care about the future nature of leadership in the church I am called to be a priest in.

Because these things are personal, I want to be recognised for caring about them, so I wear the appropriate badges, and hope they have integrity with who I am and what I care about.

So I go to bed wondering at the badges that Jesus might have worn, and realise that by speaking up, and standing out for what he knew to be right, he gave us possibly the most recognised badge of all, the cross.

I wear one of those as well, but it’s unlikely to cost me my vocation as it has others their career!



  1. Some interesting thoughts, as ever, but not quite sure if I end up in the same sort of place. I suppose that I don’t think wearing a badge is really about standing up for anything – if i wore a badge and were challenged about why I did, and then I had a real conversation I might have stood up for whatever it was, but as you say,, there are s many badges and wristbands etc that their power is limited. Do we actually wear them more to say “I’m part of this group” than anything else? O r else, as propaganda – a kind of mobile advertising for whichever cause it might be. I’ve got a wonderful, if not huge, collection of badges which are a social history of popular causes. I can’t even remember who the 14 were who I was asking others to defend by by wearing a blue badge!)
    So are badges a means of opening a conversation? A bit of each, I expect – but the “group” is important.
    Poppies – I think i agree more with Claire. AS I think that pacifism is what should be the default position for a Christian. I find it hard to wear a poppy because of all the overtones and undertones of just war, war sanctioned by the church etc…and is sacrifice in war any “better ” than any other form of sacrifice or death? Then I discovered white poppies so wore one happily; then realised that upset other people and sometimes to the point where I could not the talk to them; so then I wore even if I decided I needed to wear one out of courtesy, I know I wou ld never wear one if robed. In my first year of curacy we were robing in the vestry before the Remembrance Sundays service which would end with the laying of wreaths, and one of the Readers came up with poppy and presented it to me to pin on. I refused -almost without thinking about it. She tried to persuade, told me they always did – I just said, again with very little forethought: “When I am robed as a priest I wear a stole and that it is the only badge I will wear. ” I have never regretted that moment’s response which helps me. But it applies to any badge and also what I say – I try really hard not to use my role as priest as a campaigning tool. So the badge did carry a bit more than just one of the crowd.
    ON the other hand, I don’t agree with Claire that no one cares what she thinks – it’s not true. Wearing a badge might not make any difference – but a well phrased e-mail or letter just might, especially if others will join in. ON the other hand, challenging everything that someone says that I don’t agree with would kill nearly all conversations in 2 minutes – so I don’t, and I don’t think that is colluding…but never challenging comments can be passively supporting that view

    I Don’t think I’ve moved this conversation on very far!! Value wearing your poppy!


    • Thanks Rosalind, very helpful stories. Thank you for sharing. I will wear my wrist band and poppy this weekend – in part because I suspect there will be no service of remembrance as part of the weekend, so it will be my only way of showing my respect this year. I don’t think I’ll be home in time for our town service.

      I do appreciate that once ordained it won’t necessarily be appropriate to wear a poppy on my robes – something else to think about for the future.

      But I also wonder if anyone has ever worn both a red and a white poppy at the same time?


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