As I write this blog (my first in a long while) I admit that the state of the world has discouraged me from writing. There are just so many huge boulders blocking the road to hope.
On the international day that draws attention to violence against women, November 25th, I read yet another article of a wealthy privileged man involved in sex and financial scandal. Leon Black is a man who has been bestowed status and honour because of his wealth and philanthropy. But there is a dark shadow. For many years, Black counted Jeffrey Epstein as his friend. One bizarre factoid is that Black paid Epstein US$158 million for ‘tax advice’ from 2012 to 2018, even though Epstein was not an accountant or tax lawyer.
Following a familiar pattern in stories of enormous power, Black is accused of co-ercing various young women into having sex (he denies two rape allegations) including sex with underage girls. Now he is being pursued in the courts by one of those women, who is acting with ruthless energy to win huge damages.
Black’s career and reputation in NY are in tatters. How much are those qualities worth to a multi-billionaire.
Of course, it’s not just about wealth, it’s about the power inequality in relationships. In the UK, one in 5 children is growing up in a household where there is domestic abuse.
So what could I write about in this first week of Advent as we wait once again to hear the words of the angels “Peace on earth and goodwill to all people.” Hope and goodwill seem like a fairytale against stories and statistics of the lives of girls and women blighted by violence.
But it was out of troubled Palestine that hope came in the form of a baby – Jesus. And God chose a teenage girl to carry that baby.
I have to choose to believe again that Christmas angels are bringers of good news, because evil will be conquered at the cross. Marg Mowczko and Michael Frost have both directed me to a wonderful (but scary) illustration for a 14th-century illuminated manuscript entitled the Taymouth Hours. It shows Mary handing baby Jesus to the Archangel Gabriel while she tackles a monstrous devil to the ground to defeat him. Mowczko argues that Jael from Judges Ch5 is a type of Mary – both defeating evil.
Now that’s Christmas good news!