Gospel and culture: Wonder Woman, women, and the gospel

Last year, I had the privilege of participating in Tabor‘s inaugural Theologicon. We had talks on pop culture artefacts ranging from Superman to Lord of the Rings, The Fast and the Furious to U2, Game of Thrones to Wolverine, as well as some broader sessions on Pop Culture, the Bible and the Gospel.

We considered how pop culture both reflects and shapes our world.

My session was on 2017’s Wonder Woman, which I loved. (Enough that I went to see Justice League as a result, and I’ve already shared my disappointment and frustrations about that)

In particular, I considered why I think Wonder Woman resonated with a wider cultural moment around the participation and place of women, and how it connects with and can open up conversations about what it means to be human, the role of grace, and the big story of the gospel.

If you’re interested, the video from that session is now available, so I thought I’d share it here. I’d love to hear your responses.


* Note, I didn’t realise at the time that questions from the floor wouldn’t be picked up by the microphone, so unfortunately I did not repeat them for the benefit of those watching later.


My International Women’s Day Thanksgiving

Apparently, some Jewish men would wake up each morning and pray, “Thank you God for not making me a woman.” It makes me incredibly sad to think that like them, there are still too many men today who cannot imagine that being a woman can be just as exciting and energising and amazing as being a man, or react as if being likened to a woman is the worst kind of insult. And it breaks my heart that there are too many women around the world who have been made to feel less than their brothers: less valuable, less loved, less called, less empowered, less worthy. Because nothing could be further from the truth.

This International Women’s Day I am thanking God for making me a woman.

I am thanking God for the delight and privilege it is to embody my life and calling as a daughter of the King. For the exhilarating journey it has been to embrace my calling as a woman in ministry and a woman in leadership.

I am thanking God that on the day of creation He made both female and male in His image and called us to serve and steward this world He had made.

I am thanking God that on the day of His resurrection He invited both women and men to share in and tell of the new kind of life He had made possible.

I am thanking God that on the day of Pentecost He poured out His Spirit on both His daughters and His sons, young and old, empowering them to live out and proclaim the good news of the Kingdom.

I am thanking God that on the day when all things will be set right there will full unity and equality between women and men, from every tribe and every tongue, as together we experience the fulfilment and flourishing of all His good purposes.

I am thanking God that I get to live as a woman at a time when women are raising their voices and telling their stories and naming their outrage and stepping out into their calling and using their gifts and refusing to be silenced, pigeonholed, or overlooked.

I am thanking God that although I have never wanted to see myself as a ‘pioneer’ or ‘trailblazer’, that in my little corner of the world I have had the privilege of being the first woman to take on a number of roles and accomplishments. I am thanking God for opening doors that even I couldn’t see, for breaking down barriers before I realised they were there, for giving His grace to walk the road before I knew how difficult it could be, and for pouring out His joy and delight as I step into all He has for me.

I am thanking God for the many men who are my colleagues, peers, friends, and brothers, who have supported and encouraged, championed and advocated for me, and at times stood aside to give me ‘their’ place, who continue to respect and work alongside me as their equal, who listen to and learn from me, who honour and embrace my calling and my contributions.

I am thanking God for the many women who are my sisters, confidantes, mentors and mentees, who inspire and challenge me, who look up to and walk alongside me, who delight in and delight me, who enlarge my own imagination as they model all the different ways they are called to flourish as women of God, who show me more and more of how thankful we can be for God’s gift of making, equipping, calling, and delighting in us as women.

And I am thanking God that although there is still plenty of work to be done for us to lift up and embrace, include and hear His daughters all around the world, that His heart has always been and will always be towards and for them, and that He has made each of us women according to His will and for His good purpose in this world.

Thank you God for making me a woman.
Thank you God for making women.
Thank you God for women.


Dumplings and diversity … or today would be a good day to be in Shanghai

This weekend I noticed that my favourite local dumpling place, just around the corner, has closed down. There are plenty of other dumplings available nearby (I do live two blocks from Chinatown after all), but it’s not just the taste I will miss, but the staff I have come to know from being a ‘regular’ at my ‘local’.  It was one of the first places I discovered which helped me articulate a real sense of neighbourhood in the midst of the city.

It was my enjoyment of travelling to various cities around the world that prompted me to move into the city in my hometown. I love city living – the vibe and the variety, the hustle and bustle, the joy of walking and watching. But mostly, I love the diversity of people and the sense of neighbourhood community that I’m discovering can be found in the city.  So today I’m thinking it would be interesting to revisit one of the world’s most populous cities, Shanghai. With just over 24 million people, this city has around the same population as the nation of Australia in an area about twice the size of Adelaide.

What did I love about Shanghai?

The sheer size of the city is a sight to behold,  best appreciated by visiting the scale model found at the Urban Planning Exhibition Centre.

Within this huge footprint is a huge diversity of neighbourhoods. From the Old Town artisans …

… to the Beaux Arts buildings lining the Bund …

… to the modern skyline of the financial district.

As well as one of the largest populations in the world,

the city boasts the world’s fastest passenger train, reaching 431 km/h,

Asia’s largest train station, at 1.3 million square kilometres,

and China’s first world-class museum,

celebrating the nation’s art and history.

It is also home to perhaps the most surreal tourist attraction I have ever visited in the Bund Sightseeing Tunnel, which despite its name is a tunnel under the river with psychedelic lights, trippy music, and bizarrely poetic random phrases read throughout the journey.

And when it comes to dumplings, I’d stand by the claim of those I had in YuYuan to be up there with the best in the world.

What did I learn from Shanghai?

With all these ‘best’ and ‘biggest’ things to see and do, what I appreciated most about Shanghai was the interactions with people. Walking along the Bund is perfectly suited for ‘people watching’, but it was also while there that I met and interacted with people from six or seven different countries, with locals as well as visitors.

I don’t know whether it is the closer proximity of city dwelling,  the fact that they are by nature less homogenous than other locations, or the fear of getting lost in the crowd, but I find that in the city there is often a greater willingness of people to at least smile, if not engage, and seek out some sense of community and connection.

As I seek to connect with my neighbourhood community in the city where I live, as I try to overcome the temptation to be anonymous and instead choose the simple, deliberate gestures of eye contact and a smile, perhaps leading to a friendly word or willingness to engage, I’m challenged by how I can play my own small part in making city life the best it can be not just for me, but for those around me.