Best song I’ve ever heard about domestic violence: “Johnny’s Girl” by Spirit Artis. The music is not complex: mostly Artis’s expressive voice, with her understated guitar accompaniment, and a touch of overdubbed harmony singing. The song is powerful enough that it doesn’t need any more than that.

In a podcast, Artis said this is a song about toxic relationships as viewed by a third party. She had seen relationships where one partner subsumes themselves in the dominant partner, so that person isn’t even known by their own name; they’re just known as “Johnny’s girl,” or “Gwyneth’s boy,” or whatever. I’ve done a little bit of work with people in domestic violence situations, and Artis’s lyrics get at some uncomfortable truths:

“Johnny’s girl, she’s lost herself again,
She said, ‘He’s different, you don’t know him like I do,’
But Johnny-boy’s abusing on our friend,
She said, ‘He’ll change, just give him time, this bruise will fade’….”

In the same podcast, Artis added that she sang this song to someone she knew who needed to hear it, and that person got out of the toxic relationship that they were in. So I’m linking to this song on my blog — in case there’s someone else out there who needs to hear it.

Screen grab from the video podcast mentioned in the post, showing Spirit Artis singing and playing guitar
Screen grab from the podcast mentioned in the post

Jane Doe Inc.

As those of us here in Cohasset continue to follow the story of Ana Walshe — she’s the woman who disappeared on January 1, and whose husband has been arrested for lying to investigators — I thought it might be worth highlighting the work of Jane Doe Inc.: The Massachusetts Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence (JDI).

The JDI website has excellent resources for learning more about “sexual assault, domestic violence, stalking, harassment, violence against women, and other forms of gender-based violence.” I’ve been reading through some of them, and I can recommend them as honest and factual. Do be aware that the detailed lists and narratives for domestic violence homicide victims can be difficult reading.

This is such an important issue that cuts across class, race, and community. I just wish more of my fellow Unitarian Universalists paid more attention to ending domestic violence.

If you’re worried about domestic violence in your life, JDI lists the following:
Safelink: 1-877-785-2020 is a 24-hour, free and confidential multi-lingual domestic violence hotline in Massachusetts
To find the domestic violence program nearest you outside of Massachusetts, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-SAFE (800-799-7233).

REA conference, part two

During the Friday afternoon breakout sessions of the annual Religious Education Association conference, I went to a colloquium that included three different presentations, on quite different subjects.

The first presentation was titled “Deepening Pedagogy to Adolescents,” and was presented by Carmichael Crutchfield of Memphis Theological Seminary, whose research area is African American adolescents.

Crutchfield began by quoting A Winter’s Tale where Shakespeare has a shepherd say that the most troublesome time in a person’s life is between the ages of 10 and 23:

I would there were no age between sixteen and three-and-twenty, or that youth would sleep out the rest; for there is nothing in the between but getting wenches with child, wronging the ancientry, stealing, fighting… [Act III, scene iii]

This is just the time that neuroscientists now tell us that our brains are going through some major developments. He then read a passage which described how young people no longer treat their elders with respect — and then revealed that this very contemporary-sounding passage was actually written 2,500 years ago by Plato. So adolescence has long been a challenging time of life. “We are called, as practical theologians,” said Crutchfield, to “better understand adolescents.” Continue reading “REA conference, part two”