Thursday, October 31, 2013
Tuesday, October 29, 2013
The other day I wrote something on how zombies, vampires and werewolves play a key role in helping teenagers explore what it means to be human. From an ‘adult’ perspective, this is, of course, nonsense – something to grow out of; a false condition to be healed of, or transformed from into what it looks like to be truly human.
But, what does it look like to be truly human?
I’ve just read Roy McCloughry’s most recent book, the enabled life: Christianity in a disabling world. I highly recommend it for its challenging and timely insights. Roy exposes something that we are blind to: that in our culture we paint a very particular image of what it means to be a person, and measure everyone against what is only a small and temporary group – those at the peak of physical strength and mental capacity; those abled by privilege to exercise power. From here, we might look down on those who are marred or flawed with revulsion, or with pity; demonising them, or helping them more closely approximate ‘us’…
…never thinking that we share a common frailty, that to become fully human is to embrace the gift of frailty and of inter-dependence. (Interestingly, on a number of occasions in Scripture, God imposes upon the powerful and self-sufficient a temporary physical or mental disability in order that they might learn the very things we still resist learning.)
One of the many challenging things that Roy sets out is a vision of the resurrection body. What will our body look like? Many of us who are abled in our current society assume that it will be an upgrade of our present bodies at the peak of our health – and that the disabled will be upgraded to our specification. Some disabled people hope for this too, while others, seeing that as a rejection of their worth, assume that they will have their present form, but that it will not impede them. Roy suggests that we too closely identify with our present condition – abled or disabled – and that we will all be transformed in a much more fundamental way. Again, the resurrected Jesus was recognisable only by his scars – healed wounds – while elsewhere his body takes various forms – scarred man, scarred lamb…
And then today, my friend Alan Hirsch shared this quote on Facebook:
Is it not conceivable, asks Heschel, that the entire structure of our civilization may be built upon a misinterpretation of what a human person is? The failure to identify human being, to know what is authentic human existence, leads one to pretend to be what one is unable to be or to deny what is at the very root of one's being. “Ignorance about man is not lack of knowledge, but false knowledge.” ~ Donald J. Moore
If we are to become truly human, we need a new construct, a new way of recognising one another, an honesty and a compassion.
It turns out that the church where we have been for the past two-and-a-half years, a church which has less resources and less power than any I have known and yet (or perhaps because, rather than in spite of, this?) loves – loves those increasingly disabled by age, loves those with learning disabilities…and so sees both the disabled and the abled transformed through that love, however imperfect, however hard.
The Church is the Body of Christ. And as my wife observed, reflecting on Roy’s book, if that body is made up of us, none of whom are ‘perfect’ – none of whom match the misinterpreted construction of what it means to be human, or at least, not for long – then that Body is a broken one, disabled by the constructs of the world.
Perhaps we need more zombies.
Perhaps the freaks and the misfits are the most fully representative humans of all. Perhaps only with them will we learn to love ourselves, and our neighbour. Perhaps only then can we be an enabling community.
Over the past year, I have been writing a series of six papers entitled ‘Jesus-given’ in which I have been developing a nuanced understanding of apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds and teachers (Ephesians 4), as set out in the first paper; and exploring how we might disciple people in their particular gifting, or given-ness.
It was my hope that I would be able to complete these introductory papers before moving on from Southport, and I am very pleased to have done so, with the paper on teachers.
Thanks are due to all those who have encouraged me to write, especially Alan Hirsch; and also to those who have let me know that they have been encouraged by what I have written.
The full series can be accessed from the ‘Papers’ page at the top of my blog (just underneath the header), or below:
Monday, October 28, 2013
Once upon a time, if you were rich, you flaunted your wealth by having a full-length life-size portrait painted and hung on your wall. It was a powerful statement. And yet it would often contain a skull, a memento mori – “Remember that you will die” – either as an item on a desk or as a distorted pattern that could only be recognised from a certain angle. A reminder that though you might have ‘arrived,’ you would also depart: and how, then, will you live?
For those without wealth, such skeletal reminders were to be found on the walls of churches – indeed, before Henry VIIIs purifying/desecration, churches contained vivid depictions of hell which inform the very cultural images associated with Halloween that some Christians are so uncomfortable about today. And, of course, people lived with death as a daily reality.
Today we live in a culture that is obsessed with denying death. We live as if we were immortal – with alcohol abuse in particular. When someone we know dies, in addition to the entirely right and proper grief, many express utter disbelief: something no previous generation would understand.
And so if for a month each autumn our shops and our pubs are decorated with memento mori, then that is perhaps a good thing. At the very least, it gives expression to something deep for which we might have no other vocabulary, which the Church might creatively engage with as opposed to condemn and distance ourselves.
Halloween has become associated with witches, zombies, vampires and werewolves. These types are increasingly important means by which teenagers can explore and make sense of their own identity. Though it is tempting to find such things bizarre, we need to understand why, and appreciate their value.
Witchcraft is considered very dark by the Church. And yet we should not forget what most witches were: women who ministered counsel and medicine and an engagement with our inbuilt appreciation of mystery, at a time when women were prohibited from exercising gifts of wisdom or from presiding over mystery within the Church. First exiled to the margins, many were later persecuted and even put to death. Fear of difference has at times been very powerful within the Church, and I wish it were different today.
Of course, there are some fundamentalist witches who gather and plot to target Christians – just as there are fundamentalist Muslims, and Christians. Yes, there is evil in the world, and people of all persuasions who side with darkness. But the person blessed/cursed with magical awareness is a powerful type for teenagers who are marginalised, whose gifts are not recognised, whose value is not appreciated.
Zombies are very zeitgeisty. Why? Because they express something very true about the human condition. Teenagers – who find themselves in changed bodies, all arms and legs, hard to control; faces bursting out in spots – fall in love, get together, break up – and when they break up, it is the End of the World. However hard they try, they fall out with their friends, their parents. However hard they run, however hard they fight back, everyone they allow to embrace them, that relationship results in death. Every relationship they turn to, they f*** up. And yet, there must be hope of a new dawn, of a time beyond the Apocalypse…
Isn’t the zombie story the ultimate documentary about going through – and surviving – your teens? And isn’t the best thing to do with a zombie to refuse to run, to let them embrace you when they do?
Vampires and werewolves are also blessed/cursed with difference. But vampire and werewolf stories are complex explorations of the struggle within each one of us between good and evil. We might be blessed/cursed in some way, but we are still responsible for our actions: fatalism is rejected – and that is extremely important in the face of apparent no hope…Here more than anywhere else teenagers get to wrestle with right and wrong. And to do so within a sense of belonging, of community that gives identity: recognising that within our own group or tribe there will be those who choose what is wrong and those who choose to do what is right, however costly. Here we even find the Romeo and Juliet story of love that crosses the divide between tribes and brings about albeit complex new alliances.
Without doubt, Halloween gives us the best opportunity in the whole year to engage with teens – for whom Christmas and Easter are both too child-oriented, in the Church and in our wider cultural context – and with pre-teens, who are about the enter the emotional maelstrom. What resources do we have?
Halloween – or, All Hallow’s Eve (October 31st) – is the doorway into All Saints’ Day (November 1st) and All Soul’s Day (November 2nd). And – like Christmas Eve and Easter Eve – these threshold moments are a gift.
All Saints’ Day is the invitation to remember those men and women to whom Jesus chose to give an anointing of grace sufficient to change the course of history. In other words, they are the heroes and heroines of our tribe, our tradition. The ones whose stories get written down and pass into folklore. [And yes, evangelical friends, there is a sense in which we are all saints: but Scripture also tell us that Jesus, in his freedom, distributes anointing in varying amounts and calls us to different levels of influence as much as different roles, so let us not throw out the baby with the bathwater…] We have some amazing and inspiring, not to mention a good few downright improbable, Saints’ stories to rival any mythology, whether classical or contemporary.
All Soul’s Day is the invitation to remember those closer to home, those we have known personally and who have touched our lives but who have been taken from us by death. Throughout the teenage years, we not only increasingly experience death – a grandparent, a parent, a friend – but are increasingly aware of the impact of those deaths on us. All Soul’s Day is an opportunity to acknowledge the reality of death; but also to experience healing where once we felt its sting: to respond to life from our scars, rather than our open wounds. To light a candle in memory of those we have loved, and to entrust them – and ourselves – to God’s care.
The Church collates resources for these days, but also provides flexibility for how we might mark them – separately, or combined. Halloween is a gift:
the opportunity to come, in all our blessedness and cursedness, our awkward sense of difference and of not understanding ourselves let alone anyone else;
of affirming that nothing in this frightening world can separate us from God’s love;
of committing ourselves afresh to resist evil by responding to evil with goodness, to hatred with love, to darkness with light;
of seeing death as redeemed from enemy who tears us away from God to friend who ushers us into his presence;
of finding our place within a tribe of heroes who tamed monsters and triumphed over tyrants by self-sacrificial love;
of taking inspiration from more local and immediate heroes and heroines, who loved us despite our being witches or zombies or vampires or werewolves, who loved us as we grew into ourselves…
Perhaps to eat flesh and drink blood and reflect upon being those who were dead in ourselves and have been raised with Christ: the living dead, animated by the Holy Spirit, on the one hand perishing and on the other passing gloriously from death into life.
And if you are very lucky, you might even get to do these things wearing a big black clerical cloak in a dark imposing building.
Thursday, October 10, 2013
Remember poor Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov, being driven mad by the shame of being ordinary, not extraordinary? Today, to the shame –
the painful feeling arising from the consciousness of something dishonourable, improper, ridiculous, etc., done by oneself or another –
that results from being soiled to our deepest being we must add the shame that results from being told, repeatedly told, that we are extraordinary – that we deserve special treatment; that the rules that rightly apply to other people do not apply to us – while suspecting, increasingly expecting, all along that we are ordinary after all.
We have been sold a dishonourable, improper, even ridiculous lie.
Today, we are all Rodya.
Is there any hope for us?
The Epistle for this coming Sunday opens with this statement:
Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, a descendant of David – that is my gospel (2 Timothy 2:8)
keep telling and re-telling, enter-into, allow yourself to be shaped by this Voice, this Character on the human stage…
the name means God saves! We remember Jesus through listening to the Gospels; declaring the Creeds and Affirmations of Faith; entering-into the Calendar; participating in Communion, with him and one another…
the Greek form (common language of the entire Greco-Roman world) of the Hebrew Messiah, one anointed by God to deliver (rescue from oppression) and rule over his people in peace and glory…
God saves…all peoples
raised from the dead
in this Jesus who suffered a shameful death, death itself – the one common experience of all humanity (even birth is something not every life experiences) – has been overthrown; death, in all its forms – including the living death of shame…
God saves all peoples…from death
a descendant of David
God promised David a house – a family; Covenant relationship, an intimate belonging to one another in place of being alone (shame drives us to hide from the very intimacy we long for; we would rather a false us be rejected than our true self) -
and also a kingdom – a realm, of truly extraordinary ordinariness; Kingdom responsibility, to participate in delivering others from imprisonment to shame…
God saves all peoples from death…for a house and a kingdom
that is my gospel
that is the good news we have received, to share in – and with others…
Yes, there is hope for those who live with shame. But it is a long-term process, in which shame itself is charged with meaning, and is the very place of our transformation:
Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, a descendant of David – that is my gospel, for which I suffer hardship, even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But the word of God is not chained. Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, so that they may also obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory. The saying is sure:
If we have died with him, we will also live with him;
if we endure, we will also reign with him;
if we deny him, he will also deny us;
if we are faithless, he remains faithful – for he cannot deny himself.
2 Timothy 2:8-13 (NRSVA)
Recently, Jo and I went to see Chris Hannan’s stage adaptation of Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s novel Crime and Punishment at the Liverpool Playhouse. It is a wonderful production, in every regard.
The whole production is steeped in shame.
Shame has been defined as:
the painful feeling arising from the consciousness of something dishonourable, improper, ridiculous, etc., done by oneself or another.
a fact or circumstance bringing disgrace or regret.
Shame differs from guilt in this respect:
we experience guilt in relation to what we have done, or failed to do;
we experience shame in relation to who we are.
The drunk, Marmeladov, is ashamed, that he is an alcoholic, that his daughter is a prostitute; ashamed of who he is: “When I see goodness I’m like a cockroach in the light.” [Act 1, scene 5] And as Hannan explains in the notes, “It’s not just that he’s ashamed; he has to act out his shame in front of a big crowd.”
His wife, Katerina Ivanovna, is ashamed, of her terminal comsumptive cough, of her poverty, of how her life has turned out – “What’s the meaning of walking in here like this, do you know who I am! I am Katerina Ivanovna Marmeladov; my father held a very senior rank in the civil service.” [Act 1, scene 15]
Their daughter, Sonya Marmeladova, is ashamed: as Marmeladov describes her debut, “Sonya went out at six in the evening, came back at nine, walked straight up to Katerina Ivanova and laid thirty roubles on the table…Then she hid her face with her shawl – this shawl – this very shawl – and lay down on the bed with her face to the wall. I was there. I heard everything…When I see goodness I’m like a cockroach in the light.” [Act 1, scene 5]
As a devout Christian, she does not experience guilt in relation to being a prostitute – her circumstances give her no choice in the matter. No, she experiences shame. But she also knows that she can come before God with her shame.
And, of course, there is the anti-hero, Raskolnikov, who murders the pawnbroker Alyona Ivanovna and her sister Lizaveta. Ultimately he will be undone not by guilt – throughout, he justifies what he has done, appealing to the difference between “ordinary” men and “extra-ordinary” men
Raskolnikov: “...I say the great man is by his very nature criminal. Think of Napoleon Galileo Christ. They not only break the old laws, they entirely set them aside. They’re destroyers…The great man makes new laws, he sees things in a new way, he utters a new word…”
Porfiry Petrovich: “Fascinating. When you were writing your article, did you surely you must have identified with the extraordinary man, the man who utters a new word as you put it.”
Raskolnikov: “Possibly.” [Act 1, scene 16]
Ultimately he will be undone not by guilt, but by shame, as the magistrate Porfiry Petrovich confronts him with the reality – the shameful truth – that he is not extraordinary at all.
We’ve also been watching the latest series of Downton Abbey. You understand, of course, that the role of period drama is not escapism from our lives into the past, but an anachronistic projection of the issues of our day into another context, in order to allow us to explore our values and vices. And Downton, too, is steeped in shame. From time to time, a character experiences guilt; but the far greater matter is shame: Carson is ashamed of his past in the theatre; Anna feels overwhelming shame when she is raped; again and again, shame, shame, shame.
The biblical understanding of sin is an understanding of broken relationships. This includes both guilt and shame. But we cannot face up to our guilt until our shame has been dealt with. That is why – before they are expelled from the garden – God makes durable clothes for Adam and Eve, to cover not their nakedness but their new-found shame in relation to their nakedness. That is why Jesus deals with the woman caught in adultery by addressing her shame before her guilt, and sets her free from a ‘life of sin’ not ‘sins.’
Guilt relates to doing; shame to being.
We live in such a broken society that guilt is for many an alien or at least a rare experience – we justify the wrong things we do as a response to, or consequence of, the ways in which we have been wronged – by others; by God (why doesn’t God…?) Our culture is steeped in shame, the dominant experience of sin in our mission context. We justify our guilt; but we are painfully aware of our shame – of who we are, at how life has not turned out the way we had hoped it might.
Jesus addresses our guilt and our shame. The Church tends to focus on guilt – or at least on dealing with guilt before we can move on to dealing with shame. We need to address shame first.
The accounts of Jesus healing lepers are a great place to start (and we have one in the Lectionary reading for this coming Sunday). Unlike other conditions, where Jesus healed people, he cleansed lepers: dealing with the deep shame, the painful feeling arising from the consciousness of something dishonourable, improper, ridiculous even done to them by the disease, and by the response of other people to their disease.
Just as Crime and Punishment takes on a different light and relevance in twenty-first century England than it might have done in nineteenth century Russia, so the Gospels take on a particular relevance for us two thousand years after the events. Leprosy in the Gospels is a powerful symbol for shame in our own context.
Like Jesus with lepers, like Sonya with Raskolnikov, are we willing to embrace the person who is utterly steeped in shame (ourselves, as much as others) in order that they might be cleansed and so restored by love?
Wednesday, October 09, 2013
Of all Scripture, the passage I most often speak from is Psalm 23. Most recently I spoke from it as I baptised a mother and two of her daughters, a young girl and a baby. There had been another daughter: last year, following her cot death, I had taken her funeral. We lit a candle in her memory, and as testimony to God’s faithfulness in dark times. After the baptism, the mother said to me, “Twelve months ago you told us that life would be good again; I couldn’t see then how that could be possible, but I can now.”
The Psalm draws on the experience of sheep. It begins in the low winter pasture; but the spring has arrived: the grass here is wearing thin, while the grass on the flat mountain top is lush and full of flowers, like a table-top spread with a banquet. The shepherd, sensitive to these things, leads the sheep up the ravine. The ravine is a hostile environment – a flash torrent could sweep the sheep away; predators hide in the rocks – but the sheep do not need to fear, because the shepherd carries two sticks: a crook, to guide – and, if need be, to rescue – the sheep;* and a club, with which to drive back predators.** At the end of the journey, the shepherd checks over his sheep, rubbing healing oil into any cuts.
But the mountain top is not the final destination: the shepherd will lead his sheep up and down the ravine many times as one pasture is depleted and another has regrown.
Psalm 23 is such a good funeral psalm not because it speaks of my life after my death, but because it holds out the hope of life (as opposed to mere ongoing existence), in time, after the death of one I have loved.
Life is change. Births, deaths, marriages. Children leaving home. Parents getting old. Jobs lost; jobs begun. For richer, for poorer. In sickness and in health. At a personal level; at a community level; at a regional, national, international, or global level. We can no more hold back change than we can step outside of time and space.
Life is change, experienced as rhythms of change. Advent is my favourite Season of the year; but if it were always Advent, where would Christmas, Epiphany, Lent be? There is much that I love – and much that I find a real challenge – about having young children; without wishing it away, I wouldn’t want it to last forever!
Life is change, as we are simultaneously and paradoxically passing away and being transformed from one degree of glory to another.
The good shepherd –
by shepherd I mean someone with a primarily pastoral impulse;
someone whose gifts relate to humanising our organisational structures and working systems;
whether within the church or anywhere within wider society –
the good shepherd:
recognises tipping- or turning- points;
leads a community (not just the most adventurous individuals) into the new season of life, via our dying to our common (communal) and personal self;
encourages, guides and protects in the inevitable and unavoidable stage of moving through the valley of the shadow of death;
and attends to the wounds that are picked up along the way.
Life is change, and change is always disturbing – even for those who enjoy change; and even for those who are moving from sadness to joy. It involves a leaving behind and a setting out on a journey. We might have made the journey before, but the journey – in particular, the out-workings of the dangers of the journey – is different each time. We need shepherds to guide us. And yet, at least within the church, shepherds have become the most change-averse of all. Too often, a shepherd:
accepts that the grass is not as green as it was, but tries desperately to find ways of extending the season in the pasture, believing that it will grow back if we stick things out;
ironically endangers the survival of the flock out of concern not to enter the ravine;
and, ironically, frightens the sheep by taking up the voice of a predator.
That is why shepherds, just as much as anyone else, need to be reminded that they are also sheep – and that they follow the Good Shepherd.
That there is a wolf hiding within them, too, needing to be confronted by the Good Shepherd.
That the ravine may be the place of death, but that the place of death is the very place where God is at work in and through the Good Shepherd to bring about new life.
*the crook also symbolises commitment to Covenant relationship between the Father and his children, between Jesus and his Bride...
**the club also symbolises commitment to Kingdom responsibility, to drive back the accuser...
Tuesday, October 08, 2013
Something I read last week (in The Beautiful Disciplines, by Martin Saunders) has really got me thinking about prayer.
Jesus invited his disciples to participate with him in his controversial eating habits, his teaching ministry and even his working of miracles…but not his prayer life.
Eventually they ask him to teach them how to pray like he does. They don’t ask him why he prays in a way that is different to how the Pharisees pray, or John the Baptiser prayed: they aren’t in a position to make comparisons; their motivation is intrigue about something unknown. But even after Jesus teaches them how they ought to pray, he doesn’t pray with them. Even on the night of his arrest, when he prays and asks them to pray, he removes himself from their immediate presence.
In this, Jesus’ practice is consistent with his teaching, that we should fast and pray in the ‘secret place’: that this is something between us alone and God alone.
In this, Jesus’ practice is also consistent with prayer throughout Scripture. Hannah waits until there is no-one else around in God’s house. Hezekiah turns his face to the wall, so that he is ‘alone’ even in the presence of his attendants. Daniel is in the habit of withdrawing to his personal chambers three times a day to pray. Jesus points out that the Pharisees love to be seen – not heard: there is a difference – praying; in one story he compares the prayer of a Pharisee and a sinner, but both men stand apart to pray. Across diverse cultural contexts over more than a thousand years – a woman living among the coalition of tribes; a king in Jerusalem; a senior civil servant living in exile; people who have returned to Jerusalem but live under occupation – prayer is understood as too intimate to do with others.
Public prayer does take place – Elijah and Stephen pray in front of hostile crowds – but not in the sense of God’s people gathered to pray together. We see the believers praying together on a couple of occasions in the Acts of the Apostles, but in these instances they are hiding in secret for fear of their lives: i.e. it is too dangerous for them to go off alone. In keeping with Jesus’ teaching, when the church sends Barnabas and Saul off on their first journey, we should envisage the group fasting and praying apart and coming together to weigh and act in response to what God has revealed to them. Much later, we read the account of Paul praying with the Ephesian elders; but, in contrast to the record of his exhortation to them, a veil of silence is drawn over whatever he prayed.
Indeed, prayer in the early church was most probably, if not inside one’s own head, at least under one’s breath.
This is good news to the introvert. Perhaps less so to the extravert: though many of the things the people of God do together – eat, read Scripture, sing, share wealth, prophesy and weigh prophecy – are perhaps more suited to them…
That is why I like liturgical prayer. In (the Church of England) Common Worship, set words provide a structure for our prayer, with silence provided as space for our personal prayers. This is true of our prayers of Confession, of our Collects of the Day or the Season, of Intercession, of the Litany, and of the Eucharistic prayers leading into Communion. (That is also why I regularly set prayers from Common Worship with photographs on this blog.) In Synagogues, liturgical prayer follows a private-public-private pattern: everyone present prays the prayer in silence; the leader then declares the same prayer out loud, symbolising the sacrifices of old; followed by silence again, for personal response (this pattern reflects the belief that God answers our prayers primarily by changing us – not someone else – in order that the world might be changed).*
During the week, I meet with others for Morning Prayer. During this time, silence is, increasingly, my friend. It frees me from a number of problems with spoken prayer. On my worst days, I am tempted to craft a prayer so perfect that others will respect me. On my better days, I try to craft a prayer that is at least coherent – even though God knows our prayers before they are on our lips – only to be frustrated that someone else expresses a similar prayer before me. Then, a conundrum: if I pray, will my prayer be redundant? will it be taken as an implicit criticism of their prayer? Too easily, we slide from prayer into theological debate: and while theological debate should be done, and done prayerfully, at this moment it is a distraction.
Of course, these are introvert issues. But then there is extravert prayer: Lord, I, um just want to thank you, Lord, for um just Lord the way you just um… [Lord, have mercy on me, an introvert!]
I believe that everyone prays, regardless of what they believe about any deity.** That to be human is not so much a case of ‘I think; therefore I am’ as ‘I am; therefore I pray.’ This inherent prayer response is universal, and almost universally private – even taking account of cultures with strong practices of corporate liturgical prayer, such as Islamic societies. People pray, and will speak about prayer, but not pray out loud in front of others. And it strikes me that this is not because of a lack of skill, but because (skilled or unskilled) prayer is the most intimate expression of the human soul. It belongs under a cover – whether animal skins (Genesis) or a bridal gown (Revelation).
The Lord’s Prayer gives us a distinctive structure for prayer, a structure that provides skill where skill is needed. But perhaps we do violence against our neighbour and ourselves where we ask people to bare their soul, to articulate the prayer of their heart before anyone other than God? If we are to follow Jesus, we do better to teach others how they ought to pray than to draw them into our prayer life – or trespass upon theirs.
*Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks’ introduction ‘Understanding Jewish Prayer’ in the Authorised Daily Prayer Book of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth is a must-read on prayer.
**While at theological college I wrote an essay on prayer engaging a series of interviews French philosopher Jacques Derrida gave about his prayer life. I can’t remember how it was marked, but it was perhaps the essay I most enjoyed writing.