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Women of Christ Anonymous

by Morrigan


For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God. (Deuteronomy 4:24, NIV)

"turn the other cheek," says ma,
wafer pages whipping in her soft voice.
the girls at church know better than me
how to be perfect wives for jesus,
how to make their mouse brown hair into wild horse manes,
and they speak my iniquities out of sisterly love.
i submit again and agree; i roll over to their dominance.

a woman's hair is her glory,
says corinthians, but beauty
fades with time.
"a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised."

i learn to pray at church camp,
and wish i could speak tongues
like the other devout kids. i do not have the courage
to pass gibberish as angels' speech,
but feel my stomach turn in fear as the girls in my cabin
speak to god in his language.

"god will always love you," says ma,
and i know if i do not love him back,
he will drown me in a lake of fire.
jesus tells me no one will love me
the way he does, that his love is beyond
my minuscule understanding. he tells me
that everything i do is his plan.
i give him my credentials, all my accomplishments--
he sees even the sins that are to come,
and because i love him, he wants ten percent.
my clothes should not tempt my christian brothers,
for this body is his,
and he tells me that i should be grateful
that he doesn't send me to hell.

sisters, pack your things and flee--
he says he forgives your sins, but now you're indebted.
there is no man for you here. the scriptures
speak true. he is a jealous god.

If you’re being mentally and emotionally abused, trust your instincts. Know that it isn’t right and you don’t have to live this way.


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Tue Jul 14, 2020 8:24 am
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SidPorter1 wrote a review...



A nicely written poem, I like the expressions used but I hate the way the poem lacked direction and I also hated the way it seemed propaganda. I am not saying propaganda because of the themes talked about, I'm saying this because your poem doesn't give the reader room to think. That's the problem I find with your poem but I understand your poem because I can relate to the life of a Christian.
Nice work




Morrigan says...


Please point out an example how this is propaganda and not my personal experience. And it%u2019s obviously making you think, so I%u2019m not sure what you mean by room to think.
Try backing up your dislikes with specific examples so the writer knows how to improve.



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Sun Jul 12, 2020 9:51 am
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PenguinAttack wrote a review...



Hi Morrigan!

I see you have two interesting reviews on this work - and another review also. I thought I'd pop by and throw my two cents into the ring.

I think this is a very interesting poem that slinks around and in between a complex facet of Christianity, one which you could say is inherent in 'church' culture.

The line that really doesn't work for me at the moment is "and because I love him, he wants ten percent." - I think because I feel it should be "because he loves me", this is harkening to a financial abuse system, of course, and if you meant it to mean that "I" am indebted to Him through love and thus owe, in the way many financial abusers expect the victim to give them everything because they "love" them - I'm actually 100% behind your original wording. If you're talking about tithing just as a "proof" of love, I think the line needs some twisting still - maybe that because love is priceless? I'm thinking it through as I write, as so many of my reviews used to be!

I particularly love your final two lines, the enjambment here is delicious and makes me all thrilled inside. "there is no man for you here." there is no man for them at the church, "there is no man for you here. the scriptures" yessss there is no man for them in the scriptures also. "the scriptures/speak true" yessss nice. "speak true. he is a jealous god." yesss, what an excellent end to your poem. Cyclical and very punchy. I love good enjambment.

Overall your poem doesn't punch hard for me, it is strong and has some really great lines, but I think it is slightly too mired in personal experience? This I feel mostly for the hair stanza, it is a good stanza but sticks out for me as just a little disconnected from the rest of the poem, maybe because while I can see why it is there, I don't feel it being there? Your poem rests on feeling and no fact, no logic lives in this poem, it is all emotion. I really like that, because it blends really nicely. Maybe if you combine it with another "ma" moment, perhaps a hand on your head, a brushing moment? I'm not sure, but it needs something more to make it more. I'm also half in/half out about the clothes line. I suppose together the clothes and the hair are the visual representations of this constant emotional manipulation so prevalent in Christian churches. Maybe shift the clothes line up to just before the fear quote, so that it is a carry on in concept? I'd think about these two things, they're the weakest moments in a strong poem.

Thanks for sharing, I really enjoyed reading!
-Pen




Morrigan says...


PINGU %u2764%uFE0F thank you so much! I will take your advice to heart %u2764%uFE0F



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Fri Jul 10, 2020 11:56 pm
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Magebird wrote a review...



Hi, @Morrigan! It's been a hot minute since I've reviewed and an even longer minute since I've reviewed poetry, but I wanted to try my hand at reviewing this poem.

As a little preface to my review: I went to church up until high school. My experience thankfully didn't involve any of the things that you mentioned - there were only a few kids my age in my church, and they were all boys - so I can't personally relate. But since I left church, I've become very much aware of how there's much more serious criticisms of Christian culture than being bored while waiting for Sunday school. Since this poem is so inherently tied to experiences with religion, I wanted to let you know what lens I was approaching it through.

To begin this review, I wanted to start with the opening line:

For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God. (Deuteronomy 4:24, NIV)[


Having read the entire poem before writing this review, I really love how you started out the piece with this line. I'm always a fan of quotes at the beginning of any kind of literary work - they always give insight into the work's theme. This quote works especially well because it's lifted from the bible. It grounds the envy highlighted throughout the poem into a religious canon, if that makes any sense.

"turn the other cheek," says ma,
wafer pages whipping in her soft voice.


There's always something chilling about a parent saying to avoid an issue instead of fighting it - especially considering what is described in the other stanzas. It works as the perfect transition from the biblical quote to the rest of the poem.

the girls at church know better than me
how to be perfect wives for jesus


I love how this is the reader's introduction to what every Christian girl should aspire to become - it highlights the serious problem Christianity has with treating women as their own religious individuals. Instead, girls (which, considering they're not even old enough to [i]be married yet) are reduced to be "married" to Jesus. I've never realized how uncomfortable that wording makes me feel until I read those two lines.

a woman's hair is her glory,
says corinthians, but beauty
fades with time.


This part really drives home the point that I mentioned in the last paragraph. The first thing mentioned in this stanza is a physical attribute, rather than something internal.

"a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised."


I love the capitalization here! The line reminds me of something I learned in my online Latin class, but I'll save that for the comments of this review - I don't want to take away the focus from your work.

i learn to pray at church camp,
and wish i could speak tongues
like the other devout kids. i do not have the courage
to pass gibberish as angels' speech,
but feel my stomach turn in fear as the girls in my cabin
speak to god in his language.


This stanza isn't as clear to me, but I'm assuming that's because we've had very different experiences with religion - I don't even remember there being a church camp available at my church.

But I do love the way you show the speaker struggling to live up to the actions of the other girls - something I'm sure the other girls secretly felt as well.

"god will always love you," says ma,
and i know if i do not love him back,
he will drown me in a lake of fire.


This line gives me serious Old Testament vibes, and reminds me of how much I struggled with the conflicting accounts of what God is like in the Old Testament compared to the New Testament as I got older. My church experience failed to really focus on the more negative aspects of the bible, and this line perfectly captures what I wish had been acknowledged back then.

jesus tells me no one will love me
the way he does, that his love is beyond
my minuscule understanding.


I know I've spent most of this review gushing about your poem, but I really love this part. You keep opening my eyes to new ways someone could view religion.

And I love that.

my clothes should not tempt my christian brothers,
for this body is his,


I admit I wasn't expecting this line, given the stanzas that came before it, but it fits perfectly with your critique of Christianity's interactions with gender. This is one of those arguments that I've always hated even when it's taken out of a religious context, so I really appreciate you bringing it up here. Your poem would feel incomplete if you didn't bring it up.

sisters, pack your things and flee--
he says he forgives your sins, but now you're indebted.


I'm not sure if I feel like this needs to be expanded or not, but I love the "making a deal with the devil" vibe here. It's an amazing way to highlight the hypocrisy. I'd love to see another poem that focuses more on that someday - if you don't write it, I might just write it myself. :)

there is no man for you here. the scriptures
speak true. he is a jealous god.


I haven't really had a problem with your line breaks up until this point, but I almost feel like these three sentences should be their own separate lines. Something like either of the two options down below:

there is no man for you here.
the scriptures
speak true.
he is a jealous god.


there is no man for you here.
the scriptures speak true.
he is a jealous god.


The way you currently separated the lines breaks the flow of the stanza. The other alternative I can see is this one:

there is no man for you here. the scriptures
speak true.
he is a jealous god.


I'm not as big of a fan of it, but I feel like it still has part of the original break you used while also putting emphasis on that final "he is a jealous god" line.

Before I finish off this review, there's one last thing I'd like to talk about regarding this poem: the title. While it's an amazing title, I'm not really sure it fits the current way your poem is written. I do love how it unifies Christian women and hints at their oppression, but it feels off when compared to the poem.

I think part of the reason might be that it follows the rules of capitalization while the rest of the poem doesn't. If you really love the title and want to keep it, I think it would work great if it was all in lowercase - with Christ maybe capitalized at the beginning in reference to the completely capitalized LORD you slipped in. The juxtaposition of uppercase Christ and lowercase women/anonymous would help to show the submissiveness of Christian women.

Alternatively, if you follow the suggestion @Stringbean left in their review, you could do something that relates to mothers - I'm not entirely sure what would work best, but "says ma" is the first thing that comes to mind.

All in all, I really love this poem! I really need to read more of your poetry - it always blows me away.




Morrigan says...


THANK YOU SO MUCH <3
I really appreciate your note about the line break and the title. Honestly, I agonized over the title for a long time. To be honest, I didn't want the title to give away too much about the contents, but also to show that it's about religion. I'm gonna do some more brainstorming on that. You're SUPER. Thank you <3



Magebird says...


You're welcome! I'm glad my review could help. <3

I was actually meaning to reply to your reply since you left it, but I forgot to do it when I finally had a chance to. The thing I wanted to mention from my online class was the meaning of the word piety. I could have sworn the word it's based off of meant God-fearing, but I haven't been able to find the definition online or in my Latin notes. But it was a really interesting connection, seeing that the gods I was learning about back then were Roman gods. Fearing deities is apparently something that's pretty rooted in human history, and it looks like we haven't moved past that yet - even though we like to think we have. :)



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Magebird says...



I'm having dinner in a few minutes so I can't leave a review on this just yet, but I plan on finishing the one I've already started after I finish eating - I really love this poem and wanted to leave a review that will hopefully do it justice. :)




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Fri Jul 10, 2020 6:39 pm
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Stringbean wrote a review...



Hi Morrigan!

This is an interesting poem and I think the tone and meaning come across clearly. Overall, I'd say it's nicely written, so I'll just point out a few specifics that I think work well or that could maybe be improved.

The first thing that strikes me right away when I start reading this is that there is an almost total lack of capitalization. However, I'm not entirely sure what the purpose of that is. Looking back and taking a closer look, I think it maybe makes the speaker seem smaller, like a small, suppressed voice speaking more to themselves than to other people. Is that what you were going for with breaking the capitalization rules?

Overall, I can understand the lines and meaning pretty clearly. I'm not sure what this line means though: "how to make their mouse brown hair into wild horse manes." Is it possibly just a reference I'm not getting? Also, I noticed the idea/image of hair is repeated shortly after. Is that significant? If they are connected in some special way, perhaps you could play that up a little more?

I really like the poetic quality of these lines three lines in particular. I don't know, they just stand out to me. I think possibly because they are shorter and more rhythmic than most of the rest of the poem:
"a woman's hair is her glory,
says corinthians, but beauty
fades with time."
When I read it, I kind of have to pause after "but beauty" so it reads for me something like, "but beauty... fades with time." I like that. It puts emphasis on the word beauty and the ideas going with it, and also then draws more focus to the part following, "fades with time," highlighting the contradiction the lines present and giving it a more contemplative, thoughtful tone.

I think your last stanza is impactful. The turning of the quote against itself really drives home the differing perspective the speaker is taking on the topic. The stanza also brings the reader back around to the idea of "sisters," and laces together the major themes of "strings attached" and maybe trickery, possibly some female servitude, blindness...

I also like that there's the repeated use of "says ma" with some commonly known Christian phrasings. Repeating it helps hold the poem together I think, and since it's coming from a mother, it also helps build the idea of women and girls in the situation the poem presents. However, since it *is* repeated, that also makes me kind of expect there to be something a little more to it, some symbolism or a stronger recurring theme tied directly to the mother. Is the mother somehow more at the center of the speaker's struggle in this for instance? It seems like there could be some sense of that, but it isn't a really strong one, so I'm not sure.

Hope this helps! I'd be interested to see a second draft if you do one :)
-Stringbean




Morrigan says...


Thank you so much for your thoughts! I broke all those pesky capitalization rules because of the reason you mentioned, and I also wanted LORD to really stand out in the poem. Those three lines you mentioned are actually bible verses ahahahaha and tbh it's some real good literature. I appreciate that you told me the line break was effective there! I tried! I will definitely take a look and see how I can connect the idea of my mother more strongly to the poem. I wanted to have this idea of women in particular being oppressed by the core ideas of Christianity, and my mother was the reason the family went to church, so in my head, the ideas are already connected. Thank you for pointing out that the connection isn't apparent to others!
You're AWESOME. Thank you for this helpful review, and I'll tag you for sure when I edit this.



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Fri Jul 10, 2020 5:41 pm
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lelu says...



"turn the other cheek," says Mom,
"but call the police afterward.
I won't let my child be hurt with no justice to help her."
the girls at church seem better than me
at feeling love and saying all the buzzwords.
Jesus doesn't want wives, He wants friends,
but i've never been good at friends.
They talk. i listen.
i don't care what they want from me. i care what God wants.

"a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised."
i'm afraid of everything but Him.
i respect Him. is that enough?

not all the devout speak in tongues.
all have different gifts.
God is an equal opportunity employer.
he speaks all languages, even mine.
you need no interpreter.

"God will always love you," says Mom,
and i know if i do not love Him back,
i will not be with Him when i die.
He says the lake of fire is for death and the devil.
i'm not sure all of hell is fiery.
they call it hell because God is not there.
if i don't love Him, i don't have to be with Him.
fair enough.

Jesus tells me no one can love me the way He does,
that His infinite love is greater than my finite mind. He tells me
that all the bad things will be turned around for good,
that my will is free,
because He made me and my skills and talents free.
He forgives the sins that are to come,
and i am not under the law of tithing a tenth
but under grace, which means forgiveness.

i don't want boys to see my curves.
i want them to see me.
i want one to like me.
some people wear more, some wear less,
there's not really a code,
but your own judgment.
no one else's.

He is no jailer.
2020 years ago,
he went down to hell or wherever the dead went
and said "there is a new arrangement. if you choose,
follow Me.
I want you free."

what do i owe You?
"Love."
"i don't know how."
"I'll show you."
I see someone on a cross,
dripping blood and water.
The contempt i have always felt in the church
could not come from Him.

there is no chattering church kid
or carefully crafted boyfriend
for me here. the scriptures
speak true.
He wants me enough to die for me.
He is a jealous God.

sisters and brothers, pack your things and run--
we're free.




Morrigan says...


lol did you just rewrite my poem and miss the entire point lol



lelu says...


nah i saw that your poem was the answer to an important and valid question: "is God mean?" and I respectfully disagreed with your answer and presented the answer that i believe to be true so that the noble denizens of YWS can have different answers to choose from. Because Viewpoint Diversity and mutual respect is the mark of true freedom of expression. And I do have the utmost respect for you and your skill at writing, regardless of my disagreement with your worldview.



Morrigan says...


Though you%u2019re denying it, you did exactly what I said. In case you%u2019re new, this section is used for review, not a derivative piece of work. If you wanted to respond, you probably should have posted your own literary work instead of putting a review on this piece. You see, works in the Green Room are works that have fewer than two reviews on them, and are prioritized. By putting a review that is NOT a review on my work in the green room, you are increasing the likelihood that I won%u2019t get any advice on the literary quality of this work. Thankfully, other people were very helpful. This probably wasn%u2019t done maliciously, but it%u2019s insulting to simply rewrite the content without commenting on the literary quality of a piece.
You did not %u201CRESPECTFULLY disagree%u201D because you did not think of how writing this in the review section would impact the author. That isn%u2019t how respect works.



lelu says...


you're right, i probably should have put it somewhere else. I am not new here, I just didn't think far enough about the consequences of my actions. Which is something I need to work on. I DO respect you, I just didn't think far enough. I did NOT mean to rewrite your extremely well written poem or to take away attention from it or steal your thunder. Your writing has a strong impact, and I don't think I could take people's attention away from it if I tried. I'm really feeling stupid right now for putting it as a review. I didn't write it to take attention away from your personal experience. I wasn't saying "ugh Morrigan is so stupid, she thinks God is mean." I was saying "Morrigan had a bad experience in church culture and I can relate to some of those feelings of being judged by people in church, but I want to present an opposing viewpoint because this poem seems to tell people what to think and feel, not just what Morrigan thinks and feels." Again, I understand some of your feelings. I don't pretend to understand all of them, because I haven't been through whatever you've been through, but I do love your honesty and authenticity, not to mention the way the poem is composed. All of it is very well written.




There are those who say that life is like a book, with chapters for each event in your life and a limited number of pages on which you can spend your time. But I prefer to think that a book is like a life, particularly a good one, which is well to worth staying up all night to finish.
— Lemony Snicket