I am not usually that big on mourning public figures, and am an atheist to boot, but I am saddened by the untimely death of Jill Saward, survivor of the Ealing vicarage rape in 1986, at 51. I usually – not invariably – supported her various stands on treatment of sexual assault victims, and admired her courage. In point of fact, her Christian faith and involvement with Christian communities seems to have been a mixed blessing in Saward’s own life, but for myself as a long-time student of sexual shame and status related to marriage prospects for women (as well as modern status forms attached to education, employment, consumer goods, etc.,) I reckon Jill Saward deserves a significant place in world history in her own right.

Thinking of Christians and their confusions in a sinful world turns the mind also to the issue of persecution of Christians in the Levant and the Near East. The Syrian war has raised an interesting new question here: Now that Russia is a leading player in the region, and the Russian Orthodox church has returned to a powerful place, will Russia take a lead in protecting these threatened Christians (besides backing Assad)? I await developments.

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