A new post from Canadian in USA!
About this whole “Handmaid’s Tale” thing…I’ve been giving this a lot of thought. So, here is my opinion – take from it what you will:
I haven’t read Margaret Atwood’s book but I watched the movie released in 1990 (when it came on VHS – yeah, I know that’s dating me). The movie “The Handmaid’s Tale” is a film adaptation of the book by Margaret Atwood. As per IMDB: “In a dystopicly polluted rightwing religious tyranny, a young woman is put in sexual slavery on account of her now rare fertility.” The movie stars Natasha Richardson as Kate (or “Offred” as she is renamed by those in charge). Kate is a criminal, guilty of the crime of trying to escape from the US, and is sentenced to become a Handmaid. Robert Duvall is “The Commander” and is married to Serena Joy (played by Faye Dunaway). After her “training”, Kate/Offred is sent to The Commander to be a “slave” to bring about the Commander’s baby.
Interestingly, the story focuses on the differing of classes: those considered “legitimate” and those considered “illegitimate”. Women have no control of their bodies and, if they step out of line, they are killed. Religious leaders must perform the ceremonies to designate women as “Handmaids” or be killed and their bodies publically put on the “Wall”. Words like “sterile” are forbidden.
What struck me about this movie is how the book/movie twisted Biblical passages to fit their narrative. For example, when Kate is “offered” as a “Handmaid” with the other women, the Priest declares: “Behold, the Handmaidens of the Lord!” This really offends me: the statement “Behold, the handmaid of the Lord” was the statement Mary declared when she was told she was chosen to bear Jesus. And that’s the key: Mary (and Joseph) had a choice. Either of them could have said, “no” and then history would have played out differently. Instead, they took a leap of faith and Mary gave birth to the One to save the world from their sins. They chose to allow God to work through them and, in doing so, brought about our salvation.
Margaret Atwood wrote this book in the 1980’s (at the time of Reagan) based on what she “saw” as the cultural and religious trends in the United States, especially sighting Pat Robertson and his criticism of the “Feminist Movement”. She believes that religion would be used to subjugate rights and bring about a dictatorship. She even goes as far and argues that the modern view of the Puritans—that they came to America to flee religious persecution in England and set up a religiously tolerant society—is misled, but that instead, these Puritan leaders wanted to establish a monolithic theocracy where religious dissent would not be accepted. (Sources taken from an interview with her about ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ – it can be found on the Wikipedia site for the book.)
What Margaret Atwood proposes is the exact opposite of what she surmises: most Christians I know are more inclined to fight for freedom of choice. Women and men have the right to choose their path. We hope and pray they will make the choice to be responsible parents (and we do what we can to help them). Sadly, we also know that some women will choose to terminate their pregnancy out of convenience (and then flaunt it on Twitter or other social media). But that is the side-effect of free will – we are given the right to choose.
Choice…love…it’s all given freely. It allows us to truly give our love to others and to God. Coercion is the exact opposite – it means people are forced into “choices”. Even God knew this: He could have made us to worship Him without choice, but He gave us a choice so that our worship and love we give Him are conscious choices. Love, given freely, is more meaningful than coerced love.
It is not Christians who want to take away the right to speak or block certain words. It isn’t Christians that want women put under burqas or their rights taken away. It isn’t Christians who are trying to separate people between “legitimate” and “illegitimate”. But, once again, we see the “Christian hating” left projecting their hatred onto Christians and “the right”. Even Jesus warned us about this:
John 15: 18-20: “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’b If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.
So, what do we do? We do what Jesus told us to do: we love them and pray for them. We have open dialogue with those who want to listen. We continue to show why life is better than death. And no matter what women choose, when they are hurting because they realize what they’ve done and regret it, we love them.
Margaret Atwood was recently quoted in saying that, “’The Handmaid’s Tale’… Under Trump ‘This Might Actually Happen’” (taken from a headline from the Daily Beast). The additional by-line reads: “There’s a reason why Trump supporters are not looking forward to Hulu’s adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale.”
Ironically, most on the left take this as Gospel.