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Freedom Song: Faith, Abuse, Music and Spirituality

A Lived Experience of Celebration


June Boyce-Tillman

This book is an autobiographical account of the development of an authentic interiority. It charts the way in which the Christian faith in which the author was enculturated was refined by her lived experience of music, abuse, forgiveness, interfaith dialogue, gender and vocation (into teaching and priesthood). The author describes how music and spirituality can create a route into forgiveness by creatively transforming («mulching») childhood abuse into celebration. Her work challenges established therapeutic models and suggests a variety of alternative tools, including created ritual.

The volume is set out as a series of meditations on the themes contained in the Lord’s Prayer; it can be read in separate sections, as well as in its totality. The author’s life is perceived as a crystal that can be viewed through various lenses, illustrated by different styles of writing. These include narrative accounts written in a personal style; hymns, songs and poems that condense her thinking around a theme; and more academic reflection, using other people’s writing and experiences to understand her own.

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Chapter 11: Our Daily Bread: Food


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Our Daily Bread: Food


I sit looking at a menu in a hotel on a Greek island. What is tzatziki made of? Why did I not bring my Weightwatchers table with me that would tell me how many points it was? I tried to remember what it was made of. Was it cheese? Or perhaps it was sesame? Were seeds high or low? Oh no, I had to eat something. And so the dilemma of weight loss, that had plagued me all my life, pursued me, like the ancient Furies on a remote Greek island. Food had always been a dilemma – ever since those first hungry weeks when – ravenously hungry – I had been left to cry.


My mother had been advised to follow the regime initiated by Dr Truby King on feeding every four hours, which was inappropriate for a baby born three months premature. When I had more control, I decided not to eat anything but milk. This caused the long mealtimes in which my mother asked me to watch the little red aeroplane go down in the little red lane. I watched the distant spoon approaching and then brought my teeth together, just as it reached my mouth, so that the spoon crashed into them. How I loved that sound, that sense of power! I remember being hawked from doctor to doctor, to whom my mother expressed her anxiety that I...

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