Susan started life as Miss James. These days she can make people stop in their tracks by saying she used to be a James. It is true because James is her maiden name but until she explains what she means many people get totally the wrong end of the stick and struggle to understand.
Faithful Ladies CAN Transform Society is published under a pen name. Slater is her maternal grandmother’s maiden name and Morris is her paternal grandmother’s maiden name.
The journey from Susan James to Susan Slater Morris
In between those two names is a married name that is still the name she uses for everyday purposes. Married life was not kind to Susan. Most of us know the story of the young woman who kissed a frog and it turned into Prince Charming. Sadly Susan’s experience is that she married Prince Charming but it was not long before he turned into a toad.
She was wondering what her life had become 26 days after getting married but it took 26 years before that marriage finally came to an end. Life became a matter of trying to survive in difficult circumstances. Divorce was out of the question until God actually organised it for her.
Yes, that is right He made sure it happened. Susan had become so frustrated with her life that she screamed at God that she was stuck and wanted to get unstuck so that she could serve Him better. Looking back it was what He had wanted for a long time but she had got in the way thinking that was the best thing to do.
Her faith journey
As a little girl she had gone to Sunday school. Her main memory was taking the strip of carpet off the pew then kneeling on the floor so she could put the paper on the pew and write a word or colour in the picture.
After moving house she started a new school and one of the things that the headmistress insisted that everyone had was a modern translation of the New Testament. The atmosphere was pro-God but not pushy in terms of building faith.
The thing that made a difference was going to senior school. Some of the older girls i.e. 17-18 year olds decided to start a Christian Union for the younger ones i.e. 12-13 year olds. They talked about God and Jesus and made it easy to get hold of Scripture Union Bible Notes. In one of those booklets, there was a “sinner’s prayer”. She forgot about that and years later she said when God did I become part of your family she was reminded of it. It was quiet and unremarkable.
Church was for grown ups not teenagers. A dry as dust liturgy driven parish church was not a place for a teenager to thrive. One of the ideas she picked up at the Christian Union was that if she ever had a chance to go and hear Billy Graham then she should take advantage of it. After she was married and chruch had become a distant memory she was invited to go and hear him speak. That was her fresh start.
A fresh start that first took her to the Methodist church. One lady had known her late sister in law and had heard her speak of the family she had married into. Looking back it would have been better to have heeded the warning. She closed her ears to that warning and joined the Baptist church.
Since then she has been a member of two other Baptist churches after moving house. She also attended a lively Anglican church for a few months and a Pentecostal church for a year or two.
These days she would call herself a post-charismatic who wants to live out every word of the Bible. Yes, every word even those tough passages.
The journey to the realisation that this was a good idea started when she had been stuck down with financial anorexia. If you have not heard of that it has some similarities to food-based anorexia in that she believed that doing what is right and normal for other people is wrong for you.
In her case, it started due to the constant pressure from Prince Charming not to spend money. Money was tight for various reasons and Susan felt as if she was being blamed for making it worse by the struggle she had cutting back on her spending.
It got so bad that she scoffed at the tips she read on how to be thrifty as many of them still seemed to reflect a lifestyle of overspending. She would only buy the cheapest of vegetables. Broccoli was a luxury as were most of the cheap cuts of meat.
One day her mum commented that she had some new clothes and asked where they came from. She listed a number of charity shops. Her mum was horrified that her daughter was reduced to buying other people’s cast offs. Susan on the other hand was thankful she had enough spare cash to actually buy any clothes at all.
Financial anorexia drove Susan to learn more and more about how to live more frugally. Many of those who promoted that lifestyle did so as part of a journey of getting out of debt. The aim was to develop a punishing regime that would eventually lead to them repaying their debts. After all, they deserved to be punished for getting into debt in the first place.
There are two ways of getting out of debt i.e. decreasing spending and increasing income. More and more she saw people promoting the idea of setting up a business on the side to increase their income. Some even managed to grow the business enough to replace what they earned from a job and did not stop there but ended up having an income much greater than they ever would have had from a job. This started to look to be a way out.
Business helps the community
Once the idea that business could help people took root the next stage on the journey was to realise that setting up a business could help the community. That again was a gradual realisation.
Eventually, she reached the point where she realised that people of faith should be doing more to help others and that the best way of doing that was to by building up businesses. In fact, she even wrote another book about that i.e. The Manifesto that is NOT for Wimps.
The first step on that journey was a strange revelation about cemeteries. She knew that in the early days of Queen Victoria’s reign the rapid expansion of towns had resulted in tremendous pressure on existing procedures for burying the dead. The consequences of that pressure were so horrific that even a government that thought that interfering in local affairs realised something had to be done. The end result was a new procedure that made it possible for groups of local worthies to gather together in the form of Burial Boards that took responsibility for ensuring their community had somewhere that could be used to bury the dead.
Before the Burial Boards the church had taken on that role but it had not been able to respond to the rapid changes in society. Instead of being buried in the old churchyard, it became possible to be buried in new cemeteries that were not directly connected to the church.
The church had not been able to meet that need so the government made it easier for others to do it instead. It was a slippery slope. The church did not do well so others took over then the church retreated a bit more. It was not just cemeteries but other ways of serving the community.
The church and business
Education, health and social care not forgetting poor relief were all once largely the responsibility of the church. All of them are now largely the responsibility of the government, well at least they are here in the UK. The Manifesto that is NOT for Wimps is a call for Christians to step up and take up their place serving the community.
As the manifesto says a church that depends on charity and does not train or encourage its members to set up businesses will struggle to fulfil all the biblical expectations of what they are supposed to do for society. What does the Proverbs 31 woman do? She sets up a business that meets the needs of others.
The two books i.e. The Manifesto that is NOT for Wimps and Faithful Ladies CAN Transform Society go together very well. It is the fact that Faithful Ladies CAN Transform Society that makes it possible to work towards putting the Manifesto that is NOT for Wimps into practice.