Thursday, June 18, 2009

Good Stuff of Blogging: but I must be moving on

"One needs to know Aristotle and Plato. One needs it desperately. One must have Leopold and Pascal. Must! I mean desperately,"

says Maya Angelou,

"if one is to be at ease anywhere."

And she adds:

"One should have read the African folk tale to see what the West African calls deep thinking. One must worry over ideas that if I come forward how far do we have to go before we meet? And when we meet will I go through you and you go through me and continue until we meet somewhere else? This is an African concept. Do we stay once we meet or do I actually go right through you and pass through you and continue on that road. Is that what life is?"

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I wonder if Maya Angelou would blog with us. I doubt Aristotle would.

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Here's something I've wanted to say for some time:

You matter. Do you believe that? You are important regardless of how you may have been abused, silenced, neglected, or ignored.

Did you know that Aristotle completely ignored some people? Why is our knowing that so important? Isn't it because often we look to powerful people (like Aristotle) to justify or to excuse behaviors?

Yes, Aristotle in all of the many many things he wrote never once mentioned Aspasia. This is quite an omission considering the fact that Aristotle wrote lots of things about lots of people (and even a few things about just a few women, a few of whom he managed to name). It's also peculiar that Aristotle would neglect writing anything whatsoever about Aspasia because so many others who impressed Aristotle actually wrote and talked about how impressed they were by her. These other men include Plato, Aristophanes, Xenophon, and Pericles. Of course, they did acknowledge that she was not Athenian, not even Greek properly; was not a man; and was not even a woman who was married but was perhaps a woman who took money for sex with many men; was not a philosopher but was, rather, a mere rhetorician who took money for speeches she wrote and for rhetoric she taught. So the story goes. But Aristotle, perhaps characteristically, gives Aspasia the silent treatment. I say "perhaps characteristically" because he says so much more about men than he does about women. And he names his most famous treatise on ethics after his father and his son, both named Nikomachus; but he never does anything like that for his mother Phaestis or his concubine (second wife) Herpyllis who bore him his son or his wife Pythias who bore him only a daughter, whom he named Pythias after her mother. Then, again, he studied males and females very carefully and concluded by his logic that females are defective males. When, then, should he write anything about Aspasia? Aspasia does matter. Do you believe that? Aspasia is important not just because a few men did write a history of her once upon a time. Socrates and Jesus and Rahab and Sarah, for example, are not important only because a few men who knew them included them in their histories. Aspasia is important because she considered others important too. She taught Pericles, we're told. She taught Socrates the famous dialectic method, some have observed, the method of investigation and classroom learning in much of the world, starting in the Western world.

Writing Aspasia into history as mainly a prostitute, or writing her out of history altogether, diminishes the value of her contributions to you. In other words, she really may matter to you. And you do matter.

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Didn't you just love it when James McGrath said: "I'm tempted to go into Hebrews mode and say 'Time will not permit us to mention. . . '"? And then he goes on, just like the writer of Hebrews 11 does, and lists a number of others for us to read or to read about.

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Have you taken time to read Christine de Pizan's Le Livre de la Cite des Dames (The Book of the City of Ladies, 1405)?

Or Christine's Livre de Trois Vertus or Le Tresor de la Cite des Dames (The Book of Three Virtues or The Book of the Treasury of Ladies)?

Are you familiar with why Laura Cereta wrote to Bibulus Sempronius? And who the women listed therein are? Or the reasons Laura wrote other letters naming women ignored?

Do you know how many women in U.S. history have run for president? Can you name six? Or three of them? Why does Elizabeth Cady Stanton say that man cannot speak for woman? And why does Karlyn Kohrs Campbell repeat that, why does she have to repeat that, in four volumes of the previously unwritten histories of women? Have you read even one?

Did you realize that women count in Bible translation? And have you been able to count many?

What must Rachel Barenblat mean by Head by Head?

Have you listened to women speaking out in the blogosphere? Read Suzanne's must-read list?

Not much of a reader, you say? Well then. Would you listen in on Carolyn James today (starting this Friday June 19, 2009) as she speaks with radio host Anita Lustrea and Nancy Kane (Associate Professor of Educational Ministries at Moody Bible Institute) on Lost Women of the Bible?

Any good ideas why "For the past twenty-five hundred years in Western culture, the ideal woman has been disciplined by cultural codes that require a closed mouth (silence), a closed body (chastity), and an enclosed life (domestic confinement)" or how and why Cheryl Glenn has to chronicle this history of yours and mine?

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I'm still enjoying Ken Brown's book meme. Funny thing is, I was right on the cusp of stopping blogging altogether and forever, again, when Daniel and Tonya tagged me. Funny, one of their posts a while back taunted me back into blogging. Theirs and one or two of Joel Watts (aka Polycarp). And, ironically, one post by the now-sadly departed N. T. Wrong. I respect, and envy, former bloggers like N.T. Wright and Iyov. I had in fact never wanted to blog after graduate school. It's not that I can't continue reading desperately, (-as Maya Angelou does-), and still continue blogging too. It's that there are too many face-to-face relationships and self-transformation issues within these relationships, really, that blogging, for me anyway, can steal away from. I think I'm reading her "African folk tale." So don't get me started on the inefficiencies and absolute unproductivity of online arguing. I know (I think) why David Ker resists the memes these days despite several of us now (I've noticed) tagging him. I'm looking forward to seeing whether he relents. (UPDATE: Ha! Funny hippo, he's doing two memes at a time after muttering something about the insides of mutts and about Facebook.) And I'm looking forward to seeing if others tagged follow through. And I'm tagging Polycarp [Mr. Watts, How did I miss this post of yours? - thanks for the tag and the kind words - so I'm getting you back here :) ], Bob McDonald, Carolyn James, Rachel Barenblat, Hugo Schwyzer, Philip Sumpter, and Julia O'Brien - although I know some of you have already tagged at least two of these bloggers and at least two are away on summer vacations. Ken's meme started here.

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UPDATE OR ADDENDUM OR WHATEVER.

SOMEONE PLEASE ADVISE ME HOW TO STOP BLOGGING WHEN...

Sometimes it feels like there aren't enough teaspoons in the world.

and when...

some are "now less concerned with sexism" as "documented at length in The Death of Feminism. What’s Next in the Struggle for Women’s Freedom."

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If you're not reading a crime novel (and I'm not - just finished Jodi Picoult's My Sister's Keeper and she made me cry at least twice, all too close to home in my real life here), then don't stop reading just yet.

Just this evening or morning (where ever you are now), Jane Stranz blesses us by confessing something many of us may feel with her:

I fear I may think I'm writing a sermon - I did say speaking personally is not easy for me! I suppose I could say this - not being perfect, being aware of my responsibilities and limitations, always thinking about what I have not done ... weighs heavily on my mind and body, however, I do also have a great capacity to enjoy life.
My main problem tonight - I haven't got a crime novel to read!

5 comments:

Jane said...

Merci JK
Finalement je suis au boulot à la fin d'encore une semaine assez pénible - J'ai besoin de lire une peu de Fred Vargas je pense ...
bises
Jane

John Radcliffe said...

So many books, so little time.

And of course there are all those "distractions": things I want or need to do (such as eat, sleep, work; cut the grass, shop for food, clean the house; go to church, have a good conversation, put other people right; process my holiday photos, watch a good film, share a joke or laugh one on TV; read the occasional blog; etc, etc, etc).

Of course, I could just not buy any more until I catch up. Then again, I don't think I could do that. If it came to the crunch, I guess I'd probably spend my last few pounds on one last book rather than one last meal.

But then, didn't someone once say: "Human beings can't live on just bread"?

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I doubt that our reading lists much overlap, but if *I* was asked what my most valued book of all time is (which isn't actually what you were asked), I just might say, "Mary Grosvenor's, A Grammatical Analysis of the Greek New Testament". I don't use it a lot these days, but that's just because it's already well digested from many years of past use.

Some day I'd like to be able to thank her in person, but as it seems she died in 1991 it won't be in this life. Here's what the publisher's blurb has to say about her:

"Mary Grosvenor's … linguistic interests began in 1925 when she published A Colloquial English-Chinese Pocket Dictionary in the Hankow Dialect. She was awarded the McCaul Prize for Hebrew and the Trench prize for Greek upon graduating B.D. from King College's Faculty of Theology in 1937. She worked on the compilation of the Patristic Greek Lexicon at Oxford University Press before beginning on the English adaptation of [Max Zerwick's] Analysis philoigica Novi Testamenti, a project that would eventually take her nine years to complete."

hebrewandgreekreader said...

We hope you don't quit posting. You're a daily stop on our digital outing everyday.

T&D

J. K. Gayle said...

Your comments, Jane, and yours, John, are much appreciated!

J. K. Gayle said...

Thanks D&T. Ours is a mutual admiration club!!! (To others & other nondigital places, nonetheless, I'm having to go. Thanks for the several conversations.)