Thursday, March 31, 2011

For Him Who Has Ears to Hear

May I give the floor now... to the wife of Leonidas
and queen of Sparta.

- What's this?
- This is nothing.

I stand before you
not only as your queen.
I come to you as a mother.
I come to you as a wife.
I come to you as a Spartan woman.
I come to you with great humility.

I am not here to represent Leonidas.
His actions speak louder
than my words ever could.

I am here for all those voices
which cannot be heard.
Mothers, daughters, fathers, sons.
Three hundred families
that bleed for our rights
and for the very principles
this room was built upon.


The king held out the golden sceptre to Esther,
and Esther rose and stood before the king. She said,

‘If it pleases the king,
and if I have won his favour,
and if the thing seems right before the king,
and I have his approval,
let an order be written
to revoke the letters devised
by Haman son of Hammedatha the Agagite,
which he wrote giving orders
to destroy the Jews
who are in all the provinces of the king.
For how can I bear to see
the calamity that is coming on my people?
Or how can I bear to see
the destruction of my kindred?’

ויושט המלך לאסתר את שרבט הזהב ותקם אסתר
ותעמד לפני המלך
ותאמר אם־
על־המלך טוב ואם־מצאתי חן לפניו
וכשר הדבר לפני המלך
וטובה אני בעיניו יכתב להשיב את
־הספרים מחשבת המן בן־
־המדתא האגגי אשר כתב לאבד את־היהודים אשר בכל־
מדינות המלך

כי איככה אוכל
וראיתי ברעה אשר
־ימצא את־
עמי ואיככה אוכל
וראיתי באבדן מולדתי

ἐξέτεινεν δὲ ὁ βασιλεὺς Εσθηρ τὴν ῥάβδον τὴν χρυσῆν
ἐξηγέρθη δὲ Εσθηρ παρκέναι τῷ βασιλεῖ
καὶ εἶπεν Εσθηρ

εἰ δοκεῖ σοι καὶ εὗρον χάριν
πεμφθήτω ἀποστραφῆναι
τὰ γράμματα τὰ ἀπεσταλμένα ὑπὸ Αμαν
τὰ γραφέντα ἀπολέσθαι τοὺς Ιουδαίους
οἵ εἰσιν ἐν τῇ βασιλείᾳ σου

πῶς γὰρ δυνήσομαι ἰδεῖν
τὴν κάκωσιν τοῦ λαοῦ μου
καὶ πῶς δυνήσομαι σωθῆναι
ἐν τῇ ἀπωλείᾳ τῆς πατρίδος μου

So the king held out the golden rod to Esther,
and Esther rose and stood before the king.
And Esther said,

"If it pleases you and if I have found favor,
let an order be dispatched to revoke
the letters sent by Haman,
which were written to destroy the Judeans
who are in your kingdom.

For how can I bear to see
the suffering of my people?
And how can I bear to be saved
amidst the destruction of my lineage?"





Tuesday, March 29, 2011

To Use Hitler's Deutsche, Aristotle's ἑλληνίζειν

Den gewaltigsten Gegensatz zum Arier bildet der Jude.
The mightiest counterpart to the Aryan is represented by the Jew.

So glaube ich heute im Sinne des allmächtigen Schöpfers zu handeln: Indem ich mich des Juden erwehre, kämpfe ich für das Werk des Herrn.
Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will if the Almighty Creator: by resisting the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord..

Denn ein rassereines Volk, das sich seines Blutes bewußt ist, wird vom Juden niemals unterjocht werden können. Er wird auf dieser Welt ewig nur der Herr von Bastarden sein.
For a racially pure people which is conscious of its blood can never be enslaved by the Jew. In this world he will forever be master over bastards alone
--Adolf Hitler

τὸ γὰρ θῆλυ ὥσπερ ἄρρεν ἐστὶ πεπηρωμένον·
The female is, in fact, as it were, a mutilated male.

Hence it is manifest that all the persons mentioned have a moral virtue of their own, and that the temperance (sophrosyne [σωφροσύνη]) of a woman (gunaikos [γυναικὸς]) and that of a man  (andros [ἀνδρός]) are not the same, nor their courage and justice, as Socrates thought, but the one is the courage of command, and the other that of subordination, and the case is similar with the other virtues.
Why would anyone want to use Aristotle's words or Hitler's?  What if you're a Jewish woman?

My wife, who works in words as a professional writer, recently shared with me the ways some women, in fact, have well appropriated not only Aristotle's words but also his advice about how to use them persuasively.  Look here:

Aristotle’s Ancient Guide to Compelling Copy

and here:

What Aristotle Taught Us About Web Content Development

My spouse was actually endorsing what Amy Harrison and Elise Redlin-Cook were doing with Aristotle's language, with his conception of rhetoric, as clarity and as persuasiveness.

This isn't to say that she doesn't understand the evil of Aristotle's words, his straightforward ugliness towards females, towards women, towards any other, any barbarian.  No.  In fact, my life partner actually gave my dissertation on the awful phallo-logo-centricity of Aristotle's τὸ ἑλληνίζειν an apt, 2-word nickname.  She named the academic project of mine:  Aristotle Exposed.  She and many understand it's not just that Aristotle used his words, his sexist and racist logic, to put down females and to denigrate non-Greeks un-like him

It's also the way Aristotle used language.  His logic left no room for womanly or for barbarian ways of using language.  He taught his elite Greek male-only students to avoid ambiguities, to scoff at hyperbole, to ridicule parable, to work only in what's "Natural" and never in anything else (such as the speakeristic, poetic, the lyrical, the dialectical, the supernatural).  He didn't teach his boys in his AkaDemy (his school for the People) to listen.

So let's listen.  Listen again to Sister Prudence Allen and then to rhetoric scholar Krista Ratcliffe listening to Aristotle:
In these statements the superior valuation of man over woman is explicitly stated [by Aristotle]. However, it is also present in the theory of contraries and in other aspects of Aristotle’s thoughts about sex identity. Aristotle stands out from his predecessors in that he a complete rationale for his theory of sex polarity. He developed reasons and arguments for the philosophically significant differentiation of the sexes and for the superiority of man over woman. Therefore, he is correctly identified [by historians] as the founder of the sex polarity position…. [H]e also laid the groundwork for another theory of sex identity in his philosophy of definition.

Aristotle’s Rhetoric assures students who study his rhetorical theory that they will learn not only how to produce enthymemes but also how to analyze them, and in a culture whose texts were primarily oral, such analysis implies listening. But Aristotle’s theory never delves into how to listen. Moreover, his production/ reception linkage is more complicated than his assurance allows.

Aristotle’s treatise of rhetoric was gender blind.
[Likewise, his treatise of politics is one in which w]omen, slaves and children were relegated to the category of ‘earthly possession’ for which men bargained. To redefine women’s position, feminist theories of rhetoric must critique this concept of language to determine if, and how, it can be made more inclusive. For how we assume language functions, more than anything else, determines how we read and write the cultural as well as the textual.
Listen again.  Allen helps us recall how Aristotle lays a groundwork with language, the groundwork for thinking of males as superior to females.  Now, of course, Aristotle was not the first man to do this.  But, as Ratcliffe also rightly observes, Aristotle's teachings on rhetoric and on politics functioned as categorical and categorizing language that somehow [if wrongly and incongruently] appealed to Nature.

So we come back to Hitler.  Why Hitler?  Well, he's also sexist and racist by how he uses language.  Does that mean we shouldn't use his language?  No, but it means we'd do well to know exactly how he used it.  We would do well to remember that he would not use our language, that he would not want language to be used so liberally, so freely.

My eldest daughter just gave me Viktor Frankl's book, Man's Search for Meaning.  Toward the end of the edition she gave me, Frankl tells this story about language and making meanings by it:
An American woman once confronted me with the reproach, "How can you still write some of your books in German, Adolf Hitler's language?"  In response, I asked her if she had knives in her kitchen, and when she answered that she did, I acted dismayed and shocked, exclaiming, "How can you still use knives after so many killers have used them to stab and murder their victims?"  She stopped objecting to my writing books in German.
To be fair to this American woman, Frankl was quite aware of just how awful, how sexist and how racist, the propaganda of Hitler really was.  Frankl experienced the effects.  Hitler's German is worse than just a kitchen knife.  It was a two-edged sword.  It was a gangster's switchblade, a guerilla's machete, a sadist's scalpel.  It was an IED, a terrorist's home-made bomb, an improvised explosive device.  It was Aristotle's Greek all over again, extreme racism and sexism in the guise of moderate rationality and by appeals to nature.  It was boxing up the Other in tight categories and putting oneself above as the default, unmarked Natural superior. 

Our question today (in these last few days of this Women's History Month) doesn't need to be whether we can use Adolf Hitler's Deutsche or Aristotle's ἑλληνίζειν.  We can.  And we can also do more.  We can use language inclusively, creatively, extremely.  We can listen to that preacher in the church down the street who exclaims that the Bible and Nature conspire against women to keep them silent.  We can eavesdrop on the husband who tells his wife that she is his helpmeet, his complement, his to-be-submissive God-given object, for "the Bible tells me so."  We can overhear the mostly-male politicians and the rule of law again and again justifying why males will have to continue to make more than women in the workplace.  We can ponder, sleeplessly if we must, how it is that young girls must still fear and must still have to work so hard at protecting themselves from being raped, fondled, abused, objectivized by men.  There is much more we can do.

Monday, March 28, 2011

To Prevent Men from Raping Women

Kristen asks "Why are there ... no classes for men on how to recognize attitudes and trends within themselves, their friends, and society in general, which leave a back door open for rape to happen?"

So how do you answer? What would you -- or do you -- tell boys, adolescent males, or full grown men?

My spouse and I tend to talk with our son and our daughters about sexism together in the same room. However, we also have times where she talks with the girls and I speak with the boy in different ways. My wife, for example, discusses with our daughters the fact that societies worldwide -- as Mary Pipher and Margaret Mead and Simone de Beauvoir but not Sigmund Freud nor Aristotle nor the male pastor in the church down the street, for instance, have observed -- view females as sex objects. From adolescence to menopause really, there is little relief from the external sexism. While I work with my son on his potential complicentcy in de-valuing people whose bodies are sexed female, on his views of girls and women. He has had one serious long-term relationship with a young woman in college, and their insistence together on egalitarianism was important, and to me was impressive, unusual.

But we're still learning. What would you advise us read, or have your own maturing children read? What should young men study?

Men Who Rape: The Psychology of the Offender by A. Nicholas Groth?

Against Our Will: Men, Women, and Rape by Susan Brownmiller?

The insightful Transforming a Rape Culture, written by notable feminist women and men (edited by Emilie Buchwald, Pamela Fletcher, and Martha Roth)?

And why shouldn't men (and not just women only) know and read He's a Stud, She's a Slut, and 49 Other Double Standards Every Woman Should Know by Jessica Valenti

Sunday, March 27, 2011

After Women's History Month

What will you expect?
     After I speak at high schools [in the US], girls approach me to say that they have been raped, or they want to run away from home, or that they have a friend who is anorexic or alcoholic. At first all this trauma surprised me. Now I expect it.
     --1994: from Mary Pipher, Ph.D., "Saplings in the Storm," Reviving Ophelia
What will you do?
The TCU Police Department is offering a RAD (Rape Aggression Defense) class to all women in April. RAD is designed to help empower women by teaching simple, realistic self defense tactics and techniques. We also teach risk reduction and prevention through a system of personal safety and threat assessment skills.

Below are the dates, times and locations of the classes. YOU MUST ATTEND BOTH DAYS!Saturday, April 2 , 2011 1 – 7pm Rec Center, Room 44

Sunday, April 3 , 2011 1 – 7pm Rec Center, Multi-purpose Room 2

The 12 hour RAD class is offered at NO CHARGE.

Notebooks are provided.

Please wear athletic attire.

You may register online at or by calling Officer Christian at 817-257-7276.
     --Saturday, March 26, 2011: from Pam Christian, Crime Prevention Officer, TCU Police Department, 817-257-7276, 817-257-7715 fax

How might we change, if only to redefine some of our male-pre-dom-inant definitions?
Aristotle's treatise of rhetoric [is] gender blind.... [Likewise his treatise on politics is one by which w]omen, slaves, and children were relegated to the category of  "earthly possession" for which men bargained. To redefine women's position, feminist theories of rhetoric must critique this concept of language to determine if, and how, it can be made more inclusive. For how we assume language functions, more than anything else, determines how we read and write the cultural as well as the textual.
     --2006, 1996, from Krista Ratcliffe, Rhetorical Listening: Identification, Gender, Whiteness; Anglo-American Feminist Challenges to the Rhetorical Traditions: Virginia Woolf, Mary Daly, Adrienne Rich

Friday, March 25, 2011

Dear Abby: Please

Published: Friday, March 25, 2011

Abigail Van Buren
Universal Press Syndicate

Please reprint the list of signs of an abuser. I lost the list I had, but I think my husband is one. He calls me names like “stupid” and “slut.” He tells me what clothes to wear, and if I refuse he threatens to cut them up. When we argue, he threatens to call 911 and have me locked up. He says everything that goes wrong is my fault.

We have been married 31 years. The stress is ruining my health. I have no money and no job. He stands in front of the door to keep me from leaving or going anywhere. Should I call a hotline or try to find a women’s shelter? — END OF MY ROPE

While you haven’t been battered, your husband’s treatment qualifies as emotional abuse. The National Domestic Violence Hotline toll-free number is (800) 799-7233. Do not try to leave without calling it first.

The signs of an abuser are:

(1) PUSHES FOR QUICK INVOLVEMENT: Comes on strong, claiming, “I’ve never felt loved like this by anyone.” An abuser pressures the new partner for an exclusive commitment almost immediately.

(2) JEALOUSY: Excessively possessive; calls constantly or visits unexpectedly; prevents you from going to work because “you might meet someone”; checks the mileage on your car.

(3) CONTROLLING: Interrogates you intensely (especially if you’re late) about whom you talked to and where you were; keeps all the money; insists you ask permission to go anywhere or do anything.

(4) UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS: Expects you to be the perfect woman and meet his every need.

(5) ISOLATION: Tries to cut you off from family and friends; accuses people who are your supporters of “causing trouble”; the abuser may deprive you of a phone or car or try to prevent you from holding a job.

(6) BLAMES OTHERS FOR PROBLEMS AND MISTAKES: It’s always someone else’s fault if anything goes wrong.

(7) MAKES EVERYONE ELSE RESPONSIBLE FOR HIS OR HER FEELINGS: The abuser says, “You make me angry” instead of, “I am angry” or says, “You’re hurting me by not doing what I tell you.”

(8) HYPERSENSITIVITY: Is easily insulted, claiming hurt feelings when he or she is really mad. Rants about the injustice of things that are just part of life.

(9) CRUELTY TO ANIMALS AND TO CHILDREN: Kills or punishes animals brutally. Also, may expect children to do things that are far beyond their ability (whips a 3-year-old for wetting a diaper) or may tease them until they cry. Sixty-five percent of abusers who beat their partner will also abuse children.

(10) “PLAYFUL” USE OF FORCE DURING SEX: Enjoys throwing you down or holding you down against your will during sex; finds the idea of rape exciting.

(11) VERBAL ABUSE: Constantly criticizes you, or says blatantly cruel things; degrades, curses, calls you ugly names. This may also involve sleep deprivation, waking you up with relentless verbal abuse.

(12) RIGID GENDER ROLES: Expects you to serve, obey and remain at home.

(13) SUDDEN MOOD SWINGS: Switches from sweet to violent in a matter of minutes.

(14) PAST BATTERING: Admits to hitting a mate in the past, but says they made him (or her) do it.

(15) THREATS OF VIOLENCE: Says things like, “I’ll break your neck” or “I’ll kill you,” and then dismisses them with, “Everybody talks that way” or “I didn’t really mean it.”

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

You Belong in Church if Your Body's Not Colored, Sexed, Oriented, etc., etc., etc., etc., etc.....

No. I'm not a colored person. Neither an adolescent female nor a woman.  Not a homosexual.  Neither bisexual nor transgendered.

So, yes.  Of course, I belong in church.  So don't put me in one of those little boxes.  And back off a minute while I decide whether I'm going either with Rob Bell (who emerges after 1 hour and 4 minutes of a sermon and begins to give us people a heart breaking and cutting story about some woman who's been in abusive relationships and has been cutting herself)  or with John Piper (who gives us people answers -- yeah answers beyond feelings and empathy and bodies and aid -- yeah answers, about those 5 biblical purposes including that 1 "great gift" for those whose bodies are colored yellow).

So.  Stop telling me that Jesus was not really a Christian but was a Jew and that his favorite foreign word for people was μετανοεῖτε·  Stop telling me that Azusa today means anything more than APU, the big evangelical university, where lots of us people study (the majority of us) and where a bigger percentage of us teach.  And don't make people, people like me, read blogposts that might make us change our minds about our church choice either.  

Today in Women's History

Who and what might we remember today?

It was March 24, 1826, when she was born to Hezekiah and Helen Leslie Joslyn.  Her father was a physician who homeschooled her in Greek, biology, and math.  Her mother supplemented her learning through intentional conversations with theologians, philosophers, and scientists, guests in their home.  They also sent her to Clinton New York Liberal Institute.  She met the love of her life, and they were married.  She deepened her interest in theology, continued to read the Bible in Greek, and taught herself Hebrew to further her interactions with the scriptures.  She and her husband were parents of four children.  She and her husband were white and free in the United States, and involving their children, they opened their home to runaway African American slaves, participating illegally in the underground railway.  She fought for temperance.  She began to fight for women's rights in America, especially the right to vote.  In1852, at age 26, she was the youngest invited speaker at the Third National Women's Rights Convention.  She was a historian, focusing on how the enslavement of black Africans and the oppression of women shared horrors and had many parallels.  She helped form the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA); she testified before the all-male Congress of the United States to protest it's limited democracy; she gave a speech entitled "The United States on Trial, Not Susan B. Anthony" in several U.S. cities (when Anthony, a woman, had been jailed for attempting to vote); and she took on the role as editor of the NWSA newspaper, National Citizen and Ballot Box.  Her own "articles covered such topics as the treatment of women prisoners, prostitution, the plight of Native Americans, and the role of Christianity in the oppression of women."  With Elizabeth Cady Stanton, she co-authored the History of Woman Suffrage in three volumes of more than 3,000 pages, and they co-edited The Women's Bible, a two-volume, internationally-collaborative commentary on the scriptures from a woman's perspective.  She authored an essay, "Who Planned the Tennessee Campaign of 1862?," to recover the lost recent history of Anna Ella Carroll, a woman, a tactician in the Civil War.  She wrote the book, Woman, Church, and State, to bring further attention to the abuses of women committed by the church and the government. Differences with others led to their excluding her from any work on the fourth volume of History of Woman Suffrage.  For that reason, historians today speculate that this first-wave feminist is not as well known as she might otherwise be.  She is Matilda Joslyn Gage.

Today is also the birthday of second-wave feminist Gloria Steinem.

Today is also the 100 year anniversary of the horrible Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire.  Here's from -->
The worst factory fire in the history of New York City occurred on March 25, 1911, in the Asch building, where the Triangle Shirtwaist Company occupied the top three of ten floors. Five hundred women, mostly Jewish immigrants between thirteen and twenty-three years old, were employed there. The owners had locked the doors leading to the exits to keep the women at their sewing machines. In less than fifteen minutes, 146 women died. The event galvanized support for additional efforts to be made to increase safety in the workplace. It also garnered support for labor unions in the garment district, and in particular for the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union.

On the homefront today, I've had a wonderful email exchange with the president of one of the U.S. colleges that my daughter has been admitted to for the coming fall semester.  This president is a woman.  What's that matter today?  Well, she and my daughter comprise 51% of the American population, the female half of our society.  Haven't things been improving over the past 20 years, with a 13.5% increase in the number of women college presidents?  Yes.  But are 51% of the college presidents in America women?  No.  The most recent published survey shows that "23% of the U.S.’s regionally accredited institutions" have women presidents.  And how did these few women actually get to the top?  If you ask S. Georgia Nugent, president of Kenyon College, she'll tell you she's had to avoid petty arguments with men.  For example, in a Chronicle of Higher Education article out this morning, she remembers "when a man told her at a cocktail party that there were too many women at Kenyon College."  President Nugent explains, giving him the benefit of the doubt:  "He was apparently unaware that the national population is majority female as well."  So what did she do?  "I probably just refreshed his drink," she advised.  And so, today, things are still moving forward in women's history, our history, yours and mine together.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Reviving Mary Magdalene: Emergency Rescue Work

You may imagine why my life partner, my spouse, has been reading aloud to me pages of Dr. Mary Pipher's wonderfully helpful (anthropology / psychology / sociology / spiritual) book.  She's asked me to read some of the pages for myself too.  As we read together, as I study alone further, we're not doing academic exercises.  We're involved in our own emergency rescue work.  It's work together as parents, equals, a mother and father.  We're raising a son and daughters in a misogynistic culture, much like yours I'm guessing.  But I'm not writing as an alarmist or to alarm you.  You know.  You know where you live, what your own children must negotiate, and how set against women (y)our society can be.  Read the books, the glossy magazines.  Read Dan Brown's view of Mary Magdalene in his pop book that has "only two female characters in his lengthy novel -- the love interest of his alter ego symbologist and an elderly nun who survives for all of two pages" (as David Lose points out; HT Shawna R. B. Atteberry).  Read the traditional Christian view of Mary Magdalene, even as Dan Brown would use fiction to challenge it; Stefan Lovgren, reviewing Brown's novel for National Geographic, says the historical obvious:  "Depicted by the Church as a prostitute, Mary Magdalene was an intimate disciple of Christ."  Why the focus here on Mary Magdalene?  Well, of course why!  Why has she been so mischaracterized?  What's that say about your culture?

So, in this post, I'd love for us to look at how gynophobic and misogynistic views affect us all in profound ways.  Can we think about and make some change?  The subtitle of the post really could have been, "Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls," or "Saving Ourselves," or "Saving the Self of Mary Magdalene," or "Saving the Bible from Misogynists." 

But enough of what I have to say.  Below are 5 important statements for us all (all related):


The male interpreters and writers want to see a prostitute, so that’s what they write about. For the record Mary Magdalene was not a prostitute either.


Mary Magdalene has always been the subject of both popular and scholarly intrigue. Was she the wife of Jesus, his complete initiate, a Goddess or a priestess? Did the Church dramatically alter her image to deny her importance? These questions have inspired representations of her in art, film and literature, from "Caravaggio" to "The Last Temptation of Christ" and "The Da Vinci Code". The "Mary Magdalene Cover-Up" is the first book to bring the original sources that have informed our current day view of Mary to a wider audience. Esther de Boer has brought together an impressive array of texts from the first century, when Mary Magdalene was alive, to the sixth century, when her image as a penitent sinner was invented. Each text is accompanied by an informed and lively commentary by the author placing it in its historical context. This combination of original texts and commentary enables the reader to draw their own conclusions about this most enigmatic of first-century women.


It is extremely important to note that the Bible NEVER associates Mary Magdalene with prostitution or sexual immorality of any kind. Most people don’t realize this and, in fact, think that that is her primary memorable feature. Why is it so important to get it straight? Here are just a few reasons:
1. It’s wrong; as such, it misrepresents the contents of the biblical texts.
2. It misrepresents our earliest evidence of the nature of Christianity.
3. It perpetuates the notion that many women in the Bible were sexually immoral or suspect.
4. It belittles the bold, central role that women have always played in Christian history, including our own era.
5. It continues the historical and ongoing tendency to reduce the importance of females in general and restrict them to the limited categories of wife, virgin, mother, or whore.

Each of those categories is tied to male control of female sexuality.


It has traditionally been assumed that the Bible promotes a special feminine role for women.  Yet we are immediately faced with the problem:  what model shall women emulate?  Eve?  Mary?  Sarah?  Mary Magdalene?
      In the New Testament, Jesus is held up as the one model for both men and women.  This central biblical teaching can in one stroke expose as a purely human invention the idea of special "feminine" roles for women.  To take Eve as a model of "true feminism," for example, would be like taking Adam as the example of "a real man."  [and who would we take as the masculine, male counterpart of Mary Magdalene?]
--Philip Cary, "One Role Model for All:  The Biblical Meaning of Submission," in Reta Halteman Finger's The Wisdom of Daughters: Two Decades of the Voice of Christian Feminism


     We need to change society if we are to produce healthy young women. But I can't single-handedly change the culture, and neither can the families I see [in counseling].  I try to help families understand some of their daughters' behavior as a reaction to a misogynistic culture and its manifestations at home, with friends, in school and in the larger community. We work together to assess the impact of the culture on the life of each family and to develop plans for damage control. It's emergency rescue work.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Actually Good Samaritan, A Woman

Here are 4 related posts on the Good Samaritan as a Woman or the Samaritan Woman as not so bad.  They're also posts on how the human (female) perspective gets lost (or tarnished) in interpretation too often:


For years I’ve been saying that jumping to the conclusion that the Samaritan Woman Jesus meets at the well of Jacob is a prostitute is nothing but male fantasy (which is why it’s been wrong for 2,000 years. The male interpreters and writers want to see a prostitute, so that’s what they write about.


He [Jesus] eventually invites her [the Samaritan Woman] to call her husband, and when she replies that she has no husband, he agrees: "You have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband" (4:18).  And that's it. That's the sentence that has branded her a prostitute. Conservative preacher John Piper's treatment is characteristic. In a sermon on this passage, he describes her as "a worldly, sensually-minded, unspiritual harlot from Samaria," and at another point in the sermon calls her a "whore."


In her response to Jesus, the Samaritan woman introduces the idea that theirs is both a gender and an ethnic difference. Here, however, she is safe and intimacy with Jesus is based on the sharing of truths.

Our ideas about intimacy often have sexual connotations and it is interesting that in her disclosure about having five husbands, we regard her immoral, aware as we are of her unusual noon-day visit to the well (so she might avoid day-break or evening crowds). Reader-response theories wonder if the text seeks to undo us for the judgements we impose on the text. She might have outlived her husbands in a culture where levirate marriage was the norm, or more convincingly Schneiders (1997, 249) argues that 'the entire dialogue … has nothing to do with the woman's private moral life.' Schneiders (1997, 247) and Moore (2003, 282) believe there is an allegorical significance to the woman's five husbands being representative of Samaria's colonial past, with the present man representing 'the Samaritans' false worship of the true God,' (Barrett, 1965, 225).


Give it until the very end, until you have nothing left.  And then your reward will come.

     How readily women hear that message!  How easily we believe these words.  Give all.  Don't question.  Don't be angry.  Don't doubt that your reward will be on some distant horizon....

     The parable of the Good Samaritan came to my mind, but with a new lesson, one particularly for women.
     ...a Samaritan, as she journeyed, came to where he was, and when she saw him, she had compassion, and went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring oil and win, then she set him on her own beast and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.  And the next day she took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, "Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, I will repay when I come back." (adapted from Luke 10:33-35 KJV)
      She left.  She left!  The woman tended to his wounds, brought him to a safe place, took care of him, and paid his way.  And then she left.
--  Peggy Weaver "The Good Samaritan Woman"

Love Wins: Dorothy L. Sayers

I would love to hear what Dorothy L. Sayers' Lord Peter Wimsey would say about John Piper. Lord Peter who finally won his bride by bending his will and his pride, to apologize to her for his sense of privilege that made him think she would eventually give in to him if he just pursued her long enough. Lord Peter who after saving her from the gallows (at the end of [Strong Poison] the novel you quoted), gave her life back to her two novels later by letting her risk it in the search for truth, as any male hero of a novel would. Lord Peter, who finally won Harriet's heart by treating her as his full, functional equal in every area of his life.

Lord Peter would have only one word to say about a man who would counsel a woman to submit "for a season" to being abused by a man. "Cad." It's an old word, and perhaps one that should be revived.
Thanks to Kristen for the insightful and imaginative comment.  She inspires us to see that Dorothy L. Sayers, like Rob Bell (whose recent book I've not yet read), writes to suggest how Love Wins.  In fact, not only does Sayers take time to give real life to Lord Peter Wimsey she also gives a few moments and words to fleshing out just what this sort of love means, how love wins.  So here we listen again.  It's not a simple sound bite but instead a long excerpt I'm including here, one in which we might truly imagine John Piper confronting Peter Wimsey, or at least Piper reading Sayers's novels and confronting the author about her Wimsey.  You'll overhear her addressing her reader as "My dear," at which point I've interpolated a phrase (e.g., "My dear [evangelical reader]") in order for us all to imagine that it's the evangelical reader Piper with whom she's speaking.  So stay tuned even through to her hell word below (but don't miss that fact that her writing here is on love, that it continues on to be musings Sayers offers us on how love wins).  This considerable bit is from Sayers's chapter, "The Love of the Creature" in her book, Mind of the Maker:


It may be objected that the analogy we have been examining derives from the concept of Platonic archetype, and is therefore unacceptable to those who reject Platonic ideal philosophy.  That way of putting it is, however, not quite accurate; in fact, it puts the cart before the horse.  To the creative artist (as we have seen) the archetype is not an a priori theory, but an experience.  From this experience he draws his analogy direct, and by its means illustrates and gives form to his philosophy, so that the philosophy is seen to derive from the analogy, and not viec versa.  If at any points it coincides with Platonic or Christian philosophy, it does so as an independent witness.  The experience is, of course, a particular experience -- that of the human creator, and it is irreclevant for the analytical and uncreative critic to object to it on the ground that it is not his experience....

To the human maker, therefore, accustomed to look within himself for the extra-temporal archetype and pattern of his own creative work, it will also be natural to look beyond himself for the external archetype and pattern of his own creative personality ... [to the creative] Person in whose image he is made, as his own work is made in the image of himself.

At this point, however, he encounters certain difficulties which we shall have to consider, if we are not to be led away into undue literalism by our very natural anxiety to make our analogy go on all-fours.

The whole of existence is held to be the work of the Divine Creator -- everything that there is, including not only the human maker and his human public, but all other entitites "visible and invisible" that may exist outside this universe.  Consequently, whereas the human writer obtains his response from other minds, outside and independent of his own, God's response comes only from His own creatures.  This is as though a book were written to be read by the characters within it.  And further:  the universe is not a finished work.  Every mind within it is in the position of the audience sitting in the stalls and seeing the play for the first time.  Or rather, every one of us is on the stage, performing a part in a play, of which we have not seen either the script of any synopsis of the ensuing acts.

This, it may be remarked, is no unusual situation, even among human actors.  It is said of a famous actress that for many years she played Lady Macbeth with great success, without having the faintest idea what the play was about or how it ended....  At the most, perhaps, towards the end of his life, he may see a few episodes in which he figured run through in the pages of contemporary history.  And from the completed episodes of the past he may gather, if he is intelligent and attentive, some indication of the author's purpose.

There is one episode in particular to which Christianity draws his attention.  The leading part in this was played, it is alleged, by the Author, who presents it as a brief epitome of the plan of the whole work.  If we ask, "What kind of play is this that we are acting" the answer put forward is:  "Well, it is this kind of play."  And examining the plot of it, we observe at once that if anybody in this play has his feelings pared, it is certainly not the Author.

This is perhaps what we should expect when we consider that a wrok of creation is a work of love, and that love is the most ruthless of all the passions, sparing neither itself, nor its object, nor the obstales that stand in its way.  The word "love" is by no so over-weighted with associations, from the most trifling to the most tremendous, that it is difficult to use it so as to convey a precise meaning to the reader; but here agin the analogy we have chosen may be of service.

Two popular interpretations of the word we can dismiss at once:  the creator's love for his work is not a greedy possessiveness; he never desires to subdue his work to himself but always to subdue himself to his work.  The more genuinely creative he is, the more he will want his work to develop in accordance with its own nature, and to stand independent of himself.  Well-meaning readers who try to identify the writer with his characters or to excavate the author's personality and opinions from his books are frequently astonished by the ferocious rudeness with which the author himself salutes these efforts at reabsorbing his work into himself.  They are an assualt upon the independence of his creatures, which he very properly resents.  Painful misunderstanding of this kind may rive the foundations of social intercourse, and produce explosions which seem quite out of proportion to their apparent causes.
"I have ordered old brandy; I know you adore old brandy."
"What makes you think so?"
"Oh, I have read your books:  I know Lord Peter is a great connosseur of old brandy."
"He is; that needn't mean that I am."
"Oh!  I thought you must be, as he is."
"What on earth have my tastes to do with his?"
It is quite possible that the author does like old brandy (though in this particular instance it happens not to agree with her).  But what is intolerable is that the created being should be thus violently stripped of its own precious personality.  The violence is none the less odious to the creator, for the ingratiating smirk with which it is offered.  Nor is the offence any more excusable when it takes the form of endowing the creature with qualities, however amiable, which run contrary to the law of its being:
"I am sure Lord Peter will end up as a convinced Christian."
"From what I know of him, nothing is more unlikely."
"But as a Christian yourself, you must want him to be one."
"He would be horribly embarrassed by any such suggestion."
"But he's far too intelligent and far too nice, not to be a Christian."
"My dear [evangelical reader], Peter is not the Ideal Man; he is an eighteenth-century Whig gentleman, born a little out of his time, and doubtful whether any claim to possess a soul is a rather vulgar piece of presumption."
"I am disappointed."
"I am afraid I can't help that."
(No; you shall not impose either your will or mine upon my creature.  He is what he is, I will work no irrelevant miracles upon him, either for propaganda, or to curry favour, or to establish the consistency of my own principles.  He exists in his own right and not to please you.  Hands off.)
Sometimes the suggestion to use force is accompanied by obliging offers of assistance.  (Incidentally this type of petition must be extremely familiar to God Almighty.)  Thus:
"Couldn't you make Lord Peter go to the Antarctic and investigate a murder on an exploring expedition?"
"Now, from what you know of him, can you imagine his being inveigled into an Antarctic expedition, under any conceivable circumstances?"
"But it would be a new background -- I could give you lots of authentic material."
"Thank you, you are very kind,"  (Get to gehenna out of this and write up your own confounded material.  Leave my creature alone -- I will not "make" him do anything.)
It will be seen that, although the writer's love is verily a jealous love, it is a jealousy for and not of his creatures.  He will tolerate no interference either with them or between them and himself.  But he does not desire that the creature's identity should be merged in his own, nor that his miraculous power should be invoked to wrest the creature from its proper nature.


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Why Should Women Want to Know about Aristotle?

.....Take, for example, the very usual reproach that women nowadays always want to "copy what men do."  In that reproach there is a great deal of truth and a great deal of sheer, unmitigated and indeed quite wicked nonsense.  There are a number of jobs and pleasures which men have in times past cornered for themselves.  At one time, for instance, men had a monopoly on classical education.  When the pioneers of university training for women demanded that women should be admitted to the universities, the cry went up at once: "Why should women want to know about Aristotle?" The answer is NOT that all women would be the better for knowing about Aristotle -- still less, as Lord Tennyson seemed to think, that they would be more companionable wives for their husbands if they did know about Aristotle -- but simply:  "What women want as a class is irrelevant.  I want to know about Aristotle.  It is true that most women care nothing about him, and a great many male undergraduates turn pale and faint at the thought of him -- but I, eccentric individual that I am, do want to know about Aristotle, and I submit that there is nothing in my shape or bodily functions which need prevent my knowing about him." [pages 26- 27]

-- more from, Are Women Human? by Dorothy L. Sayers, who wrote the excerpted essay in 1947

How Women Became [USA] Citizens (Hint: It Didn't Happen Overnight!)

It was only just a century ago when "the U.S. Supreme Court in 1910 denied damages to a wife injured by violent beatings on the grounds that to do so would undermine 'the peace of the household'.

Many American women still alive today (at age 90 plus) were born before their mothers and grandmothers could vote.  "Still, deeply entrenched assumptions about gender roles were hard to overcome. Even when women finally won the vote in 1920, one of the most powerful arguments propelling them to victory was the claim that modern government, in assuming obligation for the education and socialization of children and for the general social welfare, had taken on traditional responsibilities of the household. For many Americans this became the compelling rationale for why women finally needed a voice in their own right."

Things don't happen overnight!  "We need to remember these developments. Public policy, we know, is largely path dependent. How we think and act today is often determined by a past we don't fully understand. This is particularly true for women who have for so long been denied fair recognition as historical actors. History is to the body politic as memory is to the individual, as veteran historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. once observed. We need to keep our engagement with history lively, as we are bound to lose our way without it.

We need history to help us navigate our own troubled times. We especially need it now as we try to unravel the remnants of "coverture" that still constrain women's civil status and as we do so in the face of an intensifying backlash against women's equality.

The litany of injustices women still face in this country is by now familiar...."

read the rest, from Ellen Chesler, Senior Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute

Farewell Dorothy L. Sayers

After reading the sound bite, "Farewell Rob Bell," I went back and read what John Piper said that Dorothy Sayers said.  It was his Dorothy Sayers soundbite, on hell, on the Hell, on The One True Hell, of course.   In this post, I'd like to look at that with you.

(But, in a quick parenthetical paragraph, let me also warn that pinning down Dorothy L. Sayers on Hell is a bit like pinning down Jesus on Hell.  What Sayers and Jesus said about men -- especially religious men -- mistreating women is much clearer and just as passionate as any of their teachings on Hell, we might agree.  Thus, the title of this post here really could have been:  "The Hells of Dorothy L. Sayers."  On that, I'll try to say more in a moment.  For now, we're listening again to John Piper.)

John Piper produced his Sayers essay on the web in May 2000 ["By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website:"].  He entitled it, "Dorothy Sayers on Why Hell Is a Non-Negotiable."  He reproduced it for sale in his subsequent book Pierced by the Word: Thirty-One Meditations for Your Soul, which his publisher started marketing and then selling on September 11, 2003.

Piper opens the Sayers On Hell essay by saying, "Today belongs to the soundbite; tomorrow belongs to marketing; eternity belongs to the Truth."  Then he warns against "truths," and he reiterates, singularly, that his readers be inclined toward divine truth:   "O may God give us a humble, submissive love for the truth of God's word in the depth and fullness of it. "  Then he warns with the first of an accumulation of quotations:  first "God's word" twice "in the depth and fullness" of two verses from Paul.  The first verse is:  "The time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires."  After Paul, Piper has another man teach his readers:  "Clark Pinnock, a Canadian theologian who still calls himself an evangelical."  This, then, prepares readers for Sayers.

What Piper says that Sayers says is this:
Dorothy Sayers, who died in 1957, speaks a necessary antidote to this kind of abandonment of truth.
There seems to be a kind of conspiracy, especially among middle-aged writers of vaguely liberal tendency, to forget, or to conceal, where the doctrine of Hell comes from. One finds frequent references to the "cruel and abominable mediaeval doctrine of hell," or "the childish and grotesque mediaeval imagery of physical fire and worms." . . .
But the case is quite otherwise; let us face the facts. The doctrine of hell is not " mediaeval": it is Christ's. It is not a device of "mediaeval priestcraft" for frightening people into giving money to the church: it is Christ's deliberate judgment on sin. The imagery of the undying worm and the unquenchable fire derives, not from "mediaeval superstition," but originally from the Prophet Isaiah, and it was Christ who emphatically used it. . . . It confronts us in the oldest and least "edited" of the gospels: it is explicit in many of the most familiar parables and implicit in many more: it bulks far larger in the teaching than one realizes, until one reads the Evangelists [gospels] through instead of picking out the most comfortable texts: one cannot get rid of it without tearing the New Testament to tatters. We cannot repudiate Hell without altogether repudiating Christ. (Dorothy Sayers, A Matter of Eternity, ed. Rosamond Kent Sprague [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1973], p. 86)
I would only add: There are many other things which, if abandoned, will also mean the eventual repudiation of Christ. It is not out of antiquarian allegiance that we love the truth - even the hard ones. It is out of love to Christ - and love to the people that only the Christ of truth can save.

Longing to love people with the truth,

Pastor John

© Desiring God

And that's it.  Truth wins.
Well, that's almost it. As you might have guessed, there's more. Dorothy L. Sayers wrote much on Hell. Famously, she translated Dante's Inferno, which she rendered Hell.  Yes, of course, she was interested in  frequent references to the "cruel and abominable mediaeval doctrine of hell."  She was also interested in fiction of all kinds, writing much herself.

For example, here's from one of Sayers's novels:
"For God's sake, old man, do what you can to put the thing right before next assizes.  If you don't, I'll never forgive you.  Damn it, you don't want to hang the wrong person, do you?--especially a woman and all that."

"Have a fag," said Parker.  "You're looking quite wild about the eyes.  What have you been doing with yourself?  I'm sorry if we've got the wrong pig by the ear, but it's the defense's business to point out where we're wrong, and I can't say they put up a very convincing show."

"No, confound them.  Biggy did his best, but that fool and beast Crofts gave him no materials at all.  Blast his ugly eyes!  I know the brute thinks she did it.  I hope he will fry in hell and be served up with cayenne pepper on a redhot dish!"

"What eloquence!" said Parker, unimpressed.  "Anybody would think you'd gone goopy over the girl."
What is interesting about this particular quotation from Sayers's novel, (Strong Poison, page 56) is how she's having men reference Hell.  It's clear to any reader of Jesus's gospels that she's riffing off of them.  You got the allusions to "that fool" and before that to "ugly eyes" - didn't you?  Jesus said that any man who called his brother fool would go to Hell; Jesus also said that any man who lusted, even with one ugly eye, after a woman would go to Hell too.  And here's a guy, a man, a character in some of Sayers's fiction with a farewell hope of hot hell for someone else who is mishandling the truth.  It's soundbites and soundbites about soundbites and the art of persuasion of men.  So has John Piper gone goopy over Dorothy Sayers?

What Piper doesn't say about the woman Dorothy L. Sayers is what she said about the hell that religious men put women in on earth.  But since we're already risking accumulating teachers and cherry picking quotations as soundbites for truths and fictions, as if love wins, then we might as well listen a little more to Ms. Sayers.  Just a warning:  the following won't tickle your ears much; it doesn't sound too much like a CBMW or a John Piper soundbite.

Here's one of her hells - one of the true truths of Dorothy L. Sayers - who complains about what men, religious men, have said about women:
      Women are not human.  They lie when they say they have human needs:  warm and decent clothing; comfort in the bus; interests directed immediately to God and His universe, not intermediately through any child of man.  They are far above man to inspire him, far beneath him to corrupt him; they have feminine minds and feminine natures, but their mind is not one with their nature like the minds of men; they have no human mind and no human nature.  "Blessed be God," says the Jew [a man of course], "that hath not made me a woman."
       God, of course, may have His own opinion, but the Church [of Christian men of course] is reluctant to endorse it.  I think I have never heard a sermon preached on the story of Martha and Mary that did not attempt, somehow, to explain away its text.  Mary's, of course, was the better part--the Lord said so, and we must not precisely contradict Him.  But we will be careful not to despise Martha.  No doubt, He approved of her too.  We could not get on without her, and indeed (have paid lip-service to God's opinion) we must admit that we greatly prefer her.  For Martha was doing a really feminine job, whereas Mary was just behaving like any other disciple, male or female; and that is a hard pill to swallow.
       Perhaps it is no wonder that the women were first at the Cradle and last at the Cross.  They had never known a man like this Man -- there never has been such another.   A prophet and teacher who never nagged at them, never flattered or coaxed or patronised; who never made arch jokes about them, never treated them as either "The women, God help us!" or "The ladies, God bless them!": who rebuked without querulousness and praised without condescension; who took their questions and arguments seriously; who never mapped out their sphere for them, never urged them to be feminine or jeered at them for being female; who had no axe to grind and no uneasy male dignity to defend; who took them as he found them and was completely unselfconscious.  There is no act, no sermon, no parable in the whole Gospel that borrows its pungency from female perversity; nobody could possibly guess from the words and deeds of Jesus that there was anything "funny" about woman's nature.
       But we might easily deduce it from His contemporaries, and from His prophets before Him, and from His Church to this day [of course mainly men].  Women are not human:  nobody shall persuade that they are human; let them say what they like, we will not believe it, though One rose from the dead.
(pages 66-69, Are Women Human)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Personal, Pertinent, Peace Blogging

One is a self-identified pacifist, the other more of a non believer "in the ease of war nor in retributive violence."  They offer very important messages, most personal voices, challenges to each of us, to you, to me, to our governments and our leaders and our teachers and preachers:

Rod is blogging for peace.  And so is Jane.

Muslims, Mormons, My Missionary Father

My father preached literal Hell, every Sunday, for twenty five years.  He'd preach Jonathon Edwards sermon "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" -- at first with a Vietnamese translator and then in his own fledgling tiếng Việt.  There was always an altar call, and nearly always a response to that call by animists and Buddhists and backsliding Catholics and backsliding Tin Lanh, whether Bap Tit [Baptists] or those of some other Protestant denomination.  After the war in Vietnam ended, it was off to Indonesia, the largest Muslim nation in the world.  And for every Sunday, in Bahasa Indonesia, it was the same.

You may have seen how I've blogged on what the literal Hell doctrine looks like for Muslims and what it looked like for Mormons, at least for the fundamental, textbook literalists.  What I'm interested in is how this is the same.

Yes, I know there are differences, but these are part of the sameness.  Here's how that goes:

"I don't like the doctrine of literal Hell any more than the next guy.  I can't help what God said [or what Jesus preached, or what Mohammed received from heaven, or what the Plates of Nephi had on them].  Look, God said it, I believe it, that settles it.  So let's sing All to Jesus I Surrender [or feel sorry for the Infidels, or send Missionaries, two by two, to every door] until God is satisfied.  But let's don't water down the truth!  The Truth is on my side!"

See, the differences:  it's always fine tuning the Truth.  What Jesus said, what John Piper said, what Timothy Keller said, is NOT what Rob Bell or C. S. Lewis exactly or John Murray said.  And, if you're Christian, then the Muslims and Mormons are clearly dealing with un-Truth, so it's time, of course, now, to straighten out and to knock out all of the in-Correct doctrines of anyone wanting to make money and fame off of a book with Love in its title.

See the sameness?  If you're Muslim, if you're Mormon, if you're my missionary father, your concerns are the same.

Now, I just want to end my post here with another snippet from Mary Pipher's Reviving Ophelia, from her chapter "Sex and Violence."  My wife's been reading it, been reading some of it aloud to me, because we've both grown up in homes where our fathers were preachers.  It's the fear of God in our homes, in our home together:
But girls are scared of many things.  They are worried that they will be judged harshly for their bodies and lack of experience.   They are worried about getting caught by their parents or going to hell.  They fear pregnancy and STDs.  They worry about getting a bad reputation, rejection and pleasing their partners.  They have seen sex associated with female degradation and humiliation, and they have heard ugly words describing sex, words that have more to do with aggression than love.  So they are fearful of being emotionally and physically hurt.  For the most part, girls keep their anxiety to themselves.  It's not sophisticated to be fearful.  [page 207]

More Blacks and Indians in Hell

More Blacks and Indians were going to literal hell than anybody.  They did go there first and in more numbers, right up until 1978.  It's true.  Then God sent an angel to Apostle Spenser Kimball, or told him in a dream or something, that the Book of Mormon was still right, of course, but that it needed to be understood right for the times.  You know, the book says (and so does Apostle Joseph Smith and Apostle Brigham Young) that:

Wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the LORD God did cause a skin of Blackness to come upon them....  And the skins of the Lamanites were Dark, according to the mark which was set on their fathers, which was a curse upon them because of their transgression.... There is a reason why one man is born black.... while another is born white... The reason is that we once had an estate before we came here, and were obedient....  Cain slew his brother... and the Lord put a mark on him, which is the flat nose and the black skin.

And, as we all know, father Ham, son of Cain, found a black woman, and married her.  So they all went to Hell together literally.  

Saturday, March 19, 2011

More Women in Hell

The title of this post is not talking about the hell that many women find themselves in here on earth.  (My wife was just reading to me a few pages from Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls in which the author, Dr. Mary Pipher, remembers counseling an adolescent girl, who says, because of her father's abuse:  "He had lots of ways to break a person's spirit....  my home life was hell....  Dad brought a girlfriend home and Mom tried to kill herself.")  The hell in the title is the one that doctrine-conscious Christians are arguing over these days.  Doctrine is important, they say.  Which makes me wonder about women.  Does the Bible say anything about women in hell?

Well, they'll be saved in childbearing, says one verse.  Saved from hell?  Maybe not, says Andreas J. Köstenberger in his CBMW article, "Saved Through Childbearing? A Fresh Look at 1 Timothy 2:15 Points to Protection from Satan’s Deception."  He goes on to explain "saved" as "kept safe from the allurement of Satan" (who will go to the doctrinely-defined Hell) and "childbearing" as more, as also "adhering to, and finding fulfillment in, their Godgiven role centering on the family and the home":
1 Timothy 2:15 does not merely contain an obscure, situation-bound injunction for women in Timothy's Ephesus at the end of the first century A.D. It is grounded in the wise counsel of the Creator and pertains to the sphere of the outworking of our salvation in this life. How are women kept safe from the allurement of Satan? How are they to avoid falling into temptation as Eve, the mother of women, did? By adhering to, and finding fulfillment in, their Godgiven role centering on the family and the home.
So is there no biblical discussion of women in hell?  Isn't the doctrine of literal hell good for something?  Timothy Keller writes that it is:  "4. The doctrine of hell is important because it is the only way to know how much Jesus loved us and how much he did for us."  Isn't that why it was so very very important for Jesus to make this doctrine of literal hell very very clear to women?  Isn't that exactly how females knew how much Jesus loved them and how they were convinced of how much he did for them?  Didn't he sit them down and make them read his doctrines on literal Hell?

In correct doctrine, literal hell does contain more women than men.  But, to be sure, this is a literal reading of some teachers' doctrine.  (Isn't it all interpretation, this doctrine, this literal hell?)  Well, here it is, that so called correct doctrine:

MUHAMMAD:  commanded his male followers to beat their disobedient wives.  He gave men the right to beat their wives who persistently disobeyed them.

     Sura 4:34  "As those you fear may be rebellious admonish, banish them to their couches, and beat them."

            The above verse was revealed in connection with a woman who complained to Muhammad that her husband slapped her on the face, which was still marked by the slap.  At first Muhammad said to her "Get even with him", but then added 'Wait until I think about it". Later on the above verse was revealed, and Muhammad added, 'We (He and the woman) wanted one thing, Allah wanted another.

The Hadith also said much about women:

            Muhammad said that women are generally so evil, that they will make up the majority of people in to hell.  Continuing with Bukhari,

Vol. 1, #301:  "O women!  Give alms, as I have seen that the majority of the dwellers of Hell-fire were you (women).  They [women] asked, "Why is it so, O Allah's Apostle?"  He replied, "You curse frequently and are ungrateful to your husbands."

Bukhari Vol. 1, #28:  "The Prophet said, "I was shown the Hell-fire and the majority of its dwellers were women who were ungrateful."  It was asked, "Do they disbelieve in Allah?" (or are they ungrateful to Allah?), he replied, "They are ungrateful to their husbands and are ungrateful for the favors and the good done to them...."

Sahih Muslim says they are the minority in Paradise:

Volume 4, #6600:  "Imran Husain reported that Allah's messenger said:  Amongst the inmates of Paradise the women would form a minority."

            By putting these two Hadith together, we find that Muhammad said that women were the minority in Paradise, and the majority in hell.  Therefore it is not a statistical ratio due to the possibility that there are more women than men.  Muhammad viewed women as more sinful than men.  And the reason more women are in hell is because the women were ungrateful to their husbands!

Muhammad also declared that women are less intelligent than men:

Bukhari, Volume 1, #301:

            "...Then he (Muhammad) passed by the women and said, "O women, give alms as I have seen that the majority of the dwellers of Hell-fire were you (women)."  they asked, "Why is it so O Allah's messenger?"  He replied, "You curse frequently and are ungrateful to your husbands.  I have not seen anyone more deficient in intelligence and religion than you.  A cautious sensible man could be led astray by some of you."  The women asked, "O Allah's messenger, what is deficient in our intelligence and religion?"  He said, "Is not the evidence of two women equal to the witness of one man?"  They replied in the affirmative.  He said, "This is the deficiency in her intelligence....."

Oh right.  So hell is literal.  But only if it's in the bible, and only if Jesus uses it to show us his love by it.   So literal Hell doctrine is how love wins.  And, well, we'll just have to figure out how women are saved later.  In the mean time, they'll do better to be better in their homes (and don't worry if Father or Husband is making it hell for her).

Friday, March 18, 2011

cheering or groaning? laughing or laboring towards liberty?

There are lots of ways to look at the Earth and earthquakes.  In an earlier post today, I looked at how the Bible (at least I Maccabees in Greek and in English translation) shows mother Earth as sympathetic and empathetic.

Then, similarly, there's what Paul writes to Romans (in Greek, for which I'll also supply some great English translations below).  Paul, we all know, was an earthquake survivor, was actually literally liberated by this act of God.  More on that in a moment.

But first, here's what an American radio talk-show host says to his audience.  Notice how he's assuming that "the quake and subsequent tsunami" are to be viewed as a vengeful act.  Notice how he's saying that "Gaia" (i.e., Mother Earth) mocks and "just wipes out" the Japanese, to spite them:
"On his Friday [March 11, 2011] show, Rush Limbaugh wondered if environmentalists will 'cheer' the earthquake in Japan, since the quake and subsequent tsunami hit the region of the country that thrives on car manufacturing."

"Rush Limbaugh laughed about Japanese refugees recycling after the earthquake that struck the country on his Tuesday [March 15] show.... 'They've given us the Prius. Even now, refugees are recycling their garbage.' Here, he began to laugh, continuing, 'and yet, Gaia levels them! Just wipes them out!'"
Now here's the contrast to Rush Limbaugh.  It's Bible, and not just the turn-or-pay preacher's Bible either.

Here's the Bible showing Mother Earth to be our mother, showing her quakes to be labors toward our liberty.

Here's the Jewish Paul writing to men and women living in the capital city of the Jew-mocking Roman empire.  I'm giving you a few English translations because the translators, without some committee weakening the force, were able to render the Greek in some powerful ways, fitting for the noted events:
... ἐφ’ ἑλπίδι ὅτι καὶ αὐτὴ ἡ κτίσις ἐλευθερωθήσεται ἀπὸ τῆς δουλείας τῆς φθορᾶς εἰς τὴν ἐλευθερίαν τῆς δόξης τῶν τέκνων τοῦ θεοῦ. Οἴδαμεν γὰρ ὅτι πᾶσα ἡ κτίσις συστενάζει καὶ συνωδίνει ἄχρι τοῦ νῦν. Οὐ μόνον δέ, ἀλλὰ καὶ αὐτοὶ τὴν ἀπαρχὴν τοῦ πνεύματος ἔχοντες, ἡμεῖς καὶ αὐτοὶ ἐν ἑαυτοῖς στενάζομεν, υἱοθεσίαν ἀπεκδεχόμενοι, τὴν ἀπολύτρωσιν τοῦ σώματος ἡμῶν.

We know that all creation groans. Till now
It suffers labor pains, and not only creation
Aches but we too, the first fruits of the spirit,
Groan and in eagerness wait for adoption
And for the redemption of our bodies.
....--Willis Barnstone (translating Paul)

Yet there was the hope that creation itself also would be set free from slavery to decay, and have the glorious freedom of God's children. We know that all creation keeps sighing deeply together and is in birthing pains together up to the present time. Not only that, but also we ourselves who have the Spirit given to us as the first offering, we also keep sighing deeply within ourselves looking forward to our adoption, that is, the setting free of our body.
....--Ann Nyland (translating Paul)

... but there is hope, because this world will be set free from slavery to decay into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.  For we know that the whole world groans and is in labor together, until now; not only that, but even we who have some foretaste of the Spirit also groan within ourselves as we await adoption and the redemption of the body.
....--Richmond Lattimore (translating Paul)

... in hope, That also the creation itself be freed from servitude of corruption to the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that all creation groans together and travails together until now. And not only, but also they having the first fruits of the Spirit, and we ourselves groan in ourselves, waiting for adoption as a son, the redemption of our body.
....--Julia Evelina Smith (translating Paul)
And here's the Jewish physician Luke, for his friend, Theo-Philus, making a record of how an act of God actually freed Paul's body, how an earthquake liberated not only Paul but also other prisoners and even one of the imperial prison wardens:

ἄφνω δὲ σεισμὸς ἐγένετο μέγας, ὥστε σαλευθῆναι τὰ θεμέλια τοῦ δεσμωτηρίου· ἠνεῴχθησαν δὲ παραχρῆμα αἱ θύραι πᾶσαι, καὶ πάντων τὰ δεσμὰ ἀνέθη.
....--Luke, at the onset of this act of God, this liberating earthquake

Suddenly there was an earthquake so great that it shook the foundations of the prison, and all the doors came open and everyone's chains came loose.
....--Willis Barnstone (translating Luke)

Suddenly there was such a major earthquake, that the foundations of the prison were rendered unstable! Immediately all the doors were opened and everyone's chains became loose.
....--Ann Nyland (translating Luke)

and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken, and all the doors came open, and the chains fell off all of them.
....--Richmond Lattimore (translating Luke)

And suddenly was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and the bonds of all were let loose.
....--Julia Evelina Smith (translating Luke)

How she (a biblical disaster) responds

Rachel Evans Held has a piece up today entitled,

"How (not) to respond to a natural disaster:"

which points out how John Piper and Skye Jethani respectively tell Christians the meaning of the earthquake for Christians. "One presumes to know the mind of God," she observes; "the other simply imitates the actions of Jesus." You'll find which is which and her response to both men when you read her post, which I'll link to below.

And you'll read how helpfully agnostic Held Evans can be, how helpfully open.  She says, "We cannot know for sure why these things happen. But we can weep.... The Japanese people don't need our lectures; they need our love."  Now that's quite a response.  And some of us are weeping; I know a Japanese mother is crying here in the USA, where she studies English, although she was to board an airplane for home, where her daughter was to have wed her own bridegroom in Sendai later this month.  Sadness.  Profound sorrow.

This, then reminds of a really biblical response.

It's very similar to Rachel Held Evans's response of empathy.

It's also the Jewish, pre-Jesus response of an earthquake or of the Earth herself.

Well, hmm, only some Christians might agree it is a biblical response.  And most Jews would agree, that if biblical, it makes no mention of G-d whatsoever. And then many Christians and Jews would question whether it was really ever canonical, although entirely historical, in the first place. It's the stuff of translation and of gendered translation and such.  Pathetic really.

Without further ado, here it is (in four - or five - translations - if you'll work with me on a fifth):

25 Great sorrow came upon Israel,
.....wherever they lived.
26 Nobles and elders broke out wailing,
.....maidens and young men lost their vigor,
.....and the women's beauty was marred.
27 Every bridegroom took up the dirge
.....while his bride sitting in the bedchamber turned to mourn.
28 Indeed, the earth had quaked against its inhabitants,
.....and the entire house of Jacob was clothed in shame.
..........--Jonathan A. Goldstein, for the Anchor Bible series

 25 Israel mourned deeply in every community, 26 rulers and elders groaned, maidens and young men became faint, the beauty of women faded. 27 Every bridegroom took up the lament; she who sat in the bridal chamber was mourning. 28 Even the land shook for its inhabitants, and all the house of Jacob was clothed with shame.
..........--the Revised Standard Version translation team 

25 And there was great mourning in Israel, in
...............every place of theirs.
26 .....And rulers and elders groaned,
virgins and young men weakened,
..........and the beauty of the women was
27 Every bridegroom took up lamentation;
..........she who sat in the bridal chamber was in
28 And the land quaked for those dwelling in it,
..........and all the house of Iakob was clothed
...................with shame.
..........--George Themelis Zervos, of the NETS translation team

25 καὶ ἐγένετο πένθος μέγα ἐπὶ Ισραηλ
..........ἐν παντὶ τόπῳ αὐτῶν.
26 καὶ ἐστέναξαν ἄρχοντες καὶ πρεσβύτεροι,
..........παρθένοι καὶ νεανίσκοι ἠσθένησαν,
.....καὶ τὸ κάλλος τῶν γυναικῶν ἠλλοιώθη.
27 πᾶς νυμφίος ἀνέλαβεν θρῆνον,
.....καὶ καθημένη ἐν παστῷ ἐπένθει.
28 καὶ ἐσείσθη ἡ γῆ ἐπὶ τοὺς κατοικοῦντας αὐτήν,
.....καὶ πᾶς ὁ οἶκος Ιακωβ ἐνεδύσατο αἰσχύνην.
..........---some anonymous Jewish translator rendering
................some anonymous Jewish writer's Hebrew into Hellene, of all places, Alexander the Great's Alexandria, Egypt

To be sure, Goldstein and the RSV team and Zervos are only working from the Hellene, bringing the Greek language into their English.  The real struggle for them is to know how to render the preposition epi (ἐπὶ).  It might have been written, and certainly can be read, as a bookend preposition, appearing at the start of the poetic stanza of the initial verse (25) and then at some point of the ending verse (28), which concludes the sad song.

Notice in verse 25, Goldstein chooses "upon" for the English, while the RSV team and Zervos make it "in."  What's better "upon Israel" or "in Israel" or does it make a difference?   But then in verse 28, to round out the poetic stanza, Goldstein has "against."  In contrast, the RSV team and Zervos have the opposite of "against":  "for."

I think all these men translating have missed the fact that the phrase for "the earth" or "the land" is in the feminine form in Greek:  Hē Gē (ἡ γῆ).  That's not so important until you're trying to translate the feminine pronoun:  autēn αὐτήν.  She's such a troublesome little pronoun for English bible translators these days!  Should she be he or she or it?

Couldn't we all just as easily note the Pathos, specifically the Penthos, of the Earthquake here?  Everybody is sad and is weeping.  Old people, young people, brides and bridegrooms.  Even the Earth is.  If great sorrow has come upon Israel (men and women), as Goldstein shows it has, then listen again to that Greek of verses 25 and 28 of I Maccabees 1:

25 And It birthed - Sadness did - a tremendous pain upon Isra-El, each of Its places - His places, Her places.

28 And She quaked - Earth did - a shaking upon those of
..........Her household,
.....And everybody of Jacob's house dressed with Her in shame.

(If that's not enough Bible for you, then go here for some real "New Testament."   And then do notice what Held Evans says that Jethani says that Jesus says -- and what he does not say, while he's weeping, while he's helping, when it all seems way too late.)

Now, if you're really ready, then please go read Rachel Held Evans's post.