Saturday, April 23, 2011

from Friday to Saturday

from yesterday --
I am the truth, but you will not believe me,
I am the city where you will not stay.
I am your wife, your child, but you will leave me,
I am that God to whom you will not pray.
So for a day, let’s stop arguing about metaphors and together acknowledge that, while all of them fit, none of them fit. While we are all right, none of us are right.

The cross is a mystery we can grasp but not tame.

What happened on the cross was never meant to fit into words

-- the former lines are the middle stanza of a poem, "From a Normandy crucifix of 1632," by Charles Causley, which Jane Stranz posted in its entirely, for meditation, here.

--the latter words and sentences are the end of Rachel Held Evans's post, "We argue over metaphors..."


Theophrastus said...

Speaking of ability to articulate Biblical understanding, did you see Adam Kirsch's review of Timothy Beal's book? And then did you see Alan Brill's review of Adam Kirsch's review of Timothy Beal's book?

(Just in case you don't know the players:

Timothy Beal grew up as a Fundamentalist, was Carol Newsom's Ph.D. student, earned a certificate in Women's Studies at the same time as his Ph.D., and is a religion professor at Case Western. He previously taught religion and gender studies at Eckerd College.

Adam Kirsch is a senior editor at New Republic, a contributing editor the the Jewish online magazine Tablet, wrote a well-received popular book on Disraeli's Jewishness, and is the son of Jonathan Kirsch, a well-known pop author about Biblical topics.

Alan Brill is a religion professor at Seton Hall. He received a Ph.D. from Fordham and rabbinic ordination from Yeshiva University. He used to teach at Yeshiva University, but he did not receive tenure.)

J. K. Gayle said...

Thank you very much, Theophrastus. I'm disappointed that Beal doesn't reference the works of Willis Barnstone or Amy-Jill Levine, to name just a couple of scholars. Glad to see how much he does review the Septuagint. Love Kirsch's review and even more Brill's nearly shrill review of that review (and so it's not just a Christian problem of dumbed-down purpose-driven bible-reading approach, huh?)

Theophrastus said...

Ah, the depths of popular ignorance of even basic facts about their faith:

I present as my evidence this article about the controversy surrounding HarperOne's recent "C. S. Lewis Bible."

So many things to note:

* Sarah Palin's sudden reach for her Evangelical base with a handy reference to C. S. Lewis; and then the giant chasm of disconnect with television commentators such as Joy Behar and Richard Wolffe who are seemingly unaware that Lewis ever wrote anything other than children's novels.

* A petition sent to one thousand academics (with phrasing saying The majority consensus among C.S. Lewis scholars is that Lewis was firmly against gender-neutral usage and the egalitarianism on which it is based," with only 35 signing. (How Lewis, who died in 1963, would have known much about gender-neutral usage is a bit of a mystery -- recall that the OED finds the earliest usage of the term "gender" to mean "sex" in 1963). (I have skimmed Van Leeuwen's tome and have not found any actual evidence for the claim that Lewis had an opinion on the topic.)

* The delight of the Murdoch/HarperOne editor Maudlin: "in the end [it] helped us with publicity."

Many levels of irony even in this simple story.

J. K. Gayle said...

Douglas Gresham is selling his step-father out. And his mother.

C. S. Lewis did write in "Membership" (his sermon turned essay for books):

"I do not believe that God created an egalitarian world. I believe the authority of parent over child, husband over wife, learned over simple, to have been as much a part of the original plan as the authority of man over beast.... Any attempt to retrace the steps by which we have arrived at egalitarianism and to re-introduce the old authorities on the political level is for me as foolish as it would be to take off our cloths. The Nazi and the Nudist make the same mistake. But it is the naked body, still there beneath the clothes of each one of us, which really lives. It is the hierarchical world, still alive and (very properly) hidden behand a facade of equal citizenship, which is our real concern."

But then he met his match, his equal if you will: Joy Davidman, a woman who had left an abusive marriage to the man over her, William Gresham. Both Lewis and Davidman were adult converts from childhood atheism. Both used, as you point out, the most progressive language available to them of the early 1960s. The word sexist wasn't even coined until 1968, by Sheldon Van Auken, to whom Lewis famously wrote after the spouses of both men died.

Too bad there's not a Joy Davidman Bible. She is Jewish, and as a convert to theism and then later to Christian theism, was very outspoken about why Jews tend not to like Christians.