Thursday, July 28, 2011

any person ... faithful to their partner

In the previous post, I quoted Ann Nyland's exegesis of a Greek phrase in I Timothy 3:2.  Let's look at that a little more.  First, however, let's back up to I Timothy 3:1.  Eventually, then, let's go even further back to Aristotle and his Politics.

In I Timothy 3:1, Nyland translates the Greek pronoun τις as "any person."  NRSV translates it "whoever" and so does NIV 1984, TNIV, and NIV 2011; ESV, similarly, translates it "anyone."  Lest anyone misses it, Nyland also gives a footnote to make clear that the little pronoun is "Non gender-specific in the Greek."

The question then becomes, for I Timothy 3:2, must the "anyone" or the "any person" be restricted to males only.  Is this what Paul was writing to Timothy as we read their mail?  For Nyland, it doesn't really matter so much because she finds that Paul uses similar phrases for partner faithfulness in a relationship, whether he's specifying a one-woman man or a single-man woman.  Thus, she has her readers consider together Paul's two phrases:
μιᾶς γυναικὸς ἄνδρα, mias gunaikos andra. "faithful to one's partner".  See also 1 Tim. 5:9, ἑνὸς ἀνδρὸς γυνή, henos andros gune
Let's just compare what NRSV, TNIV, NIV 2011, NIV 1984, ESV, Richmond Lattimore, Willis Barnstone, and Julia Smith have respectively done with these Greek phrases in English translation.  And then we'll get back to Aristotle.

married only once / married only once - NRSV

faithful to his wife / faithful to her husband - TNIV, NIV 2011

the husband of but one wife / faithful to her husband - NIV 1984

the husband of one wife / the wife of one husband - ESV

married to one wife / widow of one husband - Lattimore

a man of one wife / the wife of one man - Barnstone

husband of one wife / wife of one man - Smith

Most translators specify some sort of marriage relationship in the phrase.  The Greek, nonetheless, does not demand this.  Moreover, most of these translators use a gendered spouse word for the one phrase or the other.  NRSV and Nyland, nonetheless, see this spouse gender specification as not so important for Paul.  The context of widows makes clear what is what in 1 Tim. 5:9.  And the "any person" or "whoever" or "anyone" of 1 Tim. 3:1 (the τις) seems to leave wide open the question of the gender, although clearly Paul has written ἄνδρα and the γυνή when referring to the sorts of persons who might be faithful to their partner.

Now, when we leave Paul and go back to Aristotle, the household rules and the politics of city states and the practices of leadership get much, much more restricted.  One little and very clear example is Aristotle's assertion as follows.  There's his Greek and then H. Rackham's English translation (1277b, around line 20):
ἀνδρὸς καὶ γυναικὸς ἑτέρα σωφροσύνη καὶ ἀνδρεία (δόξαι γὰρ ἂν εἶναι δειλὸς ἀνήρ, εἰ οὕτως ἀνδρεῖος εἴη ὥσπερ γυνὴ ἀνδρεία, καὶ γυνὴ λάλος, εἰ οὕτω κοσμία εἴη ὥσπερ ὁ ἀνὴρ ὁ ἀγαθός· ἐπεὶ καὶ οἰκονομία ἑτέρα ἀνδρὸς καὶ γυναικός· τοῦ μὲν γὰρ κτᾶσθαι τῆς δὲ φυλάττειν ἔργον ἐστίν).

temperance and courage are different in a man and in a woman (for a man would be thought a coward if he were only as brave as a brave woman, and a woman a chatterer if she were only as modest as a good man; since even the household functions of a man and of a woman are different—his business is to get and hers to keep).
What Aristotle is assuming and is asserting to be scientific fact is that men and women are different such that they really are not partners at all in the human race.  They're not partners, that is, unless you objectively see females as deficient males and as lesser than males in every role, in each domain.  Aristotle would regard Paul and Timothy as barbaric if they allowed a woman to hold office over a man, to be the bishop of a church, and so forth.  The real interesting question for us today is How much, if at all, did Paul follow Aristotle and whether he tried to get Timothy and other men to do the same?

Nyland (and perhaps the NRSV for I Timothy) seems to suggest that Paul is much more egalitarian that Aristotle's Nature would let him be.  What matters for Paul, Ann Nyland appears to claim, is that any person may prove responsible and may be recognized when faithful to their partner.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Sexual harassment

When I first started blogging, it became increasingly clear to me that Aristotle's sexism and misogyny and gynephobia had penetrated the domain of Bible translation. So I wrote a post entitled, "Icky-ness: (womanly) Word Play in Bible Translation." Suzanne commented, first, following my post to say, "That is very striking. I had not ever read this passage in Greek, that I remember." And then she said, "Here is a truly gyn-icky-logical article."

The article she directed us to was by Daniel Wallace.  That was my introduction to Wallace and to his sexism.

And now Wallace's sexual harassment, it seems, has extended to others who would endorse his views or would practice his practices.   Not even a week ago, Suzanne noticed how he or his blog editors had silenced her:  "I can't interact with Dr. Wallace's post because I have been blocked for not backing down on points of accuracy in Latin and Greek, or something like that."  And then today, Suzanne has been warned by one of the men at the all-male BBB about being one who would "pursue the gender discussion on this posting."  Never mind that the BBB posting is all about Wallace's part-1 of his "review" of the NIV 2011, a "review" in which Wallace mentions gender many many times.  Never mind that the BBB posting refers to Wallace's review where Wallace himself even uses the word gender there exactly 13 times.  Go figure.  (Notice, I'd just been sitting by, listening into the conversation up to that point.  No longer.  Peter Kirk says you can discuss gender not at BBB but at his other blog.  Why?  I'd say you should also feel free to discuss Wallace and the NIV 2011 and gender here at this blog.)

There's much to say about Wallace's review per se.  Kirk has started in on one little point.  I'd like to pick that up just a little more here.  Kirk gets into the history but not necessarily the Greek.  And Wallace is not careful with his own Greek revisionism when he accuses the NRSV translation team of historical revisionism.  He says, at one point:
In 1 Tim 3.2, “married only once” [by the NRSV] translates the Greek phrase, “husband of one wife” (though some evidence has been suggested that this phrase might mean simply “married only once”). The text now sounds like Paul would allow women to be elders/bishops, but that seems to be a case of historical revisionism.
In fact, the Greek phrase is μιᾶς γυναικὸς ἄνδρα, mias gunaikos andra.  Please notice how "the Greek phrase" for Wallace is, rather, exactly the instead-English phrasing of the male-only ESV Bible translators, which they also allow in a footnote to be alternatively, literally, read as "a man of one woman."  Now, Wallace (in his parenthetical note) suggests "some evidence" for an expanded meaning.  But he doesn't tell us what he means by his italicized "some"; nor does he bother to direct us to where we might find this additional evidence for the additional meanings.  So may I please suggest we find the note that Ann Nyland gives for this Greek phrase?  Here is what Nyland says, pointing out how Paul to Timothy recognizes faithfulness to one's partner, whether one is a man or a woman, faithfulness whether one is a monogamous husband or a monogamous wife:
μιᾶς γυναικὸς ἄνδρα, mias gunaikos andra. "faithful to one's partner".  See also 1 Tim. 5:9, ἑνὸς ἀνδρὸς γυνή, henos andros gune.  For references to where this term, or its Latin equivalent, was used on epitaphs to describe a woman faithful to her husband, see C. Keever, And Marries Another, Hendrickson, 1991, pp. 91-2.  Dr. Instone Brewer states, "In New Testament times those phrases meant 'a one-woman man' or a 'one-man-woman', i.e., someone who was faithful.  Timothy was being told to make sure his deacons were not sexually immoral, which was very difficult in a society where you were allowed to sleep with your [female] slaves and where a host was expected to provide [female] prostitutes after a banquet."  Divorce and Remarriage in the Church:  Biblical Solutions for Pastoral Realities, Great Britain, 2003, p. 177.
Well, enough of Wallace's review for now.  What his blogging is doing and what the BBB now is doing is silencing a woman, preventing her from talking about gender while men only talk about women in the Bible and in Bible translation.  Yes, at least the BBB is restricting all of us from talking about women in the Bible and its translation or about aadvarks, as if the two were really the same.

Here, Suzanne rightly calls this "Sexual harassment," what Wallace is doing with his "biblical gynecology."  And see how she much more fairly deals with him, even on his terms, not silencing him or using sexual metaphors for the other, but through conversation and a comparison/contrast of views:

McCarthy vs Wallace

McCarthy vs Wallace 2

McCarthy vs Wallace 3

McCarthy vs Wallace 4

McCarthy vs Wallace 5

McCarthy vs Wallace 6

And related:

Faithful in little ...

Mike Heiser and Junia

Are complementarians biblical?

Junia resurrected

Junia, may she live forever

Gobsmacked at Dan Wallace

Dan Wallace compares the NRSV and the ESV 










Monday, July 25, 2011

Sexing Mortals as Women: a reply

Joel Hoffman has kindly taken time to comment here, to summarize and to set the record straight on his argument about the sex of the referents of the old Greek word, "anthropos."  This post is my reply.
Maybe it's just the sweltering heat that's gripping the country, but this strikes me as a disagreement in search of an opponent.
It really may be, Joel, that there are various causes for our conversation and, as you imply, for my own perspectives (such as the "the sweltering heat that's gripping the country").  However, please know that my first disagreement is with how you frame the discussion.  As Suzanne commented to you, "There is a lot of misunderstanding about these [Greek and English] words."  And, as Kristen pointed out very early, it's "through the lenses of their interpretation" that many will restrict how they view women vs. men in texts, whether the Bible in translation or the Declaration of Independence in the original.

Is anybody here really in search of an adversary? 

See how your comment frames our discussion now.  I don't want to misunderstand or mis-characterize what has been said.  I'm quoting you directly again and linking back to the threaded dialogue where you made your long comment.  Please know I'm not trying to diminish your view!  So it's worth repeating that I don't want to misunderstand or mis-characterize what has been said.  Yes, the point of issue for you is your position.  Perhaps I can reply with some fairness and with much due respect.   Your point of issue (i.e. what your position is) may be, ironically, precisely the point of my previous post:  we men are often so intent on our position that what we overlook is our privilege in it to the excluded point of view or, more to Kristen's point, to the excluded domains (i.e., "functional equality") of women.  Right, you're not wanting to take the conversation to that level.  You're interested in how right, and how rightly understood objectively, your own position must be. 

My position --- and I'm pretty sure I'm right --- has always been that anthropos in Greek is not the exact equivalent of "person" or of "man" in English. In my post from which you selectively quote, I write, "...anthropos in its various forms and contexts means different things, [and] I think we can usually know when it is gender specific and when it is not."
Is there an opponent to this position of yours?   Of course, everybody knows that, at the structuralist level of the word, there are no exact equivalents between languages.  And variant forms and different contexts in an untranslated text yield different meanings, even different and determinable and specific gendered meanings.  We will get to the examples you provide in your comment soon.

I'd like to say that, before we start talking about intra-translation or inter-translation equivalents ("exact" or otherwise), let's talk some about English alone.  Or about a word in any one language untranslated.  The question I was trying to raise is how Thomas Jefferson's "all men" in English could ever rightly be read as "all men and women."  We could flip the question around to talk about how Aristotle's use of a word can split women from men, can exclude the former from the privilege of the latter.  Anne Carson has noticed:
The celebrated Greek virtue of self-control (sophrosyne [σωφροσύνη]) has to be defined differently for men and for women, Aristotle maintains. Masculine sophrosyne is rational self-control and resistance to excess, but for the woman sophrosyne means obedience and consists in submitting herself to the control of others.  [See Aristotle's clear description of this defined division of his, in his Politics, Book I, 1260a]
Notice, then, that whether in English only or in Greek only, with words, different readers can use them to exclude or to include.  And we men tend to use the words we exclude by with privilege.

I may be getting a little ahead of myself.  And certainly I don't want to run ahead of what you've said too much.  Let me just say that I noticed how you didn't answer Mike Aubrey (on September 16, 2009) when he asked you:
Joel, what’s the difference between “human” and “person,” semantically speaking?
Several of us, I'm guessing, were wondering about that.  I'm glad you've brought up your distinctions between "human" and "man" neither of which can, for you, "mean ... person."  Further below, I'll reply to your reassertion of this difference you subscribe to again here.  However, I wanted to touch on it briefly now because I'm trying to make a point about untranslated words.  In your mind, by your own general uses of English, you generalize that some words "cannot mean" what others do.  And without getting into the differences (i.e., Mike's question) just yet, I do want to observe how Thomas Jefferson, in the short context of the Declaration of Independence, seems to equate "human" and "people" and "mankind" with "all men."  Granted, these are not exact equivalents.  But the point I was trying to make in my blogpost is this:  that the male privilege Jefferson enjoys as he pens these words excludes women.  His "all men" refers to men, not to women.  Furthermore, hence, and consequently, his readers (i.e., the King of England and the signers of the document in the colonies, all males we might remember) all read "human" and "people" and "mankind" as functionally male.  This is some Kristen's excellent observation too, as she brings forward the male readers' reading into our 21st century.  Just to be clear:  if we pressed Jefferson, he would insist that "human" and "people" and "mankind" are his words inclusive of women, ontologically speaking.  And yet, he made clear that good women, American women, are to stay home cooking and using their knitting needles.  In other words, they are a different kind of human and people and mankind than are all men.

But let's continue with your examples from the Greek of the Bible:

In Matthew 19:10, for example, I think we all agree that it would be a mistake to translate aitia tou anthropou meta tis gunaikos as "the case of a person with his wife." Far better is "the case of a man with his wife" or maybe "...husband with his wife." Similarly, in I Corinthians 7:1 the point of kalos anthropo guniakos mi aptesthai (for better or worse --- I suppose it's not my place to say) is what a man shouldn't do with a woman, not what a person shouldn't do.

And I think we also all agree that in John 4:28, for example, i guni ... kai legei tois anthropois means "the woman ... told the people," not just the men.
My much more limited point in the same post was that in the LXX and NT when anthropos is singular and specific, it refers to a man:

In other words, anything of the sort "an anthropos was..." refers to a man. If the person is a women, we instead find the word gune. (My search is limited to the OT LXX and the NT, so there may be examples I don't know about. What we're looking for is something like "I saw an anthropos and she said...")

I still believe that's true.
Joel, I hope you won't think I'm trying to talk you out of your beliefs.  Instead, given that you've well established what you believe is true, I'd like to discuss some alternative possibilities.

Let's start with Matthew 19.   First, starting where you want us to end, I'd agree that "...husband with his wife" is the rough meaning of what Matthew is translating what the disciples of Jesus are saying.  We don't have precisely or exactly what these disciples said.  We only have Matthew's Greek translation of what they said.  Matthew's translation is this:

"τοῦ ἀνθρώπου μετὰ τῆς γυναικός [tou anthropou meta tes gunaikos]"

The disciples mean "husband" or "man."  Matthew uses "ἀνθρώπου [anthropou]" to render that.

The big question is why doesn't Matthew use the less ambiguous term "ἀνήρ [aner]" or its variant "ἀνδρός [andros]" for "husband" or "man"?   This is much more likely what the disciples meant, given the context of what they said.

Well, a likely answer is that Matthew is also quoting Jesus.  He's translating what Jesus had said.  And, while doing that, he's quoting the LXX.  That is, Matthew is literally quoting the Greek translation of Hebrew.  We have no precise statement in the text exactly what Jesus's words were as he actually spoke them.

Before we read again what Jesus said, according to Matthew's Greek, let's remember something.  Matthew has not used unambiguous Greek to quote the disciples of Jesus.  In fact, he's paired anthropos with gunaikos but not andros with gunaikos.   Nothing should have prevented Matthew from making very, very clear that he's tightly quoting the disciples as saying, ""husband with his wife," as you translate it loosely.  So why not help the readers understand exactly, without much ambiguity, what the disciples meant precisely.  Why anthropos?  And why does Matthew quote the LXX, although Jesus himself might have been speaking Hebrew, quoting the original text of the Bible?

The bit that Matthew quotes from the LXX is telling.  This bit has anthropos!  This bit has this word with rich ambiguity.  This bit is from Genesis, of course.  This bit is from both creation accounts of Genesis:  first from Gen. 1:27 reiterated also in Gen. 5:2, then from Gen. 2:24.   Although the Septuagint translators are using Greek and are translating Hebrew words on the design of marriage, in the beginning, the translators use "ἀνθρώπου [anthropou]";  they do NOT use the clearer words for "husband"; they do not use "ἀνήρ [aner]" or its variant "ἀνδρός [andros]."

Why anthropos?   Again, we will do well to remember that the LXX translators are translating.  This is exactly what Matthew is doing for the disciples of Jesus.  But they are not using a very precise word.  As you've already confessed, in various contexts, anthropos is not male only.  So, why anthropos?  Why not be clearer?

Could the answer be that the LXX translators know how Aristotle wrote Greek?  Perhaps they knew that he taught his disciples to avoid ambiguities?  As likely, or more likely, the LXX translators knew Aristotle's Politics, in which he refers disparagingly to human ambiguities and subjectivities on their "kind," their "class," their "social categories."  At line 36 of Bekker page 1255a, one can find Aristotle quoting the woman Helen:  "But who would dare to call me menial, The scion of a twofold stock divine?"  (This is H. Rackham's translation.)

Now, females, for Aristotle, are botched males.  And even if Helen is part divine, ambiguously so, then she's still botched; she's of a mixed breed.  Aristotle's reaction to this ambiguity in this woman is clear.  His reaction is to her suggestion that no one should call her menial is to complain that Nature will produce what it will.  He complains that people who boast about the best part of their lineage are not looking at the facts, and are not objectively observing nature, and are merely saying, "ἐξ ἀνθρώπου ἄνθρωπον [ex anthropou anthropon]."  The context, I think you 'd agree, allows for the fact that Aristotle is reading and is writing anthropos here as ambiguously inclusive of males and females, especially Helen.

Generally, the Greek lore for the beginnings of women, as anthropoi, goes way back.  And Helen is often quite frequently in the mix.  This is not lost on the LXX translators.  They are aware of the ambiguities, and they flaunt them.  What are they aware of?

Probably, the LXX translators know Sappho.  Aristotle does.  Plato does.  Socrates does.  Alexandria, where the legend has the translators, does.   Likely, the translators know her Hymn to Aphrodite III, 1 and 2.  Some of it goes like this:

πά]γχυ δ᾽ εὔμαρες σύνετον πόησαι
πά]ντι τ[οῦ]τ᾽. ἀ γὰρ πόλυ περσκόπεισα
κά]λλος ἀνθρώπων Ἐλένα [τὸ]ν ἄνδρα
[κρίννεν ἄρ]ιστον,

Here one hears of, and now only reads of, Helen as an anthropos with an andra.  That is, she's a person, a human, a mortal (not the immortal goddess Aphrodite).  And Helen is a mortal human with a man, with a husband.  To illustrate, here's how Jane McIntosh Snyder translates these lyrics:

It is completely easy to make this
intelligible to everyone; for the woman
who far surpassed all mortals in beauty,
Helen, left her most brave husband

(I've shown how various English translators have rendered these Greek lines of Sappho, here and here.)   What should be completely easy and intelligible to everyone is how Sappho includes Helen, a woman, without the word gune, among all mortal humans, by the word anthropos.

Perhaps the LXX translators didn't really know this Hymn of Sappho.  But very very likely, the LXX translators did know the Theogony of Hesiod:

The LXX translators seem to be working their Genesis translation, with both creation accounts (i.e., in Gen. 1 and in Gen. 2), against Hesiod's Theo-Gony.  Hesiod's account of the beginning, includes the lore of Helen as an anthropos.   But more than that, the Theogony has the creation of "woman" (and of the "female") as an aberration of and a harm to mortals.  Zeus, the chief of the gods, is responsible:
But when he had made the beautiful evil to be the price for the blessing, he brought her out, delighting in the finery which the bright-eyed daughter of a mighty father had given her, to the place where the other gods [θεοὶ theoi] and men [ἄνθρωποι anthropoi] were. And wonder took hold of the deathless gods [ἀθανάτους τε θεοὺς a-thanatous te theou] and mortal men [θνητούς τ' ἀνθρώπους thnetous t' anthropous] when they saw that which was sheer guile, not to be withstood by men.  For from her is the race of women and female kind [ἐκ τῆς γὰρ γένος ἐστὶ γυναικῶν θηλυτεράων, ek tes gar genos esti gunaikon thelyteraon]: of her is the deadly race and tribe of women who live amongst mortal men to their great trouble, no helpmeets in hateful poverty, but only in wealth. And as in thatched hives bees feed the drones whose nature is to do mischief -- by day and throughout the day until the sun goes down the bees are busy and lay the white combs, while the drones stay at home in the covered skeps and reap the toil of others into their own bellies -- even so Zeus who thunders on high made women [γυναῖκας gunaikas] to be an evil to mortal men [ἄνδρεσσι ... θνητοῖσι andressi ... thnetoisi], with a nature to do evil.  [lines 585 - 600, translated by H. G. Evelyn-White]
In stark contrast, there's the Hebrew account of the creation of woman!

And the LXX translators get the contrast between Hesiod's Greek and the Hebrew Bible.  They want to flaunt the ambiguities by their own Greek.  And so they do:
And God made humankind;
   according to divine image he made it;
   male and female he made them.
[translated from the Greek into English
by Robert J. V. Hiebert]
καὶ ἐποίησεν ὁ θεὸς τὸν ἄνθρωπον [anthropon],
κατ' εἰκόνα θεοῦ [theou] ἐποίησεν αὐτόν,
ἄρσεν καὶ θῆλυ [thelu] ἐποίησεν αὐτούς.

Here, there is great wordplay.  There is the acknowledgment and the flaunting of semantic ambiguities by lexical ambiguities and by grammatical ambiguities and by phonological ambiguities.  In other words, the LXX translators are not making the female some aberrant of the class of humans.  The LXX translators are using Greek to include women, females, in the class of all men, all humans.  And following the Hebrew, they attribute this creativity in the beginning to God and according to the ambiguous image of God.

This is one of the bits that Matthew quotes.  Matthew is ostensibly translating Jesus.  Jesus is quoting Genesis.  The point of issue for Matthew, as translator, is that the Greek for translation is ambiguous and gender neutralizing and gender including.  The "beginning," the creation account(s), may be the most important part of all of this:  here's a statement of Nature, of Creation, of the one Divine Creator, imparting the image of the divine as a creative act, as male and female, as humanity plurally sexed.  Any discussion of marriage, Jesus seems to be saying, shouldn't ignore the value of the female.  Any discussion of the beginning, Matthew seems to be emphasizing, shouldn't discount the way the LXX translators consider anthropos as positively inclusive of the female.

When we come to your other two examples, "I Corinthians 7:1" and "John 4:28," we can continue to look at the gender neutral and gender inclusive possibilities.  Paul writes to people in Greece who have Greek-religious and Greek-literary contexts.  And in I Cor. 6:16, as he's coming to the verse you reference, Paul quotes Genesis 2:24, exactly the same bit that Matthew quotes.  The backdrop is that in the beginning, in contrast to Hesiod's creation myth, God's image in creation of humanity includes the female in anthropos.  When Paul then uses the word for husbands in Corinth, there's a richness, an ambiguity, an inclusiveness that the English word husband does not have but that human being does have.  John, as you already explain, is likely not including women in his use of anthropos in 4:28.  In fact, he quotes and translates the woman in 4:29 as appealing to these people she's talking to to come and see a human, a person, who just may be Messiah, or in Greek "Christ."  John the translator is calling the Messiah a mortal human being in a rather gender inclusive if only perhaps a rather gender neutral way, an anthropos.

The LXX and the NT meanings for anthropos seems to be to play on the old Greek contrasts between gods/goddesses and humans, between humans and (their) women/wives.  How the Hebrew God/Creator made female and male in anthropos is the emphasis.

This brings us to your final paragraph in your comment:
And this, from a comment, is still the really interesting theoretical question for me:

I don't know for sure about [NT] Greek, but my best guess is that "Chris
anthropos estin" can mean two things. "Chris is a human" or "Chris is a man." It cannot mean "Chris is a person."

But it seems to me that it will be hard to discuss these interesting nuances unless we can move past the obvious cases. (I also recognize that some translators --- seemingly out of ignorance or dogma --- cling to gendered translations where there is no support for them, but I don't think that I'm one of those people.)

My only reply here is just to confess I don't understand what you mean that anthropos can mean either "'... a human' or '... a man'" but that it "cannot mean '... a person'."  (Please let me agree with you that you're not one of those people working seemingly out of ignorance or dogma!)  So let me ask you, Have we in this post of mine, with Sappho and Hesiod and Aristotle and Genesis LXX begun to "move past the obvious cases"?  Don't the Septuagint translators, together with the writers and Greek translators of the New Testament, open up the also-female meanings of anthropos in all of their contexts?  Don't they sex mortals as women too just as the look to the image of the Creator as being male and female?

Saturday, July 23, 2011

the man Thomas Jefferson on women

It is fortunate for us, that Platonic republicanism has not obtained the same favor as Platonic Christianity; or we should now have been all living men, women and children pell mell together, like beasts of the field or forest.

The [Indian] women are submitted to unjust drudgery.  This, I believe, is the case with every barbarous people.  With such, force is law.  The stronger sex, therefore, imposes on the weaker....  Were we in equal barbarism, our females would be equal drudges.

You think that the pleasures of Paris more than supply its want of domestic happiness; in other words, that a Parisian is happier than an American.  You will change your opinion and come over to mine in the end.  Recollect the women of this capital [Paris], some on foot, some on horses, and some in carriages, hunting pleasure in the streets, in routs and assemblies, and forgetting that they have left it behind them in their nurseries; compare them with our own countrywomen occupied in the tender and tranquil amusements of domestic life, and confess that it is a comparison of Americans and angels.

American women have the good sense to value domestic happiness above all other, and the art to cultivate it beyond all other.  There is no part of the earth where so much of this is enjoyed as in America.

In the country life of America, there are many moments when a woman can have recourse to nothing but her needle for employment.  In dull company, and in dull weather, for instance, it is ill-mannered to read, ill manners to leave them; no card-playing there among genteel people -- that is abandoned to black-guards.  The needle is, then, a valuable resource.  Besides, without knowing how to use it herself, how can the mistress of a family direct the work of her servants?

However nature by mental of physical disqualifications have marked infants and the weaker sex for the protection, rather than the direction of government, yet among the men who either pay or fight for their country, no line of right can be drawn.

 [quotations from The Jeffersonian Cyclopedia and from Memoirs, Correspondence, and Private Papers of Thomas Jefferson]

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Visiting the Men's Room; Revisiting "the Son of Man"

With this blogpost, I'm hoping we'll be willing to compare how we readily read The Declaration of Independence today with how reluctantly we read the Bible with any openness at all now.  We're ready to punt the male privilege of the one text; but many of us are still much more resistant to understanding the Bible as having language that's inclusive of women as well as of men.

I almost entitled the post, The Subtle Power of Man Exclusive Words.  That title, however, is just a little too nice.  Then I thought about this one:  How Man Holds His Pen is His Privilege.  And yet I know some people who get the "pen is" pun will think it's just too nasty.  Hence, Visiting the Men's Room; Revisiting "the Son of Man."

Here's the blogpost outline:  I. Preface, II. Back to the Declaration, III. Back to the Bible, IV. What's Next?

I. Preface

Exactly what did Thomas Jefferson mean when he penned the following words?

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed

What did this mean to Martha Wayles Skelton? What could it mean for Sally Hemings, Martha's half-sister? Or to the children, Beverley and Harriet, or even Madison and Eston? What did Mr. Jefferson's words mean to Outassete? To the other Cherokees? To all of the Monacan and the Saponi and the Tutelo and the Meherrin and the Shawnee and the Miami and the Kaskaskia?

Exactly what did English Bible translators mean when they translate foreign phrases frequently as "son of man"?

The traditional “son of man -- explains Joel Hoffman -- is a literal translation of the Hebrew ben adam, which is how God frequently calls Ezekiel. We also find it elsewhere in the OT. In these cases, the Greek Septuagint translates the Hebrew literally as uios anthropou.

What could the male author of the Hebrew phrase mean?  How about the male translators of this phrase into Greek?  And what then of the male translators of the Hebrew and of the Greek into English?  What do these sons of men intend?

What might this mean to Chloe Angyal, to Sindelókë, to Kristen, to Tonya, and to Jaime?

II. Back to the Declaration

When Thomas Jefferson wrote The Declaration of Independence, he did, in fact, pen the words human, people, and mankind; and, of course, these are gender neutral and gender inclusive words.  If you are an English-reading man or woman, you pretty much have to agree with that.

But, however, and nevertheless, the fact is that Jefferson and all the other English human people who signed that Declaration were men.  They were representing their interests as "men created equal."  They were not particularly interested in "mankind" as it includes women and the non-English such as Africans and Native Americans.  Indeed, Jefferson himself took an English woman as his wife.  He held in his possession an African woman as his slave and concubine.  The two women were the daughters of another English man, the one woman being a child born to this man's English wife, the other woman being the child of this English man's African slave.  None of these women were equal, or were even viewed as "created equal," with the men.  The children their women produced for these men, likewise, were not "equal."  The sons would only some day be equal if they were not daughters and if they were not boys tainted with African blood.  And then there were the "the merciless Indian Savages," whom Jefferson writes of in the Declaration of Men.  These natives to America were not considered equals.  In the Preface of this blogpost, you should have recognized the names of individuals and of individual tribes of women and men and children whom the Declaration of Independence does not include in the clause, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."

The male privilege of the Declaration of Independence extended for many more than 100 years in the United States of America.  Clearly, the women who wrote the Declaration of Sentiments in 1848 saw how Jefferson's male-only signed Declaration excluded them.  They wrote:  "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal."  And men and women together signed this document.

And African American men were not excluded either.  As a matter of fact, Frederick Douglass, one of the blacks (or one of the not whites) who signed the Declaration of Sentiments was the one who pushed for this controversial line: "Now, in view of this entire disfranchisement of one-half the people of this country, their social and religious degradation, in view of the unjust laws above mentioned, and because women do feel themselves aggrieved, oppressed, and fraudulently deprived of their most sacred rights, we insist that they have immediate admission to all the rights and privileges which belong to them as citizens of the United States."  When Victoria Claflin Woodhull ran for President in 1872, running alongside her as her Vice President was this same Frederick Douglass.  This, of course, was just a very few years after African American men were considered by the USA to be legally whole humans, and it was just a couple of years after these particular men could vote.  It was still nearly a half-century before women of any race could vote.

And the influence of Native American women and men was not excluded from the Declaration of Sentiments either.  Historians Joy Ritchie and Kate Ronald point out this influence out in their commentary on the Declaration:  "Wilma Mankiller, former chief of the Cherokee Nation, notes also the important influence Native American matrilineal and matriarchal tribal structures had on emerging feminist ideas, especially since [Elizabeth Cady] Stanton and [Matilda] Gage [two of the authors of the Declaration of Sentiments] both lived in the Iroquois country of upstate New York" (page 138).  The authors' inclusive Declaration finally ended with this sentence, implying a geography inclusive of all tribes of peoples:  "We hope this Convention will be followed by a series of conventions embracing every part of the country."

In the United States today, men and women of all tribes and all races are viewed as full humans, as equals.  Citizens of any sex and of any race ostensibly enjoy the same Creator-endowed rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  Even outsiders to the USA, translators of the Declaration of Independence, have no trouble using gender neutral words for Thomas Jefferson's "man."  In other words, some foreign language translators seem to get better than Jefferson and his fellow English men did that "all men" really does include all who are "human" and all "people" and all of "mankind."

For example, Shakila Yacob of the University of Malaysia has rendered "all men" as the Malaysian "semua manusia"; it's a translation that means, very inclusively, "each and every one" or "all of humankind."

Now, no natural born American should think that he or she has a more natural right to the Declaration of Independence than others.  To be sure, Thomas Jefferson was not an American when he penned the Declaration.  Moreover, The Declaration of Independence was not written to you.  In some ways what this means as that all of us are outsiders to this text.  And yet.  and yet it speaks of categories that may include or might just exclude us, depending on who we are.  The funny H. L. Mencken puts the English Declaration of Independence into "American"; and reading that foreign clause "all men are created equal" he writes it as, "you and me is as good as anybody else."  Then somebody named Tame writes this really Wild translation, "for Dummies":  "God created every person equal."  The point of this paragraph is that is it absolutely okay, however an outsider of the text you may be, to use gender neutral and gender inclusive language, despite what the author Thomas Jefferson intended.  His race, his gender, his class, he might now just agree, is not all he could intend by "all men."  You have rights.  And you have rights to read.  And you have rights to under-specify things such as the implied male body part.

III. Back to the Bible

If you've stayed with me so far, then you see where I'm headed, don't you?  Let's now turn back to the Bible.  There are these Hebrew and sometime Greek phrases in the Bible that seem man-ish.  "Son of man" is one of them.

I've already bored you before with how a son and a man like Wayne Grudem (an expert on "biblical manhood and womanhood" and the world's leading expert on "evangelical feminism") does fault English Bible translators who make the phrases of Hebrews 2:6 not "man" and not "son of man" but, instead, gender neutral "mere mortals" and gender inclusive "human beings."

But please do notice again how for the man and the son of a man named Wayne Grudem it's a huge problem that, "The male-oriented details are erased" from the Bible with "mere mortals" and with "human beings."  It the male-oriented details that matter most.  This is male privilege, even in language, especially in language of the Bible, and especially for people who don't read the Hebrew or the Greek for themselves in the language of English of the translation of the Bible.  The Bible was not written to you, reminds David Ker.  Especially if you're not a man, take note that the Bible was not written by you or for you or to you or any of your kind.  (Did I bore you before with how feminist-phobic David confesses to be, and did you see questions #35 and #36?)  If you're neither a man nor a son of man, well then.  Tough luck.

If you are a man, as I am, then why always hold on to your male-oriented detail?  Why not consider what the male privilege is like if you're just going to be a mere mortal.  If you're only going to be a human being, then consider this.  Consider these five cases.

Yes, 5.  Then let's discuss this further, together.  I know you thought we were going to go back in the discussion together to the Bible.  Well, don't think we're not talking about the Bible still.  Here are the 5. cases.  For him who has ears to hear, let him hear:

I’m not entirely sure how easy it is to call out sexism while standing at a urinal with one’s junk in one’s hand (but if anyone could do it, Charles probably could). I know what I would have said if this conversation had taken place in front of me – and it probably wouldn’t have been terribly non-confrontational at all. But because this happened in the men’s room, and because these men probably cared a good deal more about what a fellow dude thought than what I think, what I would have said doesn’t really matter.

What matters is that in this situation, loathe though I am to admit it, Charles has more power to effect feminist change than I ever could. 
   --Chloe Angyal, "Overheard in the men’s room"
Well. This is where things get a bit tricky to understand. Because most examples of social privilege aren’t that straightforward. Let’s take, for example, a basic bit of male privilege:

A man has the privilege of walking past a group of strange women without worrying about being catcalled, or leered at, or having sexual suggestions tossed at him.

A pretty common male response to this point is “that’s a privilege? I would love if a group of women did that to me.”

And that response, right there, is a perfect shining example of male privilege. 
   --Sindelókë, "On the difference between ..." (HT Kristen)
Now, I’ve never taken the time to express my frustrations with these types of issues in the blogging world, mostly because it’s very easy to just ignore the comments I don’t like. If you would oblige, I would like to set the record straight. When Daniel and I started the blog it was just for fun, and it still is. We had no idea what ‘biblioblogs’ or ‘bibliobloggers’ were. We began our blog as a joint effort of two Biblical languages students to produce, no matter how informally, consistent writing on a topic we were interested in, admittedly, with limited success. All of a sudden we were part of this ‘biblioblogging’ community.

We very quickly noted that this community was very white and very male. Being from Texas this didn’t throw us off too much (even though Daniel is half non-white and I’m completely non-male) and we decided it would be fun to try to keep the posts anonymous. This (no surprise) led many, if not most, of our readers to assume that it was Daniel doing the blogging and because of him I was  involved. When this comment came up I said nothing, but I should have.

The idea that a woman who collaborates with her husband on a blog (or any project) is only doing so (or has only come to the attention of others) because her husband is involved is offensive. If Daniel were not my husband but only a colleague I would be viewed in a much different light. Perhaps if I blogged on my own I would receive even more praise. Because my work is better? My ideas more interesting? Absolutely not.
   --Tonya, "Guess What? Daniel is my husband."
So the other day, this guy – you know, on Jersey Shore – this guy had done something stupid and it pissed off his girlfriend, so he looked at the camera and said, “What?! So now I’m frickin’ Jesus? I’m Jesus and I’m so perfect I’m not gonna look at another girl’s rack when it’s right in front of me?! Cuz I’m not perfect, and I am going to look!...I’m only human, ya know.”

Ugh! I really hate that.

I hate it when people use the fact that they're human as an excuse to be a douche.

It doesn’t even make sense. I mean, I could understand it if you were, like, ripping my arm off, for example, and I was crying and begging you to stop but you wouldn’t stop because you were, say, a tiger. Then you might say to me, “I’m sorry, but I’m only a tiger”, and I would totally have to be understanding because a tiger lives by instinct and not reason. So it would be pretty stupid of me to beg a tiger to stop hurting me, because a tiger lacks that little seen human-trait we call ‘compassion’.

But to claim that your humanity is the thing that’s keeping you from doing the right thing? That seems backwards to me. Isn’t it our humanity that compels us to treat others with kindness and respect? Isn’t it our humanness that kind of pushes us toward decency?

One of the things that I love about the Bible is that as we look into the life of Jesus we get such a clear picture of his humanity. We see Jesus celebrate and mourn, and we see him challenge injustice and cross social barriers. He is protective of the prostitute, gentle with the elderly, and compassionate toward the infirm. I like to think that during Jesus time on Earth, he was showing us a thing or two about how treat one another in this, the life we’re living... right now... 
   --Jamie, the Very Worst Missionary, "Human, like Jesus."
I understand the motivation behind “human one” in the CEB. And I think that in isolation it’s a better translation than the traditional “son of man.” But in the broader context of the full NT, I think the association with “son” is too central to give up, and so the CEB misses more than it captures. 
What do you think? Which part of uios tou anthropou (“son of man” / “human one”) is more important, the meaning of the phrase or the associations of “son”? 
   --Joel Hoffman, "Making Jesus the 'Human One'"
If you don't get the first 4 case studies above, then you probably holding in your hand a severe case of male-oriented detail privilege.

After reading case study #1, did you get where I get the title of this post from?  Please go back to that post of Chloe's if you didn't.  Or re-read it carefully anyway.

After reading case study #2, are you getting the subtle abusive power of male privilege?  

After reading case study #3, I hope you went over to Tonya's post today to see how she linked to one of my blogposts.  Did I tell you already that I'm a man?  That I'm Julie's husband?  But did you catch how I failed to count women bloggers who blog about the Bible with their husbands as if they were mere wives of those men?  I'm trying to blog with a bit of humor today, but it's a serious problem.  When will gender end?  Miriam Perez is dreaming it will, and today now (and more than ever thanks to Tonya to whom I apologize right here in public), so am I.  Steve Caruso has hit me up with this idea of a women's studies section for the biblioblogger library.  Today, I'm only wanting to study this male privilege thing.

After reading case study #4, won't you think of a human Jesus as not having to excuse himself for his misbehavior because of douche privilege? 

So, let's consider Joel's case, case #5 above.  It's probably the case here that's most focused on the male words of the Bible.  Joel is knocking an English Bible translation, the CEB, because it fails to make central enough the male-detailed "association with 'son'."  Joel is convinced, too, that even the Greek behind the word "man" is male-detailed only; he says elsewhere, "[W]e can look at how anthropos is used.  To the best of my knowledge, when it is specific and singular, it always refers to a specific man, never to a specific woman" [my emphasis].  So to summarize his own position, the English "son" and the Hebrew and Greek it's translated from needs to be linked to males only; and the Greek word "anthropos" isn't used to specify a woman.  (And I've already bored you with a bit of a rebuttal to that last claim, here.)  But the point is this:  that male privilege calls for language to be boxed up and locked down.  The male-oriented detail, the male-semantic chains of reference, all won't allow neutralization of the male-ness or the inclusion of any other, any female-ness in the cases of the Bible.

IV. What's Next?

Well, you tell me.  

Some of you who've stayed with me all the way through to this final chapter (or have scrolled ahead) are just seething.  "What's next?  It's the slippery slope where we can't tell the gender of anybody.  It's the absolute relativism by which we ignore the facts of the penis and other important biology.  You're just neutralizing gender, tossing away the important male-oriented detail of Jesus Himself."  Okay, I say.  I've spoken quite enough today already.  But isn't the detail of the race of Jesus important too?  And his religion?  And his class?  How about his circumcision, and I'm not just specifying the details of his maleness either.  What I'm saying is that his mere mortality, his glorious humanness (as Jaime writes about it) gets overlooked when the "son" part and the "man" part are all that might matter, or when those things are mainly what's emphasized (to the exclusion of a "daughter" or a "child" or "offspring"; and to the neglect of "people" and "humans" and "humankind" and "all men and women").

I'm just wondering if we can be consistent with our rules.  (I've already confessed in this post that I have hurt others by my own outspoken male privilege, when I'm trying to argue for inclusion and for gender neutralizing.)  So now I'm just wondering if we can be consistent with our rules.  We finally want men and women, white and black and red, to be able to be equal, to be viewed as all created equal, as we read The Declaration of Independence, whether we're Thomas Jefferson or Shakila Yacob or Elizabeth Cady Stanton or Frederick Douglass or Michelle Obama or Wilma Mankiller.  And yet we change the game when it comes to the Bible.

So what's next? 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Would You Have Acted on July 20th? Will You?

"On Thursday, July 20, 1848, at the morning session on the second day of the First Women's Rights Convention, sixty-eight women signed the Declaration of Sentiments under the heading, 'Firmly relying upon the final triumph of the Right and the True, we do this day affix our signatures to this declaration.' 

Thirty-two men signed the Declaration of Sentiments under the heading '...the gentlemen present in favor of this new movement.'"
   -- from, "Signers of the Declaration of Sentiments"

It was not until 1920 that the United States of America allowed its women to vote.  "More than 150 years later," Kristen reminds us yesterday, "and we are still fighting" for equality of women with men.

"Today is 20 July, an important day for us personally, but a more important day in history.  This was the day in 1944 when a group of army officers decided it was time to act against Hitler."
   -- from Jane, "A passing thought on the 20th July"
It was not until the next year that Adolf Hitler was no longer the dictator of one of the most brutal regimes in history.  But neo-nazi racism is not dead yet.
Here is a list of the 68 women and 32 men who publicly acted and signed The Declaration of Sentiments: 

Here is a list of the 3 women and 184 men who secretly acted and attempted to overthrow Hitler:

Would you have been as brave as these women and men on July 20th?  Will you be?  Can you act against discriminations against women?  Can you oppose sexisms around you?  Can you fight racists and racisms?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Declaration of Sentiments

Wednesday Morning.

On the morning of the 19th [of July, 1848], the Convention assembled at 11 o'clock.... The Declaration of Sentiments, offered for the acceptance of the Convention, was then read by E[lizabeth] C[ady] Stanton. A proposition was made to have it re-read by paragraph, and after much consideration, some changes were suggested and adopted. The propriety of obtaining the signatures of men to the Declaration was discussed in an animated manner: a vote in favor was given; but concluding that the final decision would be the legitimate business of the next day, it was referred.

[In the afternoon] The reading of the Declaration was called for, an addition having been inserted since the morning session. A vote taken upon the amendment was carried, and papers circulated to obtain signatures.

Thursday Morning.

The Convention assembled at the hour appointed, James Mott, of Philadelphia, in the Chair. The minutes of the previous day having been read, E. C. Stanton again read the Declaration of Sentiments, which was freely discussed . . . and was unanimously adopted, as follows.

Declaration of Sentiments.

When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one portion of the family of man to assume among the people of the earth a position different from that which they have hitherto occupied, but one to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes that impel them to such a course.

We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights governments are instituted, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. Whenever any form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of those who suffer from it to refuse allegiance to it, and to insist upon the institution of a new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly, all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their duty to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. Such has been the patient sufferance of the women under this government, and such is now the necessity which constrains them to demand the equal station to which they are entitled.

The history of mankind is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations on the part of man toward woman, having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over her. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has never permitted her to exercise her inalienable right to the elective franchise.

He has compelled her to submit to laws, in the formation of which she had no voice.

He has withheld from her rights which are given to the most ignorant and degraded men—both natives and foreigners.

Having deprived her of this first right of a citizen, the elective franchise, thereby leaving her without representation in the halls of legislation, he has oppressed her on all sides.

He has made her, if married, in the eye of the law, civilly dead.

He has taken from her all right in property, even to the wages she earns.

He has made her, morally, an irresponsible being, as she can commit many crimes with impunity, provided they be done in the presence of her husband. In the covenant of marriage, she is compelled to promise obedience to her husband, he becoming, to all intents and purposes, her master—the law giving him power to deprive her of her liberty, and to administer chastisement.

He has so framed the laws of divorce, as to what shall be the proper causes of divorce; in case of separation, to whom the guardianship of the children shall be given; as to be wholly regardless of the happiness of women—the law, in all cases, going upon the false supposition of the supremacy of man, and giving all power into his hands.

After depriving her of all rights as a married woman, if single and the owner of property, he has taxed her to support a government which recognizes her only when her property can be made profitable to it.

He has monopolized nearly all the profitable employments, and from those she is permitted to follow, she receives but a scanty remuneration.

He closes against her all the avenues to wealth and distinction, which he considers most honorable to himself. As a teacher of theology, medicine, or law, she is not known.

He has denied her the facilities for obtaining a thorough education—all colleges being closed against her.

He allows her in Church as well as State, but a subordinate position, claiming Apostolic authority for her exclusion from the ministry, and, with some exceptions, from any public participation in the affairs of the Church.

He has created a false public sentiment, by giving to the world a different code of morals for men and women, by which moral delinquencies which exclude women from society, are not only tolerated but deemed of little account in man.

He has usurped the prerogative of Jehovah himself, claiming it as his right to assign for her a sphere of action, when that belongs to her conscience and her God.

He has endeavored, in every way that he could to destroy her confidence in her own powers, to lessen her self-respect, and to make her willing to lead a dependent and abject life.

Now, in view of this entire disfranchisement of one-half the people of this country, their social and religious degradation,—in view of the unjust laws above mentioned, and because women do feel themselves aggrieved, oppressed, and fraudulently deprived of their most sacred rights, we insist that they have immediate admission to all the rights and privileges which belong to them as citizens of these United States.

In entering upon the great work before us, we anticipate no small amount of misconception, misrepresentation, and ridicule; but we shall use every instrumentality within our power to effect our object.  We shall employ agents, circulate tracts, petition the State and national Legislatures, and endeavor to enlist the pulpit and the press in our behalf.  We hope this Convention will be followed by a series of Conventions, embracing every part of the country.

Firmly relying upon the final triumph of the Right and the True, we do this day affix our signatures to this declaration.

At the appointed hour the meeting convened. The minutes having been read, the resolutions of the day before were read and taken up separately. Some, from their self-evident truth, elicited but little remark; others, after some criticism, much debate, and some slight alterations, were finally passed by a large majority.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Ways the Women of Japan Win

The Japanese students on campus today were full of smiles.  Yesterday, they were shouting and singing頑張れ / がんばれ / Ganbare!!  /  Go, Hang In There, Go!!.

For women in Japan, the World Cup win is a big, big win. The Gender Equality Index of Japan is only equal to that of the United States - in other words, women in Japan as women in America are not very equal to their male counterparts by international standards. Here's an interesting way of putting all of that.

And for "football" or "soccer" in general, the Japanese women have won much for many because they show the world new ways of making the game even better. Here's how USA coach Pia Sundhage put it:
“As I said, the way we played the first half against such a position-oriented team we were more dangerous than they were and we created chances. There is something to be said about the way Japan plays. They are comfortable with the ball and that’s good for women’s football going forward. Even though you take the first 45 minutes, they kept up their confidence, they kept their style. They believed in their technique. That’s good for women’s football in the future.”
Here is how the Washington Times editor and reporter recognize the winning ways of women in Japan:

Women’s soccer team embodies Japan’s post-disaster resilience

Growing up in a male-dominated culture, where women traditionally were expected to serve tea in offices and quit jobs to become housewives, the Japanese players had to fight just to find space on school playgrounds among boys wanting to play baseball and soccer without them.
Japanese girls still usually are seen playing tennis or volleyball after school, while boys pursue dreams of playing Major League Baseball or World Cup soccer.
The women's soccer team is known in Japan as "Nadeshiko" — a reference to a frilled pink carnation but also a nostalgic phrase dating back at least to World War II that describes the "ideal" loyal and resilient Japanese woman.
Though they reached the Final Four at the Beijing Summer Olympics in 2008, the women's soccer team only now has made the front pages here amid the nuclear crisis.

(More generally, here are additional resources for information on and by women in Japan.)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse

Mom and Dad came over a few months ago and saw I was reading, The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse: Recognizing and Escaping Spiritual Manipulation and False Spiritual Authority Within the Church by David Johnson and Jeff VanVonderen.  After we talked about the book some, Dad immediately began to confess and to ask our forgiveness for his abuses.  The next day, Mom found the book in a bookstore, and the two of them read it together.  Not long after, she started confessing and mending relationships, noting to me how subtly she'd hurt one of her own siblings who'd been expressing doubts about God, which my Mom had wanted no part of and had chastised this sibling for.  It's a book I'd not recommend everybody read.

The authors write for Christians, or at least for church goers who have been abused by church leaders; and they write just a bit for the abusers too.  If you've read it then you know how the authors dedicate the book to "the weary and heavy laden, deeply loved by God, but because of spiritual abuse, find that the Good News has somehow become the bad news."  And, at the end of the book, they write to abusers:  "Even if you've abused others, God still extends his arms to you and says, 'Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.'  Does this sound like a welcome invitation?  We believe it is from the heart of God."  In the middle of the book, they also give this same quotation, saying, "It is possible that Matthew 11 gives one of the best descriptions of Jesus' earthly 'job description.'  If you want to see His stance toward tired, wounded, struggling, people, here it is."

I'm bringing this up because there's talk in the bibleblogosphere of bullying.  So you might say this blogpost of mine is how I respond to how Joel Watts responds to how "Peter Kirk responds to Anthony Bradley," which includes how Bradley responds to how Rachel Held Evans responds to Mark Driscoll for what she calls Driscoll's bullying, which could be seen also as his homophobia (if you read one of the many posts she links to).  I am weary now.  Heavy.  Heavy laden.  So what should I do?

Yesterday, my neighbor and friend told me how sad she is we're moving.  "And, do you know what kind of neighborhood it is you're moving to?" she asked.  "Tell me," I responded.  "Up through the 1970s, your new neighborhood was full of houses that were only deeded to whites.  When we were looking to buy there then, we were told, don't bother." 

You see, my friend is, by her own self-identity, "black."  In other words, she's African American.  She knows the history of discrimination of whites against black in the United States very well.  She knows her history very well.  She knows it personally.  Sometimes the abuse of blacks by whites is very subtle.  Sort of like the power of spiritual abuse of Christian church leaders and powerful bloggers. 

At any rate, my neighbor pressed.  She knows I'm white.  In other words, I'm Euro-American.  She told me that when she was a little girl, her mother took her into a department store that only whites frequented.  A young white store clerk grabbed the little girl by her pony tail and exclaimed to her mother, "You negroes must leave this store right now."  The mother looked at the clerk and apologized.  She looked at her daughter and told her that she must also apologize.  "This is the same mother," said my neighbor, "who used to beat me.  And now she was telling me to apologize.  For what?  For being black?  For going with her into a white store?  What did I do wrong?"

My friend and neighbor confessed.  "I used to hate it when Martin Luther King came on tv.  He'd talk of freedom.  But he'd stir everybody up.  He'd make for tension.  What good is freedom when it's just going to get you in line for more abuse?  Why couldn't he just be quiet?  Why did everybody have to listen to him?  I was a little girl then.  The attitudes were deep."

The attitudes run deep.  Very very deep.  This is some their power.  The subtleties reinforce the power and perpetuate the abuses.  I'm not saying I have answers for anybody else right now.  I'm just blogging.  I do think fb, twitter, and blogging, like pulpiteering and pony-tail grabbing can be abusive.  And yet, and yet.  I still believe in good news and in good change.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

My Dad and my several blogging incarnations

Today, a year ago, my father was diagnosed with deadly cancer.  His oncologists call it "inoperable and uncurable Stage IV Adenocarcinoma."  In lay terms, it's lung cancer, crazy-mutated cells of large tumors that don't stop growing, in his lungs, and in him also on his spine, and in him also present as 6 additional tumors inside his skull, right in his brain.  When I heard the doctor speak, much for me stopped.  I wanted to stop blogging, to start giving as much attention as I could to my father and my mother.  And my blogging did halt.  However.

A big surprise for me is that Dad has been so healthy in his year-long battle against the disease.  Last month, he wrote, "To this point I have not been confined to bed—nor spent one day in the hospital. This is God’s doing and we praise Him! 

And it's true.  For the past 365 days, I've either been with Dad in person or have talked with him by phone, nearly daily.  The early radiation on his head, to battle the brain tumors, caused a few little lapses in his short term memory.  The chemotherapies have taken their toll on his hair and his strength.  He prefers to walk now with a cane.  But he's sharp as a tack.  And he's taken time to receive hundreds of visitors into his home with my mother.  Mom has been his chauffeur, since he no longer can drive a vehicle, and they've been to visit my little family's home, and one of my sibling's family's home, in cities some distance from their own home.  In May, he went to his granddaughter's graduation from high school, a long ceremony in another city, and a party afterwards at our home.

A bigger surprise for me is how much healthier this man I call Dad has become spiritually.  I think I've blogged some about his emotional maturity, his repentance of his past abuses, his attempts at reconciliations of all sorts with so many especially those of his household, his kindnesses to Mom and to his children and to his grandchildren.  He no longer treats her as his helpmeet.  He now calls her his soulmate.  He now is writing about her as his best friend.  He considers her his equal.  He knows with his head (riddled with tumors), deeply breathes with his lungs (so full of final-stage cancer), and has resolved with his backbone (dis-eased by a mass) how wonderful she is.  She is created by God in God's image.  Today, on this very anniversary of his deadly cancer diagnosis, here's what he wrote:  "I truly am grateful for all she does to make our lives full and meaningful. But as I pondered my thoughts, I realized that my “thank you” meant more than a word of appreciation. I was feeling gratitude for our shared life—for the person she is, for sharing the challenges and walking faithfully with me in this climb to overcome cancer, for the encouragement she gives (sometimes pushing me along)."  This is, for my father, a huge change.  Can we call it a conversion?  Meta-Noia?

Yesterday, one of his granddaughters, my eldest daughter, was with a boyfriend.  This young man was expressing to our family how he cannot read the Bible.  He'd been to church.  He'd heard the preacher preaching.  He'd listened to this man reading the Bible.  He'd drawn sharp conclusions.  "The Bible says, 'Women can't preach.'"  "The Bible says, 'Women have to be quiet in church.'"  "The Bible says, 'Females can't wear beautiful clothes or their beauty on the outside.'"  I won't have any part of that stupidity.  My daughter stood up for the Bible but didn't back down for women.  This is a strong young woman, one who's had a few disagreements with her grandfathers, especially with my Dad, over the biblical strengths of a woman, the biblical voices of women.  My daughter has an eyebrow ring, a new ring in her nose, a couple of tattoos.  This also has dismayed her grandfathers, both preachers.  Both men are SBC ministers.  Both are "complementarians" who have also interpreted their Bible for today as meaning that women, because they are born into bodies sexed female, cannot have any of the leadership roles above men in their homes or in their church.  

Well, this granddaughter of my father knows a thing or two herself about cancer survivorship.  She once had a deadly case of the disease.  It had infected her liver.  Long story short, she needed an organ transplant, and I was selected to be her organ donor.  So there's this incarnation of me in her, which is pretty remarkable for both of us.  I've found myself saying these past 15 years, "This is God’s doing and we praise Him!"  

But the physical health and transformations are hardly the half of it.  It's the deep spiritual and relational changes that count most for me.  And my daughter, her mother, her grandmothers, have continued to be equal with her grandfathers and her father, equal in the image of God, equally created, equally capable and called in leadership roles of various sorts.  My daughter did not have to be silent to her boyfriend yesterday.  He didn't like what he'd heard from a complementarian preacher; and so he'd given up on the Bible and its messages of creation and re-creation and the beauty of God's image in women and in men.  But my daughter didn't shut up.  She's encouraging him to listen to her, to listen to other ways to listen to the scriptures.  There's an incarnation there, which stresses humanity and humanness and not one sex exclusive of or in complement to or over the other.

Jane Stranz, blogger, yesterday writes of ways three bloggers have inspired and intrigued her.  She kindly included me among two of my favorite bloggers, Suzanne, and David.  And Jane also said of me that I have "had several blogging incarnations but despite a bit of time offline is still very much on form these days."  Indeed, around a year ago I noticed, "I’ve blogged at four different blogs, saying many different things."  And then Dad got sick, was facing the worst, and I was pretty sure for a good while that I didn't want to say anything anymore.  Sitting with Mom, waiting, I was sure it was good to be with them much more as much as I was able.  But then Dad started modeling health to me in new and fresh ways, the health of a biblical man, coming into biblical manhood.  As long as I could, I wanted to blog more about that.  Some days, there's an inspiration from the incarnations.  Some days there's not.  Today there is!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Junia: psst, that Apostle has a mustache

There's been some good blogging on Junia, the ApoStle.  In the picture above, someone's put a mouStache on her.  She'S the one whom the all-male translators of the ESV and other Bibles want to tranSgender into a man.

SometimeS, they make her just well-known to the ApostleS,
not an Apostle among the Apostles herself.

Here's ESV:
Greet Andronicus and Junia [Or JuniaS], my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners. They are well known to the apostles, and they were in Christ before me.
Of course, that's Paul writing to Rome, using Greek, not Latin.  And here's Bible translator Ann Nyland saying a couple of things as she goes back to the Greek sources:


Now, here's that good blogging:

  • Faithful in little ...
  • Mike Heiser and Junia 

  • Are complementarians biblical?

  • Junia resurrected

  • Junia, may she live forever

  • Apostles and prophets 

  • Why not choose the ESV for your church

  • Female Apostles or Female Apostates?

  • The Case For Junia, The Lost Apostle

  • Junia - the first female apostle 

    • To/among

      ESV 7 Greet Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners. They are well known to the apostles, and they were in Christ before me.

      Emmmm, how strange! (Reason number one for not purchasing the ESV for college)

      NIV©Greet Andronicus and Junias, my relatives who have been in prison with me. They are outstanding among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was.
      NAS©Greet Andronicus and Junias, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners, who are outstanding among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.
      ISV©Greet Andronicus and Junias, my fellow Jews who are in prison with me and are prominent among the apostles. They were belonged to the Messiah before I did.
      GWT©Greet Andronicus and Junia, who are Jewish by birth like me. They are prisoners like me and are prominent among the apostles. They also were Christians before I was.
      KJVSalute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen, and my fellow-prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.
      AKJSalute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen, and my fellow-prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.
      ASVSalute Andronicus and Junias, my kinsmen, and my fellow-prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also have been in Christ before me.
      BBEGive my love to Andronicus and Junia, my relations, who were in prison with me, who are noted among the Apostles, and who were in Christ before me.
      DRBSalute Andronicus and Junias, my kinsmen and fellow prisoners: who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.
      DBYSalute Andronicus and Junias, my kinsmen and fellow-captives, who are of note among the apostles; who were also in Christ before me.
      ERVSalute Andronicus and Junias, my kinsmen, and my fellow-prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also have been in Christ before me.
      WBSSalute Andronicus and Junia my kinsmen, and my fellow-prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.
      WEYand to Andronicus and Junia, my countrymen, who once shared my imprisonment. They are of note among the Apostles, and are Christians of longer standing than myself.
      WEBGreet Andronicus and Junia, my relatives and my fellow prisoners, who are notable among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.
      YLT salute Andronicus and Junias, my kindred, and my fellow-captives, who are of note among the apostles, who also have been in C