Archive for March, 2012

What Passes For "Being A Republican" In North Idaho

Saturday, March 31st, 2012

Click on the link below to gain a little bit of insight into GOP. far-Right goings-on in North Idaho. My comments are below:

http://www.ajc.com/news/nation-world/white-supremacist-running-for-1401584.html

My thoughts on this are restrained, but I think you’ll get the point.

“Being in the white power movement, I know how it feels to be profiled . . . ” ranks as one of the stupidest and most obscenely self-serving, offensive things I’ve heard in a good long time.

OK, about a week, really. I live in Idaho, and it’s a presidential election year.

But still, this just has to be taken as no less than more evidence of the continuation of the David Duke-like insinuation into “respectable” society we’re seeing from groups like the Klan, the Aryan Nations, and anti-government militias. Should they succeed in their efforts, they will nonetheless still be utterly foreign to true respectability, and it will be to the great shame of any society that pretends to hold lofty ambitions — particularly those among them who identify as Christians.

Let’s wait to see how the churches react.

Words From Women, March 30

Friday, March 30th, 2012

““Female friendships that work are relationships in which women help each other belong to themselves.” ~Louise Bernikow

(I didn’t exactly hit one-a-day, but life intrudes while women’s wisdom lives on regardless . . .) I hope the quotes I’ve featured have been an encouragement to you all, and may the end of Women’s History Month never be the end of women’s equality with men and affirmation as full partners in every way and in every part of God’s plan for this world. We hold up half the sky; it doesn’t make us more important or more worthy, but it’s enough that we know that we ARE important and worthy, however marginalized, oppressed, forgotten and mocked we and our fore-sisters have been.

Galatians 3:28 promises, to a Jewish culture wherein men awoke every morning thanking God they weren’t created Gentile, poor, or female, that those sin-borne divisions have no place in the church, home, or family. For those of you who “take the Bible literally,” remember this, and instead of expending so much effort in trying to apply a twisted, faulty hermeneutic that works to deny the truth of God’s declaration, try working for what it proclaims:

“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus . . .”

How I wait for the day when the Church says “Amen!”

Words From Women, March 24

Sunday, March 25th, 2012

From former Israeli President Golda Meir:

“Those who do not know how to weep with their whole heart don’t know how to laugh…”

A Little Absence, A Little Change Of Plans

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

Well, things do have a way of changing, no matter what you plan, right?

A friend of mine, the husband of the first woman I met through my ministry in Monroe, Washington, died last week, so I hopped the bus and went out for Saturday’s funeral. I met both Alvaro and Consuelo in December, 1989, and while we had lost touch since my family and I moved here ten years ago, I wanted to be there. It was very sad; I’ve known his family well for years, and my prayers will continue for the three children and two grandchildren he left behind.

So I’m writing this not just to explain my break from Women’s Words, but, in a departure to honor Don Alvaro, to offer some of his — wisdom that ranks near the top of the most profound parenting advice I’ve ever received. We were all at a party held at one of the filthy, poorly-run dens of employer iniquity — you call them “dairies,” I believe — and my then-three-year-old was acting up. I made note of my exasperation to Alvaro, who said, in a voice soft as a whisper and deep as a percussive bass note, “This is how children are. If we let them grow in peace, we, too, will grow in peace with them.”

That was the longest statement I’d ever heard him make, but it hit me and guided me throughout the years of toddlerhood, elementary-school crises, and teenage years before me with two sons. Alvaro was a good man, and I’m glad I knew him. And if all men spoke and lived with the wisdom he exhibited, there’d be no need to have a series highlighting the wise words of women.

They don’t, though, and there is. Continuing on . . .

Words from Women, March 20

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

It is not fair to ask of others what you are unwilling to do yourself –

Eleanor Roosevelt

Words From Women, March 15

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

This poem — and please, let’s remember that it’s a poem and not a statement of doctrine, a manifesto on femininity or feminism, or a declaration of dichotomous ontology designed to upset the reader — was found in the caverns of Nag Hammadi in 1945 (think the Dead Sea Scrolls). Scholars believe the author was a woman writing as a Gnostic; I’m not a Gnostic, but I see in this a beautiful lament of the paradox of living as “woman.”

I am the whore and the holy one,
I am the wife and the virgin,
I am the mother and the daughter
I am the members of my mother
I am the barren one and many are her sons
I am she whose wedding is great,
and I have not taken a husband
I am the midwife and she does not bear
I am the solace of my labor pains
I am the bride and the bridegroom . . .
Why, you who hate me, do you love me, and hate those who love me?
You who deny me, confess me,
and you who confess me, deny me
You who tell the truth about me, lie about me,
and you who have lied about me, tell the truth about me

Words From Women, March 14

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

“I stood a monument of amazing mercy, praising God with every breath, all nature praising instead of mourning as it did a few moments before. O, how changed the scene! The birds now sent forth their notes of praise! The leaves of the forest clapped their hands for joy, and the branches waived with praise! Every head of wheat was now bowed in sweet submission!”

Laura Haviland, Quaker minister and abolitionist, on what her parents called the “mere religious excitement” of Methodist prayer and revival meetings, quoted in Mothers of Feminism, Margaret Hope Bacon.

Words From Women, March 13 (And Then Read The Words Of A Man, Following)

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

“. . . When we are reading our Bibles, we prefer to know exactly what the Holy Ghost addresses to us, instead of finding between its pages the opinion of even the most excellent uninspired man.”

“Women of God, who, loving the praise of God more than the praise of men, will hasten the Coming of the Lord by grasping His promise, and entering upon the fulfillment of His prophecy, ‘In the last days, saith God, I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh . . . your daughters shall prophesy, and on My handmaidens I will pour out in those Days of My Spirit, and THEY SHALL PROPHESY.’”

Bible, Greek, and Hebrew Scholar and medical Doctor Katharine Bushnell, (1856-1946), “God’s Word To Women: One Hundred Bible Studies On Woman’s Place In The Church And Home,” available through Christians For Biblical Equality.

And heady studies they are, far more rigorous than what passes for Bible study these days (“Who was Peter writing to?” “Is adultery always wrong? How can YOU apply this teaching to YOUR life?” “Can you ask God to help you respect your husband more?” These are the “Jell-o portion” of most women’s Bible studies — bright, simple, tasty and utterly insubstantial, but safe enough to offer to Christian women, who’ve come to understand that hermeneutics, doctrine, and expository study are considered the provenance of the menfolk — who, come to think of it, don’t wrestle with the hard stuff a whole lot, either. It gets in the way, I suppose, of talking endlessly about their struggles with lust). Bushnell tackles the Word of God from Genesis to the Revelation, translating, analyzing, comparing, and rightly dividing the Word of Truth and, in doing so, concludes that the Scriptures teach that service and leadership in the Church, if God is to be honored and obeyed, must be on the basis of Spirit-gifting and not gender. She was a remarkable woman, and if you’re intrigued and would like a copy of her magnum opus, get ahold of me and I’ll try to get one for you.

In exceedingly different ways — in tremendously and astonishingly different ways — Douglas Wilson is a remarkable man. Moscow’s most belligerent clergyman (“pastor” sticks in my throat here) and I clashed just last week over his “concubine, not slut” amendment to Rush Limbaugh’s despicable comments about the woman testifying to Congress about insured access to contraception, and, frankly, I’d have liked to not have reason to criticize him or even acknowledge him again for a long time.

But these are wickedly confusing and confusingly wicked times, and I guess he just can’t help himself. And so, as you contemplate the tremendous depth of Katharine Bushnell’s teachings on the Scripture, and as you take into account the manifold wisdom of the many women whose words I’ve shared with you — and whose lives and ministries you know personally — let’s conclude today with Wilson’s typically crude take on contemporary Bible translations.

From Blog and Mablog, March 13:

“When it comes to all those gender bender translation practices, we need more Christian leaders answering with the good, old-fashioned horse laugh. Who wants a Bible translation with hormone shots and breast implants? It may be out of fashion to speak so boldly, but I have to say it. Not me. That’s just creepy.”

Well, yes — “creepy” does come to mind, as do past examples of Wilson’s love of titty humor. But as he asserts that all of these contemporary translations are “gender-benders,” by which I assume he means “gender-bending,” he actually makes a serious accusation: Those translations, in what he calls their “planned obsolescence” really do, he says, “bend” the genders of those persons in the text they purport to represent.

Would it be asking too much to beg him for examples of where contemporary translations like the 2011 New International Version, Today’s New International Version, New Living Translation, Common English Bible, and New Revised Standard Bible actually and literally “bend” — misrepresent or falsify — the gender of even one subject in the translation? Does translating the Greek “adelphoi” not as “brothers” but as “brothers and sisters” — which most Greek New Testament scholars says is not a nod to cultural sensitivities but an actual usage allowed by the original texts and the koine’ Greek in which they were written — wrongly “bend” the genders of those in the assembly? Or would we rather insist that the First Century Christian community was oddly homo-sexual in its ecclesiastical makeup, consisting only of males despite the many places where the author notes the presence of both women and men?

Is declaring that “people,” not simply “men,” are blessed as they walk not in the counsel of the unGodly a malicious concession to feminist culture, or a more-accurate representation of who actually does benefit from wise counsel and company? Can Wilson find anywhere in these translations where advice to women AS WOMEN (wives, mothers) is muddied up by suggesting, for example, that males can fulfill “wifely” or maternal roles? Or would he argue that admonition, rebuke, and encouragement clearly intended for the entire congregation, women as well as men, really isn’t? Are these promises of God’s conditional on walking righteously and living faithfully, or on having testicles? Is there any place in any of these translations, or even in paraphrases like The Message, where Yahweh is represented, against all testimony of the Hebrew and the Greek, with female imagery? Has he read any contemporary version that changes the gender of Jesus?

And, perhaps a bit arcane but more to the point since he’s so concerned about gender accuracy, have I missed his fulminating rants against earlier translations’ usage of “Julius” or “Junias” — male names — to describe the woman, Junia, Paul calls an apostle in Romans 16? This same “Junia,” whose name is invariably in other texts of the time a female designation, is paired with a man, Andronicus, who we presume to be her husband; further, that crazy feminist harpy from the Middle Ages, John Chrysostom, points out the blessedness in which our Lord held Junia that “she” would be considered an apostle. I must have missed Wilson’s profound concern, clearly voiced, I’m sure, about the caving and craven masculinization of this person named by the feminine moniker “Junia,” and I hope he can point me to earlier words of concern for fidelity to the Biblical text.

Or, could it be that he’s not been bothered by the “making butch” of Junia? Could it be that he knows of no examples in these contemporary texts of falsifying and blending the genders of their subjects? Could it be that the translators and scholars who compile the NIV, TNIV, NLT, CBE and NRSV might actually be men and women who know more about translation than he does, and who honestly, genuinely love the Lord Jesus?

To put it into language Wilson might understand, could it be that his “breast implants” and “hormone shots” comments about the Bible are yet further examples of his consistent preference to drink with alacrity the rank, bitter, foul old wine of dudeship and puerility — while the New Man wrought by his salvation withers from thirst, unable to recognize the true wine of the Holy Spirit and wholly unable and unwilling to offer it to others?

Words From Women, March 12

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

“God sent his own Son to buy humanity back from their slavery to the fears and shame of the world of thorns. Only a powerful man filled with authority could effectively model for other men the way to regain a relationship with God. Perhaps Jesus had to suffer a shameful death in order to convince that he really, really meant it when he said that Christians are not to “lord it over” people and that refusing to compete for honor and authority over others is not a shame but rather the heart of a redeemed life.”

Carrie Miles, “The Redemption of Love,” BrazosPress 2006

On Sunday, Blessed Words From A Woman Called "Blessed"

Sunday, March 11th, 2012

From the Gospel of Luke, chapter 1, v. 46-55, the Virgin Mary’s song of praise as the angel Gabriel revealed Yahweh’s intention for her as the Savior’s mother:

“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for He has looked with favor on the lowliness of His servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me ‘blessed;’
for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and Holy is His Name.
His mercy is for those who fear Him, from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with His arm;
He has scattered the proud and the thoughts of their hearts.
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
He has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.
He has helped His servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy,
according to the promise He made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”

And yes, I believe — in a literal Mary, a first-century Jewish teenager betrothed to the carpenter Joseph, a virgin at the time of the Incarnation, the “theodokos,” or God-bearer.

I don’t believe in the Immaculate Conception, which refers not to the Incarnation nor Mary’s impregnation by the Spirit, but to the Roman Catholic doctrine of her own unique birth untainted neither by original sin nor the sinful nature that comes from it. I revere Mary as I revere the Apostle Paul, the martyr Stephen, the Apostle Junia, and the teachers Priscilla and Aquila; she is not, however, my “Co-Redemptrix,” nor is she sort of an appointed “Fourth Person” of the Trinity.

Nonetheless, hers are the most profound, beautiful, faithful, courageous, revolutionary and powerful words likely ever spoken, I think, by a human being, and on this and every Sunday, and indeed every day we’re walloped by the painful twists and sudden turns of our lives, the Magnificat reminds us that only in obedience to God is there joy. Mary’s strength springs not from the fruitfulness of her uterus, but from the devotion and humility in her heart, and this brave, passionate, strong woman is a model not only for Christian women, but for men who seek to live in obedience to Christ as well. Hers are timeless and timely words for Women’s History Month, and precious pearls for my own heart every day of the year.