Archive for August, 2013

On Hospitality

Saturday, August 24th, 2013

I don’t often write about the Biblical virtue of hospitality, unless I’m analyzing a masculinist approach to it that makes it not a manifestation of spiritual fruit all believers should demonstrate, but a specifically female practice that, indeed, is often seen as a woman’s highest calling.  That’s not “hospitality.”  It may share many similarities in its appearance, but too often what passes for hospitality in traditional evangelical circles is merely an exhaustive, if not exhausting, iteration of expectations for women whose men have decided have nothing to offer from the pulpit, the pews, or the conference table during elders’ meetings.

Hospitality — the act of opening one’s home to others and freely offering one’s resources for their comfort — is both a Biblical command and a spiritual gift.  And for those so called and gifted it’s a safe endeavor (unless abused), however un-Biblical in its evangelical positioning as a female-particular aspiration, because the very act of offering hospitality marks you, in other people’s eyes, as a nice person.  The saint gifted with a prophetic voice isn’t generally thought of as terribly “nice;” the Spirit-gifted administrator or overseer, while expected to be kind, risks having the exercise of her gifts seen as purely efficient, if noticed at all.  And the generous giver’s works, however wonderful and gracious, are not to be seen at all — ideally, you would be in the presence of a startlingly generous giver and not even know it.

But you know the congregant or neighbor who practices faithfully the gift of hospitality, because by its very definition it involves “public works,” ministrations offered to those in need of them; the act of opening one’s home to others involves a public “opening up” not just of one’s home and privacy to others, but it’s a visible action that reveals the openness of heart behind it.  There’s no “keeping my gift of hospitality to myself,” as is the case with extending anonymous generosity to others. And while I think I please the Lord Jesus with my giving and my ministry, I also know that hospitality is not the are of my greatest giftedness.  I also am well aware that what I’ve sometimes ascribed to the Spirit’s distribution of gifts and giftedness — “well, the Spirit hasn’t gifted me that way” — has too often been a dodge that ensures that my home stays tidy and private . . . for my convenience.

During this last week, though, God has shown me a few things about hospitality.  We have had some friends of our son’s with us since the weekend; they had some sudden rotten luck and we had a spare bedroom.  It’s only for a week, and, as recent, permanent empty-nesters, it’s been nice to cook for other people and get to know an interesting, talented young couple who this time drew the short straw.

But it’s as recent, confirmed, permanent empty-nesters since June, when our youngest son moved to Bellingham, Washington, that we struggled a bit with taking them in.  Our sons both took places in Moscow a few years ago — but they were still around, and it still felt like they were tethered not just to our hearts but to our home. Now, they both live, and want to forever live, outside of Idaho.  It’s official:  Our kids have left the nest, and it’s just us now.  And while our hearts are sad, it turns out that we kind of like the idea. 

Kinda a lot, actually.  And I think maybe it was becoming a goal in our lives to embrace it.

So while I am not arguing that a sovereign God struck down our young friends in order to graciously invite Jeff and me to explore opening up our home to others once again, I will say that this week has been an unadulterated joy and blessing.  To us.  I’m pretty sure that J and M have benefited, and that’s good — that certainly was our intention.  But not being able to clean as freely as I normally do, or use the washing machine whenever I want, or needing to keep my voice down in the mornings because they’re late risers, or wincing when they come in late and set the dogs barking, or even trying to draw them out as we tentatively explore cultural touchstones we might have in common, has been good, really good, for us.  We’ve tried to show two young people we love that we do love them, and we’ve been a little inconvenienced in the process. 

And it’s been absolutely wonderful.  

A Tragedy In Spokane . . . That Has Nothing To Do With Trayvon Martin, Barack Obama, Or Race In America

Friday, August 23rd, 2013
Two African-American teenagers have been arrested for beating to death a white World War II veteran outside an Eagles Lodge in Spokane this week. It’s hard to comprehend the magnitude of such depravity; I can’t imagine what else anyone needs to have it understood that this is a horror. 
But already the online comparisons to Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman are bubbling up — with a consistent subtext of, “Oh, yeah — Obama freaked when a white guy shot and killed a Black teenager, but watch him chicken out now that two Black kids beat and kill an 88-year-old white guy!” The two are entirely different tragedies, though. First, there are no possible extenuating circumstances in the Spokane case. It is as horrific and inexcusable as it is isolated and singular. More important, this country is not full of similar examples; we have not seen, over our history, repeated instances of young Black men beating elderly white people to death, and when Blacks do kill whites, they are sentenced to far greater punishment, if they survive their charges, than whites who kill other whites. 
We have an ugly and documented history, however, of white victimization of Black males, which is what the Martin case represented to many of us. It’s despicable of aggrieved white America to pounce on this sickening tragedy to get back at those who’ve rightly pointed out that Black men are a vulnerable group in American society. Let’s focus on what happened in Spokane, punish the murderers harshly, and then ask ourselves why we seem to need a “gotcha” moment to assuage our prejudices and suspicions regarding race, violence, and justice in our country.

The Gospel In A Single Paragraph (Turns Out, It’s Not Just About Me!)

Sunday, August 18th, 2013

If there were one non-devotional book I would give every person I’ve ever helped lead to the Lord, every new Christian, everyone who’s loved Jesus for decades, and, indeed, every non-Christian I know who’s put off by what they see as Paul’s harshness in contrast to Jesus’ gentleness, it would be Fuller Seminary New Testament Professor J.R. Daniel Kirk’s “Jesus Have I Loved, But Paul? — A Narrative Approach to the Problem of Pauline Christianity.” 

I met Dr. Kirk in July at the Christians for Biblical Equality conference.  A friend directed me to his chapter on homosexuality and the Church, and I found it to be the single most important work I’ve ever read on the subject.  Chapter 25 alone is worth the cost of the book — but Kirk’s contention that Paul continues, with the same warmth and inclusivity as Jesus, the Savior’s emphasis on Kingdom living is so profoundly and beautifully stated that the book is priceless.  I’ve bought four copies already; I’d love to have 400, and I’d love to give one to the first person who contacts me at siyocreo@live.com. 

I’ll write more about this book as I wade through it.  It’s already affected me enormously, and if the entire Church read it, I think we’d see a more Christlike realization of the already-not yet Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ, one that wouldn’t look Left or Right, not insular in its worship nor dissolved by its competing interests. 

It would just look, I think, like a lot of people who love their Lord and each other and the hurting world around them, recognizing the beauty of obedience to his command that we love not only with our hearts and hands, but with our minds as well.  Seeing Paul and Jesus not as disparate strands we have to struggle to weave together in forming a theology of Kingdom living requires it, and the results are well worth the effort.

Read this book.  You won’t be disappointed.  Kirk sets the stage by decrying the “Four Spiritual Laws”-type approach to evangelism that focuses on getting the sinner saved from her own sins and then building a community of individuals who have in common only that they came to realize their need of a Savior because they were, every one of them, gong to hell without one.  Kirk quotes Scott McKnight:

“The cross addresses not only my problem as sinner but our problem as sinners gathered together in what is best called systemic injustice and evil.  Which means that the cross addresses the problem of evil.  We are not being fair to the Pauline texts on the cross if we narrow them simply and woodenly to resolution of my sin problem.  The cross addresses our sin problem — ‘our’ in the sense of yours and mine and the Western world’s and the Eastern world’s and the Northern and Southern hemispheres’ problems.  It addresses the world’s captivity by evil.”

Scot McKnight, as quoted in Dr. J.R. Daniel Kirk’s “Jesus Have I Loved, But Paul?”  2013 Baker Academic Press

About Comments To This Blog . . . and Ayn Rand

Thursday, August 15th, 2013

Many thanks to the gentleman who’s sent me a few comments this week — using his name, actually, and making some good points that I’ll respond to in a bit. 

Here’s the email address you should use when trying to comment on the blog:  siyocreo@live.com (“si, yo creo” means, “yes, I believe” in Spanish).  I realize that the comments section links to my old email, kjajmix1@msn.com, and I’ll try to fix that — but for now, go ahead and comment and I’ll cut-and-paste them into Prevailing Winds. 

It’s always good to hear from people who disagree with me, and using your name will always make me take you more seriously.  I do have to say that I’m glad the brother who once, in writing in, referred to me as “you stupid bitch” and then signed it, “In Christ . . . ”  appears to have lost interest, but even if you call me names, I’ll post your comment if you leave yours.  It seems fair.

And, in response to my correspondent’s question about who really takes Ayn Rand as an infallible guide to economics and social concern, the answer is, of course, no one other than Ms. Rand.  But let’s not pretend that GOP policymakers Paul Ryan, Ted Cruz, and Grover Norquist haven’t publicly expressed their indebtedness to her ideas — Ryan actually gifted his staff one Christmas with “Atlas Shrugged” — and that Republican thinktanks like the Cato Institute and Heritage Foundation aren’t brimming with Randian philosophies about thieving welfare states and the enshrinement of personal property rights.  Nobody who believes that the GOP should have as its goal the shrinking of government until “it can be drowned in a bathtub,” as Norquist trumpets, can avoid being linked with Rand or with a philosophy built upon her works.

Just as “Christian Libertarianism” is more than an oxymoron — it’s an impossibility — Ayn Rand’s odious, scholarly selfishness is entirely alien to the function of a healthy, prosperous society.  To pretend that she has not been an enormous influence on the GOP, particularly within the Tea Party, is disingenuous. 

Which is really just a fancy way of saying it’s kind of silly.  Silly approaching dishonest, actually.

CORRECTED: Giving, Receiving, And An Attitude Not Even Remotely Giving

Thursday, August 15th, 2013

(This was mistakenly posted yesterday before I finished it.  Please read on if you’ve already started!)

There aren’t many Christian pundits more devoted to exalting the right of private property ownership than Doug Wilson, nor many who consistently reveal much more about themselves than simply their views of . . . the right of private property ownership.

But before I analyze Monday’s Blog and Mablog post, part of which I excerpt below, please help me set the context by reading Genesis 41, the account of Joseph’s actions in securing from the people enough grain to survive the famine the LORD revealed to him would occur in Egypt.  Nothing in the account contradicts the testimony in Deuteronomy that Wilson uses — that private property is the result of the Giver, Yahweh, bestowing gifts upon the recipient, who then decides from his ownership how he will give in accordance with the “pure religion” found in James that requires support of widows and orphans.

Indeed, no one would argue that God gives material gifts — land, money, resources, equipment — to those he loves.  From there, reasonable people will acknowledge that it is better to relinquish one’s property volitionally in caring for the poor than to have it stolen by the poor or by those purporting to act on their behalf.  But thoughtful Christians see a marked difference between the taxation authority of the State, as described in the Genesis account that lauds Joseph’s wise handling of the people’s grain reserves, and robbery at literal or figurative gunpoint.  They may dislike the rate of taxation or the eventual uses it funds, but they’re clear on the difference.

Wilson, not himself a thoughtful Christian, isn’t.  Here’s what he says, and says with his usual peppy contempt:

“Pure and undefiled religion means doing what God says to do, the way He says to do it. When we rebel against Him, and do something else, we have still been created with a slot called ‘pure and undefiled religion,’ and so we fill it in with something else, and police the boundaries of that new thing with a religious ferocity. This something else is usually some form of ritual righteousness — something tangible that you can see. It may have no biblical basis, or it may be a counterfeit of something that has a biblical basis. For the former, cool is the new righteous, and it would be something like skinny jeans and moussed hair instead of wide phylacteries and flowing robes. For the latter, it would mean supporting greater levels of coercive taxation levied on widows and orphans so that some faceless bureaucrat might issue an EBT card to some skateboarding waster dude, and all in the name of helping widows and orphans…”  (Blog and Mablog, August 13, 2013)

In his spirited but depressingly life-denying defense of private property rights, Wilson reveals his contempt for both the State’s role in relieving poverty and for the recipients of tax-funded aid, and it’s clear that he finds State and undeserving, skateboarding “waster dudes,” to be equal partners in the pickpocketing of the God-favored in this country.  Programs supported by his tax dollars, programs whose financing he equates to a thuggish theft of resources given him and others directly by the God who favors them, are only a blaspheming counterfeit of “pure religion,” never a means by which God intervenes for good in the lives of those who are helped by them.  And the poor around him?  In Wilson’s world, they lack the purity and authenticity of James’ “widows and orphans.”  They suckle at the teat of government, as he’s famously commented, and in doing so, they suck the money right out of his wallet.  And while Wilson would undoubtedly continue, as he’s done in the past, to diagnose the reasons for people’s poverty straight from the Proverbs, he appears certain that the only noble poor are those he helps directly — the others are simply immature, weak, and conniving little thugs-in-training whose lamentable circumstances are nourished by that damned government teat at which they suckle.

The milk of human kindness goes sour, indeed, in the world Wilson believes God is building for him.

But more disturbing, even, than the Bloviating Bishop’s faulty grasp of government’s Biblical role in alleviating poverty is his unquestioned belief that in a nation rotting since its inception from institutionalized bigotry that has both enshrined and entrenched within it the poisons of racism, sexism, and classism, all of his resources are a direct, untarnished boon from a God who consistently chooses to bless him and his kind while others, the ones not like him, go without.  Wilson drinks with alacrity from the stream of privilege, finds it to be good, and blithely presumes that the abundance flows richly toward him from the throne of the Almighty.  With one eye on the font of privilege from which his treasure flows and the other on the poor around him, he blesses God for the Providence of his power and position and curses those who would try to direct the flow more equitably.  It doesn’t seem to trouble Wilson that so many people who worship the same God have merely a trickle, nor does he appear confounded that so many who despise the Giver nonetheless make off with a hugely disproportionate stream of riches.  God has given him what God has given him, and it would be unseemly, and certainly unprofitable, to question the hand of kind providence.

I believe — I cannot be persuaded otherwise — that all good things come from the God who loves us, who gives us all unfathomable riches to enjoy for his glory.  But those “good things” are very often, perhaps most often, not things at all; in fact, it’s safe to say that far less of God’s “good” gifts will be souvenirs from a sin-soaked world groaning under the weight of economic injustice.  We have the resources we have not in a vacuum, apart from a world filthy with lust for power and money, and not always directly from a pristine Heavenly pipeline, unsullied by unearned privilege, power based on sex and skin color, and social position enhanced by the things that most displease our God.  We have what we have; we receive what we receive, and we dare not hold it with anything other than a loose hand.  And not because we’re “just stewards,” although we are — we hold it loosely because we know that what God concedes to give us in resources are tainted, and we dare not embrace either the resources or the sin that corrupts them.  We know that what might have come unjustly to us from the throne of unfettered and amoral capitalism and entrenched social injustice may nonetheless be used to relieve the burden of poverty, ignorance, sickness, and marginalization created by it.

A truly Biblical ethic of giving, a truly Spirit-filled understanding of private property, can’t afford the luxury, in a rotting world, of defending the rights of those who have before defending the lives of those who have not.  A truly Biblical ethic of giving rejoices in Kingdom righteousness; it doesn’t count and keep record of what the steward loses in its establishment.

And a truly Biblical ethic of giving does not mock the poor — a statement so obvious that its inclusion here must tell you the depths to which Wilson’s theology and pastoral counsel have once again sunk.

May God’s Holy Spirit bring him to repentance.

I Just About Believe That Very Thing . . .

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

One of my favorite movies is Stephen King’s “The Green Mile,” which is about as profound a Christ allegory as you’re likely to find in modern media.  And one of my favorite scenes from the movie is when the condemned Harlan Billibuck tells Death Row Warden Paul Edgecombe that he believes Heaven is a return to that place where he was happiest in his life, to which the humble and gracious Edgecombe, played by Tom Hanks, says reassuringly that “Yes, I just about believe that very thing.”

It’s a beautiful scene that says less about Heaven than about graciousness in the face of unfamiliar theologies, and it came to mind when I read this from Billy Graham, who reportedly has lead more people to Jesus Christ than anyone else in the history of Christiandom, and who has enraged and confounded more fundamentalists, I imagine, than anyone in the history of Christiandom as well.

As many of you know, I am a Biblically convinced annihilationist.  I don’t believe the Scriptures teach a final end of eternal conscious torment for the wicked or for the non-believer, and I don’t believe it’s the view you should hold — because it contradicts the Bible. The overwhelming testimony of the Prophets and the New Testament, and of the Psalms, which are not generally a solid foundation for the formation of doctrine, is that those found to be in opposition to God are annihilated –  that “the wicked shall be no more,” and that their fate is utter, final destruction.  This is a belief shared by John R.W. Stott, Clark Pinnock, Edward Fudge and Christians who follow the Millerite tradition that, in the mid-1880s, gave rise to the Seventh-Day Adventist movement. 

But I am intrigued by the evangelical universalism of the pseudonymous Gregory MacDonald, Wesleyan scholar Heath Bradley, theologian Thomas Talbott, and the haplessly pleasant Rob Bell, who, incidentally, is not one of my favorite Christian thinkers. His arguments lack the academic rigor of MacDonald, Talbott, and Bradley, but invite us to consider that we may just have gotten this whole soteriology thing wrong when we pretend to be Biblically certain that Gandhi, for example, cannot possibly be in Heaven.  It’s a question we need to ask ourselves, if only to strengthen our doctrinal framework, and if we’re honest in analyzing the Biblical data, we might find ourselves a bit less certain than we thought we had the right to be. 

I’m not convinced that evangelical universalists have it right.  Those who believe that Christ’s death and resurrection provided atonement for the sins of all of humanity and defeated death, giving eternal life to all humankind, have some strong arguments.  They’re not just sentimental or embarrassed by a doctrine they find odious and counterproductive to evangelism.  These scholars — these brothers — read in Scripture what Pinnock called “a wideness in God’s mercy” that will, by the work of the Holy Spirit, move women and men to hearken unto the call of life Jesus makes, either at the moment of death or during a period of purgative suffering afterward.  Evangelical universalists believe, as we all do, that the Day will come when every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus is Lord — and while most Christians believe that will be under duress for the majority, the evangelical universalists rejoice in their conviction of a life-giving confession made with gratitude and joy.  I’m not there — not yet, and probably not ever — but I appreciate the challenge to any doctrinal views I hold that may be born less of Scripture than by the Christiandom around me.

So it was with joy that I discovered this 20-year-old quote from Billy Graham, someone who only the fundamentally flawed fundamentalists would call squishy in his commitment to Christ and lacking in his knowledge of the Bible:

“I think the Body of Christ, which comes from all the Christian groups around the world, or outside the Christian groups —  I think everybody that loves Christ or knows Christ, whether they’re conscious of it or not, they’re members of the Body of Christ. They may not even know the name of Jesus, but they know in their heart that they need something that they don’t have, and they turn to the only light that they have. And I think that they are saved, and that they are going to be with us in heaven.”

As Paul Edgecombe would say, “I just about believe that very thing,” and I would encourage you to explore the Word to see if maybe you could as well.

God And The Least Of These

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

Our God is the God of “the least of these,” and only those who see both His face and their own in theirs can ever know Him.

CORRECTED: Having, Giving, And Having An Attitude That Cannot Be Called "Giving"

Monday, August 12th, 2013

(This was mistakenly posted yesterday before I finished it.  Please read on if you’ve already started!)

There aren’t many Christian pundits more devoted to exalting the right of private property ownership than Doug Wilson, nor many who consistently reveal much more about themselves than simply their views of . . . the right of private property ownership.

But before I analyze Monday’s Blog and Mablog post, part of which I excerpt below, please help me set the context by reading Genesis 41, the account of Joseph’s actions in securing from the people enough grain to survive the famine the LORD revealed to him would occur in Egypt.  Nothing in the account contradicts the testimony in Deuteronomy that Wilson uses — that private property is the result of the Giver, Yahweh, bestowing gifts upon the recipient, who then decides from his ownership how he will give in accordance with the “pure religion” found in James that requires support of widows and orphans.

Indeed, no one would argue that God gives material gifts — land, money, resources, equipment — to those he loves.  From there, reasonable people will acknowledge that it is better to relinquish one’s property volitionally in caring for the poor than to have it stolen by the poor or by those purporting to act on their behalf.  But thoughtful Christians see a marked difference between the taxation authority of the State, as described in the Genesis account that lauds Joseph’s wise handling of the people’s grain reserves, and robbery at literal or figurative gunpoint.  They may dislike the rate of taxation or the eventual uses it funds, but they’re clear on the difference.

Wilson, not himself a thoughtful Christian, isn’t.  Here’s what he says, and says with his usual peppy contempt:

“Pure and undefiled religion means doing what God says to do, the way He says to do it. When we rebel against Him, and do something else, we have still been created with a slot called ‘pure and undefiled religion,’ and so we fill it in with something else, and police the boundaries of that new thing with a religious ferocity. This something else is usually some form of ritual righteousness — something tangible that you can see. It may have no biblical basis, or it may be a counterfeit of something that has a biblical basis. For the former, cool is the new righteous, and it would be something like skinny jeans and moussed hair instead of wide phylacteries and flowing robes. For the latter, it would mean supporting greater levels of coercive taxation levied on widows and orphans so that some faceless bureaucrat might issue an EBT card to some skateboarding waster dude, and all in the name of helping widows and orphans…”  (Blog and Mablog, August 13, 2013)

In his spirited but depressingly life-denying defense of private property rights, Wilson reveals his contempt for both the State’s role in relieving poverty and for the recipients of tax-funded aid, and it’s clear that he finds State and undeserving, skateboarding “waster dudes,” to be equal partners in the pickpocketing of the God-favored in this country.  Programs supported by his tax dollars, programs whose financing he equates to a thuggish theft of resources given him and others directly by the God who favors them, are only a blaspheming counterfeit of “pure religion,” never a means by which God intervenes for good in the lives of those who are helped by them.  And the poor around him?  In Wilson’s world, they lack the purity and authenticity of James’ “widows and orphans.”  They suckle at the teat of government, as he’s famously commented, and in doing so, they suck the money right out of his wallet.  And while Wilson would undoubtedly continue, as he’s done in the past, to diagnose the reasons for people’s poverty straight from the Proverbs, he appears certain that the only noble poor are those he helps directly — the others are simply immature, weak, and conniving little thugs-in-training whose lamentable circumstances are nourished by that damned government teat at which they suckle.

The milk of human kindness goes sour, indeed, in the world Wilson believes God is building for him.

But more disturbing, even, than the Bloviating Bishop’s faulty grasp of government’s Biblical role in alleviating poverty is his unquestioned belief that in a nation rotting since its inception from institutionalized bigotry that has both enshrined and entrenched within it the poisons of racism, sexism, and classism, all of his resources are a direct, untarnished boon from a God who consistently chooses to bless him and his kind while others, the ones not like him, go without.  Wilson drinks with alacrity from the stream of privilege, finds it to be good, and blithely presumes that the abundance flows richly toward him from the throne of the Almighty.  With one eye on the font of privilege from which his treasure flows and the other on the poor around him, he blesses God for the Providence of his power and position and curses those who would try to direct the flow more equitably.  It doesn’t seem to trouble Wilson that so many people who worship the same God have merely a trickle, nor does he appear confounded that so many who despise the Giver nonetheless make off with a hugely disproportionate stream of riches.  God has given him what God has given him, and it would be unseemly, and certainly unprofitable, to question the hand of kind providence.

I believe — I cannot be persuaded otherwise — that all good things come from the God who loves us, who gives us all unfathomable riches to enjoy for his glory.  But those “good things” are very often, perhaps most often, not things at all; in fact, it’s safe to say that far less of God’s “good” gifts will be souvenirs from a sin-soaked world groaning under the weight of economic injustice.  We have the resources we have not in a vacuum, apart from a world filthy with lust for power and money, and not always directly from a pristine Heavenly pipeline, unsullied by unearned privilege, power based on sex and skin color, and social position enhanced by the things that most displease our God.  We have what we have; we receive what we receive, and we dare not hold it with anything other than a loose hand.  And not because we’re “just stewards,” although we are — we hold it loosely because we know that what God concedes to give us in resources are tainted, and we dare not embrace either the resources or the sin that corrupts them.  We know that what might have come unjustly to us from the throne of unfettered and amoral capitalism and entrenched social injustice may nonetheless be used to relieve the burden of poverty, ignorance, sickness, and marginalization created by it.

A truly Biblical ethic of giving, a truly Spirit-filled understanding of private property, can’t afford the luxury, in a rotting world, of defending the rights of those who have before defending the lives of those who have not.  A truly Biblical ethic of giving rejoices in Kingdom righteousness; it doesn’t count and keep record of what the steward loses in its establishment.

And a truly Biblical ethic of giving does not mock the poor — a statement so obvious that its inclusion here must tell you the depths to which Wilson’s theology and pastoral counsel have once again sunk.

May God’s Holy Spirit bring him to repentance.

What Is And What Isn’t Feminism: Anthony Weiner

Monday, August 12th, 2013

Honestly.  You call yourself a feminist, and everyone thinks you have something to say about Anthony Weiner . . .

Of course, the real intent, I imagine, is for not-feminists and other conservatives to trip us up — to see if our answer is sufficiently consistent, not betraying favoritism to the liberal Anthony Weiner after criticizing conservative males of dubious character.  In this respect, it’s a little like the scribes and Pharisees asking Jesus Christ seemingly sincere questions about Mosaic law, hoping to catch him in some violation of either Law or logic.  The difference, of course, is that whoever questions me is far more likely to come away impressed with my deft and perspicacious response, which I hardly think you needed me to remind you.

Nevertheless, for those who wonder how strongly I’ll come out against Weiner after my criticisms of misogynistic Republicans, I’ll offer my thoughts — and then, and far more important, a link to a great article about feminist and pseudo-feminist responses to the Weiner affair.  It’s terrific and well worth reading. 

It seems abundantly clear that Anthony Weiner is not fit to hold public office.  At best, he possesses pitifully poor judgment and an utter lack of character; at worst, he’s sick, and his sickness, unaddressed, means that he cannot be trusted to represent his constituents with integrity, respect, and honor.  I suspect I’d favor most of his political policies, but in Weiner’s voracious appetite for women, he shows them enormous contempt.  There are many millions of men who like women and express it in ways that evince that, really, they don’t like women much at all.  He is that kind of man — a man who cannot be trusted with the compliment of being called a “feminist” because of his clear disregard for the closest woman in his life, his wife, Huma Abedin.  Feminism has at least as much to do with character as it does with politics.

This is not, however, a comment on Abedin, which is a more significant point than anything I might say about her, and is the focus of the link below.  Simply put, Huma Abedin is the only person who has the right to judge Huma Abedin’s response to Weiner’s behavior.  I’d like to think that, should I ever be in the same situation as she, I’d make the “right” decision.  But only the woman in that position knows what is and what isn’t the “right” thing to do — because it’s right for HER. 

Squirming at my apparent moral relativism?  You shouldn’t.  It’s not a clear-cut Scriptural case — does his conduct rise to the level that it might properly be termed infidelity, which would give the Muslim Abedin, who presumably isn’t looking for it, Biblical sanction to divorce the Jewish man she’s married to?  (And do we continue to hold women to the two-points-only grid — adultery and abandonment — of what constitutes a “Biblical” divorce?  I suggest that’s not an example of fidelity to Scripture but to patriarchy, and that’s another post . . . ).  What’s “relative” here is exactly what ought to be, and that’s the assurance that every marriage overflows with history, context, experiences, victories, and defeats, that make it unique and all judgments about it absolutely relative.  Is it proper, much less reasonable, for anyone outside of it to declare much of anything about the state of the union or the status of those within it?

Huma Abedin strikes me as a woman abundantly capable of doing the “right” thing in any circumstance, and the rightness of whatever decision she makes regarding her future with her husband ought to be affirmed, just because SHE is the one making it.  It’s not “more feminist” for her to leave him than not, and that’s the point of the article below:

http://tv.msnbc.com/2013/07/31/huma-sydney-leathers-and-things-that-look-like-feminism-and-arent/

Ayn Rand And Her "Christian" Fans

Sunday, August 11th, 2013

A Christian who embraces the beliefs and worldview of Libertarian icon Ayn Rand is on the same downward spiral to near-hopeless idiocy and rank hypocrisy as the committed celibate who holds Mick Jagger up as a role model.