It Must be My Fault, For She is Without Fault

batesFor those following Downton Abbey, these words were uttered by Mr. Bates, valet to Lord Crawley about his wife Anna who has suddenly turned cold to him. Anna was raped by a visiting valet to another Lord, and is sure Mr. Bates would kill the man and be executed by the Crown, thus she refuses to divulge her secret, but now considers herself unworthy of her husband’s affections.

When Lord Crawley senses some sadness in Mr. Bates, he inquires if all is right in his marriage, to which Mr. Bates replies that it is not, but that he has no clue what he has done wrong. Crawley suggests perhaps it is not his fault to which Bates replies, “It must be my fault, for she is without fault.”

I think that’s the truth. Women are without fault.

Men should realize that. It would make the world a happier place.

Which all goes to say that I find men strange at times. Especially those who cling to patriarchal notions that women should behave in a certain way, normally so as not to impinge on the superior notions that some men have of themselves. You know the type, men who snicker with each other about who has the best “trophy” and brag about their wives “still looking as young as they day we married” rather than bragging of her talents in her profession or hobby or so forth.

As a woman who practiced in a field still tilted toward maleness, I’m only too aware of being told I was “pushy”, “opinionated”, a “ball-buster” and so forth over the years, usually by men who had lost an argument to me or were in that process. I’ve become adept at spotting these types and avoid them as soon as I do so. This recently led to the he-man in question accounting himself the “winner” of a debate that never began, because my refusal to participate could surely only mean that I had no argument to make that I could back up with facts. They call it shooting blanks I believe.

Such men try to set the parameters of a debate at the start to favor their “evidence”. In this case, a self-proclaimed atheist demanded that there could be no evidence of the death of Jesus outside of the actual words of the Bible, a book, I might add, that he suggested could be understood by the most basic average intellect. He claimed as his background, “study in philosophy and linguistics” although his Facebook page turned out to admit that he was “self-taught” because formal education was nothing but “brainwashing”.  I refused to participate.  He shall continue to believe that Jesus was murdered by the Jews, and I shall continue to know better. He will continue to believe that I am “a con, a humorless bully who talks much and proves nothing”, and I will continue to yawn at silly men who flex muscles in the hopes that this will substitute for a brain.

Speaking of brains, most of the extreme Right is still without one functioning one. Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, should you have forgotten.

mlk-prayingThe picture at the right is one of my favorite, and a larger version of it hung in the courtroom of a dear judge and even dearer friend of mine from Detroit.

As you probably know,  the Extreme Right is fond of re-writing history to conform to their notions of freedom and so forth. Given their lily-white composition, they are always searching for suitable Negroes to deflect the charge that they are what they are: seriously infested with a multitude of racists.

They find a few here and there, men and women who wish to shortcut the climb to national importance by becoming the trained monkey for the Extreme Right. They do and say the right things, as the Master expects, all to gain that fame and hopefully fortune that they don’t wish to really work hard for legitimately.

That is bad enough, but when they attempt to take as their own a hero of the Left, well, it is absurd and well, downright immoral.

The litany as regards MLK, from the crazy Right’s point of view is that MLK was a Republican. Period. Yes, they think that says it all. They of course do point out, rather self-importantly, that the Dixiecrats were the ones who opposed civil rights. As a second offering, they regurgitate about the only phrase they have been taught: “Someday all God’s children will be judged not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

And as we all know, good character is not dwelling on that past in which white people lynched black people, and it certainly doesn’t remind people that racism is still rather rampant in America today.

Of course they never learned neglect to remember that King died while marching with union members demanding fair wages and working conditions, and that he often spoke of the inequality in the distribution of income in this country, both of which are anathema to the average tea-guzzler. And of course they conveniently forget that all those Dixiecrats, after the passage of the Civil Rights Acts of the mid 60′s, all did what they said they would never do, they voted Republican and then (shock and horror) BECAME Republicans, as the only party in the South who was sympathetic to their “whites only” melancholia.

And if you would like to take a trip down memory lane with REAL facts, read this history lesson from Salon which takes us along that dark road of “how do we stop this crap from happening to our lily-white land?

And as much as I love Las Cruces, it is not a hot bed of liberality regarding the Catholic Church. Our own Cathedral church, Immaculate Heart of Mary, just saw fit through Father Bill to fire the pianist who had first of all the audacity to be gay, but second to marry legally in the state of New Mexico. Father Bill operates not in the spirit of our new Pope Francis it seems, and that sickens me, and makes me quite ashamed. And I do believe that the Church would do things much differently regarding this and other “sex” issues, were more women involved in running things.

So, that about sums up my week of thoughts. Except that thug-bully Chris Christie may be getting what is due him, and that’s all good.

And if it seems that I’m down on men in this post, well, you would be right, except for the Contrarian who continues to be the best husband/person I know, and Johnny Depp who continues to be the best eye candy ever invented by a loving God.

And so it goes.

 

Ready, Set, Go!

Well, I trust that everyone is busy, being busy, cuz this is sure the time of year when that is required. Even for those who don’t make a big to-do with all the gifting and partying, there is extra busyness forced upon them.

I went grocery shopping today as is my usual practice on the 3rd of the month. The food stores are much busier than usual, and so more patience and smiling is required.

We are expecting our first snow tonight. We are supposed to get in the 1-3 inch range, but you know how reliable that is, and depending on wind, it could be of no import or a lot.

Suffice it to say, I bought for two full weeks but enough extras that I can make it several more weeks if I have to. I don’t expect that, but it’s best to be prepared.

Being prepared here also means getting up enough wood so that Christmas week is not a flurry of trips out to cut, drag, log, split and stack. I mean there should be some relaxation to this time of year.

I have lots of obligatory church masses to make. I’ll do my best, but weather controls all now, and I don’t obsess about it any longer.

I read an uplifting little piece at Vox Nova about the Republicans and how they are not even coming close on Catholic thinking on a number of issues. Unemployment benefits, the Dream Act, and the START treaty are all things that Catholics and many other Christians agree need to be enacted. Republican intransigence on these issues may come back to haunt them.

Roger Ebert has a new post and it’s a lovely one on women, and the patriarchy of the secular world, but also of the Roman Catholic Church. I whole-heartedly agree. Women’s importance has been vastly unrepresented in scripture. What is there has been downplayed. Jesus would not be happy.

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There, now on to politics. Andrew Sullivan has a rant that is well worth your reading. The GOP is simply insane by and large these days, and I do expect and believe that they will pay a terrible and well-deserved price for it in the end. You cannot sail to power on a message of NO. They have zero in the way of detailed legislation on anything.

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The Reaction suggests that John McCain will never support DADT because, essentially the man is a bigot. Well, I conclude that, but they agree that he will never change. If you didn’t see Jon Stewart’s scathing attack on McCain, then do follow the link and hit the link to the video. Stewart says it all. As the Contrarian says, McCain has destroyed himself. His legacy will be as a bigoted homophobe–in other words, this generation’s Strom Thurmond.

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Meanwhile, former Bush officials chortle how they “laid a trap” in pushing through the tax cuts that would be “almost impossible to allow to expire.” They expected that a decade later the Democrats would get stuck and be on the defensive in trying to end them. So far, that seems, sadly to be true. Will they ever wake up?

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Short one today, folks, I’m tired and it’s getting late and snowing. I’m going to hide under the covers!

Lies, Lies, Damnable Lies

Private monies funding attack ads are favoring GOPers about seven to one. And there are no reins on them either. Truth, Smuth. Who cares. It’s winning that counts.

Here in Iowa, they are out in force against Bruce Braley (D-IA), from the 1st district. The little dweeb running against him, just bought his first suit, or so it looked at their debate. Yet something like $800,000 is being spent by outside sources to defame Braley, telling Iowa voters that he is responsible for their individual taxes going up a cool $1600 per person next year. A bold-faced lie, but of course his opponent need only shrug and disclaim any responsibility.

This is taking place all over America. The GOP is not funding these “loser” races, because it cannot, but big business can. And they are. Further, as was noted on PBS News Hour, candidates in the future know what they will face.

Of course ads besmirching the character and actual policies and actions of  Democratic incumbents and candidates is only a part of the problem.

The other is the character and policies of the GOP-Teabagger candidates themselves. Paladino, in New York continues to try to walk back his ugly comments about gays.

”I just think your children and my children would be better off and much more successful getting married and raising a family, and I don’t want them brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid and successful option–it isn’t.”

What he included in his written speech but didn’t actually say, and later denounced was this:

“There is nothing to be proud of in being a dysfunctional homosexual. . .[which] is not how God created us.”

Paladino has since tried to walk back his comments claiming a great love for all things gay, except marriage,  but his campaign manager continues to defend his statements as “exactly equivalent to the Catholic church.”  As David Wilson points out in the Commonweal piece, whether Paladino is in line with Catholic teaching or not, is this the way it should be expressed? He asks whether the hierarchy owes some statement about the tone being set by Mr. Paladino.

It is no secret that the Catholic church does not support active homosexuality. In this I would argue that it is categorically wrong and probably on some level realizes it among its scholars at least. However, having painted itself it a corner on many of these issues (the Church being protected by the Holy Spirit and being incapable of error on matters of doctrine and morality), She is having a mighty hard time figuring out how to get in step with modern exegesis and ethics.

To hide behind the Church’s skirts, if you will, is no defense at all to Mr. Paladino. Two wrongs don’t make a right as they say.

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I had to laugh yesterday when I was perusing the political blogs and came upon a reference to Cantor and his claim that the Ohio wannabe congressman who participates as a Nazi in WWII re-enactments had gone a bit too far. The writer, and I have no clue who it was now, suggested that FINALLY we have found something so outrageous that even Republicans are offended! Not the desire of such folks as Angle and Miller to disband and social security, medicare and Medicaid, and unemployment benefits. Nay, that is just forcing folks to look out for themselves. Not gay bashing, and treating undocumented workers as criminals who deserve hanging. Nay, that is just upholding morality and homeland security. But Nazi sympathizers? That just might be too much.

Cantor probably should speak to DeMint and the cuckoo clock in Delaware, I’m not so sure they would agree with him.

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Oh Newt the Snoot is at it again. Newt is another of those GOPers who still doesn’t GET that what he said before is actually written down and SAVED. Newty is urging his fellow slugs to start calling the Dems the “party of food stamps.” Except there Newty, you forget! Perhaps there is a limited brain capacity of the average sluggo, and that explains Newty’s failure to recall how he supported  Bush’s rather blatant attempt to increase food stamps for immigrants in the hopes of enlarging the Hispanic vote for the GOPers. Oh Think Progress, don’t miss a thing!

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It seems to awful to be true, but it is true. And Ahab at Republic of Gilead has done a great job in investigating and reporting on the strong ties between violence against women and children to the religious right. Indeed, it is their screwy interpretation of scripture that endangers women and children every day in this country. Read this and know thy enemy.

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Hope the day is finding you well and happy.

Women’s Lives in Biblical Times

I seldom, in doing book reviews, venture far from biblical studies or theology. I wouldn’t normally attempt to review a professor of archaeology. But Jennie R. Ebeling, Associate Professor of Archaeology at the University of Evansville, has written a book that beautifully marries the two, and I feel able to assess its worth and impact on the genre at least of biblical studies.

My deepest thanks to Continuum Books, and T & T Clark Publishing for making a copy of her book available to me., Women’s Lives in Biblical Times.

Anyone who has spent any time studying the bible is surely aware that women’s lives are difficult to determine and assess when reference is only given to the bible itself. Let’s face it, the bible was written (so far as we know) by men, about men. Women play at best tangential roles, except in a very few instances. It was a world of patriarchy and thus it is men’s story that is retold.

Professor Ebeling, seeing the usual false portrayal of women in much of fiction dedicated to the time of ancient Palestine, seeks to give us a better picture of women’s lives. In doing so, she has chosen to join a number of disciplines to accomplish her goal. This is no doubt in keeping with much that is going on in science these days. Much is interdisciplinary, giving in the end a fuller and more complete picture of whatever focus is intended.

Her methodology involved the collection of evidence from several sources. First of course, she draws upon the best of biblical scholarship and linguistics to understand as best as can be done today what exactly was being said in regards women. She then adds her own speciality, archaeology to the mix, absorbing the latest conclusions deduced from dig sites throughout the biblical region. She then includes the texts of documents originating from comparative Near Eastern and Egyptian sources, insofar as they treat of women’s lives.

While she determined to speak to the Iron Age I period, (roughly 1200-1000 BCE), she found it useful to include the iconography of Iron Age II (roughly 1000-586) sites in the region. Finally, she added ethnographic studies of  the region dating from the 19th and early 20th century.

Professor Ebeling then merges all this accumulation of facts and evidence and forms charming stories about a mythical woman called Orah, who was born, raised, and died in the highlands of what is now Israel. More specifically, the area is in the vicinity of the ancient holy city of Shiloh, location of the Ark of the Covenant in the times of the Judges, before the Monarchy.

She divides the chapters into the major life events of Orah, and ties them to the seasonal changes in the village. These various harvests and plantings of course were tied to the various ancient festivals.

A warm delightful story is woven from the information now at hand for what life was like in those small villages. Following the “update” on Orah’s life, for instance, as she moves from childhood to womanhood, and then marriage and childbirth, Ebeling adds specific information to substantiate the points of the story.

References to the bible are replete throughout, as are to her other sources. In a word, each “conclusion” about the life of Orah, is well documented with evidence and reasonable inferences thereof.

One comes away with a genuine pride in the value and power of women of that time. Surely they were not accorded much formal power to be sure, but they were essential to the well being of the community and household. Patriarchy ruled, as we said, and when Orah was of marriageable age, she was betrothed and ultimately went to a new village to live in the home of her husband. If her husband’s father was still living, the father was the ultimately authority. Even if her husband’s mother was alive however, authority passed to the son upon the father’s death.

However, within the house, women ran things. They did the balance of the cooking and pottery making and textile manufacture. They cared for the family vegetable plot. They took care of all childbearing duties and probably most funeral arrangements. All this and they still assisted with the plantings and harvestings.

As many already know, Yahweh was the main God to be worshiped, and most women like Orah made pilgrimage to Shiloh at least a couple of times in their short lives. (Few reached beyond 40 years of age.) Still, however, there were many other gods who were worshiped locally and we can be sure that Orah and her family kept a sacred space within the home for fertility god worship.

What I wish to speak principally about here is how valuable Ebeling’s book is the average layperson. While she has no doubt (and it is quite clear to me she has), made a seminal contribution professionally, she offers the layperson valuable information and a “sense” of life in ancient times that proves most valuable to our worship and meditation upon scripture.

I can only relate that this very weekend, listening to the Gospel readings about Jesus and Martha and Mary, the extension of hospitality and the serving of Jesus and his disciples was deeply enriched by what I had learned of what those homes were like and what those “womanly” duties were.

Coupled with a new interpretation offered by our rector as to the story’s meaning, I saw Martha and Mary in new light. Our rector’s interpretation dovetailed simply perfectly into the world that Professor Ebeling created for me of women living in ancient Israel.

I can further sense that I have a new outlook on all that I read whether scriptural or commentary on these times. So clearly do I have this vision of these women, these homes, these relationships, these cares and these seasonal events, that I will never read the bible the same again.

Professor Ebeling is to be commended for her work. While she is modest in her claims, and always indicates when the evidence is thin and she is making extrapolations and from where, one is left with some serious assurance that she has struck near the mark of reality for that time. As she points out, only time and more evidence will clarify and expand our understanding. For now, this is a brilliant step forward.

I recommend you read this if you too desire to understand historical framework of the times in which Jesus walked.

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A Rose By Any Other Name Just Stinks

women_011208_story2What is wrong with this woman? Truthout reports that some 6,000 women met in Chicago in October to pursue what they call the “true” woman, otherwise known as “biblical womanhood” or “complementarianism.” It’s all just code for paternalism.

Yes, this woman and many others like her, think that women’s liberation is a bunch of hooey, and we should, (take that Hillary), stand by our men.

They are seeking to enlist 100,000 women in their ranks to fight the good fight against the feminist movement, started in the 60′s. They of course argue that the women’s movement is the root of much evil in the world today.

A manifesto has been created, which you can read here. It basically affirms that the signers agree:

women and men were designed to reflect God in “complementary and distinct ways”; that today’s culture has gone astray distinctly because of its egalitarian approach to gender (and that it’s “experiencing the consequences of abandoning God’s design for men and women”); and that while men and women are equally valuable in the eyes of God, here on earth they are relegated to separate spheres at home and in the church.

Nice huh? And this:

The “counter cultural” attitudes that signers support include the idea that women are called to affirm and encourage godly masculinity, and honor the God-ordained male headship of their husbands and pastors; that wifely submission to male leadership in the home and church reflects Christ’s submission to God, His Father; that “selfish insistence on personal rights is contrary to the spirit of Christ”; and, in a pronatalist turn of phrase that recalls the rhetoric of the Quiverfull conviction, their willingness to “receive children as a blessing from the Lord.”

So that takes us back a few centuries doesn’t it? Women, stay home, and make babies and obey your husband. Chilling indeed.

What is most interesting of course, is that this movement is lead by women. Women who write books about how other women should stay home and make nice doilies and perfect pot roasts. Home schooling is also big on their agenda so that their kids will be indoctrinated early and thoroughly on their proper roles in society.

My question always is: Do these women get permission from their husbands for this stuff? I mean, are they being ordered to go out and push this agenda? They cannot, it would seem come to this stuff on their own, that would be unseemly no? They should not be flying around holding conferences, going on book tours, and otherwise running big foundations dedicated to women’s subjugation to men can they? Aren’t men behind all this? According to them, it would seem they must be, yet the books carry female names, and so do the roster’s of speakers at the various conventions they organize.

Something is not quite right here it seems.

One, Mary Kassian, teaches at the Southern Baptist Seminary. That seems wrong on its face. There she instructs men? on their duties in subjugating their wives I can only assume. Perhaps she teaches their new curricula “homemaking.” But this seems odd on its face, because there should be only men students at the Seminary I would think.

It all is counter logical to me. Ms. Kassian has no business teaching anything, certainly not writing anything. These are issues not for her by her own admission. They are things men should be thinking about. She should be home worrying about the souffle for the dinner party that night.

Even though 6,000 attended the meeting in Chicago, apparently only 3,000 bothered to sign the manifesto. Apparently even the willing could not quite swallow that crap.

I hate it when I’m embarrassed by other women who support sexism as the norm. I just hate it.


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