Thursday, May 20, 2010

desire bordering on disease

I remember distinctly the first time I saw pornography. It was in a cheap hotel room in Rome and I was a young teenager. I still remember the nauseating feeling as I discovered the well used stash of magazines in the bottom dresser drawer. I didn't understand exactly what use they were put to - nonetheless, it was a sickening moment which has stayed with me till now as a vivid memory.

Another one of those moments was experienced recently while reading Keil and Delitzsch page 103 - the same mixture of nausea and disbelief, the same loss of innocence. I read,
    The woman had so broken through her divinely appointed subordination to the man; she had not only emancipated herself from the man to listen to the serpent, but had led the man into sin. For that, she was punished with a desire bordering upon disease (תְּשׁוּקָה from שׁוּק to run, to have a violent craving for a thing), and with subjection to the man. "And he shall rule over thee." Created for the man, the woman was made subordinate to him from the very first; but the supremacy of the man was not intended to become a despotic rule, crushing the woman into a slave, which has been the rule in ancient and modern Heathenism, and even in Mohametanism also, - a rule which was first softened by the sin-destroying grace of the gospel, and changed into a form more in harmony with the original relation, viz. that of a rule on the one hand, and subordination on the other, which have their roots in mutual esteem and love.
I wish I had never read this, had never known that bible commentators thought these things about women, thought that being ruled was a mark of mutual esteem, etc. etc. Now I know that apparently some men, in spite of the fact that men are not innocent of creating pornography, believe that it is women who are diseased in their sexuality. Nice!

A woman can never study bible commentaries with the same freedom as a man. I personally - clearly many women won't share my reaction - regard reading bible commentaries as risky business, knowing that I am exposing myself to unmitigated nonsense, and in some cases simple filth. Blogging about the bible, for women, can never be a light hobby, a satisfying preoccupation. It is more like wandering through a minefield, or more like walking across my backyard, after the dog has been lounging around using it for his own needs.

I would really like to find this kind of thing funny. I do my best. But ultimately, I have to resort to other sources for humour, that elixir of life.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Responding to Adrian and Tim

Tim asks,
    I wonder if any women readers would be willing to give me some very brief (just a few sentences) soundbites about one or more of the strategies you use.
Adrian comments,
    I thought today I would highlight two blogs written by women, as Christian blogging especially is still something of a male domain. This surprises me a little as these days it is not a geeky activity, and since so many women are great communicators I would have expected there to be more.
Men continue to wonder about the voice of women. Which is very curious because women are speaking out all the time. Women are saying what they think about the way men interpret the Bible. Of course, every woman has a different opinion, we don't have a 'group think policy'. But some women do share a common view and they are getting together on it.

Shirley Taylor announces on her blog,
    There will be a conference in Orlando Florida on July 24 called Seneca Falls 2 Christian Conference – trying to find solutions and to offer a united front in favor of gender-equality for Christian women. This conference is led by Jocelyn Andersen, author of the new book Woman this is WAR. You can order this book on her website
A few female bloggers I have read recently are -

Shirley Taylor
Jocelyn Anderson
Waneta Dawn

Over and over again, women are blogging about the need to be treated as equals. I don't have much hope right now myself. In the bibliosphere, I often see that those who defend patriarchy are not only tolerated but praised. Dan Wallace, Peter Kreeft, Bruce Waltke, and many other names come to mind.

It is v ery painful for me to think about what these men teach about women. If men think of "tolerance" as purely the acceptance of both complementarian and egalitarian men in one happy community, then it's all fine and dandy. But they should not ponder the absence of women.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Uganda's anti-homosexuality bill and Grudem's systematic theology

I read an article in the newspaper yesterday which suggested that the Anti-homosexuality bill in Uganda still has a chance of passing. Even if it does not pass, homosexual behaviour is punishable by incarceration in prison for up to 14 years. There was an appeal made for those Americans who went to Uganda and provided encouragement for anti-homosexuality legislation, to go back to Uganda and say that homosexuals are human beings whose rights should be respected.

I feel that a very popular book on systematic theology encourages Christians to lobby for stricter anti-homosexuality laws. In his Systmeatic Theology, page 893, Dr. Grudem writes,
It is right for Christians to attempt to persuade governments to make laws that protect families and private property and the lives of human beings – laws that both outlaw and punish murder, adultery, theft, and the breaking of contracts (things that violate the Ten Commandments), as well as prohibit homosexual conduct, drunkenness, drug abuse, abortion, and other things that are inconsistent with the biblical standards of morality.

Dr. Grudem needs to be aware of how many homosexuals and women suffer violent crimes linked to scripture exposition.

It is my opinion that anyone who blogs about the Bible ought to take on issues in Bible exposition which support, reinforce or act as justification for acts of violence against women and homosexuals. I know that it is more popular to ramble on about those darn creationsists, but I am more interested in how we can support victims of physical violence, not just intellectual exiguity.

If it weren't so tragic the whole thing would be comical. Theologians can go on and on about how unnatural anal intercourse is because it sometimes "results in ruptures and diseases." By this same criterion, heterosexual intercourse and in particular childbirth, must also be considered unnatural. But lesbian sex is just fine and dandy, not causing either this or that.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Walking on water

I don't know it this one has made the rounds in the bibliosphere yet. Enjoy a good chuckle. These guys really manage to keep a straight face throughout.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Sexism in Higher Education

A post on Sexism in Higher Education states,
The 2010 national breakdown in the United States: for every 100 men, 142 women graduated with a bachelor's degree; 159 women completed a master's degree, and 107 women earned a doctoral degree. Trend lines indicate that the imbalance is only getting worse. Go here for details. I agree with one of the commenters to the thread. The pump that produces the inequality is primed in middle school if not before. Since I work with 7th and 8th graders, I see it with my own eyes. Boys are not socialized in a way that allows them to compete on a par with girls in a knowledge economy.

It’s part of a larger problem in which the specific contribution of men to particular niches of social ecology – the family, the workplace, church and synagogue - is not valued whereas the specific contribution of women is. There are exceptions to this rule, but that's what they are: exceptions.

Our culture no less than previous cultures is crisscrossed by routinized patterns of gender complementation. Patterns of imbalance are, according to old-school social theory, indices of social oppression. That is an oversimplification, but one thing is clear. Current trends in the socialization of boys disadvantages them in countless ways.

Feminists and anti-feminists alike continue to fight yesterday’s wars. A pox on both their houses. Neither offers even a first approach to the real issues of the generation of boys and girls I see coming through the pipeline.
An article written in Alberta provides some insight into the nature of the disparity between men and women,
According to Statistics Canada data for 2005, for full-time, full-year workers in Canada—the most common measure of the gender gap in income—women earned just 70.5 per cent of what men earned, a number which hasn’t improved since 2000. When all types of work—including part-time and other non-standard work—are looked at, women earn just 64 per cent of men’s salaries.
In part this disparity is because most employment for women continues to be concentrated in a handful of traditional sectors, with two-thirds working in teaching, nursing or other related health care fields, clerical positions or sales and service jobs in the retail sector. Meanwhile, women still hold just seven per cent of jobs in transportation, trades and construction, and just a third of all manufacturing jobs.
Women also far outnumber men in part-time jobs, with just over a quarter of women working less than 30 hours a week, compared to just one in 10 men—and one in five women say they don’t work full-time due to personal or family responsibilities, a problem made worse by a serious shortage in affordable child care spaces across the country.
In Alberta, the recent years of a red-hot economy actually widened the gender gap, says Susan Morrissey, the executive director of the Edmonton Social Planning Council.
“We looked at the earning gap between males and females over the past 30 years, and the data shows that the gap between men’s and women’s earnings for full-time and full-year employment seems to grow during economic booms. During the boom men are more likely to go into occupations like oil and gas extraction and construction, where they get paid very, very well.”
Because few women work in these occupations, income in Alberta is more unequal than in Canada as a whole, with women who worked full-year, full-time in 2006 earning just 59.3 per cent of men’s salaries, down from a peak ratio of almost 71 per cent in 1995.
Combined with the high cost of living in the province, the income disparity has had significant consequences for women in boom-time Alberta.
“Woman are still twice as likely to live in poverty as men, and that’s been consistent across the board,” Morrissey says. “In 2006, 7.3 per cent of families where the major income earner was male were living below the LICO [low income cut-off] and 16.9 per cent of families where females were the major income earner were living below LICO. So there’s still a major difference between those two.”
It seems rather clear to me that men are going after the highest paying options, and women are left to slog it out at university and still earn substantially less than men. Some may say that this is an indication of how men are "disadvantaged", but they will have to defend their choice of vocabulary rather carefully.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Shallum's Daughters and the NET Bible

I am alive and kicking, and feeling very well, as it happens. All fall I moved around the house with a ladder and bucket of paint daubing away at the trim, and now I am putting in a path of paving stones in the back. But I do appreciate those who have emailed to ask if I am okay. I'm okay.

I had a good conversation with the Home Depot salesman today, suggesting that Home Depot should develop a women's line of packaging for such things as base rock. How many women can throw 55 pounds over their shoulders on a whim? In the interests of women's equality, as more women desire to do their own stonework, there really ought to be an effort to develop products for this market - you think?

Fortunately, the Home Depot salesman seemed to find me rather cute and not at all a virulent feminist. That is just a rumour that someone started about me in the interests of perpetuating the myth that women who don't bow and scrape to patriarchy are ugly. Ha ha. Anyway, the pathway is coming along very nicely, but I am a wee bit too tired to to work up an intellectual rant against the usual suspects. Or so I thought.

It turns out, however, that I don't have far to look to unearth more exegetical perfidy. Some exegetes really can be pathetically and contradictorily against women at all costs. Check this out.

The daughters of Shallum are recorded as helping to repair the walls of Jerusalem in Nehemiah 3:12. There is nothing at all ambiguous about the Hebrew text.

    And next unto him repaired Shallum the son of Hallohesh, the ruler of half the district of Jerusalem, he and his daughters.

    וְעַל-יָדוֹ הֶחֱזִיק, שַׁלּוּם בֶּן-הַלּוֹחֵשׁ, שַׂר, חֲצִי פֶּלֶךְ יְרוּשָׁלִָם; הוּא, וּבְנוֹתָיו
So how is that commentators can claim both that it is very unlikely that women would be doing this work, and therefore we may wonder if this is what the verse meant, AND, that it is so likely that women did this kind of work that it would not even be mentioned?
"Daughter" is a regular term for the hamlets which grow up about the city and which are dependent upon it, 11:24-31. Ryle prefers a literal interpretation that Shallum's daughters aided him in the work. But as women in the East were quite sure to have a large share in such a work as this, their special mention here is unnecessary. (cited in the Women's Bible Commentary, page 128)
This first commentator seems to find it so natural that women should labour that there is no need to mention it. But here is a contrary opinion.
The reference to daughters, while not impossible, is odd in light of the cultural improbability that young women would participate in the strenuous labor of rebuilding city walls. All other such references in the Book of Nehemiah presuppose male laborers. Not surprisingly, some scholars suspect a textual problem. One medieval Hebrew MS and the Syriac Peshitta read וּבָנָיו (uvanayv, “and his sons”) rather than the MT reading וּבְנוֹתָיו (uvÿnotayv, “and his daughters”). Some scholars emend the MT to וּבֹנָיו (uvonayv, “and his builders”). On the other hand, the MT is clearly the more difficult reading, and so it is preferred. NET Bible
Not only is there evidence that some manuscripts were changed to delete these women, but the NET Bible commentator appears reluctant to acknowledge that women would participate in the "strenuous labour of rebuilding the city walls."

I hardly know what to say. Exegesis has not improved since I last checked. Here are two men trained in the interpretation of ancient documents who present completely opposing points of view, all in the interests of explaining away a mention of women in the text. It is no wonder women don't want to blog in the bibliosphere where the NET Bible is still so admired by men.

I will hang out in hardware stores with men who find a woman who enjoys a little strenuous labour (of the productive but not reproductive nature) to be a pleasant diversion and not a sinful creature who is rebelling against God and the cultural norms of Bible commentators. Good grief!

Read an inspirational post about the daughters of Shallum here.