Thursday, July 20, 2006

Posting a link

How to post a link in the comment section.

<a href="">BBB</a>

becomes the following when posted.


I have created the first row of code using escape sequences so it doesn't automatically become a link. The second link is made by copying and posting the first sequence. Clear as mud, right. Try it.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Personal Post

I have posted tonight on the Better Bibles Blog on a personal matter.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Recent Posting

No. I have not actually gone away. I have been posting on the Better Bibles Blog. I have recently posted twice about 1 Tim. 2:15, here and here. I am also doing some offblog writing about one of my students. I had wanted to write about myself for a while here to develop a writing style so that I could write about some of the children that I work with better. It is paying off. I am sorry I cannot post my other writing now.

You would never guess from the fierceness of my 'Not saved by childbearing posts' that I am totally surrounded by children at school and at home every day. I visited a blog today that took me back some 15 years to the days when my own little guy played with Thomas the Tank Engine. Oh my goodness!

You never see me here on the blog playing with railroad track, and model planes, and dollsclothes, and my beloved dollshouse, with all the little sylvan critters with their little handknit sweaters and hats. Maybe next Christmas!

If there is any woman who loves the domestic domain it is me. But all the things I love are just that, my affections, and my affectations - they will not save me.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Codex Alexandrinus

"Our dear friend Luke, the doctor, and Demas send greetings, Give my greetings to the brothers and sisters at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house." Colossians 4:14-15

The Codex Alexandrinus (London, British Library, MS Royal 1. D. V-VIII) is a 5th century manuscript of the Greek Bible, containing the majority of the Septuagint and the New Testament. Along with the Codex Sinaiticus and the Codex Vaticanus, it is one of the earliest and most complete manuscripts of the Bible. It derives its name from Alexandria where it is believed to have been made.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Deep Magic

Exploring the writings of contemporary theologians on atonement, I came across articles by Edith Humphrey. She is from Montreal and taught for several years at Augustine College in Ottawa.

Here is a sample of her writing on atonement.

    When we try to ask questions about the necessity of the cross, about the necessity that the God-Man should die for us, words fail. Immediately as we say this, we remember that in the garden, Jesus had a choice, and that is what makes this act all the more wonderful. Rev. 5 speaks of the Lamb, the one who is given as Saviour and Spouse to God’s people, slain from the foundation of the earth.

    We are, to use the words of C. S. Lewis, in the realm of “deep magic”, “magic from the dawn of time.” Perhaps, shrinking from the numerous ways that this part of the story is told in the Scriptures, we want to ask, “Why wouldn’t the righteous, perfect life of the Last Adam be enough to effect reconciliation?” Many answers have been given to that, including the importance of God’s justice, and the like.

    We may want to speculate, along with a few of our elder brothers and sisters in the Church, that the incarnation might have been sufficient for God to share with us his glory, but because of the fall, the depth of human experience, crucifixion, death, and the utter descent, abandonment, had also to be plumbed. Or, to change the metaphor, the wages of sin is death; Or, to change the metaphor, the Lamb must be a slaughtered as well as a standing victorious Lamb.

    Sometimes contemporary theologians point to the multiplicity of images in Scriptures for this great mystery in order to relativise, or to avoid the pictures that they find uncomfortable. What a desolation! The effect of the pictures is to point to a truth that is deeper, not less disturbing or challenging than the stories we currently shy away from -- the atonement was more costly, not less, than a earthly sacrifice; the battle was more intense, not less, than a human conflict; the journey was more arduous, not less, than the toughest human exploration; the price paid was beyond all human reasoning.


    In the end, we go back again and again to Scripture, and to the enacted event of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, the Eucharist, to be nourished and to have formed in us the mind of Christ. There, we see hear Paul and the gospels insisting on the historicity of what has been done for us, of God’s actions for Israel and through Messiah Jesus for the world, and of the mystery of Victory over sin and Death through the life, death and resurrection of our Lord. There we see them also glorying in the far-reaching aspects of this victory, a victory so deep and intimate that, through the work of the Holy Spirit, it declares innocent but also changes the person, each person who is in Christ, so that “glimpsed” glory becomes increasing glory.

    Both Paul in his letters, and John in his visions, bring together the different variations of the story, reminding us that we need all the pictures, all of them accentuated, each of the songs played with all the stops out, each story taken to its fullest climax, without being used to qualifying or nullify the another. In Romans 5:9-11, we hear these words:

      "9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him! 10For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation."

    Here Paul speaks of atonement as justification, as the effect of blood sacrifice, as the removal of God’s wrath, and as reconciliation. John, in his vision, shows to us the Lamb: the Lamb who is both Victim and Victor, the Lamb who Interprets the meaning of the world, opening the scroll of mystery, the Lamb who also Mystifies, showing things that are beyond our ken, the Lamb who makes his dwelling with us, and is to be our Spouse, and the Lamb who invites -- invites to the tree and water of life.

Note: That was a pretty short break. However, these are just things that I am reading, not part of the earlier story which was the first chapter of my blog. I guess I won't stop reading.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Paula and Jerome

This post is dedicated to my brother who emailed suggesting that I write about Paula. It seems fitting that this last post should be once again directly about women and Bible translation.

Paula was a wealthy widow of the 4th century, who left grown and married children in Rome, and along with her daughter Eustochium, lived in Bethlehem for 20 years in a religious community of men and women, which she built to support the work of Jerome in translating the Latin Vulgate.

She funded and adminstered the four houses of the community, the chapels and the hostel. She requested, urged and compelled the scholar Jerome to pursue and maintain his work on translation and commentary. She studied Greek and Hebrew and worked along with Jerome for 20 years.

Many of his translations are dedicated to her, they traveled together and letters attest to a close relationship. Although he outlived her for many years, he was buried beside her.
    In some privileged late medieval circles, where religious men and women were mingling with a measure of freedom for devotional and instructional purposes, the relationships of early saints such as Jerome and the widow Paula perhaps provided an inspirational model for later similar pairings, and one that implicitly endorsed not only the education of women but also the act of translating sacred texts into the vernacular. Here
Although Jerome has been described as curmudgeonly, misdirected, and argumentative, Paula saw his potential, and inspired, funded and adminstered the extensive scholarly work that they produced together. When he left off a particularly difficult commentary, she insisted that he persevere, Obsequar igitur voluntati tuae "I shall submit to your will," he responded.

He wrote to Paula and her daughter,

    There are people, O Paula and Eustochium, who take offence at seeing your names at the beginning of my works. These people do not know that Olda [Huldah] prophesied when the men were mute, that while Barak trembled, Deborah saved Israel, that Judith and Esther delivered from supreme peril the children of God. I pass over in silence Anna and Elizabeth and the other holy women of the Gospel, but humble stars when compared with the great luminary, Mary.
      Shall I speak now of the illustrious women among the heathen? Does not Plato have Aspasia speak in his dialogues? Does not Sappho hold the lyre at the same time as Alcaeus and Pindar? Did not Themista philosophize with the sages of Greece? And the mother of the Gracchi, your Cornelia, daughter of Cato, wife of Brutus, before whom pale the austere virtue of the father and the courage of the husband --are they not the pride of the whole of Rome? I shall add but one word more. Was it not to women that Our Lord appeared after His resurrection? Yes, and the men could then blush for not having sought what women had found. - Saint Jerome
        The roles in their relationship are demonstrated in this letter which Jerome wrote to Eustochium, who continued the work of her mother after she died.
          ... he addresses her as "my Eustochium, my daughter, my mistress, my companion, my sister," and tells her "my age, your worth, our profession and our love of God, permit me to give you all these names." Here
            How better to end this chapter of my blog!

            In spite of all my intentions to close this blog until next fall, I may drop in from time to time. People occasionally hand me a book and say "This is for your blog!"

            As for the rest, remember the good and forget the bad. I hope you have enjoyed some of the stories that were told to me.

            Wednesday, June 07, 2006

            The great-uncles

            Before I close this blog for the summer, I want to tip my hat to the great uncles. When I was about 8 years old Great Uncle Harry came to visit. He was about 5 feet tall, 94 years old with a vegetable brush moustache, and a twinkle in his eye.

            I thought he was Charlie Chaplin and Graucho Marx, all rolled into one. He was, after all, Great Aunt Elizabeth's brother.

            He told stories of driving one of the first 3 cars in Montreal. There were no speed limits, no traffic signs, and if you got in an accident you didn't report it to the police you just drove the wreck home. Those were the good old days.

            Mother was disapproving. She pursed her lips as if he was a recalcitrant teenager that she was obliged to make us be polite to. We were simply fascinated. But we were not, let me repeat, not, allowed to go out for a drive with him.

            Not long after we drove up to the townships to visit Great Aunt Ruth. Her husband, Great Uncle Sid had died a few years back. He had been a businessman, a financial success, a stable and worthy citizen, who did not get into traffic accidents.

            We trailed around their spacious old house, filled with petit point china, and doilies and tea cozies. We admired the garden and the photographs of the family.

            Only last week someone told me that Uncle Sid was the one in the family who knit. He and his sister, my grandmother.

            That makes 4 generations of men in our family who have had their fingers into some kind of needlework at some point in their life. But I will not mention the others. Great Uncle Sid has been dead for 50 years. He will not mind.

            Tuesday, June 06, 2006

            Sally Ironside

            By an odd circumstance Sally Ironside was another of the great-aunts in my family connection. She was also a cousin of Harry Ironside, the Plymouth Brethren preacher and writer.

            During WWII she worked in London as the deputy head of scientific information for Canada. God gives women the same gifts he gives their brothers and cousins, but sometimes women may only use their gifts outside of the church.

            Sophie Scholl

            In Germany during WWII, Sophie Scholl, a young Christian woman, worked with her brother Hans Scholl and his friends to write anti-Hitler slogans on walls and distribute 'leaflets of the resistance'. These were called 'Leaflets of the White Rose.' Hans and Sophie Scholl and Christoph Probst were arrested, sentenced and guillotined in 1943.

            Sophie Scholl: The Final Days is a recent movie about the last six days of her life. I haven't seen it yet, but I do remember seeing The White Rose in 1983.

            It is the last few minutes of June 6, D-day, here in Vancouver.

            Monday, June 05, 2006

            John G Stackhouse

            I had put this on the backburner but it is important. On May 10, 2006 I attended a forum at Regent College titled Why Women Don't Lead featuring Maxine Hancock, John Stackhouse and Jeremy Bell among others.

            John Stackhouse is the author of Finally Feminist. This book has recently been discussed by Susan Wise Bauer, here on April 8th. She comments that she hopes to review it soon. Her post has created a bit of a ruckus. First, Gender News featured an article of concern about her written by Jeff Robinson. Then Ligon Duncan jumped in on May 26. No doubt others are worried as well.

            The event at Regent was pivotal for me. It echoed my reactions the very first day I read a complementarian statement in 1991. This is the statement, written by John Piper in Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, his uppercase, not mine!

            My reactions in 1991 were that of intense disgust at the sexual nature of this statement. I was not exposed to this kind of teaching again for many years after that, but was strongly reminded of it when I first started reading the Biblioblogs last fall. I was shocked, truly shocked and angered, at the language some men are using in talking about women.

            So on May 10, I heard John Stackhouse speak. He is a Canadian former Plymouth Brethren, close to my age, who has taught in a secular university and is now at a Regent College. Since coming to Regent and being in contact with the wider North American Christian community he has become increasingly aware of how other Christians are talking about women.

            In his talk he said that he was taken aback by the language that he heard being used about women, especially the terms 'receivers and responders'.

              "What is that about?" he said, "using the language of the sex act to talk about women in church. Are nursing mothers receivers anyway? This is ridiculous." [He just wasn't prepared to say any more on that topic, we are Canadian after all.]
            Then he added,

              "Men must repent of their sexual reading of women."
            And he talked about his sister.

            Jeremy Bell, Baptist Union of Western Canada, was even more vociferous on this point. He said that we must absolutely not tolerate the 'immature and socially unacceptable language' that is being used about women today.

              "Women have to try out their voices and be angry and be unhappy, and men have to sit and listen to their pain."
            He went on to say that men and women must be brothers and sisters, gendered but not sexualized. He continued to talk about his four sisters, what must they be thinking. God bless him. Woman is sister again.

            He turned and asked Maxine what she did with her anger. She replied that she had been angry for a while, but she had passed her anger on. (I feel it is time to lay my anger down. I don't really wish it on anyone else.)

            Jeremy then lost it, really, and said that these ideas were,

              "a stinking lesion, the elephant in the room."
            He was now in the ballpark of my own reactions.

            I had never heard of these men before, but they echoed closely my own thoughts and feelings. I had written an email last fall explaining to someone that I felt sexually harassed by the way some men talked about women in the Christian community, in a way that I had never experienced in secular society. I was glad to hear Stackhouse and Bell confirm my feelings.

            Oddly, when I first voiced similar feelings on this blog a few months ago, a women remarked that I was a good example of how emotional women were, and that is why women should not be teachers and elders. Ha! These were men, men from my own cultural community, and they expressed their emotions considerably more publicly than I have.

            Anyway, I feel better now. As Susan Bauer said,

              "sometimes discussions about the reliability of the Bible are actually discussions about men’s fears of women"
              Jeff Robinson of Gender News denies this. What can I say? They have some problem. Their problem is not my problem.

              This isn't even about whether women should be ordained. Far from it. This is about getting all that blech language cleaned up.

              Anyway, please note that I write about 'some men'. I am not painting with a wide brush. It is great to see a growing community of egalitarian men who are willing to dialogue about this topic. It is much appreciated.

              Read Susan Bauer's post and Robinson's response for a better idea of what John wrote in Finally Feminist.

              Addenda: Since I never did learn shorthand this is not taken from an exact transcription of the talk. It is close but not exact. The CD can be ordered from Regent College for $5.00.

              The room was well-filled, about one third men and two thirds women. The woman sitting beside me was knitting a pair of red socks.

              Sunday, June 04, 2006

              Alzheimers and memories

              I have written before about my high school Greek teacher, a British Plymouth Brethren, Elizabeth Wilson, who now suffers from alzheimers. Here is another memory from those long hours when she taught me as a lone Greek student.

              Most of our classes revolved around Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, with special attention to the passages about young women. We also read chapters of Acts, but little else in the NT. It was a classics course. However, I was also required to write a paper about the Proverbs 31 woman.

              My remaining impressions were that a woman should learn how to weave, which I did; have servants, which I do not; and finally, buy and sell real estate.

              We never really talked about the 'women in the church' issue, but she did make one comment that I remember still. She said,

              "Things have not gone well for women in England since the Roman church took over from the Celtic church."

              She spoke as if she was talking of events that had taken place the year before. I raised my eyebrows. As my adolescent brain climbed the ladders of time, I discounted the Tractarian controversy, Bonnie Prince Charlie, and poor old James II - didn't he escape in a row-boat? I finally settled on Queen Mary, bloody Mary, surely that is what she was talking about.

              Looking pained at my ignorance of early British history, she explained that she was refering to Hilda of Whitby, who was abbess in Northumberland in the 7th century. And so I learned then of the legacy of the Celtic church and came later to read Caedmon's song and the Dream of the Rood. I understood that my teacher felt the loss of the rich spirituality of men and women together, with the immediacy of a recently lost legacy, not something clouded by the passage of millenia.

              Hilda was the abbess of a religious community of men and women together. She was a teacher of theology and was consulted by royalty. Northumberland became a great centre of learning at that time.

              Hilda also hosted the Synod of Whitby where certain ecclesiastical differences between the Celtic and Roman churches were settled. Since that time the Roman church gained influence in England. At least that is how I understood it.
                Almost all of our knowledge of St. Hilda (Hild) is derived from the writings of the Venerable Bede. Her correct name, Hild, means "battle." She was born in Northumbria in 614, the daughter of Hereric, the nephew of King Edwin of Northumbria, making her King Edwin's grandniece. She, like her great-uncle, was brought to Christ through the preaching of St. Paulinus, who baptized her in 627 at the age of 13 when King Edwin and his entire household became Christians.

                She lived the life of a noblewoman until 20 years later when she was moved by the example of her sister Saint Hereswitha who became a nun at the Chelles Monastery in France. Hilda intended to follow her sister abroad, but St. Aidan persuaded her to return to Northumbria in 649. She was initially put in charge of a small group of women who were also aspiring to the religious life at a small house on the River Wear, but Bishop Aidan soon realized she was ready for wider responsibilities.

                There was a much larger and fully established religious house of women at Hartlepool whose Foundress, Bega (St. Bee), was founding a new house at Tadcaster. Hilda was called to take her place as Superior. St. Hilda ruled at Hartlepool for some years with great success before being called to found a monastery at Streaneshalch, a place to which the Danes a century or two later gave the name of Whitby.

                St. Hilda governed the monastery at Whitby for the rest of her life. Under Abbess Hilda, Whitby gained a great reputation, becoming a burial place for kings, and a place of pilgrimage. The fame of St. Hilda's wisdom was so great that from far and near monks and royal personages came to consult her. Whitby was also a double monastery: a community of men and another of women, with the chapel in between, and Hilda as the governor of both. It was a great center of learning, especially the study of sacred scripture.

                Whitby was known as a place where clergy, monks and nuns could receive a rigorous and thorough religious education. The arts and sciences were so well established by her that it was regarded as one of the best seminaries for learning in the then known world. No less than five of her subject monks later became bishops, including Saint John of Beverly, and Saint Wilfrid of York.

                St. Hilda was especially revered for her ability to recognize spiritual gifts in both men and women. Her kindheartedness can be seen from the story of Caedmon, one of her herdsmen, whose poetic gift was discovered and nurtured by Hilda. She encouraged him with the same zeal and care she would use toward a member of the nobility, urging him to use his gifts as a means of bringing the knowledge of the Gospel Truth to common folk. St. Caedmon later composed the first hymns in the English language.
              And so Elizabeth Wilson, now an alzheimer's victim, gave me a memory that telescoped the passage of centuries and the distance of half a hemisphere, into something that happened yesterday and just next door. Even better, I spent the following summer in Northumberland with my sister and parents, wandering through Lindisfarne Abbey, and other sites.

              Your sons and daughters will prophesy

              Strange things were happening. Simple people (Galileans) started to speak in all sorts of different languages. We are talking about the birth of the church; Pentecost, the descent of the Holy Spirit. (See Acts 2.)
              Then, when there was some confusion and people started to ask themselves what was going on, Peter made a speech. It is remarkable that he cites the Old-Testament prophet Joel on exactly this occasion:
              In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. (Acts 2:17-18)
              The disciples were speaking in public about the wonders of God (vs. 11). (Usually we call that preaching...) And exactly on this massive manifestation of speaking in public on the birthday of the church, Peter cites a text about speaking by men as well as women. The prophesying of women is even mentioned twice in this passage.
              How so, women are not allowed to preach?

              Saturday, June 03, 2006

              Wilfred Owen

              The Parable of the Young Man and the Old

              So Abram rose, and clave the wood, and went,
              And took the fire with him, and a knife.
              And as they sojourned, both of them together,
              Isaac the first-born spake, and said, My Father,
              Behold the preparations, fire and iron,
              But where the lamb for this burnt-offering?
              Then Abram bound the youth with belts and straps,
              And builded parapets and trenches there,
              And stretched forth the knife to slay his son.
              When lo! an angel called him out of heaven,
              Saying, Lay not thy hand upon the lad,
              Neither do anything to him, thy son.
              Behold, caught in a thicket by its horns;
              A ram, offer the Ram of Pride instead.

              But the old man would not so, but slew his son,
              And half the seed of Europe, one by one.

              Wilfred Owen

              This is a day or two early for D-day but I wish to post this now as my reflection on The Father killed the son.

              This poem was written in the first world war about the military establishment of England who would rather sacrifice their young men than back down. The story behind this poem has been written of in Regeneration by Pat Barker and made into a film of the same name. I highly recommend the movie. I had read the book previously but found the movie had more emotional impact. A Canadian book on this topic is Broken Ground by Jack Hodgkins.

              I wrote a while ago about how Eva McCarthy lost her brother in WWII. He had been a stretcher-bearer in WWI and although older at the time of WWII, he volunteered as a chaplain's assistant in order to care for the young men who were fighting and be there for them. He died in Italy shortly before the end of the war.

              Speaker of truth

              I have added a few more blogs to my sidebar, and taken a few out - they weren't actually blogs anyway. I missed that when I added them. Hmm.

              Peter Kirk has posted on his blog Speaker of Truth commenting on a post at the New Attitude blog. Peter's post is called, "The Father killed the Son": the offence of the Gospel? I was surprised to read the New Attitude post and Mahaney's sermon - it seems to extrapolate from scripture into areas that God has chosen not to reveal, so I am glad to see Peter respond to this post.

              I have also added Lingamish, which means linguist and missionary. And True Grit, a woman's blog that has also been following the egalitarian/complementarian debate.

              Blogdrift, comments and technicalities

              I have now drifted considerably from my original intentions on this blog. My posts have varied from argumentation to narrative. The narrative posts have helped me explore my identity as a Christian woman, a former Plymouth Brethren, and a Canadian.

              I have emailed some of the posts about women to members of my family and they have enjoyed them. However, when I did this I felt that I needed to hide the comments on that post since these stories are personal and family stories. I beg forgivness of those who may have found their comments hidden. However, some of these stories need to be read by themselves. Since I wish to use these stories over again, I thought that I would occasionally, after a week or two, hide the comments on those few more personal posts. That does not lessen the appreciation that I have for the comments. Thank you.

              I need to remark on a couple of housekeeping matters. I am aware that the 'search this blog' function does not work on my blog and I have not got around to fixing it. I have also not organized my posts into categories. I hope to look into this soon.

              I plan to break off for the summer in the next few days.

              Friday, June 02, 2006

              Redfern Louttit

              It is hard for me to believe that a person as influential as Redfern Louttit is only mentioned obliquely on the internet, once as the late Redfern Louttit and then again as a distinguished Anglican cleric.

              In 1990, I was involved in a study of the use of Cree as a language and literacy in the Diocese of Moosonee in Northern Ontario. I traveled to a clergy retreat in Kirkland Lake with Redfern Louttit and we had plenty of time to talk on the road.

              Fortunately I do not have to depend on my own memory to tell you one of the stories he told me that weekend. The Journey, Stories and Prayers for the Christian Year From People of the First Nations, ed. by Joyce Carlson includes this story by Redfern Louttit.

                I was chosen by my family when I was nine years old to be a servant of God, a priest. When I was nine, I went in a canoe with two priests and two paddlers.

                I was so far from my home that I never went home until I was eighteen. When I stepped out of the canoe, my parents looked up and said, "Who's that handsome young clergyman?" They didn't recognize me. I couldn't talk to them because they spoke no English, and I had lost my language.
              At this point in the story his voice quavered as he said to me, "I couldn't even talk to my own mother - in her language, my language." He did later regain familiarity with his language and was fluent and natural in speaking, reading and writing Cree. He continued,

                The teenage years were especially hard. There was a person at the school who was like a foster mother - and she was good to us. But, it wasn't the same as if you had a real father and mother to guide you through the struggles.

                My parents had a bit of status in the community because they had a son who went out in this way to be a clergyman - but it was also hard. Although my parents were admired, many of the other people in the community admitted they could not have done the same themselves, to send out a child so young to go to school.

                I think it was hardest on my mother. After I left, my father said it was a long time before my mother had her heart in her work. There were others at home, but they say it was very hard on her when I left.

                When I was a freshman in university taking theological studies, everybody knew I was an Indian. They had certain ideas of how an Indian would be.

                At initiation days in the college, [Wycliffe College, Toronto] because I was an Indian, they had me do an Indian War Dance in the streets of Toronto. They must have given this a lot of thought. They had feathers fastened to a cardboard piece and they fastened it to my head. I stomped around on Bloor Street whooping it up as I thought a war dance would be - although I never saw a war dance in my life. Where I came from, people were Bible-believing Christians. I didn't know what a war dance was!

                Well, I must have looked funny.

                Since I was an Indian, they thought I must know how to run so they asked me to be on the five-mile running team. I didn't know how to run! I'd never tried to run in my life - but I didn't want to disappoint them, so I said I would. Maybe there was something to it because I trained and learned how to run. Every year that I was there, we won the first prize.

                I have a band number. I somehow found it hard, being a number. It was as though I didn't have a name. When I graduated and was a young clergyman, people in the communities I served thought I knew everything - even what the weather would be like the next day. For some reason they thought of someone educated as having all knowledge.

                I have had a good life and many opportunities to seve the Lord for over fifty years. My time of serving is over. There are different ways to do things now and a whole new generation of young leaders. They will do things in a different way - and this is good.

                In choosing new leaders, I remember the apostles and the difficulty they had in choosing leaders. We have to be careful in the choosing of leaders for our community - but I believe in the Bible and I do by the words.

                "Be not afraid; only believe!"
              Here is the prayer which follow this story.

                Prayer for Meditation

                You are Alpah and Omega,
                beginning and end.

                May we be wise,
                serving you with fear
                taking refuge under your wings.

                Lord, come,
                Stand among us and show us your peace
                We long to be believers; help us in our unbelief.

                We give thanks for the leaders who have gone before us.
                May we, living in the knowldge of or resurrection,
                consider in our hearts how we might werve you.

                Prayer for all people

                That we may be obedient to God rather than to any human authority,
                let us pray to the Lord.
              I am very grateful to have known Redfern Louttit, a wise and gracious man, an ordained priest who served in the Diocese of Moosonee for 50 years.

              Photo credit: The Northland, Autumn, 1990, Diocese of Mossonee, Anglican Church of Canada.

              Wednesday, May 31, 2006

              Dever, women and slaves

              I have just finished reading three blog posts, Adrian's, Justin's and Dever's.

              Dever writes the following.

                ... those older than me who are complementarian generally want to downplay this issue, and those younger than me want to lead with it, or at least be very up front about it.
              Please read his post for context. He continues,

                The older group is among peers who see women's ordination as an extension of civil rights for people of different races.
              May I simply ask someone to let Dever know how wrong he is. The truth is,

              Civil rights for people of different races was an extension of the recognition of equal spiritual authority for women.

              No matter what Dever's assessment is of the Quaker movement today, let him know that Quakers acknowledged the right of women to speak in the assembly before their anti-slavery thrust.

              In a post that I wrote in March, I mentioned Women Speaking 1666., written by Margaret Fell, the wife of George Fox, founder of the Quakers.

              Here is the beginning of the Quaker Testimony to Equality.
                The Quaker testimony to equality stems from the conviction that all people are of equal spiritual worth. This was reflected in the early days of Quakerism by the equal spiritual authority of women, and by the refusal to use forms of address that recognised social distinctions. Equality is also a fundamental characteristic of Quaker organisation and worship, with the lack of clergy and any formal hierarchy.
              And here is a little history from Quakers in the Anti-slavery Movement,

                Before the eighteenth century, very few white men questioned the morality of slavery. The Quakers were among these few. The doctrines of their religion declared an issue such as slavery to be unjust. By 1775, the Quakers founded the first American anti-slavery group. Through the 1700s, Quakers led a strong-held prohibition against slavery.
                The Quakers’ fight inspired growing numbers of abolitionists, and by the 1830’s abolitionism was in full force and became a major political issue in theUnited States.The Quakers were radical Christians. They believed that all people were equal in the sight of God, and every human being wascapable of receiving the "light" of God’s spirit and wisdom. They also were against violence.
                Quakers were known for their simple living and work ethic. Therefore, to the Quakers, slavery was morally wrong.It was as early as the 1600s that Quakers began their fight against slavery, and thus the beginning of the abolitionist movement.They debated, made speeches, and preached to many people. By 1696, they made their first official declaration for abolitionism in Pennsylvania, in which they declared they were not going to encourage the importation of slaves.

              How dare Christians of other denominations wrest the anti-slavery movement out of its rightful origin? Does no one remember how the Quakers were persecuted by other Christians for their anti-slavery actions?

              How long before those of us who are over 50 come to see the younger generation as revisionists and ideologues with no respect for fact?

              How many errors will it take before someone signs a few preachers up for History 101?

              Dever also writes this about the older group who wish to downplay complementarianism.

                Normal for the older group is evangelicals as upstanding members of the society. They are mayors and bankers and respected persons in the community. The tendency is natural to do what would be culturally acceptable, as much as is possible (parallel to John Rawls and his idea of publicly accessible reasons).

              Dever does not consider the other possibilities. That those who are older have a better grasp of history, they have a sense of continuity with an honourable past, and they have lived longer as men and women. Those who are older, have this going for them, that they are older.

              Update: My apologies to Dever. I have rethought this post and now admit that older complementarians are probably equally ignorant of the Quaker origins of the abolition movement.

              Monday, May 29, 2006

              Florence Li Tim Oi

              I have been enjoying a wonderful weekend with my older sister, listening to her tell the stories of women she has known. One of those women was Florence Li Tim Oi, the first woman to be ordained in the Anglican Communion.

              This is an amazing story of a woman who, ordained in wartime and surrendering her priest's license in peacetime, served the church in China throughout the Communist period.

              In 1984, she was reinstated in Toronto, Canada, where women had been ordained since 1976. She stands as an older sister to Canadian Anglican women.

                At her birth in 1907 Li Tim-Oi's father called her “Much Beloved”. When she was baptised as a student Tim-Oi chose the name Florence from ‘The Lady of the Lamp’. Florence is celebrated world-wide for the witness to Christ that she lived out as the first female priest in the Anglican Communion. In 1931 at the ordination of a deaconess, she heard and responded to the call to ministry.

                She was made Deacon in 1941, and was given charge of the Anglican congregation in the Portuguese colony of Macao, thronged with refugees from wartorn China. When a priest could no longer travel from Japanese-occupied territory to preside for her at the eucharist, the Bishop of Hong Kong asked her to meet him in Free China, where on 25 January 1944 he ordained her “a priest in the Church of God”.

                To defuse controversy, in 1946 she surrendered her priest's license, but not her Holy Orders, the knowledge of which carried her through Maoist persecution. For the next 39 years, she served faithfully under very difficult circumstances, particularly after the Communists took over mainland China. In 1983, arrangements were made for her to come to Canada where she was appointed as an honorary assistant at St. John's Chinese congregation and St. Matthew's parish in Toronto.

                The Anglican Church of Canada had by this time approved the ordination of women to the priesthood and in 1984, the 40th anniversary of her ordination; Ms. Li was, with great joy and thanksgiving, reinstated as a priest. This event was celebrated not only in Canada but also at Westminster Abbey and at Sheffield in England even though the Church of England had not yet approved the ordination of women.

                From that date until her death in 1992, she exercised her priesthood with such faithfulness and quiet dignity that she won tremendous respect for herself and increasing support for other women seeking ordination. She was awarded Doctorates of Divinity by General Theological Seminary, New York, and Trinity College, Toronto.

                The very quality of Ms. Li's ministry in China and in Canada and the grace with which she exercised her priesthood helped convince many people through the communion and beyond that the Holy Spirit was certainly working in and through women priests. Her contribution to the church far exceeded the expectations of those involved in her ordination in 1944. She died on 26 February 1992.
              In 1971 in Hong Kong, my sister attended the historic ordination of Joyce Bennett and Jane Hwang, the first regularly ordained female priests in the Anglican Communion.


              This is a blog written by a women who wishes to witness to the spiritual integrity of ordained women, to stand beside them and tell their stories, stories past and stories yet unwritten, about women who answer God's call to serve. In remembrance of Florence Li Tim Oi, may we all exercise our different gifts with grace.

              Friday, May 26, 2006

              Wilfred Grenfell's Collection

              For forty years Wilfred Grenfell, a British doctor, traveled up and down the coast of Labrador, in the summer by steamer, in the winter by dogteam, treating the poor inhabitants. On one occasion he was stranded on an ice floe with his dogteam and soaking wet he almost froze to death. He finally decided that he should make one further attempt to extend his life by a few hours and killed and skinned three of beloved his sled dogs and wrapped himself in their fur. He was rescued a few hours later.

              Here is an another incident he describes in his autobiography, Forty Years for Labrador. 1933. It gives you some idea of what kind of man he was and the work he did.

                We had anchored among a group of islands to give the people a chance of coming aboard the hospital ship. Suddenly a boat bumped our side, and a woman climbed over the rail with a bundle under each arm. On my chartroom table she laid the two bundles and proceeded to untie them.

                'There is something wrong with them, sir,' she explained. Examination showed that, although their eyes looked right, both chldren were as blind as kittens with congenital posterior polar cataracts.
                'Have you any other children?' I asked the mother.
                'Yes, four.'
                'Where is your husband?'
                'Killed by a gun accident three months ago.'
                'Then how do you manage to keep food for the babies?'
                'Indeed, I can't.'
                'Whatever are you going to do with them?'
                'I'm going to give them to you, Doctor.'
                When we got under way it was rough, and the babies made such a noise that the helmsman stuck his head into the chartroom, which was directly behind the wheelhouse, to see what could be the matter.

                'What are you going to do with those, sir?'
                'Shh. They're blind and quite useless. When we get outside. we'll drop them over the rail.'
                He stared at me for a second before he turned back to his wheel. A few minutes later in popped his head again.
                'Excuse my being so bold, but don't throw them over the side. We've got eight of our own, but I guess my wife'll find a place for those two.
                I did not throw them overboard; neither did I send them to the home of that modern saint. I simply added them to my collection.

                In various ways my adopted family grew at an alarming rate, once it became known that we were acting the role of unofficial residuary legatee for derelict children.
              And so the story goes, as Grenfell and his sailors enter the houses of the poorest of the poor. He continues,

                Curiosity led us to peep inside, though there were no signs of life. Suddenly one of the boys, looking up at a hole in the low ceiling, exclaimed, 'Why, there's someone looking down at us through that chink.' In a trice he was up on the lofting. 'There are four naked kiddies up here,' he called down.
              Once again a mother was found with her baby and she begged the doctor to take and feed her starving children,

                Vermin, the inevitable accompaniment of poverty and squalor, had not been avoided even though the children had no rags to cover them. How could we take them back in our jolly-boat, over the seven miles of open sea, without clothing? In a second every boy with me had his coat off, and a well-clad child in his arms. What a credential of modern youth that act was! When we left, the poor mother brought up the rear of our procession carrying the baby. Today that little family is fed, clothed, going to school, and started on the road to a useful life. Forty Years For Labrador. page 153
              The poverty of Labrador during those years is one of Canada's saddest stories. Grenfell rescued those children he could, but many died of malnutrition.

              Wilfred Grenfell spoke at the Inter Varsity Fellowship at McGill and Gordon Thomas (PDF) a young medical student at the time, never forgot what he heard. Eventually he and his wife Patty took over the adminstration of the Grenfell mission. When I was little they used to visit my parents and tell stories of the mission and orphanage.

              Tuesday, May 23, 2006

              Excommunication, exclusivism and discipline

              I am collecting a few links on these topics. It has nothing to do with women, but quite a lot to do with being in the Exclusive Brethren. I don't see how you can understand your upbringing in an exclusive fellowship, it you don't have a good angle on how and why you were excommunicated.

              Of course, by then you have left, you don't sit there and listen to yourself being excommunicated, that is not what happens. I don't even know how and if we were 'read out'. But the 'who can eat with who' conversation hung in the air. It was a borderline kind of thing. Maybe some people don't remember it that way. I do.

              Someone who grows up in an exclusive fellowship, unlike someone who has entered it later in life, is bound psychologically in a particular way. The boundaries are firm, you are either on the inside or on the outside. At the table of the Lord, or the table of Demons. But some part of your brain says "oh, come on."

              I can't say that is the whole picture, but a segment, a slice of the reality of living in a closed fellowship.

              Here are a few links.

              Is Fermented Mare's Milk Unclean? Three Hierarchies
              The Obligation To Assume Challies
              Obligation To Assume: Church Discipline Challies
              The Heidelberg Catechism: On Excommunication Jim West
              Bullinger: On Excommunication Jim West

              The Heidelberg Catechism concerns me.

                Thus: when according to the command of Christ, those who under the name of Christians maintain doctrines, or practices inconsistent therewith, and will not, after having been often brotherly admonished, renounce their errors and wicked course of life
              Note how doctrinal 'errors' are interwoven with a 'wicked course of life'. Does it make it legitimate to excommunicate those who do not explain the creed in exactly the same terms as the rest of us, along with those who have immoral relations such as incest?

              Bullinger sounds less rigid, but consider this.

                In the Passover, no one was excluded because of moral impurity; rather, all were welcome (except those ritually impure). (Jim West's comment on Bullinger)
              Finish reading that post and then scan the article on Three Hierarchies.

                The Eastern Orthodox treatment of fermented mare's milk as unclean was not some theologically unreflective folk opinion. William of Rubruck's statement that the Greek and Ruthenian priests treat koumiss "as sacrificed to idols" shows that they were using New Testament categories to analyze this cross-cultural issue, but coming to conclusions exactly opposite of what Paul was saying.
              So three categories of cause for excommunication are found here; doctrinal error, ritual uncleaness and immorality. Excommunication easily becomes an instrument of exclusion - exclusion of those who have in some way trod on the feet of those with more influence, those who fear the erosion of their influence.

              There are extensive notes in the comment section of Challies' post so this is a good resource, complementing Jim West's recent posts. I wonder if these people are interested in thinking about this from the point of view of those who have been excommunicated wrongfully. And yet, their arguments do seem persuasive, as long as it isn't happening to you.

              Excommunication gives opportunity for an abuse of power. On the other hand, Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? At what cost? To whom the cost?

              Dr. Pearl Smith Chute (Mrs. Chute)

              I would be interested in hearing when the first women medical missionary went out and whether Pearl Smith Chute, who left Canada in 1895, was the first for her small part of Eastern Canada, or whether she was, in fact, the first women medical missionary.

              This is from The Enterprise, my recently acquired treasure with many entrancing pages on Teluga and Oriya literacy. But enough of that, and back to the women missionary.
                A brother and sister Everett and Pearl Smith, of Saint Catherines were getting ready to give themselves to the work in India. God's call had reached them, and they were coming. Think of it. Two young people...

                In 1893, the brother, Dr. Everett Smith, came out as our pioneer doctor, and with him his wife, Mary Chamberlain Smith, who had prepared herself for the work by taking a nurse's training. In 1895 his sister, Dr. Pearl Smith, had graduated, and came out to marry Rev. Jesse Chute and go off pioneering with him on the great Akidu field, of which he had been put in charge, to relieve the Craigs, who were going on furlough.

                It was a grand field for medical pioneering, as there was no other hospital nearer than fourty miles, and from the first the people living in between kept her extremely busy. She had nowhere to put a patient, but all the same that first year she treated 1,642 people. We would earnestly commend these figures to the honest consideration of many otherwise perfectly good young medical graduates - doctors in our Canadian cities who after a long and expensive training have to sit in rented offices anxiously waiting for some patients to come their way.. Why not come to India or some other foreign field where they are waiting for you?
                Quite frequently Mrs. Chute had to go by night to distant villages, in answer to S.O.S. calls, and was often put to it to properly care for a patient without hospital or equipment. But in 1898 that want was partly supplied. A small hospital, "The Star of Hope", was built and forthwith occupied.
              The Enterprise. by M.L. Orchard and K.S. McLaurin, 1925. pages 247 - 250

              That was Christian womanhood in Canada in the 1890's. This book does not record that her husband went with her on those night excursions. He likely had other work to do. If any ask if the daughter may be given the same kind of Christian upbringing as her brother, the answer is yes.

              Monday, May 22, 2006

              Baptist Women

              Lat week I picked up a secondhand book titled The Enterprise by Orchard and McLaurin, written in 1925. It outlines the beginnings of Canadian Baptist Missions in Eastern Canada. According to this book Canada sent out the first single women Baptist missionary, Minnie De Wolfe, in 1867, the year of Canada's birth as a country.

              There is simply no reference to her and the many other women missionary firsts in this book which appear on the internet. I noticed that Archibald Fleming and many other evangelical Christian men are also under-recognized. These books are out of print and interest seems to be conglomerating around fewer and fewer idealized men of our selective past.

              However, the plight of Baptist women seems particularly touching with regards to the present policies of the Southern Baptist Convention.

              From Southern Baptist Sisters: In Search of Status, 1845-2000. by David T. Morgan.

              "David T. Morgan's history of women's participation in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) is full of accomplished women, organizational successes, and stunning reversals."

                Southern Baptist women made slow but steady progress, always facing severe opposition within the Convention, until the SBC came under the leadership of staunch fundamentalists in the 1980s and 1990s who, according to Morgan, took the SBC back to the 1840s in terms of thinking about the nature and proper role of women, and who shut the door completely and permanently on theological and practical advances for women within the denomination.
              All That Fits a WomanTraining Southern Baptist Women for Charity and Mission, 1907-1926 by Laine Scales

                The history of women's roles within evangelical religious traditions has received scant attention when compared to that of women from more liberal denominations. Further, women's roles in the Southern United States have garnered less scholarly attention than those of women in the North and Midwest. Laine Scales rectifies both of these oversights with her fascinating book, All that fits a woman.

                She offers an insightful detailed look into the challenges Southern Baptist women experienced as they pursued their commitment to missionary activities and social work. This story attests to the veracity of the saying "what goes around comes around" in that, after reading about the trials and tribulations Southern Baptist women faced, the epilogue offers a bleak prognosis for these women who continue to seek full participation in their church's ministry today.

                It appears that the hard-fought efforts over the past century were, in the end, to return to a place, at the beginning of the twenty-first century, not all that far from where the journey began. And so it goes.
              And here is the present state of women in the Sountern Baptist Convention from WOMEN AS CLERGY: When some faith groups started to ordain women:

                The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) had undergone a struggle between Fundamentalists and less conservative members which ended in the late 1990's with a Fundamentalist victory. The Baptist Faith and Message Study Committee of the SBC, issued a statement on 2000-MAY-18 recommending that "While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture." The SBC currently has about 1,600 ordained women among their 41,099 churches. About 30 of their senior pastors are female. The recommendation was approved at their annual meeting on 2000-JUN-14. Their existing female pastors are allowed to remain, but no new pastors will be ordained. The SBC is the largest Protestant denomination in the U.S.; they have about 16 million members.
              For those who might argue that these early women missionaries were not ordained pastors, I admit, they were not. But their roles did not revolve around the domestic; they were medical doctors, preachers, trainers of Bible-women, teachers in the seminary, and organizers and leaders par excellence.

              As medical doctor married medical doctor, each one running an independent clinic, the notion of missionary wife and helpmate, on the one hand, was balanced, on the other hand, by the example of women who founded and administered teaching hospitals and industrial schools. They preached and taught and participated in the leaders conferences along with the men. This was at the end of the 19th century.

              The very premise that women's role is somehow subordinate to men, in any way, shape or form, is given the lie by this book, The Enterprise.

              Foucault's Pendulum

              I loved Foucault's Pendulum by Umberto Eco. Unlike The Name of the Rose, it is almost comprehensible from the beginning of the book. The author tempts you in with a modern cyberplot. Apparently this deceives some people who then wonder what they are doing running all over Europe and through the Middle Ages skimming so many different topics they don't know where they are going.

              If this appeals to you, it is the best kind of escapist fiction, not too heavy, pointless entertainment, with a little glitz, a false patina of intellectualism, and dash of true critical thinking, etc. So when I heard Foucault's Pendulum being described as a thinking man's Da Vinci Code, I thought, no way will I down scale. FP was downright well written and I won't lower my standards for DVC, won't read it, won't see the movie, won't talk about it.

              But if I want to relax and get away from it all - I will reread Foucault's Pendulum. It all starts at the keyboard and moves back in time. Read the reviews on Amazon and decide who you are.

              Then when someone asks you about the DVC you can say, "Have you read FP, it is the thinking man's DVC, you know." The thinking woman's too.

              The real point is that Foucault's Pendulum is about how conspiracy theories get started. It critiques and uncloaks the very essence of the Da Vinci Code. It is a novel about perception and meaning. This is another book I heartily recommend.

              Saturday, May 20, 2006

              The Feminists of the 1800's

              I will eventually have to restrict myself from reading many other blogs. It is too depressing to discover that some otherwise intelligent people have never heard of Elizabeth Fry and her large family, and assign Catherine Booth to being the wife of the man who.

              And then there are the diatribes against the rise of feminism in the late 1800's. What were these ladies thinking of?

              I have misplaced, or loaned out, one of my favourite books on early women missionaries to Canada, with a good section on Northern BC. As it happens none of the info in that book is available on the internet. These women might just as well have not existed.

              In the meantime, I have found some other books which outline the rise of the Women's Missionary Societies and the history of women active in medical missions. I realized that I could, in fact, verify what I had been suspecting.

              Women missionaries were at the forefront of the women in general who became university educated and entered professions previously restricted to men in the late 1800's.

              This story from Australia about the first woman medical graduate from the Universtiy of Adelaide is similar to that of the many women in the book I am now reading about Baptist missionaries from Canada.

              The next time you read about the rise of feminism in the late 1800's think of women like Laura Fowler.
                She graduated in Medicine and Surgery in 1891, to become the University of Adelaide’s first woman medical graduate, also winning the Elder Prize along the way.

                After graduation, Laura Fowler was appointed House Surgeon at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital, and worked in that role until her marriage in 1893 to fellow physician Charles Henry Standish Hope, who had graduated MBBS in 1889 and MD in 1891.

                Following their marriage, the couple went to India on a mission to provide medical assistance to the Indian people. From the start they saw themselves as self-sufficient doctors rather than missionaries, but their first visit did not prove successful in that they were unable to find sufficient work to support themselves.

                After a period back in England, they returned to India in 1895 and settled in Bengal, and would go on to devote thirty years of their lives to Bengal, despite the deleterious effects of the climate on their health, particularly that of Charles.

                They worked for a variety of church missions in various parts of Bengal, alternating that with spells of independent work. There were occasional visits back to England and South Australia and, during the First World War, a period of war work in field hospitals in Serbia.
                Their work was often high-pressure, given the enormous demand for medical services in India. In 1916, for example, when they were stationed at the Church of Scotland Mission at Kalimpong in North Bengal, Laura was in medical charge of a mission of 540 children and 73 staff.

                In 1933 Laura Hope retired and both she and her husband were honoured with the Kaisar-I-Hind gold medal for their work in India.
                It is Christian women like Laura Fowler who pioneered the way for other women to enter the medical profession. When you think of feminists think of her.

                Decoding the Racial Code

                Postmodern Negro has posted on the Da Vinci Code. I pretty much promised myself that I wouldn't do this, but here it is anyway. This is one review I didn't want to lose.

                Texts on Excommunication

                Jim West is tracing the main historical texts on excommunication. So far he has quoted Zwingli, Oecolampadius and Luther. He presents an interesting argument for the contrast between Matt. 13, the parable of the sower, and Matt. 18:15 - 20. What can I say? It is kinder than being burned at the stake.

                The Priestess and the round dinner-table

                I have been rereading Barchester Towers, one of Anthony Trollope's funniest novels.

                On the necessity of a priestess,
                  Now that the archdeacon was away, they could all trifle. Mr Harding began by telling them in the most innocent manner imaginable an old legend about Mr Arabin's new parish. There was, he said, in days of yore, an illustrious priestess of St Ewold, famed through the whole country for curing all manner of diseases. She had a well, as all priestesses have ever had, which well was extant to this day, and shared in the minds of many of the people the sanctity which belonged to the consecrated grounds of the parish church. Mr Arabin declared that he should look on such tenets on the part of the parishioners as anything but orthodox. And Mrs Grantly replied that she so entirely disagreed with him as to think that no parish was in a proper estate that had not its priestess as well as its priest. 'The duties are never well done,' said she, 'unless they are so divided.'
                  'The grate is really very bad,' said Mrs Grantly; 'I am sure the priestess won't approve of it, when she is brought here to the scene of future duties. Really, Mr Arabin, no priestess accustomed to such an excellent well as that above could put up with such a grate as this.'

                  'If there must be a priestess at St Ewold's at all, Mrs Grantly, I think we shall leave her to her well, and not call down her divine wrath on any of the imperfections rising from our human poverty. However, I own I am amenable to the attractions of a well-cooked dinner, and the grate shall certainly be changed.'

                  By this time the archdeacon had again ascended, and was now in the dining-room. 'Arabin,' said he, speaking in his usual loud clear voice, and with that tone of dictation which was so common to him; 'you must positively alter this dining-room, that is, remodel it altogether; look here, it is just sixteen feet by fifteen; did anybody ever hear of a dining-room of such proportions?' and the archdeacon stepped the room long-ways and cross-ways with ponderous steps, as though a certain amount of ecclesiastical dignity could be imparted even to such an occupation as that by the manner of doing it. 'Barely sixteen; you may call it a square.'

                  'It would do very well for a round table,' suggested the ex-warden.

                  Now there was something peculiarly unorthodox in the archdeacon's estimation in the idea of a round table. He had always been accustomed to a goodly board of decent length, comfortably elongating itself according to the number of guests, nearly black with perpetual rubbing, and as bright as a mirror. Now round dinner tables are generally of oak, or else of such new construction as not to have acquired the peculiar hue which was so pleasing to him. He connected them with what he called the nasty new fangled method of leaving cloth on the table, as though to warn people that they were not to sit long. In his eyes there was something democratic and parvenu in a round table. He imagined that dissenters and calico-printers chiefly used them, and perhaps a few literary lions more conspicuous for their wit than their gentility. He was a little flurried at the idea of such an article, being introduced into the diocese by a protege of his own, and at the instigation of his father-in-law.

                  'A round dinner-table,' said he, with some heat, 'is the most abominable article of furniture that ever was invented. I hope that Arabin has more taste than to allow such a thing in his house.'

                Read the rest of chapter 21 to see how the priestess would have to renovate the rectory dining room herself to save the priest from the evils of a round dinner-table.

                Thursday, May 18, 2006

                Captain Nichola Goddard

                Captain Goddard, news results here, and here

                  A female soldier from Canada was killed while fighting Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan on Wednesday, military officials said. Capt. Nichola Goddard, 26, had been serving in Afghanistan with the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry. She was a member of the Royal Canadian Horse Artillery, based in Shilo, Man.

                  She is the first Canadian woman to be killed in action since the Second World War, and the first female combat soldier killed on the front lines.
                She was an athlete, wife, daughter, soldier, leader and officer.

                  In a statement, Prime Minister Stephen Harper acknowledged Goddard's contribution.

                  "Capt. Goddard died while helping to bring peace, stability and democracy to a troubled region of the world. She, and the other men and women who serve in Afghanistan, are involved in a difficult and dangerous mission."

                  Manitoba Premier Gary Doer said the province will fly its flag at half-mast in Goddard's honour.

                  "I just want to say, on behalf of the people of Manitoba, we respect her life of bravery and honour on behalf of Canada, and we offer our condolences to the family and to the community of Shilo," he said.

                Paul's hair

                Sequel to: Head covering, custom or not?

                In one of the comments of last week, Suzanne gave a link to A Commentary on 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 by Norman E. Anderson. From that huge amount of information and opinion, I found some interesting notes.

                In note 26 at verse 14 Norman writes:
                Recall that while in Corinth, Paul had himself evidently worn his hair long (such seems the implication of Acts 18:18; cf. Numbers 6:18).
                Paul had long hair!
                How could Paul have his hair long while being amongst the people to whom he later seems to write that it is a shame for men to have long hair?
                The more I think about this passage, the less sense the traditional translation makes; and the more sense the ISV translation makes.
                Norman even proposes (in note 9 at verse 4-5) to translate these verses as rhetorical questions:
                Does each man [or husband] praying or prophesying having a draped head dishonor his head? Yet does each wife [or woman] praying or prophesying with the head uncovered [or against the uncovered head] dishonor her head? Is she [or he] surely one and the same with [or as] she who has been shorn?
                Maybe someone at Better Bibles Blog can give an opinion on this alternative translation?

                There is one last clever question I want to cite. In a comment at Head covering? Keep your hair on! Suzanne McCarthy writes:
                Personally, I wonder how Paul could say circumcision doesn't matter, but how long your hair is does matter. That is just shifting the emphasis from one outward ritualistic observance to another.

                Tuesday, May 16, 2006

                The Play

                Robin Hood stopped by after school today to tell me that since he has moved on to high school he has learned to read proficiently. There are always those times when a teacher wonders. Reading is not predetermined consequence of school attendance.

                Two years ago I recognized that my class of nonreaders was otherwise gifted. We simply put down the books, got out an illustrated comic of Robin Hood, turned it into a script and performed the play. After many rowdy stick fights, falling off logs and generally bumbling into each other, rubber-tipped arrows flying through the air and other chaos, they gathered in a circle and pranced around to the music of Riverdance, celebrating the marriage of Robin and Marion.

                If anyone asks why some of us teachers love to collect all the students that don't fit into a regular class, the answer is because these children are so talented. (Clicking through these pictures this afternoon reminiscing, I realized that there is no orthodox picture of me on the web.)

                Note: I may not get to the comments on the preceding post until tomorrow. Thanks.

                Monday, May 15, 2006

                I and my Father are one

                I would like to respond to Rebecca's post on the topic of the functional subordination of the Son.

                Father and Son

                I believe that the term 'son' when used for Christ does not reflect a begotten or generated child or offspring. It means that Christ is of the same nature as God and then becomes of the same nature as humanity. Christ is fully human and fully divine.

                The human father and son is not a permanent or eternal authority/submission relationship. The human son must always grow up and become the fully mature adult. A permanent functional subordination of son to father is a distortion of all that is healthy and normal. This would be the handicapped child. Not an eternal ideal. The struggle for maturity and the shift of power typifies the human father/son relationship. The eternal father and son are of the same nature and essence as each other; they are never locked in a struggle for power. Power is perfectly at rest between them because their will is one, but not by nature of subordination.

                Christ is eternal with the father and was not begotten by him. There is no temporal difference in their existance. Christ is uniquely of the father, but not generated by him.

                Submission to death

                Christ voluntarily emptied himself and became human. He took on a mortal human nature and submitted to death. He submitted as a human to pain and suffering in order to share in our nature fully. As a human he fully experienced submission to the will of his father in heaven and to an unjust execution at the hands of a human government.

                Christ did not rejoice or see beauty in death. He experienced suffering, grief and sorrow. Otherwise he could not identify with us. We do not rejoice in death other than in our sharing with Christ and knowing his victory over death. Christianity is in no way masochistic.

                Christ in heaven

                Christ is given all authority in heaven, all the fullness of the Godhead dwells in him. He is utterly unlimited in power, but by his nature he will never have a separate will from the father. This is a mystery, but the mystery is that there is oneness of will, and not subordination and authority. If it were submission/authority, it would not be a mystery. We would have a human, and humanly understood, religion.

                I believe that Christ came in oneness of will with the father and not in subordination to the father. Christ is now the head of everything and is accorded this by the one to whom it was not unlawful for him to consider himself equal. Christ is subject to the father in that it is impossible for Christ to have a separate will from the father. That does not mean that he submits his will, but rather that in his divine nature his will does not differ from the father. Only in humanity Christ's will differed, because he wanted to avoid death. Then he submitted his human will to his father.

                Hierarchy on earth

                There are two places where the scriptures explicitly teach that the human understanding of hierarchy is not what God wants for humankind. First, in 1 Samuel 8:9, God tells Samuel to warn the people that a king who reigns over them will claim rights. The monarchy of Israel is a concession to human desire for visible order. In Luke 22:25 Christ says, "The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who exercise authority over them call themselves benefactors."

                Even the law and the priesthood were a temporal and impermanent order. The law was added because of our transgressions. When we are adopted into God's family we are not under the law. However, as humans we always want to be in a submission/authority relationship because we do not understand freedom and are not able to remain in God's will for us.

                This is how I have understood it over the years. I did not know there were other teachings on this topic until recently.

                Sunday, May 14, 2006

                Stephen Leacock

                I was helping my great aunt Elizabeth Hammond with her papers one day, in 1970, and I pulled a hand-written manuscript of about 10 pages out of a large brown envelope. The title was Teaching the Unteachables. I only read a page or two of the large irregular scrawl and found the topic not to my teenage taste. I asked what it was.

                My aunt explained that it was the manuscript of a talk on children with disabilities given by Stephen Leacock at a teacher's union meeting in Montreal on her invitation. It was very sad, she said. I used to see him with his wife and their child in a stroller. It was very difficult, his only child. Hmhm. And she was back in another time.

                Here is a short piece from the CBC News,

                  After the death of Mark Twain, Leacock became the world's best-selling humourist. Part of his reputation as a funnyman was made as a platform speaker - an early twentieth-century form of stand-up. Leacock toured his storytelling and humour all over the world, often using his travel observations as material for new writing.

                  Behind the smiling, gentle humourist lay a driven man, burdened by the early death of his beloved wife. After her death, 51-year-old Leacock was left with a 10-year-old son to raise alone. Stevie Jr. became a constant worry for Leacock. Born with a lack of growth hormones, Stevie Jr. was small and looked years younger than his actual age. Constant worry about his son's health and an obsessive need to maintain the lifestyle he had so carefully created drove Leacock to publish - constantly recycling material for a paycheque.

                  When a young Yousuf Karsh arrived in 1941 to photograph Leacock for his first professional assignment, he was going to stay for just an afternoon but ended up drinking, fishing and keeping company with him for three days. His photographs (seen throughout the documentary) portray the official Leacock sparkle but they also reveal an old man tired from years of constant worry about his son and the future.
                In the May 2006 edition of the Anglican Planet there is an article on Leacock as a committed Anglican and political economist written by Ron Dart. Dart has written at more length about Leacock's political thinking of which his book The Unsolved Riddle Of Social Justice is an example. View his novels here.

                This was when I first began to realize that laughter is often the expression of inner sorrow; a gift that some people give to others out of their own deep need for joy.

                Eumachia's veil

                  In the upper stratum of local Pompeian society, perhaps a step below that of the great ladies of the aristocracy, were other women who chose to use their wealth for the public good as well as for their own purposes.

                  One of the most famous of these is Eumachia who, in the years before the earthquake of 64 C.E., paid for the construction of a huge public building in the most important spot in Pompeii, the Forum. Around it were the markets, law courts, and temples of the town, and there the gathered populace might read on the building the inscription: "Eumachia, the public priestess (of Venus), daughter of Lucius, had the vestibule, the covered gallery and the porticoes made with her own money and dedicated in her own name and in the name of her son Marcus Numistrius Fronto, in honour of the goddesses Concord and Augustan Piety"

                  A statue showing her in the usual pose and costume of a respectable matron stood in the building as a result of the generous gratitude of the cloth-cleaners; their inscription reads, "To Eumachia, the daughter of Lucius, the public priestess, from the fullers." ... Eumachia was not only a rich woman, a holder of an extremely important public priesthood, she was also politically involved. The building's commission seems to have come at just the moment when her son was running for public office, and his mother's generosity would have served him well. She commanded far greater power and wealth than many other women in Pompeii, but that did not prevent others from involving themselves in financial and political affairs. Women in the Classical World. page 332 - 334
                Was Eumachia's veil the sign of power, authority, wealth, status, dignity, reverence, decorum, respectability, modesty, mourning, submsission or silence?

                Friday, May 12, 2006

                Bruce Ware on Male Headship

                I need some help with this. Here is a paragraph from Bruce Ware titled Why is Defending Male Headship Important for Church Health? This article has been quoted by Adrian Warnock and Jollyblogger in defense of the T4G statement. (Please access Ware's article from Adrians's blog until I figure out how to fix the link.)

                  This is not to say that male/female complementarity does not relate in important ways to these central doctrines. Indeed, the Trinity, for example, models equality of essence with differentiation of roles, which equality and differentiation are mirrored in man as male and female. And the substitutionary atonement was carried out by one who submitted freely to the will of His Father, thus demonstrating the joy and beauty both of authority (the Father who sent) and submission (the Son who obeyed).
                I have a few questions about this, a few theological qualms.

                1. Why does the T4G statement not comment on or refer to the differentiation of roles in the Trinity if this is a central doctrine? Or does it? And is it a central doctrine?

                2. Wasn't Jesus called "man of sorrows" because he knew he would die for sin and be rejected by God for carrying sin? If that is joy and beauty, it is certainly a muted joy. Was not his death a cause of grief and mourning for his disciples? Isn't joy to be had in the resurrection and future hope?

                3. Wasn't Christ's act of submission the fact that he became human, and subject to death, willingly? He came from a position of power to a position of weakness, in order to be like his fellows. Christ emptied himself. Philippians 2. A wife does not come from a position of power in the traditional sense. Some women might, but I would say that metaphorically woman and wife does not represent power laid down.

                4. The woman is the weaker vessel. She cannot mirror Christ's submission to God, unless we think that God intended Christ to suffer because he was weaker. But in fact, being the Son of God, he was of the same essence as God. Does the husband offer his wife as a sacrifice because she is of his essence? No, a man could only offer a son in that way, but surely Abraham was the last to suffer that horror. You can only offer as a sacrifice someone who is of yourself, a physical part of yourself, your own flesh and blood.

                5. Doesn't the wife in 1 Peter submit to the unsaved husband and isn't it unjust suffering. Once again not beautiful or joyful, but compared ot a fiery ordeal. I understood Christ's submission in 1 Peter as his submission to unjust earthly powers. We rejoice that we can share in this, although it is an ordeal. A model for a Christian marriage? No, but a model for a Christian partner to be tolerant of and accomodating to the unsaved partner.

                6. I have always undertood it like this. In Gethsemane, Christ submits to God, because he has already voluntarily emptied himself of the power to do anything else. Philipians 2.

                Read Ben Witherington on this.

                Last of all, aren't a few Christian men going to squirm when asked by a non-Christian what the connection is between a wife's submission to her husband and Christ's death on the cross? Tell me that I am misreading this. Please.

                Head covering, custom or not?

                Sequel to: Head covering? Keep your hair on!

                It seems that 1 Corintians 11:16 can be translated in different ways:
                But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God. (KJV)
                If any one is disposed to be contentious, we recognize no other practice, nor do the churches of God. (RSV)
                These two translations are opposite to eachother. One translations says we have no such custom, the other says we have no other practise.

                First I looked up the word custom/practise. The Greek word sunetheia means contact, everyday life, or habituation, custom, practise, habit. In my opinion it then can not refer to being contentious. 'To want to have the last word' is not a daily habit, not a cultural tradition...

                The Dutch Studiebijbel comments on verse 16 that Paul means that:
                it is not the custom of the other churches for women to come to the meetings with uncovered heads...
                That would explain the RSV translation, the text is presented as 'we have no other custom (than covering the head.)' But I still find the RSV variant a strange translation when I examine the Greek (as a lay person.) The Greek word toioutos (such as this, of this kind or sort) does not appear to have any meaning like no other (custom.)

                William Welty (see page 2) assumes that the custom in verse 16 refers to the veiling of women. In his interpretation, the other churches did not have such custom.

                So there is (and was) no obligation of head covering. However, what is very clear in 1 Corintians 11 is that women were involved in public speaking in the church meetings (see verse 5!)

                The original post in Dutch can be found here.

                Thursday, May 11, 2006

                No Such Custom

                On the one hand I would like to give this up and never hear the words head covering again. On the other hand, this is probably a passage that has more variant translations than any other in the Bible. Therefore, it intrigues me. Can you believe that I step back, to enter the text, and forget that I am involved, as one who is a pawn of the word?

                Here is the little research I have found time for. There is no text variant in verse 16, the Greek says "There is no such custom." As far as I can see, it was the RSV that first brought in "no other practice" and it also used a text variant in verse 10, which is now recognized as being the weaker choice, 'veil' rather than 'power'.

                  But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God. KJV

                  If any one is disposed to be contentious, we recognize no other practice, nor do the churches of God RSV

                  But if anyone is disposed to be contentious - we have no such custom, nor do the churches of God. NRSV

                  If anyone is inclined to be contentious, we have no such practice, nor do the churches of God. ESV
                and here is verses 10 in the RSV.

                  That is why a woman ought to have a veil on her head, because of the angels.
                This translation 'other' has had a powerful influence, but it is based entirely on surmise.


                On the meaning of verse 10, it appears to me the a woman may have on her head one of several things. First, a sign of her own authority, second a sign of someone else's authority, and third, simply authority, or since it is her own, it is 'liberty, freedom of choice or right to act'. This is the first meaning of εξουσια in the lexicon. This is first and foremost, the most straightforward of all translations.

                Now see what Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood does with this lexicon.

                  Furthermore, it is not at all strained to see exousia in verse 10 as "sign of authority" or "symbol of authority." The standard lexicon for New Testament literature sees such a symbolic understanding of exousia as a viable possibility. BADG, page 278 #5 ....In an example very similar to 1 Corinthians 11:10, Diodorus of Sicily (1.47.5, written ca. BC 60-30) refers to a stone statue that has "three kingdoms on its head (echonton treis basileias epi tes kephales)," but it clearly means in the context that the statue has three crowns, which are symbols of governing kingdoms. We can conclude, then, that it is not at all unusual for something on the head to be a symbol of something else. Recovering
                So I will quote BADG, page 278, #5

                  Various opinions are held concerning the mng. of 1 Cor. 11:10 Many now understand it as 'a means of exercising power'.
                There is then a discussion of the "three kingdoms" as above, and then this statement.

                  "The veil may also have been simply a symbol of womanly dignity."

                There is no discussion in BADG of a woman having a symbol of someone else's authority on her head. However, the quote from Recovering suggests, but does not clearly state, that it does.

                Shall we torture the text any longer? Shall we torture the lexicons as well? Not today, but some day, it would be well worth the time to revisit this passage and review the rhetorical questions, the play on words, both 'head' and 'glory', the chiastic structure, and so on.

                It is clear, however, that whatever women had, it gave them the right to pray and prophesy in the assembly. The veil had nothing to do with silence, that comes later. The veil is only associated with authority and submission in its association with the argument of the "head" in verse 3. It is only by understanding "head" as an authority/submission relationship that authority and submission are read into the rest of the chapter.

                But what is the relationship of God to Christ? Let us remember that Christ submitted unto death. It was the incarnation and death of Christ that was his submission. Is that how we see the man and the woman? Shall the woman submit unto death? Is that the beauty of headship? I do not read authority and submission when this chapter talks about the head.

                I read a different relationship altogether, that God gave Christ everything, absolutely everything, because God is the head of Christ.

                The submission and death of Christ is indeed part of the Christian story, but it is not under discussion when the Bible says, "The head of every man is Christ, the head of woman, man, the head of Christ, God."

                Wednesday, May 10, 2006

                Theology and the Sphere of Women

                It was 1964 and the Beatles had recently appeared on the Ed Sullivan show. Two young girls age 9 and 11 walked to school and sat through unremarkable school days as children and students. They chatted about Paul McCartney and Nancy Drew and hockey players and so on.

                Within a year or two they would be fans of Twiggy and go-go boots, and miniskirts. Crocheted purses, braid-trimmed bell-bottoms, and patchwork maxiskirts would all be products of their imagination and fingers well-trained in needlework.

                But every day that last fall of childhood, they walked home at lunch and entered the house, hanging up their handknit bulky, flannel-lined sweaters, and tromped into the kitchen to sit on high stools at the kitchen counter where bowls of soup and bread and cheese were waiting.

                Mother sat at the end of the counter with a book propped up on a metal frame and she knit and read. Her needles clicked and the pages turned. At the end of lunch the girls put on their heavy sweaters and trudged back to school.

                What did mother read to her little girls, the tail end of her large family, in those rare few months when we had her to ourselves, between the foster children and the grandchildren and elder care, and shelter offered to others in need.

                She read Merle D'Aubignés History of the Reformation. She knit through Wycliffe and Huss and Tyndale and Erasmus, Calvin, Luther, and Zwingli. Even now, when I read those names the needles click and the ball of wool jerks in response as the yarn ravels up into mitts and hats and sweaters. The faggots crackle on the fires of the martyrs and men gallop across Europe at breakneck speed.

                We are the children of a Brethren woman teacher. Church history spliced into the sphere of women, slip one, knit one, pass slip stitch over, later the biographies of the Methodist preachers, and theology and Greek.

                I often wonder how men learn theology, what ancient rhythms bind their minds to the nouns and verbs of history?