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?

    Phoebe and Junia

    Ron Smith has a series of posts about Poebe and Junia and the church fathers. He offers quotations about Phoebe in Origen, Chrysostom and Ambrosiaster and about Junia in Chrystostom. These are relevant to how we decide to translate Romans 16.

    Sunday, May 07, 2006

    1 Cor. 11:10

    Here is verse 10 of this chapter in the Greek.

      διὰ τοῦτο ὀφείλει ἡ γυνὴ ἐξουσίαν ἔχειν ἐπὶ τῆς κεφαλῆς διὰ τοὺς ἀγγέλους
      because of this ought a woman power to have on the head because of the angels/messengers
      This is why a woman should have authority over her own head: because of the angels. ISV
    It is important to realize what is properly understood as a correct literal translation. First, it does say "power", but this could mean "power" or "a power" as Luther puts it, "ein Macht" and the Dutch has a similar expression. Not that it makes sense, but it could be correct. Second, it would still be perfectly literal to add "on her head". That also is linguistically possible. However, it is not literal to add "a sign of" authority. That is simply not there.

    It is perfectly accurate to say that ἐξουσίαν means any of the following, power, authority, freedom, permission, liberty, license.

    Here is an interesting use of the word.

      ἐπὶ τῇ τῆς εἰρήνης ἐξουσίᾳ

      certain Greek citizens, including Aeschines, were availing themselves of the liberty of the peace to visit Macedonia and take bribes Demosthenes
    So it becomes "the liberty of the peace". Therefore, why not "liberty of the head". I can't solve this now, but this is a good question to ask. The main point is that when someone says that the translation of certain verses betray a bias, that is perfectly accurate. I cannot tell you what the 'correct' translation is, but if women had been in charge of translating the Bible for the first two millenia, this verse might have read,

      This is why a woman should have freedom concerning her own head, the liberty to do as she thinks right about her head, because of the angels.
      Once again here is the post from Metacrock on this. Another option he mentions is that "power on the head" actually means to have authority oneself. To be a bearer of authority. Is it possible that being married gives one authority? But that would contradict Paul's recommendation to stay single. Is it simply because of the place that a woman has in God's kingdom that she has authority. Possibly.

      In any case, in this passage, the woman is in the assembly and she is praying and prophesying.

      Why associate this chapter with subjection and silence when it mentions authority and prophesying? Think of Huldah and Deborah, two women of the Old Testament, a prophetess and a judge. Should not women in the New Testament have at least as much liberty as those in the Old?

      Head covering? Keep your hair on!

      Sequel to: How long is your hair? 1 Corintians 11:13-15

      1 Korintiërs 11:2-16 still is a confusing passage. At least it is clear that Paul is writing about local customs of his time.

      An important verse is 1 Corintians 11:10 (TNIV):
      It is for this reason that a woman ought to have authority over her own head, because of the angels.
      An important principle is layed down here; a women does not need to let herself be prescribed by others what to do. She's the boss of her own head.

      We also make some progress when we look at the end of this passage. Paul seems to give some conclusions there.

      In verse 15b Paul says something like: For hair is given as a substitute for head coverings.
      The argument seems to be that we do not need to have ourself head coverings prescribed, because we already have hair on our heads. This conclusion fits the preceeding verses very good, when we translate these verses as William Welty suggests.

      Verse 16 then could be rendered as: But if anyone seems to be disturbed by all of this, neither we nor the churches of God have any such custom.

      What on earth are we in fact talking about? Is the Kingdom of God about veils, lengths of hair, skirts and trousers? What do we think we are up to? We will not make this into a moot point!

      Our conclusion could be that we are not dealing with essential matters of the faith here. Paul is dealing with a local issue; appearantly some people made a problem of it. Unfortunately the details of this issue got lost and this passage assumed a life of its own in church history...

      The original post in Dutch can be found here.

      Saturday, May 06, 2006

      1 Cor. 11:13-16

      I have been persuaded that a literal examination of this passage is necessary. I am going to do this backwards because then it fits in with Ruud's most recent post. I am mixing in the Greek script so the font may look a little different.

      Here are verses 13 to 16 in a literal translation. I will come back to the other verses later. But this should give some idea of the problems. There are no question marks in Greek manuscripts unfortunately.

        13 ἐν ὑμῖν αὐτοῖς κρίνατε πρέπον ἐστὶν γυναῖκα ἀκατακάλυπτον τῷ θεῷ προσεύχεσθαι
        for yourselves judge it is appropriate a woman uncovered to God to pray.

        14 οὐδὲ ἡ φύσις αὐτὴ διδάσκει ὑμᾶς ὅτι ἀνὴρ μὲν ἐὰν κομᾷ ἀτιμία αὐτῷ ἐστιν

        not nature itself teaches us that if man grows hair it is dishonouring to him

        15 γυνὴ δὲ ἐὰν κομᾷ δόξα αὐτῇ ἐστιν ὅτι ἡ κόμη ἀντὶ περιβολαίου δέδοται αὐτῇ
        if a woman grows hair it is a glory to her, that grown hair instead of a covering is given her

        16 εἰ δέ τις δοκεῖ φιλόνεικος εἶναι ἡμεῖς τοιαύτην συνήθειαν οὐκ ἔχομεν οὐδὲ αἱ ἐκκλησίαι τοῦ θεοῦ
        If anyone wants to be argumentative about this we do not have such as we have just discussed a custom neither the assemblies of God.
      Now compare this to two different ISV translation. Here is the ISV version A.

        Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? Nature itself teaches you neither that it is disgraceful for a man to have long hair nor that hair is a woman's glory, for hair is given as a substitute for coverings. But if anyone wants to argue about this, we do not have any custom like this, nor do any of God's churches.
      Here is ISV version B.
        It is proper for a woman to pray to God without head coverings. Nature in no way teaches on the one hand that if a man has hair it puts him to shame nor does it teach on the other that a woman's hair is her glory. All of this is true because hair is given as a substitute for man-made coverings. (1 Corintians 11:13-15 ISV)
      I am not aware of which of these two is the final version of the ISV. However, it is more interesting than the traditional translations of this passage. I am aware that in this presentation it is taken from the context of the entire passage but this at least allows me to see how and why the ISV says what it does.

      I hadn't intended such a thorough examination but I think I will have to follow through now, and reexamine the earlier parts of the passage and then the context of the book of 1 Corinthians. What was it all about anyway?

      Maybe a few young men will take this opportunity to regrow their ponytails. Not that I would recommend it, but they should have the freedom to do so. Angels, being male, more often than not, shall we say, also enjoyed this freedom, long hair. Surely.

      How long is your hair? 1 Corintians 11:13-15

      Sequel to: Because of the angels? 1 Corinthians 11:10

      In the New International Version (NIV) 1 Corintians 11:13-15 reads:

      Judge for yourselves: Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? Does not the very nature of things teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him, but that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For long hair is given to her as a covering.
      In Dutch there is a book Vrouwen in de gemeente van Christus (1997) by George and Dora Winston. It is a translation but I was unable to find out of what. It can't be their Recovering Biblical Ministry by Women because that book was published in 2003... The Dutch title translates to Women in the church of Christ.

      Update: In the comments J. Mel identifies the two books as the same, but the Dutch edition was published earlier.

      In this (1997) book they come with a remarkable anwer to the question: how long is long?
      According to them it is...

      ... clear that the woman's hair must be long in comparision with her husband's and that his hair must be short in comparision with her's. (page 213 of the Dutch edition, my own translation.)
      About at that point I pulled out in reading their book. Is this kind of hairsplitting really part of the christian lifestyle?

      But I must admit, it is far from easy to understand these verses.

      1. In what way does nature teach us these things? When I let the very nature of my hair go it's way, my hair will become as long as my wife's hair (or even longer...) With lions, the male is the one with long hair. Some tribes in Africa have such frizzy hair, it does not grow long at all.
      2. A Nazarite, someone who devoted himself to the Lord with a special vow, was not allowed to shave himself at all (Numbers 6:5.) Samson had to keep his hair long. And when we think of John the Baptizer and even Jesus himself, we often think of men with long hair (although I couln't find any Biblical evidence for that.)
      In Why not women? David Hamilton thinks this verse refers to what was considered naturally. The point then is that the Corinthian christians had to stick to what was culturally acceptable. Hairstyle was not allowed to be a hindrance to the gospel.

      Quite a different approach is to not translate the Greek here as interogative. According to William Welty there are good reasons to translate the original as declaratives instead of interogatives. The verses then read:

      It is proper for a woman to pray to God without head coverings. Nature in no way teaches on the one hand that if a man has hair it puts him to shame nor does it teach on the other that a woman's hair is her glory. All of this is true because hair is given as a substitute for man-made coverings. (1 Corintians 11:13-15 ISV)

      Also see Suzanne's post of a few days ago.
      The original post in Dutch can be found here.

      Friday, May 05, 2006

      The Story of the Firebag

      There were a couple of questions about my great-aunt Elizabeth Hammond. Let me tell the story again with a few more details.

      Elizabeth was born in 1873, and was the oldest of 6 children. They were educated at McGill and Elizabeth graduated with an MA in Classics in 1899. She travelled to England on her own, taught high school and was generally considered an adventuress in her day.

      In 1905, she went with her parents and a widowed friend of her father's, Wilson Erwin on a canoe and exploration trip through the rivers and lakes near the Manitoba border. There she bought this firebag, made by the wife of an Ojibway chief. It is a beautiful example of woodland beading, and took about one year to make.

      Mr. Erwin was a labouring brother, a full time preacher with the Plymouth brethren. He had a large family of girls and his wife had recently died. He had intended shortly before this time to start selling life insurance to augment his income. However, he was told that he could not do this by the other brothers in the Brethren.

      He then heard about an exciting new peat bog venture in Northern Ontario. (Peat Resources Ltd. represents a modern peat bog company. This is still a viable investment venture.) So he planned a trip to Northern Ontario with Elizabeth's parents and she went along.

      During their time on this camping trip, Mr. Erwin and Elizabeth developed a closer relationship. How could they not! However, it became clear that her parents were not in agreement. One year later, when Elizabeth's parents were away on a family trip, they married. Elizabeth was 33 and Mr. Erwin was much older, as he had daughters that were even older than Elizabeth. Her parents cut them off.

      Mr. Erwin had continued to recruit investors for the peat bog venture but it all came to nothing and he was accused of losing the investment funds of many of his Brethren supporters. I believe that it was around this time that Elizabeth started teaching at McGill. (She was a contemporary of Stephen Leacock, whom she knew, but that is another story.)

      My sense is that they both worked hard to repay the money that was lost, but that ultimately it was my aunt who supported her husband in his old age. When she spoke to me of her husband it was with affection and grief over the isolation he had experienced in his last years, being cut off from fellowship with the group that he had served for so long.

      There was never a hint that she felt that he had not allowed her to speak in the meeting. She could not have imagined such a practice. I am sure that he valued her for education and independent spirit and that they had a relationship full of mutual respect.

      She told me this story when she was 97 and I was 15. She had a great sense of humour as well as an acerbic wit. She also knew how to laugh at herself. May we all learn from that.

      Note: The image of the firebag is taken from the Wish Magazine, where it was featured in the All Canadian March issue, 2006. page 11. My niece, Jane, is the editor of this Canadian women's magazine. Here is a picture of her on the editorial page, knitting. Some day I will write more about knitting and why it is the reigning metaphor for many women in our family.

      Thursday, May 04, 2006

      Eva McCarthy

      Eva McCarthy was born in Canada in the last decade of the 19th century, as her parents were returning from Ireland to China, older sister to four brothers, the only one in her family to become a Bible teacher and preacher. She first taught Math at the China Inland Mission Chefoo School where her father was the prinicipal.

      Leaving China in the 1930's she came back to Canada and taught theology and homiletics at the Toronto Bible College, now the Tyndale seminary. She was also on the board of Inter Varsity Canada in its earliest days.

      After the war she returned to Ireland to care for her parents and travel with her father in the service of CIM. She ended up teaching at the Brethren Beatenberg Biblelschule in Switzerland, under the Fraulein Direktor. Later in Greece and Macedonia she was invited to preach in the churches.

      This is an excerpt from one of her sermons from the beginning of the war, published in the His magazine in 1944.
        Where can you find consolation?

        In times of perplexity the best source of guidance and assurance is the Bible. And here one way to find strength and faith is to observe the guiding principles in the lives of outstanding men of God who, through times of protracted testing and trial, have trusted in the overruling wisdom and power of the God into whose hands they have committed their times.

        Take the record of one who was called of God to a position of leadership in the greatest crisis of his nation's history.

        A strange record in some ways, it would seem to us; for Moses' life was two-thirds preparation - preparation of body and mind and spirit. But how splendidly equipped he was when the call came! Intellectually he had had the best the world could offer. To be "learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians" meant a fairly liberal education. Languages, mathematics, astronomy, art, history, philosophy - nothing would be missing.

        The exacting training of a king's household, the study of men and manners in the diplomatic, religious and social circles of the day - all would have peculiar value in fitting him for the task of leadership.


        So it can be with you.

        For these years between, if lived in communion and obedience, will not be wasted. They will prove to be the very preparation above all others that will fit you to fulfill the works that God has before ordained that you should walk in them.

        Thus the matured character, the trained mind, the disciplined body - every phase of your past experience, every unusual, abnormal happening in these strange, waiting times will be a thread in the hand of the Great Weaver woven into the pattern of a useful, effective life in His service.

        That can be - must be - your consolation in this time of need.

        For having thrown yourself utterly, unreservedly upon Him you are putting your confidence in Him, who alone is "able to keep you from falling and to present you faultless before the presence, of His glory with exceeding joy ..."

        That is enough.
      Shortly after this was published her brother died in Ortona, Italy.

      Eva McCarthy died in Belfast, England, in 1974, a Brethren woman preacher and Bible teacher.

      Because of the angels? 1 Corinthians 11:10

      Sequel to: A power on the head? 1 Corinthians 11:10

      This is one of the most difficult verses in the whole New Testament. Especially the last four words 'because of the angels,' ridicule everyone. So don't expect to get an anwer to all your questions today :-)

      It is far-fetched to seek a connection between this passage and the (also enigmatic) verses in Genesis 6:1-4. According to Tertullian women ought to have a head covering, because they otherwise cause (male fallen) angels to lust. Such ideas do not occur at Paul (or elsewhere in the New Testament.) This concept probably tells us more about Tertullian than it does about angels...

      A better point of departure is to investigate other sayings about angels in the New Testament. A good start would be chapter 6 of this very same epistle. We can imagine that this letter was read in the congregation and that at the hearing of 'because of the angels' in chapter 11 one thought back to chapter 6.
      Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life! (1 Corinthians 6:3 NIV)
      Indeed! If we (in the future) will be judging angels, then we (in this case the women) can also decide for ourselves what to do with little everyday things of life like hair style and head coverings.

      Kate Bushnell also referred to Matthew 18:10 (NIV):
      See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that
      their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.
      In the context of this verse, Jesus puts a child in the midst of the disciples and taught them to become like a child. The idea of this verse is, that angels with a task that concerns us, stand before God without any kind of covering. If our ministering spirits (Hebrews 1:14) are allowed to see God face to face, then we also have the choice to approach God uncovered.

      So the conclusion is that, also in connection with the angels a woman can decide for herself how to dress herself (regarding her head.)

      The original post in Dutch can be found here.

      Wednesday, May 03, 2006

      Wrong Words

      I have been thinking tonight of another side of life. At school every day I see dear young children - some with happy families to go home to, and others without.

      Last week I learned that one 13 year old girl had been physically and sexually abused for years. We had no idea. On finding out, the grade 7 teacher simply took her into her own home, and that was it, now she is part of a new family. But this had been going on for years.

      Another girl I work with every day, 12 years old, severely hearing impaired, is just emerging from 12 years without the ability to communicate. Another child with a serious medical condition, ostensibly well, but dangerously close to a medical crisis.

      Every week or two we sit down and have a team meeting with the psychologist and counselor to discuss which children have learning difficulties because of cognitive ability and which ones flinch because they expect to get hit.

      I read Wrong Words to remind me of the concerns of my daily work. Here is one of the recent posts,
        Caregivers, adults, and members of society in general have a moral obligation to protect all children from abusive experiences. Communities and schools can raise awareness through parent education programs and public education campaigns. In an emergency, call your local police department to ensure the immediate safety of an abused child.
      Here is the information for who to call in British Columbia. Further information here.

      Poetry reading cancelled challenges us to consider the role of the church in this regard.

      The International Standard Version

      1 Corinthians 11:3-16 in the International Standard Version
        3Now I want you to realize that Christ is the head of every man, and man is the head of the woman, and God is the head of Christ. 4Every man who prays or prophesies with something on his head dishonors his head, 5and every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, which is the same as having her head shaved. 6So if a woman does not cover her head, she should cut off her hair. If it is a disgrace for a woman to cut off her hair or shave her head, let her cover her own head.
        7A man should not cover his own head, because he exists as God's image and glory. But the woman is man's glory. 8For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; 9and man was not created for woman, but woman for man. 10This is why a woman should have authority over her own head: because of the angels.

        11In the Lord, however, woman is not independent of man, nor is man of woman. 12For as woman came from man, so man comes through woman. But everything comes from God. 13Decide for yourselves: Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered?a 14Nature itself teaches you neither that it is disgraceful for a man to have longb hair 15nor that hair is a woman's glory, for hair is given as a substitute for coverings. 16But if anyone wants to argue about this, we do not have any custom like this, nor do any of God's churches.13(a11:13 Or It is proper . . . uncovered, isn't it? b11:14 The Gk. lacks long)

      Ruud has mentioned a post on Metacrock's blog which explains in detail how this translation was arrived at. It also refers to the article which I linked to recently by William Welty, Rethinking the veil. William Welty is the editor of this Bible.

      I have gone to the ISV site and downloaded a copy of the New Testament. This is also available in hardback or paperback. However, the OT is not yet finished.

      I have been on a quest for a 'neutral' Bible translation this year. I have been looking for a Bible whose use of gender langauge would not offend by drawing attention to itself, a Bible which carries on the best of the old traditions.

      This Bible uses 'children' instead of 'sons', a well established tradition from the King James and Luther Bibles. It uses 'brothers', instead of 'brothers and sisters', avoiding the awkwardness of the latter, it uses the generic 'he' pronoun, which will not in itself offend, as long as it doesn't come with the instruction to picture a "man in your head". (No offense intended to my friends who visit me here.)

      Anthropos is well-translated, that is paramount for me, that the language referring to Christ's humanity be clear. There are naturally a few trade-offs here and there. So I won't say that it is 'exactly' what I would like to see in every case, but my personal opinion has only tangential relevance to my quest.

      It is, however, this very passage 1 Cor. 11 that varies the most from the other translations, especially verses 14 and 15.

      Food for thought. I would very much appreciate hearing from people what they think of this translation and if they have heard of it before.

      Tuesday, May 02, 2006

      A power on the head? 1 Corinthians 11:10

      Sequel to: Difficult verses; 1 Corinthians 11

      When I read this verse for the first time (in the Dutch NBG translation) I was very puzzled about it's meaning. In Dutch it reads something like:

      For this cause the woman ought to have a power on the head because of the angels. (1 Corinthians 11 :10)
      Wow! That sounds heavy. A power on the head... But, what is it, that power that a women apparently ought to have on her head? (In Dutch it sounds just as strange as in English.)
      The NIV is a bit more clear:
      For this reason, and because of the angels, the woman ought to have a sign of authority on her head. (1 Corinthians 11 :10 NIV)
      But there is a problem with this translation. The word sign is not found in the source text! The translators have tried to translate this text in harmony with their interpretation of the relations between men and women. (The equality of men and women is a rather novel idea!)
      Therefore, the Greek word for power (exousian) was interpreted as the authority under which the woman is. The meaning of exousia is:
      power of choice, liberty of doing as one pleases
      The idea that here we are dealing with someone else's authority (allegedly over the woman) is foreign to the Greek.
      The TNIV correctly translates:
      It is for this reason that a woman ought to have authority over her own head, because of the angels.
      In this passage (1 Cor. 11:3-16), willingly used by traditionalists to demonstrate the authority of men over women, the word power (exousia) is only used one time. And in that occasion it is the woman who owns that power. I assume that head in this verse has a literal meaning. (Would it be figurative, then the hierarchy would be the other way around, for as we read in verse 3, her head is the man!) Taken literally this verse could mean that (in principle) the woman can decide for herself what to do with her head (long hair, short hair, bald, veiled...)

      Soon we will look at how this fits in the context and what those angels have to do with it.

      The original post in Dutch can be found here.

      Introducing myself

      As you can read in a command at a previous post, Suzanne asked me to introduce myself. Suzanne, thanks for the invitation!

      I am from The Netherlands and I live in the beautiful town of Dordrecht (in 1618/1619 the Synod of Dordt was held here). Nowadays I work as a electronic designer/programmer. In the 90's my wife and I were officer (pastor) at the Salvation Army. I am still involved in some voluteer work; from time to time we lead a church service in a service center for homeless people on sunday afternoons. Nowadays we attend an evangelical church.

      Get to know me better by reading my posts...

      Monday, May 01, 2006

      Mother's Day

      Peoples Church is a large church in Toronto which has had a television ministry for over thirty years. On May 14 the pastor's wife, Hilary Price, will be giving the Mothers's Day sermon. The television schedule is posted here.