Monday, March 26, 2007

The abuses of slavery

This is in reponse to a discussion in the comment section of the BBB that physical abuse is a distortion of an otherwise just relationship of headship and submission. I have heard the argument that it is not fair to judge a practise by its distortion.

In my experience the psychological effects of submission outweigh by far the physical cruelty of abuse, however painful that may be. Teaching your fellow human that he or she is created by God for subordination is the true cruelty, not the physical act of enforcing submission.

I was relieved to see this exact point being made in so many words by the controversial philospher Kwame Appiah. He writes,

    When I think about how the world of the Ashanti remains etched and scored by slavery, an odd question arises: What is it about slavery that makes it morally objectionable? European and American abolitionists in the 19th century tended to focus, reasonably enough, on its cruelty: on the horrors that began with capture and separation from one’s family, continued in the cramped and putrid quarters below the decks of the middle passage and went on in plantations ruled by the lash.

    William Wilberforce, the evangelist and Tory member of Parliament who was as responsible as anyone for the passage of the 1807 Abolition of the Slave Trade Act, was not an enthusiast for democracy when it came to expanding the franchise, and he railed against the “mad-headed professors of liberty and equality.”

    It was the torments of slavery’s victims that moved him so. (He was also a founding member of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.) Once freed slaves had been properly Christianized, he believed, “they will sustain with patience the sufferings of their actual lot.” In the United States, abolitionists mainly shared his perspective, naturally emphasizing the abundant horrors of plantation slavery.

    Slavery’s more sophisticated defenders had a response. They agreed that cruelty was wrong, but, they maintained, these horrors were abuses of the slavery system, not inherent features of it.

    What if their paternalist fantasies had come true, and a world of kindly slave masters had developed? Would slavery be acceptable? Of course not. Even a well-treated slave is diminished by his status. As a social or legal institution, slavery has built into it a denial of the social basis of self-respect: it defines the slave as lower in status by denying that she could have personal aims worthy of consideration and rejecting the enslaved person’s right to manage his or her own affairs.

    When you’re a slave, someone else is in charge of your life. What keeps the wound from healing is that this subordination is something you inherited from your parents and will pass along to your children.NY Times March 18, 2007
I can only thank this writer for articulating so well the problem of a headship - submission relationship. Maybe one day we will all understand better that the core teaching of the scriptures is found in Lev. 19:18, Matt. 22:39, Mark 12:31, Rom. 13:9, Gal. 5:14, James 2:8.
    Thou shalt love thy neighbour (thy next one) as thyself: I am the LORD.

    Sunday, March 25, 2007

    Ilse Fredrichsdorff

    It seems that I have reopened this blog. I don't have many aspirations for writing here, but I do wish to use this space to keep track of some of the books and other material that I am reading.

    Today I remembered that I wanted to have a record of this post by Michael Bird.

      Who the heck is Ilse Fredrichsdorff?In reading over Robert Yarbrough's excellent book, The Salvation-Historical Fallacy (p. 342, n. 9) he gives this quote from the preface of M. Albertz, Die Botschaft des Neuen Testament (1947-57) which left me gob-smacked:

        "This book is dedicated to the young brethren of the Confessing Church. I was united with them in my office as leader of the Office of Theological Examination of the Confessing Church in Berlin-Brandenburg. I was all the closer to these brethren, whose status was illegal from the start, in that perforamnce of my ministry resulted in the loss of my freedom as well as my ordination, withdrawn by a bogus ecclesiastical authority. This book's dedication bears two names [one is Erich Klapproth, the other is] Ilse Fredrichsdorff ... When the church struggle began she was a young girl belonging to the Confessing Church congregation Nicolai-Melanchthon in Spandau. Through our congregation she came to take up theological study. She studied in our theological college and in Basel with Karl Barth. She became curate of the only truly evangelical confessional school that could be established under the Third Reich, the school for non-Aryan Christian children who were no longer permitted to attend the public school. During the war she reamined in congregations northeast of Berlin, in that region where the last battle prior to Berlin was waged. She was so much in demand for her pastoral skills that the major of the troop emplacements behind which lay the villages she served repeatedly requested her aid among the troops. Later she led the displaced congregations with the word of God, went back to the hunger zone as much as possible, and, after she had buried hundreds of the thousands who perished, succumbed herself to starvation (II/1, 13-14)."

    Saturday, March 24, 2007

    Catherine Booth: Adaption of measures

    I found this afternoon a book of sermons called Aggressive Christianity by Catherine Booth. These sermons were taken down in shorthand and appear in the book as she preached them.

    This one, Adaption of Measures relates well to a post I recently published on the BBB.

      People contend that we must have quiet, proper, decorous services. I say, WHERE IS YOUR AUTHORITY FOR THIS? Not here. I defy any man to show it. I have a great deal more authority in this book for such a lively, gushing, spontaneous, and what you call disorderly, service, as our Army services sometimes are, in this 14th of Corinthians than you can find for yours.
        The best insight we get into the internal working of a religious sevice in Apostolic times is in this chapter, and I ask you - is it anything like the ordinary services of to-day? Can the utmost stretch of ingenuity make it into anything like them? But even that is not complete. We cannot get the order of a single service from the New Testament, not can we get the form of government of a single church.

        Hence one denomination think theirs is the best form, and another theirs; so Christendom has been divided into so many camps ever since; but this very quarelling shows the impossibility of getting from the New Testament the routine, the order, and the fashion of mere modes. They cannot get it, because it is not there!!

        Do you think God had no purpose in this omission? The form, modes, and measures are not laid down as in the Old Testament dispensation. There is nothing of this stereotyped routinism in the whole of the New Testament. Why? Now there may be some who may have difficulties in this matter.
        I said to a gentleman, who came to me with this and that difficulty about our modes and measures,
          I will meet your difficulties by bringing them face to face with the bare principles of the New Testament. If I cannot substantiate and defend them by that I will give them up for ever. I am not wedded to any forms and measures.

          To many of them I have been driven by the necessities of the case. God has driven me to them as at the point of the bayonet, as well as led me by the pillar of cloud, and when I have brought my reluctance and all my own conventional notions, in which I was brought up like other people, face to face with the naked bare principles of the New Testament, I have not found anything to stand upon! I find things here far more extravagant and extreme, than anything we do, looked at carefully
        Here is the principle laid down that you are to adapt your measures to the necessity of the people to whom you minister: you are to take the Gospel to them in such modes and habitudes of thought and expression and circumstances, as will gain for it from them a HEARING. You are to speak in other tongues - go and preach it to them in such a way as they will look at it and listen to it! Oh! In that lesson we read what beautiful freedom from all set form and formula there was!

      Tuesday, March 20, 2007

      Combining Diacritics vs Precomposed Greek

      Well, here I am back at combining diacritics. I may have to change the title of this blog to Suzanne's doodlepad. This is probably not a post of general interest.

      To keep a long story short, most polytonic Greek is posted in precomposed form and displays well in IE7. But sometimes Greek text has been produced using combining diacritics. It is a pain because that makes two standards and you can't tell with the naked eye which is which. At least if they display properly you shouldn't be able to. But you can see in the first image how they both look in IE7.

      The second image shows both kinds of text in their correct display form in New Athena Unicode and they should look identical.(Are you bored yet?)

      The third image is of the two kinds of text displayed by individual glyph.You can see that the combining diacritics text has the ability to decompose, the other kind does not.

      There are many pros and cons to all this, but I believe that the usual way to display Greek is by precomposed text. This is the opposite to Hebrew.

      As far as Polytonic Greek is concerned, the best resource is Rodney Decker's resources. This page will take you from the age of the dinosaurs up to the present, so I would recommend starting to read this paper on page 10 or 11. The relevant stuff is on pages 14 and 15. Read point 4.3.3 and on footnote 3 on page 15. In fact, if you have to decide in any paper which part to read, I would recommend the footnotes.

      In short, most polytonic Greek text is produced in precomposed text. Zhubert produces precomposed as well, so no problem. This is what the MS Greek keyboard does too and probably most of the others. But sometimes there is a bit of the combining diacritics stuff around. For some reason IE does not handle this well, although Firefox, as usual, has no problem. Go figure. BTW, here is a MAC biblioblog.

      Anyway, IE7 now does font substitution like Firefox so fonts are not the problem - codepoints are. I use Babelpad to look at things like this along with Babelmap, from Babelstone, along with reading Babelstone Blog, which is a pretty cool blog about Unicode. Except that Andrew is writing about the Morrison Collection right now, so you have to check his archives.
      Note: This post has been edited with new images.