Sunday, September 28, 2008

Not excellence in parking

I had a very full day, and ended up downtown late at the Vancouver Film Festival watching We, a documentary about dissenters in China. It is a fascinating inside look at various individuals who wish to express dissent in China, including those from three generations. There are several sequences about house churches and Christian belief, as well as commentary on the role of blogging and the internet for expressing dissent in China. Recommended.

Somehow it was really hard to find parking tonight. I drove to the bottom of one garage only to find that it was full and not much of a turnaround down there either. Then I ended up on a rooftop lot further up. I like rooftop parking since I was once attacked in an underground lot as a teenager, and the cellphone does not work well in underground lots. In fact, what was I thinking going underground at all!

Coming down from the rooftop after the film, the attendant, who was directing several lanes of cars to merge exiting the lot, directed me to pull up tight behind the car ahead so as not to let in the cop merging from the right. I did as I was told. Then the cop yelled out that I had to back up since he had to get out urgently. Except, of course, that I was on quite a serious grade and with a manual transmission, I really could not back up very well, because I had only a few inches between me and the car ahead. But I tried, then slipped forward a couple of inches. Then the cop yelled at me to stop and not crash. As if it was all my fault. Everybody yelling. Everyone was already worked up because the car at the exit booth was stalled and the driver was out running around gesticulating and signing things and so on.

It was like an Italian movie. Then, a couple of minutes later, the police had to put on his siren just when he pulled up behind me while I was making a left hand turn, and the crosswalk was full, so where was I to go? More yelling. Crumb, I hate yelling. Pedestrians were running everywhere, I sat still in the middle of the intersection. Here is the old chestnut. Should I do as I am told, be obedient, and get out of the way of the police, running down a few pedestrians in the way, or, I should I just sit tight and wait for the mayhem to pass?

But after all that, 10 near fender benders and other mishaps, we got home safely. I was so thankful that I had made my urgent cellphone call on the rooftop parking lot and not in the intersection while hanging a left in front of the police car. Small mercies.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Jewish Mysticism

I have been studying the Sefer Yetsira this summer and fall, and have put it down a couple of times, but now taken it up again. I have recently been able to read the online class of Rachel Elior on Jewish Mysticism: The Infinite Expression of Freedom . It is one of the very delightful experiences of the internet to be able to browse through her class discussions on this text. Here is one of her responses to a student question.

The Yiddish writers conceived their project of documentation following in the footsteps of the Jewish literary heritage that documented tragedies. For example, following the crusades, "books of tears" were written. People wrote descriptions of the martyrdom and persecutions and of tormented parents slaughtering their children out of despair.

They also wrote memorial lamentations recording the names of the deceased (please read Simon Bernfeld, Sefer ha'Demaot, Robert Chazen, Jeremy Cohen, Israel Youval and Ivan Marcus on the Jews and the Crusades). In the 17th century Natan Neta Hanover wrote Yeven Metzulah as a testimony to the massacres of more than 100,000 Jews in the Ukraine in 1648-1649. The book chronicles the facts of the events.

The Yiddish writers followed these Jewish traditions.There are various ways to encounter tragedies that you can not counter with physical force. Writing is a central way to record, to commemorate, to defy and to do justice. But not every writing is mystical writing.


Sefer Yetzira is the first text in the Jewish library that reflects upon language, upon its infinite nature, its endless compositional possibilities, its creative divine nature, its bridging character between the divine spirit and the human spirit and its grammatical character and its connection to natural phenomena. The numinous meaning of language allows us to transcend the border of the senses, to frequent the imaginary realm, to share times of days gone by.

These features express themselves in writings which allows us be in places that we have never visited, to meet writers of divine character or of human inspiration, to read laws of divine origin and to experience human freedom in times of constraint. All that would be impossible without language.

You asked how the tradition would have been different without Sefer Yetsira. Well, first of all this small book is the foundation for the entire kabbalist library based on the 10 spheres of infinite nothingness and the 22 letters of foundation. It is the foundation of freedom to tell the story of creation from a new vantage point, that combines divine and human inspiration. Interestingly, there is no book like it. It is unique and much of the kabbalistic literature is about expounding on its mysterious sayings.

The word "text" is related to the Latin root textere (known to us from textile) which means "weaving" =96 every text is woven from previous yarns and adds new threads. The Book of Creation is certainly among the most richly woven texts. It has inspired endless dialogue between people who are interested in the relation between the creative divine language and the creative human language, between creativity, freedom, memory, language and commemoration, in our conceptualization of creation and many more related questions.

Grace Irwin

Here are a few details of Grace Irwin's recent passing at the age of 101. Word Guild
The Word Guild pays tribute to three Tarr Award winners who passed away in 2008, all of whom were single women and pioneering Canadian Christian writers who lived to a great age. Grace Irwin died in Toronto at age 101 on September 16, 2008, after a long, active and vibrant life. Grace's nephew, John Irwin, is on the board of Christian Info Canada, the umbrella organization that encompasses The Word Guild. Margaret Epp died in Saskatchewan at age 95 on September 7, 2008. Margaret Clarkson died in Toronto on March 17, 2008 at age 93; her memorial service was held in June. See more information in the Tarr Award section.
Here is an excerpt from a blog post dedicated to her various novels.
Grace Irwin had a happy and fulfilling career as a High School English teacher. When she did start to write she gave us some very thoughtful novels. Two of them, written in the style of biographical fiction, were "Servant of Slaves", the life of John Newton, slave trader and hymn writer; and the life of Lord Shaftesbury in "The Seventh Earl". These were the fruit of months of research.
This is a brief excerpt from her memorial service, by John Irwin, with reference to a project undertaken by the University of Toronto in 1968 to translate and publish the complete works of Erasmus.
Grace stood at the podium and announced that Erasmus had written long ago what she wished to say to those who now packed Convocation Hall. For several minutes she read, or rather recited from memory, with great expression, Erasmus's Latin preface to the New Testament.
She was a classics scholar, author and minister of God's word. We have lost a great friend in Grace Irwin.

Image from April 2004 at OISE, Toronto, Grace's last public speaking engagement at a book launch for Full Circle, by Ruth Hayhoe.

Luther and the complementarians

Here is an interesting piece from CBMW.

Luther clearly regards the subjection of women as the result of judgment that came upon Eve and her female descendants at the fall (cf. Genesis 3:16). He writes, "If Eve had persisted in the truth she would not only not have been subjected to the rule of her husband, but she herself would also have been a partner in the rule which is now entirely the concern of males."[21] While they cannot perform the functions of men in terms of teaching and ruling, Luther acknowledges that in procreation, feeding and nurturing their offspring, "they are masters." They rule over their children, but not in the church.

Luther saw the submission of women as a punishment resulting from the fall rather than part of creation order resulting from God's design. However, the fact that Adam was created before Eve (Gen. 2:7, 1 Tim. 2:13), charged with keeping the garden (Gen. 2:15), and named Eve "woman" (Gen. 2:23) suggests that God intended Adam to exercise leadership and authority over Eve before the events of the fall. While the ability of women to submit to authority was no doubt aggravated by the fall (Gen. 3:16),[22] the basis for female submission has its roots in creation order rather than the tragic events of Genesis 3.

This piece from CBMW demonstrates how modern complementarianism has turned classic theology on its head. Luther wrote that Eve was subjected to her husband by the fall, in Gen. 3:16; and Laney writes, that the fall made it difficult for women to accept submission.

Luther believed that women were inferior in nature, but he did not use scripture to prove this. It was a cultural presupposition. He did use Gen. 3:16 to show that women were made subject to their husbands by the fall. Luther represents the view of most theologians up to his time.

Modern complementarianism teaches that women are "equal" in nature although by disposition nurturers and not leaders. They are different by disposition. But in creation, women are subject to their husbands, and in the fall, women resist this natural and intended state of subjection.

The classic theologian has a possible ideal of an Eden without subjection, and the modern complementarian brings subjection by necessity into Eden. The modern complementarian has a world view that is diametrically opposed to classic theology. That both views end up with women under subjection is no surprise. But classic theology says woman is subjected to man by sin, and modern complementarians say that woman is subjected to man by God.

They claim to be the same religion. Oh well.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Ezer again

I have posted on this topic before, and all I can think is that ezer kenegdo "help meet" means that women and men are in a mutual relationship. In a book I am reading now, Sefer Yetsira, a Hebrew text from the 2-6th century, I am not sure, the term kenegdo is used for the hands, not as a dominant right hand and a left hand, but simply the hands, five fingers on one and five on the other. The feet also are kenegdo.

So, what does that mean about the woman being a "help?" Woman want help also. We don't want to have to survive on our own. Not really. I think it means that a woman is a "help" similar to a man, she is "like" him, and that they are to be a help to each other. Anyway, that is what the Latin says, "adiutor similis eius" a help similar to him.

Of course, men and women are very different, and that is why they can help each other - they should each help the other in what the other lacks. Basically, men lack giving birth to the baby and women lack strength to do other things while they are giving birth to the baby.

And from these simple biological facts a host of other differences ensue. But, these differences do not mean that men should lead and women should follow. These differences mean that men and women together are better than men alone, or women alone, and that is all there is to it.

Maybe men and women should take turns leading and following, or maybe they should lead together, or even follow together. But men and women should be a help to each other, and not always trying to put fences around each other and limiting each other.

Thanks Rachel, for your thoughts on this. You wrote about ezer,

"when it's attributed to God, He is never subordinate to His people, he is their rescuer. Dr. Susan Hyatt in In the Spirit We're Equal "defines the hebrew to mean "one who is the same as the other and who surrounds, protects, aids, helps, supports," with no indication of a secondary position."

Be subject to every fellow worker

I was tussling with another problem today when I noticed this text.
    Now I urge you, brothers[c]—you know that(AA) the household[d] of Stephanas were(AB) the first converts in Achaia, and that they have devoted themselves(AC) to the service of the saints— 16(AD) be subject to such as these, and to every fellow worker and laborer. 1 Cor. 16:15-16
I also remember that Grudem wrote,
    we have never been able to find any text in ancient Greek literature where hypotass┼Ź (passive) refers to a person or persons being "subject to" another person, and where the idea of submission to that person's authority is absent.
Does he just make this up? I suppose the answer is "yes."

Friday, September 12, 2008

Alternatives to authority and submission

While Grudem and Ware support the notion that the relationship between Father and Son is one of authority and submission, this is not the traditional belief of the church. There are many other ways that the relationship between Father and Son have been described.

Saint Augustine believed that the will of the Father and Son was indivisible. If the Son subjected himself to the Father, he was subjecting himself to himself. J. N. Darby, who formulated doctrine for the Plymouth Brethren, and greatly influenced Dallas Seminary, taught that the will of the Father and Son was unanimous. Chrysostom talked about the Son submitting to the Father and providing counsel to the Father, in a relationship of reciprocity.

It is wrong to believe that even in the historic church, the Father and the Son were in a relationship best described as one of authority and submission. If that were the ideal relationship, the idea way of interacting, then we should all still be part of the Catholic church, a catholic church, and any divergence would be sinful.

The danger of the teaching of authority and submission in the godhead, is that this is used as the model for all human relationships. It is hard not to read the idealization of dominance and submission in this paradigm.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The five positions of subordination

This is the teaching in St John's Shaughnessy Church,
    Marriage is like the trinity, The Father is in charge. Jesus ALWAYS submits to the father, he obeys, he says what his father has told him to say, Jesus sees the father in the trinity as the head, and he obeys him. It is never the other way around. Isn't it interesting?
Here is the elaboration from CBMW's Gender Blog,
    Does a relationship of authority and submission really exist eternally among the persons of the Godhead? We know that while Jesus Christ walked the earth he was fully submitted to the Father, while remaining fully equal as God. But has he and will he forever be God, yet also ever in a relationship of submission to the Father?

    It's a very important question. While the commands of Scripture in Ephesians 5:22 for instance, that make plain the distinct roles between men and women under God's design are clear— they, as God's Holy Word, need no further defense to be obeyed. Still, what beauty, what wonder, what glory remains to be seen as we peer into the relationship between God the Father and God the Son that the Scriptural authors open to us?

    Further, how does the relationship of the Godhead inform our relationships between the sexes? If equality of essence and distinction of roles exist eternally in the trinity, what a strong paradigm that provides for human relations between the genders.

    Four evangelical scholars will consider this important biblical question next month in a debate set for 7 p.m., Oct. 9 in the chapel at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (TEDS) in Deerfield, Ill.

    Defending the non-subordination view will be Tom McCall, Professor of Biblical and Systematic Theology at TEDS and Keith Yandell, who serves as Professor of Philosophy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

    Noted scholars Wayne Grudem and Bruce Ware will represent the complementarian position which affirms that a structure of authority and submission will exist for eternity in the Godhead. Both Grudem and Ware are well-known across the evangelical world and both have published extensively on the gender issue.

There are several different variations on the "subordination" view. The way I see it, there are at least these five positions,

A Arianism
B Subordinationism
C Functional Eternal Subordination
D Temporal subordination of the Son to the Father
E Indivisibility of the will of Father and Son

Grudem and Ware will take position C and the classical position is a mix of D and E. It is important to distinguish the position that Grudem and Ware will take from position A and B. These would be considered heresy.

It is also important to realize that the position of Ware and Grudem dates from about 30 years ago and is not the traditional position of the church. If it were, then a Christian marriage would be one in which the husband would never submit to the wife in anything, and the wife would always submit to the husband. There would be no case for the wife not submitting. This would be a "total submission" relationship. It is almost to bizarre to imagine.

In my view this teaching is not acceptable in any form. Although there are many different aspects to the recent fissures in the Anglican Communion, and I appreciate points from both sides, this teaching is the explicit teaching of slavery of the woman in the home. "What beauty, what wonder, what glory..." would not be my view.

straining humanity

Here is something written originally by Jim Packer. He might want to qualify it, but the fact is that he said it, and Gender blog cites him and so it goes,
    By this I mean that, other things being equal, a situation in which a female boss has a male secretary ... will put more strain on the humanity of both parties than if it were the other way around. This is part of the reality of the creation, a given fact that nothing will change.
Can a school administrator not have male teachers under her, can a queen not have loyal male subjects, can a teacher not give instructions to a male student support worker - without straining his humanity?

The problem is that the inability of men to work properly under women, if women are in the lead, is a reality of human nature. The question is whether this is a good thing, a product of God's perfect creation; or an imperfect thing, the product of our fallen state.

Frankly, does it matter? If God has given a man a job where he is under a female boss, he ought to comply without worrying about whether it strains his humanity.

Monday, September 08, 2008

The trinity and the subordination of women

As far as I know marriage has only been compared to the subordination of the Son to the Father in the last half of the last century. This paragraph from the sermon I listened to recently is almost word for word similar to the theology of Bruce Ware.

Marriage is like the trinity, The Father is in charge. Jesus ALWAYS submits to the father, he obeys, he says what his father has told him to say, Jesus sees the father in the trinity as the head, and he obeys him. It is never the other way around. Isn't it interesting?

I can't say to what extent Paul intended this comparison. Did he line up all the verses from the gospels of the Son submitting to the Father? It does not seem likely.

The question that one can possibly ask, and potentially answer, is whether the church fathers thought that the Son always submitted to the Father and the Father never submitted to the Son. Did the church fathers believe that the Son was subject to the Father?

I sincerely believe that I would be better off if I had access to the necessary documents in Greek, but for a start, I would like to post on Augustine's view of whether the Son is subject to the Father. This is only tentative. Some day, I might investigate further.

In this chapter, Chapter 8.— The Texts of Scripture Explained Respecting the Subjection of the Son to the Father, Which Have Been Misunderstood. Christ Will Not So Give Up the Kingdom to the Father, as to Take It Away from Himself, of On the Trinity, Book 1, Augustine writes,

Nor let any one, hearing what the apostle says, But when He says all things are put under Him, it is manifest that He is excepted which did put all things under Him, think the words, that He has put all things under the Son, to be so understood of the Father, as that He should not think that the Son Himself put all things under Himself.

For this the apostle plainly declares, when he says to the Philippians,
For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like His glorious body, according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself.

For the working of the Father and of the Son is indivisible. Otherwise, neither has the Father Himself put all things under Himself, but the Son has put all things under Him, who delivers the kingdom to Him, and puts down all rule and all authority and power. For these words are spoken of the Son: When He shall have delivered up, says the apostle, the kingdom to God, even the Father; when He shall have put down all rule, and all authority, and all power. For the same that puts down, also makes subject.

While Bruce Ware compares the role of the husband to the Father who sends, Augustine is explicit in saying that the Son is sent both by the Father and by Himself, Book 2,

For perhaps our meaning will be more plainly unfolded, if we ask in what manner God sent His Son. He commanded that He should come, and He, complying with the commandment, came. Did He then request, or did He only suggest? But whichever of these it was, certainly it was done by a word, and the Word of God is the Son of God Himself.

Wherefore, since the Father sent Him by a word, His being sent was the work of both the Father and His Word; therefore the same Son was sent by the Father and the
Son, because the Son Himself is the Word of the Father. For who would embrace so impious an opinion as to think the Father to have uttered a word in time, in order that the eternal Son might thereby be sent and might appear in the flesh in the fullness of time?

But assuredly it was in that
Word of God itself which was in the beginning with God and was God, namely, in the wisdom itself of God, apart from time, at what time that wisdom must needs appear in the flesh. Therefore, since without any commencement of time, the Word was in the beginning, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God, it was in the Word itself without any time, at what time the Word was to be made flesh and dwell among us.

And so Augustine rebutted the view that the Son was subject to the Father, except in that he was subject to Himself, that is, the will of God the Father, and of the Son, is indivisible.

Deaconesses of Sydney Diocese: Part 3

I read a post today railing against the two income family. Apparently the fact that women can work has driven up house prices and caused many other ills. Here is some insight into what it was like for women to live on a less than sufficient income. More on the deaconesses,

The narrow moralism taught in their training at Deaconess House and Moore College and the strict injunctions given to them to work only with women and children, could alienate Sydney deaconesses from the people to whom they were trying to minister. Deaconess Dorothy Harris, in expressing her dislike of helping out at the Carramar Hostel for unmarried mothers, is an example of a Christian worker hampered by having acquired an over-moralistic attitude:

That was a job I didn’t enjoy. The actual work was all right but all those pregnant young girls I found nauseating. They had destroyed what should have been part of a future satisfying marriage and brought distress and unhappiness to themselves and families.

While admitting that “there were, of course, many instances where ignorance or some forms of abuse brought about the pregnancy”, Deaconess Harris still reflected the patriarchal church’s judgmental attitude towards women so often espoused by Anglican clergy, and the tendency to free the male of sexual responsibility.

Anglo-Catholics tended to favour the ministrations of women religious rather than deaconesses. In the Anglo-Catholic oriented Church Standard of 17 May 1940, in a series on parish life written under the pseudonym “Quiz”, there appeared an article entitled “The Dirge of the Deaconess”. The writer appeared to be torn between sympathy and rejection. While portraying an unflattering image of the deaconess, he also spoke out against the Church ‘s exploitation of women in this form of ministry.

“Quiz” described deaconesses as “bands of martyrs” who sacrificed their womanhood “to become a despised drudge with nothing on earth to press forward to but eventual retirement in some poverty-infested garret”. The writer continued:

The life demanded of a deaconess flouts every divinely endowed human instinct ....Wearing flop hats and starched collars their uniform closely resembles that of a female felon. Surely the more Catholic and certainly more soul- sating would be the graceful robes of a nun.... So long as the present attire makes many a deaconess resemble rather the captain of her school hockey team than a vestal virgin. she will be treated as such by the average pavement trotter.

The writer also deplored the lowly accommodation - “small room with gas ring and use of bath” which the deaconess’s meagre stipend forced upon her, asserting that “this criminal system has all the austerities and none of the blessings of community life, and saps the very womanhood from her veins.” One of the problems for the urban deaconess was that she was not entitled to the accommodation benefits accorded to clergy and her salary was much lower.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

A sermon on marriage

Notes from Richard James' sermon on marriage. Aug. 24, 2008, St. John's Shaughnessy Church, Vancouver.

Marriage is like the trinity, The Father is in charge. Jesus ALWAYS submits to the father, he obeys, he says what his father has told him to say, Jesus sees the father in the trinity as the head, and he obeys him. It is never the other way around. Isn't it interesting?

But in no way can we say that Jesus being subject to his father is demeaning. ... In the godhead himself there is submission. To submit to any authority, you are being Godlike.

In Gen. 1 God said, Let us make mankind in our image. To be made in the likeness of God is to be made in relationship where, just as the son submits to the father, we have a couple, a head and a helper.

Wives, submit to the husband as the head - he is in charge. God solved the argument before it started, he said, I have to choose someone, okay, husbands, you are in charge. I hold you responsible.

Now what does it look like? If you are married to a good husband, who ... you will find a very happy wife, ... if however, you are a wife who is married to a lousy husband, just line up over here and we can discuss this in a therapy group afterward. [laughingly] Its not easy.

I want to point out something that is very important. In our culture we decide that if something doesn't work we change it. But God designed humanity. God designed the world and gave it order. We submit to all authorities because God has put them there. Never in the Bible do you see God saying plan B is if it is not working, swap. You never hear, wives command your husbands, and husbands submit.

We do live in a culture where wives command husbands. ... we reject all authority structures because we think we know better.

God does not say, I put you in charge now rule. He always tells authorities, I have put you in charge but what I want you to do is love. You are in charge husbands, I have decided this, too bad if you don't want to be in charge, you are in charge, says God, like I am in charge of you, so I want you to love your wives, in the same way I love the church, so far that you are willing to die for her. Use my love for you as the minimum requirement for how you love your wife.

If there is any husband who raises his voice or strikes his wife the smell of hell is close to your marriage. How dare you ... Love your wives sacrificially. It is so shameful when you go to other cultures where the gospel is not preached, women are sold. they are treated like objects.
But it is an irony. In a culture where Jesus has been proclaimed and women have been raised to equality, and have been treated in every way equal but different to men, that same culture, people jettison God and the women say they want to jettison the men, they say, we want to be in charge.

- Husbands ask your wives how you can be a better husband, and take notes.
- The biggest mistake Adam made and we men make is we are not willing to lead.
- It is difficult in any culture if you have a lousy husband. This culture has made it easy, you just divorce him. that is not necessarily, the solution love them as if they were the lord.
- A good divorce? Divorce is a natural consequence of living in a culture that denies the living God.

I know Richard and his wife, and quite simply Richard is not exceptional in his teaching that wives are to obey in everything and men are in charge. Richard is teaching what is the standard belief system in complementarian churches.

Monday, September 01, 2008


Intellectuelle has my favourite women bloggers. Here are two recent posts. Can feminism be a good thing? and Quote: on friendship in marriage, part IV by Bonnie.

The Deaconesses of Sydney Diocese: Part 2

More from Freedom From Sanctified Sexism - Women Transforming the Church by Mavis Rose, pp. 56-75.

The Diocese of Tasmania also allowed considerable responsibility to their deaconesses but also, like Gippsland, assigned them to remote, pioneering areas. Such was the case of Tasmanian deaconess, Elvie Fraser, trained in Melbourne, who in 1982 was commissioned as Deaconess of the Furneaux Islands, centred on Flinders Island. Elvie Fraser commented:

I can do all that a priest can do except consecrate the elements at Holy Communion, officiate at weddings (because I cannot pronounce the Blessing) and pronounce the Absolution.... We reserve the Sacrament. As we have to pay the fare across from Tasmania for a priest to consecrate the bread and wine, and that is rather expensive, we try not to run out too often.... Because it is not always easy to get a priest to come when we need one for a wedding, I now have a licence to officiate at weddings.

Deaconess Marie Kingston, a rural dean, who ran seven centres in the isolated Tasmanian parish of Derby-Ringarooma, admitted that in spite of her heavy responsibilities, “my status is no different from that of layreader”.

One of the important functions of Deaconess House in Sydney was to train women for overseas missions as well as for the Australian frontier areas. The missionary course was shorter if the trainee did not wish to graduate as a deaconess. Non-ordained graduates were usually referred to as parish or missionary sisters. According to Judd and Cable, under the sub-heading “The Export of Women” (just as if trained churchwomen were commodities!), between 1892 and 1931, 70% of the Church Missionary Society’s 246 missionaries were women. Deaconess Mary Andrews, while Head Deaconess in Sydney after serving with distinction in China, acknowledged the limitations for deaconesses in the Australian urban situation under the close supervision of male clergy. In her opinion, “for those women who sought a more active church role in the extension of Christ’s Kingdom, there was only one option, missionary work, both overseas or in remote parts of Australia.”

The experience of Jacinth Myles illustrates how irksome service in an urban parish could be. After four years of training in Deaconess House, Sydney, Jacinth Myles was employed as a “parish sister” in a Blue Mountains parish. She recalled:

From the start the rector made it clear where I stood. “You are the employee, I am the employer".... My weekly program in that parish was drawn up by the rector and it was not open to negotiation. It did include some adult group work, but it did not include involvement in the services apart from reading the Bible.

Jacinth Myles found that it was in Australia’s rural areas that she was accorded more opportunities and recognition. In Armidale, in contrast with Sydney Diocese, she was advised that “the position would involve a fair amount of leading services and preaching”. When handed her weekly programme, she was not expected to adhere to it slavishly but was “completely free to follow whatever ministry the Lord wanted me to have”.