Monday, January 31, 2011

Barney's Version

I read Barney's Version by Mordecai Richler, this summer, and anxiously awaited the movie. Saw it last week.

First, the really dumb stuff. Somehow or other, the time frame has been shifted 15 years forward, and Paris becomes Rome, and Toronto becomes New York. This means that scenes that took place in the 50's in France, now have to be set in 1970 in Rome. I hope you get the picture. I found it jarring.

The big fuss about the wife going back to work, the vast quanities of alchohol being consumed; all of these things make much more sense in the 50's and 60's and seem downright out of place in the 70's and 80's.

Now for what is right and true about this movie. Montreal. The lake. The passage of time, from young man to his demise, is completely believable. The story will make you cry. It is true that some sense of voice is lost. In the novel, Barney talks constantly in his head to "Miriam, my love" - his great love. The movie does give you a good impression of his devotion, but the voice is lost.

The wedding scene is far better in the movie than in the novel. How could it not be? A novel does not do justice to music, dance and dress. The wedding scene is cut raw from Richler's life. He did meet Florence, his second wife, at his marriage to his first wife. They were married six years later. The great love for his children, the adoration for his wife, the mother of those children - this is true.

However, unlike in the movie, Mordecai and Florence Richler, parents of five children, were married for 41 years, until Richler's death in 2001. Their marriage was an icon of enduring love and inspiration to others. The irascible and irreverent Richler did not have the marriage of Barney Panofsky.

Barbara Gowdy tells an anecdote of how she saw Richler at a writer's convention, flirting outrageously with a beautiful woman. She found out later that it was his wife of many years. That is how they were.

So, if you see the movie, remember that it is made from a novel, not from a biography. I have enjoyed the novel, the movie, a biography of Richler, and now, this evening, I watched Charles Foran, his biographer, being interviewed.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Lies Women Believe cont.

To the anonymous commenter who wondered if I had read anything else in her book, I dedicate this post.

As I cited yesterday, Nancy Leigh DeMoss wrote,
I have often wondered why food is such an issue with so many women. I'm convinced it has something to do with Genesis 3. After all, what was the very first sin? It was the sin of overeating.
She also wrote on page 137, in reference to Gen. 3,
The protection the woman had been granted under her spiritual "head" was removed, and the independent spirit she had exerted toward God now displayed itself toward her husband, leaving her vulnerable to greater deception, sin and attack.
However, the statistics show that married women actually weigh more on average than single women. Being married, and being in a Christian marriage, and being in a conservative Christian marriage, may tend to make a person weigh more, rather than less.

I am not altogether convinced that all of the above is true, but statistics do suggest it. However, I am going to propose that a hypothesis could be made that male headship does not protect a woman from the sin of Eve, that of overeating.

In fact, I speak of this matter from the lofty heights of being in the lowest weight class of them all. As a single Canadian female, I am about half as likely to be overweight or obese, as a male American member of the clergy. It is true, alas, that, as some say, I am trying to punch above my weight class.

Now that I have written this, I am going to rededicate it to my very own sister, to whom it was suggested that she read this book.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Lies Women Believe

Here is a big one. Some women believe that women are more overweight than men. Some women feel that being overweight is a feminine problem. And some women are attributing this to the Bible.

Does the Bible really tell us that the sin of Eve is overeating? Nancy Leigh DeMoss, in Lies Women Believe, And the Truth that sets them Free, page 56, writes,
I have often wondered why food is such an issue with so many women. I'm convinced it has something to do with Genesis 3. After all, what was the very first sin? It was the sin of overeating.
Got that? It happens that this book is being used across North America in women's Bible studies to bring the truth to women.

In fact, it is a lie that women overeat more than men. It is a lie that being a Christian will make you less likely to be overweight than being a non-Christian. It is a lie that not being under male headship will make you more likely to be overweight. Can we put this one to rest?

Here are a few trends that people with more time than I have are welcome to google. Although there are more women than men among the extremely obese, on average, more men than women are overweight and obese. Men with a conservative Christian affiliation are more overweight than other men, and male clergy are more overweight again.

(Who ever thought up weight as a measure of spirituality anyway, and then aimed that gun at women? Probably some self-congratulatory klatch of super skinny and over spiritual men and women.)

Monday, January 17, 2011

When not to submit

Shirley has a good post outlining when a woman should not submit according to a complementarian author. This is excellent. I have been thinking that if a wife is required to submit "in all things" this could easily cross the line of legality.

Included in the list of when not to submit is ethical and moral issues, biblical priniciples, caring for children and submission to abuse of any kind. So far, so good.

I would add to this that a woman must not submit in any situation in which she operates as a legal and civil entity. This is wrong. Now that women do have the right to own property, to borrow funds, to earn money, to sign legal documents and to vote, it is obvious that if a wife vows to obey her husband in any area in which she acts as a legal entity, this negates her legal status. She would simply be operating as an extension of her husband, and this doubles his legal efficacy, his vote, his signing power. Perhaps his wife does have a job. If she has to co-sign a document because her husband tells her to, she puts herself in debt because her husband has required it of her. Maybe she wanted to save for retirement.

I am suggesting that it should be made illegal for anyone to influence a woman to vow to obey her husband. I am saying that women should be taught that obeying her husband is an irresponsible act and does not accord with her adult status as a citizen of a free country, as a parent of dependent children and as a child of dependent parents. It does not accord with the reality that more than half of women will have to support themselves in retirement.

I am simply appalled that anyone would think that a woman should be influenced or taught to obey her husband.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Not even all devils ...

would wrest this passage from me.

This is what Calvin wrote about Philippians 2:6,
6. Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:

6. Qui quum in forma Dei esset, non rapinam arbitratus esset, Deo aequalem se esse:

In the Latin Vulgate, the Greek word harpagmos, ἁρπαγμός, had been translated as rapina, meaning "rape, pillage, plunder and robbery." This is how Luther and Calvin also understood this word harpagmos. Calvin wrote,
Thought it not robbery. There would have been no wrong done though he had shewn himself to be equal with God. For when he says, he would not have thought, it is as though he had said, “He knew, indeed, that this was lawful and right for him,” that we might know that his abasement was voluntary, not of necessity. ....

For where can there be equality with God without robbery, excepting only where there is the essence of God; for God always remains the same, who cries by Isaiah, I live; I will not give my glory to another. (Isa 48:11.) Form means figure or appearance, as they commonly speak. This, too, I readily grant; but will there be found, apart from God, such a form, so as to be neither false nor forged?

As, then, God is known by means of his excellences, and his works are evidences of his eternal Godhead, (Ro 1:20,) so Christ’s divine essence is rightly proved from Christ’s majesty, which he possessed equally with the Father before he humbled himself. As to myself, at least, not even all devils would wrest this passage from me — inasmuch as there is in God a most solid argument, from his glory to his essence, which are two things that are inseparable.

However, at least since the RSV, harpagmos has been translated as "a thing to be grasped." This phrase occurs in the NIV 1984, NASB and ESV. The NRSV, on the other hand, has translated harpagmos as "something to be exploited" and the NIV 2011 as "something to be used to his own advantage."

The significant thing here is that some theologians writing for the Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood have interpreted "did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped" as an indication that Christ is in some way not equal to God. Here Denny Burk writes for the CBMW,
First, this verse affirms that Christ has ontological equality with the Father with respect to his deity. That's what "existing in the form of God" means. Second, the verse affirms that in his pre-incarnate state Christ did not try to obtain (or "grasp for") another kind of equality which he did not have in his pre-existent state.

What kind of "equality" did he refuse to grasp for? He refused to "grasp for" a functional equality with the Father that would have usurped the Father's role as Father. In contrast to grasping for that kind of equality, the Son "emptied himself" and took the form of a servant (v. 7). In other words, in eternity past Christ determined not to usurp the Father's role but decided to embrace his own role in the incarnation. Thus what we have in this text is both an affirmation of Christ's ontological equality with the Father (vis a vis his deity) and a passing reference to his functional distinction from the same.

While Burk says that Christ did not have a certain kind of equality with God, Calvin writes that this means that Christ can be equal to God without robbery. For Burk, Christ is ontologically equal but functionally distinct, or "not equal"; and for Calvin, Christ's essence and his majesty, (in my view this means his authority and power) are inseparable, and Christ is equal to God in both.

If you wish to undestand Calvin and Luther, if you wish to feel close to the original Greek, then you could do a great deal worse than read the King James Versions,

Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
You might also want to dip into the translation of the Brethren scholar, J. N. Darby,

who, subsisting in the form of God, did not esteem it an object of rapine to be on an equality with God;
Dear Reader,

If you want both heritage and transformation, if you value traditional Christianity, if you are curious about the religion of the Reformers, of the orthodox church through the ages, read the King James Version. I am delighted to see, however, that in many places, the NIV 2011 has returned to the original meaning of the King James Version, closer to a literal understanding of the Greek, than the NIV1984.

I write with feeling about this passage, as it was one of two passages which my grandfather had the habit of reading out loud in the meeting. He would stand and read Phil. 2, wavering back and forth as he stood, Bible open, reciting this chapter from memory. We all value the Bible we had from our childhood, the Bible in our own heart language.

For more on this passage, read the post at Biblegateway by Craig Blomberg.