December 14, 2019

Quotable Quotes: Cherry Picking


In my last Quotable Quote: Women in the Church, I included the following quotation:

“God maintained the order of each sex by dividing the business of life into two parts, and assigned the more beneficial and necessary aspects to the man, and the less important, inferior matter to the women” – Chrysostom (4th and 5th Centuries)

To which Dana Ames replied:

While cultural conditions most certainly played a large part in how women in the Church have been viewed, as Eeyore notes above, I would like to see the context of that Chrysostom quote particularly. Like Bible verses, quotations can also be cherry-picked and taken out of context. People dump on Chrysostom a lot, but there is always a context, and he was primarily a pastor and preacher, not an academic theologian. He actually urges that men and women in marriage NOT have any particular “roles”, but that they relate to one another on equal footing in the realities of living together. Sometimes women were taught not to come to church or take communion when they were having their menses; Chrysostom didn’t.. He never forbade women to come to Liturgy or partake of the Eucharist for this reason. He left it up to the conscience of each woman, according to her own sense of piety in that culture. He had a good relationship with his mother, and they were close until her death. Knowing this, and actually having read some of Chrysostom, it’s difficult for me to believe he was somehow in his heart anti-woman.

I did quite a bit of research into Chrysostom this week, and have some further thoughts that I will share later in the post. However, to kick things off, as requested, here is the full context of that first quote:

A WIFE HAS JUST ONE PURPOSE: to guard the possessions we have accumulated, to keep a close watch on the income, to take charge of the household. Indeed, this is why God gave her to you, that in these, plus all other matters, she might be a helper to you.

Our life is customarily organized into two spheres: public affairs and private matters, both of which were determined by God. To woman is assigned the presidency of the household; to man, all the business of state, the marketplace, the administration of justice, government, the military, and all other such enterprises. A woman is not able to hurl a spear or shoot an arrow, but she can grasp the distaff, weave at the loom; she correctly disposes of all such tasks that pertain to the household. She cannot express her opinion in a legislative assembly, but she can express it at home, and often she is more shrewd about household matters than her husband. She cannot handle state business well, but she can raise children correctly, and children are our principal wealth. At a glance she can detect the bad behavior of the servants and can manage them carefully. She provides complete security for her husband and frees him from all such household concerns, concerns about money, woolworking, the preparation of food and decent clothing. She takes care of all other matters of this sort, that are neither fitting for her husband’s concern nor would they be satisfactorily accomplished should he ever lay his hand to them—even if he struggled valiantly!

Indeed, this is a work of God’s love and wisdom, that he who is skilled at the greater things is downright inept and useless in the performance of the less important ones, so that the woman’s service is necessary. For if the man were adapted to undertake both sorts of activities, the female sex could easily be despised. Conversely, if the more important, most beneficial concerns were turned over to the woman, she would go quite mad. Therefore God did not apportion both duties to one sex, lest the other be displaced and be considered superfluous. Nor did God assign both to be equal in every way, lest from equality a kind of struggle and rivalry should again arise, for women in their contentiousness would deem themselves deserving of the front-row seats rather than the man! But taking precautions at one and the same time for peace and for decency, God maintained the order of each sex by dividing the business of human life into two parts and assigned the more necessary and beneficial aspects to the man and the less important, inferior matters to the woman. God’s plan was extremely desirable for us, on the one hand because of our pressing needs and, on the other, so that a woman would not rebel against her husband due to the inferiority of her service. Understanding all these things, let us strive for just one goal, virtue of soul and nobility of behavior, so that we may enjoy peace, live in concord, and maintain ourselves in love unto the end.
– John Chrysostom, “The Kind of Women who ought to be taken as Wives”in Patrologia Graeca 51:230

You can draw your own conclusions as to whether or not you think the original quote was a fair representation of Chrysostom. In my research I did find quite a number of quotes that made Chrysostom look quite bad, but I also found a fair number that were clearly cherry picking.

Consider this quote:

The beauty of woman is the greatest snare.

When you combine it with a quote like the following you get quite the word picture:

The whole of her bodily beauty is nothing less than phlegm, blood, bile, rheum, and the fluid of digested food

Now, typically I have found that when quotes are cherry picked citations are not given. They are how ever endlessly copied and parroted without checking for the original source. Facebook is of course notorious for that.

I also found that to be the case when interacting with Jehovah’s Witnesses materials on the deity of Christ back in the 1980s. They had a lot to say about what Church Fathers said about Jesus, but didn’t list their sources. I had to read through most of the 10 volume set of the Ante-Nicean Fathers to find the given quotations in their context. And yes, they were all cherry picked. It was a lot easier to do this week with the current topic.

Consider the first quote. Here it is in its context:

“The beauty of woman is the greatest snare. Or rather, not the beauty of woman, but unchastened gazing! For we should not accuse the objects, but ourselves, and our own carelessness. Nor should we say, Let there be no women, but Let there be no adulteries. We should not say, Let there be no beauty, but Let there be no fornication. We should not say, Let there be no belly, but let there be no gluttony; for the belly makes not the gluttony, but our negligence. We should not say, that it is because of eating and drinking that all these evils exist; for it is not because of this, but because of our carelessness and insatiableness. – Chrysostom, Homily 15 on the Priesthood

The second quote is similarly taken out of context, and is referring to the attributes of a single person.

That is not to say that Chrysostom gets a free pass. I found many other quotes by him that come off as very misogynistic. As I am always time limited I won’t be able to follow up on them. But at least I won’t make the same mistake as last time, and repeat them with out finding their context first.

As usual, your thoughts and comments are welcome.

P.S. Some totally unrelated bad news, bad news, good news, good news, and good news.
1. I lost my regular paying job a month ago.
2. Last week I experienced car, furnace, and plumbing problems.
3. Everything is now resolved and the total outlay of funds was only $260, MUCH less than expected.
4. The second job I saw advertised was the prior employer of one of my references. He has already messaged them to look out for my resume.
5. Financially I will be fine for a while, and it has freed me up to do some needed renovations.

Comments

  1. johnbarry says

    As I know little about Chrysostom except some very basic facts, I would just say it was the 4th century and he was a hermit type guy without Herman , of course. So his views on women would be based on the economic and social facts of that period. However I am sure Dana and other who actually know what they are talking about will take the ball and run with it.
    Mike Bell, thanks for sharing your personal status as it affects other aspects of your life such as your worthy input here that I much appreciate. I am sure you will weather the mild storm of change and hopefully it is soon. I personally have not worked in quite a while as I thought and think Manual Labor was the President of Mexico. As one of my nephews says to this deadbeat brother, do not go out looking for a job , you might find one.

    So the best I can offer is good luck in your search .

    I need some renovations also but the plastic surgery doctors tell me they are Drs. not miracle workers so my renovations will have to wait.

    “I cannot afford a face lift, so I got my body lowered” Phyliss Diller

  2. I think that your lengthy quote from Chrysostom is a perfectly coherent and reasonable view of a husband/wife partnership. I’m not sure that there is any objective way to determine that it is wrong, because we are so marinated in equality-uber-ales that our Geiger meters go off the scale and we can’t think straight any more. It is perfectly rational to believe that a division of labour along lines of competence would be more harmonious and efficient than having to squabble or negotiate about every single detail individually.

    Obviously, it could be divided other ways. Are women better at wielding political power than men? I think it’s too early to tell. But neither do I think there’s any evidence they’re worse.

    All that said, I don’t think that there is a one-size-fits-all configuration in which other people can tell a couple that they *should* operate. In that sense I am not a complementarian. But if a couple *is* living that way and it works for them, then I see no reason to tell them otherwise, or to *deny* their experience for ideological reasons.

    • But in the longer quote Chrysostom is not just talking about domestic arrangements. He is excluding women from leadership roles in government, the marketplace, the judiciary, the military; indeed, he limits women’s competency solely to the domestic sphere. That is clearly misogyny.

      • It goes without saying that he would exclude women from some roles in the Church as well, the powerful and influential ones: the priesthood, bishopric, teaching in seminary, or whatever was the equivalent to seminary in the first centuries of the Church.

      • I have difficulty conceiving of excluding women from military roles as misogyny! And in an age where political power was still not far removed from physical power (in time, at least), I don’t find it surprising either that they should feel it unwise to ‘inflict’ that on women.

        And as implied by the text, the domestic sphere wasn’t necessarily small insignificant then either.

        If misogyny is “hatred, dislike, or mistrust of women, or prejudice against women”, the only element of that which I see in his text is (depending on your interpretation) prejudice. And he also displays un-ironic ‘prejudice’ against men and their incapacity to do a women’s job properly.

        Obviously that is not an entire answer to your other points, but I think our worldview is *so* different to back then that even reading the whole text, we are still in some ways ‘out of context’.

        I guess I just don’t buy the narrative of “men at all levels of society have had their hands round women’s throats since the dawn of time”. Look around you: what proportion of wife-beating, daughter-hating, sister-disparaging men do you see out there? (I’ll leave mother-in-laws out of this…)

        “Yes, but power…!”

        Is the only power that’s of import the stuff that goes on at the top of the 1% of the 1%? Is that representative of everyday life for most people? And if it’s not, then why is what happens/happened up there taken as being determinant for us mere mortals in our daily lives?

        Have you ever spent any time in a ‘macho’ culture? Go to Italy and you’ll soon work out that the real power at home is not where the swagger would have you believe. And the power at home is the power that forges the future, not those puppets gesticulating in the political arena. And if you don’t believe that, why is everyone so keen on getting money and education to the mothers in the third world? Isn’t that a tacit acceptance that women *are* the best at taking care of their households?

        Power is the sole explanatory tool for post-modernists, and marxists, and all the other people who don’t believe in anything. Personally I don’t believe that as Christians we should be looking at things the same way.

        • Clay Crouch says

          I believe the impetus of Mike Bell’s original post was the current egalitarian/complementarian debate that is taking place in some influential evangelical organizations, churches, and seminaries. Some well known leaders on the complementation side have elevated what they consider to be codified, biblical roles for men and women in the church and society at large to a fundamental of authentic Christianity. For example, John Piper is on record as saying that women should not be in law enforcement because it place them in authority over men.

          This subject is part of the larger issue of the evolution of biblical interpretation and application. Lord have mercy.

        • “I have difficulty conceiving of excluding women from military roles as misogyny! ”

          please don’t

          because it IS the worst kind of misogyny: it sees people as ‘inferior’ in a way that cannot be true when you look at all that women have endured throughout history, even in our own country

          • Ronald Avra says

            Women are excluded from the NFL, the NBA, and Major League Baseball. Is that misogyny or economics?

            • Why not both?

              • Agree. Professional team sports are vast bastions of sexism, and not a little misogyny is involved in the values and behavior of owners and players alike. And no doubt, much money is made from the celebration and indulgence of those values and behaviors.

        • Patriciamc says

          Ben, as woman, I can tell you that the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world is nonsense.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says

        > That is clearly misogyny

        This. The short “cherry picked” quote accurately reflects the longer citation.

        “”” To woman is assigned the presidency of the household; to man, all the business of state, the marketplace, the administration of justice, government, the military, and all other such enterprises.””” – the power dynamic established here is clear.

        “””…Nor should we say, Let there be no women, but Let there be no adulteries…”””.ok, yeah sure. The Church is doing great at that; a worldview based on the premise People-Should-Be-Better. At this point in my journey/life I find that kind of thinking to be exhausting, not worth the words it takes to be expresses.

        • The man basically said that you can’t blame women for your sexual sin. I don’t see the problem with this.

          • Adam Tauno Williams says

            Because. this is 2019, ~1,500 years after this was written, we ***KNOW*** how this plays out. There is no longer any room for serious adult conversation. None. The construct is useless.

            ““The beauty of woman is the greatest snare. Or rather, not the beauty of woman, but unchastened gazing!”

            This statement is useless. I do not care if it is “true” or “false’ It is useless. It is fine, although shrug worthy, in the hands of the charitable people – although it does no good – in the hands of a fool useless statements become dangerous.

            Reading it today Chrysostom sounds like some middling preacher’s bloviating.

            • In that case people like us going on about structural inequity is useless too. When was the last time you transformed a society?

              I’m not trying to pick a fight, but I’m minded of Screwtape’s observation that tying people up in worries about things that can do nothing about is an excellent way of distracting them from what they could/should be doing.

              As Clay says, Lord have mercy!

              • And what SHOULD be doing, if not discussing the problems that cloud our judgments of the roles of the sexes, and whether our ideas are actually God-given or Roman-given…

                • A lot of Christians seem to think we should just be keeping quiet in the face of society’s traditional status quo. Don’t rock the boat.

  3. Misogyny and sexism are not the same thing. One can believe that men are inherently better than women at certain things without necessarily hating women. As has already been pointed out, Chrysostom also believes men are inept at household duties. Is that misandry? No,it is just the way he was taught about men and women and their supposed spheres of duty, abilities, and weaknesses. He might be wrong, but that does not mean he hated women.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      > One can believe that men are inherently better than women at certain
      > things without necessarily hating women

      Hair splitting. -ism is not about Hate. -ism is Structural.

      It does not matter how you FEEL about someone, but if what you believe involves telling them “No”, limiting their power, and denying them access then you’ve engaged in the -ism. And it will feel a whole lot like Hate to the person you are denying – – – your emotion state is completely irrelevant.

      • Klasie Kraalogies says

        Strongly agreed.

        I think many people have difficulty understanding how structural inequity in culture and society predetermines certain outcomes. This is very real with regards to both race and gender. And changing laws doesn’t lead to overnight change in culture or society. It can take much more than one generation.

      • Not hair splitting. It is an important distinction that needs to be kept in mind. Especially in our day when so often people want to attribute the worst motives to those who disagree with them. Beyond that, if emotions don’t matter, why does it matter if the person who has been told no feels like it is hate? What are the actual beliefs or reasons behind the statement? If it is not hate, then accusing someone of hate only shuts down discussion and lets you feel justified in hating the person you disagree with.

        • –> “Especially in our day when so often people want to attribute the worst motives to those who disagree with them.”

          I tend to agree with that statement. I think part of the problem with most of today’s culture (maybe ANGLO-culture) is the broad-brush painting of people who disagree with us as “those other people have evil intent.”

          But let’s examine this statement more closely: “Misogyny and sexism are not the same thing.”

          As a male, I can categorically say that is a true statement. I might believe a woman isn’t competent enough to be in a position as CEO of a company and have not an ounce of misogyny in me.

          HOWEVER, look at it from the woman’s standpoint. My sexism is hurtful to her and other women. That hurt turns me into a misogynist. It’s kinda like the people who claim, “I was only telling them the truth in love.” To steal a Paul Simon line, “That sure don’t feel like love.”

          If my “love” is hurtful, it’s not really love, right? And if my sexism is HURTFUL, it moves it into a different category, right?

          • Christiane says

            as to whether a woman is ‘competent’ enough to handle an important position depends on the woman;
            as to whether a man is ‘competent’ enough to handle an important positions depends on the man

            what are the specific requirements of the job description?
            and what are the qualifications of the person seeking the job?

            common sense does ask us to focus less on pre-conceived ideas, and more on the facts at hand if we want to live in the real world, and boy howdy the old ways of doing things haven’t worked well for a long, long time, if ever:

            in dragging any group down as subservient and ‘lesser’, those who are doing the dragging also are lowered in dignity as human persons

            it was an ex-slave woman, Sojourner Truth, who said it best:
            ” But the women are coming up blessed be God and a few of the men are coming up with them”

            It takes a lot of work and energy and hatred to keep people ‘down’, to make them ‘lesser’, and when that kind of persecution ends, all that energy can be used for good instead . . . . it frees the oppressed AND the oppressor

            misogyny, racism, homophobia, islamophobia, and all the other ‘isms’ that employ hatred against ‘the others’ are all ‘connected’ . . . the hate just wears a different costume, but it’s still hatred, and abuse flows from it when those involved think that abuse is permitted because the ‘others’ are inferior to themselves when the truth is, the oppressors are trapped in a web of their own making and are not ‘free’ from their vitriol towards others . . . . it splashes back and they injure themselves, they become less humane

      • Yes, hate is not primarily emotional, but in the way you treat someone, or some class of people. The anger kicks in when they start to reject and rebel against your hateful treatment of them; as long as they remain compliant, you can keep the smile on your face when interacting with them, but it’s a false smile.

    • Michael Bell says

      There are very blurred lines between the “…isms” and hate.

      Do you resent your femaie boss, then maybe your sexism has crossed the line.
      Did you chant “lock her up”, then maybe your sexism has crossed the line.
      Do you not want your daughter to date a black man, then maybe your racism has crossed the line.
      Do you frequently post on facebook, about how there are only two genders, then maybe your religious beliefs have crossed the line.

      People who are sexist don’t hate women, unless those women take on roles that the sexist doesn’t think is appropriate.

      • You might resent your female boss for other reasons. Maybe she’s a petty tyrant.

      • We may think our ideas and ideals are noble – but if they result in damage and pain, then our noble intentions are just more paving stones on the road to Hades.

        • This comment, and Michael Bell’s, say much clearer and more succinctly what I was trying to say in my 12:16pm comment to Jon…LOL.

      • Christiane says

        “People who are sexist don’t hate women, unless those women take on roles that the sexist doesn’t think is appropriate.”

        I think the days of women only seeking ‘appropriate’ roles in this country and in the world are OVER.

        The lot of a single woman is devastating if she is uneducated, underemployed, underpaid, and a single parent and the putative/legal father of the child pays no support for the children . . . . . women today don’t accept that hell easily and they are ready to EARN what is needed to raise their children and give them a decent life. That means women are going into areas previously dominated by men, just to get the training and the employment and the pay and the benefits . . . . for their families. These women have to act as mother and father for their families and they MUST EARN.

        • I think the Second World War put paid to a whole lot of myths about women not being as good as men, in so many fields, at least in the UK. Apart from the truism that bigger people tend to be stronger than smaller people, & on the whole most men are bigger than most women, Western society got a big old shock about ‘a woman’s place’. My Great Aunt Charlotte, who had been an Anglican Missionary at the turn of the 20th century, came out of retirement to run a munitions factory.

          The end result was a big blow to sexism. Why did God give women these abilities too?

          Women have always worked hard for their kids, mine worked permanent night duty as a Nurse to bring us up alone. In my generation, she’d have been a Doctor, but that wasn’t possible for her. The only appropriate role for a woman is one she can do…which is basically, everything.

      • Michael, is it possible for someone to do something you disagree with, or to be something you don’t think they should be, and you not hate the person, or your disapproval come from some sort of hate? I would think so. Then it shouldn’t be so hard to see that someone may believe, for instance, that only men should be pastors, but not hate women who have become pastors.

        • In theory, yes. In practice, however, the language and tone such people use to describe women pastors shows anything but respectful disagreement.

  4. Christiane says

    Hi Mike Bell,

    take care of yourself during this stressful time of job-change . . . . it is never easy on anyone, so we know something of what people endure in the way of worry and stress

    hope all turns out for the best, but keep us informed of how you are doing with all of this turmoil in your life, as is said in Scripture that we have a care for one another in good times and in bad

  5. I was not alive during the cave man era but due to nature , men by their physical strength and inability to have and nurse children were the primary bread winners or meat winners. In the hunter/gather era, the women picked the Barries and the men hunted, again due to the physical difference. So before our last 50 year revolutionary change period man/women roles were heavily influenced by their physical capability and the need for someone to have, suckle and raise the kids. Men fought the wars that were heavily physical until WW2 when technology advanced.

    I just I am just surprised why a 4th century cleric is being under the microscope for his views on the role of women and men. In the 4 th century , it would make sense. I think he was basically a good , wise man and helped the early church. When it comes to mostly physical, brute strength only task, that are most simple men are superior to women as a rule. Women in many ways are stronger , in their mental make up , ability to endure pain and support others. That is why at the beginning NASA was going to go with female astronauts.

    To me , it is just common sense. I have to go, my wife is calling me and I have to find out what we are doing today

    • Iain Lovejoy says

      As I understand it, analysis of hunter-gatherer societies generally demonstrates that the women bring in more food in terms of calories than the men do – their diets were and are fairly low in meat.

      • Yes, the game was an addition and supplement to the staple vegetarian diet. They could survive without the meat, but not without the gathered plant foods.

  6. Dana Ames says

    In the long quote Mike B. gave, Chrysostom is reflecting the general thought of the time on what should be the duties of each sex within marriage and society. What he describes is how things actually functioned in families with any kind of financial security. He is actually quite generous and holds a high standard for both men and women. I don’t find anything there that implies hatred of women.

    Here’s more of Chrysostom:

    “When we speak of the wife obeying the husband we normally think of obedience in military or political terms, the husband giving orders and the wife obeying them. But while this type of obedience may be appropriate in the army, it is ridiculous in the intimate relationship of marriage. The obedient wife does not wait for orders. Rather, she tires to discern her husband’s needs and feelings, and responds in love. When she sees her husband is weary, she encourages him to rest; when she sees him agitated, she soothes him; when he is ill, she nurses and comforts him; when he is happy and elated, she shares his joy. Yet such obedience should not be confined to the wife; the husband should be obedient in the same way. When she is weary, he should relieve her of her work; when she is sad, she should cherish her, holding her gently in his arm; when she is filled with good cheer, he should also share her good cheer. Thus a good marriage is not a matter of one partner obeying the other, but of both partners obeying each other.”

    That’s all I’ll put up; I’m not interested in playing “dueling quotes” here. We often look at times past through our anachronistic eyes and values, and that blinds us to the good that was there. Reality is that Christianity gave women dignity that they had not previously had, because women were not considered “less human”; Christ redeemed all humanity, and women were included in that humanity. Not being equal means having different spheres of life, which was what everyone believed in that day, including women; that is what C. is talking about in Mike’s quote, not that women are not human. I have never found anything in the Liturgy or prayer services of Eastern Christianity (remember, that’s where the theology is expressed) that even hints that women are viewed as less human than men. This is quite unlike the manufacturing of theology (some of it non-Trinitarian) by some Evangelicals to support their views on women. I’m convinced that if Chrysostom were alive today, he would not have any problem with women being in politics or athletic competitions.

    Finally, as to women not being in positions of “power” in the early Church: the aspiration to “power” and lording things over anyone was not something that was thought well of in Scripture. In addition, being a bishop or priest might get you killed before Christianity was made legal. But the most significant reason that women were not priests in Christianity (aside from Christianity not being a fertility religion) is the iconicity of Christianity. You may not agree with iconicity, but you can’t understand Christianity fully without it, especially the Christian East. Iconicity is not about relative worth before God; it is about showing something about reality through a typological image.

    Not interested in being argumentative. Unless someone has a specific question for me, I’m done for the day.

    Thanks, Mike; I appreciate the work you did for the post. I hope you will be able to tell us soon that you have your new job!

    Dana

    • “Chrysostom is reflecting the general thought of the time on what should be the duties of each sex within marriage and society. What he describes is how things actually functioned in families with any kind of financial security. He is actually quite generous and holds a high standard for both men and women.”

      But he could have, and should have, gone further. We are called to confront the culture more than conform to it.

      • And insofar as Chrysostom reflected the general thought of the time, where that thought is deficient or in error in regard to the roles women should play in society and church, and indeed in regard to the nature of women, what they are and aren’t capable of, he is not a competent guide. He cannot be trusted in this matter, and others as well, I’m sure. When current church leaders point uncritically to him or any of the Church Fathers for support of their misogynistic/sexist views of the roles of women in church and society, they are merely repeating the errors of the early Church and its contemporary society.

        In addition, in regard to a conversation in the comments above, extreme sexist views (such as Chrysostom exhibits in regard to what he says are the proper roles and capabilities of women — much of the traditional view of women in patriarchal society is shaped by extreme sexism) and misogyny necessarily overlap with each other, since it is from the societal habit of sexism that misogyny arises.

      • Klasie Kraalogies says

        “But he could have, and should have, gone further. We are called to confront the culture more than conform to it.”

        Well said

        • Adam Tauno Williams says

          Yep.

          And what we are talking about here is the legacy of Christian thought in regards to this issue.

          A legacy that is, IMNSHO, undeniably toxic; it takes a lot of word smithy to detox this stuff. That doesn’t make the author’s horrible people, its simply that they were people.

  7. In The Canterbury Tales (The Nun’s Priest’s Tale) Chanticleer the rooster tries to impress a hen with some Latin, ostensibly from the Bible:

    For al so siker as In principio,
    Mulier est hominis confusio–
    Madame, the sentence of this Latyn is,
    ‘Womman is mannes joye and al his blis.’

    But he flubbed it. It really means “In the beginning woman is man’s ruin.” So cherry-picking can go either way regarding women and scripture.

    (Where is Martha of Ireland when you really need her, anyway???)

    • “Where is Martha of Ireland when you really need her, anyway???”

      Hopefully not too near the soon-to-be-rehardened border with the North…

      • Christiane says

        Martha is much missed here

        • Christiane says

          Which reminds me:
          I wonder how Susan is getting along in Australia. Surely, by now the weather must have cooled down, hopefully.

          • Hi Christiane, I’m not Susan but am in Australia. The weather has cooled minimally, but rain is scarce in the southern half of the continent. We are in autumn (fall) now and it is still surprisingly warm, given that we’re about to enter April. Aussies would appreciate prayer for rain.

            • Christiane says

              you’ve got it . . . . my father, as a young man, lived in Australia during the War (WWII) clearing mines (US Navy) and he loved Australia and its people, so I’ve always had an admiration for your country

              • My dad too. He was holed up in Adelaide for two months while the merchant ship he was on was waiting for repairs. The south coast was safer from the Japanese, and the engines were German-built, so parts took a while coming from the States. He loved Australia and always wanted to go back. I ended up playing Waltzing Matilda on the church’s pipe organ at his funeral. It was one of his favorite songs.

                • Christiane says

                  wow . . . . LOVE that song!

                  That was very thoughtful of you, Ted, to do that in memory of your father

                  • Both hands. I haven’t played the song since, for some reason, in 15 years. I’m working on Joni Mitchell’s Circle Game lately as Mom is 96 and getting on the edge.

                    I usually pound around on our piano, but the organ in that little church is incredible and begging to be played.

          • Susan Dumbrell says

            Hi Christiane,
            I am OK. I have had quite a lot of time at the nursing home sorting out with our Doctor just what is the best care for my husband. Looking forward, they have now classified him as in need of palliative care.
            A life time frame has been mentioned which is far too short but I have to come to terms with it. They may be wrong. He could live for longer but it is unlikely.
            My thoughts have focused on his needs. I have made one decision of which I am unsure re his advancing skin cancers. He does not have cognitive powers to even listen to my explaining this too him.
            He is on Endone for the pain.

            We had great rain overnight and the cool change is welcome. Autumn is definitely here. Nice.
            The trees are turning beautiful colours and there is a nip in the air.

            Robert once posted a clip of ‘September, when the leaves come falling down’. Well almost April and they are falling rapidly here and look beautiful.

            I read IMonk every day. I find today’s topic difficult as I make decisions for John’s ‘end of life care’. We always shared an equal role in our marriage, now it is just my decisions affecting us both.

            Susan

            • I’m praying for you too, Susan. My mom has been in the hospital or nursing home since Christmas eve, and (un?)fortunately she’s still pretty darned cognitive. But everything else is wearing out.

            • Hmm. A comment got stuck somewhere. Just to say, Susan, that I’m praying for you too. We’re going through something similar with my mother.

            • Norma Cenva says

              Susan,
              You also have my prayers and solidarity.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Where is Martha, anyway?
        Anybody heard anything about her?

        • Christiane says

          she’s in Ireland, Headless, is all I know . . . . . awesome commentator she was when she came here, one of the best ever

          • She would say it’s mostly Wikipedia. But Wikipedia doesn’t get to the heart of things like she does.

  8. This thread is probably too stale now, but I need to write this down somewhere so I can move on:

    I’ve found some of the discussion here rather unsettling.

    Note that here I’m not really concentrating on the “the role of women in church” debate, but the philosophical undercurrents of the discussion thread.

    – We seem to be judging Christian tradition in the light of contemporary culture. I believe that our first reflex should be the opposite. Which culture is the culture that should be ‘confronted’?
    – For a place that mocks fundamentalists mercilessly, there are a whole load of unyielding certainties being expressed here. A literal reading of Genesis is off limits, but it’s ok to assume that we absolutely know what someone from 1500 years ago was meaning, thinking and feeling, because “it’s right there in the text”?
    – There is also (it seems to me) an enormous lack of humility, and intellectual rigour, in presuming that we know better than someone just because we are more ‘modern’: we can determine what they “should have said”, so that it would satisfy our purity tests 1500 years later.
    – I am especially concerned by this idea that power is all that is important, that it is a measure of value. This flies in the face of everything I see in Jesus’ attitude to power: political or otherwise. Do you find him as disappointingly ineffectual as Judas apparently did?
    – In other words, can you think of many examples of power (even in the ‘right’ hands) making things durably better?
    – Ideologically redefining words (hate) is bad: “It doesn’t matter what you *think* you think, it matters what I feel”.
    – If we find all our values aligned with the atheists’, one or the other is treading air, philosophically speaking (that’s not a snipe at Klasie)

    For some context: I’m currently working my way through a book which is making me think hard about the ‘Enlightenment’ idea that humanity has come of age and is ‘grown up’ enough to understand (potentially) everything. We no longer see our minds as being finite, let alone touched/clouded by sin. This has brought us to a place where we have no qualms second-guessing or judging God’s supposed activity, and either positing an autonomous creation (to save his honour), or simply concluding that he can’t exist.

    The ancient idea that his ways are *his* ways, and that we are flawed (though wonderful) creatures, and that only a fool would presume to *know* anything about his plans, deserves some respect, or at least some considered thought.

    And yes, my mind also rebels against this thought, which seems like a strait-jacket. But it also occurs to me that there is no reason that the truth should be pleasant to me.

    —-
    I agree with Dana.