Monday Highlights

Good morning.

  1. Blaming the GOP.
  2. “God doesn’t want you to change.” … Huh? That’s just about as really really wrong as one could imagine.
  3. The uninsured.
  4. Atheist “ads” and a response, and the point is that the riposte(s) are as “fair” as the initial thrust.
  5. Trust your rack? I don’t think I’d trust the window adhesive that much.
  6. The political thinking of JRR.
  7. A book list.
  8. The dome.
  9. How not to do a public hearing.
  10. TSA.
  11. Advice regarding charity.
  12. An oasis found in the midst of the self-help desert.
  13. Zach hack (HT: Dr Platypus).

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34 comments

  1. Boonton says:

    Atheist “ads” and a response, and the point is that the riposte(s) are as “fair” as the initial thrust.

    well one aspect that isn’t fair is that there is not an analgous relationship to the Christian view of the Bible and the words of assorted atheist writers. Since atheism lacks any ‘sacred text’ there’s no need for the atheist to worry about something some other atheist said. Maybe Christopher Hitchens quote needs to be put ‘in context’, or maybe Hitchens is just a jerk. An atheist really can be indifferent between both possibilities. A Christian, however, cannot write off a passage from the Bible that seems wrong as simply the Bible being wrong. The lack of a ‘sacred text’ gives the atheist a degree of freedom in argument that the theist doesn’t enjoy.

  2. Mark says:

    Boonton,
    What? You think there is a uniform exegetical reading regarding that verse among Christians?

  3. Boonton says:

    No but there is a uniform ‘reading’ in the sense that its part of the Bible and as such has to be taken seriously. The Collected Works of Christopher Hitchens (and Karl Marx, Issac Asmiov, and so on) have not such standing for atheism.

  4. Boonton says:

    TSA.

    Seems like a pretty hysterical rant which is short on practical solutions.

  5. Yeah, what Boonton said. “I do not permit a woman to teach or have authority over a man; she must be silent” is in your Bible! You can “interpret” it to mean the opposite or nothing at all, you can accept it, you can rationalize it, but ultimately you have to deal with the fact that it’s in the book that you hold sacred.

    Arbitrary quotes from arbitrary atheists aren’t analogous. If Hitchens or Marx wrote something bad, I can simply disagree. We don’t pretend that famous atheists are prophets, agents of a deity, or even necessarily good people. They’re just people who happen to be atheists.

    Now if the atheist ads were just pulling arbitrary quotes from arbitrary believers, then it would be a fair point. But they aren’t.

  6. Boonton says:

    An analogy might be if the atheist ads were pulling quotes like, “Nancy Smith, a Christian, says “I hate little kittens” ” Yea but no Christian has any obligation to share Smith’s hatred of kittens. For most Christians the Bible stands as a foundational text so yea an awkward quote *needs* to be addressed by Christians while atheists have no need to address awkward quotes by famous atheists. That’s not a double standard IMO but a consquence of having a Foundational text. There are religions, after all, that do not have any such text and as a result this type of ad campaign would not be effective against them.

    Speaking of double standards, though, don’t we see the same tactic (the random quote that seems to go against modern liberal sensibilities) deployed against Islam by some Christians? I’d appreciate the complaint about ‘unfairness’ if there was a bit more consistency here.

  7. Mark says:

    Boonton,
    Given the wide range of hermeneutical methods I think its almost a stretch to call the Bible “one source.” But … point taken … although if you note the Marx quote … some billion or more living Marxists are seeing his writing in close to the manner in which some (many?) Christians approach scripture.

    I also found that the choice of text was more than a little ironic. Seeing that Paul’s treatment of women was far more equitable than the surrounding culture. The early Christian church (noted in Acts) did send a deaconess to Rome as an ambassador. Likewise the “veiling of women’s hair” is not a matter of keeping women “down” but actually was a great leveling. In the culture of the time, who was allowed to wear a veil and who could not drew a distinction between the wealthy and married and those who unmarried and poor. Paul having everyone veil (as the wealth/married did) was a leveling not a restriction as it is seen today.

  8. Boonton says:

    Yes a Marxist could fairly be challenged on Marx’s writing (although I suspect the Marxist would reply that his ideology is more of a science where Marx has a honorored but not sacred place, hence it’s quite possible to dismiss something he wrote as ‘simply wrong’ in the same manner physicists treat Newton with a place of honor but are also quite willing to dismiss, say, his belief in numerology). Like I said, I think it would be unfair to demand that Christians ‘explain’ various outrageous statements of other Christians which would be an analogy to the ‘counter punch’ in the ad series.

    Regarding women and Paul, I don’t disagree with you but Muslims would respond with very similiar arguments regarding various passages in the Koran. Many self-styled Christians on the right, though, are quite happy to ignore context, hermeneutical methods and so on in that case but insist on it when, say, addressing the atheist ads.

  9. Mark says:

    Boonton,
    So … you’re basically saying both sides are being unfair (which was kinda my point).

  10. Boonton says:

    Re hermeneutical methods, few if any Christian traditions have as a valid method simply dismissing the Bible text as ‘just wrong’. There’s nothing about atheism, though, which would have a problem with saying Christopher Hitchens or Karl Marx or whoever is ‘just wrong’ about something.

  11. Boonton says:

    Actually no, the atheist side is being fair at least as far as Christians are concened (the ad doesn’t seem aimed at various other religions like Hinduism). The Bible is considered by nearly all Christians a sacred text, hence it is perfectly fair to challenge Christians to justify ‘awkward passages’ of that text. Atheists, though, do not consider, say, Christopher Hitchens to be a sacred text.

    Hence the counter ad basically is the argument “if you choose to be an athiest, there are other atheists who have said or done things you probably won’t agree with”. IF that was the form of the original ad then it wouldn’t be so much Bible quotes but ‘awkward’ stuff other Christians have done (Pat Robertson, Jimmy Swagert, Jerry Falwell, Haggard, assorted abusive priests, etc.) That’s basically the country club argument. Why join the athiest club when the low class Christopher Hitchens is sitting half sauced at the bar talking shit? Why join the Christian Club where you’d keep company with Tammy Fae Baker and her tacky makeup job? Perhaps that’s a valid argument but it’s a very weak one.

    The atheist ad though wasn’t that style of argument. It’s argument was that there are fundamental problems with the Foundational text of Christianity (and Judism I’d imagine). You counter with hermeneutical methods, context etc. and JA counters that is just fancy lawyering that isn’t very convincing. This argument doesn’t work against atheism, though, because athiesm simply lacks a foundational text that this can work against. No one who ‘signs up’ to atheism has to read or care about the works of, say, Karl Marx, just because he’s an athiest anymore than you had to sign onto the religious beliefs of other cyclists when you decided to be one.

  12. Mark says:

    Boonton,
    In Pericles Athens women who were not prostitutes would not be allowed to be present at all in a public assembly of men. I’ve never read that there were significant changes in social customs of men/women by the time of the 1st century. So … it is highly likely (given the other somewhat large advances in status and permissiveness toward women) that this phrase isn’t “awkward” but that it represents exactly the opposite of what it is being criticized for. That is these verses represent a significant increase not decrease in the freedom of women.

    At the same time you have the Church which has a long standing and dominant theme of reversing the natural order, i.e., he who would be first should be last. The statement that women should not speak or teach might indicative of their leading role. In the past I’ve noted Boris Akunen’s (sp?) fiction (specifically the Sister Pelagia mysteries) in which Sister Pelagia notes that women are more spiritually sensitive than men. Another similar point is the women’s role in saving the Orthodox Church in Russia during the Soviet oppression. Men are forced into a public leadership role in the Church not because they are better, but because they are not and this stretches them. This isn’t just (in JA’s terms) a academic talking point. I really think that’s the reason for the different gender roles in the Church such as the male priesthood.

  13. Men are forced into a public leadership role in the Church not because they are better, but because they are not

    This is exactly the kind of intellectually dishonest rationalization that I’m talking about! What could NOT be defended by such games? The idea that women should be submissive to men is woven throughout the Bible, from the story of Adam and Eve to the forefathers’ polygyny to the New Testament. THAT is why women can’t be in charge of anything in the Church and are told repeatedly to sit down and shut up and that they’re just there to turn out babies.

    Some verses:

    “But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman [is] the man; and the head of Christ [is] God.”

    “34. Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but [they are commanded] to be under obedience, as also saith the law.
    35 And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.”

    “4 That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,
    5 [To be] discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. ”

    (Is there a verse where men are told to be obedient to their wives? Of course not. I’m sure you can come up with a rationalization, though. Wait, let me. It’s because women are naturally better, and men would resent that, so God in His wisdom tells the women to let the men be in charge so they don’t feel so bad.)

    Don’t you see how dishonest this all is?

  14. Mark says:

    JA,
    You are the intellectually dishonest one in this regard. Do you look at any history? Do you examine the role of women in Greek culture? No. Do you consider the context of women in the contemporary (for them) Greek culture. No. You can’t rationalize anything. What you can’t rationalize is the point of view on this that you’re taking. That this isn’t a quote that gives the exact opposite meaning you’re trying to take.

    I’d offer that if you think Christian notions of leadership mean something like kingship and don’t subvert the normal notions of hierarchy then you’re being the dishonest one.

    And taking one of your examples, “That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,” and it follows that that men should love their wives just as Christ did for the Church, i.e., gave his life … and if you note, how he you know washed feet, and acted in full humility. So what have we. Women should love and obey their husbands who in turn need to be so devoted to their wives and welfare that they are willing to die for them (and wash their feet and so on). So … your guess of my “rationalization” is completely wrong.

    The idea that women should be submissive was part in parcel with the culture. It’s just strange that you don’t seem to recall the stories of Rachel with regards to her marriage and match. Oh, wait those stories subvert your thesis.

  15. Mark,

    I don’t get your point. I’m not arguing that Christians are more sexist than the Greeks or Romans. I’m just arguing that they’re sexist (many modern liberal denominations who you probably don’t even consider Christian of course excepted.) Who cares if the culture was that women should be submissive? The Bible is forever, isn’t it? The Bible is from (somehow) God, isn’t it? God and his prophets shouldn’t be limited by what the contemporary culture was at the time.

    As for men having to be devoted to their wives and welfare, I never said that women get nothing in return. I’m just pointing out that women are supposed to be submissive according to the Bible and traditional Christianity and that it’s not because they’re “better” than men, but because the men are supposed to be in charge.

  16. Mark says:

    JA,
    I see. You think the Bible is some magic book. I guess that make it easier to think little of those who believe, that is by caricaturization of and making as outrageous as possible religious practice. There’s a good quote in a Met. Zizioulas book I’m reading. I’ll dig that out tonight. I think that might help.

    What does the term sexist mean to you? Unlike race, sex is a primary determinant of features and abilities of people, e.g., show me a guy who can give birth to a kid.

    It seems to me that pointing out verses which point out that the early church was worlds different in its treatment of women than the surrounding culture (less sexist) kinda weakens the point when you try to raise that as a (bad) example of sexism in the church.

    And as noted before, I think the common (US) usage of the word Christian means those churches affirming the Nicene creed.

  17. Mark,

    I see. You think the Bible is some magic book.

    Me? No, I think it’s a book written by a bunch of guys living thousands of years ago who embedded their own prejudices and beliefs into it. I think it’s sexist because the authors were sexist (and homophobic because the authors were homophobic, etc.)

    I thought that Christians believe it’s a magic book, that it’s not just the writings of some guys. Here, for example, is the Catholic Encyclopedia’s explanation of the Bible:

    The Bible, as the inspired recorded of revelation, contains the word of God; that is, it contains those revealed truths which the Holy Ghost wishes to be transmitted in writing. However, all revealed truths are not contained in the Bible (see TRADITION); neither is every truth in the Bible revealed, if by revelation is meant the manifestation of hidden truths which could not other be known. Much of the Scripture came to its writers through the channels of ordinary knowledge, but its sacred character and Divine authority are not limited to those parts which contain revelation strictly so termed. The Bible not only contains the word of God; it is the word of God. The primary author is the Holy Ghost, or, as it is commonly expressed, the human authors wrote under the influence of Divine inspiration.

    Do you agree with that? If so, how is that not “magical”? If so, shouldn’t “the word of God” be held to a higher standard than “well, it’s a little better than the Romans….”

    It seems to me that pointing out verses which point out that the early church was worlds different in its treatment of women than the surrounding culture (less sexist) kinda weakens the point when you try to raise that as a (bad) example of sexism in the church.

    And I’m arguing that the surrounding culture is not the correct yardstick. If Christianity is true, then the Bible’s view of the role of the sexes should be superior not just to ancient Rome and Greece, but it should be superior even to our own. And I think it’s obvious that it’s more sexist than our own. Now if you want to argue that our own culture is not sexist enough, well that would be a different argument. The current argument is whether the Bible and traditional Christianity are more sexist. And I think it’s obviously “yes.”

    What does the term sexist mean to you? Unlike race, sex is a primary determinant of features and abilities of people, e.g., show me a guy who can give birth to a kid.

    Let’s not get into a semantic argument where you get to redefine words until they’re unrecognizable. The fact is, what we’re talking about is something women CAN do as well as men. Nobody’s complaining that the Bible implies that women are the ones who give birth. We’re complaining that the Bible says that women should be submissive to men in the home and in church, that they should be silent and obedient. In point of fact, women are capable of leading a family or a church as well as men are, so the fact that there are sex differences is irrelevant here.

  18. Mark says:

    JA,

    We’re complaining that the Bible says that women should be submissive to men in the home and in church, that they should be silent and obedient.

    A notion which is stated in complete lack of context to the parallel instructions for men, which when put in its fuller context kinda makes your complaint moot (that men should be servants for and willing to give everything up to and including their life for their wives).

    In point of fact, women are capable of leading a family or a church as well as men are, so the fact that there are sex differences is irrelevant here.

    And I’d offer that the fact that they are capable is what is irrelevant.

    I’ve got to run and get my daughter from the gym … more in a bit.

  19. Boonton says:

    Yea I think we have two issues JA touched on here.

    1. The lack of ‘magic’. OK suppose we live in a Star Trek universe and come upon a planet somewhere in ancient Rome in terms of its culture, society, technology etc. Being nice people, we’d probably be careful in our interactions with them but we wouldn’t be that careful. We wouldn’t hold ourselves back so much that to them we’d look like Romans who had slightly better chariotts. We’d look like we are really advanced, like we really know what we’re talking about. In this sense the Bible doesn’t stand out. Yea its different from the society it was first written in, but not so radically different that *supernatural* is the only explanation. That’s not to say it couldn’t be supernatural, only that believers should reconize the real sense of ‘disappointment’ that comes in trying to find an easy route to the supernatural by looking at the Bible.

    2. The ‘context’ in which the submissive passage is ‘explained’ seems to always be asserted but never really demonstrated. OK men have to be ‘servents’ to their wives and give up their lives on their behalf if necessary. Does that really change the meaning of the passage from ‘shut up and obey’? Assuming a man was very dutiful in that he protects his wife, would stand in front of a rampaging mob and his wife if necessary, should the wife have to ‘shut up and obey’? Likewise are wives not expected to be servants for their families? Do wives not have to give up their lives for their husbands should th eneed arise?

  20. A notion which is stated in complete lack of context to the parallel instructions for men, which when put in its fuller context kinda makes your complaint moot

    I don’t think that context of “parallel instructions” makes it moot at all, unless men are also instructed to sit down and shut up and let their wives do the talking. That men are also expected to provide for and protect their women is common in sexist societies, and it doesn’t excuse the fact that women aren’t allowed to have a voice of their own or to hold the same positions that men are, any more than the fact that masters were supposed to take good care of their slaves (according to the Bible) excuses the fact that slavery was allowed.

    And I’d offer that the fact that they are capable is what is irrelevant.

    You’re the one who brought up the fact that women and men have different capabilities in childbirth as if it were somehow relevant.

  21. Mark says:

    JA,

    I don’t think that context of “parallel instructions” makes it moot at all, unless men are also instructed to sit down and shut up and let their wives do the talking.

    Men are instructed to be as Christ is to his church. Do you think he didn’t listen to those around him? How did he treat with them? Did he treat them as master and slave? Hmm. Not so much I think.

    Boonton,
    Regarding remark 2, see above. I think the instruction to men goes further than protect and provide. And in the context of 1st century family life, instructing men that they need to be like servants to their wives in many ways is a radical change from the status quo.

  22. Mark,

    But still the Bible/church is deciding which roles women are allowed to play and which roles men are allowed to play IRRESPECTIVE of their biological abilities. That is the epitome of sexism, whether you think the roles end up being somehow equivalent or not. In the end, women are still told “This is your role, whether you like it or not. Let the men do the talking and leading.” That’s sexist.

  23. Mark says:

    JA,
    Yet somehow it is not sexist that men seem to keep getting that Romeo role on the stage. The priest serves as the icon of Christ in liturgy. Jesus was, wait for it, … a man.

  24. Mark says:

    JA,
    Your position is that your against it no matter what happened. Here you try to cite as negative a situation in which women who were not allowed to interact at all with men in the public forum and lived very separate lives from the men. Inherited from a religious tradition (the Jews) in which men and women were separated in worship, here we find that Christians instead had men and women worshiping together. Where the women free, slave, and highborn were told to dress alike to bring matron and prostitute to be treated the same. Where women are the primary and first witnesses (and judged reliable) of the Resurrection. Where a woman is sent as an ambassador to Rome. But … because women are asked not to teach only in the assembly …. that means they are sexist.

    Come on. Your take on this is 100% exactly getting it backwards.

  25. Mark,

    1) Please stop comparing it to contemporary cultures, as I have repeatedly stressed I am not arguing that it’s as sexist or more sexist than the contemporary cultures of the time. I’m just saying it’s sexist. I’m sure you know that I’d agree that Judaism and ancient Rome were also sexist, so this is just a red herring.

    2) I don’t know much about Orthodoxy, so let’s look at Catholicism for a minute. The entire hierarchy is male! Every pope, every bishop, every cardinal, every priest. And not just in the way that all the U.S. presidents are all male, but by RULE. The Pope excommunicated the few women who found a way to become priests a few years back. You can come up with a million and one rationalizations, I’m sure, but it’s just obviously sexist. I don’t see how you can even debate this.

    Say it’s sexist and that’s a good thing, but don’t say it’s not sexist. That’s just insulting my intelligence.

  26. Mark says:

    JA,
    Well, removing text from its contextual surroundings is just … well, wrong. Let me ask you this, if one were to quote mine Mr Wilberforce in such a way that his words appeared racist, especially by today’s standards. Given that his role and recognition for the same in combating racism is the primary thing for which he is know. Wouldn’t this kind be a bad way of making a point that people like Wilberforce are racist?

    It’s sexist in the same way that Aff Action is racist, except as noted there are primary attributes which can be assigned to sex while the same cannot be said for race.

    So, paralleling my argument about how to define racism, yes it’s sexist. But sexism (as noted) is not a priori wrong, just like racism is (apparently according to the left) not a priori wrong.

  27. Boonton says:

    Regarding remark 2, see above. I think the instruction to men goes further than protect and provide. And in the context of 1st century family life, instructing men that they need to be like servants to their wives in many ways is a radical change from the status quo.

    How about in context of ancient life? Were not men in ancient Roman and Greek society expected to provide for their wives? Even love for a loyal wife was expressed in non-Biblical ancient society (think of Odyssess seeking to return to his wife). In what way was the servent instruction to men a radical challenge to the norms of the time?

    Yet somehow it is not sexist that men seem to keep getting that Romeo role on the stage. The priest serves as the icon of Christ in liturgy. Jesus was, wait for it, … a man.

    That’s Church doctrine not what the Bible says. The Bible talks about ‘speaking and teaching’, not whether it was ok for Mel Gibson to consider only male actors when casting Jesus for his Passion of the Christ.

    Form the liturgy perspective, Jesus was clearly a person yet C.S. Lewis could iconize him as a Lion. Why is maleness necessary? The ‘casting’ argument doesn’t quite work since no one argues that other characteristics are necessary like the priest being or looking like a Middle Eastern male.

    I think the sexist issue is not that the Bible was esp. bad when it came to sexism. I’m perfectly willing to buy that it was a modest improvement over the status quo. But that leads to the ‘disappointment’ point. A modest improvement? From a supernatural source? Think of the cranks who argue that UFO’s visited the ancient Egyptians. Yea irregation and some basic geometry were impressive achievements but wouldn’t the interaction between a super scientifically advanced culture and a primitive one yield much larger leaps for the primitive? If you demonstrated that ancient Egyptians suddenly leaped from using strings to lay out their angles and pullys to lift weights to hydrallics and wi-fi in a span of a generation I’d entertain the hypothesis that this couldn’t be an organic advancement but had to be the result of some contact from the outside. Would the interaction between the supernatural and an ancient society yield some greater leap than this? (And the levelling of the classes, prostitute and matron worship together, is not in itself a new idea. Buddha had nobelment and highway robbers shaving their heads and becoming monks nearly 600 years before. I’m sure ancient Rome had numerous cults that attracted followers from both the high and low classes just as inthe 60’s and 70’s there were upper class people who found appeal in cults that ‘treated everyone equally’).

  28. Mark says:

    Boonton,
    In what way did Jesus “provide” for his disciples or his church? One thing he did was wash their feet. That is he, as leader and teacher, took the role of a slave. You don’t think taking the slave/servant role with one’s wife was not a radical challenge for 1st century husbands? I think that’s a challenge for today. Which is why I questioned context. When you object to women asked to love and obey you miss the whole men being asked to act as to love and be servant for. The complaint is that women are treated in this context in an inferior way … but they are not. It’s just different.

    Sounds like you’re also disappointed that Genesis 1 doesn’t encapsulate the full beyond M-theory TOE with the right formulation for same … yet we don’t today have the math to do that right. And that second part (we don’t have the math yet) is the key. Lacking the social modes of thinking is very similar to lacking the math tech.

  29. Mark says:

    Boonton,
    And yes, CS Lewis in fiction could point to Christ as a Lion, just as St. Ephraim could point to how olive oil is like Christ in poetry. That’s not liturgy. The priest is the icon of Christ. I’ve never seen an icon written in which Christ is female.

  30. 1) Yes, of course Wilberforce was a racist. Racists are capable of doing great things, too. See most of our founders.

    2) You keep alluding to differences between men and women, but can you point to any differences that are relevant to this conversation? If not, why do you keep mentioning them?

    3) Affirmative action is a corrective measure. The sexism of the church is not a corrective measure.

    4) Again, the Bible and Christianity should be held to higher standards than “better than other cultures 2,000 years ago.”

    5) Of course sexism is a priori wrong, at least to the extent that anything is a priori wrong. Of course, I’m using the standard understanding of sexism when I say that, not your version.

  31. Mark says:

    JA,
    Two points on (1) … what evidence do you have that Mr Wilberforce was a racist by modern standards? And second, you’re missing the point. Mr Wilberforce would be a bad example to note if you’re trying to identify Christians (for example) as racists.

    2. In the context of discussions that point to the priest and bishop as icons of Christ … who was male … why can you not find differences relevant to this conversation.

    3. Aff action is meant as a corrective measure yet in practice it works the other way. The ‘sexism’ of the church (male priests) is done to help people find salvation. How is that not a corrective measure?

    4. Oh, back to magic book and wondering why it doesn’t Gen 1 contain the right M-theory.

    5. Whatever. Sexism, is then the “you know it when you see it” sort of thing and then sexism is only sexism if it is wrong. Whatever.

  32. 1) Hmm, I’d seen some plainly racist quotes attributed to him, but upon further examination they might not hold up. So I don’t know.

    2) It just sounds like a post hoc rationalization to me. Why is Jesus’s gender relevant when his ethnicity, for example, isn’t? If priests don’t have to be ethnically Jewish, why do they have to be male? Note that this isn’t an invitation to come up with some argument as to why gender should be relevant and ethnicity isn’t — that’d just be more post hoc rationalization.

    3) Man you’re frustrating. “Corrective” as in “correcting historical and ongoing racism.” “Helping people find salvation” is a totally different thing.

    4) Are you really arguing that a book inspired by God himself, that is described as the word of God, authored by the Holy Ghost, shouldn’t be held to a higher standard?? There’s a difference between omitting something like M-theory (although why the Bible doesn’t warn people about germs is a good question) and pushing a view of the sexes which was perhaps somewhat progressive when it was written but is not as advanced as today’s secular society’s.

    5) I have never outside of this blog seen a definition of sexism that includes beliefs or actions that are not wrong. You’re the one trying to redefine racism and sexism.

  33. Boonton says:

    In what way did Jesus “provide” for his disciples or his church? One thing he did was wash their feet. That is he, as leader and teacher, took the role of a slave. You don’t think taking the slave/servant role with one’s wife was not a radical challenge for 1st century husbands?

    Yes but Jesus was still ‘in charge’ of his disciples. Where in the Bible do you read about Jesus taking instruction from his disciples? No where. Whatever their thoughts about things like God, salvation, ethics, morality etc. those conversations were not deemed worthy of inclusion. What was was Jesus’s teaching both his disciples and others. There’s a big difference between taking the role of the slave and being the slave. Jesus washed his disciples feet as he was serving them, but the slave must wash his master’s feet because he must serve his master’s wishes. The disciples wishes were not even recorded (or in the case where they objected to having their feet washed, their wishes were overrode).

    The analogy of slave to master only goes so far. Jesus is slave in the sense that he is serving no his well beign but those of his disciples (and ultimately all humanity). But he isn’t slave in the sense that its the people who are ‘in charge’ of him and his job is to make their lives easier and more comfortable. In fact, quite the opposite. Jesus often tells people they must do things that are neither easy nor comfortable. That’s a trait one would not normally expect from a slave or servent.

    That’s not liturgy. The priest is the icon of Christ. I’ve never seen an icon written in which Christ is female.

    You’ll have to define exactly what you mean by icon here before we can discuss whether or not a female could be an icon of Christ.

    3. Aff action is meant as a corrective measure yet in practice it works the other way. The ‘sexism’ of the church (male priests) is done to help people find salvation. How is that not a corrective measure?

    I’m not seeing how you can make this assertion as it would require positing a hypothetical alternative universe that had female priests from the beginning and then comparing how many found salvation in that universe compared to this one. While the same question would have to be asked of affirmative action, we can at least build some models to compare, say, areas that used various types of affirmative action versus those that didn’t to see where racial disparities were most effectively corrected.

    Sounds like you’re also disappointed that Genesis 1 doesn’t encapsulate the full beyond M-theory TOE with the right formulation for same … yet we don’t today have the math to do that right. And that second part (we don’t have the math yet) is the key. Lacking the social modes of thinking is very similar to lacking the math tech.

    Not quite. Look we do have an example here. The Greeks developed some sophisticated skills in mathematics. The Romans interacted with them but they did not carry the intellectual capital to fully exploit and internalize that knowledge. For example, the Romans took some of Euclid’s rules about geometry but didn’t quite get the stuff about careful reasoning from first principles, proving theorems one by one and using them as springboards to prove yet more.

    Let’s just say that Egypt for a period of ten years had contact with a really advanced civilization. Say like something at our level in terms of science and technology. I wouldn’t expect to see in the record a full understanding of something like ‘M-theory’. In fact I’d expect a leap without understanding. I’d expect them to, say, suddenly start using cell phones without any evidence that they had mastered the theory and practices of all the technologies that came before and are necessary for cell phones. This to me would be evidence that the culture had contact from ‘something outside’ as opposed to organic development (say pully technology developed to build their temples and pyramids…which it isn’t surprising for a culture that placed great value on building such things to discover without the help of outside civilizations or UFOs or supernatural visitors).

    A modern example might be North Korea. If you were just looking at North Koreans you’d see realtively flat technology, almost no advancement but you’d see these sudden blips here and there….say individuals using cell phones and the internet smuggled in from China. If your view was only looking at N. Korea and nothing else you’d have to conclude that these ‘blips’ could not be explained by the natural organic development of North Korea but by contact with cultures outside that had superior technology and knowledge. The sporadic nature would reinforce that hypothesis….the fact that there are people using cell phones here and there but no one who seems to have the knowledge required to build a cell phone or maintain a cell phone network.

    Of course here I’m using the hypothetical ‘from outside contact’ in terms of superior technology. Contact with a supernatual ‘outside element’ would probably not impact technology. I think Christianity did advance Western civilizations moral development, did improve the condition of women in society etc. I do think it is valid to observe that there’s a ‘disappointment’ here in that this development does not in itself make much of an argument for ‘supernatural’ contact. The condition of women in Roman society versus Christian society is not so dramatically different that a ‘supernatual leap’ is the only plausible explanation. This is relevant because an argument that is often presented is that the rapid adoption of Christianity in pagan Europe or the social changes it produced are could not have happened if there was not some supernatual element at play that lends validity to the Christian religion. A moment’s thought tells us that this argument from history is pretty weak since other faiths like Islam and even Buddhism had periods of very rapid growth and they can’t all be valid from a supernatural POV. That, though, is not an argument against Christianity being supernatual. You can, after all, have a ‘Star Trek prime directive’ type of contact from ‘the outside’, after all.