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Nothing New Under The Sun - "God says I don't have to listen to you, nyah nyah!"
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"God says I don't have to listen to you, nyah nyah!"
I can't say exactly how I came across this guy, other than less than six degrees but not firsthand [hums "It's a small world" until things are thrown] but he is dead typical of the American Conservative Catholic Convert of Academic Sort, right down to the way you can almost come up with his lines for him before he does, after you've read enough. Bog-standard "orthodox" apologetics, with a slightly-larger platform than your average TAC or Christendom graduate gets - and that definite inescapable (like spoiled potatoes or onions in the pantry) sense that he's only really a Christian because it validates his chauvinism, and Protestantism was falling down in that regard--

Folks, I give you Dave Armstrong. Here's an excerpt (emphases mine):

First of all, I would like to highly commend all Christian women who are concerned with upholding traditional teaching on Church authority (Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox alike), given the climate of "feminism," phony unisexual "equality" and "anti-male" sentiment we live in today. I know it must be very hard for many intellectually-brilliant and spiritually wise women to abide by this teaching, which is difficult to interpret in the first place. I just wanted to tell all of you - speaking as a Christian male to Christian females - that I sincerely appreciate and respect very much your conscientious attempt to understand, apply and obey this binding biblical teaching.

As a Catholic, I think the Pauline injunctions restricting teaching of women refer to positions of authority and the jurisdication of "binding and loosing," which - I believe - was given to men only. In other words, I am not technically or juridically bound to submit to what a woman may say or teach. I can (and have) certainly learn a great deal, grow spiritually, receive godly counsel, etc., from Christian women far wiser and more spiritual than I am, but as a man I am not bound in any ecclesiological sense. Nor am I bound - strictly speaking - to men, for that matter, who are not ordained; who do not possess the apostolic succession that the priesthood confers.

So women can definitely teach men many things, while not "having authority" over them, just as wives constantly do, though men possess the headship in the marriage. But headship is a leadership of love and service, not of "lording over," as St. Paul and our Lord Jesus instruct. Another way of saying it is that authority and teaching are two different things. Or, one might distinguish between public and private instruction, where the latter is more probably suited for women. Some biblical commentaries make this point with regard to 1 Tim 2:11, citing Acts 18:26 (Priscilla and Aquila) and 1 Cor 14:34-5 as support. Philip's four daughters had the gift of prophecy (Acts 21:9).

The situation dealt with in 1 Cor 14:34-5 appears to be simply a cultural consideration concerning politeness, propriety and order, as opposed to an absolute mandate. The latter intuitively seems far too strict to and virtually impossible to be apply without exception. Phoebe is called by Paul a "deacon" in Rom 16:1-2 (whatever that term might be taken to mean). My New Bible Dictionary (p.298) states that the Greek Fathers interpreted 1 Tim 3:11 as referring to deaconesses, not merely deacon's wives (cf. Lk 8:2). The "deacon" in the NT was primarily an office of service, and also of evangelism (Lk 8:2 implies this).

Many of the wisest (and best) Christians I know are women. I think offhand of Elisabeth Elliot and Edith Schaeffer among Protestants, and Ronda Chervin, Kimberly Hahn, Alice von Hildebrand, and - of course - Mother Teresa among Catholics, as well as many personal friends. I have certainly benefitted from insights from all of them. Yet none had any authority over me.

Especially for a Catholic, chatting or informal fellowship can never be "church," strictly speaking, since the Eucharist is always central in our service, and we believe that can only be presided over by a validly-ordained priest. Most Protestants also believe in some sort of ordination or "calling" or confirmation or appointment of pastors. That being the case, then "church" for them would have to be a gathering presided over by an ordained pastor. Thus good, stimulating, edifying Christian fellowship and conversation can occur between men and women, in which women can "teach" men and not violate Church authority, since these activities are not - technically and ecclesiologically speaking - "church."



Don't you feel flattered? Empowered? Complimented? Don't you want to trust to Armstrong's vision of Christian Chivalry as keeping you safer than legal rights and your own wits? Read on, dear reader, and I'm sure all your doubts will be swept away--

(Is that an in-joke, putting Lord Peter up as apotropaic figure to this post? Why yes, Socrates, it is!)

Some of you may be wondering WTF the point is of saying that no women can "have authority over" him when by his narrow definition of "authority" he means something which only an ordained minister whose ordination he considers valid can have, which thereby also rules out 99.99% of the males in the world--? I refer you to the title of the post, for the answer to that...

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Comments
juno_magic From: juno_magic Date: August 2nd, 2006 09:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
I guess I have to face it: I'm a very, very bad Catholic... ;-)
cynthia1960 From: cynthia1960 Date: August 2nd, 2006 09:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
As am I.
bellatrys From: bellatrys Date: August 2nd, 2006 09:40 pm (UTC) (Link)

Yer all a bunch of bleeding heretics,

and must be lovingly corrected until you see the error of your ways! Don't worry, Armstrong's just the man to do it, too--

[ugh. now I need a wash.]

I think we also need a corollary to the Titanic rule, this one just for Catholics - that you don't get to justify an all-male priesthood and the authority of the husband and all the rest of the patriarchal bullshit by saying that women get Mary, so there.

Oh, and he's got a blog, too. (Pretentious much? No sense of self-mockery? Do bears eat little boys who insult prophets--?)
cynthia1960 From: cynthia1960 Date: August 3rd, 2006 12:55 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yer all a bunch of bleeding heretics,

It's Armstrong's kind of horseshit that makes me a lapsed Catholic. Not sure I have the intestinal fortitude to deal with his blog.
tlachtga From: tlachtga Date: August 2nd, 2006 10:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
My mom is a very devout Catholic, but when she hears stuff like this she gets... rather irate. Here she is, a cantor, lector, and eucharistic minister. She was also a single mother and head nurse of her unit (medical school being too expensive when she was college-age). Anyone who tells her she's supposed to sit down and shut because she's a woman gets an earful.

She once told me that she'll never read that section of Paul's letters at church. She refuses.

I'll say this for the nuns--they taught my mom a surprising amount of independence.
randwolf From: randwolf Date: August 3rd, 2006 01:48 am (UTC) (Link)
I have to admit I burst out laughing. I know, I know, these sorts of teachings do horrible harm. But I just can't take it seriously. What, you think *god* cares whether it goes in or out? (Alternatively, if god is male, what size..., um, never mind.)

... and I wonder if he believes that women judges have no authority over him?
From: anna_wing Date: August 3rd, 2006 03:56 am (UTC) (Link)
Or female police officers. Or female tax inspectors. That would be amusing to see.
nenya_kanadka From: nenya_kanadka Date: August 3rd, 2006 10:01 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, that's what I was wondering--is he going to file with the ACLU (or, you know, whoever's not Evil Liberals but serves the same function of protecting his rights) if he's ever in court and the judge rules against him and happens to be female?
bellatrys From: bellatrys Date: August 3rd, 2006 12:27 pm (UTC) (Link)

well, see, I think that's why he makes that special definition

of Authority as meaning only "religious teaching authority" which is why I say "why does he even bother stating this? it's a neener-neener thing" because he *also* is under no moral obligation to obey the theological beliefs of a) the guy at the gas station, b) the guy on the bus, c) his male boss, d) the Dalai Lama, e) Bob Marley, f) George W. Bush, g) random televangelist dude, because none of these males are validly ordained Catholics, and don't have any say over Catholics in matters of belief and nobody thinks they do. It's a simple matter of club jurisdiction: it isn't any different, really, from different sports leagues or different gaming leagues or anything. You don't hear people going around making a big deal of how they belong to X chapter and don't have to listen to the officers of Y chapter of Starfleet.

And very few Catholics, or Christians of any stripe, *these* days, think they don't have a "general obligation" to obey the law and its officers, no matter what religion or any those individuals may belong to. You won't hear anyone - or if you do, they're Dominionists trying to roll the clock back to the 1600s - saying that Christians shouldn't have to follow speed limits or pay parking tickets or anything, because it's a Godless state with no authority over them.

Like most male chauvinists, like my atheist sexist relatives, the ones who think it's unnatural for women to be in charge blame it on Modernity and the Decline of Society Today - but obey policewomen etc, resentfully, grumbling in private or on blogs - and do their damnedest (bad pun intended) to simply avoid situations where they have to be in a subordinate relationship to a mere female.

The *only* reason for Armstrong to go on like this, is that he felt a need to vent about how much he disrespects women particularly, even above heretic males, and how much he loooooves belonging to an organization which validates this. (But some of his best friends are women...)
nenya_kanadka From: nenya_kanadka Date: August 4th, 2006 06:32 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: well, see, I think that's why he makes that special definition

(But some of his best friends are women...)

Yeah, how does that work? Do they consider themselves good friends with him? Or do they not *get* that he's being an arse, or does he not say this stuff to them, or what? Female lurkers support him in email?
bellatrys From: bellatrys Date: August 5th, 2006 03:42 pm (UTC) (Link)

The ones he names specifically, I *know* most of them

in the less-than-six-degrees way. Rhonda Chervin, Kim Hahn, Elizabeth Eliot and Alice Von Hildebrand all write book after book explaining why Feminism is Bad! and men should be treated like the noble Christ-imagers they are, full of your typical strawfeminist-who-yells-at-men who open the door for her contrasted with the lovely, feminine girl who is rewarded for her anti-feminism by chivalrous guys leaping to change her tire for her. Elliot had an essay I read once, going on about how the fact that Satan tempted Eve first proved that women were weaker and needed male headship. The sorts of women like this gal are of course going to feel flattered and be happy to suck up to some guy who says he hates feminists but "you're not like those OTHER girls" - that's how they were raised, or else how they have reacted to the sexist "you're just a piece of meat" ethos, and they don't know any other way to be.
julifolo From: julifolo Date: August 3rd, 2006 03:50 am (UTC) (Link)

I find religion problematical

I do have intermittent what might be spiritual feelings (what counts for "strong" emotion in my weird sense of self), but I get caught up when deciding if I'm atheist or vaguely theist because from what evidence I can see from comparative religion readings / culture / biology / history, god, if there is a god/gods -- s/he's either not very powerful, or He's functionally sexist.

I'm saying this as a woman in menopause, had several annoying hot flashes plus spotting. I'm very grumpy at my body right now! Then there's all the Jane Crow laws, anti-choice, and Motherhood propaganda ...

I've got a good internet connection at work so I was able to listen to a couple speeches from a Sojourner conference while I was doing not-difficult copy cataloging today. The speakers were Jim Wallis (sp?) and Obama (my jr. senator). This would have been the pro-religion-in-public speech kneejerk were ranting about because of selected quoting.

I'm feeling strange at the moment. I've got the webcites saved on my work computer and I'll probably listen again. Both speeches were very moving, sincere, serious, social justice religious speaking. And they wanted to put poverty front and center -- we must obey the overwhelming biblical priority[?] -- and, yet, I get agrivated at the notion that believing in god is a necessary motivator for effective social justice.

OOH, I *could* do more (I want to do more), OTOH, it would mean much more support for the wage slaves of the world if I could help force even one BigBusiness Evildee & Evildum to pay the same tithe toward social justice as I do. I'm tired income gap getting wider and wider as the superrich buy legislation to funnel more funds/labor/resouces into the top 0.1% while the middle class, through forced taxes or voluntary giving, helps the people the superrich don't care about, and gets pushed down toward poverty ...

Most of the social justice famous heroes point to God as a motivator ... or, at least, that's what the religious say. It's hard to argue with Martin Luther King.

God & female biology. Mother Nature has given human females a handicap -- we're liable to pregnancy, etc. etc. We *can't* be equal without reproductive choice. Even then, all the centuries of servatude ...

My sister-in-law speaks about what God means for his children ... and she accepts gender roles. Mother Nature is into gender roles in a big way. Sometimes I think god, if there is a god ... s/he's not a personal god. It's about the most good for the most people, and gender roles make that more "efficient"? The forbidden fruit from the Tree of Knowledge ... I think self-awareness throws a wrench into the works. The best I understand the religious writings I've read, the sincere religious, those doing the hard work rather than not-wanting-to-think-mega-church-followers -- their losing their "self", the mystics. If god's working on an aggregate level -- the glory of life and nature and all that -- that's not on a personal level. How could s/he relate to an individual unless that individual is thinking on a higher plane, not personal?

But, well, no, I didn't every want to be pregnant. I don't want god or a community to interfer with a woman or girl's reproductive choices. If that's not what god wants, then I'm in rebellion. But I'll go along with the temporal goals of social justice.
bellatrys From: bellatrys Date: August 5th, 2006 03:44 pm (UTC) (Link)

short answer

An awful lot of people can only worship a mirror.
julifolo From: julifolo Date: August 7th, 2006 10:28 pm (UTC) (Link)

Still confused, as usual

I'm not sure of your meaning. Biology shouldn't be a topic for religious debate, the way "the problem of evil" is? It sure seems to me that human female biology has made me, made woment in general, generally handicapped. Or is it that the patriarchy has taken such advantage over the centuries that it's poisoned my sight so I can only see Mother Nature (and God) as being sexist? Or does it not matter in the great scheme of things?

(A few posts back we were debating support laws: is it because, historically, whenever loopholes exist the patriarchy takes such blatant advantage that the only way to (sort of) protect the woman & child is to not have loopholes?)

It was inspiring to listen to those two talks. But it is also frustrating and hurtful to me that the Religious Left seems to be avoiding the issue. That when I find someone religious working for social justice and all, they aren't talking about gender. Or if they are, it's within gender roles. Not why God (or Nature) made it that way.
bellatrys From: bellatrys Date: August 7th, 2006 11:04 pm (UTC) (Link)

what i meant was, some people can only worship

something identical to, and therefore as small as, themselves. They may *say* they believe in an Infinite, Unknowable, Deity - but what they *really* worship has to be as human, petty, feeble - and gendered - as themselves. Others don't even reach that level of schizophrenia: "God is a white male" someone distantly related to me once said, unironically, this person being Joe Ordinary Sixpack American, and outraged at the idea that Jesus H. Christ was - gasp - a Jew, let alone that The Divine could be conceived of as Feminine, or that any sort of attributes were more along the lines of analogy (as in Negative Theo) than anything literal, back in the heady days of the 1960s. They have to make a deity they can be comfortable with, reflecting back all their own prejudices and desires and validating them with a halo. The *real* idolatry, as it were.

This isn't an original observation: Xenophanes the early Gk philosopher said of his contemporaries, that everyone depicts the gods to look like themselves, blond or brunette or black - but if horses and oxen had hands and could make paintings and statues, they'd sculpt them to look like horses and cows! arguing against the idea of anthropomorphic deities, generations before Socrates.

As far as why the Religious Left is not seeming so very far left, that isn't something I can give a simple answer to. Some of them, it's not so bad, I think - jst that they take gender equality and the Divine Feminine so much fr granted they don't need to talk about it (they think.) Others - well, I'm feeling like kicking the lot of them of late (at least the blogging part, that I know of) for being over eager to comfort the comfortable and assure them that oh no, we won't mention anything embarrasing like needles or camels, oh no Mr Dives! The US left isn't very far left, generally, is part of the problem. Secular *or* religious. In any way.

As to why



julifolo From: julifolo Date: August 8th, 2006 09:13 am (UTC) (Link)

As to why

... well, that's the question. :(

A bunch of people don't want to think, want a comfortable god that shares their bigotries.

I'm interested in what religious people who *think*, and are doing the hard work -- I'd like to find a link to an essay or talk, on the order of the two speeches above that left me feeling strange -- on what whoever's religion has to say about female biology. Even if the summation amounts to "It's a mystery". It would make me feel less alienated if some stranger was feeling the same disconnect I am.

I know my logic "skills" are fuzzy. Am I wrong to conclude there's a problem here? Or am I so angry that I'm seeing dismissials where such wasn't intended? IE, in the middle of a social justice riff (which I agree with) is the implication of "that's the way god made women, get with the program".
From: deiseach Date: August 3rd, 2006 08:53 am (UTC) (Link)

It does seem to be a peculiarly *American* Protestant obsession

*yeah, doing my bit for ecumenism there*

But this worrying over/emphasis on St Paul as the Ultimate Authority and this whole 'headship' thing... not the way it's done on this side of the water.
nenya_kanadka From: nenya_kanadka Date: August 3rd, 2006 10:10 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: It does seem to be a peculiarly *American* Protestant obsession

So tell me about these non-Paul-obsessed European Protestants... *is all ears*
From: deiseach Date: August 3rd, 2006 03:49 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: It does seem to be a peculiarly *American* Protestant obsession

Well, speaking as a not very good Irish Catholic...

... the main thing I remember about St. Paul was the admonition for women to cover their heads in church, which drove my mother nuts, because she hated wearing anything on her head, and come Vatican II and the changes, she happily threw out all her hats.

Myself, I've never even possessed a mantilla, which led to some severe mantilla envy when I was seven or so (the last vestiges of girly-girlness on my part, wanting white lacy veiling...)

So, hearing Americans ranting on about Paul and headship, the first thing we think of is "Paul Who? Oh, yeah: *St* Paul" and the second thing is "Headship? What's that?". Not saying there was never unequality of treatment, but this specific emphasis on and weight attached to "Paul says..." as against the Gospels, never mind the Magisterium, is a peculiarly Reformed Protestant of the American Evangelical/Fundamentalist identifying mark. This tizzy over 'the man should have the headship in the home' thing is also puzzling to us, both Catholic and Protestant, as this heavy emphasis on 'even if the bloke is an alcoholic, a gambler, a wastrel, a backsliding heathen - you've got to follow his decisions and submit to his authority, even if he forbids you to go to a particular church or squanders all the family income on a get-rich-quick scheme, you can't disagree or complain or challenge him, because he's got Headship', quite simply because most of us, even the devout, would have no idea what you were banging on about when you said 'Headship'.

It is only creeping in with the rise of Evangelical non-denominational churches which are either American mission plants or heavily influenced by same in our neighbouring island. In green and pagan Ireland, it's still the Catholic Church first, the Church of Ireland very much second, and then assorted Non-Conformists, Jews, Muslims, Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, and Others (including the Temple of Isis, which is even recommended by the Carlow local tourism board http://www.carlowtourism.com/walkwicklow.html) a long way behind.
sajia From: sajia Date: August 7th, 2006 07:45 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: It does seem to be a peculiarly *American* Protestant obsession

Catholic women used to wear veils in church? I thought veiling for religious reasons was a Muslim custom
bellatrys From: bellatrys Date: August 7th, 2006 09:16 pm (UTC) (Link)

Some still do - hey, it's In Saint Paul, you know!

Right there with women not being allowed to speak in church etc. ("Because of the angels" which I have yet to hear a rational explanation of that phrase.) It's really big among the Neo-Trads here in the US, the same ones who also refuse to accept the legitimacy of receiving communion in the hand, or under both species (bread *and* wine), or standing (they kneel ostentatiously in the middle of the aisle, proudly discommoding minister and fellow communicants with their show of piety) and who still think that women shouldn't wear pants, or at least not shorts, and shirts with sleeves above the elbow or necklines cut more than "two fingers' width" below the collarbone - and that you're dangerously Modern and heretical if you do otherwise.

This is true whether or not they belong to the Latin-Only brigade, the Tridentistes, or if they're so Modern themselves as to allow the legitimacy of the vernacular. But they really get bent out of shape over female lectors and cantors, for obvious reasons. Often the women are the most indignant, unsurprisingly either.

And no, they don't get the irony, as they pat themselves on the back for being Champeens of Freedom, unlike all yon heathens Out There.

(I've heard, from those who were cradle Catholics back in the Good Old Days, and actually remember them (as opposed to the romanticizers who never experienced what they are so nostalgic for) that women late for Mass who couldn't find their lacy mantillas or other appropriate scarves would bobby-pin handkerchiefs - or even Kleenex - onto their hair to satisfy the letter of the law. Sounds like urban legend, but I've been assured by people I consider trustworthy that it's not.)
From: deiseach Date: August 8th, 2006 02:03 pm (UTC) (Link)

Used to - and seems like some still do

This site is quite bonkers, in my opinion, but does have a good picture of someone wearing a mantilla (if you scroll down a bit):

http://www.sacramentals.com/ChapelVeils.htm

Mostly, women wore hats/scarves and, as I said, my mother quite happily and literally threw out her four hats and never wore one again for church.
bellatrys From: bellatrys Date: August 8th, 2006 06:08 pm (UTC) (Link)

so which is it?

Is it that a) Jesus doesn't like perfume and women's hair, or b) women are just too distracting to fellow churchgoers [male, presumably] and thus Near Occasions Of Sin if not covered with a doily, especially our hair, or c) we're Sacred Tabernacles who need to be hung with curtains to make sure the whole world notices us and is aware of our sacred status as Womb-containers?

B & C would seem to be mutually exclusive, you know...
From: deiseach Date: August 9th, 2006 12:37 pm (UTC) (Link)

Seems like a holdover from Judaism

Going to be very careful here, as I *definitely* do not want to come off sounding like "the international jewish conspiracy part 3,698".

http://www.jewfaq.org/shul.htm

"When going to a synagogue, you should dress as you would for church: nicely, formally, and modestly. A man should wear a yarmulke (skullcap) if Jewish men in the congregation do so; yarmulkes are available at the entrance for those who do not have one. In some synagogues, married women should also wear a head covering. A piece of lace sometimes called a "chapel hat" is generally provided for this purpose in synagogues where this is required. Non-Jews should not, however, wear a tallit (prayer shawl) or tefillin, because these items are signs of our obligation to observe Jewish law.

If you are in an Orthodox synagogue, be careful to sit in the right section: men and women are seated separately in an Orthodox synagogue. See The Role of Women in the Synagogue for details."

That bit, "The Role of Women in the Synagogue", is fascinating, especially as it throws a light on where St. Paul was coming from:

http://www.jewfaq.org/women.htm#Synagogue

"The combination of this exemption from certain commandments and this separation often has the result that women have an inferior place in the synagogue. Woman's obligations in the home (which are the reason why women are exempt from time-based commandments like formal prayer services) often keep them away from synagogue. In several synagogues that I have attended, the women's section is poorly climate controlled, and women cannot see (sometimes can't even hear!) what's going on in the men's section, where the services are being led. Women are not obligated by Jewish law to attend formal religious services, and cannot participate in many aspects of the services (traditional Jewish services have a very high degree of "audience participation" -- and I'm not just talking about community readings, I'm talking about actively taking part in running the service)."

Oddly enough, the topic was raised here (and yes, the lady is a convert, not a cradle Catholic).

http://jimmyakin.typepad.com/defensor_fidei/2006/08/mantillas_chape.html

Myself, I'd be more concerned with the way our local chapel has been hacked about (what they've done to the altar doesn't bear describing) and less worried about covering my head. After all, as Mr Akin admits:

"The Church does not judge it necessary for you to wear a head covering in the presence of the Eucharist, however. This was required under the 1917 Code of Canon Law, but when the 1983 Code was released, the requirement was abolished."






bellatrys From: bellatrys Date: August 9th, 2006 01:09 pm (UTC) (Link)

I think I've talked about this before

but I've looked to try to find *rational* explanations of Paul there, in the Rabbinic tradition, and haven't - not ones that will be bluntly owned up to, as in "women make us horny, it's embarrassing to get a woody while a man is praying, for G-d's sake cover yourselves!" (I *still* can't figure out why a woman's natural hair is indecent, per Orthodox teaching - but it's okay to wear an indistinguishable *wig* made of some *other* woman's natural hair, so long as it doesn't turn out that that hair was dedicated as an Offering to Parvati. Kleenexes and bobby pins.)

The bit about the angels has been explained as referring, frex, to the notion of the "sons of god taking daughters of men" as husbands out of that obscure bit in Genesis - you'll be kidnapped and ravished by a sexy Luciferian and made to bear children with superpowers who will conquer the world, see. The bit about long hair being "natural" on a woman and "unnatural" on a man and that's why men shouldn't cover their heads makes no sense to me as an archeology/art history junkie (let alone in light of yarmulkes): I've *been* to Rome, for St. Pete's sake, I've seen the statues that were all around the ancient world, and the wall paintings too, and I'm sorry, but you go look at the Ara Pacis where it was in Paul's day, and you see Noble Roman guys pulling up their togas to yes, cover their heads, when they worship. You also look long enough, and you'll see marbles and encaustics of Roman and Greek guys with longer flowing hair, and even aristocratic women with short hair, and so obviously social conventions changed and were visibly recorded for posterity over the generations in the Mediterranean. Ornate/gaudy and severe Republican styles all came and went in the dance of fashion, too. It doesn't make any sense whether you consider it as Paul the devout Jew, or Paul the proud Roman citizen, or Paul the even prouder Greek scholar--

So either Paul was being the Cranky Old Guy complaining about Kids These Days (who also existed in Classical times) and how they all wanna look like Goths and Gauls and you can't tell the boys from the girls, buncha fags and tomboys, what's the world coming to! and also making the Way He Felt Things Ought To Be out to be the Divine Laws of Nature, like that guy with his ice-cream fetish - or this is something Kludged In during later times, an Accretion, to suit Early Medieval fads and beliefs. Which is entirely possible, given a) the problematic provenance of the Pauline corpus, and b) the fact that Pious Forgers did this kind of thing regularly, q.v. Pseudo-Dionysus.
nenya_kanadka From: nenya_kanadka Date: August 9th, 2006 11:28 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: I think I've talked about this before

Hmmm, the idea of Paul as Cranky Old Guy complaining about the kids--I like that... :D
From: deiseach Date: August 10th, 2006 11:48 am (UTC) (Link)

It would be fascinating to know the background

We forget that the epistles were originally pastoral letters written to individual churches addressing queries, giving encouragement, clarifying teaching, and yes, giving a belt of the crozier to the recalcitrant.

It looks like the Corinthinians were a bit of a handful, as the first letter to them gives them a ticking-off for their misdeeds (division, impurity, and the like):

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Epistle_to_the_Corinthians

He had to write them a second letter defending himself, and then a third (since lost?), so obviously they were an unruly bunch.

Now, this means that at least some of the teachings therein were specifically targetted at Corinthinian abuses. I would venture that the headcovering is one of them: I vaguely remember reading that Roman prostitutes had to wear blonde wigs to mark them out, and according to the excerpt below, it was the custom that prostitutes went bareheaded. So if 'respectable' Corinthinian Christian women were going about bareheaded, it might have been giving scandal (particularly if all this hanky-panky was going on amongst them).

"http://www.islamicity.com/mosque/w_islam/veil.htm

Finally, let us shed some light on what is considered in the West as the greatest symbol of women's oppression and servitude, the veil or the head cover. Is it true that there is no such thing as the veil in the Judaeo-Christian tradition? Let us set the record straight. According to Rabbi Dr. Menachem M. Brayer (Professor of Biblical Literature at Yeshiva University) in his book, The Jewish woman in Rabbinic literature, it was the custom of Jewish women to go out in public with a head covering which, sometimes, even covered the whole face leaving one eye free. He quotes some famous ancient Rabbis saying," It is not like the daughters of Israel to walk out with heads uncovered" and "Cursed be the man who lets the hair of his wife be seen....a woman who exposes her hair for self-adornment brings poverty." Rabbinic law forbids the recitation of blessings or prayers in the presence of a bareheaded married woman since uncovering the woman's hair is considered "nudity". Dr. Brayer also mentions that "During the Tannaitic period the Jewish woman's failure to cover her head was considered an affront to her modesty. When her head was uncovered she might be fined four hundred zuzim for this offense." Dr. Brayer also explains that veil of the Jewish woman was not always considered a sign of modesty. Sometimes, the veil symbolized a state of distinction and luxury rather than modesty. The veil personified the dignity and superiority of noble women. It also represented a woman's inaccessibility as a sanctified possession of her husband.
The veil signified a woman's self-respect and social status. Women of lower classes would often wear the veil to give the impression of a higher standing. The fact that the veil was the sign of nobility was the reason why prostitutes were not permitted to cover their hair in the old Jewish society. However, prostitutes often wore a special headscarf in order to look respectable. Jewish women in Europe continued to wear veils until the nineteenth century when their lives became more intermingled with the surrounding secular culture. The external pressures of the European life in the nineteenth century forced many of them to go out bare-headed. Some Jewish women found it more convenient to replace their traditional veil with a wig as another form of hair covering. Today, most pious Jewish women do not cover their hair except in the synagogue. Some of them, such as the Hasidic sects, still use the wig."



From: deiseach Date: August 10th, 2006 11:49 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: It would be fascinating to know the background

And if it was the custom for pagan men to cover their heads when praying/sacrificing, this might explain St Paul's instruction to the Corinthinian men to be bareheaded when worshipping. Plus, it looks like at least some of them were attending pagan temples/sacrifices, so Paul was probably cracking the whip here to remind them.

"4 As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one.
5 For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,)
6 But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.
7 Howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge: for some with conscience of the idol unto this hour eat it as a thing offered unto an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled.
8 But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse.
9 But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak.
10 For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol's temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols;
11 And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died?"

From: deiseach Date: August 10th, 2006 12:13 pm (UTC) (Link)

"Because of the angels"

Apparently, yes, "an old Rabbinic tradition alleges that it was the beauty of woman's long hair that attracted and tempted the Fallen Angels."

(Mind you, this site also says how you know someone is possessed by a demon is that they're fat and this is the true explanation for the rise in obesity since evil was unbound in 1996.)

Looks like a lot of this is from the Book of Enoch and the stories of the Watchers being tempted by women and begetting children upon them. And St Paul does admit

"25 Now concerning virgins I have no commandment of the Lord: yet I give my judgment, as one that hath obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful."

that he has no revelation from God about some things but is giving his teaching from his own experience, so it is a prefectly plausible argument that some things are dogma, some things are doctrine, and some things are discipline. Hair covering I take to be a matter of discipline, and obviously the Church agrees, since it changed the Canon requiring this.

The long hair natural for women/short hair natural for men bit I can't figure out either, and I wouldn't argue against it being an interpolation or accretion from later (by someone Making A Point and being over-enthusiastic in enlisting Paul on their side: "See? He agrees with me - or he would, if he knew what I said - so I'll just enlarge upon his point here.")
From: deiseach Date: August 9th, 2006 12:43 pm (UTC) (Link)

Well, it definitely can't be A

"a) Jesus doesn't like perfume and women's hair"

"Matthew 26:7

Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper,

7 a woman came to him having an alabaster jar of very expensive ointment, and she poured it on his head as he sat at the table.

8 But when his disciples saw this, they were indignant, saying, "Why this waste?

9 For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor."

10 However, knowing this, Jesus said to them, "Why do you trouble the woman? Because she has done a good work for me.

11 For you always have the poor with you; but you don't always have me.

12 For in pouring this ointment on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial.

13 Most certainly I tell you, wherever this Good News is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be spoken of as a memorial of her."

"Luke 7:37
Behold, a woman in the city who was a sinner, when she knew that he was reclining in the Pharisee's house, she brought an alabaster jar of ointment.

38 Standing behind at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears, and she wiped them with the hair of her head, kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment.

39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw it, he said to himself, "This man, if he were a prophet, would have perceived who and what kind of woman this is who touches him, that she is a sinner."

40 Jesus answered him, "Simon, I have something to tell you." He said, "Teacher, say on."

41 "A certain lender had two debtors. The one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty.

42 When they couldn't pay, he forgave them both. Which of them therefore will love him most?"

43 Simon answered, "He, I suppose, to whom he forgave the most." He said to him, "You have judged correctly."

44 Turning to the woman, he said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I entered into your house, and you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head.

45 You gave me no kiss, but she, since the time I came in, has not ceased to kiss my feet.

46 You didn't anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment.

47 Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little."

48 He said to her, "Your sins are forgiven."

bellatrys From: bellatrys Date: August 9th, 2006 02:15 pm (UTC) (Link)

Okay, I *wasn't* going to Go There

and suggest that Ms. Mantilla thinks that Jesus-in-the-Tabernacle is going to get all turned-on and *distracted* from the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass by the presence of perfumed wimmen with their hair down, I was *trying* to be good - but, you know, "on account of the angels" - maybe they've got too much Greco-Roman mythological influence working their subconsciouses there!
From: deiseach Date: August 10th, 2006 12:31 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Okay, I *wasn't* going to Go There

Saint Theresa in ecstasy? (Bernini sculpture for Cornaro Chapel of Santa Maria della Vittoria in Rome)

"I saw in his hand a long spear of gold, and at the iron's point there seemed to be a little fire. He appeared to me to be thrusting it at times into my heart, and to pierce my very entrails; when he drew it out, he seemed to draw them out also, and to leave me all on fire with a great love of God. The pain was so great, that it made me moan; and yet so surpassing was the sweetness of this excessive pain, that I could not wish to be rid of it. The soul is satisfied now with nothing less than God. The pain is not bodily, but spiritual; though the body has its share in it. It is a caressing of love so sweet which now takes place between the soul and God, that I pray God of His goodness to make him experience it who may think that I am lying.
Chapter XXIX; Part 17, Teresa's Autobiography"
mrowe From: mrowe Date: August 3rd, 2006 10:42 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: It does seem to be a peculiarly *American* Protestant obsession

Hmm... well, it *is* done that way on this side of some more bits of water, at least in some circles. This recently led to their political party losing its state funding, since *finally* a lawsuit someone threw at them stuck ("women are not allowed to be members of our party, political activity not for women, women's special role, headship yadda-yadda") and they had to either admit women as party members or lose the money - I believe now the situation is that women are allowed in as 'special' members, but not allowed to stand for parliament or local elections; this is apparently enough to let them have their funding back while at the same time *cough*upholding*cough* their *cough*principles*cough*.
bellatrys From: bellatrys Date: August 3rd, 2006 12:12 pm (UTC) (Link)

an American thing all over - see, I get the distinct impression

that he decided to become a Catholic b/c the Protestant denominations here (tho' only some of them!) were ordaining women. Ugh! Girl cooties! I have to respect a WOMAN now? Tis against nature! Where's a church they won't do that? Ahah! Rome has made it a central defining tenet of themselves now, I know, I'll Cross The Tiber™ and then I won't have to worry about it ever again! This is not an uncommon thing, I have come to realize; freaked-out authoritarian personality types looking for the place they will have to do the least critical thinking, yet can comfort themselves with the illusion that they're living on the cutting edge of philosophical daring. (I mean, the guy calls himself "socrates58"--!)

The obsession with St. Paul - and the argument over male dominance/women should be silent - and whether or not dissenting - or even feeling mildly uncomfortable reading those passages out in church - is a) Heresy, b) "PC," which is worse - is an obsession you simply can't escape among the conservative Catholics here, pages and pages/hours and hours spent explaining why it is all dulce et decorum and you're an Ebol Feminist trying to Destroy Everything if you're not *delighted* with your Submission. (Both the she-kapos and the guys, although mostly from the guys: their women more try to ignore the theory and find little places to be happy and avoid friction by retreating into domesticity and busyness.)

Seriously? I think it has a lot to do with the same machismo that means we a) can't not get involved in dumb, evil, *counterproductive* wars and b) can't extricate ourselves once we have because that would be "showing weakness." See, we're not pussies like you Old Europeans! We'll stick our fingers in the socket AGAIN, that'll show you!

From: anna_wing Date: August 4th, 2006 03:06 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: an American thing all over - see, I get the distinct impression

(I mean, the guy calls himself "socrates58"--!)

A good omen for us, perhaps, considering what happened to Socrates.
bellatrys From: bellatrys Date: August 5th, 2006 03:48 pm (UTC) (Link)

Oh, this guy isn't going to get himself killed antagonizing the govt

or challenging societal norms, don't worry. Far from! He recites tautologies and flatters himself that he's a daring, radical freethinker who defies conventions by asking why people just go along with them, when in fact he's about as mindlessly hidebound-conventional as is possible, and moves from mental safe zone to even less challenging safe zone so as to avoid having to think critically about any of his own assumptions. That he should compare himself to any martyr, let alone one who challenged the popular theologies and practices of the day, is just ludicrous.
lyorn From: lyorn Date: August 3rd, 2006 12:20 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: It does seem to be a peculiarly *American* Protestant obsession

I had something from 1 Corinthians 13 as my confirmation quote. 13 was wildly popular, 14 wasn't.

Checking the BoD of the EKD (protestant churches in Germany) it has the same number of women and men in it, it has female everythings from the bishops on down. So much for 1 Cor 14:34.

20 years ago, the mainstream Protestant/Lutheran church I grew up in was to the left of the Green party in social issues. The large popular church gatherings (every 2 years, 100-150K participants) were all about peace, social justice and environmental issues. Words cannot describe my baffled horror when, aged 16, I met my first fundamentalist. I had known that Catholics were bad, but my first thought about fundamentalists was roughly along the lines of "an abomination unto the Lord".

bellatrys From: bellatrys Date: August 3rd, 2006 06:08 pm (UTC) (Link)

besides, that just *proves*

But this worrying over/emphasis on St Paul as the Ultimate Authority and this whole 'headship' thing... not the way it's done on this side of the water.

...that you're a bunch of decadent, death-worshiping, self-indulgent heretics and no wonder you're all being overrun by the Horde there!

Seriously, you may be on to something there. Not all, but *most* of the core Conservative Intellectual Catholic types here are *not* "cradle" but converts, and either converts from American fundamentalism, or converts from genteel Anglo-American agnosticism of various sorts ranging from "C&E C of E" types to 2nd or 3rd generation Jewish atheists rebelling against their parents a la Edith Stein, and anything in between, often including phases of "wandering" or "seeking" meaning careening from Buddhism to Rasta to Orthodox (Christian or Jewish) and all of it in an effort to find something that was a) structured and validating but b) not *too* structured, not requiring of them anything they weren't willing to give.

If you're an innately-chauvinistic guy - which is *almost* impossible not to start out as, in the US - then there's a kind of inevitable spiral towards the Church of Rome as interpreted here by the *extremely* doctrinaire Neo-Trads, which is *all about* the justification of authoritarianism by appealing to Tradition & the mystical authority of the Magisterium, and using that justified authoritarianism to recursively justify all the their own inclinations of disliking the Other (women, gays, cats, Pakistanis, jazz musicians, vegetarians, people who eat ice cream while walking down the street) and since they really can't get away from the whole Want Sex!/Hate Women! problem without making themselves eunuchs *literally*, the discriminatory bits of Christianity, and the one Church which is not only hanging on to them but also doesn't have any kind of democratic mechanism to get rid of them down the line unlike the Protestant ones, are going to exert a much stronger gravitational pull than oh, some other religion which offers the same thing but requires you to wear funny hats, too, or stop eating/drinking things you like *almost* as much as you're squicked out by the thought of women having sex with guys other than you, or guys having sex with other guys, it makes the choice a lot easier.

I think - to get Thomist here - that it's a case of two things coming from one, that is that Machismo is *so* core to Americanism that it can't not come out in religion, too, whether Protestant or Catholic, and that people will even change their religion in order to be able to hold onto their sexism unchallenged.

And if you want to be a Christian, and validate your machismo, you're pretty much stuck with invoking St. Paul, outside the Torah. And if your husband is a drunk or a gambler or whatever, so long as he isn't commanding you to commit mortal sins (ie whoring you or the kids out) then It's Your Cross To Bear Nobly - and there are all those old books of saints that are reprinted by conservative Catholic presses like TAN and Ignatius here to back that up, that you should suffer like St. Rita of Cascia or St. Mary of the Five Wounds' mother, nobly and patiently as Griselda until he dies and you become a nun and go on living a life of heroic self-denial.

After all, it's not *your* fault if he's a schmuck to you and the kids - but it *would* be your fault if you failed in Patience and Humility and told him off and otherwise Rebelled against his headship, seeing as he *is* God's vicar in the home.

--But of course, if he's really a Good Christian Husband, then he will love you as tenderly as he loves his own body, and thus never abuse you, so why worry about things that can't happen unless you're a selfish, rebellious unbeliever matched with another unbelieving liberal?
From: deiseach Date: August 5th, 2006 05:29 pm (UTC) (Link)

That's part of it

"And if your husband is a drunk or a gambler or whatever, so long as he isn't commanding you to commit mortal sins (ie whoring you or the kids out) then It's Your Cross To Bear Nobly - and there are all those old books of saints that are reprinted by conservative Catholic presses like TAN and Ignatius here to back that up, that you should suffer like St. Rita of Cascia or St. Mary of the Five Wounds' mother, nobly and patiently as Griselda until he dies and you become a nun and go on living a life of heroic self-denial."

Certainly, I was brought up with the heroic virtue model (and this is maybe part of why I was always very unshakeably sure I would never marry - my reaction to that kind of carryon would be to kick him out on his ear and/or run the breadknife through him, *not* to put up with it as a sacrifice) but all the arguments about the inviolable sanctity of marriage and why you shouldn't walk out on the louse were based on the idea that marriage was a Sacrament, not just a contract, and the Gospel Mark 10:

"2 Some Pharisees came and tested him by asking, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?"
3 "What did Moses command you?" he replied.
4 They said, "Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away."
5 "It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law," Jesus replied.
6 "But at the beginning of creation God `made them male and female.'
7 `For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife,
8 and the two will become one flesh.' So they are no longer two, but one.
9 Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate."
10 When they were in the house again, the disciples asked Jesus about this.
11 He answered, "Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her.
12 And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery."

Never, ever did I hear the headship argument from St Paul used.

Coming at it from another angle, whatever about Katherine Jeffers Schori as Presiding Bishop Elect of The Episcopalian Church, my take on that is (a) if they permitted the ordination of women as priests, they cannot in logic deny the consecration of women as bishops and following on from that (b) it's not so much that she's a woman, I think, that is annoying a certain element but rather that she doesn't give much indication of being a Christian.

from "Time" interview
"What will be your focus as head of the U.S. church?
Our focus needs to be on feeding people who go to bed hungry, on providing primary education to girls and boys, on healing people with AIDS, on addressing tuberculosis and malaria, on sustainable development. That ought to be the primary focus."

Certainly, her view of what The Episcopalian Church (TEC, as they are now referring to themselves rather than ECUSA) should be and do is a very good one - who can disagree with social justice? - but nothing there to differentiate her from the new C.E.O. of an NGO. Nothing to say she is a religious, i.e., *spiritual* leader. Okay, so it was for "Time" magazine and she was probably cutting her cloth according to her measure, but this kind of thing always makes me go "If you want to be a social worker/activist/politician, why don't you go for that line of work?"
bellatrys From: bellatrys Date: August 5th, 2006 05:40 pm (UTC) (Link)

Er, maybe

because of this?
From: deiseach Date: August 6th, 2006 02:41 am (UTC) (Link)

Yes

That is absolutely essential.

James 2:14-26

14What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 15Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? 17In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

However - and this is where the big "But..." comes into it for me - if what you are proposing is a plan of action that is equally applicable to any charitable body, NGO, or even state service... yeah, why exactly are you a bishop, again? Why not be a lawyer, social worker, doctor, politician, or other, without all the need for this religious baggage?

"Bishop KATHARINE JEFFERTS SCHORI (Presiding Bishop-Elect, U.S. Episcopal Church): Well, the church is a community that is really called to transform the world around it. That takes different forms in different places. Each one of us has got a piece to play in that kind of work. And the fact that this General Convention has adopted justice and peace as its first priority for mission in the coming triennium, particularly focused on the UN Millennium Development Goals, gives us an enormous opportunity to be part of building something that looks very much like the reign of God that's achievable in our own day."

These are the Millennium Development Goals

1. Eradicate extreme hunger and poverty.
2. Achieve universal primary education.
3. Promote gender equality and empower women.
4. Reduce child mortality.
5. Improve maternal health.
6. Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases.
7. Ensure environmental sustainability.
8. Develop a global partnership for development.

Excellent, worthy aims all of them - but where is the preaching the Good News?

Understand me: I'm not saying religion should stick to the private sphere of warm feelings, but equally I'm against religion being tied in with politics - and that applies equally to the 'left' as to the 'right'. The Church of Tashlan is the crying shame and weeping sore of how the right can warp religion; however, on the one hand saying 'those old categories of sin and shame went out with the ark and we no longer motivate people by guilt' and then coming out with 'it's a sin to drive a big car' - be consistent. If 'sin' is an exploded notion and the primacy of conscience is all, you can't then beat people over the head with 'sin' to act in accordance with a Green agenda.

Ack. Basically I'm saying both body *and* soul need saving; if the emphasis was 'pie in the sky when you die' before, it's not a corrective to swing with the pendulum to the other extreme of 'eat, drink, and rejoice, for tomorrow you die'.
nenya_kanadka From: nenya_kanadka Date: August 3rd, 2006 10:09 am (UTC) (Link)
I know it's not going to convince him one wit, were he ever to read this, but the most inspired, truly really obviously meant for their calling in the church minister I have met in ten years is a female Episcopalian priest. I met her, and my first thought was, "My God, how can anyone believe that women aren't meant to be priests? How much her church members would miss out on if she were barred from her job because of her gender!"

*sigh*
From: (Anonymous) Date: August 8th, 2006 10:01 pm (UTC) (Link)

Reply From Good Ole Boy & Chauvinist Dave Armstrong

Thank you for your response to my (rather old and mere summary-type) paper. If you or any of your readers would like to engage in cordial rational discussion about it, you are more than welcome to on my blog. I've noted your critique here:

http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2006/08/reply-to-intellectually-cogent-and.html

. . . with a few counter-responses when I found myself unable to resist.

Sincerely Yours,

Dave Armstrong
From: mozyvkorty Date: February 17th, 2013 06:52 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm alone and online Go Here dld.bz/chwZP
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