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"God says I don't have to listen to you, nyah nyah!" - Nothing New Under The Sun
(the ARX acta diurna)
"God says I don't have to listen to you, nyah nyah!"
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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.
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):


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".


"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:


"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).


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):


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).


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"
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