Monday, March 17, 2014

Christian Right is Wrong

Fundamentalist Christians

March 17th is my birthday.  As is my habit I decided to go to the cemetery to visit the graves of my parents.  I try not to go during the week after the time I was sitting at their graves and the sprinklers came on.  To get to the cemetery I had to drive past the church I went to all my growing up years.  I was feeling very nostalgic so I decided to stop for services.  

The male generic language was not a surprise just disappointing.  Especially, "Greet each other with a brotherly kiss."  My first shock was how few people were at church. I remember it as a large congregation.  My second shock was when the minister announced, "Bring a friend to church Sunday" and then asked the congregation to raise their hand if they had friends who were going to hell.  I tried to keep the shook from showing on my face as everyone raised their hands.  "Well," he said, "bring them to church and get them saved."  

My final shock came during the sermon.  The minister said, "God instituted capital punishment because murder is an assault against God's image."  I wrote his statement on the back of the bulletin  because I couldn't believe what I had just heard.  I wanted to ask about the sixth commandment, "you shall not kill."  Or, Jesus admonition to love your neighbor as yourself.  Or, what about the image of God in the person being executed?  

Unfundamentalist Christians

There are many unfundamentalist  Christian groups.  One on Facebook calls themselves Unfundamentalist Christians.  There is also, the Christian Left, Christians For Biblical Equality and The Evangelical, Ecumenical Women's Caucus-Christian Feminist Today to name a few.  They proclaim respect, inclusion, non-judgement, forgiveness and so much more that reflects and represents my faith.  I wrote the book, Prostitutes, Virgins and Mothers: Questioning Teachings About Biblical Women because I felt like my religion had been hijacked by fundamentalist.  

I will not go back to that church. I choose to believe in a God who would be just as disappointed with the male generic language, just as shocked by the judgement on the lives of other people and just as shocked to hear that the loving creator had instituted capital punishment.   

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Women, Guilt and Lent

Where To Find The Reading For the First Sunday of Lent 

Sunday March 9 marked the first Sunday of Lent, for those of us who pay attention to such things.  The reading from the second story of creation found in Genesis 3:6 is about a woman who eats.  And that is where all the fuss begins.  I am not talking about the "original sin" thing.  That was developed by the misogynist, church father and saint, Augustine of Hippo who famously said, "I don't see what sort of help woman was created to provide man with, if one excludes procreation.  If woman is not given to man for help in bearing children, for what help could she be?  To till the earth together?  If help were needed for that man would have been a better help to man.  The same goes for comfort and solitude.  How much more pleasure is it for life and conversation when two friends live together than when a man and a woman cohabitate?"


No, I am not talking about "original sin."  I am talking about women and eating.  I am talking about the culturally inflicted guilt that so often surrounds the necessary act of nourishing a woman's body.  Trader Joe's carries a line of "Reduced Guilt" products.  If you Google "guilt free" a list of foods that can be eaten without guilt appears.  I know I am totally screwed up.  Will, maybe not totally but enough.  I can remember the message when I was very young, "Don't drink your milk so fast or it will make your stomach stick out."  And, that was from someone who loved me.

The woman in Genesis was eating something that would make her wise.  Not a bad goal, but Christendom has blamed all the evil in the world on the innocent act of one woman nourishing her body in search of wisdom.  

The information is always changing around what we can eat and not feel guilty.  Don't eat wheat or drink milk.  Vegan is the only healthy way to eat.  Vegetarian is the only responsible way to eat. Coconut oil is bad for you.  Don't buy product that contain coconut oil.  Coconut oil is good for you.  Have some in your coffee, it will make you bullet proof.    


My goal this Lenten Season is to eat without guilt.  I had a mango for lunch.  I know, it is a tropical fruit and I should not eat tropical fruit because they have so much sugar. It was delicious!  I am going to have a baked potato for dinner.  I know, it is a starch and I shouldn't eat starchy vegetables, but I really like baked potatoes

At a church BBQ recently,  I recently wanted a hot dog on  a white roll with mustard and onion and some baked beans.  I loaded my plate with everything but what I wanted.  I told myself,  I can't eat white bread, there are probably nitrates in the hot dog and who knows what the meat is.  The baked beans are loaded with sugar.  I took my plate covered with everything except what I wanted and sat down.  The beautiful, slender, slim and fit woman sitting beside me was having a hot dog and baked beans.  "I never do guilt around food,"  she said, "I just eat what I want."

"So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desired to make on wise, she took of its fruit and ate."  Thank you biblical sister for setting a good example for the rest of us. 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Assertive Women

Women's Rights

Listening to Public Radio International during the height of the struggle in the Ukraine I was struck by the words of one woman.  "We are fighting for our rights," she said, "We have to fight for our rights.  No one is going to just give them to us!"

She reminded me of an obscure woman in the book of Joshua.  Her name was Achsah.  She was given to a Othniel, her father's nephew as a reward for the nephew's accomplishments in war. She was sent away to live in the desert with her husband.   

Where To Find Achsah's Story

Achsah's story is told twice.  First in Joshua 15:16 -19 and again in Judges 1:11-15.  She is also mentioned in Chronicles 2:49.  As historian Laurel Thatcher Ulrich pointed out in 1976, "Well behaved women rarely make history."  Achsah must fit into the, "not well behaved" category.  Not only is her name recorded, her story is recorded twice, her mother's name is recorded, she is included in the list of her brothers and she has a voice.
Achsah Tells Her Story

"Since you have sent me to live in the desert, give me a spring of water."  Achsah's request of her father upon her arrival in the Negeb desert, in Joshua 15:19.

I was the spoils of war.  My father promised me to any man who was strong enough to attack and conquer Kiriath-sepher.  I am sure my father wanted a husband who was as strong and assertive as I am.  But he didn't just attack Kiriath-sepherit, it was the totally destructoyed.  There has been so much blood shed.  The destruction of Jericho was the worst.  The life of everything, except Rahab and her family, was rubbed out.  Every man, woman, child and animal destroyed. 

It was my cousin Othniel I had to marry.  We went to live in the hot, dry, dusty, desolate Negeb. I was determined I was not going to have a miserable life.  I convinced Othniel to ask my father for a field.  When my father asked me what I wanted I did not hold back.  "You have sent me to live in the desert.  I want a spring of water."  He gave me two.   

Observations on Achsah's Story

In my book Prostitutes, Virgins and Mothers: Questioning Teachings About Biblical Women I offer my own observations on the stories of biblical women.  While reading The Woman's Bible published in 1895 I was struck by the observation of Achsah's story written by Elizabeth Caddy Stanton.  The language is dated but the sentiment is timeless.

"Achsan's example is worthy the imitation of the women of this Republic.  She did not humbly accept what was given her, but bravely asked for more.  We should give to our rulers, our sires and sons no rest until all our rights-social, civil and political-are fully accorded.  How are men to know what we want unless we tell them?  They have no idea that our wants, material and spiritual, are the same as theirs; that we love justice, liberty and equality as well as they do; that we believe in the principals of self-government, individual rights, individual conscience and judgment, the fundamental ideas of the Protestant religion and republican government."   

Well said sister Suffragist!