Friday, July 12, 2013

A Year of Biblical Womanhood, introduction-December

"'The only people who enjoy potlucks are men,' she used to say. 'The women do all the work.'" (p. xvii, introduction) This reminded me of my old church, where we had a long-standing tradition for mother's and father's day celebrations. For mother's day, a small sum of money was set aside from the church budget, and a small gift was purchased. I remember one year, it was a pretty refrigerator magnet. Another year, i think it was a book. Little pretty gifts for each mother in the congregation. For father's day, all of the women in the church baked pies for the men to eat.

October is Rachel's month to learn gentleness. Gentleness has an unfortunate association with spinelessness. For Christian women in particular, gentleness is often contrasted with assertiveness, confidence, and an unwillingness to back down when opposed. But as Rachel learns to meditate, she learns something new. "I don't know for sure, but I think maybe God was trying to tell me that gentleness begins with strength, quietness with security. A great tree is both moved and unmoved, for it changes with the seasons, but its roots keep it anchored in the ground. Mastering a gentle and quiet spirit didn't mean changing my personality, just regaining control of it, growing strong enough to hold back and secure enough to soften." (p. 16)

Bad Bible translation does so much harm. The passage in Genesis describing the creation of Eve usually calls her a "helper" or "helpmeet" or something similar, all of which carry sidekick connotations. But a Jewish woman wrote to Sarah and gave her some helpful translation notes: "For the record, in Bereshit (Genesis by you) where it talks about the "helpmeet", the Hebrew is not just Ezer, but Ezer k'gnedo, which means "the help that opposes." The Rabbis explain this term like two posts of equal weight leaned against each other. They stand because of equal force." (p. 68)

From the same source: "Christians seem to think that because the Bible is inspired, all of it should be taken literally. Jews don't do this. Even though we take the Torah literally (all 613 commandments!), the rest is seen differently, as a way of understanding our Creator, rather than direct commands." (p. 87) In college, i took a course about science and religion (technically, i took two, but that's a story for another day). One of our major points of discussion was the great Evolution/Creation debate. As we discovered the science and theorized about how to reconcile it with the Bible (and as one student prayed for the souls of me and the professor), we looked at some pages in the Bible. The Creation story takes up approximately two pages. Fewer, in some Bibles, and if you have some kind of pocket-sized, large-print edition, i suppose it could take up as many as five. I have a pocket-sized Bible on my desk that is 1140 pages long. In this Bible, the Creation story takes up two pages and a few lines on a third page. The whole rest of the Bible is about the purpose of creation, about God's relationship with His creation, about "a way of understanding our Creator". Let's not get distracted by the little stuff, okay?

"The Proverbs 31 woman is a star not because of what she does but how she does it -- with valor. So do your thing. If it's refurbishing old furniture -- do it with valor. If it's keeping up with your two-year-old -- do it with valor. If it's fighting against human trafficking . . . leading a company . . . or getting other people to do  your work for you -- do it with valor."

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