Subduing and Dominating

Subduing and Dominating

Scripture: Genesis 1:27-31 and 2:7, 15, 18-19, 21-22. As those who study Scripture know, there are two accounts of creation in the Book of Genesis.  In the one that appears in chapter 1, “God created man in his image; in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them.  God blessed them, saying: ‘Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it.  Have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and all the living things that move on the earth.’  God also said; ‘See, I give you every seed-bearing plant all over the earth and every tree that has seed-bearing fruit on it to be your food; and to all the animals of the land, all the birds of the air, and all the living creatures that crawl on the ground, I give all the green plants for food.” And so it happened.  God look at everything he had made, and he found it very good.” (Gen. 1:27-31).  In the second account, in chapter 2, “the Lord God formed man out of the clay of the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life, and so man became a living being (Gen. 2:7)…The Lord God then took the man and settled him in the garden of Eden to cultivate and care for it (Gen. 2:15)…The Lord God said: ‘It is not good for the man to be alone.  I will make a suitable partner for him.” So the Lord God formed out of the ground various wild animals and various birds of the air, and he brought them to the man to see what he would call them; whatever the man called each of them would be its name (Gen. 2: 18-19)…So the Lord God cast a deep sleep on the man, and while he was asleep, he took out one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh.  The lord god then built up into a woman the rib that he had taken from the man (Gen. 2:21-22). In her TEDx Talk of December 9, 2012 [http://youtu.be/575V-CgiVOE], Joan Chittister refers to this first book of the Bible to make the points that (1) they were undoubtedly written by a man from a male point of view; and both (2) hierarchy (man created first; woman second and subject to him; (3) and patriarchy are built in and have influenced history and culture ever since. Why in some countries are women and girls forbidden to become educated or even to drive?  Isn’t the argument that: it is the woman who attracts the man; it is the woman who gets pregnant, carries the child for months, and then...

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Women Should Be Silent!

Women Should Be Silent!

Scripture: 1 Timothy 2 If we could land on one book of Scripture that would convince us that Scripture is NOT all of a piece, and that there are many variations in genre, authorship, and authenticity through the ages, it’s this letter to Timothy.   Those who shy away from making distinctions among the books may have to accept some of the responsibility for what 1 Timothy has done to women through the centuries, especially this second chapter.  The issue of the roles of women in our contemporary world was brought home to me in a blog warning that climate change is going to affect ALL of us, no matter how far away we are from the melting glaciers.   The author (from United Nations Development) states that “We know that in 38 of the 48 countries surveyed by the United Nations in a 2010 report, women (over 15 years old) are responsible for searching and collecting drinking water. The harder it is to access it, the further they will have to walk, the worse their health will be, and the less time they will have to educate themselves.” Luckily, we have scholars such as John Dominic Crossan, who distinguish between a radical Paul (in his seven authentic letters), a liberal Paul, and a conservative Paul.  As Crossan puts it, “someone was cleaning up Paul” from his radical notions.   [See his talk on YouTube here: http://youtu.be/txdUXCY0clU]. Scholars are convinced that Paul didn’t even WRITE 1 Timothy, although it has been the cause of much dislike of Paul by women. Chapter two of 1 Timothy is fascinating in how it has been (and still is) interpreted.  The Jewish scholar, Dr. Amy Jill Levine (The Jewish Annotated New Testament), reminds us that the delay in the Second Coming of Jesus, which was the issue in Paul’s Letters to the Thessalonians, led the scribes writing in the name of Paul to support the status quo; namely, that women were to find their salvation in having children and their husbands were to rule the household, in the patriarchal culture (and in popular moral treatises) of the time. Dr. Levine even writes, in her notes on chapter two of 1 Timothy: “The view that women are subordinate to men and that the subordination derives from Genesis [note that the New Interpreter’s Study Bible calls 1 Timothy 2:14 a ‘somewhat forced’ reading of Genesis] appears in later Jewish circles and is native to some rabbinic understanding of womanhood…”   When I remind my wife that Scripture says she should be subject to me, she gives me that look that promises: “In your dreams!”    Rightly so: we are partners who love each other dearly, and hierarchy is not even...

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Comments on Jeremiah and Ezekiel

Rev. Richard Rohr, in his daily meditations for April 29 and 30, 2012, writes about the world, the flesh and the devil as sources of violence in our contemporary society as they were in all of past history.   In dealing with the world, Father Rohr reminds us that this one is the most invisible.  We are almost entirely focused on the flesh and individual “sin.” It is much more difficult to see the evil in our culture and our establishments and our systems.  This is what the prophets were good at, and probably why they are and were mostly ignored.  Jeremiah hated this role.  He knew God chose him for it, but that didn’t keep him from disliking what he had to say and do.  Everyone considered him unpatriotic because he was calling into question what the society at that time felt was the only way to speak and act.   An article on global warming and “The Climate Fixers” by Michael Specter in the May 14 issue of The New Yorker reminds us of the relevance of these two prophets.   Depending on which political party you follow, the effects of CO2 emissions on the planet are either to be dismissed or are dire prophecies of the end of the world as we know it.    Still, the New Yorker article introduces several people and organizations that are working on solutions to global warming, and offer some reason for hope. And both Jeremiah and Ezekiel offer hope– Ezekiel in his famous passage concerning the dry bones.  Believers throughout the ages have placed their hope in the Lord, and have put this hope against all the doomsayers of every age. However, that does not mean that we do nothing, and simply let causes of global warming go unchallenged.  In our American culture which is based on capitalism, it may be the religious people who have to call attention to the evils that capitalism can allow, and be the people who say NO, even when profits and shareholders and boards do not permit corporations to control their emissions nor their seeking for greater...

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