Tuesday 31 July 2012

This is not a kids book! Rating: XXX

At the conference that I just attended, I made a comment (well more like an STATEMENT) during a discussion of the rape of Dinah and its consequences (Genesis 34). I asked what happens if an 11 year old girl read the story in whatever translation. She would certainly not tell on her abused, particularly if it were someone she knew - because what happened to the abuser in the Dinah story? He and his whole family & extended kin were murdered.

The respondent said, "The Bible is not a children's book!!!!!!!!!!" (emphasis hers)

I agree with her. However, I and many, many children receive their bibles when we were & are very young. I was given my first leather bound, red letter Bible when I was about 7 & 1/2. And we were & are encouraged to read it from beginning to end - certainly by say grade 7 (12) or grade 8 (13). Why? Because it is the "Word of God".

Which is why I am so concerned about what children actually understand when they read the "bible" not just Children's Stories from the Bible - which are often not much better.

The Bible should not only be X-rated (caution - read only with adult present), but it should come with a warning - supports patriarchy, hierarchy, slavery, blind obedience. The only problem that I see is that once you say something is X-rated, everyone will want to read it!! Although that may be a good thing; you can't miss the problems then!!

My younger son was the classic case of this. He decided that he should probably read the bible when he was about 16 - foundation of western culture, and all that. He began at the beginning and read every word in the Revised Standard Edition. He came to me at one point and asked, in a totally stunned voice: do you mean to tell me that people actually believe this stuff?

To Read:

A. J. Jacobs, The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible

For a first look at the book, which is a really great read, go to his website:


If you believe that the bible is the divinely inspired "word of god"

then, what do you do about "prophetic pornography"?

The prophets, Hosea, Ezekiel, & Jeremiah, contain images of rape, sexual mutilation, gang rape, etc. imposed as punishments by the god of Israel (as the male) on the people of Israel/Zion/Jerusalem (as the female(s)). The god punishes his wives (!) - just go read it all.

So how are these passages supposed to be read in the modern world? This is a question that has been asked by feminist biblical scholars and needs to continue to be asked, again and again. As a feminist not embedded in the belief that the bible is the "inspired word of god", this is fairly easy. The texts are an indication of a patriarchal societal structure that devalues women and feels that they are fair game. They smack of misogyny.

These are the sort of texts that should perhaps be best left in their original languages. This would be similar to the authorized edition of the Church Fathers (pre-Nicene, Nicene & post-Nicene), that left all the "spicy" bits in Latin while the rest was translated. Look for any pre-1950 edition or so.

At the conference where I presented last week, I was told that you need to put all of these passages in their cultural context. That is all well and good, but I asked the man who was insisting that sociocultural context is the answer, what about preaching? Then I was told that you tell your congregation that this is how women were treated in the past, and we don't do this anymore. I say "Bravo". But is that good enough?

For example, it doesn't answer the question about divine inspiration and the privileging of the Bible as normative for the belief system. Were these prophets only divinely inspired when they say acceptable things? It is the conceit of prophecy that the divine is speaking through them & what kind of a divinity would use these images? What about the men and women who read these texts as "divinely inspired"? How does it affect them? Just something to think about.

A couple of places from which to start reading

Book & article to read:

Yvonne Sherwood, The Prostitute and the Prophet: Reading Hosea in the Late Twentieth Century  (T&:T Clark/Continuum, 2004; 2nd edition ).

Cheryl Exum, "The Ethics of Biblical Violence against Women" in The Bible in Ethics: The Second Sheffield Colloquium (Sheffield Academic Press, 1995).

Sunday 29 July 2012

Just a Question; maybe an Answer?

I have started reading a book called Holy Misogyny: Why the Sex and Gender Conflicts in the Early Church Still Matter by April D. DeConick. It got me to thinking over breakfast that this book contains some of the reasons that I had problems for years with feminist biblical studies and the rush towards the "alternate" gospels (gnostic or otherwise). However, I never really spent the time to fully articulate my disagreement.

This book is hardly feminist. However, it does bring up one issue. Why do women and men go to the books that were rejected by the canonists in early Christianity and somehow assume that these texts have answers other than showing how varied early Christian thought actually was? It is as if just because they were rejected, they must contain some elemental truth that would have made the world a better place if only these works had been included in the canon.

Hardly! I guess that I always worked from the assumption that the patriarchal, hierarchical structure of greco-roman civilization would have infused all of those texts as much as it does the canonical texts. In all my reading over the years, I have yet to be disabused of that assumption. I look at some of the "rejected" texts and try to think about what kind of world they would create. Not ones that I would want to live in.

I will review the book when I have finished it, and comment further on early non-canonical texts some other time.

Friday 27 July 2012

My Mother was a Difficult Child

Yesterday we visited my aunt. She is 89 and has Alzheimer's, just like my mother. She is 5 years younger than my mother. She had no idea who I am, she remembers a 15 year old who visited years ago. That was what I expected.

However, when we started looking at pictures from the distant past, she started talking about her parents and her sister. We would ask questions and she would talk about things.

I have been learning some of the answers to questions in previous posts. My mother told my cousin why she never spoke to her mother. She had been sexually abused by her stepfather and her mother didn't believe her. So this answers why she left home so early & why she never talked with her mother. When I talked to my youngest son (over SKYPE, of course), his response was Bravo for her! and I agree with him.

But my aunt was saying how "my mother was a difficult child" and that was why she left home and went and found a "new mother". Clearly, this is what my aunt was told to explain why my mother was no longer around.

There is so much that I have learned in the week that I have been here and it is going to take some time to digest. All I can say, is that I wish my mother had been able to talk about all of these things years ago. Oh well, such was not the way of the world. I will be writing as I digest the information - it explains so much and so many missing pieces of the puzzle have fallen in my lap. I think that it has been good for my cousins as well - our mothers were far more alike than we ever knew. We have been comparing stories about the past - their similarities and their contradictions.

I even have a picture of my grandmother, grandfather & half-aunt. I also have pictures of my mother & aunt from an earlier period and when mother was a nurse in a pediatrics ward.

The universe unfolds as it will. It has been a very difficult and energizing week. The conference has gone well - I am actually a little bit hopeful.

That's all that faith requires - that we surrender ourselves to the possibility of hope. With that, I am content. (my B5 quote from June 22, 2012)

Thursday 12 July 2012

Further to Yesterday's Post on Schism

Feeling Under Siege, Catholic Leadership Shifts Right


This is, of course, a normal fall back position for institutions. This was the position that the Council of Trent took in response to the Protestant Reformation. Centuries of history should make us understand that this was inevitable. Our understanding of moral conflict, cognitive dissonance, sociological analysis of institutions suggest that this is inevitable.

I shall watch with interest.

Wednesday 11 July 2012

Jason Berry Told Us So Back in 1992

Catholic Schism: Diarmaid MacCulloch, Influential Church Historian, Predicts Major Division In 'Silence In Christian History'


I don't think that there is much to add to the story. It is clear that there is a serious disconnect between the Vatican and many of the laity - just from talking with Roman Catholic friends who clearly either don't know that they are not following the rules, try to find ways around the rules ( particular RC teachers on birth control issues) or they don't care. Generally speaking, they tell me that the"Church is the people", and what does the Pope have to do with it anyway. That catch phrase from Vatican 2 is seriously embedded in a good portion of the present-day Roman Catholic Church, and isn't going to go away any time soon.

The potential schism can be seen in 2 of the books that I have read lately. The first is Myra Hidalgo's, which falls on the potential schismatic side (See My review: Sexual Abuse and the Culture of Catholicism). Leon Podles' book, Sacrilege, comes up with solutions that would bring back an idealized medieval church (I will do a review of this after I get back from vacation in August).

Both authors are absolutely horrified by the Vatican's response to the "priestly pedophilia" scandal. Both love their church. One was a victim/survivor of sexual abuse by a nun. The other was a lawyer for victim/survivors. However, I am not sure that both could survive in the same church.

Thursday 5 July 2012

Go, S.N.A.P., Go

This is just a comment that I added to a column by Michael S Winters on Sept 14, 2011 entitled "Shame on S.N.A.P.'s Lawyers" (somehow, he seems to think that if he blames the lawyers, he is avoiding upsetting all us little ole survivors - sorry Mike, we're not that stupid!). Here is the link to the Winters post:

No one at S.N.A.P., I suspect, would disagree with you about abusive governments. However, that is someone else's problem [p.s. ask why the U.S.A. is not a signatory to the world court].

However, there is a big difference between secular governments and the Roman Catholic Church. The Roman Catholic Church believes that it is the moral authority of the world. Its theology is that the only way to salvation is through the Church (& this was recently restated by PB16 on June, 29, 2007). It considers itself to be the only true MORAL/ETHICAL belief system for all humanity. Thus, in my opinion, the Roman Catholic Church is even more responsible for the abuses within its structure (and the massive destruction that it has perpetrated on the survivors) than are governments, which are only made up of mere frail, sinful human beings unimbued with the sanctified grace (!) of the Pope, the Cardinals, the Bishops, the priests through whom humanity must find its salvation.

Would you want a world based on the moral and ethical belief system of the Roman Catholic Church based on what we know now?

Go S.N.A.P., go. As Jeff Anderson said the Church will never take this seriously until the first bishop, archbishop or cardinal, finally ends up in jail for failure to report the massive abuses and failure to protect the children under their car.

If you are not familiar with the details of just what was done to some of the children, please read Leon Podles, Sacrilege or David France's Honor Your Fathers. I may not agree with everything in their analyses or proferred solutions, but for graphic descriptions, it should be enough to turn most people's stomachs.

Tuesday 3 July 2012

Commentary on Previous Post

Previous post: http://www.sheilaredmond.com/2012/07/just-what-is-colour-of-sky-in-their.html

So they're planning to secretly ordain women then cover it up when people find out???????????

Just what is the colour of the sky in their world, part 3

Vatican labels the ordination of women a 'grave crime' to be dealt with in the same way as sex abuse

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1295012/Vatican-labels-ordination-women-grave-crime-par-sex-abuse.html#ixzz1zbJRCa4F

And here you can see one of my "favourite" Vatican spokespersons on the defensive: Monsignor Charles Scicluna, the Vatican's sex crimes prosecutor, talking to the media at the Vatican today.

Further to that:

Believe it or not, the rape of children is a "grave delict" against the Fifth/Sixth Commandment: "thou shalt not commit adultery" for Protestants (;-)) 

  • So are priests married to holy Mother church? (whiff of incest there) or 
  • Since they are "consecrated" to the Virgin Mary, is this considered a marriage (but no sex, please, we're Catholic priests)? (again, icky) 

It's like shooting fish in a barrel!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So. You know what is left out of the discourse????

 Children Just Saying ........... The discourse of rape culture, of course, in the academic literature, of course. Just struck me as I was r...