Monday, 20 August 2012

I'll bet this was a surprise

I tend to check my stats on blogger. So yesterday, I was looking at the search keywords used to get to my blog and I found the following search words:

"kids girls xxx 11 years old".

So I had creepy pedophile looking at the blog. I wonder which post he (maybe I'm being sexist but ...) got to - "This is not a kids book. Rating XXX"?

I can only assume that it was a 5 second look and a move on.

This was a propos of nothing really.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Bedazzled Crone speaks!!


The following is a post that I made on another website (rayharvey.org) in response to a commenter on a post that would have had something to do with education or health care and economics. The site belongs to a friend who is a libertarian [I have all kinds of friends :-)].  I can no longer quickly find the original web page, so I am reposting this because it is about a different part of my childhood/formative years & does explain some of the other figures, who were influential on developing my life philosophy [besides Babylon 5 :-)]

Note: BC stands for Bedazzled Crone - a name that I sometimes use on the net (& linked to this website address); POG is who knows??

BC: I will address some of the issues that you have brought up in your post over a number of comments. Don’t want to make them too long. This is the first response to something that was a little ad hominem, n’est-ce pas? So to clarify:
POG: The problem is that you continue to view “capitalism” and “competition” through your lens of Marxist critique, I am guessing it was ingrained in you in the 60’s by some professors who were apologists for Stalinism and you haven’t been able to shake it since.
BC: My intro PoliSci prof. in 1968/69 was Polish and hardly a Marxist.  He taught at Conrad Grebel College (attached to the U of Waterloo where I was a computer science/math major). If I were anything, I was first and foremost an existentialist in my late teens (when I read Sartre, Nietzsche & others) and my 20s. I was an ardent supporter of human rights, and already, seriously critical of “systems”. The main influences on my philosophical thinking were Erich Fromm (Escape From Freedom, Beyond the Chains of Illusion, The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness), A. S. Neill (Summerhill), John Holt (Escape From Childhood) but probably, one of the most important was Ivan Illich (Medical Nemesis, and Deschooling Society). These writers do not a “Marxist” make!  If I have "socialist roots", they are derived from two basic areas.
The first is the reality of being the daughter of a steel mill ladleliner. The owner of the "means of production" always needs to be forced to do right by the very people that allow the owner to make his/its profits & he/it sure as hell didn't/doesn’t want to share it around. My father led sit-down strikes, my Dad was laid off. I doubt very much that he gave a damn about socialism, Marxism or anything else along that line. What he did care about were his and his fellow steel workers human rights; - the right to work in a safe environment and the right to a fair wage for a day's work. The labour movement wasn’t about "socialism/Marxism" as far as I can see - it was about individual human rights. And, sometimes, you needed/need to come together collectively to assert those rights. It is those "capitalists" and their government cronies that labelled the labour movement as "socialist" as it became a corrupted "big business" itself, particularly in the United States. This eventually led to the McCarthy hearings in the US – talk about moral panic creators). What is wrong with people wanting to collectively better themselves? Why is it there a need to "break the unions" within government agenda? Shouldn't the goal be to bring everyone up to the economic levels achieved by some of the unions so that people get "fair wage for a fair day's work"? Instead what we see is the attempts to break the unions through government legislation; the branding of unions as "socialist" or "marxist". Break the unions so that everyone can slowly find their economic status devolving to that of the level of the people who work at Walmart or McDonald's. Breaking the unions abrogates my individual right to act collectively should I want to.
The second comes clearly from my social gospel United Church of Canada Christian roots. Jesus as the Dude! The worldview that I inherited there and still maintain to a large extent would argue that human beings are interdependent. We are indeed our brothers’ and our sisters’ keepers. We always need to care about those who have less than we do. We need to care about those who are injured, who are treated unjustly. Empathy is the thing that differentiates us from most other animals. The ability to care about other human beings should matter as much as “systems”. Sometimes, I think that that is the core of the problem with most “systems” – no matter what they are: the tendency to forget that we are talking about individual human beings who get hurt by these systems. Altruism may have its roots in TheSelfish Gene, but it is a fact that humans seem to be as willing to support one another as they are to kill one another - in the evolutionary context. No matter what is in our genetic inheritance, we are thinking beings; we can envision a future different from the one we live in. Historically speaking, human beings are constantly finding ways to overcome their genetic inheritance through creating alternative scenarios, different religions, different societies, different childrearing methods, and different hierarchical or non-hierarchical forms of governance – all for the sole purpose of finding out how we can live interdependently. I doubt very much that that is “socialism” or “Marxism”. 

FYI: If you got this far, here is a link to a few more of my thoughts (more philosophical and political) at one of Ray's blog posts Political Theory of Government.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Canon Within the Canon / Inclusive Bible?

These are two of the ideas that have floated around among feminist biblical scholars & in feminist hermeneutics by those who wish to stay within the Christian belief system. I have problems with both of these attempted solutions to the patriarchal construction of the biblical texts. As I see it, some of the major problems with both solutions are that:

  1. The texts were all written from within patriarchal societies by people who were socialized within those cultures. No matter how hard you try, you cannot avoid this fact. We cannot escape our past, we can only be aware of how it shaped us.
  2. Both solutions contain within them the assumption that there is something authoritative and "divinely inspired" about (some of) the biblical texts. They are thus privileged and contain ethical and instructive material that cannot be found elsewhere.
  3. There will be no consensus on what should be the "good" canon as opposed to what is the "bad" canon. This is not necessarily a negative thing, but believers often have the idea that everyone should somehow see things the same way. Some decisions might be easy, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you", for example [but that is contained in just about every ethical system in existence]. 
  4. Incipient Christianity was an apocalyptic Jewish sectarian movement. A text such as Paul's comment that there is neither male nor female, slave nor free, etc., one of those "good" texts, derives from the apocalyptic assumptions of the early beliefs of the proto-Christian belief system. You can only accept it if you remove the verse itself from everything around it. This is a major problem for the entire Christian "New Testament" corpus, its apocrypha and cognate writings.
  5. The big one. How do you deal with the atonement? Jesus' death on the cross and then his resurrection are central to the structure of Christianity. Even if one focuses on the resurrection, you can't have a resurrection without a death. So do you leave it in? If yes, then how to deal with all of the theologies that were built around this from the earliest days? If no, then what are you really left with? I happened to believe that there was a real person, Jesus who was an itinerant preacher and who was sent to his death. However, why, what happened afterwards, are all open to interpretation - right from the beginning. What we have is the hero myth, writ large and it appealed to the world in which it was created. Short of Dr. Who's Tardis, we will never know what happened.
  6. Inclusive language is almost a mythical attempt to reshape the bible. What difference does it really make if Jesus died for humanity, rather than for mankind? The problem is not language but the entire construct that implies that humanity (or mankind) is in need a scapegoat - that we are guilty of something more than just living life.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Why I do this

During the question period after my presentation at the SBL International conference in Amsterdam (entitled "The Personal is Still Political: What else did you expect, or have we forgotten just how radical feminist exegesis can be?"), I was asked a question by a very upset and angry participant. In essence, the questions were: "Why did I waste my time on something that I didn't believe in; didn't I have better things to do than rip apart the bible; why didn't I go and spend my time doing something else?" 

So, how to answer? There is the obvious, academic answer: The bible and Christianity are the foundations of western culture in all its good and its bad. Therefore, we have to understand where the structures of our societies' ethical systems, presuppositions about the nature of human interaction, etc. come from. And to do this, we have to look at the bible as the foundational document of Western society. 

That is how I would have answered the question 10 years ago. Two weeks ago, today, I answered quite differently. I just laid it all on the line. A short version: I was sexually abused when I was 8 years old by a Roman Catholic priest, became hyper-religious, spent years in therapy dealing with the biblical god. AND I DON'T WANT ANYONE TO EVER HAVE TO GO THROUGH WHAT I HAVE GONE THROUGH. 

Now I know that that is not going to happen. I don't control the world. The bible is still out there, and that biblical god is still holding sway over people's lives (for one example, just watch Jesus Camp!!) However, by writing what I do, by saying what I say, I make a difference in the lives of a few people. And they have expressed this to me. A whispered "thank you" from a conference participant years ago; a "I never believed anybody else felt like that" from a very distressed woman who came to talk to me (after I gave her the Psalm of Anger to read);  a secondhand thank you from the friend of an incest victim who said that reading "Christian Virtues and Recovery from Child Sexual Abuse" had helped her more than 2 year of therapy. And what I write sometimes forces other academic theologians to think differently about the Christian religious system - see Atonement, Cycles of Abuse, and Virtue, a classroom blog from Duke University. It is discussions like this one that give me hope for a better future.

I won't change the world. However, I have nothing to lose in taking the "extreme" position. The personal is political - my life experience is my life experience - but I am not alone and I am not the only one who has ever felt like this. I am not the only one who has ever suffered from a Christian worldview that blamed me, and not the perpetrator(s) of the crimes committed against me.

If what I say and write makes even one other person's life easier, it is enough.

I will end this blog with yet another quote from Babylon 5: year 1, episode 16:

Mollari: Of course, we do. There's a natural law. Physics tells us that for every action there must be an equal and opposite reaction. They hate us, we hate them, they hate us back. And so here we are - victims of mathematics.
Sinclair: He never listens.
Delenn: He will, sooner or later.
Sinclair: How can you be sure?
Delenn: Because the alternative is too terrible to consider. Without the hope that things will get better; that our inheritors will know a world that is fuller and richer than our own, life is pointless and evolution is vastly overrated.