Wednesday 21 November 2012

A Day of Mourning

Church of England Rejects Women Bishops In Vote

Lost the 2/3 majority by 4 votes - power to the people, I guess - it was the laity who brought about the rejection, not the hierarchy, not the bishops and the clergy

Doesn't affect me personally, but is still such a loss to the church.

Tuesday 13 November 2012

The Birth of an Anthropologian

I just uploaded another paper to my academic room site. It doesn't have a lot of footnotes but is my reflections on my years as a counsellor and the issues that I have encountered while walking with my clients. It mostly raises issues and questions about the difficulties of working within the Christian belief system while believing that most of its core beliefs are destructive to recovery from child sexual abuse. It was a reflection of my understanding of my accountability to my clients and to myself. It is interesting to go back and see what I said eight years ago. There is nothing to change. Read it if you wish.

Now for a game of Plants vs. Zombies!

Saturday 10 November 2012

Vessels of Terror - revised

I have been meaning to write a comment in response to the blog Atonement, Cycles of Abuse, and Virtue/Atonement [this blog post is no longer available so I have removed the link] ever since I read it in the spring. It is gratifying to see how seriously students took the conundrums posed by mine and Brown & Parker’s articles in Patriarchy, Christianity and Abuse: A Feminist Critique.

What struck me the most was the reference to M.Shawn Copeland’s concept of “vessels of terror”. This is a powerful way of explaining the problem that people like myself have with Christian theology to those whose faith has never been destroyed by the very core values of their belief system.

A good example to explain how something seemingly innocuous can become a “vessel of terror”: I was explaining this concept to a friend of mine and he asked me whether the following story would be a good explanation of what I was talking about. A particular painting by Otto Donald Rogers of a prairie field with a leather belt on the ground was part of an installation in an Ottawa office building. A woman who would have had to face the painting every day from her cubicle said that she couldn't live with it. It reminded her of the beatings that she had had as a child. The installers took the piece out of the installation. This painting of Otto Rogers was a “vessel of terror” for this woman.

I tend to try and stay away from using the formal structures of theology, however, it appears that what I tend to do is called “a Hermeneutics of Critical Evaluation”: a bottom-up or ethnographic form of analysis (I discovered that this is the formal way to describe what I do in Schüssler Fiorenza, Wisdom Ways, 77). And this form of hermeneutics or biblical/theological interpretation if heard by “traditional (read malestream) hermeneutics” can only lead to serious questions about the received wisdom of the last two thousand years of Christianity.

There is an attachment to these beliefs (or virtues) that are at the core of Christianity. For so many people, they work to explain the world. However, just because people use the identified virtues of the system to find some way to ameliorate their position, that doesn't undo the damage that they have already caused. In fact, they serve to maintain the status quo. There are examples in the discussion on the atonement blog of women who use these beliefs to “get them through the night”. While it is understandable, I would argue that all this does is keep them in a place where they can be damaged again and again by these “vessels of terror”. Suffering, for example, can be accepted because this is part of the travails of this world, and you will be rewarded in the next life if you just "keep your chin up" ("God doesn't give you a mountain that you can't climb" - ask This time Lord, you gave me a mountain this time). It keeps the abused in their place and reproduces the structures that will allow the next generation to be abused once more. In the long term, it changes nothing, which is why I couldn't stay within the confines of the Christian belief system. In the final analysis, the structures/virtues are so embedded in the core belief system that there is no way to make any kind of compromise with it. And Lord knows I tried!

I do understand why people try so hard to find some way to make the belief system work. If they can’t make it work at some level, then where do they go? Is there any way around them? What do you replace them with? How much time will people actually spend trying to mitigate the impact of these "vessels of terror”?

I can only say, “Go watch Deliver Us From Evil, then tell me that these “vessels of terror” are worth keeping.” If you have already watched it, then go watch it again. 

I looked to see if I could find the Otto Rogers' painting that I talked about. I didn't. However, I really like this one. It is called Marching Trees and is apparently currently on sale at the Paul Kuhn Gallery, although I couldn't find it on the gallery's website. 

Otto Donald Rogers, Marching Trees

Sunday 4 November 2012

Fear and Denial at the Crossroads.

So I decided that I might as well put up the other paper that I delivered this year. This is the document that will be published in the Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the Canadian Society of Church History 2012. It is unedited so any problems with editing issues are solely my responsibility and will be fixed for the final version. However, I just thought that it might as well be out there. My 1993 paper has already had 234 views since I uploaded it in May. It will be interesting to see if this one is viewed as well.

The Personal is Still Political

I just uploaded the speaking document for the paper that I delivered in Amsterdam this summer at the SBL International Meeting in Amsterdam. It is a position paper.I cleaned it up, added a few footnotes.

I had tasked myself the job for the weekend and it's done!! Now to relax with a glass of red wine and an episode of Beauty and the Beast (actually it's not a bad remake!)

It is available at the following: The Personal is Still Political: What else did you expect, or have we forgotten just how radical feminist exegesis can be?

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...