Silly Sally and the Boob

Silly Sally simply abrogated all rights in her own home
To an emasculated boob, who only berates and masticates
Her like cheap food to satiate his appetite for authority
And self-satisfaction in his fraction of life, in which he
Vitiates everything and everyone with which he has any
Prolonged contact; he has no good bait to hook any real
Mate; his half-brain and train of heart are filled with
Rebellion and hate; but silly Sally placates this boob,
Who arrogates to himself whatever he wants, whenever
And however with no pause to consider what trouble it
Will cause; but silly Sally refuses to adjudicate in her
Very own home and enunciate what will be acceptable
And respectable in her domain because she has been so
Tamed by the fear of being alone, so she keeps the boob
Near and pays the high price for pretended peace and
Illusion of love; and what great freight she carries
In and out of the gate of her soul as she continually
Manipulates reality to suit her really twisted fantasy
With the boob she’s enlisted to complete her insanely
Puzzled life so rife with inner pain and never any gain
Of genuine joy… Poor silly Sally! I wonder if God just
Might adjudicate and eradicate the boob … but, then,
Silly Sally would only find another; twill always be
Silly Sally and her Boob!

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Unequal Equality (?) Too Confusing: Just Can’t Get It!

So my thoughts may be random,
Scattered somewhat in tandem
With battered emotional abandon,
But release brings some peace,
And maybe my raging will cease?

You see, this cannot be for me
To agree, and yet neither to flee
From such intellectual debris,
Spiritual humus that only creates
Brumous ideas in every heartbeat.

So what do I want to say this day?
If I may express my own dismay
In such an unabashed, cutting way:
Some make profusion of confusion
In the ‘biblical’ goal of sex roles!

Did not the Apostle say, “There is
Not any longer the male and female;
For you are all one within the veil
Of Christ?” And is this not the scale
To measure one’s worth from birth?

Did not the same Apostle declare
To the married pair, “Submit one
To the other,” sister and brother,
Husband and wife, father, mother;
And this means loving one another!

Should we dare to stare at wisdom
From the ancients to better prepare
Our hearts and, thus, begin to repair
Damage done by neglecting the Son,
What this One truly, newly brought?

If a woman so chooses to submit,
Then who am I to cry and then try
To remit her choice, silence voice
And complain she should remain
Solitary in some stark-cold equality?

Ah! But then even from ancient times
Wisdom chimed women were vessels
Of glory, quarry of the very heavens,
So the story has been boldly told
And retold through pages of the ages.

Has it not been said of old, “I am he,
You are she; I the song in the throng,
You the verse to traverse the universe;
I am heaven, you earth and birth-giver.
So will we dwell as one under the sun.”

I am confused, then, by evangelicals
Choosing to follow traditions so hollow,
While clinging to Bible and miracles
Of God, who is neither male nor female;
Scriptures holy are sacred tales spun,
Centering upon rugged cross and nails,
… and inexplicable love from above.

Willingly in the position of submission,
Still, why do these good women accept
That this means disrespect, dishonor
And neglect? Do they not ever reflect
On love, and marriage elect to correct?

Representing heaven and earth, God
Did leaven the world with man, woman
And gave birth to beauty of humanity,
But not the insanity of profane vanity
Of men who often excuse their abuse!

But why, oh why, do evangelical women
Accept this tragic-comical situation,
Which is only a mock representation
Of most holy matrimony, as some sort
Of divine patrimony given to her cohort?

Ah! But the churches preach and teach
An unequal equality impossible to reach;
Command compliance, demand obedience,
Reprimand any woman held in defiance,
And she takes it and bakes it in her mind!

Why? Is the “real biblical man” she wants
Expected to taunt and flaunt his manliness;
To be proud and loud, brash, foolishly rash;
And a cruel jackass, as stubborn as a mule?
Is this the love-pool for which she drools?

Ah, I persist too long and insist too much;
Tis better for me to be a man such as I am,
Without inquiry into such mirey theology
Fraught with an ontology of misery bought
At the price of humiliation and degradation.

Now … I have written and vented enough.

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‘Twelve Reasons Why You Can’t Call God Mother…’ Oh Really?

Yesterday I was referred to the article, Twelve Reasons Why You Can’t Call God ‘Mother’, by one gracious reader in response to my blog, “Imagined Conversation With God,” in which I refer to the Deity as “Mother.” I have provided the link above to the actual article, so anyone interested can read the protest points made by the author, Fr. Dwight Longenecker. If anyone cares for me to respond, please ask and I shall do my best to accommodate, extensive footnotes included. Until such interest is expressed, though, blessings to one and all, especially the reader who provided an “alternative perspective” to my own.

‘Conversation With God’ w/Extensive Endnotes (Second Update and Expansion)

For those readers who might be interested in some basis for what some (many?) might consider my outlandish “Imagined Conversation With God,” concerning divine gender ~ God the Mother or Father or both ~ as well as my views on the strength of the feminine and longing for my ideal soul-mate, I offer this re-presentation of the dialogue with extensive, explanatory endnotes. The endnotes, in fact, offer commentary to the extent that one can both understand my line of thought as well as (if s/he desires) knowledgeably critique the whole of the dialogue. Needless to say, then, in this edition it is fundamentally important to read carefully the end notes!

Imagined Conversation With God

Yonatan –      I have long wanted to speak with you openly and honestly, laying bare my deepest pains and desires, of which you are doubtless already aware, to unburden my soul and, if you graciously acquiesce, to perhaps finally know some answers to my most plaguing questions, most kind and gracious and almighty Elohim.

Elohim –         Most assuredly, you are welcome, Yonatan, for have I not asked my children to cast their burdens upon me, assuring them that I care for them as a mother cares for her child? Have I not laid bare my breasts to nurture and sustain precious life? Am I not an advocate for the world, a pillar and refuge, who offers life-giving water to all?[1] Have I not also promised that if you ask, you shall receive? Even those, such as yourself, of little ability, by depending upon the great, may prosper. A drop of water is a little thing, but when will it dry away when united to a lake?[2]  No, Yonatan, surely I will not withhold answers to your questions, nor fail to explain the pain you feel, if only you’re able to understand. Know this, however: You may not be able to understand, nor may you be able to accept my answers even should you understand. Such is the gulf that divides us, dear child[3] –– the gulf of intellect, of spirit, of very being. Can you possibly expect to comprehend my ways any more than Job of ancient lore?

Yonatan –      Forgive me, then, for asking questions the answers to which I may not understand due to my own human limitations, but I will make bold by your invitation to ask anyway.

Elohim –         Yes, Yonatan, ask freely and without fear.

Yonatan –      Very well, then, I shall begin with the troubling question of how I might relate to you, whether as Father or Mother, for this has troubled me for quite some time, magnificent Elohim. Tell me, if you please, if I might without sacrilege refer to you as Mother, for in my weakness I feel very deeply the need for an almighty life-giver, nurturer, protector, who is maternal. That I do not despise fatherhood is well-known to you, the All-Knowing, but I am constitutionally inclined to pray to you and worship you as divine Mother. Is this wrong?

Elohim –         And here, dear Yonatan, you may not understand yourself as well as you imagine, for it is my very Spirit communing with your spirit that has led you to cry out to me as I Am.[4] You know well, Yonatan, that God is not bound by human gender;[5] this is seen clearly even in sacred scriptures. I Am above and beyond gender, yet divine Mother and Father. I Am the Progenitor of All, the Birth-Giver of the cosmos and all life therein. Could any truth be clearer than this from a clear and sensible reading of the sacred literature? [6]

                        I have revealed myself as the Birth-Giver of Israel, have I not?[7] Will any deny this? And who, after all, gives birth? I have revealed myself as suckling my children at breast, and who feeds their babes at breast but the mother? I have revealed myself as the nurturing hen, the protective she-bear, the mother eagle; why, then, would anyone question my being Mother? No, Yonatan, my Spirit has taught your spirit more of the truth of my nature, which is in pure accord with what I have revealed of myself from of old. And see, too, I have revealed myself by many names and titles: God, Elohim, Yahweh, Allah (which means God), Father, Shepherd, and yes, Mother.

Be not afraid, then, of your own desires for me, for I am for you all that you need for me to be. Be still, and know that I am God.[8] I will not be circumscribed by the petty narrow-mindedness of hypocrites and contemporary Pharisees, by those who strain at gnats and swallow camels.[9] Know me; believe in me; trust me and love me, Yonatan, not blind, flesh-and-blood guides. There are those whom I have anointed to teach and led, and they hear my voice and follow me. They are those who are filled with my love, joy, peace, and happiness; they are filled with warmth, and enthusiasm, empathy, and understanding. These are devoid of acrimony, spitefulness, deceit, and vindictiveness; they are empty of malice, cruelty, cunning, and folly.[10] Remember, you will know them by the fruits they bear,[11] and they are not those who condemn you for coming to me, wrapping your arms round me in your lively imagination, which will one day be reality, and laying your head on my bosom,[12] calling me Mother. No, Yonatan, they understand as I understand.

Yonatan –      Thank you, then, Mother Elohim. Your most gracious answer has made me confident enough now to ask another question: You deigned that I be a man, that is male, yet I have been long troubled that I do not measure up to the standard of manhood. As well, I also long for an intimate companion who is wise and strong and beautiful, my Lady-Lord. Is this wrong? Is there something distorted within me, perhaps because of my fallen nature? Because of sin? Do you intend the man always to be stronger, and to be in authority, to be the leader? Or might the woman in intimate companionship better fulfill the place of authority, or at least in primary decision-making?[13]

Elohim –         Ah! Yonatan! How we must unravel this tangled misapprehension for many people, not only for you, my child! First, how do you imagine God defines manhood? Would I not say you are a good man if you are honest, charitable, kind and gracious, obedient to what I’ve directed you to do in life? How much more a man can you be than to be my faithful child, Yonatan? And how much more a woman can a woman be who does the same?[14] That there are physical differences is obvious to even the most casually observant, young child! But, now, did I birth the male and female as two intrinsically, constitutionally different beings? No! Of course not! Have I not taught you, and everyone, that I fashioned male and female in my image, according to my likeness?[15] What more, then, is there to say? It is sin that has distorted relationships between men and women;[16] this was never my intention! And those who attribute to me the abusive distortion in such relationships with which you are familiar commit an act of practical blasphemy, Yonatan![17]

                        But let us go back to the beginning of all, to my creation of life. Do not both the science of humanity as well as my divine revelation teach that all life is lived in an interdependent symbiotic relationship?[18] And life, all life, sprang from the same Life, for I Am the One Life-Giver, and in the growth and maturation of this life, the mother of all humanity, called Eve, became the crowning achievement of my handiwork. She was the diadem of the whole cosmos, which is apparent in the very title I bequeathed upon her – my very own, as Helper.[19] The man, Adam, was incomplete, insufficient unto himself, and in need of physical, intellectual, and spiritual fulfillment. The female was that fulfillment, who herself was in no need of fulfillment, for remember I said, “It is not good for the man to be alone,” and also I said, “Thus the man shall leave mother and father and cleave to his wife, and the two shall become one.”[20] Is it not apparent, then, even to the sensibilities of a child, that the woman was made greater than the man?[21]

Evil and wickedness distorted this, Yonatan, and men have been preying upon women ever since, just as the Adversary has been preying upon humanity.[22] Sinful man, then, follows the course of the Enemy in satanic rebellion against all that is divine – all that is good, and true, and lovely.[23]

Yonatan, I would have you know, though, that you are precious in my sight. You are not less the man I fashioned you to be. What? Will you be embarrassed for me to tell you that you are beautiful, instead of using the word handsome? You are beautiful, Yonatan, and intelligent, gifted, talented; you are kind and gentle and compassionate. You are like an amazing, spectacular flower ready to burst forth in a magnificent array of beauty to bless the world![24] Oh, Yonatan, do you not know that I know you need a strong and wise, beautiful and capable companion with whom to join yourself? Yes, child, I know you are pining to pour yourself – heart, mind, and soul – into the life of this kind of woman, and I know this strong and sturdy, level-headed and determined, righteous woman[25] is not easily found because they are so rare, and they are so rare because so many women have been abused into being grossly subservient to the almost complete obliteration of the gifts and talents with which I’ve bequeathed them… But do not lose hope!

Yonatan, you are a thinker, researcher, essayist, story-teller, poet and care-giver. You are what I want you to be, and I love you passionately, like only a mother could love you. I Am your Mother; you are my child. I will not leave you or forsake you,[26] my son. Should she never come – and I believe she will – or should she be blind and deaf to the treasure that is your person, your self, then the loss will be hers;[27] after all, the human is limited, but I am not, and I know ten thousand treasure hunters who would find in you an invaluable boon, my dear. Do not give up, then!

Yonatan –      Forgive me, great Elohim, for being so dull, but I must ask again, is there any sense in which you intended man to lead, to be the authority over woman and all of creation? This is, after all, what your Church has taught down through the ages.

Elohim –         Yonatan, are you so dull? Or is the weight of your own doubts so great that you cannot see reason? Let me answer, then, and say that if I created from lesser to greater, then the penultimate of my creation was humanity, and within humanity, the woman.[28] Is this not apparent? Also, consider my nature and what would be my divine intention, and then look at the record left by man. For tens of thousands of years, man has ruled the earth, and what legacy has he left? Violence, war, pain, suffering, disease, starvation, oppression, exploitation, marginalization, degradation, evils of all kinds. Is this the exercise of authority God intended?

                        Return to the beginning again, then, and know that I created woman to be life-giver, nurturer, and cultivator.[29] Even the simple child can understand this is leadership, for who could be greater than the one who births new life, who nourishes all life, who cultivates home and family and community? As an icon of the divine Helper, the woman as helper was intended not only to complete the man, but also to complete the whole of my created order. Is this not astonishing enough! Is this not answer enough! Within this order, then, I intended woman to naturally provide loving guidance and direction, as she was creatively constituted by me to do so, and why not? In the pristine purity of that paradisiacal time, there was no inequality, or grasping for power, or envy, or malice and the like. In my Christ, I have tried to restore this original relationship,[30] Yonatan, as in him there is no longer the man or the woman, but rather an interdependent relationship of love.

You do not quite understand this, as so many others fail to understand, but you do know this about yourself: You long for the strong, confident, wise and knowledgeable, attractive woman, whom you can completely love and trust, and to whose guidance and direction you can (and would) gladly yield. This is good, Yonatan, for you have gone beyond the foolish acrimony of the typical male into the peaceful, life-giving desires of an unsullied heart. Know, too, that the image of man presented by the society in which you live militates against the image of good men that I have presented around the world, in every language and culture, down through the ages. So too the image of the woman presented in your society; it is gross and degrading to the finest of my creation, and further serves to subjugate those who are meant for so much more; those who are intended to be an invaluable blessing to the world … and, yes, often in positions of authority.

Yonatan –      Is this, then, not such an absurd thought? That you, the Everlasting One, created woman wholly differently than we experience woman in this fallen world today?

Elohim –         Yonatan, the heavenly feminine, very real and alive in a manner beyond your understanding, was with me in the beginning: intelligent, holy, unique, manifold, subtle, mobile, clear, unpolluted, distinct, invulnerable, loving the good, keen, irresistible, beneficent, humane, steadfast, sure, free from anxiety, all-powerful, overseeing all, and penetrating through all spirits that are intelligent, pure, and altogether subtle. She was and is my very breath, the pure emanation of my glory, the reflection of eternal light.[31] She is the heart of the way of Life and is immortal, the mysterious mother of all, of heaven and earth, of everything; invisible yet ever-present. She it is upon whom you can feed without any diminution to her whatsoever. She protected the first-formed man and for him I incarnated her from his very loins to be his heavenly-earthly companion-helper.[32]

                        Yonatan, she is the great portent that appeared in the sky in the vision of my servant, John the Revelator, the vision of the woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.[33] This woman imaged the re-incarnate Eve, the second Eve, the most blessed and ever-Virgin Mary, mother of your Lord Jesus the Christ.[34] And think now, Yonatan, how could these images be divorced from the constitutional being of woman and what I intended of woman? No, if humanity fell into darkness, sin, and death, as is apparently true, then everything in the whole of the created order was affected, just as you have been taught, just as you can see for yourself. This damage to the created order extends throughout creation into each of its parts, including relationships. Would it not be fair to say, then, that what you have seen throughout the history of the world is warped, skewed, so that you must know that typically common relationships are from inception twisted and marred?

Think, too, of this possibility: If what I have thus far told you is true, and it must be, so if you trust me, then what you have heard and read in your society about women trying to be like men in authority and leadership, and in so many other ways, may not actually be true.[35] It is at least possible, is it not, that for millennia upon millennia it has been men who have been trying to be what I intended women to be. Will you not admit this as at least a possible reason for the horrendously repulsive legacy of man? Perhaps it is not women imitating men, after all; perhaps, Yonatan, it is women returning to their divine-primordial being, raw and vibrant, naked in innocence, visceral in power… Ah, but there are so few!

Yonatan –      Will I ever meet such a one, gracious Mother? Will this servant of yours be joined to such as this woman? Will you so bless me, your child-servant?

Elohim –         This I will tell you, Yonatan, and this only, because I have so orchestrated the world that each individual must travel the course of their life much under their own compulsion, directing themselves down whatever path they may choose. I have left life quite largely open,[36] though not completely so; nevertheless, I can assure you that there is such a woman for you, yes. Whether she discerns this and acts upon this knowledge only time will tell, for I have chosen for myself to leave that knowledge as an open end. Know this, though: She struggles with an unimaginable burden peculiar to women, so that even though she would find in you everything she could hope to find in a man of your disposition, yet she may be quite hesitant all and only because she acutely feels the weight of the expectation of her community to be what society, and particularly the Church, has defined as woman.[37]

Yonatan –      In the meantime, though, my soul is in anguish, my mind is in turmoil, my very body hurts, compassionate Elohim. What am I to do, this lonely man who I am, to survive this plight? To be surrounded by people, yet ever deprived of intimacy with an intended soul mate, is so excruciating that it must be some form of hell.

Elohim –         No, Yonatan, this is not some form of hell, but it can be purgatorial. If you will allow, this time can refine and purify you in and through your suffering. What you should do is what you already know to do: Work as you have been working, for it is an invaluable service to another precious human; write as you have been writing, for in so doing you are giving vent to your soul, and there are those who appreciate and benefit, though you doubt this to be true; pray and meditate, for you know from experience that joining yourself to me in this way always benefits you because you know I love you with an everlasting love, and you love me, too; sing and praise, for the light of worship often drives out the darkness of despair; take your medications, for I have given humanity the capacity to work healing in many ways and this way is one way by which you are helped significantly; love your friends and family, spend time with them, and enjoy their company, for this, too, will help guard you against loneliness. Finally, though, trust and believe that your soul mate is even now coming to know you, forming within herself an important familiarity, contemplating you, praying for you, preparing for you. I Am your Comforter, Yonatan, and I will not leave you or forsake you. Trust and believe, my child, and never give up hope! You are on the right track; stay the course!

Yonatan –      Praise be to you, Elohim, Mother God, the Everlasting One! Praise be to you, Christ Jesus our Lord and Redeemer! Praise be to you, Spirit of Light and Life, Love and Truth! Praise be to you, Holy One, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

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[1] I Peter 5.7; also, Psalm 131.2 pictures the psalmist with God “like a weaned child with its mother.” The Lord speaking through the Prophet Isaiah says, “As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you…” Also, That breast of Yours which is inexhaustible, health-giving, by which You nurse all that is noble, containing treasure, bearing wealth, bestowed freely;
lay that bare, Sarasvati [divine Mother], for our nurture.” Rig Veda 1.164.49 And also, “O Mother of Imupa, advocate for the whole world! What a remarkable Mother I have! O Mother, a pillar, a refuge! O Mother, to whom all prostrate in greeting Before one enters her habitation! I am justly proud of my Mother. O Mother who arrives, who arrives majestic and offers water to all!” Yoruba Prayer (Nigeria) as quoted in World Scripture.

[2] Matthew 21.22; John 16.24; I John 3.22; cf. also, Elegant Sayings 173 of Buddhism, as quoted in World Scripture.

[3] “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55.9

[4] Romans 8.26-27

[5] This is an admitted truth throughout the Christian faith. So The Catechism of the Catholic Church, “In no way is God in man’s image. He is neither man nor woman. God is pure spirit in which there is no place for the difference between the sexes. But the respective ‘perfections’ of man and woman reflect something of the infinite perfection of God.” (III.370) add to this the beautiful words of Dame Julian of Norwich, who said, “And thus in our creation God Almighty is our natural father, and God all-wisdom is our natural mother, with the love and goodness of the Holy Spirit. These are all one God, one Lord. In the knitting and joining he is our real, true spouse and we are his loved wife and his fair maiden.” And, too, Clement of Alexandria: ““The Word is everything to the child, both father and mother, teacher and nurse…. The nutriment is the milk of the father … and the Word alone supplies us children with the milk of love, and only those who suck at this breast are truly happy…. For this reason seeking is called sucking; to those infants who seek the Word, the Father’s loving breasts supply milk.” Cf. also Jenny Bledsoe, “Feminine Images of Jesus,” in which she observes that during the Middle Ages: “Clearly suggestive of the Eucharist, Quirizio da Murano’s The Savior (ca. 1460–1478) depicts Christ offering to a believer his blood from his breast, along with a wafer, symbolic of his body, both of which impart faith and thus nurture the spirituality of the believer (see fig. 1.1).23 An even more obvious allusion to the Eucharist appears in a German work titled Christ and Charity (ca. 1470).24 In this piece, Jesus’ blood spurts forth from his breast in a stream, as breast milk might. The blood streams into a cup held by personified Charity, obviously suggesting the Eucharist but also highlighting the nutritive nature of the Eucharistic blood by its connection with breast milk.” (41) In Eastern philosophy, Mystery is highly reverenced, which is certainly applicable to the Judeo-Christian conception of God, to wit: The way that can be spoken of is not the eternal Way; the name that can be named is not the eternal name. The nameless was the beginning of heaven and earth; the named was the mother of the myriad creatures. Hence always rid yourself of desire in order to observe its secrets; but always allow yourself to have desires in order to observe its manifestations. These two are the same but diverge in name as they issue forth. Being the same they are called mysteries, Mystery upon mystery — the gateway of the manifold secrets.” As quoted in World Scripture, but note quite different trans. by Brian Browne Walker (St. Martin’s Press, 1995), although substantively the same.

[6] “Can you fathom the mystery of God? Or can you probe the limits of the Almighty?” Job 11.7 WEBA; “God moves in mysterious ways; His wonders to perform; He plans His footsteps in the sea; and rides upon the storm.” William Cowper (19th Century); cf. also Asma T. Uddin, “God is Mystery: Motherhood and Islamic Mysticism,” Tikkun, as accessed May 26, 2015

[7] Cf. Deuteronomy 32, 1ff, commonly referred to as the Song of Moses; Isaiah 46.3 as well, perhaps

[8] Psalm 46.10

[9] A good, close reading of the story of Job more than amply justifies this statement, of course. Who can truly comprehend the Divine and the ways of God? The Pharisees of old, and those of contemporary times, attempt to put “God in a box.” J. B. Phillips authored a book many years ago under the title, Your God is Too Small, which might provide and interesting read, especially if one expands the premises and application.

[10] Galatians 5.19-23 (NRSV); “The quiet words of the wise are more to be heeded than the shouting of a ruler among fools. Wisdom is better than weapons of war, but one bungler destroys much good.” Ecclesiastes 9.17-18 (NRSV)

[11] Matthew 7.17-19; 12.33; Luke 6.43-44

[12] John 13.23

[13] Cf. Jeremiah 31.22 in that “a woman shall protect a man,” which is presented as “a new thing upon the earth,” created by the Lord. (So the RSV, ISV, CEV, GNB) “A new world is at hand, however one interprets the verse,” (The New Interpreter’s Study Bible) and this new order comes via the imagery-personification of the woman. This must, necessarily, bear some significance … especially as the woman, especially in ancient times, was honored (to the extent that she was honored) as life-giver, nurturer, and cultivator.

[14] Who could claim to be greater, overall, than the legendary, wise Suleiman? Look, then, at how his character is presented in the Book of Wisdom and ask, “Is this not an instructive portrait of what any man ought to desire and strive to achieve, rather than the brawny, brute, gladiator-type so often present to us via entertainment media? So then, “if any one loves righteousness, her (Wisdom’s) labors are virtues; for she teaches self-control and prudence, justice and courage; nothing in life is more profitable for men than these. And if any one longs for wide experience, she knows the things of old, and infers the things to come; she understands turns of speech and the solutions of riddles; she has foreknowledge of signs and wonders and of the outcome of seasons and times. Therefore I determined to take her (Wisdom) to live with me, knowing that she would give me good counsel and encouragement in cares and grief. Because of her I shall have glory among the multitudes and honor in the presence of the elders, though I am young. I shall be found keen in judgment, and in the sight of rulers I shall be admired. When I am silent they will wait for me, and when I speak they will give heed; and when I speak at greater length they will put their hands on their mouths. Because of her (Wisdom) I shall have immortality, and leave an everlasting remembrance (that is, good heritage) to those who come after me. I shall govern peoples, and nations will be subject to me; dread monarchs will be afraid of me when they hear of me; among the people I shall show myself capable, and courageous in war. When I enter my house, I shall find rest with her Wisdom), for companionship with her has no bitterness, and life with her has no pain, but gladness and joy. When I considered these things inwardly, and thought upon them in my mind, that in kinship with wisdom there is immortality, and in friendship with her, pure delight, and in the labors of her hands, unfailing wealth, and in the experience of her company, understanding, and renown in sharing her words (that is, to be a wise man, renowned sage), I went about seeking how to get her for myself.” Wisdom 8.7-18 (NRSV) We might also refer again to the fruits of the Spirit as being most preferable qualities of both men and women.

[15] Genesis 1.26-27; 2.7, 21-22;

[16] Adam Clarke explains the situation of the curse in the narrative of the Fall, conjecturing in part that “at their creation both were formed with equal rights, and the woman had probably as much right to rule as the man; but subjection to the will of her husband is one part of her curse; and so very capricious is this will often, that a sorer punishment no human being can well have, to be at all in a state of liberty,” that is, this should be somewhat a remedy, “and under the protection of wise and equal laws,” i.e. this is the ideal now. I mention the comments of this erudite 19th century Methodist bible scholar to give some perspective to pre- and post-Fall conditions in the relationship of male and female, even as this was conceived (at least by some) in a still decidedly patriarchal society and church (although the Methodist tradition has an appreciable heritage of equal rights, women in ministry, social-economic activity, etc.) Also cf. (importantly) Donald Gowan, “Man and Woman, Male and Female,” in which he aptly points out, “This being is alone (v,18), without the kind of relationships necessary for life to be good. God then set out to make ‘a helper as his partner,’ as the NRSV renders words that have often been misunderstood. KJV’s accurate translation, ‘an help meet [i.e., appropriate] for him,’ became distorted to ‘helpmate,’ and it has been assumed that ‘help’ made the woman inferior to the man. When the OT uses this word (ezer), however, it refers to one with superior power able to meet a serious need… The woman God makes is thus depicted as more than a ‘partner;’ she is one able to deliver the human from solitude. She will be kenegdo, which can be translated several ways, but perhaps ‘corresponding to him’ is more appropriate … that is, not identical, but essential.” D. E. Gowan, The Westminster Theological Workbook of the Bible, 312. 

[17] An interesting aside on this point might be the observation found on Islamic Insights: There is truly no masculinity in males who subjugate females trying to dominate them with resentment or physical abuse. “True masculinity and harmony between male and female lies in mutual respect, and in the understanding of each other’s needs. We can leave the spurious battle of the sexes for the opportunists who want to earn something other than the true realization of human beings.” Also cf., “Not those are true husband and wife that with each other [merely] consort: Truly wedded are those that in two frames, are as one light.” Adi Granth, Var-Suhi-Ki, M.3, p. 788 and the very poetically beautiful, “I am He, you are She;
I am Song, you are Verse, I am Heaven, you are Earth. We two shall here together dwell, becoming parents of children.” Atharva Veda 14.2.71 as quoted in World Scripture.

[18] Cf. “Systems Theory: The Interdependence of Life,” on Paddle Asia as accessed on May 26, 2015; Said Elias Dawlabani remarked, “Leaders in business and government, who fail to see the holistic interdependence of our planet, are destined to cause its demise,” in his book, Memenonics: The Next Generation Economic System, as quote on GoodReads as accessed on May 26, 2015; also consider “the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” (Gen. 1.3, ESV), the primordial chaos, as the hen gathereth her chicken under her wings, and hovers over them, to warm and cherish them, Mat_23:37 as the eagle stirs up her nest, and fluttereth over her young, (’tis the same word that is here used) Deu_32:11. (So J. Wesley, Notes) Life comes from the life of God, who maternally nurtures that life, the Life of the whole of the created order. “Even in a single leaf of a tree, or a tender blade of grass, the awe-inspiring Deity manifests Itself.” Shinto. Urabe-no-Kanekuni as quoted in World Scripture.

[19] Clarke notes, “If the word (ezer kenegdo) be rendered scrupulously literally, it signifies one like, or as himself, standing opposite to or before him. And this implies that the woman was to be a perfect resemblance of the man, possessing neither inferiority nor superiority, but being in all things like and equal to himself. As man was made a social creature, it was not proper that he should be alone; for to be alone, i.e. without a matrimonial companion, was not good.” Also, consider an appreciably more contemporary and accurate interpretation of Genesis 2.18: “In English, the word ‘help’ has a broad range of connotations.  ‘Help’ can refer to a simple, modest act or it can refer to something much more significant.  An example of significant help is the assistance and counsel provided by professionals such as doctors, etc.  In Hebrew, the word for ‘helper’ used in Genesis 2:18 and 20 is ezer, and it is always and only used in the Old Testament in the context of vitally important and powerful assistance.  According to R. David Freedman, the word ezer is a combination of two roots, meaning ‘to rescue, to save,’ and ‘strength.’ The word ezer is used only twenty-one times in the Old Testament.  Twice it is used in the context of the first woman.  Three times it is used in a military context.  Sixteen times it is used in reference to God as a helper.  All of these biblical texts are talking about a vital, powerful kind of help, yet when ezer is applied to the first woman, its meaning is usually diminished to fit with traditional and cultural views of women’s roles. The Hebrew word kenegdo, usually translated as ‘suitable’ in Genesis 2, gives the meaning that Eve was designed to be a corresponding companion and equal partner for Adam. There is no sense of subordination stated or implied, or even hinted at, in this passage in Genesis 2, whatsoever.” As found on New Life accessed on May 26, 2015. Note also, interestingly enough, that the very similar, related noun, nāgîḏ, means “prince or ruler.” However that may be, it is at least certain that “the new creation will be neither superior nor inferior, but equal. The creation of this helper will form one-half of a polarity, and will be to man as the south pole is to the north pole.” (V. P. Hamilton, Genesis Chapters 1 – 17, 175)

[20] Genesis 2.18, 24 respectively

[21] Admittedly weak in and of itself, but more in reaction to the line of interpretation classically used by some expositors to subjugate women to men. An interesting observation on this point: “Some of the same Bible commentators who believe man should rule over woman because he was created first take the exact opposite reasoning when they say man or humanity, being created last, is the most sophisticated of creation, and thus have dominance over prior creations. Following this chain of logic, the woman has to be considered the most sophisticated creation since she was created last, certainly more advanced than the man just as the man is more advanced than the animals that were created before him, and she will have lordship over man just as humans have lordship over animals.” Anon., “The Place of Woman in God’s Creation,” on Colorq World, as accessed on May 26, 2015; cf. also Gowan, Westminster Theological Workbook of the Bible, 312-313.

[22] I Peter 5.8; cf. also John 10.10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (RSV) Cf. also, W. Sibley Towner, “Satan,” D. E. Gowan, ed., Westminster Theological Workbook of the Bible, 447-449 for good overview of the evolution of the satanic/diabolic idea in Yahwehism and subsequently NT Christianity. Also from Zoroastrianism, “The Evil Ruler spoils the Word, the plan of life, by his teachings. He, indeed, deprives me of the exalted goal of Good Thought. With the word of my spirit, I pray to You, O Wise One, and to truth!” Avesta, Yasna 32.9 as quoted in World Scripture.

[23] John 8.44, “You are the children of your father, the Devil, and you want to follow your father’s desires. From the very beginning he was a murderer and has never been on the side of truth, because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie, he is only doing what is natural to him, because he is a liar and the father of all lies.” (GNT)

[24] In other words, I am not here being self-deprecating; point in fact, I am consciously realizing my invaluable worth to God and the beauty with which God has endowed me as a unique creation, with gifts and talents and purpose.

[25] An untarnished understanding of the Proverbs 31 passage on the ideal woman, along with subsequent re-casting into contemporary context is precisely this woman.

[26] I Kings 8.57; Matthew 28.20; John 14.27; II Thessalonians 2.16-17

[27] Assuming free will rather than fatalistic predestination

[28] See above n20

[29] Cultivator here used to mean “one who prepares and fosters the growth of” in multidimensional life of family and community.

[30] So again A. Clarke, “Neither male nor female – With great reason the apostle introduces this. Between the privileges of men and women there was a great disparity among the Jews. A man might shave his head, and rend his clothes in the time of mourning; a woman was not permitted to do so. A man might impose the vow of nasirate upon his son; a woman could not do this on her daughter. A man might be shorn on account of the nasirate of his father; a woman could not. A man might betroth his daughter; a woman had no such power. A man might sell his daughter; a woman could not. In many cases they were treated more like children than adults; and to this day are not permitted to assemble with the men in the synagogues, but are put up in galleries, where they can scarcely see, nor can they be seen. Under the blessed spirit of Christianity, they have equal rights, equal privileges, and equal blessings; and, let me add, they are equally useful.” Cf. also Elizabeth Johnson, “Commentary on Galatians 3.23-29,” on Working Preacher as accessed May 26, 2015: “The Babylonian Talmud includes a morning blessing to be recited by every Jewish man, thanking God for not creating him a gentile, a slave, or a woman (Menahoth 43b). While it is not certain that this prayer pre-dates Paul, it demonstrates the power these three categories held in the ancient world. Paul’s declaration that in Christ there is no longer Jew or Greek, slave or free, male and female, is a radical dismantling of these primary identity and boundary markers. Differences in ethnicity, gender, and socio-economic status do not magically disappear, of course, but Paul declares them to be irrelevant in the body of Christ. For one to be baptized into Christ means being clothed with Christ and finding one’s primary identity and value in Christ.” Cf. also, Richard B. Hayes, “The Letter to the Galatians,” The New Interpreter’s Bible: A Commentary in Twelve Volumes, “This suggests that he did not understand the baptismal formula to prescribe merely a spiritual equality before God in a way that had no social implications. …. The  evidence  … is sufficiently ambiguous enough to suggest that Paul’s vision did, in fact, destabilize traditional assumptions about power in a way that had practical implications in his communities. For example, he counseled mutuality in sexual relations (I Cor. 7.304), and women did prophesy (I Cor. 11.5) and exercise roles of leadership in the mission (Rom. 16.1-7); Phil. 4.2-3). Whatever we may think in retrospect about the adequacy of Paul’s implementation of the vision articulated in the formula, it is hard to deny that he believed the church to be a new community brought into being by the power of God’s grace in which old social inequalities were being overturned and transformed. (see also I Cor. 1.18-31). 11.278

[31] Wisdom 7.21-23, 25-26

[32] Wisdom 10.1

[33] Revelation of St. John 12.1

[34] An ancient interpretation now gone by the way-side, although there is still a “minority opinion” that sees in this imagery a picture of the Blessed Virgin Mary rather than the Church, or at least both. For example, many in the Eastern Orthodox tradition still give this passage a Marian interpretation. Cf. “Mary as the Queen of Heaven,” found at The Orthodox Faith as accessed on May 27, 2015

[35] Another interesting note, this time anthropological: “Interestingly, women, it seems, were not simply objects for their male counterparts to own and dominate, nor were they helpless slaves relying on the food supplied by men, quite the contrary in fact. Men relied on women in many of these cultures just as much if not more than women relied on them. The evidence shows that in most cases the food consumed by males and females, the positions held by males and females, the attitudes towards both males and females as well as expectations and behavior during day-to-day life and even the treatment after death of both males and females was virtually indistinguishable save a few carved mementos displaying an adoration and appreciation of women alone proving that modern cultures may be more than a bit misguided when it comes to the nature of gender separations…

“With all of the evidence gathered from unrelated cultures spanning thousands of years and thousands of miles it is difficult to ignore the fact that women in prehistoric time were regarded as highly as men and were most certainly honored as such. As anthropologists, historians and scientists continue to uncover new evidence we must ask ourselves if our current perceptions of gender divisions truly serve any purpose. The idea that this is how it has always been is definitely dispelled without question. So how then can we continue to justify the persisting misguided version of the past as natural? The truth is, we cannot nor should we. The time has come to put aside all previous, widely held perceptions of cultural diversions, specifically gender based theories, the time has come for our culture to move forward by looking to the past. Our ancient ancestors understood that men and women alike where intricate parts of society, culture, and ultimately survival each relying on the other for support in a variety of capacities, which is why their day-to-day lives in all aspects were virtually indistinguishable as they should be still.” Myranda Grecinger, “Status of Women in Prehistoric Communities: The Start of the Division of Labor,” on HubPages as accessed May 26, 2015

[36] At least a nod to the possibility of open theism…

[37] “Many women are expressing now more bluntly how they see themselves subtly but effectively ignored or stereotyped by the ecclesiastical establishment. Certainly this is not true of all women, but the wide extent of this fact cannot be ignored.” Michael A. Fahey, “Church,” Systematic Theology: Roman Catholic Perspectives, 2.10; also an interesting historical-background read is Ordination of Women to the Diaconate in the Eastern Churches, by Cipriano Vagaggini (Liturgical Press, 2013)

.

Sloughheart, My Self, and Silly Fundamentalism

My own background was socio-politically conservative; economically capitalistic; and broadly evangelical, Protestant-Christian. To make some necessary distinction, though, it was not libertarian or hyper-capitalistic, nor was my background religiously fundamentalist. Growing up, I was encouraged to read (and listen) widely, including of course other, differing perspectives. For example, my father handed me The Communist Manifesto to read when I was about 14-years-old (or so), and at some point gave me an interesting introduction to Catholicism entitled, Mr. Jackson Talks to Father Smith,[1] which was written (and presumably published) in Jackson, Mississippi to be distributed there to anyone interested in the Roman Catholic Church. He also introduced me to his friend, the Catholic priest in our town, back in the early 80s, allowed me to visit other churches (and he was a pastor), introduced me to foreign films, notably those of Federico Fellini, an Italian filmmaker “known for his distinct style that blends fantasy and baroque images with earthiness.”

No, not in any sense did I grow up in a legalistic, fundamentalist background. Of course, I was appropriately catechized in the Reformed tradition, even though we attended an independent Methodist church my father pastored, the rationale being that George Whitefield was also Methodist and he was Calvinistic. We were not exactly Calvinistic, but leaned heavily in that direction, so the Westminster Shorter Catechism did nicely for my doctrinal training. However, I was also exposed to the sermons of John Wesley; we did have a traditional, Methodist-type service at our little church; professors from Wesley Biblical Seminary in Jackson, Mississippi were invited to preach and/or teach, etc. I remember, too, my parents purchasing for me (at my request) a collection of essays by Marx and Friedrich Engels on religion. (It turned out to be a rather boring read, but…) My father wanted me to understand libertarianism, socialism, the New Deal, and the Great Society. My mother particularly encouraged me to read especially C. S. Lewis, but also Jane Austin, Charles Dickens, Shakespeare, etc. My father steered me in the direction of Leo Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Gogol, Victor Hugo and others.

The last of five children, with my closest sibling being eight years my senior, to a certain extent I felt like an only child; however, my (by then older than usual) parents and I had an awful lot of fun. We went camping, hiking, fishing; we loved to grill out and play games, indoors and out; we had pets (always at least one); we loved singing and laughing and watching television (and later movies) together. My parents were by no means fuddle-duds; they were serious when they needed to be serious, but otherwise … fun … and very lovable. Consequently, I don’t know that I have the background necessary to critique fundamentalism – as I did in my last essay, Masculinity According to an Evangelical Woman – yet I don’t know that I can quite apologize for going ahead and doing so, either. Thankfully, my background also included some exposure to fundamentalism early on, and my father was the one who began explaining to me the pitfalls of moral legalism, theological dispensationalism,[2] and the anti-intellectualism that seems to attend both.

I also attended two Independent Bible Fundamentalist (IBF) high-schools – where, let me be quick to say, I met some of the best folk in the world despite the environment – and so I tasted enough firsthand to legitimately say that, despite my upbringing, I do have some experiential knowledge of legalistic fundamentalism. This is the topic I’d like to address now. So far as other socio-political and economic perspectives are concerned, well … perhaps another time. (Suffice it to say here, I have moved to just “left of center” politically, and I also see some redeeming value in socialistic ideology. Hyper-capitalism is no better for people in general, or society in toto, than Marxist-Communism … in my humble opinion.) Why this seems to be such a burning issue for me, I may never know, but it is and it has been for years upon years. One can readily see (I believe) from what I’ve shared that I didn’t get clobbered with legalistic fundamentalism growing up; just the opposite, in fact. Let me go one step further and say with certainty that I would never have read as much and as widely, nor travelled as much, nor frequented art museums, etc. had it not been for my parents. Yes, I have grown up into my “own man,” so to speak, and I know full well they would disagree with me at several points … but I also know they anticipated this with me, as they did with all of their children.

My encounters with fundamentalism and what knowledge I do have of this peculiar life-perspective has significantly factored into what “my own man” is today, that is, the still-maturing individual I am now. For example, I never understood the passionate zeal for altar calls and divinely gratuitous salvation displayed in so many IBF churches on the one hand, and extreme moral legalism on the other. What is the necessity, according to this way of thinking (if I may use the term loosely) for moral legalism if salvation is completely an unearned gift? Gratitude, perhaps? I can’t help but say, though, from my observation, IBFs don’t ordinarily strike me as being very grateful; point in fact, to look at their lives, salvation seems quite burdensome rather than something for which to be thankful. Nevertheless, gratitude may very well be a reasonable answer to my query; however, this only seems to include moral legalism, not charity. Where charity – feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, housing the homeless, etc. – is concerned, this is all-too-often condemned as “works religion,” something Roman Catholics do; no genuine, Bible-believing Christian would ever engage in works-based religion. There is, of course, an entire breakdown in logic in this line of thinking: If one should show gratitude through abiding by some strict moral standard, then one should also give charitably in order to show gratitude. (After all, it’s certainly commanded in Scripture!) If, however, charity is “works-based religion,” i.e. trying to earn one’s way to heaven, and if this is wrong, then abiding by a strict moral code must also be “works-based religion,” and thereby be wrong as well. Both are of the same species, and what applies to one, so far as life-action is concerned,[3] applies to the other, too.

I’m also certainly capable of illogic, perhaps as much as the average Joe or Jane (maybe even more so), but I think the difference is, if someone points out to me the intenability of something I’ve said or written (argued, presented, etc.), then I believe I will usually respond by rethinking my original position (perspective or whatnot) and make whatever corrections need be made, if not change altogether. The legalistic fundamentalist doesn’t typically do this, which is something brought through, at least indirectly, in my Sloughheart Series. On the topic of men and women, masculinity and femininity – gender characteristics, or attributes, I suppose – there is also a definite militation against the legalistic, fundamentalist perspective in the narrative. The character of Joy Brighterday serves as the premier example of this: She is well-educated, cultured, intellectually astute, and well-spoken; she has an affable personality, complete with an excellent sense of humor and deep compassion; physically she is stunningly beautiful, strong, robust, lively, and healthy. One might say I’ve idealized this character, making her an almost demi-god, but that’s probably not quite accurate.

The character has been exaggerated, and purposely so, but Joy Brighterday also has her share of shortcomings, evidenced, for example, in her meetings (along with Effete) with the attorney, Justin Case. Also, she is introduced at the beginning of the whole series struggling in prayer at the altar of St. Gianna’s, where she is the rector (or pastor.) She is unmarried, and in the end this seems to come back to bite her; she is, at a deep level, virtually left alone while those she has helped so much go on with their healing and/or now-very happy lives… All in all, though, the character of Joy Brighterday presents a woman, who is not only physiologically female but very much “in tune” with herself; who is strong, resilient, caring as well as commanding; who possesses upstanding character and integrity, wisdom and discernment, but also some faults, failings and shortcomings, too. And why this character? In order to image an archetype female in both a specific role traditionally ascribed to men and within a general cultural-societal context where women have found it difficult to thrive (and still do).

Along the way, the attempt is made to provide justification for this in the face of condemnation by the character Fen Sloughheart, an independent, legalistic, fundamentalist preacher – the antihero of the story. One episode consists of Joy writing to a young woman considering entering the ministry. Early in her letter, Joy notes:

Yes, even now it’s still difficult for women, especially when you’ve grown up in a tradition, such as your own church, that (paradoxical as it may seem) both honors women and yet bars them from ordination. Have no fear on that point, though; I know you’re not ‘dissing’ your church, as you say! And I’m not going to either, but believe me, I fully understand.

It is still challenging, but not impossible or unbiblical. (Bishop N. T. Wright addresses this issue very beautifully and effectively in an essay entitled, “Women’s Service in the Church.”) This is something completely out-of-bounds for the fundamentalist, though: To completely reconsider long-held perspectives, even by means of utilizing careful exegesis of Scripture. (One could reasonably argue that if they did so, they would no longer be fundamentalists!) The fundamentalist would say, “Thus saith the Lord…” and that’s the way it is, and that’s the way it will be in obedient, Bible-believing churches until Jesus comes back to rapture the faithful into heaven (leaving billions behind to suffer unthinkable atrocities … supposedly.) For some reason, this mentality is excruciatingly difficult for me to ignore; I suppose to some extent, at least, I take it personally, almost as if beloved family are being attacked. Of course, I know very well that the Ancient Near East was a patriarchal society, just as I know the ancient world as a whole was thought by its occupants to be shot through with the numinous, often to be overrun by the dæmonic, full of mysterium tremendum.[4] There are no illusions here, and perhaps this is part of the point.

My ancestors in the faith-religion of Judeo-Christianity may not measure up to contemporary, Western, socio-religious and ethical standards any more than my biological ancestors. There is no pretending otherwise, I suppose, but I’m still in many ways their progeny; consequently, I don’t really appreciate their lives being misrepresented or their teachings misconstrued … or sometimes horribly distorted. That convoluted interpretation of selected portions of Scripture is often used to justify all forms of abuse only makes legalistic fundamentalism all-the-more egregious. One simply cannot cherry-pick juicy bits of an ancient law code of nomadic peoples about to settle into an agrarian way of life and apply those decrees and guidelines – or forcefully impose them like diktats – within contemporary society, no matter how divinely inspired in origin. Besides, we have ample witness from the New Testament that much of the ancient law code would no longer be applicable to Christians – Jew or Gentile – and that was approximately two thousand years ago!

Fundamentalism wallows in shallow, anemic over-simplification, and when challenged, IBFs will (in the greater part of such instances) either try to out shout their opponent(s) with Bible verses and trite remarks, or withdraw into their fundamentalist fortress where they can privately deride their opponent(s) and relish the fantastical feeling of victory. In the meantime, the archetype of Joy Brighterday answers them on a number of fronts, including, for example, the ordination of women to the ministry:

You probably know, of course, some of the common objections to the ordination of women. The Apostle, St. Paul, instructed women to be silent in church, but then he also recommends women as “fellow workers” and even deacons, like Phoebe. Besides which, there were always female prophets, with whom Paul would have been familiar, like Miriam and the four daughters of Philip as well as the prophetess Anna, who openly spoke at the Temple. So, in my estimation, this particular argument is rather weak.

Of course, Paul also instructs women to veil their heads when they pray, yet how many opponents of female ordination actually push this practice? You see, as in so many other cases, there seems to be some inconsistency here, but I think Paul’s words ought to be contextualized anyway … at least, as best we can do that, and only then applied. But there are other arguments, too, like, ‘Christ was male, and so his priests should be male.’

My response to this has simply been the fact that there are any number of qualities we might lay down as restrictions. He was also Jewish, for example, but do we really want to prohibit non-Jewish people from serving in ordained ministry? For that matter, I suppose we could restrict ordained ministry not only to Jewish males, but to virgin-born Jewish males! You see, that sort of argument is not only weak, but it’s anything but helpful.

The question is, how much difference does gender really make in ministry now and why? And is the restriction of this vocation physiologically based? If so, why? Or is there another reason … perhaps psychological and/or spiritual? You see, one either quickly descends into a morass of confusion on this point, or ends up forwarding chauvinistic arguments, such as:

  1. The woman is physically weaker; therefore, she cannot command the respect, much less the following, of adult males
  2. The woman is generally less intelligent; therefore, she cannot reasonably be expected to teach adult men, who are, on average, more intelligent
  3. The woman is more emotional; therefore, she is psychically unstable and, thus, unable to “shepherd the flock”

And other distasteful, reprehensible contentions, all subsumed under the heretical assumption: God created woman to be subservient to the man.

This is not, of course, the only area in which the legalistic fundamentalist perspective is baneful. Another is the fundamentalist’s aversion to the Sacraments – which, naturally, they don’t recognize as Sacraments – thus, their infrequent celebration of Communion, or the Lord’s Supper. Simon Chan explains their excuse(s), then rebuts those reasons quite effectively:

Two reasons are commonly given for infrequent observance of the Eucharist. One is that if the Lord’s Supper were observed too frequently, it would lose its meaning. But according to a Reformed evangelical pastor, Leonard J. Vander Zee, this rationale betrays ‘the old gnostic tendency’ to exalt the ‘spiritual’ and denigrate the ‘material.’ Further, the rationale assumes the Lord’s Supper is another commemorative event, like a birthday or wedding anniversary. But if the Lord’s Supper is indeed a ‘feeding on Christ to eternal life,’ making us into what we eat, then there is no question about whether frequent Communion would cause a loss of significance. No one has ever yet complained that having three meals a day had eroded the significance of eating. (Some even insist on have more!) As Vander Zee puts it, ‘If God feeds and confirms our faith in the sacrament, then we deprive ourselves of the fullness of his grace when we sit around the table only once in awhile. We need every nourishment God provides, and to miss the meal not only snubs his gracious hospitality but creates spiritual anorexics.’

Second, it is sometimes argued that Word and sacrament are merely two ways of communicating the same gospel. If what the sacrament conveys is already conveyed, in fact in a better way, in preaching, then the sacrament is quite extraneous in the regular church service. Sacrament, according to this view, merely ‘portrays’ the gospel – and in a limited way at that – whereas preaching gives almost unlimited scope for the exposition of the gospel. But this is to misunderstand the very nature of Word and sacrament and their distinctive functions in the liturgy. Not only is the sacrament more than the visible form of the Word, but each is indispensable to the other. Sacrament brings the proclaimed Word to its fulfillment.

We come to know the Real Presence effected by the Spirit in the Lord’s Supper. Word without sacrament remains incomplete, and sacrament without Word becomes an empty sign. ‘If one cannot live by bread alone, neither can one live by word alone.’ For just as the Word is completed in the sacrament, so the sacrament derives its meaning from the Word. As Louis Bouyer states, ‘Every sacrament is a verbum visibile, a word made visible, and every sacrament also essentially implies verba sacramentalia, the sacred words which give to the sacred action itself not only meaning but also its own inner reality.’ Word and sacrament cannot be separated. The whole liturgy of Word and sacrament is both God’s Word and God’s action for the sake of the church. Worship becomes less than what it is when one is emphasized at the expense of the other.[5]

Chan states these two commonly given excuses for infrequent Communion quite graciously, wording them far more intelligently than one usually hears them in person. Still, he points out quite well the lack of spiritual depth and theological understanding one typically finds within the IBF world,[6] which reveals an ongoing spiritual abuse-by-neglect in these churches. Bereft of healthful, life-sustaining, divine nourishment, it’s little wonder, then, there is also abuse-by-action. It’s almost as if, being starved within sight of food and drink they cannot get to, they become frenzied and begin cannibalizing each other!

Fundamentalism is defined in the Oxford Dictionary as “a form of a religion, especially Islam or Protestant Christianity, which upholds belief in the strict, literal interpretation of scripture.” I think I would modify this definition to read, “1 a form of religion, which upholds belief in the strictly literal interpretation and application, sometimes selective, of sacred scriptures and/or inherited customs and religious traditions; 2 the elevation of particular doctrines and practices as being fundamentally important to the religious faith-community, the observation and practice of which are obligatory, with the failure to adhere to this standard being punished, sometime severely.” Robert J. Burrowes offers an apt analysis of the fundamentalist along the lines of this definition:

A fundamentalist is usually considered to be a person who adheres strictly to a doctrine, viewpoint or set of principles that are considered original and ‘pure’; this doctrine might be theological in nature. For the fundamentalist, many of their beliefs and the behaviors that arise from them will, at least in theory, be derivative of their fundamental doctrine. For the fundamentalist, there is no room to consider views that are at variance with their accepted doctrine and contrary views will usually either be dismissed out-of-hand or resisted with considerable vigor and, often, violence.[7]

Touché! Which makes me all-the-more grateful that I grew up in an environment of free enquiry and learning, wisdom and discernment, appreciation for the arts, literature and music, and so much more conducive to a healthy mind, body and soul. Pity the victims of legalistic fundamentalism!

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[1] Note: I believe this was the title, though I’m not completely certain. Also, I’m not absolutely sure of the place of publication.

[2] Dispensationalism is a Christian evangelical, futurist, Biblical interpretation that believes that God has related to human beings in different ways under different Biblical covenants in a series of “dispensations,” or periods in history.

[3] In other words, same context, i.e. one’s life; similar scriptural injunctions; same purpose, i.e. to show gratitude; etc.

[4] Rudolf Otto’s classic work, The Idea of the Holy, is an excellent read on the subject and where I got the expression of mysterium tremendum. On this note, I would venture to say we could use more mystery and greater awareness of the numinous in our day and age, if for no other reason than to counter-balance the all-too-often cold and impersonal sciences as well as what has come to be called the “corporate mentality.”

[5] Simon Chan, Liturgical Theology: The Church as Worshiping Community, 65-66

[6] Note: This is not to imply that IBFs are the only ones who partake of the Lord’s Supper infrequently. This, in fact, is Anabaptist in origin, yet no one would say Ulrich Zwingli was cognitively retarded. Also, many evangelical Protestant churches have fallen into infrequent celebration of Communion, or the Lord’s Supper, yet this is not the Lutheran or Reformed heritage. Martin Luther celebrated Holy Communion weekly, if not more frequently, and promulgated the doctrine of consubstantiation. Calvin in Geneva celebrated the Lord’s Supper more often than four times per annum (quarterly,) and believed in the real pneumatic presence of Christ. Of course, the Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Anglican churches celebrate the Eucharist quite frequently and most reverently with a far deeper, richer understanding of Communion than one finds elsewhere.

[7] Robert J. Burrowes, “Fundamentalism: A Psychological Problem,” January 9, 2014, as accessed on May 19, 2015

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Masculinity According to an Evangelical Christian Woman: A Critical Appraisal

An Updated, Expanded Version of Gender Traits and BS: What Does It Mean to be Masculine?

Troubled by nagging doubts of my own masculinity, fostered no doubt by my own not-so-unique enculturation, I thought I’d do a little online “research” into masculinity and what passes for masculine traits. What I found was, quite frankly, a lot of twaddle, like the nine “masculine traits” listed by an evangelical, Protestant Christian woman on her website. Why do I say it’s a bunch of hooey? Well, let’s take a look, shall we? I’ll list each trait in her words, then respond. So, here we go…

Confidence: Believe in yourself, not only that you can do what you set out to do, but that you already are what you need to be (even if on the outside it doesn’t yet show.)

O.k. So if this is a decidedly masculine trait, does that mean the corresponding “feminine trait” is lack of self-confidence, timidity and diffidence? If the “real man” is supposed to be confident, because confidence is definitely masculine, then should the woman be shy, hesitant and fearful? Was Jael timid; did she lack confidence when she drove a tent peg through the temple of Sisera? Was Artemis, the great and wild hunter-goddess, timid? Ooops, sorry! I almost forgot Greek mythology and polytheism are not allowed in such discussions … nevertheless, I’ll leave this statement as at least a curious point of reference to the divine feminine, which was, undoubtedly, one of the most widely venerated deities of the ancient world. (Note: the Roman equivalent is Diana; also, some scholars believe Artemis may actually pre-date Hellenistic culture.) Let us proceed, though, to the next vaulted quality of genuine masculinity, namely:

Courage: A masculine man is courageous (I’m not talking about being willing to do stupid stunts, either), willing to do what is necessary without showing weakness (even if he is scared to death.)  A man cannot be truly courageous and brave if he does not fear something.

Oh great! So courage is definitely masculine – that is, it pertains to or is characteristic of man, or men, which is the definition of masculine. Right? Wrong! This is nonsense! The Blessed Virgin Mary was just as, if not more, courageous than most any other character of history that comes to mind. And what about Joan of Arc, Mother Teresa, Susan B. Anthony, Amelia Earhart, Boudicca, Ruth, Queen Esther… Need we add more names? Courage does not fall within the province of masculinity or femininity. It is a universal virtue that pays little heed to class, ethnicity, gender, creed or age. Period.

If this rather misogynistic woman is right – very doubtfully so, but… – perhaps Queen Esther was wrong to pray, “Remember, O Lord; make yourself known in this time of our affliction, and give me courage, O King of the gods and Master of all dominion!” (I can’t help it; I just have to note, too, that if there are no other gods, then there could be no “King of the gods.” Of course, there could also be no “putting other gods before” Yahweh, either, so anyway…) Strangely enough, though, Esther seemed to exhibit not only courage but a great sense of responsibility but, alas, this may be a masculine-defining quality as well…

Responsibility: Take responsibility for what happens in your life and stop being a victim.  Being a victim is exactly what society expects you to be.  Be who you really are intended to be – a leader and victor.  Make plans and carry them out.  Don’t fear failure.

Oh wow! Feminine women are not expected to be responsible? Femininity precludes accountability and dependability? Again, nonsense! Men and women, old and young, rich and poor ought to be “responsible.” This is another universal virtue arbitrarily made “masculine.” Unfortunately, this sort of thing has been done over and over and over again, down through the ages. Men, if they are “real men,” are confident, courageous, responsible, dependable … and disciplined. (See below)

On the “stop being a victim,” advice: How many men in our culture cry about being victims, anyway? Personally, it’s understandable why so many women go to counselling for being victimized and, consequently, I hear (or read) an awful lot of criticism of women “playing the victim game.” I believe this is largely unfair, but that’s not what this woman is saying. Remember, she’s delineating, however fallaciously, supposedly “masculine” qualities; consequently, the question, “‘how many men play the victim game?’”

As for “who you are intended to be,” are we to suppose women are only intended to be barefoot and pregnant chattel-slaves; household sex toys, dishwashers, and laundresses, so that there is no need to question what they are to be? Obviously, it would be out of the question, then, that any individual man, i.e. in his unique individuation, could possibly be the stay-at-home spouse, “help-mate,” dishwasher, launderer, et al.? (I have deeply desired to be this, but evidently this is grossly feminine; however, I can go one step further in my apparent heresy and say that I perceive no deficiency or inferiority on my part for having such desires.)

No, it cannot be otherwise than that he is intended to be the “leader and victor.” By the way, over whom or what is he supposed to be the victor? At any rate, all this surely requires a great deal of discipline.

Discipline: Take charge of your life and what goes on in it.  Carry out and complete your goals.  Do everything you say you will do.  Eat right and stay in shape, therefore you will also be able to think more clearly.

Of course, women are not expected to “take charge” of their lives; that’s for the man, i.e. to take charge of his life and her life, too, because as everyone knows, women are not capable of administering their own personal affairs (despite the fact that they commonly raise families and run households, but who’s being logical here??? And if some man simply does not possess leadership qualities, although he may very well have many other wonderful qualities, well … guess he’s just s**t out of luck! Right?) And so it stands to reason that the “masculine man” will keep his word, “eat right and stay in shape,” while the “feminine woman” will vacillate, gorge herself like a pig, and get fat…  Make sense?

Evidently, this woman has never really studied the 31st chapter of Proverbs, often horribly misunderstood and woefully underappreciated, in my humble opinion. This teaching is introduced as “the words of King Lemuel, an oracle his mother taught him.” This is almost assuredly not Solomon, and, come down to it, we really have no idea who Lemuel was; that Solomon did not author this oracle is almost certain, though. One point worthy of mention at the outset is the fact that this teaching comes directly from the woman, not the man. In an important sense, then, the originator is female, and what does she teach?

Skipping down to the so-called “Proverbs 31 woman,” she describes the capable wife as a virtuous woman of power and strength and intellectual acumen, thus she is invaluable. She is completely worthy of trust; she is dependable. She is marked by constancy and permanence, like a rock, i.e. like the divine rock of salvation. She is an economist, merchant, realtor, and manager. She is fit and resilient and healthy (as much as is reasonably possible, which would naturally differ with each individual.) This woman is productive, altruistic, and charitable; wise, magnanimous, and courageous; kind, honorable, and praiseworthy…

No, this teaching has never struck me as one positioning the woman cowering before her tyrannical husband, or even being “submissive” in the misogynistic sense so often believed to be “biblical;” just the opposite, in fact; the woman pictured here is one who is worthy to be reverenced (and for many of us, yes, followed.) This is not to say, as the scriptures certainly do not teach, that men are not to strive to exemplify these qualities in their lives. What strikes me is that this was, of course, written in the Ancient Near East from within a decidedly patriarchal society, and I don’t know that one can torture the whole of this teaching enough to make it misogynistic. This has always come across to me, in an individual-personal way, as an injunction to pray for and find this sort of woman (or for her to find me), with whom to enter into an interdependent (not co-dependent), mutually selfless relationship of love, joy, peace, and happiness … at least as the supreme ideal for which to strive. However that may be, we can be quite certain on some points:

  1. This teaching derives from the woman, not any man
  2. The qualities and characteristics mentioned here are enviable and laudable virtues, skills and endowments for anyone to possess, so…
  3. The woman herein described is in no manner being denigrated, but – the temporal and cultural context rightly understood – is being exalted and venerated

So, this teaching may not reverse the traditional husband-wife roles of antiquity; nevertheless, it does seem, at the very least, to alert Lemuel to the truth that the most desired qualities in the wife are not docile submissiveness, but upstanding character and integrity, strength and fortitude, etc. Someone may protest that submissiveness was not mentioned because it was so commonly held that, of course, the wife would be submissive. The answer to this is that this teaching would have served to reasonably temper this understanding. Look at verse 23: “Her husband is known in the city gates, taking his seat among the elders of the land.” Commenting on this passage, 19th century Methodist Bible scholar Adam Clarke remarks, “He is respected not only on account of the neatness and cleanliness of his person and dress, but because he is the husband of a woman who is justly held in universal esteem.” It would seem this is as much the truth of the case as the husband’s esteemed civil service as one of the elders/magistrates. The whole of the passage says as much, really.

We’ve spent enough time on this point, though, so let us move on…

Honesty, Integrity, and Kindness:  Be honest with yourself and others, holding yourself to the highest of standards.  Find the fine line between kindness and honesty when necessary.  Sometimes, one is more important than the other.  With some finesse, you will be able to be honest and kind at the same time.  Be kind and gentle toward women, children, and the elderly.

This is also “masculine.” Truth, upstanding character, and compassion all fall within the domain of that which pertains to or is characteristic of man, or men … evidently not women. These traits are definitely not feminine, right? So, what are the counterpart, feminine traits here? Deception, manipulation, corruption, cruelty, animosity, etc., and this is a woman writing this! Astounding to say the least … but how many women and men actually, subconsciously buy into this faulty line of thought? (Or, perhaps, even consciously.) Far too many, I’m afraid! But here comes one of the best…!

Treat Women Like Women:  Most of today’s men don’t seem to have a clue anymore (this is largely because of Feminism).  I take my kids to Judo practice and am saddened by what I experience there.  There are only a few chairs and they are always full of both men and women.  When I arrive, not one man ever offers me his chair – a masculine thing.  Real men honor women.  Real men treat others with respect and dignity.

Ah the boogeyman (or, should I say, bogeywoman?) of feminism! Damn the heresy! Women deserve to be treated like the shy, hesitant, fearful, irresponsible, fat, vacillating, corrupt, cruel, and manipulative creatures they are! Unless, of course, they’re some of those damn feminists who act like men, i.e. display “masculine traits” instead of being feminine like God created them! Horror! And shamefully, “most of today’s men don’t seem to have a clue anymore!” Yeah … I’m one of those men. By the way, I’d gladly give up my seat to any woman or man who needs it, or maybe even if they don’t need it, just because I’m that courteous. (Courtesy? Is that masculine or feminine?)

One question about the judo: Are her children all boys? Surely only boys ought to be trained in the martial arts! This dear woman effectively says as much below under the heading of “defend the weak.” But first, listen to the weak.

Listen:  We have two ears and one mouth for good reason – we are supposed to be doing twice as much listening as speaking. When a woman speaks, listen with your heart. Instead of thinking, “Oh great, here she goes again;” think, “She has a need. What is it? What can I do to help?” This goes against the nature of today’s men, it seems. They want to strike back and have forgotten who they are dealing with. When a woman lets you know she’s upset, what she is really doing is asking you to take charge and help her. It is a cry for help. Most of the time she will just need your love, understanding, and a listening ear. But under no circumstances are you to take abuse from her. Make that very clear. You must keep your cool. A woman will not respect a man who loses his cool.

Of course, listen to the woman with your heart, because trying to mentally process what she’s actually saying is a waste of time. Everyone knows women are not rational, so what they say is not worthy of the time-consuming and sometimes arduous process of thinking and cognitively comprehending. Conversely, the man has no need for someone, anyone to listen to him “with their heart.” Men don’t need the heart, right? After all, men are supposed to be confident, courageous, diligent, responsible, strong, honest … etc. ad infinitum, ad nauseum. Oh! But don’t let that woman abuse you, because women are like that! Constantly abusing men! It’s an alarming problem in our society … actually, always has been, right? Women abusing men! Right? Yeah, right! She needs you to be strong and take charge. (And I will open up at this point and admit, honestly but embarrassingly, that I am a man who came out of an emotionally, psychologically abusive relationship; therefore, I know from personal experience that, yes, women can be abusive. I trust, however, that my readers will understand that this is not the point, or denial, I’m making here.) Her emotional diatribe, according to this evangelical Christian, is her way of crying for help as well as subjugation because the woman is, after all, weak. Which leads to the next important masculine trait:

Defend the Weak:  Protect and provide for your family and anyone who is being unfairly attacked.  Consider getting martial arts training; learn to use guns and keep them ready, etc.  Be prepared for disasters and have a plan.  Refuse to allow anyone to overstep their boundaries, but be smart about how you accomplish this.  Plan ahead.  Remember, you are a leader, so act like one.

“Defend the weak,” that is, women and children. Especially your woman; after all, that’s why she’s with you. She needs provision and protection. In return, you get good food and great sex! And laundry service, too, of course. Obviously, guns are necessary in order to properly protect your woman and family, and you’re the only one who needs to know how to properly use these weapons (as well as the only one who needs to know judo.) Women are not capable … or, at least, they shouldn’t be because effectively using weapons (and/or martial arts) is “masculine.” This is all part of masculinity and is, consequently, the responsibility of the man.

Also, the man is “a leader,” so he should “act like one.” How many men without any leadership qualities have been promoted into leadership positions over capable women just because they were men? Many, many times, of course, and in my own life I’ve been given the same … what? Order? (Coming from a woman, too, which is interesting in itself.) Yep… Stand up and act like a man. Be a leader. You’re in a leadership position now, so take your responsibilities seriously… There was never any consideration that I might have been able (in my own past profession) to teach, speak, write, plan and coordinate, etc. but not actually lead, at least administratively. No, no consideration whatsoever, and so guess what? I simply could not continue – and, no, I’m not whining – and had to transition into another profession.

Of course, there have been some irritating limitations here, too, such as: Not being considered for hire precisely because I am male and the job being applied for is a “woman’s job,” which is horrendously degrading to women. What? If they have to work outside the home, then they have to be in some service under men? I know this is changing quite significantly, yet the ways of the old world are still more current than many might think. Old ways die hard, even if they have no rooting in an ethos of light, life, love, peace and truth. At any rate, being “the leader” means there are follower, so the man is expected to…

Inspire submission: A masculine man in a relationship with a woman will always inspire and never force her submission. He will remain a gentleman at all times.

Yep, if you’re really a “real man,” then the woman will just naturally be your servant; after all, this is what God created the woman to be, right?  Submissive, docile, compliant, passive, subservient, obedient … along with being shy, hesitant, fearful, irresponsible, fat, vacillating, corrupt, cruel, and manipulative of course! Can’t forget these fundamentally feminine traits, can we? Maybe, though, submission in the sense of yielding and reasonable compliance can be inspired; I’m certainly willing to entertain this idea. However, one question comes to mind: Why can’t any woman inspire yielding, in areas where she is more qualified and capable, and reasonable compliance, as opposed to stubborn (and potentially harmful) resistance?

This is very much part of the problem within the evangelical/fundamentalist religionist world: All of these traits – except, perhaps, the sixth point, but even then we can turn that around to simply respecting each person – are admirable, universal virtues we should like to see in anyone and everyone.  Why does this conservatively religious woman list them as being “masculine,” that is, pertaining especially to men? They’re not exclusively “masculine,” not even especially masculine, and you know what? So far as the last one goes, as a man I’d happily “submit” to any woman displaying all of these traits… She would certainly be more than worthy of my love, allegiance, deference and respect!  Don’t you think??? But, then, maybe I’m being too feminine.

Then again, are there specifically masculine traits? Even in sacred scripture one does not find traits specified so much as positional responsibilities. The husband is presented as, say, the priest of the family, or rather more appropriately to the Ancient Near East, the patriarch of the familial clan assumed this role. Yes, this was a patriarchal society, but it’s worth mentioning that the patriarch was patriarch in this capacity. The Ancient Near East knew nothing of our “nuclear family.” This in itself changes the dynamics a bit. Some men, presumably, would live out their entire lives without ever assuming the priestly-patriarchal role. Add to this the fact that most people lived in an agrarian society, and one justly wonders just how much “telling to do” there was, practically speaking. Most people likely woke up each and every morning to perform work – excruciatingly hard labor – with which they were very familiar.

Men went to the fields; sometimes men and women went to the fields. Women worked in and around their living complex; men also performed labor in and around the domicile(s). Women would barter, trade; men would also trade, etc. What did it mean, then, in the Ancient Near East for the man to be “head of the household” in the biblical sense? To the exclusion of cruelty and abuse, which was never divinely intended, (if we can at all trust holy writ,) it would seem that, at least in a general sense, they performed the roles of prophet, priest, and king (more in the capacity of ductor, not tyrannus.) But, then, one might imagine (as not completely outside the realm of possibility, especially if Proverbs 31 is at all indicative of the ideal of marriage and family life in this temporal-cultural context) that the wife, or matriarch, assumed the role of prophetess, priestess, and queen.

I will leave this subject at this (for now) and reiterate my last point that certain admirable traits are not highlighted in Scripture as being exclusively masculine; if there is any separation, as is obvious in even a cursory reading, then the differentiation is that of role-performance. One must remember, this comes from out of a particular temporal-cultural context, though; how likely is it, even if more or less assigned roles were sensible and even beneficial then, that those same assignments are still beneficially applicable today? More on this later, perhaps … if there seems to be any interest. For now I will finish off by expressing my deep thankfulness that God is not constrained by gender at all, though S/he is most assuredly holy in every sense of the word, according to the Judeo-Christian faith-religion; this salient truth has had very deep and salvific implications in my own life.

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Gender ‘Traits’ and BS: What Does it Mean to be ‘Masculine?’

strongmanThought I’d do a little online “research” into masculinity and what passes for masculine traits. What I found was, quite frankly, a lot of hokum, like the nine “masculine traits” listed by an evangelical woman on her website. Why do I say it’s a bunch of hooey? Well, let’s take a look, shall we? I’ll list each trait in her words, then respond. So, here we go…

Confidence: Believe in yourself, not only that you can do what you set out to do, but that you already are what you need to be (even if on the outside it doesn’t yet show.)

O.k. So if this is a decidedly masculine trait, does that mean the corresponding “feminine trait” is lack of self-confidence, timidity and diffidence? If the “real man” is supposed to be confident, because confidence is definitely masculine, then should the woman be shy, hesitant and fearful?

Courage: A masculine man is courageous (I’m not talking about being willing to do stupid stunts, either), willing to do what is necessary without showing weakness (even if he is scared to death.)  A man cannot be truly courageous and brave if he does not fear something.

Oh great! So courage is definitely masculine – that is, it pertains to or is characteristic of man, or men, which is the definition of masculine. Right? Wrong! This is nonsense! The Blessed Virgin Mary was just as, if not more, courageous than most any other character of history that comes to mind. And what about Joan of Arc, Mother Teresa, Susan B. Anthony, Amelia Earhart, Boudicca, Ruth, Queen Esther… Need we add more names? Courage does not fall within the province of masculinity or femininity. It is a universal virtue that pays little heed to class, ethnicity, gender, creed or age. Period.

Responsibility: Take responsibility for what happens in your life and stop being a victim.  Being a victim is exactly what society expects you to be.  Be who you really are intended to be – a leader and victor.  Make plans and carry them out.  Don’t fear failure.

Oh wow! Feminine women are not expected to be responsible? Femininity precludes accountability and dependability? Again, nonsense! Men and women, old and young, rich and poor ought to be “responsible.” This is another universal virtue arbitrarily made “masculine.” Unfortunately, this sort of thing has been done over and over and over again, down through the ages. Men, if they are “real men,” are confident, courageous, responsible, dependable … and disciplined. (See below)

Discipline: Take charge of your life and what goes on in it.  Carry out and complete your goals.  Do everything you say you will do.  Eat right and stay in shape, therefore you will also be able to think more clearly.

Of course, women are not expected to “take charge” of their lives; that’s for the man, i.e. to take charge of his life and her life, too, because as everyone knows, women are not capable of administering their own personal affairs (despite the fact that they commonly raise families and run households, but who’s being logical here???) And so it stands to reason that the “masculine man” will keep his word, “eat right and stay in shape,” while the “feminine woman” will vacillate, gorge herself like a pig, and get fat…  Make sense? Good! Let’s move on…

Honesty, Integrity, and Kindness:  Be honest with yourself and others holding yourself to the highest of standards.  Find the fine line between kindness and honesty when necessary.  Sometimes, one is more important than the other.  With some finesse, you will be able to be honest and kind at the same time.  Be kind and gentle toward women, children, and the elderly.

This is also “masculine.” Truth, upstanding character, and compassion all fall within the domain of that which pertains to or is characteristic of man, or men … not women. These traits are definitely not feminine, right? So, what are the counterpart, feminine traits here? Deception, manipulation, corruption, cruelty, animosity, etc.? And, hey, this is a woman writing this! Astounding to say the least … but how many women and men actually, subconsciously buy into this faulty line of thought? Far too many, I’m afraid! But here comes one of the best…!

Treat Women Like Women:  Most of today’s men don’t seem to have a clue anymore (this is largely because of Feminism).  I take my kids to Judo practice and am saddened by what I experience there.  There are only a few chairs and they are always full of both men and women.  When I arrive, not one man ever offers me his chair – a masculine thing.  Real men honor women.  Real men treat others with respect and dignity.

Ah the boogeyman (or, should I say, bogeywoman?)  Feminism! Damn the heresy! Women deserve to be treated like the shy, hesitant, fearful, irresponsible, fat, vacillating, corrupt, cruel, and manipulative creatures they are! Unless, of course, they’re some of those damn feminists who act like men, i.e. display “masculine traits” instead of being feminine like God created them! Horror! And shamefully, “most of today’s men don’t seem to have a clue anymore!” Yeah … I’m one of those men. By the way, I’d gladly give up my seat to any woman or man who needs it, or maybe even if they don’t need it, just because I’m that courteous. (Courtesy? Is that masculine or feminine?)

Listen:  We have two ears and one mouth for good reason – we are supposed to be doing twice as much listening as speaking. When a woman speaks, listen with your heart. Instead of thinking, “Oh great, here she goes again;” think, “She has a need. What is it? What can I do to help.” This goes against the nature of today’s men, it seems. They want to strike back and have forgotten who they are dealing with. When a woman lets you know she ‘s upset, what she is really doing is asking you to take charge and help her. It is a cry for help. Most of the time she will just need your love, understanding, and a listening ear. But under no circumstances are you to take abuse from her. Make that very clear. You must keep your cool. A woman will not respect a man who looses his cool.

Of course, listen to the woman with your heart, because trying to mentally process what she’s saying is a waste of time. Everyone knows women are not rational, so what they say is not worthy of thinking. Conversely, the man has no need for someone, anyone to listen to him “with their heart.” Men don’t need the heart, right? After all, men are supposed to be confident, courageous, diligent, responsible, strong, honest … etc. ad infinitum ad nauseum. Oh! But don’t let that woman abuse you, because women are like that! Constantly abusing men! It’s an alarming problem in our society … actually, always has been, right? Women abusing men! Right? Yeah, right! She needs you to be strong and take charge. Her emotional diatribe is her way of crying for help because the woman is, after all, weak. Which leads to the next important masculine trait:

Defend the Weak:  Protect and provide for your family and anyone who is being unfairly attacked.  Consider getting martial arts training; learn to use guns and keep them ready, etc.  Be prepared for disasters and have a plan.  Refuse to allow anyone to overstep their boundaries, but be smart about how you accomplish this.  Plan ahead.  Remember, you are a leader so act like one.

“Defend the weak,” that is, women and children. Especially your woman; after all, that’s why she’s with you. She needs provision and protection. In return, you get good food and great sex! And laundry service, too, of course. Obviously, guns are necessary in order to properly protect your woman and family, and you’re the only one who needs to know how to properly use these weapons. Women are not capable … or, at least, they shouldn’t be because effectively using weapons is “masculine.” This is all part of masculinity and is, consequently, the responsibility of the man; therefore…

Inspire submission: A masculine man in a relationship with a woman will always inspire and never force her submission. He will remain a gentleman at all times.

Yep, if you’re really a “real man,” then the woman will just naturally be your servant; after all, this is what God created the woman to be, right?  Submissive, docile, compliant, passive, subservient, obedient … along with being shy, hesitant, fearful, irresponsible, fat, vacillating, corrupt, cruel, and manipulative of course! Can’t forget these fundamentally feminine traits, can we?

And this is very much part of the problem, because all of these traits (except, perhaps, number six) are admirable, universal virtues we should like to see in anyone and everyone.  Why does this religious, conservative woman list them as being “masculine,” that is, pertaining especially to men? They’re not exclusively “masculine,” and you know what? So far as the last one goes, as a man I’d happily “submit” to any woman displaying all of the other traits… She would certainly be more than worthy of my love, allegiance, deference and respect!  Don’t you think??? But, then, maybe I’m being too feminine!