Friday, December 26, 2008
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
I pray that you and you family feel the true spirit of Christmas
Monday, December 1, 2008
Countless Christian women are battered every day. Here's how to respond if you or someone you love is abused.
Her husband's comments were so routine that for 20 years, Brenda Branson didn't realize she was a victim of verbal and emotional abuse.
"You breathe too loud," her husband would tell her. "Your smile is silly. You look terrible. Don't you have anything better to wear?"
It wasn't until Brenda realized his comments weren't true that she approached him. And that's when he picked up a chair and hit her with it. Brenda knew she had to do something, so she went to her pastor. Unfortunately he wasn't equipped to handle domestic abuse; his suggestions about submitting to her husband only made her home life more difficult. "Our church didn't know what to do with us," Brenda says. "They just wanted the problem to go away."
Brenda got the help she needed by forming a support group with another domestic-violence victim. Then in 1995 she cofounded Focus Ministries, one of the few Christian organizations devoted to helping victims of domestic violence while also training churches on how they can assist members who are being abused.
You don't deserve what's happening to you. God doesn't approve of any man who beats, controls, or retaliates against his wife.
According to Detective Sgt. Don Stewart, a retired police officer who handled domestic violence cases for 25 years, one out of every four Christian couples experiences at least one episode of physical abuse within their marriage. In fact, battering is the single largest cause of injury to women—more than auto accidents, muggings, and rapes combined. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists reports that 3 to 4 million women are beaten in their homes every year. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, approximately 2,000 women are murdered every year by an intimate partner.
"Domestic violence has become an epidemic," says Brenda, who is no longer married to her husband. The enormity of the problem, combined with the fact law enforcement officials and church leaders often lack the skills to address it, led Don to author Refuge (New Hope), a book helping victims understand and flee from violence in their homes. "I consider Don to be a missionary who offers hope to hurting women and presents a wakeup call to the Christian community to get involved," says Brenda.
TCW spoke with both Don and Brenda on how battered women can get help as well as how Christians can respond to this crisis.
Explain the different types of domestic abuse.
Don: Emotional and verbal abuse are the cutting remarks a spouse uses to destroy his wife's sense of self-worth. A man may label a woman fat or stupid. He may demean her personal accomplishments or scream at her that the dinner she cooked is terrible. Perhaps he yells at her because she's 15 minutes late coming home from work.
Physical abuse is when a man injures his wife in a nonsexual manner. Then there's sexual abuse—when a spouse forces sex on his partner. Most states have adopted laws protecting married women against spousal rape. But because there's so much shame involved for the woman, she may be hesitant to come forward about this.
Brenda: Emotional and verbal abuse can become so commonplace in a woman's relationship that she doesn't realize she's being harmed. It took me a while to realize my husband's attacks weren't my fault and weren't true. For example, we both used to work in our church's children's ministry. My husband often told me I was uncaring toward the kids. For a long time I struggled with this, until one day someone told me how blessed she was by the compassion I extended to her children. Suddenly I saw I'd been basing my identity on my husband's perception of me instead of God's.
What signs indicate verbal abuse may head toward physical abuse?
Don: When a husband starts saying things such as, "If you ever left me, I'd kill myself," or "If you don't do exactly as I tell you, I'm going to beat the daylights out of you." Those are clues the escalation from verbal to physical abuse may have begun.
Another sign is if a husband starts damaging household property that has sentimental value to his wife. A batterer never will demolish his prized possessions, but he often will shatter a piece of pottery or a family heirloom. If his comments intensify to the point he says something such as, "If you ever leave me, I'm going to kill you and the kids," or "I'm going to burn the house down," he's crossed a critical psychological barrier, and it's not long before he's going to act on his words. As soon as a woman no longer feels safe in her home, she needs to make arrangements to leave. She may have to leave only until she and her husband can get some counseling or until he's arrested and has gone through a treatment program—but she still needs to remove herself from the dangerous situation.
What are the typical personality traits of a batterer?
Don: Jealousy, hypersensitivity toward even the most constructive criticism, and the tendency to pressure a woman into a quick engagement, marriage, or live-in relationship. I encourage single women to watch out for these signs. Other indications include any use of physical force against you or an unusually harsh attitude toward children or animals. And any history of past battering should be of major concern.
How can we tell if abuse is happening in a woman's life?
Don: A batterer tries to isolate his victim. So if you see a woman being isolated from family, friends, or church, that's a red flag. The second thing to look for is if the woman's husband constantly monitors his wife's whereabouts. He may call her ten times a day at work, and if she doesn't answer each time, he demands to know where she was. Or if she doesn't arrive home in the evening at a precise time, he demands to know why.
Also, be on the lookout if a woman completely covers her body with pants and a long-sleeve shirt even when it's hot outside, or if she uses a lot of makeup. She could be trying to cover a bruise.
Should a friend who suspects abuse approach a woman about it?
Don: It depends on your relationship. If you're friends or even have a good casual relationship, invite her to breakfast or for coffee, and approach the subject gently by asking, "Is everything OK? Tell me about your personal life. How is your relationship with your husband?" Don't condemn her or try to push her out of her relationship with her husband.
At some point you need to say, "I'm concerned about you. If you'd like to talk about anything that's troubling you, I'm here for you." If she opens up, emphasize that she isn't causing her husband's abuse. Tell her: "You don't deserve what's happening to you. God doesn't approve of any man who beats, controls, or retaliates against his wife. And whenever you're ready to leave, I'm ready to help."
You may want to make an appointment for the two of you to sit down with a pastor, social worker, or law enforcement officer and decide where to go from there. If you discover she's being abused but she's unwilling to do anything about it, you also need to consider the option of calling the police for her. This is a difficult judgment call; it requires prayer and knowledge of the situation. But it may help save her life.
How can we better empathize with an abused woman?
Don: Be careful not to criticize an abused woman, because until you've walked in her shoes, you can't appreciate the unbelievable hell she lives in every day. It's very difficult for a woman to walk away from an abusive situation—often the batterer is the full breadwinner in the family and she fears economic hardship. Nearly 50 percent of all homeless women and children in the U. S. are without a home because they're fleeing from domestic violence. Also, a woman may fear greater harassment from her spouse if she leaves, and this could prevent her from getting the help she needs.
What can the church do?
Brenda: Church members are so afraid of promoting divorce, they often don't give women the help they need. Sometimes divorce is the end result of domestic violence, but I always tell church leaders that Focus Ministries doesn't promote divorce—we promote a woman's safety. That's why it's important leaders learn how to properly advise abused women. The techniques people use to counsel couples with other marital problems don't work with domestic abuse.
For example, when I went to my pastor for help, he encouraged me to be extra loving to my husband, to make his favorite meals, to extend empathy and ask if he'd had a hard day when he seemed agitated. Both pastors and abused women often mistakenly think if the woman changes, then things will get better. That's not true. Even the most gentle "confrontation" with my husband set him off and made things worse.
Don: Church leaders also need to realize batterers can be manipulative. I know a woman in my community who went to her pastor for help because she was afraid of her husband. The pastor called her husband and asked that he and the wife come in for counseling. The poor woman was absolutely terrified to sit in a joint counseling session with her husband and said nothing while the husband smoothed things over. Shortly after this, the woman made a decision to leave her husband. One night when she thought he was away, she returned home to get some of her things. The husband was there hiding and beat the woman so severely that parts of her brain were exposed.
Leaders also need to work to dismiss misinterpretations of Scripture such as 1 Peter 3:1-6, which abusers often use to defend their actions. It's unbelievable how many Christian men think they're entitled by God to discipline and control their wives. As 1 Peter 3:7 reminds us, no man has a God-given right to punish or retaliate against his wife under any condition. And a woman shouldn't be led to think that through her submission and suffering she'll become a better person. To allow someone to abuse you does not bring glory to God.
Are there any steps we can take to reach out to the abused?
Brenda: Order training materials or invite someone in your area who's qualified to speak at your church to promote awareness. Most church members don't know how prevalent domestic violence is among Christians and have no idea how to deal with it. Also, find out what local support groups are available for abused women and have that information readily available.
Don: Organize a list of resources within your church you can utilize if you need to help an abused woman flee from a violent situation. She may need a vacant apartment, money for food and clothing, a car, or an attorney. Let women minister to women while men play a secondary role from a distance. Also, work to establish a relationship with your local women's shelter. Most women who work at these shelters are dedicated, passionate people who do wonderful things for abused women. Often these workers are willing to come to a church and provide the kind of instruction and tools church members need to react appropriately when they learn someone's being abused.
The church is in a great position to reach out to women who suffer so badly. My prayer is they'll do it.
Corrie Cutrer, a TCW regular contributor, lives with her husband in Illinois.
In a recent informal online poll, TCW asked how many had been the victim of Domestic Violence.
Here is how 1,808 of you responded:
YES: Emotional 52%
YES: Physical 30 %
YES: Sexual 18 %
NO 30 %
Victims of domestic abuse can find local support organizations and hotlines by visiting the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence's website, www.ncadv.org. For additional support or training materials, check out Focus Ministries' website at www.focusministries1.org, or contact Don Stewart at www.midwesttrainers.com
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Hey. Wait a minute. Is this what they meant by games night at the church? Oh, so the men play and women are again projected in that subservient position once again.
Ah, yes, the good old days. Well. Mom and sister have to do the dishes. How else would they get done?
I'm sure council can up with with a decent scripture verse for women do to all domestic work.
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Don't you get it
That I'm angry for a reason
And it doesn't just blow away like autumn leaves through the season
It's not something simple that you can just dismiss
And say, you'll make it better with a simple kiss
As a friend or foe
There's something you should know
That all my rants and the foundation of my stance
Are not a mere emotive wave that'll "come and go"
When you wholeheartedly believe in the goodness of a cause
It's because you've taken many moments to ponder in pause
There's definitely logic that's in tune with your brain
And the voice inside is so crisp it nearly drives you insane
I'm disappointed more than shocked
That you'd say something as such
To belittle a movement of justice
Because it's something of which you don't think much
Maybe the reason why you find it illegitimate
Is that you've unwittingly been caught up by the system
And as a result you've closed your mind
To no longer desire to listen
I almost want to turn my back to you
When you tell me things so presumptuous
As if you'd mastered the claims of this revolution
From a glimpse at a poster or a quick flick of the head over your shoulder
Well as much as we're inclined to make prejudgements
And define our surroundings by the fast images we see
When it comes to social issues
It's not black-and-white, or just some simple hierarchy
I know people say, follow your instincts
Hell, I do that sometimes myself
But instincts are, in fact, a manifestation
Of your underlying ideas of personal health
Just think for a second
About how much our strongholds guard us in
It's certainly okay to feel head-on about things
But when new chances or information is presented before us
You have to be conscious of the mind-filter you use to let that in
Multifaceted… to begin with anger
To truly embrace concepts seemingly foreign
We sometimes need to let go
Take a few steps back and undo the clasp
On our mental map so fresh ideas can flow
And then of course it's the sifting and simmering
Until it's boiled over inside
Which is where you realize
The things you've internalized
Et voila, there's an inherent structure you'll come to know.
I am a feminist, but not a man-hater
I'm pretty socialist, but still value independent strength
I am an activist, but there are many things about this world I love
I'm sort of an idealist, but only because you have to dream in order to know what for and why you're fighting
I am an environmentalist, but I occasionally use a paper cup
I am a writer, but don't necessarily express the whole spectrum of thoughts
I am frank and talkative, but still don't always say much
I am, on paper, a contradiction; but that's an indication of how multifaceted people are. So what really counts is not here,
but the person you know for yourself.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Not so. It is time again to ramp up the rhetoric until they meet us and those who have left at the table and make an honest effort to deal with their problems. The power that Frielink pushes council is less than palatable. Deacons and elders have, as I have been told, are demasculated and now impotent in the Frielink regime. Exeter CRC looks like a train wreck just waiting to happen and no one is watching the signals. Harry has molded this underlings like sheep to the slauther.
Any comments on elders or deacons??????
Monday, October 13, 2008
What you are doing on your blog is really really good. It means that you have not given up on the good fight. Could you answer me one thing...if you had to pick who should be on council at the Exeter CRC who would it be and why?
I am one of the ones that stand up for women in office but don't want a twenty minute speech from the elders of the Exeter CRC about the rights and wrongs in the church.
How many more families have to leave the church in order for the Council to change their ways about women in office?
Could your blog stir up the pot more with letters of what you think on your blog? - This is what I want to hear and so many women amoung us.
Why is it that the Exeter CRC asks for money for the budget less then other donations when at the end of the year they come up short and ask for more money from everyone to make up for it?
Can we openly discuss who and what council is doing? New ones have been installed and yet we don't hear much about them.
Thanks for starting up this blog again - because council almost thought they won.
Happy Thanksgiving, Believer of God
Saturday, October 4, 2008
Friday, October 3, 2008
Writing in a new book, Sheik Hilali, who lost his job as mufti of Australia after comparing scantily clad women to uncovered meat, argues that the Bible and the Koran make similar demands of a woman’s modesty.
Sheik Hilali, who remains the head of Australia’s largest mosque, in the southwestern Sydney suburb of Lakemba, says the purpose of the book is to show the commonalities of Islam with the Jewish and Christian faiths when it comes to women’s modesty and clothing.
In the soon to be published The Legitimacy of the Veil for Women of the Scripture - Evidence of the Veil in the Bible, the cleric points to references in the Old and New Testaments to women wearing a veil.
“Through this I hope to raise awareness and understanding and eliminate apprehensions and misunderstandings about the veil,” he writes.
The Anglican Bishop of South Sydney, Robert Forsyth, challenged Sheik Hilali’s comments about the veil being “mandated” in the Bible, saying they were misleading.
“The New Testament does call upon people to dress modestly,” he said. “But there is no understanding that women are commanded to wear the veil. But it is mandated that you should dress appropriately for your social context.”
Sheik Hilali also says the Virgin Mary is often depicted with a veil covering her head.
“The veil upholds the modesty and protects the dignity of women, whether Muslim or non-Muslim,” he writes. “Wearing the veil creates the most realistic similarity with the Virgin Mary, the mother of Christ.”
Sheik Hilali caused an uproar with a Ramadan sermon in 2006 in which he talked about immodestly dressed women being like “uncovered meat” and made remarks about Sydney’s notorious gang rapes.
He has used the book to hit back at criticisms of his comments, which were given during a lesson to Muslim men and women on theft and adultery, and which he says were misinterpreted with “ill-intent” and with the intention to “slander” him.
He has included an “explanatory statement” to clarify his position, saying that rape is a heinous crime and the perpetrator deserves the maximum punishment. He also says women in Australia, or any Western society, have absolute freedom to wear whatever they like.
“The Muslim has no right to impose the rules of his religion on others. My religious duty is to advise the Muslim woman to be modest and to wear the Islamic dress. It is her choice whether to comply or not.”
He said his comments about uncovered meat were drawn from an analogy used by the Arab writer Al-Rafii that uncovering flesh publicly may be degrading to the woman and may make her vulnerable to those with a diseased heart.
“Through these words I wanted to protect women from rapists who have lost their humanity, lost their minds and religion.
“Whilst I believe that the rapists are responsible for their crimes, I wanted to protect my daughters by encouraging them to adopt all available lawful means of protection,” he writes.
Sheik Hilali concedes that the uncovered meat example was not correct or appropriate for the Western mentality.
“I did not mean this analogy to denigrate immodestly dressed women; rather I meant to denigrate those men who set aside their humanity and turn into predators.”
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Your dogma...biting Jesus while praising Paul.
The Domestic Violence Cycle: It Reads Like a Dramatic Play
This was sent to me and unfortunately the author is unknown, but I think it is a wonderful way of describing the cycle of domestic violence.
You meet a neat person. You get to know them over a period of time -- often brief. You begin a relationship. You are in love. Everything is great. Then something happens that is not so great. An explosive argument, a jealous fit, a glass thrown across the room shatters against the wall. You're shocked, perhaps frightened. You assess things (maybe). You decide, okay until then the relationship has been perfect. Maybe the sex is great or the friendship is really important or you have so many things in common it seems predestined or maybe you were together in a former life or you are in sync on so many levels or you're just plain lonely. And you decide it wasn't that important. Maybe the person apologizes or maybe you do. After all, if you hadn't been so demanding or you hadn't been on the phone so long with your best friend or your mother hadn't come over, this wouldn't have happened. Your partner promises it won't happen again. Your partner brings you gifts, takes you out to dinner. So you carry on as if nothing happened.
This repeats a few times, maybe taking different forms. Your partner puts you down. Or doesn't talk to you as much as before. But you're in love. So you try harder. Then you move in together, maybe even get married. Perhaps a commitment on your part will assure your partner of your love. Little incidents continue to happen. You continue to ignore them. Sometimes you may even throw a fit of your own. Then one night your partner doesn't come home at all. Or your partner comes home drunk. Or your partner is really angry and raises a hand at you. Or your partner puts you down. You're not thin enough, smart enough, don't make enough money. Okay, you're a little more frightened, maybe a little more angry. But you decide everyone has problems and you can deal with this. Your partner apologizes. Your partner brings you gifts, takes you out to dinner. Things are better than ever. Things go on for a while like this. You feel proud that you can accept your partner's idiosyncrasies. After all, it could be worse. And God knows, you're not perfect either.
And then things change again. Maybe your partner ridicules you in public. Or maybe your partner even has sex with someone else, but says "It didn't mean anything." You're very hurt. Your partner apologizes, brings you gifts, takes you out to dinner, You forgive. Things are better than ever. Then something else happens. Something bigger than the last thing. Like maybe your partner disappears for a few days. Or maybe your partner comes to your office and throws a fit because you happen to work with other people and thus you've made your partner jealous. Or maybe your partner gets really mad and throws the glass at you. You explain and soothe your partner's feathers. You assure your partner it's okay, you love no one else, there's no reason to be jealous, everyone needs to get away every once in a while, and gee, there aren't any scars from the glass, so it's all okay. Your partner brings you gifts, takes you out to dinner. Things are better than ever. And things go on like this for a while.
Then one night something big happens. Like your partner, whom you love with all your heart, gets angry yet again and locks your kids in their bedroom. Without supper. Without lights. And maybe you speak up. And maybe this time instead of a glass, it's a shoe of a chair or a ball bat that hits you. And you cry. And your partner apologizes. More gifts, more dinners, more promises it will never happen again. And you believe. Things are better than ever. Then it happens again. And each time it gets a little worse. Or it takes another form. Like your partner decides you shouldn't have a particular friend because that friend is the one causing all your problems. Or your partner should manage all the money because that will eliminate some of your partner's stress. And you agree, because after all, your partner wasn't like this in the beginning, so it must be something you're doing, right? Someday your partner may do something so bad that you kick your partner out of the house. Or you run away yourself. But oh, you miss the love, don't you? The good times? So when your partner apologizes this time, with more gifts, more promises, you go back home or let your partner back in the house, knowing this time your partner means it. This time it really will change. Things are better than ever.
But things change again. If the abuse is physical, one night you find yourself in the emergency room, lying about how you got that black eye or that broken arm. If the abuse is emotional, you may find yourself in a therapist's office trying to figure out what you are doing wrong. Your family and friends try to talk to you. You pretend to listen but decide they don't know what they're talking about and after all, you love your partner and your partner loves you. You go back home. Your partner brings you gifts. You don't want to go out to dinner. Things are great for a while. Better than ever.
The Curtain Falls
And then things start going down hill again. More violence, more cruelty, more belittlement, more control, whatever form the abuse is taking, it just gets worse. And one day you don't come home. Because you're dead or have gone insane.
Because you kept doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
That is the true definition of insanity.
But It Doesn't Have To Be Like This.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Misogyny (IPA: /mɪˈsɒʤəˌni/) is hatred or strong prejudice against women; an antonym of philogyny. Although misogyny is sometimes confused with misanthropy, the terms are not interchangeable, for the latter refers more generally to the hatred of humanity. A concept related to misogyny is gynephobia, the fear of women, but not necessarily hatred of them.
Compared with anti-woman sexism or misandry (hatred, strong prejudice against men), misogyny is termed by most feminist theories as a political ideology like racism and antisemitism that justifies and maintains the subordination of women to men.
Forms of misogyny
There are many different forms of misogyny. In its most overt expression, a misogynist will openly hate all women simply because they are female. Other forms of misogyny may be less overt. Some misogynists may simply be prejudiced against all women, or may hate women who do not fall into one or more acceptable categories. Entire cultures may be said to be misogynist if they treat women in ways that can be seen as harmful. Examples include forcing women to tend to all domestic responsibilities, demanding silence from a woman, or beating a woman. Subscribers to one model, the mother/whore dichotomy, hold that women can only be "mothers" or "whores." Another variant is the virgin/whore dichotomy, in which women who do not adhere to a saintly standard of moral purity are considered "whores." 
Frequently, the term misogynist is used in a looser sense as a term of derision to describe anyone who holds an unpopular or distasteful view about women as a group. A man who considers himself "a great lover of women," therefore, might somewhat paradoxically be termed a misogynist by those who consider his treatment of women sexist. Archetypes of this type of man might be Giacomo Casanova and Don Juan, who were both reputed for their many libertine affairs with women. Misogyny is a negative attitude towards women as a group, and so need not fully determine a misogynist's attitude towards each individual woman. The fact that someone holds misogynist views may not prevent them from having positive relationships with some women. Conversely, simply having negative relationships with some women does not necessarily mean someone holds misogynistic views. The term, like most negative descriptions of attitudes, is used as an epithet and applied to a wide variety of behaviors and attitudes. As with other terms, the more antipathetic one's position is in regards to misogyny, the larger the number of misogynists and the greater variety of attitudes and behaviors who fall into one's perception of "misogynist."[specify] This is, of course, the subject of much controversy and debate with opinions ranging widely as to the extent and breadth of misogyny in society.
Eve rides astride the Serpent on a capital in Laach Abbey church, 13th century
Misogyny in religion
See also: Feminist theology
Misogyny can be traced back to the origins of Modern civilization, such as in Greece and Judea, in which stories and legends on the Fall of Man into a world of tragedy and death had been brought about by a woman. In both cultures, the creation of man is primary, and woman an afterthought. In Greek mythology, the human race had already existed previous to the creation of women — a peaceful, autonomous existence as a companion to the gods. When Prometheus decides to steal the secret of fire from the gods, Zeus becomes infuriated and decides to punish humankind with an "evil thing for their delight" — Pandora, the first woman, who carried a jar (usually described — incorrectly — as a box) she was told to never open. Epimetheus (the brother of Prometheus) is overwhelmed by her beauty, disregards Prometheus' warnings about her, and marries her. Pandora cannot resist peeking into the jar, and by opening it unveils all evil into the world — labour, sickness, old age, and death. During the Great Jubilee, Pope John Paul II issued an apology for all the past sins of the Roman Catholic Church, dividing the sins into seven categories. Among general sins, sins in service of the truth, sins against Christian unity, sins against Jews, sins against respect of love, peace and culture, and sins against human rights, he also apologized for sins against the dignity of women and minorities.
The church has been criticized for being misogynistic. "The foundations of early Christian misogyny — its guilt about sex, its insistence on female subjection, its dread of female seduction — are all in St. Paul's epistles. They provided a convenient supply of divinely inspired misogynistic texts for any Christian writer who chose to use them; his statements on female subjection were still being quoted in the twentieth century opponents of equality for women." Writers such as John Knox have been singled out for criticism.
However, given that Mary Magdalene became a saint and was one of the first witnesses to the Resurrection of Jesus, many argue that Christianity has ultimately raised the status of women, despite the attitudes of some individuals. In the New Testament, Jesus treats women with respect, even going so far as to save a woman caught in adultery from stoning in John 8. The apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 5 states that wives belong to their husbands, and equally husbands belong to their wives. See the article on Christian feminism for a fuller discussion.
Misogyny in philosophy
Arthur Schopenhauer is famous for his essay "On Women" (Über die Weiber), in which he expressed his opposition to what he called "Teutonico-Christian stupidity" on female affairs. He claimed that "woman is by nature meant to obey." The essay does give two compliments however: that "women are decidedly more sober in their judgment than men are" and are more sympathetic to the suffering of others. However, the latter was discounted as weakness rather than humanitarian virtue.
Nietzsche is known for arguing that every higher form of civilization implied stricter controls on women (Beyond Good and Evil, 7:238); he frequently insulted women, but is best known for phrases such as "Women are less than shallow," and "Are you going to women? Do not forget the whip!" Nietzsche's reputation as a misogynist is disputed by some, pointing out that he also made unflattering statements about men. Nietzsche can easily be interpreted as anti-feminist, believing that women were primarily mothers and opposing the modern notion of women's liberation on the grounds that he considered it a form of slave morality. Whether or not this amounts to misogyny, whether his polemic statements against women are meant to be taken literally, and the exact nature of his opinions of women, are more controversial.
The philosopher Otto Weininger, in his 1903 book Sex and Character, characterized the "woman" part of each individual as being essentially "nothing," and having no real existence, having no effective consciousness or rationality. Weininger says, "No men who really think deeply about women retain a high opinion of them; men either despise women or they have never thought seriously about them." The author August Strindberg praised Weininger for probably having solved the hardest of all problems, the "woman problem."
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Negative Religious Views of Women
It is the nature of women to seduce men in this (world); for that reason, the wise are never unguarded in the (company of) females. For women are able to lead astray in (this) world not only a fool, but even a learned man, and (to make) him a slave of desire and anger.
(When creating them) Manu allotted women (a love of their) bed, (of their) seat and (their) ornaments, impure desires, wrath, dishonesty, malice, and bad conduct.
Laws of Manu 2:213, p. 69; 9:14, p. 330)
‘How are we to conduct ourselves, Lord, with regard to womankind?’
‘As not seeing them, Ananda.’
‘But if we should see them, what should we do?’
‘No talking, Ananda.’
‘But if they should speak to us, Lord, what are we to do?’
‘Keep wide awake, Ananda.’
(Maha Parinnibana Suttana, 5:9, Digha Nikaya 2:141, in Rhys Davids, Dialogues of the Buddha, vol. 2, p. 154)
You should know that when men have close relationships with women, they have close relationships with evil ways…
Fools lust for women like dogs in heat..
Women can ruin the precepts of purity.
They can also ignore honor and virtue.
Causing one to go to hell, they prevent rebirth in heaven.
Why should a wise delight in them?
(Speech of the Buddha to King Udayana, from the Mahratnakuta, quote in Paul, Women in Buddhism, pp. 30, 31, 41-2.
Do you not all know that each of you (Women) is also an Eve?...You are the Devil/s gateway, you are the unsealer of the forbidden tree, you are the first deserter of the divine law, you are the one who persuaded him who the devil was too weak to weak to attack. How easily you destroyed man, the image of God! Because of the death which you brought upon us, even the Son of God had to die.
(Tertullian, Church Father, in De Cultu Feminarum 1:1, quote in D. Bailey, The Man Woman Relation)
Men are the maintainers of women because Allah has made some of them to excel others and because they spend out of their property; the good women are therefore obedient, guarding the unseen as Allah has guarded; and (as to) those on whose part you fear desertion, admonish them, and leave them alone in the sleeping-places and beat them; then if they obey you, do not seek a way against them; surely Allah is High, Great.
 Laws of Manu, trans. G. Buhler. Sacred books of the East vol. 25. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1886.
 The Koran, Trans. M. H. Shakir; Electronic Text Center, University of Virginia (10/19/01)<http://etext.virginia.edu/koran.html >.
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
If last season was an indicator of how this season will go we should see a widened audience while keeping the "Islamic jihadists" at bay. The Hank Den Hollanders, Mark Den Hollanders, Evert VanSligtenhorsts, Albert Hummels, Tim DeWeerds, Fred Nymans, Albert Mulder, the self acclaimed leader of the church Harry Frielink and the Ken Boersmas is be (again) our greatest customers. Thanks for your patronage. I especially appreciate (council's insider letters) your letters of support. This year as last will make sure that you anonymity is protected.
I see that the Exeter CRC site has been updated and lists Jennifer Branderhorst, her father and mother Henry and back door troll Sadie Post as well as Harold and Alida DeVries as "leaders" of the church. Wow. Of course the biggest picture was not of the biggest group but gee whiz, Harry Frielink. Go figure.
Church certainly took a dump on attendance for the summer and the outdoor service was a flop. But, then again the Exeter CRC is not really about getting new people to the church it is about self perpetuating the same people. Best, part was the holding onto the Ozzie and Harry(iette) show and holding onto 1950's values when you only have to convince your kids. Outreach has been reduced to an incestuous relaitonship. Kinfolk need only apply.
The finances are out of control but that often occurs when a preacher is not performing as a shepherd. You can't rule with an iron fist because the banging hand of irreligiousity is scaring the flock.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
When Women Were Priests:
Women's Leadership in the Early Church and the Scandal of their Subordination in the Rise of Christianity
Karen Jo Torjesen
New York, NY
From the Inside Flap:
"Under a high arch in a Roman Basilica dedicated to two women saints, Prudentiana and Praxedis, is a mosaic portraying four female figures.... The faces of Mary and the two saints are easily recognizable. But the identity of the fourth is less apparent. A carefully lettered inscription identifies the face on the far left as Theodora Episcopa, which means Bishop Theodora. The masculine form for bishop in Latin is episcopus; the feminine form is episcopa. The mosaic's visual evidence and the inscription's grammatical evidence point out unmistakable that Bishop Theodora was a woman. But the a on Theodora has been partly effaced by scratches across the glass tiles of the mosaic, leading to the disturbing conclusion that attempts were made to deface the feminine ending, perhaps even in antiquity."
This telling image begins an extraordinary odyssey into the real place of women in early Christianity. A vital contribution to the debate on women in the church, this groundbreaking book by respected scholar Karen Jo Torjesen reveals not only that women were priests, prophets, and even bishops in early Christianity, but also how and why they were systematically effaced by the institutional church.
In ancient Mediterranean society, Torjesen explains, women could play often quite powerful social and political leadership roles at the level of the household but not in public. Hence, as long as the early church gathered in private homes, women who regularly guided their households both economically and culturally often led the congregations. It was an almost subversive act to worship as Christians in the ancient world, yet women bravely organized and maintained the growing groups of followers. But as Christianity emerged from its domestic enclaves and the church became a public institution, women were relegated to private, subservient, and invisible roles dictated by Greek and Roman society's proscription of women's activity in the public sphere.
Cogent and convincing, Torjesen asserts that the sexism and misogyny that remain in the church today do not derive from Jesus and his first followers--who radically challenged conventions about gender and status--but from the social context in which Christianity flowered. Thus, those who deny women full participation in the leadership of the modern church based on the teaching and practice of Jesus and the early church, are quite simply, dead wrong.
Friday, June 20, 2008
Isn't it about time for Synod not to make half-hearted decisions but to give women all the privileges of the church offices i.e. serving communion , as they undoubtedly do in their home churches? We have catered and compromised long enough. Many are leaving the CRC over this waffling attitude! "
Synod 2008 Seeks Balance on Women in Office
Synod tried to show sensitivity to both sides of the women-in-office issue as it made decisions this week.
On Wednesday evening, delegates voted to discontinue the appointment of women advisers to Synod, since women now participate as delegates. On Thursday morning, Synod said that worship services during Synod should be planned to “show sensitivity for both views held in the denomination on women in office,” including the serving of communion.
But the decisions did not come easily, as delegates walked a fine line between the two positions on the issue.
As delegates wrestled with a proposal to end the practice of women advisers, they struck out wording that said synod was “rejoicing…thankful for the women delegates present this year and trusting that [the church] will continue along this path…”
“I can understand how difficult it is for them when Synod is asked with one voice to rejoice and be thankful,” said Rev. Ken Vander Horst, Classis Lake Erie.
But some delegates would have liked to go a step further by establishing a threshold number of women delegates. If the delegate threshold were not reached, additional women would be appointed as advisers – as is the practice with ethnic advisers.
It’s not easy to trust that significant numbers of women delegates will be sent to synod every year, said Rev. Joan De Vries, Classis Toronto. “I want you to hear my pain also as you have heard the pain of those who spoke on the other side.”
Thursday morning, delegates responded to an overture from Classis Minnkota asking that only men serve communion at synod’s worship services by voting to “instruct the executive director and the convening church of synod to show sensitivity for both views held in the denomination,” as they plan the service and communion.
Some delegates said that peoples’ consciences were offended by the service on Sunday when they were served communion by female elders.
“The consciences of many … who hold to the traditional view are troubled,” said Rev. George Koopmans of Classis Alberta South/Saskatchewan. “I believe this recommendation is sensitive to the consciences of many.”
“It’s sad for me to sit here and listen to this,” said Rev. Ronald Chu, Classis California South. “We bind each other so we have to watch what we do and what we say… It’s sad that we don’t give each other the grace, understanding and wisdom to say ‘That’s okay.’”
Synod News Service is provided by the CRC's Office of Communications.
Saturday, June 14, 2008
Synod 2008 Opens Historic Session
June 14, 2008—Synod 2008 made history today by welcoming women as delegates and then by electing a woman to its executive.
Rev. Thea Leunk, pastor of Eastern Avenue Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, was elected as vice president of the Christian Reformed Church in North America’s annual general assembly, which opened Saturday morning at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich.
Rev. Joel Boot, the pastor of Ridgewood CRC in Jenison, Mich., was elected as president of synod for the second year in a row.
“Sisters and brothers, this has been a long time in coming. This is an historic occasion. I consider it to be a distinct honor and privilege to be leading you through this,” said Boot in his opening remarks.
“Last year’s synod made what is happening at this synod permissible. This year’s synod must show that this is possible.”
Last year’s synod voted to allow women to serve as delegates, a change that this year has brought 26 women to synod among the 188 delegates.
Elected as first clerk of this year’s synod was Rev. Leslie Kuiper, pastor of First CRC in Oostburg, Wisc. Rev. Laryn Zoerhof, pastor of First CRC in De Motte, Ind., was elected second clerk.
Delegates to synod, which is scheduled to meet June 14-21, will discuss and make decisions on issues ranging from a revised contemporary testimony to a review of the form of subscription that church officebearers must sign.
Also on the agenda is a recommendation to enter into full fellowship with the Protestant Church of the Netherlands as well as an extensive report calling for a more pastoral approach to ministering to persons who have been abused as well as the abusers themselves.
Rev. Richard Verkaik, pastor of the River Walk Community CRC in Battle Creek, Mich., the convening church for Synod 2008, opened the morning session by welcoming the women delegates. He called on all delegates to do their job in love and with consideration for all of the views and beliefs that they bring to the meeting.
“The church wins if you serve in love,” he said. “If you love … God will be glorified and what would be better than that.”
Verkaik also asked for prayers for agencies of the CRC, particularly the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee that “must be stretched to its very limits responding to all of the world’s crises overseas” and now in the Midwest that has been battered by tornadoes, heavy rains and floods.
During the opening session, delegates and visitors filled the Fine Arts Center with their voices of praise. In addition, Rev. Herman Keizer, director of the CRC’s Chaplaincy Services, introduced the more than 80 CRC chaplains who were in town to attend an annual chaplain’s conference.
Rev. Jerry Dykstra, executive director of the CRCNA, ended the morning session by telling delegates that they will be asked to work hard in various study committees prior to the first plenary session of synod, which could be Monday.
On Sunday afternoon, delegates will gather in the Calvin College chapel for a service of prayer and praise. In the evening, there will be a showing of “Our Family Album,” a video about the history of the CRC.
- Chris Meehan, CRC Communications
For the first time in the 151-year history of the Christian Reformed Church, women will be among the delegates to the denomination’s annual synod.
When delegates from 47 classes (regional groups of churches) gather at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich., for Synod 2008, 25 of the 188 representatives will be women. Synod 2007 removed the requirement that delegates to synod be male.
The agenda for Synod 2008 lacks the high profile topics such as women in ecclesiastical office that grabbed attention in previous years. However, it includes issues that hold long-term significance for the confessional foundations of the denomination.
Form of Subscription
Perhaps top on the list is the proposed revision of the Form of Subscription. The form is a statement that all officebearers in the CRC must sign, signaling their commitment to upholding and defending the creeds and confessions of the church, most significantly the Heidelberg Catechism, the Belgic Confession, and the Canons of Dort. The form is intended to keep us all, confessionally speaking, on the same page.
But in recent years church leaders have complained that the form, written originally in the 1600s, is outdated and that its difficult text weakens its potential as a meaningful testimony for new church leaders. In some cases congregations are not even requiring new officebearers to sign the Form of Subscription.
So synod appointed a committee, which revised the form and sent it to the churches for feedback. Using that feedback, the committee drafted a new version, called the Covenant of Ordination. It is up to Synod 2008 to decide what to do with it. Some are happy with the revision, others are not, and still others think the whole document should be sent back to the churches for further study, after which Synod 2009 should deal with it.
Also in the confessional vein, “Our World Belongs to God” underwent a revision, and that, too, is coming to Synod 2008. Commonly known as the Contemporary Testimony, it was written in 1986 as a modern expression of what the Christian Reformed Church believes. While not on a par with the Heidelberg Catechism, Belgic Confession, and Canons of Dort, it is widely used by CRC churches.
But much has changed since 1986, so to remain contemporary the testimony needed an update. As with the revision to the Form of Subscription, some are in favor of the rewrite, others are not, and some say the whole thing should be sent back to the churches for a year.
Protestant Church of the Netherlands
Another item on this year’s agenda is the relationship between the Christian Reformed Church in North America and the newly formed Protestant Church of the Netherlands (PCN). When the PCN was formed, it enfolded the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands, also known as the GKN (Gereformeerde Kerken in Nederland), the church that has often been called the mother or sister of the CRC in North America.
In recent decades the CRC has had a strained relationship with the GKN. The two denominations were distanced by differences about biblical interpretation and acceptance of homosexual practice.
However, with the formation of the PCN, that mother church no longer exists, and the Interchurch Relations Committee of our denomination would like synod to establish ecclesiastical fellowship with the new denomination, in line with the openness of our new ecumenical charter.
That new charter, adopted by Synod 2006, takes a more open approach to interchurch relations. It marked a shift from stressing shared confessionality and an implicit goal of mutual discipline to a greater openness to working together in cooperation with various denominations despite certain differences.
The agenda also includes overtures (requests) to synod, on topics ranging from the second Sunday worship service to environmental policy to the new bi-denominational hymnal in development with the Reformed Church in America.
Synod convenes at Calvin College on Saturday, June 14, 2008. You can follow the proceedings by calling the synod hotline at 1-888-CR-SYNOD (1-888-277-9663). In Grand Rapids, the local number is 616-224-0841.
Live webcasts will also be available at www.crcna.org/pages/synod_webcast.cfm.
- Gayla R. Postma
We've prayed and waited and watched and worked a very long time for the
day when women would break the glass ceiling of Synod. That day has come! We
all owe a resounding THANK YOU! to all the people who have contributed
something to the coming of this moment.
I'd like to invite you to come to the opening day of business for Synod,
Tuesday, June 17 to witness the first time that women will serve as
delegates to the Christian Reformed Church. And later in the day, at 9 p.m.,
to come to my house (1920 Lotus SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49506) to be together,
talk about and smile at the this historic moment. Pleae bring a little
something to drink/eat with you.
Here's the schedule for the day at Synod on the 17th:
Tuesday, June 17
8:15 - 8:45 a.m. Opening worship
8:45 - 11:45 a.m. Plenary session
11:45 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. Lunch
1:15 - 5:00 p.m. Plenary session
5:30 - 6:30 p.m. Dinner
7:00 - 9 :00 p.m. Plenary session
If you're a real diehard fan of every moment of 'firstness,' you may want
to come to the Saturday session, where women will be seated for the first
time on the FAC stage with male delegates. Here's the schedule of that day:
Saturday, June 14
9:00 - 11:00 a.m. Opening session of synod, election of officers,
finalization of committee assignments
11:00 - 12:30 p.m. Lunch and orientation of committee chairpersons and
1:15 - 3:00 p.m. Advisory-committee meetings
3:00 - 3:20 p.m. Break
3:20 - 5:30 p.m. Advisory-committee meetings
5:30 - 6:30 p.m. Dinner
7:00 - 9:00 p.m. Advisory-committee meeting
We had over 400 in the audience last year--let's try to meet or beat that
this year! Helen Sterk
Helen Sterk, Ph.D.
Chair, Communication Arts and Sciences
De Vos Communication Center
1810 East Beltline Ave. S.E.
Grand Rapids, MI 49546-5951
Sunday, June 8, 2008
Posted for reader:
from Joan DeVries
to Joan of Arc
date Fri, Jun 6, 2008 at 5:53 PM
subject Prayer Updates
We have been praying for an 18 month old child named Nathaniel, son of Pastor John Wildeboer’s cousin in Alberta. Nathaniel died a few days again after a 4 month battle with cancer. Henry and John W have gone to Alberta for the weekend to attend the funeral and be with family.
John Hofland is getting very weak. The family and I are discussing the future together. Please pray for Riek, John and their family I this time.
Pastor Joan DeVries,
Sunday, June 1, 2008
"Now, having established a woman's valued place in Scripture, we find confusion within various teachings regarding a woman's role. How can we understand passages used to diminish a woman's role within the body of Yeshua? Let's look:
"Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety." 1 Timothy 2:11-15
But what does it mean? Women have to be silent all the time? Let's carefully examine the 1 Timothy passage.
Women are to learn in silence. Silence here is Greek hesuchia (Strong's 2271). It is NOT phimoo which would mean 'muzzle' (contrary to how many may want read it) Hesuchia is better rendered 'quietness' and is translated more accurately in 2 Thesalonians 3:11-12 "For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Yeshua Messiah, that with quietness/hesuchia they work, and eat their own bread." Clearly, in this passage, it is not assumed hesuchia means that they are to never utter a word. Simply put, they held their tongue and kept the peace. (as in Acts 22:2). This sort of quietness denotes making a conscious choice not to speak out and stir things up, not the same as being muzzled and never ever uttering a single sound ever. Big difference. So back to the 1 Timothy passage, women are to learn in quiet peace and not teach or usurp authority over a man, but instead, will hold her tongue. The word teach here is didasko (Strong's 1321) meaning "to give instruction." So are we saying that women may give no instructions at all? Let's look closer now at what it means to 'usurp authority' -- it comes from the Greek authenteo (Strong's 831) and means to dominate or take control. Women are simply commanded not to dominate or control men with their teaching. Now this is beginning to make sense. This is not a prohibition against women doing any teaching, but instead a prohibition against women having disciples. Yochanan The Immerser and Yeshua are two important examples of teachers with dedicated disciples. Their disciples lived with them, slept with them, traveled with them everywhere, learned from them, lived their lives according to their teacher's instruction. It is *this* relationship a woman is being warned of. Women are not to take disciples, because such a leader would dominate and teach -- strongly influence their follower's lives. For a woman to take on disciples, she would upset G-d's order and have dominance over men. We can be sure it is this type of leadership teaching role being prohibited here, since we have examples of women performing other types of teaching elsewhere in Scripture. Let's look:
And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly." Acts 18:26
Notice that she does not dominate here - she is acting as a helpmeet; she is helping to teach a man alongside her husband. She is not taking on disciples or doing anything unbecoming of a woman. Yet she is helping to teach. "
Reply With Quote
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Sunday, May 25, 2008
"Though she was a tiger lady, our hero didn't have to fire a shot to floor her. After one look at his Mr. Leggs slacks, she was ready to have him walk all over her. That noble styling sure soothes the savage heart! If you'd like your own doll-to-doll carpeting, hunt up a pair of these he-man Mr. Leggs slacks. Such as our new automatic wash-wear blend of 65% "Dacron" and 35% rayon - incomparably wrinkle-resistant. About $12.95 at plush-carpeted stores. Get yourself a new pair of Mr. Leggs® Dacron for Fall"
Friday, May 23, 2008
Monday, May 19, 2008
I opened this idea up after one reader suggested that it was unethical that members of Council, (and by way of his example, Rick Branderhorst sitting on the Building and Finance Committee and being present when his wife's wages (church secretary) were being negotiated) could have input and/or were being permitted to vote was improper.
I have to agree! I need a hand with this one. Anyone in the legal field out there able to help?
Friday, May 9, 2008
Of the candidates, the one who stands out most is Harold Devries. His
letters to council is still fresh in my memory. It was very demeaning
and insulting to the council at that time. His portrayal of the Bible
in that women were totally inept, and only men were fit to rule. That
women being involved in a governing role has killed other churches,
that Satan is involved, that its the beginning of the slippery slope,
(gays next). Also an almost threatening nature with the future of
Eternal Life Video at stake and his job threatened. His son, Ron was
very upset by the attitude and had literally challenged council to
address the situation. (It didn't.) The scary part is that Harold was
nominated for the position with still two thirds of council in office
that read the letter and noted his almost fanatical attitude. Don't
kid yourself, the office of women in the deaconate is dying if not
already dead. We just haven't been issued the death certificate yet!
God bless your efforts, but I believe the Exeter CRC is drowning in
its own fear and blindness.
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
It is interesting that Council had chosen to "cast lots" for nominations for the role of deacon and elder. It is however a little stacked when you consider that they once again have chosen the bag of straws. This would have been a excellent time to put a list of all eligible men and women (for deacon) in the lot. At a time when they could have chosen pro-active affirmative action they decided again to close the door and ignore. I realize that there would be an element of relinguishing of control but wasn't that supposed to be the reason be begin with.
I wish to compile a list of all of the nominations for deacon and elder and get feedback on their views of women in office. From what I see so far it looks grim and stacked.
It is equally sad that Chairman Ken Boersma and Vice Chairman Tim DeWeerd didn't encourage council to seek at least a 50% nomination for deacons. Both of these gentlemen have been part of the process of weeding women out of the leadership roles of women, bolstering them for men and trying to move this church back to the subservient 50's. I wonder if women are equals at Pinder, Taylor, McNeilly, Godkin LLP, Chartered Accountants & Business advisor's in Exeter or at Quadro Communications in Kirkton. It is however fair game I suppose they won with battle to ensure that women could no longer participate in any leadership roles in our church. Thanks so much for rallying for the women guys.
So. Here is your job dear readers (and please do this soon) please send me an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org I will keep you name and email anonymous but please provide a list and background of the candidates (or the current council members) so that we can do what council should have done in the first place. Given the congregation an opportunity to know who they are voting for. No tricks like when Rev. Frielink came to sell himself to our congregation. I.e. Making it sound like he could isn't crazy about women in office and never say to anyone that he couldn't serve with a female elder or minister. But. Yet in Ingersol a week or two before, he said he was able to and was forthright in this same context. This was the lie of omission. In fact, he should be dismissed for this type of activity.
I'm just ramping up for a large email readership blitz and would like Ontario, Canada and the United States to see what the Axis of Evil is doing to our once harmonious church.
Dear Hard-Liners - WE WANT IT BACK!
So. Get you list and let me know. I'm eager to post it.
Monday, April 28, 2008
All great truths begin as blasphemies.
I like your Christ;
I do not like your Christians.
Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.
~ Mohandas Gandhi
Thursday, April 24, 2008
By The Rev. Michael Barrodale
February 8, 2006 | Issue 42•06
Who is greater—he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? He that sitteth at meat, surely. For it is him we serve, and it is for the fulfillment of his needs we are occupied. However, I am in your midst not as he that sitteth at meat, but as he that serveth. For I am not the author of these garbled elaborations—they are my Lord's.
Myself, I am but a humble servant, and have little need for the compulsory attentions of a captive audience. But the Lord our God, Light of the World, has asked that I pass his mind-numbing and unfathomable message on to the members of His flock, and I have answered Him yes. It is my God's infinite tedium, not mine, that I strive to share with you.
I cannot be faulted for the self-love you hear in my voice. That self-love is God's alone, for He taketh great pleasure in an audience, and in the airing of His thoughts before it. My seeming indifference to your flagging interest is, in truth, my Father's. For my Father rarely considers His listeners. And the tired rhetorical devices I use and tame shaggy-dog stories I tell are my Lord's, as well.
It is He who has chosen me to spin His pointless yarns. It is He who said, "Michael, read at length from the Holy Bible's more prosaic stretches, and follow it with a lecture that shall continue until you are tired and then begin again, one that you shall deliver in a voice with no tonal modulation." And I have answered his call. Verily, I am doing the Lord's droning.
Brothers and sisters, I do not speak for indefinite lengths—often for the better part of a morning—of mine own will, but of the Great Babbler's. It is He who bids me speak of matters arcane and indistinct with language obtuse and dry. The incessant question-begging is my God's. The tiresome generalities and cryptic platitudes whose original meanings have been stripped of context or lost to mistranslation, my Master's. These, and all my ponderous orations, were delivered unto me by Him, our Lecturer, our Shepherd.
He speaks through me often, brothers and sisters. He speaks through me during the day, and He speaks through me at night. He speaks through me when I am at the pulpit, and He speaks through me when I attend a secular event, such as a football game. The Lord even occasionally speaks through me when I am alone with my wife.
Sometimes, when the Lord bids me speak about Scripture, I do not wish to obey. I say, "Not right now, God! I'm watching Kate's playoff game." I say, "Father, I love and worship you, but I am in the middle of eating eggs!"
For I cannot take any pride in this, the Divine Embarrassment's shameless tongue-wagging. It is through Him alone that I stand before you Sundays in my frayed chasuble, my thinning hair improbably combed, my eyes glazed and beneficent. It is He who decides, after an interminable sermon, to lead the congregation in the off-key singing of a hymn. And it is He that fails to note your eyes' tendency to wander or fix dumbly on a funeral-home ad on the back of your hymnal, because He knows that He is above all things. Sometimes after the services, I wish I could take Him aside in the sacristy to talk to Him about His behavior, but ironically, it is precisely these times in which He is nowhere to be found.
In the final days, the Lord our God shall reveal Himself to thee, and lightning bolts shall emit from His eyes, and He shall hold in one hand the earth, and in the other a lamb. He will darken the skies, and fold the heavens upon the seas, and the animals will go down on bended knee, and He shall retell a provincial anecdote. This, the Lord's small anecdote, shall be taken from a private, humorous aspect of His own life, and using its meager light, the Lord shall attempt to elucidate a passage from the Bible. Yea. Our Father will talk at length, with much mildness and complacent goodwill, employing many familiar chestnuts. He shall speak night and day, eternally, until the dead rise from their sepulchers and crumple to the ground to hug their own bodies, stupefied by the emptiness of the Lord's many, many words.Yes, it is my Holy Father who has caused the flock at Heavenly Words Episcopal Church to decrease by half. It is my Holy Father who is driving His children from the fold. It is my Holy Father who has never known the freshness and light of devotion, and who, through gall or great hubris, doles out weekly servings of mutual humiliation, punishing the few who would glorify His name. I am but His megaphone: the mouthpiece through which He delivers His meandering homilies. And I will serve my Father, the Everlasting Talker, always, unto the end of my life and beyond, forever His willing horn, that He may blow eternal His tempests of hot air. Now let us sing.