Wednesday, March 31, 2010

"I do not permit a woman to teach"

I Timothy 2:11-15:
11A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. 12I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent.13For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. 15But women[a] will be saved[b]through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.

I received an email this week from someone I know asking several questions about the passage: whether I think that women shouldn't teach or have authority over men, why the passage brings Eve into the argument, and what does the passage say about women who cannot or do not have children?

Although I've sent a reply out which I may post soon, I thought I'd invite readers to suggest their own ways of handling the passage. It's certainly part of our tradition. Most women have to deal with it (or passages like it) one way or another. So how have you read I Timothy 2:11-15 in your life and work?

Monday, March 29, 2010

Sara Maitland on silence

Sara Maitland, author of A Book of Silence, comments "The more time you have for silence the more interesting the prayer gets." She now lives in prayerful isolation in a cottage on the Scottish moors. Petitionary prayer is one of the duties of people who live alone, she says, since it prevents self-obsession.

Pen World Voices of International Literature April 26 to May 2; Tariq Ramadan at Cooper Union on April 8

April 26-May 2, 2010 is the Sixth PEN World Voices Festival. There are free events (one for high school students) as well as ticketed ones. The Writer as Activist is here. And a conversation between Atiq Rahimi, author of The Patience Stone and Lila Azam Zangeneh is on May 2, from 4-5pm at the French Institute Alliance Fran├žaise, Tinker Auditorium, 55 East 59th Street, New York City.  Here are reviews of The Patience Stone. I will read it in the next fortnight!

On April 8th at The Great Hall at Cooper Union, 7. East 7th Street, NYC at 7.30pm a panel including Ian Buruma, Dalia Mogahed, directof of the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies, Tariq Ramadan, author of What I Believe, Joan Wallach Scott, author of The Politics of the Veil (The Public Square) and Jacob Weisberg will discuss “Secularism, Islam and Democracy: Muslims in Europe and the West.” The event is presented by the AAUP, the ACLU, Pen American Writers and Slate magazine. The event is not free alas, but is the first US appearance of Tariq Ramadan after Secretary of State Hilary Clinton signed an order in January 2010 lifting a ban on his US public appearances.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Where Have All the Women Gone? Bettany Hughes Part 2

The second programme in the series Banishing Eve, focuses on women in early Christian tradition. It begins with a focus on Mary at the center of its faith to argue that "Women who had once guided the church's first steps were now stumbling." Inside one of the catacombs in Rome is a painted small figure, probably the earliest representation of Mary underneath a tree with a baby on her knees dated 220-228 CE . She will shortly be elevated to Theotokos when in 325 Constantine called together the Council of Nicaea. Professor Diarmaid MacCullough of Oxford University clarifies that now she is the Mother of God, that is, mother of divinity, co-equal in divinity.  But Collyridians worshiped Mary as a goddess to Epiphanius' horror. At the Councils of Nicaea and Ephesus Mary's image is shaped. Mary reverses Eve.

Professor Kate Cooper notes that as the Christian institution emerges, misogynistic language emerges particularly From mid-fourth to mid-fifth century. When John Chrysostom calls the Empress Jezebel, Salome or Eve he is using negative biblical images of women. The church relies now on institutions rather than households. Women did practice ascetic monastic lifestyles as nuns but an ordinary married Christian woman was left out.

Texts that have been left out of historical reconstructions include the Oxyrhynchus Papyri. Dr Dirk Obbink describes their early excavation from 1896-1906 by Grenfell and Hunt: see The Oxyrhynchus papyri, edited with translations and notes by Bernard P. Grenfell and Arthur S. Hunt (Part 10). A Christian gem from this collection (P. Oxy. 3525) shows a post resurrection dialogue between Jesus and the disciples in which Mary "greets them all. 'Don't weep, His grace will be with you.' Peter says, 'Sister, we know that the Saviour loved you more than all the other women...' Mary (Mariamme) the authoritative woman shown with a special relationship to Jesus may be why this text ends up in a biscuit box from Oxyrhynchus rather than in the canon of the New Testament. These scraps of Greek tell us that a Christian household of fourth century Egypt was trying to keep the prominent role of women alive.

Dr Kathryn Beebe of St Hilda's College Oxford is interviewed for her work on Hilda, head of a double monastery of men and women in the 7th C in the UK. But in 664, Hilda presided over the synod of Whitby. She supports the Celtic dating of Easter but at the end the followers of Rome won the argument for the Roman dating of Easter. Whitby was a center of religious learning and the 7th C to the 12th C which is a golden age for women. Then the new power base became the university to which women had little access until the 19th Century.

Bede speaks of Hilda because she was the greatest of the royal-aristocratic abbesses of her day, and her influence on the 7th-century English church was profound; she was a national religious figure of immense spiritual power. It is a telling reminder that history is not a matter of linear progress and improvement that this was a great age for well-born religious women, in a position to operate with a vigour and an impact which was theirs by right. These were no second-class citizens. Men listened to them, often, clearly, in awe; kings and bishops consulted them, male saints and leading churchmen kept up correspondence with them.

Bede’s Hilda is not only the holy woman of great and enduring faith, marked out by miracles and ultimate suffering, though that is impressive enough. Bede’s Hilda is also one of the great educational forces, for women and for men, in early-medieval England. And it is that combination of her particular style of the holy woman and her particular style of the woman of and for education that marks her out as one of the great figures in English history. 

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Jesus in Kashmir? and Philip Pullman's new book on Jesus and Christ

Strange reports today in the press.

"From Our Own Correspondent" Sam Miller reports from Kashmir whether Jesus is buried in Rozabal shrine. Officially, the tomb is the burial site of Youza Asaph, a medieval Muslim preacher. But some argue that it is the burial place of Jesus. Behind this notion lies the belief that Jesus survived the crucifixion, and went to live out his days in Kashmir.

The stories of Jesus in India however, are part of a broader argument dating back to the 19th Century in which Jesus came to India between the ages of 12 and 30. Did Jesus visit a Buddhist monastery in Srinagar in 80CE? Such stories were part of attempts to explain the striking similarities between Christianity and Buddhism, a matter of great concern to 19th Century scholars - and also a desire among some Christians to root the story of Jesus in Indian soil.

And The Guardian offers an excerpt from Philip Pullman's book The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ. Pullman has been reading the gospels and the Protevangelium of James. From the latter source comes this paragraph in the excerpt:

When they had nearly reached Bethlehem, (Joseph) turned around to see how she was, and saw her looking sad. Perhaps she's in pain, he thought. A little later he turned around again, and this time saw her laughing.

"What is it?" he said. "A moment ago you were looking sad, and now you're laughing."
"I saw two men," she said, "and one of them was weeping and crying, and the other was laughing and rejoicing."

There was no one in sight. He thought: How can this be?

Turns out that this passage is important to Pullman's novel: Mary "sees" that she will have twin sons, Jesus and Christ. Pullman has rendered the passage in ways that suit him. In an older translation of the this passage, M. R. James in 1924 renders it: And Mary said unto Joseph: It is because I behold two peoples with mine eyes, the one weeping and lamenting and the other rejoicing and exulting. I see two peoples, not two men (Greek: duo laous blepo). Laos connotes a people.

But Pullman's book reads Mary's vision as one of two men, presumably her twin sons. Jesus is tormented by Christ when they grow up to be adults. Jesus announces the kingdom of God while Christ realizes that people need institutions like an organized church. Paul's focus is on Christ rather than Jesus and Paul thus transforms the shape of the Christian tradition.

*      *       *        *       *

Its not too surprising to learn that Philip Pullman has been getting disapproving letters about the book.

Now what connects these two strange reports is India and the notion that Jesus had a twin. The apostle Thomas in some traditions is recognized as a twin, perhaps Jesus' twin, and in Indian Christian tradition, Thomas is the apostle who visited South India. And Rudolph Steiner wrote about Jesus and Christ as distinct figures in 1913.

It can't be accidental that the Pullman book is published in time for Easter. Time for a cup of tea, I think, or better yet, something stronger...
I have only to remember my own Sabbath to know that one person’s spiritual fantasy can cause another to flee screaming.

Review by Rebecca Newberger Goldstein in this week's NY Times Book Review of The Sabbath World: Glimpses of a Different Order of Time by Judith Shulevitz.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Fish reprieve on the Sea of Galilee

The Forward reports that fishing on the Sea of Galilee (Kinneret) has been banned for two years whilst stocks replenish. Local fisherpeople claim that not enough fingerlings have been introduced by the government into the lake to replenish the dwindling stock of fish: the number has been reduced to one million from 5-6 million in the 90's. The government in the meantime blames the fisherfolk for using nets with smaller holes which reduces the numbers of fish and removes young fish that haven't had a chance to breed. Apparently, tourists flock to the shoreside restaurants to sample the fish that Peter supposedly caught. It is the most common Kinneret fish: the Sarotherodon galilaeus galilaeus, a kind of tilapia that has been dubbed St. Peter’s Fish.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

"Same-Sex Relationships in the Life of the Church" now posted with introduction by Willis Jenkins to the House of Bishops discussion

The document "Same-Sex Relationships in the Life of the Church" is now posted here. As the preface notes, "this project was commissioned in the spring of 2008 by the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church, to be overseen by the Theology Committee." The postscript to the document written by the Theology Committee of the House of Bishops expresses gratitude for the work of the report, noting however that "their work is for study and reflection and does not constitute a position paper of the Theology Committee" (p.86).

The document contains statements by two parties or affinity groups offering two different interpretations of creedal faithfulness as the editor's foreward notes (iv): the traditionalists write on Same-Sex Marriage and Anglican Theology while the liberals write on a Theology of Marriage Including Same-Sex Couples. Each affinity group then responds to the work of the other group and the editor offers an epilogue.

I rejoice that our work is now available for all to read.

When the document was presented to the House of Bishops on March 20, 2010, Willis Jenkins gave this introduction (posted here with his permission). Grant LeMarquand also gave an introduction. Willis Jenkins' introduction helps to counter two blogosphere misperceptions to our work so far: nothing new and no points of agreement.


It should seem odd to you to have the argument for blessing same-sex marriage represented by a man married to a woman, here in a house of mostly the same. The four of us who wrote the expansionist argument, two women and two men, are all married, two in other-sex marriages and two in same-sex marriages. However, not all were comfortable coming before this house with the meaning of their marriage on the line. I acknowledge that in order to remind you of the frame of our argument. We do not plead for inclusion in marriage on the basis of rights, nor do we claim liberty for marriage on the basis of justice. Instead we show how all our marriages make sense within the church’s prayers and its proclamation of the gospel. Reading scripture in recognition of gifts of the Spirit evident in same- and other-sex couples, we present ourselves within the frame of an analogous debate: that of the earliest church wrestling with the question of Gentile inclusion. By offering this frame of argument, those in same-sex marriages allow themselves and their relationships to become vulnerable to “our” interpretation.  Our response, I contend, should be similar to how Peter, James, and Paul responded: by giving witness to gifts of the Spirit among these couples and making a way forward that respects tradition.
            The basic argument for expanding marriage is laid out in the preface to our document: marriage is a discipline and a means of grace. Same-sex couples need that discipline and grace no less than other-sex couples. They, like other-sex couples, should not be discouraged from committing their lives to each other nor from giving their commitments to the church. The church is free to bless those couples who present themselves as fit for Christian marriage by their readiness to enter a covenant of self-offering and of witness to Christ’s love for the world.
            That argument would be simple and the liturgical amendments minor – a matter of altering a few pronouns – were it not for the deep suspicion that it meets across the church, especially beyond our province. Listening to criticism that the Episcopal Church has not answered that suspicion with a coherent theology of marriage, we have elaborated how same-sex marriage fits within a faithful pattern of Christian life, how it harmonizes with orthodox theology, and how it makes sense within scripture. Our way of illustrating that fit does not require theological defeat of traditionalists, does not impose cultural change, does not rely on American power. To answer worries that we would demean other-sex marriage, we make painstaking clear how our proposal reclaims and affirms the deepest meaning of marriage. We reaffirm procreation as a purpose of marriage, and the welcoming of children as a gift proper to it. We reaffirm the unitive purpose of marriage, and chastity as a gift proper to it.
            Moreover, we present marriage not only as a relation for welcoming children and a way for sexual holiness, but as a daily practice used by the Spirit to bring us into union with Christ. We write: “Opposite-sex as well as same-sex couples who engage in this covenant undertake extraordinary promises in the face of great odds and with God’s help make a vivid witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ and the church established in his name.” We reclaim the patristic explanation of marriage as “a discipline for sinners,” and as such an ascetic practice in which self-donation is daily learned. So far from undermining marriage is our argument that what may be most controversial is that it takes marriage so seriously. The question before the church is whether same-sex couples have any obstacles, beyond those made by cultural prejudice, in undertaking these extraordinary promises, in vowing themselves to this discipline.
            The traditionalist and expansionist arguments agree that Christian marriage confronts a corrupt culture of freedom with virtues of self-denial and mutual joy. We disagree that those virtues divide by sexual category: self-denial as natural gift for homosexual persons, mutual joy as natural gift for heterosexual persons.
            The two arguments agree that marriage realizes an order in creation. We disagree that experience of male/female sexual relation best interprets that order; we think order is best known within the sanctifying relation of Christ and the church. Which is to say that we think the diversity of creation is realized and perfected in the community of Christ.
            The two arguments agree that marriage offers healing of sin and sacramental witness. We disagree that only other-sex couples experience that grace, that same-sex couples stand less in need of healing. The church should not turn away faithful same-sex couples who seek to give their marriages to the church’s meaning; we should celebrate that they too have come to the wedding feast.
            Six years ago I came to this house and argued, from my experience as a missionary with the Church of Uganda, that the significance of our ecclesial debates could be better understood in missiological perspective. So it is gratifying to return here with Grant, who has long mission experience, to interpret debate over this question.  The expansionist argument supposes that we face a debate over the mission of God in our context. We argue that while the Episcopal Church has equivocated about its mission of welcome for sexual minorities, causing angry confusion among our companions and within our membership, the Spirit has already been expanding our church. For as we have been compelled to attend with pastoral care to the testimony of same-sex couples, the church has discovered among them evident gifts of the Spirit: faithfulness, self-giving, commitment, patience, long-suffering – which they seek to offer to the church’s witness to Christ. While we started in debates about conditions of welcome, we have become witnesses to the Spirit enlarging the church beyond our expectations.
            We argue that marrying same-sex couples, if done forthrightly as a matter of witness and proclamation, can help our church better explain itself to the whole Communion. It is “part of the Episcopal church’s mission,” we write, “to marry same-sex couples; that is, to discipline them and turn them to the service of the church, that by them redemption may reach further and the marriages of all may be strengthened.”
            For the sake of mutual understanding and accountability with our companions in mission around the Communion, our argument elaborates how this mission makes sense within shared scriptures, shared liturgies and shared practices of moral formation. For we want our companions in mission to be able to understand us when we say that blessing same-sex marriages should not jeopardize the marriages or mission of churches that practice traditionalist marriage. We think just the contrary: that same-sex marriage strengthens the meaning of all marriages and illustrates anew the mission of the church. “The question of same-sex marriage,” we write, “comes to the church not as an issue of extended rights and privileges, but as a pastoral occasion to proclaim the significance of the gospel for all who marry.”
            Amidst similar dissension and debate in our church, we read our situation in light of the church council in Acts, and propose a similar compromise for a way forward: Traditionalist communities need not relinquish their traditions, but they must not break table fellowship. Inclusivist communities are not bound by those particular traditions, but they must avoid sexual immorality, which means that all couples, including same-sex couples, should marry.

Language Resources: Textkit

If you don't already know it, Textkit is a site with great resources to help anyone learn Greek and Latin: Smyth's Greek Grammar, for example. Here's their beginners center to get you started. There are Greek and Latin Forums (Fora?) where you can post questions and join learning communities. There are also Greek Dictionaries, simpler Greek grammars (than Smyth) for beginning New Testament Greek and selections from (an older edition of) the Greek Septuagint. (Here's a 2007 translation of the Septuagint which isn't free: A New English Translation of the Septuagint).

Monday, March 22, 2010

Women in Christian Tradition: Bettany Hughes, Radio 4

Radio 4 has a programme called "Banishing Eve" about the history of women in the early church. It's available for six days. It is narrated by Bettany Hughes, described as a historian of the ancient world. In Rome, she finds archaeological evidence of the connections between women and religion. At a recently discovered site in the suburbs of Rome used from the 1st C BCE to 4th C CE archaeologists find evidence of Anna Perena, goddess of the year in the Roman pantheon, at a sacred spring where women once played an active role in Roman religion. What of Christianity?

Professor Joan Breton Connelly at NYU is interviewed (probably on the basis of her book Portrait of a Priestess: Women and Ritual in Ancient Greece). She states that given the prominence of women in classical tradition, that they would have had the presumption that they would play leading roles in this new religion. Prof Gary Macy's 2007 book The Hidden History of Women's Ordination is a focus. He observes that Christianity developed from Judaism. Women played a role around Jesus as we can see in the gospels.

Dr Kate Cooper (author of The Virgin and the Bride: Idealized Womanhood in Late Antiquity) talks of the power women exerted in early Christian communities known to Paul. She identifies women like Lydia who host Paul in Thyatira and introduce him to networks of textile industry and commerce. Prisca mentioned in Romans has a network of connections in Rome. This is the way the new religion took hold through social networks facilitated by women. In the catacombs of Priscilla in Rome we find a trace of a community of equals--maybe even in a fresco depicting women priests breaking bread at a Eucharist.

Phoebe is identified as a deacon in Romans 16. Sabina, a wealthy pagan, was converted by her slave Seraphia in the early second century. A basilica was built in her name in Rome. Women are identified as "presbytera" in Christian tradition and in once case "sacerdotae" in an inscription from Croatia. There is a discussion of the inscription Theodora "episcopa" interpreted by Gary Macy as considered ordained in a local community.

There is unfortunately an improper use of Acts 18:26 read aloud in the context of discussing Paul's introduction to local communities in Asia through women. The verse is quoted, "He began to speak boldly in the synagogue; but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained the Way of God to him more accurately." The wider context of Acts shows this verse to be about Apollos not Paul but by using this verse in the context of a discussion of Paul, it is made to seem as if it describes Paul's faulty exposition, corrected by Priscilla. The verse thus seems to corroborate the way women facilitate the introduction of Paul to the community and even the gospel. Oh dear. Such a cavalier use of scripture isn't encouraging. The programme continues next week.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Our Lady of Alaska


Our Lady of Alaska, as reported by Episcopal Life Online. The 16 x 26-inch icon incorporates traditional religious images with the distinctive Tlingit symbols of an eagle and a raven, representing the two halves of the Tlingit Nation. The symbols are included on the Madonna's golden halo and on the bentwood box that serves as her footstool.

The Christ child is shown in full festival regalia. He wears a painted adaptation of a Chilkat dancing tunic, "which was woven from mountain goat wool and was a very prestigious possession. Only the most aristocratic in the old tradition could own such a thing," she said.

The child's neck is adorned with a red cedar bark neck ring symbolizing his elevated status. Three heads, derived from Chilkat weaving, symbolize the Trinity and are surrounded by representations of winged heads, also done in Chilkat style and reminiscent of the winged seraphim. "He is holding in his hand a silver cross based on the Alaska cross given to native-born Alaskans at their confirmation," Sherry Lynch, the icon's creator said.

He also holds the scroll of the Old Testament, which indicates the belief that all prophecies of the Old Testament are realized in Christ. His halo is ornamented with three gems of mother-of-pearl, used traditionally in Northwest Coast art.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Congratulations to James McGrath as the Clarence L. Goodwin Chair of New Testament Language and Literature

The Chronicle reports:
Mr. McGrath, 37, was installed last month as the Clarence L. Goodwin Chair of New Testament Language and Literature (at Butler University in Indianapolis), making him the first person to hold the position since 1948.

Here's his home page at Butler. He'll be guest lecturing at GTS this coming Wednesday evening.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

House of Bishops to discuss papers on same-sex relationships this weekend

(From Episcopal Life)
A discussion of same-gender relationships will be on the agenda when more than 115 bishops of the Episcopal Church gather March 19-24 for their spring retreat meeting in Camp Allen, Texas.

Bishop Henry Parsley of the Diocese of Alabama, who chairs the House of Bishops' Theology Committee, said two major papers will be presented from the study "Same Sex Relationships in the Life of the Church."

"One paper represents the church's traditional view and the other a proposal to revise the tradition, and there's a response to each paper," Parsley said in a March 16 telephone interview from his Birmingham office.

"We'll have a discussion of the paper and see what questions it raises and what we can learn from each other and how this kind of theological dialogue can be advanced," Parsley said. "The purpose was to prepare theological papers by academic theologians so they focus on the classical theological approach to the question."

The study was commissioned in 2008 and authored by a diverse group of theologians to represent a wide range of views. Included in that group are:

• Dr. John Goldingay, the David Allan Hubbard professor of Old Testament at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California;
• Dr. Deirdre Good, professor of New Testament at the General Theological Seminary in New York;
• Dr. Willis Jenkins, Margaret A. Farley assistant professor of social ethics, Yale Divinity School;
• The Rev. Dr. Cynthia Kittredge, Ernest J. Villavaso Jr. chair of New Testament and dean of community life at the Episcopal Seminary of the Southwest in Austin;
• The Rev. Dr. Grant LeMarquand, academic dean and associate professor of biblical studies at Trinity School for Ministry in Toronto;
• Dr. Eugene Rogers, professor of religious studies at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro;
• The Rev. Dr. George Sumner, principal and Helliwell professor of world mission, Wycliffe College, Toronto; and
• The Rev. Dr. Daniel Westberg, research professor of ethics and moral theology, Nashotah House, Nashotah, Wisconsin.

Parsley said that Dr. Ellen Charry, associate professor of systematic and historical theology at Princeton Theological Seminary and editor of Theology Today, served as editor.

"This is meant to be a contribution to the church's discernment and to the Listening Process going on in the Anglican Communion about these matters," Parsley said. "The group of theologians is intentionally diverse and inclusive. We think all voices are included, in as much as eight people can include all voices."

Parsley said at the time that he wanted to "assure those concerned that the panel very intentionally represents a robust range of views on the subject and includes gay and lesbian persons."

Study results will be available as a church resource later. Parsley said a group of ecumenical and pan-Anglican theologians will also read and comment on the study later in the year.

"It is hoped that by listening carefully to different viewpoints we will all learn and be enlightened and hopefully more respectful of one another," he added.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Ransom by David Malouf

Over Spring Break I've been reading books like David Malouf's Ransom, a retelling of book 24 of the Iliad. Elizabeth Speller in the Independent makes the point that David Malouf began the book a year after September 11, 2001 and that makes sense of the book's context. But it was a long time before publication in 2009. I wonder why?

Ransom, like it's model, is an exploration of the alternatives to war. Or rather, a consideration of what happens when King Priam recognizes that he cannot get back the body of his beloved son Hector through military might. He has a vision which encourages him to contemplate an almost unthinkable alternative: to go unarmed and plead with Achilles, the slaughterer of his son, to let him have back the body for mourning and burial rites. It is a book that invites us to consider pity and gentleness in the context of men and war. Why not go back to the text on which the book was based:

These words stirred within Achilles a deep desire to grieve for his own father. Taking the old man's hand, he gently moved him back. And overpowered by memory both men gave way to grief...

Then when brilliant Achilles had had his fill of tears and the longing for it had left his mind and body, he rose from his seat, taking the old man by the hand...

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Serious Coffee in NYC

The hummingbird wants the same thing, right?

So where can you go in Chelsea for a serious cup of coffee?
Cafe Grumpy of course (see link to online shop for you out of towners) at 224 W. 20th Street. Cafe Grumpy roasts their own beans.

Not in Chelsea? Yesterday's Times' reviews serious coffee places in NYC. Going out for coffee with Coco and Reuben is a sensible idea with all the construction of faculty offices upstairs! Spring Break starts tomorrow which doesn't hurt either.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Sir Kenneth Dover R.I.P.

Here's an appreciation from the University of St Andrews.

Sir Kenneth Dover, one of the world's greatest Hellenists, has died at the age of 89. His career of pre-eminent academic distinction included the presidency of Corpus Christi College, Oxford (1976-86), the presidency of the British Academy (1978-81), and the Chancellorship of St Andrews University (1981-2005). Dover was a towering, renowned figure in the study of ancient Greek language, literature and thought; very few indeed could approach the range and quality of his scholarship, especially the synthesis of philological, historical and cultural acumen which marked all his work. His name became known to a wider public partly for his groundbreaking book Greek Homosexuality in 1978, and partly as a result of the controversy which erupted after publication of his candid autobiography, Marginal Comment, in 1994.

Monday, March 08, 2010

International Women's Day


International Women's Day celebrates not only the achievements of women around the globe but also the goals and the vision of what we still need to accomplish.

Nicholas Kristoff
in the New York Times highlights the need for girl's education.

It’s cheap, it opens minds, it gives girls new career opportunities and ways to generate cash, it leads them to have fewer children and invest more in those children, and it tends to bring women from the shadows into the formal economy and society. It’s not a panacea, of course. Lebanon and Sri Lanka were leaders in girls’ education, and both ended up torn apart by conflict. In India, the state of Kerala has done a fine job in girls’ education, but its state economy is still a mess and dependent on remittances. But overall, educating girls probably has a greater transformative effect on a country than anything else one can do.

Then there are financial loans. In Ghana, there's Jennifer Mwesigye. After years of struggling to support her seven children by working as a seamstress in Uganda, in 1997 Jennifer took a small loan to buy her own sewing machine. This enabled her to expand her sewing business, which in turn led her to diversify into other areas. First, she opened a motorcycle taxi business, before purchasing land to build properties to rent out. Today, Jennifer's combined businesses employ 57 people, and, besides her own children, she has taken on the care of five adopted AIDS orphans. Meanwhile, her natural leadership skills have led to her being elected to the town council; now she is changing the local culture for women, overturning barriers for them to own property and start their own businesses.

"When you train your women, you train a whole nation" comments Memory Nsinga, who has worked for Opportunity International Bank of Malawi for six years. She describes how scared women were to even enter the bank when the Limbe branch first opened. "We went out and talked to them in the community and ran a radio campaign" the first to come in were real pioneers; they shared their experiences with other women. Before, a bank account was for rich, privileged people.

What about making public spaces safe for women? Here's a report from Asia:
Violence against women in the home is increasingly been seen as a development issue in addition to being a core rights one. But, threats to physical security in public spaces continue with impunity, and the same geographical band that shows poor health, education and employment outcomes for women and girls – namely, extending from Afghanistan, through Pakistan, north India and parts of Bangladesh – is also the band where women and girls are often too scared to venture out.

Women.com
Today, on our Computer Day
Come let’s place our hand on the women.com button
This very own history of women
From illiteracy to women.com.

Once upon a time from this woman
You snatched the chance of reading the Vedas
All of you said women were just housewives
Men had the right to Sanskrit
Women’s language, the language of the Sudras was different.

After a thousand years when the girl
Prepared herself for a girls’ school
Bethune and Vidyasagar stood by her
All of you said
Women who read and write
Are bound to become widows.

Then when the woman entered the office space
Mother-in-law’s sullen face, and the husband was suspicious
All of you said
What’s the use of a family run with a wife’s money?
The woman had to fight the storms and tempests.

Inch by inch in the thousand years the woman
Has earned knowledge and power
Inside a fiery heart, tranquil outwardly
Today half the sky is in the woman’s palm

The world is an amlaki held in the woman’s fist
Just a touch of a button
One day you who had denied her knowledge of alphabets
In her hand today is the computer world.

This is a poem by Mallika Sengupta.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Trinity 2010 Courses

TRINITY (SUMMER) 2010 COURSES
Praying with Mary Practicum (AT345/545)
Miriam, Mary the mother of Jesus, and Mary Magdalene are a few of the Marys that have shaped centuries of Christian prayer. This course will examine the origins and development of the figure of Mary in the Christian tradition and explore both ancient and contemporary ways of praying with her as prophet, teacher, contemplative, mystic, and visionary. Participants will learn, experience and reflect on prayer practices, as well as create and teach their own prayers. The prayer practices will include the rosary, listening to Miriam-Mary music and praying with art at the Metropolitan Museum. Prof. Good and J. Person, 3 Credits (Practicum courses are not available for audit).
(May 24-28, 2010 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sherred 1B.)

Two Years Before the Earthquake: From Amos the Prophet to Amos the Book (OT80)
About 760 BCE a herdsman from the town of Tekoa in the Kingdom of Judah appeared at a sanctuary of the Kingdom of Israel and began to prophesy to the inhabitants of that kingdom. Thus a process began which culminated centuries later in the Book of Amos as we now have it. In this course we shall examine the attitudes of those Amos first addressed and the words Amos himself addressed to that audience. Then we shall explore why Amos' words were preserved and how they were applied to later generations by the compilers of the Book of Amos. Prof. Emer. Richard Corney, 1 credit.
(May 31-June 4, 2010, 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. & 11 a.m. to Noon. Sherred 1B.)

Twelve Step Spirituality (AT80)
The Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous provide a guide for spiritual health and growth that is available for all people in all walks of life. Dean Ward Ewing, presently a non-alcoholic trustee and chair of Alcoholics Anonymous, has followed this guide in his own life for the past 40 years. “The spirituality of the Twelve Steps has offered me strength, flexibility and openness to God in my practical living,” he writes. In this course, we will look closely at the Twelve Steps, reflect on the practices, and begin to pray in the way of Twelve Step spirituality. Prof. Ward Ewing & Chaplain Stuart Hoke, 2-3 Credits.
(June 7-11, 2010 from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sherred 1B.)

Contemplative Prayer Practicum (AT322/522)

In response to Jesus’ call for personal transformation, contemplative prayer is a grace-filled attentiveness to God that initiates and sustains a change of consciousness, leading to deepening love of God and neighbor. This course sets contemplative prayer in the context of the Bible and the experience of the Christian community. It explores the necessity of intentional daily experience of God as a fundamental source of spiritual discernment, vision and energy for our lives. Emphasis is given to personal experience of a variety of forms of contemplative prayer in class, at home, and in parish settings. Participants develop a design for sharing contemplative prayer in a parish or other institutional setting. This class is co-sponsored by the Contemplative Ministry Project. Adj. Prof. David Keller, 3 Credits. (Practicum courses are not available for audit).
(June 14-18, 2010 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sherred 1B.)

For further information, contact registrar@gts.edu

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

College of New Jersey: Thursday March 4th

College of New Jersey: Deirdre J. Good ~ Jesus' Family Values (They May Surprise You)

Deirdre J. Good, Professor of New Testament at The General Theological Seminary, is author of Jesus and Family Values, "No Outcasts in the Church?" and "Can Christians Embrace Same-Gender Unions?"

* Date & Time: Thursday, Mar 04 from 04:00 PM to 06:00 PM
* Location: Library Auditorium
* Contact: colbeth@tcnj.edu; 609-771-2539
* Sponsor(s): English, WGS, Religion and Philosophy, CCIC

Monday, March 01, 2010

Memo to New Yorker: _Not_ "Coptic bookbinding" but coptic stitch bookbinding

This week's New Yorker in the section "On and Off the Avenue" writes on the commercial opportunities of Brooklyn "Borough Haul." It mentions Brooklyn Mercantile, "where you can pick up sewing notions or take a class in Coptic bookbinding."

Oh dear. Here are the classes offered at Brooklyn Mercantile: "The Studio at Brooklyn Mercantile offers classes for students of all ages and abilities, in basic sewing, advanced sewing, quilt-making, coptic-stitch book binding, photo-transfer projects and more." Coptic binding or chain stitch is used to sew book bindings. It is a visible stitch on the spine. Here's a demonstration:

Letter to the editor of the New Yorker to follow!

"The Body in Sickness & Health" March 2-3, 2010 Phyllis Trible Lecture Series at WFU

Details of the Eighth Annual Phyllis Trible Lecture Series "The Body in Sickness and Health" at Wake Forest University School of Divinity are here.

David Bentley Hart's new translation of The New Testament

David Bentley Hart's new translation of the New Testament is a breath of fresh air: responsible, creative, and inspiring. Yale Unive...