A young feminist reads 1 Timothy

A young feminist reads 1 Timothy

Recently, my daughter was reading through a certain New Testament book that I knew was going to get her all hot and bothered. I knew that if my little feminist read that letter to a particular young man, she would only see the words written at the end of the second chapter, lose her temper, and then feel confirmed in her impression that her mother was stupid for making her read this archaic, misogynistic nonsense. So, when I saw that this book was next on her  Bible reading chart, I prefaced it with a bit of background, hoping to jump start her critical thinking ahead of her thoughts of criticism.

“Honey, let me give you a little background on why this book was written before you jump in. That way as you read, you can imagine why Paul wrote the things he did.”

“Okay.”

“Because if you isolate Paul’s words from the historical setting and his motivation for writing the words, you’re going to not understand God in the right way.”

“Okay.”

“1 Timothy is a personal letter written to Timothy from Paul. Paul left Timothy in Ephesus when he had to leave it suddenly due to the whole city demonstrating against him for preaching against Artemis.” My avid Greek mythologist perked up at that name. “You remember Artemis?”

“Yeah. She was a hunter and Apollo’s twin. She stood up against men.”

“Yep. She was a virgin, and she refused to consort with men. In Ephesus, they had built a huge temple in her honor. It was bigger than the Parthenon. Inside was a gigantic statue of Artemis, and people from all over the Roman Empire came to Ephesus to worship her. The wealthy Ephesian aristocrats dedicated their young, virgin daughters to serve her. It was very prestigious to be a priestess of Artemis. She was also the goddess of childbirth, not because she gave birth herself, but she was supposed to sympathize with women in labor. Her own mother, Leto, labored for seven days to give birth to Apollo. So, pregnant women prayed to Artemis to help them in childbirth. Half of the women in those times died in childbirth, so Artemis had great power with women. The women would bring her beautiful clothes and dress up to worship her at temple.”

“What does this have to do with Paul and Timothy?”

“The church in Ephesus had people that were teaching the wrong things about God. Paul wanted Timothy to correct that bad teaching. So, Paul gave him specific instructions about how to do that.”

“What does Artemis have to do with God?”

“Exactly. She doesn’t have anything to do with the real God. She is an idol, a made-up story. But, she had a strong influence with the Ephesians, and some were mixing her worship with the Christian worship. Especially the women. Because Artemis had such appeal to women.”

“Okay.”

“So, as you read, just keep in mind the women were influenced by their previous devotion to Artemis, and Paul wanted to clear up that confusion. Jesus is the one, true, living God.”

“Are you done? I want to just get this reading done.”

“Fine.”

…stay tuned.

 

References:
Ames, Frank R. “Appendix One. The Ephesian Social World Providing the Backdrop for Paul’s Teaching in 1 Timothy,” in What’s With Paul and Women? Unlocking the Cultural Background to 1 Timothy 2. By Jon Zens. Lincoln: Ekklesia Press, 2010.
Baugh, Steven M. “Cult Prostitution in New Testament Ephesus: A Reappraisal.” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 42 (1999), no. 3: 443-460. 
Glahn, Sandra L. “The First-Century Ephesian Artemis: Ramifications of Her Identity,” Bibliotheca Sacra 172, no. 688 (2015): 450-469. 
Glahn, Sandra L. “The Identity of Artemis in First-Century Ephesus,” Bibliotheca Sacra 172 (July-September 2015): 316-34. 
Oster, Richard E. “Acts 9:23-41 and an Ephesian Inscription.” Harvard Theological Review 77 (1984), no. 2: 233-237. 

 

 

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On making goals: a look back at year 2017

On making goals: a look back at year 2017

I started the year by making 10 goals. In the past, I’ve tackled 2 or 3 ideas that I wanted to accomplished each year, but this year I went all out. I was inspired by another local blogger who seemed like she was having such fun knocking things off her goal list. I definitely felt that way about certain items on the list, but for others, they became a headache and guilt trigger. I concluded in month 2, that I had to drop one item off my list because it was a vanity item that was causing more stress than assistance. Others, I found I just didn’t care that I stopped working on them. Apparently, those things I didn’t really want to accomplish.

9) Practice 12 spiritual disciplines.

Take this one. In some esoteric way, I wanted to move each month through another spiritual discipline, until I had a dozen sacred “belts” earned. I honestly wanted to see if the discipline of Bible reading, memorization, prayer, simplicity, service, fasting ,etc. would open the door for a deeper spirituality that I find lacking. I can’t tell you if that would happen, because I didn’t accomplish it. Life, like spirituality, isn’t routine. Its more rhythmic. At least for me. At least this past year.

Perhaps the key to this goal is to focus the entire year on one or two disciplines. I believe I actually did that this year with Bible reading and service. I read through 2/3 of the Bible, and was pleased to offer my services in two major commitments this year. I was trained and sworn in as a CASA, and am advocating for my first child. I also re-connected with our ESOL Alpha at Westminster Chapel. I adore this opportunity as it makes me interact with international seekers and Christians I would not normally connect with. It has been a source a great joy this year. I just love looking at those faces below!DSC_1323.JPG

8)   Complete 12 credits toward MDiv.

I completed 14 credits. Perhaps exceeding this goal will cancel out the ones that I didn’t make? Nah, I don’t think it works that way.  I am 46 credits into my 94 credit degree – almost halfway!

7)   Connect with one person a week.

The purpose for making this goal was to get me out of my cloistered existence. It rather goes hand in hand with my spiritual discipline goal, as I often find “hanging out” a chore. Well, at least the process whereby you make friends close enough that I can simply “hang out.” All the folks I’ve been closest to are far removed, and so connecting with others is rather a bother. I judge this goal as accomplished, even though I didn’t accomplish it exactly as it was laid out.

I didn’t write a 12-week study, but I did write a 6- week study that incorporates the material I hope to include in the 12-week course. I plan on teaching this Bible study in May-June 2018. Its called The God of the Matriarchs: women at the beginning.

5)    Learn how to needle felt and create 25 sculptures. 

4)    Complete 12 house/yard projects. 

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I had a small project on my list. I wanted to make a reading plank for the bathtub. I had an old piece of cedar from a stash we had from my childhood home in Georgia. I also took the hutch off my childhood rolltop desk and painted it.

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We finished tiling our front steps and completed the exterior siding and sealed our upstairs patio.

We replaced our main bathroom light fixture and Stephen built a new linen closet.

I re-designed my garden layout and Stephen built new garden structures for me.

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3)    Move at least 15 minutes a day.

Accomplished! In fact, I’d say I got at least 30 minutes every day.

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2)   Fix my teeth. 

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1)  Hike to 12 new places.

This one was only half completed. I gave up on it after summer. I didn’t make the time to make it happen. Hikes completed:  Twin Falls, Little Si, Snoqualmie Tunnel, Franklin Falls, Stone Mountain, GA, biked Milwaukee Trail.

So to wrap up, out of the 9 goals for 2017,  2 goals were only half completed, but 2 goals were exceeded! 4 goals were accomplished, and 1 was not met. I am grateful for the health and ability to hope, plan and attain a little more from my life.

 

Making Exceptions

Making Exceptions

I am a regular rule-keeper and a regular rule-breaker. I want society to run smoothly, and a good set of rules enables that. In my Christian college, I earned very few demerits (Do they still use demerits?), but was considered rebellious. I have no problem bending policy, and believe in the gray shades of compliance. Yet, I have an eye for detail, and can submit to the little letters of the law with ease.  It seems where I get into trouble with rules, policies, procedures, standards and guidelines is in the exceptions. And, don’t we all?

One of the most memorable occasions where I learned the value of giving allowance was when I was the one refusing to make the exception. In that case, I should have shown grace and bent to the individual, instead of sticking to the policy for the good of the organization …because the organization would have been just fine. Whereas the individual was broken and needed the privilege of reprieve.

When I am in a position of power, it is so easy to miss the need to bend the rules for some. If I had a nickel for every time I said, “If I make an exception for you, I’ll have to make an exception for everyone,” -well, you know. That saying is fiction in the Christian world. God is in the business of making exceptions. In a post I wrote on Rule-breaking Misfits years ago, I asked,

“Can we allow those who break our policies and rules to be blessed of God and in turn bring blessing to His people? Does it rub you the wrong way to “reward” rule breakers?  Is God’s Spirit the ultimate rebel?” –article on Numbers 11

I guess I’m still working through this issue, because here I am again struggling with the same feelings that sent me to type that article out four years ago. Only this time, I am the misfit, not the one in charge.

I have described myself as nearly impossible to offend, but there are a few hot buttons that trigger me. When I get worked up and hurt, my first instinct is to run my mouth. That is a hard response to control. This week, I’ve sat on an issue in silence for a few days, and let my thoughts stew. Why did I feel hurt and angry? Was it right to feel that way? What am I going to do about it?

Ultimately, my hurt and anger resulted because I thought I deserved an exception to a rule. And, I still think I do. But, I will not insist. I must work to not harbor ill will. In this particular case, I can get past it with grace. However, the underlying issue that drove me to my keyboard is a big problem in churches. The rigidity of organizational policy overlooks the individual and causes harm to the whole organism, which is the living church.

The rigidity of organizational policy overlooks the individual and causes harm to the whole organism, which is the living church.

Cogs in the Machine

Have you ever heard of the “cog in the works” metaphor? The is a favorite illustration of  Paul Metzger, a professor of mine. Metzger warns against reducing Christianity to a system that only values measurable effects and overlooking the “the unquantifiable mystery of love that is the ground of deep relationships. (Paul Louis Metzger, Interstellar: Beyond Scientific and Everyday Positivism.)” God does not view his people as replaceable parts in His big machine, but as vital parts of His Body deserving of honor because they are a member (1 Cor. 12:21-26). We are each unique and irreplaceable to God. When we view people as ‘cogs,’ we see them as generic bodies that make the machine run smoothly, or the body function properly. If the cog breaks down, or jams the works or consistently needs grease to function, we wonder if that cog is a good use of our time and effort? After all, its replaceable.  And oh boy, have I been guilty of that myself!

When we focus on policies with no room for exceptions, we make people feel like cogs: replaceable, generic, and undervalued.

When we focus on policies with no room for exceptions, we make people feel like cogs: replaceable, generic, and undervalued. Learning to value people not as workers or givers or attendance numbers is complex. Leading with sensitivity to this complex dynamic demands we evaluate policies and learn that “making exceptions” can be the new rule.

Feeling like a cog sucks. Sometimes my broken self just wants the machine to bend over backwards to help me out.

 

A Psalm 

A Psalm 

I was tasked with composing a Psalm for a recent class. I really wasn’t in to it. Psalms has never been a favorite book of mine. Poetry, in general, bores me. Until I discovered Sappho a year ago, I had zero interest in ancient verse. Ancient poetry does not rhyme, but uses parallelism, a repetition of ideas or words. Once I understand how to read a psalm, I appreciated the craft more.

With this psalm, I wanted to bring feminine pronouns into what is an entirely male genre. I wanted to include the female imagery of God, and to correlate woman as the image of God  – as giver of life. God birthed Israel, and births again every Christian. Women have been abused at the hands of men just as Jesus was broken and battered by men. In the early church, martyrdom was the ultimate way to follow in Jesus’ footsteps, and I wanted to pay homage to this traditional view of suffering as an honored act. This is not to excuse or justify any abuse on women, but to recognize the universal and timeless truth that women have suffered, simply for bearing Her image. A woman who trusts in God has the promise of justice and reward.

Favored is she who relies on God.

She trusts without full understanding.

She expects His will to happen.

Confident is she who knows the Lord.

She is not deceived by man nor crowd.

She walks alone.

You have made her productive.

She brings forth life.

She births.

O God, who gives birth to nations,

Who births again life anew,

You have shared your likeness with her.

She bears your form.

Let those who would harm her form be shamed.

As her body is broken, let them be destroyed.

As her blood is loosed, take note and serve justice.

She who suffers is not without privilege.

Her faith is not finite.

Her reward is not shared.

Her hope is not awry.

In death, she does not die.

2017 Goals Weeks 23-33

2017 Goals Weeks 23-33

9) Practice 12 spiritual disciplines.

This goal has gone by the wayside. Perhaps I can jump back on in September

8)   Complete 12 credits toward MDiv.

I completed my 2-credit summer course, and that puts me at 8 credits completed this year. One of my fall courses begins in a few weeks.

7)   Connect with one person a week.

This has been going well!

I spent a few days concentrating on writing the last week. It was sheer discipline, but I ended up enjoying myself, like I always do. I have the bulk of four lessons completed and I feel encouraged by the direction its taking.

5)    Learn how to needle felt and create 25 sculptures. 

4)    Complete 12 house/yard projects. 

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I had a small project on my list. I wanted to make a reading plank for the bathtub. I had an old piece of cedar from a stash we had from my childhood home in Georgia. I also completed the cover for our sofa. We picked up a free leather sectional off Buy Nothing, and we hated sitting on it because it was slippery. I made bottom seat covers that are way more cozy.

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  1. Exterior siding in progress…
  2. Upstairs patio in progress…
  3. Bathtub reading plank Complete
  4. Sofa seat covers Complete

3)    Move at least 15 minutes a day.

Easy peasy to make this happen every day.

2)   Fix my teeth. 

1)  Hike to 12 new places.

I dragged the kids out to Franklin Falls, but I’m not sure we actually got to the end? The pictures I’ve seen of the place don’t look like what we saw. We climbed around the hills and went off the trail trying to figure out where we were supposed to end up. We saw little falls, but not the “picture perfect” end.

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Henry and I climbed Stone Mountain in Atlanta, Georgia. I climbed it as a teenager. It is an impressive sight. Henry wasn’t thrilled, but he did it.DSC_0953

January: Twin Falls.

May: Little Si.

June: Snoqualmie Tunnel

July: Franklin Falls & Stone Mountain, GA

2017 Goals Weeks 20-22

2017 Goals Weeks 20-22

9) Practice 12 spiritual disciplines.

June’s discipline is service. This is a perfect discipline for me coming off of May. I tend to hibernate in May since Awana is complete for the year, its between seminary classes and the kids are still in school. I do a lot of reading and gardening, but not much else. I start to feel the isolation in June, and am ready to get back into service.

“Serving typically looks as unspectacular as the practical needs it seeks to meet. That’s why serving must become a Spiritual Discipline.” (Don Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, p. 143.)

8)   Complete 12 credits toward MDiv.

Starting my summer class this week: Theology of Cultural Engagement.

7)   Connect with one person a week.

Complete!

5)    Learn how to needle felt and create 25 sculptures. 

4)    Complete 12 house/yard projects. 

3)    Move at least 15 minutes a day.

I missed two days in the last 3 weeks, but I have been very active…which is the point.

2)   Fix my teeth. 

1)  Hike to 12 new places.

Stephen and I biked the Snoqualmie Tunnel this weekend. We also went 2 miles down the hill and biked back up. The tunnel is an abandoned railroad tunnel that goes under Snoqualmie Pass. Its 2 miles long and completely dark. I thought it would be creepy, but it wasn’t because there were a lot of hikers and bikers inside to keep us company.

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January: Hike to Twin Falls.

May: Climb Little Si.

June: Snoqualmie Tunnel

2017 Goals Week 19

2017 Goals Week 19

9) Practice 12 spiritual disciplines.

For the rest of May, I will be translating and meditating on the book of Matthew.

8)   Complete 12 credits toward MDiv.

Half-way done.

7)   Connect with one person a week.

I’m hibernating.

5)    Learn how to needle felt and create 25 sculptures. 

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From the waist upwards he was like a man, but his legs were shaped like a goat’s (the hair on them was glossy black) and instead of feet he had a goat’s hoofs. He also had a tail, but Lucy did not notice this at first because it was neatly caught up over the arm that held the umbrella so as to keep it from trailing in the snow. He had a red woollen muffler round his neck…he was a faun. – The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Mr. Tumnus is almost complete. I ordered white-white wool to make snow for his base, and I have to figure out how to make an umbrella for him. I also started on the armature for a Mary, Joseph and Jesus trio. I have 10 sculptures complete so far.

4)    Complete 12 house/yard projects. 

3)    Move at least 15 minutes a day.

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Chinook Bend Natural Area was a short 20 minute walk in Carnation. I needed on excuse to visit Carnation’s Tolt Yarn and Wool, and I had spotted this the week prior on an jaunt to a local farm. I consider this a walk, not a hike.

Twice last week I walked up a gravel road to the top of the hill behind our house. The view is so pretty of our valley from there. I was surprised the first time by a flock of sheep with half-a-dozen lambs “mbaa-ing” at me. They followed me a ways down the road from behind their fence. I’ve been back to visit them 2 times since!

2)   Fix my teeth. 

1)  Hike to 12 new places.

January: Hike to Twin Falls.

May: Climb Little Si.