beatrice_otter: Dali's Christ of St. John of the Cross (St. John of the Cross)
As a Christian, I regularly get infuriated how many people make a show of "gimme that ol' time religion" while forgetting the fourth verse:

Makes me love ev'ry body,
Makes me love ev'ry body,
Makes me love ev'ry body,
It's good enough for me.
beatrice_otter: Dali's Christ of St. John of the Cross (St. John of the Cross)
For those of you who don't know, The Shack is a best-selling book about Christian faith, and particularly how we deal with loss and grief, and lots of Christians love it and some Christians hate it and it just got made into a movie, and I wanted to know if I should take my youth group to see it.  Having never read the book, I asked my fellow pastors in an online forum.  Most said it was great, not perfect but with some really great things to discuss, and one was vehement that it was a horrible, destructive, and misleading theology and view of God.  So I asked him why he thought that, since everyone else thought it was great.  His key arguments:
  1. It uses feminine imagery for God, which contradicts Scripture.
  2. God is only loved in the book, never feared, and in Scripture he is always feared.
But, uh, dude,
  1. The Bible uses feminine imagery for God in several places, and particularly maternal--Jesus describes himself as "a mother hen" who wants to gather his chicks into his wings, in the Hebrew Scriptures God describes Godself as a nursing mother a couple of times ... yeah, God-as-woman is a small part of Scripture but it's woven throughout.  Denying the maternal and feminine aspects of God are the thing that truly contradicts Scripture.
  2. The greatest commandment as given by Jesus is to LOVE the Lord your God.  Not fear, LOVE.  And you know what?  He got that from the Hebrew Scriptures, he's quoting there.  So while the idea of fearing God is in Scripture, so is the idea of loving God.  Also, Biblical ideas of what it means to "fear" God are not what we talk about when we talk about fear.  It's a sort of awe-filled respect and awareness of vulnerability that we don't really get in English.
So his two major arguments against it are COMPLETELY bogus.  And wrong.  And, actually, make me more inclined to take the kids to see it, not less.  He notes other problems that (if he's right about them) are definitely issues, but ones that I think we would benefit from discussing, so again, a reason to take them to see it, not to avoid it.
beatrice_otter: Me in red--face not shown (Default)
I've been talking a little bit about the various political/community action mailing lists that I'm on that periodically send me simple stuff to DO beyond just signing a petition.  Typically, this will be either writing a congressman or calling them on the phone, there will be a script to use, and it will tell give you the contact information for the appropriate person so it's really easy to do.

Some of the lists I'm on are religious.  Yes, there ARE Christian political activists who are not evangelical/right wing/Conservative Christians.  The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has several political advocacy groups that work towards economic justice both at home and abroad.  Several of the other more liberal Christian denominations do, as well, and I believe other religious groups may also.  If you belong to a religious group, it's generally worth checking out.

And the thing is, even if you aren't a Christian?  The ELCA groups generally have messages where the faith-based parts of it are only a small part of the email, so if you don't mind Christianity and want notifications about political social justice action you can take, they may still be a good resource for you.  (Obviously if you belong to a different religion, or you have had bad experiences with Christianity, or just plain don't like Christianity, this is not for you, but if, say, you're an agnostic who doesn't care about religion but does care about immigration and refugee policies in the US, you could do worse than getting the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee emails.)

Example!  Today I got a message from the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee service about H.R. 4731, “The Refugee Program Integrity Restoration Act,” detailing all the many and various ways it hurts refugees and immigrants, and why it is unjust.  In the email there are a grand total of two sentences referencing faith or the Bible.  There is a link to a page with the telephone number of the Speaker of the House (who controls whether or not the bill gets sent to the floor to be voted on), and a short script to say when you call his office.  (Only one vague, short sentence, mentions faith at all.)  It's simple, quick, easy, and a LOT  more effective than signing a petition with very little more effort required on your part.
beatrice_otter: Dali's Christ of St. John of the Cross (St. John of the Cross)
A day late, [personal profile] alexseanchai asked this: Historical Christian attitudes towards lesbianism? I specify lesbianism because I can't think of a Bible verse specifically prohibiting it, while everyone knows about the "to lie with a man as with a woman is abomination" and the arsenokoites.

And I'm sorry I missed your birthday!  This has been a helluva week.  (Two deaths in the congregation means two funerals, in addition to grief work.)

But the thing about historical Christian attitudes towards lesbianism is that there ... really isn't much.  For several reasons.

First, the whole way we understand sexuality is a modern phenomenon.  As in, the word homosexuality did not exist until the 19th Century, and there were no words that covered the same concept, because the idea of being attracted to the same gender as a state of being ... nobody really got that, it just wasn't a category people thought in.  As they understood it, everyone was attracted to the opposite sex, but some people had appetites so huge and so kinky that the opposite sex wasn't enough.  Which is why "what the Bible says about homosexuality" is a lot trickier to talk about than "what the Bible says about" almost anything else--we're really comparing apples to carrots.  They're not even both fruit.

So what was sex about, for historical Christians?  Sex was, in no particular order, about power, about marriage, about money, about children, and about sin (as in, Augustine's theory that sinfulness is inherited through sex and the act of conception).  In particular, sex was about penetrating and being penetrated.  The one who did the penetrating was masculine and male and had the power, and the one who was penetrated was feminine and female and had no power.  Without that aspect of power and penetration, it wasn't really sex.  And women can't penetrate one another (well, they can with fingers and dildos, but there isn't an organ to do it with) so while they were at least aware of male homoerotic behavior (i.e. men having sex with men), they weren't very aware of the possibility of female homoerotic behavior.  And even when they were, well, it's not like a woman could take her female lover's virginity (as they understood the concept of female purity and virginity), she couldn't get her pregnant, she couldn't make her any more feminized than she already was, she had no status to lose ... no big deal.  (And remember, for most of the history of Christianity, homosexual behavior was no morally worse than adultery or gluttony, it wasn't until the 19th Century that it went from "frowned upon" to "THE WORST THING EVAR WITH JAIL TIME."  And even then, Lesbians mostly got overlooked--Queen Victoria wasn't the only one who simply didn't believe it was possible even when people tried to explain it to her.)

So what did lesbians do?  Some of them got married because they had to, for security or because it was necessary to continue the family.  (But remember that marriage wasn't about "being in love" it was about family and security and money and property and heirs and curbing the sexual appetite.)  Some of them never married and carried on longstanding affairs with "friends" or "companions."  Some of them set up spinster households ... but since women couldn't live alone, really, it's very difficult to tell from the historical record when you have a lesbian couple or just two women who never got asked to marry a man and couldn't/didn't want to live at home.  The thing is, they would get crap for being spinsters and get general misogyny thrown at them, but not really any anti-lesbian stuff, because it wasn't so much a concept and even if they had understood themselves as lesbians and tried to explain it, people would not have understood and probably shrugged and gone about their business.

All of the stuff I've been talking about is cultural, because there wasn't really a religious aspect to it; Christianity really didn't have much (if any) understanding of it.  Which is not to say that lesbian couples were welcomed with open arms (they got the same religiously-justified misogynistic crap that all women got), it just wasn't directed at lesbians specifically.

Of course, then you get into the 19th Century and our understanding of sexuality changed and the whole idea of a sexual identity developed and homosexuality became criminalized, and that's the point at which homosexuality goes from "one of many possible sexual and venal sins" to "a special kind of sin" and something that merited jail time.  But even so, it was mostly directed against men, and not women.
beatrice_otter: Miss Piggy in a superhero costume: Were you looking for flying pigs? (Were you looking for flying pigs?)
I've heard a lot of good things about Sleepy Hollow, so I decided to give it a try and am four eps in on Hulu.

There are, indeed, a lot of good things about it.  Each episode has been interesting and entertaining, and there is a diverse cast featuring a black woman as co-lead.

Alas, I my undergrad degree is in early American history and my grad degree is in theology, and that is a bad combo to watch this show.

I keep getting thrown out of it so hard.

The historical details aren't so much changed for dramatic purposes as a few pop-culture elements thrown into a blender on high.  And their interpretation of Revelation is just as bad.  I was hoping that once the first few episodes set the scene that there would at least be less historical references, so I would only have half the problems.

Alas, that does not seem like it is going to happen.

I don't know how many eps I can take before it gets to be too much.

beatrice_otter: Dali's Christ of St. John of the Cross (St. John of the Cross)
... an LCMS pastor is the religious leader coordinating and sending out emails for a local Christian Unity gathering.  [personal profile] quinfirefrorefiddle will know why I snicker each time I see one.

The Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod (aka LCMS or just "Missouri Synod") is much more conservative than the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.  Although they aren't the most conservative Lutheran church in America, they're the largest conservative Lutheran denomination.  And they have an institutional phobia about doing anything with people who don't hold and proclaim the "pure Gospel" like they do.  They couldn't possibly do anything that might imply that they endorse anything that isn't the ABSOLUTELY PURE LUTHERAN DOCTRINE (which they are the only arbiters of), and nobody can possibly be a true Lutheran without agreeing with them on every tiny point of doctrine (and some of them aren't too sure that people who disagree with them can even be called true Christians at all).  Most lay people in their church aren't bad about it, but some of their pastors can and do lead witch-hunts to root out impure doctrine and improper ecumenism.*   So when I see an LCMS pastor working on anything to do with Christian Unity, it's funny.  And I wonder what his superiors and fellow pastors think of him ...

*You may recall that after 9/11, an LCMS district president (their equivalent of a bishop) participated in a huge ecumenical prayer service in New York City.  (It might have been held at Yankee Stadium?  It was a really big deal, anyway, lots of religious leaders from lots of denominations.)  He had permission from the overall president of the LCMS to do it, but the ultra-conservative faction managed to get him brought up on charges anyway, hoping to use him to oust the president (who was, gasp, shock, horror, only a moderate conservative, not an ultra-conservative).  The District President resigned, instead.

For those of you interested in the history of it, internecine Lutheran strife, witch hunts, and propaganda )
tl;dr: the LCMS has been kinda screwed up since the late 1960s.

beatrice_otter: Delenn--Grey Council (Delenn--Grey Council)
Title: The Mountain Rose Before Me
Author: [personal profile] beatrice_otter 
Fandom: Star Trek
Rating: G
Characters: T'Lar, Sarek, Uhura
Word Count:  3,196
Warnings: none
Summary: The fal-tor-pan is an ancient and dangerous rite, unused for centuries. It is not done lightly. High Priestess T'Lar considers.

AN: This fic was inspired by Killabeez's excellent vid Dante's Prayer.
Thank you to the Vulcan Language Dictionary for certain words, particularly for help in verifying my spelling of ashv'cezh, revenge-worse-than-death.
As always, my idea of Vulcan culture is heavily influenced by Diane Duane's Star Trek novels, particularly Spock's World, which you should read if you haven't already. (Also by various other Star Trek novels of the 1980s, including The Vulcan Academy Murders, The IDIC Epidemic and Dwellers in the Crucible.)

At AO3

When T'Lar rose from her morning veneration to the gods of her ancestors, Madam T'Vas was standing just outside the shrine )
beatrice_otter: Superman--red cape (Superman Cape)
So I just came across an "interesting" piece of meta about Superman as a 20th Century Messiah.  I get cranky about this, because the religious symbolism of Superman is quite obviously MOSES, not Jesus, as befits a character who was created by a couple of nice Jewish boys.  (Seriously.  His people were in jeopardy, so his parents put him in a little vessel/basket/ark and sent him off, so that he could survive and be raised by foster-parents.  Moses in the Nile getting raised by Pharaoh's daughter, anyone?)  Most of the other points of Superman that get pointed out as being analogous to Jesus either apply to Moses or other Hebrew Bible figures even more or are actually, er, not really applicable to Jesus.)

This one, however, takes the cake.  It starts off by talking about the Jesus/Superman/Messiah thing (complete with a Sacred Heart of Jesus painting right next to an image of Superman stripping off his suit to reveal the iconic S).  Then it mentions that Siegel and Shuster were Jewish, and this was the 30s and horrible things were happening to Jews, and that's why they needed a Messiah so they wrote Superman!

Problem: besides the fact that Superman is way more like Moses than like Jesus, if two nice Jewish boys were going to make a Messiah-like character, he would not be like Jesus.  No, really, Jesus does not fit the ideas that Jews have, now or at any time in the past, about the promised Messiah.  That's why, you know, they didn't follow him.  Over the milennia, Jews have had a wide variety of expectations about what the Messiah was going to be like, but the comparisons that come up the most often in such discussions are Moses, Elijah, and David.  It was at that point that I shook  my head and stopped reading.

If you want to talk about Moses and Superman, I am all over that.  Jesus and Superman ... no.

(Yes, I get that Siegel and Shuster haven't had creative control for seventy years, and that Christians have added in various Jesus-like actions and attributes, but by and large those haven't become a part of the core character.  Everybody knows about Superman being sent off as a child from Krypton to be kept safe from the dangers that threatened his people, you will find that backstory in every single Superman incarnation ever.  Things like the Superman Returns ending where Superman sacrifices himself to save the world from Lex Luthor's plot and lies in a coma in the hospital for a few days, on the other hand, are not part of the core mythos.)

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