The open mic thread is where you have the floor and can raise or discuss issues of your choice. There is no such thing as off-topic here. The comments of this thread are free for you to:
- Discuss things that you have been reading/listening to/watching recently
- Share interesting links
- Ask questions
- Put forward a position for more general discussion
- Tell us about yourself and your interests
- Publicize your blog, book, conference, etc.
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- Post reviews
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- Use as a bulletin board
Over to you!
Earlier open mic threads: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Once again, as things are very busy here at the moment, I probably won’t have much time to participate in any discussions in the comments.
Anyone have any thoughts on pacifism/just war?
Pacifism is cowardice masquerading as a political virtue. War is a terrible thing, no doubt, but at least it permits men to exemplify the virtue of fortitude, the virtue of bravery, on the battlefield. The virtue of martial courage is a major virtue, a virtue of a very high rank.
It is, for example, far above the virtue of liberality (forbearance, tolerance, generousness) which, though certainly a virtue, is one of a middling rank. Unfortunately, the virtue of liberality has been elevated to the status of the pre-eminent virtue of our contemporary Western political orders and this tends to pervert those societies.
It leads, for example, to people (even well-intended people) thinking that we ought to respectfully engage homosexuals (in accordance with the virtue of liberality) rather than forcefully confront and denounce them (in accordance with the virtue of zeal). In course of time, no doubt, well-meaning Westerners will want to respectfully engage murderers, rapists and pedophiles and carry on a “constructive dialogue” with them.
But to return to the subject of pacifism, which I think is a detestable doctrine, a doctrine of cowards. If I may use the example of the Vietnam war, which faced a fair amount of public opposition that, at least in part, was associated with what might be termed a vague pacifist sentiment (“make love not war”)–it really boils my blood that a bunch of bratty college students hid their cowardice beneath a mask of (paltry) idealism. And that, in my view, is the “antiwar” crowd in nuce.
There’s nothing at all deplorable about being a coward in the face of war–in that respect, I suppose I’m one myself–that’s perfectly natural and understandable. But we need to be honest about it and not seek to turn our vice into a virtue.
Well, that escalated quickly.
whitefrozen wins the thread.
Ridicule isn’t an argument–but I’m a good sport.
Thanks for the comments, Wade.
I think that the issue here is that it is clear that you have already completely and resolutely made up your mind and aren’t really that open to receptive dialogue. You don’t make an argument: you have just asserted a position.
We are busy people and need to be good stewards of our time. Debating this with you seems to be a fool’s errand, which is why I think that most of us are happy to register the fact of our disagreement and leave you to your strongly held opinion.
Alastair, you’re right that I laid it on too thick–in retrospect, I regret that. Obviously, when I expose myself to ridicule I’ve slipped up. But I’d like to think there is a serious point in there somewhere and I wish I had simply tried to bring that to light without all the buffoonery.
To wit–pacifism is the abjuring of the virtue of martial courage. Martial courage is a virtue of a very high rank. I don’t think it’s the highest virtue, but it is nonetheless an exalted virtue.
Our society has however chosen to exalt the virtue of liberality to the highest rank–above wisdom, justice, temperance and fortitude. This means, in my opinion, that a virtue of middle standing is regnant over virtues of the highest rank. Something is wrong with a society that under-emphasizes martial courage and overemphasizes liberality. It is this supercession of the cardinal virtues that enables something like pacifism to have a seeming plausibility.
I cite this phenomenon as a major cause of the moral confusion of our Western societies. If I’m right about this, than it stands to reason that we need to de-emphasize liberality in favor of virtues like fortitude–at “Alastair’s Adversaria” and elsewhere.
Would anyone reading along care to disagree with me and argue against what I’m saying?
Do you believe that there are occasions when refusing to fight is the most courageous thing to do? While many pacifists may be cowards, some of the bravest actions ever have been peaceful, when violence would have been an easier course of action. Christ could have fought his persecutors with many legions of angels, but he went to the cross instead.
Ridicule? Seriously? I have not yet even begun to troll.
Alastair, in response to your comment at 6-21 12:37am:
I certainly do think that the Passion of Christ was an example of supreme bravery. What makes it a supreme instance thereof is that he willingly underwent the destruction of his body. It goes without saying that “martial” courage presupposes the risk of the body’s destruction (in war) and it is that risk–just as in the case of Christ’s passion–that makes this virtue of fortitude (courage, bravery) so exalted. When that risk is absent, we can still speak of “bravery” in a lesser sense, but there can be no “bravest” actions without that risk (and probably without its fulfillment as well).
I mean there’s a sense in which a guy asking a girl out on a date is a “brave” thing to do, but surely we understand that it’s a very low instance thereof.
So while I agree that there are occasions when “refusing to fight” can nevertheless be a brave thing, there are no occasions where refusing to suffer (especially, and above all, bodily harm) can be authentically brave. To indulge such notions just isn’t serious, in my view.
Now–if I may briefly extend the point a bit–we live in a social and political order where the absolute imperative is not to suffer nor to cause to suffer. As I put it, the virtue of liberality (generousness, benignity, indulgence, forbearance, tolerance) is the be-all and end-all. And in that respect, our societies are more or less cut off from any prospect of real bravery (except accidentally) and I don’t think that’s a good thing.
Of course, while refusing to suffer may not be brave, there are many occasions when refusing to fight for a cause for which we would otherwise suffer is righteous, just, and good and is driven by godly motives. Not all causes are worth fighting for. Nor is all resistance to fighting and antagonistic language driven by cowardice or compromise. For instance, when I opposed the rhetorical approach that you take to speaking about homosexuals, I did it because I think that your approach is not in accordance with Scripture and wisdom on this point. Like many others, I am quite prepared to be forceful when I believe that the situation and the Scriptures demand that we do so.
I think that Tolkien has some of the deepest thoughts on this (as on most things related to peace). Wars were necessary to *defend*, but martiality itself is problematic, and though it often is glorified, it shouldn’t be.
That said, the true victory does not come through force of arms–though a feint may be an important part of a non-violent answer.
Within pacifism, war may be necessary.
I remember one site (it may have been Mere-O) that did a post on Tolkien/Lewis and pacifism, which was pretty interesting. I remember the main point basically being how interesting it was that two men who were involved in war to the extent that they were never advocated for pacifism.
Thoughts on this? http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/12-questions-to-ask-before-you-watch-game-of-thrones
‘Do you want to see boobies?’
‘Do you want to see lots of naked people doing odd things?’
‘Do you want to see everyone die?’
‘Really odd deaths?’
I think that he articulates some very important principles. I have reservations, though. For instance, I am unconvinced that nudity in art is necessarily impure and unholy. While much nudity is pornographic in intent, much isn’t. We should most definitely examine our hearts and motives when looking at images of or watching scenes of nudity, but I don’t believe that this is necessarily sinful, even though in most cases in popular media it may be inappropriate and wrong. Is it necessarily inappropriate for artists to represent the beauty of the nude form?
Oh, of course not – but I’d hardly put GoT in the category of using nudity to represent the beauty of the human form. There’s a difference between George RR Martin’s horny-teenager writing and the accompanying filmwork and great works of nude art. I’m just suggesting that the main reason most folks watch GoT is the same reason most males age 15-99 watch the Titanic – specifically, one particular drawing scene 🙂
Lol, yes! That said, I’ve found the GoT books that I have read not unenjoyable.
I thought about getting into them, but (a) they’re too damn long, and (b) I’m a cranky tolkien-supremacist when it comes to fantasy 🙂
GRRM is really the anti-Tolkien in many respects.
“Mainline Protestantism is American religion’s Paris Hilton.”
See context here.
Matthew Petersen linked me to your Open Mic for me to request critiques on my defense of head coverings for husbands in the church: https://www.facebook.com/notes/charles-franklin-bernard/head-covering-coronation-a-symbol-of-authority-a-wife-lays-on-her-husband/10150603632407506
Thanks for the question, Frank. I don’t have time to engage with the comments much here and probably won’t be able to follow up. However, here are a few thoughts. They aren’t all in response to your thesis, although together they bear upon it. However, they will give some sense of how I would approach the passage.
1. Paul’s language is multivalent and it is unlikely that we will be able to resolve conundrums by insisting upon consistency of meanings. The allusiveness and multivalence is essential to the meaning.
2. The point of the passage is not women’s place in relation to a hierarchy, but the importance of maintaining gender differentiation in the worship of God. It is about both men and women’s appropriate comportment and dress (cf. vv.4, 7, 14).
3. I think that Matt Colvin is onto something with his treatment of head coverings as ‘visible eschatology’ (I see that you have commented there too), although his thesis needs filling out.
4. There are a number of overlapping perspectives upon the relationship between man and woman. Paul’s vision is shaped by creational order, culture, and eschatology. It is important to hold all of these together, rather than abstracting one of these perspectives and viewing it alone.
5. I think that verse 4 is a very serious problem for your thesis. I am also unpersuaded about the idea of ‘crowning’ men.
6. I translate v.10 as ‘the woman ought to keep control over her head, because of the angels.’ In short, she must cover her physical head in a manner that maintains the gender differentiated order and her place within it. She is to exercise self-control, rather than self-asserting autonomy, upholding the gender differentiation of God’s creation.
Thanks again for the question. As I said, I probably won’t be able to follow this up, but I hope that it is of some help.
Regarding your point 5, here’s the excerpt from my paper:
I’m still not sure about verse 4 but I don’t see how any interpretive option could make or allow verse 10 to mean the wife should cover her own head with authority:
Every man who prays or prophesies with…
…his own head covered dishonors his own head.
…his own head covered dishonors Christ.
…Christ’s head covered dishonors his own head.
…Christ’s head covered dishonors Christ.
Since Christ is in Heaven, probably crowned (along with his golden sash), surrounded by men with crowns (the angels not so much anymore), I’m guessing the second option. The dishonoring is probably due to man crowning self, and/or because Paul wrote before Jesus was crowned around 70 AD: “And I looked, and behold, a white horse! And its rider had a bow, and a crown was given to him, and he came out conquering, and to conquer.”
Context determines if aner is translated as man or as husband and if gune is woman or wife, so isn’t it also possible that verse 4 considers a man apart from having a wife and verse 5 considers the man (a husband) with his wife? Verse 5 seems to introduce the contrasting exception for men that are husbands and a few reasons for the wife to crown him (though he can’t ascend to crown Jesus) such as verse 9 stating the wife should do something _for_ him.
I deal with (or rather contrary to) your point 6 in the opening paragraphs of my paper: https://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=10150603632407506
Thanks for the response, Frank. I’ve read (and just re-read) your opening paragraphs. I don’t see where you, or the people you quote, address my point 6.
“Authority or power that belongs to the wearer, such power as the magistrate possesses in virtue of his office, was meant by the Greek word exousia. […] Everywhere else [exousia is used], whoever has been given and possesses exousia actively is that authority.”
We already have mere gender differentiation by following verses 14 and 15: long hair for the wife is considered a glory and a covering, while short hair for a man that is neither disgraceful (when not long), nor glorious, nor a covering. But this whole passage is about making visible the spousal authority (headship or hierarchy) in the body, not just mere gender differentiation. That’s clear from verse 3 and super clear in similar passages that teach a wife’s submission to her husband effects what kind of things she should place on herself, and the reasons appeal to the created order, to the Fall (while Eve acted with authority over Adam), and to specifically emulating the submissive dress and speech of Sarah who lived long before the Corinthians:
Wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. [What kind of conduct shows being subject to her own husband? The answer is:] Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the [costly] clothing you wear—but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. [Don’t do those visible things; is that all? No, because her hidden person should affirmatively speak to her husband:] For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. [Peter via 1 Peter 3:1-6]
Women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls [authority symbols; glories of the ground, even under water] or costly attire but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works. Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet [quiet pertaining to teaching and exercising authority, not completely silent]. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control. [Paul via 1 Timothy 2:9-15]
I still don’t think that you are addressing my sixth point, partly because neither the quotation nor your article seem to envisage the possibility that the position I am putting forward represents.
Headship is part of the picture, but only one part. Also, the supposed hierarchical meaning of headship is easily overplayed. This teaching needs to be held alongside teaching about the differing relationships between image and glory, and the various cultural values of male and female dress in terms of glory/honour and shame.
“I translate v.10 as ‘the woman ought to keep control over her head, because of the angels.’ In short, she must cover her physical head in a manner that maintains the gender differentiated order and her place within it. […] Headship is part of the picture, but only one part.”
The headship sense of the wife’s “head” in verse 3 is the same as the headship sense of exousia in verse 10. Yet exousia here is also more: a tangible and not natural covering. When crowned by the wife of long hair, both spouses have glorious coverings. And they also show differentiation of gender (male and female) and of authority (the head and his subject).
Thanks for the response, Frank.
I think that your argument is resting rather too heavily upon a monovalent reading of Paul’s terminology here. The fact that the treatment of the covering of the woman’s head is discussed in the context of the woman’s own action—praying to God—strikes me as further evidence against the notion that it is the covering of the man’s head that is envisioned.
I am still convinced that verse 4 is a serious challenge to your hypothesis.
This should probably be my final comment, but thank you for the stimulating and thought-provoking discussion! I trust that God will richly bless you in your continuing studies.
A verse in the very similar passage of 1 Peter 3 teaches that the wife’s word to her husband ideally and preciously indicates that he is her “lord.” Likewise, her word within the body to (or from) her Lord (who is also the Lord of her lord) ideally and preciously indicates to everyone (even angels) that she still recognizes the exousia given to her husband.
I don’t see how this addresses the exegesis of 1 Corinthians 11, unless you are making a more general theological point.
I’m making related exegetical points by combining the very similar passages: 1 Cor 11 + 1 Tim 2 + 1 Pet 3.
I am not sure that they really settle the exegetical questions that are being discussed here. My disagreements with your approach hinge more upon exegesis than theology at this point so, unless there is a particularly close linguistic parallel that I am missing here, I remain unconvinced.
I also think that your claim that 1 Peter 3 is ‘very similar’ to 1 Corinthians 11 may be begging the question to some degree.
How ’bout: 1 Cor 11 is similar to 1 Timothy 2:9-15 which is very similar to 1 Peter 3:1-6.
There are obviously theological connections between the texts, but I am unpersuaded that they solve the more fine-grained exegetical questions that we are dealing with here.
A few musical groups that may interest readers:
Agalloch’s new album ‘The Serpent and the Sphere’ is outstanding – heavy neo/folk/black metal.
Insomnium’s new album ‘Shadows of the Dying Sun’ is probably one of the better melodic death metal albums in the last few years.
Of the Wand and the Moon are a neofolk group I’ve recently begun enjoying.
Wovenhand’s new album ‘Refractory Obdurate’ is totally worth getting – gypsy rock and roll/folk.
“Insomnium’s new album ‘Shadows of the Dying Sun’ is probably one of the better melodic death metal albums in the last few years.”
And you think I’m a joke?
I always thought this little bit was oen of Bonhoeffers most interesting thoughts:
‘This flight, Adam’s hiding from God, we call conscience. Before the fall there was no conscience. Man has only been divided in himself since his division from the Creator. And indeed it is the function of the conscience to put man to flight from God. Thus, unwillingly, it agrees with God, and on the other hand in this flight it allows man to feel secure on his hiding place. This means that it deludes man into feeling that he really is fleeing. Moreover it allows him to believe that this flight is his triumphal procession and all the world is fleeing from him. Conscience drives man from God into a secure hiding place. Here, distant from God, man plays the judge himself and just by this means he escapes God’s judgement. Now man really lives by his own good and evil, from the innermost division within himself. Conscience is shame before God in which at the same time our own wickedness is concealed, in which man justifies himself and in which, on the other hand, the acknowledgement of the other person is reluctantly preserved. Conscience is not the voice of God to sinful man; it is man’s defense against it, but as this defense it points towards it, contrary to our own will and knowledge.
“Adam, where are you?” With this word the creator calls Adam forth out of his conscience, Adam must stand before his Creator. Man is not allowed to remain in his sin alone, God speaks to him, he stops him in his flight. ‘Come out of your hiding-place, from your self-reproach, your covering, your secrecy, your self-torment, from your vain remorse…confess to yourself, do not lose yourself in religious despair, be yourself, Adam…where are you? Stand before your creator.” This call goes directly against the conscience, for the conscience says: ‘Adam, you are naked, hide yourself from the Creator do not dare stand before him.” God says: “Adam, stand before me.” God kills the conscience. The fleeing Adam must realize that he cannot flee from his Creator.” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, ‘Creation and Fall/Temptation: Two Biblical Studies’, p. 90-91)
I’d appreciate seeing a post on Wright and Orthodoxy. He’s often claimed as unintentionally supporting Orthodox perspectives, though he claims to be Reformed, so that’s probably an over-simplification.
I am not sure that I would be qualified to speak to that. However, I would also be interested to read such a post.
There will be stuff coming out on N.T. Wright here soon, though. Today I recorded a Mere Fidelity podcast introduction to Wright with Matt Anderson, Andrew Wilson, and Derek Rishmawy.
A lot of his viewpoints are in line with Orthodoxy – the first one that comes to mind is his emphasis on Christus victor, which is the standard model of the atonement for the Orthodox. His eschatalogy (Surprised by Hope, for example) is also right in line with Orthodox thought. A lot of his thinking on the NPP also closely follow Orthodox thought, though the systematic formulation of justification isn’t as big of an issue for them as for Wright.
Has anyone read the article by Robert Gundry that critiques Tom Wright’s eschatology? Apparently Gundry focuses on Wright’s book When God Became King.
Do you have any recommendations for a good audio version of the Bible? I prefer the King James Version for this kind of thing.
Some options I’ve heard of:
Johnny Cash (NT only)
James Earl Jones (NT only)
Jon Sherberg (OT only, often packaged with Jones)
Alexander Scourby’s King James Version is the one I have most appreciated to date.
What about Genesis 1:28 “subdue”? I was reading in a Jewish translation in a book store the other day, and their note said that it’s a particularly strong word. I’ve looked at it before as well, and have a hard time seeing what to do with “vekibusha”. It seems to align perfectly with the “Christians, Jews and Muslims think we should bend and break nature to our purposes” criticism. (Though it *may* be alluded to in Psalm 8, and so Hebrews 2:8, I Corinthians 15:27, and Ephesians 1:22.) (This is me coming from
“Uredu” isn’t as troubling, given the Jewish and Christian emphasis on what dominion looks like “Whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant”, etc. And evidently there’s a Rabinic gloss that “Urdeu” can be read “yerdu” (descend) if we submit falsely. But “vekibusha” still troubles me.
I’ve argued elsewhere that the original creation is regarded as untamed and needing to be brought under humanity’s rule. ‘Subdue’ is an appropriate word to describe this process. The world must be domesticated and rendered subservient to man. While I think that the criticisms that you mention typically quite overstate their case, nor do I believe that the Scriptures support the sort of vision of the created order that drives much of the contemporary environmentalist movement.
If you’re familiar with much of the contemporary environmental movement, I’d be interested in an engagement with it.
I might write something on the subject at some point: it is something that I have discussed at length with environmentalist friends in private. What I particularly have in mind here is the way that many environmentalists conceive of nature and humanity’s relationship to it. Milbank, for instance, raises some concerns on these fronts in his ‘Out of the Greenhouse’ essay, but there are several things that I would want to add. While I share the concern about anthropogenic climate change, depletion and pollution of the oceans, etc., I would like to see more care taken in framing theological understandings of nature and humanity’s relationship with it.
OK, a suggestion for future discussion:
what are your thoughts about how to teach the Bible to the young (or alternately, to adults who are coming to it for the first time).
I am once again teaching high school students in my church. There’s absolutely no shortage of possible approaches to teaching the Bible to them, but I’m hoping to instill in them a good sense of how they should be approaching the Bible throughout adulthood.
I do like your suggestion 🙂 Which country are you in? I’m in the UK & not sure if the resources we use are available elsewhere.
Re: teaching youngsters: I did that for years and have never managed to ‘instill’ anything into anyone! I seemed to be better at identifying the gifts they have and trying to draw them out and encourage them.
The kids I taught at church (until quite recently, actually) enjoyed dramatising passages from the Bible and they had no trouble reading (and learning) passages from the scriptures if they were given a part in a drama – even as Baal’s donkey!
They also liked producing TV ‘breaking news’ reports and did a super one on the resurrection of Jesus.
I don’t know whether this is the kind of thing you are looking for?
Our Lay reader is the expert on working with adults – he bases his work on ‘Christianity Explored.’
Correction – Balaam’s donkey
The article on objectifying soccer players was rather weak in a lot of respects.
As with most fiery feminism, she’s right about the problem, wrong about the solution, and funny enough about both that I’m not too concerned with either.
Alas, no. The problem with feminism is that it often doesn’t even see the problem correctly.
The objectification of women by men is undoubtedly wrong — it’s a particularly vicious insult to the female athlete doing far more amazing things with her body than “looking hot.”
The things female athletes do with their bodies aren’t actually all that impressive, at least compared to the physical feats male athletes manage. Because of this, the interest in female athletics comes down to two things 1. physically toned (and therefore sexually attractive) bodies, and 2. beating up on foreigners (see the Olympics). Without one of those two things to generate interest, there really is no reason for spectators to pay much attention to female sport. So, inevitably anyone marketing female sport must use one of them.
There were some good points in the rest of the article.
I’m trying to get a grip on what the Bible says about our daily work and labour. As part of that, I would like to know more about the place and context of work in the daily life of people in Old and New Testament times. Do you know of any good introductions to this subject?
It isn’t a subject to which I have given much attention, though it sounds like a fascinating area of study. I could ask around, if you would like.
If that isn’t too much of a problem in your busy schedule, I’d appreciate it very much!
Someone has recommended Everett Ferguson’s Backgrounds of Early Christianity and also shared this bibliography with some further references.
Thank you very much for the recommendations, I’ll be looking into them!
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