Tuesday, November 21, 2017

When scripture sets a bad example

from The Book of Genesis illustrated by R. Crumb

Genesis 19 tells the story of Lot residing in the city of Sodom, from which we get the word "sodomy."  Lot takes in two men who have arrived in town late in the day, rather than leave them to sleep in the town square.  The men of Sodom, however, are not deterred by Lot's having sheltered the strangers under his roof, and they surround the house shouting demands:  "Where are the men who came to you tonight?  Bring them out to us, so that we may know them."  That word "know" refers to sexual relations, which is why fundamentalists use this story to prove God hates homosexuality.  Determined to protect his guests, Lot says:
"Look, I have two daughters who have not known a man; let me bring them out to you, and do to them as you please; only do nothing to these men, for they have come under the shelter of my roof" (Genesis 19:8).
How honorable of him, people say, to have tried to prevent homosexual gang rape of his guests.  In seminary, I was taught that what Lot was actually championing was not the prevention of homosexual rape itself, but the hospitality he owed these strangers.  Here's a footnote from my New Revised Standard Version of the Bible (Oxford Annotated edition) for the verse quoted above:
"Once guests had eaten in his house, Lot felt he had to obey the law of oriental hospitality which guaranteed protection.  Thus his proposal to hand over his daughters showed his determination to put first his obligation as a host."
So this is an example of a good man, right?

No!  What father would do that?  His daughters are also "under the shelter of his roof."  We aren't told how old they are, but I couldn't do that to my daughters whether 6 or 16 or even 60 years old.  Why don't his daughter count?  Is this an example of where patriarchy has taken us, to a place where women (any females) are less important than men, even strangers?  And don't tell me how righteous Lot was when he himself later fathered sons by both of his daughters.  "Thus the daughters of Lot became pregnant by their father" (Genesis 19:36-38).  The first daughter bore Moab, ancestor of the Moabites, and the other bore Ben-Ammi, ancestor of the Ammonites (Genesis 19:36-38).

What I see here is that hospitality to a couple of men was more important to this father than his two virgin daughters being gang-raped.  He was a horrible father, not an honorable man.  Yet all some people can see here is that "God hates homosexuality."  Why don't we think, instead, that God would hate treating your daughters this way?

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Caturday ~ Clawdia's advice

Clawdia stretched herself across my laptop and gave me a look that said, "Walk away from the computer, please."  That was a few months ago, but when I have read too much of the anger on Facebook and get frustrated, I should remember Clawdia's admonition and go for a walk.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Wednesday Words ~ lollygag, dillydally, dawdle

To lollygag means to dillydally, dawdle, or waste time.  Lollygag goes back to 1868, but dillydally is older (1741).  Dawdle, which came to my mind while reading a thread on Facebook about the first two words, goes all the way back to 1656.  Thanks, Merriam-Webster.com.

Looking for an illustration, I found a Jim Hunt cartoon of a person sprawled on a sofa clicking through TV channels.  "Some people lollygag.  I'm more of a dilly-dallier."  (The hyphen is a mistake.)

I found a Pickles cartoon where the grandson is staring at the old man sitting in a chair.  Puzzled, he asks, "What are you staring at, Nelson?"  The kid says, "You.  Grandma said you were lollygagging.  I wanted to see what that looked like.  It sounded like more fun than it looks like."

I also found a Family Circus cartoon where the mother says, "Hurry up, Jeffy!  You're being a dawdler!"  His comeback:  "No, I'm being a son."

Since cats have perfected the art, I ultimately chose to illustrate this post with a photo of Clawdia lollygagging on the back of my recliner.  Pictures of Clawdia are better than cartoons, anyway.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

TWOsday ~ two slumpers

I'm in a reading slump, and I don't know why.  No, this isn't a picture of me, but it's how my reading seems to be going lately.  I completed only one book in October and two short books in the first half of November.  Here's the novel I'm reading now ― sort of.

Marching to Zion ~ by Mary Glickman, 2013 fiction (Missouri)
In 1916, Mags Preacher arrives in the big city of St. Louis, fresh from the piney woods, hoping to learn the beauty trade.  Instead, she winds up with a job at Fishbein’s Funeral Home, run by an émigré who came to America to flee the pogroms of Russia.  Mags knows nothing about Jews except that they killed the Lord Jesus Christ, but by the time her boss saves her life during the race riots in East St. Louis, all her perceptions have changed.

Marching to Zion is the story of Mags and of Mr. Fishbein, but it’s also the story of Fishbein’s daughter, Minerva, a beautiful redhead with an air of danger about her, and Magnus Bailey, Fishbein’s charismatic business partner and Mags’s first friend in town.  When Magnus falls for Minerva’s willful spirit, he’ll learn just how dangerous she can be for a black man in America.
Slumper #1

Every time I pick up Marching to Zion, something soon diverts me.  First, it was the lyrics of the song, which are printed before Chapter 1 in the novel.
Marching to Zion
Come, we that love the Lord,
and let our joys be known,
Join in a song with sweet accord,
And thus surround the throne.
Chorus:  We're marching to Zion,
Beautiful, beautiful Zion;
We're marching upward to Zion;
The beautiful city of God.
I didn't read those words; I sang those words in my head.  Do you know the catchy tune?  I sang the words ... and ... it didn't work!  I tried again, and again I bogged down.  I tried all four verses, and still I couldn't get through the song.  Why?  Why not?  Finally, I had to get out of my chair and look up the song in an old hymnal I have, and that's when I discovered that lines three and four in each verse REPEAT.  The words didn't match the tune in my head because they repeated!
"Join in a song with sweet accord,
Join in a song with sweet accord,
And thus surround the throne,
And thus surround the throne."
By then, of course, I couldn't get the song out of my head enough to get into the story.  And I kept singing it for days.  Every time I tried to read the book, that song got stuck in my head again.  But that's not all that sidetracked me.

Slumper #2

Image from the W.E.B. du Bois Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst.

I noticed both "St. Louis" and "East St. Louis" mentioned in the book's description and wondered if the author had confused or conflated the two.  St. Louis is a city in Missouri, where I live, and East St. Louis is a city in Illinois.  I even looked it up to be sure I correctly understood that the race riots of 1917 took place across the Mississippi River.  Yes, the white mob surrounding the streetcar in the photo is in East St. Louis.  (And I still haven't gotten past the first few pages of the novel.)

And finally...

Let's define "slumper" as I'm using it.  An urban dictionary says it's "a person who is doing something that is lame, embarrassing, rude, annoying, or anything less than perfect."  No, I'm saying it's something that diverted me from reading, thus putting me in a reading slump.  Or is this all just an excuse?  Like writing this post rather than reading the book.  Hmmm.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Was Jesus the first Christian?

Jesus Before Christianity ~ by Albert Nolan, 1976, 1992, religion
Nolan's portrait introduces readers to Jesus as He was before He became enshrined in doctrine, dogma, and ritual, a man deeply involved with the real problems of His time, which are the real problems of our time as well.

"The most accurate and balanced short reconstruction of the life of the historical Jesus." ― Harvey Cox
Coincidence?

A Jewish friend said to me, "Jesus was the first Christian."  I told her Jesus was always and only a Jew.  Christianity evolved over many years, from the first Jewish followers of Jesus through its spread to the non-Jewish population of the Roman Empire and beyond.  It was years after the death of Jesus before the name Christian was tacked on.  The word comes from the Greek Christos (Χρήστος), which is the translation of the Hebrew word for Messiah (מָשִׁיחַ).  A few days later, I mentioned to a different friend that I had run across a book entitled Jesus Before Christianity and had decided to buy it, since the library doesn't have a copy.  She said, "I'm reading the book right now and will let you borrow it when I'm finished."  So now I have her book.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Just saying

Was is something I read?
Oh, boy, what a difference a comma makes!  Reading Facebook this morning, I ran across this wrongly-placed comma:
"Well, said Matt."
What this reply actually means to communicate is:  "Well said, Matt.  I agree with you."  Instead, having misplaced the comma, the writer made me stumble.  (And laugh.)  I probably won't mention this to any of my friends because someone would reply, "Oh, Bonnie!  You knew what he meant!"  So, do you think I'm making a mountain out of a molehill?

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

TWOsday ~ two jokes, plus one

Jokes Every Woman Should Know ~ edited by Jennifer Worick, 2013, nah

I spent an hour this evening going through books to be shelved in our small library at the Crown Center where I live.  Among a bunch of donated books someone had left on the counter were coloring books, a Rugrats jigsaw puzzle for 5-8 year olds,  and a couple of torn children's books.  We don't have many infants living in our retirement center (exactly zero, actually), so it was strange to see these "gifts" for our library.  Among the books for grown-ups was this tiny joke book, which I took home to peruse and decide whether to shelve or discard.

I'd heard several of the jokes before, but most weren't worth the time, even though I read through the entire 144 pages of one-joke-to-a-page in no time flat.  I found two I'd heard or read previously that I still like, plus that one, single, new-to-me joke that made me smile.

ONE (p. 32)
A car skidded on wet pavement and struck a telephone pole; several bystanders ran over to help the driver.  A woman was the first to reach the victim, but a man rushed in and pushed her aside.  "Step aside, lady," he barked.  "I've taken a course in first aid."  The woman watched for a few seconds and then tapped him on the shoulder.  "Pardon me," she said.  "But when you get to the part about calling a doctor, I'm right here."
TWO (p. 115)
As a professional photographer, Nora takes a lot of pride in her pictures, carrying them with her everywhere.  She goes to a party where her host Liz says, "Wow, these are amazing pictures.  You must have a great camera."  Offended by the idea that her whole talent is based on her camera, Nora waited until the end of the meal and then thanked her host.  "Thank you, Liz, the meal was delicious, especially the soup.  You must have really great pots."
PLUS (p. 113)
An executive was interviewing an applicant for a position in his company.  He wanted to learn something about her personality, so he asked:  "If you could have a conversation with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?"  She quickly responded, "The living one."
All three of these, I notice, are quirky.  Maybe the word is snarky.  And maybe my sense of humor is just different.  Oh, yeah, shelve or discard?  I gave it to a resident who's a temporary shut-in, with instructions to let me know her opinion of the book.  We'll probably discard it, which in our case means sending it to the JCC for their bi-annual book fair.