While some biblical women are nameless and silent figures, others are movers and shakers in their own rights.
The Catholic canon of the Bible contains 73 books. Three of them bear women’s names: Ruth, Judith, and Esther. These three texts also make the actions of women their central concern. I consider them Exhibits A, B, and C in the argument against the Bible being a hopelessly sexist document. Why male editors gave the green light to the inclusion of these texts is the real mystery.
Are women in the Bible really as weak and suggestible as Christians sometimes believe?
You may have seen the bumper sticker: “Eve was framed.” The biblical perspective on women is set at a rather low bar in the opening chapters of Genesis. Simply put, it suggests women are the problem. If they weren’t inherently weak, morally suggestible, and all-out power hungry, the world would be a paradise right now.
Scripture scholar Barbara Reid says women have something powerful to offer when interpreting the Bible.
Scripture scholar and Dominican Sister Barbara Reid took her first Bible course when she was a junior in college. It was an elective. “I was just so amazed at how it opened up a whole world for me,” she says. “I was also a little angry and thought, ‘Why didn’t anyone ever teach me anything about the Bible?’ ”
What's so new about the new year?
When someone wishes us a Happy New Year, too often the spirit of the cynic is tempted to rise up from its subterranean swamp in our souls. What’s so new about it, after all? Why be happy about turning a calendar page? The difference between December and January is an incremental movement of a second hand on an analog clock. Or the merest flicker on a digital timepiece. If you’re flooded with free calendars every year, as I am, January 1 is mostly about choosing whether to spend the next 12 months looking at pictures of monkeys, dolphins, flowers, or fruit bowls.
Mary isn't a virgin for biological reasons, but theological ones.
My all-time favorite footnote involves a scholar’s wry gloss on the maps used by Jesus. Commenting on a passage in which Jesus had to cross into Gentile territory on his way to Jerusalem, the footnote reads: “This trip was evidently a theological necessity, not a geographical one. More direct routes were available.”
Make the peaceable kingdom more than a Christmas card.
It’s Christmas card season again. Expect an avalanche of Renaissance Madonnas in your mailbox. And there will be angels too, of course: both the cute and chubby kind who look like escapees from Saturday morning cartoons and the long, severe, ethereal models who actually appear capable of bearing fateful tidings from God.
Lament gives us space to let the pain breathe and a way to rail against God.
There are times when words fail us. When the future seems unbearable, when we see no way forward, when all we can do is scream at God, “Why, God, why?”
It’s tempting, at times like these, to give up. To curl up in bed and shut out the rest of the world. To turn our backs on God—who didn’t protect us from the tragedy. To wrap ourselves in a community of like-minded individuals and rail against the state of the world while simultaneously pretending it doesn’t exist. I think it’s safe to say most of us have felt this way at some point in the last 12 months.
The future is a scary place, but we have to face it head-on—even if we’d rather deal with change by hiding our heads in the sand.
What do you do when the sky is falling? This is not just a problem for Chicken Little to solve in the familiar children’s story. It’s a life question all of us have to answer sooner or later. As is the case with most fables and nursery rhymes, the famous fowl must address a certain grim reality nested in the experience of a world at risk.
Like many Christians today, Moses' relationship was God was less than smooth. That's because it was a partnership.
It can be a wee bit confusing, after a year dedicated to celebrating divine mercy, to spend any appreciable time with the God of Moses. It seems as if for those 40 years the Israelites spent in the wilderness, God threatens every five minutes to visit supernatural plagues and military catastrophes on various enemies—as well as snakes, fire, thunderbolts, leprosy, and earthquakes on God’s friends. At the end of the epic journey, God’s best pal Moses gets denied access to the land of promise. Where’s this mercy we’ve been talking about?
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