Saturday, January 12, 2008

Being True to God's Call (Not Man's)

Being True to God's Call (Not Man's)

Does religion empower women? It certainly can. Countless women throughout history have found strength and sustenance in dealing with great suffering, including great injustice, by nurturing a strong spiritual life, and a sense of their own worth that transcends the difficulties, even horrors, of their circumstances.

My own religion, Christianity, affirms the fundamental equality of men and women in its scriptures. Jesus treated women with dignity and respect; as his encounters with Martha and Mary show ((Luke 10:38-42), John (11:1--12:11) , he treated women as his friends as well as his disciples). Many women have found their basic equality before God affirmed in St. Paul's Letter to the Galatians: "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus."

At the same time, it is undeniable that religion can be used, and has been used, to thwart and harm women. In Christianity, this does not tend to take the form of denying the fundamental equality of women before God, but of attempting to constrict their roles in human society, including the church, in accordance with what is believed to be a divine plan of creation. For example, St. Paul's first letter to Timothy prohibits women from teaching and having authority over men. Women "must be quiet." (1 Tim. 2:12).

Today, many Christians, including many Catholics, see Paul's advice in Timothy as reflecting cultural assumptions of a particular time and place, not setting forth a universal, divinely ordained rule about the relationship of men and women.

We interpret scripture by scripture, and all by the person and work of Jesus Christ. More generally, Christian women throughout the ages have attempted to use the basic insights of equality expressed in Jesus's treatment of women, and Paul's Letter to the Galatians, as a way of challenging fellow believers who attempt to equate unjust patterns of society and church with a timeless divine will. It's not always an easy task. Nonetheless, I think the increased prominence of women in public life and in church life in Western Christianity is due, in part, to women who rose to that task in the conviction that they were being true to God's call to them.

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Professor of Law and Theology, University of Notre Dame.

Professor M. Cathleen Kaveny, a scholar who focuses on the relationship of law, religion, and and morality, is the John P. Murphy Foundation Professor of Law ind Professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame. She earned her A.B. from Princeton University in 1984, and holds her JD. and her Ph.D. from Yale University . A member of the Massachusetts Bar since 1993, Professor Kaveny clerked for the Honorable John T. Noonan Jr. of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and worked as an associate in the health law group of a large Boston law firm before beginning her teaching career. Professor Kaveny has published over fifty articles and essays, in journals and books specializing in law, ethics, and medical ethics. She has served on a number of editorial boards including The American Journal of Jurisprudence, The Journal of Religious Ethics, the Journal of Law and Religion, and The Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics. Professor Kaveny is a member of the Steering Committee of the Catholic Common Ground Initiative, which was founded by the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin to help overcome polarization within the Catholic Church). Since 2004, she has been a columnist for the liberal Catholic magazine Commonweal.


Thursday, January 10, 2008

Parishioners Question Priest's Source for Sermon Ideas

Parishioners Question Priest's Source for Sermon Ideas

September, 2008

Parishioners at the Church of All Saints of Southern North Carolina have accused their priest of plagiarizing confessions as they have been getting the feeling that their sins have inspired several Sunday sermons.

Dorcas Smith said that after she had confessed to fantasizing about a triple fudge chocolate sundae with heavy whipped cream on the top during the third week of Lent, Fr. Barsanphius began drooling on his stole and that day his sermon was about the importance of not tempting your neighbor.

Similarly, 12-year-old Anna Anderson found another confession correlation. "I said that I was really, really sorry for finding the guide to swearing in 8th-century Slavonic and passing it around Sunday school. And then Father gives this long sermon about speaking in tongues and how St. Paul was trying to keep the Corinthians from speaking in tongues too much, which I don't think anybody really understood but me."

Bertha Cuthberta Johnson also noticed some things getting out of what ought to be a confidential conversation. She was willing to share the fact with a reporter that she often has to go to confession for losing her temper with her kids. "I say some of the most awful things to them when I'm mad," she said. "Sometimes the only way I can make them stop arguing is to threaten to take their allowance money and spend it all on tofu, and things like that.

"Then, one day, Father Barsanuphius and his four children showed up for church in their minivan. The PKs all got out of the car silent, their eyes the size of dinner plates. I asked them what happened, and his son said, ‘Daddy told us if we didn't stop throwing things that Lent would start three weeks early!'" Bertha shook her head and concluded, "I knew it was my fault."

When asked by an Onion Dome reporter, eldest priest's kid Polycarp Olson confirmed the incident. "It's really weird. Before he was ordained, he never said stuff like that. Now he tells us to go to bed or we get an extra aerial tollhouse. I doubt he's coming up with it on his own," Polycarp speculated.

Polycarp's best friend in church, Innocent, said that six months after the infamous frog-in-church incident, his conscience was bothering him to the point that he had to go to confession. "That week," Innocent said, "the sermon was all about Moses and the frogs in Egypt."

Parishioners have noticed this trend and have made a betting pool to see whose confession inspires that week's sermon. The winner is excused from having to bake prosphora for the next month.

Father Barsanuphius refused comment for this article, however Matushka Elizabeth was willing to share a few thoughts. "He wouldn't have this problem if he didn't stay up on Saturday nights watching DVDs of the Muppet Show with the kids. Whenever I tell him he needs to write his sermon, he says that Fr. Schmemann watched the Muppets all the time and was still able to come up with sermons. And then he's in the altar scribbling madly in his notebook during the Epistle reading."

This report was filed by Onion Dome guest reporter Thomas Ruthford.


Thursday, January 3, 2008

Monastery of the Holy Martyrs - Orthodox Monastery, Syriac Orthodox

 Have you stopped the monastery's new web site?  Come on by and visit, either on line or in person.  I love meeting new folks and make n...