Tuesday, April 29, 2008

More Primate Danger

It started with Chimps using spears. But guess what. Chimps aren't the only problem. Orangutans have spears too now. Thank you Relevant for alerting the masses.

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Wives, Obey Your Husbands...?

In Bible Study on Friday I found myself in an all-female group, looking at 1 Peter 3:1-7. Well, actually it was next to the passage we were going to read, and I decided we'd read this one instead. This passage is part of one of the household codes in the New Testament.

As we were reading, Megan G. flipped back a page and said, "I wanted to see what they were talking about before... and they were talking about slaves." Yes, first they tell slaves that they should accept the authority of their masters and that if they are punished unjustly - lucky them - they get to suffer like Christ! Then they tell wives to submit to their husbands even if the husbands don't obey the word. Needless to say we read this passage with mixed feelings. As often happens, everyone looked at me with expressions that said "why are you making us read this???"

We shared some reactions to the passage... will a husband's prayers really be hindered if they do not honor their wives? Why does it talk about Sarah calling Abraham lord? It would kind of such to be Sarah at times. What do we do with these instructions?

We happen to be studying these codes in my New Testament class right now (which is partly why I wanted to hear what my friends' insights were). Today we looked at three different Biblical household codes. As it happens, the message of Christianity was liberating to women, slaves, widows, the poor, etc early on. Women held leadership and teaching roles in the church. Paul said there was neither slave nor free, Jew nor Gentile, woman nor man in Christ.

This message of liberation had the potential to upset the social system of the day, though, so eventually they started to use writings like these codes to show people outside the church that Christians were keeping the social customs. This was not just a PR move. Although these codes undermined the freedom that people were granted in Christ, they added expectations for husbands and masters. This was fairly counter-cultural. Men were told that while they had authority over their wives, children and slaves, they also had obligations to treat them as Christ would.

It seems to me these codes are a great example of what happens when something that is progressive for its time becomes an unchanging standard. So much harm has been done this way; these passages are still used to justify domestic violence and oppression of women. The New Testament is a conversation between different voices who were praying and writing about what it means to live as a Christian. The speak to us from a time before there were set standards and doctrines. The husband-wife relationship prescribed in these codes is liberating in its context; when we bring it into today's world it is oppressive. If we do not continue to push the limits of our understanding of scripture to be more inclusive and liberating, we risk robbing the Gospel of its power.

© 2008 Megan Shitama

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Saturday, April 05, 2008


I went to Ashlee's bridal shower today, which was fun. Afterwards, we had a conversation about things that scare us. I can't exactly remember how it started, but it was pretty fun. Here is a list of 10 things we are afraid of, ranked by level of threat to us in ascending order.

10. Octopuses. This didn't actually come up, but it is well-known that Bryna is afraid of them.

9. Scary Babies. Nothing is scarier than scary babies. If a toddler or child is demon possessed and attacks you, you can't just fight back. At the very least you're going to hesitate because its a baby.

8. Pooping while giving birth. It can be embarrassing, and apparently it can cause mental retardation.

7. Radio waves. They've got to be doing something crazy to us. With the Bluetooth and the WiFi and the cell towers and stuff...

6. Genetically modified food. Ashlee did a paper on this topic in college and her assessment is that its "way sketch." Watch for her upcoming movie "Anthropologically Blonde."

5. Conflict in the Middle East. Obviously this is a big deal.

4. Chimps with spears. How scary is this? They are developing technology to take over. And as with babies, if a chimp attacks you, you are going to hesitate before fighting back because they are furry and human-like.

3. Robots taking over the world. My phone is smarter than me, my roomba creeps me out, and I'm afraid my Bluetooth headset is going to crawl into my ear and take over my brain. And if a person built this robot and put my phone in it as a brain, we would seriously be in trouble.

2. Chimps and Robots together. I admit, I got this theory from Relevant podcast, but its a scary prospect.

1. Scientists might create a black hole in Geneva that would swallow the earth. But don't worry, they're pretty sure that won't happen.



In ministry (and life in faith, and life in general), mountaintop moments are generally followed by valleys of struggle. This week has been a difficult one. Not crappy week difficult, but losing sleep and feeling nauseous difficult. I know that God is seeing me through this, because I can see all of the grace in my life. I am surrounded by people who are smarter than me and willing to advise me. I have the benefit of experience that has proven helpful. I serve a wonderful group of kids and a loving group of parents. I have people to call when I'm melting down.

There are moments, though, where the weight of empathy gets to be too much. I always think about my counseling textbook defining empathy as experiencing another person's feelings as if they were one's own, but without losing the "as if" quality. I think I lose the "as if" quality sometimes. There is so much pain in the world that it can be overwhelming. If more people knew how much their friends and neighbors were carrying around or living with, we might have a more compassionate world.

Meanwhile I am totally aware that it is by the grace of God I am able to navigate these situations with some amount of... non-failure. God really is good, even when sucky things happen.

And though the pain is an ocean
Tossing us around, around, around
You have calmed greater waters
Higher mountains have come down

I will sing of Your mercy
That leads me through valleys of sorrow
To rivers of joy

- Jars of Clay

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