Sunday, November 30, 2008

Sometimes it is good to be plump

I have a bad habit of scouring the shelves in gourmet shops and delis for new and interesting sauces. I tend to have a heavy hand with some things, so expensive things in fancy bottles are regular fixtures in my kitchen (plus it's a great way to learn more about cooking and get new ideas for dishes)
. Earlier this year, I found what looks like a gorgeous Italian pasta-y tomato sort of sauce. It has capers and three kinds of olives, artichokes and anchovies, along with some olive oil, pinot grigio and of course, tomatoes. But I never knew what to do with it.

Yesterday the solution leaped into my grocery cart in the form of a great, big, fat purple plumpness of eggplant. In an hour I will know if I am a genius or a complete nut.

I dredge the sliced eggplant in seasoned flour and browned it in some olive oil. I then layered it in a casserole with some browned hamburger and the tomato sauce and it's now baking.

Hmmm, can't wait!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Marriage upheld

John Piper has a new book out, This Momentary Marriage. It is available as a free download from his website: ahead of it's 2009 release by Crossway. It looks very good and I will probably buy it when it comes out, even though I could have it now for free, because I am one of those bibliomanes who has to have the bound work in her grubby little hands.

But, for now, let me give you a little preview from the Foreward, written by Mrs. John (Noelle) Piper:

The pendulum of our marriage oscillates and sometimes wobbles, but it is suspended from above, and is firmly attached. By God's grace, it will not crash to the ground. . .We know it is the weight of our sin that accelerates us into the seasons at the bottom .

By God's grace, indeed.

Monday, November 24, 2008

They're still at it, zzzzzzzzzz

When I first became acquainted with Egalitarianism, I was so excited. I wondered why no one had ever taught these things before - wow! this is paradigm-shifting, exciting, terribly, terribly new and important. We've got to get the word out!

But then I gained some time and perspective and learned to ask myself why, after two millennia of dedicated and sincere scholarship, it was left to a few enlightened Egalitarian souls living in the midst of an egalitarian society to discover the true, real and genuine meaning of a word or two in Paul's letters to the Ephesians and Timothy. And trust me, the entire case rests on the twin pillars of kephale and authentein. If those two should be proven beyond doubt to have the meaning Cathie Kroeger and her colleagues at CBE claim, then they have a good case. If those two words should fall conclusively, their claims are all dust.

So, when I say they are still at it, check out today's post on Gender Blog at CBMW:

It seems Dr. Kroeger has fired a repeating salvo of her claims that kephale means source, period.

ZZZZZZ. It's going to take a good bit more than fancy footwork and eliding of quotes to convince me she's right.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Counterfeit Romance

The rules are changing -- and not just for vampires who may or may not be able to fly away as little bats, tolerate a bit of sunshine or survive on synthetic blood. Romance novels are just not what they use to be. From Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake to Charlaine Harris's Sookie Stackhouse to the latest movie of Stepehnie Meyer's Vampire series, heroines are turning to the dark for their saviours.

I had noticed this trend a few years ago, when I first ran across Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake series. there had also been the Buffy franchise - movie and television series, X-files vampire-themed episodes and dozens of other incarnations of the vampire romance theme. I read the first few of Hamilton's books because her theme of, "who are the monsters" intrigued me. But, there always seems to be a point of no return, beyond which the heroine cannot be released from her liaison with the man who takes rather than gives. The series reached a point where Hamilton's imagination as well as the life of her heroine, Anita Blake, seemed more monstrous than human. In the end, the monsters always win.

Russell Moore, in a recent column, finds this all, "a little creepy, and very sad" ( He continues, "What does it tell us about the American sexual-industrial complex that women feel a need to fantasize about undead blood-feeders in order to imagine a courtship in which men are less, well, predatory, than they seem right now?" I agree wholeheartedly that this is not only creepy, but more than a little sad. However, I am not sure any vampire heroine or reader believes them less predatory than the man in the next cubicle at the office or the guy who always seems to be jogging when she is walking her dog.

No, I don't think it's about predation. I think it's about what we've been taught, how we have been led to believe The Dance is fiction at best and, at worst, a vestige of the horrid patriarchal cultures of the past. Nowadays we are so enlightened we know that partnering up with someone who is our equal is how these things should proceed. Blech.

But it's what we have been taught, what our culture preaches from the idiot box, the movie screens and the shelves of our local bookstores. So, we try to believe it, but we women still want romance. We don't just want it, we crave it deep in our bones. Somewhere deeper that words can reach, we know that we were created for something more than mere partnership "romance" and marriage. We long for The Dance of Christian marriage, but we've been sold a rotten bill of goods. So we pursue what we know we want and we pay the price because that's not what we're supposed to want.

The price we pay, whether he is a vampire or not, is giving ourselves to a man , a fictional hero, who takes rather than gives. It's a counterfeit of God's good design which we fall for because we have bought the lie our culture feeds us and think we must pay for wanting something else. So, rather than God's way, we succumb to the world's way, we give our life's blood for a man who does nothing but take. We buy him at the price of our blood and our life -- our will is no longer our own once we are in the vampire hero's sway and it is only then that we come to know the death and decay hidden underneath his otherworldly beauty and power. The evil is powerfully attractive, or it wouldn't entice us to believe the lie.

In the words of my friend, Ethan Cordray, "Remember that the favored tactic of the Enemy is to take some good desire -- such as for true masculinity, as expressed in self-control, commitment, and self-sacrifice -- and direct it idolatrously toward some corrupt object. To that end, it's important to retain the external trappings of the true object -- courtship rituals, property (which ought to indicate prudence, but needn't), codes of formality -- to better disguise the debasement."

But hasn't God told us, through the Holy Scriptures, that this is a reversal of the good, this is a counterfeit and, as Ethan says above, a debasement? Instead of turning from our culture's lies (it's clear we know them for what they are), we try to redeem them while still playing by the culture's rules -- and we end up debased, living with death.

Our good and wise Creator has given us a better way. In His plan, when a woman gives herself to a man, his obligation is to lay down his life for her -- to care for her as he does himself in The Dance of marriage. We have the ultimate picture of this in the example of our Saviour, who laid down his life for our sakes, to buy us with his own blood. Instead of women purchasing nothing but bondage with our blood, life and the freedom we have in Christ is His free gift to us.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Not so easily won, nor kept

I recently re-watched the adaptation of Daphne DuMaurier's Frenchman's Creek which was shown on Masterpiece Theatre here in the States a few years back (yes, I bought it on VHS). I have no idea how faithful it is to the book since I find myself unable to read DuMaurier, though I have enjoyed several adaptations of her novels (Rebecca, My Cousin Rachel and Frenchman's Creek). In this adaptation, in the scene I recall, Lord Rockingham dismisses Dona as having been easily won by her husband, the good Harry. Dona replies, "Not so easily won, nor kept".

That scene occurred to me today as I sat here, thinking about being bought, being won, submitting to those in authority, and the rewards we reap when we submit (even if our submission isn't always joyfully given). You see, we are enduring yet another "employee satisfaction" survey here in the hospital lab where I work. I've lost count of how many we've done and yet the management keeps asking the same questions, receiving the same answers and they seem to think an extra meal ticket here or there, a free movie ticket now and again are just the band aid needed to assuage our dissatisfaction with being left short and unsupported. To their little prezzies I can only reply, "thank you" and yet I cannot be bought. I could be won, but never bought. On the other hand, what I have won in my ten years here is the love and friendship of some of my co-workers. I am blessed to count among my friends some of my co-workers whom others consider to be the most difficult.

But then my mind returns to Lady Dona and her pirate, Aubrey. And, not least, to her good Harry who plays a dangerous gambit in order to win back his love. Harry wins in the end, and the pirate, who said he never wanted to be tied to anyone, loses the only woman who had ever won his heart. Terribly romantic dreck, isn't it?

I've known a pirate or two -- but now I'm waiting for my Harry to play his gambit. It won't be easy, but it is his to play, his battle to wage. And once won, I wouldn't take the risk of Dona's betrayal. No, it's been too long a battle for me to risk the victory. The more I understand about being a godly woman, the more I understand a woman's need to be won by a man who is worth giving herself to in submission, in marriage, the more I desire it. I know it goes deeply against the grain of our fallen natures and the world's siren call of self-sovereignty. But it is one of God's paradoxes that when we give ourselves away, when we seem weakest to the world, that is just when we are strongest.

The world will call a woman who is submitted to her husband a fool. I only want to ask: If marriage is a picture of the relationship between Christ and the Church, his Bride; we know he purchased that Bride at the cost of his own life's blood, if that is so, doesn't the mirror of that sacrifice presented in human marriage require a costly battle, a victory won and a willing submission, the former by man and the latter by woman if they are to be husband and wife?

And, until that victory is won, I have the abiding peace and joy of knowing I belong to Christ and to my friends.

Monday, November 17, 2008

With thanks to two dear friends

(who both told me the same thing - trust God)

Trust And Obey

When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will, He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.

Not a shadow can rise, not a cloud in the skies,
But His smile quickly drives it away;
Not a doubt or a fear, not a sigh or a tear,
Can abide while we trust and obey.

Not a burden we bear, not a sorrow we share,
But our toil He doth richly repay;
Not a grief or a loss, not a frown or a cross,
But is blessed if we trust and obey.

But we never can prove the delights of His love
Until all on the altar we lay;
For the favor He shows, for the joy He bestows,
Are for them who will trust and obey.

Then in fellowship sweet we will sit at His feet.
Or we’ll walk by His side in the way.
What He says we will do, where He sends we will go;
Never fear, only trust and obey.

Ahhhh - some days I just LOVE being in the Kitchen!

The kale was starting to wilt, the cabbage needed to be cooked and those potatoes -- I forgot they were there! So, this morning, I went on a cooking jag. And here are the results:

Sauteed Kale with lemon and capers

Oven roasted Potatoes and Onions

Red Lentil and Cabbage soup

I pronounce them all a success.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

on Sexual Orthodoxy

Sexual orthodoxy? To many, it's an unfamiliar term. To others, it is a vaguely threatening one and may conjure unpleasant images of judgment.

And the latter are right in a sense. Orthodoxy always involves discernment, discrimination and even judgment. Mormonism is an heretical sect because, among many other things, they hold that Jesus and Lucifer are brothers and sons of "Father God". The Gnostics were not orthodox because they deny the goodness of the physical body. Some Gnostics hold to the heretical belief of Docetism which holds that Jesus only "seemed" to have a physical body. There are yet other sects which fail the test of orthodoxy because they hold to heretical beliefs such as Arianism or Modalism. This latter, where many fail to discern its presence, is gaining much unrecognized influence through the popularity of preachers like T.D. Jakes.

But sex? How does our view of sex and sexual behaviours rise to the level of orthodoxy or a judgment of heresy? Because, as we shall see, our beliefs about sex in many ways determine or affect our beliefs about God, the Holy Trinity, Jesus Christ's incarnation and the Church. A Christian worldview is all of a piece - it is one garment. If you pull at one seam, it begins to unravel and soon the garment is useless. In the same way, our beliefs about sex are terribly important.

To put it simply, sexual orthodoxy is right belief or purity of faith in matters sexual. This means holding to, among other beliefs, that a Christian is to remain chastely celibate while single and maintain fidelity to one spouse until (in the words of the Prayer Book) death do you part. But sexual orthodoxy isn't limited to the sex act itself. It is broader, affecting and governing all of our lives as male and female, men and women made in the image of God.

As I write this, we Americans are in the middle of the fiercest political battle in a generation. It is less than a month to the presidential election -- the outcome of which will influence the direction of our country for the next generation. I am not going to delve into rank politics, but I do find it interesting how both sides are exhibiting the sexual confusion of our time. One candidate is married to the wife of his youth, one is not. One supports same-sex unions which counterfeit marriage, one does not. The list could go on. This election and so many other barometers of cultural health make it clear that sex, sexual expression and the very meaning of being made male and female, both bearing the divine image, are THE battleground for our time.

This election is also dividing Christians in unusual ways. One party has chosen a woman to run on the ticket as candidate for Vice President. Some Christians who otherwise hold to sexual orthodoxy support this choice, others do not. But the truly curious thing about those who claim the Complementarian label and would never support as woman a senior pastor seem to see no conflict, no contradiction, no inconsistency in their support of a woman for Vice President of the United States. They hold that a woman must submit to her husband's leading in the home and the leading of men in the church -- but that she can then be a "heartbeat away from the Presidency" which could have her as her husband's Commander in Chief!

I have to admit I am not entirely surprised by this turn of events because I have held for some time that those who call themselves Complementarians are, by and large, not radical enough. They are not getting to the root issues, the root meaning, the bedrock reasons why God has decreed a woman shall not teach or have authority over a man and that a wife must submit to her husband as the Church submits to Christ. The same principles which prevent us from celebrating women as pastors and priests in the Church, prevent us from lauding female-headed households, and also prevent us from supporting women in civic leadership as a matter of no importance.

These principles matter everywhere because they matter anywhere. They are grounded in our very creation as male and female - which are profoundly different. Man was made from the dust of the ground, woman was made from the man and for the man. We don't take off these sexual natures when we enter the White House or the State House. We don't simply put them back on when we cross our own thresholds or traverse the narthex to enter the sanctuary. No, our natures as male and female are of metaphysical and not merely religious import.

The very design of a woman's body is to give life -- it is how the first woman was named and how the second Eve participated in God's plan of salvation. Can we honestly hold that woman's design as life-giver ceases to be of importance when she is not in the home or the church?

If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ. Where the battle rages, the loyalty of the soldier is proved, and to be steady on all the battlefield besides is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point. (Martin Luther, attributed)

Sexuality is the battlefield of our time. Sexual orthodoxy, the fortress we must defend. If we give in this one area because, let's face it, it doesn't seem to matter much whether the preacher is wearing pants or a skirt, we will soon find we have given all. Just over ten years ago, when I was involved with CBE (Christians for Biblical Equality, the religious feminist organization for Evangelicals or Egalitarians, which was formed at about the same time as the opposing organization, the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood - CBMW), the "inclusive language" bible translation controversy broke wide open. It was the summer of 1997 and at the CBE conference that year many promises were given that such translation principles would never apply to God - but that was a lie from the beginning. Such translations make a habit of erasing Old Testament references to Christ (check Psalm 1:1 in any of them if you doubt me). Yet other groups who first caved on the issue of women's "ordination" have proved themselves faithless within a generation by "ordaining" openly practicing and unrepentant homosexuals. This trajectory has been repeated over and over again, and yet many otherwise conservative, orthodox Evangelical believers still don't see the danger, let alone the heresy involved in placing a woman in the pulpit as their pastor

Yes, I know I am skating very close to making a slippery slope argument. That is true. And such arguments are used, abused and overstated with nauseating frequency. That is also true. However, if I have not yet scared you completely away, come on this journey with me. It will take you to places you might never have known, places I thought I'd never see myself. But in the end we will come out on solid ground overlooking the beautiful, comely vista of God's vision for men and women, His vision for creation, the Bridegroom and the Church, his bride. we will end up at the banquet to end all banquets -- the wedding supper of the Lamb.

Blamires on the Christian Mind

A friend recently gave me a copy of The Christian Mind by Harry Blamires and I am enjoying it immensely - though I am not sure "enjoy" is the best word for such a book. This afternoon, I finished the first chapter of part two and the last two paragraphs struck home. I give them to you below, in the hope it may be convicting, encouraging and a spur to action.

We have become afraid of our own convictions. And our fear has
not been, in this respect, a wholly unworthy one. History has been full of warnings against the damage which fanatical dogmatists can do to human society and so to the Church itself. No men more loudly and impressively than the officers of the Holy Inquisition claimed that temporal well-being must be subordinated to eternal well-being; that physical pain and earthly suffering were as nothing when weighed in the balance against the damnation of a soul. One might go further and say that no body of men more strenuously strove to preserve the distinctness and distinctiveness of the Christian mind. We have perhaps been frightened too much by horrors of this
kind. It is because the devil is an angel that his evil power is so poisonous. It is because the Inquisitors had a crucial element of truth mixed up with their dismal self-deceptions that the perversions they represented were so diabolical.

Twentieth-century Christendom errs and no doubt will continue to err -- but it will not err in the direction of the Inquisition. Rather, through reacting against excessive dogmatism, against exclusiveness, against withdrawal from the proper activities of the world, it may destroy through a too yielding compliance with secularism, a too easy commerce of mind with mind, that powerful and lucid rational construction which constitutes its divinely guaranteed estimate of life.

That "crucial element of truth" is precisely what religious feminists get "mixed up with their dismal self-deceptions" which makes "the perversions they represent so diabolical". The crucial element of truth is our ontological equality as male and female -- and if you ever doubt that a patriarchalist thinks men and women are equal because of the way we think, act, believe, I beg you to recall my earlier post. We are equal in the only way that matters to a Christian - we were bought at the same price.

However, what religious feminists seem afraid of or unable to countenance is that within that equality, we can peel back the layers to reveal an equally inherent inequality. We really are different, bedrock differences seen in our anatomy, physiology, psychology. We were created by different methods for different purposes - Adam from the dust of the ground and Eve from Adam. They were not stood up in the garden side-by-side, created at the same time in the same way -- no, Eve was created from Adam and for Adam.

In the Church, we have become afraid of our own convictions -- so afraid, for so long, we no longer know what they should be. A grain of truth has been mixed with a lie and the heresies of religious feminism have spread through us like the hyphae of a mold. So silently, so quietly, so secretly that, like a mold taking over a load of bread, we are shot through with the invader before it grows large enough to be seen with the naked eye.

And this has happened because, as Blamires writes, we are not thinking Christianly. We might think correctly about this point of doctrine or that practice, but we don't have a Christian mind, there is no comprehensive Christian mind at work in our world today. Even the good folks fighting the battle who call themselves Complementatian are not thinking as radically Christian as they ought - witness Dr. Mohler's easy embrace of Sarah Palin as McCain's Vice Presidential running mate.

We need to take Blamires seriously, both his caution against the excesses of fanatical dogmatists and the error of being too yielding in reaction.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Proof that women are smarter than men

I belong to an email group that has grown out of a blog hosted on Typepad. Typepad recently changed the commenting format so that comments are broken up into pages after responses have reached a certain length. You have to click on "next" to access the next page of responses.

Now this august group is mainly men. And I deeply admire those men for the depth and breadth of their knowledge and for their collective wisdom. I often find myself wondering how I could have been included in such a group as I usually feel totally out of my league.

However, it seems that the only two women included in the group (me and one other women) are also the only two who have noticed this format change in Typepad.

Just what did those bigheaded men think that little blue "NEXT" icon/button/link meant?

Ahhh, something to brighten my day after last night's national fiasco.