Saturday, December 31, 2005

Well, she got me on that one

An IM conversation triumphantly saved by the Princess, from the days when I was cubicle-farming in Houston but my family still lived in Austin:

Kazgirl04: hi dad!
Kazgirl04: im home alone!
RedneckPeril: Hey, kiddo
RedneckPeril: Watch out for the burglars
Kazgirl04: this is merry
RedneckPeril: Where's your mom?
RedneckPeril: Oh, hi, Merry
Kazgirl04: at the doctor
Kazgirl04: hi daddy
RedneckPeril: Who needed to go to the doctor?
Kazgirl04: rusty fell down and mom thinks he broke his leg
RedneckPeril: Oh, Lord. What was he doing?
Kazgirl04: trying to slide headfirst down the stairs
RedneckPeril: [covering my eyes with my hands]
Kazgirl04: its kasia
Kazgirl04: mom had a dentist appointment
RedneckPeril: Ho, boy, you got me 100% -- I had already told all the guys around here that Rusty had broken his leg, and explained how.
RedneckPeril: The consensus now is that I should ground you for two weeks.
RedneckPeril: The embarrassing thing is that I was impressed with Merry's typing, but it didn't occur to me that her typing might be so good because it might not be her.
Kazgirl04: oh, i got you so good
RedneckPeril: [grinning] That's the best I've been taken in a long time.
Kazgirl04: i cant believe a) that i got you so good and b) that you had already told everybody so now everybody knows i got you!
RedneckPeril: [grinning] They think it's pretty funny...

Friday, December 30, 2005

"Hmmm...Well, Since You're Not A Guy, I Guess We'll Believe Your Story" Dept

From Breitbart: was the second bizarre incident in as many hours for the Fremont Police Department.

Two hours earlier, a homeowner in Niles reported that an intruder broke into her home and added pornography to her computer.

The woman said she woke up and was startled to see a stranger typing away on her computer. The intruder fled, but left behind an altered screen saver that featured images of "erotic Indian art," Veteran said....

Note to teenaged boys everywhere: your parents will NOT buy that one.

Friday, December 23, 2005

On praying for guidance

The following was in response to a comment over at All Things Beautiful.


The thing is, it's a huge subject, and it's all tied in with the virtues of wisdom and prudence. It also goes to NxN's point about God helping those who help themselves

Just some very brief bullet points, off the top of my head and in no coherent order:

1. God created us for intimacy with Him and prayer is the conversation that we have with our Lover.

2. No matter how smart you are, there are situations where if you're missing some critical piece of information, you'll make the wrong decision. In fact, the smarter you are, the more certain it becomes that you'll make the wrong decision, because the information you have available is fundamentally misleading. ...continue reading...

3. God has all the information, including the parts we don't have. This is particularly true when it comes to the future.

4. From time to time God does the same thing every parent does (and I speak as a father of eight): He tells us, "Look, I know you don't understand why I'm telling you to do this, but just trust me on this one. You'll understand later."

5. Wisdom and prudence are absolutely moral virtues that Christians are expected to practice. We are supposed to love the Lord our God with all our mind as well as with all our heart. So you do your very best to make good decisions...but you always need to be praying for guidance so that God can have the option of saying, "Listen, I know something you don't know, and this is what you need to do even though it looks crazy." But without specific and clear instructions from God to the contrary, you have the responsibility to act wisely and prudently based on the information available to you. This is hard work, but then Christianity is not for lazy people. I might add that this is the ordinary mode in which God asks Christians to live (situations in which He says, "I want you do something that seems senseless," are relatively infrequent), and so while this is the only situation in which "God helps those who help themselves," applies, it is the situation in which most of us usually find ourselves. Hence that proverb is generally valid, even though God is always free to step in and say, "Step back and watch Me work on this one."

6. When you think God is telling you to do something apparently insane, you need to make sure it's not somebody else pretending to be God, and that means you have to go to other godly people and ask them to pray for confirmation that you're hearing God properly. That's a necessary control on the prayer for guidance.

7. If somebody tells you that they believe God is telling them to do something, and you proceed to lay out all the logical reasons that God can't really be telling them to do that because it's stupid, then you need to go back and think about point #2 until it sinks in properly. If the right decision could always be figured out logically based on the available evidence, there would be no need for the gift of discernment. The help they need from you is, they need you to pray and ask God, "Are they hearing you properly?" In which case you will either hear, "Yes, they are," or, "No, they're not," or no answer. And you tell the other person what you got in your prayers.

8. The gift of discernment is, among other things, the ability to hear God clearly. If you think God is telling you to do something that doesn't make sense, then you don't want to go get help from a smart person (like me) -- you want to go get help from a person with the gift of discernment (like my wife). That means you need to know which of your friends is so gifted and which aren't. Start paying attention now, so that when the time comes and you need this sort of help, you'll know whom to go to.

9. The most important decisions, and the most rewarding decisions, that I have ever made in my life, were decisions that made no logical sense at the time and that my wife and I took because we were clearly told to do so in prayer. Faith never really gets stretched and nurtured until God calls you to take a step out into the unpredictable and the unimaginable, and you obey, and worlds you could never have imagined open up to your astonished eyes. But there have been very few such decisions that God has called us to make; the overwhelming majority of day-to-day decisions are opportunities for the exercise of wisdom and prudence rather than of dramatic faith. And you can't force God to do a miracle in your life just because you want to get on with it or you feel like your life is boring and could use some more drama or whatever: you do your job and you act wisely and prudently until He decides that it's time to leave the comfort zone. (Trying to force God to take dramatic action in order to liven things up is one of the besetting sins of Pentecostalism, just as insisting that God would never take any action that couldn't be rationalized beforehand in a vestry meeting composed entirely of hard-headed calculator-equipped businessmen, is one of the many besetting sins of traditional Episcopalianism.)

10. The prayer for guidance needs to be part of a complete and healthy prayer life that includes praise and worship and intercession and oblation.

11. Evangelicals especially need to understand this last part: lots of times, if you ask God, "Which of these three options do You want me to take?" His answer will be, "I'd be happy with any of them -- pick whichever one you want."

One other point. There's a trick question you can ask any group of randomly selected Christians, that runs like this: "Jesus said the harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few. So what did He say we should do about it?"

The answer you will generally get is, "Get out there and go to work." But that is not the right answer. The correct answer is, "Pray that the Lord of the harvest will send laborers."

What this means, I firmly believe, is that every Christian has to grasp that just because something needs to be done, that doesn't mean you're the one who needs to do it. "Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it." The single most important key to successful ministry is to make sure you know what your assignment is, and do that. And you can't really know what is your assignment, your vocation, without much prayer for guidance. Of course when you're praying that the Lord will send laborers, you have to be prepared to hear Him say, "Fine, I think I will -- get your butt out there and get to work." And if that's what He says, then you'd better hustle on out there and get to work. But...and this is a very difficult thing for many Christians to accept...God doesn't just need people who are willing to work. He also needs people who are willing to be told not to work. Every church needs people who are willing to step up and take on important roles...but they also need to be willing to let somebody else do those roles. That's because the important thing isn't to get the best person for the job; it's to get the person God has assigned to the job. And it's hard to get that right if you aren't listening to God in the first place.

So I think I'll close this disorganized and rambling comment with Milton's sonnet "On His Blindness":

When I consider how my light is spent,
Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent which is death to hide,
Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent

To serve therewith my maker, and present
My true account, lest he returning chide,
"Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?"
I fondly ask; but Patience to prevent

That murmur, soon replies, "God doth not need
Either man's work or His own gifts; who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state
Is kingly. Thousands at his bidding speed
And post o'er land and ocean without rest:
They also serve who only stand and wait."

Thursday, December 22, 2005

"Who Was The First Guy To Try THAT?" Dept

Does Ellen DeGeneres know about this?

My own guess: it's like drinking mare's milk, only with additional special effects.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Why a classical education can be so amusing

I now proceed to plagiarize my own comment from over at Alexandra's site, just because I amused myself with it. Fair warning to people who (unlike myself) can't read anything without imagining it in vivid detail: those of you with tender sensibilities might not wish to proceed.

At any rate, my sense of humor is dominated heavily by irony, and so it is unsurprising that my favorite of all rhetorical tricks is something called paralipsis. (Yes, there are dozens of rhetorical tricks and they all have Latin or Greek names. Don't you wish you had been a classics major?) Paralipsis is when you make sure somebody knows about something by declaring that you're not going to talk about it:

"I will not stoop to reminding you of the fact that my honourable opponent's father was an alcoholic Republican and his mother a bisexual prostitute, nor that he was once discovered in flagrante delicto with a Volkswagen Beetle painted to resemble the Disney character Herbie. These unfortunately undeniable facts are quite irrelevant to the question before this House today and I urge you to put them entirely out of your mind."

Look, I warned you visual people...but in my defense the examples of paralipsis I could have drawn from the Greek orators would have been considerably more scatological, classical Greek politics being the fertile, no-holds-barred field from which sprang the rowdily bawdy humor of Aristophanes. Don't you wish you had been a classics major?

Monday, December 19, 2005

Moved to home with no internet...

...which makes it a mite difficult to blog.

The internet will be up in a couple of days and I'll be back.

Move went well until I lost the keys to the U-Haul truck. I will now proceed to pay more to a locksmith to make a new key than the truck cost me to rent to begin with.

But at least the Colts lost. (Nothing against the Colts but going undefeated in an NFL as bad as this year's NFL would have required an asterisk.)

Back later with the final adoption update.

UPDATE: Found the keys and only had to pay $100 in late charges rather than the $210 the locksmith wanted.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Why I own a shotgun

It's 'cause of The Princess.

(Snapshot of Kasia taken by Tim McAllister on recent miniature golf outing -- thanks, Tim)

Friday, December 09, 2005

She's got a point there...

Carson seems, from my first trot through her enjoyable Mommylogue, to be a conservative Christian, family-oriented kind of gal, who was the other day going against stereotype by drumming up votes for a political candidate who happens to be gay. Her rationale makes perfect sense to me:

"...when you vote, think to yourself how many times you call upon your City Council for sex, compared to how many times you want them not to lie or be insane or make crap up wholesale."

Words to live by, babe, words to live by.

(Though I have to say that if the three hundred Austinites who actually vote in the elections that give the city its consistently insane City Council, were to vote into office three prostitutes, a transvestite porn star and the owner of, and if the city's august new leadership were then to announce that from now on in an emergency you should call not 9-1-1 but 9-0-0, I wouldn't be surprised in the least.)

Don't bother looking, I made that site up. At least I devoutly hope so.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

On I Corinthians 11:10

My compliments to Carson, without whose encouragement I probably would never have gotten around to digging this out and posting it -- and who may well be the only person in the world besides me who actually cares about the topic. ;-)

How Do We Interpret, “The woman ought to have authority upon her head”?

The following is taken from my own private translation, with commentary, of I Corinthians. This translation and commentary was originally done as preparation for a lay Bible study I was leading on I Corinthians and was not intended for publication; also, it was intended for accuracy rather than for elegance and readability. I worked from a number of sources, but depended most heavily on Gordon Fee’s commentary, which (despite my differences with Fee on certain points) I think is just outstanding.

This excerpt has to do with the extremely difficult verse I Corinthians 11:10, which says something that in Greek seems clearly to say, “The woman ought to have authority over her head”(i.e., ought to be allowed to decide for herself whether or not to cover her head in church) – but this comes as the conclusion of an argument that absolutely without question is meant to prove exactly the opposite! ...continue reading...In particular, the argument appears to say that a woman ought to have her head covered in order to show her respect for her husband’s authority over her. And so the traditional interpretation has been something along the lines of, “The woman ought to have a sign of authority over her head,” i.e., something like a veil. To this day female American tourists visiting Orthodox holy sites in the East, are expected to drape a shawl or scarf over their heads in obedience to this verse. And yet the words “a sign of” are conspicuous by their absence from the original text.

So what a dilemma we face! For the argument to make sense, the sentence has to be interpreted in a way nobody would ever before have interpreted that sentence. But for the sentence to be interpreted the way you would expect it to be interpreted, we have to conclude that Paul went to great trouble to build an argument that disproved its own conclusion. What are we to do with this? Fee, for one, confesses that he is completely defeated, in the words, “...finally we must beg ignorance. Paul seems to be affirming the ‘freedom’ of women over their own heads; but what that means in this context remains a mystery.”

Now, I believe that solution to the problem has to do with the fact that Paul is responding to a letter that the Corinthians themselves sent to him, and that (as is widely recognized in other passages throughout the letter) Paul frequently quotes passages from that letter.[1] Not only that, he takes a sarcastic approach to things that they say in the letter with which he disagrees: he quotes their letter, pretends to agree with them, goes through an argument proving the opposite of their contention, and then sarcastically quotes their statement again, but in a sense patently different from their own. I, therefore, read 11:10 as a quote from their own letter, which Paul’s argument forces them to interpret in exactly the opposite of the sense in which they originally intended it. A more sarcastic and insulting way to tell someone he’s wrong, can hardly be imagined – but a more sarcastic and insulting letter than I Corinthians would also be difficult to imagine.

Here is Paul’s whole discussion of the topic, in my translation with some footnotes. Having seen the whole passage in context, I’ll lay out a defense of my own interpretation.

I Corinthians 11:2-16

2Now, I praise you for remembering everything I’ve said[2] and for holding fast to the traditions just as I handed them down to you.[3]

3But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of a woman is the man, and the head of Christ is God. 4Every man who prays or prophesies with something down over his head disgraces his head.[4] 5But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered disgraces her head,[5] for it is the same as if she had been shaved. 6For if a woman is not covered, let her be shorn as well; but if it is disgraceful for her to be shorn or shaved, let her be covered. 7For a man, on one hand, ought not to cover the head, since he is the image and glory of God; woman, on the other hand, is the glory of man. 8For man is not from woman, but woman from man; 9for indeed man was not created for the sake of woman, but woman for the sake of man. 10Because of this, “A woman ought to have authority on top of her head because of the angels.”[6]

11(All the same, in the Lord neither is woman independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. 12For just as the woman is from the man, so also is the man for the sake of the woman;[7] but everything is from God.)

13Judge for yourselves: is it fitting for a woman to pray to God while uncovered? 14Doesn’t nature herself teach you that if a man, on one hand, wears his hair long, it dishonors him, 15but if a woman, on the other hand, wears her hair long, it brings her glory? – because the long hair is given to her in the place of a veil. 16But if anyone thinks he can get contentious – we have no such practice as you are arguing for,[8] and neither do the churches of God.

Commentary on I Corinthians 11:10

In the verses leading up to verse 10, Paul is going to a great deal of trouble to establish that a woman, unlike a man, ought to have her head covered when she prays or prophesies, as a result of the fact that the man is the “head” of the woman. Everything up until verse 10 is driving toward this point, and verse 10 itself begins, “For this reason…” Thus verse 10 is, unless Paul is violating every rule of expository rhetoric, the conclusion of the argument; and the argument’s conclusion is clearly that the woman should have her head covered as a consequence of the man’s headship over the woman – which, as I flatter myself I have established [earlier in the commentary from which this post was taken, not in the post itself], implies for Paul the authority of the man over the woman.

But what verse 10 actually says is, literally, “Because of this the woman ought to have authority upon her head because of the angels.” And the problem (besides the fact that nobody can figure out what the angels have to do with anything) is that, unless Paul is using the phrase “to have authority upon” in a sense in which it is never elsewhere ever used in Greek, this means, “Because of this the woman ought to have authority over her head [i.e., the right to make her own decision about whether or not to cover her head, as she sees fit] because of the angels.” And that is to turn the whole argument suddenly and without warning completely on its head (so to speak).

Now traditionally the most common approach has been to find a way to torque verse 10 back into some semblance of agreement with the argument that precedes it, by saying that Paul did in fact mean something by the phrase “to have authority upon” that nobody else who ever used that phrase in Greek ever meant by it. The NIV, for example, translates it as “to have a sign of authority upon,” and the RSV reads, “to have a symbol of authority upon” – though the RSV also provides a marginal reading of, “to have freedom of choice regarding”.

Such commentators as Gordon Fee are not about to allow a reading along traditional lines, in Fee’s case partly because he denies that the headship of the man involves authority in the first place. And for a long time I couldn’t bring myself to buy the traditional reading either. The most that I could find to say in its defense was that Paul himself never elsewhere uses the Greek phrase “echein exousian epi something” to mean “have authority over” – when he wants to express that idea elsewhere, he uses the phrase “echein exousian of something.” For someone accustomed to Paul’s habitual turn of phrase, it is admittedly a bit jarring for echein exousian epi to pop up – Paul just doesn’t exactly sound like himself, there. It could be argued, then, that since this turn of phrase is unique in Paul’s letters, he is using that turn of phrase in a way that is unique in all Greek literature, and in particular that he must not be using it to mean “have authority over” in its ordinary sense, because if he were, he would have said “echein exousian of...” But this is, it seems to me, is an argument that smacks of desperation.

Still, I lean toward the idea that Paul is in fact deliberately, and for some rhetorical purpose of his own, shocking the Corinthians with a sentence that is exactly the opposite of what he has led them to expect. And this is actually easier to argue for me than it is for Fee, because unlike Fee I have not tried to deny that headship implies authority. I think that the very idea of “having authority over your head” seems oxymoronic in a context in which the head is that which always has authority, rather than that which is subject to authority. The fact that the preceding argument has emphasized at great length the fact that the husband is the head of the wife would naturally heighten the force of the perceived self-contradiction latent in the phrase itself; I do not see that it rules out the possibility that Paul is deliberately wielding apparent self-contradiction for rhetorical effect.

If we look at the passage as a whole, Paul begins by using the term head metaphorically in verse 3, then switching to a literal usage for verses 4 through 7. Then in verses 7[9] through 9, though the term head is not explicitly applied to the man, the subject clearly moves back to the metaphorical headship of the man over the woman, so that when the culmination of the argument is reached in verse 10 – especially since verse 10 explicitly raises the issue of authority – the automatic first impulse is to take the reference in verse 10 to the woman’s “head” as referring to her metaphorical head – that is, to her husband. The initial reaction, then, of a typical Pauline audience would have been (I think) this: they would have heard Paul saying, “Because of this the woman should have authority over her husband;” then, shocked, they would have said, “Wait, he can’t have really meant that;” then they would have bounced back to the literal meaning. (Of course, this would have all happened in much less time than it takes to tell, since this sort of adjustment away from a ridiculous first interpretation takes place automatically. But the sense of being caught off guard would, I think, have been palpable.)

Would Paul have played such a game? I don’t see why not. Jesus himself does exactly the same thing to Nicodemus with the term pneuma (which can mean either wind or spirit, depending on context).[10] Deliberately setting up cognitive dissonance that the student is forced to resolve on his own can be a useful teaching tactic. And Paul in this letter over and over starts with a sentence or catch-phrase that he knows the Corinthians will interpret in one way, and then proceeds through an argument that winds up refuting the premise they thought he was accepting, and forces them to reinterpret the original catch-phrase on Paul’s terms.

But what, then, can he mean? Why would he say that the woman should have authority over her (physical) head, despite the fact that the man has authority over the woman and that the woman should pray with her head covered?

I had reached this point and stopped typing to pace around the room clutching my head with desperate concentration, when suddenly a possibility struck me. What if the entire statement, “A woman ought to have authority over her head because of the angels,” were itself a Corinthian slogan? So I decided to explore that possibility.

In the first place, if a Corinthian were to use that phrase, he or she would most likely do so in order to argue that women should be able to decide for themselves whether or not to cover their heads. That is to say, if we were going to translate the phrase as used by the Corinthians, then the correct translation would be precisely that found in the margin of the RSV: “A woman ought to have freedom of choice regarding her head.” And we know that at least some of the Corinthians were in fact arguing that women didn’t need to have their heads covered – and that Paul is telling them that they are wrong.

In the second place, this would explain both the bizarre reference to the angels (though having no relevance in the argument, it would come in as part of Paul’s quotation of their slogan) and the non-Pauline use of exousia-plus-epi instead of exousia-plus-genitive (since it would not be Paul who originally formulated the slogan).

In the third place, it would dispose of objections that appeal to the fact that Paul “would not have said it that way.” For example, a very old interpretation is that Paul was using authority as a figurative stand-in for veil.[11] Fee rejects this view in the following words:

The difficulty with this…is to find an adequate explanation as to why Paul should have chosen this word as his metonym. Had Paul intended an external covering, he would surely have said that, since several such words are available to him. (pp. 519-520, emphasis Fee’s)

But if Paul were quoting (and radically reinterpreting) a Corinthian catch-phrase, then the only words available to him would be the words used in that catch-phrase. And that would explain why he chose this word as an (admittedly strained) metonym, rather than one of the several other and plainer such words available to him.

Stop for a moment to look at what can be established even if we wave our hands in the air and say that we don’t know what verse 10 means. We can still conclude that:

(1) The man has headship over the woman, which for Paul involves both source-ness and authority.

(2) Because of the fact that the man has headship over the woman, the woman should have her head covered when praying or prophesying lest she dishoner her “head” (meaning either her own physical head or else, more likely, her metaphorical head, i.e. the man).

(3) Whether or not the woman covers her head in worship communicates something about her acceptance of the headship of the man, since Paul’s argument assumes that the necessity for covering her head follows logically from the assertion of male headship.

In other words, Paul’s argument establishes that the woman should have something on her head (hair, a veil, or something, even if we’re not sure what), and that this signifies her acceptance of the headship of the man. We could, that is, express the obvious conclusion of Paul’s argument as, “The woman ought to have something on her head as a sign of the man’s headship over her.” And headship, for Paul, does entail authority.

Now, it happens that the phrase echein [something] epi tes kephales, in most contexts, would mean “have something upon her head.” In the special case in which the “something” is exousia, however, the exousia ordinarily signals a special idiomatic use in which the phrase would become, “have authority over her head.” But in this very special case indeed, the idiomatic meaning of the Greek in this context, namely that a woman ought to be able to decide for herself whether to cover her head, is ruled out entirely by everything else Paul says. If, however, we take exousia as a metonym for whatever it is that Paul is commanding a woman to cover her head with, then echein [something] epi tes kephales can revert to its ordinary, non-idiomatic meaning, and verse 10 becomes the conclusion to which the argument has clearly pointed. And the force of the metonym would then be that whatever is on her head signifies the man’s authority – which is to say, his headship – and that is precisely the signification that Paul has been arguing for all along.

The thing is that nobody has any trouble seeing where people get the idea that verse 10 means that a woman should have her head covered as a sign of the man’s authority. The people who reject that reading do so entirely because that’s not what the standard Greek idiom means. But if I’m right, Paul sets up his argument as carefully as he does, with its expected conclusion so clearly and unmistakably telegraphed before it’s actually stated in verse 10, precisely in order to force his Corinthian readers into a non­-idiomatic reinterpretation of their catch-phrase. And in that case, the fact that there are no parallels would be simply irrelevant. The only real question would be, “Is the Greek such that they could have understood verse 10 to represent his expected conclusion rather than what you would understand the idiom to mean under ordinary circumstances?” And clearly, since it has in fact been understood that way for two millenia, and since in particular it was understood that way by numerous native speakers of Koine Greek, the answer is yes.

If Fee could provide any interpretation of verse 10 that stuck to the ordinary force of the idiom and still made any sense at all out of the passage, I would tend to go for that interpretation. But he does not. His conclusion on page 521 is, in fact,

But finally we must beg ignorance. Paul seems to be affirming the “freedom” of women over their own heads; but what that means in this context remains a mystery.

He doesn’t know what it means, in other words; and of course from this quotation it is easily seen that, while it is true that whoever originally came up with the slogan seems to have been affirming the “freedom” of women over their own heads, it is purely an assumption on Fee’s part to say that that the slogan originated with Paul. Without that assumption he has no case against the traditional interpretation, and even with that assumption he has no workable interpretation of his own.

So in the absence of any sensible interpretation of verse 10 other than the non-idiomatic interpretations, I will take the view that verse 10 is a Pauline quotation of a Corinthian slogan, which his argument forces them to reinterpret in such a way as to completely deny the original Corinthian meaning of the slogan – just as he has already done with several such slogans. And thus we arrive at my inelegant but I believe accurate translation, complete with quotation marks:

For man is not from woman, but woman from man; for indeed man was not created for the sake of woman, but woman for the sake of man. Because of this, “A woman ought to have authority on top of her head because of the angels.”

[1] Paul’s use of the term “wisdom” in the first through chapters is consistently sarcastic; it is their word and he is throwing it back in their faces. In 6:12 and 6:13, “Everything is permissible to me,” and “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food, but God will destroy them both,” are most likely Corinthian slogans to which Paul objects. “It is a good thing for a man not to have sex with a woman,” is thought by many, including myself, to be another. In chapter 8, “We all have knowledge,” “A wordly idol is nothing,” and “There is no god but one,” are yet more quotations from the Corinthians themselves that Paul brings up in order to refute them – in the sense, that is, in which the Corinthians mean them.

[2] Literally, because you remember all things of me. Since most translations seem to take this as “remembering me in everything,” I’m probably wrong here; but it seems to me that in context the “all things of me” are all the things he’s said.

[3] “Handing down traditions” is a Jewish technical term. In Greek, “I handed down the traditions,” is paredoka tas paradoseis, which is sort of like, “I handed down the hand-me-downs.”

[4] Note that the head that is thus disgraced could be either his physical head or else his spiritual head, i.e., Christ.

[5] Again, the head that is thus disgraced could be either her physical head or else her spiritual head, i.e., the man.

[6] As I explain in painful detail in the Commentary on this verse, I have several tentative opinions about 11:10. (1) I think Paul is quoting a Corinthian slogan here. (2) I think the Corinthians mean by their slogan that women ought to be able to decide for themselves whether or not to cover their heads, which Paul is here denying. (3) I think that Paul has set up the preceding argument in order to force the Corinthians to reinterpret their slogan as, “A woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head,” and this is in fact the import of verse 10 as it stands. (4) If the angels have anything to do with this other than being part of the slogan Paul is quoting, then I haven’t a clue what that might be.

[7] The NIV unfortunately loses completely the fact that the first and third clauses of verse 12 clearly refer back to verse 8 (the dominant preposition being ek in both verses, which preposition I have translated as “from”), while the middle clause of verse 12 equally clearly refers back to verse 9 (the dominant preposition being dia in both verses, which preposition I have translated as “for the sake of”). The preposition dia has a wide range of meanings, and one of them is “through.” The NIV seems to be reading the dia in verse 12 as “through,” which would make the middle clause read, “so also the man is through the woman.” They then gloss this as, “so also the man comes through the woman,” maintaining a parallel with their gloss of “woman is from man” in verse 8 as, “woman came from man.” And from there they take the final step to, “so also man is born of woman.”

Now it seems to me that the NIV has missed the point here. Verses 8 and 9 represent the man as being the cause of woman’s existence in two ways: he is the material cause (she was created out of him when God took his rib and made a woman out of it), and he is also the final cause (she was created for his sake – the “final” cause, in technical language, is not the “last” cause, but the goal that provides the reason for doing something). In verse 12 Paul seems to be saying that even though woman was originally created for the sake of man and not the other way around, now in the Lord man and woman exist for each other’s sake. The headship of the man is based on his precedence in creation, not in a supposed ongoing independence of, and lack of responsibility toward, the woman. The fact that he is born of woman is not Paul’s point.

[8] The phrase as you are arguing for is not in the Greek, but does seem to me to be implicit. The Greek does not say, “We have no other practice;” it says, “We have no such practice,” a phrasing which usually demands an antecedent. Everywhere in this letter where Paul says, “If anyone thinks…” he knows perfectly well that there are in fact people who do, and he is slapping them down. You can take this last verse as saying, in effect, “As for those of you who have been arguing that women should be able to prance around unveiled because of the angels [or whatever it was they were specifically arguing for] and are going to still try to come back and argue with me despite everything I’ve just said – we don’t do that and neither do God’s churches.”

[9] Verse 7 is a transitional verse in which Paul connects the literal concerns of vv. 4 through 6 with the metaphorical headship of the man that is the concern of vv. 1, 8 and 9.

[10] In John 3:8, Jesus tells Nicodemus, “The pneuma [meaning the wind] blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you can’t tell where it’s coming from or where it’s going. So it is with everyone born of the pneuma [which, given the preceding sentence, Nicodemus would tend to first take as meaning “born of the wind,” but which of course means, “born of the Spirit”].

[11] In some early manuscripts, the word “veil” is substituted for “authority,” obviously by somebody trying to help make Paul’s meaning clear.

Merry Christmas!

Is this a freakin' bizarrely neat time-on-our-hands country or what?

HT: Vodkapundit

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

In my prayers, and I hope yours too... All Things Beautiful's Alexandra. I don't know the whole story and besides it's for her to share what details she wants made public, not for me. But her very much beloved uncle, who has been her mom's main support since Alexandra's father died and who has been one of her closest friends for seventy-two years, was diagnosed with cancer just a few days ago -- after metastasis had already exploded the cancer into his whole body. He died this morning. Please keep Alexandra's family, and especially her mother, in your prayers.

Required reading

Read this. Discuss. I'm not sure I buy all of it -- for one thing, she's talking about the situation in English government-run schools and I have no direct experience with them -- but I certainly am familiar with the American educational establishment's pattern of refusing to allow a program's complete failure, to keep them from insisting that's what needed is more of whatever it was that failed in the first place... Anyway, thought-provoking if nothing else.

Michael Yon deserves a landslide

I note with immense satisfaction that Michael Yon is absolutely obliterating the competition for Best Media/Journalist Blog. And well he should. If you have not been reading Yon's on-line dispatches from Iraq (primarily from Mosul), then (a) you should go to the site right now, start on the bottom of the "Previous Dispatches" list with "Showdown in Baquba," and read your way through his entire as-it-happened history of the war in Mosul as waged by the boys of Deuce-Four, and (b) you should not talk about the war in Iraq until you have finished for fear that you will betray your ignorance. If there's anything on the web that is truly required reading for anybody wanting to address some topic, then Michael Yon's dispatches are required reading for anybody wanting to have an intelligent opinion on how the war in Iraq is going. This is first-rate journalism in an extremely high-risk and naturally harsh environment, combined with the innovative technology that makes the web in general such a deadly threat to traditional gate-kept media organs.

So don't forget to cast your vote -- though, given that last time I checked Yon had 1691 votes while the current runner-up had only 899, there's a pretty good chance he'll come sailing through without your help.

"The Face Is Familiar" Dept

Money quote: "I figured they could enjoy the pizza and film, as long as it lasted," [Sjaastad] said.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Voting is open on the Weblog Awards

And there's no question that my vote for Best New Blog is going to All Things Beautiful. Number 1, the Baroness's approach is unique. Number 2, she's brilliantly talented enough to pull it off. Number 3, she works her butt off on that thing. Hard work, talent, a killer concept -- that's pretty bloody tough to beat.

So go vote. You get to vote once a day on each category. I'm just trying to decide whether The Anchoress qualifies as a religious blog or not...I think I vote yes.

UPDATE: A Kos conspiracy (this is a completely baseless charge made with no evidence and just for the sake of being obnoxious) has swept the patently undeserving Yellow Dog to a farcical lead in the Best New Blog voting. The very legitimacy of these awards must now be questioned.

Over in Best Conservative Blog -- which one imagines is reasonably free from Vast Left-Wing Conspiracies -- the Anchoress is neck-and-neck with Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler for the lead. Get that voting done, dudes, and I don't mean for you to vote for the One Big Dog Blog. (The Anchoress is not a finalist this year for best religious blog, alas.)

Thursday, December 01, 2005

"Yet More Damning Evidence of CIA Incompetence" Dept

"Never Let It Be Said That I Don't Give All Sides A Hearing" Dept

Warning: there's bad language in this one. Hey, it's written by Satan; whaddaya expect?