Friday, February 24, 2006

Sudan man forced to 'marry' goat

Courtesy of the BBC News:

A Sudanese man has been forced to take a goat as his "wife", after he was caught having sex with the animal.
The goat's owner, Mr Alifi, said he surprised the man with his goat and took him to a council of elders.

They ordered the man, Mr Tombe, to pay a dowry of 15,000 Sudanese dinars ($50) to Mr Alifi.

"We have given him the goat, and as far as we know they are still together," Mr Alifi said.

Mr Alifi, Hai Malakal in Upper Nile State, told the Juba Post newspaper that he heard a loud noise around midnight on 13 February and immediately rushed outside to find Mr Tombe with his goat.

"When I asked him: 'What are you doing there?', he fell off the back of the goat, so I captured and tied him up".

Mr Alifi then called elders to decide how to deal with the case.

"They said I should not take him to the police, but rather let him pay a dowry for my goat because he used it as his wife," Mr Alifi told the newspaper.

So, it seems to me that now the man can have sex with the goat whenever he wants. After all (note the sarcasm here), marriage is just the procurement of exclusive sexual privilege, right? And, of course, that sexual privilege is unidirectional. This story is disturbing on so many levels...

Saturday, February 18, 2006

A Timely Word from the Patron of this Blog

A little background:
The church in Nazianzus (in modern Turkey) suffered schism when their bishop, Gregory the Elder, "signed a document of questionable orthodoxy[...]; the monks responded by dissociating themselves from their bishop and resorting to the ordination of priests not by him but by others." The quote below is taken from a sermon preached in celebration of the reconciliation of the church by the bishop's son (and future successor) Gregory of Nazianzus, c. 364.

...I rejected speech...because my beloved kicked and turned their back to me, and not their face, and became a flock with greater liberty, not to say license, than their shepherd; because the true vine turned bitter for me, though it had been so beautifully pruned by its noble gardener to produce a noble vintage for the wine presses of God; because my friends and my neighbors drew near before me and stood still; and my nearest of kin stood afar off; because we tore apart Christ, we who love God and Christ so well, and deceived one another in the name of truth, and in the name of love fostered hatred and for the sake of the cornerstone were crushed, and of the rock rent asunder; because in the name of peace we warred more than honor allowed, and in the name of him who was raised on the cross we were brought low, and in the name of him who was buried and resurrected we embraced death. (Oration 6.3)

Something for our warring factions to ponder...

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Blessed Virgin Mary

My excitement of the day (OK, so yesterday) was receiving an email from an eminent patristics scholar who forwarded me a portion of his manuscript of a translation of an Ethiopic Hymn to Mary. He expects to get it published in the fall. This hymn may form part of my research on Mary as priest. I told Bryan Spinks about the text, and he rather excitedly told me about another Ethiopic text that I need to read. It's an anaphora (Eucharistic prayer) addressed to Mary herself. Highly unusual.

Many thanks to J-Tron for the link to Paul IV's encyclical on women and priesthood. Looking forward to reading it!

Monday, February 06, 2006

Women and Church Leadership

Thanks to my dear friend MM for the plug on her Theology of the Body!

Well, it seems only appropriate that I should flesh out a bit of my project:

I am deeply grieved by the ever-increasing divisions manifesting themselves in the Church. I am equally committed to working, in my own perhaps small way, toward reconciliation and reunion. One of the big obstacles to such a reunion effort is the ordination of women to the priesthood. On the one hand, I fully believe myself to be called to priestly ministry, and on the other hand, I also recognize that ECUSA's way of introducing the priestly ministry of women did nothing to seriously address the reservations and objections voiced by opponents (and long-standing tradition in the Church). So, that said, I am engaging in my own attempts to grapple with these issues.

My particular angle on this subject is based on a series of "aha moments" I had over the course of the Fall semester. I intend to investigate whether the Blessed Virgin Mary can be viewed as "archetypal priest." At this point in my research, I am reading various authors on Marian doctrine through the Church's history. In my upcoming session, I'll be discussing Mary in a number of Orthodox liturgical texts, some of which are still used today. Once I get comfortable with that material, I will venture off into the realms of Eucharist theology and priesthood, especially as it developed out of its presbyteral roots.

So, that's a rough overview of my project...not a small task, but one that intrigues me greatly. I would love any comments pointing me to some good primary texts on these issues, especially if anyone can identify the "quintessential" argument in defense of all-male priesthood.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

I am not my vagina

Several of my friends and fellow classmates are presenting "The Vagina Monologues" tonight and tomorrow night. A few of them have asked me whether I'm going. No. No, I'm not. They look at me quizzically, as if to say "What's wrong with you?" I am sympathetic to the goal of raising awareness of and money for the efforts to end violence, especially sexualized violence against women and children. I applaud that effort. However, I doubt very seriously that this particular strategy is a laudable one. In fact, I see it as potentially destructive.

If sexualized violence is about treating the victim as an object for the perpetrator's pleasure, rather than as a whole human being, then how on earth is anyone supposed to see women as whole human beings in the context of this production? It seems to be an attempt to de-objectify women precicely by objectifying women.

Furthermore, I object to the ways in which this production has been advertized. There are signs, some of which say:

OK, so what is this supposed to accomplish?

"VAGINA: It's OK to laugh."
What? If we're supposed to be honoring the female genitalia, how is laughing supposed to help?

"God loves vaginas"
I was under the impression that God loves PEOPLE.

These signs feel very imposing. When I challenge my friends to imagine how our community might receive signs that say, "PENIS, PENIS, PENIS," or "PENIS: It's OK to laugh," or "God loves penises." They readily admit that there would be an uproar, even protests.

It would be very refreshing to see people with a little more savvy in their strategizing; this is too important a cause to sabotage through carelessness.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Apologia for a blog title

Some readers may take offense at my characterization of St. Basil of Caesarea. Well, you're in good company -- St. Gregory the Theologian took great offense, too. He tried to get his life-long friend to courageously profess the full divinity, consubstantiality and co-equality of the Holy Spirit. To Gregory's great dismay, and at the cost of their friendship, Basil refused to make plain that, indeed, the Holy Spirit is God, preferring, instead, to tip-toe around the issue so as not to alienate anyone. This Basil called "economy of speech." Gregory called it an episcopal failure, for a bishop is called to be a bold proclaimer of truth.