‘Biblical Womanhood’: Christian patriarchs trying to blow out a bonfire

Rachel Held Evans “champions women, freedom and forgiveness in a way that transcends religion.”

That’s from the glowing review of A Year of Biblical Womanhood in People magazine, which praises Evans as “insightful” and “often-hilarious,” and lauds her “gentle but impassioned critique of the Biblical Womanhood movement, which requires women to submit to their husbands’ authority.” This review in such a ubiquitous magazine will not please the husbands and patriarchs of that movement. They can keep Evans’ book out of LifeWay stores, but they can’t keep People out of the checkout lanes at the supermarket.

The Powers That Be of Christian patriarchy — The Gospel Coalition, the Southern Baptist bishops, etc. — see Evans as the most prominent example of something that terrifies them. Their male authority depends, largely, on the consent of the governed. And that consent, in turn, depends largely on their maintaining a monopoly on information and permission.

TPTB are losing that monopoly on information and permission. Women are writing things. They are talking to one another outside of officially sanctioned church channels. They are spreading and absorbing information not approved by the patriarchy. They are granting one another permission to ask questions and to demand satisfactory answers. The Christian women bloggers of that Bonfire list represent an existential threat for Christian patriarchy. TPTB wants to extinguish that fire.

And so TPTB of Christian patriarchy have latched onto Evans as a symbol of all those uppity women thinking, talking, writing and asking questions without official permission from their husbands and pastors and bishops. If she can be silenced or denounced or discredited, maybe all those others will learn their lesson too.

The result of this coordinated attack on Evans-as-symbol has been exactly what anyone who is not a power-drunk authoritarian would expect. It has prompted others to rally around and alongside her in solidarity. And that solidarity, in turn, has empowered and encouraged others to raise their voices as well — further threatening the monopoly of information and permission on which Christian patriarchy depends.

To paraphrase Peter Gabriel, you can blow out a candle, but you can’t blow out a bonfire.

Dianna E. Anderson:A Year of Biblical Womanhood: Understanding and Openness in One Woman’s Journey

This book is not for those who have already made up their minds. This book is not for the ones who think they have all the answers. This book is not even a point-by-point breakdown of complementarianism and why it is a broken system. This book is for the questioning, for the women in between, for the ones feeling more judged by God and scripture than buoyed and loved. This book – and Evans’ journey – do not provide exact, pat answers to the numerous theological questions that a literal complementarianism raises. Instead, it tells us that questions are okay. Wrestling is okay. The Scripture can take it. God can take it. Being everything to everyone is not a burden you have to carry.

Idelette McVicker:Eshet Chayil, Rachel Held Evans

This is a time for clear speech.

I am thankful that Rachel is such a woman, who speaks clearly. She researches, ponders, asks questions, collaborates and speaks out. She’s not intimidated. And for that I am deeply grateful.

I am thankful that Rachel is forging a path. She’s leading, she’s going first and she’s giving me courage to speak about the things that matter dearly.

Piercing patriarchy isn’t easy. It’s gutsy and it requires wisdom and clarity of thinking. It’s not something we can shout down or yell down or beat our fists at. I know, because I’ve tried that.

Richard Beck:A Year of Biblical Womanhood

Agreed, no one is following all the commandments literally. People pick and choose. But here’s the deal: They don’t realize they are picking and choosing. And even if you argue with these people, pointing out how they are picking and choosing, they still can’t see it. And in the face of that (I think willful) denial Rachel does something pretty remarkable. Rachel engages in a hermeneutical performance, one that, in refusing to pick and choose, reveals to anyone reading her book just how much picking and choosing is actually going on. She helps you see it. And laugh at the same time.

And that’s what is pretty badass about the book, intellectually speaking. The book is hermeneutical performance art.

Rachel Marie Stone:Rachel Held Evans and the Hermeneutics of Love

I realize that this does not sit well with everyone, especially with those for whom summing up Scripture as essentially and most importantly about loving God and neighbor is a little too open ended. (Wait? Who said that? Oh, yes. Jesus did.) Many of Rachel’s critics assert that if one does not interpret St. Paul to mean that all women everywhere are, by their very nature, unfit for leadership in the church, one is on a slippery slope that ends with tossing out the Bible completely. It’s highly inconvenient, then, that there are a good many people who neither interpret Paul that way nor abandon orthodoxy altogether.

… Maybe love is controversial after all.

Amy Mitchell:A Year of What?!

Rather than complaining about how hard it was to live out a literal interpretation of the Bible, she pokes gentle fun at herself. From her Jar of Contention to her ruined apple pie to her misadventures in sewing, she doesn’t ever take herself too seriously.

At the same time, Rachel clearly takes the Bible seriously.  She makes every effort to understand the original context of the Scriptures while not ignoring the modern-day applications. In each chapter, she discovers a way in which she can honor God and the Bible without resorting to strict, legalistic readings of the text.

Brian LePort:Book Review: Rachel Held Evans’ A Year of Biblical Womanhood

Rachel has done her homework and she shares with her readers the worldview of some writers – men and women – who advocate “biblical womanhood” as a woman staying home, having a half dozen children, never going to college, never having a career, and living for her husband as a servant. While there may be women who find this to be fulfilling there are other women who have a sense that this is not the aim of their life. These authors attempt to guilt women into a model of womanhood that has nothing to do with ancient Israel or first century Galilee as much as it does everything to do with 1950′s America. Rachel exposes this and she does it without being hostile. I must commend her on this because while I was reading excerpts from this or that author my face would turn red with anger. I cussed to myself on many occasions. What Rachel has done through this experiment is outdo the legalist in their legalism!

Rachel’s book does not mock Scripture; her book exposes our inconsistencies as readers of Scripture, our false objectivity (a mythological epistemology that needs to die), and our foundationless and often hypocritical piety. Rachel proves to be a better and more honest reader of Scripture than many people whom I have met with doctorates in biblical studies. She lets Scripture bother her. She lets it challenge her. I found her honesty about Scripture to be refreshing and she has become a fellow pilgrim in my own journey to understand this complex, concerning, beautiful book known as the Bible.

Danielle @ From Two to One:A Toast to Rachel Held Evans in the Midst of Roasts

We congratulate you on your book launch day of a tremendous job well done. Those of us who’ve walked alongside you, maybe limped here and there, know and feel in our very bones that the tide is turning. We know that your book will touch lives, will help heal and restore, and will bring reconciliation to all of us who’ve been stunted in our spiritual growth from the wrist-slapping measuring stick of “true” or “biblical” womanhood and manhood.

J.R. Daniel Kirk:Living Biblically

Her project exposes the most basic reality of biblical interpretation and application: we do not, cannot, and indeed must not, simply pick up the Bible, see what it says, and go do it.

All of us approach the Bible with some sort of interpretive grid that helps us to know when we do or do not need to take to heart the commandment issued. Rachel has grown weary of “biblical” as a trump-card adjective, thrown out in an effort to baptize whatever (conservative) social, religious, or theological position a person wants to endorse.

So, the story of the year is a story of challenging the notion that “biblical womanhood” is to be had by opening up the Bible and applying “God’s word to women.”

Elizabeth Esther:For Rachel Held Evans, my friend and a Woman of Valor

What I want you to know is how much I admire you. Your courage, determination and Berean commitment to search out the truth make you a true woman of valor. You never shirk the hard work of questioning assumptions and stereotypes – even when it places you in the crosshairs of previously unquestioned authority.

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  • fraser

    “Their male authority depends, largely, on the consent of the governed.
    And that consent, in turn, depends largely on their maintaining a
    monopoly on information and permission.”
    Hence the horror of people like Douglas Wilson and the other Wilson at legal equality for women. Without that, there wouldn’t be any of this consent crap, they could MAKE their wives obey.

  • Magic_Cracker

    Ms. Cracker had a revelation this morning — the kind where you realize you’ve always known whatever it is you suddenly realized.  Namely, she was reading through comments on one of the new mother boards she peruses ever since Cracker Jr. was born. Any time someone posts “My husband has become a jealous, abusive asshole ever since Junior was born and he won’t hold him, change diapers, feed him, etc. etc. and I’m about to go fucking crazy!” the majority of comments from other mothers is that you have to suck it up, men are busy, that’s just how men are, they should be more understanding of the stresses men are under, and so on and so forth.
    So, yeah, Ms. Cracker’s revelation was that patriarchy would not exist were it not for the active participation of women against their own class. In the words of Jay Gould, “I can hire one-half of the working class to kill the other half.”

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_2CUJHSQSQYTYT4DPZSKTVESYNQ B

    I used to hang out on a knitting forum and recall one thread in particular where someone was talking about how her husband accidentally washed one of her hand-knit sweaters in the machine and shrunk it.

    Now that poster wasn’t blaming her husband or implying he was incompetent, she was just looking for sympathy.  (Accidents happen — rare is the person who’s never inadvertently damaged an article of clothing in the wash.)  But immediately there was a whole string of responses about how she should be grateful her husband does laundry at *all*.

    It’s interesting in that it simultaneously implies that men are too incompetent to learn to do a simple task like laundry, and that therefore women shouldn’t expect men to engage in basic household chores.  (Very strategic incompetence there.) Partners in our own oppression indeed!

  • EllieMurasaki

    I remain convinced that people should not be permitted to graduate high school without having demonstrated basic competence at a variety of common household tasks such as balancing a household budget, planning a week’s worth of meals (accounting for expense and nutrition both), cooking at least one of those meals, sewing a seam and a replacement button, changing oil, and tightening a screw. I am perfectly happy to add laundry to that list.

  • Magic_Cracker

    Add doing dishes as well. And throwing out spoiled food. I rode a friend’s couch one summer and was horrified to discover that the place was infested with roaches because she, a social worker (of all things), never got the memo that sinks full of filthy, rancid dishes tend to attract vermin. Then I got  horrified all over again food poisoning because she never told me that her fridge was broken because she thought putting a couple of bags of ice in the freezer should “do the trick.”

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_2CUJHSQSQYTYT4DPZSKTVESYNQ B

     I don’t know if I’d necessarily include changing the oil on that list… my father made me learn to do it when I started driving, but it’s something that can be outsourced fairly cheaply.  (Although we both know how to do it, neither my father or I ever change our own oil.)

    I would definitely include changing a flat tire and jump-starting a car on that list, though, since those are things where there *is* a big advantage in terms of time and money to knowing how to do it yourself!

    Otherwise I agree with this list, especially cooking.  IMO everyone should at least know HOW to cook.

  • EllieMurasaki

    There’s room to negotiate details, of course. In fact I’d like the list to be about half stereotypically male tasks, I’m just having trouble thinking of many that are also basic household tasks. Carpentry isn’t unless one’s determined that all one’s furniture shall be hand-built. Plumbing is but it’s really easy to get in over one’s head and flood the place (though ‘applying baking soda and vinegar or drain cleaner to clogged drains as appropriate’ is definitely a task that needs to be on the list).

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_2CUJHSQSQYTYT4DPZSKTVESYNQ B

    Personally I think it has to do with the fact that so many of the traditionally male-oriented tasks are ones that are either better outsourced, or not worth your time to do yourself unless you’re VERY broke.

    What, if anything, that says about the various traditionally gendered tasks and our society I’m not sure.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Or as a hobby. Given the money value of time, it’s probably more expensive for Dad to build bookshelves than to buy them, but he likes it and also he can make them the precise size the room arrangement requires.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_2CUJHSQSQYTYT4DPZSKTVESYNQ B

     Indeed.  Similar to my knitting. 

    I once had someone who saw me knitting a sock comment on how everyone pays money in the store for socks, but here I was knitting my own. 

    I smiled and didn’t mention that I’d spent $20 on the sock yarn (not even addressing the cost of my time).

  • P J Evans

     But the socks you knit will fit better and be a color that pleases you (or the person who will get them).

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    I can understand where the association between a person’s sex and their engendered tasks comes into society.  Generally, in a developing society trying to subsist, a sexual division of labor makes a lot of sense.  For example, a woman who is late in pregnancy will probably be staying off her feet a lot, and thus not tend to do jobs which require her to wander far from her place of residence.  Likewise, only a woman is capable of breastfeeding a child, and thus will typically be more of the full time care-taker because a man is biologically incapable of producing the digestible sustenance a newborn requires.  This in turn creates a tradition where women are considered better at certain tasks (generally ones which do not require them to travel far from the home) because they are raised and trained to be good at them, while men are better at converse tasks (generally ones which require traveling from the home) because they are raise and trained to be good at them.  

    However, where this becomes an issue is when people start to assume that such training is an essential component of a person’s sex.  That men are necessarily one way, or women are necessarily one way, when it is actually because society has held certain traditions about gender roles and trained people into them.  Given modern technology, some of those biological considerations which encouraged sexual labor division are no longer as big a concern as they used to be.  For example, vehicles allow a pregnant woman to transport herself and continue to do a job away from the home where she might not have been able to in bygone eras.  Or a man might be able to nurse a child with a bottle, either filled with formula or actual breast milk extracted from a mother.  

    I can understand Complimentarians from the view that the different sets of tasks are equal in importance, but where I think that they are critically wrong is tying those tasks necessarily to gender.  As a man, I would be offended at the implication that any task necessary to raising a family (even a traditionally female one) would be beneath me, nor would I insult a woman by implying that any task (even a traditionally male one) was beyond her.  

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    The value of changing your own oil is convoluted; if you’ve got a modernish car and any sort of job at all, it is probably not worth your time to change your own oil, since you can typically get it done for only a hair over what you’d pay buying the supplies at retail prices (Especially since cars for the past 20 years have been designed under the assumption that their oil would only ever be changed while the car was on a lift, and therefore it’s essentially impossible for a human being to do it while laying on the ground underneath. Seriously, mom used to have a car where the oil filter was in the exact center of the engine compartment pointed toward the back, making it impossible to reach unless you have an extra elbow halfway down your forearm). On the other hand, as my father (who taught me to change my own oil back when I was like 7) points out, if you take your car to a garage to have the oil changed, the job will probably be done by a bored teenager who’s only been on the job for a week, can be called away by his seniors to do other menial tasks at any time, and doesn’t especially care about doing a good job. My wife, my dad  and my sister all have had cars suffer permanent damage from their cars not being put all the way back together following an oil change at a normally reputable garage.

    (Even so, I gave up changing my own oil after I needed to use a power drill and a piece of two-by-four to get the oil filter off my wife’s pontiac over the course of about four hours, then found out that the filter she’d bought to replace it didn’t fit.

  • http://jamoche.dreamwidth.org/ Jamoche

    I have my oil changed by my regular mechanic who lets me hang out in the garage while he works; I don’t trust those oil-change-only places. I was there while he was working on a high-end luxury car – Mercedes or something like that. It took him longer to tell the computer that the oil had been changed than it took for him to do the actual work – and that took longer than on most cars because various bits of cowling had to be removed first.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    About half the time I usually have an oil change done at the same time as another major car repair, which means the shop makes an effort to do it right. The other times I usually use a fairly major chain (NOT Jiffy Lube, god no. Not after seeing all those Youtubes) where I can at least see what they’re doing because I know where the filter is supposed to be. Now the drain plug, there’s a potential issue but a drain plug not being put on properly usually has the fairfly noticeable issue of “a huge splat of oil under your car”.

    That said, being able to pump your own gas and clean your own kitchen – that’s a good idea.

  • EllieMurasaki

    US drivers pretty much all pump our own gas. I think it’s only New Jersey that isn’t entirely self-serve gas stations. But yeah.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Also, Oregon.

    More so in Canada, I guess, but there are some gas stations that have full-serve lines and the gas is even more expensive than in the self-serve.

  • P J Evans

    some gas stations that have full-serve lines and the gas is even more expensive than in the self-serve
    You’re also paying for the person who’s doing the service, when you get full-service.

  • Lori

     

    US drivers pretty much all pump our own gas. I think it’s only New Jersey that isn’t entirely self-serve gas stations. But yeah.   

    As of 5 years ago there’s at least one city in California where there are no self-service gas pumps. There’s some sort of city ordinance against them. I think there are only 2 or 3 gas stations within the city limits, but they’re full service only. (It’s in the part of LA county where one city literally flows into the next, so you can get cheaper gas by pumping it yourself if you just drive a couple blocks down the road.) That might have changed since I moved away, but I doubt it. I think G would have mentioned it to me if it had because it would be a sign of the Apocalypse or something.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     The problem that my sister had was with the drain plug; they overtightened it. This did not result in an oil leak, but it meant that the next time she needed an oil change, they had to drill the plug out, ruining the pan.

    (The most common problem  I’ve seen people have after an oil change is “the superfluous cover bits not fastened down correctly”, which is something that can cause a really shocking amount of damage if they flop over and get caught on the roadway at speed.)

  • megaforte84

    Definitely jump-starting a car.

    We had that included in the Driver’s Ed I took. About five minutes was about how to jump-start a car. The other twenty-five were on how not to total one or both cars’ electrical systems while jump starting a car (don’t rush removing the cables, only work with one at a time, do not at any time allow the two to complete any circuit other than the ‘clips on terminals’ one that will actually charge the battery).

    It’s one of those things that seems simple, but can get really expensive really fast if you just buy a pair of cables in case of emergency and try using them while thinking ‘that’s so simple!’ and not having someone experienced in the process present.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I remember hearing the story of the guy who forgot, cross-connected the terminals, and blew out both cars’ dashboards.

  • http://deird1.dreamwidth.org Deird

    My mum has been very firm with me about the fact that I’m not allowed to marry someone unless they’ve lived away from their parents. Mainly because she married my dad when he’d always lived with his mum – and, in consequence, he doesn’t cook, do dishes, do laundry, vacuum…

  • EllieMurasaki

    That sounds like a very sensible rule. For one to impose on oneself, at least, not so sure about it when it’s imposed on one by a third party…

  • banancat

    I think it’s fantastic advice to look for a partner who has shown that they can take care of themselves, but your parents don’t get to tell you, an adult, who you are allowed to marry. Also, it’s never too late for your father to start acting like a partner.

  • Victor

    (((Also, it’s never too late for your father to start acting like a partner.)))

    There ya go again, another banana cat trying to tell U>S so called (usual sinners) what to do! Are ya sure that you’re not a MAN? (lol) Why make fun of the cats and as far as “I’M” concerned not even Tiger, Victor’s Cat would put UP with “IT” if ya ask me~! His (A)nnoying (S)uper (S)inning cells won’t even give him any S.H.I.T. and for the reacord Victor, that stands for (some have “IT” to get her) Victor! Anyway as “I” was saying folk, don’t mess around with this A.S.S. cause even Jean Christian knows him and long story short, this past Canadian Primed Minister believes that throwing him A line won’t even help him so some of his spiritual cells have told U>S. If ya ask ME, “I” think that Victor needs a little Canadian Mercer if ya get my drift and…….

    STOP “it” sinner vic! You have no right to tell these people that I’ve written to any of our past Prime Ministers and as far as my A.S.S. cells are concerned, they are taking something for “IT” so give “IT” UP if ya know what’s good for ya so……..

    So Victor! In other words, “I AM” telling the truth because I say so, and I AM a man of my word.”
     
    (LOL) :)

    Peace

  • Lunch Meat

    My mum has been very firm with me about the fact that I’m not allowed to marry someone unless they’ve lived away from their parents.

    You might change that to “successfully lived alone” or something like that. My husband survived on his own for a year, but I wouldn’t necessarily have called it living. (He has gotten a lot more responsible lately.)

    (I don’t want to play into the trope that men are incapable of taking care of themselves. My husband couldn’t reliably clean up after himself, but he was a much better and healthier cook. I’m better at finances than he is, but if I were living alone I would have pretty much no social life without him encouraging me to get out. So we have different strengths.)

  • Michael Mock

     “I’m better at finances than he is, but if I were living alone I would
    have pretty much no social life without him encouraging me to get out.
    So we have different strengths.”

    …Which is how complementarianism should work. You cover each other’s weaknesses, you support and encourage each other’s strengths.

    It’s only when you start proscribing what those strengths and weaknesses should (or must) be, that it becomes a problem, I think.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    proscribe: to prohibit.

    prescribe: to set up a course of action deemed beneficial.

  • Michael Mock

     D’oh! Quite right. I’m gonna plead massive exhaustion on that one.

  • Carstonio

    Exactly. In fact, I had understood that to be the distinction between complementarity and complementarianism. I’ve never heard a definition of the latter that didn’t come down to husbands holding all the authority in marriages.

  • http://jamoche.dreamwidth.org/ Jamoche

    “A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.” – Robert Heinlein

  • EllieMurasaki

    I wouldn’t go that far, but that’s the general idea.

  • Stan L

    When I was in high school in the 90s, that was part of our curriculum. There was also a sort of “life skills” test that covered the basics on paper. Basically it was to prove that you weren’t a complete idiot and the school felt safe enough to let you graduate.

  • fraser

    Oh, and first!

  • frazer

    Can’t wait to read it!

  • Carstonio

    Her project exposes the most basic reality of biblical interpretation
    and application: we do not, cannot, and indeed must not, simply pick up
    the Bible, see what it says, and go do it.

    As much as I appreciate the principle that Kirk offers here, and as much as I appreciate even more the work that Evans is doing, part of me keeps wondering, “Why bother even interpreting and applying scripture in the first place when it comes to gender roles? Why not just say that sexism and complementarianism are objectively immoral?” I feel like a heel for asking because I fear that might undermine Evans’ message.

  • Tricksterson

    If she can survive the hailstorm of hate currently being aimed her way I doubt a couple of reasonable questions are going to cause her much trembling.

  • Carstonio

    Sure. I didn’t mean Evans specifically, but anyone whose support of gender equality is consistent with their interpretation of scripture.

  • Carstonio

    Maybe my real point is that it shouldn’t be necessary for someone like Evans to argue for gender equality at all, from a scriptural basis or from any other basis, because its morality should be self-evident. I’m tempted to dismiss the complementarians as just plain stupid for not seeing this, except that this is most likely a willful ignorance based in selfishness. 

  • Jurgan

     I think the answer is that the Bible still has a lot of good in it, but by insisting on a set of archaic sexist rules as being absolutely necessary you smear the entire book as a whole.  It’s similar to the point Fred has made about creationism.  If you insist on a very specific and obviously false mythology or legalism, then when people’s observations of the world prove the mythology false the whole house of cards collapses.  Rachel’s not just trying to save women from the patriarchy, she’s trying to save the Bible from the patriarchy.

  • JustoneK

    Is the Bible salvageable?  Are we “allowed” to mess with the canon that’s been that way for freaking ages?

  • EllieMurasaki

    Dammit now I’m trying to remember how that one Umbridge speech went. In context it was pretty nasty, but out of context my memory says it was straightforward enough ‘keep the good things whether old or new, be rid of the bad things whether old or new’.

  • Michael Mock

    JustoneK

     I’m not a Christian, but I was raised as one – and the answer I would give is an unqualified “Yes!” Yes, we’re allowed to mess with the canon – that’s how it got to be canon in the first place.

    Yes, the canon has been that way for freaking ages – if by “that way” you mean mutable, adaptable, subject to multiple readings and competing views; colored by very human goals and responses; and deeply entangled with the societies and traditions around it.

  • JustoneK

    Who decided on the modern canon then?

  • Michael Mock

    I’d say we actually have modern canons. Catholics generally include the Apocrypha, at least as I understand it; certain strains of Protestant are strict KJV only (limiting not so much which books, but which translation is canon); the LDS has, what, two whole additional books?

    But even within a given canon, there are different approaches to reading the text(s) and different themes or concerns that get emphasized, which was basically my point. If you look at it less as “which books do we use” and more as “what do we take from the books we use”, then people have been messing with the canon for as long as it’s been around.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Catholics generally include the Apocrypha, at least as I understand it

    You mean the deuterocanon. Deuterocanonical books are included in the Bible for the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches, but they’re not the same as the Apocrypha.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NR2MMC4EJXJWJMLH6IF457XL64 Alex B

    Which one?

  • http://www.oliviareviews.com/ PepperjackCandy

    People did.  In the case of the New Testament, I believe it was official church people; bishops I think.

    That’s a big part of why I feel anything but “love God; love your neighbor” is discountable.

    Much of what is in there was chosen for political reasons.  I look askance particularly at the verses that I have always been told “proves” that the Bible is infallible — II Timothy 3:16-17:

    16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

    In other words, “I am telling the truth because I say so, and I am a man of my word.”

  • http://www.catesings.org/ Catherine

    To be fair, the author of II Timothy probably didn’t view himself as writing scripture when he wrote that letter, either.  In fact, while II Timothy is thought to have been one of the later-written books of what we now call the New Testament, he was still writing only a short time after the gospels were written, and probably wasn’t referring to the New Testament canon at all when he spoke of scripture – the Jewish canon was probably what he had in mind.

  • http://www.oliviareviews.com/ PepperjackCandy

    No argument there.

    But it is now used as justification for belief that the “women must be silent in churches” and that sort of thing is What God Says.  And I cannot help thinking that that was the point of including it.

  • Carstonio

    Arguing against “what God says” when it comes to patriarchy is far more difficult, I suspect, than arguing against patriarchy itself on secular moral grounds. With the former, if you’re not taking the Evans approach of challenging the interpretation, you’re challenging the entire concept of scripture being authoritative. Your argument ends up being “Can you prove that the Christian god wants everyone to live in a gender hierarchy? Can you prove that the words in scripture come from that god? Even if they did, why should we assume that someone else knows what’s best for us?” That would probably devolve into two people talking past each other.

  • Tricksterson

    Silly biot, missals have long since made canon obsolete.

    Thank you, remember, I do two shows on Saturday!  Try the long pork!

  • BaseDeltaZero

    I see what you did there…

  • EllieMurasaki

    the canon has been that way for freaking ages – if by “that way” you mean mutable, adaptable

    The words don’t change, though. One might pick different English words to correspond to the Hebrew or Greek, or use different denotations or connotations for the same English words, or place different levels of importance on various groups of words, or interpret the whole in different ways, but the words themselves don’t change. Haven’t in a long damn time. The Tanakh’s been fixed for about eighteen hundred years, the Catholic and Protestant Old Testaments for about four hundred fifty (and I get the impression that the Catholic Old Testament was set in stone a lot longer, they just took a minute after Luther to reaffirm that, and of course when Luther decided which books he was including he was looking at books that hadn’t changed in about a millennium), and the New Testament for about thirteen hundred years.

    No one to my knowledge, bar Thomas Jefferson, has actually added text to or removed text from the Bible in centuries, and I know of no one who considers Jefferson’s version authoritative.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     

    The words don’t change, though. 

    That’s true, the original texts in Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, Latin, etc. remain more or less constant, and if they comprise canon then the canon remains fairly constant as well.

    Unfortunately, on this account the canon also bears very little relationship to the religion as it is practiced.

    This is true even among Orthodox Jews, who at least go through the ritual practice of reading the entire Hebrew text out loud together once a year, even if we don’t necessarily understand a word of it. Many other groups have even less connection to the original text than that.

  • VMink

    Well, there is the attempt at the “Conservative Bible Project,” but I don’t personally or even generally know of anyone who doesn’t see that as an outright politically-motivated axe job.

  • EllieMurasaki

    …right, yes, and the Lolcat Bible, but see also not considered authoritative.

  • VMink

    … There’s a lolcat bible?

    I am SO there.

    Ahem. =) But yes, you’re right, I missed the part about ‘considered authoritative.’  I’m sure the Conservative Bible project would LOVE to be considered authoritative but there’s a snowball’s chance in Centralia of that happening.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    … There’s a lolcat bible?

    Yes.  Yes there is.  

    And it is awesome.

  • Darkrose

    Ceiling Cat is watching you!

  • Tricksterson

    But it should be.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Now I’m actually wondering what a progressive Bible edit would look like. And how we’d manage to both keep the intriguing stories and simultaneously be rid of all the things that say or suggest it’s permissible to do things that we now understand shouldn’t ever be done ever. Like, the Judah and Tamar story, it’s a good story, I want to keep it, but it has nasty implications about the proper place of women.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     Preferably, it’d look much the way it does now, only at the end of every book it would say “But those were harsh and backward times, and we can do better.”

  • Jurgan

     The point is that it’s the regressives and patriarchs who are messing with the canon.  We’re not saying that we should rewrite large sections, simply that we should reconsider our interpretations.  In many cases, it may turn out the politically liberal interpretation is actually more orthodox, and the politically conservative interpretation is radical.

  • Mark Z.

    The last chapter of Thom Stark’s The Human Faces of God (which I highly recommend) engages with this question:

    What are we to do with those texts we find ourselves wanting to condemn? While the scriptures advocate monotheism, the dissolution of the sacrificial system, and the love of enemy, they also advocate a polytheistic tribalism, human sacrifice, and religiously motivated genocide, among other deplorable things. What should our strategy for dealing with these damnable texts be? Should we simply ignore them? Excise them from our canon? The only honest answer to the question I have been able to come up with is this: they must be retained as scripture, precisely as condemned texts. Their status as condemned is exactly their scriptural value. That they are condemned is what they reveal to us about God. The texts themselves depict God as a genocidal dictator, as a craver of blood. But we must condemn them in our engagement with them—sometimes with guidance from other passages of scripture, sometimes without.

  • Carstonio

    I see your point. I was suggesting that gender equality is more important than scripture and that perhaps one should be prepared to disregard the latter if necessary. It may be more likely that Evans may not be able to save evangelicalism from patriarchy, and that she and like-minded evangelicals like Fred could establish their own denomination and leave the sexists to stew in their own juices.

  • http://twitter.com/upsidedwnworld Rebecca Trotter

    What I find most interesting about this is how very ugly many of the complimentarians are being towards Rachel Held-Evans. There seems to be an inability to simply respond to the pros and cons of the book without name calling, being dismissive, calling her faith into question and saying things that are self-evidently false (Mr. Carter over on the Evangelical channel starts his review by saying that Evans has a “low view of scripture” for example). In the process, I think that they are doing more to discredit complimentarian ideology than the book itself ever could. By their fruit you will know them.

  • ReverendRef

     There seems to be an inability to simply respond to the pros and cons of
    the book without name calling, being dismissive, calling her faith into
    question and saying things that are self-evidently false

    Ah . . . christian luvs at its finest.  They have to respond with name calling and dismissing her faith because slander, libel, defamation (whatever you want to call it) is all they have to go on.  They can’t possibly argue intelligently with her because 1) she’s a woman and not worth a decent argument; 2) she challenges all the “right” answers that “everybody” knows; and 3) if they were to respond appropriately, they might actually learn that they are either wrong or that there’s another possible interpretation.

    When I wrote a letter addressing the problematic issues of the Family Research Council and the American Family Association, the outpouring of . . . christian luv . . . was amazing.  Every criticism, every alternative interpretation, every different thought is looked at as an attack on Christianity and God; and the only people who do that are obviously baby-killing, flag-burning antichrists.

    And all I can think when I hear these people spout off (other than wishing they would just stfu) is: “Man, it must be hard to live with so much hate.”

  • AnonymousSam

    Not to mention fear, since this kind of demagoguery seems to go hand in hand with the threats of divine consequences, the warnings that the UN will assume control of the US, the cries that the guvmin’ comin’ for our guns!…

    It must be exhausting.

  • P J Evans

     I once asked a woman on my train, who was afraid of everything she heard on the news, if she ever got tired of being afraid all the time.
    (She lives in a town with a larger-than-usual population of police, deputy sheriffs, and firefighters, and she was afraid that someone would stage a driveby shooting at her nail salon.)

  • Lori

     

    she was afraid that someone would stage a driveby shooting at her nail salon.   

    This is not a totally unreasonable fear, but it sounds like her reason for fearing it was wrong. It’s highly unlikely that gang members are just going to shoot up the place at ransom. It’s statistically unlikely, but far from unheard of that the abusive husband or boyfriend of one of her employees or customers could shoot up the place in an attempt to kill said employee/customer. Nail salons being an almost exclusively female domain tend to attract more than their fair share of trouble from abusive men.

  • P J Evans

    As I said, it’s a city with a larger-than-usual percentage of the population in law enforcement. I’ve never heard of a drive-by shooting there, and a drive-by on a nail salon would be very unusual. (Husbands/boyfriends seem to prefer to walk in and start shooting.)

  • patter

    “…uppity women thinking, talking, writing and asking questions without
    official permission from their husbands and pastors and bishops.” 

    Like, um, say, Vashti (from earlier Chick-fil-a post)?

  • Victor

    DISTANCE UNIT NOT SPEED UNIT Biblical Womanhood’: Christian patriarchs trying to blow out a bonfire!?
     
    WHAT WILL THEY BE THINKING NEXT FRED?”I’M” not sure NOW! Maybe gay marriages and “UP HER T”He Woman” butt if given a chance and “IF” Mittens is given his way, he’ll probably want to talk about Abortion again! :)STOP “it” sinner vic! That’s not funny! Sorry Victor! :(SURE YOU ARE!?PEACE

  • Victor

    Please ask Fred’s readers to forgive me Victor cause I actually meant for ya to write  “UP “IT” He Woman” !

    Don’t worry about “IT” sinner vic cause no body reads your comments any longer cause “The Bible Gods” who are known as the spiritual CIA have their eyes on ya NOW!

    http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saintofday/default.aspx

    WHAT ARE YA TALKING ABOUT VICTOR? :)

    Peace

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    I suppose it is a bit too much to ask that the wives of these complimentarian Powers That Be rise up in response to Rachel’s book and strike down their husbands in a Bolshevik-style feminist revolution, with the intent to form a gender equitable paradise.  

    Implausible and needlessly heavy-handed, but *sigh* it just paints such a beautiful picture in my head… 

  • banancat

    The burden isn’t on women to make their husbands act better.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    The burden isn’t on women to make their husbands act better.

    Oh, I would never claim such.  But the idea of their “submissive” wives rejecting them unequivocally has a certain appeal.  After all, those women are the people most directly affected by the husband’s patriarchal views, and for them to directly reject them sends a pretty strong signal to these men that society itself refuses their ideals.  

  • MaryKaye

    EllieMurasaki wrote: 

    Dammit now I’m trying to remember how that one Umbridge speech went. In
    context it was pretty nasty, but out of context my memory says it was
    straightforward enough ‘keep the good things whether old or new, be rid
    of the bad things whether old or new’.

    One of the things that bugs me about _Harry Potter_ is that I think Hogwarts badly needs reforming; a lot of things about it are really evil and could be improved.  But the speeches about how things need to be improved…are put in Umbridge’s mouth.  Or Hermione’s, in a subplot that mainly seems to exist to make fun of Hermione.  And at the end there’s a rah-rah reaffirmation of The Way Things Are.  The  epilogue of _Deathly Hallows_ left me with a very sour taste in my mouth.

  • EllieMurasaki

    There was a really creepy fic about the way the epilogue reflected nothing having changed, but I do not recall title or author.

    There’s also a fic idea that got tossed about a bit but never as far as I know written; the bit I remember is a Slytherin caught sight of Harry’s hand after an Umbridge detention and she added Harry to her list of people Umbridge was torturing in detention, with the intent of picking up a few more such people and then going public, expecting that the public backlash would take care of Umbridge. Idea being that Slytherin may be sneaky and ambitious but those don’t mean nasty or evil.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    There’s quite a few OotP centered fics that involve Harry being romantically linked with Daphne Greengrass or Tracey Davis. One such is this one:

    http://www.fanfiction.net/s/4334542/1/The-Grass-Is-Always-Greener

    (TW: Attempted rape in the first chapter by Qenpb Znysbl.)

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Idea being that Slytherin may be sneaky and ambitious but those don’t mean nasty or evil.

    We see some hints of that in the books, particularly toward the end of the series.  I think that it also represents Rowling’s ideas that the books were to grow along with the audience.  Slytherin very early on seems to be a pretty clear-cut antagonistic rivals to heroic Griffindor to a young and more simple Harry.  However, as he ages and learns more, things become less black and white and a lot more grey gets introduced, reflecting Harry’s own growth.  

    Slughorn was a particular example.  Someone who came through Slytherin because he was attracted to power, but not out of personal ambition.  He is someone who wanted to see others succeed, and felt a great deal of pride in the knowledge that his influence could help those people realize their potential.  It did not hurt that such connections afforded him a lot of comfort in his lifestyle.  Of course, there is a lot about Snape revealed in the last book which casts a lot of his previous actions into a much more positive light.  Despite being head of Slytherin for most of the series run, his courage and integrity proved to be the equal of any Griffindor.  

    Likewise, by the epilogue Harry seemed to have gotten over his childhood rivalry with Draco.  They might not be friends, but it does seem like they have at least earned each other’s respect.  And Harry himself seems to regard Slytherin house in a more positive light as well, reassuring his child that if the sorting hat were to put them in Slytherin, then Slytherin would be gaining a great wizard.  

  • Darkrose

    At the same time, we never see any Slytherins joining the “good guys”. The final battle seems to be the Death Eaters and their kids–all Slytherins–against everyone else. Despite her intended message, I definitely got the sense that it was okay to be judgemental about Slytherins, because they were all jerks anyway.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Slughorn was on the right side. Or at least I remember him insisting that everyone remember that Slytherin did its part.

  • Darkrose

    I could be wrong. I only read DH once, and I never actually finished HBP. I remember reading the last half of DH and thinking, “So basically, the Slytherins are still jerks. Nice.” But I’m biased, since I inevitably sort into Slytherin.

  • Tricksterson

    Slughorn is the Slytherin’s Token Good (more or less) Teammate and in the final book the Malfoys turn, if not good, neutral.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Come to that, wasn’t it Narcissa who checked to see whether Harry was alive, and then told everyone he was dead because when she asked about Draco Harry said he was fine? And we don’t know Narcissa’s House that I recall but it’s probably a safe guess she was a Slytherin.

  • Darkrose

    I read that as an underscoring of the “Mothers are awesome!” message, that even a horrible woman like Narcissa will do anything for her son. 

    It wasn’t just the last book, for me. It’s that we never see a Slytherin being truly heroic. Even Snape is still a jerk in sacrifice. The message about not judging people based on their parentage is, for me, undermined by the aside that it’s okay to judge those kids who got sorted into the House that everyone hates.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Okay, fair.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    “Evil”? I wouldn’t go that far regarding the status quo there. I mean shit, the story arc’s based on the basic idea that Adults are Useless, which is a staple of teenage-oriented fiction, so you expect the basic aspects of the education system to be comically exaggerated for certain effect. Like the history teacher being deadly dull and boring, and the potions professor being a prat to all and sundry except the one or two kids he wants to kiss up to because he knows their rich daddies.

  • http://www.oliviareviews.com/ PepperjackCandy

     Not to mention the theological implications of the resurrection of Harry at the end.

    Clearly Jesus had the invisibility cloak, since he was able to walk in on gatherings of the disciples, and sneak up on Saul on the road to Damascus, without them seeing him until he removed the cloak.  History, however, does not relate who eventually disarmed him of the Elder Wand.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    He also had the Resurrection Stone somehow :)

  • Victor

    (((He also had the Resurrection Stone somehow :) )))http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8DJ_-PX9n-8WHAT DO YA MEAN BY THAT sinner vic. They are just kidding about Our Lord and Savior cause Fred would make sure that they have respect for HIM.You think so Victor? :)Peace

  • vsm

    But the speeches about how things need to be improved…are put in Umbridge’s mouth.
    When right-wing politicians (and Umbridge is a blatant Tory) start talking about reform, you know what follows is likely going to be something terrible. That’s the context I read Umbridge’s speech in.

    In general, Wizarding Britain is a terrible place. There’s no democracy, the mainstream media is in bed with the government, there have been two coups by a far-right group within a period of twenty years, no one even bothers to hide their racism and classism, the justice system feeds convicts to demons… Compared to all that, Hogwarts starts to look like a pretty nice place.

  • MaryKaye

    Invisible Neutrino writes: 

    “Evil”? I wouldn’t go that far regarding the status quo there. I mean
    shit, the story arc’s based on the basic idea that Adults are Useless,
    which is a staple of teenage-oriented fiction, so you expect the basic
    aspects of the education system to be comically exaggerated for certain
    effect. Like the history teacher being deadly dull and boring, and the
    potions professor being a prat to all and sundry except the one or two
    kids he wants to kiss up to because he knows their rich daddies.

    My biggest problems boil down to (a) there are few or no safeguards in place to prevent bullying, even lethal bullying, of students by teachers or other students, and (b) the House competitions seem designed to teach students to behave badly.

    Rowling shows clearly that this leads to awful situations at school–dead kids, just to start with–and in the long run wizardly society riddled with Death Eaters and a government that employs Dementors and routinely sends innocents to Azkhaban.  But then she suddenly forgets this at the end and portrays a situation only cosmetically changed from what it was as a “happy ending” longterm.

    Also, I’m a teacher myself.  I will stand by characterizing Snapes’ teaching as evil.  In the course of (somewhat ineffectually) teaching Potions he mainly teaches that sucking up to power, however unjust or cruel, is the way to succeed, and that you should stab your friends to promote yourself.  This is the Death Eater philosophy.  Snape may reject Voldemort but he is fundamentally of Voldemort’s kind.  (I say that as someone who likes Snape, as a character, a great deal.  But the system should not be set up to make such men teachers.)

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Not arguing about Snape.

    Also, what FearlessSon said about the Bildungsroman nature of JKR’s books.

  • vsm

    Snape may reject Voldemort but he is fundamentally of Voldemort’s kind.
    Snape’s teaching methods is an interesting topic. He’s a genius at his field (based on HBP), but he apparently refuses to share his insights with his students and prefers to torment them. It’s not entirely clear how much it’s his real personality and how much it’s him being a double agent.

    In any case, I suspect keeping up Snape’s cover contributed greatly to the school’s problems. You can hardly fight bullying effectively when you’ve apparently decided to have one of the teachers participate in it to let him build up trust with the worst kids. It certainly succeeded, but it also meant the school gave up on children who were likely to join the Death Eaters because of their backgrounds and enabled them to bully others. Pretty cold guy, that Dumbledore.

    I like to think McGonagall worked Slytherin over to make it a bit less of a hotbed of racist extremism, thought it might have been smarter to disband it. In any case, the ending seems to imply the old Slytherin/Gryffindor rivalry is dying down.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I like to think McGonagall worked Slytherin over to make it a bit less of a hotbed of racist extremism, thought it might have been smarter to disband it.

    Until the moment Dumbledore–not even five minutes before the awarding of the House Cup for the year–started handing Gryffindor points related to the Stone adventure, Slytherin was winning the Cup for the eighth year in a row. That does not in any way suggest that Slytherin was suffering any penalty for the views and behavior that Slytherins as depicted tend to display.

  • vsm

    Fearless Son:
    There were also a lot of rumors late in the books that despite his
    benevolent air in his old age, he was much more ruthless when young.

    As
    a young man, he wanted Wizards to rule Muggles “for the greater good”.
    At the end of his life, he spent six years turning a child into a sacrificial lamb without his knowledge. He seems to have believed in the sanctifying powers of the end all his life. The fun thing is that the books suggest he was absolutely right.

    EllieMurasaki:
    That does not in any way suggest that Slytherin was suffering any
    penalty for the views and behavior that Slytherins as depicted tend to
    display.

    I meant to say once McGonagall became headmistress, but somehow that slipped out. Sorry for being unclear.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Come to think, I’ve heard the theory that Slytherin wasn’t all about the racist Dark Magic nonsense until starting sometime in the school years of one Tom Riddle.

  • MaryKaye

    vsm writes: 

    In general, Wizarding Britain is a terrible place. There’s no democracy,
    the mainstream media is in bed with the government, there have been two
    coups by a far-right group within a period of twenty years, no one even
    bothers to hide their racism and classism, the justice system feeds
    convicts to demons… Compared to all that, Hogwarts starts to look like
    a pretty nice place.

    No disagreement.  I would only point out that the vast majority of the people in power are in fact Hogwarts graduates (or graduates of the other schools, which seem no better).  You see Hogwarts’ bad qualities as symptomatic of its bad society, but I am inclined to see them as *causal*.  People are rotten because they were trained to be rotten.

    I have never managed to read _Halfblood Prince_ for some reason (I’ve read all the others) but my understanding is that Voldemort became a monster at Hogwarts, and not independently of how Hogwarts treated him.

    I acknowledge that not all Slytherins are bad, but putting a child in Slytherin seems to be tatamount to attempting to make him so–it’s a credit to him if he doesn’t succumb, but that’s no excuse.

    Maybe I am colored by having read George Orwell’s and CS Lewis’ accounts of their British public schooling, which talk about a lot of the same stuff…and make it a nightmare.  Orwell certainly felt that his generation had been damaged by the experience.  I’m inclined to think the same of Harry’s generation, and even more so his parents’.

  • EllieMurasaki

    my understanding is that Voldemort became a monster at Hogwarts, and not independently of how Hogwarts treated him.

    He was a nasty piece of work before he got there–I recall one of the adults running his orphanage mentioning another kid’s pet rabbit strung up by its neck from the rafters, for example. Which doesn’t mean Hogwarts didn’t make things worse.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     

    You see Hogwarts’ bad qualities as symptomatic of its bad society, but I am inclined to see them as *causal*.  People are rotten because they were trained to be rotten. 

    It’s an interesting question. Not about the fictional Hogwarts, where there is no real fact of the matter and in any case nothing important is at stake, but more generally about schools. To what extent do school systems reflect (and therefore reinforce) their cultures, and to what extent do they create (and therefore, potentially, change) their cultures?

    I don’t really know how to even begin thinking about answering this question, but it does seem like an awfully useful one to answer in a reliable way.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_2CUJHSQSQYTYT4DPZSKTVESYNQ B

    I enjoyed the Harry Potter books up until the last one, but I pretty much agree with Ursula LeGuin’s remark that the books were: “ethically rather mean-spirited.”

    Certainly they’ve always struck me as books whose underlying moral message boiled down to things like, “Friendship is important” and “Don’t kill people.” 

    But as far as things like ethical use of power?  Not so much.  Especially against non-magic-users: the books never take any real issue with the idea that it’s OK to look down one’s nose at Muggles and as long as you don’t kill Muggles it’s considered perfectly acceptable to use magic on them in what I’d consider blatantly inappropriate ways (erasing their memories for your convenience, for example).

    As far as Snape goes — I was a big fan (the fact he died in such a stupid useless manner was one of things I disliked about the last book) but the fact that Dumbledore for even ONE SECOND thought that putting him in charge of a classroom full of children was a good idea suggests to me that Dumbledore was NOT a good headmaster.

    So there’s the ethics again: Dumbledore is treated as practically a saint by the books, despite the fact he was willing to inflict Snape as a teacher on hapless children for YEARS just so he could have Snape conveniently at hand.  A person looking out for the children (or for that matter for Snape) would have found a different potions instructor and put Snape in some other position where he was easily contactable (and shipped him off to therapy in the bargain).
     

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    So there’s the ethics again: Dumbledore is treated as practically a saint by the books, despite the fact he was willing to inflict Snape as a teacher on hapless children for YEARS just so he could have Snape conveniently at hand.  A person looking out for the children (or for that matter for Snape) would have found a different potions instructor and put Snape in some other position where he was easily contactable (and shipped him off to therapy in the bargain).

    Ah, but that is one of the interesting things about Dumbledore: despite Harry’s perception of him, in the end he was not a saint.  Hell, from the very beginning he was grooming Harry to be killed because only after Harry was dead could Voldemort be made killable.  Understandably, he kept this detail from Harry for as long as he could, or from anyone else for that matter except Snape.  

    There were also a lot of rumors late in the books that despite his benevolent air in his old age, he was much more ruthless when young.  He was hardly saintly, despite the image he carefully cultivated.  

    I think that this makes him a more interesting character overall.  Hell, he admits that there were a lot of things he was mistaken on, both in his youth and in his age, and despite his apparent kindness he was willing to do some rather ugly deeds to do what he considered had to be done.  

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_2CUJHSQSQYTYT4DPZSKTVESYNQ B

     

    Ah, but that is one of the interesting things about Dumbledore: despite Harry’s perception of him, in the end he was not a saint.  Hell, from the very beginning he was grooming Harry to be killed
    because only after Harry was dead could Voldemort be made killable.
     Understandably, he kept this detail from Harry for as long as he could,
    or from anyone else for that matter except Snape.

    Dunno.  I haven’t re-read the books since the last book came out, but my recollection is that you could basically sort the characters in “good” or “bad/misguided” just by whether they thought Dumbledore was the greatest thing since sliced bread. 

    To me that suggests that Rowling did genuinely intend us to take him as being wonderful if not perfect.

  • vsm

    Dumbledore is a political figure who led the only effective resistance movement to Voldemort, so it’s not terribly surprising he’s rather popular among those who didn’t much feel like being ruled by V, and unpopular among those who did. That said, several good-aligned characters are highly critical of his actions, including Hermione, Snape and Aberforth.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     Sure, but the “good” characters who are heavily critical of Dumbledore consist of a girl who is repeatedly depicted as being a judgmental busybody who repeatedly fails to appreciate the complexities of moral situations in favor of a holier-than-thou attitude, and is constantly mocked for it; Snape; and a guy who has sex with goats.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Uh, strictly speaking I think Aberforth’s problem was inappropriate charms on goats, the nature of which is never specified.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    The way JKR phrased it – she asked the asker’s age and then came up with an answer that was so obviously tailored to be read on multiple levels that it’s pretty blatantly obvious that Aberforth was doing a little more than just trying to make goats have colored fur or something.

  • vsm

    Ross:
    Their criticisms were presented as reasonable, however. Hermione points out that telling three teenagers to save the world while giving no instructions how was not a smart thing to do, Snape objects to how Dumbledore treats Harry as a tool, and Aberforth is upset about how Dumbledore’s flirtation with evil overlordism resulted in their sister’s death. Besides, Hermione had largely gotten over her holier-than-thou tendencies by this point and inappropriate charms aside, Aberforth was a heroic person who saved Harry kept the resistance at Hogwarts supplied. As for Snape, when he of all people thinks you’re treating someone badly, there just might be something to it.

    PepperjackCandy:
    I honestly thought that if you want to go 20 you step lightly, if you want to go 30, you step harder
    …It doesn’t work like that?

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I think what PepperJackCandy was saying was that PepperJackCandy thought you only needed to push the pedal once, not hold it down to keep the throttle open so the car would move at a steady speed.

  • http://www.oliviareviews.com/ PepperjackCandy

    I knew you had to hold the pedal down, but I didn’t realize that the heaviness with which you press determines, not your speed, but how fast you get to that speed.  So, if you want to get to, say 35 miles an hour (which I did the first time I pulled out of a parking lot ever in my life) I thought that you would have to press down fairly hard.   I thought that pressing lightly would only get me to 15 or 20 and then I would stay at that speed until I pressed harder.

    And I’m a “she.”

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Ah, thank you. Sorry for putting words in your mouth.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     That’s one reading of it. My reading of it is that Rowling put the arguments that she couldn’t adequately counter in the mouths of people we would have other reasons to dismiss in order to handwave them away — a sort of preemptive ‘Well maybe you’re technically correct, but you’re still ugly so shut up”

  • Beroli

     …Putting an argument in Hermione’s mouth was a way of handwaving it away?

    We didn’t read the same books. And I find myself wondering who–other than Albus Dumbledore himself!–could have made criticisms of Dumbledore that you wouldn’t be treating as “handwaved away.”

  • vsm

    It’s not like Rowling had to write Dumbledore in a way that made it very easy to question his ethics. The subplot about his youth, for instance, was only introduced in the last book and could have easily been left out if Rowling wanted to depict him as the best guy ever.

  • Carstonio

    I thought at first that the “girl” you were describing was Rita Skeeter and her hatchet job biography of Dumbledore.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     What I find more interesting is that *Rowling* apparently saw nothing *surprising* about the way things work at Hogwarts — not that she approved of it as an alternative to reality, but that she didn’t even see it as being something unusual.

    And ultimately, it’s not all that different from the entire rest of the genre of “British Boarding School Boys’ Adventure”. I’m pretty sure I’ve read scads of other children’s books which just take for granted that one’s school days are full of physical and mental abuse from students and teachers alike with no possibility of recourse

  • Mark Z.

    And ultimately, it’s not all that different from the entire rest of the genre of “British Boarding School Boys’ Adventure”. I’m pretty sure I’ve read scads of other children’s books which just take for granted that one’s school days are full of physical and mental abuse from students and teachers alike with no possibility of recourse

    It’s interesting that as a British author Rowling would default to that, though it’s not really surprising. The story-function of the abuse in those books is to toughen up the hero and bond him with his schoolmates. He can’t escape or stop the abuse, so he has to survive by developing the Approved Manly Virtues of tenacity, cunning, and leadership.

    But in American culture, the Approved Manly Virtues include retribution, and abuse is there to be resisted, not patiently endured. So when an American writes “Boarding School Boys’ Adventure”, we get Ender’s Game: the hero suffers physical and mental abuse from students and teachers alike, until one day he loses his shit and beats his tormentor to death in the shower. And that’s the end of the abuse.

  • Amaryllis

     So when an American writes “Boarding School Boys’ Adventure”, we get Ender’s Game:
    the hero suffers physical and mental abuse from students and teachers
    alike, until one day he loses his shit and beats his tormentor to death
    in the shower. And that’s the end of the abuse.

    Yes, when (many) Americans write fantasy adventure, they somehow manage to write it so that the hero has just no choice about resorting to  total-annihilation violence.

    I’m not sure that that’s either morally or aesthetically preferable.

    (It’s a long time since I read that book; did Ender actually “lose his shit”? I seem to recall that that beating, although it may not to have been intended to result in death, was at least partially planned in advance?)

  • Carstonio

    That may be a holdover from the frontier mythology.

  • EllieMurasaki

    It’s a long time since I read that book; did Ender actually “lose his shit”? I seem to recall that that beating, although it may not to have been intended to result in death, was at least partially planned in advance?
    I can’t remember about the one that killed Bonzo, but the one that killed whatshisface the kid before Ender hit sky school, that was not planned. Ender’d just run out of patience and hadn’t any idea that the other kid would die; he wanted to hit the kid hard enough to stop not just that bullying session but all the next ones, but that’s it. I don’t think he did find out the kid died until years and years later.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     > that beating, although it may not to have been intended to result in death, was at least partially planned in advance?

    It’s been a long time for me as well, but IIRC it was somewhere in between: Ender is presented as having allowed his supposedly superior tactical skills to lapse for just long enough to allow the situation to develop, which totally was therefore not-his-fault-really-honest so we can keep using the relaxed ethical standards we use when judging likable-underdog protagonists, and then he decided he had to actually seriously beat the crap out of his assailant so as to teach everyone a lesson, which is best in the long run.

    More generally, Ender’s Game devotes a lot of narrative effort to framing Ender as ethically acceptable. E.g., to prevent the reader from
    asking “Wait, if he’s such a tactical genius/natural commander/yadda
    yadda, why is he so easily manipulated into allowing so many of the other students to be his enemies?”

    It mostly is successful at this, which requires some skill; it’s actually possible to read the whole book and still think of Ender as basically a decent kid rather than a monster.

    No doubt tvtropes has a lot to say about this.

  • Lori

     

    “Wait, if he’s such a tactical genius/natural commander/yadda
    yadda, why is he so easily manipulated into allowing so many of the other students to be his enemies?”  

    It’s been a long,long time since I read the book, but isn’t the answer to that tactical genius or not Ender is a kid, with a kid’s lack of experience and perspective, in a situation where his knowledge is controlled by the adults around him?

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     (nods) Right, exactly.  He’s set up as in tension with a powerful opponent (at first the adults, as you say, and the Buggers later on), and the currents of that opposition are narratively manipulated in such a way as to conveniently allow key events (e.g., the shower fight, the kamikaze attacks on Bugger fleets, the ultimate use of the DR device) to occur without Ender having to demonstrate agency regarding them, and therefore without seeming to accept moral culpability for them. 

    “Protagonist mercilessly annihilates opponent without incurring moral culpability” is a popular narrative. I imagine tvtropes has a catchy name for it somewhere.

    The thing is: in real life, if I’m powerful enough to mercilessly annihilate an opponent (whether it’s hospitalizing a schoolyard bully or genociding an entire race), I’m usually powerful enough to avoid having to. 

    But “protagonist cooperates with more powerful opponent” isn’t as popular a narrative. (More’s the pity.) Schindler’s List manages to pull this off, for example, but it has to invoke the nuclear option of immoral antagonists to do it. And “protagonist willingly annihilates opponent despite having other options” is also unpopular in Card’s target audience (thank heaven for small favors), though there are genres where it’s pretty popular. So the narrative has to construct a scenario that straddles the line… the protagonist has to be powerful enough to make annihilating the opponent plausible, but powerless enough to lack agency about doing so.

    It’s a tricky narrative construction to get right, precisely because it’s almost
    completely implausible. But it’s indispensible for this kind of story.
    We’ve explored some of the ways to get it wrong as part of the Left
    Behind deconstruction here, which causes the protagonists there to frequently come off as monsters unless we fully embrace the book’s narrative frame.

    Card mostly gets it right in Ender’s
    Game, though; we have to really fight the narrative frame to see Ender as a monster, even though if we were outside his head looking in we’d likely judge him that way. (As, indeed, do most of his fictional contemporaries.)

    I have developed a strong aversion to “Protagonist mercilessly annihilates opponent without incurring moral culpability” as a narrative convention, along with its easier-to-write cousin “Protagonist’s opponent is conveniently annihilated by an accidental event, or as a natural result of their own action.”

  • Lori

     

    The thing is: in real life, if I’m powerful enough to mercilessly
    annihilate an opponent (whether it’s hospitalizing a schoolyard bully or
    genociding an entire race), I’m usually powerful enough to avoid having to.  

    There’s a difference between having power and knowing one’s on power, even IRL. Unless I’m remembering it totally wrong Ender didn’t know that he was committing actual genocide. His was clearly a kid with some really serious issues or things would have gone quite differently than they did, but those issues weren’t all of his own making. Yes Card did that on purpose, and did it well, but that doesn’t mean that the situation is totally unrelated to the real world. I did social work with teens, some of whom were headed into or out of juvenile detention because they committed serious crimes. The issue of whether those kids were monsters isn’t fictional or hypothetical.

    If a bullied kid IRL fights back and seriously injures the bully then yes, clearly that kid had some power in the situation. That’s not actually proof that the kid had the power to get the bully to back off some other way or to get adults to help. In Ender’s situation he had no reason to believe that he could make either of those things happen.

     

    we have to really fight the narrative frame to see Ender as a
    monster, even though if we were outside his head looking in we’d likely
    judge him that way.   

    I think calling Ender a monster is perhaps fighting the frame a bit too hard. Again, it’s been a long time since I read the book and details are fuzzy but my recollection is that Ender is less a monster than a seriously f’ed up kid manipulated by adults who are arguably monsters.

  • Mark Z.

    That’s not actually proof that the kid had the power to get the bully to back off some other way or to get adults to help. In Ender’s situation he had no reason to believe that he could make either of those things happen. … Again, it’s been a long time since I read the book and details are fuzzy but my recollection is that Ender is less a monster than a seriously f’ed up kid manipulated by adults who are arguably monsters.

    IIRC this was more explicit in Ender’s Shadow, but the reason Ender couldn’t get the adults to help, or get the bully to back off some other way, was that the adults had engineered the fight in the first place.

    In the little snippets of conversation between the teachers that we see, they keep talking, approvingly, about how vicious Ender is. He’s killed one kid in a fight already,* by accident, and then his solution to the Giant’s Drink puzzle (in the video game) is to rip out the giant’s eye, and then the fight with Bonzo. Every time, they praise his “killer instinct”, and after the last one they rush him off to command training. Hmm, it’s almost like they were waiting to see him kill someone so they knew he was right for the job.

    Which is odd, because the plan is to tell him that the whole war is just a simulation right up until he wins. So why does “killer instinct” matter? Couldn’t they just find the world’s greatest Starcraft player and put him in command of the fleet?

    …No, because that’s not his entire function. They’ve armed the fleet with weapons that will blow up a planet. It’s obvious that the I.F. intends to end this war by annihilating the Buggers. So the reason they need someone else to give the order is to relieve their guilt over committing genocide. It wasn’t us! He pushed the button! And they need him to be a child so that he’ll implicitly trust them enough to push the button without second thoughts.

    Of course they still carry the guilt over conning him into it. But if you believe that “killer instinct” is a thing, and you’ve satisfied yourself that this particular child has it (by manipulating him into killing someone), then you can absolve yourself of that crime under the theory that if Ender had known what he was doing, he would have wiped out the Buggers anyway, because the kid’s a killer, y’know.

    * And so has Bean. For all we know, everyone in Battle School has killed someone already.

  • Lori

    This is my recollection too. The adults had a big picture plan (genocide) and they needed someone to figure out the details and implement it for them. They took smart, but very troubled kids and manipulate dthem in order to discover or create someone for the job. What they ended up with Ender and his agency really was limited.  He’s neither a monster nor a hero, because he can’t be.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     

    Which is odd, because the plan is to tell him that the whole war is just a simulation right up until he wins. So why does “killer instinct” matter? Couldn’t they just find the world’s greatest Starcraft player and put him in command of the fleet?

    One possibility is that someone with more of an aversion to killing might be more likely to react to the little clues that the “game” isn’t just a game, rather than brush them aside until it’s conveniently too late to do anything about it.

  • Lori

    I feel like we’re going in circles a bit now. The only reason it would be convenient, as opposed to tragic,  for Ender to miss the clues that the simulations have stopped and he’s really killing Buggers is if he wants to commit mass murder, but doesn’t want to admit it. Otherwise it’s a mistake made by a child in a very weird situation, under tremendous pressure, with knowledge carefully limited by others. The evidence that he really does want to commit mass murder is that he conveniently misses the clues. And around and around we go.

    I think it’s far to say that a less screwed up kid might have asked more questions about the simulations and would have cared more about their potential applications than about winning. I don’t think that’s at all the same thing as being perfectly willing to commit genocide.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    Sorry for my sloppy wording; what I meant was, convenient for the narrative. I guess part of the issue here is that I’m viewing Ender’s Game as a story that Card is telling, and the important ethical issue is what the effect of that story is on its readers. The destruction of the Buggers and the abuse of Ender are not important ethical considerations for me, because neither the Buggers nor Ender ever existed.

    But I agree with everything you say about those fictional entities. In particular, I agree that Ender has no desire to commit genocide, nor would he choose to if given the choice.

  • Lori

     

    But I agree with everything you say about those fictional entities. In
    particular, I agree that Ender has no desire to commit genocide, nor
    would he choose to if given the choice.   

    For me, this was the effect that the story had on me as a reader. I came away from it thinking that it was about manipulation and about thing like being careful not to get all your information, especially about your enemies, from one source. That was also pretty much the take-away for the friends with whom I’ve discussed the book.

    I don’t personally know anyone who saw Ender as heroic or thought that the genocide of the Buggers was OK or the sort of thing that should happen IRL. Do you?

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    > I don’t personally know anyone who saw Ender as heroic [..] Do you?

    Yes, I personally know people who saw Ender as the hero of that story.

    > I don’t personally know anyone who [..] thought that
    the genocide of the Buggers was OK or the sort of thing that should
    happen IRL. Do you?

    I personally know people who believe that exterminating the enemy is at least morally acceptable, and in some cases a moral obligation. I’ve never discussed Ender’s Game with them, so I suppose it’s possible they’d consider genociding the Buggers an exception for some reason, but I don’t consider it likely.

    More generally, I know a lot of people who believe that violently striking down their opposition is a success condition to be proud of. Perhaps I’m wrong about Ender’s Game, like all other variations of the Protagonist Annihilates Enemy Without Agency trope, ultimately encouraging that idea; it’s hard to be sure about institutional effects like that, but it seems pretty clear to me.

    Regardless, if neither you nor anyone you know were affected in this way, I’m pleased.

  • Tricksterson

    Given that they had no way of knowing that the Bugs weren’t omnicidal maniacs I can see their point, if not how hey went about it, ie the manipulation of innocent.  IIRc the fact that this was all a clusterfuck stemmig from a failure to communicate was meant as a take that to Heinlein’s Starshi Troopers

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     Yes, I agree that Card set up a situation in which his characters didn’t have many options. That’s a common narrative technique for performing the kind of storytelling trick I’m describing Card as performing.

    And, yes, Starship Troopers is much more problematic this way.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    Ender didn’t know that he was committing actual genocide.

    Yes, that’s true. As I say, the narrative is set up so he lacks agency.

    If a bullied kid IRL fights back and seriously injures the bully then yes, clearly that kid had some power in the situation. That’s not actually proof that the kid had the power to get the bully to back off some other way or to get adults to help.

    Yes, that’s true as well.

    In Ender’s situation he had no reason to believe that he could make either of those things happen.

    I’m not as certain of that as you sound, though I certainly agree that Card spins the story to make that seem true.

  • Mary Kaye

    It’s a tricky line to draw:  Harry approves of Dumbledore, but does the narrative voice approve of him?  Harry’s entitled to approve if he want to, but for the narrator to agree would be very offputting to me, given the things Dumbledore does.

    This is hard to settle, but my impression was that near the end of _Hallows_ the distinction is lost.  I did not like the conversation between Harry and Dumbledore while Voldemort’s soul is crying out at their feet one little bit.  Mythologically speaking, that act should have gotten them in trouble.  Instead it seems to be All Right. 

  • Tricksterson

    A subthee of the last book is Harry’s growing disillusionment with Dumbledore and his realization wthat while a good man he was a long way from being a perfect man.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_2CUJHSQSQYTYT4DPZSKTVESYNQ B

    I have to say that, despite the fact I was the one who brought it up in the first place, I’ve always seen jump-starting a car as being a fairly straightforward procedure that works like this:

    1) Consult the little instruction card attached to the jumper cables

    2) Do EXACTLY what the little card says to do in EXACTLY the order it says to do it in.

    This procedure has worked for me many times without incident, but now I’m wondering if I should be more worried. :-)

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Wow did this thread veer into sidetracks quickly :)

    I’m adding a couple of things to the list of stuff everyone should know how to do: change a washer and assemble flat-pack furniture.

    Not at school, though. I have a whole bunch of friends who are teachers and they tear their hair out every time someone says “why don’t they teach X at school?”

  • EllieMurasaki

    Fair enough, though I have a sneaking suspicion that if there were more teachers and if the existing curricula were more evenly distributed through the year, there’d be enough people and person-hours available to teach life skills. And for bonus points there’d be no need to spend the first month or two of each school year in review because everybody forgot everything over the two or three months of summer break, because more total school days means not nearly as long a summer break.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    We don’t have nearly as long a summer break as you guys, and don’t start the year reviewing what we learned last year. The curriculum is still jammed. The volume of academic content alone is huge, not to mention teachers’ assigned roles as counsellors, personal development coaches, relationship tutors, ethical guides, behaviour managers, vocational advisors etc etc. It’s a shocker of a job, and they’re continually harrassed for not doing the entire raising of a generation without any assistance from the kids’ actual parents.

    I’d like to see a bunch of educational opportunities made universally available outside schools, at the community level. Various local communities that I know of do this in patches, but I’d love for it to be more widespread–and not limited to those of school age. E.g. Saturdays at 11 there’s going to be a cooking class at the community centre, open to all. Sunday afternoons we’ll be doing basic car maintenance. Tuesday evenings we’ll discuss how to plan a household budget. And so on.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I’d like to see a bunch of educational opportunities made universally available outside schools, at the community level. Various local communities that I know of do this in patches, but I’d love for it to be more widespread–and not limited to those of school age. E.g. Saturdays at 11 there’s going to be a cooking class at the community centre, open to all. Sunday afternoons we’ll be doing basic car maintenance. Tuesday evenings we’ll discuss how to plan a household budget. And so on.

    I can work with that. I’m not sure how to ensure everyone has at least a passing familiarity with life skills if they’re not requirements for the high school diploma, but I like your thoughts a lot.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    The bonus, apart from not killing teachers, is that community-based education would be available to adults as well as teenagers, so all the people who fell through the cracks (or were already adults when the counterfactual school-based system was introduced) have the opportunity to pick up those skills, too.

    A real-life example is computer skills–basic computer usage is almost universal among young people and middle class adults, but some groups (like the elderly, migrants, and the poor) didn’t get the oppotunity to pick them up, putting them at a huge disadvantage in the job market and in general society. Local TAFEs run basic computer courses for adults that are very popular, but with the right wing sucking the funding out of TAFE these sorts of courses are becoming less available just as they are most needed.

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    As a non-driver, I’d like to propose that all the “things everyone should know” re: cars should be reserved for Driver’s Ed classes.

    Some years ago, when I was out of high school and having trouble finding employment, I attended some free courses at the Youth Employment Resource Centre which included things like how to act during a job interview and how to discuss a problem with your boss.  To me, a lot of it was, “Well, duh,” but I made mental notes anyway.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     

    As a non-driver, I’d like to propose that all the “things everyone
    should know” re: cars should be reserved for Driver’s Ed classes.

    When I took Driver’s Ed, they seemed genuinely flummoxed as to how to teach someone how to drive who’d never driven a car before. The entire class was based on the assumption that you already knew more-or-less how to drive from having driven illegally with your friends or parents, and just needed a bit of formal instruction to get you compliant.

  • http://www.oliviareviews.com/ PepperjackCandy

    Despite the fact that I had several months when it was actually legal for them to have taken me out to drive (I got the classroom portion during the school year, which ended with getting my learner’s permit but the behind-the-wheel portion was during the summer), my folks refused.  They wanted me to be taught by a professional.

    The professional in question was actually angry at me for “pretending” not to know how to drive (it took me  a while, for example, to figure out that I would get to the speed I wanted to get to regardless of how hard I stepped on the gas — I honestly thought that if you want to go 20 you step lightly, if you want to go 30, you step harder, etc.).  I put off going for my driver’s license test until the day before my blue slip expired.

  • Ursula L

    A big part of Dumbledore’s problems as headmaster is that he’s running the school, not as a school, but as his own political power base.  He won’t accept the job of Minister of Magic, where he could work directly to prepare for the return of Voldemort that he anticipates.  Instead, he uses the school.  

    So Snape stays a teacher, despite being horrible at it.  Because Dumbledore needs him, and wants to keep an eye on him.  Trelawny is kept around, as well, because she made the prophecy against Voldemort, and not necessarily because she’s generally effective at teaching Divination.  

    Right at the beginning, Dumbledore uses the school as a place to hide the Sorcerer’s/Philosopher’s Stone, knowing that the Stone will draw the attention of ruthless people who want it, and putting the students between any would-be thieves and the stone.  

    If Dumbledore, as he claimed at the end, knew that he couldn’t trust himself with political power, he should have actually stayed out of politics.  Or if he knew he needed to act politically, because of the grave danger of Voldemort’s return, then he should have done what was needed without getting the school and students involved.  

  • vsm

    Looking at all that, it’s surprising people didn’t realize Dumbledore was a stone cold utilitarian before the last book.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    You didn’t see all the Post-OotP manipulative!Dumbledore cliche fics that spammed the fandom, did you? :-P

  • Ursula L

    In “Order of the Phoenix” the Ministry had it right to increase oversight of the school, for the sake of the safety and quality of education of pretty much all of the magical children in Britain.  Because Dumbledore believed that Voldemort was back, and in believing that, would focus on that rather than on the quality of education the school was providing.

    The problem was, they chose Umbridge for that job.  And she was quite unsuited for the job, with no experience in education, and with no interest in promoting the quality of education.

    And they chose Umbridge because they saw Dumbledore’s failures at being an effective headmaster not, primarily, as educational failure, but as political threat.  It was both, of course.  But focusing on the educational failures would have given them a legitimate reason to remove Dumbledore as headmaster, while focusing on the political threat served to distract from the real educational problems at Hogworts.  

    What would have happened if the Ministry had approached, say,  Lupin  to do the job of auditing the quality of education at Hogworts?  Someone with at least some experience in education, and someone who was quite successful as an educator, but needing a certain amount of supervision to ensure that he could be a safe part of society?  Make Umbridge his assistant, with her obsessive orderliness put to the work of making sure he drinks his potion every month.  

  • EllieMurasaki

    What would have happened if the Ministry had approached, say, Lupin to do the job of auditing the quality of education at Hogworts? Someone with at least some experience in education, and someone who was quite successful as an educator, but needing a certain amount of supervision to ensure that he could be a safe part of society? Make Umbridge his assistant, with her obsessive orderliness put to the work of making sure he drinks his potion every month.

    Put a werewolf in charge of children, when he stopped being a teacher precisely because he got outed as a werewolf, and then put a known and quite vocal werewolf hater in charge of making sure his transformations are safe…I would pay money to see how someone could write that plausibly and without killing anybody.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    You did recall that Umbridge was known for holding racist and exclusivist viewpoints regarding “half-breeds”, right?

  • Beroli

    You did recall that Umbridge was known for holding racist and exclusivist viewpoints regarding “half-breeds”, right?

    Also, perfectly willing to break the law, sending dementors as a hit squad and using the Cruciatus Curse, in pursuit of her ends. If she was in charge of making sure Lupin drank his potion every month, it would be accidentally poisoned the first or second month.

  • Madhabmatics

    i don’t understand these wizard-words that are not about raistlin