‘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.

  • 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://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.  

  • 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.)

  • 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.  

  • 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).

  • 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

    “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://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.)

  • 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

  • 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

    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.

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

    proscribe: to prohibit.

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

  • Darkrose

    Ceiling Cat is watching you!

  • 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.

  • Michael Mock

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

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

    He also had the Resurrection Stone somehow :)

  • 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.  

  • 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.)

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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.)

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

    Not arguing about Snape.

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

  • 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).
     

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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://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.  

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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. 

  • 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.

  • 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.)

  • 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.

  • 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).

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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. :-)

  • Tricksterson

    Silly biot, missals have long since made canon obsolete.

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

  • Tricksterson

    But it should be.


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