Saturday salmagundi

• The yearbook staff at Buzzfeed have a nice collection of “The 45 Most Powerful Images of 2012.”

• UPS is really, really good at delivering packages to businesses. And UPS can be really, really awful at delivering packages to residences.

• I’m linking to this, because the Slacktivixen would never link to it herself.

• And for the record, I did not propose to my wife. I said yes when she proposed to me.

The thing I love about America is that it’s full of, you know, PEOPLE.

• It’s time for someone to #askpontifex whether he approves of the Panetta-Burns Plan.

• Wherein we learn that anti-Muslim activist and former general Jerry Boykin, vice president of the Family Research Council, has never read the Communist Manifesto.

• Terry Jones is a jackass, a bigot, and a reckless fool. He should be denounced, condemned, ridiculed, shunned and excommunicated. But he should not be sentenced to death. Civil blasphemy laws are always, themselves, blasphemous. Always.

• “Barack the Destroyer”: Your periodic reminder that Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association is a big ol’ racist, and proud of it.

• And here’s your periodic reminder that the New Hampshire state legislature is too big.

• Headline: “Australian scientists develop coconut-tasting pineapple.” Next project for the Department of Agriculture in Queensland: Developing health food for people who are into champagne.

• The problem here is that Sister Kathy Sherman’s singing is too gently sweet and the folkie arrangement of her song too mild and pleasant to really convey the words. Those lyrics — “Rise up, sisters, rise up … with holy fire in our eyes” should scare the pants off of the all-male hierarchy, but this gentle rendition isn’t scary enough. Somebody needs to rock this song and turn it into an angry “Missionary-Man”-era-Annie-Lennox type anthem.

• Survey: A year after changes in liturgy, 7 in 10 Catholics like the new translation. Maybe, but I still heard a lot of “And alsth your spirit” at the last Catholic service I attended.

• And speaking of Catholic terminology, I’ve used “sister” and “nun” interchangeably. That’s wrong. All nuns are sisters, but most sisters aren’t nuns. OK, then.

• That’s from a “canon lawyer.” Romans 13:10 is 15 words long. Canon law is much, much longer. Therein lies the problem.

• Here is more evidence of that problem: “In the United States, some bishops have withdrawn funding or support for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, an annual collection that funds anti-poverty programs, many of them with little or no direct connection to the church.”

Lying about vaccination is the opposite of pro-life.

• I didn’t pile on when Two and a Half Men co-star Angus T. Jones had an awkward spiritual awakening this week. He’s 19, give him room. I was disappointed, though, to hear the show’s creators confirm that his character is the “half” in the show’s title. I thought it referred to Charlie Sheen’s character, which was the one artistic touch I had found to admire in the show.

• Given my own tendency to screw this up, I was amused to read this in an article on copyediting and constitutions: “There is even an ‘it’s’ where ‘its’ is called for – see Article I, Section 10.”

And here it is:

No state shall, without the consent of the Congress, lay any imposts or duties on imports or exports, except what may be absolutely necessary for executing it’s inspection laws: and the net produce of all duties and imposts, laid by any state on imports or exports, shall be for the use of the treasury of the United States; and all such laws shall be subject to the revision and control of the Congress.

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  • Invisible Neutrino

    • UPS is really, really good at delivering packages to businesses. And UPS can be really, really awful at delivering packages to residences.

    Oh, God. UPS is especially a bugbear for Canadians when they order stuff from the USA. (>_<)

  • stardreamer42

     Around here, we refer to Fedex Ground as “Fedex Drop-And-Run”. They will deliver the package, but most of the time they’ll just leave it on the doorstep without even ringing the bell. I guess that beats not delivering it at all — but my opinion might be different if our neighborhood was one in which a package sitting on the doorstep was likely to be stolen.

  • Jessica_R

    Your friendly neighborhood reminder that our Heifer International page is still going, $115 so far! You guys are great. 

  • GDwarf

    Whenever I order packages from Amazon there’s about a 1 in 5 chance that it’ll be sent with UPS, instead of Canada Post. Whenever that happens it always takes them about three more days to actually get the package here (Canada Post has, more than once, gotten packages to me the next day. When I ordered them at 7PM. I’m not even very close to Amazon’s closest warehouse) and found it takes them longer to update their tracking information. Other than that, I’ve never had either them do the “no one home, even when you’re there”.

  • Carstonio

    How dare Fred slam Jones, who’s not only a respected member of the British comedy community but also a published scholar of medieval history, helping to debunk myths about both Chaucer and barbarians…

    …uh, never mind.

    (Seriously, between Sarah Palin and Rev. Jones, is American fundamentalism deliberately trying to defame Monty Python? Consider this post an apology to the Pythons on behalf of the US.)

  • Dash1

     So we need to keep our eyes peeled for an up-and-coming Tea Party Congressman named Cleese Chapman?

  • hidden_urchin

    Huh, I must just be lucky. The drivers would have an excuse at my place too considering that I have to put chairs up against the low windows to keep the dog from breaking out when someone comes to the door.

    I do wonder, though, what their incentive to not deliver might be. It seems self defeating.

  • Invisible Neutrino

    I think it’s sheer laziness. Like it or not, some workers really don’t want to actually do more than go through the motions and get paid for it, and it’s clear this routine of pretend-to-deliver-and-then-skedaddle is to avoid being identified and thus, fired.

  • Cathy W

    I’ve heard quite the opposite: that UPS sets an unrealistic schedule. Given the odds of nobody being home, delivering the sorry-we-missed-you note is much faster than wrangling the package out of the truck, putting the note up anyways, and then wrangling the package back into the truck, so the driver gets to catch up and avoid discipline. I’m still slightly boggled by the stories I’ve heard of the driver not actually delivering the package when they can see as they pull up that somebody’s home, though.

  • Invisible Neutrino

    Either way, UPS is doing a disservice to residential customers. Either its employees do not want to make the effort for sheer laziness or for sheer impsssibility of scheduling.

    If their employees are not even going to make a good faith effort to deliver anything, why even drive out to someone’s place only to just lackadaisically ignore the person about to rush out and flag you down?

    “Three rights instead of a left to optimize fuel usage b/c waiting at intersections” – hah. What’s even MORE environmentally irresponsible is not doing their jobs properly and wasting gas driving a truck going through the motions.

  • Cathy W

    I have to agree with you there.

  • We Must Dissent

    I hate UPS. I just had a package I ordered returned to sender because even after signing the form they left allowing them to just leave it on my porch, they just kept putting forms on my door saying they could not leave the package without my signature.

  • Ross

    I’ve mentioned this before. I talked with someone from New Hampshire about the size of their legislature. He explained that it’s not a bug but a feature: the legislature is meant to be too big for anyone to actually make a name for themselves and become a career politician 

  • Eminnith

    Is that article about best Panetta Burns tweets supposed to have the tweets? I don’t see any?

  • Lori

    There’s under the main article and about the comments. The first one is:

    #panettaburns creates a strategic cash reserve, which will hold up to $15 trillion to be released in moments of national crisis”

  • Madhabmatics

    That Boykins quote is the funniest thing I’ve read all day, he sounds like a child. “You meanies keep saying that Obama supports private ownership of the means of production and isn’t a dialectical materialist BUT THAT’S NOT WHAT MARXISM IS. MARXISM IS WHATEVER OBAMA IS DOING NOW”

  • histrogeek

     Some idiot back in 2009 said something similar to Boykins. Something like “Lenin would have supported everything in the bank bailout plan.” I remember thinking, “Well he might have supported government involvement in the commanding heights, but I think he would have found it a bit light on liquidating class enemies.”

  • Madhabmatics

     Also I love that everyone and their brother thinks the Muslim Brotherhood secretly has agents throughout the entire US, in every rural town and country state. Yeah, those dude’s that couldn’t even be populist enough to mollify Egypt sure do have their tendrils all up in here.

  • jclor

    I tried to look at all the Most Powerful Images of 2012, but halfway through I got something in my eye … 

  • jasonknox

    “That’s from a “canon lawyer.” Romans 13:10 is 15 words long. Canon law is much, much longer. Therein lies the problem.”
    So, are we saying that having Deuteronomy and Leviticus in our Bibles is a problem? Was God foolish to elaborate on the law? 

  • Invisible Neutrino

    And how much of the “law” is even relevant to today?

    Dietary laws cease to have meaning when food quality standards are now high enough we can avoid a lot of the problems that used to come from consuming the meat of some animals.

    Fabrics-mixing laws cease to have meaning when we can now create clothing that is comfortable and easy to wear with all manner of synthetics as well as natural fibers.

    Laws regarding the “uncleanness” of human secretions, particularly the menstrual and (sex-organ) genital, no longer have meaning when we understand the basis on which they occur and we have reliable clothes-cleaning apparatus, as well as reliable and safe water supplies.

  • jasonknox

    … there is no indication that the Dietary Laws were because of health problems or that fabric mixsing laws were for the purpose of comfort or that the laws regarding the “uncleaness” of human secrections had anything to do with health/sanitation “cleaniness” – it was a ritual uncleaninless meaning that they couldn’t worship in the temple, not that they physically dirty.

    It’s relevance depends on how you define relevant. It is 100% relevant to the degree that laws reveal the heart/priorities/values of the Law giver. God hasn’t changed at all and the reason why he gave those laws are still 100% relevant – they show us his heart! His laws are not arbitrary and while we may not know why exactly each one was given, we can know for a lot of them and know God better by knowing his laws.

    Returning to the OP – they are also relevant to the extent that by elaborating on the Decalogue they help us understand the fullest extent of that law. They model for us what it means to improvise and apply God’s general commands (such as “love one another” or “do not murder”) in specific situations (“I am harvesting my crops / People use and sleep on my roof”). Looking at gleaning laws teaches us how to apply “love your neighbor” during the harvest and looking at parapet laws teach us how to apply “do not murder” when it comes to dangerous parts of your property.  Now, I’m not a farmer nor am I a home owner, but by looking at these elaborations on the law I pick up skills in application for the thousands of situations I find myself in that are not described in the Bible. 

    So much of the rest of the Bible is based on it – 1,2 Kings correspond to Deuteronmy almost chapter to chapter, countless Psalms  describe how wonderful the law is and why it is lovely. the prophets explain why the exile happened by refrencing the law, the books of the law are constantly quoted in the New Testament, James exhorts his readers to look into the perfect law of liberty to be reminded of the glorious people they were created to be, etc. Considering the law irrelevant makes so much of the rest of the Bible inaccessible. 

    This list could go on – I think we shortchange ourselves so much when we neuter God’s law. We don’t include them in the Bible simply as a historical curiosity.

  • Water_Bear

    And that heart apparently doesn’t have a lot of room for gays or slaves, going by that logic. You can have omnibenevolence or you can have Leviticus, but you can’t have both. There really is quite a bit of “historical curiosity” in the bible, and very little of that is compatible with the idea of an all-loving all-powerful deity, so one of them has got to go.

    Also, if there’s a rule which the rule-maker can’t be bothered to explain, which doesn’t seem to serve any possible purpose, and which they abruptly change as soon as it becomes an obstacle to getting new members, that’s pretty close to the exact definition of arbitrary. The cleanliness laws don’t make any kind of sense, especially since there’s no reason why a god so offended by bacon or menstruation would even make pigs or menstrual cycles in the first place.

  • jasonknox

    The Bible is pretty clear that menstruation is not offensive to God. What is offensive to God is to pretend like we are brains on a stick. Reading Leviticus makes it clear that uncleanliness does not equal sin/guilt. It equals humanness and God is very interested in us being whole persons – people with all kinds of fluids and life cycles and goals. 
    The cleanliness laws are woven into the warp and woof of daily life so that Israelites  didn’t go about their days as if all of their choices didn’t matter or as if worship is this thing that we do once a week in the Temple but the rest of our weeks are for other things. 

    The Bible is also pretty clear that God is not offended by pigs ether – in the New Testament we see God telling Peter “Don’t call anything I’ve made clean unclean!”  Yet, God did ask the church-state-nexus that was Israel to be different than their neighbors and to have diets that reflected their “set-apartness” as a nation. That doesn’t mean that God hates bacon (thank God!).

  • Dash1

    If God is not offended by menstruation, why is a menstruating woman unclean? And why is a man who touches a menstruating woman (or something she sat on) unclean for a full seven days?

    Seems to me there’s something being implied as wrong with menstruation there.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I could kind of buy the explanation that it’s a sacred distinction with no secular meaning, if there were an equivalent for people who don’t menstruate, and if it were not the same distinction that applies to, for example, lepers.

  • Dash1

     Yes, it is interesting, isn’t it, that one set of rules applies to a category that apparently consists of pathological discharges and menstruation (one of these things, as the saying goes, is not like the other), and another set of rules (i.e., the absence of rules) applies to non-pathological discharges, such as wet dreams and spit and sweat.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Richard Beck (of the experimental theology blog) wrote a book, “Unclean”, that looks at disgust, taboos and concepts of sacredness. It’s really, really interesting.

    One of the things he points out is that there is one bodily fluid that doesn’t provoke feelings of disgust, and it’s the one associated with “higher emotions” instead of “base animal functions”–tears.

  • Dash1

     A lovely theory, but animals do weep, apparently for emotional reasons as well. And sweat occurs as a result of “higher emotions” (fear, nervousness, anticipation) as well as because of physical exertion. Actually, humans sweat more than many animals (dogs, cats, pigs, …). 

    And that doesn’t explain why Leviticus seems to think menstruation is worse than any other nonpathological exudate. I’m really interested in Jason Knox’s response on this, since he seems to have a theory about the laws and has so far only hinted at it.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Clarification: it’s our psychological association of certain things as “animalistic” or “higher” that he’s talking about, not the actual biology of what humans do compared to other animals. Makes more sense in the context of the whole book than my extremely reduced comment :)

    Re Leviticus–possibly contagious skin diseases are also treated with great disgust. I know you said “nonpathological” but from what I’ve read of psychology, we’re not very good about making rational distinctions when it comes to what repulses us. Blood in general once it’s outside the body pretty reliably evokes disgust.

    Although now I’m wandering down the path of why the people who came up with the content of Leviticus assigned particular taboos to menstrual blood (and other things), so I believe I’m operating from a very different premise to Jason. I’m interested in why people assign concepts of sacredness and profanity to various things rather than equating “recorded in Genesis” to “what God reckons”.

  • jasonknox

    The short answer isn’t that there is no “one-sized fits all” theory to help us understand each and every law.

    The only umbrella theories is looking at it in the context of the whole Pentateuch: God creates humankind in his image, walks with them, humankind rebels causing sin and the curse is introduced, God is committed to his people and proclaims that he will use them as agents of his redemption of this cosmos, God’s people become a whole nation, God says that he intended to live and walk among them again, God gives them the law so the former slaves can now live as a nation in a way that images God’s rule in the world (like in the garden, but now on a bigger scale and in light of the rebellion) and that God can dwell among them in a way that they don’t burn up (when Moses saw a piece of God’s backside he glowed so much the people couldn’t stand to look at Moses).  Then remember the context of Israel being a church-state-nexus at this point in history.

    Another umbrella theory ties this back to the OP – the book of Leviticus helps us understand the 10 Commandments and God’s Creation mandate (fill the world with my image) by elaborating on them. So we know not to murder people but now we can also see that if people are going to be working and sleeping on our roofs then we need to put a fence around them so they don’t trip and fall to their deaths (or roll off it and die in their sleep). Therefore, the umbrella rule teaches me that even though I don’t own a roof this law still applies to me and I need to think not just about the floor of the law (don’t murder) but I need to think about the ceiling of the law (protect and guard human life) in all aspects of my life .

    The only other umbrella big enough to explain all of the laws is that God wove clealiness and uncleanliness into the warp and woof of the daily lives of the Israelites so that they couldn’t go about their lives unthinking and unconcerned with the reality that they are God’s holy people among whom God dwells (smoke by day, fire by night). The presence of God among them means that all of their daily choices actually matter (where they sit, what clothes they wear, how they care for the poor, how they relate to one another, how they do business  etc) and that they can not enter into His presence lightly or unthinking or without preparation. God “set them apart” as different from their neighbors to demonstrate that they are a unique people and that their God is unlike any of the other gods. None of those “theories” makes uncleanines sin – making themselves distinct does not mean that doing the things that wouldn’t make them distinct (like eating pigs or wearing mixed fabrics) are things that are offensive to God, but God is offended by his people pretending like they aren’t his people. 

    Again, those are the big umbrellas, but that doesn’t mean that each and every law shouldn’t be looked at to learn more or that each and every law is completely understandable to us thousands of years later. However, just because we can’t explain/understand each one that doesn’t mean that it didn’t make perfect sense to them OR that we shouldn’t try to understand them either. For some of the laws all we have are these bigger umbrellas, but for many of them we can see even more sense behind them. 

    God hasn’t changed since he first gave those Laws – yet we are in a new context. I am a gentile who never lived in God’s church-state-nexus, and so I’m not going to stone absurdly disobedient children, but I am going to recognize that disobedience is a significant issue and not to be taken lightly. This shows me the heartbeat of God.

    Good grief, I have spent hours on this discussion when I should be writing my grad school paper due tomorrow. I want people to know that this is important and that Canon Law is not the problem, but something highly valuable and beautiful, but I can’t spend much more time on here for now. Reread Exodus and then reread Leviticus – it really can be quite complex and confusing but also wonderful!

  • jasonknox

    Reread the book of Leviticus – particularly after reading the book of Exodus. In Psalm 19 the people sing aloud that the book of Leviticus is like honey and more desirable than money. For me, I had to actually sit with and ACTUAL Old Testament scholar and watch him love Leviticus to learn how to love Leviticus on my own. 

    Maybe once my finals are over I’ll be able to get into this with more detail. I would refer you to a link that Fred Clark once referred all of us to:

    He claims that our instinct is to immediately paint the woman at the well as a horrible sinner instead of a victim. Some 1st Century Jewish leaders equated uncleanliness with sin and we’ve been doing it ever since.  I suggest that if you read the Book of Leviticus without the lens of “uncleanness = sin” you’ll begin to see the book as beautiful as the ancient Israelites did. 

    Assume that God isn’t against menstruation (or ejaculation or birth or disease) and that is is for holiness (imagine you were an ancient Israelite and just a child when you were freed from Egypt and all of the sudden God has declared that he desires to dwell among his people!) and then reread the book.

  • EllieMurasaki

    So excluding lepers is also for holiness, in the same way that excluding menstruators is for holiness?

    One of these things, you realize, is not like the other.

  • jasonknox

    No, excluding lepers is not for holiness in a “lepers are unholy” way. I keep saying that “unclealiness = unholy.”

    Leviticus is a big book and historically complex book. If you are looking for a one size fits all hermanutic the best we can do is “this is what it looks like a for a Holy God to dwell among an unholy people” but to understand each and every bit takes work. Don’t demand a simplistic answer to a complicated topic – yes, one of these things is NOT like the other, therefore don’t try to use my answer for one thing to say that I can’t explain a different question. 

  • EllieMurasaki

    Leviticus 13:3: “it is a plague of leprosy: and the priest shall look on him, and pronounce him unclean.” (KJV)

    Leviticus 15:19: “When a woman has her regular flow of blood, the impurity of her monthly period will last seven days, and anyone who touches her will be unclean till evening.” (NIV)

    (I’m using different translations here because the KJV doesn’t say ‘menstruation’ in Lev 15 and the NIV doesn’t say ‘leprosy’ in Lev 13. They both do say ‘unclean’ in both.)

    I am finding it really difficult to believe that these are different kinds of unclean. Which is a problem, because leprosy is a contagious disease and menstruation is a normal function of the uterus-equipped body.

  • jasonknox

    In both cases though – unclean does not equal guilty of sin.

    I think it is a smart way to read the book  by not trying to understand those two verses as dealing with the same thing – they are not dealing with the same thing and the answer is not to try to cram them both into one box – no one answer will satisfy both of them.

    God is highly aware that menstruation is a normal function. God commands his people to be “fruitful and multiply” but at the same time he requires mothers who just had birth to be unclean. God is not commanding sin. Try not looking at this as a western people latently influenced by Plato and his duality between body and soul. God never declares the body to be bad – he thinks his creation is good and that humans are VERY good! God hasn’t forgot all of that by the time he gives these laws. Try reading Leviticus again this way and really ask yourself what are the consequences of being “uncleasn.” If you are not a western living after Plato – or a 1st century pharisee living after the exile – you are not going to conclude that these unclean women are shameful or guilty in any way. You’ll see them as obedient and blessed – yet still somehow unclean (maybe being unclean isn’t as bad as you once thought!) Body shame is pretty new. God clearly isn’t ashamed of our fluids.

    For a second, assume that God is good and loving and holy and just and compassionate, different than the other gods,  and protective of his people and wants nothing but the best for them (namely, giving them himself and dwelling among them!) and then reread Leviticus. Maybe you’ll see it another way.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Unclean != sinful. Got it. Strangely enough, my argument does not rely on unclean being equivalent to sinful. It relies on the fact that people with leprosy and people with menstruation are both being treated like ew no get them away from me. That’s all right for people with leprosy, sort of, in the sense that staying away from contagious people is the best way to not catch the contagion. Sucks balls to be the leper, but it does keep everyone else from becoming lepers. But people who menstruate are being booted from society for an average of a week a month for no good reason.
    For a second, assume that God is good and loving and holy and just and compassionate, different than the other gods, and protective of his people and wants nothing but the best for them

    You’re kidding, right?

  • jasonknox

    Why are we having this conversation as if ejaculate isn’t also on the list of fluids that make people unclean? This isn’t a male/female thing.

    God created the world and he declared it “Good.” God created man and called him “Very Good.” God isn’t punishing humans for being human – he delights in our bodies and our fluids. 1st Century Jewish Pharisees living after the return from the exile began equating unclean with shame/guilt and for all of us Western thinkers we come after the line of Plato and his dualism that separated the body and the soul and made one better than the other. God does no such thing. Body shame isn’t found in the Ancient Near East – don’t read into Leviticus what isn’t there. 

    God commands his people to be fruitful and multiply, but the man who ejaculates is unclean and the woman giving birth is unclean. God isn’t commanding sin and he isn’t making those who are faithful and obedient to his commands second class citizens who should be regarded as “ew.” A new mother, while being unclean, was celebrated as faithful and blessed. She would not be stigmatized or looked down on or shamed or anything. 

    Where us western readers read  about being unclean as is they are being told to “treated like like ‘ew no get them away from me!'” that is not how women were treated back then. You are bringing a lot of assumptions to the text that simply are not there. I know women who have begged their employers and communities for the kind of Babymoons that Leviticus talks about. God really does want the best for his people.

  • EllieMurasaki

    If penis-equipped you do not want to be unclean due to ejaculation, then don’t ejaculate. Blue balls will not kill you.

    If uterus-equipped you do not want to be unclean due to menstruation, you can–er–um–well, if you take the Pill and skip from the one right before placebo week to the one right after, or IUDs suppress menstruation, I believe, or just have the lot of it taken out. But if you don’t have access to contraceptives that affect the menstrual cycle and you don’t want major abdominal surgery, you’re shit out of luck.

  • jasonknox

    I choose ejaculation just as a counterpoint to menstruation, but there are dozens and dozens of fluids, activities, diseases, statues (I don’t have the actual count, I feel like it’s near a hundred but didn’t want to be accused of hyperbole) that make a person unclean.  Read through the book and you’ll see that it doesn’t single women out at all. All are included. That isn’t a helpful topic to advance the conversation of “Is Canon Law a problem?”

  • EllieMurasaki

    So if we add all that up, an average healthy man in that society (who isn’t ejaculating) is excluded from participation in society for an average of a week a month, the way an average healthy woman in that society (who isn’t pregnant or otherwise baby-related suppressed menstruation) is excluded from participation in society for an average of a week a month? Or am I fundamentally misunderstanding how ritually clean people behave around someone who’s ritually unclean?

  • jasonknox

    The unclean don’t have “full participation” in society but if you read Leviticus you’d know that that most of them are not excluded and isolated from society at all (lepers being the big exception). Menstruating women are not kicked out of town! They won’t go to the market or into the temple, but they aren’t exiled!

  • EllieMurasaki

    *beats head on desk*

    Can somebody please explain to this dude that it is one thing to say ‘I don’t want to go shopping this week because I am on my period and I feel like crap and don’t want to deal with people’ and something else entirely to be told ‘you cannot go shopping this week because if you do you will inevitably touch people and because you have your period that would be bad’, and that being forbidden from shopping for a week being a thing that happens to women and not men is really obviously and painfully sexist? Because he doesn’t seem to be getting it.

  • Dash1


    For a second, assume that God is good and loving and holy and just and
    compassionate, different than the other gods,  and protective of his
    people and wants nothing but the best for them (namely, giving
    them himself and dwelling among them!) and then reread Leviticus. Maybe
    you’ll see it another way.

    “For a second,” eh? I tried to read it that way for decades. What I found is that I couldn’t reconcile God being good and loving and just and compassionate (leaving “holy” out in the absence of a good definition thereof) and Leviticus as evidence of those characteristics.

    I’ve got a bit of history with this sort of thing, and I’m familiar with the “babymoon” argument and with the specious claim that women in surrounding societies necessarily had it worse. I’m more than familiar with the argument that the results obviate the stated purpose (the female newborn gets more bonding time with Mom under the excuse that giving birth to a daughter makes Mom unclean for longer) and the claims that all the “uncleanness” attribution is nothing but a value-neutral acknowledgement of women’s special womanliness.

    Those arguments do not hold water.

  • jasonknox

    I meant “for a second” to be rhetorical and I am sorry if it came across as diminishing your struggles – I was indelicate with my word choice and not attuned to the whole person that I was responding to (the danger of online discussion boards is that I often believe that I’m talking to an argument or idea instead of a person).

    I don’t see the child birth uncleanliness as some kind of weird exception as the only value-neutral acknowledgement – I don’t think any of the uncleanliness is a value judgement. I think that the modern “babymoon” is anachronistic to Leviticus and that the two are not the same, merely similar. I like that example because I think it most easily cuts through the cultural contexts to help us see that uncleanliness can result from faithful obedience to God and does not render a woman as a social outcast, religiously looked down upon, or somehow “wrong.” As do we, the Bible celebrates children and the amazing life giving birthing capabilities of women! We are not Platonic dualists – childbirth is a wonderful and righteous act!

    My passion is to see people delighting in God through his word. I believe that women have great value, I believe that God holds women in high esteem, and I believe that the Bible does too. I get sad when some people feel like we need to choose between loving women and loving the Bible. The more I have studied the Bible the more I see it affirming the glory, value, worth, dignity, esteem of women.
    These systems have been used to abuse and oppress women (though that need not mean that the systems themselves are abusive). While I can be aware of that happening I know that I cannot experience the hurt that comes with it. I don’t know your pain. As a White, Male, Christian I shamefully know that I have a share in the guilt – I can’t pretend to justify myself or my gender in all ways. I know that in several areas of this conversation men have lost their right to have a voice, but one area where I hope to always be able to speak is to advocate for the beauty and importance of God’s word. I am blessed to be friends with several women who have theologically have wrestled with these topics for decades longer than I have and have come out loving the book of Leviticus. Their joy in the scriptures is enviable and I wish it for everyone. “Sometimes you need to watch someone love something to learn how to love it yourself.”

    When I see someone claim that the Canon Law is part of the problem I can’t understand the hurt behind it, but I can feel like the best hope for their healing is in God and his word. I don’t believe that we’d be better off without it because we live in a world in which it exists and God gave it to us (which means that if we’d be better off without it we wouldn’t have it). 

    The whole notion of the many laws of Leviticus must be placed in their redemptive context – God already saved them out from Egypt. God already choose them and decided to dwell among them. God does not set aside grace to give his people these books of law – God always have and always will relate to his people by grace. The law is a call to put God’s grace in action. 

    Thank you for engaging me on this I am sorry for the way men have treated women over the millenia and it angers me that men do it under the guise of godliness – I hope you see that I want nothing but good for you. I want you to feel valued and loved and full of dignity and I want you to love God’s word too (which won’t require an act of intellectual striving as if you just don’t know enough to appreciate it now, but an act of God in healing you from very real and legitimate wounds that He weeps over even more than you).

  • EllieMurasaki

    When I see someone claim that the Canon Law is part of the problem I can’t understand the hurt behind it, but I can feel like the best hope for their healing is in God and his word.

    You can feel whatever you like, but speaking for myself and only myself (though I suspect there are many here with similar thoughts), the way to solve the problem of biblical law as it applies to me is to say, loudly and clearly and as often as necessary, biblical law does not apply to me.

  • jasonknox

    My worry is that people equate “does not apply” with “let’s toss out the whole book!” which I whole heartily disagree with. I think they are relevant and helpful and beautiful, but they do not apply to you in several very important ways:

    As a modern gentile, these laws NEVER applied to you. The laws do not apply to you in a binding way. The laws do not apply to you as the basis for your salvation and relationship. The laws should not be reinforced by our government or our churches – except to the extent that we can see some of God’s heart and values in them and to the extent that they teach us principals for applying God’s general laws (do not murder, love the needy, etc).
    These laws will not save you. These laws are not the scale by which God will grade you. These laws do not establish your righteousness nor give anyone a pedestool to look down on anyone else.  These laws do not diminish your value or worth which is wholly God given.

  • EllieMurasaki

    The trouble arises when people say that the Levitical prohibition on gay sex is one that “we can see some of God’s heart and values in” and should therefore have the force of secular law on people who do not revere the Bible or who are putting that prohibition in the same box as the prohibitions on bacon cheeseburgers and cotton-polyester clothing. Or when people look at the general trend of biblical laws–menstruating women are untouchable, women who didn’t cry for help when raped in a populated area weren’t actually raped and are at fault for having consensual sex while unmarried, a man who rapes a virgin must marry her and to hell with how she feels about the situation–and conclude that, though it is never explicitly stated, “some of God’s heart and values” are firmly in support of the idea that women are less than men.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

     So, how does God feel about killing disobedient children?  ISTR that is A Thing in the Old Testament.

  • Invisible Neutrino

    Oops. Anyway, which chapter and verse?

  • Lori


    I don’t think any of the uncleanliness is a value judgement.   

    Spoken like a person who, by virtue of genitalia, is not on the receiving end of the judgement.

  • Invisible Neutrino

    That said, I think some boys or men (depending on when they read their Bible) will take rather literally the old prohibitions listed (because for all the handwaving about “Oh, that’s the Old Testament, ignore it!” the fact is that fundamentalists eager to reinforce patriarchal and kyriarchal roles of men and women selectively choose which Old Testament sections that are still in force even today as a shaming tool), and feel bad or guilty about certain natural bodily functions.

    Contrary to jasonknox’s bounciful bumpf about how God thinks we are just sooooooo totes ~wonderful~, the fact is that it’s human interpretation of ‘God’s Word” that can lead to personal difficulties and unnecessary shame and guilt.

  • Dash1

     Very, very true. I will, however, make one point in jasonknox’s defense, such as it can be: once you’ve been trained to read something a certain way, it can be very difficult to see it from another perspective, or, importantly, to approach the text in any remotely neutral fashion. You’ll always see the text you were originally taught was there.

    And I am so stealing the phrase “bounciful bumpf.”

  • Invisible Neutrino

    Steal away! d(^_^)

  • Dash1

    I meant “for a second” to be
    rhetorical and I am sorry if it came across as diminishing your struggles – I
    was indelicate with my word choice and not attuned to the whole person that I was responding to (the danger of online discussion boards is that I often believe that I’m talking to an argument or idea instead of a person).

    First of all, thank you for considering the problem of discussing such matters from that perspective. Let me say, however, that you want to be careful about those assumptions. I, for example, like the fact that we can, online, be a couple of brains tossing ideas around. (This is not meant to suggest that sensitivity isn’t important or that others don’t have different preferences. That’s just me.) (Also, I really find myself wondering why you assume I’m female. Was it the relatively easy and non-queasy reference to menstruation?)

    Anyway, let’s talk about those ideas. My problem with your argument isn’t that you’re not being sensitive enough. It’s that (a) you’re not giving me a handle from which to talk about your ideas, and, relatedly (b) you’re not addressing your audience. That is, your arguments are based on premises that many people here, and specifically the ones engaging you, don’t accept. You appear to assume that God is the (fairly direct) author of (e.g.) Leviticus, and that the text reflects God’s priorities more than it reflects a certain bronze age sensibility associated with the original audience. As Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart has pointed out, one can be a Christian and take the text very seriously without holding either of those beliefs.

    I hope this doesn’t sound condescending–and I apologize if it does–but it might be useful to decide what you want to accomplish. If you want to persuade the audience here that your claims are correct, you will want to adjust your argument so that you start with premises we can all agree on. Otherwise, we’ll just start quoting our favorite Jesuit teachers at you: “what you freely assert, I can as freely deny. Support your claim.” (Interestingly, a newer post on this board deals with evidence.) (Doesn’t matter which Jesuit teacher–is there one in the world that has not aimed that question at a student at some point?)

    If, on the other hand, you merely want to toss your view of the text into the pot as one possible opinion, well, then, you can start by taking your premises as given for the purposes of your argument, but not by taking them as accepted by your audience. In other words, it helps if you say at the outset, as many people here do, “As an atheist, I hold this view”; “as someone
    who believes X, I look at this this way”; and so on.

    I hope your grad school paper is going well. Don’t forget to proofread! :-)

    [Edited because Disqus messed up all the line breaks. It is EEEEVIL.]

  • Invisible Neutrino

    I hope your grad school paper is going well. Don’t forget to proofread! :-)

    And a good proofreader cna be worth their weight in gold, as my thesis attests. :)

  • Albanaeon

     Hmm…  You have a bizarre definition of “arbitrary” you know.

    Making rules and not giving the reasons why is a pretty good working definition of “arbitrary.”  Particularly when after they are closely examined, still don’t make sense, such as the multiple fabric cloth, or shellfish or gay or bats being birds or rabbits that chew the cud.

    A close examination of “God’s Rulebook” tends to reveal a culture that was trying to define itself as distinct from its neighbors with a lot of cultural pressure on it.  Ooooorr that the creator of the entire universe is a backwards petty tyrant that barely understands the basic mechanics of his own creation.

  • Andrea

    rabbits that chew the cud.

    This may be stretching the definition of chewing cud, but it does involve re-chewing and re-ingesting materials that have already passed through the digestive tract – rabbits produce two varieties of poop, the hard ones like Cocoa Puffs, and a softer variety called “cecal pellets”, partially digested food that they retrieve as it comes out, to eat again and get another go and getting nutrients out of it.

  • Dash1

     So Bugs Bunny’s famous question, “What’s up, Doc?” had more levels of profundity than we suspected.

  • Dash1


    It’s relevance depends on how you define relevant. It is 100% relevant
    to the degree that laws reveal the heart/priorities/values of the Law
    giver. God hasn’t changed at all and the reason why he gave those laws
    are still 100% relevant – they show us his heart! His laws are not
    arbitrary and while we may not know why exactly each one was given, we
    can know for a lot of them and know God better by knowing his laws.

    So you’re saying that Christians need to avoid shellfish and can’t wear clothing made of blended fabrics and can’t do any work on Saturday. OK, I’m aware that there are some Christians who obey some of these laws. It is interesting to encounter one of them.

  • jasonknox

    How I am defining relevant is something close to “significant and instructive, but not binding.” I am saying that the God who gave those laws hasn’t changed, but the circumstances have. I am not an Israelite living in a theocracy. As a gentile brought into God’s plan of redemption by the new covenant I am not subject to those laws in the same way that ancient Israelite were, but that does not make them irrelevant to me – because God is still God.

    What/how I eat is important to God and I am to eat to his glory, but I can eat bacon and shellfish. What I wear matters to God and dressing myself should draw my attention to living as God wants me to live, but I can wear mixed fabrics. The way I schedule my time and if I have rhythms of work and rest matter greatly to God and I must use my week and particular days of rest to worship God and trust him with my work load, but I can make that day of rest any day of the week.

    We don’t just toss out the books of the Bible that God gave to the Israelites when they were to be a church-state-nexus and pretend like they don’t matter, but we recognize that God’s plan has grown to include people from all nations, tribes, and tongues. 

  • AnonymousSam

    we recognize that God’s plan has grown to include people from all nations, tribes, and tongues.

    That’s good. Deuteronomy 13 was certainly a pretty big sign to the contrary for awhile there. :p

  • Dash1

    What/how I eat is important to God and I am to eat to his glory, but I can eat bacon and shellfish.

    Got it! Am I correct in assuming your view of sexual relationships is consistent with that approach? That is, you also hold that your sexual behavior is important to God and is to be engaged in to His glory (why no capital “H”?), but that he has no objections to same-sex relationships per se.

  • jasonknox

    I would say that my view of sexual relationships is consistent with that approach, but that doesn’t lead me to conclude that he has no objections with same-sex relationships. IF the ONLY mention of marriage, sex. and homosexuality was that one verse in Leviticus I imagine that I would still agree with it, but be incredibly open and understanding to people having other interpretations – admitting that the Bible is not clearly opposed to it. Yet, that isn’t the only mention of it in the Bible and, in fact, we see the Bible several times rooting it in the conversation of creation and it being part of God’s designed natural order – designed for a purpose – to image God’s union to the dissimilar (us). A reading of the whole of scripture, both Testaments, make this pretty plain in overt descriptions and the subtle arch of the Bible’s narrative.

    Again, returning to the OP, I think that is why Canon Law is so lengthy and important – it teaches us the principals for applying the general “be engaged in to His Glory” in specifics. The distinction between male and female is important and their union serves the function of declarative playacting in the proclamation of his Glory and image throughout the world.

    As far as civil government law is concerned I’m all for gay marriage, but I think the state and the Bible define marriage differently and things get muddled when we conflate the two.

  • Dave


    As far as civil government law is concerned I’m all for gay marriage, but I think the state and the Bible define marriage differently and things get muddled when we conflate the two.

    This is admirably succinct, and I agree completely. Especially when the state is officially pluralist, as the U.S. is, it’s really best to avoid conflating the two.

    Individuals who wish to marry within the constraints of both the state (as interpreted by current law) and the Bible (as interpreted by anyone they choose) are of course free to do so.

  • The_L1985

    How could it confuse us?  Everyone knows God’s personal name is Howard.  Says so in the Lord’s Prayer:  “Our Father, who art in heaven, Howard be thy name…” ;)

  • Ross

     What? No, it says very clearly, “Our father, who is Art in heaven.”

  • stardreamer42

    And yet your profile picture shows you clean-shaven. How dare you neuter God’s law this way?

  • jasonknox

    The profile picture cuts off my chin – there’s a pretty hefty goatee going on under there!
    I am not ignoring God’s law in that way, though, because I’m not an Israelite, but I know that my God hasn’t changed – therefore – I know that  how I keep my appearance does matter to God as an opportunity to worship him and is an opportunity to remind myself and others that I am not my own. God being interested in my hygiene is a daily reminder that holiness/cleaniness is woven into the warp and woof of life and that all of my little choices reflect the state of my heart.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    And how much of the “law” is even relevant to today?

    ‘When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not wholly reap the corners of your field, nor shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest.  And you shall not glean your vineyard, nor shall you gather every grape of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger: I am the Lord your God.

    ‘You shall not steal, nor deal falsely, nor lie to one another. And you shall not swear by My name falsely, nor shall you profane the name of your God: I am the Lord.

    ‘You shall not cheat your neighbor, nor rob him. The wages of him who is hired shall not remain with you all night until morning. You shall not curse the deaf, nor put a stumbling block before the blind, but shall fear your God: I am the Lord.

    ‘You shall do no injustice in judgment. You shall not be partial to the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty. In righteousness you shall judge your neighbor.  You shall not go about as a talebearer among your people; nor shall you take a stand against the life of your neighbor: I am the Lord.

    ‘You shall not hate your brother in your heart. You shall surely rebuke your neighbor, and not bear sin because of him.  You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.

  • Invisible Neutrino

    I was thinking of the various ritualistic components of the Levitical laws, but point taken.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    And how much of the “law” is even relevant to today?

     ‘If one of your brethren becomes poor, and falls into poverty among you, then you shall help him, like a stranger or a sojourner, that he may live with you. Take no usury or interest from him; but fear your God, that your brother may live with you. You shall not lend him your money for usury, nor lend him your food at a profit. I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, to give you the land of Canaan and to be your God.

  • Marc Mielke

    Between the dietary restrictions and homosexuality thing, I’d say Leviticus is pretty much a blight on human civilization. 

    Gays are frequently nice people save for this lesbian manager I had once…and even she didn’t quite rise to the level of ‘abomination’. Besides,  any god who would ban bacon is just flat-out evil. 

  • Becka Sutton

    The difference between Sisters and Nuns is pretty much the same as that between Friars and Monks I think. ( )

    Nuns and monks are cloistered contemplatives while Sisters and Friars, while they live communally, still get out in the world.

    And, of course, as the article rightly points out sometimes exceptions are made (sometimes for individual necessity – sick nun –  and sometimes because its the right thing to do – as at Assisi).

  • Aiwhelan

     Hmmm. I thought “friar” specifically refered to Franciscans. I think “in the world” they’re called Brothers if they aren’t Franciscan.

  • mirabilis

    Franciscans are friars, but so are the other active mendicant orders (Dominicans, Augustinians, etc). It is indeed a question of cloister versus working in the community. “Brother” is the proper title for Franciscan friars as well. (English friar is from French frere–brother).

  • BringTheNoise

    Content Note: Rape Culture, Extreme Misogyny,  Body Shaming.

    20 T-Shirts That Say “I REALLY Hate Women” from Spencer’s Gifts:

    All listed, of course, in the “humour” section. Utterly vile, the lot of them.

  • That Other Jean

     It’s good of the wearers of those disgusting tee shirts to spend their own money to give the rest of us an “I am a complete asshat” early warning system, though.

  • Lori

    That was pretty much my reaction when I saw them. There’s something to be said for asshats announcing themselves so the rest of us don’t waste time or energy trying to figure them out.

  • rrhersh

    I am joining the pile-on of UPS.  I used to live in an apartment.  It was virtually impossible to get a package delivered by UPS.  They would leave the little notes, but they simply refused to leave the package by the door, even if I signed the permission. slip.  My door was in a secluded area visible to only three other apartments, and I knew my neighbors and had no concerns about their stealing my package.  When I would call customer service they seemed surprised that I wasn’t thrilled with the prospect of driving many miles to their distribution center.  On the other hand, I never had the least bit of trouble with USPS.  They routinely left packages at my door, with no difficulty resulting.  On the rare occasions when I had to go to them, their distribution center, aka “post office,” is conveniently located here in my local town.  It got to the point where I would refuse to order anything from any vendor that didn’t give me the option to ship USPS.

    Then I bought a house about a quarter mile away from my old apartment, in the same subdivision.  Suddenly UPS is my friend!  They happily leave packages at my door, without even bothering with the little slip first.  The funny thing is this means the box is sitting out in the open on my front stoop, visible to anyone walking down the street and open to the elements.  Objectively, it is a far worse place to leave a package than my old apartment door.  Not that I have any problems:  it is a good neighborhood, and I know many of my neighbors.

    I have the same USPS mail carrier as before.  This is some ten years now.  He knows my kids.  He is unflustered by odd names on letters:  my wife did not take my name when we married, nor did I take hers.  But they sometimes get intermingled on mail.  Furthermore, my street has an “east” and a “west” side, with duplicated house numbers.  I often get mail with this bit incomplete or simply wrong.  It almost always gets correctly delivered anyway.  A few times a year I get mail for the guy down the street, or he gets mine.   That’s OK:  it gives us an excuse to visit and chat. 

    UPS is terrific for business packages.  This clearly is what it sees as its main business.  Unfortunately it chooses to also be in the home delivery business, but is unwilling to devote any serious effort into providing a consistent product.  The upshot is that any business that ships directly to customers should have a USPS option.   Undoubtedly using just UPS is more convenient for you, but you are losing potential customers without even knowing it.

    Finally, we have the “post office sucks” meme.  This might have been valid at one point.  My recollection as a kid was the losing stuff in the mail and packages arriving months later was a legitimate concern.  Whatever problems UPS might have had at one time, they have solved them.  At this point the meme is at best lazy, and often the both lazy and stupid meme that the post office is guvmint, so therefore must suck, the evidence of our lying eyes notwithstanding.

  • Jamoche

    USPS can still suck. To get to the mailrooms for my condo complex, you’ve got to take an elevator to the basement, and you need a key. Last month our mail carrier lost his key and didn’t report it, he just stopped delivering until people noticed and made a fuss.

  • Lori

    That’s not the USPS sucking, that one mail carrier sucking (combined with what sounds like a less than optimal building design). If there’s a pattern of mail carriers who are, for whatever reason, unable to deliver mail simply blowing off the deliveries until someone raises a fuss then it’s safe to say that the USPS has a problem. That’s the situation with the UPS complaints. It’s not one delivery person, it’s lots of them and that points to a systemic issue. 

  • Jamoche

    The lock was added at USPS request to keep our mailroom secure.
    The only way to know if there’s a pattern or not is to complain and see who joins the chorus.

  • Lori

    The lock was added at USPS request to keep our mailroom secure.

    It was the location of the mailroom that seemed less than optimal to me. I assume the request for the lock  had something to do with it being down in the basement instead of in a high traffic area.

    The only way to know if there’s a pattern or not is to complain and see who joins the chorus.  

    I wasn’t suggesting that you shouldn’t complain. I was merely pointing out that unless/until others join the chorus it’s not really accurate to call your situation evidence that the USPS sucks.

  • P J Evans

    One apartment building I lived at stopped accepting packages at its office so they wouldn’t have be be responsible for anything that happened to them. (One manager would leave the office for long periods of time with the office completely open. People had stuff disappear.)
    So I rented a box from a mailbox place. They get the packages, I sign their list if it needs my signature.

  • Naked Bunny with a Whip

    Well, it’s only anecdotal, but UPS has never left packages sitting in the foyer of my 24-unit apartment building like Fed Ex, they have never claimed a package was delivered while it was still sitting on the floor of one of their trucks like the USPS, their tracking service doesn’t take 24 – 36 hours to update, and they are the only parcel service whose trucks I ever see at my apartment complex doing deliveries after 6 PM.

  • P J Evans

     In some areas, UPS delivers for the USPS, too.

  • Invisible Neutrino

    In some areas, UPS delivers for the USPS, too.

    That’s a new one! :O

    I was always given to understand USPS’s mandate is to deliver mail everywhere within the USA and territories. Why is USPS even using UPS at all? Some Republican fixed that up, I bet.

  • Joshua

     Who told you that? USPS is technically a government agency but they’ve had extensive partnerships with the private sector for decades. For example, they regularly rely on Fedex’s air fleet (the largest private cargo air fleet in the world) for delivering mail and packages — why get a fleet of their own when someone else already has one that they’re not really using? (Fedex’s planes are often idle during the daytime). It’s just good business sense for the USPS to borrow Fedex’s aircraft on the cheap than to operate its own.

    USPS is most efficient at delivering to rural / out-of-the-way areas, so UPS and Fedex (as well as other carriers) often hire USPS to deliver to these areas to save money. Why spend money expanding a service like that when you can just outsource it to someone who is A) better at it and B) already doing it anyway?

  • Invisible Neutrino

    And how do you suppose USPS was delivering its mail before the concept of private couriering was anywhere as widespread as it is today?

    I am not fond, in principle, of the goverment-owned mail transport and delivery agency using private-sector agencies to help said transport and delivery, particularly given the almost-routine horror stories I hear of people getting packages from FedEx and UPS that look like dinoasurs sat on them and then used them for teething practice.

  • Joshua

    Er, the USPS has always contracted with private companies for air service. In fact, ferrying mail for the government was a big part of how the modern US air industry got started. It wasn’t until very recently (relatively speaking) that passenger planes became profitable to be the main focus of any of the major airlines. Before that, it was all mail — letters, packages, etc. You would have the large planes head out to the regional depots while smaller crafts fanned out from those to cover each area within a given territory.

     But once couriers like Fedex ended up building their massive air fleets, it was only commons sense for them to shift their contracts in large part from ordinary airlines to a company whose entire goal was getting things around the country quickly.

     I’m not sure why you’re portraying this as subversive or controversial, because it’s really not. Did you think that the USPS maintained its own air fleet? Imagine how much that would cost, and how little value it would add for the end consumer!

  • Invisible Neutrino

    I’m not sure why you’re portraying this as subversive or controversial

    Because for all the bumpf and trumpeting I hear about the private sector being inherently better and more efficient and customer-focussed, the ongoing stories I hear of package mishandling among private-sector couriering companies implies the exact opposite, and letting them get their mitts on USPS mail only invites the same for the public sector.

  • JoshuaS

     I’m with you on that; private sector, public sector — the only person who thinks that one is automatically better is someone who hasn’t really worked with both before. The reality is that the human element — the variabiltiy of the service encounter — does vary from organization to organization but not from government to private sector. (And there are plenty of horror stories about USPS screwing stuff up too — it’s not just UPS; that’s what happens when you employ fallible humans).

    But, again, you’re kind of missing my point. Private sector companies have been “getting their mitts” on USPS mail since before most of us were even born, and the reverse has been true (USPS delivering stuff for UPS or FedEx) for almost as long. It’s nothing new. It’s nothing controversial. There’s no way that USPS is going to construct its own air force (or deliver every package across the country on foot) to the tune of billions of dollars just to prove some kind of point to you or anyone else. They’re already in trouble — partly due to business concerns (decline in the use of the mails) and partly due to the fact that Congress is basically looting the USPS, using burdensome overpayment rules to draw money from it to subsidize the rest of the federal pension system while at the same time smearing the USPS as another inefficient government bureaucracy.

  • Ross

     My understanding is that the lion’s share of the USPS’s financial woes come from the fact that they are legally required to fully pay up the pensions of USPS employees who haven’t been born yet.

  • abi who

    Ryan North graphed out FedEx’s package delivery attempts a few months ago. 

    (P.S. I always feel SO awkward when I post anything here in comments – I’m a frequent lurker but I almost never say anything because I just don’t have a whole lot to contribute. So, um, hi?) 

  • Madhabmatics

     being awkward is hip + cool

  • abi who

    In that case I am SET.

  • Jamoche

    As a singer, what gripes me about the new liturgy (secondary to the translation issues; I’ve a friend who can go on at great length about places where the new wording uses “man” where the Latin word is not actually gendered) is the lack of new musical arrangements that are above the level of “tolerable”.

    And even more so, the attempts to retrofit the new words into the old songs do not work. Stanford had its Early Holiday Liturgy last night (we have a midnight Advent Mass so we can do something special while classes are in session) and the Gloria we pull out for special events (big brass/strings/organ composition) has all the measures where you used to be able to stop and think about the previous phrase and breathe filled in with text instead. It’s clunky.

  • cjmr

    The regular setting we’re using isn’t terrible, but it isn’t nice, either.   Eventually SOMEONE will write a good setting.

    KWYM about the Gloria, though.  We’re learning a Christmas Gloria  for midnight Mass that you can either sing all the notes, or enunciate all the words, but not both.

  • Jamoche

    The everyday Gloria we use has guitar parts with two capo switches, one before the final verse, one after that for the refrain. We’ve only got one guitarist who can play the non-capo chords; the rest of us have to drop out to adjust.

    At that I’d still rather play the guitar for it than sing it.

  • cjmr

    Ugh.  I’ve never noticed if our guitar players have to change capo for the Gloria.  But I suspect not–our music director is not a virtuoso organist (unlike two of the previous three parishes I’ve been at) and so tends to choose music that doesn’t require virtuosity from the instrumentalists.

    The VOCALISTS, on the other hand…

  • Carstonio

    Reading the comments for the Slate piece on marriage proposals, many people misinterpreted Marcotte as slamming all instances of men proposing to women, and this interpretation sounds unnecessarily defensive at best. What’s sexist is having a norm of one gender doing the proposing. The custom likely originated during a time when women were the property of either fathers or husbands, which explains the still occasional practice of the prospective groom asking the bride’s father. 

  • Karen Davis

    The thing about UPS (and my local driver is pretty good, he knows how late I work and tends to come after that if he can) is that the bottom line is: You, the person getting the package? You are not their customer. They as a company don’t care about you. If the shipper keeps on using them, they aren’t going to change.

  • P J Evans

    One place I lived, the UPS driver was good enough at his job that he once stopped on the street and delivered a package to me when I was half a mile from home (it wasn’t large, fortunately). That’s service. (Also unexpected!)

  • banancat

    Am I the only person who doesn’t like the idea of a marriage proposal in general?  Deciding to get married is BFD and it doesn’t seem wise to make that choice in a second.  I would take longer to consider a job offer or which apartment to live in, but either I or my (hypothetical) boyfriend is supposed to make the decision within a few minutes of being asked?  I guess most couples discuss it before the official proposal, but in that case, why is the proposal even necessary?

  • Dave


    why is the proposal even necessary?

    Most people like being able to frame marriage narratives in crisp terms.

    When my husband and I got married, it was after we’d been together for more than fifteen years, and we didn’t really bother with most of the conventional narrative tropes; a number of people were sort of confused by that.

  • EllieMurasaki

    There does have to be some moment at which the couple agrees to marry. Granted that might (like with the parents of a friend of mine) end up being “Well, I guess we’ll be getting married one of these days”, but there has to be that moment of agreement.

  • Dave

    There does have to be some moment at which the couple agrees to marry.

    My husband and I don’t have such a moment. There was a time when we didn’t intend to marry, and there was a later time when we did, but there’s no particular moment we can identify that separates the former time from the latter time.

    So I’m inclined to disagree with the idea that there has to be some moment like that.

    But I suppose there might have been some such moment that we just didn’t notice as it went by.

  • EllieMurasaki

    ‘Intend to’ is different from ‘agrees to’. If nothing else, there’s the moment when you two decided when to get the marriage license.

  • Dave

    I’m not looking for a semantic dispute, here, but if the difference between “intend to” and “agrees to” is important to your point I’m happy to listen to you clarify it further. At the moment I don’t quite get why it matters.

    In the meantime, what I’m telling you is that there exists at least one married couple whose marriage doesn’t have the kind of defining moment that you’re asserting is universally present. There simply wasn’t such a moment, for us… or if there was, I didn’t notice it going by.  We had a relationship, we talked about marriage for a long time, it wasn’t the most important question to either of us, we went back and forth a couple of times, we gradually decided it was a good idea, we got married, the relationship continued.

    Yes, there was a moment when we decided to get a marriage license. There was also a moment when we decided to hire a justice of the peace. In both cases, it was clear before that moment that we were going to get married; the license and the JoP were just paperwork. (There was also a moment when we decided to have a big party, but that was several months later.)

  • EllieMurasaki

    The moment that you both know that you both know that you’re going to get married, I think is what I’m going for.

  • Dave

    Ah, I see. Thanks for the clarification.

    Yeah, thinking about it now, I guess I can remember the first such moment, some years before we got married. (It became less certain, subsequently, and became more certain afterwards, so there were several such moments over time.)

    It’s not particularly special to us, but you’re right that it exists, and I suppose it might have some intrinsic significance independent of its significance to us.

  • cjmr

    Apparently I’ve been lucky to pretty much only live in places where the UPS and USPS delivery systems both did not suck.  FedEx, OTOH…OY!  I came home with the kids one day and picked up a FedEx envelope that was blowing down the street. It was addressed to cjmr’s husband.  It contained a ‘reply within 10 days’ document from his employer.  If I hadn’t come home just then, or hadn’t noticed the envelope, or not chased it down…that could have cost us a LOT!

  • Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little

    From the Slate article:

    …. this benevolent sexism that leeches women of much of their autonomy beyond just the right to say yes or no. (A right that is often compromised by the public proposal, a format rigged to guarantee a crowd to boo you if you decline.)

    So very much this. Hate hate hate. One of these days I so very much want to hear the woman respond by coming to the mike and saying, “Sweetie! You’re really proposing to me? Now? Here? In front of all these people? So that if I say no, everyone will boo and hiss and call me a bitch and feel sorry for you? I never knew what a manipulative jerk you were! But now I do! Thank you for clearing that up! And, by the way, no.

    What would just make it would be if all that were said in a bright, chirpy, gushing tone of voice, like you’d use for saying Darling! Oh, you shouldn’t have!. I mean, when you actually mean it, not when you’re being sarcastic. YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN>

    And all other instances of men enlisting the aid of a sympathetic public to shame/pressure a woman into responding the way he wants. Hate. Hate. Hate.

    My very first boyfriend – we’re talking early high school, here – pissed me off (by being irresponsible and disrepsectful, and then acting like it was no big deal when I called him on it, if you must know), and so I was on the outs with him. This was at a residential summer program, so we were living in dorms. And there was a “morning show” over the PA system where one of the RAs would say good morning, wake up, here’s some notes from today’s schedule, and here’s a song request from one of y’all out there… Well. The morning after our fight, I hear, “And this song goes out from [name of boyfriend], who’d like to say, ‘Niki, I’m sorry.'”

    I’m sorry, but 1) requesting a song and dedication is even lazier than buying flowers, in that it not only is easier than actually attempting to make amends for wrong doing, but it also doesn’t involve actually saying sorry to my face, like you mean it, and 2) the public shenanigans had the effect of enlisting the rest of campus in pressuring me into accepting his apology performance.

    Which I didn’t. I broke it off pretty quick after that. Anyone who said to me “But that was so sweet! How could you break up?” got an earful of exactly why.

    Today I’m happily married, and, like others up there, there was no real “proposal” moment, neither one-sided nor bilateral. There was the moment of finally getting the guts to say “I love you,” but after that we sort of both grew into the realization that the initial flush of OMG I LOVE YOU AND WANT TO MARRY YOU really did have its grounding in fact. Eventually we decided (who decided? Not sure. We just started talking about it) that we should probably start planning the actual wedding.

    But there was a moment when I bought a couple of one-size-fits-nobody hematite bands out of the French Market in downtown NOLA, and brought them over to him, and said, “OK, let’s do this,” and we took turns handing each other a ring and saying “Will you? Oh good!” and laughing about it. Mainly that was because I wanted to forestall romance running away with our life savings. Why’d the moment come then? I dunno. ‘Cause we were in the French Quarter and there was the dude selling rings, that’s why.

  • Lori

    I share your hatred of the public proposal, but in fairness I have to say that the issue is not always with the guy trying to pressure/manipulate the woman into saying yes. I personally know of at least on case where it was the guy bowing the woman’s love of drama and desire to be the center of attention and (what she presumed to be) the envy of others.

    He was a coworker and told me pretty much straight out that he was sure that if he did a low-key, private proposal she would not have been happy. From what I know of her, he was right. He didn’t think that she would have said no (and I agreed with that assessment as well), but she wouldn’t have been happy. I didn’t keep in touch with him after I left the job so I have no idea where things stand with them now. My gut instinct is that a case of WIC-poisoning that severe can’t have lead to a happy marriage, but I could be wrong about that.

    I imagine that there are people who do public proposals for good, or at least mutual/complimentary, reasons but I think those are exceptions, not the rule.

  • Dash1


  • Lori

     WIC = Wedding Industrial Complex

    Basically, the woman was high off the princess fumes from The Knot and 87 pounds of bridal magazines per month and elevntybillion wedding blogs and she wanted A Show befitting Their Perfect Love.

  • MaryKaye

    One day I happened to say to my housemate, “You know, if we got married my health insurance would cover you.”  He thought about it for a minute and said, “Okay.”  So we got married.

    The actual big decision was a whole year earlier when I said, “I’ve got a postdoc in Seattle.  Want to come?”  He thought about that a lot longer, and with good reason–*that* was the commitment moment.

    We’ll be celebrating our 21st anniversary next weekend, so I can vouch for the success potential of this approach, at least for us.

  • cjmr

    Yeah, that was similar to our decision-making process.  “If we get married before Dec. 31, we’ll be independent students (and can get financial aid), if not, we’ll have to take out massive loans next school year.”  

    22 years (as of last Thursday) so far.

  • DorothyD

    The actual big decision was a whole year earlier when I said, “I’ve got a postdoc in Seattle.  Want to come?”  He thought about that a lot longer, and with good reason–*that* was the commitment moment.

    That’s pretty much how we did things, too. We were already living
    together, the end of grad school was on the horizon. I was the one who
    brought up the subject, something along the lines of, “I think we should
    stay together” which got me a quick reply of “Want to get married?”
    which was sweet. The whole thing with the ring after that – we went
    through the motions but didn’t really care. Twenty three years now so we
    must have done something right. 

    As for public proposals, on please no. That said, I have to admire the guy who arranged to have his worked into a New York Times crossword puzzle.

  • Münchner Kindl

    It would also be a good idea to do way with the whole cultural ideology that
    a man who decides to marry a woman (instead of them both deciding it mutually) makes her “a honest woman”
    everybdoy who’s not a teen/twen should marry at the earliest.

    Of course this goes against the strong patriarchial influence where women do belong to the father and are handed over to the stewardship of the husbands, as the fundies loudly proclaim. What with purity balls and promise rings and all that stuff still influencing mainstream culture, it would be better to simply stop for a few generations.

  • Dash1


    I believe I’m operating from a very different premise to Jason. I’m
    interested in why people assign concepts of sacredness and profanity to
    various things rather than equating “recorded in Leviticus” to “what God

    This, Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart, is part of why I admire your approach to Christianity, or as much of it as I have seen on this blog, as well as Fred Clark’s. Your points in this discussion have all been clear and, IMO, well taken.

    I wanted to address Jason Knox in particular, as he keeps making broad categorical propositions without any support. What is particularly frustrating is his attempt, as we consider an ancient text, to claim that it doesn’t say what it says.

    Now, granted, we are reading translations. And a Hebrew scholar would have more to say about all of this. But, to go with the English for the moment–since it is Hebrew scholars who chose English words like “clean” and “unclean” as appropriate representations of the relevant Hebrew concepts–there are certain ramifications of the metaphor of clean(li)ness. And Jason Knox seems to want to avoid those ramifications. (It is actually far more likely that the ancients viewed femaleness as a pollutant.)

    Yes, of course, the rules for uncleanness after giving birth give the mother a nice “babymoon.” Does Jason Knox really think that women in other societies didn’t have a rest after giving birth? Of course, the “babymoon” was tainted by the knowledge that it wasn’t for her benefit or for the baby’s benefit, but because she was unclean. That’s got to have been a bit stressful. 

    If God wanted to give women a nice rest after having a baby, then why not say that a woman should rest after having a baby rather than that she is unclean (and more unclean for a daughter than for a son)? (I know that there are people who claim this favors daughters by giving them more bonding time with their mothers. Bull!)

  • Carstonio


    Does Jason Knox really think that women in other societies didn’t have a rest after giving birth?

    A running joke among the women I know is that their great-grandmothers’ generation simply gave birth in the fields and kept on working. The obstetric equivalent of walking barefoot in the snow to school, uphill both ways.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    This, Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart, is part of why I admire your approach to Christianity, or as much of it as I have seen on this blog, as well as Fred Clark’s. Your points in this discussion have all been clear and, IMO, well taken.

    Thanks, that’s nice of you to say.

    It’s not really on topic but I want to note that people like me who don’t have a “high view of scripture” (as they call it) still find the bible immensely valuable. Not just from cultural, historical, linguistic, anthropological perspectives, but spiritually as well. It’s one of the most common kick-offs for deep prayer for me. But, and I hope this analogy works outside my head, my approach to reading the bible is akin to hearing peope who loved my dad talk about him. It can give me new or deeper insights into his character but I know the stories aren’t always accurate–they’re bent by time and points of view and the psychological needs of the teller. But more importantly than conveying information, listening to people who loved my dad is a moving experience because it connects me to the other person, and both of us to him. And it’s just a shadow of hearing from him directly, but I’ll take the shadow because it’s what I’ve got. Does that make sense?

    To step back from the analogy, when I read scripture I don’t read it thinking “God said this” or even “the author as named said this”, but that doesn’t mean it has no power. In a dark night of the soul I read Psalm 42 over and over for weeks, knowing that someone wrote and meant those words just as deeply as I mean them in recitation thousands of years later. Maybe it was King David or maybe it was someone anonymous to history; it doesn’t matter. And in the intervening time who knows how many people have meditated on the same words in all kinds of situations. By praying with that psalm I’m connected to countless people across time and space and we’re all connected to God, and being aware of that immense web of relationship is, to me, no less mind blowing than the idea that God dictated some words to someone once. And I am reminded that I’m not alone. (My faith, like my politics, has a particularly communitarian emphasis to it)

    This was a great big tangent in response to nothing in particular, but I guess I felt like I wanted to note for the silent observer that there’s not a forced choice between biblical literalism and a great regard for and love of scripture.


    On topic, reading the continuing discussion with Jason about cleanliness is just making me want to plug Richard Beck’s book even more (I’m not his agent). It’s really, really, really, really, really, really interesting.

  • Dash1

    Just to add to the point about uncleanness, Leviticus 5:1-13 establish that touching an unclean thing (including human uncleanness, which will presumably include the seat on which a menstruating woman sat) results in uncleanness, which is removed by an offering that our Hebrew translators seem to think is best rendered in English as “a sin offering.”

    Seems to me that negates Jason Knox’s “None of those “theories” makes uncleanines sin.” [sic]

  • Invisible Neutrino

    Why are we having this conversation as if ejaculate isn’t also on the
    list of fluids that make people unclean? This isn’t a male/female thing.

    TMI follows, ROT13d just in case, but it’s for jasonknox’s benefit:

    Bapr hcba n gvzr jura V jnf dhvgr lbhat (abg dhvgr n grrantre), va n gvzr jura V oryvrirq n ybg bs gur fghss gung pbzrf bhg bs gur Cynva Gehgu, naq unq guhf ernq zl Erivfrq Fgnaqneq Irefvba, cnegvphyneyl gur fghss nobhg hapyrna rzvffvbaf, V jnf dhvgr fher ng gur gvzr vg zrnag znyr naq srznyr rzvffvbaf obgu.

    Jryy, nf lbh znl vzntvar, nf lbhat oblf qb, V rkcrevraprq na vaibyhagnel ‘rzvffvba’, naq orvat dhvgr pbaprearq nobhg vg, jbaqrerq ubj V jbhyq rkcynva gung V arrqrq gb yrnir gur pybgurf sbe frira qnlf naq abg gbhpu gurz nsgre gurl jrer jnfurq.

    V bcgrq abg gb, naq fvzcyl harnfvyl jber zl (ynhaqrerq) pybgurf naq jbaqrerq vs gung zrnag V jnf n onq Puevfgvna.

  • EllieMurasaki

    ROT13ing this because Neutrino ROT13ed that:

    Yrivgvphf 15, Erivfrq Fgnaqneq Irefvba:

    16 “Naq vs n zna unf na rzvffvba bs frzra, ur funyy ongur uvf jubyr obql va jngre, naq or hapyrna hagvy gur riravat. 17 Naq rirel tnezrag naq rirel fxva ba juvpu gur frzra pbzrf funyy or jnfurq jvgu jngre, naq or hapyrna hagvy gur riravat. 18 Vs n zna yvrf jvgu n jbzna naq unf na rzvffvba bs frzra, obgu bs gurz funyy ongur gurzfryirf va jngre, naq or hapyrna hagvy gur riravat.

  • Invisible Neutrino

    Thanks. I must have mixed the verses up, and I don’t know now why I thought the more restrictive rules applied.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Poor reading comprehension is a problem anyone can have at any time. Fuck knows I often have and undoubtedly often will.

  • jasonknox

    I’ve never seen that r0t13 thing before – that seems very helpful!

    I remember that time in my preteen years as well. I think it’s a glorious thing that God doesn’t call us sinful for that, but calls us human. God doesn’t want us to not be human – God wants us to not pretend like we aren’t human and in those moments God calls us to use those opportunities to remember that it is no small thing to enter into God’s presence and shouldn’t be taken lightly. God wants us to not pretend to be brains on a stick (or souls on a stick?) and that in the rhythms of our bodily functions are reminders to be before the Lord always. He designed us that way!

  • Invisible Neutrino

    The point I was trying to make is that I felt guilty about it. I felt bad about it.

    From reading the same damn Bible, or as near as, to yours.

    Square that with logic-chopping over not “calling it sinful”.

  • The_L1985

     Yet men are only unclean for less than 24 hours if they ejaculate, whereas women are unclean for an entire week while they’re menstruating.  Do you honestly not see the HUGE, OBVIOUS DISCREPANCY there?

  • Ross

     Yeah. Women are only considered unclean for about the length of time menstruaton lasts, while men are considered unclean for something on the order of 40,000-80,000 times as long as it takes to ejaculate. Not cool.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Not funny.

  • Dash1

    As for the arguments against Plato, well, this is a case
    where I really, once again, really, really miss hapax. (Also
    because she’d be reminding us that it’s Advent, not actually Christmas yet, so all those folks wearing the “Feel Free To Wish Me a Merry Christmas” button are jumping the gun on their passive-aggressive pre-emptive attacks.)

  • Invisible Neutrino

    I suspect that if jasonknox had anything like a thesis defence, he’s busy recovering from it now with a nice long beer-soaked evening. :P 

    I meant to put the more general comment HERE, as opposed to my reply to CU5012.