Smart people saying smart things

Sandra M. Schneiders, in Women and the Word

Jesus’ parable about the father actually constitutes a radical challenge to patriarchy. The divine father, who had been understood as the ultimate justification of human patriarchy, is revealed as one who refuses to own us, demand our submission, or punish our rebellion. Rather, God is one who respects our freedom, mourns our alienation, waits patiently for our return, and accepts our love as pure gift. In the parable God tries to educate the older brother, and through him all disciples who prefer the security of law to the adventure of grace, to the true nature of the God who is love. Not only does Jesus say plainly that God is not a patriarch but he definitely subverts any attempt to base human patriarchy on an appeal to divine institution. The power God refuses to assume over us is surely not given by God to any human being. Since the revelation of God to Jesus the claim of divine sanction for human patriarch is blasphemy.

Hillary Clinton: “Helping Women Isn’t Just a Nice Thing to Do”

Too many otherwise thoughtful people continue to see the fortunes of women and girls as somehow separate from society at large. They nod, they smile and then relegate these issues once again to the sidelines. I have seen it over and over again, I have been kidded about it I have been ribbed, I have been challenged in board rooms and official offices across the world.

But fighting to give women and girls a fighting chance isn’t a nice thing to do. It isn’t some luxury that we get to when we have time on our hands to spend doing that. This is a core imperative for every human being and every society. If we do not complete a campaign for women’s rights and opportunities the world we want to live in the country we all love and cherish will not be what it should be.

Benjamin Franklin on taxes, letter to Robert Morris, 1783

All Property, indeed, except the Savage’s temporary Cabin, his Bow, his Matchcoat, and other little Acquisitions, absolutely necessary for his Subsistence, seems to me to be the Creature of public Convention. Hence the Public has the Right of Regulating Descents, and all other Conveyances of Property, and even of limiting the Quantity and the Uses of it. All the Property that is necessary to a Man, for the Conservation of the Individual and the Propagation of the Species, is his natural Right, which none can justly deprive him of: But all Property superfluous to such purposes is the Property of the Publick, who, by their Laws, have created it, and who may therefore by other Laws dispose of it, whenever the Welfare of the Publick shall demand such Disposition. He that does not like civil Society on these Terms, let him retire and live among Savages. He can have no right to the benefits of Society, who will not pay his Club towards the Support of it.

David Badash: “Surprise! Rand Paul Is Just as Uninformed on Same-Sex Marriage as He Is on Everything Else”

The problem with the libertarian mindset is it starts with the “get off my lawn” old man and elevates his hermit-ness into a political philosophy. While it might, in certain circumstances, be nice to have the local, state, and federal governments  — get out of our business — that position requires that the other actors, say, your neighbors, or the oil companies, or North Korea, all act with the same largess and all come from humanitarian positions.

But then the real world shows up and you’re left with the BP Oil “spill” or fraud or other bad actions and you’re left undefended.

Russell Brand: “I always felt sorry for her children”

The blunt, pathetic reality today is that a little old lady has died, who in the winter of her life had to water roses alone under police supervision. If you behave like there’s no such thing as society, in the end there isn’t. Her death must be sad for the handful of people she was nice to and the rich people who got richer under her stewardship. It isn’t sad for anyone else. … What is more troubling is my inability to ascertain where my own selfishness ends and her neo-liberal inculcation begins. All of us that grew up under Thatcher were taught that it is good to be selfish, that other people’s pain is not your problem, that pain is in fact a weakness and suffering is deserved and shameful. Perhaps there is resentment because the clemency and respect that are being mawkishly displayed now by some and haughtily demanded of the rest of us at the impending, solemn ceremonial funeral, are values that her government and policies sought to annihilate.

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  • LoneWolf343

    Huh, Russell Brand can be eloquent when he wants to be. Who knew?

  • Marc Mielke

    Practically any interview the guy does. For someone who specializes in acting like an idiot, he’s pretty brilliant.

  • Citizen Alan

    I was quite astonished at the Russell Brand piece. I literally cannot listen to the sound of his voice without my eye starting to twitch, but as a writer he’s quite good.

    Somewhat less so, the Schneiders piece. I’m not sure I buy the idea of the Prodigal Son story as being a commentary on the Patriarchy since, after all, there are no women even mentioned in the story. I am not certain what “the Patriarchy” means as a concept outside of the context of gender relations, but I am happy to be educated. It is also possible that I am biased due to my visceral dislike for the Parable of the Prodigal Son, or as I usually call it, the Parable of the Silly Old Dad Who Blatantly Favors One Child Over the Other. Assuming, as most people seem to, that Dad is God in this scenario, I’ve never been able to read the Prodigal Son story other than to say that “God will blatantly favor some people over others, and if you’re not one of his pets, you should just shut up and accept it,” which I don’t think reflect well on God at all. I do admit that my reading is something of a minority view.

  • arresi

    Patriarchy technically means “rule of the fathers.” In a patriarchal system, the male head of house, or Patriarch, doesn’t just have complete or near complete control over his wife, or daughters, but his sons (as well as any servants or slaves, male or female). Think Abraham sacrificing Isaac, or even “honor thy father and mother.” So, yeah, women don’t need to be present for it to be a patriarchy.

  • The_L1985

    I’ve started looking at it in a different way. The Prodigal Son refused to consider the possible consequences of getting the inheritance early, so Dad let him experience those consequences, brutal as they were.

    The return at the end, to me, is sort of “Son, you’ve learned your lesson. I don’t think less of you for having to learn it the hard way. Welcome home.”

    The father even tells the older brother “Your son was lost, and now he is found.” The Prodigal Son had been lost in his own short-sighted greed, and now he had seen the light. His father was celebrating that he had learned a valuable life lesson and returned in one piece.

    But, as with all parables, YMMV.

  • Lori

    I’ve never seen anyone argue about the Prodigal’s role in the story or even about the father’s response to it. As you say, Prodigal does something dumb, father let’s him learn his lesson, Prodigal crawls home lesson learned, dad takes him back. Fine, fine.

    It’s the situation between the elder brother and the father that’s the sticking point.

  • The_L1985

    It doesn’t seem to imply that the father is going to kill fatted calves for the younger son on a regular basis, or even that the father sees the older son as in any way less important or less obedient.

    To me, the older son’s complaint sounds more like “I’m the good kid; why aren’t you doing anything fancy and special for me” in a ploy for attention from someone who (as the older) is so used to being the Favored Son that the celebration comes out of left field to him.

    Further, the younger son has already spent his inheritance, leaving only th eolder son’s share in the family. As the father points out “everything I have is yours.” I don’t think the father’s showing favoritism–he’s just happy that he has his lost son back, as he says to the older one.

  • Lori

    That’s how it sounds to you. That’s how it sounds to most people. That’s not how it sounds to everyone, including a lot of people who have been the dutiful, taken for granted sibling of an irresponsible favorite child.

  • chris the cynic

    Patriarchy is literally rule by fathers. It’s built around the family unit as headed by the father who literally owns every other member of the family (remember where the word comes from) as projected onto the society as a whole.

    Which is to say that a key component of patriarchy is that it’s hierarchical. It’s not just that men are above women, it’s that men are above other men. If you have equals you’re not in the ruling class because the model projected is one where there’s a single head of household, and if that person’s father is still alive he’s theoretically in charge of that household as well as the household of each of his other sons if he has other sons.

    It’s as much about men ruling other men via a fatherly hierarchy as it is about men ruling women.

    Androcracy, which usually takes the form of patriarchy, is the term when it’s just men rule but not specifically about the form of a patriarchal family used as a model for society.

    When someone, as someone did (but the quote is from memory and probably inexact), says, “I don’t think anything I wouldn’t let my daughter do should be legal,” that’s patriarchal because the person is using fatherhood=head of household as a model for society at large. Laws should be what a father would have for his children.

    If someone just said, “Women should not be part of the ruling class,” that would be androarchal and misogynistic, but not necessarily patriarchal. That said, it would probably be patriarchal because every androarchal system (formal or informal) I know of is also patriarchal.

    Now the parable in question is tied up very much in patriarchy and the standards of the day.

    Other people can come forward as experts on Hebrew standards, they have in the past when it was brought up, but given that at the time the parable was spoken Israel was under Roman rule I can speak to it somewhat since Roman law applied.

    The father in the story owned both sons. If you want to understand the extent of control he had, if he wanted to he could legally put either or both of them to death with no repercussions whatsoever.

    Each son would, if he had a wife or children, own his family, but by virtue of being owned by his father the son’s family would be owned by the father as well. We could add another level if the grandfather were still alive but apparently he wasn’t.

    So when the prodigal son comes up and says something that amounts to, “I wish you were dead. Pretend you are so I can have my inheritance now,” the father could, under the existing legally enforced patriarchy, respond by saying, “Well I wish you were dead,” and put the son to death.

    Likewise when the other son says what amounts to, “I wish you were dead, I just never said it out loud before but I’m still pissed off at you for not psychically knowing I wished you were dead and letting me pretend you were dead with my friends by using your property in a way that’s only culturally acceptable if you were dead,” the father owns the person saying that. He could respond with, “I wish you were dead too,” and kill him on the spot. Totally legal.

    Now assuming that the father, whose sons have both told him in no uncertain terms that they wish he was dead and have the opposite of respect for him, isn’t about to commit filicide that still leaves open the fact that he owns both sons. He could order the prodigal not to leave. He could order the other to come inside and join the party. They would be bound by law to obey. He doesn’t order.

    He pleads.

    I always forget that the story ends where it does. We don’t know if the elder son was convinced to go inside or not. If he didn’t we don’t know whether the father stayed outside with him or went back inside.

    The story cuts off without an ending leaving us to wonder.

    Like I said, I always forget that. In my mind the story ends with the father, having failed to convince the elder son, heading back inside alone while the elder remains outside. But my mind is not the text, and in the text we don’t know what happened.

    We hear the Father’s response to the Elder son’s response, but not the Elder son’s response to that.

    I don’t think it makes sense to say he favors one over the other. One asked for something that was completely unreasonable by all of the standards of the day (and of today as well, but in fewer ways today) and the father does it for him. The other doesn’t ask for something that is likewise completely unreasonable by all the standards of the day (but not so much today) and is pissed off the father never did the thing he never asked for.

    There’s nothing in the story that indicates that the father wouldn’t have been just as wiling to go along with the non-prodigal son’s unreasonable wishes if the wishes had actually been requested.

    The position of, “I’m going to stick by your side and pretend to like you in hopes that I’ll be rewarded by getting what I want without ever saying what I want,” is the position of Internet Nice Guy(TM) which is not a good position to be in. But it’s also a position that doesn’t allow us to know what would have been done if the person had just said what they wanted.

    Maybe the Internet Nice Guy(TM) would get the girl if he bothered to actually ask her out. Maybe the elder son would have been allowed to have his, “I’m pretending my dad is dead,” feast with his friends if he’d simply asked. And, actually, the implication is that the father of the story would have been fine with it if the son had done it without asking. Meaning that the story implies that the only reason that the elder son didn’t get his completely unreasonable under the then-present patriarchy wish fulfilled is that he both didn’t ask and didn’t try.

    Of course, depending on the exact formalities of a feast (and this would require me to know more about ancient Hebrew culture than I do) the father might be an asshole too for not calling the other son back immediately.

    One bit about ancient Hebrew culture that I do know is that the celebration hadn’t started yet. The music and dancing heard were part of the prep work for the celebration. Sort of like how if you go to a concert before it starts (as I often do because my mother is in a concert band and I tend to get my ride to the concert with her) you’ll hear music even though the concert hasn’t started.*

    The celebration cannot begin until the elder son comes inside. So says the rules of the then-present patriarchy.

    If the father leaves the elder son outside, having failed to convince him to come in and refusing to order him to do so even though he could, he’d be saying, “Fuck the rules,” and any merriment that followed would be as far outside the rules as the elder son’s desire to have “Pretend my dad is dead with my friends,” feasts and the prodigal’s to have a, “Pretend my dad is dead to get half of his goods,” windfall.

    If the father doesn’t say, “Fuck the rules,” and continues in his position of pleading rather than ordering, then the elder son holds all the power. The elder son is not supposed to hold that power. It goes against the patriarchy. The very same patriarchy that the elder son argues he has been following the rules of. The elder son is supposed to be subservient to the father who owns him, the father is never supposed to plead with him because an order is enough. But by not giving the order it makes it so the choice whether to return or not is in the elder son’s hands.

    The celebration that everyone’s been preparing, cannot start until the elder son comes in from the outside to start it with his father (again, unless the father says, “Fuck the rules,”) so whether or not the prodigal son gets a celebration at all is in the hands of the elder son.

    We don’t know which of these two things happens because the story ends before one can.

    Regardless, everyone is breaking the rules.

    Prodigal son breaks the rules when he takes the money and runs. Elder son wanted to break the rules with his stated desire for, “Pretend my dad is dead,” feasts and did, more or less, break the rules by refusing to come inside. The father sort of broke the rules by letting his sons do as they wished and, if he did have the celebration for the prodigal son after the elder son refused to participate, actually broke the rules by having that celebration. If the celebration didn’t happen because the rules said it couldn’t happen without the elder son and the elder son refused to come inside, then the father sort of broke the rules by letting the decision be in the hands of the elder son, not his own.

    Basically, a lot of screwing with the patriarchy. Even the elder son, the one who represents the good little patriarchal subject, breaks with patriarchy when he says, “What the fuck?! I followed patriarchy even though what I wanted, and what I’m pissed off at you for not giving me, was against the rules of the patriarchy.” The patriarchy of the time said he should have gotten his ass in the house as soon as the father hinted that that was what he wanted. The father didn’t merely hint, he pleaded.

    Or, for the short version, patriarchy is about more than just misogyny. The story of the prodigal son is one where everyone says, “Fuck the patriarchy!” even though all the characters are male.

    But, since patriarchy is about more than just misogyny, saying, “Fuck the patriarchy,” isn’t necessarily an anti-misogynist statement. While the, “Fuck the patriarchy!” in the story of the prodigal son can be compared to anti-misogynist versions of, “Fuck the patriarchy!” it is not, in itself, anti-misogynist.

    * Earliest music is the conductor leading the band through things he thinks might be problem areas so they have one last bit of practice right before the concert, then (once the conductor is satisfied) the music becomes a strangely pleasant whatever-the-not-bad-version-of-cacophony-is as each member of the band does some final practice on what they think might be personal trouble spots.

    Then, when it is finally time for the concert to begin the music stops, pitch is checked, and the music of the concert actually starts.

  • Citizen Alan

    I’m sorry, but I absolutely do not understand how you get from

    “‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your
    orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate
    with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!” (the only words attributed to the older son at all)

    to “I have always hated you and wished you were dead but I never said anything because I’m a passive-aggressive asshole.”

    I admit I don’t have an encyclopedic knowledge of ancient Jewish social customs. But the only actual words spoken by the older son seem to me to be saying “I have given you my complete loyalty and slaved these years, and not once have you ever shown my the slightest consideration or hint of gratitude. Even now, as you are throwing a huge feast for my brother, I had to stop a servant to ask what was going on because you couldn’t be buggered to send someone to tell me. How am I supposed to interpret that other than to think you love him more than me?”

    To which the father replies: “Everything I have is yours… except the sandals, the robe, the ring, the fatted calf, the money spent on the musicians for the feast, and anything else I choose to spend on your brother in my remaining years. Now stop bitching, come inside, and lavish your affections on the precious snowflake like I do.”

    Has anyone ever considered that if the older brother had followed the prodigal’s lead — liquidated his inheritance and skipped town — Dad would been destitute and starved to death?

  • chris the cynic

    High school level common knowledge:

    “Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends,”

    The only reason the father would have to give the goat is if he wasn’t the one leading the celebration, since the goat is (in the contrary to fact hypothetical) being given to the son not one of his friends it means that the son is leading the celebration, the only way the son is allowed to lead the celebration is if the father is dead.

    I could go into more detail about various things. But the key point is: the only way the son needs to be given the goat is if he’s leading the celebration, and the only way he’s leading the celebration is if the father is dead or, as in the case with the younger son, they’re acting like the father is dead.

  • LL

    It does explain a lot of patricide. Maybe men should have reconsidered giving everybody a really good reason to want them dead. If the only way people can advance is by the death of their immediate superior, that doesn’t bode well for the leader’s long-term survival. Nor the stability of the system overall.

    Same thing with when women could only be in charge of anything in the event of a husband’s death. Quite frankly, I’d have to really, really love my husband to not be incentivized to arrange an “accident” for him so I could be in charge of my own earnings or my own children.

  • stardreamer42

    In fact, it sounds a lot like the mirror universe from Star Trek, where the only way to get a promotion is by assassinating your superior officer.

  • Lori

    The idea what that the patriarch keeps his sons too weak to strike against him and if he’s too weak to do that he doesn’t deserve to be in charge.

    It was basically the same thing for women. They were to be kept too powerless, even within their own homes, to kill their husband and get away with it. The system had the effect of incentivizing women to marry old men in hopes that they’d shuffle off the mortal coil while their wives were still young enough to enjoy the pleasures of widowhood.

  • Wednesday

    Eh, I’m not sure it incentivized women to marry old men in hopes they’d be able to enjoy single widowhood; OT laws definitely are addressing a polygamous society. And generally speaking, polygamous societies are able to maintain polygamy despite the gender ratio within any age group being roughly equal because men marry old, while women marry young for the _first_ time, and remarry when they’re older and the first husband has died. That allows for two marriage-elligable women for every marriage-elligable man, and _that’s_ before you take into account any deaths of younger men in violent conflict.

  • hf

    That’s not “high school level common knowledge”. I’m not even sure it’s true, though it sounds quite plausible. What school were you thinking of?

  • chris the cynic

    Public school in southern Maine.

  • stardreamer42

    My public high school (early 70s) didn’t teach Bible stories. That was considered to be the role of the church.

  • chris the cynic

    It was more of a philosophy class for me, but since the high school didn’t have philosophy it was literature-history (two classes fused into one such that it had two teachers and met twice as often as normal) either of which would have gotten the job done on it’s own because when you start at the allegory of the cave and work your way up to apartheid you’re going to trip over it in the middle.

  • stardreamer42

    Still doesn’t make it “high-school level common knowledge”. I never even heard that interpretation in church Bible-study groups. It may be a sound theological interpretation, but I don’t think it’s going to be one that many people hear of before college. You’re an outlier.

  • chris the cynic

    You’re an outlier.

    For learning that the Roman Empire and Christianity existed? I somehow doubt it. You can’t study Shakespeare without at least a passing knowledge of Christianity, you can’t meaningfully study the founding of America without at least a passing knowledge of the the Roman Empire given the influences the latter had on those responsible for the former.

    If I’m an outlier for remembering, on the other hand, there I agree with you. Sort of. My guess is that someone who did remember without outside help would be an outlier. It is a small bit of trivia with no apparent use in the wider world after all. (Like learning that George Washington’s teeth weren’t wooden, when will you use that?) I am not such a person though.

    I forgot, as with many elements of high-school level common knowledge. In fact, I’d venture that most high school level common knowledge has been forgotten by me at this point, and will not be remembered unless someone reminds me. (At which point I’ll have an, “Oh, yeah… I learned that back in [whatever class/grade]” moment.)

    On this particular topic I was reminded of that particular bit of high school level knowledge in the comments of this blog, then located at typepad, about two and a half years ago.

  • stardreamer42

    For learning that the Roman Empire and Christianity existed?

    That’s a pretty amazing jump from “for having been taught one particular interpretation of one particular Bible story in a public high school”.

    My disagreement is with you characterizing this as “high-school level common knowledge”, as though you were talking about learning that there are 9 planets* in the solar system. Your SCHOOL was an outlier, which is probably how I should have phrased it to begin with.

    * Or 8, depending on just when you were in high school.

  • Lori

    So the elder son didn’t need to be given a goat. The younger son didn’t need to be given his inheritance. The father clearly wasn’t working strictly on the basis of what needed to occur.

  • Kirala

    I think the crucial point is that the elder son didn’t ask.

    I could imagine the story today: my little sister demands that my parents liquidate their retirement to fund her partying, then comes back contrite and my parents decide to blow the money they’d been saving for an anniversary in Europe on a welcome-back party. And then I start whining that they never sold their old car for me, even though I’d never said a single thing, even though I had all the status and attention as the person whom everyone but my parents obeyed.

    The parents aren’t working with what needs to occur, but they are working with what they are asked. And no parent is likely to give an unreasonable expectation unasked.

    And while as an elder sister of often-favored, often-spoiled younger sisters I once had a certain empathy for the older brother, increasingly I started seeing him a self-righteous martyr who would rather sulk outside than tell his father he’s angry, or resent his younger brother in silence than ask for equal treatment. Or a 1-percenter angry that the government wants to take their money to help the poor without even checking whether the poor are morally worthy first, or giving government resources for their benefit…

    I do think that everyone is entitled to see the story in their own way; heaven knows I have plenty of stories that I interpret radically differently from anyone else. But increasingly I think that the vast majority of the original audience would have been horrified at the behavior of all the actors in the story and sympathetic with none. In that culture, the elder brother is giving a lot of signs of being not the long-suffering good son, but a different version of the caustic, entitled, self-centered brat. The kind who follows the rules not from selflessness, but from selfishness.

  • Lori

    This assumes that the exchange is entirely a surface one, that the party is the point and that the elder son’s expectations were unreasonable. If that’s the case then the elder son is being a whiner.

    If the exchange is about appreciation then the situation is different. If you have to ask for that then you’re not getting it and expecting a bit is not necessarily unreasonable.

  • Kirala

    Absolutely agreed, but the text says nothing about appreciation, whether it was given or asked. It contains an expectation that outside that family context was ludicrously unreasonable and inside the family context only questionably unreasonable. Given Chris’s contribution, I’m also starting to worry about the fact that the elder brother complains that he was never given the resources to have a party without his father, rather than complain that his father never threw a party in his honor. The elder brother wants a thanks that excludes his father. That strikes me as less a search for appreciation than a search for reward.

  • Lori

    No, the text says nothing about it. The text also doesn’t preclude it. It’s a very short story. People are going to read things into it.

    My point is not that you’re wrong. My point is that neither are the people who see it differently.

  • Alan Alexander

    I’d like to know where you went to high school if an intimate understanding of the symbolism behind 1st Century Jewish feasting customs is “high school level common knowledge.”

  • chris the cynic

    I should have replied to more than one part of your post initially rather than do this in two parts but the whole, “You’re only allowed to do that if your father is dead,” thing seemed so important it deserved it’s own post. And I was originally planning on leaving the response at that.

    People have a habit of rewriting the parable, I’ve written a version of it myself as those who have been here for a time can attest, but the problem with rewriting is that you add information, take it away, or change it.

    Your rewriting seems particularly in need of response you say:

    But the only actual words spoken by the older son seem to me to be saying “I have given you my complete loyalty and slaved these years, and not once have you ever shown my the slightest consideration or hint of gratitude. Even now, as you are throwing a huge feast for my brother, I had to stop a servant to ask what was going on because you couldn’t be buggered to send someone to tell me. How am I supposed to interpret that other than to think you love him more than me?”

    No. No that’s not true. The words spoken are

    τῷ πατρὶ αὐτοῦ Ἰδοὺ τοσαῦτα ἔτη δουλεύω σοι καὶ οὐδέποτε ἐντολήν σου παρῆλθον, καὶ ἐμοὶ οὐδέποτε ἔδωκας ἔριφον ἵνα μετὰ τῶν φίλων μου εὐφρανθῶ: ὅτε δὲ ὁ υἱός σου οὗτος ὁ καταφαγών σου τὸν βίον μετὰ πορνῶν ἦλθεν, ἔθυσας αὐτῷ τὸν σιτευτὸν μόσχον.

    “Father of mine look, so many years I’ve been a slave to you, and never disregarded your command, and to me you have never given a kid in order that I might, with my friends, rejoice; and when this son of yours who devoured your life/livelihood with prostitutes came home, you sacrificed, for the same, the fatted calf.”

    Now that’s a painfully literal translation to the point that I’ve even tried to preserve word order where possible.

    Your, “not once have you ever shown my the slightest consideration or hint of gratitude,” is not in there.

    He complains that he wasn’t given a kid. Well his brother wasn’t given an animal when he returned either. (Before that, yes, but he doesn’t draw a parallel from the kid thing to that part.)

    The fatted calf is being used by the father, not being given to the brother, yet I think we can agree that the brother is getting a bit more than the slightest consideration upon his return even though he is given neither kid nor fatted calf.

    So saying, “I never got a kid,” isn’t saying, “I never got the slightest consideration.” If it were then it would mean that the prodigal son isn’t getting the slightest consideration at this point in the story and… he is.

    “Even now, as you are throwing a huge feast for my brother,”

    that’s BS, the feast can’t start until the elder son is inside the house playing the role of elder son or the father decides, “Fuck the rules of feasting,” the second of which would be worthy of note and yet appears nowhere in the text.

    You’re adding that part to a narrative in which it does not appear. In fairness, I tend to do the exact same thing (but at a later point in the story) until I go back and look at the actual text and realize that it doesn’t say that happened.

    “I had to stop a servant to ask what was going on because you couldn’t be buggered to send someone to tell me.”

    This is one of those parts where I’d need to know more about Jewish feasting customs in the time period to know if it’s assholic or not.

    It may be the case that as soon as the feast was decided upon the polite thing to do would be to send someone out to get the elder son, in which case I agree the father was an asshole there.

    On the other hand it might be the case that it was considered rude to interrupt what someone is doing with news of a feast thrown by their father at their home when the feast wasn’t ready for them yet. In which case the father was being nice by waiting on the preparations before disturbing elder son.

    As an aside, it was pointed out one of the previous times that when the celebrations begin is… difficult. Like most things in life there’s a process that goes on. The feast isn’t officially on until the father and the elder son start it together. But perhaps you think the beginning of celebrations is when people first went to get instruments with which to make music. The text gives us when the process began but not when it was completed and they were in full celebration mode because that could only happen after the situation with the elder son was resolved.

    How am I supposed to interpret that other than to think you love him more than me?

    That’s also not in the text. There’s a neat rhetorical twist in the text which makes it difficult to tell whether the elder son is comparing himself to his brother or his father. You’ve got two things with obvious parallelism, each of which consists of two parts, but in the first part both parts refer to the same person and in the second part they refer to different people.

    The elder son has been a slave to his father where the younger son devoured the father’s livelihood with prostitutes (according to the elder son.) This compares the elder son to the younger son.

    But when we look at the second parts of the thing, the elder son never got to sacrifice a kid where the father got to sacrifice the fatted calf. The elder son is comparing himself to his father. He’s rather explicitly not stating that a kid was never sacrificed for him. He’s not stating that a previous fatted calf wasn’t sacrificed for him. Because in those cases the thing wouldn’t be given to him it would be sacrificed at the fathers command and (if Jewish sacrifice customs are anything like the ones I’m familiar with given to everyone) less the parts that were set aside for God.

    So it’s possible the point is, “You love him more than me,” but that would ignore his final word on the subject where he’s comparing himself not to his brother but to his father and it has more of a, “You think you’re better than me,” kind of vibe.

    Which makes the father’s response make a bit more sense because if all that he has is the son’s, then he’s saying that the son can make sacrifice and lead a feast any time he wants to, thus responding directly to the substance of the son’s complaint.

    Has anyone ever considered that if the older brother had followed the prodigal’s lead — liquidated his inheritance and skipped town — Dad would been destitute and starved to death?

    Yes. Many, many people.

  • Lori

    I’ve never been able to read the Prodigal Son story other than to say
    that “God will blatantly favor some people over others, and if you’re
    not one of his pets, you should just shut up and accept it,” which I
    don’t think reflect well on God at all. I do admit that my reading is
    something of a minority view.

    It’s worse than this. It’s closer to “God will blatantly favor some people over others, and if you’re not one of his pets, you should be happy for the pets for being so super special.”

    In general it’s a minority view, but if it makes you feel better there are quite a few people here who share it.

  • Ben English

    I don’t know how you can attain that reading from a story that’s so didactically in your face about its moral being that ‘God is forgiving, and you shouldn’t be angry about his forgiveness of others because you’re not perfect yourself.”

  • Lori

    It’s no such thing. You read it that way and if it works for you, fine, but that’s not the only reading.

  • LoneWolf343

    That’s a funny way of reading what was basically said as “You have everything! Let him have a little something too.”

  • Lori

    That’s your reading. There have been at least two long discussions of this story on this blog (one of them might have occurred when Fred was still at the old site, but the 2nd was after the move) and those discussions made it quite clear that your reading is not the only one.

    The relationship between the father and the elder son hits a lot of buttons for a lot of people. Their reading is not wrong or illegitimate because it’s not yours.

  • LoneWolf343

    No, but their reading would not be valid if they are projecting their own biases which a text does not possess.

    If you have trouble seeing the elder brother as being in the wrong, try updating the language to something like. “Poor people shouldn’t get any special consideration because they didn’t earn it.”

  • Lori

    No, but their reading would not be valid if they are projecting their own biases which a text does not possess.

    As is the case with all the parables there is a great deal that the text does not include. As a result, everyone projects their biases onto them. It’s just that when one’s biases line up with the generally approved reading (and supposed authorial intent), one tends not to notice or be called on those biases. As I said elsewhere, getting the approved take on this story depends a great deal on having the approved view of God. (And as we’ve discussed many times, the approved view of God is not the only one supported by the text.)

    If you have trouble seeing the elder brother as being in the wrong, try
    updating the language to something like. “Poor people shouldn’t get any
    special consideration because they didn’t earn it.”

    This is not germane because as I said the issue is not the treatment of the younger brother. It’s the father’s relationship with his older son that’s at issue.

    If you have trouble seeing why someone might have problems with that try updating the language to something like:

    “Why are you upset about me never showing any appreciation for your years of hard work? I’m helping the poor here. How can you be so selfish? After all, you have money.”

  • LoneWolf343

    Right, and I interpret the older brother as being unusually needy, perhaps pathologically so.

    Of course, it is possible that we are overextending a metaphor involving caricatures and not real people.

  • Lori

    I think pathologically needy is at least as much of a stretch as wanting a reasonable amount of appreciation and/or sick of dad’s favoritism. The point being that you’re bringing something to the story and other people bring other things. That’s how it is with parable.

  • Alan Alexander

    I admit that I probably bring personal baggage to the story. In addition to my own upbringing, I have recently had to provide moral support to a friend who had been totally screwed over by her “prodigal sister.” One of the most brilliant young women I have ever known, she had to abandon plans to go to Johns Hopkins Medical School because, unbeknownst to her, her mother — “in the interests of fairness” — took out a bunch of student loans in her name and gave the money to her younger sister, who was not academically gifted enough to win scholarships for herself (as my friend did) and who, in fact, blew most of the money living the carefree life of an LSU sorority girl while flunking out of the Art program. And to add insult to injury, the mom lost her job, stopped paying the student loans, and just ignored the issue until my friend had to have a credit check down and was shocked to discover she owed $50k in student loans, some of which were in default. My friend declined my own personal recommendation of having her mother arrested for identity theft and, as a result, will be spending the next ten years or so trying to put her credit back together. So yeah, I find it hard to avoid approaching The Prodigal Son with the idea that the young son was a spoiled brat, dad was an overindulgent idiot, and the older son would have been better off to have been shut of the lot of them. Obviously, YMMV.

  • Lori

    Je-sus. Your friend obviously has to make her own decision about how to handle her mother’s appalling violation and her spoiled sister’s apparently total lack of give a shit, but I suspect she’ll eventually regret taking this on rather than getting the law involved. I hope that’s not the case, but student loan default really screws up your life. It’s bad enough when they’re at least your loans.

  • stardreamer42

    The take-away I always got from that story is, “Irresponsible behavior pays off handsomely in the end, and doing the right thing just gets you screwed over”. I rejected that conclusion and decided that the father was just a complete jerk, but it seems that many people took it to heart and have spent their lives making sure it comes true.

  • hamletta

    Wow! I guess Lutheran hermeneutics really are different! The Prodigal Son just came up in the lectionary on March 17, and the sermon was about the generosity of God’s Love and how we’re supposed to emulate it.

  • AnonaMiss

    No, no, that’s the common interpretation among most Christians. Citizen Alan only brought his interpretation up because it’s radically different from the common interpretation.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Off topic, but in case anyone’s interested, is the Kindle book and the paperback book of a four-story anthology containing two stories by yours truly.

  • AnonymousSam

    The premises sound decent. No Kindle, unfortunately, so will have to either wait for a NookBook version or until after vacation so I can order the paperback. Does sound like something I’ll have to get, though.

    Also, apparently I’ve gotten used to thinking of you as Ellie not-male-not-female Murasaki, because neither Elizabeth nor Anne seem to fit you. ;p I’m kind of surprised you didn’t use a pen name.

  • EllieMurasaki


    That is a pen name. For both of us, actually. (I’m Elizabeth.) And Kindle for PC is free, and there’s no DRM so if you have Calibre, or you could wait till summer because we’re probably taking it off KDP Select when the ninety days are up, at which point we will not be bound by KDP Select rules and will therefore be able to put it in all the formats on Smashwords.

  • AnonymousSam

    We’ll see which limit runs out first: patience, reading material, money or publisher rules. XD But yes, expect to see your ledger increase by your nickle’s share of the profits sometime SOONEVENTUALLYPROBABLY.

    With all the published authors I’ve been running into lately (friend introduced me to one who’s got four books to her name, and I discovered my ex-from-hell published something too), I really need to hurry it up and get this bloody thing written…

  • LoneWolf343

    You can actually read Kindle books in a web browser at

  • AnonymousSam

    Am not so good at reading lengthy works off a computer monitor. I think it’s the lack of the sense of feedback of actually going from one page to another. Even if I stick the file in paginated form, my eyes just glaze over and I’ll re-read the same part three times. <.<;

  • reynard61

    On my wish list. My birthday is coming up and I’ll probably order the paperback then.

  • EllieMurasaki


  • Marc Mielke

    I remember a thread some months back in the same vein; there were a lot of great ideas there. I’ll check it out!

  • Riastlin Lovecraft

    Will order when I get home, if I remember :)

  • Dogfacedboy

    I just purchased the paperback – looking forward to reading it.

  • EllieMurasaki


  • Riastlin Lovecraft

    Bought, and cheaper than expected too. The shipping and handling cost almost twice as much as the book itself XD

  • EllieMurasaki


  • The Cricket

    “God is one who respects our freedom, mourns our alienation, waits patiently for our return, and accepts our love as pure gift.”
    I love that part, if you ask people what was Gods greatest gift to man they always say Jesus or love or life. But it never occurres to them to look at the root of it all. Free will, we were given the option of worshipping or sinning, of loving or ignoring, and after all that were given Jesus as a way to be redeemed if chose wrong.
    That’s what beautiful it has always seemed to me that above all God just wants our love. Yes there are guidelines but really their not that smothering or strict all mostly just be a good person and love Him. And let’s be honest most people forget these things. Being a Christian and a good person aren’t mutually exclusive when it should be.

  • Baby_Raptor

    Yeah, but it loses all of that sparkle and prettiness when you take it one step further and realize that the very act of giving us free will created the entire need for us to be redeemed in the first place. Sinning is supposedly bad, yet if you believe that the bible is absolute truth, then its absolute truth that, thanks to God giving people free will, we can’t not sin.

    So, really, God put himself in the position of having to “mourn our alienation,” and (if you believe in some sort of eternal punishment) condemned all of mankind to it himself. We never had any choice in the matter. We’re not responsible.

    Where’s the love in that, again? This is one of the main questions that drove me from Christianity, and I’ve never been able to get it realistically answered.

  • David Policar

    “How can you call that which was forced on me a gift?
    I have free will, but not of my own choice. I have never freely chosen
    to have free will. I have to have free will, whether I like it or not!”
    (Is God a Taoist?)

    That dialog remains my favorite theological take on free will.

  • LoneWolf343

    Well, the question I would ask “How could you have wanted free will if you didn’t have it in the first place?”

  • David Policar

    To which presumably the reply would be “I couldn’t have, but that doesn’t make it any more acceptable to give it to me!”

    You should really read the dialog if you haven’t.

  • The Cricket

    Would you rather be loved unconditionally for yourself or loved because u forced somebody to. Spirituality has been stripped from Christianity it seems I don’t believe theBible is a rule book but more of a guideline. And very FEW things it does make a have to are really simple common courtesy. Also the bible was dictated it was wrote by Man. As for being punished when not followed do we not ground children or put them on time out? To God we are children we are not adults who are his level. I think people make to big of a deal about the “rules” and forget to just feel. To just let your own heart and conscious find the way. And also how hard is it really to just ask for forgiveness?

  • Baby_Raptor

    I would prefer to be loved for who I am, yes. But I am not an all knowing, all powerful being. God knew that giving man free will would inevitably make them “bad.” And God chose to do so anyway, instead of coming up with a way to work around sin, the need for redemption and other such wrenches in the machine. If God was all powerful, surely he could have come up with something that didn’t result in such an onus being placed on the beings he “loves” so much, yes? Again, especially if you believe in some sort of eternal punishment. It just smacks of God being selfish, or not thinking things all the way through, and then shrugging and saying “Oh, well. I don’t have to deal with the consequences.”

    I admit that I’m not sure where your comment on courtesy comes from. If I came across as attacking you, then I apologize. That was not at all how I meant that little ramble to sound. This is an issue that still bothers me after being out of Christianity for ~10 years, and sometimes the urge to just rant about it gets in the way of careful wording.

    I reject your premise that we’re kids that need punished and forgiven. We punish children for making the deliberate choice to do something wrong, say choosing to hit a sibling in a fight when they know better. Humanity never had that choice. We were given free will by God; we never had the opportunity to not sin. If we’re born sinners, and there’s literally no way at all for us to not fail to live up to God’s standards *because God created us in a way that makes that impossible,* then the guilt is not ours. We aren’t the criminals here, we’re the victims. Why should we have to apologize to God for acting the way he created us to act?

    God should have planned better. The fact that he knowingly created us to fail while demanding that we not fail is a Catch 22. There’s no winning for us. He is the one that should be apologizing. To turn around and demand that we apologize for what he made us do is less akin to punishing a child for smacking their sister than it is an abuser who says “You made me hit you; now apologize for making me hurt my hand.”

    I have no issues asking for forgiveness when I actually do something that warrants it. I’ve done no such thing here. I made no choice to actively go against God’s plan. And apologizing for doing exactly what God created me to do is little more than ass kissing. Ass kissing is not love. It’s something done out of fear, or a desire for power, or other similar generally not good motivations.

  • AnonymousSam

    Carrying Baby Raptor’s reply a little further, it’s even less pleasant when you’ve grown up surrounded by people who insist that free will is the root of Satan’s power, and that a good Christian gives up their will to God and allows him to guide their every thought, move, emotion and action, because any other possible course of action is sinful and leads straight to Hell.

  • hidden_urchin

    I’m just trying to figure out why God would want or need humanity’s love.

    Also, I agree. I hate it when I’m busy exercising my free will and it doesn’t go right someone will inevitably say that clearly it wasn’t God’s plan for me and all I need to do is what God wants. What good is free will if you have to follow the plan or get screwed? It reduces free will to a bounded choice.

    Personally, I resolved the issue with agnosticism but if you push me on it I’ll admit to being a bit of a dystheist.

  • Lori

    I ended up an atheist, but otherwise this is true for me as well.

  • stardreamer42

    Yes, this. “You have free will, but if you don’t do what I want I’ll make you regret it” isn’t free will at all.

  • The Cricket

    To me those people are morons I mean things only power if you give it to them whether good or bad. Fearing and worrying about Satan is silly he was literally a whinny spoiled brat on a power trip. My opinion (not necessarily fact) is that those people are to afraid of their own inadequacy so they blame the big scary devil. Because its easier than looking at themselves to find the problem.

  • FearlessSon

    From what I can tell, a lot of fundamentalists seem to have this very odd concept of free will, in which love and adoration for God is pre-programmed into all humans and is the natural state of things, so anyone who claims to disbelieve in God or not love God is just being spitefully defiant. They do not “really” disbelieve, according to the fundamentalist, they are just being misguided or rebellious.

    Perhaps I should say, they think that free will is not “free”.

  • AnonaMiss

    I had to stop reading the Russel Brand piece when he started going on about suckling on the steel teat. Mother fucker. The lady revolutionized (for better or worse, I won’t pass judgement, it was before my time) your country and you still have to reduce her to her body and her absence of ‘femininity.’

    My disgust will only be retracted if someone can point me to a published reflection on the death of Reagan or similar which makes note of how suckable or not his metaphorical cock was, or equivalent.

  • Baby_Raptor

    Well, you could say that the way they hero worship him is a sort of cock sucking…It’s not really based in reality, though.

  • Carstonio

    While I detested Thatcher’s defense of economic privilege and her just-world ideology, I also condemn the sexism in much of the vitriol directed at her, past and present. But some of the over-the-top adoration of Thatcher by US conservatives could arguably be sexist, because often they sound like they’re mourning an adored mother.

  • CharityB

    Honestly, I’d consider that aspect of the sexism argument to be a huge stretch. I think a lot of them adore her because they think that she validates what they want to do here. (“See? Social democracy was a disaster for Britain, and Thatcher saved the UK by getting rid of all that nonsense.”). They do the same thing to Ronald Reagan; is that sexist too?

  • Carstonio

    My point is about their tone and their level of emotion. To me, they seem to treat Reagan and Thatcher as parents. The latter has overtones of sexism because of the cultural context of motherhood being wrongly normative for women, and because of the conservatives’ long opposition to gender equality. Even Maureen Dowd, who’s no conservative, peddles the notion that there’s a paternal aspect to the presidency.

  • CharityB

    Overtones, maybe, but I have a hard time seeing that unless any hero-worship of an older female figure conveys motherhood. I don’t really think that it does but I definitely can see how that impression might come through though.

  • Carstonio

    Part of the impression is that we’re talking about folks who generally believe in “traditional” gender roles, even the old-school economic conservatives. Their allies on the religious right extol male headship while falling over themselves to praise Sarah Palin.

  • Launcifer

    I have a suspicion that part of the pro-Thatcher thing, at least when it comes from conservatives in the United States, is to do with the fact that she was actually recognisable *as* a Conservative to American eyes or by more recent standards of US conservatism. I doubt I can say that about any other Conservative Prime Minister, with the probable exception of Churchill.

  • hf

    My disgust will only be retracted if someone can point me to a published reflection on the death of Reagan or similar which makes note of how suckable or not his metaphorical cock was, or equivalent.

    Not “published” in the sense you probably meant, but I think it still makes this a poor example. (Found the link by googling the obvious phrase.) I do agree that questioning her skills as a mother probably contains sexism.

  • stardreamer42

    I agree with this, but I also think that the real meat of the article is summed up in the sentence, “If you behave like there’s no such thing as society, in the end there isn’t.” And that has much wider application than just to Thatcher.

    Also, I feel sorry for the children of a lot of male Republican politicians — especially for their daughters. Which kind of ties back into the prodigal-son discussion; what must it be like to know that just because you were born without the Magic Dongle, your father will never value you as a real person?

  • AnonymousSam

    No Longer Quivering and similar blogs often offer insight into that question…

    Myself, I’ve always wondered what it must have been like for Freud’s daughters.

  • Lori

    We have some idea how Anna felt about it. I don’t recall reading anything that she wrote about it directly, but I recall there being a fair bit of “read between the lines” in her work. It struck me that she both loved and admired him and found him a little appalling, but had a lot of trouble admitting that she found him a little appalling.

  • Dylan

    On the piece about Rand Paul: in the past month or so (coinciding with the “red equals” campaign), I’ve suddenly heard the “get government out of marriage!” line quite a bit out of different people, and I can only figure one of two things are happening:

    One, this is a calculated political shift to stay on the popular side of the issue, much like the “evolving position” line you hear on the left,

    Or two, people are starting realizing their position on gay marriage conflicts with their position on freedom vs. government. Since changing one’s mind is a sign of intellectual weakness, this must be reframed as “our limited-government philosophy has had the superior answer to this problem all along!”

  • P J Evans

    I suspect that it’s because they’re still trying to find a way to deny marriage equality. If marriage is legally a contract, then government is in charge of it, not churches; therefore, ‘get government out of marriage’ and the churches won’t marry same-sex couples. That this is how the laws are written, and ministers are acting as agents of state government when they marry people, completely goes past them, because they believe marriage is religious (for this purpose, anyway).

  • AnonymousSam

    I’ve never understood how the phrase “prodigal son” has come to mean “someone who leaves and then comes back” when the word prodigal means “wasteful.” The phrase “prodigal son” would mean to mean “the idiot child who doesn’t deserve his inheritance.”

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    Re: The Hilary Comments:

    We have had three female Secretaries of State, there are more women than men in college right now and there are female CEOs and leaders in every field. Hilary herself is a female success story. So why is she pressing this issue? Is she under the misconception that it’s still 1973, and women are struggling for equality in every sphere? Many people think that men are actually at a disadvantage in the present day academic and workplace environment.

    And don’t give me the old chestnut about women making 80 cents on the dollar compared to men. Given equal employment and experience, studies show that women earn equal incomes. But women *choose* to have children and work fewer hours or put off promotions. You can complain that basic biology is unfair to women in this respect, but I don’t see how any Government intervention is going to restructure how humans reproduce.

    What she is nakedly doing is saying “Look ladies, I’m on your side, so vote for me in 2016”. That’s perfectly expected and may even be a “Smart Thing” in some ideological sense, but it seems like nothing more than open pandering and political posturing to me.

    Regarding the Badash piece:

    He disparages intelligent Libertarian arguments with a reducto ad absurdum. Want the government not to micromanage your life? Than give up an Army, foreign policy, response to disasters and any other *reasonable* role that the government might have. Up through Wilson and FDR, the US had an Army and State Department, yet managed not to attempt to control every aspects of its citizen’s lives. (Think this is an exaggeration?–read the Supreme Court case where an FDR-era farmer was told he couldn’t grow wheat on his own farm for his own use because of federal quotas). There’s a big gap between “shutting down the government” and “banning sodas that are too big”. Pretending that we can’t stop the 2nd without doing the first is simply ridiculous.

    In fairness, I think that Rand Paul’s argument–that the government shouldn’t be defining marriage at all–is hopeless, given the number of things in society (taxes, insurance, inheritance, etc.) that rely on it. And there is a good argument to be made that the Federal government needs a uniform standard of marriage for legal purposes (e.g. Federal income taxes, etc.) which is why the Defense of Marriage Act was passed in the first place. That having been said, I think that we are repeating the abortion mistake here, where gradually changing public attitudes were short-circuited by well-meaning, but short-sighted judges. The result was vast resentment and a hardening of battle lines that persist to this day. If gay people have the patience to wait out the democratic process, they will probably achieve what they want in a few years. Or they can choose to force the decision on an unwilling public and thereby create a an issue that rankles and never gets resolved. The democratic route is much to be preferred.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Given equal employment and experience, studies show that women earn equal incomes.

    Citation needed.

    But women *choose* to have children and work fewer hours or put off promotions.

    By which, though you may not know this, you of course mean that women are expected to have children and women with children are expected to work fewer hours and put off promotions, and men are not so expected. Which contributes to the pay gap.

  • P J Evans

    I can cite at least one case where ‘equal employment and experience’ did *not* result in equal pay. (Trans person, male to female.)

  • Carstonio

    But women *choose* to have children and work fewer hours or put off promotions. You can complain that basic biology is unfair to women in this respect, but I don’t see how any Government intervention is going to restructure how humans reproduce.

    Basic biology has nothing to do with it. Raising children isn’t inherently women’s work. Parents of both sexes juggle work and home responsibilities, yet the assumption is that this is a problem only for women.

    Force a decision on same-sex marriage on an unwilling public? That makes as much sense as demanding that celebrity couples should marry or divorce based on public opinion. Rights for minorities shouldn’t be decided by majority vote. None of us has any business telling others which gender they should choose for their prospective spouses. The only same-sex marriage that anyone gets to vote on is his or her own.

  • Wednesday

    “Given equal employment and experience, studies show that women earn equal incomes [to men].”

    Citation really fucking needed. Every study I have seen shows a gender-based pay gap persists in the US after controlling for education and job experience.

    Example #1: One year after college graduation, after controlling for key factors (such as hours worked), women make about 9% less than men.

    “[In 2009], women one year out of college who were working full time were paid, on average, just 82 percent of what their male peers were paid. After we control for hours, occupation, college major, employment sector, and other factors associated with pay, the pay gap shrinks but does not disappear. About one-third of the gap cannot be explained by any of the factors commonly understood to affect earnings,”

    Example #2: In _academia_, after controlling for field, experience, rank, and having children, there is still a gender pay gap of 6%-8%.

    Source: A summary of the study can be found in the Chronicle of Higher Education, sometime in Fall 2011.

    Example #3
    Other studies have found that men get a pay boost for having kids compared to men without; this suggests more than just “women taking time off for kids” is at work.


  • EllieMurasaki

    Even if the pay gap were solely due to women working fewer hours and taking time off for babies, that’d be sexist and wrong–because women shouldn’t have the sole or primary burden of childraising. Paternity leave should be a thing, and childraising should be equally divided between men and women.

  • Wednesday

    Oh, definitely agreed. But (a) the persisting pay gaps are real things that we need to be aware of, because they tell us there’s still a lot of unconscious sexism unrelated to baby-having, and (b) in my experience it’s easier to get people to start thinking about the problem of gender- and race-based pay disparity when you give them something they can’t explain away as socially acceptable manifestations of sexism and racism. Once they’re able to recognize that sexism and racism still exist even after controlling for things they don’t recognize as a result of *ism, it’s easier to help them see how the socially acceptable manifestations of the *isms are, in fact, problematic.

    Also, (c), in academia, a lot of people think that if you just let women pause the tenure clock when they have kids, that magically fixes all problems.

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    Incidentally, I note that Hilary managed to condemn the oppression of women globally without mentioning the single biggest cause of this oppression–Islam. Condemning Islam is both taboo and dangerous, but it’s the elephant in the room in this discussion, especially when talking about countries like Pakistan or Saudi Arabia or even India.

    Does Hilary intend to lead the charge against this 14th century abomination of an ideology? I sincerely doubt it…

  • P J Evans

    Evidence needed. Because Islam is about as monolithic as Christianity and Judaism.

  • Chris Hadrick

    Bashing war/ drone/ Patriot Act opponent Rand Paul while extolling the virtues of the belligerent Hillary. Those are some values.

  • Ross

    Bashing war/ drone/ Patriot Act opponentsexual harassment apologist / institutionalized islamophobia advocate Rand Paul while extolling the
    virtues of the belligerent Hillary. Those are some values.