Weekly Meanderings, 18 May 2019

Weekly Meanderings, 18 May 2019 May 18, 2019

Greetings from Calgary Alberta, where I’ve been spending time with the EvFree leaders.

Beth Allison Barr — well done!

As a historian, I know the Roman view of women (as reflected in 1 Corinthians 14) is just one of many, many examples of patriarchy in the ancient world. Indeed, patriarchy is a constant in world history. From The Ramayana in ancient India to the Epic of Gilgamesh in ancient Sumeria, texts from early civilizations reveal the gender hierarchies that privileged men (especially men of certain classes) and subordinated women. As Gerda Lerner argued in her monumental study, The Creation of Patriarchy, male dominance over women is rooted in the historical development of civilizations. It is a power structure created and maintained by human labor. The Roman system which elevated men and subordinated women fits perfectly in the framework of human history.

Which is what makes the New Testament so revolutionary. While we get echoes of human patriarchy in the New Testament, especially as the early church tries to make sense of its place in a very pagan world, we get a whole lot more of passages subverting traditional gender roles and emphasizing women as leaders. Beth Moore, one of the greatest students of biblical text and teachers of biblical truth in the modern church, made the right point in her twitter response to Owen Strachan:

“What I plead for Is to grapple with the entire text from Mt 1 thru Rev 22 on ever matter concerning women. To grapple with Paul’s words in 1 Tim/! For 14 as authoritative, God-breathed!- alongside other words Paul wrote, equally inspired & make sense of the many women he served alongside. Above all else, we must search the attitudes of Christ Jesus himself toward women.”

1 Corinthians 14:34-35 is actually not a difficult passage. It fits in beautifully with human history. The most difficult passage in the New Testament to explain, historically speaking, is the end of Galatians 3:

“For you are all children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”

This is what is radical. This is what makes Christianity so different from the rest of human history. This is what sets both men and women free……

I find it ironic that we spend so much time today fighting to make Christianity look like the things of this world instead of fighting to make it like the world Jesus showed us was possible. Shouldn’t it be the other way around? Instead of 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 as God’s dream for humanity, doesn’t the world of Galatians 3 seem more like Jesus?

Patriarchy may be a part of Christian history, but that doesn’t make it Christian.

Zafrir Rinat, on the birds of Israel:

A working visit to Israel by German journalist and photographer Thomas Krumenacker 11 years ago changed his life. After witnessing the seasonal migration of birds here, he made his hobby something much more serious. The result: his book “Birds in the Holy Land,” which has just come out in German and English.

The work was published with the help of the Hoopoe Bird Foundation, founded by Rachel and Moshe Yanai and administered by the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel. Krumenacker lives in Berlin but visits Israel often. He follows the birds from the heights of Mount Hermon to the Gulf of Eilat.

The book’s photos and accompanying text show why birds’ migration along the length of the country has been termed “the eighth wonder of the world.” In a short period, more than 500 bird species pass overhead, and almost every year a new species not seen before in Israel is observed.

Most of these birds leave Europe in the autumn on their way to Africa, making the long journey back in the spring. Some species arrive during the winter. Experts estimate that during the migration season some 500 million birds pass through Israel.

For some species, almost the entire global population moves through the region. For example, nearly all the world’s Levant sparrowhawks fly over the Holy Land during their migration.

Especially prominent overhead are white storks; half a million stop in Israel for food or rest, nearly all the ones from Europe and Asia. Another important visitor is the lesser spotted eagle, described by Krumenacker as one of the most enigmatic birds to nest in Europe. This is due to its penchant for remote forests.

At Walking with a Limp, Joe sets the record straight — plain, simple, clear:

It is widely known that the SBC holds a complementarian viewpoint regarding women in ministry; that is, women are restricted from serving as a pastor and elder, and generally are not allowed to preach a Sunday sermon and teach doctrine to men. So when popular speaker, teacher, and lifelong SBC member Beth Moore let it slip a few weeks ago on Twitter that she was going to be preaching at an SBC church on Mother’s Day of this year, blue-check SBC Twitter heavyweights and their blue-check hopeful friends ignited this tired debate once again with a question.

Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary professor Owen Strachan planted his flag on social media regarding the issue by calling the act “functional egalitarianism”, and refused to capitulate. … Strachan also excoriated SBC president J.D. Greear for bending a little on the issue and cracking the door open, ever so slightly, for a woman to say something during the vaunted Sunday sermon. [then someone else who uses buzzwords]

Oh, there we go with those door-slammer buzzwords like “clear” and “black and white”. I’ll buy into this “clear, black-and-white” hermeneutic when I see:

  • all women wear head coverings (1 Cor. 11:5-6),
  • women pray and prophecy (1 Cor. 11:5),
  • but somehow women prophecy out loud and yet remain in total silence in church (1 Cor. 14:34-35),
  • women with no braided hair, no jewelry, no fancy clothes (1 Peter 3:3)…
  • sorry, no pearls either (1 Tim. 2:9),
  • 1 Tim. 2:8, men everywhere praying with holy hands lifted up (not just sometimes and only in certain denominations)…
  • “without anger or disputing”. (Uh oh. Gotta scrub a few social media posts out),
  • and for a stomach illness, cut back on water and instead have a little wine (1 Tim. 5:23).

Obviously I’m being playful in a couple of places here, but can we please get over the delusion that having a high view of scripture means that we can export our favorite prooftexts straight into the by-laws of the church, all the while dictating that other inconvenient “clear” passages are only for the ancient culture? It is as if we want to say that 1 Tim. 2:12, as translated and understood in our modern context, was addressed directly to us, but we can relax the prohibition against braided hair a few verses prior because that is some kind of a cultural reference, and there is a higher principle for us to find there, yada yada yada.

Razib Khan, at National Review:

As an evolutionary geneticist and a conservative, I take some interest in critiques of Darwinism. I have come to expect that every few years a new book by Michael Behe, a professor of biochemistry at Lehigh University, will trigger commentary relaying his skepticism of evolutionary theory to the interested public. And this will result in vociferous rejoinders from evolutionary biologists.

But evolutionary biology is nothing for conservatives to fear, because it is one of the crowning achievements of modern Western civilization. It should be viewed not as an acid gnawing at the bones of civilization, but as a jewel. The science built upon the rock of Charles Darwin’s ideas is a reflection of Western modernity’s commitment to truth as a fundamental value. And many Christians well-versed in evolutionary science find it entirely compatible with their religious beliefs.

Further, while evolutionary biology does not tell us what is good, the truth of the world around us can inform our efforts to seek the good — and in this sense, the political implications of evolutionary biology do not favor the Left. Today many on the Left reject the very idea of human nature, to the point of effectively being evolution deniers themselves. They assert that society and values can be restructured at will. That male and female are categories of the mind, rather than of nature. In rejecting evolution, a conservative gives up the most powerful rejoinder to these claims.

Why tomatoes taste like nothing but maters:

Have you ever eaten a perfectly ripe tomato and wondered why you even bother? Tomatoes are a staple in sandwiches and salads, and you can throw them into just about any dish and come up with something edible. Tomato flavor, however, has apparently been going downhill for a while now, and scientists think they know why.

In a new study published in Nature Genetics, researchers including those from the Agricultural Research Service and the Boyce Thompson Institute have mapped the genome of the modern cultivated tomato as well as tomatoes that still grow in the wild. The team marked thousands of genes that were previously unknown, comparing the genomes of cultivated tomatoes with their wild relatives, and made more than a few interesting discoveries.

In comparing the cultivated tomatoes to their wild counterparts the researchers noted literally thousands of genes which were missing from the produce we typically find in our supermarkets. In the never-ending quest to develop plants that produce bigger tomatoes at a faster rate, growers seem to have inadvertently favored plants that also produce inferior-tasting fruit.

“One of the most important discoveries from constructing this pan-genome is a rare form of a gene labeled TomLoxC, which mostly differs in the version of its DNA gene promoter,” James Giovannoni, co-author of the paper, said in a statement. “The gene influences fruit flavor by catalyzing the biosynthesis of a number of lipid (fat)-involved volatiles – compounds that evaporate easily and contribute to aroma.”

Based on their own testing, the researchers believe that the flavor-enhancing gene is only present in around two percent of modern store-bought tomatoes, but was found in over 90 percent of wild tomatoes.

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