Tuesday 29 September 2020

A Brave New World

 I saw a great quote from Ruth Bader Ginsburg today. She said:

          Fight for the things that you care about,
             but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.

I needed the reminder, because quite often the things we care deeply about may be of no interest, or even be an anathema, to others.

A few months back, I wrote out the things I care about in a reply to someone on Facebook who had requested the chance to debate our different points of view. I have waited over two months now, so I think I can safely say this person never had any intention of discussion. I suspect that they thought I had no clear argument, no way to prove my point of view, and expected it to be over quick and easy.

It seems that sometimes, when you fight for what you care about there will be those that run and hide.

Since I took a fair time to research and write my response, and it is very much about the things I care and fight for, I've decided to share it here. I have removed what he wrote to protect his privacy.

He disagreed with my opinion that Jesus was a feminist. 

Here is some of what I replied:

Jesus really was the first pro-women's rights activist I ever read. He said men would be judged as much for dirty thoughts as for acting on them. He told the men stoning the adulteress that they were only worthy to do so if they were without sin. Admittedly, we now know that Mary Magdalene was not the Prostitute who wept on his feet, but the story of the prostitute is real (just tagged onto Mary M without any actual proof) and had impact on me. I've seen society castigate women more than men when it comes to sex and adultery. Blame that on three years of Catholic schooling with nuns telling me how girls wearing the wrong clothes were evil and harmful to boys. Ugh...

I think it had impact because at the time I was reading those stories I was coming to terms with having moved to live in a misogynistic country. I never considered myself a feminist in my teens or 20s. It was only when I spoke to others about things I saw as perfectly normal that South Africans (and some Americans) told me I was a feminist. But by British standards, I'm pretty average. My Scottish husband was and still is way more feminist than I am. 

Jesus was right - no man has a right to throw the first stone and yet... they still do! Women are still more likely to be seen as sinful for anything related to sex or promiscuity than men are. It also struck home how Jesus included teaching women as well as men (Mary and Martha) and how he chose to show his resurrected self first to Mary Magdalene. A woman.

To go deeper, if we take into consideration the Patriarchal background of Judaism, then Jesus' teaching become even MORE radical and Feminist. He talks in public to strange women, which was almost as much a no no in ancient Judaism as it is in Islamic countries today. He even talks to women who aren't Jewish, like the Samaritan woman at the well. 

Not only that, but in the story of the woman he heals on the Sabbath, he calls her a "daughter of Abraham". That is heresy - there are only SONS of Abraham in Judaism. No daughters are given a title of respect. Jesus did that. He elevated women to an equal footing in Judaism. That is huge. Plus he had women followers. Also highly "not done" in Judaism. He not only taught women, but he had them go with him, same as his disciples. I couldn't remember their names, so I had to look that up.

Luke 8:1-3:
Mary, called Magdalene, from whom several demons had gone out, Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, Susanna, and many others who provided for them out of their resources.”  

Mark, 15:41 mentions them again: “These women had followed him when he was in Galilee and ministered to him”

I'm going to end this with a wonderful quote by Diarmuid Ó Murchú, that I read a few weeks after I wrote my own thoughts on this topic. It's from The Center for Action and Contemplation

"Of all the Gospel material related to women, none is more enigmatic and empowering than the role of the women in post-Resurrection space . . . I [wrote of] the women on Calvary remaining faithful to the end. For those women, it was anything but an end. Even when the male disciples fled in fear, they remained to await a new frightening dawn that would propel them into a mission transcending all other missionary endeavors recorded in Gospel lore. The early church seemed unprepared for the archetypal breakthrough and proceeded to consign the women to historical invisibility."

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