Monday, March 26, 2012

WOW and Sarah

Apparently "War on Women" is being abbreviated "WOW." Wow, indeed.

The Republicans have been making such bad choices. It's like how my 4-year-old nephew describes the game of football: "Bad choices. Good choices. Watch the flag!" I find it difficult to believe that Republicans don't understand this - in the context of football or politics. But they don't, apparently. It's been like watching a train wreck, in slow motion - and then watching it wreck again (with the non-uterined humans creating the biggest collisions).

Spokane's local paper, The Spokesman Review, decided not to run the Doonesbury columns last week that commented on Texas' mandatory sonogram law. That was just one of the reasons I had last week to say, "Wow." I loved one of the letters to the editor (which the Spokesman did print, to its credit), entitled "Where Is Doonesbury?" - It read in its entirety, "My husband has been yelling about this all day, and I’m about a hundred times madder than he is!"

In the midst of the Republican party's one-two punch on women (eliminating contraception funding while simultaneously, state-by-state, requiring these sonograms), I have also happened upon a couple of Facebook entries that talks about how women need to be submissive to their husbands. This was sort of a weird parallel, and were postings by two different people who I really like (well, I guess I should like them - they are my Facebook friends). I do think this female legislation will find its way to the trash bin over time, as I do not see it as sustainable in the end. But perhaps it is driven in part by this intense desire by sane people to read the Bible as saying that a wife is supposed to just do as she is told....

This was, at least, how the two Facebook postings interpreted that portion of the Bible.

I'm an inconsistent reader of the Bible. I'm more spiritual than religious and so am eclectic in how I gather my God information. But I was raised Lutheran, love biblical stories, and certainly have deep respect for the Bible, and what it is wanting to tell us. I'm a little more Jewish in my approach to the Bible, I think - meaning, I would have loved studying the Talmud (the Jewish writings that interpret and explain the Torah - known in Bible-world as Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy). I'm likely one of the few out there who "gets" how Ezekiel's Chariot epitomizes metaphysical alchemy. I love the Psalms. Job perplexes me - both the book and the man. Oh, and I won "Bible Baseball" in third grade - a board game - because I memorized the most Bible verses in Sunday School (though that had less to do with the Bible and more to do with my competitive spirit - I wanted to win!). So I may not read the Bible every day, but I do have some nuanced understandings of it.

When I read these Facebook postings - all feel-good and generic, without any explanation of how submission was supposed to work in, for instance, a domestic violence relationship - I thought, this can't be right. I've always known this submission thing was a little off because - well, because God made me and I am not built to be submissive, and I just don't believe that God would make me who I am just to have a cosmic joke - a good laugh at my personal expense. In fact, I've spent a lifetime growing out of "good girl" mode - a lifetime of learning to challenge imbalanced authority because it was in my DNA to do so, even as it was also in my DNA to be well-behaved. And yes, I've never been married, so maybe it ends up a non-issue. But I just can't imagine God would make me who I am and also state that all women need to be submissive.

So when I saw these Facebook postings, I did what I often do when it comes to the Bible (or any writing of authority, for that matter): I dug. I went to the source - well, to interpretations of the source, as I can't read the Bible in its original language. I found some cool things - like the word "submissive" has been perhaps incorrectly translated - it should read "cooperative" - things like that. At one point, an author pointed out that the Bible (the "submission" thing is in a letter in the New Testament, btw) states to be submissive "like Sarah." And anyone who knows about Sarah knows that sounds like code for "don't be submissive." It would be as if the Bible said, "Be without opinion, like Beth." Ha! I would know exactly what that meant, if I read it.

So here is the thing about Sarah: I always thought, "Sarah's a b----." She was great, and Abraham's wife, and Isaac's mom and all, but there plenty of moments in the Bible where I just thought, "Sarah can be such a b----."

Then I read a wonderful book - Orson Scott Card's "Sarah." It helped me understand - Sarah was just being tough as nails - was just attempting to figure out how to serve God's will, and manage Hagar and the birth of Ishmael - a situation Sarah created but then became caught up in, without easy answers. She was strong. She followed what she understood God to tell her. Abraham had to do what she said. She was not just being mean. She was being clear - and a model for women like me, caught in our own challenging circumstances, learning to stand firm even as human authority attempts to contradict. "Submissive like Sarah" - that's something I can do. And for as strong-willed and headstrong as I am, I can be pretty malleable when I feel guided spiritually to take a certain path - I will take it, against all odds because I feel I must. "There is nothing easy within this challenge except the challenge itself." So that would be "submissive like Sarah" too, I think.

Maybe WOW and Sarah are not related topics - maybe I should have written two separate posts for them. But it feels like they are well tied together - hence the substance of this entry.

This is a great article on the Sarah submission topic:

And this is a great article of one woman's experience in Texas with regard to sonograms:

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