Sunday, December 30, 2018

Hate Mail Shorts - I read the tiresome invective for you so you don't need to.

- Once I understood that in every Pauline letter and the ones that are attributed to him he was addressing small groups of beleagured converts, churches, set in an overwhelming pagan majority and that, like his ancestors in the Children of Israel he was trying to maintain them in their distinctive moral practice and identity, a lot of the troublesome passages became clear as could be.  Read in that context it makes sense to tell a slave to return to their master AND TO TELL THE MASTER TO TREAT THE SLAVE AS HE WOULD HIMSELF, to council wives to obey their husband AND TO URGE THEIR HUSBANDS TO RESPECT AND LOVE THEIR WIVES.  I think some of those things made complete sense as an attempt to live lives in which the earthly differences between  Jew or Greek, Slave or Free, Male and Female, ethnic differences, gender differences, difference in economic, legal and other worldly measures of status were still not only in effect, legally, they were the basis of the societies and habits of even the convinced converts.   In the context of a modern, would-be egalitarian democracy, they don't make as much sense unless you understand them in the contexts Paul wrote them to address.

In a context in which one man having penetrative sex with another one happened mostly if not always in a context in which the one being penetrated was socially, economically and legally in an inferior position - in the context of Roman law in a radically inferior position a slave, a child, a social inferior being used by a wealthy aristocrat - that Paul would have condemned that form of sex.  I don't know, maybe they also associated anal sex with the diseases that can be passed on through it.  If you look at gay porn and straight porn you see that would be being recreated in that context, the act of a man penetrating someone else often happens in a situation in which sex becomes an act of domination and subjugation and harm and destruction, certainly of contempt and derision and mental oppression.   Such things, if not given up, if indulged in turn sex into a sin. I think anal sex, with all its opportunities for using people without regard for their welfare and status as equals inevitably turns into at least a very high likelihood of becoming sinful.  I think the male gay population would be a entirely better off if it practiced only sex that was safe and an expression of love.  Committed love, promiscuity also opens people up to all kinds of risks.

The more I read Paul the more wisdom I find in him.  I'm convinced his conversion experience was not only something that happened, I think it was real and I think it was informed by the earlier Hebrew experience that he, as a Pharisee knew, well.

- Naw, I am not going to be bothering with Eschaton in the coming year, I looked around from what you sent me and it's obvious that it's turned into mostly a nostalgia blog for geezers entering into senescence.  It's both my experience and my observation that when the aging process is matched with secularism, that's what being a lefty descends into.   I'd rather try to make the future better than wallow in the foolish paths of least resistance already gone down.  It's kind of unattractive to see a bunch of geezerly play-lefties doing that.  It's such a waste of time to do it, commenting on it is also a waste of time.

Update:  -  Paul saying women were to be quiet in church is certainly a problematic text, as Elizabeth Johnson pointed out, since he said it one thing we can be certain of is that Women in the Corinthian church were not keeping silent, they were testifying and prophesying and could well have been celebrating Eucharist and that for some reason Paul didn't like it.  It's quite possible that this was Paul backsliding into previous habits from before his conversion, holding a difference between males and females that left Women in an inferior position.  Perhaps he wrote that before his understanding of how radical the transformation of Jesus Christ was complete.  The dating of the Epistles isn't certain so we don't know when he wrote his radical formula of equality in Galatians 3:28 as compared to the clearly contradictory passage in  1 Corinthians 14:34-35.  And as Elizabeth Johnson points out, we don't know how the Women of Corinth responded to Paul.  It would certainly be interesting if they had access to both epistles to know how they might have argued the contradiction between the two statements. 

-  I don't think there would be any negative effects if gay men, everyone gave up anal sex.  It's a form of intercourse that cannot be made safe.  Even when condoms are used, apparently.  That study done in Montreal that carried the supposedly great news for straight men that having sex with 20 or more women warded off prostate cancer also carried the news for men who were receptive partners in anal sex that their data indicated it was likely something that put them at greatly enhanced risk of prostate cancer.   Having read the study I'm skeptical of it, as, in fact, I am about most of the allegedly scientific study of sexual behavior but if you're going to use it to claim one thing, you don't get to pick and choose its conclusions.  But prostate cancer, perhaps caused by trauma to the prostate resulting from anal sex, who knows, is hardly the only risk factor.  The list of diseases that are easily contracted from contact with shit, especially shit of your own species, is long and dangerous.

I'm not sure which day of the week it was but I know it was the week of October 2, 2011 that as Ken Burns' Prohibition was on PBS I outraged some of the Eschatots when I blasphemed against what turns out to be an atheist-secular Higher-Power* by saying the only thing wrong with prohibition was that it didn't work.  I knew it was heresy but how angry that made some of the play-lefties there surprised me. 

Since we're about to go into the most boring of all holidays, New Years Eve and since during the tediously forced merriment of the Ball Drop they'll probably have some adenoidal adolescent intone John Lennon's stupid and hypocritical atheist hymn. imagine a world with no alcoholism, no drunk drivers, no drunken, violent boyfriends or girlfriends or husbands or wives or parents, no drunk or alcoholic children to worry parents and grandparents and uncles and aunts, etc.  Imagine all of that money spent on booze going to something healthy and productive . . . I imagine the likely bogus studies lauding the (often quite modest) health effects of drinking would be overshadowed by the health benefits of abstinence by a factor of thousands to one.   

Well, imagine what the world would be like if sex had always been a responsible, honest expression of love instead of a means of oppression and selfishness.

*  I have had to confront yet another beloved relative developing alcoholism this year.  It seems to be a familial trait.  This one hasn't yet used the "I don't believe in a "higher power" line on me as two others have but it's clear that atheist-invented attack on AA is a lie as every alcoholic makes the ethyl alcohol molecule into their higher power, a power that they give total control of their lives, the power to destroy them and whoever they might, through accidents, etc. take with them.  I will admit that realizing that and researching the atheist-"Humanist" attack on AA using that slogan has made me a lot more hostile to atheism than I might have been.  I don't apologize for that. 

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