Why did Paul say women should be silent in gatherings?

1 Corinthians 14 is often used as a prooftext against women in Christian leadership, but consider this: Paul does not accuse the women of TEACHING PRESUMPTIVELY, rather, he accuses the women of ENQUIRING DISRUPTIVELY. His desire seems to be for speakers to be able to speak without unnecessary interruption. This is the same concern he voices immediately prior with respect to those prophesying or speaking in tongues. One at a time! And at this point it should be noted that Paul has no problem with women prophesying just a little way back in 1 Corinthians 11. No, back there his only concern is head coverings. As long as it’s orderly he doesn’t seem to have a problem with it. Common thread: talking over the top of one another is not consistent with loving one another. And you know that loving one another is the key theme of this entire letter.

On clothing standards and sexual harassment

I am seeing many criticism of women who dress scantily yet complain of sexual harassment.

May I offer a response by way of analogy? One could certainly question the wisdom of fighting theft by putting your jewellery in the front window of your home. But such silliness on the part of owners still doesn’t make theft any less theft.

A visual guide to Muslim head coverings

hijab-burkaNot all hijab (head coverings) are burkas. It’s important to know the difference, especially if you’re going to shoot your mouth off about them. Burkas are the most extreme form of head covering, as they mask the eyes, but they are also the least common, at least where I live.

Hot under the collar over dress codes?

dress-codes.jpgThere have been some vigorous debates over dress codes lately but I have to ask, what would a universally acceptable dress code even look like? In some (sub)cultures full body coverings including face coverings are mandatory for all. In some (sub)cultures clothing is optional. Two extremes on a spectrum. In my own culture jeans and shirts are the norm, with bearing shoulders and midriff common in summer in informal settings. Head coverings are acceptable but face coverings of any sort are seen as subversive and banned in high security areas. Conversely, full nudity is also considered subversive but permitted in some, more isolated areas. Breast feeding in public is generally acceptable but discreetness while doing so is considered more polite than just lobbing them out. While some countries, such as France, are taking a draconian attitude towards one end of the spectrum, other countries, such as Saudi Arabia take an even more draconian attitude towards the other end of the spectrum. I expect most countries are at different points along that spectrum. I know this is an emotive topic, especially at the moment, but I always seek the bigger picture and what I see is that it may be very difficult to find somethings everyone agrees with. If we just say each to his own, let’s think of what that means. It means naked folk and 100% covered folk potentially occupying the same spaces and everyone being okay with that. The truth is most societies draw boundaries at some point. As an Aussie I’m comfortable where my society draws boundaries – tolerates most things but draws the line on 100% covering and 0% covering in select contexts. But I know I’d be a fool to universalise my expectations. What’s the answer though? I don’t know.

Bin Laden Jesus: Offended or Over it?

Blakeprizejesusosama Well, it seems the media attempt to stir up drama over the 2007 Blake Prize was a bit of a fizzer. When images were released depicting Mary in a burqa and Jesus morphing into Osama Bin Laden a collective yawn went out from Australia’s religious leaders.

The Muslim response

Ikebal Patel, President of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils, said: “[Mary wearing a burqa is] no different to how our mothers and sisters are expected to be modest in their dressing” And on the Jesus images, where he was offended, it was for the sake of Jesus, not Osama, “You have a revered prophet of Islam being equated to somebody like Osama bin Laden.”

The Christian response

Robert Forsyth, Anglican Bishop of South Sydney, wisely advised: “You need to limit the language of outrage to things that are really outrageous”

George Pell, Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, thought it was overly predictable, saying: “Unfortunately, some contemporary art is tedious and trivial. These couple of works demonstrate this … Regrettably, attempts to insult Jesus and Mary have become common in recent years, even predictable … Too often it seems that the only quality which makes something art is the adolescent desire to shock … If this is the best the Blake Prize can do, it has probably outlived its usefulness.”

I applaud the leaders of both faiths for refusing to rise to the bait. Now, if only we could encourage our Prime Minister John Howard to let religious leaders speak for religious communities eh?

See the “That’s Osama Art Controversy” for more.