Saturday, July 25, 2009

An Ancient View by Bart Ehrman

"People today usually think about male and female as two kinds of the same thing. There’s one thing, the human being, and it comes in two types, male and female. There are problems with this understanding, as we ourselves sometimes admit. There are hermaphrodites, for example. But basically, this is how we see it. It is not, however, how people in antiquity saw it. For them, male and female were not two kinds of human being, they were two degrees of human being. Women, in fact, were imperfect men.

The way to make sense of the ancient understanding is to imagine all living creatures on a kind of continuum. At the far left of the spectrum are plants, to the right of them are animals, and to the right of (other) animals are humans There are different degrees of intelligence and perfection among animals: slugs might be on the left of the continuum and chimpanzees might be further along. So it is among humans as well. Children and slaves are not perfect, as they have not reached the level of the men. Women are not perfect, as they have not reached the level of the men. The male body is the perfect ideal. Moving along the continuum, beyond humans altogether, are other living beings, the gods, who are in fact, superhuman, the very pinnacle of living existence.

The goal of humans is to become like the gods, and that requires movement along the continuum. Men have to transcend their mortal limitations. For women to transcend theirs, they first have to move along the continuum through the place occupied by men. For a woman to have life, she must first become a male.

Women then, were imperfect humans, or as some authors would have it, imperfect men. Many ancients held this view in quite literal terms: women were men who had never developed. Their appendages hadn’t developed and what they had was an inverted appendage that never emerged; their muscles hadn’t fully developed; their lungs hadn’t matured; their voices hadn’t deepened; their facial hair hadn’t appeared. Women were men who hadn’t yet reached perfection.

To go off on a bit of a digression for a moment, that is the reason that some ancient texts are opposed to certain same sex relationships. The problem with such relationships in Greek and Roman antiquity was not that it was unnatural for two people of the same gender to have physical intimacy, as some people today feel. The problem had to do with the ancient ideology of dominance as it relates to understanding of the genders.

In the Greco-Roman world, dominance was a firmly held and seldom questioned ideal. It was simply common sense that human relationships were organized around power. Those who were more powerful were supposed to dominate those who were less powerful. Thus one empire could destroy another with impunity. They had no particular qualms about it. The stronger could and should dominate the weaker. Masters had complete control over slaves. Parents had total dominance over children. Men could and should assert their power over women, who were literally the weaker sex..

This ideology of power affected not only military and political ideology but also personal and sexual relations. Free men were made to be dominant. Modern people have trouble understanding how the ancient Greeks could accept pederasty, where an adult man took a preadolescent boy as a lover. In this system, the man could inculcate moral and cultural values into the boy, teaching him the ways of society and politics, in exchange for sexual favors. But wasn’t that “unnatural”? Not at all. In fact, Greeks talk about it as the most natural thing in the world. The reason is not hard to find once you understand the ideology of dominance. Boys were imperfect men. The more perfect was to dominate the less perfect. It was natural for a free man to have sex with a young boy. And that’s why pederasty applied only to preadolescent youths. Once a boy reached puberty, he started attaining his manhood and from that point on it was a shameful thing to be dominated by someone else, since men were to be the dominators not dominated.

That is also why in the ancient world it was widely acceptable for a free man to have sex with his slaves, whether male or female. He was dominant over them. What about when two free men had sex, though, wasn’t that unnatural? As it turns out, most ancient people thought that’ same sex relations between men was unnatural for only one of the two involved, the one that was on the receiving end of the sex act. Since the “unnaturalness” of sex involved being dominated by someone when you were to be the dominator, then only the dominated partner acted unnaturally. So when Julius Caesar was known to have been involved in a sexual relationship with the king of Galatia and was suspected of having been himself the submissive partner in the relationship, his troops composed humorous little ditties making fun of him for it. The king of Galatia hadn’t done anything immoral or unnatural, though. He had acted like a man.

When ancient texts, therefore, condemn same sex relations, it is important to understand what it is they’re condemning. They are condemning a man for acting like a member of the weaker sex, or a woman for acting like a member of the stronger sex."

Friday, July 24, 2009

Tonya's Experience

I have just gone through a terrible experience and would like to share it. I have a feeling I’m not alone in my experience.

On May 27, having just been released from the hospital and on my way home, I stopped at a local gas station to buy gas. I gave the cashier my debit card to pay for my gas and there was a young man there at the same time that was being refused gas because he had presented a fake ID. The young man was an African American. The cashier called the young man an inappropriate ethnic name and told him to get his black *** out of the store. I stepped up and corrected her and told her she shouldn’t be talking to anyone that way, especially an African American. She then told me to mind my own business and get my black *** out of the store too.

She made a lot of racial statements and got upset and was cursing. I told her I would leave as soon as she gave me my debit card but she kept it and put it on her clip board. I grabbed it back and turned to leave and her sister, who was also there, took it back. Then she called the police. When the police arrived they asked me to wait outside while they took her statement. Then they came out and told me I was being arrested for disorderly conduct. They would not let me make a statement. The police had my debit card and they would not give it back to me either. Needless to say, I was extremely upset.

When we arrived at the police station I attempted to explain my point of view but they were not interested in hearing it. Three different officers told me to “shut the F*** up”.

At my trial on Monday, July 17th, I pled not guilty.

I had witnesses that gave me their names and were to have backed up my account but they did not show up at the trial. The African American citizens of this community are intimidated by the police here and were afraid to come forward. I asked the judge to watch the surveillance tape so he could see that the clerk shoved me first and he did allow that. I attempted to tell my side of the story but the judge said “You had your time to speak and now it’s my time to judge”. He found me guilty. I was fined $145 plus court costs of $65.

I admit I was angry and said some things I probably shouldn’t have but when you are an African American in this society, you have to take so much hostility from some of the community that it is hard to always remain calm. But, I was not disturbing the peace but was trying to take up for a fellow citizen who was being verbally abused. The clerk had no right to try to keep my debit card and the police had to right to take it either. I had a right to give my own statement as well. But my rights were disregarded.

If any of you have had similar experiences, please share them so that eventually changes can be made in our community and we can all be treated with respect.


Thursday, July 23, 2009

Busy Thursday

Well, this has been a busy Thursday. Slinky is a little better. At least he is eating a little today.

Bob and I went to Bartlesville after he took his walk with Slinky. He bought a new shirt and a pair of sandals. Then we had lunch at Garfield's. After that we bought gas and came on home where Bob took his nap. I had to re-program the TV this afternoon. The batteries went out on the remote. I hate to do that. It's always an ordeal. I finally got it done though after much chagrin.

Later in the afternoon we attended a meeting of PINCH at the First Methodist Church. They were planning their third annual PINCH community wide basket dinner.

We heard the story of a young black woman who had had an unfortunate experience with prejudice at the police department. We heard her story. I will help her to write a letter to the editor of our newspaper on Monday to tell her experience.

This evening we will watch TV. Bob's favorite program, "This Old House" is on tonight.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Wednesday's Breakfast

I had my hair done at 7:15 this morning and after that. I met Juanita for breakfast. We had a good visit. While we were there, my sister and brother-in-law came in and sat in the booth just across from us. My poor sister. She looks so pitiful still using her walker. I hope she will eventually get away from it and get back on her feet.

I came home and Bob went up to Red Cross to see Aaron, the director.

Slinky ate a little...but very little this morning. Afterward he had some diarrhea so he did eliminate something. I cleaned it up out of the yard. He still feels miserable. I had e-mailed Scott about his condition and Scott is quite are we. If he isn't better by tomorrow, I may take him to the vet.

I will read this afternoon and perhaps Bob and I will get a few groceries.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Tuesday Lunch

We went to Independence at 10:30 where I had my board meeting. Bob went to see Ivan during that time but Ivan was "out of it". It sounded like they had him overmedicated but they said they had not given him anything. Bob simply could not rouse him. So Bob went to visit Bill instead.

At noon, they came to get me and we went to the small Mexican restaurant for lunch. It was good but we brought half of it home. They serve way too much food.

I have read all afternoon and posted on various web boards. Not a lot going on.

Slinky is off his food. For one thing he is constipated. He hasn't had a bowel movement for two days. So he isn't eating. I don't know what to do. I guess I could go over to Wal Mart and see if they have anything for dogs but how to get it down him if they did would be the next dilemma. I checked the internet and I can add a couple of teaspoons of bran to his food. Well, he won't eat so I gave him some of the meatloaf with the bran mixed in. He won't eat that either.

If it isn't one old dog, it's another. :)

Monday, July 20, 2009

Housecleaning Monday

As usual this is housecleaning day. I scrubbed the kitchen floor with my new steamer this morning. Then I steam cleaned the carpet in the office. I cleaned both bathrooms and Bob vacuumed for me after he watched his "doctor's show". The cleaning took all morning.
Now we have had a bite of lunch (Slinky helped me with my grilled cheese sandwich). Bob will take his nap.

This afternoon we will read. We're going to take Leslie to lunch tomorrow. I have my board meeting in Independence tomorrow at 11:00. Leslie is going to bring us some tomatoes. Ours are hardly doing anything. I went out there yesterday and trimmed off all the extraneous leaves, hoping to make the tomatoes larger that way. That's what Gay told me to do. I should grind up my eggshells too and put them in the tomatoes. I read that that adds calcium.

Let's face it...we just don't very good luck with tomatoes. Thank goodness John and Leslie do.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Usual Sunday

Today will be a usual Sunday. My routine did not change this morning. I fed the dog and the cat, fed the birds, watered and had coffee on the patio with Bob. We will leave for church about 9:00.

After church we plan to eat out with John and Leslie and they also have Sage. Jeromy, their son, picked her up for his once a month weekend visit and was on call. They called him in to work so they got Sage last night. She doesn't know when they'll make the change over to him.

This evening we will go to our usual "Living the Questions" group meeting. Bob is getting tired of these meetings but I enjoy them. He is not going to stay home as long as I want to attend however. I enjoy the fellowship. Sometimes the discussions are stimulating too.