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A cure for the Weinsteins of the world

They're dropping like flies. Lately, it seems like every day brings another account of a man being accused of sexual misconduct. Some of the attempts to excuse the behaviour border on ridiculous.

I'm researching Hildegard of Bingen for my term paper in Church History. She, in addition to writing at length about her visions and composing music for liturgy, wrote about medicine. She has some interesting suggestions for helping those who are ailing. Her recommendation for counteracting libidinousness was curious:

Take a sparrowhawk, pluck it, then having discarded the head and entrails put the rest of the body in a new pot perforated with small holes, and put it on the fire without water, and put another pot under it to catch the drippings. Pound some calandria and a little camphor and mix with the drippings and heat it on the fire again and thus make an ointment, and a man should anoint his genitals with this for five days and then his libidinous cravings will be gone in a month. 

Oh, it if were only that simple.


Monks wouldn't have been good with social media

In Church History, I'm completing a reading assignment on the Rule of Benedict. Benedictine monasticism was very influential to the history of the Church, and today, Benedictine monasteries remain. In fact, my fourth grade teacher, who worked in the public school system, was (and remains) a Benedictine nun.

The Rule goes into detail about attitudes, living arrangements, work, clothing, and even sleeping arrangements. One of the chapters, which deals with humility, gives 12 steps for humility. In the 7th-9th steps, the speech is addressed:

The ninth step of humility is that a monk controls his tongue and remains silent, not speaking unless asked a question. For Scriptures warns, "In a flood of words you will not avoid sinning" (Prov 10:19), and "A talkative man goes about aimlessly on earth" (Ps 139[140]:12).

The tenth step of humility is that he is not given to ready laughter, for it is written "Only a fool raises his voice in laughter" (Sir 21:23).

The eleventh step of humility is that a monk speaks gently and without laughter, seriously and with becoming modesty, briefly and reasonably, but without raising his voice, as it is written: "A wise man is known by a few words."

Now, that tenth step does seem a little extreme. I'll just excuse it by noting that it is taken from an Apocryphal book. However, as a child, one of my report cards (7th grade, I think) said that I would be a better student if I could curtail my giggling. There is a limit, after all.

The sentiment in the other two is worth thinking about, especially the admonition to speak gently and with modesty. There is even something to be said for remaining silent until we have something valuable to say. That, of course, will be dependent upon what we consider valuable. That is when we need wisdom, and we won't get wisdom if we are always talking.

There is a feature on Facebook, "On This Day," whereby you can look at what you were saying on a given date every year you've been on Facebook. I've looked at mine a few times and all I can say is that I say a lot of useless stuff. In my continuing desire to use my speech wisely, I've finally realized that too much time on social media is not going to help. The model of social media is not to say only what is wise. It is to say anything, anytime, to anyone.

Those of us who talk too much have a problem when there is a lull in the conversation. I think we need not fear that lull. In many cases, that silent moment may actually be better utilized by someone who is less prone to talk, because in all likelihood, she doesn't usually talk because she can't ever get a word in.

Personally, I like laughing, although I'm always a little apprehensive around those who are never serious. But as for the admonition to speak less, I think the monks were on to something.


Do you need to be refreshed?

In between Greek pronouns and Hildegard of Bingen (the subject of my term paper in Church History) I managed to read and thoroughly enjoy Shona and David Murray's book Refresh. I've reviewed it today at Out of the Ordinary.

Here is a snippet from the opening: 

OverwhelmedExhausted. Depreessed. Panicky. Stressed. Burned out. Broken. Paralyzed. Drowning. Empty. Recognize yourself in any of these words? Maybe in all of them?  
You're not alone. These are the most common words I've heard Christian women useing to describe themselves and their lives. 
Whatever happened to the words peaceful, calm, joyful, content, quiet, rested, refreshed, and fulfilled? Wouldn't you like to exchange the second set of words for the first? 

Click here to read the review.

This was an encouraging and helpful book. I would definitely recommend it. 


God of Grace

God of grace, amazing wonder,
So immeasurable and free;
Oh the miracle of mercy,
Jesus reaches down to me.
God of grace, I stand in wonder,
As my God restores my soul.
His own blood has paid my ransom,
Awesome cost to make me whole.

God of grace, who loved and knew me
Long before the world began,
Sent my Saviour down from Heaven,
Perfect God and perfect man.
God of grace, I trust in Jesus;
I'm accepted as his own.
Every day his grace sustains me
As I lean on him alone.

God of grace, I stand astounded,
Cleansed, forgiven, and secure;
All my fears are now confouned,
And my hope is ever sure.
God of grace, now crowned in glory,
Where one day I'll see your face;
And forever I'll adore you
In your everlasting grace.


No pain, no gain

One of my Greek classmates is a pastor's wife and a mom of kids, in various stages of school from elementary to high school. Those are busy years. I remember those years. I admire how she is able to juggle all of those details and still make it to class and succeed. It's nice having a woman to sit beside in a classroom full of men.

If I don't do well in my studies it is my own fault. I have no kids at home and few obligations. Praise God, my in-laws are healthy and my husband is very low maintenance. The only creatures awaiting my return home are my dogs. This could be seen as an enviable position to those who don't have time to study, especially the young men who have wives and children along with their heavy course loads.

I am grateful for the time I have. I am thankful that when I sit down to translate Greek sentences there is silence (unless my younger dog, Bear, is outside, and then there is a good chance he'll find something to bark at). I am grateful that if I need to have a little snooze in the afternoon (wake up time around here is 5:00 a.m.) I can do so without too much trouble. 

While all that freedom is great, it does come at a cost. It means my children are grown and gone, and I miss them. It means that relationships take more work than when they were at home. My friend in Greek likely has to spend a lot of time refereeing disputes and conflicts. I have no such disputes to manage, but getting three kids in different cities, with different schedules to find an agreeable time for family gatherings is a different kind of work. It doesn't happen as much as I would like. When kids have jobs that mean working on a weekend, it's not always easy to find that time. Adult children have the regular struggles of life to manage, and don't take refereeing, but they are the kind where I can no nothing but pray. I'm not always good at just sitting and waiting.

This semester, I have more work than previous semesters. I find myself more consumed with my schedule, and being diligent to keep up relationships has not come as easily as it usually does. I don't want them to think I'm not interested in their lives. There is a balance in parenting adult children between prying and staying interested. As a mother of adult children, I have never been more aware of how little control I have over anything other than my own responses.

I am enjoying this part of my life. I love biblical Greek and I'm doing well, even if I do make careless errors on quizzes. Church History is heavy with reading, and I have had a couple of marks I'm disappointed with, but for the most part, it's great. But I do miss my kids. It's very easy to become disconnected from them if regular contact isn't kept up. So while this free time is wonderful and I'm benefitting from it, it means letting something else go in order to get it. But as always, it's part of God's design for us, and his design is good. And looking back, I am so grateful that when they were home, I was able to devote my time to them.