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Women, tell your stories

My brother did one of those DNA tests to learn more about his genetic background. His results are kept in a database, and those who have done the test can contact one another if there is a possibility that they are related. Someone contacted my brother saying that she is related to him. Over the past few weeks, my brother and I have become acquainted with a woman who was adopted and is doing research into her biological father's family. Her biological father was my maternal grandmother's brother. She is a cousin to my mother and to us. And as we have been introduced to this woman, and joined her research group on Facebook, we are learning more about our background. It has been really great seeing the extent of our family's roots.

My great-grandmother, Agnes has always been someone I've been curious about. My mother always talked very fondly about her as did my great-aunt. My grandmother rarely said a thing about her, and I found that curious. The woman had 11 children, and many of them had secrets that were not revealed (at least to my mother's generation) until well after they were dead. My grandmother was a very bitter, unhappy woman. I've wondered what brought this woman to that place considering her own mother seemed to have been so beloved. That she was well-loved was confirmed to me by a man who is her great-nephew. His words to me were that she was "a saint."

We have also learned more about the Indigenous roots of my mother's family. I thought it was only Agnes who was Indigenous but there are connections on her husband's side of the family. It is much more than what I ever knew growing up. I suspect it was hidden because of shame, especially on my grandmother's part. And that shame was embraced to some extent by my mother, who doesn't seem nearly as interested in all this as my brother and his kids or me and my mine.

There is a group on Facebook for those of us interested in hearing about the various branches of the family, and through that group, I have connected with a woman who remembers Agnes; her grandmother was Agnes's sister, Mary. She is willing to talke to me either in person or on the phone (we live only about 3 hours away from one another) about Agnes whom she remembers very well. And they say Facebook doesn't have a good use!

If you are at all interested in the history of women, start with your own family. Famous women are interesting, but within our own families, there are likely a myriad of connections and stories that are just as fascinating. Those stories are what tell us what life was like for them. Birthdates, census records, grave markers, and employment records do not tell the story of ordinary life. And for the most part, there is nothing left behind by the women because they simply did not have the time to record stories, even assuming they were literate enough to write. Those of us who like to write need to get busy. And the ones who have the stories but don't want to write, they can always dictate those stories to someone who does. Published history is full of stories about everyone else but ordinary women, especially if they were a minority or were marginalized somehow. Those ordinary stories are worth hearing.

And as for women my age and younger: write what you remember about your family. Keep records of what your life is like now. Ordinary life is important. It is after all, the majority of life. And you never know who may be interested in those stories.


Writing kinda sucks these days

I love writing. I have loved it since I got my first diary as a girl. I write every day.

I have loved blogging these past almost thirteen years. There are times when it was fun and encouraging, and there were times when it has not been. But I always persisted.

These days, I find blogging a discouragement for many reasons which are not worth getting into. Anyone who has blogged enough knows that it has changed. It has become almost professionalized. The ordinary voices are quiet these days, and especially when it comes to women bloggers, there is a very small group people want to read, so I wonder why I am bothering. 

Yesterday, as my husband and I drove home from a lovely dinner with my daughter and her fiancé, he told me that at my age and with my experience, I am in a position to give counsel to other women. I am not so sure. Certainly, in my local church, there is a place for me to serve, but as for blogging, I just don't know. I am probably both too old and not old enough.

I had an idea for a post last week, and it was my intention since the weather was oppressive in the afternoon and discouraged being outside, that I would work on it. My eforts lasted about twenty minutes, and I ended up watching Foyle's War that afternoon instead. I just didn't feel like writing was worth the effort. That is a new feeling for me.

The summer is at its height now. The warm afternoons encourage quiet pursuits. Hopefully, if I can't write for my blog, I will fill my journal with other matters, and I will get through that "to read" pile. I'm counting the days until school starts again and I can focus on writing for my Greek Exegesis and Synoptic Gospels class. And likely, I'll finish watching all of the seasons of Foyle's War.


At the Cross

Alas and did my Saviour bleed,
And did my Sovereign die?
Would he devote that sacred head
For such as worm as I?


At the cross, at the cross
Where I first saw theh light,
And the burden of my heart rolled away!
It was there by faith
I received my sight,
And now I am happy all the day.

Was it for crimes that I had done
He groaned upon the tree?
Amazing pity, grace unknown,
And love beyond degree.

Well might the sun in darkness hide,
And shut his glories in
When Christ, the mighty maker died
For man, the creature's, sin.

Thus might I hide my blushing face
While his dear cross appears,
Dissolve my heart in thankfulkness,
And melt my eyes to tears.

But drops of grief can ne'er repay
The debt of love I owe;
Here, Lord, I give myself away,
'Tis all that I can do.

Lyrigs: Isaac Watts; refrain Ralph E. Hudson
Music: Ralph E. Hudson 


Translating Greek in context

I was working on translating Philippians 3:1-2 today. Verse 2, I translated this way: Beware of the dogs; beware of the evil workers; beware of the mutilation.

In my lexicon, the word κατατομή (katatome) had only one possibility: mutilation. In my A Reader's Greek New Testament, there was a note with the possibility of "cutting in pieces." But what does that mean? And how do the various versions translate it?

As I did my work, I thought of verse in Galatians where Paul wishes that those who were troubling the Galatians would "mutilate" (Gal 5:12, NASB) themselves. The ESV says "emasculate." I had a look at the section in Galatians to see of the word used in Phil 3:2 had a similar root, and it did not. In Galatians 5:12 the word is ἀποκόπτω (apokopto), which actually means to cut off or castrate.

Knowing Paul's teaching in Galatians helps to translate the passage in Phil 3:2. The translators of the NASB render the phrase: "beware of the false circumcision" and the ESV "those who mutilate the flesh." The translators of the NASB have actually provided a more interpretive rendering than the ESV in this case. However one translates it, knowing the larger context of Paul's writings helps in the process. The idea of someone just sitting down and making a "literal" translation of the text is not possible if one is going to make it readable.


What's in the mind when you're sober . . . 

. . . comes out when you're drunk. 

That is a saying I heard when I was a teenager. This was one of the many admonishments my mother used to encourage us as kids not to over indulge in alcoholic beverages.

Sometimes, I feel like Twitter operates on the same principle. What people really think comes out on Twitter. And that kind of approach reveals a glaring problem: people forget that Twitter users are actually people. We have all heard the reminder that we should talk to people on Twitter in the same way we would if we were face to face. However, some people probably do talk to others in that way face to face. Twitter simply gives them more freedom to do so. A bully online is a bully offlilne, too. A boor online is probably a boor offline.

I've been so disturbed lately by how people interact on Twitter. I have unfollowed people I've known a long time because of the way they bait others, insist on on having the last word, and are fuelled by nothing other than indignation. When pastors do it, it angers me, because they are supposed to be setting an example. My parents are not Christians, and one of the things my mother has said over the years is that from her perspective, Christians don't behave any better than she does. And in some instances, she is correct.

One pastor I had to unfollow is one who has often bashed young men playing video games, bemoaning their sloth. Well, what about taking time away from one's flock to demonstrate your sarcasm and disdain for total strangers online? Is that really advancing the kingdom? What kind of moral victory is it to slam someone you don't know online? 

Recently, I saw someone people on Twitter pat themselves on the back for having another Twitter use say something nasty about them. It was, apparently, a badge of honour. Really? And getting blocked by a particular person is something to boast about. Seriously? There are times when I would love to respond, but I don't. I am not going to answer a fool according to his folly.

The problem is that more than just the unbelieving world sees this kind of thing. My young adult kids see this kind of thing and it continues to foster their frustration with evangelical Christianity. They were taught not to conduct themselves like this, but they often see their elders doing so. It is a contradiction to them; they see it as hypocrisy. Those who have influence in Christian social media, if they are not going to use it with integrity should simply not use it. It is not a requirement for discipleship, and certainly there are other things one could be doing.