Sunday, December 6, 2015

Women, Christmas and the Evening Prayer for the Food

I haven’t been at the Union Gospel Mission to hear chapel much in the past couple of years – except in instances when formerly homeless guys I know have been preaching or giving their testimony.

I’m told that not too long ago a group came to the mission to present the sermon portion of chapel service. The man who gave the sermon asked his wife to come up to do what is always the last thing before the evening meal: say the short prayer to bless the food.

UGM Administrators wouldn’t allow the woman to give the evening prayer and this surprised many people in the chapel seats. Women come to chapel with most all groups that come to preach or serve the meal that follows. I know that women have stepped up to the lectern to give a talk or sing. While I’ve never seen a woman come to the podium as the primary person, the preacher, it is only in that role where woman have seemed strangely absent.

Since the prayer is such a little thing -- it can take as little as ten seconds -- I never pay attention to the person saying it, or his gender. At most, the prayer takes two minutes, I'd guess.

We are living in a time when a big part of Islam needs to undergo a subtle, but difficult, transformation. The jihadists that run ISIS follow the Qur’an and other sacred texts of their religion precisely as they were written in ancient times. The texts are brutal; they call for women to be stoned to death and thieves to have a hand cut off. The Bible is also brutal: children are to be punished by being beaten with a rod. People are to be stoned to death for supposed “crimes” that our Courts of the current day would find to be ludicrous, unjust, medieval lunacy.

I am not meaning to equate Islam and Christianity. ISIS is a band of ruthless, murderous, psychopathic thugs. ISIS needs to be eradicated, one way or the other. ISIS is Evil, [Though I must point out that I don't use the word "evil" in the same way that UGM administrators and most other Christians do. "Satanic" is not what I mean. I use Philosopher Lars Svendsen's understanding of "evil" in his book A Philosophy of Evil.

An essay by Anna Rømcke Høiseth uses Svendsen's understanding of evil. Here, a pertinent quote from the essay:
The second form of evil [according to Svendsen], the instrumental one, is where evil is used as a means to reach a goal. “The end justifies the means,” is another way of describing it. This second form of evil is closely linked to the third kind of evil. This is the idealistic form, which is evil committed in the belief that it is good. Clear examples of the idealistic form of evil can be terrorism and persecutions. Furthermore, religion is noteworthy in this context, as was shown on 9/11. There are innumerable crimes committed in the name of God, such as sacrificing human life to appease gods. Other examples are the Inquisition, witch hunts and persecutions of religious minorities. Evil in the name of religion can be good examples of both instrumental and ideological evil. Firstly, it is instrumental because they are committed for a higher purpose, which is pleasing God or acting according to his wishes. Secondly, it is a good example of ideological evil, because they act in the belief that they are removing evil from
the world, or adding goodness.
You can "see" ISIS in the quote above. The organization operates by doing monstrous deeds as acts that most members perceive as being for the good, in behalf of what their God directs them to do.

Christianity went through its Reformation in the 16th Century, saving it from the kind of insanity that poisons much of what a good many Muslims believe, today. Still, a lot of the Bible is obvious nonsense. Some of that nonsense all varieties of Christians simply ignore. Other bits of utter nonsense that should be ignored are hateful in ways that appeal to certain groups and thus are retained, implemented and practiced.

Women of today have proved themselves to as capable as men in running large corporations and making important decisions. Men and women are mentally on a par. While it was thought, just a few years ago, that more men had extremely high IQ's than women and more extremely low IQ's, recent studies show that there is no basis to say that there is ANY difference in the average IQ's of men as differentiated from women -- though, as a function of a gender bias in what people study, men and women differ in their comprehension within some realms of knowledge. 

Two days ago, the Defense Secretary opened all combat and command roles in the military to women. Gender equality is on the march!

So, for crying out loud, UGM, How is it possible that you think that women must never give the short prayer for the evening meal? Do you think it is conceivable that they could "mess it up?" I am sure they could deliver the prayer in as outstanding a manner as men.
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As for the picture that accompanies this blogpost: Starbucks was severely criticized when the design of its cups for the Christmas Season were merely colored red, rather than delivering a statement such as "Merry Christmas." Starbucks was trying to stay out of any religious controversy, but instead they stepped into one. A clever rascal who is a Facebook member decided to design his own set of faux-Christian Starbucks cups. The picture at the top of this blogpost is one of them. The message on the cup is clearly the basis for UGM and other conservative Christian organizations to subjugate women.

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