Sunday, January 20, 2008

TERTULLIAN: CHURCH FATHER, 160-235

Tertullian’s perspective on women is most interesting. He was married and he became part of a movement where women in leadership outnumbered the man by a ratio of two to one. Yet his scurrilous statements about womanhood are shocking. Women, he charged, are the “devil’s gateway. . . . You destroyed so easily God’s image (man).” In his icy denigration of heretical groups, he marshaled forth proof: “The very women of these heretics, how wanton they are! For they are bold enough to teach, to dispute, to enact exorcisms, to undertake cures—it may be even to baptize.” Women, he argued are daughters of Eve: “Every woman should be . . . walking about as Eve mourning and repentant, in order that by every garb of penitence she might the more fully expiate that which she derives from Eve—the ignominy, I mean, of the first sin, and the odium . . . of human perdition.”

Yet, Tertullian stands out in the early church in his profound understanding of the potential beauty of Christian marriage—a quote appropriate for a wedding program in the twenty-first century:

"How beautiful, then, the marriage of two Christians, two who are one in hope, one in desire, one in the way of life they follow, one in the religion they practice. They are as brother and sister, both servants of the same Master. Nothing divides them, either in flesh or in spirit. They are, in very truth, two in one flesh; and where there is but one flesh there is also but one spirit. They pray together, they worship together, they fast together; instructing one another, encouraging one another, strengthening one another. Side by side they visit God's church and partake of God's Banquet; side by side they face difficulties and persecution, share their consolations. They have no secrets from one another; they never shun each other's company; they never bring sorrow to each other's hearts."

Thursday, January 10, 2008

HIGH WATER MARK by David Shumate

With flooding in the forecast here along the Grand River on Abrigador Trail, I have a special appreciation for this poem.

"High Water Mark"

It's hard to believe, but at one point the water rose to this
level. No one had seen anything like it. People on rooftops.
Cows and coffins floating through the streets. Prisoners
carrying invalids from their rooms. The barkeeper consoling
the preacher. A coon hound who showed up a month later
forty miles downstream. And all that mud it left behind. You
never forget times like those. They become part of who you
are. You describe them to your grandchildren. But they think
it's just another tale in which animals talk and people live
forever. I know it's not the kind of thing you ought to say...
But I wouldn't mind seeing another good flood before I die.
It's been dry for decades. Next time I think I'll just let go and
drift downstream and see where I end up.