Daily Archives

March 8, 2018

The ‘Bad Girls’ of the Bible Deserve a Fresh Look

Women dismissed as “prostitutes” and “adulteresses” were often models of righteousness and faith. Women fill the pages of the Bible. Some of them enter the narrative as mothers and wives, others as refugees, judges, and queens. Yet one burden many of them share is our interpretive tendency to blame them for sexual offense no matter how honorable their example. No doubt, some of the women in Scripture have rightfully earned such a legacy, but others bear it without warrant. Vindicating the Vixens reexamines the stories of 14 biblical women who are often misinterpreted through a sexualized or marginalized lens. As stories from the #MeToo and #ChurchToo campaigns have rippled into the church, they have kindled needed conversation not only about the proper methods for handling cases of sexual assault but also about how we discuss sexual assault itself. This collection of essays is an instructive addition to the dialogue. It demonstrates how our mishandling of the stories of biblical women, especially those involving sexual abuse, adversely affects our handling of similar circumstances today. Edited by Sandra Glahn, associate professor of media arts and worship at Dallas Theological Seminary, the essays focus on revisiting the “sexualized, vilified, and marginalized women of…

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Research: Feeling Loved by God Buffers Body Esteem in Men—But Not Women

Two psychologists at Hope College respond to Christian young adults who struggle with body satisfaction. Throughout history, women’s bodies portrayed in the media of the day— from billboard ads to TV screens to mobile phones—have influenced what we think about our identities. According to Mary Inman, a psychologist at Hope College, the early 1970s marked a new age for female body image. The fashion model Twiggy took the stage and the norm of Marilyn Monroe, who had substantially more body fat, started fading. In 1979, Jean Kilbourne’s lecture-based film Killing Us Softly (and later, Jackson Katz’s work) documented the connection between media and “young women and men to think that the perfect body shape is thin for women and muscular for men,” said Inman. These messages “also communicate that the function of the body is to be an object of sexual desire for women and a tool of dominance for men.” Although today’s body-positive movement provides some pushback (and also attracts critique), nonetheless the same problems persist. In studying the issue, Inman and her colleague at Hope College, Charlotte vanOyen-Witvliet, wanted to know: Does faith buffer a negative body image? In a recent study published in the Journal of Psychology…

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All We Need Is the Rhythm Divine

Patterns in the Bible and life keep us in sync with God. Anyone who knows me knows that I am rhythmically challenged. Whenever I lead a song on the guitar, people don’t know when to come in or when I will come in, and when there is a new stanza, anticipation brews— will he get it right? Nah, probably not. Every so often, I surprise others and myself. I’ve always been this way, and nothing earthly can change it. I don’t even try anymore. Perhaps my being rhythmically challenged explains why I’ve been thinking about rhythms for a few years. Rhythms are everywhere. Today I got out of Grand Central Station at 6:03 a.m. to head to morning prayer. On my two-block walk, I saw the same man unhitching his food stand from his SUV for a new day of work, greeted the same cashier at Starbucks who knew exactly what I wanted, and heard the same kind of blaring music in the background; today it was Justin Bieber’s “What Do You Mean?”—a catchy song, I have to admit. As a minister, I see rhythms all over the place, such as in marriages. I see the initial joys of preparing…

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It Is Not Good for Man—Or Immigrant—To Be Alone

Why pro-family immigration policy is God-honoring and good for the country. Last summer, I visited a gathering in my neighborhood for some outdoor fellowship on a neatly manicured lawn. There were picnic tables, singing, and steaks in steam trays to feed perhaps 40 people. The group had grown in size over decades, meeting regularly and serving one another, watching each other’s children, fixing roofs, shoveling driveways in winter—including mine. It was not a church. This reunion of brothers, aunts, children, and grandparents was for an aging Mexican man’s birthday party. It offered the clearest picture I’ve seen of the outcome of so-called “chain migration.” Political debates about America’s immigration system have increasingly focused on family reunification, the cornerstone of US immigration policy for the last 50 years. The opportunity for lawful residents and citizens to sponsor certain relatives and bring them to America accounts for a majority of immigrants admitted in recent years. The doctrine was not particularly controversial for the first few decades of its existence. But in the 1990s, academics innocuously minted the term “chain migration” to refer to the idea that people, naturally, like to live near family. It was quickly applied to family-based immigration, however, and…

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