The Church continually marks on the importance of women’s role in the church, but the doors on whether they can be ordinated have been officially closed for now. In class last week we watch Pink Smoke on women’s ordination. I was surprised to see women priests give their stories and have such courage in the face of the church’s strict tradition. I do question the validity of their particular ordination though. If the church doesn’t support women priests it doesn’t make sense that a woman “priest” could come onto the scene and say, “hey, I’m a part of the church.” It seems a little counterintuitive. Also, though the call of these women religious order, specifically priesthood, is incredibly valid, I don’t understand why they would try to apply that calling to Catholicism. Even though the new Pope Francis said, “demands that the legitimate rights of women be respected, based on the firm conviction that men and women are equal in dignity, present the Church with profound and challenging questions which cannot be lightly evaded.” The issue of women’s ordination is remains a point not discussed.Could these women not find a more open-minded and accepting church to be affiliated with? Why choose to stay and fight an institution that has historically oppressed many populations? I guess that’s part of what makes them that much more admirable though. They know what they love and they’re fighting for the future of the Catholic church. These women have probably stumbled on the best solution the the church’s problem with a decline in the number of serving priests too. I both think and hope that change is on the horizon, I want very much for the trials of these woman to have been in vain.
Philip Gulley explores the issues around our society’s view of Jesus and how his message has been distorted and used by many denomination claiming their way of worship as the exclusive means of achieving salvation. Gulley explores how different denominations have taken the gospels and twisted their meaning. They almost all claim to be the one “true” church.
However, the way in which the “reformed” church has interpreted the bible has strayed very far from the reality of who Jesus was and what his message was. By putting Jesus on a pedestal and claiming that he is fully divine many christians either strip Jesus of his humanity completely or present him with two very contradicting personas. With the greater amount of information coming to use every year about the actual history and life of Jesus, the more doubt we can place on the validity of many of the early churches assertions of his more miraculous side.
The negative effect of this portrayal of Jesus comes to life in the many people dissuaded from religion because of bible thumping, overly evangelical, and “better-than-thou” christians constantly spouting their views. People are increasingly less receptive to this type of severe preaching. Gully himself relays his own experience of how he was convinced as a youth that he had found truth, only to be repeatedly confronted by other “truths” that shook his religious views. If Gulley had been, from the start, told about the real life of Jesus he could have easily avoided straying down many shallower spiritual paths.
None of this is to say that Jesus isn’t still an amazing and wonderful human. He is a role model in a sense that few have come close to matching. He is respected and revered first because of his constant patience, kindness, and love for God. Jesus also encouraged his disciples and others to lower themselves and serve, but did this while setting the example with himself first.
Jesus was also inclusive and others-oriented, which many of his followers in contemporary society have forgotten, which is sad. If the Church were truly christian, the world would be a far more loving and accepting place, and religion might not have such a bad rap.
If someone grows up with christianity they will have this view of Christ as a savior. The church portrays Jesus as an apolitical, aloof, and humanitarian type leader. In this depiction, though, we lose sight, as Marshall explains, of the actual historical context. The political climate of the time period is dismissed and the Jesus is held above it all and taken away from one his most direct cultural impacts.
Ironic though that as we see the church ignore and push aside Christ’s political effects they simultaneously take up the name of Jesus to achieve many political things. The church used the name of christ and the threat of eternal damnation to move armies and raise tremendous amounts of money. The church also used this same tactic to oppress millions and take advantage of the ignorant, illiterate, and the poor. Christianity ended up shifting the life of Jesus for it’s own political purposes while also holding him up as this apolitical figure.
Marshall, in A Prophet of God’s Justice: Reclaiming the Political Jesus, examines Jesus’s life and helps bring to light how political of a figure jesus actually was. If Christ had never presented a political threat to Rome he would have never been crucified, a death penalty put upon only the more threatening people of the day. Christianity would have also never sparked the same kind of cultural revolution if Jesus had not been political. And, the Roman Empire even eventually adopted Christianity as their nation’s religion because the people demanded it.
Viewing Jesus as an influential leader in this way is certainly valid, but it’s also disarming after being raised in a religion that tries not to acknowledge Christ in this obvious historical perspective.
In the sixth chapter of “The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings”, Ehrman discusses the context in which the gospels were written and in which genre they would have been considered. This is really interesting because many people today read the gospels and try to fit them into genres that our culture is used to today. This is not conducive to a proper understanding though because the genres of the time when these gospels were written were very different than ours in modern day.
The writers in the time of Christ focused much less on character development, whereas that has become something we expect of authors today. back then though, character traits were something innate to the individual and any actions on their part simply reinforced the idea of who that person had always been. So, when looking at someone like Jesus their character is always understood as divine, from his birth to his death. In fact no one person’sdeath has ever been sohighly glorified, and at the time this was written it was also unusual enough to form it’s own subset of this divine Biography genre.
Looking into how this type of literature was read in the Greco-Roman times, can truly help us understand how these Gospels are supposed to be interpreted. We have to continue to constantly question the contexts of documents such as these in order to not misunderstand them.