Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Women of the Bible: Jephthah's daughter

Judges 11
In which Jephthah agrees to lead the Israelites against the Ammonites. He promises God that in exchange for victory against the Ammonites he will offer as a sacrifice the first thing that comes out of his door when he returns home. He defeats the Ammonites, returns home, is greeted by his daughter, and therefore has to offer her as a burnt offering. A promise (no matter how boneheaded) is a promise, after all.*

1Now Jephthah the Gileadite was a mighty man of valour, and he was the son of an harlot: and Gilead begat Jephthah. 2And Gilead's wife bare him sons; and his wife's sons grew up, and they thrust out Jephthah, and said unto him, Thou shalt not inherit in our father's house; for thou art the son of a strange woman. 3 Then Jephthah fled from his brethren, and dwelt in the land of Tob: and there were gathered vain men to Jephthah, and went out with him. 4 And it came to pass in process of time, that the children of Ammon made war against Israel. 5 And it was so, that when the children of Ammon made war against Israel, the elders of Gilead went to fetch Jephthah out of the land of Tob: 6 And they said unto Jephthah, Come, and be our captain, that we may fight with the children of Ammon. 7 And Jephthah said unto the elders of Gilead, Did not ye hate me, and expel me out of my father's house? and why are ye come unto me now when ye are in distress? 8 And the elders of Gilead said unto Jephthah, Therefore we turn again to thee now, that thou mayest go with us, and fight against the children of Ammon, and be our head over all the inhabitants of Gilead. 9 And Jephthah said unto the elders of Gilead, If ye bring me home again to fight against the children of Ammon, and the Lord deliver them before me, shall I be your head? 10 And the elders of Gilead said unto Jephthah, The Lord be witness between us, if we do not so according to thy words.

...  **

30 And Jephthah vowed a vow unto the Lord, and said, If thou shalt without fail deliver the children of Ammon into mine hands, 31 Then it shall be, that whatsoever cometh forth of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the children of Ammon, shall surely be the Lord's, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering. 32 So Jephthah passed over unto the children of Ammon to fight against them; and the Lord delivered them into his hands. 33 And he smote them from Aroer, even till thou come to Minnith, even twenty cities, and unto the plain of the vineyards, with a very great slaughter. Thus the children of Ammon were subdued before the children of Israel. 34 And Jephthah came to Mizpeh unto his house, and, behold, his daughter came out to meet him with timbrels and with dances: and she was his only child; beside her he had neither son nor daughter. 35 And it came to pass, when he saw her, that he rent his clothes, and said, Alas, my daughter! thou hast brought me very low, and thou art one of them that trouble me: for I have opened my mouth unto the Lord, and I cannot go back. 36 And she said unto him, My father, if thou hast opened thy mouth unto the Lord, do to me according to that which hath proceeded out of thy mouth; forasmuch as the Lord hath taken vengeance for thee of thine enemies, even of the children of Ammon. 37 And she said unto her father, Let this thing be done for me: let me alone two months, that I may go up and down upon the mountains, and bewail my virginity, I and my fellows. 38 And he said, Go. And he sent her away for two months: and she went with her companions, and bewailed her virginity upon the mountains. 39 And it came to pass at the end of two months, that she returned unto her father, who did with her according to his vow which he had vowed: and she knew no man. And it was a custom in Israel, 40 That the daughters of Israel went yearly to lament the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite four days in a year.

*Although perhaps Jephthah could be excused for believing that maybe if it was his own kid who came out the door, an angel of the lord would stop him mere seconds before he did the deed and offer a ram instead, as he did when Abraham undertook a similar project. There was a precedent, after all.
**The portion of the chapter that I left out here isn't relevant to the story of Jephthah's daughter, but it is interesting in that it contains a long exchange between Jephthah and the Ammonites on the question of whether or not the Israelites stole the Ammonites' homeland.

ETA: I got an email pointing me to these fantastical illustrations of the story, so I had to share them with you. Enjoy!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Things that are awesome

Homemade lotion bars:
lotion bars

I can't use most commercial lotions because of the alcohol and perfumes in them. Hence the homemade lotion bars. They're super easy to make, feel fantastic on your skin, last way longer than lotion, and are actually good for you. You can pronounce all the ingredients and explain where they came from (not a laboratory). As an added bonus, when you're melting the ingredients together on the stove it makes your house smell delicious.

I use a very basic recipe like the one found here:

I'm sort of approximate with the measurements; I do include the vitamin E (just poke a hole in a couple vitamin E capsules and squeeze the contents in at the end); and I use a large glass measuring cup over a saucepan as a double boiler because that makes it easy to pour the melted ingredients into silicone molds. A double batch makes enough to last us about 6 months, except for how I always end up giving them away to friends. I don't add any essential oils because I like the subtle coconut scent you get as the bar melts onto your skin and soaks in, but you can add whatever other scents you prefer. As an added bonus, you can make them in whatever fun shapes you want by using different molds. I usually use a basic rectangular one, but we made some snow-person shaped bars to give as gifts at Christmas.


Friday, March 21, 2014

War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Birth control is irresponsible.

According to a republican white guy in Alaska, anyway. You see, his current thing is to try to prevent fetal alcohol syndrome by putting free pregnancy tests in bars. Apparently the logic is that if women know they're pregnant they won't drink. (And then there's also something about plexiglass bowls in bar restrooms that have something to do with the pregnancy tests and I didn't get that part at all and felt a little skeeved out by it.) Anyway, when asked if he would also put free birth control in bar restrooms, this republican white guy replied:
No. Because the thinking is a little opposite. This assumes that if you know (you are pregnant) you’ll act responsibly. Birth control is for people who don’t necessarily want to act responsibly.
I’m not going to tell them what to do. Or help them do it. That’s their business. But if we have a pregnancy because someone just doesn’t know, that’s probably a way we can help.

Read more here:
Did you get that? Birth control is for people who don’t want to act responsibly. And here I've been thinking that using birth control is a mature, responsible choice. But it's not. It's irresponsible.

Slutty, I expect. But irresponsible - it's hard to make sense of that. What exactly is irresponsible here? Is it the having sex part or the not getting pregnant part? Because if it's the latter, then all the sturm und drang in our culture surrounding teen pregnancy doesn't make a heck of a lot of sense. We wring our hands about teen pregnancy because teens aren't financially and emotionally prepared to raise kids, right? So then isn't avoiding pregnancy when you're not in a good position to parent a child a responsible course of action? I suspect this republican white guy is wanting to say that the having sex part is the irresponsible part. Leaving aside the fact that he doesn't know whether these possibly pregnant bar patrons are married or single...

No, it seems to me lately that every time a republican white guy opens his mouth about women and reproduction, what's really behind it is a firm but implicit belief that women ought not be having sex unless they're married and wanting to get pregnant.* Which makes me think maybe these republican white guys have failed to think the thought whole, as Kierkegaard would say. Because if straight women aren't having fun sexy times then it would seem that straight men won't be having fun sexy times either. If straight gals all resort to clutching an aspirin between their knees (as Foster Friess, who appears to have been named after an ice cream dessert, suggests we should do), then who will the straight men be fucking? It's something to think about, republican white guys. This might not just be a "women's issue." Maybe it's a men's issue too.

*Which still doesn't make much sense of the "irresponsible" label. I'm hip to the fact that conservative white guys think the ladies should stop with all the fucking already, but I always thought this was an issue of morality. It's a matter of female virtue. Purity. Chastity. Pure milky white skin on the back of her neck over which a single Victorian curl dangles as she tends to her needlework in front of the fire and all that. But irresponsibility - that doesn't quite fit here.

A bargain at any price