“Man, the glory of God” Means What? Part Two

Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 November 2011 04:43 Written by Father Bill Wednesday, 16 November 2011 04:43

Getting at an answer to the question “What does it mean to say that man is the glory of God?” is not really all that difficult. But, before laying out an answer, it’s vital to dismiss two false answers that are sometimes given to this question, lest they confuse subsequent discussion of the meaning of these phrases.

First, some claim that “man is the glory of God” is telling us that man glorifies God in the sense of giving glory to God or ascribing (or being) an honor to God.

There are a couple of things wrong with this idea.

As noted in an earlier blog, Paul is everywhere in 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 drawing distinctions between man and woman. Note also the formal identity between the phrases “man, the glory of God” and “woman, the glory of man.” Each follows the form “A is the glory of B.” So, if the point of such a phrase is that “A gives glory to B,” then the two phrases about man and woman distinguish men from women only insofar as each sex gives glory and honor to different “targets” as it were.

This understanding of “man, the glory of God” and “woman, the glory of man” leads to spurious conclusions. Manifestly, such a sense does not distinguish men from women or vice versa. Women give glory to God, for example. They do so in most of the ways men do: singing God’s praises, confessing faith in Him, offering petitions to Him, and so forth. While women were not required to attend the three annual feasts of the Lord under the Old Covenant, they were always permitted to do so. And, so, Mary went up to the Feast of the Passover with Joseph on the occasion that Jesus stayed behind in the Temple.

And, if “man, the glory of God” means that men give glory to God, it follows that “woman, the glory of man” means that women give glory to men, and that in pretty much the same way that men give glory to God. Such an idea – no matter how one tempers it with caveats – is far afield of whatever Paul is talking about in 1 Corinthians 11!

So, “man, the glory of God” does not mean “the man (i.e. the male of the species) gives glory to God.” He may, in fact do so of course; but, that is not what this Pauline phrase is telling us.

Another failed interpretation of the phrase understands “man” to mean “mankind.” And, so, “man the glory of God” means that mankind glorifies God, or mankind gives glory to God, or something similar.

And, of course, one may argue on other grounds and from other statements in Scripture that mankind does exactly that. Indeed, the kings of the earth are exhorted in the strongest possible terms in Psalm 2 to do this:

10 Now therefore, be wise, O kings; Be instructed, you judges of the earth.

11 Serve the LORD with fear, And rejoice with trembling.

12 Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, And you perish in the way,

When His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.

But, “mankind gives glory to God” is not what Paul is getting at when he says that “man is the image and glory of God.” For one thing, the use of the word “image” pulls us back into Genesis 1:27 where “mankind” (in our vocabulary) is said to be created male and female. “Man” in Genesis 1:27 is the inclusive masculine – referring to both males and females, as the immediate context confirms. “Man” in the Pauline phrase “man, the glory of God” must be referring to man as a collective noun for the male of the species, for it is contrasted with “woman” which is a collective noun for the female of the species.

The one place where “man” may, indeed, be the male inclusive for “mankind” is, ironically, in the phrase “woman is the glory of man.” But, to see this clearly, we must turn our attention, finally, to elucidating what it means to say that “A is the glory of B,” a subject for the next blog in this series.

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Are Women Natural Leaders?

Last Updated on Wednesday, 9 November 2011 02:28 Written by Father Bill Wednesday, 9 November 2011 02:28

flikr: LiLauraLu

People don’t seem to think so.

This is old news (from the summer of 2011), but I stumbled across it last week and tossed it in the blog-on-this file. And, after a week in which “the days are just packed” (Calvin’s way of putting it), I’m pulling it out before unpacking today’s suitcase.

First, the report

A new meta-analysis (an integration of a large number of studies addressing the same question) shows that “even today leadership continues to be viewed as culturally masculine. The research was done at Northwestern University.” As you might expect, this report put some folks in high dudgeon indeed .

But, here’s what everyone seems to have missed: in the quote above (found in most of the stories accessible on the internet on this report) there is this two-word phrase “even today …”

That little phrase “even today” is where the real news lies.

What the Northwestern University meta-analysis shows is not news. People have – so far as I can tell – never thought that women were natural leaders. To think such a thing says absolutely nothing about this or that woman’s capacity or talents for leadership, of course. To say that “men are taller than women” is completely compatible with the well-known fact that there are women who are taller than most men, and that there are men who are shorter than most women. So, if people don’t think women are natural leaders (something “people” have always believed, it would seem), why is it news that such an opinion is so wide spread “even today” that one may attach this opinion to “people today?”

The answer is expressed most pointedly by Walter R. Newell in his book What is a Man? Published in 2000, the introduction to Newell’s work has this to say about why “even today” something ought to be different than the meta-study reveals:

 … the last three decades [have] witnessed one of the most remarkable efforts at social engineering in human history — a state-sponsored campaign, organized throughout the education system and in all major public institutions, to eradicate the psychological and emotional differences between men and women. Two generations have been brought up as the products of this vast experiment. From the moment they enter kindergarten to their final courses in university, they are required to subscribe to a new doctrine of human relations without precedent in known experience: that there are no inherent differences in character between men and women.

Newell’s observation echoes from the abyss of understatement. By today (2011) it is more like three generations of North Americans (not to mention Europeans), have been reared and educated in this novel doctrine, so that to find living people who have a living memory of when relations between men and women were different, one must go to the earliest of the Boomers. But, of course, it is the Boomers who in North America enlisted in the feminist vanguard that swept over America beginning in the mid-Fifties, achieving cultural, economic, and political supremacy by the mid-Seventies, and consolidating its sovereignty ever since.

flikr: MissSpite

So why has this vast state-sponsored campaign failed? That would seem to be the obvious import of this meta-study at Northwestern (not, of course, that this is what they sought to deiscover!). With so much political, economic, and cultural power focused on teaching men and women how and why they are interchangeable in all but the most elementary biological enterprises, why do most people think that women are not natural leaders?

It would be too easy an answer (though, possibly, a sufficient answer) to say that 20th Century theories and methods of education are ineffective. The default materialist metaphysics of modernism encourages us to believe that if you apply the right technique with sufficient intensity for sufficient length of time, you will get the desired result. From this perspective, it may take another few generations to beat the old patriarchalism out of the human psyche.

The Christian faith, however, tells us that what the feminist educators seek is nothing less than the abolition of man, because the intrinsic nature of men and women is that they are not interchangeable, that one of the sexes was designed by God expressly for the sake of the other sex, that there is an ordered relationship between them and the society composed of them. And, if the Christian faith is true, then it would follow that “even today” people (both men and women) would find women not to be natural leaders, particularly of men.

Where women do, indeed, function productively as leaders of men, this happens because either the men or the women (or both) are less than who they are created to be as gendered creatures. If people (even today!) think that women are not natural leaders, then the women who function as leaders will be perceived as unnatural ones.

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Cheska’s Birthday and Chlorella

Last Updated on Thursday, 27 October 2011 11:56 Written by Father Bill Thursday, 27 October 2011 11:56

Today, my third daughter Francesca, aka Cheska, is 24 years old.  She departed our company 13 years ago when she was nine, leaving a hole in our hearts that will be filled when we catch up with her.

Until then, Barbara sends out reminders of Cheska and her adventures on her birthday.  The reminiscence for this year features chlorella, an algae product we used as a nutrional supplement because it had shown anti-tumor effects in a few human trials involving brain tumors.

So, with that intro, here’s what my wife Barbara shared with her mail list this morning …


Dear Family and Friends of Francesca,

Francesca is 24 today! As you know, I like to send along a small remembrance of her on this day. Today, I’d like to tell you a small story about Uncle Wesley and Chlorella. But before I get to that, I want to express again my deep thanksgivings about how God provided through Bill during the months of Cheska’s illness.

There is no treatment for a pontine glioma, so we were left to decide, with the consultation of our doctor of course, what treatments to take and what not to take. Bill actively took over this huge responsibility, analyzing what the research community offered as well as the huge array of recommended “natural” supplements. He did not accept merely anecdotal evidence. If a treatment did not have some objective and hopeful clinical results, he would not subject Cheska to it. It gave me huge assurance to know that someone with sound spiritual and scientific background, with only Cheska’s best good in mind, was making the decisions. Our daughter was going to get the best treatment we could possibly find, but she wasn’t going to be turned into a lab experiment.

At any rate, one of the supplements that made the “cut” was Chlorella Powder, identified on the label as a “Concentrated Nutritional Supplement, Chlorella Powder, Green Micro Algae.” Trust me, if that doesn’t sound appetizing, it wasn’t! No matter what you did to it, it still looked and tasted like green sludge.

One day, during the Chlorella era, the Wesley Mousers were visiting. (Wesley is Bill’s younger brother—a physicist and engineer with an engineer’s personality.) The brothers were in the kitchen preparing the chlorella in the blender with Cheska. The men were going to drink some along with Cheska as an act of solidarity, so to speak. And then, out of the blue, Uncle Wesley broke into song! To the tune of “Maria” from West Side Story

Chlorella!

I just met a girl named Chlorella!

And suddenly that name

will never be the same

to me! Chlorella!

 Well, can you imagine the hilarity that broke out from all the family gathered around and especially the big smile on Cheska’s face!

I have kept the Chlorella canister in the attic with other memorabilia of Cheska. I never see it or say the word “Chlorella” to myself apart from the tune of “Maria.” Thanks be to God for those (like Uncle Wesley) who go with us in our trials and help us see and remember that they are, in fact, “light momentary afflictions.”

2 Cor. 4:16-17 — Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,…

I love you all!

Cheska’s Mom

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