Band of Angels (referenced on FB page)

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  • #16002


    Jamie posted this today: had a double espresso, and got to typing...My simple and uninformed guess is that this book will either be a lopsided argument or ones experience with the Western Church, of which I cannot speak.  In the Eastern Church's perspective, which is popularly known as the Orthodox Church, there is a much more exalted and equal position for women.        What drew my attention was the statement that "The influence of [St Thecla's] story was far-reaching, in that it became the root of the Catholic theology of chastity and virginity."  The western academic knows almost nothing of the Eastern Church, assuming it to be a minor offshoot - when in fact, that is certainly not the case.  With at least 150,000,000 Orthodox Christian in Russia alone and 8-9 million more in the Middle East (a better than 2:1 ratio of Orthodox to Roman Catholics in the Middle East), it should be taken with more seriousness.  More, academics commenting on the Church could be as valuable as bishops commenting on quantum physics.      All that being said, women have enjoyed great support and admiration from the Orthodox Church.  There are several churches in North America alone named for St Thecla, and many that are named in honor of Mary, the Mother of God.  In fact, if you were to enter an Orthodox Church, you would see that, in terms of religious imagery, the icons of Mary are the most prominent, not counting those of Christ.  She is not only the greatest of all women, but the greatest of all humans who have ever been or ever will be.  We call her the most holy, most pure, most blameless and glorious. The sisters of saints who are referenced in the article are well known to us and still celebrated, though it is a clear overstatement on the part of Prof Kate Cooper to say that every author had a sister.  St Macrina is the most obvious example.  She was the sister of St Basil the Great, and is usually mentioned along with him - in fact, their family gave the world 3 generations of saints, including her mother and grandmother.  St Constantine is celebrated every year, and always in conjunction with his mother Helen.        Additionally, some of the thoughts that I see in regards to the relationship of women to the Church are born out of contemporary commentary.  American culture was indeed androcentric for the last few generations (or more), and surely must have influenced the preaching and writings of its eccelesiastics.  They are both products of the church and products of their social understanding of the world.                        But we must realize that the mind of the Church is not always well represented, for the reasons stated.  The first person to see the resurrected Christ was Mary Magdalene, and I point that out every year at our Paschal services.  This is how God chose to reveal Himself, and it is a great thing for all to hear.  The myrrhbearing women were among the very few who remained at the foot of the cross, and we commemorate them on several days through the year.  Time will constrain me to go through the millions of female saints that the Eastern Church loves, honors and cherishes every year and holds up as examples for our youths and ourselves.        If Prof Cooper is intent on recovering the teaching of the holy men and women of the first two centuries, then the conclusion at the end of the piece seems oddly disjointed.  She wants to hearken back to a golden age of theology, when the Church understood things in a proper light, though she contradicts the very writings that these holy people gave to us.  We could debate the epsicopacy and priesthood of females at a later point, for it is a digression here, but it is necessary to point out that the brothers of these saints, St Paul the companion of St Thecla, and many others held the episcopacy and priesthood as a male institution.  The writers at the crux of her argument are right, up until they are not following the professors 21st century sensibilities.  So were they ever holy in the first place?  Were they ever the writers to follow in the early centuries of the Church?  By the way, to be the priest or bishop is to be the servant of all.  We are the waiters at the Lord's table, honoring our distinguished guests.      So, when an article like this comes up, we must use a more critical eye.  Who is the author really tangling with?  The whole world is not Roman Catholic, though that is a popular conception.  A book on opinions is clearly not a fact, even if the postulates seem irrefutable.  And when a scholarly text reflects the current social climate, we should be cautious, because the conclusion may follow suit.        I don't know about the Roman Catholic Church and the Protestant Churches that come out of it.  I know about the Orthodox Church, and how we read from the fourth century church fathers every Sunday and value their teachings; among them, the exalted place that women ought to have in our lives, as the ones who love us unconditionally, reflecting the love that God Himself has for us. 

  • #19454


    Another series (that I've yet to see mentioned) which is similar to the Aubrey/Martin series, is the Horatio Hornblower series by C.S. Forester . Which is also about a Naval officer in the British Navy before, during, and immediately after the Napoleonic Wars. It's gone to inspire an American author, David Weber, to write a Science-Fiction Space Opera that's modeled after it, called the Honor Harrington series, where the first half of the series have plot-points and characters modeled after the Hornblower novels.

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