Saturday, May 31, 2008

Ordination of women is a "crime"?!

This is just in from the Vatican City. According to the Associated Press, yet again the Catholic Church claims that Jesus only had male apostles and that Protestants are the ones who have "changed" traditions by allowing women in the pulpit.

What about Mary Magdalene, the Apostle to the Apostles? How easily she has been marginalized and forgotten!

Nevertheless, to make matters worse, the ordination of women is declared a crime by the Vatican. Women priests are criminals (heretics?) who are to be excommunicated from the church.

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican insisted Friday that it is properly following Christian tradition by excluding females from the priesthood as it issued a new warning that women taking part in ordinations will be excommunicated.

The move dashed the hopes both of women seeking to be priests and of Catholics who see that as an option for a church struggling to recruit men.

A top Vatican official said the church acted after what it described as "so-called ordinations" held in various parts of the world.

Monsignor Angelo Amato of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said the Vatican wanted to provide bishops with a clear response on the issue.

The church has always banned the ordination of women by stating that the priesthood is reserved for males. The new decree is explicit in its reference to women.

"The church does not feel authorized to change the will of its founder Jesus Christ," Amato said in an interview prepared for Vatican Radio that was released to reporters. The reference is to Christ's having chosen only men as his Apostles.

Asked whether the Roman Catholic Church was going "against the tide" in respect to other Christian confessions, Amato said the church was in "good company" with Orthodox and ancient Eastern churches and that it was the Protestants who are breaking with tradition.

In March, the archbishop of St. Louis excommunicated three women — two Americans and a South African — for participating in a woman's ordination. They were part of the Roman Catholic Womenpriests movement, which began in 2002.

The decree was published Thursday by Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, which in a headline called the ordination of women a "crime."

The congregation said it acted to "preserve the nature and validity of the sacrament" of ordination.


Apocryphote: 5-31-08

Jesus said: "If the owner of a house knows that a thief is coming, he will keep watch before he arrives. He will not allow him to break into his house, part of his estate, to steal his furnishings."

Gospel of Thomas 21.5

Friday, May 30, 2008

Apocryphote: 5-30-08

Jesus said, "A baker cannot feed all creation under [heaven]."

Gospel of Judas 41.25-42.1

House of Yahweh cult

The morning news in DALLAS reported earlier this month on a polygamous sect called the "House of Yahweh," and CPS's involvement with some of its children. I was unaware of this community until my husband told me about them last evening. Do any of you know more about this group?

CALLAHAN COUNTY – In his first sermon after leaving jail, Yisrayl "Buffalo Bill" Hawkins was in classic form: folksy, paternal and apocalyptic.

"No, we're not getting ready to kill ourselves," said the prophet of the House of Yahweh, a barbed wire kingdom of brimstone prophecies and abject poverty 15 miles southeast of Abilene...

The 73-year-old was arrested and indicted in February – less than two months before raids on the Eldorado compound – charged with four counts of promoting bigamy, made a felony in 2005 after the unrelated FLDS group arrived from Utah...

Mr. Hawkins also faces a misdemeanor charge of breaking child labor laws, accused of having up to 40 children working weekdays "in the fields, in a canning operation, in a cafeteria and in the butter making process."

Another member, elder Yedidiyah Hawkins, is expected to stand trial this summer on charges of aggravated sexual assault of his now 14-year-old stepdaughter, a girl who authorities allege he was planning to make his wife.

Yedidiyah, who like many members changed his last name to that of his teacher, faces additional charges, including bigamy and engaging in organized crime. Prosecutors say he has at least four wives...

Marleigh Meisner, a spokeswoman for Child Protective Services, said CPS has investigated at least 20 cases involving House of Yahweh members in recent years.

•Two cases resulted in the removal of children, including four taken from the home of Yedidiyah Hawkins.

•Officials removed two children from a home after a mother and her neighbor performed surgery on a 7-year-old girl who later died.

•CPS officials also investigated the death of a 1-year-old child who died of malnutrition and traumatic asphyxiation. Investigators found "reason to believe" the death was from medical and physical neglect. No criminal charges were brought in that case.

•Ms. Meisner declined to talk about any ongoing investigations or whether she believes abuse and neglect pervades the group.

To read more, go HERE<<<

This is a link to Hawkins' own website, HOUSE OF YAHWEH

Zion children to return to ranch

CPS lost its appeal yesterday. The Texas Supreme Court upheld the order to return the FLDS children to their parents since CPS didn't prove that it was an emergency situation and the ranch was not a single household.

This does not mean, however, that things will go back to "normal." Apparently CPS will be monitoring the families and can take action on a per child basis in the future. The criminal probe will continue.

A woman judge wrote the dissenting opinion, saying that provisions for the teenage girls should be taken into consideration since they were in the most danger of abuse. Two of the male justices signed this dissenting opinion too.

The Houston Chronicle piece is HERE<<<

Even better, HERE<<< is the link to the supreme court decision itself.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Mani in the press

Jim Davila put up a great link to an article from Press TV, Tehran, about Mani and Manichaeism. Since we don't see Mani in the press so often, I thought it great to link to the article HERE<<< too. There are great pictures, so enjoy.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Chronicle for Higher Education on the Gospel of Judas

Tom Bartlett of the Chronicle for Higher Education attended the Codex Judas Congress back in March. He did extensive interviews with the scholars involved on the National Geographic team as well as others, myself included, who have criticized the initial work. I think that the piece will be coming out May 30th. I'll keep you posted.

UPDATE 5-26-08: The link has been located. HERE IT IS<<< Have fun reading this one!

P.S. Sorry that I haven't been on the blog in a couple of days, but I've been dealing with a few minor emergencies including a dying air conditioner (which is a living essential in Houston), cutting the bottom of my foot open by accident, and ending up with strep throat. Hope things settle down here!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Here is the appellate ruling

Here is the link to the actual appellate ruling for the 38 Zion mothers, in case you want access to what the court actually said.


An appeal decision for some of Zion Ranch mothers

Today the Texas 3rd District Court of Appeals said that the children of 38 of the Zion Ranch women cannot remain in state custody because their children were not proven to be in danger. So the sorting out of the families begins...
SAN ANGELO, Texas (CNN) -- The state of Texas should not have removed children it took from a polygamist sect's ranch because it didn't prove they were in "imminent enough" danger, an appeals court ruled Thursday.

In its ruling, the Texas 3rd District Court of Appeals decided in favor of 38 women who had challenged the removals and appealed a decision last month by a district judge that the children will remain in state custody.

"The existence of the FLDS belief system as described by the department's witnesses, by itself, does not put children of FLDS parents in physical danger," the three-judge panel said.

According to the ruling, the lead investigator in the case alleged that the belief system facilitates a lifestyle in which "male children are groomed to be perpetrators of sexual abuse and the girls are raised to be victims of sexual abuse."

An attorney representing the mothers said the trial court that originally backed the state's seizure of the children has 10 days to vacate its decision. If it doesn't, the appeals court will act, said Julie Balovich of the Texas RioGrande Legal Aid.


Apocryphote of the Day: 5-21-08

This is the one who is called "Son"...
the form of the formless
the body of the bodiless
the face of the invisible
the word of the unutterable
the mind of the inconceivable
the fountain which flowed from (the Father)
the root of those who have been planted
the god of those who exist
the light of those whom he illuminates
the love of those whom he has loved
the providence of those for whom he provides
the wisdom of those whom he has made wise
the strength of those he has given strength
the assembly of those with whom he is present
the revelation of that which is sought
the eye of those who see
the spirit of those who breathe
the life of those who live
the unity of those who are united.

The Tripartite Tractate 65.29-30, 66.13-30 (a late second century Valentinian text, perhaps written by Heracleon?)

Commentary: This is an old Valentinian "canon" or "creed" about the "First Man", the "Son" of the Father. It is embedded in the narrative.

Is new jargon necessary?

Thanks to all who responded so openly to my post yesterday. I am happy that you feel comfortable expressing your views on this blog which was meant to talk about those things that are normally "forbidden."

I take the point that polydoxy (which seems to have won our poll) is new jargon. But without it, how can we talk about things as they were? How can I as a historian writing articles and books, as a professor teaching in class, describe early Christianity if I don't have words to do so? The old words leave the wrong impression. They are cumbersome to use because I find myself having to reexplain things all the time and put "orthodox" in quotations and also "heresy." Wouldn't it be better to wipe the slate clean and start using words that describe history more faithfully? Are polydoxy and polypraxy and polymorphic that difficult to self-intuit? Are they that much more difficult than orthodoxy, heterodoxy, heresy, and heresiology?

I think it is time for us to create and implement language sympathetic to our historical period rather than anachronistic to it.

So while we are on the subject, what other language needs to go?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Why we need to move beyond the old terminology

This is further reflection on poly- or pluro- doxy given the comment by José in an earlier post that we don't need new language - that the old is good enough.

No it is not. Why? Because there wasn't an orthodox Christianity in the second or third centuries from which others deviated and were heretics. This language only works if (1) you have an established historical orthodoxy that dominates the scene or (2) you use it in terms of a theological self-reference, as in my way is orthodox and yours isn't.

Now some of my readers might like the apostolic church and identify with it, and therefore say that there was an orthodoxy and the apostolic church was it. Everyone else is a heretic. Fine, but this is not a historical perspective. It represents the reality of #(2), not #(1).

For instance, let's take Marcion. From a historical perspective (not the apostolic Christian one) Marcion in his era was as much a Christian as anyone else. He established a very viable church with the first NT canon! Jesus Christ was the redeemer. His theology was a radical exegesis of Paul. Now Tertullian hated him and so did Justin Martyr and Irenaeus, all who identified with the apostolic church and all who saw him as heretical. But thousands upon thousands of people loved him, thought him a brilliant Christian theologian, and were members of his churches. These same people saw the apostolic church and its theologians as ignorant. In many parts of Asia Minor, Marcionite churches were not just the mainstay, but the first churches established. They were productive into the 10th century according to Arabic reports.

Let's take the Gospel of Judas. Here is a gospel written by someone in the middle of the second century who knew for certain that the apostolic church was run by dupes. This person considered his own views about Jesus and salvation, and his own practices (some type of water ritual), to be the only way to God. He considered himself a gnostic Christian and was quite offended that the apostolic church would be using Jesus' name in such a disgraceful (and demonic) manner - to offer a sacrifice to the lesser god!

As historians we cannot be theologians. The texts tell us the story. And this story was a story of many competing orthodoxies, all who claimed for themselves the "Christian" name. At least in the pre-Constantinian period, the marking of a heretic comes from within each of these orthodoxies, and represents their individual understanding of what it means to be the "real" Christians.

Apocryphote of the Day: 5-21-08

O God,
you who are in the great eternal Aeons,
hear my voice.
Have mercy on me
and save me from evil.
Look upon me
and hear me in this forsaken place.
Let your ineffable light shine upon me...
Yea, Lord, help me.

The Revelation of Allogenes 61.18-62.7 (Tchacos Codex)

Commentary: I am calling this text The Revelation of Allogenes in order to clearly distinguish it from the Nag Hammadi book called Allogenes. Allogenes, the "stranger" in this world, is probably (the Aeon) Jesus, and he is the one calling out in this prayer.

Polypraxy (too)

It looks like polydoxy is leading in the polls. But I'm still leaving the question open for further comment if you wish to weigh in.

David Creech and Jared Calaway have good points about practice - and polypraxy should be part of this new language.

Although some say that it is technically correct that the "doxys" are "belief" or "doctrine" oriented, the words are actually used in the literature to encompass the entire "lived" tradition being discussed, not just the doctrines but also what the doctrines mean in terms of practice. So I think that that polydoxy can be more inclusive, referencing not only what different Christians were saying theologically but what the implications of that theology was for their ritual behaviors and lifestyles.

I guess what I'm saying is that a religious tradition doesn't make a strict distinction between thinking and doing - they are intertwined. This distinction appears to be a western scholastic distinction. In fact, if you study eastern orthodoxy at all you will be immediately faced with the fact that "orthodoxy" is "a way of life" based on certain beliefs. Orthodoxy is defined by the tradition as "right belief" and "right glory" or "right worship." The Orthodox church today thinks that it is orthodox because it teaches true belief and right worship.

This understanding of the eastern Orthodox appears to me to be quite old. When the ancient Christians were concerned about "orthodoxy" they were concerned about correct doctrine because it led to correct practice (and thus salvation). That is what the fourth and fifth century Christological dispute was all about. It wasn't about whether or not Jesus had his own soul. It was about the eucharist - making sure that the body that was being eaten gave the faithful the right benefit. The argument that "won" was a compromise argument between the West and the Antiocheans, and it was the argument that Jesus had to have his own soul, because he has to be fully human in order for his bodily sacrifice to be vicarious for us when it is eaten at the altar.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Plurodoxy or polydoxy?

We have another suggestion to keep from mixing Latin and Greek.

plurodoxy or polydoxy?

Which of these words do you feel immediately upon looking at them conveys to you multiple competing "orthodoxies"? Does it matter? Or do you have other suggestions for such a word?

I'm quite serious about coining such a word. I just don't think we can continue writing and talking about early Christianity without such a concept.

Write me in the comments.

Apocryphote of the Day: 5-20-08

After we left our home and descended to this world and became embodied in the world, we were hated and persecuted by the ignorant and by those who think they are advanced in the name of Christ, though they are vain and ignorant. They do not know who they are, like dumb animals. They persecuted those I have liberated, since they hate them. If they would shut their mouth, they would weep with a futile groaning because they have not really known me. Instead, they have served two masters, even more. You will be winners in everything, in combat, fights, schism out of jealousy and anger. In the uprightness of our love, we are innocent, pure, and good, since we have the mind of the Father in an ineffable mystery.

The Second Treatise of the Great Seth 59.20-60.12 (late second or early third century)

Commentary: written from the perspective of a Sethian Christian toward other types of Christians and pagans. This Sethian Christian thinks that the others are irrational like animals. They talk too much and need to start listening. They serve the demiurge and other gods. The relationship between these different forms is one of divisiveness, combat, and fights. The Sethian Christian sees his tradition as winning these fights. His people are the ones who have the "in" with the real god.

What is plurodoxy?

I am creating a new category. At least I think it is new. If it's not, let me know so I can attribute it appropriately. In my frustrations to describe what first and second and third century Christianity was really like, I have succumbed to dropping as much of our old language as possible. It has become a hindrance.

Orthodoxy did not exist as a totalitarian entity, although each type of Christianity may have thought of itself as orthodox while everyone else were heretics. So the discussion of heresiology is important to maintain, as long as one understands that the heretic is so only from the point of view of one party. An orthodox Christianity doesn't emerge until the fourth century. Even then, it struggles through council after council, swinging from Arian to anti-Arian for over fifty years. Not until the fifth century are the major lines put into place that will determine the shape of "orthodox" Christianity for the centuries to come.

Heterodoxy is not any better because it describes religions that deviate from the orthodox. Since we don't have orthodoxy yet, we can't have heterodoxy either.

Sectarian and cult language don't work either, because sectarian requires that there is some parental tradition that is being deviated from. Cult also suggests deviance along with innovation.

So what do we have? Multiple forms of Christianity, although this isn't quite right either, because many of these forms are competing with each other and some forms of Christianity are stronger and more dominant in certain geographical locales. So what we have is plurodoxy. That is multiple forms of Christianity that are competing for the orthodox position and/or that consider themselves to be the orthodox position. From this vantage point I think we can better narrative Christian origins and the standardization of Christianity that eventually comes to dominate as orthodoxy in the fourth and fifth centuries.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Apocryphote of the Day: 5-15-08

He-Who-Is is God and Father of everything,
[the invisible] one above [everything.
He exists as] incorruption,
pure light into which no eye can peer...
He is [immeasurable light],
pure, holy, immaculate.

Apocryphon of John 2.29-31, 3.18-19 (early second century Sethian Gnostic text)

Comment: for my readers who are light seekers...

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Apocryphote of the Day: 5-14-08

Not only will they be unable to detain the Perfect Man, but they will not be able to see him, for if they see him they will detain him. There is no other way for a person to acquire this quality except by putting on the perfect light and becoming perfect light. Whoever puts on light will enter [the place of rest]. This is perfect [light, and] we [must] become [the Perfect Man] before we leave [the world].

Gospel of Philip 76.23-30 (Valentinian text from late second century)

Commentary: the reference to the "Perfect Man" is technical jargon that doesn't fit into our modern gender inclusive categories. It is a reference to the Genesis story in chapter 1 where God created the first man, male and female. To conform ourselves to this original creation was the goal. The Valentinians called this primordial human, the Perfect Man, and they thought that the Aeon Jesus who descended through the cosmic spheres to earth, was this Perfect Man. His body was a body of light, an idea they picked up from the first couple of verses of Genesis. When God said "Let there be light." The word for light in Greek translation (which they were reading) means both light and man (although the accent is different). Because of this special invisible body, the Archons could not detain him when he descended or ascended. The Valentinians reasoned that we need resurrected bodies like his. So the thought was that this could be achieved through the sacraments, including here a reference to anointing ("light" is associated with anointing), the eucharist (when they ate his body and it worked internally to change them - think, you are what you eat), and marriage (when Eve reenters Adam).

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Apocryphote of the Day: 5-13-08

Whoever has ears to hear should listen!

Gospel of Thomas 8.4, 21.5, 24.2, 63.2, 65.2, 96.2; Matthew 11:15, 13:9, 13:43; Mark 4:9, 4:23; Luke 8:8, 14:35; Revelation 13:9 (cf. 2:7, 2:11, 2:17, 3:6, 3:13, 3:22), etc.

Commentary: I think that this is the most-recorded saying of Jesus inside and outside the bible .

What is secondary orality?

Mark Goodacre and Loren Rossen have each new posts about orality. Mark Goodacre mentions secondary orality, which is a matter of much confusion, mainly because scholars in our field, including myself, have been too free with its use.

Walter Ong coined the term "secondary orality." I wonder if it was indeed such a good idea because it tends to confuse the issue of orality in oral and oral-rhetorical cultures with verbal utterance in print cultures. He used the term secondary orality to discuss orality in print cultures where orality is completely dependent on print. It is the opposite of primary orality where orality is not dependent on print.

Ong understood orality in our culture to be completely dependent on literate mentality and modes of thinking. Electronically processed words are either dependent on written words (as in books on tape) or a script (as in radio or TV) or, in the case of talk shows, the electronic word becomes its own form of print that can be edited, replayed, resequenced, etc., just as we do with writing. This new age of "secondary orality" (Ong often put quotations marks around this phrase to indicate caution that it was not the same thing as orality) has some similarities with orality in that it draws in audiences to participate thus fostering a communal sense, it focuses on the present moment, and can even use formulas. BUT "it is essentially a more deliberate and self-conscious orality, based permanently on the use of writing and print, which are essential for the manufacture and operation of the equipment and for its use as well." Although we might see some of these common features, Ong writes, "It is not the old orality." For this discussion, see Walter Ong, Orality and Literacy, chapter "Print, Space and Closure."

Now what, if anything, does secondary orality have to do with oral-rhetorical cultures like the one we study? Here things get even more confusing. Scholars, including myself, have used this word to refer to possible moments when we think we see preserved in a piece of literature orality that is dependent on another piece of literature. An example? A saying in one of the gospels that is not literarily dependent on another piece of literature (that is, it hasn't been copied from one text into the other). Rather the author may have heard the saying read and is writing that down, or some such scenario.

But is this really secondary orality? I have struggled with this for a couple of years now. And I will continue to struggle with it when I return next year to my orality-scribality experiments, and my study of human memory. For now I want to say that I don't think it is the same thing. And I wish we had never started using this term in this new way. What I think we have to do form now on is leave the term "secondary orality" to discuss the type of orality we enjoy today - one that is completely dependent on the literate word and electronic forms - an orality that is NOT the same as what we find in oral or oral-rhetorical cultures. This means that we need to create a new language to discuss the different forms of orality that we observe in oral-rhetorical cultures. This is a project again for our generation of scholars to sort out the best we can.

If you think we make too much of the difference between orality in the ancient world and verbal utterance ("secondary orality") in our literate culture, I invite you to try this exercise in class sometime. Ask your students to put away all their computers, their pencils, their pads of papers - everything. Nothing can be written down or recorded during or after. And you too. Don't bring anything to class, and don't use the chalkboard. And you can't check your notes or bible passages before you come to class! And just have a whole session - or better a whole week - where you just orate and your students just listen and discuss.

Observe what happens - how completely uncomfortable everyone is, and what they actually remember, and how they remember it. You might even try allowing one person to write and no one else. How would any of you view someone who could read and write? What kind of power would that person have? Then think about this in terms of the ancient world and the teaching of Jesus. And then the teaching of the churches. How did transmission of Jesus' sayings happen? What happened to the material during that process even when it was written down?

New Bible Blog Directory

Logos Bible Software has put together a new Bible Blog Directory. Check it out HERE>>>>

Saturday, May 10, 2008

What is orality?

Mark Goodacre has a post about orality this week. He raises some issues that I wish to comment on. First, verbalizing things is not orality in the sense that we use it to indicate an oral or even rhetorical culture - neither of which we are. An oral culture is one where there is no writing. So everything transmitted is done so by human memory and voice. Think about what it would be like to have nothing written to store information, to refer back to, to help you or the next generation with the transmission of knowledge. It is daunting to those of us from a literate and information oriented world. Transition cultures, where writing is used to store bits of information by a very small percentage of the population, are still largely oral, in that the vast majority of people are still operating as completely oral transmitters.

Oral and transition cultures tend to transmit information that is more concrete (less or not abstract), accretive, formulaic, redundant, conservative, situational, additive. They do not have external sources of information, except in rare situations, to consult. If they do, they are less trusting of written materials and would rather talk to people about whatever it is that they want to know, because they know who is trustworthy and who is not, and because they can ask questions.

Analogies to pod casts and giving talks at conferences have absolutely nothing to do with oral culture or oral transmission in a oral culture. We are today totally operating from a literate mentality and consciousness which allows us to write things down, to remember them, to store them, to refer to them, to develop them, to memorize them verbatim, and so on. We trust external sources, the written word, things we can consult, and even in court when we have oral witnesses, we are all about documentary evidence and challenging the witnesses against written records of what happened or what they might have said on another occasion.

If you want to understand oral culture, read Walter Ong - everything or anything he wrote.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Apocryphote of the Day: 5-9-08

Strive and save what is able to follow [me]. Seek it and speak from it, so that what you seek will be in harmony with you. For truly I say to you, the living God [dwells] in you, [as you also dwell] in God.

Dialogue of the Savior 137.16-138.2.

Comment: Since you liked this particular text so much yesterday, here it another quote from it. By the way, this text has always fascinated me, and when I first learned Coptic this was the text I chose to translate first. For a time, I even planned to write my dissertation on it, but instead went with Thomas. I did put my thoughts on the Dialogue of the Savior into an article many years ago which I published in VC. If you go to my articles page here, scroll down to 1996 "The Dialogue of the Savior and the Mystical Sayings of Jesus" you will see a pdf file of the article that you can download if you wish. And now I find myself in this text again as I write my article on the many faces of Mary Magdalene for the Talpiot tomb volume that Charlesworth is editing. I'm also going to be using this material in a chapter in my tradebook, Sex and the Serpent in Ancient Christianity: Why the Sexual Conflicts in the Early Church Still Matter. I'm having a blast with this book! Plan to finish it by the end of the summer.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Apocryphote of the Day: 5-8-08

If you do not stand in the darkness, you cannot see the light. If you do not understand how fire came to exist, you will burn with it because you do not know its root. If you do not first understand water, you don't know anything. For what use is there for you to be baptized in it? If you do not understand how blowing wind came to exist, you will blow away with it. If you do not understand how the body which you wear came to exist, you will perish with it. How will you know the Father if you do not know the Son?

Dialogue of the Savior 133.22-134.15 (early second century encratic text from Syria)

Comment: In my translation, I shifted the person from third person to second person in order to make the text gender inclusive.

Review of The Original Gospel of Thomas in Translation

The new RBL has a review of my Thomas commentary written by Stephan Witetschek. Here is the LINK>>>

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The fathers at Zion Ranch

The Houston Chronicle reported today that it is likely that criminal charges will be brought against the husband(s) of the underage pregnant girls from the Zion Ranch. A special prosecutor has been approved.

A judge at the center of the largest custody battle in U.S. history has approved a request to bring in the Texas Attorney General's office to prosecute any future criminal charges in the case.

State District Judge Barbara Walther on Monday approved Tom Green County District Attorney Stephen Lupton's request for a special prosecutor in the case involving the Yearning For Zion Ranch north of Eldorado.


Apocryphote of the Day: 5-7-08

When you ought to act, do not say a word.
While it is a skill to speak, it is also a skill to be silent.
It is better for you to be defeated while speaking the truth,
than to be victorious through deceit.
May your life confirm your words before those who hear (them).

Sentences of Sextus 163b, 164b-165a, 177 (NHC XII,1)

Monday, May 5, 2008

Apocryphote of the Day: 5-5-08

Woe to you who hope in the flesh and in the prison that will perish!
How long will you be oblivious?
How long will you suppose that the imperishable will perish too?

Thomas the Contender 143.10-14 (encratic text from Syria, late second century)

Religious freedom - what is it?

I continue to be shocked when I read newspaper articles and editorials on the Zion Ranch. There seems to be a continued theme - that the State should not be interfering in religion, or in family affairs. Both of these are inaccurate assumptions.

First, we all have religious freedom to think whatever it is we want to think, and to organize our religions. But this freedom does not translate to all religious actions, if they are actions that break state or federal laws. The Zion children are not in protective services because the State doesn't like the way the women dress, or anything like that. The children are in the custody of the State because the minor girls are pregnant. DNA tests are being run to help sort out what is going on.

Second, we have agreed as a community to protect our children from abuse. We have established services in our States which look out for those interests. In the case of the Zion Ranch, the children have been put into protective custody of the State of Texas because there was enough compelling evidence brought forth at the initial trial that the children living in this compound are at risk of abuse.

Will the children stay in State custody? We won't know the answer to this until the investigations are finished, and the court proceedings continue.

A Houston lesson

What a morning! After dropping my son off at school, I continued walking to my office. Not too long into the walk, the skies let loose. So out came my umbrella. But the rain was relentless and quickly I began sliding in my shoes, so off they came. I rolled up my pant legs and went on, feeling like a young school kid playing in the rain. Then the water started to rise in the streets, and mini-rivers began to flow, which I had to forge on foot. To say the least, by the time I got to my office, I was drenched, only to discover there are no blow dryers on campus in the restrooms. So I have wrung out my trousers, and borrowed a t-shirt from one of the building workers. I have learned a Houston lesson. Always keep a change of clothes at the office!

Friday, May 2, 2008

More about boys from Zion Ranch

If you aren't from Texas, you may not be keeping track of what is going on with the Zion Ranch children. The newspapers in the area have been reporting that there are now over 460 children who have been moved into various facilities around Texas. Over 100 are in the Houston area now. The State is trying to keep all the children in the different families together, so they have moved them into group homes where they can be schooled privately, at least until they begin to assimilate.

There was more disturbing news yesterday released about the young boys. Many of the young boys have signs of broken bones. The State is investigating the cause(s). It is not clear yet if these are normal broken bones from kids playing and falling down, or if some sort of abuse is the reason.

This morning the Houston Chronicle reported that most of the parents have left the Zion Ranch now. Some of the women are living in women's shelters. Other parents are moving into the cities where their children are living in order to be able to visit them regularly.

Apocryphote of the Day: 5-2-08

Now this is the Savior's teaching:

Do not call to a father upon the earth.
Your Father, who is in heaven, is one.
You are the light of the world.
Those who do the will of the Father are my brothers and companions.
For what use is it if you gain the world and you forfeit your soul?

Interpretation of Knowledge 9.27-35 (Valentinian sermon from second century)

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Apocryphote of the Day: May Day 2008

The Father is sweet. Goodness is in his will. He knows what is yours, in which you will find rest. For by the fruit one knows what is yours. The children of the Father are his fragrance, for they are from the beauty of his face. So the Father loves his fragrance and manifests it everywhere.

Gospel of Truth 33.34-34.5 (early second century Valentinian sermon probably written by Valentinus)

Comment: Some sweet fragrance for May Day!

Sir Edward Burne-Jones. The Annunciation. The Flower of God. 1862. Gouache. Private collection, London, UK.