Sunday, March 13, 2016

It's Not That Complicated: Chapter 6 - Part Three

Chapter 5 went really fast.  Chapter Six feels like it will never end.

Overarching Themes:

Modesty in women starts with denying your own skills....


"The subject of modesty has already been covered from head to toe by other, much wiser authors, so we'll keep this short." (pg. 102)

  • Time out.  Let's be honest here: This is Anna Sophia and Elizabeth's strongest subject.  In so far as I can tell, they've managed to figure out how to look stylish, modern and classy without catching flack for being immodest.  I wish they had spilled everything they knew about dressing in this chapter!  If they sold a book on how to dress snazzily on a tiny income, I would buy it at full price.

...and ends with the same sad tropes trotted out in every CP modesty talk for women.
Trope One: Protect da boys!
"Protecting our dignity is a fine idea, but we ought to think about more than self-respect - we need to think about protecting other people as well." (pg. 103)
"But Jesus also says to His disciples, "Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to to the one through whom they come!" (Luke 17:1)  God will hold them responsible for their own sins; but woe to us if we provoked them to it! (pg. 103).
  • Biblical commentary really isn't the Botkin Sisters' strongest suit.  Yes, Luke 17:1 could apply to modesty, but most commentaries I found think the passage applies to false teachers rather than modesty.  The Gospels have very little to say about modesty; that's more an issue for Paul - and even his most harsh verses are overly applied in CP.
"Here, Christianity carries a very different emphasis than we see in other religions that command modesty.  In Islam, for example, modesty is required, not because women's bodies are precious, but because they are considered dirty; as the fourth caliph eloquently put it, "The entire woman is an evil.  And what is worse is that it is a necessary evil." According to Muslim theology, if a man were to see too much of one, he would not (as a Christian man would) be required to control himself, nor would he be held accountable his actions - the blame would be on her side.  Thus, full veiling is required of woman (Qur'an 33:59), not out of love for the men around them but out of fear of them; not because the men are required to control themselves, but because they aren't.  Muhammad took an extra precaution by commanding women to "stay in your houses, and do not display yourselves like that of the times of ignorance..." (Qur'an 33:33)" (pgs. 103-104).
  • I don't have enough experience in Islamic theology to debunk the Botkin's views but I am extremely skeptical of their conclusions for four reasons.
    • First reason: The Botkin Sisters have had questionable interpretations of Christian Scriptures within this book.  I expect that they would have more experience and therefore more accuracy within their own faith tradition than an outside faith tradition.
    • Second reason: I did a very cursory reading of Surah 33.  Surah 33:33 states that it applies ONLY to the wives of the Prophet; neither verse blames women for men behaving like pigs.
    • Third reason: The "Islamic theology" laid out by the Botkin Sisters above doesn't make sense.  If women are "dirty", why are men unable to control themselves? 
    • Fourth reason: The theological hair the Botkin Sisters are slicing here is baby-fine and and transparent. 
      •   "Islam" == women are dirty; men are insatiable beasts == > covering of women's bodies
      •  Christianity = women are precious; men can control their insatiable needs(but just barely!)+ Jesus will smite people who cause temptation to others ==> covering of women's bodies.
      • How is the "Christian" view less terrifying than the "Muslim" view laid out by the Botkin Sisters?  Both scare the snot out of me.
Trope 2: Women's bodies belong to their husband!
The idea is so rooted in the Bible that it gets ONE paragraph:
"A second reason to cover our bodies is because, quite simply, they're not even just our business.  The enjoyment of our bodies is for our husbands alone (Prov. 5:15-19; Heb. 13:4).  [Jennie Chancey quote].  
  • ROTFL.....*wipes eyes*
  •  Who needs to write your own material when you can write an introductory sentence followed by a detailed quote from someone else?
  • Proverbs 5:15-19 is about why young men shouldn't stray from their wives.  Hebrews 13:4 does warn that God will judge sexual immorality of all types.  The quotes feel a tad forced, but compared to previous botched Bible quotes, these are not half bad.
Trope 3: Because GOD!
"The third and most important reason for modesty is that God specifically commands it." (pg. 104-105)
  • Oh, God.....I'm laughing so hard I'm going to be sick.....*kicks legs with glee*
  • Please, let this be an example of humor in writing because using "third and most important" is too precious... *forces self to settle down*
"What's more, when God says to dress modestly, He means something specific; He doesn't leave the field wide open to be dictated by culture or personal opinion.  When Adam and Eve recognized the shame of their nakedness and improvised fig-leaf skivvies for themselves, God took away their inadequate "loincloths" and gave them "garments of skin" to properly clothe their bodies (the Hebrew means "tunic", "coat", or "cloak").  In this act He was giving them a practical guideline for decent exposure (how much skin is too much skin?) ." (pg. 105)
  • Let me get this straight: God left universal instructions for clothing free of culture or personal opinion in Genesis 3:21: "And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them."  This is the SAME God who left really, really detailed instructions on how to build the Ark of the Covenant - multiple times - in the Bible so....God wants us to wear animal skins.
  • If that's the case, why aren't Anna Sophia and Elizabeth running around in animal skin tunics, cloaks or coats?  Normally, I'd give them a pass because you can't find commercially available animal pelt dresses, but their brothers run a very successful gun accessory shop.  Surely those guys could hunt a few deer for use in dressmaking? Sewing needles for leather are easily available for sewing machines; they've been really handy in making thick baby diaper soakers. Think of how successful a line that makes hide versions of 18th century dresses could be! Plus, I'm assuming Tennessee boasts similar fur-bearing animals as Michigan, so you could use raccoon, opossum, muskrat, squirrel...so sumptuous!  
    • My husband chimed in with "No, no.  The guns are ONLY for shooting people." Unfortunately, I think he's right.  They don't have pictures of the Botkin Bros shooting deer targets; just "man on man" drawdowns..... 
Trope 4: Judge a book by its cover!
"A fourth reason to dress with purity is because our appearance proclaims our identity and affections.  It's like a giant billboard that advertises to the world who we are, Whose we are, what we like, what we think is beautiful and what we think is important.  "But it doesn't matter how I dress, as long as my heart is right," some say.  This sounds pious, but means we're not putting our money where our mouth is; we're not willing to back up our "beliefs" with deeds.  We might as well say, "It doesn't matter how often I bathe as long as I'm clean on the inside.

Scripture says "The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of his heart his mouth speaks." (Luke 6:45).  Sometimes, it's not the thought that counts.  And we can be sure that the innermost thoughts will spill into our dress - and that people will have every reason to judge us accordingly.

Shocking as it might sound, there is actually no Bible verse that says, "Thou shall not judge a book by its cover. (...)" (pgs. 105-106).

There are quite a few verses that come close, however:

  • Some Bible verses the Botkin Sisters seemed to have missed in Luke 6 alone:
    • Luke 6:32-36 (If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you?....)
    • Luke 6:37-38 (Do not judge, and you shall not be judged; ....)
    • Luke 6:39-42 (The speck in your neighbor's eye compared to the log in yours ...)
  • Some Bible verses the Botkin Sisters seemed to have missed in Luke:
    • Luke 5:27:32 (The Call of Levi; Jesus comes to call not the righteous, but the sinners to repentance)
    • Luke 7:29-35 (John's previous call of the sinners compared to the refusal of the Pharisees and lawyers to be baptized; the paradoxical criticism of John's asceticism AND Jesus' lack of asceticism. )
    • Luke 7:36-50 (The woman who was a sinner anointing Jesus' feet)
    • Luke 10:25-37 (The Good Samaritan - which is the perfect counterexample)
  • Again, the Botkin Sisters set up a paradigm that is very hard to disprove from inside the matrix.  Since the Botkin Sisters can accurately judge people by how they look, they can make sure they never interact with people who are clearly not "GoodChristians"(TM).  Because they never interact with not "GoodChristians"(TM), they don't get new data points that could shake their belief systems.  
  • In reality, looks can be very deceiving.  The giant tattoo covered cook at my local greasy spoon who wears death metal shirts - he's a really gentle, nice guy.  The roughest exterior students I had often had the most tender hearts.  I remember a teenage girl who was hell-on-wheels in my classroom; it made more sense the day she showed me the only picture she had of her stillborn baby girl who died from a freak cord accident during her second trimester a little over a year before.  On the flip side, the two students I've had who I genuinely feared for my safety with were neatly dressed and groomed; they also showed signs of being psychopaths.  
One section left in this chapter: Beauty and modesty

2 comments:

  1. I'm not Muslim, but I have done some research on the different types of dress they consider modest and appropriate. The reason they think women should dress modestly varies by individual, sect, and culture. Still, I've never read anything by a Muslim woman that would indicate she believes her body is in some way inherently evil.

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    Replies
    1. I agree. The Muslim women in my community vary in their choices for clothing - but no one has ever said that bodies were evil.

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