Exodus 23:17: Three Times A Year All Your Males Shall Appear Before The Lord God

In trying to untangle the lengthy questions I received a few days ago from a reader [1], I would like to tackle one of the verses she alluded to, which happens to have been given first in Exodus 23:17 and then expanded on in a much more familiar verse, Deuteronomy 16:16.  As is my custom in cases like this, I will post the verses and then comment on them at some length.  The expression of interest here in this present discussion, of course, is “all your males.”  It should be noted at the outset that this is not usually the context of these verses when they are discussed, but given that it is the gendered question of what God was doing here that is important, we will begin here as a way of introducing the larger topic of representation in the Bible, which we will examine in the near future if time permits.  With that introduction, let us proceed to the verses in question.

Exodus 23:14-17 reads:  “Three times you shall keep a feast to Me in the year:  You shall keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread (you shall eat unleavened bread seven days, as I commanded you, at the time appointed in the month of Abib, for in it you came out of Egypt; none shall appear before Me empty); and the Feast of Harvest, the firstfruits of your labors which you have sown in the field; and the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you have gathered in the fruit of your labors from the field.  Three times in the year all your males shall appear before the Lord God.”  We see this command repeated in Deuteronomy 16:16:  “Three times a year all your males shall appear before the Lord your God in the place which He chooses: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, at the Feast of Weeks, and at the Feast of Tabernacles; and they shall not appear before the Lord empty-handed.”  It should be noted that these two verses are the only times where the expression “all your males” is used.  It would be more convenient, of course, if the expression were more common, but as it is there are enough common elements to see a context.

If we expand the expression to include the expression for “every male,” we will see that there were two contexts in addition to this.  Several verses (starting with Genesis 17:10) discuss the obligation that every male among the Israelites was to be circumcised.  Later, starting with Numbers 1:2, we see that censuses were to be taken of every male above the age of 20, or at military age according to the view of the Bible.  Moreover, each of these citizens was assessed an equal tax as a way of demonstrating their equality before God [2].  In looking at the passages that deal with every male, there are a few connections that jump out.  For one, these factors are all related to the responsibilities of men in ancient Israel:  mandatory attendance at the pilgrimage feasts, payment of taxation and being potentially part of the armed forces.  The absence of women from these concerns does not appear to have been viewed as a way that men were superior, but rather appear as a way in which men served as the representatives of their families in the business of church and state at the time.  We will later show how this view of representation by heads of household continued in the New Testament with baptism instead of circumcision as the mark of the covenant, and we will see that women who were heads of household were considered as equal with men in this regard, even if the Bible considers female heads of household to be a rarer phenomenon.

Even so, the command for all the males to be represented was not a slight against women as it was a concession to poverty.  While it is to be expected that if possible, all people would be able to assemble before God together, it was absolutely essential for there to be at least one representative from the family, namely the head of household, who was to instruct the rest of the family upon his return if they were unable to join him.  In practice, in those few times we have a record of holy days being observed we have families showing up, such as the family of the Korahite Elkanah to Shiloh during the  days of Eli the high priest.  While there might be some reason why it would be a burden, especially for a family from a far flung area of Israel, for everyone in the family to go to where the Lord had put His name, there was no excuse for the entire family to be absent.

It should be noted that like taxation and military service, this too presented the men with a responsibility rather than necessarily authority.  In cases where only the male head of household went to a pilgrimage feast, it would be his responsibility to convey the instruction gained there to his whole family so that they would all be in obedience to God’s ways as revealed through priests and prophets.  This might seem to be a jarring task to men who might seldom speak two words that were not grunting or some sort of request to their womenfolk in contemporary times, but this same expectation that men would be able to inform their wives and children about messages is certainly relevant in our own time, especially if women have to miss messages because they are taking care of small children.  Making sure that at least one member of the family is paying attention to what is said in church and takes their responsibilities as a representative of the family before God seriously in communicating what is heard and learned to the rest of the family is a responsibility that remains even if our society is structured differently than ancient Israel was.  While we may see this law and its application as something that is in the past, the principle of representation still applies in the Bible and it has an important part in the way that conversion and baptism are to take place, and it is to that issue that we will turn next.

[1] https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/12/12/letters-from-the-mailbox-part-one/

[2] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2011/06/25/the-price-of-equality-and-honor/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2011/02/27/exodus-30-11-16-the-census-tax/

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Book Review: The Dark Night Of The Soul

The Dark Night Of The Soul, by St. John of The Cross

In reading this book I find myself of somewhat mixed emotions.  On the one hand, I found a great deal in this book that represented defective Hellenistic Christianity, from unbiblical beliefs in Purgatory and a hostility to the physical world that comes from the authoritarian gnosticism of which he was a part to a love of praising the traditions and ways of the Catholic Church.  On the other hand, even given these flaws this book had much to offer it, not least because it offers a decisive rejection of the lassiez faire ways of contemporary ragamuffins concerning the role of trials.  All too often contemporary gnostics who call themselves believers are of the belief that the difficulties of life are a sign that God has rejected them rather than a sign that their character needs to be refined.  And this book, thankfully, makes that distinction clear, that times of absence and barrenness in life are a sign of God’s working with us to purify us and are not a sign of God’s rejection of us, which is a worthwhile thing to those of us who are all too familiar with our own dark nights of the soul [1].

In general, this book is a short commentary on a poem from the author himself that seek to convince and encourage those whom the author instructed during his time as a priest and a leader within a religious Order in 16th century Spain.  His own life, from his childhood poverty to the political disputes that troubled his adult life within his religious order which included a painfully unpleasant experience in prison, was sufficiently dramatic and sufficiently full of trouble to make it easy to understand his interest in the refining aspect of trials.  The author provides homilies on his own poetic text as if it was the sort of text that one could sermonize from, and occasionally (although sometimes erroneously or speculatively) makes reference to the Bible to support his points.  His book begins with a discussion of the various imperfections of the soul and then discusses the lengthy process of the purification of the soul, going into detail about the sort of pain that one suffers in the dark night of the soul, which he only begins talking about at the beginning of book two.  Included in this are a discussion of the secretive and personal nature of mysticism and the superiority of the spirit to the flesh, which at times moves from the biblical position to the position of the philosophical Greeks.  At one point a discussion of angelology appears to represent a belief that the angelic realm tends to act as a sort of pleroma between God and mankind of descending virtue and spirituality.

Despite the book’s flaws, though, it is easy to understand why this book remains appreciated by so many and remains a worthwhile encouragement during difficult times of spiritual refining, which, as the author maintains, can last for years.  As someone who has known lengthy dark nights of my own soul, from which I emerged a different person than I was before, the author’s experience speaks to my own.  In our contemporary age, as well as the age in which the author lived and wrote, there have been many false ministers preaching doctrines of prosperity which flattered the wealthy and corrupt of the time, and made it seem as if enduring difficult times was a sign of God’s particular disfavor rather than the natural process of God refining and purifying imperfect human beings to be a part of his family.  This denigration of that refining process in popular religious culture has often led those for whom life is difficult and unpleasant to despair, and has been accordingly a tool of Satan.  This book gives thoughtful encouragement to those whose spiritual lives are filled with a great deal of longing and not nearly the amount of pleasure that most people seem to find in existence and that is sufficient to make this a worthwhile book to read and appreciate even today.

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2013/11/09/dark-night-of-the-soul/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2012/07/22/dark-knight-of-the-soul/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2011/05/20/sonnets-of-a-wounded-soul/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2011/03/06/psalm-88-for-my-soul-is-full-of-troubles/

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Book Review: The Poems Of St. John Of The Cross

The Poems Of St. John Of The Cross, translated by Ken Krabbenhoft

While St. John of the Cross is best known for his famous poem “Dark Night Of The Soul” [1], a poem whose mystic discussion of the rapturous love between God and believers has inspired many people, even those whose religious identity is somewhat dark and mysterious, he wrote a fair amount of other poetry as well during his imprisonment by other Carmelites who were against the reform efforts he and St. Theresa of Avila spearheaded during the troubled times of the late 16th century.  I greatly enjoyed these poems, and think that they are the sort of works that could easily be appreciated by many readers who have at least some tolerance for Catholic mysticism.  That is not to say that I liked all of these poems or share the worldview of the poet, but that I find a great deal to enjoy in poetry that often shows an awareness of the Bible as well as a deep amount of passion.  It is clear that this author writes from a high degree of religious enthusiasm of the sort that would make one a reformer of a Catholic order that seemed at least somewhat reluctant to be reformed.

In about 80 pages, this book provides a diglot edition of the poems of St. John of the Cross with the even numbered pages being in Spanish and the odd numbered pages being the English translation.  Both of the versions scan well and are a joy to read.  This particular book of poetry is not large, even by the standards of poetry books, which are often somewhat short, but it is pretty clear that this author was definitely a master of Castilian Spanish.  Included are poems about dark nights of love, the way that one lives a mystical life, and plenty of songs about pining and longing, and even a reference to the Song of Solomon (Spiritual canticle) and Psalms (By the rivers of Babylon), as well as poems about the the Word.  This is the sort of book that makes one want to read more from the author and translator and that is something to behold.  This is a book of poetry that puts the best face on mysticism, as opposed the way that others do [2], and I must admit that a Christian with an interest in these matters will find much to enjoy here.

St. John of the Cross is the sort of writer that gets a lot of love from readers who share the author’s interest in ecstatic union with God and his reflection of love and devotion in other aspects.  It is easy to understand that, and even if the author does not necessarily have a great deal of mass popular appeal, this book is clearly aimed at an audience of those who appreciate religious poetry in English and/or Spanish.  The translator does great work and the poems themselves are something to behold.  They certainly do raise the bar for religious poetry.  Best of all, the poet is not someone who drones on endlessly, but has a certain degree of efficiency in how he writes.  He writes as long as he needs to in order to get the point of cross in lyrical, gorgeous poetry and then ends it.  This is not a man in love with his own words, unlike many people who write, but he is also just as obviously in love with God, at last as he understands God.  Even where one disagrees with a lot of the presentation–the author’s ode to the Trinity most notably–there is still a lot to appreciate here.

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2013/11/09/dark-night-of-the-soul/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/03/25/book-review-25-books-every-christian-should-read/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2014/01/09/book-review-no-one-sees-god/

[2] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/07/18/book-review-the-prophet/

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Nathan Has A Font

Earlier today I received a message from a friend of mine telling me that I had a font.  Since no one had informed me of this before, I was a bit concerned.  My handwriting tends not to be very good [1], and it has been a problem for me all my life, especially after I broke my left wrist as a child and not long after that became afflicted with more than a bit of writer’s cramp that makes handwriting painful sometimes.  At any rate, as someone who had teachers in high school that refused to accept my handwritten work because they could not read it, I was definitely concerned that any font that I had would be a terribly cramped font that was difficult to read.  With this context, I did not think that any font that I had would be something I would appreciate reading or that anyone else would care to immortalize as a font for typing.  I have used some lefty fonts that are close to my writing, but that is mainly as a joke to demonstrate that using the computer need not make text easier to read, a lesson some people would do well to heed.

A bit of research uncovered that it was not me who had a font at all, but rather that there was an entire family of fonts based on the movie Nathan The Wise.  Peter Wigel says it best:  “1922: Manfred Noa turns the silent film “Nathan the Wise”. Intertitles explain the plot. At that time, these intertitles were still written by hand with pen and ink. Unfortunately, some of these intertitles are lost and need to be replaced now. For this I have made ​​this font.  The silent film was universally understandable as he did without language and made ​​it clear through actions of the form-fitting actor. The intertitles were with little effort to translate into other languages​​. As often fragments of silent films from all over the world, the titles must reach the editor also usually be recreated – in German – and also because the original intertitles are no longer available. It should be very close to the originals in the new design, the font and the text panels. Today, in modern even experimental film, is again working with black and white elements and often also without sound. Here, too, the art of the title comes back to advantage. And why should not even shoot a silent film you own – but you write funny intertitles texts – with “Nathan” looks quite original and certainly the “Original”.”

What does this mean in English other than Google translate?  Let me at least attempt to explain.  In 1922 the filmmaker Manfred Noa created a silent film based on “Nathan The Wise,” which was based on an 18th century book that pleaded for religious tolerance and featured the eponymous hero, a wise Jewish merchant, who is able to engage in a profitable and mutually tolerant interfaith friendship with a templar and the Ottoman sultan, showing how Christianity, Judaism, and Islam could live in harmony.  In the context of Weimer era Germany, where the film was made, this was a particularly brave task.  Just over a decade after this film was made, Hitler would come to power in Germany and the fate of German Jews and other European Jews would become far darker and more menacing, but even during the Weimer era there was considerable anti-Semitism.  The experimental film used a daring and attractive font, and efforts to restore the film led someone to turn the font of the movie’s subtitles into a computer font family named after the hero of the movie, someone who is named Nathan and someone who is wise but someone, alas, who is not me.

So, while there is a Nathan who has a font, that Nathan is a fictional character told in a tale about the need for tolerance of people of other religious faiths.  My own viewpoint of religious toleration is somewhat more complicated than that of many who urge it in our own society, as I have noted before [2].  Even so, I do believe that peaceful people should be allowed to worship peacefully, and that even where I have a great deal of disagreement about the religious beliefs of others that even in those differences and disagreements I tend to see a common humanity and a desire to answer certain timeless questions.  The fact that I believe some answers are better than others, and that some are right and others are wrong is something I make no apologies for nor demand any apologies for from others.  In light, though, of the context in which there is a Nathan family of fonts, I consider it entirely appropriate that a fictional character created in enlightenment Germany in order to advance the cause of religious toleration and portrayed in a new medium in an age where such toleration was under grievous attack.  The use of an elegant font as a way of communication is certainly a fitting tribute to a fictional character created in an effort to encourage respectful and profitable communication between different peoples, something we can always use more of in a world where lots of people are fond of talking and writing but few appear to have any interest in listening to voices different or reading fonts different than their own.

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/01/23/intereskumunumo/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/06/02/book-review-simply-calligraphy/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/05/20/a-letter-to-my-five-year-old-self/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/05/20/a-letter-to-my-ten-year-old-self/

[2] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/06/21/the-muslim-minority-as-dhimmi/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2015/12/11/the-most-awkward-missionary-of-all-time/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2015/01/11/allahu-akbar/

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A Response To The Note Left On My Windshield By An Anonymous Coworker

Being somewhat distracted this evening as I was heading out for a yummy Taco Tuesday, I did not notice the note that was in my windshield until I was nearly at dinner.  When I arrived, I picked up the note and saw that the person who wrote it had sought to remain anonymous but the note clearly deserved a reply.  My first instincts were to fire off a rather sarcastic response to the note, but after reading a book and reflecting a bit I felt in a much calmer mood.  After all, I am no stranger to writing notes and letters, most of which do not receive a particularly glorious response [1], and I know that if someone is driven to write a note, that there is likely some irritation involved.  In fact, it is quite possible that this has been building for a while.  The note read as follows, unedited except for changing the all caps in the note to a a less irate style:  “Hi!  I hope you’re having a good day!  –Please!  Please!  Stop parking so close to my vehicle.  It makes it difficult to get out or in my vehicle.  You most always park crooked next to me.  Thanks!”

In reflecting upon this letter, some context is perhaps useful.  The note itself is written on a small gray piece of paper with the bottom right corner of the note cut out and the text written in dark blue pen ink.  The author is apparently not a very articulate person but there are few grammatical mistakes even if the vocabulary is a bit basic and the all caps is really annoying.  The author of course, did not realize that reading material in all caps is as much an irritation to me as my crooked parking is to him or her.  Be that as it may, as far as irritated notes go it is a remarkably polite one.  A perusal of my own notes and writings when irritated will suggest that I am usually not the most gracious person when I sit down to write someone this sort of letter.  So, all of this counts in favor of the author in terms of being a decent sort of human being who deserves to have their complaint treated in a decent sort of manner.

Being a creature of habit, as most people are, I tend to park as close as I can to the entrance along the row of my parking lot that leads directly to the exit from the parking lot to Compton Drive.  As this is a very convenient place to park, it is likely the person who parks next to me is of the same mindset.  Most of the time I park within a few parking spaces among the spaces that face the building where I work and an open green space where people sometimes come to fly remote controlled airplanes.  Since at present I arrive and depart towards the later end most days, there are not many open spaces here when I do get to parking, and most of the time I am parked next to a fairly large vehicle (presumably the complainant) who parks very close to the line of his own space and probably would prefer for the spot to his left, where I usually park, to remain open.  Since I leave late, though, I tend not to be particularly concerned about such matters since most of the spaces are empty when I leave anyway, even when I leave earliest on Fridays before sunset.

That is the context.  Since the person did not leave a name and since I do not care to play a game of anonymous note passing, I must now think of what I am to do about this irksome situation.  It would, of course, be easiest for one of us to park somewhere else.  Between my crooked parking and the large amount of space taken up by the other vehicle, neither of which is something that is going to change, it is clear that parking next to each other is bothersome at least for one person.  Since the other person comes in earlier, they have a larger choice of spots which to take, but likely they value convenience as much as I do, and so they don’t park in a place with plenty of space around so that they aren’t next to anyone.  I’ll have to ponder this a bit, to be sure.

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/12/12/letters-from-the-mailbox-part-one/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/06/03/while-you-were-away-or-an-open-letter-to-my-former-desk-neighbor/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/03/16/an-open-letter-to-the-washington-post/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/05/22/a-letter-to-my-eighteen-year-old-self/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/05/21/a-letter-to-my-fourteen-year-old-self/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/05/20/a-letter-to-my-ten-year-old-self/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/05/20/a-letter-to-my-five-year-old-self/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/05/18/letters-to-myself/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2015/07/31/an-open-letter-to-my-companys-it-department/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2015/05/19/the-perfect-paramour-you-were-in-your-letter/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2013/10/21/letters-that-you-never-meant-to-send/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2013/05/19/lest-i-seem-to-terrify-you-by-letters/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2013/05/07/im-going-to-sit-right-down-and-write-myself-a-letter/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2013/03/31/i-feel-a-letter-coming-on/

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Book Review: The Colorful Kitchen

The Colorful Kitchen:  Simple Plant-Based Recipes For Vibrancy, Inside And Out, by Ilene Godofsky Moreno

[Note:  This book was provided free of charge by Net Gallery/BenBella Books.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.]

It may seem as somewhat of a surprise that someone like me would read and review a book on vegan cooking, given that I am by no means a vegan.  Even so, my problems with gout and inflammatory problems in general have led me to drastically curtail my meat intake for health reasons and have encouraged me to make at least some effort in finding suitable plant proteins, and books like this offer at least that sort of promise even if I find much of the progressive politics of this book irritating and, well, inflammatory in their own way.  As someone who reviews a lot of cookbooks [1], my general standard is that if I can find at least a few recipes in a book that I am willing to eat, I consider the book a success.  By those modest standards this book is a success, and were I a more stringent reviewer of cookbooks, this book would still be around the median level of the cookbooks I read, which is a good place to be as I tend to like most of the cookbooks I read anyway.

Beginning with a testimonial about the author’s reasons for choosing a vegan lifestyle and her efforts at finding more colorful and tasty and straightforward foods than have often been the staples of vegetarian cooking, the author provides a large variety of vegan dishes across one’s diets.  Included in this book are recipes for smoothies, breakfasts, salads, soup, sandwiches, sides/snacks/appetizers, entrèes, desserts, and kitchen staples and sauces.  At the very end of the book there is an index and acknowledgements and author bio.  Throughout the book there are references to the culinary ineptitude of her husband, something I really hate reading about, as I often feel that guys get a bad break in books because so few guys read books and so are unaware of the continual maligning we face in them.  Also throughout the book the author talks about the popularity of various dishes in her blog and also make some gentle jokes about herself, so perhaps she is trying not to take herself too seriously.

As far as the dishes go, there are at least a few that I would be willing to try.  Her brussel sprouts based salad sounds tasty, as do some of her granola and dessert recipes, and even some of the soup and dinner dishes sound like they would be worth trying.  I have some questions about many of the mushroom dishes given my sensitivity to texture, but assuming that the mushroom dishes are savory and not slimy, many of them sound like they would be worthwhile as well.  All of that makes for a book that manages to be of interest despite the fact that quite a few of the dishes sound positively vile and some of them, because of their use of mangoes and other foods to which I am allergic, sound positively lethal.  There are enough dishes in here that are appealing and that may actually work that I consider this book to be worth reading.  If there are any reasons why you are not able to enjoy meats, either because of health concerns or personal reasons to want to minimize one’s intake of meat, there are at least a few dishes here that have some promise.  Even more than that, the author and I share at least one important quality, and that is a love of colorful dishes of food that signify at least some balance of nutrients, and that similarity does give me at least a fair bit of goodwill for this author and her approach to food.

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/12/03/book-review-the-mac-cheese-cookbook/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/12/03/book-review-samarkand/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/10/12/book-review-the-gourmet-jewish-cookbook/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/04/29/book-review-the-oregonian-cookbook/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/10/30/book-review-the-lost-art-of-real-cooking/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/10/01/book-review-the-southern-cook-book-of-fine-old-recipes/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/07/22/book-review-colorado-cook-book/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/06/11/book-review-salads-beyond-the-bowl/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/05/16/book-review-salads/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/10/12/book-review-the-artisan-jewish-deli-at-home/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/10/01/book-review-lidias-commonsense-italian-cooking/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/10/01/book-review-the-north-african-kitchen/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/09/28/book-review-jane-butels-simply-southwestern/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/09/08/book-review-natural-color/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/07/29/book-review-500-treasured-country-recipes/

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Book Review: The Healing Powers Of Tea

The Healing Powers Of Tea, by Cal Orey

[Note:  This book was provided free of charge by Net Gallery/Kensington Books/Citadel.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.]

Most people who know me are aware of my fondness for drinking tea and, from time to time, reading and writing about it [1].  My long store of fond memories about tea include many experiences drinking the sun tea that my grandmother would brew in preparation of my arrival home from school, enjoying a fine afternoon tea in Port of Spain, Trinidad as a child on my first trip abroad, and shopping for herbal teas as gifts for friends and families.  Although I do not consider myself a tea snob, I do have definite opinions about what teas I prefer and have had the chance to drink a wide variety of teas and tisanes over the course of my life and have viewed my own personal reactions to those teas as experiments.  By and large, I drink mostly what Americans call black teas, although there are quite a few herbal teas that I am fond of as well, especially those which calm anxiety and aid in sleep, both of which are longstanding difficulties I have faced in the course of my life.

In terms of its contents, this book has a lot to offer.  After a foreword about sweet tea, the first two chapters of this book look at tea time in the power of tea and the ancient traditions of tea.  The next three chapters serve as a testimonial of sorts for the health benefits of black tea.  After this come three chapters that look at the health benefits of white tea, a more obscure and costly drink that might be out of reach for many but not for the hipsters that are this author’s target audience.  Three chapters then look at the health benefits of other types of tea–green tea, red tea, and herbal teas.  The fifth part of the book contains three chapters on the properties of tea that in the eyes of the author make it a suitable accompaniment to the Mediterranean diet, help people lose weight, and reduce the effects of aging.  The sixth part of the book looks at tea cures and home remedies, while three chapters follow giving speculations on the part of the author about the future of tea.  The book closes with two chapters on recipes that accompany or are infused by tea (some of which are included in other chapters), along with tea resources for those curious about knowing more.  Each chapter contains a variety of contents including recipes, personal stories, interviews, and points to ponder and steep on at the end.

This book is a reasonably comprehensive and chatty look at the benefits of teas from someone who modestly does not consider herself to be a tea expert but who clearly knows enough about teas to have her own opinions and her own evangelical fervor about a wide variety of teas.  Her ecumenical attitude towards teas and tisanes allows her occasionally irritating and Progressive sentiments to go down a bit easier, and thankfully she does not harp on matters of cultural politics although they do appear from time to time as she praises progressive tea drinkers, especially of the younger generation.  This book was written in a good style for the sort of work it is, and given the quality of this book, it appears likely that I will enjoy reading some of her other volumes about the health benefits of olive oil, vinegar, honey, chocolate, and other foods that I am fond of eating and choose to eat because of their health benefits given my own particularly challenging situation.  As someone afflicted with a great deal of inflammatory problems–namely an excessively sensitive digestive system and intermittent but serious gout–the anti-inflammatory properties of tea are something that I have long appreciated.  This book strives to avoid crossing over the line that would lead it to be viewed as favoring snake oil cures but the author clearly views diet (and exercise) as vital elements of a healthy life and seems particularly fond of Mediterranean and East Asian dietary pathways.  Take it or leave it, as you wish.

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/07/24/book-review-the-complete-idiots-guide-to-coffee-tea/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/05/02/restaurant-review-the-old-spaghetti-factory-hillsboro-or/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/11/08/liveblogging-the-2016-general-election/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2014/11/06/sleep-an-over-determined-problem/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2014/05/03/coffee-cake/

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Letters From The Mailbox: Part One

As a way of encouraging in-depth responses among readers of my blog, I would like to start a new occasional type of entry called “Letters From The Mailbox.”  At times I get comments that are too lengthy for me to reply to on the comments themselves and that I think are worth exploring in a larger sphere.  Also, writing things out helps me organize my own mind, and sometimes one has to write a bit before one knows how one wants to tackle a given subject.  So it is with today’s letter.  A few days ago I received a very lengthy series of serious questions from a reader about my sermon from several years ago about being kings and priests [1].  The comment reads as follows:

***

“Does this apply equally to both men and women? So my question is has God purposed woman to be kings and priests in the Age to come at all, and if so to what extent? What kind of opportunities do woman have in learning, developing and practising the spiritual gifts necessary to one day become the Lord’s kings/priests when in this life woman are to take care of the welfare of their family, being consigned to the domestic sphere ‘primarily’. Are we then led to believe that this foreshadows males of this age having more duties/rewards/authority (given ten cities as opposed to one or two) above females in the New Heavens and New Earth in a similar manner to how men have been given authority over woman in this Age? Or does the woman receive her reward by virtue of their husband’s/father’s standing with the Lord? So sharing the reward/inheritance with the male who was authority over her during her earthly incarnation? What if the woman has no husband and the father is a non-believer and she was stuck taking care of her siblings and parents all her life?

This is a question I’ve been wrestling with for years, studying the Word to examine biblical gender roles and reading articles online to get a better perspective.

It is clear that men are a specific role in this age which woman should not compete with men over. God more often than not is represented as masculine, angels as well. 144 000 male virgins are set aside as the firstfruits during the end times. Again the Torah was given to and even addresses males, not females. Woman was created for man, not the other way around; woman was created from the man, not the other way around either; man was created first, and the woman was fashioned as a helper for man); and man exemplifies Christ in the Christ-Church marriage, meaning again the man has authority over the woman. I don’t intend to belittle the feminine gender because man is not independent of woman, but I’m trying to point out how God views genders differently. On this point, nowhere does God allow polyandry but polgyny is allowed (according to the hardness of men’s hearts some contest, but even Jesus and God the Father are shown through analogies/allegories as being betrothed or married to more than one ‘woman’). I respect this because these are the decrees of the Lord, and yes, woman in the 21st century have more leeway and opportunity to work outside of the home, but then what of ancient Jewish woman? And what of the future epoch? Will woman be assessed according to how well they raised children? How good of an assistant they were to the man?

I seek to learn the Truth however hard it may be to accept. Please, if you could, write an article addressing the Lord’s place for woman in the New Heavens and New Earth, even during the millennium — if of course you believe that Jesus will rule in earthly Jerusalem before all things are made new.

I’ve been searching and there aren’t many articles addressing this issue. I also trust that you (Nathanal Bright) revere the Word of the Lord.

But if anyone else can respond (in-depth) to this comment I’d appreciate that too!”
***
These questions are all linked to the question of the role of women in the Bible.  Before I comment on that matter, though, I would like to point out that my name is Nathan Albright, although I can understand how it might be a bit ambiguous for those who do not come from an English-speaking country and who are not aware of how people tend to be named.  That being said, I would like to comment on the overall theme and give some indication of how I plan on responding to this lengthy series of posts.  I feel somewhat uncomfortable in being compelled to comment frequently on gender issues.  Those who know me personally can attest to my being generally a gentle and kind person who enjoys friendly female company in public but who is particularly awkward in matters of the heart.  I have no sisters, have never been married, and have no children of my own, and so I find it somewhat unusual that someone as nearly stereotypically an early middle-aged bachelor as I am is continually reading books directed at women and commenting on various matters of gender because I do not consider myself the most appropriate person for that sort of role, however fond I am of women and however much I respect what they have to say.  That said, this series of questions would require a host of posts to answer in detail, which I propose to do.
Taking these in order, here are the the topics of the posts I propose to write to answer these questions:

Mysteries Of The Bible:  What The Bible Says About Women In The World To Come
The Messiah Is A One Woman Man
Representation In The Assembly Of Ancient Israel

In looking at these posts I think that the first one would be a long post, and possibly more than one part, but that many of the questions relate to the question of the extent which contemporary gender roles as defined in scripture are to be carried on into the world to come–whether we are speaking about the Millennium or the New Heavens and New Earth.  I will tip my hand a bit and say the answer is–not much, if at all.  It does deserve a longer and fuller answer, though, based on scripture.  The other matters which do not relate to this have to do with questions as to the extent to which polygyny represents a model of the marriage plans of the Messiah/Jesus Christ/Yeshua, which is itself worthy of a post on its own given its complex nature, and the question of whether the virtual representation of women within the assembly of ancient Israel has anything to say to contemporary believers.  I do not know how long these posts will take me to write, but I expect that they will give even more reasons for people to ask me questions that relate to gender issues of the Bible.
Regards,

Nathan Albright
Edge Induced Cohesion

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Audiobook Reiew: Meet Mr. Mulliner

Meet Mr. Mulliner, by P.G. Wodehouse, read by Jonathan Cecil

This book is a collection of nine short stories that share a few qualities.  All of the stories are frame stories set in the Angler’s Rest pub told by one Mr. Mulliner about his improbable group of relatives.  As someone who is very fond of reading the novels of P.G. Wodehouse [1], these are amusing and entertaining stories.  What is remarkable to me at least is how true to life these stories appear to me.  If you’ve ever been caught at a moment when you can’t listen to someone tell lengthy but generally entertaining tales, you likely have had the sort of experiences that the implied audience of this story has.  It is also somewhat remarkable that this book holds together as well as it does.  Wodehouse may be best remembered today for his Jeeves and Wooster and Blandings Castle novels and stories–and those are definitely well worth remembering–but this book is a reminder that the author was capable of more than discussions of eccentric rich people who didn’t want to be married, although there can certainly be found that sort of story as well, at least in part.

In terms of its structure, this book is a loose collection of nine short stories that are told with the same narrator, Mr. Mulliner.  The stories generally have a similar frame setup–there is some sort of conversation at the pub, and Mr. Mulliner finds a way to inset into the conversation some sort of lengthy story about one of his innumerable amounts of relatives.  The nine stories are a mixture of good to great stories.  They begin with an entertaining story about one George Mulliner, a man with a stammering problem like that seen in the King’s Speech, whose efforts at curing his speech impediment lead him to be chased around the countryside by a mob with pitchforks and into marriage with a fellow fan of crossword puzzles.  Other standout stories revolve around the inventions of a Mullilner inventor famous for his tanning cream as well as his Buck-U-Uppo, which leads to the rapid promotion of a timid curate in love with his bossy boss’ comely daughter and into the service of a tolerant Anglican bishop.  Still other stories deal with the arrival of the Mulliner clan into Hollywood thanks to an ability to project emotion despite having a terrible day and the way a Mulliner got married thanks to the San Francisco earthquake that tweaks the sensitivities of Californians in denying the earthquake-prone nature of their homeland.  Throughout the stories are entertaining even if they are somewhat improbable, and even the lesser stories here have a certain charm about them.

If you are a fan of the Wodehouse novels and stories in general, these stories are definitely worthwhile ones that show his ability to work stories into a larger narrative in a way that is seldom seen nowadays, except by such storytellers as McMaster Bujold in her Vorkosigan saga.  And, best yet, if you enjoy this set of frame stories there are plenty more stories in the series to enjoy, and two more full books full of them.  I think, personally, that I will be looking for these stories as well, for they speak of concerns in a way that is lighthearted but also somewhat serious.  These stories are about people trying to make their way in the world and either find or avoid marriage–both of which are pretty common tendencies in our own lives.  The frame device reminds us that these stories are of a kind that is quite common–and certainly I may be thought of as somewhat of a raconteur myself of the same kind of long and perhaps improbable stories that are told here to such good effect.  It ought to be easiest for us to appreciate other people like ourselves, for if we cannot appreciate those like ourselves, who can be expected to appreciate us?

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/11/14/book-review-heavy-weather/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/11/14/book-review-summer-lightning/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/11/12/book-review-uncle-fred-in-the-springtime/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/11/12/book-review-blandings-castle/

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Audiobook Review: Love Among The Chickens

Love Among The Chickens, by P.G. Wodehouse

As someone familiar with the author’s work [1], I try to read (or listen to) works of this that are a bit more obscure, and when I saw that there was an audiobook of Wodehouse’s first published novel in the library, I figured it was one I had to listen to.  After all, it has to deal with two of my favorite subjects, love and chickens [2].  One of the more enjoyable aspects of this novel is the way that it is meta before meta was cool, in that a great deal of the book deals with the travails of a writer who is not yet extremely successful and finds himself helping out an impecunious friend in a chicken farm while trying to woo the beautiful daughter of a somewhat feisty Irish professor.  The success of this novel, even if he did not explore the world of its characters in the level that he did, say, with the inhabitants of Blandings Castle or with Jeeves and Wooster, allowed Wodehouse to escape the ranks of slightly successful writers and to reach a much higher plane, and for that alone we ought to appreciate this triumph of wit.

As far as novels go, this one is written with a light but understanding touch.  At the center of this novel are a few lovable and somewhat odd characters, with the narrator one Jeremy Garnet, a novelist and scribbler whose works have not yet been particularly popular and who makes a living by writing short stories for occasional bits of money and who finds himself induced to travel to a chicken farm on the outskirts of Cume Regis to help out his friend Stanley Featherstonehaugh Ukridge, who finds himself dealing with a motley collection of generally foul-tempered chickens who are only somewhat more friendly than his many creditors.  Stanley’s labors on the chicken farm along with the faithful hired help are not so onerous that he is unable to court a beautiful and intelligent young woman, Phyllis, a courtship that is hindered by his own efforts at manipulating events to be the hero as well as Ukridge’s general buffoonery, but true love prevails, even where the chicken farming proves to be dismally unprofitable.  All in all, this book is an enjoyable one and sets up some of the clear contrasts and patterns in the author’s work that would endure for his entire body of work.

Some of the themes that this book introduces that would play a large role in the author’s writings include the contrast between city and country, the continual duel between aunts/uncles with money and nephews in need of money, the stressful existence of scribblers who live from one short story or poem to the next, and the difficulties people face in courtship concerning the consent of parents or guardians even where the people involved are well matched, as they are in this case.  This book also contains one of the more interesting and noteworthy cases of love at first site when the author sees his beloved reading and enjoying his own book, something that any writer can well understand.  To be sure, this is not a deep work, by any means, but it is certainly a book that is capable of bringing a warm smile to the face of anyone who loves humorous British comic literature, and this book was certainly the worthy start to an immensely successful career, and one that would pave the way for a variety of successful comic sagas dealing with love and money, eccentric English people and their animals, and memorable locations.  What’s not to like about that?

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/11/12/book-review-blandings-castle/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/11/12/book-review-uncle-fred-in-the-springtime/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/11/14/book-review-summer-lightning/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/11/14/book-review-heavy-weather/

[2] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/04/25/the-gathering-of-the-chickens-part-one/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/04/26/the-gathering-of-the-chickens-part-two/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/03/18/i-like-my-chicken-fried/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/04/30/book-review-unusual-chickens-for-the-exceptional-poultry-farmer/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/02/13/thats-a-waste-of-good-chicken/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2012/01/17/the-chickening/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2011/09/14/no-one-here-but-us-chickens/

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