Will it ever become a glorious summer? Will our “dreadful marches” to de-ice the car ever become “delightful measures” with a beer at the neighbor table?
Certainly this unending Siberian Chicago winter–or polar vortex as the meteorologists have named it–will eventually give way to “victorious wreaths” of summer flowers. But it is proving to be a tedious journey.
Trapped by subzero temperatures, record-breaking wind chills, 45″ of snow to date, and a continued non-weight-bearing husband, I have had my wings temporarily clipped.
While work, housework, and parental duties are perpetual, some of the housebound periods have at least allowed me to tackle some UFOs in the knitting bags and some unfinished books in the Nook (UFBs?). In addition to the husband’s toe sock and cast sock, I managed to use up some yarn from the stash on my first top-to-bottom hat (gave it to the daughter because everything always looks good on her) and knit a 6-ft “worm scarf” for myself (above) that uses i-cord bind-offs to create a really cute textural effect. I also frogged the back and right side of a sweater that I started a couple of years ago. I am re-using the yarn (Schaefer* Indira Ghandi) to create a cute camisole/tank sweater to wear under a black jacket. I just read Schaefer yarns/wools went out of business a year ago, and I know there’s not enough for a sweater. It’s my favorite yarn in my stash.
The other advantage to ice-bound nursewifery is that I have been able to better separate my work hours from my personal life and read a bit at night. So, I’m reading while I’m knitting (yes, I can finally do that–as long as I’m reading on my laptop).
A Year of Living Biblically & A Year of Biblical Womanhood
I just finished A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans. I stumbled across her on Facebook. Someone had posted a link to her blog post “Are you being persecuted?” during the holidays, which succinctly slams Fox’s “War on Christmas.” I checked out a couple of her blog posts. She’s a southern Christian Evangelical–not my usual author. But she has a brain and is happy to stand up to those on the right who pick and choose their Bible quotes and put good women down. So, I bought her book.
Last year at about this time, I read A.J. Jacobs’ Year of Living Biblically. At first I was disappointed in Evans’ book, as compared to Jacobs’. Evans chose different ways to live biblically each month, with a core set of 10 rules that held all year. Jacobs managed to carry out most of his Old Testament living throughout his 12-month adventure. His research was thorough and professional, with annotated footnotes and a great reference list in the back. He’s a magazine writer by trade. Evans’ book has too many pictures of herself smiling in the midst of some of her accomplishments, like “ta-da.” And she doesn’t have footnotes. But she does know her Bible–and she tells some great tales of great women with whom many of us may not be familiar because of the patriarchal church. Both authors went to lengths to explore other religions, other viewpoints, and other cultures.
Once I got used to Evans style of writing, I started to really like her and her method. In fact, Jacobs’ book would have been vastly different if he were a female. It would probably have had to be similar to Evans’ method of choosing biblical ways of living each month, because the Bible lumps a tremendous amount of physical, time-consuming work on women. While Jacobs was scuttling around New York’s subway system with his portable stool to avoid accidentally becoming “unclean” by sitting on a seat previously used by a menstruating woman and finding time to consult experts on avoiding “mixed-fiber” clothing, Evans had to contend with handling all of Proverbs 31, keeping a kosher home, and dealing with the laws of monthly impurity, which include sleeping outside in a tent. While she is a freelance writer and able to schedule her own work hours, if she had children at the time of writing this book, the book would never have been written.
In the end, both books are good, thought-provoking, and thoughtful.
What surprised me the most about Evans’ book, which she addresses, is the lack of knowledge that contemporary Christians have of the Old Testament (Jesus was Jewish, after all) and about even modern Jewish life. Living in a melting pot like the Chicago metro are, and especially in our particular suburb, our family is blessed to be exposed to all types of cultures and religions. We’ve shared holidays, meals, and life events with Jewish friends. Our children have friends who are Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist. On just our residential block of single-family homes, we have neighbors from China, Mexico, Iran, Iraq, Montenegro, and Germany. Our neighbor across the street is from the Philippines, and he lives next door to a second-generation Japanese woman. We also know vegans.
Where I’m headed with this, is that we are exposed to so many ideas and to the love and goodness inherent in so many other people that one religion just can’t be right. It’s always such a shock to me when I read stories about people who really truly believe that their religion and their way of worship is the only way–and believe that the rest of us are just going to go to hell.
In addition to Evans’ and Jacobs’ books, I also highly recommend Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal
for its fictionalized account of Jesus’ “lost years.” You’ll be surprised at author Christopher Moore (one of my favorite fiction authors) put into the research. The citation list at the end is a great source for further reading.
Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth is less entertaining but certainly interesting, thought provoking, and definitely worth reading. It focuses on the compiling of the “modern” Bible and is instrumental in understanding the “picking and choosing” in compiling today’s Christian Bible. Did you know that Paul was politically favored by early church leaders over Jesus’ own brother James, who had been considered the head of the church? In fact, James, who preached the Golden Rule, was considerably edited by those who pieced together the Bible, while misogynistic Paul continues to influence the modern world.
While 20 years ago, I was only happy to disparage the existence of God–now I want to believe and spiritually find my way. I’m open to anything, from Christianity and Buddhism to Wicca or Hinduism. I’d just really like a reassurance that the hardships in life aren’t for nothing. I really don’t want to just blink out of existence. After breaking my foot, missing Europe, our dog passing away, and the husband’s accident–just to name a few of the key events since October–I am contemplating what the message is.