"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

New Book and Blogs, Lack of Women and White Folks, Bible Stuff and Single Moms (though married)

Ah, I have so much on my mind, but don't know where to start. Some days I go through droughts with not much worth sharing, but then I go through, um, spouts where I have too much. It's not that stuff I want to share is oh-so-fascinating especially to you, but it's just thoughts that come to mind. So maybe this post should just briefly mention those things and maybe I'll "flesh 'em out" in later posts if the mood strikes.

I started a new book, The Rise of Christianity by Rodney Stark. He's not a historian, but a sociologist and he's trying to answer the question about Christianity's rise from that perspective. It's slightly technical at times when he gets into the arithmetic part, but I am enjoying much of the cultural tidbits very much!  His main question is this:  "How did a tiny and obscure messianic movement from the edge of the Roman Empire dislodge classical paganism and become the dominant faith of Western civilization?" He explores such things as primary (often women) and secondary (often their husbands) conversions, social networks, epidemics, status of women, fertility, conversion of Jews being higher than we think, Christians being from all social groups not only slaves.  Well, those are the ones I've read about so far. I'm about halfway through the book.

Just a bit ago I read some interesting facts about the declining birthrate and how the Roman Empire was giving incentives to men who would father at least three children.  The Roman Empire so very much needed its citizens to have higher fertility rates that many emperors imposed "political and financial sanctions upon childless couples, upon unmarried women over the age of twenty, and upon unmarried men over the age of twenty-five."  Perhaps if their male to female ratio were not 131 to 100 due to infanticide (killing mostly unwanted female infants), this would not have been such a problem.

The declining birthrate thing reminded me of this post Why Tanning, Barbie and God Forbid Belgian Chocolate May Disappear In the Future? by a Jordanian-Syrian man living in the United States. If you don't want to read the post, it's so titled because of the declining rate of white people in the world.  There is a reason places like Germany are inviting other nationalities into the country to study basically free of charge. 

By the way, that blog is one that I started reading this week and have found most interesting.  I especially love when Malik shares cultural tidbits from both the US and Arab world. I enjoyed reading his Arab perspective on the 4th of July, for instance.

Another blog about a serious topic is this new one by a Jordanian who is speaking out about childhood sexual abuse.  Visit Mohammed's blog here and lend him your support if you wish.

In other news, I was reading through Luke 2-4 recently and kept getting stopped by patterns I was noticing.  And then today I started rereading some things in those chapters and ended up visiting Deuteronomy and Exodus and three places in Isaiah because my Bible had links back to those places.  I was reminded again that I love Isaiah 40 and need to read it more often.

Note to self: write a post about Luke 4:14-30 and why Jesus didn't just leave well enough alone.  They liked him and were amazed by him so why challenge them to the extent they want to throw you off a cliff?

Random thought that came to mind as I was driving the other day:  I think I'd heard a story about single parenting and how many children are growing up in poverty due to mainly a lack of fathers. Then my mind went to polygynous families and how even if you have only one other wife, you've perhaps made your wives single mothers half the time.  I guess unless you live with both wives and all the children in one household. But for those men who have two separate households and maybe spend one week with Jane and her kids following by a week with Cara and her kids...that reminds me of the children I've always felt sorry for because their divorced parents had joint custody meaning they had to live one week at mom's followed by one week at dad's.  I assume the children get used to it, but it seemed rather dreadful to me.  Only with polygyny, it's the man of the householdS who must move from place to place.

Which lead me to wonder if that's OK really.  After all what is the father's role besides providing for his family?  If he is providing for Jane and her kids sufficiently why not also have a life with Cara and her kids if he can provide materialistically for them just the same?

QUESTION FOR YOU:  What roles did your father/grandfather have in your household? What about your husbands and adult brothers? The men in your life? Are they only useful for fathering children and then providing for them? Or do they have other roles that would be missed if they were gone 50% of the time to non-work-related things? Granted I know even in monogamous relationships, fathers can essentially make their wives into single mothers because they work too many hours or they pursue too many hobbies outside the household. Too much golf or fishing or maybe even just sitting in front of the television while the wife does all the child-rearing stuff.

The only other thing on my mind is remnants and I'll not talk about that now since this post is long and rambling enough.

Hope all are well!  And, can it be that Zach is ten weeks old today?


Lat said...

You know SG has low birth rate? I was wondering what will happen if the govt imposed a "politcal and financial sanctions upon childless couples, upon unmarried women over the age of twenty, and upon unmarried men over the age of twenty-five." " They politicians will lose their seats!lol!

The problem is when you open the doors to foreigners to fill in the gap for you,they fill more than the gap.That's the truth.And you must have the foresight to deal with new issues that come with it.You cannot just stand aside and say it will all work it out itself in the end.Well it doesn't!

I've read that kind of arguements you've given regarding polygynous families,why they think it is better and so.Believe me they'll explore every avenue to make you agree with their analsysis.No one system is perfect because men are just not perfect.

With that,I'd say I had men who just let their wives do all the work while they didn't contribute much and men who did more.I'm sure there are women too just like that.Well that's life! :)

jaraad said...

Thanks for the link :)
I think the low birthrate requires a thorough study by the European governments. There are many reasons behind this problem not one. I agree that inviting foreigners although may keep the country on its feet but it will not help its citizens. I once watched a documentary on Germany's DW-TV on the increasing number of couples in Europe who are preferring to stay together without marriage. And many such couples are preferring not to have kids at least not before certain number of years. In some European countries the government gives money for every new born baby yet it seems this is not helping increasing the birth rate.

Wafa' said...

QUESTION FOR YOU: What roles did your father/grandfather have in your household? What about your husbands and adult brothers? The men in your life? Are they only useful for fathering children and then providing for them? Or do they have other roles that would be missed if they were gone 50% of the time to non-work-related things?

Do you really want me to answer this question !!!! lol
They have played and still the worst roles ever. I hate men and i think they are useless creatures and the world would be a better place without them, let send them back to Mars :D
of course i am entitled to my opinion , lol

loved the post a lot :)

Amber said...

Maybe you should call the times when you have lots of things to talk about 'sprouts'? It rhymes better!

I'd be interested in hearing more from the Rise of Christianity book. It sounds very interesting!

*laughs* I think it was this post that made me think of the 'plan' I mentioned on FB! I don't know if some of the people there realized I was joking... :)

The Father question: You don't want me to answer that one. My experience with father's, as a child, is bad and that's all there is to it. I know, theoretically, that a father should be a presence in the child's life, not just money flowing in so that the mother can support the family, but...*shrug* my father's weren't even *that* half the time. Now, of course, my mother is married to the guy I call 'Dad', but they married after I was an adult and so our relationship is different from the one that a child would have with a father growing up.

I could tell you about my grandfather and how he was there to play with us and intervene when we pissed my grandmother off (okay, so apparently baby powder does not clean up well when you use water. Who knew?). How he taught me to drive and shoot and a million other things.

misschatterbox said...

Hi Susanne!!
I'm back tentatively dipping my toe in the blogging waters.. and I feel I've dived into the deep end with your wonderful posts - you always put me to shame, with your avid reading and explorative posts!

In many ways I had an atypical family life in terms of gender roles (of my parents). I had no grandfathers *they both died before I was born.) MY father had a lot of issues - a single child born in an enterment camp during WWII, raised in post-war Britain where his parents sent him to bparding school from the age of 5, while they lived on the european continent. His father was a womanising alcoholic, his mother was bipolar and his parents divorced when he was 12, he was taken to Australia and never saw his mother again/ On top of all this he had Asperger's Syndrome ( a mild form of autism) which didn't even exist 2 be diagnosed until the 80s. He loved us the best way he knew how but he was a difficult man. To add to this he had a bunch of health issues that got worse over the years so for the last few years my mother was his carer until he passed away in 2009. I was 21 my brothers were 19 and 15. Anyhoo because my dad was unable or unwilling, my mum was the "head" of the house. She consulted my dad, and they did discuss major things together.It helped that they agreed on most things - for all of their issues they had the same values and thought the same way. But it certain wasn't an "equal" marriage. My mum did pretty much all the work, raised the kids and "wore the pants."
However, in our family we also recignised this wasn't the ideal. My mum never wanted a marriage like that for me.
A biblical marriage, and the ideal marriage, to me is a partnership between the man and wife, with bopth of them working together to live a godly life. I believe a wife should submit to her husband as the 'head of the household' but this is based on the husband being a godly man. It's a hot-button issue - but we accepot authority in all areas of our lives: colleagues, police, bosses, teachers, government. Authority, when exercised correctly is not oppressive.
This does not mean however that the man 'lays down the law' and the woman blindly follows!
I am reallllllyyyy lucky to have a wonderful husband. Our decisions are made with joint discussion and consideration. I take care of finances because I am better at that side of things. He takes care of anything car/electrical-related because I barely know how to check the oil! He can't garden to save his life, but he's better at ironing than me. I tend to cook more, because I feel the kitchen is my 'domain' but if I don't feel like it, or there is a specific dish he wants, then he cooks and is pretty good at it too! If i cook, he usually does the dishes. Because he is still studying and I finished last semester we both work as waitors in a convention centre. So everything changes from week to week - if he's working and I'm at home then I'll clean/organise etc. If he needs time off for exams then I step up. Otherwise if I'm working a lot or doing journalism work (freelance or work experience) then he steps up, cleans, runs errands, cooks etc.
In some ways we tend to stick to quite traditional roles but thats because that is where our strengths lie not because we feel we have to.
I think men do have the urge to protect and provide for the family - but that also means providing for the family emotionally and spiritually, and providing support for your spouse. A man who simply brings him paychecks and gives the kids a cursory pat on the head is not doing this. Distant love is not felt!
There is a wnderful song by the christian band Sanctus Real called "lead me" (youtube it!) that pretty much sums it up :)

Susanne said...

Lat,no, I didn't realize Singapore had a low birth rate! Yeah, I think it's too intrusive for a government to *force* people to marry or have children by essentially punishing them if they do not. But I've heard some European countries do give rewards for more babies so maybe it's the same concept only rewards-base instead of sanction-based.

Good thoughts about foreigners filling in the gaps and having a plan for that. It seems not very many countries have planned accordingly.

Really appreciate your feedback!

Jaraad, nice to see you over here! :) Thanks for what you shared. I find it all rather fascinating and do kind of wonder why some countries seem to be going backward in population. What do they have against big families? Hmmm. Enjoyed your thoughts!

Wafa', I don't know whether to laugh or cry at your post! :) Thanks for humoring me, but I am sorry the men in your life have been such poor examples. What a shame! There truly are good ones out there - I promise! Thanks for sharing your point of view!

Susanne said...

Amber, ha! Yes, me and my sprouts! Hehehe...I feel like a plant now..thanks. :)

Yeah, I liked the plan you put on FB. Some people there just are distracted and can't understand a joke when one hits them in the face apparently. :)

I actually thought of you when I wrote that question and added "grandfather" because I know you loved yours so much. My dad is the same way. He adored his grandfather who raised my dad and his siblings after his parents divorced. (Rather rare in the 1950s.) So I can relate a bit through my dad. I'm glad you had a good grandfather who could teach you certain things. :) Thanks for chiming in on the question.

misschatterbox, great to see you!! And you are now married! Wow, I will wait to see if you post about this on your blog! :-D Thanks for all you added. I really enjoyed learning more about you and your willingness to share your story! I'm glad to see you and your husband share responsibilities according to what suits you better. Really glad to hear from you again! It's been a while! :)

Thank you all for your comments!!

misschatterbox said...

yup i'm back again, hopefully a little more often now :) xxx
I've started a new blog too, as well as my old one so hopefully that will be the incentive to post more :)

Suroor said...

Interesting! Praying for Belgian chocolate :)