Thursday, December 29, 2016

Men vs Women

While doing research on housework for one of my previous posts, I found a discussion on a Dutch forum about modern women. Most men complained about their appearance and attitudes and stated that women nowadays are ungracious, unsubmissive, unfeminine and lazy. Then a lady came and said something along the lines that it was all true, but modern men were totally not masculine, either.

"If the men start acting masculine again," she claimed, "the women will fall back in line."

Well, what do you think? True or not true?

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

From The Home Front

Hi everyone, I hope you all have had a nice Christmas with your family and friends! We've had quite a busy time and now there is still another celebration coming. Of course, here we celebrate Christmas two days instead of one:) Plus my husband had a couple of extra vacation days but is now back to work.

The weather is O.K., one day grey and cloudy, then sunny and warm, so we can't complain. No snow so far. On the minus side, a guinea pig is sick. I suspect her hour has come, but honestly, she could have chosen another time for her departure as we are in the middle of Christmastime or Yuletide, whatever you choose to call it (not politically correct Winter or Season festivities, please. We don't have them over here.)

As everybody knows, traditionally Christmastime was twelve days (or nights) between Christmas and Epiphany and before Christianity our Germanic ancestors observed Yuletide. It's a part of our unique heritage and the latest attempts to rename and reinvent it and to make it "more inclusive" are a direct attack on European identity. Luckily, in our town we still had a nativity scene and a Christmas market, as always. 

I have a couple of posts in the planning but must find time to sit down and write them, so we'll see! Till next time, yours very faithful blog hostess:)

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Christmas Cat Commercial

December is a Christmas month and nothing will stop us from celebrating it:

Monday, December 19, 2016

Spiritual Duties Of The Wife

I got this interesting comment on my Prov 31 post:

I am trying to say that maybe we should focus more on the spiritual stuff and less on our domestic duties. No domestic duties are of course important, but are they really supposed to be our main interest in life? If there was a christian man who would think that his job is the most important thing in his life, wouldn't we protest? So how come christian woman's main focus in life should be her domestic duties, NOT her spiritual life?

Now I do understand that if one keeps homemaking blog, one writes about homemaking. :) But in several christian blogs it seems to me that the only bible verses, only spiritual thing is this Proverbs 31 Woman -thing. It's hardly the most important bible verse for christians. 

That made me think about several things. Personally I think that feminism/progressive ideology is behind the heavy emphasis laid on this particular Bible chapter. Proverbs 31 presents a "superwoman" so to say, an ideal which as some preachers pointed out, is practically impossible to achieve in real life. So when feminists start complaining about traditional family being restrictive to female ambitions, the Proverbs 31 lady is trotted out as a proof that "Biblical womanhood" is all-encompassing, that there is really no contradiction between being a successful businesswoman and a good wife and mother, etc etc.

It's also used (unfortunately) by some preachers and religious groups to browbeat housewives into various money-making activities or to accuse them of laziness if they prefer a creative hobby or lunching out with a friend to selling home-made soap and stuff on the internet. For these types of folks it's always about money. Such is the nature of our age that even Bible verses get corrupted in  pursuit of the financial gains.

On the other hand, the world keeps telling women that domesticity is dull, that homemaking, cooking and child-rearing are unimportant and can be easily outsourced so it's only logical that more traditional Christians will point to this chapter as the proof that these things are far from unimportant.

Personally I think that this chapter has both a literal and a figurative meaning. Since we don't live in polygamous households with many servants in an agricultural society, we can't literally follow it as a blueprint for our daily life but we can deduce from it the importance of being a good domestic manager and overall successful in running a household. While I don't believe that it contains a command for every woman to have a business or earn money, it shows that a good wife is financially prudent and that if money must be earned it should be earned from home.

I also don't believe there is a contradiction between spiritual life of a Christian woman and her domestic duties, however, I agree with the point that the spiritual side often gets neglected in our materialistic times. You know there are some articles supporting homemakers which start enumerating the things she does and putting a price tag on them, like driving children to school, cooking dinner, cleaning the bathroom and they end with a salary the housewife should earn.

While all this is important, there are other things a traditional woman does which can't be exactly measured, like providing a sympathetic ear, creating a nice and warm sphere at home, snuggling with her husband on the couch to watch his favourite movie, reading to her children, being there for her friends when they are in trouble, visiting an aged widowed aunt; in short providing comfort and attention to those around her. That's what women have done through the ages, even those who were wealthy and had servants to do their cleaning and cooking. Think about Jane Austen's Emma and the attention which she showed to her father. This is a sort of thing you can't put the price on.

And if we talk about spiritual duties, there is prayer and meditation and Bible studying and reading good books which give us positive examples and help us grow in our faith and encourage us in fulfilling our duties. It all takes time, too. Unfortunately, while prayer and Bible studies are at least still considered more or less important, spending too much time reading is viewed as frivolous and hardly important at all, as opposed to earning money and scrubbing the floors. I agree with the above-mentioned commenter (Housewife from Finland) that it's a pity!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Did Proverbs 31 Lady Really Exist?

Did Proverbs 31 woman really exist? Here is what John Gill, a famous Protestant Bible scholar from the 18th century has to say on the issue:

...the description (of this woman) is drawn up to such a pitch, and wrote in such strong lines, as cannot agree with any of the daughters of fallen Adam, literally understood; not with Bathsheba, the mother of Solomon; nor with the Virgin Mary...; nor indeed with any other; for though some parts of the description may meet in some, and others in others, yet not all in one; wherefore the mystical and spiritual sense of the whole must be sought after (emphasis mine).

Some by the "virtuous woman" understand the sensitive soul, subject to the understanding and reason, as Gersom; others the Scriptures, as Lyra, which lead to virtue, contain much riches in them, far above rubies; in which men may safely confide as the rule of their faith and practice; and will do them good, and not evil, continually. Others, "Wisdom", who in the beginning of this book is represented as a woman making provision for her household, and said to be more precious than rubies...

...many of the ancient Christian writers, as Ambrose, Bede, and others; and whoever compares Proverbs 31:28, with Song of Solomon 6:8, will easily see the agreement; and will be led to observe that Solomon wrote both, and had a view to one and the same person, the church of Christ, who is often represented by a "woman"...

It's interesting that he notes that if you take the passage literally, no mortal woman could be described in these terms, or simply put, it's a standard impossible to keep, and that some ancient Christian writers apparently agreed with the point of view that the chapter has a symbolical meaning only.  Of course, nowadays Proverbs 31 lady is often used to shame traditional housewives into "doing more", starting home businesses and other money-making pursuits (because nowadays only sex and money are considered important). 

John Gill continues:

...a woman, the weaker vessel, unable to do anything without him, yet everything through him: a "virtuous" one, inviolably chaste in her love and affection to Christ, her husband; steadfast in her adherence, to him by faith, as her Lord and Saviour; incorrupt in doctrine, sincere and spiritual in worship, retaining the purity of discipline, and holiness of life; and holding the mystery of faith in a pure conscience: or a "woman of strength"F21, valour, and courage, as the word signifies, when used of men...

So now let's look at his explanation of some of the more "feminist" verses of this chapter:

She is like the merchant ships,.... Not like a single one, but like a navy of them, that cross the seas, go to foreign parts, and come back laden with rich goods: so the church of Christ, and her true members, like ships of burden, trade to heaven, by prayer and other religious exercises, and return with the riches of grace and mercy, to help them in time of need; and though they have often difficult and dangerous passages, are tossed with tempests, and covered with billows; yet, Christ being their pilot, faith their sail, and hope their anchor, they weather the seas, ride out all storms, and come safe home with their merchandise; 

She considereth a field, and buyeth it,.... The field are the Scriptures, in which are hid the rich treasures of Gospel doctrines and promises; and the church, and all truly enlightened persons, consider to what use this field may be put, to what account it will turn; how profitable the Scriptures are, for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness; what a rich mine and valuable treasure is in them; things more desirable, and of greater worth, than thousands of gold and silver;

Unlike many modern Christians, he actually appears to think that true riches are spiritual, such as grace and mercy, and that they are of a greater worth than gold and silver.

...with the fruit of her hand she planteth a vineyard; her own vineyard, whose plants are an orchard of pomegranates, Song of Solomon 1:6; who through the ministry of the word, are planted in the house of the Lord, and flourish there; this the church is said to do by her ministers, who plant and water, as Paul and Apollos did, 1 Corinthians 3:6. And it is observable, that in the Hebrew text there is a double reading; the "Keri", or marginal reading, is feminine; but the "Cetib", or writing, is masculine; to show that she did it by means of men, she made use of in her vineyard for that service; it being, as Aben Ezra observes, not the custom and business of women to plant vineyards, but men.

Wait, it's getting more interesting. Apparently, even if you take the text at its face value, the Proverbs 31 lady used men to do the planting for her.

She perceiveth that her merchandise is good,.... That it turns to good account; that her trading to heaven is of great advantage; that she grows rich hereby; that her merchandise with Wisdom, or Christ, is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereby than fine gold...

Again Rev. Gill points out that there are pursuits nobler than acquisition of gold and silver.

She maketh fine linen, and selleth it,.... She not only seeks wool and flax, and spins it, but makes it up into fine linen, which she disposes of to advantage to herself and family. Kimchi saysF25, the word signifies coverings for the night, as well as day he seems to design linen sheets: the Arabic version adds, and "sells it to the inhabitants of Bosra." This, in the mystic sense, may signify either the good works the church does, and which she proposes as a pattern and example to her members; or divine instruction, as others, the preaching of the Gospel, and the truths of it; which she sells, and others buy, though both without money and without price; for, as she freely receives, she freely gives...

...and delivereth girdles unto the merchant; to dispose of them for her; either to sell to others, to the Egyptian priests which wore them; or for their own use, to put their money in, girdles being used for that purpose; see Gill on Matthew 10:9. Or, "a girdle to the Canaanite"F26; the Canaanites or Phoenicians being generally merchants, the word is put for one. By these may be meant ministers of the word...who trade for the good of souls, and seek not theirs, but them, and not their own things, but Christ's, may be called merchants: and to these "the girdle of truth" is given; and these the church exhorts to gird their loins with it, as well as all her members, that they may be ready to every good work, and particularly prepared to preach the Gospel of peace...

(Quoted from here)

I'd like to point out that if you interpret the text literally, as an instruction for modern wives on how to run the household, you'll have to deal with the problem of "maidens" who were in all probability slave girls or even concubines as OT didn't forbid polygamous marriage. It was one of the duties of the wife in such a household to oversee the work of the female servants or slaves who were put up to some productive labour, like making girdles, for instance (which the text doesn't mention she made herself) which were later delivered to the merchants for sale.

Polygamy is abolished in NT times, and instructions for Christian wives are much simpler:

I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house,
give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.
1Timothy 5:14

And, of course, Titus 2:

That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,
 To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. 

Making money from home isn't wrong or sinful, but it doesn't make one more spiritual or a better woman, either. There is more to life than material wealth.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Never Again!

Never again brother wars in Europe for the benefit of the elite! And remember that December is a Christmas month...

Monday, December 12, 2016

The Laziest Women In The World

The laziest women in the world live in...Sweden. Well, it wasn't that difficult:) They spend even less time doing daily work around the house that women in the USA, feminism notwithstanding - 95 vs 126 min. The most industrious housekeepers live in India and Mexico (though one can argue that it simply has to do with less industrialisation), followed by Turkey: respectively 298, 280 and 261 min. per day.

For the consolation of Swedish men, I'll note that at least, they do less housework than their Dutch and American counterparts (79 vs 83 vs 82) though our ladies still manage to spend about 2.5 hours per day cleaning. The three countries where the men do more than 100min housekeeping a day are Slovenia (114min), Denmark (107min) and Estonia (105min). Slovenian women still work nearly 100 min longer while the Danish are nearly equal in their chore division, with the women engaged in domestic activities only about half an hour longer than their men.

Of all Scandinavian countries, Norway appears to be the most sane sexist, with women doing twice as much as men (but still not enough - only 101 min.). Southern Europe is divided into more traditional countries, where ladies still know how to cook and clean, like Portugal and Italy. In Italy, women do more than three times the amount of housework than men (204 vs 57) while in Portugal, even though many women nowadays are full time employed, they do on average 253 min housework a day, while men do only 51min. That's what I call the work ethic!

Spain, on the other hand, is well...Their ladies do even less housework than the Dutch and it says a lot (127 min). Men, with 76 min. don't bother much, either. Compare it with the German and Austrian women who still know what the vacuum-cleaner looks like: respectively,  164 and 170min.

Finally, the Japanese have earned their reputation of being a sane and traditional society a disgusting patriarchy, women vs men: 199 vs 24 min.

Quoted from here.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

From The Home Front: Vacation Impressions

We've really had a great (albeit rather short) vacation this time. We drove away somewhere around noon, stopping on the way to visit a second-hand bookstore which still had a book I wanted to buy and arrived to our hotel on time after a rather uneventful journey. Then we got lucky again, as our room, though budget, was on the first floor and really provided us with a good view out of the window unlike last year, when we had stayed on the ground floor and stared at the parking place all the time.

The hotel was practically empty but people started arriving on Friday afternoon, and on Saturday it was really full.  The weather continued to be mild and rainy all through Friday and we actually ate outside and that on the 2nd of December! We also visited the two famous Christmas markets of Valkenburg situated in the caves (I'll post photos later). Here we got lucky yet again as on Saturday there was something like a 5-km line to enter one of them and we happily informed those asking questions about it that we'd already been inside and there had been virtually no one there (not entirely true, but sounded nice. Yes, we are mean...just a tiny bit:).

Saturday the weather started changing and there was frost on the ground. Luckily, we took some warm clothes. During breakfast the fire alarm went off. We all kept a stiff upper lip and continued eating as if nothing had happened - it didn't, really, they just had a faulty smoke detector. Half an hour later firemen arrived, looking very tough and macho in their gear. They provided a welcome distraction, with some folks going outside to snap pics of the fire engine. Their chief sent two guys to investigate and himself got involved in a lively conversation with the hotel's owner's wife, removing his helmet in the process. He proved to be just an ordinary middle-aged guy, not some superman - clothes do make a man after all:)

After breakfast we decided to visit Aachen, with great luck yet again had little trouble in parking our car. On the way to the center we visited a craft and a whiskey stores and some others. Arrived at the market at about 11.30 a.m. It was huge, it was full, and everybody was drinking mulled wine. My, do these Germans start early. It was full of tourists, too, including a bus of Islamic women all by themselves, without any man in sight. There were lots of security guys, too, but the sphere was warm and friendly, no machine guns in sight (unlike in la belle France where they use the army for patrolling the streets, or at least, they did when we went there).

We came back to our hotel, ate our lunch and decided to take a walk to Valkenburg instead of going by car. So we bravely climbed the mountain and about 1.5 hour later reached the city centre, marvelled at the amount of tourists, took pictures and in general, enjoyed ourselves. In the evening we came back yet again, for the Christmas parade. By this time it was like -4*C but the tourists weren't discouraged in the slightest, we had difficulty finding a place to watch. When we finally left, some (lady) folks were just starting to dance around in the streets. I hate to think what they might have come to later.

Next morning we were awoken by fire alarm at 8.15 a.m. though this time no firemen arrived. In the retrospect it was good, too, since the canteen was so full that those who came later had to eat their breakfast by the reception. Outside it was cold and glorious. We even had time to go for a walk before we left. And that's the gist of my vacation impressions:)

Monday, December 5, 2016

Vacation Pictures (Some Of)

In no particular order:

These all are from Valkenburg and its surroundings, I'll post the pics from Aachen and the caves as soon as I can get my husband send them from his phone to my computer:)