Humanity in Print

1815 June 10. "I cannot live without books."(TJ to John Adams, Cappon.2.443)

Monday, March 05, 2007

Baking for Crystal

Double Blueberry Oat Bran Waffles (8 servings)
1 cup nonfat vanilla yogurt
1/2 cup skim milk
2 large eggs, separated
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 tsp. lemon extract
1/2 cup oat bran
1 cup all purpose flour
3 tbsp. granulated sugar (not bad huh ;) )
1 tsp. baking powder
pinch of salt
1 3 ounce package dried blueberries

wild blueberry preserves for garnish.

1. Preheat non-stick waffle iron and spray cooking surface with cooking spray.
2. Beat together yogurt, milk , egg yoks, oil and lemon extract in large mixing bowl. Stir in bran, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In separate bowl, beat egg whites until stiff. Fold egg whites into yogurt-flour mixture. Then fold in dried blueberries.
3. Spoon about 3/4 cup batter onto waffle iron.


Vegan Banana-Berry Muffins* (*You can substitute different types of fruit)
2 cups flour (unbleached)
1 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup mashed bananas
1/2 cup. maple syrup or honey
6 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. lemon extract
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup frozen blueberries, raspberries or cranberries

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking poweder, baking soda, and salt.
2. In m edium bowl, combine remaining ingredients, except berries. pour this into flour mixture and stir until combined. (Do not stir any longer, or they will be tough)
3. Add berries and stir to distribute them throughout the batter. Spoon the batter into greased muffin tins to 2/3 full. (You can use liners)
4. Bake for about 20 minutes. Makes 8 to 10 muffins.


Peanut Butter Balls
1/2 cup low fat granola
2 tbsp. brown sugar
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup finely shredded carrots
3/4 cup peanut butter

1. Combine all ingredients except peanut butter in a bowl. Set aside.
2. Heat peanut butter in the microwave for 45 seconds to soften, or heat in a small saucepan on the stovetop.
3. Add peanut butter to granola mixture and stir to combine.
4. Let the mixture cool, and roll into small balls.

Makes 12.

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Friday, February 10, 2006

Theocratic Dominionism and the Ideals of Christian Reconstructionism

Sound complicated? It kind of is. However the importance of the ideas to the movement and the ease in which they seem to be accepted is disturbing at the very least. The resilience of the movement despite the fall of Jerry Falwell’s ‘Moral Majority’ and Pat Robertson’s descent into lunacy is remarkable. After Robertson’s failed presidential bid in the 1980’s a chunk of the movement broke off and exerted itself on the grassroots level.

Many who are a part of this movement are unaware they hold Reconstructionist ideas. Reconstructionism essentially seeks to replace democracy with theocratic elite who would rule according to an individual interpretation of “Biblical Law,” that would apply to all areas of life; government, education, law, and the arts. The movement developed from conservative Presbyterianism that adheres to the application of laws in the Old Testament. When I say that they would eliminate democracy, I mean that to encompass many of the derivatives of democracy, including labor unions, civil rights laws, public education and a fair amount of the public infrastructure in general. The new society would feature minimal to no national government, social services, education or healthcare. Taxes and currency would exist essentially on the county level. Citizens would have delegated roles that if disobeyed could result in heavy punishment.

Reconstructionists believe that there are three areas of rule: family, church, and civil. Families are run like a business. The husband is the head of his family, all others are to be “in submission” to him. The husband submits only to Jesus and God’s laws (Old Testament). Civil government exists merely to implement God’s laws. The idea that all three are relegated under Biblical law is referred to as Theonomy.

When I first started reading into the movement, I thought for sure, the roots extended for generations, and that it was a consensus of many that had formed their theories. It turns out that wasn’t the case.

The defining text of Reconstructionism was a 1973 800-page explanation of the Ten Commandments by Rousas John Rushdoony. Gary North, Rushdoony’s son-in-law, wrote the appendix on the subject of “Christian Economics.” Both Rushdoony and theologian Rev. Greg Bahnsen were pupils of the labeled founder, Cornelius Van Til, though Van Til himself was never a Reconstructionist. Gary North believed that Van Til stopped short of proposing Reconstruction. Van Til wrote that man is not autonomous and that all rationality is inseparable from faith in God and the Bible, the Reconstructionists go further and set a course of world conquest or “dominion” claiming a Biblically prophesied “inevitable victory.” 1

Central to the belief that “Biblical Law” applies to civic government is capital punishment. Leaders (Rushdoony, North, Bahnsen) advocate the death penalty for many crimes. In addition to rape, murder, and kidnapping, they advocate death as punishment for apostasy, heresy, homosexuality, incest, witchcraft, astrology, adultery, striking a parent, and “incorrigible juvenile delinquency. For women, “unchastity before marriage” or having an abortion would mean death. Rev. Ray Sutton claims people would flock to these theocracies because “capital punishment is one of the best evangelistic tools of a society.” Aside from the death penalty, other punishments include burning (at the stake), stoning, hanging, or “the sword.” North Elaborates elaborates in the Sinai Strategy: Economics and the Ten Commandments that “The fifth and by far the most important reason is that stoning is literally a means of crushing the murderer’s head by means of a rock, which is symbolic of God. This is analogous to the crushing of the head of the serpent in Genesis 3:15. This symbolism testifies to the final victory of God over all the hosts of Satan. Stoning is therefore integral to the commandment against murder.” He goes on to elaborate that stones are plentiful, cheap and convenient. Punishments for non-capital crimes involve whipping, restitution (indentured servitude), or slavery.

You often hear Reconstructionists speak of the need for large uninhibited families “being raised for the glory of God.” You also hear parents raising “an army of Children for Christ” or similar. There is reasoning to this too. Although varied, Reconstructionists believe that a time will come when the “Kingdom” will overtake democracy or “secular rule.” They believe that the future of their movement lies with the Christian Homeschooling movement. Seeking to abolish the secular world view they believe pervades public education, they believe that a theocratic republic will not be possible until a vast majority of Christians pull their children out of public schools. However, many homeschool advocates believe in infiltrating the public schools despite their own children’s absence from them. Robert Thoburn of Fairfax Christian School (VA) advocates that parents run for school boards and city government in order to fulfill the goal of “sinking the ship.”

Women would exist in home or home education and would be banished from government. Leader Joseph Morecraft asserts that only men would hold say in government and that voting or holding office would be limited to males from Biblically correct churches. Democracy and civil rights would be replaced by a system of self-serving discrimination. He advocates, “An employer has a property right to prefer whom he will in terms of color, creed, race, or national origin.”
A Reconstructed Theonomy may never happen. More importantly I wanted to point out, in some small way the tremendous influence the ideas have, and how more often then not, adherents don’t realize the beliefs or their magnitude. What is disguised brilliantly as “biblical womanhood and manhood” has deeper roots, deeper meaning, and a history.
1 Berlet, Chip. “Eyes Right! Challenging the Right Wing Backlash.”
Boston, MA: South End Press, 1995.

North, Gary. “Westminster’s Confession.”
Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1991.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Walby, Sylvia. Theorizing Patriarchy.
Basil Blackwell. 1990

Why are women disadvantaged compared to men? Has this inequality been reduced in recent years? What difference, if any, does the increase in women's employment make to other areas of women's lives? Is this sexual double standard a thing of the past? Are contemporary forms of femininity as restricting as those in the past? Is it useful to talk of 'femininity' as if it had one form? Is the increase in the divorce rate a sign of women's independence or men's flight from family responsibilities?

This brings excellent argument. So often in Christian Right circles, the failures or trials of the family are pegged as women's responsibilities, and their refusal to submit to one particular lifestyle. What about men? What about the failures of men to live up to expectations and responsibilities. The book Theorizing Patriarchy covers six areas of focus: paid work, housework, culture, sexuality, violence, and the state.

In the United States, debate exists between radical feminism and liberal feminism. There has been an attempt to synthesize Marxist feminism and radical feminism in a dual systems theory.

Radical feminism is distinguished by its analysis of gender inequality in which men as a group dominate women as a group and are the main beneficiaries of the subordination of women. This system of domination, called patriarchy, does not derive from any other system of social inequality; for instance, it is not a by-product of capitalism. The relationship of patriarchy to class inequality and racism is addressed in different ways among radical writers

Radical feminist writers introduce a range of issues into social science which have conveniently not been considered to be part of an analysis of social inequality. Even personal aspects of life are seen as part of this as the slogan 'the personal is political' indicates. The question of who does the housework, or who interrupts whom in conversation, is seen as a part of the system of male domination.

There are differences between radical feminists over the basis of male supremacy, but often this is considered to involve the appropriation of women's sexuality and bodies, while in some accounts male violence is seen as the root cause (e.g., Brownmiller, 1976; Firestone, 1974; Rich, 1980). Sexual practice is seen to be socially constructed around male notions of desire, not women's. Further, sexuality is seen a sa major site of male domination over women, through which men impose their notion of femininity on women. Heterosexuality is socially institutionalized in contemporary society and organizes many other aspects of gender relations. Male violence against women, unlike the conventional view which holds that rape and battering are isolated instances caused by psychological problems in a few men.

The main problems that critics have raised about radical feminism are a tendency to essentialism, to an implicit or explicit biological reductionism, and to a false universalism which cannot understand historical change or take sufficient account of divisions between women based on ethnicity and class. This issue will be dealt with in detail within the examination of Firestone's account of reproduction in the chapter on household.

Marxist feminnist analysis differes from that of radical feminism especially in considering gender inequality to derive from capitalism, and not to be contstituted as an independent system of patriarchy. Men's dominations over women is a by-product of capital's domination over labour. Class relations and the economic exploitation of one class by another are central features of social structure, and these determine the nature of gender relations.

The critical site of women's oppression also varies between Marxist feminists. Often it is the family which is seen as the basis as a consequence of the need of capital for women's domestic labor in the home. (e.g., Seccombe, 1974). Other focus on the ideological rather than material level.

The family is considered to benefit capital by providing a cheap way of providing the day-to-day care of workers, such as food and clean clothes, and for producing the next generation of workers. It is cheap because women as housewives do this for no wage, merely receiving maintenance from their husbands. Thus capital benefits from the unequal sexual division of labor within the home.

Other Marxist feminists have argued for a less economistic analysis of both capitalism and gender relations (e.g., barrett, 1980O. Gender relations are seen as importantly constituted by discourses of masculinity and femininity which are not immediately reducible to the economic relations of capitalism.

Some Marxist feminists retain a materialist analysis of class relations and combine this with an analysis of gender relations in terms of ideology and culture.

The main problem raised by critics about Marxist feminism is that it is too narrowly focused on capitalism, being unable to deal with gender inequality in pre- and post-capitalist societies, and that it incorrectly reduces gender inequality to capitalism, rather than recognizing the independence of the gender dynamic.

Liberalism differs from both the above in not having an analysis of women's subordination in terms of such overarching social structures, but rather conceives this as the summation of numerous small-scale deprivations.

While there is no one basis of women's disadvantage, there are two major foci of analysis. Firstly, the denial of equal rights to women in education and in employment are often important concerns (e.g., Kanter 1977>. Women's disadvantaged position is related to specific details of prejudice against women. This is often combined with a second theme, that of sexist attitudes which act to sustain the situation. Attitudes are analysed as traditional and unresponsive to recent changes in real gender relations.

This approach has often generated empirical studies about gender relations which provide important information that can be analysed in a variety of ways. They provide extensive documentation of the lives of women. For instance, some of the major surveys of women's employment and the domestic division of labor might be considered to fall within this category (Martin and Robertts, 1984; Pahl, R.E., 1984)

Liberal feminism is often criticized for its faillure to deal with the deep-rootedness of gender inequality and the interconnectedness between its different forms. For instance, the origin or reasons for persistence of patriarchal attitudes are not systematically addressed. In short the absence of an account of the overall social structuring of gender inequality gives rise to a series of partial accounts.

This does not exhaust the forms of feminist argument. For instance, there are attempts both to synthesize different forms of feminist analysis, and to synthesize feminist analysis with other mainstream frameworks.

Thursday, October 06, 2005


first a quote...

1816 Jan. 9. "This keeps me at the drudgery of the writing-table all the prime hours of the day, leaving for the gratification of my appetite for reading, only what I can steal from the hours of sleep. Could I reduce this epistolary corvée within the limits of my friends and affairs, and give the time redeemed from it to reading and reflection, to history, ethics, mathematics, my life would be as happy as the infirmities of age would admit." (TJ to Charles Thomson, Writings, p. 1373)