Friday, July 30, 2010

Simply Put

It is Simple.

For whatever peace you seek, establish order in that realm.
Before this...
To order that realm, acknowledge the need for governance.
And yet...
To know whose government it is, doubt your means of knowing.
Until now...
Your habits were your order.
They are not a means of knowing.
Your movements came from passions.
They are neither ordered nor a means of knowing.
The chaos that you made called for tyrants,
by their intent or yours,
by accident or by desperation.
What remains...
Your reason may read from
the revelation of the God,
(for He would know, would He not?)
and the reality that He made
(for that is what must be ordered).

What did they say?
Do you believe what was said?
Will you be governed?

Such is the Tao.
Let chaos chase the fool.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Royal Purple

Proverbs 31:21 She is not afraid of snow for her household,
for all her household are clothed in scarlet.

Women have a natural sense of jeopardy when subject to threats, and from threats arise fears. It is natural that institutions such as society, marriage and the church offer a degree of security regarding those threats. But it is not only these others that should sustain a woman from her fears. Her own efforts, doing what it takes to provide the “scarlet” clothes that are adequate to warm, have removed her fears. Were a woman to not rise to make this sort of contribution, she might think that her lack of provision highlights her husband's securing influence, thus she might revel in the romance of being a little “princess”. A woman’s fear can have a pervasive effect on her household, children especially. But her own work at resolving the threats she can, ameliorates those fears in her and in them. If she has cast all tasks back on her husband, her fears don’t necessarily vanish. Men have a way of being less than omnipotent. Her temptation (instead of a goodwife's resolve) is to turn her fears into frets which has its voice in nagging. A goodwife is the source of some part of the family's security and is certainly praiseworthy.

Proverbs 31:22 She makes herself coverings;
her clothing is fine linen and purple.

In the beating back of primal and survival fears, a goodwife runs up the score. Not only is her family warm, but she also takes care of her own appearance, and that in a rewarding fashion (pun intended). Whatever the economic level of a family, the wife should know that one of her tasks is the bedecking of herself as well as she can afford. God made women decorative and each should have the will and way to honor that intention. To some extent the new patriarchy/home school culture has drawn up a vision (stereotypes are not always true but are recognizable nonetheless) of some harmless drudge that, hopefully, no one notices. Just as her modesty of clothing ought not threaten the intimacy of the vow made to her husband, her fashion should enjoy the level and merit she inhabits in society. We will not have the Queen dressing like a charwoman. Dress with the glory you have earned. Advertise the glory of a goodwife.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

"A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver."

My golden daughter bought a new car, a Honda Fit.


A "helper fit" for more, this fitly was
And "fitly spoken" were its words and ways.
No "fits of rage" (when foaming fit undoes),
Could fit these new wayfaring days.

by Evan Wilson

Monday, July 12, 2010

"Your Handmaid is but a Servant to Wash the Feet of the Servants of my Lord."

Proverbs 31:20 She opens her hand to the poor, and reaches out her hands to the needy.

There are some "domestic accomplishment" wives who are not “Goodwives”. These women are just “can do” personalities—choleric fascists who work like Hercules cleaning out the Augean Stables. So far, so good. But (a crucial "but") they will have an ordered household that is in service not to husband, family or guests, but is a temple to which all those must come and worship, removing their shoes in obeisance. All others than herself must not benefit, relax, consume, wear-out, dirty the thing that she has made. I have seen plastic on the furniture. I have heard of rooms banned from family life.

Although verse 20 is not about domestic affairs, it measures the distinction between a good wife's ordered home and this other order. It is a reminder that when our hearts are in service they will choose to serve either others or ourselves. When the heart is in service to a husband and not in service to a private, unshared peace, that heart goes naturally to others as well, outsiders who have not. The goodwife's house is already an article of “service” to those who share that home and her wide reaching capabilities allow that heart to serve the needy. The productive “self-server” finds her own wants closer to her heart and can never find residual time or material to give.

Now it is also possible that a wife would be out and about serving the poor and fail to accomplish the first tier of her responsibility. The verse is not alone and has been preceded by her first calling, that of wife of a husband and potentially a mother of her children. Should a woman want to be in dominant service to the needy, then she should remain single that the calling of "lover of the home, husband and children" (from Titus) would not be an untouched arena of failure, but a reasonable avoidance of precedent claims. But if you marry, the heart that serves God first, and under such the husband second, will find herself eager to be doing good deeds beyond the home.

I Corinthians 7:34 And the unmarried woman or girl is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit; but the married woman is anxious about worldly affairs, how to please her husband.

Friday, July 09, 2010

"Spinning wheel got to go round"

Proverbs 31:19 She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle.

Spinning thread and weaving used to be a most basic task for women in keeping their households in clothes, tents, and rugs. This, thankfully, is no longer necessary. The principle, however, is the need for maintenance of mundane goods and conditions. Since you are on a computer reading this, you are probably middle-class, as am I. We are close enough to subsistence level that there are many tasks in a home which our lack of domestic staff leaves to us. With or without servants there are those domestic duties which need hands-on arrangement. Somebody has to do it. If the wife is at home (and I don't think she must be) the delegation of those mundanities has fallen to her. It is just like the husband's regular use of the car to go to work delegates the automotive maintenance to him. Because we do not have many layers of service below us, all of us need attend to slavish seeming actions to keep our ship-of-home afloat.

The Proverbial goodwife has already “sought the wool and flax” (v. 13), and her hands are taking this "bottom" of society's provisions, tedious as these can be, through to completion. This means remembering to buy toilet paper and aspirin, getting the stain out of junior’s pants, and wiping the counter once again.

I know that some gentle readers are asking themselves, "Can't her husband wipe something, for crying out loud?" Of course he can, just as she can fill the tank with gas on occasion. "Lighten up Francis." I even mentioned servants. I could have added children and a helpful husband without even a grimace of distaste. But the passage isn't talking about helpful husbands. It is talking about what a woman should consider about herself that she might be considered a goodwife. Does it suggest it or not? If it does, do you believe it? You have heard the standard, believed the standard, and are seeking to apply the standard. Let God judge the inconsiderate husband.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Profitess (Not a Misspelling)

Proverbs 31:18
She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night.

A wise woman is farsighted into the future of her household because she has observed the value of her past efforts. Her good sense sees not only the accomplishment of a task but the potential profit in the inventory of things she produces. While some goodwives actually make a product (be it food, art, clothing, etc.) whose retail value is measure in dollars, all goodwives allow their work to be a profit. Each husband of such women see their fief increase through the creativity of their wife. The reputation of the family, the grace of the home, and the husbands standing as a man is being made by his wife's recognition that she is building a wide array of profit. All this collects as a value in her mind, be she making curtains, cookies, or the good will of her guests and family. It is not drudgery and “make work” for the little woman to keep her set aside in the harem. She sees a pile of wealth that sprang from her hands, and although she got up earlier than everyone else, she is reluctant to let another day end while she could still profit her husband. She is certainly, as goodwife, a "helper fit" for the kingdom her husband builds, and all the while, as she makes her contribution to his gain, the strength she gave returns to her as a more secure world.