Tag Archives: Women’s studies

Marvel's #Avengers, Religion and Gender #whedony

Maria Hill

“You have the Blue Stick of Destiny.”

The world of comic books and the world of religion, which in my own personal context, is Christianity, have a lot of similarities. You have your political ideologues: Hawkman, he’s a conservative, and Green Arrow (yuck!) he’s a progressive liberal; Superman, according to The Optymyst, he’s moderate (I think that’s b.s., but I digress). In “The Church,” we have our conservative Bibles and books (the English Standard Version and almost every book sold at LifeWay Christian stores) as well as our “liberal” Bibles: the highly accurate 😉 New Revised Standard Version that’s seen as more gender-inclusive, and most books sold at Cokesbury stores.

When it comes to comic book movies, this gender bias is even more apparent. Last year, as we all know from the Optymyst’s review of it, DC Comics rebooted its comic book universe with the new 52, but working with Nielson, they acknowledged that this reboot ignored women comic book fans (see the post linked) for more details. AMC has even started a t.v. series, Comic Book Men, but it should really be titled Comic Book White Men.

One of things I was well aware of with Joss Whedon writing the story for Marvel’s The Avengers movie was the manly man image of the four characters, the Hulk, Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America. In all five of the previous Avengers’ movies leading up to this one where they are actually a team, women are nothing more than mascots, serving as the girlfriends or damsels in distress (Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor, and Captain America: The First Avenger). Both times as I watched Avengers in theatres, it was fun to see how Whedon negotiated his preference for strong female kick-a$% protagonists (ala Buffy from Buffy the Vampire Slayer as well as River Tam of Firefly). Cobie Smulders as Maria Hill and Scarlett Johanson as Natasha Romanov (aka Black Widow) were the typical Whedonesque strong women fighters I expected them to be. However, also Joss Whedon’s interpretation of Iron Man/Tony Stark played by Robert Downey Jr., as well as Captain America/Steve Rogers, portrayed by Chris Evans were equally provocative gender-wise, especially as it pertains to humor.  Tony Stark mocks Loki when L tries to use the alien scythe to make Stark into his personal zombie with the comment, “Performance issues are natural,” as a way of demasculinizing our foe.

The most powerful image in favor of gender equality were the screen shots of the general population of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents; in order to compensate for the four super manly men soldiers on the big screen, Joss went in the direction of representation wherever he could, and I think it works.  Unlike the comic book industry or the church, Joss knows that most of the most active participants in the Whedonite community are women.

Perhaps DC Comics, Marvel Comics, Christianity, and other religions would do well to follow Whedon’s lead and see to it that more women are placed in leadership positions.

“Ma’am. There’s only One God, and he does not dress like that!”

 

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Zilpha Elaw: 19th Century Inerrantist for Abolition and Women’s Ordination

I have perhaps become a little infamous for my negative theology and criticisms of the Chicago Statement on Inerrancy. If people think that my outright rejection of this statement makes me a heretic, then so be it. I could care less about that label anyhow.

It’s a shame that some of the best “defenders” of orthopraxis/orthodoxy and of evangelical orientation are ignored because they are either northerners, people of color, or women. In this case, Zilpha was all three (she was born in Philly in about 1790). As I was reading and re-reading through Zilpha Elaw’s Memoirs last week, I found some interesting and even new theological possibilities with her views. Although she claims at one point in the book that it was just the Lord and her doing it all alone; it is far from the truth, in fact, the very same page she makes such a claim, she goes on to tell the story of how she was discipled by the Methodist tradition. In fact, the noun Methodist appears every hundred words in her autobiography (that’ called an overexaggeration and a joke, people). Honestly, I found her allegorical interpretation Scripture re-freshing (she was living during the early 19th century). Concerning the Bible, she says,

“it is the high privilege of those who are begotten by the Word of truth [re:Christ] to read the Scriptures, not as the word of man, but as they are indeed, the Word of God, a sacred volume, the production of the infinite God […]”

(page 133)

Granted, given her stances of being pro-abolition of slavery and pro-women’s ordination (both issues I will deal with in later posts), for her to hold a definition of the Bible as the Word of God, with Jesus being the Word would be considered quite peculiar, especially in the Slave states of the U.S. where inerrantist Christians were both staunchly pro-African enslavement and anti-women’s ordination.

What to make of all of this? First, I would say that Zilpha Elaw has a superior definition of Scripture’s function compared to today’s run of the mill conservative evangelical in the United States. The key to the Bible for Zilpha Elaw was not human rationality (re: male/phallocentric reason) but the Holy Spirit who allows us to partake in the Intelligence of the Triune God. For Elaw, Scripture was not about lording our particular doctrines and traditions over each other (I am saving that for another post too), but for the purpose of becoming “increasingly assimilated to the same image, from one degree of glory to another, as by the Spirit of the Lord” (Ibid). Her doctrine of assimilation rings so much of Clement of Alexandria for me (I could not help it!). I think an appropriate, tentative phrasing of a definition of Zilpha Elaw’s view of the Scriptures, similar to John Calvin< and Zwingli/a> as trustworthy would be this, “That the Bible does not err in that it leads us to all things necessary for sanctification.” Close to Calvin, just replacing salvation with sanctification, since that was a big part of Elaw’s Holiness theology.

I know what you are thinking. What about women’s ordination? What about Elaw’s anti-slavery arguments? How did Zilpha Elaw feel about men who gossip too much? And just why did she consider the Founding Fathers to be apostates? I will get to them in the near future, but for now, I just wanted to introduce her to you.

For more, read Zilpha’s story in William L. Andrews’ Sisters of the Spirit.

March: For Lent, NCAA Hoops, & Women’s History Month

Or Should I call this Can The Subaltern Blog, redux?

Back in November 2009, there was a fuss of sorts in the biblioblogosphere where bloggers took sides in the debate on whether or not the Biblioblogs was gender exclusive. I remember arguing in the post linked above “Can The Subaltern Blog?” that to the extent that institutional Christianity excludes women from pulpits and biblical studies in general, that the heavily Christian Biblio-blogs will thus take on the same gender exclusion.

I am not trying to conjure up old ghosts, but I guess what I am trying to say, is that I admit failing today on my part to be “dedicated to anti-sexist movements within Christianity.” Even though I am one to intentionally use inclusive language when referencing to God and humanity, I am far from perfect, and perhaps my traditional views of marriage may see problematic for some, but that’s for another day

Earlier this afternoon I returned home to read a comment left by Kurk Gayle, who raised such interesting points, it bears repeating on this post, as  I have his permission.

My original post re-posting the February 2011 Biblical studies Carnival said the following,

“I must say, while back Deane Gailbrath did perhaps one of the best biblical studies carnivals of all time, but Matthew Crowe’s perhaps has made one of the most inclusive.”

Kurk made the following case against my remark, which I subsequently edited (I know when I have been corrected),

“It’s most inclusive if your name is

Adam Couturier
Andy Rowell
Ben Myers
Ben Myers
Bill Heroman
Bill Heroman
Bill Heroman
Bill Heroman
Bill Heroman
Bill Heroman
Bill Heroman
Blake White
Bob Cargill
Bob Cargill
Bob Cargill
Bob Cargill,
Brian Fulthrop
Brian LePort
Brian LePort
Brian LePort
Brian LePort
Brian LePort
Brian LePort
Brian LePort
Christian Brady
Christopher Hays
Claude Mariottini
Claude Mariottini
Claude Mariottini
Claude Mariottini
Claude Mariottini.
Dan Wallace
Daniel Kirk
Daniel Kirk
Daniel Kirk
Daniel Kirk
Daniel Kirk
Daniel Kirk
Daniel Kirk
Daniel Kirk
Daniel Kirk
Daniel Kirk
Daniel Kirk
Daniel Kirk
Daniel Kirk
Daniel O. McClellan
Danny Pierce
Darrell Pursiful
Darrell Pursiful
David Stark
Derek Leman
Dirk Jongkind
Doug Chaplin
Doug Chaplin
Doug Chaplin
Doug Chaplin
Doug Chaplin
Doug Chaplin
Duane Smith
Ferrell Jenkins
Gavin Rumney
Ian Young
James “Casanova” McGrath
James McGrath
James McGrath
James McGrath
James McGrath
Jason Staples
Jeremiah Bailey
Jeremy Thompson
Jeremy Thompson
Jim Linville
Jim Linville
Jim West
Jim West
Jim West
Jim West
Jim West
Jim West
Jim West
Jim West
Jim West
Jim West
Joel
Joel Watts
Joel Watts
Joel Watts
Joel Watts
Joel Watts
Joel Watts
John Byron
John Byron
John Byron
John Byron
John Byron
John Byron
John Cook
John Hobbins
John Hobbins
John Hobbins
John Hobbins
John Hobbins
John Hobbins.
John Hobbins.
Joshua Smith
JP
Ken Schenck
Ken Schenck
Kevin Brown
Kevin Brown
Kevin Brown
Kevin Brown
Kevin Brown
Kevin DeYoung
Larry Hurtado
Larry Hurtado
Larry Hurtado
Larry Hurtado
Larry Hurtado
Marc Cortez
Marc Cortez
Marc Cortez
Marc Cortez
Mark Goodacre
Mark Goodacre
Mark Stevens
Mark Stevens
Matthew Malcolm
Matthew Malcolm
Matthew Malcolm
Matthew Malcolm
Matthew Malcom
Matthew Montonini
Michael Barber
Michael Barber
Michael Barber
Michael Barber
Michael Bird
Michael Bird
Michael Bird
Michael Bird
Michael Heisler
Michael Horton.
Mike Aubrey
Mike Aubrey
Mike Duncan
Neil Godfrey
Nick Norelli
Nick Norelli
Nick Norelli
Nick Norelli
Pat Roach
Peter Enns
Peter Enns
Philip Davies
Richard Beck
Robert Holmstedt
Rod Decker
Rod Decker
Rod Decker
Rod Decker
Rodney Thomas
Rodney Thomas
Rodney Thomas
Rodney Thomas
Rodney Thomas
Rodney Thomas
Sean Tabatt
Sean the Baptist
Seth Rodriquez
Shaun Tabatt
Steve Wiggins
Steven Robinson
T. C. Robinson
T.C. Robinson
T.C. Robinson
T.C. Robinson
Tim Bulkeley
Tom Verenna
Tom Verenna
Tommy Wasserman
Tommy Wasserman

“Rachel Evans invited ministers to tell the truth…about a lot.”

But to tell the truth, and sorry to hijack your post here Rodney, but just only including Rachel Evans among all these men only is hardly “most inclusive.”

Apparently, my errors have prompted Kurk to start blogging once again at Aristotle’s Feminist Subject. YEAH! GO ME!

Kurk’s criticism of me has inspired me for this Lenten season. I had been contemplating what to give up for Lent. No I am not joining Kevin of Diglotting in giving up biblio-blogging this Lenten season.

Instead, I think I will “give up” KYRIARCHY, in that I will try as much as possible in the area of blogging to reject my male privilege and use sources that are written by women during this Lenten season. In addition, I will try to make it a habit to link primarily to theo-blogs by women, and I’ll leave to your imagination what my next two ballots for the Bibliobloggers Top 10. Henceforth, I also give up my use of the oh so problematic term “empire of God“; although it may be accurate, it is no better than the “kingdom of God [thanks, KJV writers!] so I will try to find a better term, I am leaning towards either administration (theological accuracy, bureaucracy, angels, etc) or commonwealth.

Happy Women’s History Month. Let’s hope WHM trends on Twitter.