When Thor was a Woman

I hear rumors that Marvel Comics is making Thor into a girl.  Details are scarce, but apparently, all of Thor’s powers are contained in Thor’s hammer.  If you pick up the hammer and are worthy, you become Thor.  And that masculine pronoun (“HE who is worthy…”) inscribed on the hammer?  Well, that is just the way people talked in the dark days before feminists starting trying to neutralize the language.

I polled my kids on the subject, and they are in agreement that this is just wrong.  We don’t have a problem with women wielding hammers, but Thor is a dude.  Besides, a change like this, if it moves from the comic books into the movies, could deprive Chris Hemsworth of several million dollars, and I shudder to think of where it leaves Natalie Portman.

But, as I tell my kids, when I was their age, Thor did engage in a bit of gender bending.  Here is something he did that found its way into  Bullfinch’s Mythology:

Once upon a time it happened that Thor’s hammer fell into the possession of the giant Thrym, who buried it eight fathoms deep under the rocks of Jotunheim.  Thor sent Loki to negotiate with Thrym, but he could only prevail so far as to get the giant’s promise to restore the weapon if Freya would consent to be his bride.  Loki returned and reported the result of his mission, but the goddess of love was quite horrified at the idea of bestowing her charms on the king of the Frost giants.

In this emergency Loki persuaded Thor to dress himself in Freya’s clothes and accompany him to Jotunheim.  Thrym received his veiled bride with due courtesy, but was greatly surprised at seeing her eat for her supper eight salmons and a full grown ox, besides other delicacies, washing the whole down with three tuns of mead.  Loki, however, assured him that she had not tasted anything for eight long nights, so great was her desire to see her lover, the renowned ruler of Jotunheim.  Thrym had at length the curiosity to peep under his bride’s veil, but started back in affright and demanded why Freya’s eyeballs glistened with fire.   Loki repeated the same excuse and the giant was satisfied.  He ordered the hammer to be brought in and laid on the maiden’s lap.  Thereupon Thor threw off his disguise, grasped his redoubted weapon, and slaughtered Thrym and all his followers.

I doubt that you could make this story into a 2 hour movie, but it could be entertaining, and Loki would have a chance to be the “good guy.”

Churchill and Jeremiah

For my light bedtime reading, I have been going through Winston Churchill’s 6-volume set on World War II.

Meanwhile, for my daily Bible reading, I had been reading Jeremiah. I finished Jeremiah at about the same time as Hitler took over France.  The contrasts are interesting.

Churchill, of course, is famous for saying “Never Give up.” The first two volumes of his work show him urging preparation for war, and then, taking the reigns after Hitler took Norway, fighting a desperate battle with Nazi Germany, even though the British were completely alone and unprepared for war.

But Jeremiah’s message is, essentially, “Give up.” The Babylonians were sent as God’s judgement on Judah, and they were going to kick Judah’s butt. The people of Judah should recognize this, and then repent. Repentance did not mean going to the Temple, saying “I’m sorry”, getting really religious, and then expecting to win their next battle. It meant surrendering to Babylon, and letting them do their thing, which was going to mean that many people from Judah were getting a one way trip to Babylon, where they were supposed to pray for the city, build houses, raise families, and eventually be allowed to return to Judah.  To show his faith in this eventuality, Jeremiah bought a field, which some heir of his would eventually inherit.

The people in Jerusalem heard Jeremiah’s message, but they did not listen.  They decided to “get religion” instead, and keep fighting, until they lost, and Nebuchadnezzar put a governor over them.  Then they assassinated their governor, assuring themselves of more wrath from Babylon.  Instead of giving up, they fled to Egypt, against Jeremiah’s word from God, where Nebuchadnezzar would still catch up to them.

Somewhere in the middle of this reading I thought that the problem with Judah is that Babylon was not their real enemy. God was their enemy, and Babylon was just the weapon in God’s hand, much like Thor’s hammer. And then, around chapter 50, I see this:

How the hammer of the whole earth has been cut apart and broken!
How Babylon has become a desolation among the nations!” (Jeremiah 50:23)

Babylon had been a hammer, and in fact it was the hammer that God used to beat down the nations.  Israel’s problem was not with the hammer but with God who wielded it.  But by Chapter 50 of Jeremiah, the hammer was going to be cast aside.

Is there a point to all this?  Perhaps.

When you are fighting Nazis, “Never give up” is good advice, and you should expend all necessary “blood, toil, sweat, and tears” to win your battle.

But when you are fighting Babylonians, you need to look beyond the immediate problem and see what your real problem is.

An Unintentional Compliment to the Pro-Lifers

Recently, a video appeared, and started to go viral, of some pro-life demonstrators in Columbus, Ohio being assaulted by a rather disturbed young woman. The video is here, but be warned, it contains some very bad language:

In fact, she uses most of the common swear words as nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, and conjunctions, and all in the two minutes before the police arrived to arrest her.  She also used big mean names like “Racist”, “Misogynist”, and “Privileged white male”, which indicate that before her Burger King gig, she might have gotten at least a D- in Feminist Theory at the local community college.  (Actually, grades are a masculinist tool of oppression – she might have gotten a B.)  Now she is facing charges, and her chances of making assistant manager at Burger King are considerably reduced.  On the plus side, tens of thousands of Christians saw this video and said at least a quick prayer for her immortal soul (I highly recommend this course of action – she doesn’t seem like someone for whom life is going well), so making an idiot of herself may actually be bringing her closer to the Kingdom.

So how should the average pro-life Christian react to this sort of abuse?  Some people will answer this question by asking the question “What Would Jesus Do?”  But this is rather tricky, because the answer is not obvious.  The answer could involve being silent before one’s accusers, or it could involve chasing someone with a whip.

I suggest that we start by thanking people like her for their obvious high opinion of us.

“But wait,” you say.  “She just called a teenage kid a “racist, misogynist M#*@%@#% A@*#&$.”  Then she attacked a guy, and she piled on more verbal abuse, until she reached the limits of her very limited vocabulary.  How is that a compliment?” You say.

Let’s look a bit beyond the words.  Mean people do mean stuff because they think they can get away with it.  Let’s say she was mad at a great big tattooed biker dude.  Do you think she would slap him?  I doubt it.  She would not trust the man to be a gentleman and not hit a lady.  If she judged wrong, she might soon find out whether her insurance plan covered dental emergencies.  So she would shut her mouth.

And you noticed that she used the word “misogynist” a lot.  Let’s suppose she found herself in a really misogynistic place, like Saudi Arabia, for example, where they don’t let women drive.  Or Afghanistan, where a large portion of the population doesn’t like the radical Western idea of girls going to school.  Do you think she would talk like that to the religious police?  Heck no, she would cover her face and be quiet.

By her verbal abuse, she shows that she doesn’t really believe half of the nasty things that she is saying.  She is affirming that she believes that we “right-wing misogynist, racist, M@#*#$@ A@$*#$s” (I’m sorry if I spelled those words wrong) won’t do anything much more dangerous than turn the other cheek and maybe pray for her.  She actually believes that we will follow The Sermon on the Mount, and not return evil for evil.  I am not sure most pro-lifers believe that about ourselves.  Many of us would be sorely tempted to hog-tie this woman and wash her mouth with soap.  Apparently she thinks more highly of us than we do of ourselves.

Somewhere in that Sermon on the Mount, it says “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.  Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

If you are a sheep, they say things like this about you, and tacitly admit that you are a sheep.  If they thought you were a wolf, they would act a bit more scared.

So rejoice.

The Cowbird

Nature is full of wonders, and we can learn many lessons from it. Remember what King Solomon, or one of his research assistants, said.

“Go to the ant, O sluggard: consider her ways and be wise.

Without having any chief, officer, or ruler,

She prepares her bread in summer, and gathers her food in harvest.”

Not all of the lessons from nature are good, of course.  After all, we are not urged to consider the alligator, who eat their young, The cowbird is another creature we do well not to imitate.

The cowbird, we are told, lives on a diet of insects, especially those that are stirred up by cattle as they move around.  This is a great way to find bugs, but there is a problem.  Since herds of cattle are always on the move, the cowbird also has to be on the move.  This creates a severe day care problem for creatures that build nests to raise their young.  Penguin parents solve this problem through great self-sacrifice on the part of both parents.

Mama cowbird, however, has found a much easier solution.  She watches other birds, and when another bird is nesting, the female cowbird lays her eggs in its nest.  The host birds are “stupid” enough to raise the baby cowbird (this is not a voluntary adoption – the cowbird is bigger than its hosts, so it is rather like adopting a gorilla), who often bullies their own chicks and hogs all their food.   The Burgess Bird Book for Children, from which I learned about cowbirds long ago, tells an anthropomorphized story about Sally Sly the Cowbird here.  Thornton W. Burgess was born in the 19th century and  apparently did not approve of the cowbird’s antics, or of the false compassion of the host, but he did not know the whole story either.

With more modern scientific research, we find that maybe the host birds are not so stupid.  Hosts who accept the cowbird eggs are “left alone” by the cowbirds, and some of their young might possibly survive growing up with their bullying big sibling.  But for hosts who push out the cowbird eggs, an “unfortunate accident” often occurs to the host bird’s nest.   A little scientific sleuthing suggests that the parent cowbirds are at fault, as the following article suggests.  (Only the abstract will load for me:  I think the article is behind a paywall.)

Retaliatory mafia behavior by a parasitic cowbird favors host acceptance of parasitic eggs.

…Here we present experimental evidence of mafia behavior in the brown-headed cowbird (Molothrus ater), a widely distributed North American brood parasite. We manipulated ejection of cowbird eggs and cowbird access to predator-proof nests in a common host to test experimentally for mafia behavior. When cowbird access was allowed, 56% of “ejector” nests were depredated compared with only 6% of “accepter” nests. No nests were destroyed when cowbird access was always denied or when access was denied after we removed cowbird eggs, indicating that cowbirds were responsible…

Often I hear the birds singing and squawking, and I wonder what they are trying to tell each other.

In the case of the cowbird, they might be saying, “Nice nest you got there.  It would be terrible if something happened to it.”

A Car For Susan

Yes, another one of my wonderful children has just turned 16.  Susan, being the kind of daughter that she is, had studied for her learner’s permit test for the last two months, and she arranged to take the test on her 16th birthday.  Naturally, she passed.  The only question she got wrong was the one that asked “how much sleep does a teenager need each night?”  In case you are wondering, the answer is 8, and sleeping in class does not count toward the total.

We are short on cars in this household, so now I have to think of what kind of car I want for Susan’s training and eventual long-term use.

From looking at her, you might think that she wants one of these:

pink vw

It is small, cute, and pink, and it will be easy to parallel park.  But her inner princess is in hiding, and a little vehicle like isn’t safe enough for my daughter.  Besides, I am NOT getting into the passenger seat of that Barbie-mobile to teach her how to drive a stick shift.  So then I thought she should drive something that has lots of protective metal on it, and that will command respect from the other drivers.  Like this:

armored hummer

Of course, parallel parking this beast will be difficult, the gas mileage will be awful, and the artillery piece (or perhaps rocket launcher?) on top might not be street legal except maybe in Texas and Idaho, but those are minor details.  However, a machine like this has its own not so hidden dangers.  Like, it will seriously impress the boys.

So, being the practical person that I am, I came up with the perfect solution.  Vehicles of this type are usually very well maintained, so one of these should be reliable, even if I buy it used.  It is big and safe, and people who drive past it tend to slow down, because it reminds them that they are but dust, and to dust they shall return:

hearse 1

This also has the added benefit of having lots of storage space for when she goes away to college and has to take stuff with her. Of course, the vehicle she gets will be used, and black is an impractical color because of the heat, so maybe this slightly older model is more suitable:

pink hearse

I have mentioned these plans to my daughter, and she does not approve.  My wife doesn’t take me seriously either.  I wonder why?

Who Writes Your Obituary?

Some time ago, some of my co-workers (who shall not be named) were reading an obituary.  We all knew a bit about the fellow who had died, and the sad fact is that we didn’t like him.   To engage in some understatement, our dealings with him had gone very badly, we were far from alone in that experience, and in fact his misdeeds had been reported in other sections of the paper.

The obituary naturally said nothing about this.  It focused on the fellow’s good deeds, his religious affiliation and activities, his football fandom (for some people this is the same as religious affiliation), his being a good father and a loving husband, and all the nice things one expects to find in an obituary.  So co-worker A reads this and says, “How can they say this about him!!!”  And co-worker B, who had worked for this person, agreed.

“Um, ladies, you do remember that obituaries are written by the FAMILIES of the deceased, right?  You expect them to say nice things about him,”  I said.  They were not convinced, and I was not very convincing.  “De mortuis nil nisi bonum” was not on any our minds, and a few of us might have wanted to insert a few extra lines into that obituary.  Those lines would have been true and may have added some spice to a usually rather sober section of the paper.

We will all get in the newspaper one last time, usually on the left side of the front page, with a small article somewhere inside.  We hope someone will find something nice to say about us, and it will be even better if it is true.

But it is even more important who writes our eternal obituary.  If someone wrote your WHOLE story, there would be whole pages and chapters you would not be proud of.  It could look like something put out by “The National Enquirer”, only it would all be true.

Being a Christian means many things, but very importantly, it means that God has adopted you as His child and that Jesus is your older brother.  One consequence of that relationship is that Jesus gets to write your obituary.  That means that He takes the bad stuff out, not because He is ignorant or dishonest, but because he took care of all that.  To understand this, look at Hebrews 11.

For the atheist, Hebrews 11 doesn’t make sense.  Look at all those Old Testament characters getting a nice write-up.  Don’t you know that Noah (the guy in the book, not the character in the movie that strangely has the same name) got drunk and naked in his tent?  And Abraham, remember that story he told about his wife, and what he did with his concubine?  And Sarah laughed at God.  And Samson, what a piece of work.  And David, well, you know that story.  How can the Bible be true with a chapter like this, that only tells the good parts of these people’s stories?  Doesn’t this author remember what happened in the Old Testament?!!

Actually, the author, who is inspired by the Holy Spirit,  knows exactly what he is doing.  The Old Testament looks at these saints’ lives in real time, and that is important.  But in Hebrews, he is looking at their lives from this side of the Cross and the empty tomb.  Since Jesus has paid the price for their sins, and those sins are completely forgiven, the author of Hebrews does not feel the need to bring them up again.







What I Learned From The Sacketts

I just finished the first four (in chronological order, at least) of Louis L’Amour’s Sackett novels:  Sackett’s Land, To the Far Blue Mountains, The Warrior’s Path, and Jubal Sackett.  These novels are frontier stories, but they are not exactly Westerns.  They tell the story of the Sackett family, starting with Barnabas Sackett’s escape from England in 1600 to found a non-sanctioned settlement in the New World, and ending with the exploits of his sons.

I wish I had discovered Louis L’Amour as a teenager.  The books are not great literature, but they are fun, and I used to devour historical fiction.  History is way too much fun to be left to history teachers. Besides, if you get your history in the form of stories, not textbooks, you can learn some interesting stuff they didn’t teach you when you were sleeping through history in high school.  Like this:

1.  If you take United States History in high school, you will learn about the “official” settlements, like Jamestown and the Plymouth Plantation.  There were also plenty of unofficial settlements and individual explorers also.  These settlements left odd signs in various places, such as Roman coins in the middle of nowhere.

2.  It is a serious oversimplification to speak of “Indians.” (Or Native Americans now.)  There were multiple nations, with alliances and enmities.  If a settler was allied with one tribe, then he became the enemy of other tribes.  Just like if you were allied with England in the 1600’s, you were probably opposed to Spain.

3.  A good woman will go with you anywhere.  A great woman will go with you anywhere, skin your buffalo, and reload your musket for you, while confounding your enemies in subtle ways.

4.  The reason we don’t really learn foreign languages in high school is that we don’t have to.  If you are put in a wilderness with Indians of various tribes, not to mention Spaniards and Frenchmen, you will learn enough of these languages to get by, even if your grammar and vocabulary are not complete.

5.  Indian oral history and natural history are at odds.  A few tribes believed that Woolly Mammoths, though rare, were around at the time of this story.

6. When dueling, it is often a good idea to let your enemy think that you are an idiot, and that he is greatest dueler in the world.

7.  The story isn’t over until the good guy gets the girl, and the bad guy is dead.  This may seem like a trite way to end a story, but when you think about it, that is kind of the way history ends.