Wednesday, October 29, 2003

It has been brought to my attention that i have not been posting enough stuff on the blogsite. So therefore i'm posting my Esther essay that i have spent so much time working on. It isn't quite finished (mostly references need to be fixed) but it is something i found truely enjoyable doing. Feel free to rip it to shreds on the tagboard. If you do it soon enough, i might even be able to change a few things before i turn it in....
Young Christian girls all over the world have been told the story of Esther. For generation upon generation these same girls are taught to aspire to be like her, but the full story of her life is not told in its entirety. There are three main areas in the story of Esther that need examining more fully before the Christian world puts Esther up on a pedestal. The first is that God is left out completely from the book of Esther. Secondly is that sex is a common theme that runs through the entire book. Thirdly, that Vashti was not “the bad queen”.

Most people know that references to God in the book of Esther are non-existent, at least in a blatantly obvious sense. It is amazing, however, that this fact is often left out when there is a re-telling of this story. God is often put into the story, when in the Bible version His voice is left silent. Why is His voice silent? Authorities seem to have few answers for this. “Though God’s name does not appear in the entire book, His providence is manifest throughout.” (The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary: 1976 p.461) Some would argue that the reason God is left out is because it was being a little truer to what normal human life is like. On a daily basis, humans don’t know what God is planning or what He is currently doing in our lives. Humans can not see it straight away. This leaves mankind with a feeling that He isn’t there at all. The story of Esther deals with that as well, however. Although He isn’t mentioned, it is easy to get the feeling that He is moving events behind the scenes. It is most evident threw Mordecai’s words to Esther, “Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14b) God isn’t mentioned but one can almost feel that Mordecai is the voice of consciousness, proclaiming and reminding God is still working. When God is thrust into this story, His every day use is lost. The story is seen as another Bible story that doesn’t have much every day use. When the story is told as it is written in the Bible, the realization that God does not have to be mentioned or directly shown to still be powerful becomes clear.

To children, Bible stories are often devoid of sex unless sex is shown in a bad light. If God created sex, then shouldn’t the parts of the Bible that show sex in a positive light be told to children? The simple answer by most, is no. Starting from the Catholic church all the way to present day Christians, the church has held that sex is only valid inside a marriage. They then quietly add to that statement that sex, however, shouldn’t be enjoyed even in that arrangement. Esther’s ascent to the throne causes some serious problems with the traditional Christian way of thinking. “Then the king‘s servants who attended him said: let beautiful young virgins be sought for the king; and let the king appoint officers in all the provinces of his kingdom, that they may gather all the beautiful young virgins to Shushan the citadel, into the women‘s quarters, under the custody of Hegai the king’s eunuch custodian of the women. And let beauty preparations be given them. Then let the young woman who pleases the king be queen instead of Vashti. This thing pleased the king, and he did so.” (Esther 2:2-4) “In the evening [the young women] went [to the king], and in the morning she returned to the second house of the women, to the custody of Shaashgaz, the king’s eunuch who kept the concubines. She would not go in to the king again unless the king delighted in her and called for her by name.” (Esther 2:14) Esther’s rise to the throne was the direct result of her ability to give the king the best orgasm. What is worse there seems to be no negative results of her out-of-marriage sexual encounter. The story of David and Bathsheeba is often told to young children, while the story of Esther, in its sexual entirety, is not. The simple reason for this is, the light that sex is shown in. David and Bathsheeba is considered almost safe for a young audience because of the results of David’s actions. There is a definite, “look at what sex did to David’s life” message that young children are expected to get out of the story. It has been suggested that this is a vain, old-fashioned theory that if children are indoctrinated with the concept that sex results in bad things, they will avoid it. (J. Fautheree, personal communication, 2001) Most young adults, however, would easily rebuff this idea as fanciful at best.

In modern Christian society, Esther, as a Jew, is looked on as a moral icon. Most children stories claim she came to the throne by winning a beauty contest or they leave out how she got to the throne completely (Peretti:2002). While she was described as beautiful in the Bible, her beauty is not what got her into the position of queen. Some critics have gone so far as to say that Esther didn’t want to be queen. She didn’t want to have sex with the Pagan king (Papus: 19??). This is totally erroneous. The Bible gives no indication that she resisted the king’s command at all. The fact that she is the one that the king remember suggest that she was the best in the art of sex, which suggests that she didn’t have reserves about sex with the king. What is lost by not including this? Telling a small child of the age four that Esther won a beauty contest and therefore became queen is not true, yet the dilemma lays in the question, can you tell a child that young about the sex involved? The solution would seem to be not to tell the child the story of Esther until they are older, say nine for example. Then when the story is told all portions of it can be explained. While some would argue that telling children Bible stories that included sex in such a context would be harmfully exposing, others would argue that telling children lies in order to “protect them” is worse.

Vashti is another element of the story of Esther that is often misrepresented. If a survey could be done to find out what people think of Vashti, the general Christian population would have a negative response. She is seen as the bad queen. Why? The usual story is that she didn’t obey the king, therefore she was kicked out of his presence. She is therefore forever labelled, “the bad queen”. It isn’t true. She had her own party to attend to. The king was drunk and was asking her to appear before a crowd of drunk men, wearing only a crown. Her refusal was courageous (Bach, 1997). She chose to take a path that was almost unheard of in the Persia and Media empire. As a direct result of her courageous actions, Esther is able to come into queenship. In traditional retellings of the story, however, Esther is given the praise for courage and Vashti is given no honour at all. It is interesting that Vashti seems to hold all the honour and respectability that Christians have typically superimposed upon Esther, such as sexual morality, courage, and personal integrity. So what is lost if the story is told with all glory going to Esther? Simply that the story turns into a fairytale. The beautiful girl gets the man, the power, and the virtues; the other girl gets nothing. Children should not be taught that life and favour are only given to the beautiful. The job of the adults is to make sure that children understand that virtues and honour can be held by those who don’t win first prize, who don’t have the best looks, and who aren’t of any certain nationality.

In conclusion, the story of Esther does lose something when it is not told as the Bible tells it. A portion of its reality is lost. The ability to see a reflection of today’s society in the story is not there because the story has been made into a fairytale, or Princess Diana type story. The ‘nitty gritty’ of life is taken out and is replaced by the good king influenced by the bad minister and the beautiful girl getting the good king. (Goldmann, 1964, p392-397) When the story is told the way the Bible tells it, flippant virtues are taken out and in their place real life concepts are set up. Ideas such as sex can be enjoyed without shame, honour is held by more than the beautiful, and God is very powerful even when not blatantly present, are all able to be seen. The next time the decision must be made of how to relate this story to children, adults, or oneself, the words of Christ should be remembered, “the truth will set you free”.

Monday, October 27, 2003

Today i feel like spouting poetry. I don't know why. I don't even particularly like poetry most of the time....but today seems like a day to spout sonnets. I think it comes from last night. I got reading Shakespeare which led to a book of poetry which led to me writing horriby sappy things. I thought that i would wake up in the morning and be over it but unfortunately...i'm not. I still have "how do i love thee" in my head along with "my love is like a red red rose". You guys know like me does this sound?! What is wrong with me??? (and i know that most of you will immediately reply, "she's in love"....but i hardly think that qualifies me for poetry gushing)

So now the question is, how do i get rid of it? i suppose i could change my mind set but i fear that would only cause me to jump some poor blue-eyed boy. So maybe i'll just stick with my sickeningly sweet poety. Maybe i'll even get courageous and write some of my own. "With your eyes you have pierced me"....(that was for you Mel)....anyway...i'm off to go beat my mind into submission. love you all heaps!

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

No Sex

For we possess pure and noble minds that contemplate the fundamental interconnectedness of the universe and various and sundry other issues on a much higher plane, seeking to stimulate the mind and only the mind.

thanks jenne

Sunday, October 19, 2003

Temptation is one of those strange things that i never have quite understood. Why is it that one thing is a temptation at one time, but in a totally different setting the same thing wouldn't even faze you? How is it that some times the temptation appears stronger than you are and at other times is hardly noticed? Why is it so hard to resist it when it is strong? what makes it strong?

I constantly tell myself that all my temptations (eg, sex drugs, and rocknroll) are permissable at certain times. I just have to wait for those 'certain times' to allow myself the indulgance.

Have you ever heard of the child and the marshmellow test? It is a test where the child is told that they can have one marshmellow now or they can wait until the adult returns and get two. The child is then left there with the marshmellow sitting in front of him or her and they must chose. If you were the child, what would you do?

I know what the correct response is, but honestly it seems to be getting harder by the minute. Where is God in all this? Isn't He supposed to keep me in check? or maybe i'm pushing too much blame onto Him. Maybe i'm just not allowing Him in enough to keep me balanced.

I think that the latter is true. I'm not sure how to give all these temptations over to Him and let Him teach me how to deal with them. I know there is a way...i just need to find it.

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

My semi-deep thought for the day was stolen from multiple people, including but not limited to, Jenne and Melody. What if God is just a figment of my imagination? What if I’m following something that is not really there? Is God only a small part of my subconscious mind?

Some one once said that just because you can’t see the wind does not mean that it doesn’t exist. In fact you can see the effects of the wind but not the wind itself. Maybe the wind doesn’t exist and the effects are just natural things that happen because that is what is intended to happen. (If I were more scientific I’m sure holes could be found in that theory) Somehow that idea doesn’t work for me even without the scientist poking holes in it.

I can’t see my parents right now. Yet, I know they exist. I know they do because they send me emails occasionally and packages (provided the mail service doesn’t stuff up). I can’t touch them, see them, taste them, hear them (no money to call home at the moment), or smell them. Believing that they don’t exist wouldn’t change their existence either. Believing that they loved me less wouldn’t change their love for me.

You get where I’m going with this? God’s existence can be doubted but it doesn’t change His existence. I believe that God is real no matter where I stand emotionally or physically with him. Believing that He doesn’t exist wouldn’t change his existence but would only chance my attitude towards life.

It is quite possible I have gotten preachy in my old age. And sadly enough it is the type of preachy that really doesn’t make sense to anyone but myself…so feel free to ignore this…it is just a statement of faith for me….

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

After days of rain and dreary skies the sun has finally come out. It is beautiful. The clear Australian sky is so easily accented by the sun. It really is too bad that I’m stuck inside working on court reports and 3t editing. Sigh….oh well…at least the windows are clean.

I just finished figuring out my class schedule for next semester. I’m excited! I get to do heaps of fun classes and only one boring class. (as opposed to this year when all my classes suck)

I still have no idea what I’m doing for summer break. I need to find a job but so far no luck. Keep me in your prayers as I figure out what to do.

Friday, October 10, 2003

It was a dark and stormy night when life suddenly became more interesting for the inhabitants of Avondale College. Mid-semester break spirit combined with the enchanting pull of spring creating a desire to either vomit or fall in love. Students who found this anomily fasinating and inadvertantly stood too close to the specticle were sucked into the void. It is assumed that they will reappear for summer or possible fall....but some say, they will never come out again....mmawwwahahahhaha!

Monday, October 06, 2003

Well, I’m back! I went to Black Stump for the weekend and found myself bored out of my mind. Mostly the music was good, but i had to man the most boring both on the site. There was something like five thousand people there and less than 2% came and even looked at our booth. The reason for this was, every other booth had multi-media, things for sale, or food. We had broachers and lollies. Grrr. Anyway, most of the time spent there was spent watching people pass us by or wondering when we were going to leave. We were scheduled to stay until Monday night, but due to rain and lack of interest, we convinced our leader to leave Sunday night.

I did manage to catch one show that was just amazing. It was called “The Opposite of Being Self-Centred”. It was a combination of dance, video, drama, and music. WOW! It really touched me. Everything tied in together so well. The acting was excellent, the dancing added such an amazingly powerful element, the video was done tastefully, and the actors….(drool). Wonderful stuff.

Anyway, the nights were freezing. It was something like –5 degrees Celsius. We are supposed to be in SUMMER here people! What the heck?! OY!…none of us were really prepared to be that cold, but we managed to survive. It really helped that in the morning, the sun would come up and it would be absolutely beautiful for several hours! Of course the rain would start at about noon and not stop til midnight, but at least we were never in danger of getting too hot.

Thursday, October 02, 2003

It is now spring here in Australia and i have a sudden urge to break out into song. "Love is in the air...." but i won't.

A quick update on what is happening in life....Today is the last day of classes. As of tomorrow, Mid-semester break starts. My plans are to go to a music festival, work my butt off, come back, veg for a day, and then try and do about 3 essays beofore i have to get back into the swing of school again. But please don't think the holidays are all work for me, i do have a few friends staying around campus. I'm quite thankful for Dieter, Chris, and Brandon's company over the holidays....well...some more than others.

Well, it is time to get back to off i go...