Sunday, August 12, 2007

To jump on raw nerves

which I think is a great way to resume blogging. Things like this push my buttons and instantly arouse me from slumber.

Check out this AP article titled: New Seminary Subject: Homemaking

(Emphasis mine)
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary offers coursework in Greek and Hebrew, in archeology, in the philosophy of religion and starting this fall in how to cook and sew.

One of the nation's largest Southern Baptist seminaries, the school is introducing a new, women-only academic program in homemaking a 23-hour concentration that counts toward a bachelor of arts degree in humanities. The program is aimed at helping establish what Southwestern's president calls biblical family and gender roles.

Coursework will include seven hours of nutrition and meal preparation, seven hours of textile design and "clothing construction," three hours of general homemaking, three hours on "the value of a child," and three hours on the "biblical model for the home and family."

Seminary officials say the main focus of the courses is on hospitality in the home teaching women interior design as well as how to sew and cook. Women also study children's spiritual, physical and emotional development.

Yet the program is raising eyebrows among some Southern Baptists, who say a degree concentration in how to be a Christian housewife is not useful, and a waste of seminary resources.

Seminary President Paige Patterson, a former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, which has its executive committee headquarters in Nashville, said wives of seminary students asked for the homemaking courses. The program was approved by seminary trustees.

"We are moving against the tide in order to establish family and gender roles as described in God's word for the home and the family," Patterson said at the denomination's annual meeting in June. "If we do not do something to salvage the future of the home, both our denomination and our nation will be destroyed."

Terri Stovall, dean of women's programs at Southwestern, which has its main campus in Fort Worth, Texas, said the purpose of the program is to strengthen families.

"Whether a woman works outside or strictly in the home, her first priority is her family and home," she said. "We just really want to step up and provide some of these skills."

Stovall said the homemaking degree is one of 10 women's programs at the seminary and is "only targeted to women whose heart and calling is the home."

A description of the homemaking program on the seminary's Web site says it "endeavors to prepare women to model the characteristics of the godly woman as outlined in Scripture.

"This is accomplished through instruction in homemaking skills, developing insights into home and family while continuing to equip women to understand and engage the culture of today."

Click here to read the rest.

[My reaction edited out. It got to be too sarcastic and strident for my taste. I hope yours is a bit more measured and constructive.].


At August 13, 2007 5:43 AM, Blogger John Hubers said...


At August 13, 2007 5:50 AM, Blogger Granny said...

Mine was so unmeasured and unreasonable I haven't even posted it.

It does remind me why my stay with the Southern Baptists years ago was so brief.

At August 13, 2007 7:12 PM, Blogger Pauli said...

I couldn't agree more. Since when do people have the right to do whatever they want to do?

At August 13, 2007 7:47 PM, Blogger Just Rannin' Around said...

My first concern is where are the families of these women that don't know how to keep a house and do those simple tasks? I learned how to do that stuff from my parents who shared those responsibilities and taught us how to do them. Second, these are college classes that are choosen so no need to get all upset, they aren't saying that they are making every woman take just those classes but only offering them as an option.

I would love to be a wife and a mother and leave this work force stuff to my husband, having said that I also believe that a woman should obtain as much education and skills as possible because we never know what situation we will find ourselves in that will require skills other than cooking and sewing....however those are helpful skills as well.

So basically be well rounded.

At August 14, 2007 9:20 AM, Blogger Barbara (aka Layla) said...

I had to wait a full 24 hours to post a comment.

I could approach this on several levels but will stick to this:

When the H-E-double toothpicks did women have to go to college to learn how to do this stuff?

I guess if your mother works she doesn't have time to teach you these basic life skills.

I guess if you weren't valued yourself as a child you need to take college courses that will teach you how to value your kids.

This is so SAD. What does this say about our society, our priorities?

I can't say more right now.

At August 14, 2007 10:04 AM, Blogger rubyslipperlady said...

You have got to be kidding me.

That's about all I can say clearly.

At August 14, 2007 10:05 AM, Blogger Gretchen said...

Well, although my first reaction is to roll my eyes I realize that I would really appriciate that some of that knowledge right about now.

Before I was married and had a baby I would have been annoyed at the "rightous" "idealistic" nerve of the Southern Baptists.
But now..... I understand that no matter if you are a working mom or a stay at home mom (I'm both because I work part time) the real priority is home and family. If it's not it probably should be.
My son needs me to feed him healthy meals, my husband needs a good lunch at work and we don't want to spend alot of money. So, I'm cooking, trying to keep a clean house and entertain our 1 year old and I'm working a couple of days a week. Even on the days that I work lunchesstll need to be packed and dinner needs to happen when I get home.
So.... along with the art and film classes that I took in college I would have benefited from some practical home ec classes. I had no idea what I was in for when I got married and it really would have helped to have a little extra knowledge to get me started!

At August 14, 2007 10:45 AM, Blogger David Cho said...

Gretchen, I don't disagree with anything you are saying.

But a college program for this? Why can't they offer this for free?

As to the real priority being the home and family, that should be applicable for men as well. In fact, the Bible does strongly command getting your home life straightened out before becoming a church leader.

I hear a lot more stories about growing up with ascent or abusive fathers than mothers. I myself have one as well.

The biggest problem I have is their venomous rhetoric. The skills they promote are no doubt good ones, but to "salvage" the future of the home and the nation? I guess the rest of us are out there to destroy the home and America.

Surely they can do whatever they want to do. Each to their own. But the president of the seminary does not reciprocate the same courtesy to those of us who do not share his worldview.

At August 14, 2007 11:08 AM, Blogger Julie said...

Girl Scouts.
Home-Ec in high school.
Vo-Tech program in school.
Technical College.
Home and Garden channel.
Food Network.
Classes at the local craft/yarn/fabric store.

Just a few places to get such an education instead of at a seminary.

The seminary.

The seminary!

At August 14, 2007 11:18 AM, Blogger David Cho said...

Uhhhh Julie,

How come you didn't list rachael Ray?

She is the best ever.

At August 14, 2007 2:25 PM, Blogger L-girl said...

What puke.

No matter how hard they try, they will not be able to move the calendar back to a different century.

My first concern is where are the families of these women that don't know how to keep a house and do those simple tasks?

JRA, this was your first concern? Not the inherent sexism? Not the Victorian attitudes towards gender?

Maybe the families of those women don't believe girls need to be taught those "simple tasks". Maybe when those women were girls, they expressed no interest in homemaker-y things, so their families didn't force it on them, just like they didn't force it on their boy children!


Thanks for the post, David, and for your righteous anger! :)

At August 14, 2007 2:41 PM, Blogger Gretchen said...

David, I do agree with you. I'm usually the first one to be cinical about self righteous proclamations on gender roles and "the womens place".
I guess that what I see now is that there definitely is a valid role that I play in my family. And frankly it looks kind of traditional! =0) I do hate the attitude that many ultra conservative christians (like in this article) take on of holier than thou knowledge that forces people into a certain leagalistic role for the roles sake.
I don't do mom/wife things because I'm a conservitive christian I do them because I love my husband and son and don't want them to starve or live in a filthy mess! Because I do these things I'm blessed with learning patience, consistancy, selflessness and so on. Fullfilling a certain role in marriage is a blessing that I personally feel God set up and I think it's good to have it encouraged. Not neccassarily in a university or seminary setting but in society for sure.

At August 14, 2007 9:55 PM, Blogger Leo said...

I am disappointed that this school would only offer this class for women. Men are also capable of taking care of a family. In His image WE are created.

At August 14, 2007 9:59 PM, Blogger David Cho said...


Not sure if it's a "righteous" anger.

Because of my family background, a mindset like that triggers more than a few raw emotions. Perhaps I will expand on that one day.

Even during my fundamentalist phase, it never sit well with me, and I thought it was a matter of "trusting the Lord," and accepting it.

At August 14, 2007 10:07 PM, Blogger David Cho said...

Gretchen, very well said.

Here is a thing that gets me about "gender roles."

There are so many genderless issues and challenges already at hand. How do we pray? How do we walk with God.? How do we flee from evil.

I believe the gender is only a temporal part of our identity. In heaven, we are all the bride of Christ.

So why do we obsess with the trait which only lasts while we are here? Why is the gender viewed as a key to unlock the mystery of our spirituality?

Popular Christian authors present the understanding of one's gender as if it is the magic bullet to spiritual depth.

Besides one's gender, is my race a key to unlock the window to richer spirituality too?

Race, gender, looks, social status, income, etc are all temporal.

I don't think I am articulating myself well.

At August 15, 2007 3:36 AM, Blogger Brian Buriff said...

Perhaps they can slot this curriculum in under their World Religions department - you know... Buddhism, Hinduism, Sexism, Chauvinism...

There's a saying: "What's good for the goose is good for the gander." If they must require it of females, why not also of the males? Requiring the male seminarians to also take the homemaking classes might stir a positive ministry awareness relevant to the real world of role reversals and stay-at-home dads.

At August 15, 2007 5:47 AM, Blogger Julie said...

I agree: the class should be open to male and female students.

I can't see how they can even offer a class in this day and age and say that an entire gender is not allowed to take it.

And really, why stop at those topics when there are so many other things to learn as well, like milking a cow and butchering chickens. These are things farm women had to know at one point. What is this, some kind of urban/rural -ism?

At August 15, 2007 8:08 AM, Blogger David Cho said...

I agree, Brian. I would like to call it the Department of Mysoginism. It sounds much more academic and intellectual.

It upsets me not just because it demeans women. It demeans men as well. It demeans everybody. It demeans the mother. It demeans the father. It demeans the home they claim to be for.

At August 15, 2007 8:15 AM, Blogger David Cho said...

Julie, why does your comment remind me of these lines from Dylan's I Shall be Free?

Well, I got a woman five feet short
She yells an' hollers an' screams and snorts
She tickles my nose and pats me on the head.
Rolls me over and kicks me outta bed.
She's a man eater, meat grinder, bad loser.

At August 15, 2007 10:08 AM, Blogger Julie said...

I don't know why it reminds you of that song.

It's kind of disturbing.

At August 15, 2007 11:42 AM, Blogger J.OTIS MERSTER said...

David, I'm not sure that I see this class offering as demeaning to women. I would tend to think that it is more demeaning to men-as if they can't learn to cook/sew/take care of themselves and their homes like big boys. Just about everyone-including single men-lives in a home, and needs to know these things. However, just about everyone grew up in a home and, I assume, saw these skills lived out and practised by their parents. Very few are the children who are unwilling to learn how to bake with their mothers, or learn to use the vacuum, etc, and very few are the parents who do not seize every opportunity to pass those skills on.

At August 15, 2007 1:54 PM, Blogger David Cho said...

Julie, its the imagery of a woman with blood on her hands. Blood of chickens.

Merster, EXACTLY. It is demeaning to men and women.

At August 16, 2007 3:58 AM, Blogger Jenn said...

Why is everyone getting so mad about?

This is exactly what my erstwhile almost parents-in-law were advocating. Also my own parents.

Clearly defined gender roles.

Surely, all these elders should know a thing or two?

At August 16, 2007 7:47 AM, Blogger David Cho said...

Hey Jen, welcome back.

You are right. A thing or two.

At August 16, 2007 11:27 AM, Blogger Gretchen said...

Just a quick comment about the class being demeaning to men and women. Seriously, besides the legalistic approach the article takes, having a basic home ec class is NOT demeaning.

Ok, so maybe a couple of men might want to take it.... or would they really?? I don't know any men personally who aspire to be great homemakers. I do know many women who do and I don't believe it is degrading or demeaning to have a class on some of the basic skill that it takes to do so.

(btw, article points out that the Seminary wives requested this clas specifically.)

At August 16, 2007 12:38 PM, Blogger L-girl said...

Why is everyone getting so mad about?

This is exactly what my erstwhile almost parents-in-law were advocating. Also my own parents.

So your parents and your almost parent-in-law made that choice, and perhaps you want to make it too. That doesn't mean it's the right choice for everybody.

Men and women can share the homemakeing duties, and everything else in the home, as fully equal partners. That's what we do in my home, and it works out beautifully.

And we are not exceptional at all - among people we know, it is quite typical. It's possible to have clearly defined roles without having them based on gender.

What "everyone is getting so mad about" is homemaking duties being prescribed for women only.

Perhaps "the elders" knew a thing or two for their world, but that may not be good for today's world. And perhaps it wasn't good their world either.

How many women felt stymied or suffocated, unfulfilled, stuck with roles someone else had defined for them, wished for more (or just different!) but had no other options?

It's a myth to think everyone was so happy in their roles "in the old days" when everyone "knew their place". You might as well think slaves were happy because they didn't rebel. Many women would have made other choices, had more choices been available to them.

At August 16, 2007 5:02 PM, Blogger Friar Tuck said...

This is why I am American Baptist instead of Southern Baptist

At August 16, 2007 5:03 PM, Blogger Friar Tuck said...

I hope if this is their direction then they also advocate for excellent compensation for pastors so spouses dont need to work to support their families

At August 17, 2007 8:58 AM, Blogger Miss Cellania said...

Oy. I started reading this and thought it was a good idea, til I got to the "women only" part. After that, it was just the same crap I've heard all my life.

At August 17, 2007 10:03 AM, Blogger Gretchen said...

Frier Tuck, good point about paying thier pastors enough to support a spouse staying at home.

At August 17, 2007 10:36 AM, Blogger David Cho said...

Good point about compensating pastors well. But I would hope the well compensated pastor doesn't harp on working mothers for having to work.

At August 17, 2007 12:06 PM, Blogger Oricon Ailin said...

Personally, I think this is ridiculous. There are plenty of FREE programs out there for this.

But, my biggest problem is that to me, it sounds like these people are saying that women shouldn't be out in the work force trying to provide for the family, like men do. In fact it sounds to me like they are saying that women should only be in the house, cooking, cleaning, and dealing with the kids.

That bothers me. My husband and I have divided up all the household chores and duties. You see, we BOTH are capable of doing them...and we also both work very hard out in the world to provide for both of us and our parents.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that these courses should be free to those who need them, but also point out that gender roles in the Bible were based on society 2000 years ago. Times have changed, and both men and women take on ALL these roles in today's society.

At August 17, 2007 5:08 PM, Blogger Jenny said...

This is exactly what you can expect from this seminary. It really just makes me very, very sad.

At August 18, 2007 7:06 AM, Blogger Mike Y said...

It reminds me of the Fundamentalist world I escaped from years ago. They pretty much mandated Marriage and Motherhood degree programs for the women, only to have them be really neglectful of anything resembling godliness in women.

At August 20, 2007 2:59 PM, Blogger San Nakji said...

Men need to know this stuff too. Open it to everyone and it looks pretty good! (I would still pass...) Expecting a woman to work and clean and make the food and do everything... well, that's something I had hoped we had left far behind...

At August 20, 2007 3:10 PM, Blogger SUPER said...

These courses as a college education? Ridiculous. However, I do feel they are classes that some people definitely could use. For instance, perhaps the government should require some parenting classes before allowing a parent of 10 kids to sign up for the 11th!

I too...have just edited out the rest of my response...way to opinionated and sarcastic. I'm going to go do some breathing exercises now to calm down.


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