It always strikes me as strange when people interpret the Bible to say that women shouldn’t hold positions of authority (except possibly over children and other women). Have they not heard about Deborah?
Not me – the much much earlier Deborah. She lived in a very low-government era, when the people of Israel were governed by a) the Law of Moses (which was short and straightforward enough that ordinary people could actually know the whole thing) and b) a judge.
This simple system had the frequent addition of an oppressive foreign overlord who made the conquered people pay tribute and generally ground them beneath his heel. Because there’s nothing like getting ground under the heel of the oppressor to make you realize (and regret) you’ve been oppressing others yourself: failing to protect the rights of widows and orphans, taking advantage of the poor, or failing to give the land its statutory holidays. (Yes, the actual land.)
With the exception of some members of the “vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language” in the book of Revelation, there are no people in the Bible who a white supremacist would recognize as white.
Unless you count Miriam (the sister of Moses and Aaron), who was struck white with leprosy for criticizing Moses’ choice of a dark-skinned wife. It’s like God said “you think being light-skinned is so great? Try being white as a dead fish belly and see how superior you feel then.”
Swearing is complicated, even when it’s simple. Start with the fact that people use the word swearing to mean two completely different things. There’s the swearing one does when one takes an oath – swearing in a Member of Parliament, or a jury, or a President – and the swearing one does for rather less official reasons. Same word. Confusing.
For extra confusion, the tradition of swearing on a Bible – frequently required for legal purposes in various countries with a Christianized past – is actually forbidden in the Bible itself, in two places (Matthew 5: 33-37 and James 5:12).
The idea behind swearing on scriptures is that the swearer will not lie in case their god gets them for tarnishing his, her or its reputation. It’s hard to see how this is supposed to work with Christians, since the swearing itself would be disobedient regardless of whether one subsequently told the truth or not. Say yes when you mean yes and no when you mean no – it’s much simpler.
The other kind of swearing seems less complicated. Until you realize there are all these unspoken rules about swearing – who, when, where, what… The Romans had a very codified structure of who could say what, in the presence of whom. There were some swear-words women could use; some they couldn’t use – but men could use in their presence; and some that women weren’t even supposed to know about, because only men used them, only in male company. Allegedly.
English swear-words are mostly the Early English words for various bodily functions (which makes it rather unfair to follow them up with “excuse my French”). Those that aren’t earthy are mostly blasphemous, and for some reason swearing has not caught up with religious pluralism. Or atheism.
As Terry Pratchett wrote, “It takes a very special and strong-minded kind of atheist to jump up and down with their hand clasped under their other armpit and shout, ‘Oh, random-fluctuations-in-the-space-time-continuum!’ or ‘Aaargh, primitive-and-outmoded-concept on a crutch!’.”
While English has a small enough pool of Really Rude Words that they can be identified simply by their initial letters, it has a wealth of minced oaths; what Bill Bryson calls “euphemistic expletives – darn, durn, goldurn, goshdad, goshdang, goshawful, blast, consarn, confound, by Jove, by jingo, great guns, by the great horn spoon… jo-fired, jumping Jehoshaphat, and others almost without number.”
I have an aunt who says “Flaming Norah” when the occasion seems to require it (though Norah has yet to catch fire); and I myself say “blast,” “dangnabit,” and other such phrases. One of my favourites comes from A Pattern of Islands by Arthur Grimble, in which an old woman lambasts her grandson as a nikiranibobo for seeking offshore employment. “‘I dare not translate this word, sir,’ stammered the interpreter when he recovered himself; ‘it is a very old and clever word, but it is not official.'”
At the risk of sounding prim, let me say that I don’t use blasphemy: it’s either disrespectful and offensive to Someone I love dearly, or (if one embraces pluralism) offensive to people who hold other beliefs. I don’t use language of the fouler sort either. After all, if I wouldn’t want to step in it, I definitely don’t want it in my mouth.