What a Very Odd and Curious Response… Or, How Some Feminists Need to Learn About Adiaphora

When I was a kid we had a phrase that we heard a lot from our math teachers- ‘major on the majors, not on the minors’.  The meaning was clear enough even to we fifth graders- some things are important and deserve attention and other things are insignificant and not worth troubling yourself over.

This little truth has also been operative in the history of the Church in the notion of adiaphora.  Adiaphora are ‘matters of indifference’ or things that matter very little and thus not worth fighting over and certainly not dying over.  For the Reformers, for instance, where Scripture speaks we must speak but where Scripture is silent, the matter is adiaphora.

To be sure, what one person finds adiaphoric  another person finds earth shaking and life changing.  Hence, the rub.

For instance, one Eva Mrozcek has gone on a tear because a toss off humorous blog title had the audacity to use the phrase ‘ugly stepsister!’  My God, how could he do such a thing?!?!?!!  He (Christian Askeland) must surely be some sort of insensitive sexist pig to use such a term, right?  How very odd.

But perhaps Eva needs to take a breath, count to ten, and realize that just because a person has a knife in their hand doesn’t mean that they are going to kill a small child.  Maybe they’re just going to butter their bread.  Or, to put it differently, maybe the sexism really exists only in the mind of Eva and what she saw didn’t even occur to anyone else on the planet because, frankly, there’s nothing there to see.

Furthermore, aren’t there other things that Eva could focus her attention on that really are drastically important matters?  Has Eva, for instance, written a single line on the tragic kidnapping of the Nigerian school girls?  If Eva is that concerned with the treatment of women, as we all should be, where’s her concern for a REAL issue?  Why is she focused on an issue that, in a moment of silent reflection, she may discover exists only in her own mind?

Eva is, I’m sure, a terribly lovely person.  She’s probably an awesome friend to her friends and a loving member of her family.  She probably even likes animals.  But she has a bit of a lacuna in her outlook.  She seems to need to acquaint herself with the concept of adiaphora and then use her considerable talents to address issues that are really issues and not issues that smack of a narrow focus in special interests that, at the end of the day, should be seen as they were meant to be seen- as a touch of humorousness.

After all, imputing evil when evil isn’t intended is itself something of an evil.

9 thoughts on “What a Very Odd and Curious Response… Or, How Some Feminists Need to Learn About Adiaphora

  1. Anthony Le Donne 9 May 2014 at 10:39 am

    Jim, I hope that you’re not suggesting that sexism exists only the mind of Dr. Mrozcek. Surely you can’t mean this.

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    • Jim 9 May 2014 at 10:51 am

      certainly not. i’m simply suggesting, nay insisting, that sexism doesn’t exist in christian askeland’s remark. in that sense, then, yes in this instance it does exist only in mrozcek’s mind.

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  2. Anthony Le Donne 9 May 2014 at 11:54 am

    Jim, several people who read Askeland’s post were struck immediately by his title and questioned the metaphor on facebook. One prominent scholar called the post title “too clever” on his blog the very day it was posted. To suggest that Dr. Mrozcek’s interpretation exists only in her own head and “didn’t even occur to anyone else on the planet” is misleading. Perhaps you’d like to restate your point without hyperbole.

    -anthony

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    • Jim 9 May 2014 at 12:29 pm

      the appeal to authority is irrelevant. ‘one prominent scholar’ does not an argument prove.

      i’m not suggesting that her interpretation exists only in her head. it, as you note, exists in the heads of a number of people but truth- like reliable texts in textual criticism- is weighed, not counted.

      hyperbole is needed when hyperbole (i.e., in this instance the suggestion that askeland is some kind of closet woman hater) is wielded. since i’ve been pretty clear (and lack the obfuscation gene so common in academics thereby rendering me incapable of a lack of clarity) i don’t really think i need to restate my point at all. but i will-

      1- askeland is not anti-woman and didn’t imply that he was.
      2- if he had said ‘ugly step brother’ would M. and the others be all up in his face about it? we both know they wouldn’t- so that- in fact- the sexism that exists exists only where no sexism is exhibited but sexism is seen.

      cordially.

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  3. CS 9 May 2014 at 6:08 pm

    Apart from the content of the discussion, could all please have the courtesy to spell Dr. Mroczek’s name correctly? It’s Mroczek – first a ‘c’ and then a ‘z’.

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  4. Michael Grondin 9 May 2014 at 7:06 pm

    Jim – although you mention only the title of Askeland’s piece, it wasn’t just that, but actually more importantly his response to Eva’s request that the title be changed. Do you see nothing problematic in his response?

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    • Jim 9 May 2014 at 7:11 pm

      he changed the title of the post and offered this explanation:

      Several individuals have expressed concerns about the use of the term “ugly” in my title’s metaphor. The word choice was not intended to be offensive to any particular individual or to perpetuate an established “ugly women/sister” trope. The term no longer appears in the title, but is still visible in the URL.

      what more should he do? personally, i think making a big deal of the ‘ugly sister’ bit was itself the ridiculous aspect of this whole distracting affair.

      as to his answer to her- you have to ask him about that. his words, his responsibility.

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      • Michael Grondin 12 May 2014 at 2:23 am

        A correction to my previous comment: neither Eva’s nor any of the other three comments on Christian’s blogpost that expressed dislike of the title actually specifically requested that he change it – though that may have been their intended implication.

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  5. www.joezias.com 10 May 2014 at 7:22 am

    CS, regarding spelling Dr. Mroczek’s name correctly, well my name gets spelled incorrectly all the time and its but four letters,(last time I counted), but since were on the subject, same group of males (BAR Crowd) who are now claiming support from the somewhat radical feminists on the two papyri, should first have a look at their own questionable editorial practices. In the long overdue book on that somewhat bogus Princeton Seminary Conference in 2008, in which they were ‘working behind the scenes’ one female contributor is referred to as male, and one of their most vocal opponents, Professor Kloner with whom I’m in regular contact, is referred to as deceased, not to mention that he is also listed in contributors as, associate professor. Not only is he a full professor but was recently awarded the ‘Emet’ (Truth) one of the highest academic awards given in Israel. Is this their way of getting ‘even’ with critics, along with legal actions, threats and all the rest or it as one of them once wrote, (‘anonymously’ to a critic) money triumphs over justice ? One would have thought that since there was a six year delay in publishing the volume of essays someone would have at least read the manuscript or were they waiting for Jonah and the Wail to come swimming along ?

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