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The Original Sin



But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.—St. Paul

Hardly anyone noticed this summer when former president Jimmy Carter explained why he had decided to leave the Baptist Church. However “painful and difficult,” wrote Carter in an essay that appeared in the Guardian, his break with the denomination to which he had belonged for sixty years had begun to seem like the only possible response to past opinions expressed and codified by the Southern Baptist Convention. “It was an unavoidable decision when the convention’s leaders, quoting a few carefully selected Bible verses and claiming that Eve was created second to Adam and responsible for original sin, ordained that women must be ‘subservient’ to their husbands and prohibited from serving as deacons, pastors, or chaplains in the military service. This was in conflict with my belief—confirmed in the holy scriptures—that we are all equal in the eyes of God.”

Considerably more attention was generated some months earlier by another story about how religion conceives and enforces its view of a woman’s place. The horrific attack on two Afghan girls en route to school—the young women were severely disfigured by acid allegedly thrown by Taliban fighters—was widely reported and discussed. Obviously, the assault was more brutal, shocking, and newsworthy than an elderly white guy’s regretful decision to separate himself from the misguided pronouncements of some other elderly white guys. And just as clearly, the Taliban’s plans for women far exceed the darkest imaginings of the Southern Baptists, whose tenets—“a wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband”—seem genial and reassuringly vague when compared to the restrictions that the Taliban impose, and seek to impose, on women, regulations that narrow the parameters of daily life down to a space in which anyone, male or female, would suffocate. Under Taliban rule Afghan women cannot work, attend school, leave home without a male chaperone, or ride in a taxi. Minor infractions, such as showing an ankle, are punished by public whippings. More serious violations, such as adultery, are capital crimes for which the sentence is death by hanging or stoning.

The acid attack on the schoolgirls offered graphic and persuasive confirmation of one reason why we have gone to war, or in any case one reason we’ve been given: according to some, once we defeat the Taliban, every Afghan girl can go to school. That’s the outcome everyone wants, though it is less often mentioned that literacy rates among Afghan women were appallingly low long before the Taliban, back in the 1980s when we were still arming the mujahideen—including many future Taliban warriors—to fight against the Russians. The Taliban’s demonic and demonizing attitude toward women represents merely the most current extreme manifestation of the grotesque misogyny fostered throughout history by religion and patriarchal tribal culture. Both the Taliban and the Southern Baptists employ the “lessons” of biology and scripture to “prove” women’s inferiority, a view of our gender unlikely to be eliminated by another air strike or drone-missile deployment, or by the polite demurrals of a former president.

Sensible, decent Jimmy Carter got it right again. “This view that women are somehow inferior to men is not restricted to one religion or belief. It is widespread. Women are prevented from playing a full and equal role in many faiths. Nor, tragically, does its influence stop at the walls of the church, mosque, synagogue, or temple. This discrimination, unjustifiably attributed to a higher authority, has provided a reason or excuse for the deprivation of women’s equal rights across the world for centuries. The male interpretations of religious texts and the way they interact with and reinforce traditional practices justify some of the most pervasive, persistent, flagrant, and damaging examples of human-rights abuses.”

Like countless theologians, clerics, and believers, Carter distinguishes between the ideas expressed by the founders of those faiths and the distortions and biases of those who organized and spread the religion. But how much comfort, finally, can women take in knowing that it wasn’t God, Jesus, or the Prophet but some later rabbi, Church Father, or caliph who banned them from praying during their menstrual periods, who forbid them to enter a mosque or feel the sun on their faces, who ruled that their husbands could beat them for disobedience, and who first suggested that each and every one of them was a living reminder of the permanent harm that Eve had done humankind?

Almost as soon as anyone (mostly women, for obvious reasons) started noticing or asking how the world’s religions viewed their female adherents, women—and I would assume some men—either had to face it or not, make excuses or not, question their faith or not. During the 1970s, feminists called attention to any number of ancient fertility-mother cults. But though pre-Christian cultures had goddesses, and priestesses in their temples, Greek and Roman myths are essentially crime blotters recording rapes, near rapes, and metamorphoses into animals or plants to avoid or atone for being raped. There is no word for heroine in Homeric Greek.

Judaism did little to challenge men’s most primitive suspicions of and prejudices against women. The Old Testament abounds with stories of women sold and traded like cattle, of marriageable girls held hostage in return for years of hard labor by their suitors. Of course there are also stories of women who defy male authority, such as Queen Esther, who dared approach the king without being asked, and Deborah, who accompanied the Israelites into battle. But according to Leviticus, only sons may partake of the meat of the sacred burnt offering, and after childbirth, women must arrange for sacrifice—a lamb or, in the absence of a lamb, two turtle doves or young pigeons—to end their term of “uncleanness,” a week if they’ve given birth to a son, two weeks if it’s a girl. Each month, after her period, a woman must undergo a strenuous head-to-toe purification. Measures are taken, as in Islam, to protect men from temptation. Some observant Jewish wives must shave their heads, lest the sight of a ringlet cause a man to lose all self-control. Many Jewish men begin their day with a prayer thanking God for not having been born female. For the last decades of her life, my mother, a scientist and a doctor, attended High Holy Day services at a Greenwich Village synagogue with a separate women’s section up in the balcony, farther from the action—presumably so that her white hair and frail shoulders would not distract a man from the serious business of prayer.

However radical the changes that Jesus and his disciples made to Old Testament theology, they did little to modify or improve the patriarchs’ most neurotic anxieties and destructive biases against women. Uta Ranke-Heinemann’s scholarly and wry Eunuchs for the Kingdom of Heaven catalogues the jaw-dropping and (if one can maintain a sense of humor about sexual hatred and vilification) hilarious insults that the Church Fathers, among them St. Augustine and Thomas Aquinas, routinely leveled at women. In one unsettling chapter, Ranke-Heinemann—a Catholic theologian and the first woman to hold a distinguished chair in theology at the University of Essen, from which she was fired in 1987 for suggesting that the Virgin Birth was a matter of faith and not a biological fact—discusses the prohibitions that have resulted from the Church’s solemn responsibility to keep inferior beings from assuming the privileges or rightful duties of their betters.

According to the Apostolic Constitutions, a fourth-century compilation from older writings on church liturgy and canon law, if Jesus wanted women to hold ecclesiastical office, he would have found and appointed a woman disciple; after all, there were plenty of women around. And if the man was the head of the household, the existence of a female priest in the house would mean that the body was ruling the head—and how unnatural would that be? “In keeping with the will of their spiritual lords, women in church had to be quiet, so quiet that they could only move their lips without making a sound.”

Long before Muhammad, St. Ambrose forbade women to teach in church and John Chrysostom suggested that women be veiled in public. One early Christian philosopher after another (quite a few of them saints, such as St. Jerome) emphasized the fact that woman’s only purpose on earth, indeed her only route to salvation, was to provide her husband with children. For anything else that was necessary, for work or companionship, advice or entertainment, he would sensibly and naturally choose another man. In St. Augustine’s essay “On Marriage and Concupiscence,” the author of Confessions sounds remarkably like the Southern Baptist Convention. “Nor can it be doubted that it is more consonant with the order of nature that men should bear rule over women, than women over men. It is with this principle in view that the apostle says, ‘The head of the woman is the man,’ and ‘Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands.’”

The Church Fathers devoted considerable energy to debating the question of whether sex with a beautiful woman was more or less sinful than sex with an ugly one, as well as the subject of whether or not Adam and Eve had intercourse in Paradise before the fall of man. By contrast, there was little disagreement about whose fault that was. Whom would the serpent choose to tempt—the man who had named the animals or his foolish wife? Poor Eve: one bite of fruit, and centuries of blame for every small or severe pain that measures our distance from Eden.

Ranke-Heinemann tracks much of this back to the body-hating, pleasure-despising strain introduced into the early church by the Essenes and Gnostics. Later, the early and medieval saints and theologians would show little interest in concealing their horror of sex and the body. According to one thought often attributed to Thomas Aquinas, any variation on the so-called missionary position was as sinful as having intercourse with one’s own mother.

The debate over sex with the beautiful versus sex with the ugly had its twisted roots in the belief that there was an almost mathematical ratio between pleasure and sin. The greater the pleasure, the worse the evil. Apparently, too, there also was considerable worry about ejaculation as something that drains and weakens the male, a dangerous process in general and particularly in the presence of the predatory woman who, unlike her mate, doesn’t lose in sex a life-sustaining fluid. The rabbinic admonition to think of a woman as “a pitcher of filth with its mouth full of blood” was echoed in the work of the twelfth-century theologian Petrus Cantor. “Consider that the most lovely woman has come into being from a foul-smelling drop of semen; then consider her midpoint, how she is a container of filth; and after that consider her end, when she will be food for worms.”

To ask which came first—fear of women or fear of sex—is one of those chicken-and-egg questions more suited to Zen meditation than logical inquiry. In any case, religion is an aid to those who suffer from either, or both, terrors. Orthodox Judaism assumes the disgustingness of female bodily fluids, especially those that accompany every child’s entrance into the world. Christianity saw no reason to challenge the Old Testament ban on sex with menstruating women, a prohibition which also appears in the Qur’an. But it’s more than a physical thing. What’s at issue here is not merely a horror of the other but an awareness of the way that horror can augment one’s sense of self, an acknowledgement of how the conviction of God-granted superiority can be a source of comfort and self-esteem. What man wouldn’t have more confidence moving through the world with a submissive wife or wives shuffling like ducklings behind him? Conversely, any indication that the woman is catching up to walk alongside or, worse yet, ahead, inspires even in decent men a frenzy of maddened, injurious activity, as if one’s own masculinity and the fragile social structure that masculinity has created will survive or shatter depending on whether or not a man continues to win that race. Such fears must feed the perpetual worry that one is sharing his bed with an enemy, an inferior, a repellent but necessary specimen of an alien species. And how useful religion is in helping us sort all that out! Every modern society—from Puritan New England to France under Napoleon, from Nazi Germany to Eisenhower-era America—has understood the importance, the necessity, of keeping women in their place.

To automatically hate and fear anything or anyone different from ourselves and to want to feel smarter and worthier than an entire race or gender are two of the least admirable and most regrettable aspects of human nature. So it does seem peculiar that religion, with its emphasis on self-perfection through prayer and the help of God, should so rarely include intolerance among the roster of sins for which we wish to be forgiven, or to avoid altogether. Strange, but not so very strange, when we consider that religions are not merely belief systems but social institutions whose leaders have always understood how effectively fear, hate, and the assurance of racial, national, or sexual superiority—and sex—can be used to define and control a society.

Ages before Freud, it was understood that the power of sex was a potential agent of destabilization and chaos. Consider the story of Paris and Helen of Troy, or Tristan and Isolde. Unruly erotic attraction is a major reason why people break rules, sometimes with tragic results. The theologians were right about one thing: follow your desires, and things start to fall apart. How much simpler it is to tell a community of celibate monks when to go to sleep and get up, and what to do every minute in between, than it is to rein in a teenage boy who wants to go visit his girlfriend. Some politicians have long understood that regimenting sexuality is a time-tested way of maintaining moral authority. And the fear of women and of everything that women represent—the fear of life, of sex, of fecundity, of birth and rebirth and renewal—fosters the kind of death worship that in turn fosters more wars, more killing, more repression, and more pointless misery.

Like every means of social control, faith-based misogyny has its cost, and women have been made to pay an unequal fraction of the price. Let me quote Jimmy Carter one last time, for the exactitude with which he connects the dots between the ideology of the Southern Baptist Convention and the mistreatment of women worldwide. “At its most repugnant, the belief that women must be subjugated to the wishes of men excuses slavery, violence, forced prostitution, genital mutilation, and national laws that omit rape as a crime. But it also costs millions of girls and women control over their own bodies and lives, and continues to deny them fair access to education, health, employment, and influence within their own communities.”

Lately, there have been some signs of progress, shifts perhaps more visible to the optimist than to the impatient. One sees chadors being shed by female protestors in the streets of Tehran; lending cooperatives and trade schools have been established to help Muslim women hold jobs outside the family compound. Women appear more often in Protestant and Jewish pulpits. There’s no doubt that many women’s lives are better than they were a century, even a half century, ago. Women can vote and own property. Abortion has been legalized in many countries, at least for the moment. But organized religion, and the anxieties and terrors it encourages and employs as a means of social control, have fought—and continue to fight—these positive changes, every step of the way. Despite the small steps forward, life continues to worsen for, among others, Afghan women, whose rights were limited this year by the Shiite Personal Status Law, which restricts women’s rights to inherit or divorce and legalizes marriage to minors. Daily, all over the world, there are mutilations and murders and beatings, all in the name of God. Women and men everywhere are still being made to suffer in a continual retelling of that old Bible story of headstrong, impossible Eve, who was the first person to step out of line and question what she had been told.

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Comments Post a Comment »

  • Soooooo glad to be a Buddhist. How any woman can tolerate being treated as chattel I will never know.

    Posted by David on Thu 17 Dec 2009

  • Thank you for a fascinating and informative article. This well-researched work will serve as a reference for future discussions.

    Posted by GM on Fri 18 Dec 2009

  • I wonder. In a plain reading of Genesis, Eve is merely tricked by the Devil into violating God's command. Adam, in contrast, knows what he's up to when he eats of the fruit.

    Posted by Alexander Zajac on Fri 18 Dec 2009

  • Whatever Paul said, how could it be possible for feminism to arise in a culture other than that of the Christian, or post-Christian, west? Where a woman, as Queen, could be "Defender of the Faith", for example. As Rene Girard said, you can only attack Christianity by using the values that Christianity alone introduces into the world.

    I think there is a huge dollop of cognitive dissonance in this. You are afraid to use the I-word, so cowardly lump all religions together.

    Posted by CaRteR on Tue 22 Dec 2009

  • Biblical literalism is an Original Sin of its own making.

    Posted by Richard on Tue 22 Dec 2009

  • A very insightful, profoundly disturbing, and pertinent article. Perhaps one of the most apparent differences between the genders is that women are acutely aware of the value of life. Having suffered to bring life into the world, they are far less inclined to engage in violence towards living creatures. And, with the possible exception of Buddhism, though each religion preaches non-violence they have nevertheless been the single greatest sources of violence on the earth - underpinning or excusing genocides and wars as well as the kind of bigotry spoken about here. I imagine it is easier to promote violence, to commit violent acts, if the dissenters are silenced - if most women are silenced. It seems to be only in the most esoteric lineages, such as Sufism, where religion's bloodthirsty history is questioned - but even there, little connection is made between larger-scale destruction of life and the enslavement of women. Perhaps I am being pessimistic, but it seems to me that these two issues will be resolved together or not at all. Where violence is enshrined no voice of conscience is welcome.

    Posted by judtih on Tue 22 Dec 2009

  • This article sums up one of the central reasons I have left the West's three professions of faith.
    In Zen Buddhism, our Western view of women is utterly rejected; one of its greatest Masters, Ikkyu, was famous for bowing to the genitals of several naked women he came across while they were bathing. When asked why, he answered: "That is where all the Buddhas and Bodhisattva came from!"
    When Paul hijacked Jesus from his message as the messiah of love to Judah, the remnant of Israel, and turned him into a rabid Orthodox rabbi, hateful Christianity was born and, from the alliance of Jewish and Christian orthodoxy, the Taliban and such-like were born.
    In the West, only Sufism has somehow miraculously escaped this curse.

    Posted by Richard Carter on Tue 22 Dec 2009

  • Twice in these comments I have seen Buddhism exonerated from the critiques leveled here against Judeo/Christianity. Hmmm... Just as there were 'priestesses and goddesses' in antiquity, there are female Buddhas and Bodhisattvas in Buddhism. But I cannot remember the last time I went to a teaching where those figures were invoked - and at no point have I seen the basic rules of the Vinaya (monks conduct) queried.

    Two examples: 1) Bhikkus -nuns- are automatically ranked below monks, and 2) sexuality is controlled and its expression condemned, via very explicit language regarding the 'filth' of the female body. Just because these very inconvenient underpinnings to Buddhism are kept out of public discussion doesn't make them any less potent in the overall system.

    There is reform underway, but I've always wondered: why bother? Buddh simply means 'awake' - and while finding the proper reveille for oneself is not an easy task, it is infinitely more reliable than negotiating the self (and -other)-loathing embedded in most (if not all) religious systems.

    Posted by Mysti Easterwood on Tue 22 Dec 2009

  • hey david, why is it that every time I meet a Western convert to Buddhism they radiate smug superiority?

    Posted by Andrew Eather on Tue 22 Dec 2009

  • Enjoyed the article, but also examine that these religious prejudices are not the root cause, but a natural reflection on anthropology. Women were secondary for some very practical reasons, which in a modern society is now largely a ghost seen in religion, etc. Equality can be nearly reached, but not completely. It all comes down to bearing children.

    Posted by Jeannie Fields on Tue 22 Dec 2009

  • If the status of women in Buddhist Thailand, Burma, Ceylon, or Japan was significantly better than that of Jewish, Christian, or Muslim women, this is the first I've heard of it.

    In fact, as far as I (a Catholic) can tell, the earliest of these faiths, Judaism, probably has a better record of educating and "empowering" women than any other in history, even in its most orthodox form.

    Ms Prose, to her credit, does not make the error that some of her readers do, above. Still, she cannot quite bring herself to say straight out that the denigration of women seems to have been endemic to human society, no matter what level of high civilisation it might reach. Endemic, that is, until science gave us the means to break free of the tyranny of the body and of nature, something that carries with it its own dangers.

    Posted by Lise Legault on Tue 22 Dec 2009

  • Main reason woman was treated very baldly in middle age and some time today also because she is physically weak,nature imposed many responsibilities on her, though she is independently earning till she must depend on man somehow..Teasing, fear of rape, mugging she must face constantly.How most civilized country like America treated Hillary Clinton and Sarena Paolina are fresh examples.Men think woman is inferior, must treat her that way this is universal truth.All major religion also given second citizenship to her.I donot think this human tendency change in near future.

    Posted by Ramesh Raghuvanshi on Tue 22 Dec 2009

  • For my part and my part alone, I feel ashamed. This is just about the nail in the coffin for theism for me. Religion is so very clearly horrific offal and animal waste (of the bullish variety) that it seems I cannot accept any of it as truth.

    The women who have and who do suffer and die because of the males of our species and the utterly assinine beliefs they hold and force on women...

    I am going to go and hug my mom and sister now.

    Can we ever jump over the shadow that follows our every step?

    Posted by Chris A on Tue 22 Dec 2009

  • "Sensible, decent Jimmy Carter" has caused more trouble for Middle Eastern women than any man alive. Good grief.

    Posted by HappyAcres on Tue 22 Dec 2009

  • You can point out all the misogyny in the histories of Judaism and Christianity you like. Is it a problem today for those societies? By and large, no. Yes, Jimmy Carter's church and the author's family's synagogue may be a bit backward, but the women in their congregations are free to leave, as they are granted freedom of religion under the law, along with all the other rights that men and women have equally in our society. Why hasn't this happened in the Muslim world? That's the article I'd be interested in reading. The commenter CaRteR is right; you're lumping all religions together trying to demonstrate that they're all equally bad, and historically speaking that's probably true-- but to blame them all for what's happening to women today doesn't really work.

    Posted by AP on Tue 22 Dec 2009

  • another dishonest anti western anti christian anti judaism screed.
    Liberals cannot bring themselves to admit that the west is any more liberal than any non western culture. So they can only critisize what takes place in non western cultures by pretending that all is the same and that there is no difference. But there is a difference. Liberalism could only arise in the west. The west produced many great queens, Elizabeth, Isabella (who fought for her faith), Maria Theresa, Catherine the Great. The position of women in christendom was never as lowly as that in the Islamic world. The status of women in the west has everything to do with Mary, the mother of Jesus, the homage paid to her, Mary Magdelene, an expression of male tolerance towards what many cultures and our culture in the past regarded as ungovernable female sexuality, and other religious women.

    In every culture, men despise women, including Buddhism.This is a universal tendency. Different cultures deal with this differently. Some ameliorate it more than others. Some are more tolerant and allow the status of women to rise. Others do not.

    It is unfortunate that liberals such as Prose cannot bring themselves to say one good thing about the west, about their own heritage and culture.

    Posted by Mindy on Tue 22 Dec 2009

  • Man and woman are a team. That's why I am a humanist. Religion has poisoned wells in every culture around the world.

    Posted by Dismanirie on Tue 22 Dec 2009

  • This article is the truth. Thank you Prose for writing such an informed, well-researched, and well thought-out article.

    I won't even attempt to entertain the asinine comments on this article so far. To do so would take a book, which they probably wouldn't read.

    Posted by J.S. Peyton on Tue 22 Dec 2009

  • "By and large" not a problem today? Are you kidding me, AP? You have only to look to the Catholic church (mine), the ongoing wars between stay-at-home moms and working ones, the continuing efforts to make abortion illegal, 'girls gone wild,' etc. etc. If abortion affected a man's body, it would not be the issue that it is for women. There are Muslim women who speak out and others who choose to leave. They're pretty hard to find; maybe it's the death threats that 'hide' them! Since American women have had the vote for less than 100 years, it's unbelievably disingenuous to suggest that everything's all fixed now. Please.

    Posted by Lisa on Tue 22 Dec 2009

  • The ignorance of the writer is amazing. There was never a greater defender of women than Jesus. When the Jewish elders asked him whether the woman taken in adultery should be stoned, Jesus said "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone". The muslims would have stoned her, and still stone women to this day. There are "honor" killings of women all over the islamic world. Jesus called on all men to not look at women with lust, to not divorce their wives. Paul's description of the importance of love in 1 Corinthians 13: 1-13 is read at weddings and is an accurate description of Christian values. Women have greater rights in the post-Christian West than anywhere else in the world. The freedom of women in the West is the legacy of Christianity. If and when Christianity is destroyed by atheists and other enemies of Christianity, a new, eternal dark age will begin for women and all mankind.

    Posted by Henry on Tue 22 Dec 2009

  • Great article. Women have come a long way. We have played the blame game from the first sin to the last.

    Posted by Mat on Tue 22 Dec 2009

  • Yeah, well, as an American woman, I'm not ruled by the Catholic Church. Nor am I forced to stay at home, or forced to work for that matter, and the overwhelming majority of people in this society don't really care which path I choose. I do have access to abortion, for which I'm grateful, but I recognize that pro-lifers aren't necessarily misogynists-- most of them simply have a problem with the idea of ending human life. As for Girls Gone Wild, well, I'm not sure what you want. No more pornography? No more women getting drunk and doing stupid things? They live in a free society and are free to do those stupid things. That's my point. Some cultural or religious problems may persist, but the big things, like equal rights under the law, by and large HAVE been fixed. Contrast that with, say, Saudi Arabia. The more you learn about the problems women face there the more obscene it seems to draw the comparison.

    Posted by AP on Tue 22 Dec 2009

  • Which is the bigger mystery:

    What psychological twist would lead men to so demonize and degrade the gender who gave them birth?

    Why have women in all these diverse societies accepted this kind of treatment for one minute?

    Posted by Robert on Tue 22 Dec 2009

  • These posts epitomise the problem with active reader response, 1 in every 10 comments will give a genuinely impassioned informed response to the article, and the rest are ignorant posts from self-important readers, or in the case of AP, utterly delusional. Thankyou Prose for an informed, admirably balanced and well researched article.

    Posted by EB on Tue 22 Dec 2009

  • I'm curious, exactly what have I said to warrant being called delusional?

    Posted by AP on Tue 22 Dec 2009

  • That is very interesting that former President Carter chose to publish his letter in UK based paper. What he is afraid of? Why not to publish in the US? where did he go, that very religious man? Something is fishy with his words. And if you Google this story there are not too many comments. Why is that?

    Posted by Rles on Tue 22 Dec 2009

  • Possible perspectives on Robert's thought-provoking questions:

    "What psychological twist would lead men to so demonize and degrade the gender who gave them birth?" Fear (of the power of sexual attraction to weaken men's reasoning powers? of the ability of love or sexual attraction to weaken young men's willingness to obey authority?)
    Dehumanizing the feared (such as enemies) is the best way to combat them or keep them under control.

    "Why have women in all these diverse societies accepted this kind of treatment for one minute?" What other option is there? If they hadn't, we wouldn't be here discussing it. They are physically weaker, they need men to make babies and to protect them and their children from other men, they may be genetically "programmed" (as in evolutionarily selected) to be conciliators and optimists.

    Posted by Barbara on Tue 22 Dec 2009

  • I agree with that the use of theology to demean and oppress women is deplorable and should be fought whereever found.

    However, I disagree with the characterization of Orthodox Judaism's attitude toward woman:

    Placing Orthodox Judaism within its historical context, consider the following:

    (1) Judaism considers sex to be a sacred act, worthy of G-d's presence.

    (2) Within the marriage, sex is a right of the woman rather than the man, to the extent that a wife can refuse to allow her husband to take a job which would cause him to leave for extended period of time.

    (3) The Orthodox marriage contract was written specifically to protect women's interests in a marriage including her rights to support and alimony. In the middle ages, the traditional contract was considered insufficient, so that an additional contract was put in place binding the in-laws to the support and protection of the couple.

    (4) In the modern world, the majority of Jewish Orthodox Women complete at least two years of post high school education and many complete thier Master's.

    In short, Judaism does repudiate sex, nor women, nor their significance to the fabric of the divine or everyday.

    To address the specific points made in this article, which primarily revolve around the prohibition of sex during menstruation and the consequent assumption that the menstrual cycle and women are equally disgusting.

    The philosophical description of the menstrual cycle is that it represents the death of a possibility - a could-be life that never came to be. Women take this point to undergo a physical and spiritual rebirth, described by the author as " strenuous head-to-toe purification." Likewise the atonement/purification ritual for a birth is to rectify the loss of the life within. A female child means the loss of all her children as well, since the female gametes are mature from birth, thus the period of purification is twice as long.

    This area of Jewish law has historically been shaped primarily by women, whose customs and innovations became part of the corpus of Jewish law, including the Chassidic practice of shaving one's head once a month. This practice is echoed by the Sephardic practice of shaving everywhere except one's head. The reliance on women as the source of practical law and spirituality is so prevalent that the saying goes, " If you want to know what blessing to say on a non-kosher chicken, ask a rabbi. If you want to know how to kasher the chicken, ask his wife."

    I could continue at length on the legal rights and roles of women - including inheritance, testimony, education, and others.

    I appreciate your defense of women everywhere and am grateful for the success of you and your predecessors that allow me to vote, own property in a Christian country and attend and graduate from college. But I respectfully request that you respect the influence and power that Jewish women, Orthodox included, bring to their families, communities and the world at large.

    Posted by Bresler on Tue 22 Dec 2009

  • The author is engaging in the typical postmordern liberal tactic of trying to erase all meaningful differences. Yes, from our vantage point, early Christianity wasn't feminist, and even today, many Christian sects still can't bring themselves to admit equality between the sexes. However, from that to drawing parallels with Islam? No, that is just ridiculous. Either the author is insulting my intelligence on purpose, or he himself is a stupid person.

    Posted by Robert SF on Tue 22 Dec 2009

  • I too appreciate anyone speaking out against the treatment of women by the Taliban or anybody else who would mistreat or limit them in the name of God or anything else. But I think Ms. Prose is mistaking a rationalization for a reason in blaming this or that religion or religious practice for sexism, mild or severe. When she mentions religion being used to justify "patriarchal tribalism" I think she is closer to the mark. We human beings are simply violent animals who, in a state of nature (a/k/a barbarism a/k/a "tribalism") sort out who is boss with violence. And in that arena women always lost. Why did men exploit women and see them as chattels? Not because a religious book (that the men themselves wrote anyway) told them to, but because they could. The more civilized we get the less violence, or the threat of it, determines status and the more rights and respect women enjoy. Some men, including clever ones like Augustine, cling to rationalizations of women's inferiority because it's comforting to have someone lower on the status ladder than oneself. Comforting too to maintain the status quo. I agree religion perpetuates sexism, but it is not the cause. And, really, it is the people who practice the religions, not the books themselves, that are guilty.

    Posted by Edward on Tue 22 Dec 2009

  • I accept without question the quotations from all kinds of theologies; I have never seen them so well assembled. They are crude, mean-minded, they are an infestation and an infection.

    But I do not in fact believe that they represent all of human history. A bunch of alpha males trying to get ahead in the competitive politics/business of religion will say anything. They were going for the redneck vote.

    It is an older idea of history, in which kings, czars, archbishops, queens, nobles and empresses, were somehow the only people who mattered. Notably the literate, or those with hired scribes. That's where the scholars got/get their memorials. Of the whole of humanity, a very small and not necessarily useful sample.

    But in the real world, companionship, affection, concern are not recent. This is not a softening of ancient attitudes. It is a parallel track, with a lot more people on it than misogynistic demented clerics living in isolation. I don't think it is going too far to say that this has sometimes been close to a sado-masochistic pact. I know little of Catholicism, but I wince at how both sexes have conspired. Just as some Muslim women claim a freedom in wearing the burkhah. Or Orthodox women claim the advantages of shaving their heads.

    I do not believe that it is as crude and simple as a male imposition. It goes deeper. In the past, I have been troubled by strong women friends who have always fallen in with thoroughly brutish men; the role-play seemed more vitally important to them than any politics. To assert that this is simply an exploitation does not fit the facts.

    What is appalling is that those few autistic males, and the odd submissive ways of some females, end up being taken as Gospel.

    Posted by Richard B on Wed 23 Dec 2009

  • Some men, including clever ones like Augustine, cling to rationalizations of women's inferiority because it's comforting to have someone lower on the status ladder than oneself

    "Edward" is trying to be fair in his comment, and doesn't do too badly. But this particular portion of his post shows a certain lack of appreciation of Augustine's value. St Augustine was perhaps the first man in any society at all to defend rape victims on the grounds that they could not help having been raped. This may not seem to be all that significant (because it's too obvious to us now to warrant special mention), but it was extremely important in his own time. To men of that era, all men, not just a few, or those of particular societies, a rape victim was one who had been so dishonored that her (or in rare cases his) only honourable option was to commit suicide to erase the stain. Augustine was the first moralist of any society to ask "why?", and to make a case for the victims of rape and their right to live, quite apart from the Christian injunction against suicide. He argued that a rape victim had committed no sin, done nothing wrong, so why should she be expected to erase herself from the face of the earth to wipe out the dishonour she had suffered?

    Here's a passage from another blog regarding this subject (chosen because it summarizes Augustine's view so concisely):
    Pagan Romans felt that raped women had lost their honor, and that it could only be regained by killing themselves, like the famous Lucretia of legend. We know that many cultures today still teach this sort of behavior -- most notably the Muslims. But for Christians, such an idea was wicked foolishness, on many levels.

    St. Augustine attacks this problem head on. First of all, he proclaims that "the virtue which makes the life good has its throne in the soul, and thence rules the members of the body, which becomes holy in virtue of the holiness of the will; and that while the will remains firm and unshaken, nothing that another person does with the body, or upon the body, is any fault of the person who suffers it, so long as he cannot escape it without sin."

    He acknowledged that people who are raped feel "shame invades even a thoroughly pure spirit from which modesty has not departed -- shame, lest that act which could not be suffered without some sensual pleasure, should be believed to have been committed also with some assent of the will."

    First, he says (as an act of pastoral comfort to those worried about the fate of suicides' souls) that "even if some of these virgins killed themselves to avoid such disgrace, who that has any human feeling would refuse to forgive them?" (Normally, suicide was considered back then as an aggressive, controlling, act of defiance against God and the world. Considering the culture, it may well have been.)

    But then he makes sure to emphasize that if a woman refused to commit suicide, she was doing a good thing, not being shameless and wicked as the local culture said. "Why, then, should a person who has done no wrong do wrong to himself, and by killing himself kill the innocent to escape another's guilty act, and perpetrate upon himself a sin of his own, that the sin of another may not be perpetrated on him?"

    Furthermore, he insists that "what sane man can suppose that, if his body be seized and forcibly made use of to satisfy the lust of another, he thereby loses his purity?" In fact, the soul's intention sanctifies the body, no matter what has been done to it by others against its will.

    "For the sanctity of the body does not consist in the integrity of its members, nor in their exemption from all touch; for they are exposed to various accidents which do violence to and wound them, and the surgeons who administer relief often perform operations that sicken the spectator. A midwife, suppose, has (whether maliciously or accidentally, or through unskillfulness) destroyed the virginity of some girl, while endeavoring to ascertain it: I suppose no one is so foolish as to believe that, by this destruction of the integrity of one organ, the virgin has lost anything even of her bodily sanctity. And thus, so long as the soul keeps this firmness of purpose which sanctifies even the body, the violence done by another's lust makes no impression on this bodily sanctity, which is preserved intact by one's own persistent continence."

    "This, then, is our position, and it seems sufficiently lucid. We maintain that when a woman is violated while her soul admits no consent to the iniquity, but remains inviolably chaste, the sin is not hers, but his who violates her."

    He also rips on the story of Lucretia: "But how is it, that she who was no partner to the crime bears the heavier punishment of the two? For the adulterer was only banished along with his father; she suffered the extreme penalty. If that was not impurity by which she was unwillingly ravished, then this is not justice by which she, being chaste, is punished."

    The pagan Romans argue that suicide is a good way to prevent women getting interested in their rapist. (Clearly they've been watching General Hospital too much.) Augustine slaps this down, too.

    "Now, in the first place, the soul which is led by God and His wisdom, rather than by bodily concupiscence, will certainly never consent to the desire aroused in its own flesh by another's lust. And, at all events, if it be true, as the truth plainly declares, that suicide is a detestable and damnable wickedness, who is such a fool as to say, 'Let us sin now, that we may obviate a possible future sin; let us now commit murder, lest we perhaps afterwards should commit adultery'? If we are so controlled by iniquity that innocence is out of the question, and we can at best but make a choice of sins, is not a future and uncertain adultery preferable to a present and certain murder? Is it not better to commit a wickedness which penitence may heal, than a crime which leaves no place for healing contrition?

    "I say this for the sake of those men or women who fear they may be enticed into consenting to their violator's lust, and think they should lay violent hands on themselves, and so prevent, not another's sin, but their own. But far be it from the mind of a Christian confiding in God, and resting in the hope of His aid; far be it, I say, from such a mind to yield a shameful consent to pleasures of the flesh, howsoever presented. And if that lustful disobedience, which still dwells in our mortal members, follows its own law irrespective of our will, surely its motions in the body of one who rebels against them are as blameless as its motions in the body of one who sleeps."

    Posted by Lise Legault on Wed 23 Dec 2009

  • Ms Prose is one of my favorite writers, and I am happy to learn she is Jewish. But she seems to be misinformed about Judaism.

    Chassidic women do not shave because the sight of a ringlet is so enticing, as ultra-Orthodox women cover their hair all the time so nobody ever sees it anyway. They shave for Kabbalistic reasons.

    There is nothing degrading about women and men praying separately.

    Dipping in the mikvah once a month is not strenuous.

    Judaism has always been more women-friendly than any other religion, although there are fanatics everywhere. I recommend Ms. Prose get to know some normal, professional Modern Orthodox women.

    Posted by Miriam on Wed 23 Dec 2009

  • I Love Women.Period.

    Posted by Thomas on Wed 23 Dec 2009

  • "hateful Christianity," Richard? The Catholic Church is the largest single health care provider on earth; it is the largest charitable organization on earth; it cares for more AIDS patients than any other single organization on earth. If this is hate, I'd love to see love. "woman . . . is physically weak," Ranesh? Have you ever given birth? Have you ever watched a woman give birth? There is nothing men do that requires as much strength as that.

    Posted by Don W. on Wed 23 Dec 2009

  • The author is guilty of ignoring the evidence that would call her thesis into question.

    The notion that men are superior to women is universal, with the exception of a few matriarchal cultures. MALES created philosophy and morality, and embedded their biases in those cultural constructions.

    At least the author is honest in recognizing the profoundly misogynistic character of Greco-Roman mythology. If someone angers the gods, it's the female, not the male, who gets punished (e.g., Cinyras & Myrrha; Minos & Pasiphae in Euripides' *The Cretans*).

    On the supposed superiority of Buddhism: LOL.

    Buddhism (and Hinduism) teaches that one of the reasons a person is reincarnated as a woman is because in her previous life she was a man who lusted after other men's wives (*Pancagatidipani*, 93). To become a male in another life, she must "loath[e] her womanhood" and be "little affected by passion" (94).

    According to tradition, Siddhartha Gautama did want allow women to join the Sangha, since he thought them emotionally incapable of sexual and emotional self-control. He only permitted it after the begging of his female followers.

    Christianity is the most pro-female of the major religions. Paul taught that wives were to be loved, and that husbands were to serve their wives, not see their wives as (sexual) servants (as they were in the pagan world). Rodney Stark in the *The Rise of Christianity*, shows that its pro-natalist morality, its rejection of infant exposure and abortion, led to a positive view of women in society and was one of the major reasons for its early rise.

    Some of this was picked up from Judaism (the concern for the weakest), but then, on the other hand there is the well-known rabbinical prayer, "Blessed are You Hashem, our G-d, King of the universe...Who has not created me as a woman."

    Posted by David on Wed 23 Dec 2009

  • As a Buddhist, just wanted to add my voice to those pointing out that women have not gotten a better deal from Buddhism than from other religions. Standard Orthodox Buddhisms (there are several) see women as unclean, deny them access to full practice, tell them to be subservient (whether as daughters, wives, or monastics), etc. etc. Yes, strong and vibrant women practitioners and teachers did and do arise, at times were even recognized by men, and at times played a crucial role in Buddhism's survival and flourishing -- the story is more complex than only victimization -- but Buddhism doesn't get off the patriarchal hook, oh no. From the very beginning women may have broken through barriers, but the barriers were there, and for most women insurmountable.

    By the way, the quote from Ikkyu about all Buddha's coming from women's vaginas, actually is his quote from the great 9th century Chinese Zen master Moshan, the first woman to make it into the lineage charts. (I told you the story was complicated.)

    Posted by Judy on Wed 23 Dec 2009

  • to Richard:
    I can assure you that the cavemen were violently misogynistic. Call the men whatever names you like. That is the way it is. Only in the liberal west has misogyny almost disappeared. Everywhere else life goes on as it always did. You need to read about non western cultures.

    There don't seem to have ever been any truly matriarchal cultures where women had political power. There are in Africa matrilineal cultures, where inheritance is through the woman. Women enjoy higher status in those cultures than in other African patrilineal cultures. Still in matrilineal, the political and social and military power is with the men. The ruler is always a King, not a queen, and the King's mother is important because she gave birth to the King.

    Posted by Mindy on Wed 23 Dec 2009

  • Ironic that article mentions Carter, it was during his presidency that US began collaborating with religious extremists, to fight its proxy war against the Russians, without any concern for the millions of Afghans that would suffer. Also, US a secular democracy, has a long history of propping up dictators, kings and extremists(in the Third World) who do the West bidding, to the detriment of Thirld World people.
    Which then leads to the uncomfortable question: if the US didn't do this and had not acquired the wealth it has, would women in the US have as many right as they have now?

    Posted by Randall Jones on Wed 23 Dec 2009

  • It's always amused me that it was Eve who, by eating the forbidden fruit, opened up human minds to the knowledge of good and evil. Otherwise, humankind would have continued to be mindless zombies. It also amuses me that while Catholic theology celebrates the horrible but redeeming act of crucifixion, it condemns Eve's equally pivotal act. After all, where would Christianity be without the concept of good and evil and the premise that we are free to choose either?

    Posted by jimsimmonds on Wed 23 Dec 2009

  • Dear oh, dear oh me! If we can't get beyond this sort of childish argument, we are not going to get very far. Recently, I took a young (35y.o.) female friend to a performance of "The Vagina Monologues", and was most impressed by the sense of empowerment that the performance engendered in the audience, which was predominantly female. I observed eight other chaps, other than ushers. To what degree is feminism suffering from self-censorship? I can remember my second wife being truly horrified that my elder son, then 13, had purchased tampons for her. She was ill, I had to stay in to look after her much younger children, so where was the problem?

    Posted by Franklin Percival on Wed 23 Dec 2009

  • Henry, what Jesus said and did according to the Gospels is one thing. What Christianity now recommends, and has recommended historically, is another. You don't seem to be able to tell the difference between the two, which is scary. Do you honestly think that if Jesus were to stand up for a woman taken in adultery today, in a politicized situation, amongst conservatives or amidst the C Street crowd, he'd ingratiate himself or get much of a hearing? Personally, I doubt it.

    The point is not that Christianity is "just the same" as Islam or vice versa. The point is that Christianity and Islam have enough traits in common that it wouldn't be impossible that practices which are already widespread in Islam (not all of which are justified by scripture even there) might also, given time and pressure, become widespread within Christianity. (If I were to be told that some of them are currently popular within the bounds of the newly evangelized sectors of Africa, I would not be shocked.)

    Jesus never saved a woman from an honor killing other than the once. Jesus is not the cavalry: he can't be counted on to come riding over the hill just in the nick of time. Men who face danger don't attempt to pray themselves out of trouble; why should women? Culture and politics are important, yes, but a pretty good case could be made that that Christian culture and politics owe more to Christians than to Jesus---or to Augustine. Jesus and Augustine may have been interested in sparing women from unpleasantness but not all Christians are. Again, there are two different issues at work here and they shouldn't be conflated.

    Posted by bekabot on Wed 23 Dec 2009

  • The reason that women are found to be oppressed in so many
    existing societies is that the "emancipation" of women
    leads to the emasculation of men. Societies in which women
    are "free and equal" are routinely defeated and overrun by
    cultures in which women are oppressed... resulting in a
    bunch of dead male wimps and a new set of harem slaves in
    the resulting misogynistic country. (It is entertaining,
    for example, to review Swedish feminist debates on
    secondary non-issues as Scandinavia marches inevitably
    toward Sharia.)

    Why the above is so is unclear. Evolutionary psychology?
    Freud? Women valuing life over power? Whatever... But
    the empirical evidence that it is so is overwhelming.

    Posted by Bob on Wed 23 Dec 2009

  • Great text, well researched. I hope it shows that our culture is at a tipping point. What Frazer's 'golden bough' began and Graves' continued with the 'goddess' took a long time to flourish. It's time for these book religions to change from within or disappear (like all things that don't change). Their primitive and barbaric roots are not able to keep up with the necessary changes our societies have to go through. We will see.

    Posted by michael on Wed 23 Dec 2009

  • The essay is charged with passion and clear-thinking. What more can anyone ask of an essay? From the comments, it seems many readers are either looking for a fight or looking for faith-based confirmation of previously held beliefs. The essay is not about this or that religion, it is about how religious beliefs have been complicit in--to put it mildly--the historical subjugation of women. The Taliban are, at the moment, the most newsworthy of pre and anti-modernists, and among the most violent in their treatment of women. I can only add from a non-religious, Western, Jewish, male perspective that it was in the fall of 1967, a few months after graduating from a well known liberal arts college, that I encountered the only radically new idea I had up to then heard: that men and women were completely equal and the same. I soon dismissed the same part of the idea, but the equal--in the world and under law is still irrefutable.

    Posted by richard gordon on Wed 23 Dec 2009

  • Faith-based misogyny is what this article is about. Religious belief has never taken root in me, or not deeply enough to make misogyny flourish with any degree of satisfaction.
    Fear of women was perhaps somewhat lessened in me by the fact that I had a mother who happened to be female. So I am not a complete stranger to a certain variety in genders. My father, by the by, was male. This provided me with ample choices whom to dislike, resent, hate or fear.
    Mutilations and murders and beatings in the name of god were not a daily experience, as far as I can remember. Maybe I have repressed them. Maybe, a bit like Marlowe, we thought religion a broken toy and that playing with it was stupid and ignorant. Frankly, I do not know. of that I am sure.

    Posted by Ted Schrey Montreal on Thu 24 Dec 2009

  • I do not intend to stun the Quarterly congregation into silence and submission through superior argument. Nevertheless, I can try.
    I see religion as the earliest manifestation of rational reflection, which occurred perhaps because of mortal fear of losing one's life. This implies that a being reflected on circumstances and inner phenomena.
    The Adam and Eve story represents the emergence of this ability to 'think', symbolized by the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Without rational thought there can be no religion, it seems to me. One might say that rational thought is more foundational than religion. Far-fetched you think? I think not. Think again.

    Posted by Ted Schrey Montreal on Thu 24 Dec 2009

  • If you are a woman plagued by the dominion of the patriarchial gods, then cultivate for yourself an image of the divine power as woman. Adhere to that image and express it in your life. Leave the boyish arguments over which male god is bigger, yet equally sensitive, in the dust.
    A previous poster pointed out that religion is a product of human thought. Think for yourself women, stop blaming, and swooning, create a better place for yourself.

    Posted by sophia on Fri 25 Dec 2009

  • What a manipulative political artical. i must borrow the words of one previeous comment writer. "a dollop of cognative dissonance within this artical. the subtle attack on Christ within this artical is one of the very same that the power hungry patriarchal "men" have used to subvert the true message of christainity, that being a new way of being human, not a new way of being religious. yet this human message has long been lost to those who have continued down the path of control, manipulation, and power in the very same way this artical has also done.
    Jesus for example criticizing many central tenets of his own faith, these have been past over by those who assert Jesus wanted a new religion in his name. For those "serious" and "intellectually" enlightened christains, this new way of being human, rather than a new way of being religious cuts little ice, so the patriarchal culture continues down its weary pathway of insipid religiosity being promoted by just such articals as this one.Sadly missing the real thought behind the message of Christ.
    there are two thoughts i will leave you with of two women who seem to be on the precipice of this understanding.
    Dorothee Soelle said; " The feeling of powerlessness is the deepest form of estrangement that our civilisation produces."

    Lisa Isherwood said; " The world is full of christians yet nothing changes. It may be time to change the tune. Lets dance with Eve and go in serch of Lillith, the first of our foresisters to refuse the embodiment of destructive hierarchy." You see Jesus Christ is about a new way of being human, not a new way of being religious. when one begins to look at this from this direction one can be truely set free from the control of man in spite of one's gender.

    Posted by robert j. on Sat 26 Dec 2009

  • Sensible Carter got it right? Are you nuts?! Carter has not denounced HAMAS, the proponent so which propagate the repressive animosity against women on which this article (rightly) laments---even going so far as to petition that the group be removed from the U.S. list of terrorist organizations! Carter hates Jews; he revealed the number of nuclear warheads Israel possessed, and no president has EVER disclosed military strength of a stated ally to its sworn enemy prior to that jerk...

    Posted by ML on Thu 7 Jan 2010

  • Actually according to anthropologists, women have particularly high status in Indonesia, the world's largest muslim country. On the other hand, women in northern rural India and rural Pakistan have similar (low) statuses, though Indians are Hindus, not Muslims.
    As some people write above, the evidence is that it is not religion per se which causes these things. What people get out of their religion probably tends to reflect what the society wants to get out of it, though it's likely aspects of religion can also be used to support what people (or some people, like males) want.

    Posted by mm on Fri 8 Jan 2010

  • As a university professor it occurred to me long ago that my profession would not exist where it not for Eve's action (or at least the belief that we had somewhere along the way become responsible for thinking--regardless of the myth in which one encodes this belief). Without knowledge of the moral consequences of our actions we would still be the deity's terrarium pets. However the assignment of responsibility for this act of liberaion to the woman reflects the male tendency to avoid responsibility for their own decisions. The real lesson is in the cowardly example that Adam presents because his response actually not only blames the woman but deflects the blame back on God. "The woman whom thou gavest to be with me" made me do it. Adam is truly the first man (even though there must have been other families around since the sons of Adam and Eve found wives) because he established the model for males excusing their behavior as the result of temptation by women.

    Posted by Dennis M. on Sat 9 Jan 2010

  • Socrates, at his trial, observed, that no evil can happen to a good man.
    It is a mistake to point to religion as the object of our wrath, when the problem is as deep as our natures descend.
    Every human's capacity to hate and fear is the background radiation in which we naturally decay and against which we must consciously and constantly fight.
    Education and opportunity are our good deeds. Let evil diminish thus.

    Posted by Nebesh on Tue 12 Jan 2010

  • This is a self-indulgent piece, It reads as a prosecution summary intended to capture the jury's prejudice.

    Posted by Scott on Tue 26 Jan 2010

  • Useful information, many thanks to the author. It is puzzling to me now, but in general, the usefulness and importance is overwhelming. Very much thanks again and good luck!

    Posted by live jasmin on Sun 18 Apr 2010

  • mutuelle

    nice piece of work.

    Posted by mutuelle on Thu 24 Jun 2010

  • Those wishing to exempt Orthodox Judaism from misogyny should acquaint themselves with "Women Of The Wall" and the decades-long, unsuccessful struggle of Jewish women in Israel to be allowed to pray, peacefully and equally, at the Wailing Wall.

    Posted by Richard on Mon 26 Jul 2010

  • Very good job, i love this pict sejour canada

    Posted by Canada on Tue 16 Nov 2010

  • From the first second of world was built the opposition "men-woman" appears. And all the history of mankind is full of women names: Beatriche, Helena, Maria. Thousands of essays were wrote on these theme in acadamic circles. The culturological studies always point on the role of women in a epoha or points on turning thr line about attitude for women. The artical is really actual and interesting. Thank you for posting it. Best regards.

    Posted by Carry on Fri 19 Nov 2010

  • wahou i love this picture.
    great vin

    Posted by Vin on Mon 6 Dec 2010

  • Banque mobile
    nice piece of work.

    Posted by Jo on Sun 12 Dec 2010

  • Thank for this arts. I m student from australia - never seen that good work - OC AC

    Posted by Lucy Marry on Sun 12 Dec 2010

  • I see religion as the earliest manifestation of rational reflection, which occurred perhaps ubezpieczenia because of mortal fear of losing one's life. This implies that a being reflected on circumstances and inner phenomena.

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    Posted by Dimitri on Wed 29 Jun 2011

  • All the major religions are run by men, for the benefit of men.

    Posted by Alma Lisa on Thu 11 Aug 2011

  • our love is wandering, both sides has become the existence of life, that, discrete, is life of choice.

    Posted by air max 2011 on Mon 29 Aug 2011

  • Original sin is, according to a theological doctrine, humanity's state of sin resulting from the Fall of Man.
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  • The doctrine of original sin was first developed in 2nd-century Bishop of Lyon Irenaeus's struggle against Gnosticism. blu electronic cigarette

    Posted by blu electronic cigarette on Tue 6 Sep 2011

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About the Text

Francine Prose is a novelist, essayist, and author of nonfiction. Her books include Goldengrove and Reading Like a Writer. Her latest work is Anne Frank: The Book, The Life, The Afterlife.

Religion! How it dominates man’s mind, how it humiliates and degrades his soul. God is everything, man is nothing, says religion. But out of that nothing God has created a kingdom so despotic, so tyrannical, so cruel, so terribly exacting that naught but gloom and tears and blood have ruled the world since gods began.
Emma Goldman, 1910
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