Those who call Jesus Christ a feminist are 'grasping at straws'

April 20, 2018: Maclean’s readers weigh in on whether Jesus was a feminist, the air strikes in Syria, the author who fibbed that he was born in Flin Flon and more

Christ appearing to Mary Magdalene. Painting by Paolo Veronese (1528-1588). (Leemage/Corbis/Getty Images)

Was Jesus Christ a feminist?

In March, Brian Bethune explored the long-simmering debate over the role of women in Christian churches, and Jesus’s gender egalitarianism.

Not another attempt to turn Jesus into a feminist! He was born into, raised in and spent his whole life in a culture that took sexism for granted. The neighbouring Gentile cultures, which he must have had some familiarity with, were as sexist as his Jewish one. If Jesus were even a moderate feminist, there would be far more evidence for it than the vague hints that feminists claim to have found the New Testament and other early Christian documents. Sister Christine Schenk is correct that Mary Magdalene was not an ex-prostitute. However, other than in the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 8, Verse 2, where it is stated Jesus cast seven demons out of her, she is mentioned only in connection with Jesus’s death and resurrection. Even there, the only place she is mentioned apart from other women is in the Gospel of John. Most liberal Christians do not believe Jesus really did rise from the dead. If they are correct, Mary Magdalene is almost certainly a fictitious character. The Gospel of Mary is believed to have been written in the last quarter of the second century AD, far too late to have been written by anyone who knew Jesus or even by anyone who knew those who did know him. It is extremely unlikely to contain more accurate information about Jesus than the New Testament or other early Christian writings. We do not even know whether the “Mary” in it is Mary Magdalene; it could just as easily be Jesus’s mother. What is especially damaging to Christian feminism is that there were no women at the Last Supper—not even Mary Magdalene or those other women who provided for Jesus and his disciples and may have paid for the supper. Jesus and his disciples appear to have regarded these women as little more than sugar mommies.

MORE: Did Jesus really exist?

I cannot believe Schenk and Karen King do not know that the account of Jesus and the woman caught in adultery is almost certainly legendary, having no basis in historical fact. It is not in the earliest manuscripts of John and even in later ones that contain it, usually between chapters 7 and 8, it is marked off with asterisks or obeli indicating doubt about its authenticity. Schenk is reading too much into the account of Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well. She expresses surprise that a Jew would talk to a Samaritan but not that a man would talk to a woman. Why did Jesus not draw the water himself or ,since it was a Samaritan well, not ask the woman if he could draw water for himself and for her also? He washed the disciples’ feet even though they should have washed his. He expected her to do “women’s work,” the menial task of drawing water from a well.

Feminists are making too much out of Phoebe’s being a deacon. The first deacons waited on tables—not very high up the church ladder. Feminists are grasping at straws making a big thing out of Paul’s writing Priscilla before Aquila three out of six times. There is an old saying: “Hope springs eternal.” So, unfortunately does wishful thinking. — Barry Kendall, Lefroy, Ont.

READ: More letters from readers

I enjoyed the article, and although I believe Mary Magdalene is a very important figure, she cannot be more important than Mary, the mother of Jesus. Mary was the first apostle/disciple/teacher. She was there for all of his 33 years and was one of the three women standing at the foot of the cross. That is probably the reason why we call her the Mother of the Church—she is so important that without her “yes” we would not have the manger, hence Christmas. The gospel messages are still all very relevant today. — Jeannette Landry White, Bathurst, N.B.

Geoffrey Lenahan on Twitter: If we genuinely love and care for each other, we won’t need feminism because we would all be equal and look after each other. Maybe this sounds too utopian, but tell me an issue that wouldn’t be resolved if we all had heightened love, compassion, and empathy.

Trump orders air strikes in Syria, declares ‘Mission Accomplished’

Damascus skies erupt with anti-aircraft fire as the U.S. launches an attack on Syria targeting different parts of the Syrian capital Damascus, Syria, early Saturday, April 14, 2018. Syria’s capital has been rocked by loud explosions that lit up the sky with heavy smoke as U.S. President Donald Trump announced airstrikes in retaliation for the country’s alleged use of chemical weapons. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

On April 13, an Associated Press story on our website reported that the U.S., Britain and France carried out co-ordinated strikes aimed at punishing the Assad government for a suspected poison gas attack against civilians.

On the one hand, I feel agony to the core just imagining the everyday lives of Syrians, for whom death has become the norm and perhaps life itself is the greater tragedy for those survivors who have lost everything. Yet, on the other hand, looking at any effort lead by Mr. Trump makes me even more uneasy. He throws these statements around as if on the playground, and at the moment he’s playing king. We seem to be playing the same games over and over, and the victim of both sides are the civilians of Syria. If they are by chance saved from the horror waged by their own, they might not be so lucky against Mr. Trump’s missiles. Yes, there should be a strong response against this darkness; however, is this the right one? I am not so sure. Perhaps opening your doors to the less fortunate and oppressed may serve as a better a solution than building walls and threatening your rivals with proxy wars. Just maybe. — Omar Farooq, Vaughan, Ont.

Rather than heading towards peace, we are heading towards chaos. If we desire international peace, then it is required that all nations deal with each other with justice. They should not cast eyes covetously upon the resources of other countries or behave with actions that ignore fundamental human rights. Killing each other is never an ideal solution and can very potentially escalate the enmity between states and create further unrest. — Osama Sobhi, Calgary

MORE: Russia and Iran have won Syria. They might not like what comes next.

Many consider the multi-nation stikes on Syria the proverbial “rooster” preceding the dawn of the Third World War. All this in a rather contextually framed response to a suspected chemical gas attack on the Syrian town of Douma last week. In the midst of political and societal unrest in which conversations condemning the ideological enemy of Islam are rife, hopeful leaders beckon the world toward reason. “Although a Third World War has not been officially declared, in reality a global war is already taking place,” says Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, the leader of the Ahamdiyya World Wide community. “Throughout the world men, women and children are being killed, tortured and subjected to the most heart-breaking cruelties.” For there to be international peace, nations have to deal with each other with justice. This attack, it seemed, bordered more on the aggressive than otherwise, pushing the world closer to unimaginable conflict. So yes, President Trump, “mission accomplished.” — Murtan Riaz, Toronto

The Bible includes the quote “an eye for an eye,” and this seems to be the current solution to the problems in Syria, but there should be some consideration of the rest of that quote, ”But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also,”’ and of what the Qur’an says, “But whoever [it up as] charity, it is an expiation for him.” There is already too much sadness from the bombings as no matter where or for whatever reason, innocent people—often children—are injured or killed. There is still time for talking and diplomacy, even if it takes a long time. Many leaders and tyrants have found you cannot beat people into agreement through only submission. We must all keep looking for peaceful solutions. — Dennis Fitzgerald, Melbourne, Australia

Meet the acclaimed Canadian author who couldn’t stop lying about his birthplace

Author Bill Gaston. (Jen Steele Photography)

In April, Aaron Hutchins wrote about author Bill Gaston, who has fibbed about being born in Flin Flon and has now been made an honorary citizen of the city.

Thank you for your recent article on the Bill Gaston-Flin Flon “connection.” Speaking as Flin Flonners, we are delighted to have Bill on board. He imagined himself a fellow Flin Flonner and conjured up an alternative set of facts that actually became reality. How often have we all wanted to do the same?! Congrats Bill, on receiving your belated Flin Flon diploma! — Greg East and Jan Modler, Flin Flon, Man.

A double-double of cynicism in Ontario

Ontario PC Leader Doug Ford takes questions from journalists as the Ontario government prepares to deliver its 2018 Budget at the Queens Park Legislature in Toronto on Wednesday, March 28, 2018. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young)

In March, Tom Parkin contended that in their recent, pre-election budget, the Ontario Liberals cynically borrowed from the provincial NDP after ignoring the fact that a lot of Ontarians are struggling with the costs of everyday life, and Progressive Conservative leader Doug Ford talked about tax cuts.

One thing a voter can do in Ontario if they don’t like any political party is to decline their ballot. This is a pretty simple but extremely difficult to do. You have to get up off your ass, go to a polling station, and when your ballot is handed to you just say, “I decline this ballot.” The declined ballots are supposed to be counted and reported.  And they show that voters in Ontario aren’t too damn lazy to vote. Enough for the voters. What can you pundits do? Go after Ford. You know he won’t say squat. Why? He has seen what saying stupid things leading up to an election can do. Tory and Hudak are prime examples.  He knows Wynne can’t win.  She could balance the budget, lower taxes, reduce the accumulated deficit and she would still lose.  And God forbid that we ever elect another NDP government. Maybe there is no hope. — Murray Cluff, Beamsville, Ont.

Joe Heemeryck on Facebook: Has anyone ever noticed that the NDP typically has the most popular and likable leader but the Liberals steal all their left-to-center-leaning thunder? Sadly our only hope of effecting change is to vote conservative. Maybe Conservatives and NDP should merge and meet somewhere in the middle. Business and Labour work together like in Germany and no more fickle Liberals promising everything to everybody to buy votes. A common sense revolution that is actually common sense. A balancing act, if you will.

Evan Hoffer on Facebook: Raising taxes on corporations is not the way. Business is leaving Ontario for the USA and the high cost associated with Ontario is the primary reason. There is no money for these utopia ideas as the province already has to borrow to make ends meet, even with the already high tax rate. We have the most sub-sovereign debt in the world. If you don’t see a problem with that, you are part of the problem. How about focusing on making more money first and reducing costs instead of wild and unsustainable spending plans?

Justin Trudeau’s Kinder Morgan trouble

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meets with workers at Suncor’s Fort Hills facility near Fort McMurray, Alta., on Friday, April 6, 2018. (Jason Franson/CP)

Paul Wells wrote in April that, with Kinder Morgan having announced it was halting all non-essential spending on its Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project, and with lack of clarity about what the federal government might do to make the pipeline happen, it seems very much up in the air. Meanwhile Jason Markusoff wrote that Justin Trudeau’s middling stance on pipelines isn’t helping, noting that a February Angus Reid Institute poll showed that national support for Trans Mountain is significantly greater than opposition.

With so much time, effort, and money having been invested in the Kinder Morgan/Trans Mountain project being able to push diluted bitumen to the tidewater facility in Burnaby, Justin Trudeau threatened to bring in the really big guns of legal, financial and regulatory actions, as a retaliatory strike against any who might oppose it. But with John Horgan and Andrew Weaver remaining openly hostile, openly defiant to any intervention into their territory, one could easily see them deploying, in response to ultimatums by the PMO, some surplus Soviet T-34 tanks on the B.C.-Alberta border. With budget constraints in mind, they chose, however, to take legal actions of their own making in order to blockade Rachel Notley’s attempts to ram the pipeline through to its proposed destination. This meant that in addition to continued court challenges, enlisting a small contingent of seasoned, battle-hardened professional protesters, who haul their battered old Airstreams from one oil pipeline/environmental demonstration to another, to embolden the usual rent-a-crowd types, in a visible act of civil disobedience, to don flak jackets and designer camo, march in circles while holding signs with campy slogans, listen to rousing speeches and then join in on some soulful singalongs of old Woody Guthrie/Pete Seeger songs in solidarity with their comrades in arms. And you can always count on politicians, such as Elizabeth May and Kennedy Stewart, who, while on the constant lookout for some free publicity, manage to get themselves arrested and taken to court. Then, having been seen putting their lives on the line, having been seen being bloodied in their fight for the cause, expect to receive nothing less than an order of merit from whatever left-wing tabloid is willing to bestow it upon them. Plus, aerial reconnaissance spotted UCP leader Jason Kenney, not to be outdone, marshalling his troops in Calgary in a blatant, unbelievably cynical move, to try and bolster his party’s profile by taking advantage of the NDP’s exposed right flank. And with the media circus ratcheting up the rhetoric around the ongoing debate over who will do what, how often and to whom, the whole issue has started to escalate right out of control. But regardless of whether this pipeline gets built, it will soon come down to this: once all the available ammunition has been spent, it’ll be fixed bayonets, engaging the enemy at close quarters, and deciding whether this political battlefield is one that they’re all willing to die on. — William Eady, Edmonton

MORE: Nationalizing Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline is a terrible idea

While the Angus Reid Institute survey results seem favourable to those who support the Kinder Morgan project, completely unmentioned is the identity of who commissioned the survey? And, yes, it very much matters. I recall a time (some decades ago) when this relevant information was normally included in news reports. For example, if the current federal government or a pro-oil-pipeline media corporation had commissioned the survey—and, perhaps most important, formed its questionnaire—can one realistically expect to see published results that are notably critical of domestic oil-pipeline interests, especially in the present political environment? In other words, if you genuinely want to know who commissioned a specific-issue study, you can get a good idea by analyzing its general findings. Then there’s the matter of survey findings—if not the surveys altogether—that are suppressed because they’re not conducive, if not plain damaging, to the commissioner’s own interests. — Frank Sterle Jr., White Rock, B.C.

Alberta and B.C.’s latest conflict: a new tax that hits vacation homes

Victoria, Canada

Downtown Victoria, Canada.

In March, Adrienne Tanner wrote about a proposed B.C. “speculation” tax to force out-of-province owners to contribute more to B.C. government coffers or to rent out their homes in cities with stratospheric rents and low vacancy rates.

It is amazing no one is talking about what this clever B.C. NDP speculation tax really is—a capital tax on individuals using housing as a cover. It is a massive shift in tax policy and a dangerous precedent. Capital tax is not levied on individuals yet. Watch B.C.! Other provinces are, and what B.C. gets away with will appear to other Canadians soon. Taxing “other Canadians” lulls B.C. voters to sleep. “It doesn’t affect me” is a great tool to get tough stuff established as a precedent. The B.C carbon tax was presented as revenue neutral. “It doesn’t affect me” as I get it back in other cuts. It did come back, for a while, but now every B.C. gas pump is silent testimony that was not true. Alberta is now following B.C. down  this road. There is lots of personal capital ripe for the picking by any government—stocks, as CRA knows. Lots of big brawny pickups, so how about them? Second homes owned by residents of other provinces—now that is obvious! Please don’t think they would never do that—I would never have believed as a fellow Canadian I would get a $24,000 tax just because I have a second home in B.C. These suggestions are exactly the same concept as this B.C. “speculation” tax. Governments are running out of things to tax, so copying others provinces’ bad behaviour is easy—it’s already being done. This would be a good time to speak up, very loudly. It really matters in every province. — Jim Macleod, Salt Spring Island, B.C.

Larry Brown on Facebook: When democratic government starts targeting groups for higher or lower tax brackets- the whole system will fail. Those with wealth will just leave or find ways to avoid payment. The cost to operate government will not reduce . Be careful with your support of programs trying to punish your neighbours. For the record I don’t/won’t buy in BC.