Great ready for a intellectual treat. Do yourself a favor and read and reread the following guest post from my close friend and teacher, mentor, a scholar and a keen observer of our times. Ladies, you'll particularly appreciate Professor Curtis Hutt's perspective here.
Professor Hutt splits his time in Nebraska and Jerusalem teaching in both places. He brings a very unique perspective to his work with a solid background in Biblical studies.
Since graduating, Hutt has taught classes and mentored graduate students at a Christian research institution in Jerusalem in the anthropology of religion, the history of women in religions of the ancient Mediterranean, and comparative religious ethics.
He also has graduate degrees in philosophy and history.
Any of you who are anywhere near the University of Nebraska, run do not walk to Prof. Hutt's classroom. I believe that online options are also available through www.uhl.ac, my home institution.
I am deeply honored that he has graciously taken his time to speak out in favor of children.
Thanks Curtis. Rest assured that this will not be the last time you hear from Prof. Curtis Hutt on this blog. In fact, anytime he has anything to say, the door is open, Curtis. Thanks so much. His comments start below.
"J.Z. Smith, the famous historian of religion at the University of Chicago/Divinity School, several years ago argued in his article “Religion, Religions, Religious” that IF all religions shared one thing in common (btw: he does not think this is the case) it would be the tendency of their followers to break the world up into “Us versus Them.” Smith certainly, following others like Mary Douglas, thinks that many religions/cultures are xenophobic and often engage in acts of violence against "others" who are not part of their group. While many Christians in the United States claim not to be “religious” but instead “spiritual,” recent and sometimes longstanding practices indicate that they do not escape this base inclination. First, Christianity is clearly a religion like many others, and the need to deny this fits perfectly with Smith’s tentative definition outlined above. Second, self-identified Christians like the members of other religious groups often embrace acts of brutality against “others” – something very different from what I think is promoted in the Christian Testament.
Sam – I think your work on kids, though not overtly political, occupies a critical position on the frontlines in the fight against brutality in Christianity. Kids don’t need to have their sinful nature beaten out of them. If Jesus had kids, I can’t ever imagine him doing such. Instead, Jesus identified his permissive attitude towards little children with the kingdom of God. (Mk. 10:14) It does my heart good to read of your work. It stands in such contrast to what is found in books like Leon Podles’ The Church Impotent – The Feminization of Christianity. Podles in his ignorance doesn't understand that Christianity from its beginnings was "feminized" by the presence of disproportionately large numbers of women (like slaves) adopting the faith. This is documented in numerous publications on early Christianity in recent years. Extrapolating on the work of Rodney Stark, one might even argue that Christianity fits the mold of a women's religion in the Roman Empire rather than a religion of men. I do not believe like Paul and Sandra Coughlin that “Christian Nice Guys” need to be toughened up. Enough of Chuck Norris’ hard-hitting Christianity and Stephen Sawyer’s “boxer Jesus.” By exorcising mercy and compassion from Christianity, Jesus and his message are betrayed.
Comments from Curtis Hutt end here.
PS. Prof. Hutt mentions Rodney Stark here. I am hoping very soon to have Prof. Stark join this discussion. We'll have much more to say going forward on some of the tidbits here referenced about those disproportionate numbers of women in the early Christian Church. Please join me in reading the Gospel of Luke tonight and see women and mothers everywhere. We will not let Prof. Hutt get away with not coming back and telling us about those numerous publications talking about women in the ancient Church. We are waiting for that.