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    Quotables: Did I Kiss Marriage Goodbye?

    June 17, 2011 by Brandy Vencel
    Did I Kiss Marriage Goodbye?: Trusting God with a Hope Deferred
    Did I Kiss Marriage Goodbye?
    by Carolyn McCulley

    The epilogue [of Proverbs 31] is a twenty-two verse acrostic. Each line starts with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. The chapter is attributed to the mother of King Lemuel, who instructed her young son through this memory game in both the alphabet and the qualities of a virtuous wife. In other words, she wanted this future ruler to know by heart what to look for in a single woman to ensure that he would find someone who would make an excellent wife. {p. 50}

    History is littered with bloodthirsty kings, selfish queens, corrupt princes, and vengeful knights. It’s unfortunate that noble birth with all its privileges rarely produces noble character. However, the concept still stands: A noble is a person of rank, someone who is not a commoner. A noble character, therefore, is one that is not common–one that possesses dignity and is above whatever is low, mean, degrading, or dishonorable. When a woman is demanding or high maintenance, we often joke that she is being a princess. But that is a distorted view of nobility. The best princesses are gracious and uplifting. Their brows are not furrowed with bitterness or discontent; they are no scowling; they are serene. {p. 52}

    One thing I’ve learned to do is praise God in the middle of my dashed hopes. {p. 55}

    Now having prayed, and wept, she went away, and was no more sad; only here is the difference between a holy complain and a discontented complaint; in the one we complain to God, in the other we complain of God. {p. 57}

    We must evaluate our thoughts and actions with a long-term view. Most single women will one day get married; so what we’re sowing to now will suddenly bloom in marriage. {p. 60}

    Jealousy is a poison that simmers in indwelling sin and corrodes our hearts from the inside out. Resignation is a begrudging existence, one based in not believing the best of God. Both operate out of a mind-set that God has finite resources–a God of scarcity and not abundance–as though if one person gets blessed, that diminishes our chances of being similarly blessed. {p. 61}

    I’ve often wondered if God has a plan for the multitudes of childless single adults in this nation and the multitude of orphans in other nations. That doesn’t necessarily mean adoption is the solution, but I have wondered how God might use the desire for children in us to serves those needy orphans. {p. 154}

    One comment many singles hear frequently is that we need to be out and about, running from one event to another so that we can “broaden our horizons.” People who advise single women that way may mean well, but they don’t have a place for God in their thinking. They can’t imagine a God who orchestrates the events and timing of our lives to the tiniest details. {p. 191}

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  • Reply Rahime June 19, 2011 at 11:09 am

    Education doesn’t change the hearts of man, right?

    Didn’t mean to give a total attack of conscience, I just wanted to put another perspective out there. I know nothing of CM, having not read her works, and only been exposed to them via your and others’ blogs. And Plato, well, I’m quite rusty on him.

    I haven’t kept up w/ Reynolds’ writings, and haven’t had much experience with him outside of Torrey (where you really don’t get a true read on tutors’ views/beliefs). I definitely DON’T know in what respect he considers knowledge = virtue (rather than knowledge as A virtue). However, (and this was mainly a guttural response) the thing that didn’t sit well with me with what you wrote was that I know that the people whom he holds in the highest regard as virtuous–his wife and parents–are not people with PhD’s or a lot of education. They are, however, humble people. Though I don’t recall him ever saying so using that precise term, it’s the impression I’ve gotten from the times he’s talked about them. It seems anytime virtue is mentioned, his wife, Hope, is not far behind as an example. Then again, Reynolds is a romantic, so maybe that’s not surprising, but I’ve never heard him put knowing above doing either…I’d guess he’d say true knowledge or virtue requires action.

  • Reply Brandy @ Afterthoughts June 18, 2011 at 4:59 pm

    You know, my conscience was already rebuking me last night before bed, so to get on here and see your words {Rahime especially} was fitting indeed! Here is what I have to say:

    1. I broke one of my own rules when I speculated about JMR and I was wrong. I also took a place where I suspect CM might have been in error, and applied to JMR, which is completely unfair, especially considering that I am not as familiar with him. I also spoke based upon a single conversation with another person, which is also not fair.

    2. Therefore, I offer a public apology: I am sorry! 🙁

    3. I do have a note on CM, and please don’t think this applies to JMR because it doesn’t. I think that those of us who spend time reading CM’s works have to be a bit wary of her overly optimistic view of education. There are times when she seems to think that if she could just fix the British educational system, then the New Jerusalem would descend from the clouds, etc. etc. My problem with this is that *Jesus saves*…not education. I definitely see her calling education “the handmaid of religion” and I see this in action in my home–what better way to disciple than to address the whole person entire?

    My concern is that we have a very similar falsehood today. For instance almost all of drug education is based upon the theory that if people just *knew* how bad drugs were, they wouldn’t do them. The problem is that people need redemption and the Spirit first. The education is imperative, but without the Spirit we are all still slaves to sin, regardless of our ideals.

    I still feel a bit muddled about all of this, but I think I’m reacting based on what I’ve seen not just in others, but in myself. I am sometimes tempted to think that education is The Magic Bullet that, if it does not fix the world, will at least “fix” my family. Deep in my heart, I know that God’s ways are more mysterious that this and that I ought to both fear and trust more.

    Anyhow, this is where my mind jumped in Ch. 7 of Vol. 6 of CM where she says that “knowledge is virtue.” But then again, maybe I *was* viewing knowledge non-poetically right then–maybe she means a fulfillment of the prophecy where the world will be covered with the knowledge of God like the waters cover the sea? I don’t know. Sometimes I wish I could interview her!

  • Reply Rahime June 18, 2011 at 4:57 am

    Although I haven’t always agreed with everything he says (though in class it was difficult to tell when he was saying what he believed and when he wasn’t), I’m not sure I agree with your interpretation of Dr. JMR’s perspective on the relationship between knowledge and virtue.

    I suspect, were he asked, he would agree with your table analogy. I’ve never heard anything that indicates that he considers one who “knows” more (at least in the sense of being more educated) to be inherently more virtuous than one who knows less, but rather quite often in Torrey reminded students that “God uses the foolish things of this world to shame the wise.” I would also guess that, as an Orthodox Christian, he places high value in the complexity of “simple” things.

    You also made a distinction between knowledge and wisdom, and I suspect JMR would not disagree w/ you, though he might call “true” knowledge “wisdom.” Fulfilling the forms (and created purpose) is a pretty central part of Platonic philosophy as well.

    From what I gathered in my years at Torrey, JMR & the program as a whole value all three, “head, heart, hand,” but there was a strong emphasis that without the “hand” (doing), the other two were for naught.

  • Reply Silvia June 18, 2011 at 4:18 am

    Oh, I read the post and enjoyed it a lot. It was very much in sync with all we’ve been discussing.

    But I see Brandy’s point. If any, Reynolds or even Mason for that matter, defended that knowledge is virtue where knowledge is defined as intellectual, then I don’t agree either. For the gospel is not for the elite of educated men, but for the lay man and everyone who wants to receive His Word.

    Unless CM (I don’t know about Mr. Reynolds) understood knowledge also as poetic, or previous to the ‘whatever we commonly understand’, in which case it will be not the knowledge some propose. I don’t know if that was Plato’s idea… now I’ll have to read Plato, gulp, I studied Philosophy and I only read second hand writings about him. It may have been. I only barely grasped that his concept of a Republica is a society where the virtuous man are at the top, and others in less important positions. But after reading Berman, and seeing equality is not a ‘good idea’, it levels us up, it erases our qualities, he may be thining about an ‘elite’ that is not more virtuous but more capable of preserving the dignity of the other stratus in society.
    Anyhow, this is not that needy to be clarified, because I know if we go to the Scriptures to guide us, we won’t be wrong.
    It’s something I’ve been talking about with Pam. The more I live the more I see that the mom without a degree, that doesn’t read what we do, or doesn’t do what we do, is not ‘less’ than me, AT ALL.
    I sometimes have ‘looked down’ inside my heart on others. Now I’m careful not to do so, for there is so much wisdom in humble people too. For example, I used to think ill of unschoolers, but Willa has shown me a whole side of it I was very ignorant about. I still have my own personal likes or dislikes for people, blogs, books, styles… but I pretty much believe I love people, moms who learn, children who teach us so much, from all the spectrum in homeschooling and in life.

  • Reply Brandy @ Afterthoughts June 17, 2011 at 7:25 pm

    Hi Pam!

    I don’t subscribe to GC, but I do drop by and read it now and then. It’s a great blog, for sure!

    Funny you’d send this my way; I was at Biola University the first year John Mark Reynolds started the Torrey Honors Institute there. I don’t know if I’ll be able to go over his essays or not–I’ll definitely check them out! Sometimes they are buried among all the other authors on Scriptorium, which makes it time consuming to find them.

    If you are reading them, there is one caution I would give you, one that actually came up at my CM reading group a few nights ago, because one of the gals in my group is a Torrey graduate.

    Dr. Reynolds ia platonic scholar, which means he is very wise. 🙂 It also means that he agrees with Plato that “knowledge is virtue.” CM agreed with that, also, and personally I think they were both in error.

    I tend to think of virtue as fulfillment of design or calling. The example we used at our reading group was that a table is virtuous only if it performs its purpose well–it holds things up perfectly. {Extra points for being beautiful, I suppose!}

    So a virtuous man fulfills the norms built into the created order, plus any personal callings from God upon his life. This means not that knowledge=virtue absolutely. This would separate human *knowing* from human *doing* and, in my opinion, human *beings* do both. My friend’s concern was that this belief basically implies that those who know less are always less virtuous, and we are not sure that is supported by Scripture–what about God saying that He uses the foolish things of this world to shame the wise? The Pharisees knew a whole lot, but they had not true wisdom.

    Perhaps I’m missing something, but I am afraid that he allows Plato, rather than Scipture, to define virtue, so even though I completely agree with him that virtue is the goal of education {or maybe I should say that education ought to cultivate virtue}, I always have this warning in the back of my mind when I read his works.

    Just FYI!

  • Reply Pam... June 17, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    Hey Brandy, do you follow this blog? She’s a CM schooler, and this article is very intriguing. I’d love one of your book studies on his educational essays! Think about it, girlfriend!

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