Pieces of Ease and Grace

Pieces of Ease and Grace

edited by Alan H Cadwallader
Preface by Cynthia Kittredge
Foreword by Peter Francis
Introduction by Elizabeth Smith
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: ATF (Australia) Ltd.
Pages: 264
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  • Book Info
    Pieces of Ease and Grace
    Book Description:

    The previous volume of essays, Five Uneasy Pieces was warmly received. People of faith and spirituality were looking for liberating understandings of the Bible in engagement with their own sexualities and those of friends, family and beyond. The book demonstrated clearly that oppressive uses of selected texts from the Bible were invalid. But more is needed. The obligation upon scriptural scholars is to establish scripture’s hospitable inclusion of those whose sexual identities have been subjected to such oppression. Pieces of Ease and Grace retrieves biblical texts as actively embracing gays and lesbians within the community of faith. Their stories profoundly intersect with those of scripture. Here is a collection of biblical essays on sexuality and welcome that restores the Bible as a book of grace to those whose sexual identities had previously been lost, or condemned, in interpretation.

    eISBN: 978-1-922239-01-3
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Editorʹs Prologue: Writing Pieces of Ease and Grace into the Garden of Love
    (pp. ix-xviii)
    Alan Cadwallader

    Five years ago, that doyen of Australian Anglicanism, Bruce Kaye, asked the provocative question ‘Will sex kill the Anglican Communion?’.¹ Much as the substance of his editorial was on the disagreements riddling Anglican (and, for that matter, other) churches, the focus was on the institution, unity, leadership and their theological underpinnings. As important as such issues may be, this book is directed not to the institution as such (though it is to be hoped that it will make some contribution in that agonistic arena). In a way, this collection of essays by Anglican biblical scholars from Australia and New Zealand...

  4. Preface: Reading the Bible for Inclusion
    (pp. xix-xxiv)
    Cynthia Kittredge
  5. Foreword: Widening the Circle
    (pp. xxv-xxxii)
    Peter Francis

    I am writing this in my study at Gladstone’s Library. A stern portrait of Gladstone looks down on me. This was the man who, in nineteenth century Britain, helped to shape the modern concept of human rights, greatly increase the electoral franchise, champion universal and free education, support devolved government, and help to move British democracy from an aristocratic ruling elite to a meritocracy. He gave his name to numerous cities and towns—four in Australia, two in Canada, and six in the USA. Just how welcoming and inclusive would this man with his deep Anglican roots be to LGBTI...

  6. Introduction: Warming Up for the Conversation
    (pp. xxxiii-xlii)
    Elizabeth J Smith

    Why does this book have such an abundance of Forewords, Prefaces and Introductions? Why am I writing one, and why would you, dear Reader, venture to read it?

    If the authors of this book’s eleven chapters have prepared a banquet of many courses, this Introduction offers the equivalent of a pre-dinner drink, served to help the guests meet and greet each other before the feast begins. It aims to warm hearts and minds, refresh existing friendships and introduce people who may have been strangers hitherto. The better the relationship-building at the start of the encounter, the more productive the subsequent...

  7. Chapter One ʹSet in Tradition and Historyʹ: Genesis 2:24 and the Marriage Debate
    (pp. 1-16)
    Meg Warner

    In a newspaper interview in early 2012 the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, described marriage as ‘a gift from God in Creation’, going on to say, ‘Marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman and that’s marriage.’ The Archbishop’s comments came in the context of debate in Britain about the definition of marriage and proposals for the broadening of the institution of marriage to include marriage of same-sex couples. His response was a denial of the role of the state in such matters, ‘I don’t think it is the role of the state to define what marriage is....

  8. Chapter Two Ruth and Naomi
    (pp. 17-34)
    Ruth Mathieson

    It is with these beautiful words that Ruth the Moabite commits to accompanying her mother-in-law Naomi to Bethlehem. The book of Ruth opens with Naomi and her husband and two sons leaving Bethlehem because there is famine. They settle in Moab where both sons marry local women. Tragically for Naomi, both her sons and her husband die. Naomi decides to return to Bethlehem and encourages her Moabite daughters-in-law to go to back to their mother’s homes. Ruth, however, insists on going with her, lives with Naomi in Bethlehem and goes into the barley harvest to glean. There she meets Boaz,...

  9. Chapter Three Opposite Sex Marriage a Biblical Ideal? The Case of David and Jonathan
    (pp. 35-52)
    James Harding

    For some years now, scholars and other interested parties have been engaged in a contest over sexual ethics and the biblical texts, a contest in which the biblical texts are marshalled either in support of, or in opposition to, the acceptability of bodily, erotic relationships between persons of the same sex. This contest has exposed a number of fault-lines in both the churches and the guild of biblical scholars (the two spheres, of course, overlap), fault-lines not only between different positions on the acceptability of certain kinds of same-sex relationship, but between different approaches to scriptural interpretation, different views on...

  10. Chapter Four Estherʹs ʹComing Outʹ as Costly Redemption: Living Through and Beyond the Violence of ʹOtheringʹ.
    (pp. 53-70)
    Richard Treloar

    In a volume devoted to biblical texts as sites or sources of ease and grace, the Book of Esther³ hardly springs to mind as an obvious candidate for discussion. Reflecting on Christian colonisation of the Old Testament or Hebrew Bible, commentator Timothy Beal concedes that Esther is often ‘treated as the most remote outpost…exotic, savage, difficult to reach, difficult to map, dangerous, perhaps irredeemable’.⁴ Martin Luther, whose frank assessment appears in the epigram above, clearly viewed it this way.

    And yet it is precisely the danger in this narrative—even perhaps its savagery, and certainly its violence—that makes it...

  11. Chapter Five The Sign of Jonah: Re-reading the Jonah Tradition for Signs of Godʹs Generosity
    (pp. 71-84)
    Gregory C Jenks

    The quest for spiritual wisdom with practical relevance takes us to strange places. Not many are stranger than this tale of a prophet who survives being swallowed by a giant fish, but cannot cope with a city full of sinners who embrace his message and turn from their evil ways. Such a story has to be a joke, perhaps even a parody.¹

    Jonah is one of the strangest books in the Bible. It excites mixed reactions from those who read it, and especially from those who have not read it but know of the story indirectly.

    This biblical tale is...

  12. Chapter Six Surprised by Faith: A Centurion and a Canaanite Query the Limits of Jesus and the Disciples
    (pp. 85-100)
    Alan H Cadwallader

    The grandson of Australia’s lone-hand maritime adventurer, Matthew Flinders, was himself a famous explorer, though his field was archaeology. In 1896, Flinders Petrie discovered a block of inscribed stone in Thebes in Egypt. This stone became known as the Merneptah stele,¹ named after the Pharaoh who trumpeted his victories over various insurgent city-states in the land of Canaan some time at the end of the thirteenth century BCE. The stone is prized in biblical circles because it contains the first recorded mention of ‘Israel’. The exact meaning of the reference is debated. Some claim that it refers to the presence...

  13. Chapter Seven ‘I Met a Strange Lady’: the Eunuchs from Matthew 19:12 and Acts 8:26–40
    (pp. 101-116)
    Ceri Wynne

    In 1983 Australia as a nation erupted into wild celebrations as Australia II, trailing at 1–3, became the first non-American yacht to win the America’s Cup in 132 years, final score 4–3. As a twenty-year old university student, I distinctly remember the euphoria and being caught up in the emotional national pride, together with the constant TV images of the yacht bearing the boxing kangaroo flag and the background music of ‘Down Under’ by the band Men at Work.

    Almost 30 years on from that time, the song itself, ‘Down Under’, came back to haunt me on a...

  14. Chapter Eight In My Sisterʹs House: Decolonising the Household in Bethany
    (pp. 117-134)
    Gillian Moses

    In a 1598 painting entitledMartha and Mary Magdalene, the Italian painter Caravaggio seems to allude to a moment before the dinner at the house of Martha and Mary, where Jesus is guest. Mary stands before her mirror, hair uncovered, seemingly ready to give away her affections (symbolised by a sprig of orange blossom held to her breast). Her plainer sister Martha, perhaps pulled away from the kitchen and losing valuable cooking time, pleads with her to reconsider her behaviour.

    Cut to the biblical dinner party, when, with the above words the Jesus of Luke’s gospel rebukes Martha as she...

  15. Chapter Nine Paulʹs Inclusive Gospel: ʹFor this Reason it Depends on Faith, in Order that the Promise May Rest on Graceʹ (Romans 4:16)
    (pp. 135-150)
    Marian Free

    In the entire bible there are in fact only very few verses that it could be argued mention sexual orientation. Joseph Marchal identifies them as ‘clobber passages’—those that are used when people want to debate homosexuality.¹ These verses out of the tens of thousands of verses in the bible have often been taken out of context and have been given far more attention than they warrant or deserve.² What is worse, this minute portion of the bible has been used to vilify and limit a sub-section of humanity whose faith is the same as those whose primary difference is...

  16. Chapter Ten The Corinthian Body and the Preferential Inclusion of the Rejected (1 Corinthians 12:12–31)
    (pp. 151-168)
    Joan Riley

    In this chapter I intend to set out 1 Corinthians 12:12–31 as a piece of scripture that is inclusive of all people as members of the body of Christ, especially those who have been rejected and hear the sounds of unwelcome from the church. Paul’s first letter to the church in Corinth read from the perspective of the crucified body of Christ empowers those who have been excluded on account of their sexual orientation to take up their place in the confidence that they are indeed the more greatly honoured members of the body.

    In order to establish this...

  17. Chapter Eleven Exclamations in the Margins: On Women Partners in the New Testament (Euodia and Syntyche in Philippians 4:2)
    (pp. 169-184)
    Gillian Townsley

    When I first started reading the bible as a new Christian, there were many passages that troubled me and caused me great angst as a young woman. I would put question marks in the margins of those passages and wonder how to reconcile what I knew of the overflowing love and abundant grace of Jesus towards me and the restrictive, hierarchical message that I read in passages such as 1 Cor 11:2–16. On the one hand, I was hearing a message of equal access to God for all; that we are all God’s beloved children, that Jesus’ sacrifice enabled...

  18. List of Contributors
    (pp. 185-188)
  19. Indices