Monday, December 24, 2007

Jesus' dad.

This being the festive season, it occurred to me the other day that Joseph gets pretty short shrift out of the bible, all things considered.

Here's a fellow who has the decency to take in and care for his betrothed when she turns up pregnant, whereas the standard response would have been to have her stoned in the local square. Then he gets to escort said knocked-up virgin to Bethlehem as required by the bureaucrats who even back then didn't have anything better to do than mess with people's lives.

While in Bethlehem, of course, Mary pops the holy sprog, all glory and hosannah in the highest and all that, and Joseph stands in the back of the stall while all manner of scruffy field workers and "wise" men wander through. (I imagine he found the gold useful, gift horses being what they are.)

When they remove the holy foreskin, Joseph does get to name Jesus, albeit under the explicit direction of an angel. Well, actually, strictly speaking then, I guess he doesn't even get to name him, since he's just following orders he received in a dream. (Pretty much everything he did seems to have been the result of instructions received in dreams.)

At the temple in Jerusalem, he gets preached at by Simeon and Anna. After a couple of years, he does the protective thing in the face of Herod's paranoia and takes Mary & Jesus to Egypt and then later to Nazareth. The last we hear of Joseph in the bible is his presence at a Passover visit to the temple when Jesus was around 12 years old.

That's it.

Not much for Our Lord's dad, eh?

The tradition is to assume that he taught Jesus his trade as a carpenter and there is some argument about whether he and Mary had other kids. This latter seems much like pointless navel gazing to me. More interesting, but equally pointless, would be a discussion as to whether he was Jesus' father or his stepfather. Still more interesting, in a theological sense, and still more pointless, might be an argument as to whether he, er, begat Jesus or not. Some claim that he received grace at the moment of death although how they'd know escapes me.

Whatever. We're lucky if we get any more discussion than that of the most important father who ever lived. Well, to the Christians, anyway.

So much for the 5th commandment, eh, "Honor your Father and Mother"? Mary gets plenty of honor, pretty near enough to qualify for looks askance under that pesky "no idols" thing in some denominations. But Joseph? Well, he does get a sainthood of various things, not least us fathers, we should be grateful for that much (curiously, Mary is not the patron saint of mothers, it is left as an exercise for the reader to find out who is). But amongst the others, he's patron saint of fighters against communism. 'Bit of a fob off, if you ask me.

But then, these days, and apparently for the past two millennia, we should be used to being fobbed off, us dads.

On the other hand, given certain men's rights activists' assertion that feminism is an offshoot of communism, then perhaps Joseph would make a good MRA patron saint. Well, I don't know about that, but certainly I'd put him forward as a candidate for patron saint of Father's rights activism.

Alright, Saint Joe, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our humiliation in family court...

To close, I note that the bible does not record so much as one word of anything Joseph said. Not even "Bugger me, Mary, I've had another one of them blasted dreams! Pack yer bags, 'im upstairs says we gotta do a runner. How do you fancy Egypt at this time of year?" Like all good fathers, he just shuts up and gets on with it, neither expecting any thanks nor getting any.

Happy Christmas.


Anonymous said...

Being an MRA myself, or at least willing to speak out on Mens and Fathers rights in general, I am somewhat disappointed with myself that I haven't noticed this earlier. Spot on article JADF.

I suppose one could consider God to actually be his father and mention that the entire book is about God in one way or another, but either way short shrift is given to Joesph as even a protector and provider for the holy child.

Summer said...

If you want to witness a version of the events that focuses more on Joseph's strengths, "The Nativity Story" is not one of my favorite movies- but it helped me see Joseph in a light that I hadn't considered before. I hadn't thought about the ridicule he endured after Mary became pregnant, or the strength of character that he displayed by accepting her anyway. The Bible kind of missed its mark in highlighting Joseph as a great father, but The Nativity Story hit it spot-on.

Smirking Cat said...

I am dismayed by your portrayal of feminists here. How sad that you dismiss feminists as man-haters opposed to father's rights. I am 100% feminist, and 100% in support of father's rights. I don't see how you can be one and not the other. The beliefs, when co-existing in an intelligent mind, are far from opposed to each other. Don't they ultimately desire the same thing: equal rights? As a feminist, I expect a man to take equal responsibility for child care; as a father's rights supporter, I endorse a father's right to continue that equal relationship with his children after divorce, no matter the reason the parents' relationship didn't work.

John Doe said...

Smirking cat, I did not portray feminists in any way at all here, I just made a connection between a little known fact (Joseph as patron saint of fighters against communism) and the views of certain MRAs (that feminism has strong connections with communism). I did not claim to subscribe to those same views myself, so don't get mad at me. For more on how I do feel about feminism in its modern manifestation read this.

If you truly do believe in equal parental rights and are truly a feminist, then you are very unusual. Whenever I hear such claims I wonder if they would hold up under test. All is fair in love and war, as they say, and when engaged in the war of divorce the vast majority of people use whatever advantage they can get. Those advantages are very much biased towards the mother these days. The job of a court should be to make sure that the playing field is level. They don't.

A true feminist should be very much against this, but very, very few are, apparently thinking that today's men should suffer for the sins of yesterday's male chauvinist pigs.

(I find it curious, too, that you latched on to one very minor, throwaway comment, but had nothing to say about the thrust of my post. Sigh. So many miss the point.)

Anonymous said...

@ Smirking Cat:

I forgive you, you know not what you do.

John Doe said...

Abaddon, that response is about as near to perfect as possible. I salute you!

Anonymous said...

Abaddon, I wish I could be as charitable and forgiving as you. But I can't help suspecting that "smirking cat" knows what she's doing (and the writer is obviously a she). She is manipulating, changing the subject, obscuring the main point. Sadly, men's failure to deal effectively with such tactics has led to disaster for men and women.

My own view is that I'm just not interested in talking about feminism. There has been way, way more talk about feminism than about the acute injustices that men face.

Many people are involved in lots of activities. Call yourself whatever you want. But let's talk about injustices that men face, and let's do something about those injustices.

richardwrites said...

Would you like to exchange links with me? I am building a practical guide to freedom from a MGTOW/ MRA viewpoint. I think we are on the same side.

Best wishes.

Anonymous said...

If one would look at my namesake, perhaps you would see the sarcasm of the comment. I have the ability to forgive the feminists for their idiocy. However I won't forget it. This is the difference in my view.

I have the capacity for forgiveness even for idiocy. I can forgive that even though I am far from a Christian.

Call me what you will however I ask that you address me on my own forum:

Anonymous said...

Hockey is played by striking a puck with a stick. Remove the puck, the stick or the striking and you won't have hockey.

Marxism is played with an oppressor class, an oppressed class and the whole paradigm is predicated on the oppression and victimization. Remove the oppressed, the oppressor or the oppression, and the game can't be played.

The Marxist roots of modern feminism explain a great deal, and I think understanding this is key.

There ARE folks who believe in the equality of individuals regardless of who they are or what their sex is. These folks are called individualists, and the underlying philosophy of individualism is radically different from anything derived from Marxism, because its life doesn't depend on the existence of alleged victimization.

Anonymous said...

This makes me feel sick.

There are still so many things that women have to fight for legitamatly and this kind of thing happens?

People look at me like I'm crazy when I say I'm a feminist. I guess their right. Everyone should be equal. Period.

I don't think that women have the rights we need is some areas, but this is stupid. Why go backwards for men too?

It reminds me of the new pressure on men to slim down and all that jazz. Oppression for everyone is not progress.

Anonymous said...

It is commonly believed by many Bible scholars that Joseph died before Jesus was baptized and became the Christ. Joseph is a fine example of a faithful servant of God and is remarkable for his obedience in the face of all the challenges he was faced with right from the outset of his marriage.

Anonymous said...

Rather than comment on your entry itself, I am choosing to speak to your point regarding the alienation of fathers.

When I became pregnant by my ex-boyfriend, he told me that he would concede to whatever decision I chose. We never lived together and all chances of us being able to have a romantic relationship faded. I decided to keep our baby and it is my feeling that I've never come between him seeing his daughter although we've gone to court for child support and custody. After her birth, he helped financially but I wanted something legal and formal with regard to my daughter's wefare. In our state, the courts consider child support and custody separate issues. Also, the mother is not automatically given custody. Since we were never married and had conceived a child, neither of us were considered to have custody of our daughter. While that might sit well with some, it did not sit well with me that our daughter's custody was just hanging in limbo.

Child support negotiations went smoothly. While he filed an order for joint custody, I filed an order for sole custody as I was advised that someone has to have a final say in decision-making. We had struggles during our relationship in a variety of areas so I agreed with my counsel.

My ex-boyfriend and I argued a little bit regarding the custody. Although I was requesting sole custody, it was not my intent to alienate him in any way from our daughter. It was simply for the reason given by my attorney, which was also the viewpoint shared by the court. The courts want to award custody to one parent so that if differences in opinions on issues raising the child arise that both parties do not have to continually return to court.

Although I am sole custodian, nothing has changed in our dealings with each other. Clearly our focus is on what is best for our daughter. He is the emergency contact and has access to medical and school records. I was adamant about making sure he had a generous visitation schedule and even allow him to conduct his visits with our daughter in my home. Whenever issues or problems arise, I consult him and we discuss options and solutions and I keep him in the loop regarding the outcomes. On major holidays, we gather as a family to celebrate them together. This past Christmas, he came to my boyfriend's home and celebrated with us there. He and his girlfriend as well as me and my boyfriend all try to do what is best for the child to give her a good foundation on which to grow and flourish.

My heart goes out to you and to all fathers who do not get to be a part of their children's lives. What pains me more is that there are not more women out there who cannot see beyond their own hurt and disappointment in a failed relationship to raise a well-adjusted child. Even if they aren't married or reside together, I believe that a child needs both parents. I don't want any future husband of mine to taje the place of father to my child. She already has one and they love each other immensely and deserve the right and opportunity to develop their own relationship.

Rarely do I ever comment on blogs but I chose to do so with yours because I wanted to share a positive story. While I might be criticized on seeking sole custody, I didn't do it as a way to alienate my child's father as much as I did it to keep from any further legal disputes. Circumstances and situations vary, but I more than understand why you feel the way you do. I wish more people would work together in raising their children and giving them the rich, full life that they deserve being loved and raised by both parents whether they are together or separated.

In my own hippie-dippy head, I suppose my biggest disappointment is that I don't hear more stories like that of my own and so many mothers don't choose to embrace the loving, inclusive path that we've chosen for our own very unique sort of family. Hopefully your situation changes for the better. When your child grows up, it might very well be resentful toward it's mother for having denied it a relationship with you. If that day comes, I only hope that the mother is sick knowing that she had a choice to be a hero and not a villain.

Anonymous said...

@Anon: Your story is what should happen during a case of either divorce or separation when children are involved. It sounded to me that you simply ACTED like an ADULT and so did he. You both looked at the LONG term effects of constant adversity and conflict and chose wisely in my view.

While I disagree with even the idea of the sole-custody model in cases where both parents are fit to parent, your story is a distinct possibility for all families that are separated. The only requirement in my view is to be an ADULT about things. This means putting PERSONAL feelings aside for the betterment of all. Realizing that in the long run nothing good can come of replacing any parent.

In our rush to "support" women that have had children out of wedlock, I personally think that we are creating far more than would naturally occur in the confines of this current system. We reward adversity, conflict, selfishness and greed when it comes to custodial issues. Instead of cooperations which you decided to use, we reward greed and short-sightedness. Instead of recognizing both parents as human beings, with both strengths and flaws, we choose to make one side (mostly fathers) slaves, and the other completely irresponsible to the entire process. There is no sharing of either power, responsibility, or cooperation, unless the side that controls the child decides that it's necessary. Truly saddening to see really, even more saddening to be a part of.

I truly believe that one day, Men will awaken as we slowly are, to exactly how horrible, biased, unjust, and despotic this system really is. Instead of asking a court to make decisions for us, we should be asking ourselves to make better decisions for EVERYONE involved.

-Strength and Honor-