Proverbs 31 used to be a standard at funerals. That was before we realized that womanly virtue meant more than giving a husband bragging rites in the city gates. I use to think it my pastoral duty to root out both masculine and feminine stereotypes in liturgy, hymnody and scripture. Now I’m not so sure.
Americans are not very good with failure. We take it personally; we draw lines in the sand and cast blame. And the Chicago Public Schools are, for the most part, failing—failing to provide an environment that fosters teacher excellence, failing to provide a physical environment in which kids can learn, failing to graduate kids with the basic skills to succeed, failing to graduate kids at all.
Those of us who follow the lectionary have encountered the industrious woman of Proverbs 31 many times. Every three years she appears with her wool and flax, her distaff and spindle, her keen eye for both fashion and a good deal, her open hand to the poor, and her penchant for providing her husband bragging rights at the city gates. But we haven’t always welcomed her.
Matt Yeater was blinded in a meth lab explosion at age 20. Imprisoned numerous times, he was not the typical seminary student when he matriculated at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Elkhart, Indiana. After learning that there are few resources in Braille for studying biblical languages, he contacted a company that produces software for Braille translation. The result: now, with the touch of a button, biblical Hebrew, Greek, ancient Syriac, Latin, and Coptic can be translated into Braille (The Mennonite, July 12).