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Serious girl issues, and being wise

By Jeff Smith
Special to The SUN

My favorite girl movie is “Pride and Prejudice,” based on the book by Jane Austin.

The best part of the deal is being the lone guy when the mother-daughters-friends get together to watch it.

Breathless silence precedes the opening scenes as serious girl issues are about to be discussed.

When Lizzy receives a proposal of marriage from Mr. Collins, this nausea ripples through the group.

My thinking about women issues was prompted by this verse in scripture:

Proverbs 7:1 – “My son, keep my sayings, and let my rules be stored up with you. 2 Keep my rules and you will have life; let my teaching be to you as the light of your eyes; 3 Let them be fixed to your fingers, and recorded in your heart. 4 Say to wisdom, You are my sister; let knowledge be named your special friend.”

In the mornings I’m often up, coffee in hand, going through the wisdom of Solomon in the Bible. I like the idea of becoming a wise person. It’s not something we think about much in a modern world, but it was a big deal in ancient times. I find I really enjoy going through the ideas and mulling them over, sometimes thinking about them all day. Solomon’s writings were meant to be the best on the subject, and they are all about having a good life, so I read them.

These verses in chapter seven pick up a theme that threads through the background of the book and it has been fun to string them together to see what it says.

Wisdom first appears in chapter one as an angry woman teacher who warns of dire things if she is not listened to. She is in conflict with three people: the “fool,” the “scorner” and the “simple” or naive. There is also a father, then a father-mother team who advise their son to be wise. Then, there is a whore called “foolish” who leads her victims to their death.

In between the speeches from these people, the father tells the son in chapter two to “pursue” wisdom, in chapter four he is to “love” her and in this chapter the son is to address her as his “sister” which is an ancient way of saying spouse. (See Song of Solomon 4:12)

The thread picks up again in chapter eight when it is mentioned that wisdom is now a mother with children and in chapter nine she is transformed into a queen or matriarch, with a palace.

And she is not angry anymore.

So, what does it mean?

No, these aren’t real people. This is a story that is meant to describe a process. We off-load the boatload of bad, selfish, stupid ideas that have guided us into our current mess and download the wise ones. We do this because we love them. When our lives transform, others feel invited to join.

One of the reasons I think this is good stuff is what this story also says about women. This was written 3,000 years ago, when women were little more than beasts of burden. Here, Lady Wisdom is a strong, smart person. Her journey is moving. Someone wanting to be wise might now see romance and marriage as something that should offer great promise for both, and not just one. It might not be just a symbol of rank and order, but also a complex and transforming process.

I think Lizzy and Mr. Darcey would agree.

Readers’ comments 

Please send your faith articles to betty@bettyslade.com. All faiths invited, 500 to 800 words.

This story was posted on August 15, 2013.