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Suzanne McCarthy: No more crankypants!

June 24, 2015

When Theophrastus announced that Suzanne McCarthy was joining him, Craig Smith, and me to start blogging here, one of her blogs had been, for some months, earlier in that same year, one of the “Top 50” most-visited biblioblogs and had been voted by bibliobloggers, one month, as being in the “Top 10” blogs on the Bible and then, in a later month, had been voted #1.

Suzanne, the first time this Top-10 thing happened, said:

I decided some time ago to completely ignore the list of top 50 biblioblogs. I was just being a pain about it, and I didn’t want to foist my irritation on others ad infinitum. So imagine my astonishment on finding out that somebody, or a collection of somebody’s, has voted this blog among the top ten biblioblogs. Shoot, now I am going to have to improve my manners and act like one of the gang. No more crankypants!

In a timely fashion, longtime blogfriend, Dan Brennan has emailed me about this post on cross gender friendship. What a bouquet of roses it is tonight.

The second time the Top-10 thing happened (with the very Top-1 blog vote), Suzanne posted this way:

The Top 10 Biblioblogs reports that I have been voted number 1! (No artwork, though.) I don’t know how to interpret this, since I have no idea how many people vote. But let me say that I sincerely appreciate the response.

I take this two ways. First, I personally should keep on blogging. In spite of my single issue blogging, some people still want to read it. Second, I choose to read into the results that the biblioblogosphere wants to affirm the participation of women. I don’t think I am far off there.

There are still few women biblioblogging, and there certainly is a lack of women with an academic background blogging in biblical studies.

She went on in the same post to reiterate something of importance to her about blogging in general and about blogging on the Bible in particular:

I truly feel that there is a great deal of friendship and empathy expressed for women in the biblioblogosphere…. So, lots of friendly interaction and I appreciate that. But the question remains, why would anyone blog about my spiritual condition? Women, effeminates, and atheists routinely draw fire in some very unpleasant ways. There are nasty things said about our status and right to exist and function alongside the “real men” all the time. Although only a very small proportion of bibliobloggers are mean, this has some dampening effect. Most of the negative comments are said by those who are not actually bibliobloggers, but these more outspoken authors are often affirmed by bibliobloggers….

Her full post is here.

I mention this because Suzanne would often acknowledge when others positively influenced her, even through blogging. For example, a couple of years before BLT, she posted this post that started this way:

She is there, in particular, making a point to say how in specific ways other bloggers, in this case Theophrastus and me, have provided her with stuff that she considers great. And yet, whenever some of us were discussing stuff on our blogs in not-so-great ways, Sue would express hope that we might change those ways of ours, just a bit at least; and she’d get us thinking about other, related great stuff. Here’s another example:


Her “two” she refers to in this comment are Theophrastus and me again (he writing in vigorous defense of Aristotle’s teachings and I in disdain of Aristotle’s misogyny); see how Suzanne gets us moving on, hoping for friendliness and for friendship in blogging, having us read something she’d already read as it is more clearly where we might share learning and come to some agreement.

But Suzanne McCarthy was not necessarily ever all about agreement. In fact, she enjoyed difference of opinion, intelligent disagreement, and smart debate. She urged us in starting BLT to promote this.

“That’s the thing,” she wrote to the two of us on this idea of co-blogging inclusively on various subjects related to the Bible, literature, and translation. “There is stimulation to be had from an active interchange, even with lots of disagreement, but no bullying.”

And so Suzanne McCarthy modeled this sort of blogging, and biblioblogging, for all of us. She never stopped blogging and never stopped blogging this way, and always with humour. To the end of her life, she was troubled by the ignorant and the sexists and the bullies, who offer little and damage much and many. Her crankypants crack is in their honour, I must say. Thankfully, she left us all with a few wonderful published articles (like this one) and a possible book on the way and a set of wonderful blog posts and trans-formative conversations with many. Below are her top-10-most-read BLT posts in order from first-written to most-recently posted. You might just find again some great stuff there.

Ann Nyland on publishing the GLTB Study Bible
SEPTEMBER 13, 2011

Hugo and the train stations of Paris
FEBRUARY 26, 2012

The Opramoas Inscription
JUNE 22, 2012

Women, IQ and complementarianism
JULY 18, 2012

Pagninus Latin Bible online
NOVEMBER 17, 2012

The Dovekeepers and Ancient Jewish Magic
JANUARY 27, 2013

Tim Keller, Allender and Longman need a refresher course in biology.
JANUARY 16, 2014

Noah: A rabbi’s review
MARCH 29, 2014

Ishi not Baali
APRIL 3, 2014

Susannah Heschel on “Selma”
JANUARY 18, 2015

10 Comments leave one →
  1. krwordgazer permalink
    June 29, 2015 1:03 pm

    I have lost interest in the Biblioblogs site (or maybe, to be honest, it’s a bit more personal than that, since they have ignored my own blogging about the Bible from the start, as apparently not scholarly enough for them) — but I appreciate this nice tribute to Suzanne McCarthy and am glad her considerable scholarship was acknowledged by them.

  2. June 29, 2015 4:27 pm

    Kristen, We all appreciate your tribute to Suzanne here and here (and her husband emails to say that as well). I’m really sorry that the biblioblog site organizers have chronically remained ignorant about your blog given your insightful and solid engagement with tough topics in the Bible – We might suspect not a scholarly snub of some sort, although I’m guessing they’d appreciate your thinking this about them (when much of what many of these scholars blog about is hardly scholarly or much related to the Bible); but we might see their behavior (or misbehavior) rather to be a passive silencing of you because of their complicity in systemic sexism. Thank you again for joining Suzanne and the others of us here in blogging. And thank you for your blog.

  3. krwordgazer permalink
    June 29, 2015 6:20 pm

    Thanks, Kurt. I’m really sorry that they have “chronically remained ignorant” too– especially since I actively sought them out several times over a period of several years, asking that my blog be included in their list– and each and every time received no response, to the point where I had to conclude the ignoring was deliberate. At any rate, the issue seems largely moot at least for now, as I’m about to announce on my blog a hiatus for some months, so that I can finish work on a long-neglected young-adult novel.

    I’m glad I was able to bless Suzanne’s husband! And your kind encouragement is very much appreciated– more than you know.

  4. krwordgazer permalink
    June 29, 2015 6:47 pm

    * I mean Kurk, not Kurt. Sorry- typo!

  5. krwordgazer permalink
    June 29, 2015 7:08 pm

    Oh– and the reason I tend to think it’s a scholarly snub rather than a sexist one, is that during the same time they were ignoring me, they accepted and promoted an online friend of mine, Marg Mowzco, who also has a blog largely related to egalitarianism. The difference is that she’s a Greek scholar, and I’m not.

  6. June 30, 2015 7:15 am

    Kristen, At Aristotle’s Feminist Subject, I recall your comments on the dearth of women bloggers in the “rankings” of the biblioblogs and our speculations about “why” and our collective efforts to make some changes to that. It was also the “carnivals,” where only male blogposts were highlighted, remember? Why? What logic? I also recall statements like “Rachel Held Evans is not writing Biblical blog posts” or “Well, at least she’s not doing biblical scholarship at her blog” and “Oh, Come on. You’ve got to at least agree that she isn’t doing real scholarship..” April DeConick, a biblical scholar at a highly reputable institution, began to join in the conversation, as a woman, And with some pressure, a few women blogging on the Bible were added in to some of the carnivals and such. Also, Rachel Held Evans and Suzanne McCarthy were added in, eventually, as noted. Rachel is famous now for her persistent blogging, and book authoring, and public speaking. Suzanne often wondered in private correspondence about her scholarly credentials. I work in the Academy and see that, often, there is a bias against scholars, when they are women. It’s a double marginalization when one is a blogger, not a man, a Bible blogger, not a scholar. And it didn’t matter back then that male Bible scholars blogged on very strange things, not at all related to the Bible. They still were included in the rankings and the carnivals when some of you were not. And often J.K. Gayle was mistaken for a woman (perhaps like J.K. Rowling or perhaps the name Gayle); when folks would suddenly somehow finally see that I’m a man, not a woman, they would write to and write about me differently. My “scholarship” didn’t change. And Dr. Ann Nyland was disparaged not only for her GLBT Study Bible but also because she blogged on fiction and on horses. We are all glad that you, Marg, Suzanne, and so many others have not stopped blogging because of these things. You yourself, in comments at my blog and by your own posts, have helped me positively change the ways I read and think about the Bible, about the complementarian / egalitarian marriage issues in particular. Thank you.

  7. krwordgazer permalink
    June 30, 2015 12:43 pm

    Kurk, it blesses me very much that my writings have influenced you! Thank you, and you’re welcome!

    Yes, I recall those conversations now. And I had forgotten that they accepted Rachel Held Evans, who to the best of my knowledge has a Bachelors of English, just like me. If they included her (under pressure) because of her popularity, then the issue for me must be that I’m not scholarly enough or popular enough to be included even though I’m female.

    Can you think of any examples of where the Biblioblogs have included a man who blogs about the Bible, who isn’t particularly popular and who isn’t a scholar? If there are a lot of such examples, then the issue is that for a woman, it’s not enough to simply blog well about the Bible– she has to have something else to recommend her in addition to that. Which is to say that a woman must outperform most men in order to be allowed in, as does often happen.

  8. June 30, 2015 2:26 pm

    Can you think of any examples of where the Biblioblogs have included a man who blogs about the Bible, who isn’t particularly popular and who isn’t a scholar? If there are a lot of such examples, then the issue is that for a woman, it’s not enough to simply blog well about the Bible– she has to have something else to recommend her in addition to that. Which is to say that a woman must outperform most men in order to be allowed in, as does often happen.


  9. krwordgazer permalink
    June 30, 2015 6:11 pm

    That actually makes me feel better, believe it or not! — that the rejection isn’t about me; it’s their problem, not mine.


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