Wednesday, November 11, 2009

For Debate


Scripture seems to attest to the existence of many deities (none of which should come before Yahweh, of course). Can you disprove this? How?

24 comments:

Nick said...

I would be interested in reading up on the specific references relating to the attestation of the existence of many deities. However at present time, I would interpret that scripture attests to different people believing in different deities, but not necessarily that those deities exist.

Christopher said...

Nick,

Agreed. However, since belief in the claims and narrations of Scripture is necessary for believing that they represent reality, would it not be a bit of a problem to turn your logic around on you? That is, since the people Scripture attests to believed in certain deities but not necessarily that they existed, why should we believe the testimony on the attestations of the people who believed in Yahweh?

Thank you for your thoughtful response, bud.

Anonymous said...

I think the ultimate witness is the ongoing work of the cross in our lives.
I cannot offer something tangible other than that. I can give testimony to God's healing power in my life and the witness of it in the lives of others.
Do you know because "deep calls unto deep"? I do. And that is enough.
That said, we are to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.
I wonder if some of these questions would discourage people from believing?
I hope not.
J

Nick said...

Chris,
I'm not sure how you mean that the logic would be turned around on me. Some of the stores tell of Jesus walking with the author of the story. The stories in the bible with the dieties tell of other people who believe in them, not that the author has personal experiences with those dieties. In one case it is the author's experience, in the other it is the experience of other people relating their experience to the author who has not experienced it. One attests to Jesus existing in their experience. The other attests to the existance of other people who attest to their dieties. There fore the bible does not attest to those dieties, but to the existance of those people.
Now if you are wondering how I relate to these different attestations; in other words what I attest to in relation to the stories of the bible, the relationship is again once more removed. I attest that the authors of the bible have related their own experiences/stories about the existence of Jesus, and other people who believe in other dieties. So I can only attest that the books of the bible exist and that their authors must have also existed. However, who the authors are, are not 100% known to me.
All this is aside from my personal spiritual experiences that at times seem to line up with some of the experiences that the authors of the bible have written about. My relationship with my God is not dependent on the bible alone, nor other individuals' experiences. My relationship with my God is dependant on the whole of exisitence; and since I am aware that the bible does exist, it's contents do play a part in such a relationship. The Holy Bible is just a collection of books. Inspiration from God is not dependent on this book or else it would not have been written; because it would require the book to write the book.
I attest that The Holy Bible is only a book. {Nick looks around at the others listening in} Let the stones fly if they must.

Christopher said...

J.,

"I wonder if some of these questions would discourage people from believing?"

Well, I suppose anything's possible, isn't it? In any case, if by asking a question a person has to consider the possibilities that what they've believed so far may not be true, should we avoid the question? Or, if we are in pursuit of the truth, is there any question that shouldn't be asked?

But back to your personal response. You seem to be suggesting that personal experience is enough to mitigate against the charge that there appears to be multiple deities in Scripture. That is, because you know that 'deep calls unto deep', you know that there is only one true deity in Scripture and, by extention, in reality.

How would you express your personal experience of a deity, however, as being the experience of a single deity named El, or Yahweh, or Jehovah, or Elohim? Why not Marduk, or Horus, or Ba'al, or Ra, et al.? What distinguishes their 'deep' from yours such that you can parse all the deities down to the One that Christianity classically professes?

Anonymous said...

And this is where I'm out of my league. I guess I do not comprehend what it is you are asking. There is not a shadow of a doubt in my mind and heart that there is one true God and that I have a relationship with Him. Perhaps that is by the faith of the Son of God and by the Spirit of God that I can say that.
I do definitely believe there are a lot of ungodly beings that exist, if that is what you are referring to as "deities".
You've lost me on the rest, here. I'd be glad to talk about it sometime when we visit.
Thanks,
J

Christopher said...

J.,

You're not out of your league. I'm simply asking -- in an academic manner -- for someone to defend the proposition that the existence of multiple deities can be disproven from Scripture. It seems to some (including myself), that Scripture admits to many divine beings, all of them being gods, or God.

Yahweh is the tribal God of the Israelites, the mountain God who was respected by the agrarian tribes because of his efficiency in warring to capture the promised land. Elohim was the universal word for the ultimate God, the God above all gods, who was considered above even Yahweh until Joshua led his people into Canaan. At that point, he told the people to choose which god they would serve. They chose Yahweh. Historically speaking, however, it has been shown that even though they chose Yahweh, they still believed in the notion of an Elohim, which they didn't equate with Yahweh.

So, with that in mind, what bears out in Scripture to prove, or even just suggest, that there is only one God, and that that one God is actually Yahweh, and not any of the others mentioned?

Cheers!

Edward said...

I'd say revelation is progressive and accommodating. By the time we get to Paul's letter to the Corinthians, it's taken for granted that these 'gods' aren't real, so we don't need to worry too much about accidentally participating in some rites devoted to them.

In any case, the whole point of the start of Genesis is to de-divinize and de-animize the cosmos, no? And no one doubts that Genesis, as we have it today, weaves the Elohim and Yaweh stories into one story. As far as I can tell, the only way to go is to say that this weaving was illegitimate. But this weaving itself is a revelation. What I mean is that the weaving is a part of the message.

Anonymous said...

Chris,

I find that in reading these comments there might be a discrepancy in your reasoning. In your response to Nick

"However, since belief in the claims and narrations of Scripture is necessary for believing that they represent reality, would it not be a bit of a problem to turn your logic around on you? "

This suggests that it would be necessary to believe in the scripture in order to prove a single deity. But in your response to J. you ask "...for someone to defend the proposition that the existence of multiple deities can be disproven from Scripture."

In order to do this with any credibility we do need to agree on certain things. Is scripture fact or fallacy. In the response to Nick it was not treated as fact. But in the comment to J. it is.

We can't have our cake and eat it too as they say.

JN

Nick said...

Chris, Edward,

Interesting that you (Edward) connect Elohim and Yaweh as being part of the same message. Though nothing I am about to say will prove anything (Chris), I think it has a related theme to the question posed by you (Chirs). I have for a long time felt that there is the "God above all gods". To me I currently know this God as exisitence (the whole). But this does suggest that there can be other Gods. Really, all that is required to define a god; is to choose one. What comes to mind is "Obey my commandements and I will be your God". I have some Latter Day Saints friends who, as I understand it, understand the Trinity to be different then most Christians. They believe that the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Ghost are actually different entities; but that they are part of the same God head. Coinsidentally I've thought that Jesus and the Father in the context of the bible were separate beings long before I met my LDS friends. Upon discovering the similarity I couldn't help but smile. Within a biblical context, it makes sense to me that God the son (Jesus), God the Father, can each be Gods yet still be one with the "God above all gods"... I believe there is even biblical reference made to praying to Jesus as being separate from praying to the Father.
But this aside, wether these Gods exist separately or as one or not at all, does not matter to the purpose of naming them one's own God. The act of worship serves the purpose of modeling oneself to the precieved characteristics or vurtues of another character. There may be a real person one can try to model oneself to, however, the modelling is still based on one's own preception of the person's character and vurtues. Therefore, it does not matter to the function of worship and role modelling oneself, wether the God is real or not. However, I do think that believing in a life supporting kind of God is far more productive to making life enjoyable than beliving in a God for fear of him and what he will do. My God is all existence, however paradoxial it may be that I choose to see him as loving. If I invite that love to live in me, I think it can only bring me closer to meeting my God, and if in no other way than in this way: I think it is entirely possible that one can model the values of a character so well that one practically becomes that character. I would not be surprised if there was such a man as Jesus who modelled himself to the well intended hopes of mankind so well that he was able to fullfill most or all of such hopes. I think such a man would be worthy of the name "Son of Man". I look forward to meeting in person such a man or woman someday, or to sacrifice myself to be such a man if I thought I could fill such a calling. However, this person would be different than the "God above all Gods" which I know as existence (the whole).

Edward said...

Nick,

The philosopher in me wants to get clear on how you're using words like "entity", "existence", "being", "Godhead", "God, "god", "felt", "one with", "separate beings", etc.

As it stands, as far as I can tell, you're technically a heretic. (I don't mean that in the insult sense in which that word is now popularly used, BTW). Basically, what I mean is that you don't confess the classic ecumenical Christian orthodoxy that Catholics, Protestants, and the Orthodox hold in common.

If you don't give two hoots about that, then you've got good company in the culture-warrior "evangelicals" in America. They could talk to you for hours about "taking back the culture" and how awful Obama is, but ask 'em about the Trinity and they'll have nothing to say. Ha!

BTW, whether or not "Elohim" and "Yaweh" name the same person is an open question. The text, as we have it, weaves them together so as to identify them. Sure. there's textual/historical evidence that these names have different histories and were once used in different ways. But, as far as I can tell, it's just a philosophical mistake to think that the kind of work Armstrong does gets us to who these names REALLY name. It's not that she's making false historical claims (maybe she is?). The problem is that's not how names and naming work!

Gregory said...

Jumping in,
Ed, your last point about names and naming is precisely on the money, I think. Chris, you yourself indicated that "Elohim" was the generic word for "God above all gods" or whatnot (can't be bothered to scroll up, sorry). Whether at some point in the past that deity was considered a distinct entity from the deity called Yahweh, seems a bit of a moot point.

The fact is, if Elohim is a "generic word for God", then it serves the same function as "God" in English, or "Allah" in Muslim-influenced cultures. That is, it's a word denoting what something is, like "human" does for us. "Yahweh", on the other hand, would seem to be a proper name, by which the being "Elohim", or "God" identified himself, just as this human identifies himself as Gregory.

If that's the case, then any deity worshipped as the principle deity in a nation's religion could have been called "El" or "Elohim", using the term to refer to their god without necessarily equating their god with any other god. That is, assuming "Elohim" was a word in that group's language.

Moreover, as Ed pointed out, the Bible represents progressive revelation--one that it itself claims culminates in that revelation given to us in Jesus Christ--and He seemed to teach a definite monotheism (albeit a Trinitarian one). So whether the ancient Israelites were confused as to whether Yahweh was simply better than all the other gods, or if He was actually the only God (or both, where the first thought gave way to the second), or if Karen Armstrong is confused (after all, in the periods when Israel strayed from God's Covenant, they went after these false gods--which was, to wit, the very act of straying itself--so to provide the shocking revelation that ancient Israelites were polytheistic is actually, well, not all that shocking. That one would surmise after taking the totality of Scripture into account that the Israelites were not wrong and sinning in being polytheistic, well, that's where I'd be shocked.

That's all I'll say for now, since I've got to run.

God bless
Gregory

Nick said...

Edward (part I),

The philosopher in me wants to get clear on how you're using words like "entity", "existence", "being", "Godhead", "God, "god", "felt", "one with", "separate beings", etc.

I hope this doesn't just end up snowballing; turning into a list of personal definitions instead of a discussion of ideas and/or knowledge. I will humer the philosopher in you for now:

entity: a being which may or may not be classed as living, and shows a unique purpose or a will to influence the sequence of existence.

existence: my God. (kidding; I wouldn't just leave it there). existence: everything that is, whether parts of it are in physical form or as an idea in someone else's thoughts, existence is everything that is which can be summed up in the form "I am" or "it is".

being: a component of existence.

Godhead: a united personality, entity, and purpose which can be summed up from more than one sub-entities, much like a large company is represented by more than one board member. [in relation; I'd like to note the use of "us" when God speaks in Genisis]

God/god: I often uses these interchangeable. Probably a better use of the word would be like in Engineer as in a person's title. I'll try to pay more attention to this. Sorry.

felt: normally I would have used the word "thought". But here I used "felt" because I was trying to describe a connection with the idea of "God above all gods", on a level that doesn't use words as in conventional thought.

one with: describing a unity as in my definition of "Godhead"

separate beings: as in contrast to some religions that believe that Father and the Son are the same person/being.

etc: I'm sorry but I have not aquire such a connectivity with my god that I can receive your thoughts by my own. What else?

As it stands, as far as I can tell, you're technically a heretic. (I don't mean that in the insult sense in which that word is now popularly used, BTW). Basically, what I mean is that you don't confess the classic ecumenical Christian orthodoxy that Catholics, Protestants, and the Orthodox hold in common.

This point means little to me since ecumenical Christian orthodoxy of said systems have changed through time to a noticeable degree (I have no interest in perusing discussion on even this point I make to you now). Yes, you may say that I am a heretic. So what. Jesus was also a heretic in the stories of the bible in relation to the orthodoxy of that time. I admit I am somewhat frustrated at this point you make to me because there seems to be some unanounced purpose to it. Edward, I'm not even sure if I have answered whatever question you have behind the vail. But I don't think that it was just search for confirmation that I am a heretic or else I would have expected a question posed instead of a point made. In part, I think, maybe you were worried that I would be offended by you asking me if I am a heretic. Is this true?

Nick said...

Edward (part II),


If you don't give two hoots about that, then you've got good company in the culture-warrior "evangelicals" in America. They could talk to you for hours about "taking back the culture" and how awful Obama is, but ask 'em about the Trinity and they'll have nothing to say. Ha!

I am not sure what you are reading into my previous reply, but it doesn't seem to me to be helping you to understand who I am or what I believe or what I know. I don't give two hoots about "taking back the culture".

But, as far as I can tell, it's just a philosophical mistake to think that the kind of work Armstrong does gets us to who these names REALLY name. It's not that she's making false historical claims (maybe she is?). The problem is that's not how names and naming work!

I don't know what work Armstrong does. I went on a hunch that you were linking that name to my bit surounding my Latter Day Saints friends and looked up Armstrong in relation to Latter Day Saints. I still have not read what Armstrong's work was/is. But I have enough info to confirm that's what you're talking about here. In light of this, it seems you are implying that what I said about names has something to do with the work of Armstrong. This seems to me like more premature inference. What I said about names has nothing to do with Armstrong that I am aware of. How does naming work? Well this is what I know about names. In some cultures a name is a partial representation of the spirit of a person, or the person's purpose in life, or some characteristic. In such cultures a name cannot completely describe a personality, but is a short form for those who know the person well. As a result, often a person has many names all of which describe the personality, spirit, life purpose, or characteristic of that person or a mixture of these. Which name then is the correct one? The one that you would have a personal connection with so that others and that person may know the relationship between you both. This culture of naming is far different than the culture of naming a designation in our western world by non-natives. However, I think that this form of naming serves the purpose of naming much better and is more in line with much naming as in the texts of the bible. A simple example for God's name as in exodus is "I am". The personal connection I have with this is that of the whole of existence as I described earlier. So now, I see two different ways that naming works, but cannot say that one is right or one is wrong; but that they both do work in their own way. So Edward, do you have another way in which naming works?

Edward said...

Nick,

I'm trying to relate what you said with the basic Thomistic picture, which has been especially interesting to me lately.

According to the Thomist picture, God's essence is identical with his existence. Also, when we say of God that God is, and we say of us that we are, is/are is used analogically. We only exist insofar as we are invited into God's existence. Being is not like a giant bowl containing God and us. It's not some neutral receptacle with God has the bigest and most powerful thing in the bowl. Still, we're not God and God is not us.

Your view is a bit like that, but importantly different, right? Anyway, I'm tempted to call the Thomist view simply "classical theism". You're nearly a classical theist?

I terms of naming, from what I can tell, and maybe I'm wrong, the Armstrong view is that you find out who a name REALLY names by uncovering it's most ancient usage. (Or something close to this.) I say this is wrong. That not how we find out who a name names, I say.

Her key moves in this area all presuppose that, "mere christians" (or whomever she's writing against, pick you favourite name for them) must believe that God invented the language of Scripture from scratch - out of nothing. Scripture was written in preexistent languages, in preexistent genres, using found stories, etc. One of the central tasks of interpretation, then, is following how all this is weaved together and noticing the funny ways in which old ideas are subverted.

I suppose (maybe I'm wrong) someone like Armstrong will try to "see thru" this weaving and subverting, trying to get at what was behind it. Finding something behind it, she takes this discovery to be scandalous. But I say she's missing the point in a deep way.

(WARNING: I've only read her book on Islam, not the book Chris read.)

Nick said...

Your view is a bit like that, but importantly different, right? Anyway, I'm tempted to call the Thomist view simply "classical theism". You're nearly a classical theist?

My view is more of a panthiestic view. Whether that is classical or not I'm not sure. Where my view seems to differ slightly from your bowl analogy is that God is the bowl and we are in it. Not that God is in the bowl. However, this does not eliminate for me the idea that there may be a "Father" within the bowl, which may also be a god with greater connectivity to the whole of the bowl. If you're looking for other philosophers to compare my view with, the closest I've come to so far is that of Baruch Spinoza. However, he did not make note of any other god like figures that I am aware of.

Like I said, I don't really know what Armstrong talks about and at this point I'm not really interested in dicovering what she talks about. As far as the naming thing goes, I agree with you that finding the most ancient usage of a name does not necessarily connect us with who we are really looking for. The approach with names that I originally was talking about was more on spiritual identification rather than personal identifiecation. For example; Jesus said "I am the way the truth and the life" or something like that. This can be treated as a spiritual name to identify the spirit of Jesus. And it may not have been the intent that Jesus (as flesh) and this spiritual name are inseperable throughout time, but that it may only have meant that Jesus was describing the spirit that lives within himself (the driving force). And that if others subsribe to the same driving force of truth, to find a way, and life in general, they can also discover the "Father"; whoever that may be. Another instance of flesh may yet contain the same spirit or life driving force, purpose, or whatever else you might call it. I make note that this idea is important because will/purpose seems to be a life driving force. If we can find the origin of this force without the bibile what do we care if the bible points to the same thing. At that point we move forward having found it. So at this point, not having found it as something we can emperically identify, the bibile is only good for clues or puzzle pieces to a larger picture; to what we are really after; ...a greater connection with existence.

Christopher said...

Ed, Nick:

Ed:
"I terms of naming, from what I can tell, and maybe I'm wrong, the Armstrong view is that you find out who a name REALLY names by uncovering it's most ancient usage. (Or something close to this.) I say this is wrong. That not how we find out who a name names, I say...

...(WARNING: I've only read her book on Islam, not the book Chris read.)"


Nick:
"Like I said, I don't really know what Armstrong talks about and at this point I'm not really interested in dicovering what she talks about. As far as the naming thing goes, I agree with you that finding the most ancient usage of a name does not necessarily connect us with who we are really looking for."

I have to say that I really appreciate the level of discussion in this call to debate. Thank you for so much thoughtful contribution, guys. I have to say that I have only had time to quickly read over your comments, so please forgive my lack of participation.

In any case, I highlighted a couple of quotes from you above because I was concerned about the estimations being arrived at concerning a scholar neither of you is overly familiar with. Nick, you're not even interested in her, so I'm not sure how you're agreeing with Ed's criticism of her unless on a purely abstract level -- in which case, you're side-stepping the context of Ed's critique.

Ed, naming names is tricky business, I agree. However, having read a couple of Armstrong's books (not the one on Islam, however), I have not seen the method you are referring to: namely, uncovering earlier information reveals a scandal; and citing names from ancient times means ipso facto that the later names are misidentifications. Please correct me if that's not the points you intended.

In any case, Armstrong, in the books I have read (The Great Transformation, The Bible: A Biography, and A History of God) does not argue anachronistically concerning names. She's more aware of sensible reasoning than that. She does show a correspondence, however, between the various names of specific deities and the agrarian religions of the mid-east; she does cite biblical passages that, when taken with historical-archeological evidence, imply the belief in multiple deities, of which Yahweh was one. And Yahweh, was not the highest of the deities, but venerated for his ruthless efficiency in matters of war.

So, identifying Yahweh as such, and then contrasting him with the more ambivalent sky-god, Elohim, does raise some rather peculiar concerns about the biblical testimony of God.

Thoughts?

Edward said...

I suppose that Armstrong surveys ancient near eastern literature and finds deities, cultic practices, myths (and whatever else) that predate the Pentateuch, yet which can be found in the Pentateuch if we have eyes to see them.

If that's what she does, I'll grant her that much.

That the materials out of which the Pentateuch was formed have a hidden (to us) history, and belonged to an ancient pagan culture, must be acknowledged.

What I won't let her do is to claim that the Scriptures teach the distinction between Yahweh and Elohim and all that stuff. The unfolding narrative of the Pentateuch weaves these two together. (With plenty more weaving and subversion of wrong ideas delayed for a time, and left for later. By the time of Paul, the idea that accidentally eating meat dedicated to a god is an issue to worry about is just silly. Though he's aware that not everyone will be ready to accept that, so he's not a hard ass about it.)

I suppose she does this, or something close to this, by claiming that she can sniff out the original authorial intent of the original writers of the materials out of which the Pentateuch was formed, and that these original authors intended to use Yaweh to refer to the local warrior god and believed Yaweh was a local warrior god.

Let's suppose she has successfully sniffed out this original authorial intention. I say this is still irrelevant, or mostly so. Why? Because the original authorial intent does not determine the text's meaning for us. Not even the compiler's (traditionally Moses, I suppose) original authorial intent determines it's meaning. (Although, like I said, I'm pretty sure it's this subversive weaving together we find in the text that reveals so much.)

Again, why? Well, for one thing, the person whose speech acts we're interested in, as members of the Church, is God's. The question is "What is God saying to us?" Also, heavy in our minds will be the NT interpretation of the OT: a confused time of types and shadows the end (telos) of which was Christ. Whatever the compiler thought he was doing, God has his own purposes which all meet in Christ.

Edward said...

I'm basically summarizing what I remember from Enns' "Inspiration and Incarnation".

Think of the Scriptures as both human and divine, like Christ. (Which is the official orthodox position, right?) But for years we've been scandalized by the frail human aspects of the Scriptures, and have tried to pretend the Bible's a strictly divine book.

The Son took a human body, became human, and revealed the Father precisely in his subversive use of his humanity.

Jesus was divine, but he born between urine and feces. He ate, drank, shat and had a sex drive. (A bit gross, but true.) Draw an analogy with Scripture. We don't think a gross human nature is appropriate for God. We also don't think a gross ancient language and culture is appropriate for God. God's very usage of these is itself revelatory.

Nick said...

Chris,

"In any case, I highlighted a couple of quotes from you above because I was concerned about the estimations being arrived at concerning a scholar neither of you is overly familiar with. Nick, you're not even interested in her, so I'm not sure how you're agreeing with Ed's criticism of her unless on a purely abstract level -- in which case, you're side-stepping the context of Ed's critique."

I think I have been missunderstood.
I thought I was very plainly side stepping Ed's critisism of Armstrong while agreeing with the specific point or idea that the oldest usage of a name doesn't always connect us with the name of an identity we are seeking to verify. So it is not Ed's critisism I'm agreeing with. It is the idea or specific point I am agreeing with. My interest in Ed's critisim of Armstrong is about equal with my interest in picking up Armstrongs work. However, to clearify, my lack of interest in Armstrong's work (verifying names as Ed hinted me to), it is simply because I have other things which I am more interested in. I have enough interest in names to discuss this much, but not suffiently to read a book on it. However judging by your reply Chris, that is not the core of Armstrong's work. LOL. However, I am still not sufficiently interested in her work at the time being.
And that about wraps up the amount of interest I have in explaining my lack of interst in Armstrong. :D

Christopher said...

Nick,

Yes, you're agreeing with Ed's point in essence. However, since Ed has not read Armstrong's book, his criticism is relegated to the one book of hers that he has read -- which means that his criticism is contextually out of place. That implies that your agreeance with Ed is an agreement based on an abstract notion of the concept Ed has presented, and not on anything Armstrong has noted.

More, I'm not sure why you seem to be asserting your disinterest in reading Armstrong. I'm pretty sure neither Ed nor I have pushed you to pursue her writings. That's fine if you're disinterested. Why has that even become a necessary ingredient in this conversation?

Nick said...

Chris,

Whether Ed has read only the one book of Armstrongs or many, I agree that his critisism is contextually out of place to the discussion he and I were having concerning names only because he linked what I was saying about names to Armstrongs methodology, and assumed that I knew what that was. I would say that his linking what I said about names to Armstrong was more abstract to the discussion than me agreeing with his specific point.

You saw me as agreeing with Ed's critisim. However, Ed's critisism of Armstrong was not the original focus of disucssion. The idea(s) were the focus of discussion.
Me asserting my disinterest in Armstrong's work was more of an artisitc expression of how I think the discussion has degrated to my lack of interest. The connection being the more we talk about Armstrong, the less we talk about the ideas we began with. I am not a man who likes to ciritise people for their ideas. I am a man who likes to talk about the ideas themselves. I am disapointed in myself for not being clearer about this when critisism of Armstrong was first introduced.

Edward said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Edward said...

You gotta love the email comment notification feature!

In addition to reading her Islam book, I've read the occasional online article and listened to an extended interview of her on the public radio show "Speaking of Faith". Google it and you should be able to find it.

I listened to it about a year ago. I don't know you, Nick, but I suspect she'd be right up your alley, overall. She has an interesting story: for one, she's an ex-nun.