Belled

It's Premiere week, DWFC Members!

While the Olympics are still playing out, many networks are premiering their new shows and new seasons of returning shows. In Olympic fashion, the DWFC has decided to Feature a Gold-medal DW episode. That's right -- many of you have asked for it, and here it is: "How Great Thou Art." We thank the Baptist Women In Ministry for their encouragement and participation in this Feature and ask all the DWFC members to preview the Official Episode Summary from Columbia Tri-Star prior to reading this Issue's feature as, moreso than in the past, we focus on the show's subject matter and familiarity with the episode itself is impertive.

In keeping with Premiere week, we also review and preview Dixie Carter's CBS series Family Law as well as highlight Women of the House's Patricia Heaton in her current series Everybody Loves Raymond -- all before CBS Premiere Monday!


"How Great Thou Art"

Charlene looking to the heavens

Be sure to check out the Episode Summary from Columbia Tri-Star for this episode. The Summary page includes all the quotations referred to in this segment, as well as additional commentary, facts, and pictures not included in this newsletter. Views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the fan club and are not meant to offend anyone -- but positive discussion is encouraged!

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"Let your women remain silent in the churches for they are not permitted to speak, but are to remain submissive, as the law also says. And if they want to learn something, they are to ask their husbands at home, for it is shameful for women to speak in church." ~ 1 Corinthians 14:34b-35


If the above passage from the Bible sounds familiar, perhaps it's because Reverend Nunn quoted it to the Ladies in "How Great Thou Art" to back him up regarding his and the Southern Baptist Convention's stance that women should be barred from becoming ministers. If it doesn't shock you or at least incite a strong reaction as it did the Ladies, perhaps it should. Reverend Nunn's use of this and other passages as divine evidence for his position was enough to call even Bernice to arms as she fired off passage after passage of different biblical translations to counterpoint the Reverend. No matter which position you take on this issue, we hope that you'll agree there is worthy evidence to explore the general question: Can any human being make a decision which affects other human beings and say that it's actually God's decision based on any given translation of the Bible?

Written in the late 1980s, "How Great Thou Art" dealt with one particular decision made in this manner, yet its plot could easily drop into current programming and still be relevant and timely no matter which religious denomination or decision served as the program's premise. Certainly, DWFC members will not be surprised to read that Linda Bloodworth-Thomason and Designing Women were ahead of their time in tackling this issue -- both in the general sense of biblical translations and religious doctrines based upon them, as well as the particular question of gender discrimination in the ministry. What some members might be surprised to learn is that "How Great Thou Art" isn't an out of date episode; in fact, the issue of women in the ministry, in general, has never been more heated. In this Feature, we focus on the particular denomination the episode did in keeping with the DWFC, but we encourage you all to take it upon yourselves to apply the information to a broader and a more personal level, depending on your own affiliations.

Today, the Southern Baptist Convention -- the nation's largest Protestant denomination with an estimated 16 million members and more than 40,000 churches -- continues its claim that women do not belong behind the pulpit. As part of the 2000 annual convention, the Southern Baptist Convention stated clearly that it would continue to bar women from serving as pastors: "While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture." This decision comes hot on the heels of last year's position that wives should submit to the leadership of their husbands.

None of these statements "qualified by Scripture" are new to The Convention, which has been adopting controversial, high-profile positions that many moderates oppose since conservatives took control in 1979. Conservatives believe the Bible is the literal, error-free word of God, while many moderates believe that worshippers should interpret the Bible for themselves. Many other Christians of various denominations believe that modern translations of the Holy Book are difficult to take at their literal word -- especially considering that there can be many varied translations to the original Greek writings.

One example of a questionable translation would be in Romans 16:1, where Paul introduces Phoebe (whom Bernice references in her arguments -- see Eps. summary) as "deacon." Paul uses the same Greek word for himself in the sense of a preacher, a minister, and the same word appears in Ephesians 6:21 where it refers to a male and is normally translated "minister." However, in English translations, "deacon" is translated as "deaconess" or slave when in reference to Phoebe -- a woman.

In Romans 16:7: Paul refers to a male apostle, Andronicus, and a female apostle, Junia, both as "outstanding among the apostles." The Amplified Bible translates this passage as "They are men held in high esteem among the apostles." The Revised Standard Version shows it as "they are men of note among the apostles." The reference to them both being men does not appear in the original Greek text -- "men" was simply inserted by the translators. Many modern translations, including the Amplified Bible, Rheims New Testament, New American Standard Bible, and the New International Version even convert the original "Junia" (a woman's name) into "Junias" (which they considered a man's name).

In Romans 16:3: Paul refers to Priscilla as another of his "fellow workers in Christ Jesus." Other translations refer to her as a "co-worker". But still other translations attempt to downgrade her status by calling her a simple "helper". The original Greek word is "synergoi", which literally means "fellow worker" or "colleague."

In the case of Junia, whether the translators used "men" in the general sense as "man" is often used as a pronoun for "human beings" or they recoiled from the concept of a female apostle as some believe, the fact remains that the translators changed the original text. The same can be said in the cases of both Phoebe and Priscilla, and many others not mentioned here.

In academia, scholars always struggle with the balance between "text" and its "social context." While the original text of any document should always maintain its integrity, the social context is always important to consider when reading it -- especially if directly applying the text as absolute evidence for something. Since the Bible is considered to be a divine text by many, however, this academic practice is often not employed.

Considering these selected translations, it is not only plausible but understandable that when faced with various and conflicting translations, many Christians would begin to question the literal word of the scriptures -- especially regarding the modern social context. There was a time, after all, when Southern Baptists, like many others, typically believed and practiced slavery and segregation -- even supported it with biblical texts -- until racism became culturally unacceptable.

Ultimately, women have taken a secondary role in the churches because that is where our social culture has historically placed them in society. Those who wrote and translated the scriptures simply fell in line with the precedent set by cultural limitations, and it is reasonable to argue that those translations are being held too literal in a time when those limitations have proven to be discriminatory. Bloodworth-Thomason and DW brought these translations to the light and asked viewers to ask themselves: given the historical, spiritual, and academic evidence, are these translations and current beliefs and practices acceptable and true?

Though The Southern Baptist Convention has officially denounced future ordination of women ministers, the decision will not affect the status of the roughly 100 Southern Baptist women who currently lead congregations -- however, it has caused many congregations to distance themselves from The Convention.


"And it shall come to pass in the last days" says God, "that I shall pour out of my spirit on all flesh. Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy."


"How Great Thou Art" tackles the academic discussion of biblical translations in a round table of sorts with Bernice the unlikely but heroic antithesis to Reverend Nunn. Bloodworth-Thomason's deliberate choice of Bernice in this scene is brilliant in that we can't help but take notice of her lucidity and, as a result, her specific argument. After all, Julia would have been the obvious choice to go head-to-head with Reverend Nunn but the surprise of it being Bernice jolts us to pay attention to her message rather than be swept away by the rhythms of the inspiring diatribe in general which Julia might have presented. Further, the use of Bernice in this situation amplifies the effect such decisions make on every man and woman because -- like the rest of the Ladies -- we're surprised to learn of Bernice's history and knowledge and passion in this specific matter, whereas Julia's tete-a-tete with the Reverend might be construed as just another issue-based platform.

But Linda Bloodworth-Thomason didn't stop at the round-table. She truly brought home the effects these biblical translations have on individuals when used as "qualifying scripture" for man-made decisions when she juxtaposed them with the real/reel, daily struggles of two of her main characters. Charlene's personal and spiritual struggle over leaving her church based on her pastor's belief that women can't serve as ministers because God precludes it ties into Julia's fear of taking her awarded position as soloist at the closing ceremonies of the convention. Both women normally lead their lives with astounding personal integrity, spirtitual strength, and confidence in their beliefs and themselves, but suddenly they're both on shaky ground. As viewers, we're not accustomed to seeing these two characters in such vulnerable positions. We take notice. And watch closely and openly.

Afraid that she will not hit the final high note, Julia makes a last minute decision not to attend the convention's closing ceremonies and participate as the lead soloist. However, Charlene -- in the face of her own personal struggle over leaving her church -- needs to feel strength in Julia's conquering of her fears regarding her performance and promises to ask God to supply Julia with the notes. No matter what your religious beliefs or affiliations, it is impossible not to feel Charlene's pain and need to pull strength from her faith and to be inspired by Charlene's clinging to something more powerful than herself.

Jean Smart's portrayal of Charlene in this episode is the perfect example of the grace and emotional depth on which this character is based. Not once does she cry or even express anger; rather, Jean Smart limits her performance, resulting in a more powerful sadness. This episode gives us one of Jean's most poignant performances and a perfect example of what was missing from the way her character was written in later years.

Dixie Carter's rendition of "How Great Thou Art" is the ultimate payoff in what is already a very powerful episode. Linda Bloodworth-Thomason had created and told an emotionally explosive story with no gimmicks or dramatic scenes -- simply two women struggling with their faith -- so that by the time we're taken to the church in the final scene for the closing ceremonies to witness Julia singing, the experience is nothing less than spiritual. When Julia begins her solo, Dixie Carter plays the nervousness out very realistically and clearly. As she continues to sing, Julia gains confidence with each note and camera pan to her friends and family in the church. The high notes Julia was so nervous about seem to sing from somewhere within her previously untapped, and the crescendo of "How Great Thou Art" is sung with true Dixie Carter elegance. If you haven't cried by this point, the final frame with Charlene raising her tear-filled smile towards heaven to thank God for his support is a heart-wrencher.

It is very clear where Linda Bloodworth-Thomason stood on the issue of women in the ministry when she wrote this episode, and one line of dialogue in particular drives home her point more than any other: As Charlene discusses her reason for leaving the church with her pastor, she points out that he (her pastor) and others (The Convention) have taken it upon themselves to decide that God doesn't want women to preach his word, to which she concludes:

"For what possible reason would God not want that?"

Sources:
The Baptist Women in Ministry: Folio Online
The Christian Science Monitor
Christian Teens @ About.com
Special thanks to Stacey.


Last Season . . . on 'Family Law'

Congratulations to Dixie Carter and Family Law on the Premiere of it's 2nd Season.
"The Choice" will air at 10PM on Mon., 10/2 on CBS.

"My husband beat the tar out of me at his leisure for 16 years. That last night when he came at me, it was different; he was gonna kill me. And, I knew it. I couldn't just stand there and wait for him to do it . . . . . The police didn't believe me; the DA didn't believe me. My own lawyer didn't believe me. And because of that, I was locked up five years in a place SO awful -- So . . . when 'John Law' came at me with that machine, I WAS NOT thinkin' 'you are well under the legal limit,' I was not thinking 'you're a lawyer now,' I was THINKING, 'Randi King, they're gonna lock you up again!'" ~ Randi, "Second Chance" (eps. 1-21, 4/24/00)

The Cast of Family Law

If you aren't an avid Family Law viewer yet, stay tuned this season!! Dixie Carter's Randi King has taken television viewers by storm! When we previewed her appearance on the new CBS drama in the very first issue of "Belled" (click on the link for Issue #001 for an early history of Randi King), she was a member of the supporting cast, but viewers demanded more. And the progression of Season 1 didn't disappoint in terms of airtime for Randi. Not only did we get more background on her wrongful incarceration for killing her husband in self-defense after years of abuse, but we saw some of that played out in the final four episodes of Season #1 where Randi was featured.

We learned that Randi had an adult daughter, Mary Beth (portrayed by Dixie's real daughter, Ginna Carter who also appeared as one of Julia's nieces in DW's "The Naked Truth"), and her relationship with her young Latin hunk of an assistant, Andres Diaz (Christian de la Fuente) was taken to a new level in these episodes as he supported her in her quest to mend things with her estranged daughter. Mary Beth won't have anything to do with her, but she does manage to find her son-in-law sympathetic and he allows Randi some time with her granddaughter, Anise, of whom she wasn't previously aware.

Christian de la Fuente as Andres Diaz

All of this brought Randi and Andres closer, but in the season finale, Andres was threatened with deportation when his bitter ex-wife (a complete surprise to Randi and to viewers) fabricated a lie that their marriage was only a ruse to guarantee him a stay in the U.S.. Andres hired Randi to represent him, but the situation started to get out of her control, so she convinced him to voluntarily leave the country and return to Chile -- promising to do everything she can to get him back. At the airport, the two unlikely lovers shared a heart-felt goodbye and Andres gave Randi an engagement ring in case he wasn't able to return, making sure she knew: "It's not for the Green Card." Randi was clearly touched and conflicted . . . but is she sure?

This season, Randi will find a way to bring Andres back to the country, but will their relationship progress to the next level? Or will Randi break any ground with her daughter? This remains to be seen.

According to CBS, there will also be major shake-ups at Holt & Associates as some member(s) become partners this season, causing some dissention among the other Associates. This situation will begin to simmer during the season opener, in fact, when Lynn (Kathleen Quinlan) offers Danni (Julie Warner) a partnership. Before accepting, however, Danni surprises Lynn by hiring her own attorneys to negotiate her deal. Considering their close friendship and the fact that Lynn is offering partnership to a fairly new attorney (Danni had been Lynn's assistant the year before but became an Associate when she passed the Bar), this should go a long way to causing some of the dissention which rumbles throughout the season

Meanwhile, Lynn also finds herself in the middle of her neighbors' difficult custody battle, taking on a tough-minded civil rights attorney (Tony Danza) in court and sacrificing her car to prevent a kidnapping out of court.

Tony Danza as Joe Celano

"The Choice" will be more than a guest appearance for Tony Danza who joins the cast as Joe Celano, a hard-driving civil rights attorney. He's an outspoken advocate for human rights who ultimately joins Lynn and her partners at Holt and Associates when he returns to legal practice after a suspension by the Bar Association. His crime: falsifying documents in a case where failing to do so would have caused a disaster. The son of a garbage truck driver and a union organizer, when it comes to fighting for what he thinks is right, Joe will do anything. His controversial politics and unorthodox legal arguments often leave him defending his case not only in court, but also with other partners in the firm. How is he unlike Rex Weller (Christopher McDonald), current "Family Law" fans might ask? Joe has been where his clients are. He's not out for the publicity. He wants to win for the people, not for his record. While Rex had some character development in this regard in the latter part of Season #1, Rex "works" as the sleazy lawyer with the occasional "heart" and the character of Joe will allow for Rex to remain in that vein. Joe's heart won't even be in question, and he's a pit-bull like the rest of H&A. If he makes partner . . . members of the firm are going to be in for a fight whenever they go for the money!

In general, the 2nd Season of FL will continue to focus on topical family law issues, but there will also be more focus on the characters' personal lives than in the 1st Season. In the 2nd episode, "The Mistake" (10/9), Lynn struggles with the shocking knowledge that the client (guest star Tom Amandes) she is representing in a custody battle sexually abused his child. Meanwhile, Randi gets closer to a history-making case.

Please stay tuned to CBS on Monday nights and let CBS know how you feel about the direction of Season 2, in general, and Dixie Carter’s performance and character, in particular. You can send them a quick email at: audsvcs@cbs.com.

Sources:
CBS Official Family Law site
The Cabaret: The Official Dixie Carter Website
Columbia Tri-Star


And the Emmy Goes to . . . Patricia Heaton
'Everybody Loves Raymond'

Patricia Heaton accepts her Emmy

Hot on the heels of Jean Smart's first Emmy win, "Belled" would also like to congratulate Patricia Heaton (Natty, Women of the House) on her first Emmy (and her second nomination) for her role on CBS's hit comedy Everybody Loves Raymond. Patricia plays Debra Barone, wife of Ray Barone (played by standup comedian Ray Romano).

The couple and their four young children live on Long Island -- right across the street from Ray's meddling parents, Frank (Peter Boyle) and Marie (Doris Roberts), and his obsessive-compulsive older brother, Robert (Brad Garrett). Embracing the motto "su casa es mi casa," they infiltrate their son's home to an extent unparalleled in television history -- creating the catalyst for the show and some outrageously funny arguments between Debra and Ray.

In a special one-hour season opener set to air Monday at 9:00pm just before Family Law, Ray is less than pleased when Marie surprises the entire family with a trip to Italy to visit her aunt. Once abroad, Ray refuses to have a good time, leaving Debra to deal with his parents. Meanwhile, Robert, agonizing over whether to call his ex-wife, meets the woman of his dreams -- who has the father of his nightmares.

The cast of Everybody Loves Raymond

This episode was actually shot on location in and around Rome, Italy. Heaton still marvels at the experience. In fact, shortly after her Emmy win, she appeared on The Late Show with Craig Kilborne and related an anecdote about her impression of Rome and their On Location shoot. In the midst of the Italian countryside, Romano asked her what one of the most memorable experiences she had ever had was. Heaton immediately replied: "Ummm... RIGHT NOW, Ray! Look around you! We're on a hit show shooting an episode in Rome!!" Apparently, she did have one gripe though. Her last trip to Rome had been as a shoe model in the '80s, and she joked with ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: "I've not been given enough time off for shopping."

If you've never seen the show, check it out. Suffice it to say that Patricia earns that Emmy every week.

Sources:
Official CBS Everybody Loves Raymond Site
Entertainment Weekly #559 - September 15, 2000


...Anthony

"Somehow, I see him as a big executive in a large company, where perhaps he is a superior to all of the women below him (but only in his mind of course). They, actually, run him and he just hasn't realized it yet! BONUS: Charlene answering the psychic hotline!!" (submitted by Courtlady6)

Don't forget to Email "Belled" with reader feedback and to tell us where you think the "Designing Women" characters would be today for future issues!



from "How Great Thou Art"

(37) When Julia was a young girl and her mother held a recital for her at the library, she got nervous, causing her throat to clutch up and make her sound like which celebrity?

(38) Which version of the Bible does Bernice say was translated by a male chauvinist?

(39) To keep her confidence up at beauty pageants, what did Suzanne used to call her competition behind their backs?

(40) Reverend Nunn's office, though slightly redecorated, belonged to someone else in another season two episode. Which one was it?

* Answers will appear in the next issue.

Answers from Issue #009

(33) Which three "Designing Women" actresses never appeared on Broadway?

Delta Burke, Annie Potts, & Jan Hooks.

(34) Which of the original "Designing Women" actresses never appeared as a guest on the series "Remington Steele"?

Dixie was the only one. Her three co-stars all made appearances.

(35) Which two DW actresses did a short run on the soap opera "One Life to Live" playing roles later made famous by other actresses?

Dixie Carter made a brief appearance as Dorian Lord, while Julia Duffy was one of the early Karen Woleks.

(36) Which of Douglas Barr's (Bill Stillfield) "Designing Women" co-stars previously appeared with him on "The Fall Guy"?

Delta Burke made two guest appearances on "The Fall Guy"