Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Communion is not a reward for good behavior, and it certainly isn't a weapon

In the latest episode of American Bishops Saying Awful Things, the Archbishop of Detroit has apparently said that supporters of gay marriage should not be allowed to take communion.  He is far from the first bishop to say such an outrageous thing, just the most recent.

I am really, really sick of seeing bishops use communion as a weapon.  I don't care what social or political point you are trying to make, communion does not belong in the arsenal.  No adult who professes a belief in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist should be denied it.  Ever.  For any reason.

Because if you come right down to it, none of us deserve to receive the Eucharist.  I don't deserve it.  The congregation around me doesn't deserve it.  The priests who consecrate it don't deserve it.  None of us are worthy, because we are all sinners.  The Eucharist is a gift from God.  It is not something that we earn.  It cannot be earned.  Eucharist is divine, and we are human. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Stubenville and the stark gender divide in how we think and talk about rape

Like many of my friends, I've been reeling over the past couple of days at the media's coverage of the Stubenville verdict.  The extent of sympathy for the perpetrators of the crime, the implicit message that the life of the young woman who was raped is so much less valuable than the lives of the young men who raped her, it all fills me with inarticulate rage.

As a 20-something feminist, I have a lot of feminist discussions with my friends on social media.  We pass commentary around.  We discuss rape, birth control, and women's rights in what is essentially an ongoing conversation, discussion flowing from the comments on one post to the next in an endless stream.  This is the kind of good thing that the facebook news feed enables.

What stuns me, though, is how much this stays a discussion among women.  Even though we hold it on a public forum, where plenty of guys can see it.  On the one hand, this is a good thing, because it means that our male friends are either thoughtful enough or have enough respect for our debate skills not to come in and make douchey comments.  On the other hand, isn't "yay the guys in our lives don't barge in and say asshole things about women's issues!" a really low bar to set?

Monday, February 11, 2013

Non habemus papam

Apparently the Pope is resigning.  Which is, well, earth-shattering.  It's been something like six centuries since a Pope has resigned at all, and two centuries more since a Pope has done so voluntarily.  (The 15th century occurrence was the resolution to a schism, so it's hard to call it voluntary.)

I respect Pope Benedict XVI's decision to step down.  Whatever the motivation, both inward and outward recognition that one is no longer able to fulfill a role in the way that one desires to fulfill it is incredibly difficult, and few people have the strength of character to do so, especially when it involves giving up that kind of power.  My respect for Pope Benedict's decision only deepens when I think about the way that Pope John Paul II carried on in failing health, and the cost that the church may have paid for not having a vigorous leader during his failing years.  Being willing to step down when no longer effective shows a love for the church over love for self, and that is something I can admire.

However, given the timing of his resignation, the Pope's decision to step down provides an opportunity for the church to heal some of the wounds of the abuse scandal. 

Friday, September 21, 2012

Owning up to our own feminism

This started as a comment on a friend's blog.  The friend was writing about something private, moderately heavy, and directly related to her identity as a woman.  She felt compelled to add, at the end, that
"I mean, you guys know that I'm not like an extreme feminist or anything, and right now I don't even feel anger toward the male race in general..."
I'm not writing this to call her out.  This isn't about her, which is why I'm staying away from not only her identity but the topic of her post (which is not mine to share).  This is about that attitude.  The need women feel to make that kind of apology.  Because that's not the first time I've heard a woman add that kind of caveat.  Or the second.  Or even the 100th.  I've heard it so many times that it almost seems normal.

Except it shouldn't be normal for women to say things like that.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Contraception, Catholicism, and feminism

One of the central tenets of the Catholic faith (and indeed, of pretty much every major religion) is the primacy of human dignity: a deep and abiding respect for the full humanity and intrinsic value of every person on this Earth.  That reverence for human dignity, which truly is at the center of Church doctrine, is one of my guiding principles.  It is one of the main things my faith has taught me.

And when I say a reverence for human dignity, I mean a reverence for the full humanity of every person.  Applied to women, this means a respect for the dignity of their uteruses.  It also means a respect for the dignity of their minds, their mouths, their hands, and their feet.  It means respecting women as fully human on every level, and as such both valuing them and engaging with them.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Frustrations: the bishops and birth control, grad school and Good Friday

Most of the time, I don't find it much of a struggle to be both liberal and Catholic.  My conscience is clear.  Both identities affirm my values and challenge me to grow as a person.  Both push me to look beyond myself and to care for the world around me.  Neither is easy, but both are personally rewarding.  Internally, I am at peace with the allegiances I have chosen--enough so that I am comfortable recognizing them as allegiances.

But maintaining both identities can be frustrating on occasion.  I am lucky enough to have a large group of friends who share both my political religious values (whether specifically as Catholics, or simply as people who belong to an organized religion and try to live according to their faith).  But sometimes I feel caught between a secular world with a fierce concern for social justice and an deep skepticism of organized religion, and a religious world with an equally deep and abiding skepticism of the broad goals of social equality that my liberal friends take for granted.

Right now I feel caught in the middle.  Caught between a Church that seems to be proud of trumpeting its utterly gothic attitudes about women and a secular world that has little room or respect for religious practice.

Friday, February 10, 2012

"It'll put hair on your chests"

In my graduate program, men outnumber women by a 2:1 ratio, more or less.  Women make up 30% of my class, which is pretty normal, both in my department and in economics graduate programs generally.  There are a few programs where the gender ratios are even more skewed (Maryland comes to mind), but that's generally how it goes.  And I will say, the schools are thinking about it.  Most of them want a higher proportion of women, though they vary in what/how much they're willing to do to attract them.  It may not be seen as super-high priority, but it's an issue that departments are well-aware of and that they take fairly seriously.

My department's faculty is similarly skewed, except somewhat worse.  Again, this is the case in almost every economics department, not a particular feature of my school.  In fact, my program is notable for having a couple of very high-profile women faculty (though sadly one of them just left).

Honestly, most of the time I don't notice that I'm surrounded by men.