Seatbelt Blues

Monday, August 15, 2005


Have you ever had a grand idea for a post, yet not the time to write it? And then, when you sat down to work, the lede had completely escaped you?

I stumbled across a couple of articles over at Busted Halo (which, by the way, is not a site I endorse) last night and had a very firm resolve to write on them today, as both related to today's Most Notable Solemnity. And yet, my strong ledes have flittered away like concert flyers after the show. Let's see what I can dig from them, though.

The first article - "Mary: Strong Role Model or Impossible Standard?" - in which the venerable staff of Busted Halo asks women how Mary is relevant to the "21st century female experience," whatever that is (never heard anyone mention "the male experience," though). The opinions on Mary range from sincere admiration to anger at her supposed role in denigrating women and sex. "My experience of her was always this really sad, doting, passive mother who has been glorified because of her virginity – another example of the Church making sex dirty and bad and women who have sex dirty," says one woman who has clearly never heard of Theology of the Body or has the vaguest idea as to the point of sex.

Another woman expresses doubts as to Mary's perpetual virginity, saying “This idea seems contrary to every bit of historical evidence about the Hebrew people I have read or heard. Why should we not hold open the possibility that Jesus' parents had other children after him? Who would care for them in their old age, especially as Jesus knew he would not be there?" I caught a red flag right there. This woman has been the victim of poor catechesis. She doesn't know that Christ entrusted the care of His Mother to St John. Her point really would be somewhat valid had it not been for a remarkably easy response.

Some of the respondants were more positive. One woman mentions how her own pregnancy connected her with Mary, and another extolls the virtues of the Rosary.

I had a point to this but I can't quite remember it.

The other article - "The Privilege of Being a Woman" - had some good content. Although it unfortunately presents some sound, decent thought through the guise of women's liberation, the author, a self-described liberal women's-ordinationist, found much to like in orthodox sexual theology.

She opens with an assessment of the prominent feminist Simone de Beauvoir’s perspective on gender that has been ingrained into our culture: women have been oppressed by men in mind and body. De Beauvoir rejects biology’s separation of the two sexes – women’s bodies exist to satisfy men’s cravings, therefore the intricacies of a woman’s body are nothing more than a tool of the male sex, only holding women back from being fully “liberated.” Von Hildebrand agues, however, that when it comes to our biology, women have much to be happy for. She uses the example of the Blessed Mother—whom I have always had a hard time relating--to point out the vast difference between passivity and receptivity. Mary was receptive, but far from being passive; saying “yes” requires thought, action, and a deep commitment. Consider that God chose Mary, a woman, to bear the savior of the world, and did not so much as include Joseph, a man, in the process, or even let him know what was happening. Mary contained within her something the whole world could not contain – Christ. Motherhood calls women to turn to the weak and helpless, and give completely to those in need of help. She says, only a few men are called to the priesthood, but nearly all women are inclined to motherhood. Women are blessed with having two souls within them when pregnant. Men are never allowed this honor.


... the author poses the compelling question: do we really think that the essence of woman can be fully understood and appreciated in a secular point of view; a point of view devoid of God
The answer is, of course, no. Nothing can be fully understood apart from God, let alone the mystery of the human person, or the being in the image and likeness of God, that grand mystery present in all people. Von Hildebrand's book, judging from the reviews, is a rejection of modern oppressionist feminism that equates sex with rape and strangely calls on women to be more like men.

Anyway, some varied offerings for the day.


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