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It's not about the feminism (except when it is)

In his post below about the USCCB's critique of Elizabeth Johnson's Quest for the Living God, Grant noted that Fr. Thomas Weinandy told the New York Times "The primary concern was not over feminism or nonfeminism. The bishops are saying that the book does not adequately treat a Catholic understanding of God." Laurie Goodstein's article seems to presume that it was the feminist stuff that ruffled the bishops' feathers. And based on what the bishops' statement alleges, Grant wondered "whether Johnson's feminism didn't feature more largely in the committee's mind than Weinandy lets on." I think it's a fair question.

I said below (in the comments) that the reading overall strikes me as deeply unfair and also oddly aggressive. It's a prosecution, not a careful laying-out of concerns and clarifications, and it rests on some odd assumptions about what Johnson is trying to do. The main one, which I find totally unpersuasive, is this: "For Sr. Johnson, if God is incomprehensible he is also unknowable." If she believed that, why would she write a book about seeking God? Why do theology at all? If you'll look to page 11 of Quest, you'll find citations from Scripture about the centrality of that search for God to the Christian faith, and how God has promised to reveal himself to those who seek him. As Erin Kidd writes over at the Women in Theology blog (where a thorough response to the bishops' critique is ongoing), "We are on a quest not because we lack knowledge of God, but because we never come to the end of God. God is deeper than our glance can penetrate." I can't imagine coming away from what Johnson writes at the very beginning of the book convinced that she believes God is "unknowable" -- unless I went in already convinced that Johnson, because she's a contemporary feminist theologian, is interested only in tearing down the faith from the inside. I know there are people who believe that. I should hope the bishops wouldn't take it as their starting point in analyzing a work of theology.

The reason I am wondering about just how much the feminist thing affected the bishops' reading is that it's in the section addressing female language for God where their critique seems sloppiest. Turn with me, please, to page 12 of the bishops' statement, headed "New Names for the Unknown God." (Again, "unknown" -- not Sr. Johnson's claim. "New" is also debatable.) The section begins:

Sr. Johnson argues that women "have experienced strong discomfort with the dominant images of God as father, lord, and king" (96) and that female language for God is not only permissible but necessary.

Instead of "argues" I would say "observes." (This is one of several places in the bishops' statement where one could make that substitution.) What they've quoted/paraphrased from Johnson is not an argument at all; it's a simple statement of reality. I suppose you could quibble with the "necessary" part, if you were determined to find fault, but "permissible" is absolutely in keeping with Catholic tradition, as Johnson makes clear. The next sentence:

For Sr. Johnson, language for God should be analyzed not primarily in terms of its adequacy for expressing the reality of God -- all human language fails to attain the reality of God -- but in terms of its socio-political effects.

That's a big claim, the kind that sends me to the text looking for backup. Does Johnson really say that "expressing the reality of God" is impossible or not important for God-language? Not that I can see. And it turns out you don't even need to have the book handy to see that this is a distortion of Johnson's work. At the end of that very same paragraph, the bishops quote this from Johnson, in re: all-male images of God as experienced by women in the modern world: "Instead of evoking the reality of God, they block it." If you want to claim that Sr. Johnson is not concerned with analyzing language "in terms of its adequacy for expressing the reality of God," you cannot then quote a line in which she analyzes language in terms of its adequacy for "evoking the reality of God." What is going on here?

The bishops go on:

As part of the effort to complete the overthrow of unequal and unjust power relations, she argues that it is necessary to replace the traditional language and concepts of God with new language and new concepts of God that will serve the purpose of promoting the socio-political status of women both in society and the church.

Sounds sinister. But I don't see Johnson attempting to "replace" anything -- she never, ever says we must stop calling God our father (something I presume she does several times a day), for example. And I don't see her purpose as promoting any such agenda. She's describing broadening the language we use for God so as to allow all people, including women, greater appreciation for the reality of God -- precisely what the bishops say she's not interested in pursuing. Are they doing so much reading between the lines they're overlooking what the lines themselves say?

The closest the bishops come to a responsible criticism of this section of the text, in my opinion, is when they say (p. 13) "What is lacking in the whole of this discussion is any sense of the essential centrality of divine relation as the basis of Christian theology." I can't agree that the book, or even pages 96-7 of the book, lacks "any sense" of the centrality of revelation, but I will concede that centrality could be stated more explicitly. It seemed to me Sr. Johnson was taking it for granted, as part of the basic groundwork of this sort of theology. A university professor teaching undergrads would be fairly cautioned, though, to make sure to spell it out for students using this book in a class. If the bishops had simply said that, I wouldn't argue. But they claim that Johnson has no regard for divine revelation, which is not at all fair, and they go on to say: "The names of God found in the Scriptures are not mere human creations that can be replaced by others that we may find more suitable according to our own human judgment."

This implies that Johnson disagrees or says otherwise in her book. As far as I can see, she doesn't. Again, she never argues that the traditional names for God must be "replaced." And -- again the bishops' critique is self-refuting -- she grounds her discussion of feminine language for God in Scripture, in a passage the bishops have just quoted. Are they disputing the fact that feminine images for God are indeed found in the Bible and are therefore part of divine revelation? Because that seems to me a fairly orthodox observation.

Finally, on page 16 of the bishops' statement, they quote a section on God's simultaneous transcendence and immanence that ends, "What results is a mutual abiding for which the pregnant female body provides a good metaphor." There's no commentary on that particular sentence. Perhaps they think it's self-evidently problematic. I happen to like it. It also strikes me as scriptural. But I suppose I might feel differently if I were already predisposed to believe there is an agenda at work here other than the desire for greater knowledge of the incomprehensible God. Is that what I'm supposed to be afraid of? I wonder.

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This is a helpful analysis! The more I read the Bishops' statement, the more incoherent their understanding of language seems. Also, thanks for the link to WIT!

I don't understand how it can be simply "observed" that "women" feel a certain way about the patriarchal analogies of God. Was there a poll taken? To whom does this observation refer?I'm reminded of the survey of a Protestant denomination in which people were asked whether they were for or against inclusive language. Most respondents answered, "What is inclusive language?"If it's not an observation, it's an argument, or at least a premise for argument.

Really, Kathy? You never heard of this before? Why don't we do one right here, since you're so perplexed by how women might not be thrilled about the exclusively masculine names for God. Show of hands. P.S. The respondents probably weren't confused about what "inclusive language" refers to. They just didn't know the term.

Grant, I respectfully raised a fair point, and you belittled it. So much for dialogue, eh?

Agree with Erin. Good analysis, Mollie.Funny how masculinists are so twisted by their fear and hatred of feminists that they use adjectives like "radical" and "ultra" to intensify the word and attach the suffix "ess" to any word that should be reserved for men only.As to inclusive language? Hard to believe there would be anyone still who has never noticed the radical feminist language in the bible. Book of Wisdom? Hen with chicks safe under Her wings? Etc. Reading the psalms and substituting Lady for Lord and She for He can be quite illuminating. All the smiting and bashing and dashing doesn't work as well when it's Sancta Spirita being asked to do it.

Kathy: I asked if you had really never heard of this phenomenon. And I indicated why I find questionable the conclusion you seem to be drawing from that survey. Now, if you want to say that you don't have any problem with exclusively male names for God, then that's fine. But if you deny that lots of women do, then I'm afraid you're out to lunch.

I don't think it's just some women who are bothered by exclusive language. I've known many men who have noted their prayer life has deepened from sometimes using feminine language to contemplate the Divine. Metaphors matter, they direct understanding and action.

At the America "In All Things" blog, the responsof Sr Johnson brought forth several comments that underscore the "feminist" issue.I hope posters won't keep arguing why she didn't seek the imprimatur first (as even Fr. Weinandy -who I think is involved in the theology fight, not debate, in American Catholicism- admits not seeking it is usually the case).As to an analysis by someone who has read the book, Horan's evaluation seems balanced and fair.Finally, I think the feminist angle, while of some merit, is only a part of the power/control issue of bringing men and women, lay and religious, into line with the "distinctive catholic" view that is unwilling to engage modernity and to glorify Pre-vat II.I further concur with Bill M. that the current JPII/BVXI/Bernard Law bishops are horrible leaders.

Sr. Johnson says that women "have experienced strong discomfort with the dominant images of God as father, lord, and king. She does not say that EVERY woman ALWAYS experiences discomfort. Her observation is exactly that, an observation of fact, nothing novel about it, and not something I read as referring specifically to Kathy Pluth. But now that we've clarified that it doesn't, we will move on.

Hi, Kathy,I would agree with Grant that many women out there 'in the pews' do not know what the word "inclusive language" means. Many of them go along with what is used---because they really don't KNOW that anything else may be used. Many older women will state---"Oh, when we say 'men' we understand that both men and women are included". But is that true?I remember attending a meeting in my diocese for DREs way back in the mid 1990's. Those leading the discussion asked us (mostly women in this group), to list all the good things that men in our personal lives have done/given to us. After about 5 minutes of writing---we were asked to share. All of us listed wonderful things that our dads, granddads, uncles, brothers, husbands, boyfriends, sons, etc. have done to enrich our lives.The leaders of this discussion pointed out to us that none of us listed anything that any woman has done for us. We stated that we were told to list things that MEN had done. They responded that if in the Church, 'men' means both men and women----we should have cited things that women have done for us in our lives as well.The point with these leaders was that using only 'masculine' terms in prayer, in references to God ----engraves in the minds of all---men and women---only a masculine understanding of God, and Who God is and acts toward us---as a male. God is pure spirit and is androgynous. But the masculine aspect of God's actions toward us----has been emphasized for centuries, and still is today in both theology and in the Church's social teachings.This theological question with Sr. Elizabeth is a touchy point with a number of American Bishops.Do you remember, oh about two years ago, that Ruth Kolpack, a DRE was dismissed from her position by Bishop Morlino of Milwaukee, because of what she had written in her Masters Thesis 3 years prior to that? Ruth, who had been a student in St. Francis Seminary (in Wisconsin----and earned a Master of Divinity Degree from said seminary)entitled her thesis "Theological and Anthropological Implications of God Language."Ruth's main point in the thesis was NOT that we should cease using masculine references to God, but (to quote from her thesis) to understand that "the exclusive use of male language for God is idolized as if it is the only way to speak of God. It has become our "golden calf" in publice prayer."In a meeting that lasted barely fifteen minutes, Bishop Morlino demanded that Kolpack renounce the major points of her thesis----as an incorrect and from a feminist position----or resign from her position as DRE. Ruth would not renounce what she wrote 3 years earlier, and was dismissed from her position in her parish---by order of the bishop.I have a copy of her thesis and I will be eager to compare it with Sr. Elizabeth's book. Of course Sr. Elizabeth was not writing about 'God Language' but she will refer to this in some places. It is well known that the Catholic Church, in general and in its theology and in its social teaching in particular, has been and continues to be patriarchal. Women have no real leadership positions in the church and have played no role in the formation of the papal documents of Catholic social teachings and in areas of theology. Without doubt, this structural defect has alienated many educated Catholic women. Because they have been given no place in the formulation of major documents, many women see the Catholic Church and its teaching office as lacking all credibility. This is a huge dark cloud hanging ominously over all official Catholic teaching, (including on the priesthood) and on all Catholic social teachings.

For what it's worth, I am troubled by references to Jesus as a king and Mary as a queen not because of gender issues, but because king and queen are outdated metaphors. For those of us (men and woman) who had less than ideal relationships with our fathers, the concept of God as father is not necessarily helpful, either.

Addressing the Creator as Amma can make Her less scary.

Little Bear, thank you for your excellent reflection---you're helping to restore my patience.

Grant, I'm pretty sure you realize that starting off a response to a comment with "Really?" is a pretty good harbinger of a dismissive attitude. I'm almost entirely certain you understand this rhetorical fact. Anyways, although I haven't looked at all at Johnson's work, I recently spent quite a bit of time and ink on another feminist author, Catherine LaCugna. She makes the same claim about women's needs, which I find patronizing, frankly. Are women so limited?As I read LaCugna, she seeks to develop a theology of God that changes social structures on earth. She's quite explicit about this. While social structures may need changing, it seems to me that this methodology is backwards. The revelation is critiqued by her sense of right and wrong, rather than the other way around. The Scripture says the word of God scrutinizes us--not the other way around. But I haven't read Johnson, and really my only point is that it's a red herring to make womens' discomfort sound empirical instead of argumentative. Yes, I've heard it from liberal Catholics of the professional class, but not from a lot of parishioners or anything.

Mollie - thanks for this in depth overview and analysis. The initial comments and quick read of Wuerl's statements struck me as the "same old, same old".

Kathy - like Wuerl and company - you might want to review this excellent post from Unagidon on March 7th: http://www.commonwealmagazine.org/blog/?p=12357It applies to unanalyzed thoughts (i.e. meme) that are constantly repeated out of various fears. Highlight:- "A meme is a pre-packaged cultural snippet that seems very clear and self contained. It looks black and white and it makes the other side look vicious, greedy, and stupid. Its function is to translate a complex situation into a pseudo-moral situation for the purposes of political manipulation. Both the right and the left use them and they are particularly common in religious discussions. They have become especially popular with the rise of the internet because they are so short that they can even be tweeted and they seem so complete that a person who uses them can sound like he knows what he is talking about. But they are a scourge that makes us ever more stupid every time we use them."Let's see - we all know what we mean when we say "men" or "man" or "patriarchical analogies"; this is just pure feminism which is, at heart, anti-catholic? But, don't mean to be dismissive or just provide a rhetorical fact....so, let's see: "The Scripture says the word of God scrutinizes usnot the other way around." Could have sworn that the OT is filled with language, images, and stories that describe God in feminine terms - or is that just my imagination?And then we have: "But I havent read Johnson, and really my only point is that its a red herring to make womens discomfort sound empirical instead of argumentative. Yes, Ive heard it from liberal Catholics of the professional class, but not from a lot of parishioners or anything."Empirical - really? Was this her point or yours? Red herring - really? Was this her point or yours? and while we are at it, you appear to be taking a "side" issue and trying to use it to question her approach.As the advertising world is wont to say: Priceless!!

Again, the question here is not whether reality still exists if Kathy finds it patronizing. Let's stay focused: have the bishops been fair to Sr. Johnson's work? And if they haven't, as I believe they haven't, why not?

The most disheartening thing about this whole affair is that it seems to reveal the fact that many bishops have neither the theological sophistication and subtlety to be able to critically analyze and constructively engage an argument nor the pastoral sensitivity to generously converse with a fellow traveler. Maybe they should just stick to paying the bills.

Little Bear,Thank you so much for taking the time to relate that experience. It is a powerful example of the impact of images, and how literal in fact the reference to "men" really is.Your wonderful post calls to mind an emotional experience deeply imprinted on me when I happened to come upon the inauguration on TV of Episcopal Bishop Barbara Harris, sometime in the 1990's, was it? By accident I found myself in tears, having to sit down, as I observed for the first time in my life women priests in vestments. I was stunned at the power of my reaction to the visual experience. The obverse occurs when I watch the USCCB on TV.Thank you, Mollie, for the thread.The Boston College webcast of Johnson'a talk about women in the church may add to this discussion; hearing her speak is powerful. As I watched the webcast last night, your question about feminism surfaced immediately. http://www.bc.edu/church21/webcast.html?c21-20040417-johnson-220.mp4#fea...

"The most disheartening thing about this whole affair is that it seems to reveal the fact that many bishops have neither the theological sophistication and subtlety to be able to critically analyze and constructively engage an argument nor the pastoral sensitivity to generously converse with a fellow traveler."I'm not sure what argument this advances or retards, but just for my own edification I looked up the educational credentials of the nine bishops who signed the statement on Johnson. I was surprised to find that none seemed to have used a degree in canon law to reach their exalted stations, and while that was encouraging to me, all of them seem to have been formed in highly orthodox Catholic educational institutions in highly orthodox subjects. The one possible outlier is Bishop Vigneron (what a wonderful name, by the way), who has a PhD in philosophy from Catholic University, with a dissertation on Husserl. Vigneron has a French father and a German mother, so perhaps he's not linguistically challenged as badly as some of us.I do wonder, sometimes, whether a broader formation in the sciences and the liberal arts might not open our ecclesiastical leaders to the wonders of the world around us, and the varied ways we have of experiencing it. When, for instance, was the last time the average American bishop read King Lear? And how many have never read (or seen) it? One of Lear's problems was, after all, that of surrounding himself with yes-men (or, to be fair, with yes-women, like Goneril and Regan). Out goes Cordelia, who tells the truth, and look what happens.Do we have any bishops with degrees from, say, Stanford or MIT or Columbia or Amherst or Holy Cross? There must be at least some from Notre Dame? Though, as we all know, Bernard Law was a Harvard man, and look what happened to him.

Carolyn, I second your reaction to the webcast as powerful and your gratitude for the thread and LB's commentary. I agree with Bob's sense that this is yet another example of how this generation of bishops exercises power and control, and what Eric calls a disheartening unwillingness to critically and constructively engage issues. It's also pretty clear that unarticulated gendered assumptions inform their notions of authority, exercise of power, and criticisms of at least segments of the book. The pregnant body example Mollie referenced is a great example of what they assume is transparently true.

"Maybe [the bishops] should just stick to paying the bills."In all fairness, Mr. Bugyis, please, give the laity some credit :-)

Wikipedia says that Bishop Vigneron got his doctorate at C.U. in 1987. By then Msgr. Ryan, a man open to truth wherever he found it, was gone. As I remember, the faculty by then was not as open-minded as in the 60s, when Msgr. was Dean and Maritain was very influential.Bishop Vigneron's Husserl dissertation was probably done under the phenomenologist, Fr. Robert Sokolowski, a truly splendid teacher, but I always felt that he didn't approve of women in philosophy doctoral programs. Later he was quoted in the press as objecting to changing words in Scripture such as "man" to "people". Sadly, the C.U. philosophy school now seems under the influence of some highly conservative folk. It used to be a fine school.

I think a reading of the following will help all concerned:AN INCLUSIVE LANGUAGE MANIFESTOhttp://catholicsensibility.wordpress.com/2009/07/17/what-is-catholic-abo...

Nicholas, My comment, which I realize was a little nonspecific, was meant to underscore the fact that, in spite of whatever credentials the bishops may have, their engagement with Johnson's work doesn't seem to flow from the spirit of honest dialogical inquiry. Instead of thinking with Johnson and critiquing her on her own terms, they seem to be simply isolating particular statements and holding them up against some doctrinal rubric, which will measure the degree of accuracy and precision with which they quantify "God." That's not thinking, but simply an advanced game of matching. In the end, I suspect their problem with Johnson's work has nothing to do with its specific claims, but with the overarching premise that God is a living mystery, with whom theologians are always seeking to enter into relationship. It seems, rather, that "God," for them, corresponds to a list of propositional statements, and if you fulfill enough of them in your description of "God," you can be affirmed as actually concerned with God and not something else. For them, theology seems to be a descriptive enterprise aimed at representing an object not a relational enterprise aimed at expressing the communally mediated experience of an Other. The description seems to determine the relationship, rather than the other way around. This, by the way, is the basic problem with only allowing masculine names for "God." That strikes me as idolatry, not theology. So, maybe they're just mad that Johnson is suggesting that they're not really theologians, and from their response, that seems to be the case. This, as I say, is disheartening because it suggests that the honest quest for God is not at the heart of the Church (or at least the hierarchy), but rather, the possession of "God" remains the first and last priority.

To follow up on Eric, what is one to make (though I think it's on target myself) of Horan's statemen tthat that the issue is not Johnson's theology, but the entire nortion of theoolgy and the way one group (which he refers to as radical Orthodoxy in his Poltical Theology post) has spent the past twemty years or so trying to say that is THE way way theology should be done.

Mollie, we'd agree, I'd expect, that the bishops can admire and support many, many things about feminism and still find (rightly or wrongly) things to criticize in Sr. Elizabeth's book.

What do you think bishops "admire and support" about feminism?

Jim, my point is that I can see how a person who is innately suspicious of the very idea of "feminist theology" could respond to this section of Quest for the Living God in this way -- accusing it of denying the significance of divine revelation and wanting to replace traditional names for God and all that. But I can't see how the bishops managed to read it that way.

Little Bear: one minor quibble to an otherwise superb analysis. Morlino is in Madison; Listeckis in Milwaukee.

Gerelyn, here are some US Bishops statements you can check out. And/or talk with your own bishop. http://www.usccb.org/laity/women/index.shtml

Thanks, Jimmy Mac---Madison it is.

Following up on Carolyn's wonderful link.....wonder how many of these bishops (or whoever did this analysis) have read some of her prior books & articles; studied her leadership of the CTSA; or her past/current Boston College presentations and yet presume to be qualified to pass judgment.John Allen tries to spin this positively because Rome did not weigh in; USCCB did not condemn (guess that depends upon whether you are the target or just a commentor); and USCCB makes a belated attempt to reach out to Ms. Johnson.Yet, a pattern continues that seems to limit theological works and discussion (and yet we define theology as "faith seeking understanding" vs. a catechism). There is also comment around why she did or did not seek an imprimatur which would have (supposedly) forstalled these public criticisms? Yet, what stands out is that again bishops made a public statement without ever interviewing the theologian (this approach may have had its place in the 18th century but not in the 21st century); it appears to touch on other hot button issues e.g. religious freedom; mandatum; the constant tension between theology and church leadership; boundaries between research and common church rules, etc.Here is an interesting summary of two subjects - dogmatism and authoritarianism:http://www.catholica.com.au/gc2/occ2/064_occ2_010411.php from Prof. Judy Johnson, associate pyschology prof at Mount Royal University, Calgary, Canada.Highlights:"But regardless of their affiliations political, religious, and so on dogmatism is less defined by what people believe than how they adopt, hold, and practice their beliefs. In the final psychological analysis, dogmatism is not about dogma or ideology. It's about identity fragile, brittle identity that is externally authored.It seems reasonable to conclude that, given that features of dogmatism become manifest in social institutions, the challenge for scientists, religious leaders, and politicians indeed, for all of us is to open our minds about dogmatic thought; first and foremost our own. Humility and humanity are largely at stake, for as Voltaire said, "Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd". Doubt requires humility, and if more of us were comfortable with less certainty, we would be better equipped to confront the ideological extremism of totalitarian regimes, zealous religious fundamentalism, terrorist movements, and fanaticism in general. Perhaps we would also commit the necessary resources for targeted groups particularly educators (think theologian Johnson) and parents so that new generations can experience the flexible splendor of an open mind.""

Sorry - Boston College should be Fordham.

After reading the "defense" posts at Women in Theology (witheology.wordpress.com), which incorporate pretty substantial quotes from the book, it's hard to avoid the suspicion that whoever wrote the Bishops' statement didn't actually read the book, or had a pretty weak background in theology, or maybe just hauled out a stock set of bullet points ("here's what we say about metaphor"). It's just silly that during the period of time they were reviewing the text, no one bothered to shoot her an email with a set of questions for clarification, because it really does seem her work was seriously misconstrued.

One more thing. I think this sentence of EricB's from above is a really interesting way to characterize two approaches to theology:"For them, theology seems to be a descriptive enterprise aimed at representing an object not a relational enterprise aimed at expressing the communally mediated experience of an Other. The description seems to determine the relationship, rather than the other way around."

"John Allen tries to spin this positively because Rome did not weigh in; USCCB did not condemn (guess that depends upon whether you are the target or just a commentor); and USCCB makes a belated attempt to reach out to Ms. Johnson." Bill deHaasHow true to form for Allen!

Abba?

Thanks, Jim! Interesting list of issues the bishops consider "Women's Concerns".

I guess we can all be relieved that these days the inquistion no longers burns alleged heretics at the stake, but merely tries to ruin their reputations . So 21st. century.

Many years ago when Johnson was at Catholic U, the president there goaded by Ratzinger put her under the wringer for her theological outlook. She was truly hurt at the time and was stung by the manner and approach that only Romanita can dish out so callously. She has grown now and understands the kind of approach emanating from Rome. In addition to her smashing theology she is one of the most wonderful persons on this planet. The bishops made a more prodigious blunder than ever in attacking Beth. As much as they knew they were out of order (they kept trying to clean up their act as the ambiiguous document shows) they could not get out of their monarchical and patriarchal fixations. As these modern day Herods attempt to assassinate her we might say with conviction that "Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than" her. May God protect this inspiring teacher of our time.

One thing feminism means to me is that women should get to be honest about how they feel without having to worry about conforming to anybody's idea of authentic feminism. If Kathy's not made uncomfortable by non-inclisve language, why isn't that ok?I haven't yet read Elizabeth Johnson's book, but an article on the same theme ....The Effects of Women's Experience on Their Spirituality by Sandra M. Schneiders ... http://www.spiritualitytoday.org/spir2day/833521schneiders.htmlAnd a couple of books - Prayers for an Inclusive Church (Canterbury, 2008) and The Inclusive God: Reclaiming Theology for an Inclusive Church (Canterbury, 2006), both by Steven Shakespeare.

To clarify - I do want inclusive language used, and I think Johnson's book is being unfairly critiqued by the bishops, but I also think Kathy was getting picked on.

Crystal,I understand your sentiments. Unfortunately, Kathy sides with the bishops on practically every issue. So the reaction, which I share, comes from her unwillingness to dialogue while she complains when others disagree with her. Not that it justifies anything. But Kathy has sent her share of missiles. Particularly irritating her admission that she has not read any of Johnson's book nor does she know anything about her. Yet she takes the liberty to criticize her and side with the bishops which Kathy does on every occasion. It is not a question of picking on someone. Rather it is an appeal to look at the facts rather than presuming that the bishops are always right.

And, if the value being promoted is respect for the individual experience of women, then one ought not dismiss the experience of women who do object to exclusionary language as merely that of a minority of "liberals" and a certain "professional class."

No, I understand. And actually I'd suspect that the majority of women would like inclusive language. I know I would. Who knows when we'll see that in our church - those books I mentioned above by Steven Shakespeare are for the Anglican Church ;)

The whole point of wymynism is that the Creator messed up. If anything, the bishops have done too little to warn against such an ideology.I'm trying to imagine eternal debates over wymynism going on in heaven. Sounds more like the other place.

j.a.m, Would it be possible to keep the discussion respectful?

We understand j.a.m. Eve did it. So you have no responsibility. And God is not merciful because She is truly masculine.

"The whole point of wymynism [sic] is that the Creator messed up." How sweet that you've been inspired to neologism! Have you been secretly reading Mary Daly?I've never heard a Catholic theologian informed by feminism make such a claim. If your statement was intended as anything in addition to an expression of your emotional state, perhaps you could take a moment and provide citations to primary sources. Thanks so much!

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