Thursday, July 22, 2010

Nurture and Challenge Your Spirit with Joan Chittister, Part II

It’s the feast of Mary Magdalene. How appropriate, a woman besmirched for centuries of Christian history as a prostitute (no where in scripture btw!) She was a woman whose reputation was scarred and still is in some circles just because of patriarchal interpretation of her healing by Jesus of “seven demons.” Maybe she had been sexually abused and suffered dissociative disorder? Apparently some male interpreters assumed she was a sexual sinner. A common projection I’d say!

BUT many in the church knew better. Mary Magdalene was declared a saint, a woman identified in John’s gospel as given the call through a vision of the risen Christ to proclaim Jesus’ resurrection to her brothers, a woman restored to dignity by Christian feminist theologians who recognize her as the apostle to the apostles—a prophet in her own right, whose day should be celebrated in all Christian churches and seldom is even if it happen to fall on a Sunday. The beat goes on.

Back to Joan Chittister: highlights.

-In 1827, public use of the microscope allowed people to see what they had always suspected was there but only as locker room talk: THE OVA. Imagine! Heretofore it was thought and taught that seed, read semen, was deposited into women and made life all by itself.

-Men make about 25 million sperm for fertility. Women make about 250 eggs. 25 million sperm to chase one little egg around. And a lot of the little sharpshooters miss the mark! No wonder they want guns.

-But if you think sperm makes life on its own just collect some—somehow— plant it in your back yard and see if anything grows.

-We struggled for years to get the male pronouns out and now they’re putting them back in. “Give ‘em pronouns and they’ll want ordination.” Is this a likely suspected rationale from male hierarchy? (In the Episcopal Church a simple italicizing of he made it inclusive of she. It all depends whose pronoun gets subsumed under whose.)

-It seems that pink and blue souls are flying round out there like balloons—but one of them leaks!

-Medical school shelves are lined with shelves and shelves of books written to prove blacks are inferior, most of it based on facial features.

-Women, made to believe in their own inferiority, have been complicit: It’s always been that way. I’m happy. My husband lets me go out alone.

-Sexism also warps male development. Under the guise of privilege and superiority men are expected to : pay, provide, produce and be perfect. If a man decides to quit his job and try something new or something of his passion, a sexist woman may remind him coyly that her sister’s husband has just bought her a “mc’mansion” somewhere. What do we still tell a boy about crying, about fear, about becoming the little man in the family after a father dies or leaves, about taking care of his sister five years older than he is, about not being in touch with feelings when he’s been trained not to be??

-Mothering became a lifelong vocation and process; fathering a one shot event.

-Philosopher John Stuart Mill said women could be educated yes but to preserve the social order and maintain social standards set by men. There went educational policy and curricula were organized for women to study tatting, scripture, homemaking and the like. Why? Because they thought/taught that too much learning could render a woman sterile. (Pedagogy designed to keep ‘em barefoot and pregnant—and powerless.)

- The transformation of patriarchal thought is not about male-bashing or even blaming. True feminism is not about male-bashing either.

-Telling the story in another way is about the reconciliation of theology, science, ecology and feminism. It is about cooperation and re-rooting ourselves in a new world view. To become wholly human must be a wholly human endeavor with each and all involved wholeheartedly.

Final installment tomorrow.