Friday, June 15, 2012

The Anchoress on Amanpour's Interview with LCWR/John Chittister

The Anchoress has some good comments on the interview Christiane Amanpour and Sister Joan Chittister (read LCWR). These religious sisters, er, radical feminists, are in another world - their own world. Here is a blip:

First off — this whole brouhaha re the LCWR leadership is based on an 8 page document, quickly read, and more than a quarter of it is spent quite rightly praising the work religious sisters have done. When Sister Joan gets passionate about the ministry the sisters have embraced, she is right to be passionate, but since neither she nor Amanpour mention it, it seems only fair to acknowledge that the document recognizes all of that.

The assessment worries about a “radical feminist” turn taken by the leadership of the LCWR. Amanpour asks what that could mean. Sister Joan answers by defining radical feminism, rather narrowly, I think, as a mindset of extreme separatism; an idea that menfolk were irrelevant to women in the world.

Many might argue that extreme feminism is an outlook that is suspicious of men and their motives, oriented and agendized toward promoting superior feminine sensibilities throughout the culture, among both women and men. I was amused, though, I have to admit, when right after saying that no nun, no sister would ever speak badly of men as a whole, she immediately cites the real problem as being one of radical patriarchy.

Yes, yes, I know what she “meant.” But it came off as an ironic self-contradiction.

Amanpour then characterizes Benedict’s tenure — quite unfairly, or perhaps simply in ignorance, as “no more Vatican II”.

Oh, puleeze! If only the council recommendations had been implemented as written, rather than filtered through an amorphous “Spirit of Vatican II” that brooked no opposition and sometimes sowed a great deal of confusion, perhaps as a church we would all be in better shape, now. It disappoints me that Chittister allows Amanpour to get away with it, but I suspect it’s because she does believe it to be true.

Still, I found it amusing that Chittister describes the tension within the church as being between a “medieval” absolutism — that there is only one right or wrong answer to anything (“and [the damn patriarchy will] tell you what it is”) and then makes a big song and dance about the wisdom of modern relativism. And she’s absolute about it: “The modern mind, born in the scientific age, says there are many answers to many things.”

Until, of course, we’re told “the science is settled.” Then we’re not supposed to question it. It’s just a different sort of patriarchy, I guess.

I’m sorry, but I find so much of this to be prideful boomer conceit; everything that came before us is wrong, unenlightened and stupid. As Vizzini would say, Aquinas? Augustine? Ambrose? Morons!

Chittister also allows Amanpour to get away with the easiest and laziest of arguments: these men didn’t handle the sex abuse scandals well, so they have no credibility, anyway; “it hasn’t been nuns that have been responsible,” Amanpour blubbers. It’s a subject completely irrelevant to this issue, but since Chittister allowed it — and nods in agreement — I have to call her on it; she knows perfectly well that religious orders of sisters have made huge payouts after accusations of abuse and have not always been quick to co-operate with investigations, which is a story the American press hasn’t liked to cover. The subject didn’t even belong in the interview, but once it’s broached, it’s a pretty bad moment, all around, for Amanpour who took the cheap route, for Sister Joan, who let her, and of course, the church, who may do penance for it all throughout all our lifetimes.

Amanpour then gets into the “life issues” and Sister Joan, bristles with offense and says she wants to laugh in irony, or something. She starts off fairly well, but I think she’s a bit disingenuous to say that the reason abortion is not specifically addressed by so many of the LCWR leadership is because they want to treat “everything” as a life issue, and that she doesn’t want to call social justice “social justice” because everything is a life issue.

Okay. Fair enough. But neither woman addresses what has upset Rome, which are instances — admittedly not widespread — where sisters have acted as escorts to abortion centers or suggested that abortion cannot be defined as really evil, because you know…everything is relative; marriage cannot be defined as being solely between a man and a woman because, you know…everything is relative....

Read the rest here.

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