In case you missed it, Sister Joan Chittister wrote a beautifully compelling piece yesterday for NCR entitled “Gender inequality is a man’s problem.” As a Catholic, a woman, and a feminist*, it took me some time to process my reactions to her post. After all, I don’t want to authorize men to speak on behalf of women; the suppression of women’s voices has been one of the greatest contributing factors to gender inequality in the Church and the world. I certainly don’t want to perpetuate it by setting up a knight-in-shining-armor-model in which the already over-exposed male voice speaks on behalf of the oft-silenced female one. But the more I reflected on Chittister’s words, the more I realized how necessary they are.
Up until this point, I’ve been letting men off the hook way too easily. Given the number of male acquaintances and relatives I have who genuinely do not recognize gender equality as a valuable or important goal, my general sentiment has been, “the ones who support the fact that I personally am a feminist are already counter-cultural, ahead of the Catholic norm, so I can’t really expect anything more from them beyond tacit support.” After processing Chittister’s words, though, I’m done with that mindset. It is not enough for a Catholic man to resist flinching when I mention feminism. That does not make him an advocate for women. What is needed are not men who simply allow women to speak (which should be a bare minimum), but men who notice cultural norms that are oppressive to women and who vocally identify them, who aren’t afraid to speak up and identify as a male feminist. Continue reading Catholic Men Should Be Feminists
By Mary Kate Holman
I have heard this week’s Gospel reading invoked by so many people to support so many different, often opposed agendas. Usually it goes something like this: “Jesus said it’s good to pay taxes!” “No, Jesus died so that we wouldn’t have to pay taxes!”*** “This means the Church shouldn’t interfere with politics!” “No, it means that the state shouldn’t interfere with the Church!” There’s nothing worse than hearing people appropriate Jesus for their own personal political message, particularly because the upshot of this reading is, I believe, fundamentally non-partisan.
The central moment of this passage is a trick question. The Pharisees have “plotted…to entrap” Jesus. They don’t ask the question sincerely as an opportunity to learn. They ask it to bait their opponent. How often do we hear politicians, pundits, even our own acquaintances in the vitriolic comment boxes of social media, do the very same thing? They debate, seize upon, and exploit their opponent’s misstatements, and take their words out of context, but they never truly listen to those whose opinions differ from their own.
Interestingly, it is not just the Pharisees who are testing Jesus here. They approach him “with the Herodians.” As Jesuit Scripture scholar (and my dear former boss), the late Dan Harrington notes, the Pharisees and Herodians would most likely have had very different ideological motivations: the Pharisees would have opposed Roman rule, and therefore the system of taxation, while the Herodians allied themselves with Rome, and would perceive a defiance of the tax system as rebellious. The only thing these two groups have in common is their insincere approach to conversation: they want to trick Jesus, not to learn from him. Continue reading Christian Witness in a Toxic Political Climate: A Homily for the 29th Sunday