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Tuesday, September 09, 2008

I got friends in low places


So, my friend Marcia gets me in all sorts of trouble. Always has. Always will, I suspect, even though she's moved to Vermont! With the power of technology, it's never been more true: You can run, but you can't hide - especially from your friends.

I tease. Marcia has connected me with some really interesting sites where lots of important issues are being discussed. I'm really indebted to her. More importantly, I love her dearly. Always have. Always will, even though she's moved to Vermont.

The other day, she tipped me off to a discussion that's happening over at Newsweek - Washington Post site On Faith, where they are discussing the following question:

Women are not allowed to become clergy in many conservative religious groups. Is it hypocritical to think that a woman can lead a nation and not a congregation?

Rabbi Irwin Kula, President of CLAL-The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership in New York. has responded with an essay in which he says, essentially, "Hypocrisy is in the eye of the beholder."

I really liked Martin Marty's piece. "Nations are easy. Congregations are hard."

The comment section allegedly has a response from Jack Spong and Jane Holmes Dixon, both retired bishops in The Episcopal Church, but I can't find them.

Never mind. I'm wondering what YOU think.

My short answer is that yes, it is hypocritical but it's not so much hypocritical as it is a manifestation of the fact that, since time immemorial, if you scratch the racism card, or the ethnicity card or any other card in the Deck of Prejudice, you'll find the sexism card in disguise.

That's not a whine. That's a fact. At least, in my experience it is.

You can bet your bottom dollar that the good old "Fundgelicals," many of whom don't ordain women and who also hated - no, that's not strong enough: HATED - Hillary Clinton (of the "Sisterhood of the Traveling Pantsuits) are going to be the first ones to vote for Sarah Palin (Of the "Sisterhood of God's Will").

Hypocritical? You bet it is. But, it's more complex than that. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Justice is about change - not just changing the faces at the top.

Or, as someone recently wrote to me, taking off on Mrs. Palin's quote about Hockey Moms and Pit Bulls:

The difference between Cheney and Palin? Lipstick.

Okay, I want to hear from you, my friends in The Lower Echelons of The Blogosphere. What do you think about the question? Is it hypocritical? Is it a manifestation of sexism? Is it the difference between politics and religion?

What?

I'll send you off with this little bit of humor as you think Very Big Thoughts:


Four Timeless Religious Truths.

1. Muslims do not recognize Jews as God's chosen people.

2. Jews do not recognize Jesus as the Messiah.

3. Protestants do not recognize the Pope as leader of the Christian world.

4. Baptists do not recognize each other at Hooters

So, now go. Read. Think. Reflect. Write.

I expect a 1,000 word essay on my desk by 9 AM tomorrow morning.

13 comments:

Marie said...

Yeah because what I need right now on the second day of seminary is one more assignment that engages my mind and my faith!

Seriously, great question. IMHO, it's all about power. If the white males can keep it, they will, even if it means trotting out a woman to serve their purposes. McCain had to do that. The fundies don't.

The inconsistencies are clear: fundamentalist Christian women are rallying behind Sarah Palin and her pregnant daughter while still wholeheartedly participating in a system that denies them any power at all. Their minds must be pretzels from all that twisted logic.

Just my first reaction to the question. I'm glad you put it out there.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

"Yeah because what I need right now on the second day of seminary is one more assignment that engages my mind and my faith!"

Anything to help a lowly seminarian advance herself. ;~>

Muthah+ said...

The timeless truths of religion are ever so important to remember.

I am pretty disgusted with the platform that Palin is running on. I think it is pretty anti-women. But what I really don't want to see is busting Sister Sarah any more that I saw them busting Sister Hilary.

Anything that thumps the white straight male hegonomy is going to get the nasties throw at them. And in my book, Sarah is supposed to look right but she will never be right. Stratigically I think McCain has made a big mistake. I am glad to see a woman running. And I am even glad to see a conservative woman running. It may get us past the linking of feminism with liberalism. And actually see that they are not the same.

rick allen said...

"Is it hypocritical to think that a woman can lead a nation and not a congregation?"

Not if you think that sacerdotal authority has a different basis than political authority.

I imagine that most American Christians would say that authority in the Church comes from Christ, or is defined by scriptural norms, whereas political sovereignty has its origin in the will of the people. We may differ about the norms underlying each, but, if they are understood as disparate in origin, I don't see any hypocrisy in their inconsistency.

In ancient Israel the priesthood was limited to the descendants of Aaron. Whether that was right or wrong, I don't see in "hypocrisy" in conceding that a member of the tribe of Benjamin could be a king, but not a priest.

W said...

I agree it is hypocritical for some to say that women cannot be ordained, and yet not object when a woman is selected as candidate for Vice President.

However, sexism and other forms of oppression do not go away all at once. They develop cracks here and there. As such, I am frankly glad that James Dobson is endorsing Sarah wholeheartedly. You cannot hide from the truth forever, and Jimmy and co will come around eventually.

Jim said...

I have said and written before and undoubtedly will again:

The major requirement needed to be a fundamentalist is the ability to rationalize anything no matter how illogical.

So the same folks who condemn young women if they get pregnant, demand marriage as a prerequisite for sex for others, proclaim an all male clergy, and want women walking three steps behind their masters (oops, "husbands" yeah I meant "husbands"!) support Gov. Palin. Amazing!

FWIW
jimB

Grace said...

I don't think it's hypocritical at all. Most people I know who object to female clergy have concerns with women in spiritual authority over men.

But, I don't know anyone who on Biblical grounds would object to women as supervisors of companies, or women involved with govt. in political leadership. For them, it would be a different issue altogether, I think.

I just think the reason many conservative women would support Palin, rather than Hillary Clinton is simply because of social, and political differences. Differing views relating to abortion rights is one issue that comes to mind.

Muthah, I agree that it's a huge problem that feminism is totally linked with liberalism. Even worse, is that gay rights seems to be solely linked with liberalism, as well.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Grace, authority is authority whether it is held by a woman or a man. It boggles my mind that some people think that "spiritual authority" is a higher or lower authority than "governmental authority". That, to me, elevates the bible to the level of a golden calf.

To "allow" a woman to have governmental authority because it is of lesser value than spiritual authority is, well, to begin with, insulting not only to the spiritual lives of women and men, but also to their intelligence.

To vote for a candidate because of one issue rather than the entire platform - poverty, the environment, immigration, health care, education, etc. - is like cutting off your feet because you don't like your shoes.

I'm sorry if that's blunt and therefore sounds angry. I'm not angry. Not yet. As I write this, I'm just completely flabbergasted.

Tell me you don't mean that the way it sounds.

Kirkepiscatoid said...

Although, I do feel compelled to point out Palin is some sort of Pentecostal type...which tends to be a little more accepting of female evangelists, healers, ministers, etc. compared to say, the Baptists.

What I find even more disingenuous about the so-called "Christian right" in this instance is not the "woman thing" per se as I do the bit about the Baptists playing footsie with the Pentecostals.

Most of the Baptists in the town where I grew up viewed things like tongue-talkin', dancin' and rollin' around, and prophesy'n as practically Satanic, so for them to play in the sandbox with Pentecostals in politics really makes a statement.

Likewise, when Mitt Romney was considered a contender, these same fundies could conveniently forget he was Mormon, which among most of the fundies I know, they consider Mormonism a cult!

Mark said...

The problem with the Christian claiming that sacerdotal and secular authority "derive from different bases," is that, according to Scripture, they don't.

Christ points out to Pilate that Pilate has no authority that was not given him from above. Paul tells us that God placed our "rulers" over us.

The only way you can claim that there is a difference in the authority is to set an absolute wall between secular and religious, which is exactly the wall Palin is trying to break down with her compatriots.

The charge of hypocrisy stands.

Grace said...

Hi, Mother Kaeton,

I don't agree with the view that I've just shared, but I'm able to understand the thinking of these folks.

As far as I'm able to see, they base their view in verses of Scripture which seem to indicate that women should not teach in the church, or "usurp spiritual authority" over men.

I don't know if they would see spiritual authority as higher or lower than political authority. I'm not sure about this. But, thse conservative folks believe that God has just given differing roles to men, and women in the church and family, that complement one another.

Personally, I believe that there is truly a misunderstanding of the actual intent of Scripture in some of these areas, not understanding that some of this probably addresses situations in local congregations, and also reflects more the culture of the time.

But, I don't feel that these people are all hypocrites. I do believe that Palin's church, though, while conservative, does ordain women, and has no difficulty with women preachers, and evangelists.

I am truly struggling with this election. And, right now my vote is up in the air. I definitely wish that Obama would take a stronger pro-life position. I'm very concerned about this.

But, I do appreciate his stand relating to gay rights. I'm not sure about the rest.

I mean I want us out of Iraq, too. What Christian isn't for peace? But, yet I'm concerned that we don't abruptly withdraw, and leave the people of Iraq to just fend for themselves. We helped create this mess, and I think our country has a moral responsibility here. I don't want to see Iraq plunged into civil war, or for the terrorists enabled to gain a stronger foothold in the region, if we just pull "out of Dodge," too soon. And, it seems like the surge is really working. Can you see my concern?

Also, I struggle with the best way to help the poor. Is it wise to force a redistribution of wealth, or might this backfire? Would it be better to try other ways to stimulate the economy, and create wider opportunites for everyone, including the poor.

Well, I could go on, and on about the issues. I think there are many caring people of good intention that disagree.

I read on another progressive blog something to the effect that anyone who votes for a McCain/Palin ticket is either "rich, and evil," or "poor and stupid."

That's just wrong, Mother Kaeton.

Anyway, I didn't think you sounded angry, and I appreciate all your input. I really do.

We all need to hold each other, and the upcoming election in prayer.

Blessings to you.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Whew, Grace! I couldn't imagine you believing those things. I understand. You were explaining their position to me and, in your understanding, they are not hypocrites because they are acting true to their beliefs.

It all flows from the conflict between "natural order" vs. "natural liberation."

I believe that Jesus is our Liberator and frees us to be equal "no longer male or female, black or white, slave or free . . .."

However, I want to note that logic would follow that while this does not mean that they are hypocritical, their beliefs are not consistent.

Which is okay. It's just then really easy to see it as hypocritical.

As for the issue of reproductive rights, well, my dear, you are going to have to weigh that in terms of all the other issues.

Do you really want 100 more years of war in Iraq (direct quote) while the democratic platform provides a plan to reduce by 70-80% the number of abortions performed in this country?

The choice is easy for me, because while I'm not pro-abortion, I am pro-choice, and believe the Bible - especially Jesus - makes a compelling case for that position.

But, that's between me and God. You need to do what's right in your heart and soul with God.

I will keep you in my prayers.

Katie Schwartz said...

Outstanding post! Loved your answers and links.

Here's what's got me tripped up, Hillary, who I originally hoped would be nominated didn't get nominated. Many women loathe her for reasons I will never understand. Yet, Sarah Palin did, and women love her.

What is so interesting if you read the chatter online from women supporting her is that it has nothing to do with her politics and everything to do with her personality and looks.

What does that say about women? Hillary is brilliant, steadfast in her opinions, politically savvy and has America's best interest at heart. She thinks globablly, in my opinion. Palin thinks seeing Russia from her home qualifies her to make foreign policy. She's deceitful, anti-women and anti-equality. She's also, well, stupid.

Now that I've gone off on a tangent, sorry. It is hypocritical and offensive to think that a woman can't become clergy.

Then again, I'm a feminist, so what do I know?!