Only posts tagged with: William James | Display all
Dec. 20, 2010, at 8:55pm
In an as yet unpublished essay on William James (the centenary of whose death is this year), John Crosby reminds us of the fact that James “was a man with the mind of a scientist and the heart of a believer.” This gives him special relevance for today’s world in which the harmony between faith and science is once again challenged by the so called “new atheists”.
These new atheists are convinced that an objective and scientific approach to the world inevitably reveals all religion to be mere superstition. But Crosby points out that the very opposite was true for James:
…the empiricism of science is one main source of James’ openness to religion. He absorbed in his early …
Here's another thought. Medieval chivalry, I propose, was a cultural mode of "righting" the power differential between men and women. The elaborate reverence shown to women by men in such habits as kissing her hand and kneeling in front of her, and never using coarse language in her presence, and so on, were ways that men and boys were taught to curtail their power and put it in service of women.
That worked well until gradually, over time, women began to resist the idea that they should be understood to be beneath men in the social order. Then those modes of courtesy came to be resented as condesceding, and seen as a way of keeping women "in their place." And there's something true there.
We make a mistake if we don't realize that. Chivalry assumes a power differential that femininis has been (rightly) trying to disestablish.
Abandoning the customs and manners that used to protect women from bad male behavior has come with a cost, though.
I hope that we can come up with new manners that reflect what's been gained.
Nov. 22 at 9:20am | See in context
Kate, thanks so much for what you say. I was raised to be dismissive of feminists, but my experience when I read them is that even some of the crazy "out there" ones often have a something valid to say—something we need to listen to and learn from.
Last year our 16 year old son had to write an essay in response to a DBQ (document based question) on the subject of women and science in the 19th century for his AP European History class. I was shocked by the documents involved—the blatant and revolting patronizing of women by men. A woman could not dream of being admitted to a science program at a university unless she first gathered evidence (from men) that she was an exemplary housewife with a perfect moral character. Then they would think about it, and perhaps make an exception in her case.
When Jules and I were in grad school in Liechtenstein, the voters of Appenzell, Switzerland, (all men) held a vote over wether or not to give women suffrage. They voted not to. This was in the 1990s.
Nov. 22 at 9:12am | See in context
The Pope has not endorsed Cardinal Kaspar's position, much less taught it as true. Rather, he has urged him to do his best to make his case. He has called for sincere debate among the competent theologians and pastors of the Church. He is searching for creative pastoral solutions to serious pastoral problems within the boundaries of Church teaching. He is trusting the Holy Spirit to guide the process and to protect him from teaching error. (His statements opening and closing the Synod make this beautifully clear.)
The reports from the Synod are not Church teaching, nor do they pretend to be. They are reports of the state of the debate. That's all.
I find Cardinal Burke's statement worrying not because I disagree with him on doctrine, but because he seems to me to be schooling the Pope, and spreading mistrust, which I think entirely unfitting and out of bounds.
If I were Pope, I'd be demoting him too, for his soul's sake.
Nov. 22 at 9:00am | See in context
Freda, there is so much I want to say in response to your thoughtful comments! Among them is that my facebook feed has been flooded with "conservative" anti-popery (strange oxymoron!) in recent weeks. Some groups do not shrink from calling for schism on the ground that the Pope is likely to teach false doctrine. Some of them are pinning their hopes on Benedict XVI—even calling him "the real pope". Many of them are rallying behind Cardinal Burke, as if he is speaking the truth in the face of practically-apostate Pope. One theologian who used to teach at the seminary here in Philly, is publicly "asking" the Pope if he is the antichrist.
You can get a flavor of it by reading the comments under the article I wrote for the NCR a couple weeks ago.
The problem with this kind of attitude and talk has nothing to do with commitment to dogma. It has rather to do with a profound lack of faith in the Church and the way truth (in the sense of its practical application in the here and now) is worked out through dialog and debate. "The collision of mind with mind," as Newman put it.
Nov. 22 at 8:52am | See in context
All that said, it should also be said that there is an all-important distinction between instructing priests not to withhold Communion and teaching that it's perfectly fine for anyone who wants Communion to take it, whether or not they're in union with the Church, and whether or not they are in a state of grace.
The latter would represent a change in doctrine, while the former is a change in approach.
The former doesn't touch the truth of the matter; it only shifts responsibility for living in accord with it onto each individual rather than the priest.
Like Jesus, the priest is to both teach what's true and offer himself as a sacrifice of love to sinners.
Classically, the "religious right" want to do away with the offering part and the "liberal leftists" want to do away with the truth part.
The miracle of the Church is that it values absolutely and integrates completely both realiites.
Nov. 22 at 8:33am | See in context
DI, "indoctrination of children" begins immediately in all families, doesn't it? Isn't it another word for educating, when we're speaking of children and doctrine?
A key principle of Catholic teaching is freedom. So, unlike in, say, Islam, we hold that there can be no cumpulsion in religious matters. No can be punished or intimidated into faith.
That means some adjustment over the years and centuries in our practices. We're learning gradually and constantly to incorporate more of the truth of our freedom into our way of conveying the faith. This is noticeable, I think, in such things as the rise of the Montessori method of catechesis, and the Pope's focus on evangelization as opposed to proselytism.
I also think it's the explanation behind many bishops' instructions to priests not to withhold Holy Communion from those who come up to receive it, even in cases when the priest knows the person is not Catholic or in a state of sin. I suspect that they are wanting to put more emphasis on personal freedom and responsibility. Priests are not to be "enforcers" so much as pastors, offering love and healing.
Nov. 22 at 8:24am | See in context
Very interesting comment Kate. I had never heard the "All sex is rape" line, and up until quite recently would have dismissed it out of hand as just the sort of angry absurdity one would expect from radical feminists. But what you and Katie say here makes a lot of sense.
Nov. 22 at 6:22am | See in context
Canada's criminal laws regarding prostitution were struck down a year ago by the courts after a challenge to them as endangering the health, wellbeing, and rights of the prostitutes. Parliament was given a year to rewrite the law. I know there was some push in some arenas to go to full decriminalization. Instead, we adopted (very recently--just this past month) a law very similar to Sweden's. It remains to be seen if we will be as good at implementing it as Sweden seems to have been. But I do see it as a great good for both men and women because it acknowledges that no, buying sex is not just another kind of commerce.
Nov. 22 at 12:12am | See in context
I seem to recall that there was more awareness of the effect of power differentials on consent in the early days of second-wave feminism. Remember the "All sex is rape" line often (inaccurately) attributed to Andrea Dworkin? But Dworkin and MacKinnon (who was also accused of equating sex with rape) were maligned precisely because they were interested in how the structural and cultural inequalities between the sexes affected things like sexual roles, expectations, and consent.
MacKinnon said that rape trials could not be just until they adopted female conceptions of consent and coercion rather than merely male ideas of what levels of force or coercion are acceptable when assuming consent (reading accounts of rape trials from 40 and 50 years ago makes me profoundly grateful for the work women like Dworkin and MacKinnon did, regardless of their flaws). On a much smaller scale, there was a lot of talk over the catcalling video that made the rounds a few weeks ago, and a lot of men said, "Most of those guys were just probably trying to be friendly." But the power differential is precisely what makes it feel threatening rather than friendly for the woman being catcalled.
Nov. 22 at 12:07am | See in context
Mr. van Schaijik,
(again, Thanks! for hosting, me.)
Limiting my focus to Jules':
My own sense, in case you like to know, is that allowing ... to receive communion, is incompatible with the Faith, and hence a corruption.
Attending Catholic grade-school, indoctrination to the Blessed Sacrament comes at a very-very early age. And how many kids have protested as they develop, only to meet compulsion by the adults? Then, when adult themselves, and self-willing, are met with the strictest of standards, and exclusion?
Appetizer to the last supper proper, Matthew 26, Jesus, knowing Judas would betray him, "He who has dipped his hand into the dish with me is the one who will betray me."-v.23. He did not prevent him. "Nevertheless, God's solid foundation stands, bearing this inscription, 'The Lord knows those who are his';"-2 Timothy 2:19, hearkening to John 10:14, "I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me.". (See also catholic? v.16?)
Can a sinner "corrupt" the Lord of lords?! Why not: "Give us today our 'epiousios' bread;"-Matthew 6:11?
Catechism: 1324 1384 1385 1393 1397 2827
Also?: "benignant love" at footnote 1, p.352, George Holmes Howison's "Limits of Evolution" (essay 7).
Nov. 21 at 12:02pm | See in context
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