Friday, March 16, 2007

Latest Word from the Vatican on the Eucharist

The Vatican just came out with a new document on the Eucharist, Sacramentum Caritatis. The statement came out after the Synod of Bishops on March 13. Looks wonderful!

Feast of Annuciation to be hijacked for the cause of ordaining women priests

14th Annual dissident fest

I really like the two suggested encyclicals at the end of this piece that the Curt Jester puts up.

Chilling Tale of Planned Parenthood

Why is You Crying? You Ain't Pregnant!

This from Dawn Eden's blog. Thanks to Curt Jester for the story.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Rebuttal to Emily Byers's Column on Why Women Can't Be President

In discussing the fallout from Emily’s column, one person told me that I didn’t fully understand the commotion because I was a man. Because I’m not a woman, I didn’t comprehend how personal the column was. However, I do have some claim to be personally touched and so I must continue, but I will explain this claim.

I grew up in a single-parent household. My mother raised me from when I was 4 and a half and my sister from when she was 1. My mother is a very strong woman. She managed to raise two incredibly young children by herself. If being suddenly widowed with two small children is not a crisis, then I don’t know what is.

So when Emily wrote in her column about how women couldn’t handle crises, the image of my mother came to my mind. Perhaps this isn’t as personal as an attack on one’s own sexuality, but the bond between mother and son is one of the strongest known to mankind. So in a sense, the column was personal to me too. I wasn’t very angry about it as I certainly don’t think that Emily meant to slight my mother. Also, I wasn’t too upset as I can see the value in much of Emily’s argument and I see much we agree upon. It is mainly in her conclusion stated in the headline that we disagree.

My position is that Emily in her column took the application too far. While men may naturally make better leaders than women, to say that it is impossible for a woman to lead is to take it too far.

I’m a big fan of the popular writers like Lewis and Sheen, so I’m going to make an analogy to try to demonstrate the principle I’m working off of. Let’s take the example of a single parent family. We would all agree (and I especially) that having a mother and a father is an optimal situation in which to raise children as it demonstrates both sexes so that the children learn justice tempered with mercy and learn how to properly relate to members of both sexes from a young age. However, if one of the parents died, the survivor faces a difficult situation. If God does not call them to remarry, then they have to raise their children in a less than optimal state.

Does this mean that a person cannot raise a child in a single parent family? Would the survivor be forced to marry again quickly? If the survivor doesn’t remarry, should the children be taken from the parent and moved into a family in which there are two spouses? While we agree that a mother and father are best, looking from those choices we would say that no, the parent is not obligated to remarry and can raise the children on his or her own.

This demonstrates that optimal situations are not necessary situations. While having two parents is best, it is not required (let me make sure I clarify here that single parenting is different from gay parenting, which skews the traits of the sexes in the children). In the same way, while men may make better leaders than women, it is not necessary that men always rule.

Why then does Emily believe that women are incapable of the presidency? The crux of her argument is that women would be less able to lead in a crisis because they are too emotional. She points to the example of Gov. Blanco. First, I think she makes an assumption here, namely that being logical and just in a crisis is always the best way to handle a crisis. While this might be true in most cases, it is not true in all. In Katrina for example both care and logic were required: Logic to restore the traditionally male notion of order to the city of New Orleans and care and compassion to deal with the evacuees. A logician dealing with evacuees might turn them away, rightfully arguing that the evacuees cause an inconvenience at best and severe problems at worst. Considering what’s happened in Houston since the storm, we really couldn’t blame them for keeping the gyms locked up. So we can see that a sense of compassion is necessary for leaders in some situations.

My second response to this is based off of a quote by Bishop Fulton J. Sheen in World’s First Love:

Which stands up better in a crisis: man or woman? One can discuss this in a series of historical crises, but without arriving at any decision. The best way to arrive at a conclusion is to go to the greatest crisis the world ever faced, namely, the Crucifixion of Our Divine Lord. When we come to this great drama of Calvary, there is one fact that stands out very clearly: men failed...In contrast, there is not a single instance of a woman's failing Jesus. At the trial, the only voice that is raised in His defense is the voice of a woman....This is the greatest crisis this earth ever staged, and women did not fail. May not this be the key to the crisis of our hour? Men have been ruling the world, and the world is lapsing.

While standing at the Cross might be a different thing from leading a country, I think at least we can see the point. If one believes Sheen’s argument, then women might actually be better than men in handling crises. Now, this argument can be critiqued on the basis of the actions of John the Beloved, but still the implication that more women succeeded than men in the crisis of Calvary is very significant to the discussion. So while Blanco might have failed, Mary did not. I would take Mary to be the more substantial indicator of the potential of femininity.

It also worth noting that Mary did not lose any of her feminine dignity in handling the crisis, which brings us to the next point of the article: that women, in order to be good leaders, would have to emasculate themselves. Emily is concerned that women would have to build up such emotional detachment, among other things, that they would cease to be a good example of a woman. In other words, Emily sees that a woman would have to sacrifice part of her emotional attachment and she doesn’t want to see this sacrifice happen. I agree with Emily that a tremendous amount of emotional detachment is inherent to the job but she fails to consider the opposite side. That is, is the amount of detachment good for men either? It would be less drastic for men than for women, for sure, but making the decision to either drop the atom bombs and destroy two cities of citizens or send about a million soldiers for whom you are responsible is hardly one in which any emotional attachment is called for. In either one of those choices enormous amounts of people die. You can say that “well, you did the right thing” all you want, but the emotional toll on anybody, man or woman, is incredible and probably unhealthy. This is why states are favored to be small, so that such enormous responsibility is not one head, but that’s besides the point. The point is while Emily says the detachment necessary is bad for women, it’s bad for men too. Anybody seeking the job is going to have to make that sacrifice. With that in mind, it seems odd to say that men can sacrifice it while women can’t.

Emily goes on to say that women shouldn’t feel like they have to be president. I agree. We shouldn’t be aiming at the best woman for the job, just as we shouldn’t be looking for the best Catholic, African-American, Hispanic, etc for the job. We should be looking for the best person for the job. This is why I think Emily’s position can be a bit dangerous. If we were presented with a choice between candidates in which the woman is the superior candidate, then we should choose the woman. If for instance, we had a pro-life woman running for president named, oh I don’t know, Emily Byers. Emily is running against a pro-choice man. Or maybe a utilitarian man, or a fascist man, whatever your scariest position is, this man has it and is running against Emily. I would argue in this case one not only is allowed to vote for the woman, but is in fact obligated to vote for the woman. Emily’s column seems to suggest otherwise in that the man is always going to be the best candidate in a matchup with a woman. I think even Emily would be in favor of voting for a pro-life woman over a pro-choice man, so I think her argument falls apart (I would especially hope that Emily would vote for herself).

The only argument I see working for Emily is one that she spends too little time on. That is, the argument of foreign standing. Emily is right in writing that many foreign countries look down on women and so it would be more difficult for a woman to be as accepted, if she ever could be, in dealing with those nations. As much of the United States’ diplomatic need is in countries in the Middle East, this would seem to be especially problematic. Condolezza Rice and St. Joan of Arc can be brought up as counter-examples to this argument, but even then they were both seen not as primary leaders but representatives of male leaders (Bush in Rice’s case and the King of France in Joan’s). However, note that this argument is very different from the one Emily makes in the rest of her column and in her thesis. Namely, Emily is trying to argue that women are inherently worse candidates. The argument of foreign standing does not make a judgment on the intrinsic capacity of women but rather the state of affairs in the world. The argument of foreign standing would be equally applicable in a world in which Planned Parenthood has taken over and now men (and babies) form the lower and disrespected group.

In summation, it might be optimal for men to be presidents. However, in a time of need women could certainly answer the call. So I’m afraid I must respectfully dissent from Emily’s column.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

I Might Actually Watch TV If These Things Were On

List of Potential Shows for New Vatican TV-Courtesy of the Curt Jester

He Shall Not Go Quietly Into the Night

Cartoon of Fr. Euteneur

Fr. Euteneur was the priest that Sean Hannity blasted. What hasn't been posted on this blog yet is that a priest who worked for Fox News, a Fr. Johnathan Morris, replied calling Fr. Euteneur out of line. Fairly absurd if you've seen the video. Anyway, Fr. Euteneur did not hesitate to reply. I think this is a particularly intriguing discussion as it has implications on my post about proper dissension between Catholics. Fr. Euteneur's response can be found here: The letter to Fr. Morris It has trouble loading, so it give it some time. As for Fr. Morris's original letter, it can be seen here: Fr. Morris's Open Letter to Sean Hannity

In case you haven't seen the video, that can be seen here: Hannity bullies clergyman

P.S. Thanks to Catholic Cartoon Blog for the scoop!

LSU Welcomes Dr. Daniel J. Mahoney

LSU welcomes guest speaker Dr. Daniel J. Mahoney of Assumption College on this Thursday March 15. Dr. Mahoney will be lecturing in the Hill Memorial Library at 3:00 PM on "Politics and the Human Soul: The Continuing Relevance of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn." Solzhenitsyn spent many years in the Russian Gulag and converted to Russian Orthodox Christianity as a result of his experience. The lecture will be very dynamic! I encourage and welcome all of you to come!

Monday, March 12, 2007

No laptop for you!

Via Paul Cat, everyone is to shut off his computer for 24 hours on March 24 in honor of my birthday and the martyrdom of Archbishop Oscar Romero.