The Lady Garden

Tea and Strumpets

Sharing the love

Things we liked, or didn’t like, from around the internet this week.

Sometimes I (Emma) wonder why I bother, when there’s Clarisse Thorn to say everything earlier and better than I. This time, she details my ambivalence about the orientation model of BDSM.

Via one of Clarisse Thorn’s posts: Why the sex positive movement is bad for sex workers, by Audacia Ray. Read the discussion thread as well as the post. NB: the title of the post is misleading: Ray is arguing for complexity, saying that the “Happy Hooker” vs “Exploited Victim” dichotomy does not serve sex workers well.

Hey, catholic women – probably you should just shut up. And certainly don’t have the temerity to question the teachings of your church.

Fifty Shades of Linkbait: Violet Blue looks at the response to Newsweek’s Katie Roiphe piece on the sudden appearance of submissive desires in women. (Some images NSFW.)

Katha Pollitt nails it on the difference between working mothers and stay-at-home-mothers and those lazy welfare mothers.

TimT has some new html tags for use on your blog.

Something pretty for you to go and take a look at: The Map of Non-Monogamy. Click on the thumbnail to see the original.

H/T: George Darroch in a comment at Public Address

30 responses to “Sharing the love

  1. muerknz April 21, 2012 at 6:31 pm

    The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s (CDF) reform of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) has been a long time coming. It’s important to note that the Vatican has reformed other groups within the Church as well. The first that was targeted under Pope Benedict was the The Legion of Christ which is very conservative, likewise The Neocatechumenal Way. The CDF has been ruffling the feathers in both camps, progressive and conservative, to make sure that errors aren’t happening.

    It’s often said that the Church isn’t a democracy, what’s not often noted is that the Church can’t go back and change theological or moral truths. If something was right in regards to faith and morals in 150AD, then it’s right now and forever more. Catholicism believes in objective truth.

    The religious sisters of the LCWR can’t change theological truths, no matter how much they dislike them. Likewise the Neocat Way people can’t change the liturgy to suit themselves (which was what they were doing).

    There’s no demand that people stay within the Church, but if groups are going to be Catholic, under Catholic leadership, with Catholic constitutions, then they have to abide by the teaching of the Church. Remember that nuns, monks and sisters vow poverty, chastity and obedience (with some small exceptions) after years of discernment.

    • Draco T Bastard (@DracoTBastard) April 21, 2012 at 10:29 pm

      Catholicism believes in objective truth.

      It’s just a pity that the objective truth that they believe in isn’t related to reality.

      • muerknz April 22, 2012 at 12:08 am

        It is at least objectively true within the worldview.

        To give an example, it is objectively wrong to throw a forward pass in rugby union, the rules say so. Despite the changes in the game overtime, the major rules have stayed the same, so much so that a person could identify a rugby game over the space of a hundred years.

        Suppose a group of people joined a rugby club and then decided to change the forward pass rule, suppose they added other changes over time, given a hundred years the game would not be rugby, it would have developed into something new. The IRB would not accept this club as players of rugby union because they don’t play according to the IRB rules. They are playing a new game.

        The Church has maintained herself for nigh on 2000 years. I can read the fourth century St Augustine and find him understandable and useful as a Catholic author because the “rules of the game” have remained essentially the same. I can go earlier to the Didiche which was first century and yet is still relevant to me.

        Just as official rugby rules aren’t relative, neither are the beliefs of the Catholic Church. The Episcopal Church is one that changes with time, they have women priests and bishops, gay bishops, they agree with abortion and gay marriage – sisters who could not in conscience agree with the Catholic teaching could have moved to the Episcopalians and found a welcoming home who agreed with them completely.

        • Draco T Bastard (@DracoTBastard) April 22, 2012 at 2:50 pm

          It is at least objectively true within the worldview.

          Then their worldview is wrong.

          Things change or, to be more precise, knowledge changes, we learn more. The problem I see with the Catholic Church (and religions in general) is that they don’t change with that new knowledge.

          • muerknz April 22, 2012 at 3:42 pm

            “The problem I see with the Catholic Church (and religions in general) is that they don’t change with that new knowledge.”

            Yeah, that’s a fair comment about Catholicism. Still there are Christian sects that do change their theology as social expectations shift, for example the Episcopal Church.

  2. Draco T Bastard (@DracoTBastard) April 21, 2012 at 10:27 pm

    Your Katha Pollitt link doesn’t work. I believe this is the one you were looking for.

  3. muerknz April 22, 2012 at 1:04 am

    To give a concrete example of how far the LCWR has moved from Catholic teaching the keynote speaker for the LCWR’s Assembly 2012 is Barbara Marx Hubbard.

    Hubbard seems like a sincere woman, but what she teaches is very, very far from Catholicism.

  4. Deborah April 22, 2012 at 8:24 am

    I like Ophelia Benson’s take on it: The Vatican rebukes Radical Feminist nuns.

    They’re also not compatible with the fact that the bishops are men while the people in the LCWR are women (that’s what the W stands for), so obviously the latter don’t get to disobey the former. Any fule kno that.

    • muerknz April 22, 2012 at 2:40 pm

      Benson is definitely right about obedience being important, as I said it’s part of the vows to become a religious. Where I disagree is that gender is an issue in terms of this being about men telling women what to do. The CDF was likewise telling The Legion of Christ what to do, and that was a male hierarchy, same with the Neocatechumenal Way.

  5. annanonymous April 22, 2012 at 11:29 am

    Muerk, the flavour of Catholicism I grew up with promoted moral conscience. The martyrs we celebrate took stands of conscience against the powers that be. So did Jesus, for that matter. You can’t have that and unquestioning conformity to doctrine at the same time. If the church was unwavering in its own principles, we wouldn’t be reaping the consequences of generations of abused and raped children. Not harming children is one of most clear-cut moral and doctrinal issues there is – one of very few issues I’ll take a simple, unwavering black-and-white stance on – and yet we managed to f*** it up spectacularly. Now we pretend it was an aberration, rather than the inevitable consequence of an authoritarian regime that tries to stamp out the independent ethical thought and actions of people of conscience, in order to uphold an institution.

    Benedict’s actions are about politics, not doctrine: he needs to ally himself with one faction or other. Even a very cursory glance at the Gospels shows Christ spent a lot more time worrying about poverty than hating on gays – but the gay haters make the most loyal Catholics, because they’re least worried about things like moral conscience, are most likely to accept weak excuses for morally indefensible behaviour from the clergy, and they’ll continue to refuse to critically examine their own church. They’re smaller in number than the independent thinkers, but they offer more bang for buck. There is no moral failure the church can commit large enough to faze them, because the church cannot err by its own self-serving definition.

    I don’t accept that the fundamentals of Catholicism are unchanged over the centuries. After all, the Pope had to clarify at some point that black people have souls. Whether or not black people are human doesn’t seem like a trivial issue to me at all. And I’d question whether the choice to leave the church is really free, when the church continues to teach eternal damnation for sinners, and people who try to leave – or blow the whistle on corrupt clergy – may find themselves alienated from family and community. Nonetheless, people are choosing exactly that, and in droves. Benedict is hanging a ‘Dicks only’ sign over the Vatican, and making people choose between conscience and conformity. They’re making the right choice – and indeed the only choice that anyone who takes Gospel values seriously could make. An institution of any sort that stifles moral debate exists only to perpetuate itself. If Jesus came back tomorrow, I reckon he’d flip the bird to the Pope. And then I reckon he’d apologise to the raped and abused children.

    • muerknz April 22, 2012 at 2:46 pm

      This was a _huge_ post dealing with a very wide range of things, most of what you say I disagree with strongly.

      What I will ask is how has the flavour of Catholicism you grew up with affected the way you practice your faith now? If you have such a dark view of the Holy See how does that colour your opinion of your parish priest and your local bishop? Because what it all comes down to is that we need the Church because we need the sacraments. Without Holy Mother Church there’s no eucharist.

      • annanonymous April 22, 2012 at 6:32 pm

        Correct. The moment I feel the need to exchange my moral integrity for a wafer is the moment the eucharist becomes meaningless. And the moment I compromise my responsibility to the wellbeing of children, or anyone else, for that eucharist is the moment I mock any meaningful morality, religious or secular. I won’t be gong there. My experience with the clergy, including those who baptised my children, has largely been good – but then the priests I chose to baptise my kids liked women and gay people, albeit the local bishop instructed them not to admit this publicly. Presumably, the sacraments they administered don’t count?

        • muerknz April 22, 2012 at 7:25 pm

          “The moment I feel the need to exchange my moral integrity for a wafer…”

          But it’s not a wafer at all, it’s the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ. Only the appearance of the wafer remains, the substance has entirely changed. Are you saying you don’t believe in the Real Presence of Jesus in the eucharist?

          “Presumably, the sacraments they administered don’t count?”

          I’m surprised you would suggest this. The validity of the sacraments has never relied on the moral state of a valid celebrant. That was the main issue between St Augustine and the Donatist church in the 4th century. Augustine fought very hard to show that sacraments are valid based on God’s grace and not the righteousness of the priest. That’s an issue that has been definitively settled for over 1300 years. It’s specifically in the Catechism – #1128.

          My youngest child was baptised in a parish that had an gay (celibate) priest, that was in the Christchurch diocese, I’ve had Holy Communion with him celebrating.

  6. annanonymous April 22, 2012 at 9:13 pm

    I’m simply saying that the status of the wafer matters less than not abusing children. And it’s because of moral obtuseness like this that the church has no place for people like.

  7. annanonymous April 22, 2012 at 9:26 pm

    That posted prematurely, and I can’t work out to delete it. It strikes me that being able to worry about Catechism – #1128 is a luxury, and not one shared by the children whose lives were destroyed by abuse at the hands of clergy. It also strikes me that you can throw about doctrinal points at length to avoid asking hard questions about the behaviour of the institution that generated the doctrine. I can’t imagine ever thinking that transubstantiation is more important than not raping children.

    • muerknz April 22, 2012 at 11:14 pm

      The institution that has the most sexual abuse is the family. There are sick rapists everywhere, in every profession, in every power structure.

      Is there an abuse problem in Catholicism? Yes, absolutely. Have the bishops acted terribly, yes in the main they have. They put the good name of the Church over the safety of children. Did it all need to come out? Yes. I believe those bishops were a product of their times, they were a generation who swept scandal under the carpet and it wasn’t just Catholic leadership that took that approach either. It was a pervasive attitude right through society to turn away and ignore such evil, sick actions.

      I can’t justify the Church about the abuse, no one can, it was evil..

      Thankfully I console myself with the thought that it is out in the open. The more eyes of good people watching over kids to keep them safe the better. The Church leadership deserved what it got and then some. And then there is always the torments of Hell for those who love evil. Divine justice will get them in the end.

      However…. the issue with the LCWR is doctrinal, so yes, I’ve stuck to issues of doctrine.

      As for what is more important, the wafer becomes Jesus Christ our God. Doctrine is the finite understanding of God’s infinite mystery, so yes, I think it’s vitally important. The rape of children is part of a spiritual battle against sheer evil and negation. The Church should have been better, more moral, more good, but we weren’t. The only thing that can improve the Church is for her to return to the essence of the faith – to repent and be made new in the spirit.

      Without Jesus present in the eucharist we will never overcome evil.

      • Moz April 23, 2012 at 10:45 am

        But it’s not out in the open. The cruch is still desperately trying to minimise, downplay and outright hide the abuse right now. In Melbourne we have the unedifying spectacle of the abusers trying to weasel out of a parliamentary inquiry with many of the same excuses as you’re making. They’ve been forced to admit that some abuse may have happened, and they’re sorry about that, but they very much don’t want to talk about it. And they especially don’t want to be compelled to give testimony in any kind of legally binding way. It’s about as far from full, frank and fearless as you can get without burying the witnesses.

        The emphasis is still on preserving the institution, making sure everyone keeps their jobs and not letting the occasional minor slip by unimportant functionaries damage the good name of the higher-ups.

        I can’t help feeling Jesus would be drawing parallels between the church and the temple rather than asking to preach in it.

        • muerknz April 23, 2012 at 2:42 pm

          You’re right, I’m absolutely sure Jesus would draw parallels, and it’s said the road to Hell is paved with the skulls of bishops.

          I don’t know about Melbourne, but when I say “out in the open” I mean that we now know that there was terrible sexual abuse and that the people who were supposed to protect their flock instead protected the wolves.

          Many bishops are still acting badly, and there needs to be radical change. Personally I think bishops should do public penance for what has happened to children, but for penance to be meaningful there has to be full repentance and an acknowledgement of harm caused.

          I can’t speak specifically about Melbourne because I don’t know anything, but I’ll go and read up.

          • Moz April 24, 2012 at 1:44 pm

            The Age has been covering bits of it, but you still need to stay awake to catch the key elements. Like, no-one is actually employed by the church, and it has no assets, so it can’t be sued or forced to pay compensation. The actual assets you might think of as church assets are held by a dummy corporation. It’s kind of like James Hardy (the asbestos people) and their shell games. That’s the sort of thing that makes me say it’s all about protecting the institution and to hell with the peasants.

            What’s come out recently here is the suicide rate among people the church has settled with over abuse claims. It’s not 100%, but it’s scary high. Apparently the catholic revictimisation process was worse than the legal system (which is topical if you’re following THM notes on the reform).

          • Hugh April 25, 2012 at 12:13 pm

            I presume the reason they don’t want to do public penance is because it might open them to legal proceedings.

    • muerknz April 22, 2012 at 11:20 pm

      Also, I am at heart a nerd. I read the catechism for fun. Yes, it’s a luxury afforded to me because I am literate and have the energy and education to read it, but I’m not morally obtuse, just geeky and weird.

      • annanonymous April 25, 2012 at 9:59 pm

        Nothing wrong with being a nerd. But I feel that the value of theology is how it translates into morality. And when we’ve got the recipe this badly wrong, do we need to rethink the ingredients? This is part of the reason my interest in things theological has dwindled over the years, unfortunately. It’s given way to a stronger interest in ethics.

        • muerknz April 25, 2012 at 11:14 pm

          I think theology is vital for understanding God, and that the closer we come to knowing God the more moral we will become. Our goodness is a product of how close we are to God’s goodness and how we let Him work His justice and mercy in our lives.

          The point is the salvation of our souls. Ethics is the by-product of our love.

  8. muerknz April 24, 2012 at 2:56 pm

    Moz: There are times when I think the Church would do better if all the wealth and power was just stripped if it, and we were left with just the sacraments and our faith. Power corrupts and you can see that in cases like this.

    In some respects I love the huge soaring churches and gold chalices. The stained glass windows and beautiful artwork etc., but it’s all completely irrelevant to the actual faith. I think the antidote for the Church re: the sexual abuse crisis is spiritual poverty and humility and perhaps some material poverty might speed that along.

  9. muerknz April 25, 2012 at 11:15 pm

    Hugh: Yeah, I fear you are absolutely right.

  10. muerknz April 26, 2012 at 12:41 pm


    I’ve never come across Euthyphro before, I googled and found this.

    I can’t answer Euthyphro because I haven’t read it, but to answer your question I think that God (or the gods) can’t call something good, when it is inherently evil. God is rational. [REDACTED]

    [Moderator’s note: I’ve redacted the remainder of this comment, because I felt that it amounted to saying, “Look over here at this other group of people who have these weird views.” I think it could have been perceived as inflammatory, especially as to my knoweldge, no one from the particular group of people is participating in the conversation here. Muerk, if you wish to reproduce the comment on your own blog and link to it from here, I’m prepared to let the link through. Deborah]

  11. Moz May 3, 2012 at 12:09 pm

    Muerknz: today’s Age has this article: which mentions the parliamentary inquiry, The Age campaign and a new court case.

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