Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Church Within Church And Feminist Musings

No, it's not Opus Dei within the Catholic Church this time, but the suggestion in Britain to protect those Anglican ministers who don't want to serve under female bishops:

MORE than 1300 clergy, including 11 serving bishops, have written to the Archbishops of Canterbury and York to say that they will defect from the Church of England if women are consecrated bishops.
As the wider Anglican Communion fragments over homosexuality, England's established church is moving towards its own crisis with a crucial vote on women bishops this weekend.

In a letter to Rowan Williams and John Sentamu, seen by The Times, the signatories give warning that they will consider leaving the Church if two crucial votes are passed to introduce female bishops.

The Church's moderate centre is being pressured as never before by evangelicals opposed to gays and traditionalists opposed to women's ordination.

The crisis is unprecedented since the Reformation devastated the Roman Catholic Church in England in the 16th century.

The General Synod, the Church's governing body, meets in York on Friday where clergy will decide whether legislation to consecrate women should be introduced, and whether it should have legal safeguards for traditionalists or a simple voluntary code to protect them.

The signatories to the letter - who represent 10 per cent of all practising clergy and hundreds of recently retired priests still active in the Church - will only accept women bishops if they have a legal right to separate havens within the Church.

I had to read the story to the very end to find this:

At the same time, 1276 women clergy, 1012 male clergy and 1916 lay church members who support women bishops signed a statement objecting to the prospect of "discriminatory" legislation to safeguard opponents.

It's more interesting to focus on those who are opposed to female bishops than those who are for them, even if the latter are more in numbers.

By the way, today seems to have become my "religion-hates-women" day, mainly because religion very often does exactly that. I love the Southern Baptist definition of spiritual equality between the sexes as something which absolutely exists (absolutely!), but which somehow has zero implications in the here-and-now world, the only one on which we can look for corroborating evidence. In that world the men are the bosses and there's no way of firing a bad boss.

It's such a masterful concept! Do those Southern Baptist guys ever fear that to actually get those spiritual equality scales even might mean a hereafter where the women rule over men? Looking at the secular rules those guys have a little heavenly affirmative action in the opposite direction would appear to be necessary.

The Anglican case is nowhere as bad. Women can no longer be ministers at all in the Southern Baptist Church. The Anglicans let them minister and are just arguing over their ability to be bishops. The difference is humongous, enormous and gigantic.

Still, consider this odd fact of life: If you read this blog long enough you will find many, many posts on the topic of biological gender differences, how they are studied and how they are popularized, and in those posts I often scream and thunder about the need to control for the cultural effects before trying to study biology. The studies I criticize hardly ever do so. They pretend that women are treated in a perfectly gentlemanly manner (or cave-manly manner) by all and sundry and that nothing at all stops women from running or invading countries, from being the Pope and so on. It's only their itty-bitty genes which make women coy and family-centered and uninterested in casual sex or being bishops.

So these posts on religion serve as a very good reminder that we are slowly clawing ourselves up from a deep, deep well of gender-based restrictions, limitations and oppression, and that the resistance from the rest of the culture is something women have always had to take into account in whatever choices they were left.