Elizabeth Johnson, feminism

My (Incomplete) Thoughts about the Bishops/Johnson Disagreement

See this, “Why Star Wars is Secretly Terrifying For Women”:


4 thoughts on “My (Incomplete) Thoughts about the Bishops/Johnson Disagreement

  1. What makes you think that this in particular is what’s at issue? I’m not opposed to the idea, but I wouldn’t want “she’s a women” to just become an easy answer… that would almost seem to work at cross-purposes with the intentions of such a critique. The trouble with this assessment for me is that the RCC hierarchy doesn’t seem at all opposed to doctrinal guidance from women… the academic study that has probably enjoyed more influence than most any other (for better or worse) in the past decade or two has come from a woman (Teuffenbach). It strikes me that the current criticism from the bishops is more about perceptions of “liberalism” and “modernism” than about a lack of women in the structures of the Catholic Church. Not that this isn’t a veritable problem to bring up, but I don’t see where you find it contributing to the current situation. Were the (mostly male) criticizers of Pitstick a few years ago operating under similar tendencies as you see in the bishops against Johnson?

    • I don’t think it is simply “she’s a woman” and I’m not sure that the video conveys that. I actually saw the video as about as coherent as Jesus’s parable responses to direct questions, which is to say, on the surface not so coherent. I actually see the issue, or at least part of the issue, is the link between how we talk about gender and how we talk about God. In fact, both the Bishops and Johnson brought up analogy/metaphor as an issue. The video is very much concerned with perception about women, and while there isn’t talk directly about God, it is strikingly similar to biblical, systematic, and ethical discussions on gender, language, and God.

      As for the modernist angle, I do agree with you that this is at play. In fact this has been an American tension long before even, say, the condemnation of Americanism. I do wonder if the question of gender is often located within the modernist controversy as a subset or that if one is to talk about gender, one is going to be talking about it within the modernist and anti-modernist categories. Now, this isn’t meant to say that talk about gender is always modernist or that feminists are modernists, but that to talk about gender and language means we’ll be talking about a lot of other things that aren’t quite sorted.

      • My mistake… I was taking the point here to be more one of membership/representation and gender related exclusions within church and theological structures.* I thought you were avoiding, that is, the very content related issues that you bring up above. Thanks for the clarification.

        *not that one couldn’t make an argument for structural misogyny leading to the dispute between the bishops and Johnson, I just don’t see it at the moment, sans further explication.

        • No need to apologize. I wasn’t exactly clear, and considering the subject, perhaps I should have been clear, rather than give into my sense of humor. I do think the recent NY Times article eschewed the some of the theological issues which you want to get at, so your response certainly makes sense.

          However, form and content are linked. So I do wonder if this is part of the recent investigation into American Nuns, but that hasn’t been proven, so it is only a wonder for me right now. I don’t want to (and I’m not saying you’re trying to do this) separate the theological discussion from the power dynamics, both within the content of the discussion and between the Bishops and Johnson.

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