Saturday, March 8, 2008

Ugly Distortions or Misunderstandings?

There's so much wrong in Alice Lindsey's vicious "Paradox of Feminism" that I just don't know how to begin to respond. Is she intentionally distorting feminism or does she not fully understand it? How would she respond to similar sorts of charges against her Anglican church? Besides, I can't figure out how to leave comments on the site where she's posted. (I can say her only reference to Jesus is to "the Body of Christ," by which she means "the church"; and I add, this is not the Jesus who loves women and men.)

Perhaps others of you readers will respond here or figure out how to comment there.

Here's Lindsey's ugly definition and unloving thesis (with a link to the website at the end):

Defining Feminism

It is helpful to define terms at the start, so I will define Feminism as a political ideology that sees the relationship between males and females as one of inequality, subordination, or oppression, and which identifies the dominant males in society as the sources of oppression.

Feminism is essentially a Marxist-socialist-liberal ideology which focuses on gender struggle. The Feminist concern is voiced in public about equal legal rights, equal pay for equal work, harassment in the workplace, abuse and trafficking of women and children, and global awareness of women's health needs.

As we consider the importance of these concerns, we are able to see why Feminism has advanced into all areas of our life. It speaks in the lexicon of fairness and justice and it is difficult for a Christian to speak against Feminism and not sound bigoted, reactionary or dim-witted. If Christians, especially Christian women, lack understanding of the nature of our differences and are unskilled in our engagement of Feminist rhetoric, we are easily marginalized.

Marginalization is a political tactic that Feminists have employed successfully and which gay activists learned from feminists. This tactic is used by those who already have gained sufficient control to be able to marginalize those who don't agree with them. For example, gay activists have used marginalization in many states to silence opponents of gay marriage bills. Marginalization takes many forms, but one of the most common is to misrepresent your opponent as small-minded and backwards.

Feminism, as an ideological thread in the weave of 20th century American life, poses a significant challenge to Christianity. It influences our outlook on family, church, education and politics, and while politically vocal Feminists often succeed in marginalizing their opponents, the Feminist agenda clearly is not good for the Church.

My Thesis

While I have been asked to address Feminism in the context of today's society, I want to speak more directly to the challenges that Feminism poses to the Church as the Body of Christ. My thesis is this: What is good for the Church is good for society. What is bad for the Church is bad for society. Simply stated, I regard the Church's welfare and edification as a litmus test for the innovations that appear in society. To narrow the scope, I will speak primarily about western society, although many of the points I wish to make apply to all societies.

"As Eye See It : The Paradox of Feminism" - Alice Linsley


Hugo Schwyzer said...

Her cherry-picking is so wild (bloody Schopenhauer) that it doesn't seem possible to offer a sweeping refutation of such a bizarre and poorly structured argument.

I'll try and think of something coherent to say myself.
The bit about "marginalization" is comical.

J. K. Gayle said...

Thanks Hugo.

Perhaps a fair enough refutation is just to see good feminism in action today. Here's Deborah Siegel and Courtney Martin in the Washington Post, coming together in difference:

"When men disagree, it's called conversation. When women disagree, it's called a catfight. That's what the media have been calling it for years.

. . . The idea that all young female [voters] are anti-feminist and all older [feminist voters] are old school plays into the worst kind of lazy black-and-white thinking. Feminist history has taught us that social change is as complex as the humans who try to enact it.

Take us. . . Both of us [one young and one a bit older] are feminists, and neither's [different] opinion threatens our sense of what that means.

The personal is still political, the political is personal, and we're bound to feel passionately about two [our different presidential] candidates. But the question of whether you can be a feminist and still support Obama [or any other candidate] has about as much integrity as the question of whether you can be a feminist and wear lipstick. Those who ask it play into the divide-and-conquer model that real feminism tries to renounce."

And I wonder how Lindsey chooses to overlook Christian and feminist Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who worked for Lindsey's rights in North America and who wrote the first full commentary on the Bible from a woman's perspective? Or Julia Evelina Smith Parker, who is the first woman (yes, a feminist too, and a Christian also) to translate the entire Hebrew and Greek Bible into English?

Alice C. Linsley said...

I'm glad that you noticed my essay on The Paradox of Feminism and regret that you consider my examples and illustrations "cherry picking." That statement rather substantiates my remarks about feminist tactics. Why not address the points I make with something of substance?

Also, if you had read the entire piece, you would know that I am Eastern Orthodox, not Anglican.

Best wishes,


J. K. Gayle said...

Thank you very much for your wishes, and thanks for stopping by! Our dialogging may lead to more agreement and to less confusion.

I confess it was my misreading of the little bio, which now clearly says "Alice C. Linsley is an writer and teacher who lives in central Kentucky. She teaches Philosophy, World Religions, Critical Thinking, and Ethics at a private college. Formerly an priest in TEC, she is now a member of St. Andrew Antiochian Orthodox Church in Lexington, KY." Readers deserve to see what you said also, which is why I provided the link. Let me add, it is not clear on the site how to leave comments there. If you're open to it, I'll certainly respond there in the contexts of your statements.

Hugo's the one, here, who observed your denigration of "feminism" as "cherry picking." I'll let him elaborate if he likes, but I do see what he's getting at.

Let me just go on to apologize to you for the abuses you've endured by certain feminists and by "feminism" in general! I would rather introduce you to Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan Brownell Anthony, Julia Evelina Smith Parker (who helped begin feminism in the U.S.). Feminists today include Sister Mary Prudence Allen, R.S.M., and Sister Carolyn Osiek R.S.C.J. but you can find feminists (just a few) also in your Eastern Orthodox church.

My guess is you know (of) and would disagree with Frederica Mathewes-Green, Maria Gwyn McDowell, and Susan Jean Ashbrook Harvey. They speak with lonely voices, I'm afraid, in your church. They speak out for the ordination of women in positions only granted men by the church. They would not harm you the way you suggest in your essay "feminism" has and does.

I'd welcome a response now from you, Alice. And if you'd want me to dialog at another blog, I'm open to that as well. Did you see what Hugo wrote at his blog?

All the best to you, sincerely,
J. K. Gayle

Alice C. Linsley said...

Thanks for the kind response, Gayle. I'm familiar with many of the great women leaders that you list and their contributions.

Frederica Mathewes-Green is not in favor of the ordination of women as priests and she and her priest husband were formerly Episcopalians. Pushing for women priests is anti-woman, if you understand the reason why only males are priests. It has to do with blood shed in sacrifice and how, by sacred law as old as time, that blood can not share the same space as blood shed in giving life (menstrual and birthing). Here are some essays you may wish to read:

To comment at Virtueonline, you need to register first.

J. K. Gayle said...

Thanks for your additional comment, Alice. I've read your essays, and here provide links to them for others: The Primeval Origins of the Priesthood, The Priesthood and Genesis, and Males as Spiritual Leaders: Two Patterns.

In the first and last essays you provide here, you claim that it's "feminists, theological revisionists and from academics eager to appear politically correct" who "attack" in "the West the male priesthood." While that may be true, I wouldn't leave out Plato or Peter of the New Testament. There are others, of course, but Plato in the Symposium praises the Priestess Diotima as a great positive influence, and Peter in his first epistle to Christians (male and female) translates or at least quotes Isaiah on priests (obviously male only) but tells these believers in the early church that they are all part of the royal priesthood. In your second essay noted here, you mention C. S. Lewis; of course, he opposed priestesses (but not necessarily women preachers) in his Anglican church--but as you note, he was interested in "myth," and in myth there are priestesses. Menstruation, it seems, is not a necessary disqualifier of priestesses. As if blood shedding were some male-only domain, there are no blood sacrifices, are there, in the Orthodox church?

(I appreciate the clarifications on Mathewes-Green and on the need to register first at Virtueonline to comment there.)

Alice C. Linsley said...

The term "priestess" refers to a sibyl or female seer, and is contextual to Greco-Roman culture. She did not sacrifice animals. The Jewish priesthood, the only priesthood known to Jesus' Apostles, emerges from the Afro-Asiatic culture and as such has greater affinity to the Vedic Brahamas. The male and female gender roles and the taboo against mixing bloods comes from this much older cultural context.

J. K. Gayle said...

Now aren't you painting your picture of priest into a corner? In your essay The Priesthood and Genesis you bring in "the mysterious character, Melchizedek, the priest of Salem" as one who doesn't play by the (taboo) rules. And you've already mentioned Jesus Christ "as both sacrificed victim and priest." And you could have tied the two together as anomalous around Melchizedek (the way the NT writer of Hebrews does). In this Joshua (i.e., Jesus), you get more bending of your tight conception of transcultural male-only blood-sacrificing priest. For the Jews, there's a very intentional taboo against any but the males of one tribe (i.e., of Levi) doing the kind of priestly duties you describe as universal. But in Joshua of Nazareth, you have one of Juduah. And the Messiah (as with David the King) is not supposed to be a Priest either. The point is there are various sorts of priests and priestesses, not limited to what our extant texts of history, of archeology, and of ethnography have yet discovered. (The same is true of feminists in histories and cultures, even those of Christianity).

Alice C. Linsley said...

Words can be used in different ways, as history can be viewed in different ways. There is always a decision involved. As a follower of Jesus Christ, I am committed to tracing the blood and it leads to HIM. It is easy to miss HIM, the True Priest and the Sacrificed Lamb of God when we ignore the trail of blood, especially in this age when the integrity of the priesthood comes under attack from all sides.

May your studies be guided by HIS hand.

mariagwyn said...

I realize this comment thread is quite old, but I was not made aware of Linsley's views until fairly recently, and just found this discussion. Linsley has a particular anthropological and philosophical view of the priesthood which does not reflect an Orthodox theology of the priesthood. Semitic laws of blood purity certainly influenced Orthodox canons, but they were very frequently disputed by Orthodox theologians (John Chrysostom for one). I have a longer post in response to her here:

Alice C. Linsley said...

There is only one view of the priesthood. It is ancient, ordained of God, and linked to blood sacrifice. The unbloody sacrifice of the Orthodox Divine Liturgy is because the Blood of Christ is present. We affirm this in the words: "Christ is in our midst" and in the thrice-stated Amen.

There is only one true Form of Priest - Jesus Christ. Any interpretation of the priesthood that departs from Him as Pattern is false.

I look forward to reading your response.

J. K. Gayle said...

In the two preceding comments, the hyperlinks and URLs are as follows, respectively: