Fed Chair Janet Yellen said she had had it up to here today with the endless uncertainty Wall Street seems unable to get past. “Day after day, I yearn for certainty, I pine for tranquility,” Yellen said in an impromptu press conference in front of the bull on lower Broadway near the corner of Wall. “I simply don’t get why these traders–and more to the point, their algorithms–cannot just settle down and be a little more predictable. It’s as if they are addicted to uncertainty.”
Pope Francis asks us to enact a “revolution of mercy” and to get rid of “useless” and “decadent” structures. Like the good Jesuit he is, he speaks suggestively, leaving listeners to work out the meaning.
Let me suggest a new tack Francis might take that would be a two-fer, showing mercy and getting rid of a truly decadent structure all at once. He could stop speaking about women so equivocally. I mean (picking up on British theologian Tina Beattie, among others) that he could wean himself, so to speak, off of talking about capital W “Woman” in terms of essentialized motherhood while talking about actual lower-case real women as unqualified for the priesthood in a crudely literal way. It is past time for those who speak of the equality and “dignity” of womanhood to get real and get consistent.
As Tina Beattie put it at the women’s ordination conference this past weekend, John Paul II’s 1988 apostolic letter explained the exclusively masculine priesthood by using language about gender “analogically in some places and literally in others, with no attempt to explain why this is so. In other words, it begins to look rather like gender ideology” (quoted in National Catholic Reporter, September 19, 2015).
Pope Francis has shown little mercy–most recently in Cuba the other day–for those who use ideology as a way of masking their power grabs. It would be intellectually lazy of this fine Jesuit man to speak about women analogically here and literally there, just as he pleases. And it would be selling short his capacity for change to give him a free pass on women’s issues, even while he is a guest in the United States. Francis is likely to speak to Americans about our huge blind spots of consumerism and gross inequality. We should listen carefully and learn and, yes, repent. We should also see Pope Francis as he is, a man with a great bully pulpit who ought to listen to and learn from marginalized people. That would include women who have been excluded for a very long time by sloppy, equivocal thinking that does nothing more than defend privilege.
All is well in Rowan County, Kentucky, now that Kim Davis is out of jail and back home reflecting on her busy week just past. I hear that she is enjoying the brand new Ipad Pro that Tim Cook had delivered to her jail cell. With the new faster 64-bit chip and the 5.6 million pixel display, Ms. Davis was finally able to make out the words of Matthew 22:21 and, in the split-screen mode facilitated by the new iOS 9 operating system beta version, Mark 12:17. In brief: render unto Caesar that which belongs to Caesar; render unto God that which belongs to God. Davis blew an air kiss to CEO Tim Cook from her front porch, saying that the scales had fallen from her eyes, and that she now renounced Dominionism and all other works of the Devil. She was having too much fun playing Crossy Road to bother responding to a reporter’s shouted question: “is the iPad the work of the Horned Beast?”
(Davis had previously misunderstood Acts 5:29 to read “we county clerks must obey God rather than men and women who make Supreme Court rulings we think are awful even if we ourselves have been married four times, and we must make other men and women obey us even if men and women rather than God elected us and pay our $80,000 yearly salary.” The real text of Acts 5:29 does not go quite that far.)