Archive for the ‘Catholicism, Christianity, and Faith’ Category

Word Games   Leave a comment

Sacre Couer Bell TowerPretend for a moment that you and I are sitting down together, and I show you a bottle. It can be any kind of bottle you like: a cold beer, some good wine, or your favorite soda. Then I tell you that the bottle is actually a penguin named Boris.

Quite reasonably, you ask why Boris looks like a bottle of sloshing liquid.

I respond by saying that Boris is a magical penguin. Boris has the ability to appear to be a bottle but remain, in reality, Boris. You could examine Boris under a microscope, perform chemical experiments, or do any other test that you wanted, and Boris would appear to be a bottle without actually being bottle. Boris’ nature, what Boris really was, is entirely separate from his appearance as a bottle.

Seeing the size of the bottle, you ask if Boris is a baby penguin, to be so small.

I explain to you that no, Boris is an adult male emperor penguin, weighing in at the average of that species, about 75 pounds. Answering before you can ask the question, I tell you that weight has two properties, internal weight and external weight. Internal weight is intrinsic to a thing’s nature. Right now, Boris is 75 pounds and there is nothing that can be done to change that in this instant. External weight, however, is simply how much an object appears to weigh, and Boris’ magic allows him to change his external weight (and dimensions) to appear to be the weight of a bottle.

Okay, now roll those ideas around in your head for a little bit. Do they make sense? Do the explanations seem contrived? I think so, but do you? If you’re Catholic, think especially hard about those explanations. Assume for a second that magical penguins are not only plausible, but likely. In that case, does the explanation make sense?

I ask Catholics to think especially hard, because (as I’m sure a few of you figured out) this is actually a post about transubstantiation. So, before I go any farther, I want to make something clear:

I am not intending to mock the idea of transubstantiation. Nor am I intending to mock the scholastics who developed these ideas. The example of Boris the magic penguin was intended to do two things: First, I wanted to examine the ideas behind transubstantiation in a way that would elicit genuine reactions from Catholic minds that were not informed by doctrine. Associations are the paint set of the mind, and I wanted to work with a blank canvas, at least for a little while. Second, I wanted to encourage people to keep reading through the abstract morass that is medieval philosophy. I thought I might not lose everyone in the second paragraph if Boris the penguin was there to give a bit of incentive for readers to continue. Anyway, if some of you are still offended, I can only say that I sincerely meant no disrespect.

So with that out of the way, I’m basing the rest of this discussion from this article in the Catholic Encyclopedia.

So, according to the Catholic Encyclopedia, transubstantiation is the idea that the substance of the bread and wine change during the Mass into the Body and Blood of Christ. Once this change occurs, the bread ceases to be bread, and the wine ceases to be wine. The example given is of a soldier who is promoted. When someone is promoted, they cease entirely from their former rank to their current rank.

But the bread and wine still look like bread and wine. The Catholic Encyclopedia explains this by distinguishing between ‘substance’ and ‘accidents’. ‘Accidents’ refers to nonessential qualities of an object: characteristics like taste, appearance, weight, and size. If that doesn’t make much sense, that’s because ‘accidents’ is only fully understood in contrast to ‘substance.’ The Encyclopedia describes substance as ‘the thing in itself.’ For example, let’s say that Bob is a nice man. Then we push Bob into a lake. After we push Bob into a lake, the accidents of Bob are anger and wetness, but the substance of Bob is still a nice man.

A similar line of thought is used elsewhere to explain how Christ’s whole body fits into a small piece of bread.

Later Scholasticism… tried to improve upon this explanation along other lines by distinguishing between internal and external quantity. By internal quantity is understood that entity, by virtue of which a corporeal substance merely possesses… the “capability” of being extended in tri-dimensional space. External quantity, on the other hand, is the same entity, but in so far as it follows its natural tendency to occupy space and actually extends itself in the three dimensions.

So basically, internal quantity is the ability to be a size or shape, and external quantity is actually being that size or shape. So Christ’s internal quantity remains the same, it just doesn’t express itself as an external quantity when it is in the accidents of a host.

Now here’s the deal, I don’t buy this. I think the scholastics were playing word games. When we talk about bread, we only ever refer to its accidents (unless we’re an anthropologist, a linguist, or a theologian). We use the word bread to convey something about taste, shape, chemical composition, or nutritional content. All of these are ‘accidents’ of bread that remain after the consecration. ‘Accidents’ and ‘substance’ are terms that were developed long after bread to convey a distinction between consecrated bread and unconsecrated bread. Before those terms, and even today in ordinary usage, the accidents of bread are merely referred to as bread, which indicates to me that the distinction exists only in the mind.

The same is true of internal and external quantity. These concepts were invented to explain how Christ’s Body was in the host without saying that Christ’s body was host-sized. These concepts were invented to play a linguistic game. The people who formulated these concepts wanted to be able to answer yes to these questions:

Is the consecrated host Christ?

Does the host contain Christ’s whole body?

And just as importantly, to avoid impiety (the Catholic Encyclopedia uses the term “fitting,” as in fitting the dignity of Christ), the theologians who contrived these ideas wanted to answer ‘no’ to these questions:

Is the consecrated host bread as well as Christ?

Has Christ’s body been shrunk to fit the host?

If you realize that the theologians had answered these questions before they ever started to try to figure out how Christ’s presence in the Eucharist works, their answers look ingenious. They also look obviously made up. How do you maintain that a consecrated host is not bread even when it fits every single description we have for bread? All you have to do is make up another layer of definition for bread: bread-in-itselfness, that you can maintain a consecrated host has lost. How can Christ’s whole body be contained in something as small as a host? Well if there are two kinds of sizes, it’s easy.

And oddly enough, I get the urge to do this. I don’t think the theologians who developed these ideas were stupid or evil or impious. They were clearly highly intelligent men who were motivated by respect for God. But that doesn’t change the fact that they were making up distinctions, that a host is smaller than Christ’s body, or that a consecrated host is still bread in every way that counts (albeit with something extra, too).

So I get the urge, but I reject the doctrine. I believe in Christ’s presence in the Eucharist, but I also believe that transubstantiation is just a word game.


Five Suggestions for the Catholic Church   Leave a comment

I have some suggestions for the Catholic Church that I hope I will elaborate on in future posts, but for now I just want to get out there:

1. Take the incidence of suicide, bullying, and denial of medical care that affect LGB people at least as seriously as their sexual preference. And if taking one thing seriously requires legal action, then so should the other. Or at least the action should be proportionate to the time and resources spent on taking legal action.

2. Take the incidence of suicide, bullying, and denial of medical care that affect trans and intersex people at least as seriously as the possibility of their using a public restroom.

3. Launch an investigation into the abuse cover ups that is at least as wide in scope as the investigation of the LCWR for not being vocal enough about abortion and birth control.

4. Stop accepting bad science about abortion and birth control as fact. There should be a debate about the long term effects of birth control and it is prescribed too freely. But that is an entirely different matter from quoting woefully inadequate studies as if they were the final word. More research needs to be done, so either do it (and do it well, preferably through a third party) or shut up.

5.Reclaim your teachings about the poor and marginalized. The Catholic Church used to consider a living wage to be more than just a post-it note attached to the back of a book about sexual issues. Either human dignity is the driving force of Catholic moral teaching or abortion is. If it’s the latter, please continue what you’re doing. But if it’s the former, then please start acting as if all matters of human dignity were interrelated. Please.

There you go. None of these suggestions require removing the least word from current Catholic teachings. Any or all of them would make the Catholic Church look more consistent because all of them are things Catholic Church teaching  essentially call for. I love the phrase “human dignity.” I use it all the time. And it comes from the Catholic lexicon. I didn’t make it up, the Catholic Church did. The Catholic Church should take its rightful place as a leader on issues affecting human dignity (like denial of medical services to LGBT people, which is shockingly common), and I hope it will.

Fundamentalism   2 comments

Sacre Couer Bell Tower

Content Note: War in the Middle East, Eternal Damnation, Mocking Scriptures

I was struck reading a quote from Chris Hallquist as cited by Leah Libresco.

This is why talk of “atheist fundamentalism” is ridiculous. Atheists do not have any holy book we consider infallible. We have no traditional dogmas to defend. We certainly do not reject central discoveries of science for the sake of any holy book or dogma. We do not think anyone should be eternally damned merely for disagreeing with us, or declare anyone’s private behavior to be an “abomination” just because a book written thousands of years ago says so.

I find this to be an odd sentiment, coming from an atheist. It isn’t an uncommon sentiment, but it is an odd sentiment. It’s odd because it treats religion as a special category of human behavior separate from other categories of human behavior. In this particular sentiment, many religious people and many atheists put themselves in agreement. That agreement is odd.

If Hallquist thought about religion as an anthropologist did, or a social scientist, or anyone else who didn’t give religion special eminence in the sphere of human activity, he would realize that of course their are atheist fundamentalists. If fundamentalism is a really existing phenomenon, it is a human phenomenon. It stems from concerns and motives and methods of thought that are common to all human beings. The existence of sacred scripture in a particular cultural context does not create new pathways in the brain or produce an otherwise unknown hormonal response. If the tendency to fundamentalism exists, it exists in all human beings.

A Dawkins or a Hitchens might not appear to be fundamentalist in every context, but then again I imagine it is just barely possible that religious fundamentalists are also capable of normal human behavior uninfluenced by their fundamentalism. It is certain that Dawkins and Hitchens both cheered on our destructive wars in the Middle East because of anti-Muslim bigotry. If that isn’t virulent fundamentalism, I’m not sure what is.

By the same token, though, Christian fundamentalism should be considered a reality even by convinced Christians. A sincere Catholic should be able to recognize that if human beings can be angry and irrational, they can be angry and irrational about things that happen to be true as well as things that happen to be false. I only know a few Christians who view their religion as immunity to sin, and all the rest should recognize that fundamentalism is a sin to which they are not immune. Given how common the charge of fundamentalism is against Christianity, Christians should be especially on the lookout for it, if only to prevent scandal.

Asking the Right Questions   Leave a comment

Kurt Willems has an excellent interview with Chris Haw over at his Pangea blog. The interview is about Chris’s book about his coversion to Catholicism. Since I’ve been heading in the other direction, I thought the interview would make an excellent subject for a post.  

Kurt begins by asking Chris about how his (Chris) almost anabaptist convictions square with his Catholicism. Chris  points out that some influential anabaptist thinkers like Stanley Hauerwas identify with Christian tradition as a whole, and denies any essential contradiction between Catholicism and the aspects of his faith that inspired his previous work.

Kurt follows up by asking if it is ever appropriate to push against church tradition. Chris admits to finding some Catholic documents weak or insufficient, but finds this insufficiency worth preserving church unity. He then mounts a counter argument, quoting Chesterton as he goes.

“It is rational to attack the police; nay, it is glorious. But the modern critics of [religious] authority are like people who attack the police without ever having heard of burglary.”

He then goes on to list various heresies and the various valued aspects of Christianity they threatened. He rounds off the argument in this way:

Now, its obvious that in some of these cases, the Catholic Church responded in a way that was far harsher than we would ever hope today. But we are partly judging the 5th century (or others) by the 21st century; a strategy about as harsh as saying, “if we had lived in the time of the prophets, we would not have murdered them” (a claim which Jesus denounces as false pride, and harsh judgmentalism).

I think this is, in most ways, a fair case. We probably would have murdered the prophets, but this case ignores the fact that the Catholic Church certainly murdered prophets as well. I’ve read some of the interrogations from persecution of protestants during the reign of Mary Tudor, and it is quite clear to me that some of the victims barely understood the theological disputes they were embroiled in. But they were firmly committed to living and praying a certain way, and thus were executed.

Chris argues for the preservation of church unity while ignoring how divisive the Catholic Church was and is, and he argues for a policeman while ignoring how many crimes happened not just under the eyes of, but frequently at the behest of the Catholic Church. The heresies that Chris condemns were not defeated by Christian charity and nonviolent resistance, nor even by something as blunt as argument or demographics. The heretics were supressed by violence and the threat of violence. Without state power to back it, the Catholic Church has managed to outlive some heresies, but it has policed none of them.

But Chris has anticipated some of this:

But, in all, I’d like folks to reflect on how their “anti-hierarchicalism” fails to consider how there are plenty of things worth kicking out of the Church. That it should be done, there should be little disagreement; how to do it is the hard part. (And if someone declares that hierarchy is the thing to be kicked out, we might then ask, by who? By what method would such egalitarians police the appropriate levels of egalitarianism? Its tricky.)

That’s a tough question. And it’s one that I don’t have an answer to. But identifying a tough question and finding a suitable solution are two very different things. I may have to worry about what to do with bigots in my church, but I do not have to worry about bigots with formal church authority over my conscience. And I don’t believe that Chris can say the same thing.

The next interview question has to do with Chris’ reaction to Catholicism’s stand on Just War Theory. Chris brings this back to ecclesiology as well, ending his response with:

While we never painted this tradition-preference with Catholic tones, we had a tone of refusing schism, of refusing to start a new “radical” church over and against the old one. We instead highlighted a path of refurbishing and participating in the crappy Church Peter handed down. That boundedness of the Body is a Catholic dogma that I heartily embrace and promote.

And here we see the inconsistency of the “preserving church unity” argument for Catholicism. I didn’t leave the Catholic Church because of the sex abuse scandal. I didn’t leave because I couldn’t participate in a church that condemned contraception. I left the Catholic Church because I thought it would be disrespectful to stay. I don’t mind being a dissenter in a church. My beliefs are different enough I expect to be dissenting wherever I go. But my Catholic upbringing lead me to believe that the Catholic hiearchy and a good number Catholic laymen would mind me being a dissenter in their Church. So I left.

I respect Chris’ desire to have both unity and some way to define what is not acceptable. I think, with the grace of God, it might be possible to have both. But you will not have both in the Catholic Church as it is currently constituted.

The interview ends with a question about the Catholic Church’s all-male hierarchy. Chris gives another Chesterton reference, which I now realize is a punt.

So many of my liberal friends wax nostalgically about “native religion”; but the natives were more democratic than we enlightened by modernity; for they included their ancestors in the voting process. Catholic tradition, as Chesterton penned, is the democracy of the dead. And democracy is always disappointing for many participants.

Except that we don’t really include our ancestors in the voting process. Their slavery, their torture, and their misogyny we denounce and ignore. Aquinas’ views about the proper role of women in society are not simply voted down, they are not consulted in the first place. This particular argument for tradition simply begs the question of which ancestral votes count and why?

The Catholic Church poses the right questions, and I think it poses them so compellingly that most people don’t get to the point of examining its answers. They’re questions that still trouble and haunt me, and leaving the Church has done nothing to resolve them. But asking the right questions is of no use at all if all your answers are wrong.

Philemon, A Study in Hierarchy   Leave a comment

Content Note: Authority, Slavery, Passive Aggression


I was reading Slactivist the other day when I came across this post about the Biblical book of Philemon (I’ve reproduced the full text of Philemon at the bottom of this post). I like Slacktivist. He does good work. His deconstruction of the Left Behind series is, for me, the gold standard of internet deconstructions.

But I did not like the post.

Actually, my reaction to what the post was saying was so negative that I realized I didn’t like the book of Philemon, either. The post was revealing because it demonstrated in a more straightforward way the screwed up power dynamics that are present in Philemon. Which is actually kind of sad, since the story of Philemon and Onesimus is mostly a nice story.

Once upon a time, Philemon was a man and a Christian, and Onesimus was his slave and a Christian. Onesimus ran away from his master, and came across a Christian named Paul. Paul and Onesimus took care of each other for a time, and then Paul sent Onesimus back to Philemon, expecting him to be welcomed not as a slave, but as a brother in Christ. Presumably, Onesimus was welcomed with open arms.

It’s a nice story, and there’s a lot of goodness in it. Paul even goes into it trying for the right effect. Paul requests that Onesimus be welcomes:

Therefore, although in Christ I could be bold and order you to do what you ought to do, yet I prefer to appeal to you on the basis of love.

That’s a nice thought, and a good idea.  It would be most beneficial for Philemon if Philemon acceded to Paul’s request because “He is very dear to me but even dearer to you, both as a fellow man and as a brother in the Lord.” That result is the one that would allow Onesimus to return “no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother.”

Unfortunately, that result is no longer possible. Why is that result no longer possible? Because hierarchy, that’s why.

Seriously. Paul can croon about how they’re all brothers in Christ, but it isn’t really true. And Paul knows it isn’t true. Let’s look at what else Paul says to Philemon, besides the Brothers in Christ bit.

I could be bold and order you.”

“If he has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me. 19 I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand. I will pay it back—not to mention that you owe me your very self.”

Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I ask.”

It should also be noted that the letter wasn’t just addressed to Philemon, but to Philemon, a few other people, and the entire church that meets at Philemon’s house. This was not Paul taking Philemon aside and saying, “This is what I think you should do.” No, this was Paul calling out Philemon in front of Philemon’s entire church. And Paul ends by saying that he’s planning to visit them soon. So Paul’s suggestion is accompanied with a “I’m going to be checking up on you soon, so don’t screw this up.”

Essentially, it is impossible that Philemon could refuse Paul’s request. Which also means, in many ways, it is impossible for Philemon to accept Paul’s request. Philemon can choose how to feel about following Paul’s order, but that’s basically it.

Which, I guess, isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

I mean, we’re talking about the difference between Onesimus being welcomed as an equal a Brother in Christ and Onesimus being punished for running away before returning to work as a slave. So Paul pulling rank isn’t necessarily a bad thing. At least in this situation.

And that’s the thing. Hierarchy can be useful. It can help. It can work for marginalized people as it did when the Civil Rights movement used the federal government to force state governments to clean up their acts. But it can’t ever be the foundation for a really Christian relationship.

“I prefer to appeal to you on the basis of love,” Paul writes. It’s a good thought. It’s the right thought. But given the hierarchal relationship between Paul and Philemon, it isn’t a workable thought. And so we find hierarchy, as it so often does, masquerading under the guise of a request that isn’t a request. But that’s what the book of Philemon is. It is a command posing as request. It is a letter based on a falsehood. It is hierarchy hiding itself in a polite lie. And we shouldn’t ever forget that when we read about Philemon and Onesimus.




New International Version (NIV)

Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother,

To Philemon our dear friend and fellow worker— also to Apphia our sister and Archippus our fellow soldier—and to the church that meets in your home:

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers, because I hear about your love for all his holy people and your faith in the Lord Jesus. I pray that your partnership with us in the faith may be effective in deepening your understanding of every good thing we share for the sake of Christ. Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people.

Therefore, although in Christ I could be bold and order you to do what you ought to do, yet I prefer to appeal to you on the basis of love. It is as none other than Paul—an old man and now also a prisoner of Christ Jesus— 10 that I appeal to you for my son Onesimus,[b] who became my son while I was in chains. 11 Formerly he was useless to you, but now he has become useful both to you and to me.

12 I am sending him—who is my very heart—back to you. 13 I would have liked to keep him with me so that he could take your place in helping me while I am in chains for the gospel. 14 But I did not want to do anything without your consent, so that any favor you do would not seem forced but would be voluntary. 15 Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back forever— 16 no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother. He is very dear to me but even dearer to you, both as a fellow man and as a brother in the Lord.

17 So if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would welcome me. 18 If he has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me. 19 I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand. I will pay it back—not to mention that you owe me your very self. 20 I do wish, brother, that I may have some benefit from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ. 21 Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I ask.

22 And one thing more: Prepare a guest room for me, because I hope to be restored to you in answer to your prayers.

23 Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends you greetings. 24 And so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas and Luke, my fellow workers.

25 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

The Bible   Leave a comment

I was thinking about writing a post criticizing a particular book of the Bible. But I realized it would be helpful to get a few things out of the way before I did that.

First, I consider myself a Christian. I believe that God actually became man, suffered, was crucified, and rose from the dead. I believe in the Trinity. I believe in heaven.

But my belief is a belief about reality. To me, the most reasonable explanation for something existing rather than nothing is God (which a completely different post entirely). And the God most likely to create everything we see is the Christian God, a God who would reach out to creation.

And that’s why I believe in Christianity. The Bible doesn’t add to that. In fact, I don’t really trust the Bible.

The God that I believe in is not the God of the Bible. Or, at least, not the God portrayed in parts of the Bible. My God would not command the genocide and ethnic cleansing of the Canaanites. He wouldn’t goad Pharaoh into provoking Him just so he could show off by killing a bunch of Egyptians. He wouldn’t do about a quarter of the things talked about in the minor prophets.

I don’t buy the “fear of the Lord” thing that’s so popular in the Old Testament, especially since, “Perfect love drives out fear.” I think Revelation is best ignored by people who don’t have the background information of a Biblical studies PhD student. And I don’t like the general thrust of Philemon, which I’ll talk about in my next post.

So I don’t trust the Bible. Period. End of story. I think it is the most important document in understanding Christian history, and there are more than a few really valuable things in it, but I don’t trust it.

I know people who say they read the document as the story of a loving God gradually revealling Himself to falible people who keep getting the message wrong. And I think there’s very likely some truth to that. But the fact of the matter is, if I want to know how to approach something as a Christian, I’m going to turn to Desmond Tutu a lot faster than I turn to the Bible. 

  Still, the Bible has provided the starting point for most Christians. It infuse Christian vocabulary, shapes Christian thought, and needs to be dealt with if one is going to engage with the broader Christian community. I just think it needs to be dealt with critically.

And I’ll do that in my next post.

A Reminder   Leave a comment

Content Note: Fat Shaming, Bullying, Ageism, Racism

I’ve been getting a frustrating reminder of why I left the Catholic Church.

I’ve been following several Catholic blogs so that I can maintain a Catholic vocabulary. I’ve been leaving comments (mostly negative, unfortunately) and trying to engage the bloggers and other commenters. I want to try to bridge the gap between where I am and where I was out of loyalty to the positive values I was raised with.

I have not been especially successful so far. Mostly people haven’t been engaging with me. But yesterday saw the beginning of an exchange that has reminded me why I left the Catholic Church in the first place. The exchange has been taking place on this post. The post is racist, fat shaming, and ageist. Basically, a white Catholic priest, writing in the “voice” of a female Spaniard (it’s worse than it sounds), tries to discredit his liturgical opponents by contrasting their Mass, where “only the old fat people who are singing” against his well attended Mass.

Pointing out the racism of the post, unfortunately, would have been pointless. White people like this priest are so used to reflexively denying their own racism, I wouldn’t have stood a chance of getting my point across, and the attempt probably would have compromised efforts in other areas. Maybe if I keep commenting on the blog, earn some level of respect, and get to the point where I can’t be dismissed out of hand, I’ll try to tackle that kind of racism. But I’m not there yet.

 But I did think I’d be able to take on the ageism and the fat shaming. I thought, “These insults would have been childish in middle school. Surely he won’t be that attached to them.” I really didn’t expect to meet much resistance.

As you’ve probably guessed, I was wrong. I was told that I had no sense of humor. I was told to lighten up. I was told that I was the one who was really fat shaming and ageist. I was not responded to, however. And that frustrates me. It annoys me. It saddens me. This priest is popular. He is respected in the English speaking Catholic community. And he is defending infantile and degrading insults he made.

But that isn’t the reminder I was talking about that I was correct to leave the Catholic Church. This priest is popular, but that doesn’t make him really representative. And for all I know, the failure of communication happened on my end. Maybe I could have pitched my message in a different form, less agressively, more forcefully, or more intelligently. The breakdown in communication wasn’t the real problem.

When I was a Catholic, I thought Catholicism was the best explanation for what happened in the world. I expected Catholics to be on the leading edge of the most important issues. Given the Catholic Church’s preferential option for the poor, I thought the Catholic Church knew best what those issues were.

But I realized anew in this exchange how untrue that is. It isn’t just that I can’t make myself clear to this one priest. It’s that I would be pleasantly surprised if any Catholic knew what a micro-aggression was. I do not expect individual Catholics, much less the Catholic hierarchy, to know how privilege functions. I don’t expect Catholics to know about rape culture. I don’t even expect Catholics to have proper understanding of victim blaming. The Catholic Church as a whole has not embraced these ideas. It isn’t using its impressive resources for spreading this information around. If anything, I would expect the hierarchy to actively resist these ideas. I would expect them to be dismissed as feminist or liberal whining.

The Catholic Church will not be able to serve the poor until it at least engages with these ideas. And it hasn’t engaged them. Intelligent Catholics, who are actually intelligent, don’t explore these ideas in any great numbers. And that’s why I’m not a Catholic. Not only does the Catholic Church as a whole not embrace these ideas, which I think it should. It doesn’t even engage with them.

How am I supposed to think the Catholic Church accurately grasps reality when it doesn’t even try to understand these ideas?