Tuesday, November 19, 2013

In the News: Cheneys, Zimmerman Again, UMC Censure of Pastor, Women's Special Roles, Doris Lessing

Don't you love Thanksgiving? The holiday when we celebrate good, all-American families and good, all-American family values? But then there's this:

Liz Hackett thinks the Cheney Thanksgiving show may be worth watching this year (with turkey and dressing rather than popcorn, one assumes):

For Howard Fineman, the Cheney family Thanksgiving show this year may have overtones of King Lear:

There are more than a few similarities between former Vice President Dick Cheney and King Lear: old men obsessed with the loss of power, attempting to pass their kingdoms on to ambitious daughters, each served by a loyal Fool for whom he cared to a pitiable degree.

And then there's the fact that both Lear and Dick are "surrounded by a raging sea of three women."

For families like the Cheneys, who will be roiled by gay issues--and the reality of gay people sitting, God help us, at the Thanksgiving table in front of God and everyone--this Thanksgiving, Steven Petrow offers helpful advice as he asks, "Why is the Thanksgiving feast so often upstaged by family dramas like this one?"

Another family show we may want to watch this Thanksgiving--but at a distance perhaps: the George Zimmerman show. I had known that Zimmerman and his wife were in troubled waters following his trial and the series of brushes with the law that ensued after that, but if I had read that he was now with another woman, that information had gone in one ear and out the other.

Here's Samantha Scheibe's account of Zimmerman's rampage yesterday--with a shotgun--at her house. 

And more family dramas as American as apple pie: last evening, United Methodist pastor Rev. Frank Schaefer was found guilty by a church court of officiating at his son's wedding. I'll leave it to you to figure out the kind of wedding that the UMC found objectionable. No happy prelude to Thanksgiving in this story.

And moving from family stories: it's hard for me to read the recent commentary of Fox Business host Stuart Varney on the "differences" between male and female brains without thinking of Pope Francis's observation that the Catholic church needs a theology of women. Varney asks--swear to God--"Is there something about the female brain that is a deterrent for getting on board with tech? Is there?"

Personally, I find it rather difficult to distinguish between the worldview that lies behind this astonishing remark and the worldview sustained in Pope John Paul II's theology of the body, with its complementarian view of males and females, which imagines that the bodies and souls of men and women are designed to serve different ends. And anyone who questions the gender lines that shine so bright for the Catholic hierarchy is rebelling against the God who designed things to work this way.

Isn't it interesting that, when men assign women separate spheres of activity on the basis of women's "nature," those spheres just always happen to turn out to be subordinate to and ornamental for the spheres men choose for themselves? Maybe Francis meant something very different with his comment about the theology of women, but as long as he echoes John Paul II's notion of gender complementarity, it's difficult for me to hear anything new or redemptive in his remark about a theology of women.

Finally, Doris Lessing, whose death I mentioned on Sunday: among many wonderful remembrances of her I've read online since then, Meg Waite Clayton's HuffPo list of 11 bits of wisdom from Lessing stands out. The first in the list especially catches my eye:

You should write, first of all, to please yourself. You shouldn't care a damn about anybody else at all. But writing cant be a way of life, the important part of writing is living. You have to live in such a way that your writing emerges from it (from A Small, Personal Voice).

The graphic is by Mike Luckovich of Atlanta Journal-Constitution by way of Truthdig. 

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