Thursday, August 26, 2010

Catholicism: Making Room or Putting Others in Their Places?

And so here's what it comes down to, when all is said and done.  Here's my bottom line, as I think through that mystifying, rabid insistence of many Catholics and many other religious groups working with Catholics today on "family" issues--the insistence that, in the end, the life of faith is all about keeping men men and women women.

Here's my conclusion as I think about the entirely misguided notion that preserving sacred categories of masculinity and femininity is the most central theological and moral challenge facing faith communities throughout history and the best they have to offer a world seeking spiritual inspiration and contact with the divine today:

When Catholicism is authentic, when it is faithful to its best instincts and its bedrock convictions, it is all about making room for others.

Not about about putting others in their places.

Making room.  Not putting people in their places.

Making room expands us, calls on us to reexamine our presuppositions about who belongs and who doesn’t.  It makes our boundaries permeable and teaches us humility and tolerance.

Putting others in their places hardens us, makes our boundary lines brittle and defensive.  It deludes us into thinking that we have all the answers in ourselves, and thus undercuts humility and compassion.

We should always set an extra place at  our table, if we care about what cathoicism really means.  We never know who's going to show up.  But we can safely predict that someone will always do so. 

To the extent that Catholicism today is jettisoning its catholic heritage of making room for others as it pursues an agenda of putting others in their places--keeping men men and women women--to that extent, it is losing sight of its most central mission and its deepest impulse.  To that extent it is abandoning catholicity.