Jenny Sanford, Catholic heroine?

LadiesoftheOT-746681As interesting as South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford’s bizarre and tormented press conference was — the one where he announced he had something going on with an Argentinian woman, it was his wife’s statement about the matter that I found the most intriguing. In her statement, she overtly references her Christian faith, even quoting scripture.

However, the subtext of the letter is also Christian. Or, as Salon’s editor-in-chief subtly says, she “sounded creepy Christian right themes.” You know, creepy stuff such as the sanctity, dignity and importance of marriage. About the importance of reconciliation and forgiveness. Here’s a sample:

I believe enduring love is primarily a commitment and an act of will, and for a marriage to be successful, that commitment must be reciprocal. I believe Mark has earned a chance to resurrect our marriage.

Psalm 127 states that sons are a gift from the Lord and children a reward from Him. I will continue to pour my energy into raising our sons to be honorable young men. I remain willing to forgive Mark completely for his indiscretions and to welcome him back, in time, if he continues to work toward reconciliation with a true spirit of humility and repentance.

I don’t know Jenny Sanford from Eve, but it made me curious about her religious views. Her husband referenced some evangelical groups during his press conference, and Wikipedia lists his religious affiliation as Episcopal. Both of the spouses have some strong religious views as evidenced in their statements. I’d like to know more about them.

Unfortunately, the Washington Post piece that should answer those questions really fails. It’s all about how South Carolina’s First Lady has handled her addlepated husband’s infidelity:

Friends said the written statement she issued was classic Jenny Sanford. She told the world that she loves her husband and would strive to repair their marriage, but that she asked him to leave because it was “important to look my sons in the eyes and maintain my dignity, self-respect and my basic sense of right and wrong.”

“Did you read her statement?” asked Marjory Wentworth, a family friend and South Carolina’s poet laureate. “Brilliant, gracious, effervescent.”

Jennifer Sullivan Sanford was born into a wealthy Irish Catholic family in suburban Chicago and graduated magna cum laude from Georgetown University with a degree in finance. She took a job handling mergers and acquisitions on Wall Street, rising to become a vice president at Lazard Freres & Co.

So she’s Catholic? If so, that’s interesting, considering her husband isn’t. If she’s not, what is she? Where does she go to church? What do we know about her religious views? It’s such an obvious elephant in the room but no one is digging into them. The only description of her religious affiliation that we get is that she was born into a Catholic family. So bizarre.

Speaking of bizarre, here’s the other religious reference in the piece:

Sanford, who still speaks with a hint of a Chicago accent, combines the grace and hospitality of a Southern belle with the street-smart toughness of a Northern businesswoman. Campaign staffers joked that she is “an Old Testament woman with a 170 IQ.”

I’ve been a Christian my whole life and I honestly don’t know what this “joke” means. Is it that Old Testament women are dumb? What’s the joke? I’ve read the Old Testament and I recall there being, to put it mildly, more than one type of woman. Are Eve, Deborah, Jael and Sarah tough but Mary, Elizabeth and Mary Magdalene wusses? Or is it a reference to the notion that the God of the Old Testament is tough as opposed to the “nice” God of the New? Seriously, is there some Southern cultural reference I’m not getting? I’m all for colorful quotes, but it seems to me that you have to set it up a bit better than this.

The bottom line is that religion is oozing out all over this story but the reporters seem ill equipped to handle it. Of course, when you are so Biblically illiterate that you think Psalm 127 is about how male children are superior to female children, perhaps we’re lucky that the reporters are missing the obvious.

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  • Roberto Rivera

    Campaign staffers joked that she is β€œan Old Testament woman with a 170 IQ.”

    I suspect this means that she combines traditional views with a modern high-achieving personality. She quotes the Psalms and was a VP at a major investment bank.
    The locution was awkward and rather cliched but, to be fair, you don’t come across this combination every day.

  • finely

    What is this male children are superior to female children? Did Mrs. Sanford say that? Does the Bible say that? Or was it a Salon misquote that you didn’t even bother to check? (Hint: Salon isn’t the best source for objective news on religion.)

    “Behold, children are a gift of the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one’s youth.” (Psalm 127:3,4

  • finely

    Oops. Did I misunderstand the intent of your Salon quote? Sorry!

  • Bruce

    Sanford has 4 sons and was speaking from the context her life, so I think we can cut her a little slack on the quote.

  • thunderstorm

    I can tell Jenny is tough as nails, the luv guv is not going to have it easy.

  • thunderstorm

    As for the feminist who complained about the four sons, I am sure you are smart enough to recognize it’s not about you and your sensibilities.

  • http://vagantepriest.blogspot.com/ FrGregACCA

    Re: “Old Testament woman”.

    I think the term down here is “Steel Magnolia”.

  • Martha

    Her maiden name is Sullivan?

    Governor, you don’t mess with Irish women. Start grovelling now and you might be allowed back in the house before the end of the decade :-)

  • http://notionscapital.com Mike Licht

    Just why did the Governor talk to AP on Tuesday, anyway? Simple: he’s paving the way for his next job.
    He told reporters that he counseled Ms. Chapur on her failing marriage..

    Look out Dr. Phil!

    See:

    http://notionscapital.wordpress.com/2009/06/30/mark-sanford-hes-back/

  • Northcoast

    Maybe the Wapo writer was just trying too hard to be clever contrasting stereotypes. Concerning OT women, one might read Prov. 31.

    Finely, my NIV and NRSV Bibles read ‘sons of one’s youth’ where you quote ‘children of one’s youth.’

  • dalea

    According to Wikipedia, Jenny Sanford is the granddaughter of the inventor of the portable electric saw and founder of the Skil Corporation. The press coverage has been fascinating to follow. What surprises me is that the press has not interviewed the Argentinian woman, she really needs to chime in for complete coverage. FireDogLake has an interesting take from the Left on this circus:

    http://firedoglake.com/2009/06/24/decoding-jenny-sanfords-dog-whistles/

  • Whathappened

    The Gov said something like “she is coping like a christian woman” I wonder what that means? does anyone have an idea

  • Stephen

    Mrs. Betty Bowers, America’s Best Christian, explains Traditional Marriage directly from the Bible. It’s a short, 4-minute video that will leave you both educated and astounded:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OFkeKKszXTw

  • Julia

    If the guv’s wife was Catholic she would read this version of Psalm 127:3,4 from the US Catholic Bishop’s Conference website.

    3
    Children too are a gift from the LORD, the fruit of the womb, a reward.
    4
    Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children born in one’s youth.

  • David

    You should know that, according to their wedding announcement (Available here: http://www.nytimes.com/1989/11/05/style/miss-sullivan-weds-m-c-sanford-jr.html) their marriage was performed by a Roman Catholic priest.

  • EJ

    In my Irish Catholic family an Episcopalian was defined as a Catholic who turned Republican. When a Democratic politician in South Carolina (Jimmy Byrnes) did it when that was the only party in the state Irish Catholic bosses referred to him as a dirty Apostate. Considering her north shore origins and family wealth I suspect she was probably a Republican whether or not she became an Episcopalian. The one thing that Mark Sanford should remember about the Irish, who are sterotyped for their temper, is the other old adage of don’t get mad, get even. Only time will tell.


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