I’m plowing through my mail from last week…

…and so only got to this today.

Leah Libresco, my favorite atheist, writes:

I ended up doing a bit for my blog that was more about how to have a productive discussion/ask questions when something looks like sexist practice, but we don’t know for sure yet. You were my good example.

I noticed a number of your commenters seemed to think the main reason people liked communal washing of the feet was because it was so nice, where nice is pronounced bland or anodyne. I thought you might be interested in linking to my post about attending Maundy Thursday services last year , I didn’t find it soft, I found it terrifying. It made me confront how little I like accepting help from others, even in a ritual where everyone was receiving the same kind of service.

This reminds me of something I sometimes want to say to cradle Catholics, particularly of the traditionalist stripe: namely, many such folks don’t seem to have a very good gauge of how powerful the faith is. Chesterton once remarked that “Christianity even when watered down is hot enough to boil all modern society to rags. The mere minimum of the Church would be a deadly ultimatum to the world.” I can totally appreciate Leah’s experience of feeling terrified. Those who are used to Christian things can forget how strange and powerful they are. I have lively memories of how much I felt like a fish out of water, surrounded by people and things I did not understand and how I felt quite intimidated by (as Leah notes) a Thing that required of me a vulnerability I liked about as well as I like a doctor’s request to strip naked.

Leah, you’ve got moxie and intellectual curiosity. Well done!

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