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No grouching from me today! At least in this post- maybe later.
I just wanted to share two wonderful bits out of my morning’s reading.
The first: “Finding Joy in the Kitchen with the Help of Brother Lawrence” from David Russel Mosley of Letters From The Edge Of Eflland here on Patheos Catholic. Today he was able find some simple peace in the ordinary as refuge of from the day’s frustrations. One thing that stood out to me particularly was his remark about why Brother Lawrence usually frustrates him – not because of Brother Lawrence but because of the way he sometimes get spin-doctored by scholars. (Sounds like my experience of Thomas Aquinas.) There is much that can be said for that- putting aside frustration, even merited frustration and taking a fresh look around. Mosley writes:
“For Brother Lawrence, it didn’t matter what he was doing, he was capable of filling his mind with heavenly things. It seems almost as if for the good monk, it wasn’t ora et labora but ora est labora, not prayer and work, but prayer is work (or work is prayer). Now, I am no Brother Lawrence. My mind is not perpetually filled with the things of God. But today, while I was cleaning the dishes, I was able to see a little more clearly. I was a little happier, I was able to deal with my children a little better.”
Completely different in topic, tone and style was this piece, “Feminism Hasn’t Lost its Soul” from Helen Alvaré writing for America Magazine. What the two posts have in common is stepping back and trying to look at things afresh. This column is a welcome break both from internet commentators who bash random targets they label “feminist” without caring whether the targets either A) exist or B) are in any sense “feminist;” as well as from the assumption that everything that goes under the “feminist” label is good. It’s not that either voice or even the choice between them dominate every conversation about feminism, but both are too common. Alvaré reminds us that feminism can have its own identity without being dragged into such disputes. She also reminds us that feminism has always had a lot more to do with recognizing the vulnerable than with playing to political divides. She writes:
In the 1970s, when feminism got loud and national and had something approaching traction in the United States, it claimed that it would “do politics” and “do business” with a new focus. The focus would be people, not processes or power. It would be the vulnerable, not the usual recipients of government or corporate largesse.
I am not sure that her critical remarks about contemporary feminist leadership aren’t overstated, but there are certainly prominent voices that they fit perfectly. Similarly while they are indeed many “grass-roots women who go about their business while ignoring or eschewing the feminist label” and who fulfill in their lives and work the aspirations of earlier feminist ideals, there also of course many women who do so without forsaking the label. Nonetheless she has a lot to say and I hope you have a moment to read her article.