Friday, September 25, 2015

Being Nice to the Women

Hallelujah, the Catholic Church's inquisition against its American nuns is over!

Pope Francis made a point of praising these women in his speech at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York
City on September 24.

The Leadership Conference of Women Religious is officially off the hook and publicly praised.

But really, not much has changed.  The Women's Ordination Conference was not praised or mentioned.

Earlier this week Fr. Jack McClure was removed from ministry for speaking at the Women's Ordination Worldwide conference in Philadelphia on the weekend of Sept. 20-21.  He is the fourth priest to be sanctioned for supporting the ordination of women.

Francis is correcting the error of his most recent predecessor, but he has not yet crossed the big line of changing women's second-class status in the church.

Words are cheap.  Ending the mistaken oppression of of women by Pope Benedict XVI is a no-brainer.

If these are preliminary steps to actual change for Catholic women, I will applaud Pope Francis.

But if he is just being nice to women without substantive change down the road, may he have a road-to-Damascus event like St. Paul.

May he hear the voice of God and be blinded--so that his eyes may be opened.

Dorothy Day & Pope Francis

Dorothy Day and Pope Francis are definitely kindred spirits.  

How perfect for him to cite her while speaking to our Republican-dominated House of Representatives!

Here's a sample quote from Day archives, courtesy of the Washington Post:

"We need to change the system," Day wrote in 1956. "We need to overthrow, not the government, as the authorities are always accusing the Communists 'of conspiring to teach [us] to do,' but this rotten, decadent, putrid industrial capitalist system which breeds such suffering in the whited sepulcher of New York."

Take that, you anti-Obama care capitalists!

It's interesting that her having a child while unmarried did not deter him from speaking of her with admiration.  Would he have done so if she had had an abortion?

While speaking at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City, he praised the US Catholic nuns who endured an inquisition under his predecessor (who is still living--wonder what he thinks of all this!

Perhaps praising the Catholic nuns and citing Dorothy Day is the Pope's easy way of gaining ground with women, while doing nothing about women's ordination.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Long View of Immigration

Thank you to Jonathan Portes of the UK's National Institute of Economic and Social Research for his report on the ancient and honorable human practice of migration into already-inhabited parts of the world, such as the British Isles.

"How did we get here? A short and unreliable account of immigration to the UK" is the title.

The Celts – who arrived in the first millenium BC – are believed to have originated on the Russian steppes, and so the language(s) spoken here have long been part of the Indo-European family, derived from Sanskrit and which includes Hindu and Punjabi as well as French and Greek. 

After the Celts, there were Angles, Saxons, Danes, and Franks/Normans, who spoke French.  

William, the Norman Conqueror, invited in Jews for their financial services, but two centuries later Edward I expelled them.

The reason was of course economic; unlike Christians, Jews were not debarred from usury (moneylending) and were thus able to provide important financial services to the King and ruling elite. 

The next major waves of immigration were related to religious persecution, both of Dutch to England and Puritan English to Holland and to North America.  There were even refugee processing centers set up for the Dutch arriving in England.

From the 18th century through the present, there has been immigration from various parts of the British Empire and then the Commonwealth.

Recent immigration is caused by globalization, free movement of labor in the European Union, and asylum-seekers fleeing armed conflict and persecution.  

Portes concludes that:
Britain has benefited considerably, in both economic and cultural terms, as a result. In retrospect, those benefits are widely accepted... However, those benefits were rarely recognized at the time.

My question:  When will the nations of world accept immigration as a fact of life and stop using national borders as an excuse for rejecting newcomers?

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Panel on "Suffragette"

What a pleasure to hear Meryl Steep and others discuss Suffragette in a park at the Telluride Film Festival, September 2015.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Suffering the film Suffragette

I'm a nervous wreck from watching the new film Suffragette at the Telluride Film Festival.

Tonight was the world premiere.  Director Sarah Gavron introduced the film and her producers Allison Owen and Faye Ward--and Meryl Streep, whom she chose to play Emmeline Pankhurst, leader of the British movement for women's right to vote.

This film has all the violence of ten years of militant suffragist efforts packed into less than two hours.

It's not a documentary.  It's a gutter-level depiction of demonstrations, riots, police brutality, workplace violence and sexual harassment, force-feeding, marital violence (mostly off-scene), and suicide.  

I guess it was made for the generation that likes action films and street chases.  At times, it's almost a Bruce Lee kind of film.  Repeatedly I cringed to cover my ears and eyes.

Yes, Carey Mulligan was very good as Maud Watts, the young laundry worker who loses her marriage and her son when she is repeatedly jailed after being drawn into the movement.  Her conversion is believable when we learn about the years of sexual abuse she has endured from her employer.  Screenwriter Abi Morgan built a credible fiction around Maud and the historical characters.

Ben Whishaw convincingly portrays Maud's husband, a loving man who nevertheless can't abide a wife turned activist and turns her out, denying access to her son.

Meryl Streep was very elegant as Pankhurst, but it was impossible to forget who she is and believe in her as the character.  Sadly, an actor can be so famous that she can't become anyone but herself.  


The politically correct term for these activists is suffragist.  The diminutive "-ette" has been dropped by the women's movement.  Someone probably decided he or she could draw more viewers with the outdated term or perhaps wanted to keep the historically derogatory implications of suffragette.

Further footnotes:  

It was a rainy day and evening.  Because I did not buy a pass to the whole festival, I had to sit under an awning for two hours in hopes of being allowed to buy a ticket after the passholders entered the Werner Herzog Theatre.  

My two dogs ran in circles through the crowd as I waited, and finally I walked them to the car in the rain so I could enter the venue.  Optimistically, I had not brought a rain jacket or umbrella.

When I found a seat, I sat down soaked and chilled, thinking that the $30 ticket and the hours of waiting in the rain were not worth it, however good the film might be.

Within ten minutes I changed my mind, however.  Maud Watts's testimony before Prime Minister David Lloyd George and Parliament brought tears to my eyes.

Mulligans' words and acting were very moving, as was Anne-Marie Duff in portraying Violet Miller, the woman prevented from testifying by her black eye and bleeding face, inflicted by her husband the previous night.

Also memorable were Streep's words as Pankhurst: "I incite this meeting and all the women in Britain to rebellion.  I would rather be a rebel than a slave!"