dThis issue marks, as you may have already noticed, the redesigned layout of First Things. The blame for all this belongs solely to me, the editor, for I’m the one who decided that the old layout had grown tired and stale. There has been, over the twenty years of the journal’s history, something self-assured and unapologetic about the purity of the unaesthetic presentation—a declaration that text is what matters and visual frills are a weakness for others to indulge.
These days, however, the Internet has taken over many of the purposes of magazines, including the task of simply making text available. Indeed, in certain ways, the Internet works better than the old system of print, if the goal is purely to make reading material available to the public.
That seems to me much too small an editorial goal. Not wrong, you understand, but somehow diminished and constrained as an aim. A magazine is more than the print edition of what can now be done more quickly online. First Things is about the words it contains, but it must also be about the things those words can do in a magazine.
We have experimented with pictures over the years, illustrating an occasional architecture article and running, back in the 1990s, a year-long series of glossy-page photographs of Christian signs from across America. But none of those quite clicked in the layout at the time, for they required something more systematic and complete about the visual presentation of the journal.
And so we have now undertaken the redesign that begins with this issue. In the public discussions of America, First Things works for several things. The fight, for example, with those who want to strip the world of its religious clothing and create the naked public square. The long struggle against the murderousness of abortion. The attempt to sort out the good of modern democracy and science from the horrors that have emerged through what we insist are wrong turns taken in the name of modernity. And, most of all, the effort to be physicians to this Iron Age in which we live—the effort to reinvest the world with the richness, thickness, and freshness that is found only in truly God-haunted nations and societies.
But, as a magazine, First Things also works to preserve the high culture of intellectual journals: a culture that is fading under pressure from the Internet, from the weak American financial situation, and, not to mince words, from the absurd decline of print standards in this country.
Many magazines have given up on poetry—and so we print poems. Many magazines have given up on the long-form reporting that was once the glory of American journalism—and so we want to showcase that kind of story. Many magazines have given up on intellectual essays—and so we continue to present them, as we have always done, to our readers. For that matter, many magazines have given up on superior and intellectually challenging crossword puzzles—and so (over some internal objections, I should note) I demanded that we pick up, as well, that fallen standard of journalism.
Most of all, American magazines these days seem to have given up on elegance—and so we decided to demand art covers, and interior photographs, and fine text layout.
In other words, First Things defiantly refuses to accept the diminished condition of American print today. The object in your hands must be a pleasure to hold and read—or what good is a printed journal, with the cacophony of the Web sounding all around us?
The new layout is intended as an announcement that we will do what we have always done, and more besides. The essays will be the deep and serious intellectual endeavors they have been before, marked by the rag paper interior. And wrapped around those essays will be illustrated pages that raise, on a hilltop, the old banners of beauty in print.
Readers hate change, for a while. There is a pattern in such things, and every redesign creates controversy—and rightly so, for, as our founder, Richard John Neuhaus, once described a friend of the magazine, “He’s a conservative by temperament, one of the people who would have complained on the second day of Creation.”
And, as I said, the blame for the redesign, if blame there is, should fall on me. The credit, however, goes to others. To David Blum, our new executive editor—a true editorial pro, who, in addition to his distinguished magazine and book writing, recently ran and revamped such publications as the Village Voice and the Harvard magazine 02138. To Mary Rose Rybak, our managing editor, whose organizing skills and upbeat nature made a stressful process almost pleasant. And to Luke Hayman, a National Magazine Award–winning partner of the Pentagram design house, who, together with his designer Shigeto Akiyama, creatively fulfilled the nearly impossible demand that First Things announce visually that it is what it has always been and more.
This redesign is intended as a declaration. It’s an announcement that this is a journal unlike any other in the world. That we will not pander. That we defy the small and weak-willed trends of our diminished moment. That beauty, and text, and content, and presentation, and the experience of reading all matter—and matter greatly, to us and to the world in which we live.
• Oh, my. “VU Aims to Move Beyond Tolerance,” the headline reads, above a local story about a public meeting to discuss new directions for Valparaiso University, as put forward by the school’s “Diversity Concerns Committee.” This aim is a not new thing, of course. From time to time in history, certain leaders and nations have tried to move beyond tolerance. Not that history remembers them fondly. Intolerance is usually the word for going beyond tolerance.
• When all Jews prayed, quipped the editor of a Reform prayer book of a past generation, one siddur (prayer book) sufficed for all; now that few Jews pray, there’s a different siddur for every taste. As Kevin Madigan and Jon Levenson explain in Resurrection: The Power of God for Christians and Jews, one reason for the prayer-book proliferation is that Reform Jews excise, and Conservative Jews qualify, the sine qua non of Jewish belief: resurrection of the dead.
Because resurrection is the subject of the first of the eighteen benedictions prayed daily by observant Jews, even the most duplicitous translators cannot quite rise to the occasion.
In his new book A Short History of the Jews, however, Michael Brenner of Brandeis University offers one of the ploys that seems to have become standard these days: “The Hebrew Bible occasionally mentions a resurrection of the dead, but it is only under Hellenistic influence that the doctrine of a new life after death acquires central importance.”
Greek doctrine, however, was dualist, separating body and soul, and it envisioned immortality in the perpetuation of the soul (not necessarily individual, either) despite the destruction of the body. Hebrew monism instead considers body and soul an indivisible entity, such that eternal life is unimaginable without the revival of the body as well as the soul.
This did not seem strange to the rabbis of antiquity; if something without life can gain life, they argued, all the more so should something that had life be able to regain life. Christianity explicitly rejected the Hellenistic notion, which lingered on in Gnostic heresies, in favor of the Hebrew one: Christians believe that Jesus did not rise from the dead as a metempsychotic vapor, but as a man in the flesh.
The modern sensibilities of the Jewish majority revolt against a belief that the rabbis of antiquity put foremost in Jewish prayer. It is one thing to deny a central precept of Judaism, though, and another to insidiously mistranslate prayers or falsify Jewish history.
• Back in December, the South Florida Sun Sentinel ran an article about Providence bishop Thomas Tobin and his pastoral correction of congressman Patrick Kennedy. This inspired a letter to the editor that read, in part: “In response to the letter on Dec. 5, I agree Bishop Thomas Tobin ought to be ashamed of himself. Did somebody die and leave him boss?” Why, yes; I believe someone did.
• There are those among us who debate the means of attaining eternal salvation, but for at least one creature in nature, settling for a finite earthly existence just doesn’t suffice. According to recent reports from biologists, Turritopsis nutricula, sometimes called the immortal jellyfish, continually restarts its life cycle with the same cells. By means of a process scientists call transdifferentiation, the jellyfish’s cells realize a form of potency far more impressive than that found in amphibians capable of regenerating lost limbs. The jellyfish apparently transdifferentiates throughout its existence, moving from polyp to adult and then back to polyp to restart the cycle. Such transformations of identity are the kind of stuff that makes insomniacs of metaphysicians.
• Seeking to expand its business abroad, the Virginia-based Genetics and IVF Institute held a rather unconventional raffle in March, during a free promotional seminar in London. According to news reports, one seminar attendee won the chance to select her “ideal donor egg based on its mother’s profession, ethnic background, hair color, qualifications, and upbringing.” Silly us, worried about the commodification of human life.
• Always, always, read the contract. 7,500 online shoppers learned this lesson the hard way in April, when the computer-game retailer GameStation revealed that its online terms and conditions included an immortal soul clause. Online customers had, wittingly or not, agreed to the following: “By placing an order via this web site on the first day of the fourth month of the year 2010 Anno Domini, you agree to grant Us a nontransferable option to claim, for now and forevermore, your immortal soul. Should We wish to exercise this option, you agree to surrender your immortal soul, and any claim you may have on it, within 5 (five) working days of receiving written notification from gamestation.co.uk or one of its duly authorized minions. We reserve the right to serve such notice in 6 (six) foot high letters of fire, however we can accept no liability for any loss or damage caused by such an act. If you a) do not believe you have an immortal soul, b) have already given it to another party, or c) do not wish to grant Us such a license, please click the link below to nullify this sub-clause and proceed with your transaction.”
Ah, the unbearable lightness of playing with Satanism.
• A German website called The Local (“Germany’s News in English”) notes that “Germans are losing their fear of climate change, according to a survey, with just 42 percent worried about global warming. It seems the long and chilly winter has taken its toll on climate-change sensibilities despite the fact that weather has nothing to do with climate.” So one can have rainy weather all the time and a dry climate? Modern science sure comes up with some remarkable discoveries.
• In a recent interview with the London Times, Sir Ian Wilmut, the embryologist who cloned Dolly
the sheep, said that induced pluripotent stem-cell research could revolutionize the treatment of genetic diseases: “The ‘ethical’ production of induced pluripotent stem (IPS) cells, developed from human skin cells rather than taken from human embryos, represented an opportunity to tackle some of the hundreds of inherited diseases that could prove as important as the way that medical science had conquered many infectious diseases over the past 200 years.”
Apparently, within the genus stem cells there are two species: ethically produced stem cells and stem cells taken from human embryos.
• The Chronicle of Higher Education reports on a new service for busy college professors that allows them to outsource their grading to online assistants in India, Singapore, and Malaysia. The graders work from rubrics provided by the professors and even tailor their critical comments to students to meet each professor’s particular style. The initial grading was “way too formal,” one professor reported. “We wanted our feedback to be conversational and more direct. So we sent them examples of how we wanted it done, and they did it.”
But why not cut out the middlemen altogether? The paper writers hired by the students can send the completed assignments straight to the graders hired by the professors.
• Advocates for homeschooling are well represented in the religious blogosphere, and they rarely miss an opportunity to point out elements of state-sponsored education that their children are mercifully spared. This April, they found a new one to ponder.
In Maple Shade, New Jersey, officials at Maude Wilkins Elementary School scrambled to apologize to parents after students were required to prepare costumes for a “cross-dressing” fashion show that was to take place at a school assembly. The goal of the assignment? To celebrate Women’s History Month and women’s changing roles and fashions. Because about half the students at Wilkins are boys, having them dress as women was the only way for them to make the grade.
• In 2005, German filmmaker Philip Gröning documented the lives of the Carthusian monks of the Grande Chartreuse monastery, in the French Alps. Gröning’s film, called Into Great Silence in English, became a worldwide phenomenon. Now British filmmaker Michael Whyte has turned a documentary lens on the Monastery of the Most Holy Trinity, a community of Carmelite sisters whose walled enclave sits not in a remote Alpine valley but amid the busy streets of London’s North Kensington. Whyte’s film, which chronicles a year in the life of the sisters, is called No Greater Love.
Bishop George Stack, the chairman of the Diocesan Department for Education and Formation in the Diocese of Westminster, calls the film “extraordinary.” A critic for the Guardian praises the film’s “haunting Vermeer visuals,” and the Telegraph headlines No Greater Love as “The wonderful film that shows what the Church does best.” Beneath that head, critic Andrew M. Brown notes that this film serves as a reminder “that the Church is made up mostly of good and humble people who . . . lead lives of quiet and holy devotion—praying for the rest of us.”
No Greater Love was released in theaters in Great Britain and Ireland starting in April. As of this writing, an American release has yet to be announced, but the film becomes available as a British-format DVD in June.
• In early March, despite widespread protests, King Juan Carlos of Spain signed into law a bill that legalizes abortion on demand during the first fourteen weeks of pregnancy and allows women as young as sixteen to obtain abortions without parental consent. Within days of the signing, a package containing a photograph of the king and queen arrived at Madrid’s Palacio de La Zarzuela. The sender, to whom the photo was personally inscribed, was a flight attendant who had served King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia on a flight to Rome.
“Today,” the sender wrote in an accompanying letter, “I feel a moral obligation to return this picture that I have treasured with great affection and pride.” And why? Because her king—a “supposedly Catholic monarch”—had signed “this murderous law that offends the sensibilities and the dignity of so many Spaniards,” and by doing so had abandoned women, undermined parental authority, and disengaged men from all responsibility.
The sender closed her letter by saying that she was sending back the photo “with great sorrow and disappointment.” Before doing so, however, she spoke briefly of some of the king’s other dealings with Spain’s socialist prime minister and reminded Juan Carlos of Winston Churchill’s words to Neville Chamberlain in 1938, after the latter signed the Munich Agreement with Adolf Hitler: “You were given the choice between war and dishonor. You chose dishonor and you will have war.”
• So many UFO books; so little time. Lights in the Sky & Little Green Men: A Rational Christian Look at UFOs and Extraterrestrials, by Hugh Ross, Kenneth R. Samples, and Mark Clark, is one of those books, and to the credit of its authors, it tries to offer a coherent Christian worldview on the subject. There are, in these pages, discussions about connections between UFO sightings and psychic phenomena, government cover-ups, abductions by aliens, and the like. But the two salient points seem to be, first, that the vast physical distances between suns and galaxies make interstellar and intergalactic travel impossible; and, second, that it doesn’t matter anyway because Earth is the only possible home for intelligent life like us. This means that all UFO activity yields to natural explanation, except for the sightings that can’t be naturally explained, in which case—back to that coherent Christian worldview—unexplained UFOs are best explained as an “interdimensional” manifestation of, um, demons.
We’ve heard of putting “God in the gaps” to explain open scientific questions, but sticking demons in to explain the unexplained has to be a first. The authors write: “For too long, the community of scientists and scholars who could and should be providing answers have avoided this [UFO] topic. We wanted to fill the gap . . .” Yup. Understand, we are not objecting to the notion that demons exist. But we do wish they’d stick to more traditional behaviors.
• At Fox News, Brenda Buttner is. So are Gretchen Carlson, Jamie Colby, Juliet Huddy, Terry Keenan, Martha MacCallum, Jane Skinner, Greta Van Susteren, Dana Perino, Christine Clayburg, and (by the way) Steve Doocy. Rebecca Diamond isn’t, unless the lighting is just right. Meanwhile, over at MSNBC, Rachel Maddow is not. Nor is Erin Burnett; neither, most certainly, is Keith Obermann. But Andrea Mitchel is, and so is Mika Brzezinski. (Brzezinski once reported for a Fox affiliate, though, so perhaps she doesn’t really belong on the MSNBC list.) This is our informal list of blond anchors, correspondents, analysts, and regular guests at the two chief cable-news competitors. Thus, in the competition for a cable presence that is blond—if there is a competition—Fox wins hands down. What does this mean? We don’t know. It’s just something we noticed. We report; you decide.
• On March 14, 2010, Richard Dawkins spoke at the 2010 Global Atheist Conference in Melbourne, Australia. At one point, Dawkins referred to Pope Pius XII as “Pope Nazi.” Dawkins is a zoologist by trade, not a historian. He is certainly entitled to express his opinions on Pius XII, but when he does so, people should remember that he speaks not as an expert or a scholar but as a layman—and, in this case, an ignorant one.
Dawkins’ description of Pius XII is interesting, given the celebrity atheist’s own previous statements regarding Jews. Here is what Dawkins told the left-wing British newspaper The Guardian in 2007: “When you think about how fantastically successful the Jewish lobby has been, though, in fact, they are less numerous I am told—religious Jews anyway—than atheists and [yet they] more or less monopolize American foreign policy as far as many people can see. So if atheists could achieve a small fraction of that influence, the world would be a better place.”
The Jewish lobby monopolizes U.S. foreign policy? Various neo-Nazis, Ku Klux Klan members, and anti-Israel extremists have been saying that for decades. On Beliefnet, our friend David Klinghoffer points out, “The very term itself, Jewish Lobby, is of course a shibboleth. No one uses it who is friendly to the Jews.”
Dawkins’ comments about the Jewish lobby in 2007 did not go unnoticed. In fact, individuals who normally agree with Dawkins were troubled by his comments. In an article for the online Huffington Post, David Berreby, the author of Us and Them: The Science of Identity (2008) and a self-described secularist, wrote, “Only one thing is clear: By casually echoing the rhetoric of anti-Semites, Dawkins has made a fool of himself and, by extension, those of us for whom he claims to speak.” On the Reason website, Ronald Bailey, an atheist, wrote that “those of us who esteem Dawkins are right to be distressed by this uncharacteristic lapse in judgment.”
What if a prominent Christian asserted that the Jewish lobby dictated U.S. foreign policy? We suspect that Dawkins would cite it to illustrate how intolerant and evil religion is. But since Dawkins is an atheist, he thinks he can get away with making outrageous and even bigoted statements.
• The New York Times is amused by the fact that Pope Pius XII has at least one Jewish defender. He is Mr. Gary Krupp, a retired medical-equipment dealer and the president and cofounder of the Pave the Way Foundation (PTWF), a nonprofit organization that seeks to improve relations among different religions. In 2000, Pope John Paul II honored Krupp for his charitable efforts by naming him a Knights commander of the Pontifical Equestrian Order of St . Gregory the Great.
In the last few years, Mr. Krupp has devoted himself to defending the reputation of Pope Pius XII. Mr. Krupp used to accept the common allegations against Pius XII, but after taking the time to study the evidence, he concluded that the wartime pope has gotten a bad rap. The Pave the Way Foundation’s website, www.ptwf.org, contains its research on the wartime pope and includes many primary-source documents.
Reporter Paul Vitello portrays Krupp as an eccentric and loose cannon whose work is dismissed by mainstream scholars. In fact, in the last decade, many new books have been published in Europe that defend Pius XII. Unfortunately, the work of these scholars in Italy, Germany, and France is largely unknown in the United States (and apparently to the staff of the New York Times).
As for Gary Krupp, is he really the only Jew who has a favorable opinion of Pius XII? Since the late 1990s, a number of Jewish scholars and writers have defended the pope’s reputation. They include Prof. William D. Rubenstein, who tore apart John Cornwell’s biased and unreliable Hitler’s Pope in these pages; our friend Rabbi David Dalin, who wrote The Myth of Hitler’s Pope (2002); Prof. Jacques Adler of Australia; Michael Tagliacozzo (who escaped the Nazi roundups of Jews in Rome and now lives in Israel); Serge Klarsfeld, the Holocaust survivor and Nazi hunter; Bernard Henri-Lévy, the French philosopher and Jewish atheist; and Great Britain’s Sir Martin Gilbert, the official biographer of Winston Churchill and a world-renowned authority on the Holocaust.
Earlier Jewish authors who defended Pius XII include: Leon Poliakov; Pinchas Lapide, the author of Three Popes and the Jews (1967); Jenö Levai, who testified as an expert witness at the trial of Adolf Eichmann and then wrote the book Hungarian Jewry and the Papacy: Pope Pius XII Did Not Remain Silent (1968); and David Herstig, the author of the German-language book Die Rettung (“The Rescue,” 1967). In 1963, when German playwright Rolf Hochhuth first turned Pius XII into a villain with The Deputy, Dr. Joseph L. Licthen, the late interfaith director of the Anti-Defamation League, wrote a persuasive monograph, “A Question of Judgment: Pope Pius XII and the Jews,” which can be found on the Internet. Clearly, Gary Krupp has company.
• In his books, magazine articles, book reviews, columns for the Boston Globe, and interviews with the media, novelist James Carroll has made it clear that he rejects the Catholic doctrine of papal infallibility. According to this teaching, the pope has infallibility when he speaks on the two limited areas of faith and morals. In a recent column for the Boston Globe (“Rescue Catholicism From Vatican”), Carroll attempts to explain how and why the Catholic Church decided to make the pope infallible. “The pope was a supreme ruler only over the papal territories in Italy, and when he lost those in the humiliations of 1870, Catholic bishops rallied to him at the simultaneous Vatican Council I,” Carroll wrote. “His political collapse led to his spiritual elevation, with the bishops only then promulgating papal infallibility.” As usual, Carroll displays his ignorance of history.
In his 2001 book Constantine’s Sword: The Church and the Jews, Carroll admitted that Pope Pius IX employed infallibility in 1854 to define the teaching of the Immaculate Conception, which states that Mary, as the Mother of Jesus Christ, was conceived without sin. But did the bishops really give Pius IX infallibility because he lost his temporal power when the Papal States were dissolved and absorbed by Italy?
In fact, there is no connection between the two events (except maybe in James Carroll’s mind), despite their taking place in the same year. The Kingdom of Italy invaded the Papal States on September 10, 1870, and occupied Rome ten days later. The First Vatican Council formally declared papal infallibility as Church teaching about two months earlier, on July 18, 1870, when it passed
the First Dogmatic Constitution on the Church of Christ. At the time, the pope still had his temporal power as the sovereign of the Papal States.
Of course, Carroll could have avoided this mistake by simply checking his dates. But this might be too much to ask of someone who thinks he is infallible when he writes about Catholicism.
The Bookseller, the British magazine that covers the publishing industry, has awarded its 2009 Diagram Prize for the Oddest Book Title of the Year to Dr. Daina Taimina’s Crocheting Adventures with Hyperbolic Planes. In her article for The Bookseller’s website, Catherine Neilan explains that the award was “originally conceived as a way to avoid boredom at the annual Frankfurt Book Fair, and was first awarded to Proceedings of the Second International Workshop on Nude Mice in 1978.” Since 2000, the winner has been picked by ordinary people, who send in their votes. Taimina’s book won 42 percent of the votes cast, finishing ahead of Tara Jensen-Meyer’s What Kind of Bean Is This Chihuahua? (30 percent) and James A. Yannes’ Collectible Spoons of the Third Reich (11 percent).
Since the Diagram Prize receives extensive attention in the media and on the Internet, winners (who receive a magnum of champagne) and runners-up can sell more copies of their oddly titled books because of the additional publicity. In fact, some publishers give their books odd titles in order to compete for the prize.
Past winners include The Big Book of Lesbian Horse Stories (2003), by Alisa Surkis and Monica Nolan; People Who Don’t Know They’re Dead: How They Attach Themselves to Unsuspecting Bystanders and What to Do About It (2005), by Gary Leon Hill; and The Stray Shopping Carts of Eastern North America: A Guide to Field Identification (2006), by Julian Montague.
Can I suggest a few books from years past that should have been nominated for the Diagram Prize but were overlooked? I have in mind, perhaps, My Struggle for Freedom by Hans Küng and Practicing Catholic by James Carroll.
• On April 1, Governor Ted Kulongoski of Oregon, a Democrat, signed a bill that repealed a law that banned teachers in public schools from wearing any religious clothing. Under the old law, Jewish teachers couldn’t wear yarmulkes, Sikhs couldn’t wear turbans, and Muslim women couldn’t wear head scarves. Groups as diverse as the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, the Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon, the American Islamic Congress, the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland, the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund, and the Anti-Defamation League supported repealing the law. Nebraska and Pennsylvania remain the only two states in the nation that still have a similar law.
The Oregon state legislature passed the original law in 1923, during a wave of Nativist sentiment fueled by the Ku Klux Klan and other groups. The purpose of the law was to keep Catholic priests and nuns from teaching in public schools. The law was one of several Nativist measures, aimed at Catholics and immigrants, that the state legislature passed at the time. Other laws required immigrants who owned businesses to display signs indicating their national origin and banned Japanese immigrants from owning property.
The Oregon chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union supported maintaining the ban on religious clothing in public schools, arguing that it protected students from improper religious influence. Once again, the ACLU supported a law that was passed as an explicitly discriminatory measure. In recent years the ACLU also has championed the “Blaine Amendments” that were added to many state constitutions in the nineteenth century. The Blaine Amendments, which also were initiated by Nativists fearful of Catholicism and which remain in place in many states, ban any state aid to private, religious schools.
Eric Rassbach, the Becket Fund’s national litigation director, hopes Nebraska and Pennsylvania eventually will follow Oregon in repealing the religious clothing ban in their public schools. “Anti-Catholic laws like these are Jim Crow’s lesser-known cousins, and they make everyone, not just Catholics, less free,” Rassbach says.
• If you could ask history’s great Anglicans, starting with Thomas Cranmer and Richard Hooker and proceeding through Samuel Johnson to C.S. Lewis, to identify their descendants, they would choose not the Episcopal Church but the small Traditional Anglican Communion that left the mainline body thirty-three years ago. The Episcopal Church, with its diversity of “sexualities” and belief, probably would look to them like one of the wilder episodes of the early Church.
It is particularly interesting, therefore, that the Traditional Anglican Communion’s American bishops have voted to accept the pope’s offer of a body within the Catholic Church specifically for ex-Anglicans. Offered in the apostolic constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus in November 2009, this “ordinariate” preserves some Anglican traditions and parts of Anglican liturgy.
Anglicans often refer to becoming Catholic as “crossing the Tiber” and joke about the quality and temperature of the water, but it’s the life on the other bank that keeps many of them dry. Benedict has built a bridge across the river to save them the swim, and the traditionalist bishops want to walk across. It’s a question, already raised by some dissenting members, of how many of their people want to cross with them. They may not have to swim over, but they still need to live in Rome.
• It can be difficult, Rosemary Lain-Priestley remarks in the London Times, to juggle marriage, motherhood, and priesthood. Many clergywomen are “perplexed by how to provide for pre-school children when [their] stipend doesn’t cover the cost of childcare, by the lack of part-time parish roles because two families cannot share one vicarage, and by how to construct a diary responsive to the needs of funeral directors and parishioners in crisis as well as [their] partner and children.”
Lain-Priestley wonders how the priesthood might be made to better fit women: “The Church has always sought to adapt its ministries to the needs and opportunities of the world around it. Traditional clergy jobs within parishes, cathedrals, and chaplaincies are continually being reshaped by imaginative and energized priests. But some of us whose lives do not dovetail with such roles have begun to ask whether priesthood might unfold in us in other ways.”
All this brings back to mind the opening lines of one of C.S. Lewis’ essays on the topic, in which he quotes Jane Austen: “‘I should like balls infinitely better,’ said Caroline Bingley, ‘if they were carried on in a different manner. . . . It would surely be much more rational if conversation instead of dancing made the order of the day.’”
“‘Much more rational, I dare say,’ replied her brother, ‘but it would not be near so much like a ball.’”
WHILE WE’RE AT IT SOURCES: Valparaiso Diversity, Post-Tribune of Northwest Indiana, March 26, 2010. Letter to the editor, South Florida Sun Sentinel, December 21, 2009. Immortal jellyfish, blogs.currentprotocols.com, April 6, 2010. Egg raffle, Daily Mail (London), March 16, 2010. Immortal soul clause, FoxNews.com, April 15, 2010. Germans and climate change, thelocal.de, March 27, 2010. Stem cells, The Times (London), March 26, 2010. Outsourcing grading, Chronicle of Higher Education, April 4, 2010. Cross-dressing school, LifeSiteNews.com, April 15, 2010. Film of nuns, rcdow.org.uk, April 7, 2010; guardian.co.uk, April 8, 2010; blogs.telegraph.co.uk, April 7, 2010. Returned photo, Catholic News Agency, April 8, 2010; LifeSiteNews.com, March 5, 2010; vistazoalaprensa.com, April 10, 2010. Richard Dawkins, Atheistmedia.com, March 30, 2010; The Guardian, October 1, 2007; Beliefnet.com, September 29, 2009; Huffingtonpost.com, October 16, 2007; Reason.com, October 9, 2007. Gary Krupp, New York Times, March 7, 2010. James Carroll, Boston Globe, April 5, 2010. Diagram Prize, thebookseller.com, March 26, 2010. Oregon’s religious-clothing law, kezi.com, April 1, 2010; bluebook.state.or.us; becketfund.org, February 3, 2009, and April 1, 2010; oregonlive.com, February 21, 2010; Albany, Oregon, Democrat-Herald, February 10, 2010; aclu.org, July 24, 2007. Crossing the Tiber, National Catholic Register, March 7, 2010. Women and the priesthood, the Times (London), January 15, 2010.
WWAI TIPS: Stephen M. Barr, Dimitri Cavalli, Meghan Duke, David P. Goldman, Ben Hulst, Mary Ellen Kelly, Ryan Sayre Patrico, Russell E. Saltzman, Kevin Staley-Joyce.