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Sex and Secularism
by joan wallach scott
princeton, 240 pages, $27.95

While traveling in Spain about twenty years ago, I attended the nearest Ash Wednesday Mass I could find. Upon returning from the communion line, I realized that, aside from the priest, I was the only male present. Catholicism, it seemed, was for women, especially older women. Statistics on Mass attendance bear this out, though the gap has narrowed over the past twenty years as Mass attendance, generally, declines.

Even when we acknowledge the gender disparity in religious practice, we rarely think it through. Christians call God “Father,” believe that God became incarnate as a man named ­Jesus, and transmitted his message to a group of male apostles. How did this faith become the domain of women? The answer lies at the very heart of secularism.

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