Month: July 2012

#Giving It All

Can anyone have it all?  Anne-Marie Slaughter’s recent cover story in Atlantic Monthly, “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All” unleashed a firestorm of controversy on just this question, including a stream of Twitters under the hashtag “Having It All.”  Just when we thought it was over, Yahoo’s new CEO announced she was pregnant but would not by taking more than a few weeks off to give birth. Marissa Mayer called maternity leave outdated and unnecessary in a world where we can be “on” 24/7, thanks to technology. Slaughter wants a society in which men and women can more gracefully balance work and family life, while Mayer asserts that she will parent the way highly powerful men always have and give her all to her work. Many others have commented on the very privileged positions of both women who do not struggle with the more serious difficulties that mark the lives of single mothers and minimum wage workers. I concur, but Slaughter is well aware of her privilege, yet notes that her transition from professor and Dean at Princeton to director of policy planning at the State Department meant that she had a more “typical” job in that she was “working long hours on someone else’s schedule.” This is typical, as is the dilemma Slaughter sets out: she wants to be the most successful woman she can be, she...

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Faithful Citizenship Fridays: Politics, Catholic-Style?

The political problem for Catholics in America is sometimes characterized in terms of a “checklist” of positions, which do not properly align with the positions of either major party. I don’t think this is the real problem. The real problem is that the Catholic account of the political order assumes a substantive account of the good, whereas in principle our political structures are merely procedural, and assume a pluralistic (or, if you prefer, relativistic) account of the good. “Option for the poor” is an example – it assumes that care for the poor is not merely a matter of advocating for a particular interest group, nor merely a matter of maintaining social stability. This abstract problem of reconciling Catholicism and political liberalism is well-known. It produces a kind of debate between those who claim that Catholicism has become more reconciled to political liberalism with and since Vatican II and those who suggest that this is not the case. But to some extent, a pure political liberalism cannot possibly exist. We mischaracterize our politics if we believe it is free of substantial commitments to the good. So this liberal-versus-sectarian, or practical-versus-prophetic, debate may be misleading. A better characterization of the present situation is as follows: a party which shares some of these substantive commitments, but systematically refuses to acknowledge any substantive commitments in discourse, versus a party which tries to...

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Flying in the Back of the Plane: Gender at the Olympics

For the first time, every country with a team in London will have female athletes competing. Last week, NY Times Columnist Frank Bruni’s column, “Women’s Time to Shine” focused on the American women’s Olympic team.  Decades after Title IX, women’s team sports still lag behind the big men’s sports – only basketball has both professional men’s and women’s teams (with WNBA supported significantly by the NBA). But, as Bruni notes, the Olympics is a different ballgame…at the Olympics – American women come front and center:            Then come the Olympics, a sporting event as raptly watched as any other, with the ability to bestow fame and lucre on the victors, and much of this disparity collapses. Girl power gets its sweaty, sinewy due. Newsweek recently anchored its Olympics preview package with a long profile not of one of the competition’s expected male standouts but of one of its expected female ones: Hope Solo, the goalie for the American women’s formidable soccer team. Solo also appeared on the magazine’s cover. Although the latest stab at a women’s professional soccer league in the United States failed two months ago, women’s soccer will be front and center at the Olympics. And London could turn Solo and her teammate Abby Wambach into sponsor-coveted superstars. Women’s volleyball is as closely watched as men’s. Ditto for women’s track and field. Has there been a male...

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Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

2 Kgs 4:42-44 Ps 145:10-11, 15-16, 17-18 Eph 4:1-6 Jn 6:1-15 Over the past two weeks, the lectionary posts have been toying with the complex dynamic between grace and human action. It is this dynamic that makes moral theology such an interesting (and difficult!) field to work in. On the one hand, moral theology is about ethics, about human actions and human happiness. On the other hand, moral theology is theology and the recognition that God is sovereign and the ultimate end of human life and true happiness is a goal unattainable through human actions alone. Our need for God’s help is always and everywhere present. Human action alone just cannot provide enough comfort to those in pain, enough assistance to those in need, enough care to to those suffering. As an example, a little over a year ago, the United Nations declared a famine in Somalia. Although conditions are improving, an estimated 2.51 million people are still in urgent need. Although the country is not technically in a famine state anymore (which means that more than 2 people per every 10,000 die per day) many are still dying from lack of food. The state on the ground in Somalia has been complicated by drought and the presence of the militant group Al-Shabaab which had denied direct access to humanitarian groups in parts of the country under its control....

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