Monday, 21 May 2012

A disease without a cure?

There are 33 people honoured by the Roman Catholic Church as Doctors. These include Gregory, Augustine, Jerome, Ambrose, John Chrysostom, and Albert the Great.  They are considered pre-eminent in their exposition of the word of their god and as such have been hugely influential in the formulation of Christianity in the West.  Fundamental to their thought, and indivisible from their perceived sanctity is their fundamental misogyny.  I could fill many posts with quotations from them but will content myself with a passage from just one, the great Albert, who is highly praised to this day for his contributions to the development of scientific thought. His open and enquiring mind, however, did not lead him to challenge the prevailing opinion with regard to women.  On the contrary, he eloquently restated it:

Woman is less qualified [than man] for moral behaviour.  For the woman contains more liquid than the man, and it is a property of liquid to take things up easily and to hold on to them poorly.  liquids are easily moved, hence women are inconstant and curious.  When a woman has relations with a man, she would like, as much as possible, to be lying with another man at the same time.  Woman knows nothing of fidelity.  Believe me, if you give her your trust, you will be disappointed.  Trust an experienced teacher.  For this reason prudent men share their plans and actions least of all with their wives.  Woman is a misbegotten man and has a faulty and defective nature in comparison with his.  Therefore she is unsure in herself.  What she herself cannot get, she seeks ot obtain through lying and diabolical deceptions.  And so, to put it briefly, one must be on one's guard with every woman, as if she were a poisonous snake and the horned devil.  If I could say what I know about women, the world would be astonished... Woman is strictly speaking not cleverer but slyer (more cunning) than man. Cleverness sounds like something good, slyness sounds like something evil.  thus in evil and perverse things woman is cleverer, that is, slyer, than man.  Her feelings drive woman towards every evil, just as reason impels man toward all good. (Quaestiones super de animalibus XV q 11)
 He does not quite state in this passage his qualifications for saying all this.  I assume he derived it from his predecessors in the Church and also from his studies of Aristotle.  He speaks of his vast knowledge of women, such that it would astonish the world (by which I suppose  he means men) but, as a celibate enclosed in a homosocial universe, his claim to expertise cannot be through observation or close contact.  Hardly scientific method or anything approaching it.

The man/god he claims to follow, however, did not seem to share his views.  He consorted freely and, for his time, scandalously with women.  It was to the sinful Samaritan woman that he is alleged to have proclaimed himself the Messiah and it was a woman who first witnessed the resurrection and became the Apostle to the Apostles.  It was a woman who anointed him.  It was women who funded his mission.

Yet the church that is led by a man who is claimed to be the Vicar of Christ and has, as such, declared as infallible his refusal to countenance the ordination of women.  And it is really impossible for him do so without a complete break from the writings of the warped minds of the woman-hating celibates who composed the texts that define intellectual tradition. The Vatican's war against the very notion of such ordination includes the threat, and in some cases, the use, of the nuclear option - excommunication.  And yet  the church has sheltered and enabled child-molesters within its ranks for untold generations.  No threat of excommunication there, just a quiet move to another parish.  Until, of course, they got found out by the secular society that they now so condemn.

Over the last couple of years I have read much of the Bible and come to a greater understanding of it.  It is impossible, even in the rantings of such as Jeremiah or the letters of Paul to find anything approaching the loathing and disgust  that is evidenced in the long history of Christianity.  Sometime in the first couple of centuries of its existence a deep sickness entered and it still rages.  When such as Albert are still held to be doctors, there is little hope of any cure.

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