Saturday, 4 August 2012

Love Them

I fell ill on Thursday night. To make a long story short, I fell asleep at the table in the middle of a dinner party, and Benedict Ambrose woke me up an hour later, rather worried. I seem to remember being led to the sitting-room and some business with my shoes, and I definitely remember the cab because the driver had been mugged some months previously and talked about it non-stop, in a Turkish-Scottish accent, addressing B.A. throughout as "pal."

That night B.A. had a dream that I had been buried under an avalanche. In the dream, there had been a landslide and tons of earth and stones had crashed through the roof of the Historical House, engulfing the couch in the living room. Finding me gone, B.A. had rushed through the sitting-room to dig through the dirt. He dug and dug, but couldn't find me. However, he was greatly relieved because this meant I had not been buried by the avalanche.

I was greatly touched to hear that B.A. had had an anxiety dream about me and also that in his dream he worked so hard to rescue me.

The comments on Ryan's post over at Ignitum resemble an avalanche themselves, and they make for depressing reading. I read blogs by men, of course, but I don't read "men's blogs", so I found the conversation simply bewildering. It made me unhappy, and I don't quite understand why some of my readers were in there swinging, lifting metaphorical chairs over your heads to crash them down on the arguments of young men who kept droning on about female submission and clothing.

Why waste time on such men when you could be reading hep-cat Andrew Cusack's blog, I ask you. Alternately, you can have a giggle at the goodhearted Young Fogeys at The Chap. For political hijinks and naughtiness, there's the lovable old millionaire-rogue Taki. I enjoyed the witty witterings of Benedict Ambrose so much that I married the man.

One antidote to being enraged by the sermons of soi-disant pious boys is to find witty boys too smart to gas on about women to women. And it is your duty to find such antidotes because this whole battle between the sexes thing is a result of the Fall and we should keep out of it as much as possible.

Saint Edith Stein--and by the way, if you have already read my book, or even if you haven't, and you can afford only one book, you must buy her Essays on Woman--loved men. Such male friends who managed to survive both the First and the Second World War--not exactly a given for German men, to say nothing of German Jewish men--testified to this. And her love for men, as well as women, is quite evident in Saint Edith's own writings and in her devotion to her great professor Edmund Husserl.

This did not mean that Saint Edith put up with any nonsense, however. When it eventually became clear that Husserl was not interested in her own work and that being at his beck and call was interfering with her work, Saint Edith stopped working for him. She loved her great professor, but she wasn't going to sacrifice her own considerable gifts to serve the Cause of Edmund Husserl. That wasn't what she was called by God to do.

I think it also significant to point out that Saint Edith, who loved the company of her fellow students--mostly men--so much and was so bereft when her great friend Adolf Reinach was killed in the First World War, came to desire above all else the life of a Carmelite nun. This was in part due to the personality of Saint Teresa of Avila, but mostly because of Saint Edith's deep spousal love for Christ Jesus.

A woman who chooses to live as a religious is not turning her back on men but is embracing a man, the Son of Man, who is both God and man, with all her heart and soul. Saint Edith meditated on the great dignity bestowed on men in the Incarnation, when the Son chose to take manhood upon Himself. Of course He took on humanity, but there is no getting around the fact that He chose to live this humanity as a man. (And Saint Edith meditated on the great dignity on bestowed upon women at the same time, when Mary said "Yes" to God's invitation to become His mother.)

And when Saint Edith considered the situation of men and women in the modern world, the modern fallen world, she acknowledged both the strengths and weaknesses in masculinity and femininity. She also acknowledged that individual men and individual women have both masculine and feminine characteristics in a greater or lesser degree (although men-in-general tend towards the masculine and women-in-general tend towards the feminine). She praised the strengths, and she warned against the weaknesses, and among the weaknesses were a general masculine desire to tyrannize and a general feminine passivity in putting up with it. (And of course some women do tyrannize in a masculine way, and some men just put up with it in a feminine way.)

To be on "men's side"--and Saint Edith would be horrified by the idea that women would not be on "men's side" or that men would not be on "women's side" or that women would club together against men and vice versa--does not mean to be on side with masculine sins. And to be on "women's side" does not mean to be on side with feminine sins, which include sloth and self-indulgence. Any man who tells a woman not to worry her pretty little head about something is encouraging sloth and self-indulgence, especially in women like me because if I don't have to worry my pretty little head about something, I am frankly relieved.

Long-time readers will have read all this before and have figured out that I think Saint Edith Stein is a wonderful model for women today. One aspect of Saint Edith that I really admire is that she could argue for women's full flourishing--and men's full flourishing--without an ounce, jot or tittle of bitterness.

Of course, she never made much of an attempt at humour. The saint was a writer, but she was not a blogger. She was serious, careful thinker.

Okay, so I have presented you with links to witty men very much worth your reading time. Why don't you girls list and share links to witty male bloggers you admire? Who's clever? Who's fun? Who convinces you through his writing that men really are the caffeine in the cappuccino of life?

Update: Ryan apologized. Should I buzz along over there and accept on your behalf?

Update 2: A very sensible post at Babes in Babylon. One of the problems with our over-sexualized, over-chatty world is that many people think they can ask each other outrageously personal questions. And, sadly, many people think they must answer them.


urszula said...

I think Ryan's apology is quite mature and frankly I am impressed as such apologies seem rare on the internet. I avoided going into the combox fray of battle mostly because your other readers did a much more articulate job of defending common sense thinking of women. I also just don't have the stamina for Catholic bikini discussions.

I also liked Ryan's general premise, which seems very much along the lines of what you say, Seraphic - that generalizations are useful tools, but reality is the individual person in front of you.

I do hope you feel better!!

Anna said...

I greatly enjoy reading Orson Scott Card's thoughts on everything from movies to books to toilet paper.

Art of Manliness is a male-oriented blog that both genders can enjoy (read the "Relationships" section if you don't believe me).

RMVB said...
(Bad Catholic)
He's quite possibly the funniest man alive, and still a college whipper-snapper. Also very insightful and helps me tap the inner apologist in my head.

sciencegirl said...

John Zmirak was my favorite columnist for Crisis Magazine, and I bought his "Bad Catholic Guides." I think he is not blogging anymore, but one of my favorite posts is on Halloween(his High Holy Day).

The only two male Catholic bloggers I read consistently are Mark Shea and John C. Wright. Of course, they are married. I think the guys who really bring down the comments wrath are generally young and single. Mark and John live with pretty cool ladies (their wives) and I think that either they were really savvy before marriage, or else maybe their wives helped them understand women more. And by "understand women," I mean they learned not to bother with discussing women's clothes with women. Mark Shea never talks about clothes, and John C Wright always talks about any clothes other than those "on" scantily clad sci-fi heroines. They have found many, more creative ways, of infuriating the Internet hordes.

sciencegirl said...

The grammar got away from me in my previous post. I meant to say that John C Wright NEVER talks about clothing unless it is some sort of bustier or catsuit.

Charming Disarray said...

Wow, science girl. I went to John C. Wright's blog and saw this right on the first page: "Once a woman exercises this alleged right to abdicate her maternity and femininity and fertility in order to be no longer a lady, no longer indeed a human being, but merely a meat sack and a sex toy, at that point she has no right to expect the respect and admiration gentlemen reserve for ladies."

One more time, it's the Madonna-Whore Complex being promoted as "civilization." I didn't notice that he said anywhere on there that men who engage in promiscuity and contraception lose their right to respect as human beings. This is what we have to work with, even with the "nice" writers.

I didn't comment on the argument over at Ignitum, mostly because they wouldn't publish my comments, but in general my reason for not ignoring these guys is because they're everywhere. Their attitudes are not a small minority that can be just brushed aside. I can understand any individual wanting to just separate themselves from the madness. That's fine. And I make a conscious effort in real life--and to some extent on the internet--to avoid the worst offenders and gravitate towards the people who are affirming and normal. But it only works up to a point. I woke up this morning to find that a facebook friend had posted something about, what else, standards of modesty for women. It never ends, and ignoring it won't make it go away.

I completely understand and appreciate the point you're making in this post, Seraphic, but it seems like an unattainable luxury to me. In my life these attitudes have been a lot more than a mild annoyance. They're the reason I wasn't allowed to learn to swim or play sports, have been the cause of tremendous strife in my family, and are responsible for more than one failed relationship. I never chose any of that.

Good for Ryan for apologizing. I had hoped it was just misunderstanding of his point that had caused the drama. I enjoy his writing because he usually writes about his life and thoughts on the faith without needing to get overly political. I hardly read any other blogs written by men (DarwinCatholic is one exception) because I find the endless politicizing tiring when there are real problems among Catholics that need addressing and which get ignored. Maybe if those men would "clean up their own yard first," instead of blowing hot air about how evil everyone else is, we would have more peace and civility. When is the last time you saw a blog post written by a man about the rampant misogyny among conservatives? No, they'd rather rant about gay marriage. And I got stood up by a guy who used to write for Taki Mag, so no thanks.

Even bloggers like Mark Shea and Bad Catholic seem like they exist to just pat themselves on the back about how awesome and holy they are. Sorry, but I rarely see this from female bloggers, and it's irritating.

Sinéad said...

I like The Irish Papist's blog.
He's wise and it shows. Catholicism infuses his joyful world view and here in Ireland writers like that are few. Plus he just got engaged to a New Joisey lass and that tells me he's not scared of girls. :-) I don't think I've read anything about skirts or women's fertility there. Smart man. Seriously, I do recommend his blog, it's a pleasure to read.

Nzie (theRosyGardener) said...

I'm alright with you accepting his apology. I do hope he remembers this; I try to take such things to heart, because it worries me if I make so lightly a comment that is clearly unkind.

You're feeling better I hope?

Charming Disarray said...

Here's a new blog by a friend of mine:

He writes about history and probably knows more about Church liturgy and aesthetics than most people I know, and mixes it up with modern movies and video games, so it always makes for an interesting and unique read. I've read some of his articles before and am glad to see that he's blogging now. He's very witty, too.

Seraphic said...

Yay! Thank you, Charming Disrarray, for finding us a good man blogger you like! I will cancel my lecturette on the theme of this exercise.

However, I have an guest blogger assignment for you, if you Choose to Accept It.

The assignment, Charming Disarray, is to write down the names of the 10 men you admire most, living or dead, and then write a 500 word essay on one of them. Then send the 500 word essay to me and I will post it.

And that's it! Write your list of 10 totally admirable men, then send me 500 words on one of them. You in?

Charming Disarray said...

Oh dear. I can't really say no, can I? I'm in! :D

Seraphic said...

Great! And, yes, Nzie, I am feeling much better today! Thanks for asking!

Anonymous said...

I went to John C. Wright's blog and saw this right on the first page: "Once a woman exercises this alleged right to abdicate her maternity and femininity and fertility in order to be no longer a lady, no longer indeed a human being, but merely a meat sack and a sex toy, at that point she has no right to expect the respect and admiration gentlemen reserve for ladies."

Revolting and vicious. Last I checked, one of the two women closest to Jesus had been a prostitute - a prostitute who changed, but a woman whom He saw as worthy of love and respect.

Incidentally, I gather that these men do not denigrate the male partners of these women and also claim that they are 'sacks of meat'. (Rolls eyes)

A while ago, I saw a survey that followed college and grad-school women who considered themselves exceptionally open to casual sex. The researchers found that women went through three stages: enjoying casual sex, then some ambivalence when relationships never developed from it, then abandoning it all together and moving towards a more traditional dating pattern.


Seraphic said...

Ahem. And your favourite man bloggers....?

Clare said...

sciencegirl said...

Sorry Wright upset everybody! I just wanted to share the male bloggers I find enjoyable.

I also want to add that I have never encountered a blogger whose every word evoked my wild approval. There are times I don't read Mark Shea, there are essays I skip on Wright's blog, and DarwinCatholic (whom I very much enjoy) writes the occasional post that does not interest me.

TGWWS said...

Male bloggers ...

I like Darwin Catholic for sure. Bad Catholic ... eh. There's a certain level of immaturity there, and a certain amount of frankness in language, that I can't take on a regular basis.

Other ones I like:

But my background is politics and philosophy, so if neither is your cup of tea these guys won't be either.

And, of course, there is the inimitable Fr. Z at

Glad you're feeling better!

Seraphic said...

Sciencegirl, I think nerves are still raw thanks to Ryan's post and the subsequent comments.

Mustard Seed said...

I think I'm just going to stop reading blogs by people I don't know for awhile. The confused ramblings of Catholic men trying to figure things out are, in short, depressing. I know Catholic guys in the real world who are honorable, and I have Christian books on my shelf that I haven't gotten to yet, so I'm not going to let these online he-men bring me down. I'm sure there are valuable blogs out there written by men, but unfortunately the internet can also be a great forum for extremist/misogynist/awful views to propagate. I just don't want to wade through it anymore.

I do hope you're feeling better, Seraphic. Get well soon.

Jam said...

Well! Today before Mass (old rite) Father made an announcement about modest dress, "especially women". Apparently, he's been getting complaints that he should "do something, say something" and so he was saying something; but even though "it used to be" that the priest would deny communion to women -- I mean, people -- who were improperly dressed, he would not do that.

What knocks me over is the idea of complaining to the priest that he's giving communion to women who are not wearing skirts that go well below the knee -- which is what 98% of the women in that church of a Sunday are wearing.

Male bloggers: well, they do tend toward the political and bombastic for my taste. But I've been reading Mark Shea for ages and ages and always love his work. Fr Tim Finnigan of Hermeneutic of Continuity is a priest, which is still a man. ;) How about Manolo the Shoeblogger, does he count?

Anonymous said...

I read Da TechGuy's blog ( Catholic, and, for those who do not mind, very conservative.


Rachel said...

I very much enjoy the writing at korrektiv: Five men and a woman. Really good especially if you are into Walker Percy or Kierkegaard.

Sitting Pretty said...

William Newton is a young lawyer working in Washington D.C., who writes about politics, art, architecture, and current events from a Catholic perspective. I can't imagine him trying to tell women what to wear or how to act!

Dr. Boli's Celebrated Magazine is always good for a laugh!

Charming Disarray said...

Jam, how funny. We must go to the same church, because I heard that same lecture and actually wrote a (somewhat) angry rant about it. I had a weird feeling when I was reading your comment that I had written it and then forgotten. Like you, I can't believe that anyone would complain about how the women in that church were dressed, most of whom were well on the very conservative side of modest. (Assuming it is the same congregation and not just some bizarre coincidence.) I had been looking forward to Mass and just clearing my head and finding some peace from all modesty nonsense I had been thinking about all week--no such luck.