Yesterday I took a seat at a graduate seminar in Systematic (Dogmatic) Theology held in the mid-afternoon at my old college. I was delighted to be there and to see faces both familiar and un-. I enjoyed the surprise of those who recognized me, and I told the speaker that I had heard he was giving a paper and so got on a plane. I also enjoyed the presentation and watching the wheels turn in the minds of the men who asked questions out of a pure unrestricted desire to know and not out of a desire to impress their personalities on the air. (Happily, most of the men--and all of the young men--were inspired by the former exigence.)
I say "men" because out of the approximately 35 people in the room, only four were women and none of us said a word. One did raise a hand, but it was either unseen or forgotten by the facilitator. We other three did not.
I did not because the paper was about Nostra Aetate and my only interest in Nostra Aetate is how we sell it to the SSPX and that would have been the theological equivalent of throwing an octopus on the ice during an hockey game. It would be interesting to know the motives of the other silent women. It goes without saying to say that a knowledgeable female silence beats a stream of trivialities from either sex, as anyone who has been to theology school can tell you.
Still, it interested me eight years ago, and it interests me still that so few women attend seminars in Systematic Theology when women, by and large, are so interested in religious faith, including pastoral theology and, of course, the lobbyist theologies: feminist, womanist, LGBTQ, etc.
It was once suggested to me that so few women go into Systematics--especially the rarified school of it called Lonerganism--because women are more practical and do not see the point of spending long years reading and writing about something few will hire or pay them for. If your aim is a job as a high school lay-chaplain (starting at $40,000/a), then the benefits of pondering the Generalized Empirical Method may not seem immediately apparent.
Still there is something beautiful and satisfying about puzzling out a difficult passage of text, aware of the wheels of your own mind turning, and watching the wheels of the minds around you turning also.
I had a coffee with a reader on Valentine's Day, and she asked me about you girls. Apparently you sound less naive, more worldly and, well, I think she meant more intellectual than women on other Singles blogs. From my last big poll on the topic, I surmised that most of you have been through university and many of you are in graduate school, and that a surprising number are science girls, including mathematicians as well as medical doctors. I know some readers are (or have been) in the U.S. Army (or Navy, I forget), and someone logs in from NASA.
Would you mind very much if I asked you to volunteer what it is you do for a living (or are being trained to do for a living) in the combox? Anonymous comments are accepted today.
It's not a contest. As all the Christian readers should know, the top job is martyr. We are all of us second banana to all the Christians of our lifetime who were murdered for our faith. After that, tradition tells us the top job is "woman religious," and not too many of us are nuns!
(By the way, if you're wondering where the boys are, there are a heck of a lot of boys at graduate seminars in Systematic Theology. I could not say for sure, but they probably have zero interest in girls during the discussion, so never miss the after-discussion wine-and-cheese.)
(Also by the way, since a dozen people have been asking me what I'm doing these days, I am even more grateful to my Polish readers because thanks to them, I can airily say, "I give retreats in Poland" instead of just "Oh, you know. This and that.")