For over twenty years, I have been attracting the attention of intelligent men of my own intellectual and religious parties who enjoy arguing with me. Their eyes light up, and they roll up their rhetorical sleeves, and I can almost hear them thinking, "Oho! A foe worthy of my steel!" as if they were Batman witnessing Catwoman ravage a jewellery shop. TH2 at Heresy Hunter, once actually referred to me (with affectionate glee) as his arch-enemy. All I did was ask him to stop being so mean to my friends. Oh, and to stop insinuating that Lonergan was a Kantian. He wasn't.
At some point, I may get tired of this friendly fire, and start saying to all the incarnations of Batman things like, "Honestly. No. There are much more intelligent women with whom to do battle. I can barely barely add fractions. I failed Grade 10 math. Really, I'm Just a Housewife. Shoo."
However, occasionally Batman says something purrrfectly catastrophic, and I sense there is some fun to be had at his expense. For example, yesterday an IMOMOIARP dropped the expression "successful with women." I think it was prefaced with "Everyone knows that men with money are the most."
"What do you mean, as a Catholic, by successful with women?" I demanded. "Do you mean, a man who who has persuaded a woman to marry him and have his children and live with him year in and year out, a man who also has many daughters who love and respect him?
And, astonishing as this will sound to you, that's not what he meant. The definition of "successful with women" held by this loyal son of the Church was "attractive to women." And yet I suspect that if I had thought of following this line of questioning, he would not have defined Saint Jerome as successful with women although Christian women flocked to Saint Jerome and listened to his teachings, fasted too much 'cause he said so, did his housework, etc. Meanwhile I doubt Saint Jerome had any money beyond that his rich patronesses gave him. And as he had a serious fasting habit himself and was rather contemptuous of the body, I doubt he was a looker. In fact, I vaguely recall reading a report that made clear he wasn't.
Whence the terrific popularity of Saint Jerome?
Could it be that Saint Jerome had something that these ladies wanted? Obviously it wasn't money, or a handsome face to look at, or the ability to give a great massage. It probably wasn't flattery either, since Saint Jerome was terribly inflammatory and is on record as having called St. Augustine nasty names.
I think it must have been his brains. Saint Jerome was a powerful and convincing thinker, and thus gave all those well-born Roman ladies something to think about. But if one had laid a tentative hand upon him, he would have slapped her silly, so I cannot imagine any of them trying that.
It could also have been his gigantic confidence in being Saint Jerome: "Hey, Saint Augustine! You're an idiot! I blow my nose at you! I'm Saint Jerome!" That's kind of awesome especially as St Jerome did, after all, compile the Vulgate.
I'm starting to wonder if I would have been crazy about Saint Jerome.
It's too bad that even Catholic men think, when they think of men who are successful with women, of men other than good Christian husbands with wives, daughters and grand-daughters who love them, or of Christian thinkers around whom Christian women flock to hear the Good News, or even of popular professors or revered artists like frog-faced T. S. Eliot.
Noooooo, I suspect even they are thinking of footballers, film stars, rock stars and, heaven help us, basketball players and boxers. Wilt Chamberlain, reports wikipedia, had 20,000 sexual relationships, but never had a wife or child. Call me sentimental, but I don't call that successful with women.
Mike Tyson beat his first wife, cheated on his second, raped Miss Rhode Island, but may now be having a happy third marriage. All the same, I wouldn't consider him successful with women either.
And so on.