Philosophers v. Cardinals

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The pamphlet on "gender ambiguity" referenced by Ron below gets an effective backhand over at Liberty and Power from Prof. Rod Long. And no, that's not a pseudonym he made up for this specific purpose.

NEXT: Vatican Disapproves of Gender Ambiguity

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  1. “To Serve Man” – Great “Outer Limits” episode

    This Vatican language is really no different than the hatred St. Jerome spewed about women in his Letter to To Eustochium. The Medieval Sourcebook website ought to have a copy if you want to take a gander at it.

  2. I once had an undergraduate send me an email
    about a course he was in from his personal
    account, the username for which was longrod@…
    That was more than I really wanted to know
    about the guy.

    Jeff

  3. Actually, “To Serve Man” was a Twilight Zone episode, and one of the very best (“It’s a cookbook….it’s a cookbook” – very ably satrized in the first Naked Gun movie I might note).

    And yes, my L&P colleague Rod has very effectively done in the Vatican.

  4. It is too a pseudonym. Has to be. NOBODY is named Rod Long. Had they been, they would not remain so.

  5. Clarification:

    I should have said “besides MERELY providing…”

    If Christ’s existence was solely for the purpose of promoting his religious role within society, then we would expect that he would have fulfilled his followers wishes to seek earthly power for the sake of political ends.

    To exist as human should mean more than existing solely for the one purpose of providing salvation. True, it was Christ’s primary goal: but to look upon his life as a technical loophole in God’s law would fail to consider the total quality of his life as important.

    You prompt a good question: Why was it not possible for Christ to appear to be human and provide salvation, rather than have to be really human? The appearance of being human is all that would be required for salvation if Christ was merely a theological technicality.

    But Christ would be more that a silly man dying on a cross if his humanity encompassed being more than JUST a sacrifice. Otherwise, the sacrifice would seem pretty pale. This is what a lot of theologians mean when they talk about a “relationship” with God: they mean that Christ must be related to as a total person for a believer’s spiritual growth to occur.

    Second, I don’t claim that Christ was not sexually male or human. What I am saying is that if Christ was born miraculously, then it is possible that he inherited no genetics– and by extension, the lineage of physical transmission of sin (at least how Augustine would have viewed it)– while still being born completely human.

    An analogy would be embryo implantation in a surrogate mother. In this case, the embryo would have to be conceived without the egg or sperm of a living donor, which I would suppose is possible in a miracle.

    The lineage of Mary and Joseph is listed in the Bible in order to show how Jesus had been born into the royal line of King David. Yet, this implies nothing about the genetic parenthood of Jesus, if Jesus was not Joseph’s biological son.

    Conversely, why should we assume that Christ must have in him some part of Mary in order to be fully human? To believe otherwise creates the problem of the Immaculate Conception: that Mary had to be born without original sin so that Christ was untarnished by sin.

    And then you get into an infinite regression: where did Mary’s sinlessness come from? Did it come from her parents, or was it another miracle by God? And why would God need two miracles of conception when only one could do? Etc.

  6. The context of the Vatican document cannot be readily understood without an appreciation for theology.

    As Long believes, it is galling that God should be thought of as coming as the person of Christ. This would violate several convenient notions: the idea that God is removed from human affairs; and the idea that God is a principle of existence, rather than a person who exists.

    Speaking theologically, if Christ’s crucifixion had the effect of “servility,” doesn’t this make Christ an equally valid symbol of feminine powerlessness in the face of patriarchy?

    Without the symbolic lifegiving femininity found in the resurrection of Christ, the crucifixion loses its force as a salvific act. It is to die in vain, to die for– and as a result of– patriarchy.

    For the sake of his “patriolotry” argument, Long hypothesizes that Christ’s male humanness could have just as easily been the practical result of having to be a God born into a world of patriarchal domination.

    Following this logic, wouldn’t it have been easier if Christ simply came down as a powerless woman, and effectively induced his own death and resurrection faster, providing salvation while showing greater affinity for those who were weakest?

    If one admits that Christ wasn’t looking forward to dying anytime soon, then the possibility arises that Christ’s death was accidental. To those who believe it was an accident, then his choice of gender is just as arbitrary as his life or death.

    If his death was not accidental but had eternal purpose, then all of Christ’s humanity and his maleness must be admitted as having some purpose besides providing an advantage for promoting a religious agenda.

    For instance, in the story in Genesis, Adam’s own body is used to “give birth” to Eve. To assume Adam’s sexuality was forever preordained and therefore patriarchal, is to assume that Adam did not experience his own gender changes (at least psychologically) in the process of Eve’s creation.

    To talk of the definition of a human “male” in this context can have no patriarchal implications, since it is somewhat meaningless to talk about what male sexuality means in the absence of a human “female.”

    Patriarchy is the result of sin. Redemption of the “male” from the patriarchy has a recognized theological history (Christ is often referred to as the “new Adam”).

    Yet, there is another possibility about why the birth of Christ is described as a miraculous virgin birth. It is possible that Christ inherited neither his father’s NOR his mother’s biology as a condition of his human existence. In this way, Christ is unconstrained by the biology of the masculine or feminine, because his lineage and socio-sexual responsibilities are entirely voluntary.

    Even the highest aspirations of any social order become corrupted and can revert with crushing force into a culture’s traditional male and female social roles. Christ’s proto-maleness should therefore be understood as a Biblical paradigm for all genders, not the suppression of it.

  7. “If his death was not accidental but had eternal purpose, then all of Christ’s humanity and his maleness must be admitted as having some purpose besides providing an advantage for promoting a religious agenda.” Why? Isn’t the successful rooting of the new covenant fairly central to Christ’s work?

    “It is possible that Christ inherited neither his father’s NOR his mother’s biology as a condition of his human existence. In this way, Christ is unconstrained by the biology of the masculine or feminine, because his lineage and socio-sexual responsibilities are entirely voluntary.” But Christ was not merely pretending to be human – he was fully human. Part of being human is to be one sex or the other.

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