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Reid:

I recognize that the correspondence between between sex and grammatical gender is not perfect. However, they are highly correlated when sex is present.

"I have long appreciated Lewis's portrayal of masculinity as a quality of the Creator and femininity as a quality of the creature
so that men and women are masculine and feminine relative to each other (and delightfully so) while God, Himself, is the wholly masculine before Whom we (and the angels, as well) are all feminine. I've never taken it as a doctrine or even a genuine description, but does anyone know whether such an idea appears in the Fathers?"

I do not know if this idea appears in the Fathers or not. The problem with it is that Genesis clearly states that females, too, are created in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:27, 5:1-2). Thus, there must be some aspect of God that is reflected by femininity.

The correspondence between sex (of persons) and gender (of words) is not perfect. The German words for girl, Maedchen, and young woman, Fraeulein, are both of the neuter gender. The Russian word for grandfather, which I will clumsily transliterate as dyedushka, is of the feminine gender (though, as I recall, articles and adjectives modifying it take masculine declension, just to confuse the matter).

I have long appreciated Lewis's portrayal of masculinity as a quality of the Creator and femininity as a quality of the creature so that men and women are masculine and feminine relative to each other (and delightfully so) while God, Himself, is the wholly masculine before Whom we (and the angels, as well) are all feminine. I've never taken it as a doctrine or even a genuine description, but does anyone know whether such an idea appears in the Fathers?

I have come to understand the word "theory" to mean an intellectual model someone has built and identified with some aspect of God's creation. Some models are famously effective in predicting the behavior of the creation and thus for manipulating it (that is, for manipulating some "variable of interest" in it). They are, however, impoverished and lifeless compared to the creation itself. They may give power but never life (rather like the one ring) for they are always blind to the nature of the creature, the nature that reveals and glorifies the Creator. If I may put it so, theories take the icons of creation and turn them into idols, making the windows of heaven opaque (not to mention pixellated). And since behind every theory lurks someone who was "clever enough to figure it out," theories are usually expressions of pride. Our own age, in which everything from government to theology to eating to throwing away garbage has to have a proper theory (or ideology), rests everywhere on a foundation of pride. This is, I think, at least one way of summarizing the problem of modernity.

Orthodoxy seems to possess the one genuine alternative to the modern project of theory-building but is (as I read here and elsewhere) greatly bogged down in turf wars and in wanting to join the modernist club rather than maintaining the Tradition against it -- which is rather discouraging to an outsider like me.

Luckily I haven't encountered them yet.

Robert, there is no stupidity in the least here. I can, but will not, name names or situations.

But in general, I am thinking of the rather pleasant daydream that is lulling many into that poppy-field drowsiness of Dorothy & her friends on the way to Oz: and this daydream has a muzak soundtrack of fuzzy, pseudo-intellectuality that wishes, devoutly, that Orthodoxy transcends the hillbilly stuff of moralisms (like "thou shalt not commit adultery" and "honor thy father and thy mother") under the rubric of "love" and "apophaticism."

"But others want Orthodoxy to be an esoteric, intellectual-friendly choice of any number of possible lineaments of spirituality. User-friendly. Up-to-date. Amenable to cultured despisers." -- Color me stupid, but to whom or which camp are you referring? Samples, links?

Well, Father, as you might imagine, I am with St. Maximos on this. ;-)

Regarding sex and gender: I worded my comment above precisely to indicate a blunting of that distinction. Such a distinction perhaps can be made, but I don't think it is relevant here. In terms of grammar, while gender obviously means something more than sex, it clearly is related to it. Otherwise, males would not always be of the masculine grammatical gender and females, the feminine grammatical gender.

There is a difference between the male-dominion that is a consequence of the Fall, and the anti-patriarchal interpretation that is part of an intellectual sort of Fall.

I do think that St. Basil and some other Fathers averred that sex was created by God in foreknowledge of the Fall, in order to prepare for the post-lapsarian perpetuation of the human race. Some of have argued that the Fall thus is a cause of the division into male and female. Human nature itself is usually not so divided, except perhaps St. Maximos, who saw a complementarity of the genders that reflected Trinitarian perichoresis.

You might be interested to know that many define a difference between created sex (i.e., male and female), and gender (which is a subjective perception of one's sex, and one's consequent culture role). I think this is a definition that is suited to therapy and the contemporary discussion. Besides, "gender" used to be a strictly grammatical term. Oh for the good old days. O tempora, o mores!

Gender/sex is clearly not a result of the fall. Patriarchy, however, is, according to Genesis 3, and that on a strictly literal reading.

http://vagantepriest.blogspot.com/2011/02/progressive-dynamic-tradition-part-ii.html

My interest here was not to oppose Marx's critique of capitalism. Lord knows, anyone who has read Amos, James, the Fathers or the Lord HImself must be aware of the causal link between the passions and structures of oppression.

I was mainly interested in Marxist literary theory, and the other identity literary theories that try to isolate a meaning that is independent of the author's intended work.

I do not think that Chesterton or Belloc were able to, or intended to, formulate constitutive economic theory. Distributism was meant, and was used, as a critique of capitalistic structures, the state, and socialist structures. The last I wonder about, because I imagine that both faces of Chesterbelloc approached what we would call socialism themselves: conservatives like Russell Kirk, certainly had difficulty with them.

Tolkien had nothing much to say about economic policy. You can certainly charge JRRT with fancy and lack of concrete answers, but I think he really meant well for the poor and the working poor.

He was sentimental, indeed. Your charge against him and Chesterbelloc of economic ignorance and political inconsistency is justified. But they cannot be accused of worshiping the material gods or the capital powers.

I do not agree with differentiating Marxism from "identity theory" anyways, no matter how Marxists may have disagreed with the mores of other liberationists.

Anytime Christian orthodoxy is switched out in preference of another eschatological narrative, that narrative imposes -- on the person -- its own lineaments.

Most Marxist theory has either been decidedly contrarian to identity politics (the CPUSA for about half of its history was pro-life and anti-gay, following orders from Stalin, who saw both abortion and homosexuality as bourgeois) or ambivalent about it. There are certainly New Left strands which embrace both the Marxist understanding of the function of capital and identity politics, but it is interesting to note that many Marxist theorists writing today are again feeling free to point out that the bourgeoisie love it when the focus is on identity politics, as this distracts people from really dealing with the pathologies of power present about us today.

Boswell and another of his sort, the former Thomist turned queer theorist Mark Jordan, both spin off of the work of Foucault in decidedly non Marxist directions. Jordan left his upper middle class Catholic wife and 5 children to move in with his lover, in a splendid half million dollar flat, and his queer theory is all about seeing gays fully enfranchised and capable of living the bourgeois life unhindered. Both Boswell (before he died) and Jordan epitomize David Brooks' notion of the bobo.

On another note - in the midst of praising Chesterton's book on Aquinas, √Čtienne Gilson notes that Chesterton resorts to something of the eisogesis you note here. Belloc's view of the middle ages is, of course, universally regarded as a white wash. Pleasant if one is ideologically committed to something akin to what Belloc is after (which might mean many things, given his vagueness), unpleasant perhaps if one is not. Tolkien was a better thinker than the other two, but I can't help but note the same spirit at work. All three men were given to sentimentality with regard to history. All three were rather notoriously prudish (Belloc had to have a brother-in-law have a private conversation with him some months after Belloc had been married and it became apparent that the marriage was frustrated - it turned out Belloc and his bride didn't know how to have sex, and had to be told). All three were lived rather spoiled middle class lives, with household servants and the like - though this did not give any of them hesitation with regard to glorifying working class life. Tolkien's talks about preferring the old style grain mill in the town of his youth are beautifully romantic, but I suspect that all of the men who worked there were glad when electricity came and when the 8 hour day came as well - if one is going to be a wage slave, one may as well enjoy work not quite as backbracking, and less of it. Likewise Tolkien hated trains as "phalluses raping the countryside" but Tolkien didn't come from the sort of family that earned its living moving goods around the country - I wonder if for him it was all an aesthetic spectacle - which sights gave to him the societal ambiance he was after, and so forth. A man of leisure can write or read about hobbits around the hearth or at the bar singing songs and drinking beer, but for most of the people who lived in the world of Tolkien's childhood, there was not nearly the time or money for such leisures as Tolkien's work seems to evoke. They were too busy working 12 hours days, and when there was song and beer, they were just as likely the ones sweeping the floors and cleaning the mugs.

With regard to theory one can find in Chesterbelloc and in Tolkien all sorts of admonishments and observations akin to the one you close with here, statements which could be applied to lord knows how many situations. But when pressed to get specific, Chesterbelloc and Tolkien begin to fumble. I recall that Belloc in particular finally had to admit, when pressed, that yes, indeed, for distributism to work at some point, at least initially, the state would have to redistribute goods. Prior to that there had just been this magical notion of a distributist society with neo-medieval guilds and the end of banks, but a whole lot of vagueness as to how this was supposed to come about. When finally succumbing to the pressure of the questions his ideas had long begged, and Belloc actually graced the world with a semi-specific answer, it sounded an awful lot like, uhm, theory, and lo and behold his answer was essentially the same as that held by a number of English socialists at the time, though God forbid Belloc ever accept that he had offered a socialist model of wealth distribution. Tolkien, not so given to talk about economic and political matters proper, never had to give such specific answers. But I have no doubt that were he to have ever responded to, say, demands that he give some precise ideas as to how the anarcho-monarchy he occasionally advocated might actually be implemented, or might actually function given real social and material contingencies, he would have had no recourse but to have turned to theory.

Marx had many faults, his followers exponentially more, but his parsing of the function of capital and the fetishes which correspond to that remains the most precise and useful articulation of the principle power of our age. I will never understand why certain groups, say Christian paleo-cons in the U.S., will utterly dismiss all aspects of Marxist theory, and at the same time embrace, say, the Southern Agrarians, some of whom were racist crackpots. It would seem that what is at hand here is not an aversion to theory, per se, but just expressions of prior ideological commitments.

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