New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd would like to think her columns are full of keen and incisive thinking. But her columns on the Catholic Church have all the elegance of someone playing the piano with their head. Witness Dowd’s overwrought head-banging introduction on Sunday:
“IT is an astonishing thing that historians will look back and puzzle over, that in the 21st century, American women were such hunted creatures,” she begins. “Even as Republicans try to wrestle women into chastity belts, the Vatican is trying to muzzle American nuns.”
Women as “hunted creatures”? Could Dowd be more overwrought? Yes, in a few paragraphs.
The same conservatives who would “wrestle women into chastity belts” by protesting the notion that taxpayers should buy their contraceptives are often the same people who see nothing wrong with the Catholic Church expecting obedience from a group of women (and in the same or similar religious orders, men) who ahem, took a vow of obedience.
In Dowd’s world, if a woman joins the New York City Ballet, she should feel free to break into what she feels are some really fantastic hip-hop dancing moves once “The Nutcracker” begins, because feminism celebrates rebellion. Conservatives, on the other hand, are puzzled by that brand of liberal that joins something (even churches) with the political objective of turning it upside down.
Dowd's headline is "Bishops Play Church Queens as Pawns." She thinks that by insisting the nuns and sisters follow the historic doctrines of the church, the church is “losing its soul.” To insist on orthodoxy is putting the nuns through an Inquisition – with Dowd wanting the reader to imagine nuns in thumbscrews or on a rack:
Yet the nuns must be yanked into line by the crepuscular, medieval men who run the Catholic Church.
“It’s not terribly unlike the days of yore when they singled out people in the rough days of the Inquisition,” said Kenneth Briggs, the author of “Double Crossed: Uncovering the Catholic Church’s Betrayal of American Nuns.”
How can the church hierarchy be more offended by the nuns’ impassioned advocacy for the poor than by priests’ sordid pedophilia? How do you take spiritual direction from a church that seems to be losing its soul?
The rest of Dowd’s Sunday slog is her pet theory that the Catholic hierarchy has “never” cared about pedophilia. As in: “The church leadership never recoiled in horror from pedophilia, yet it recoils in horror from outspoken nuns.”
As proof of the “never recoiling,” Dowd presents Cardinal Timothy Dolan saying only a “tiny minority” of priests abused children. But that statement is as factual as saying the grass is green, and is intended to uphold the honor of what liberals usually honor mathematically as the “99 percent.”
Dowd insists on using the nuns as straw women. Anyone who reads the actual Vatican document knows it begins by praising America’s women religious for their humanitarian work. They are not “offended” by it. Dowd here is probably referring to the sisters favoring ObamaCare and its pro-abortion imperatives. That’s “impassioned advocacy for the poor,” she insists.
But the hierarchy are “offended” by conferences at which “sisters” applaud moving “beyond Christ.” Witness Sister Laurie Brink in 2007 (as plucked out by Rod Dreher):
As one sister described it, “I was rooted in the story of Jesus, and it remains at my core, but I’ve also moved beyond Jesus.” The Jesus narrative is not the only or the most important narrative for these women. They still hold up and reverence the values of the Gospel, but they also recognize that these same values are not solely the property of Christianity. Buddhism, Native American spirituality, Judaism, Islam and others hold similar tenets for right behavior within the community, right relationship with the earth and right relationship with the Divine. With these insights come a shattering or freeing realization—depending on where you stand. Jesus is not the only son of God.
Dowd and other secular media liberals only see this conflict through a political prism, so let’s put this on their terms – where Times editor Jill Abramson insisting the Times is like "ascending to Valhalla."
Dear Maureen: Imagine is someone said they could get their truth not only through The New York Times, but beyond The New York Times – at Fox News, perhaps, or the Drudge Report?
PS: Here's Dowd doing the same dance (also with Kenneth Briggs hyperbole) in 2009.