My latest column in the Christian Courier.
What is woman?
This is a question we are not supposed to ask. And is certainly one I am not supposed to answer. But in these few paragraphs I will sin boldly, as old Luther apparently suggested Melanchthon should do on one occasion. As I answer, I will write from my own admittedly particular point of view, hoping that the reasons for my writing become apparent.
Woman is what each of my daughters is becoming – what they are and become through swimming competitively, playing the piano, throwing a football, completing math tests, or reading novels. They seem to do these things more confidently and competently by the day. Each is unique in temperament, in self-awareness, and in their approach to friendship, among other things. But they are both discovering grace and growing in grace.
These two are also each becoming woman in the particularity of their bodies – gaining coordination and strength to test against the world, whether in playful jest or with compelled determination. As embodied, each is also becoming aware of the remarkable capacity to carry life and deliver life into the world, through and for relationship. How will they respond to this gift and gift-giving capacity is at least a question that is posed to them. And they must discern their answer against the backdrop of a culture that says, astonishingly, the body is irrelevant to (their) being/becoming women. Continue reading
In my book Becoming Two in Love I have created brief, first-person “moments” that give expression to the account and ethics of sexual difference otherwise described somewhat abstractly. An ethics of sexual difference is one that affirms the fundamental mystery that the sexuate other is/represents. It is an ethics that entails a refusal of relations of appropriation and possession and identification between man and woman.
Here is one of those first-person “moments” that explores the caress as respecting difference and love between man and woman, also in the context of faith.
We are by no means strangers. Years of a shared life form a thick and complex backdrop to our everyday conversations and encounters. Between us, the invitation to a caress is a summons to a privileged and private intimacy. And even if this invitation and encounter is marked by a degree of ambiguity or uncertainty, nevertheless a shared history of trust and care mean that the caress may be given, and received, in freedom. Risk remains, certainly—but who could or would mitigate every risk. Continue reading
It has been a while in coming, but my book has been published – this is a revised version of my doctoral dissertation. Glad to see this day! Click the image for a link to its page on Amazon.
Click the link for my article, published in the French Studies journal L’Esprit Créateur.
Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus. That’s the title of a book, of course, by American author and relationship counselor John Gray. He argues that women and men represent distinct worlds – it’s like they’re from different planets. And he tries to describe these different worlds or planets. In this well-known book, many of the things he says may seem to be common sense. He says that in the face of stress men tend naturally to withdraw (he calls this retreating to the cave), while women naturally want to talk about things. Men he says, like to do things on their own, while women like to work collaboratively. Men tend to look after themselves while women tend to look after others.
Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus has sold more than seven million copies. And of course there are other books not unlike John Gray’s – books that promise to give us insight into the differences between women and men – books that promise to help men and women in their marriages and intimate relationships because they will begin to understand one another better.
It’s remarkable that in our culture there are, on the one hand, strong voices that tell us that women and men are fundamentally different from each other. For many of course, this is just common sense – that women and men are quite different. John Gray and others tap into this common sense. Continue reading