So last post was essentially about how I know from my own experience how connected the body and soul are, how they are both me, and so I can determine that those with different bodies have different souls, and similarities and differences in bodies indicate some sort of equivalent difference or sameness in the souls.
I’ll admit, I’m no great philosopher; I don’t think Aquinas ever considered chili-dogs reason to make ontological determinations. But you’re the one reading this blog and not Aquinas, so…
So where did that lead me? I really, really didn’t want it to lead to an acceptance of a stereotypical masculinity and femininity, the 1950’s stay-at-home mom and working dad. Truth be told, that was mostly because I found (and still find) a lot of qualities of the “liberal” ideology in America more attractive than their conservative counterparts, and the liberals definitely hated the ’50s. I think part of the attraction was due to a misunderstanding of what it meant to be “liberal” or “conservative”, but part of it was also, in a general way, legitimate.
I wanted to believe that life was better in a society that embraced the person as an individual and had a radical and active concern for the poor, even if that meant erring on the side of enablement.
I wanted to believe that the prefabricated judgments and prejudices most of us come by honestly could be addressed and confronted head-on in the public sphere.
And I really wanted to believe that old white people were squares.
I still believe all of that. I find my rounded sides turning into straight lines and corners every day. But I couldn’t help but notice that for all the things I was attracted to in that liberal worldview, the people who claimed to be its face also did all the things I abhorred the most.
Put me in a tough spot.
So another question was before me: Could I buy into all these beliefs without taking on their proponents’ glaring faults? Could I be all those things I saw missing in the “conservatives” I knew and still not be a durn librel?
Of course, the answer was to quit thinking of it like that, to let go of the labels our modern world insists on using and look at Truth, Goodness, and Beauty regardless of what our culture thinks about them. But it took me a long time to realize that.
Eventually the facade of modern politics and our social landscape lost its luster for me and my disenchantment spurred me to start looking at life beyond the labels.
I started looking for transcendence.
I have struggled for years to really articulate what I believe to be the difference between men and women. I read books like Wild at Heart by John Eldrich which were truly, deeply inspiring, but still not quite it. Strength vs. Beauty? Warrior and Princess? No, even if he did equivocate quite a bit to make it clear he didn’t mean macho vs. dainty.
I mean, watch this video and tell me if that isn’t the most graceful thing you’ve ever seen. Not just from a man, but from anyone.
No way is he less a man because that is his gift and not something else. It’s Beauty, plain and simple, and that is always of God.
I read lots of things about femininity as well and listened to female figures, public and private, Christian and pagan, liberal and conservative, and never got a straight answer there either. Women are the same as men? No, can’t be. They’re too…different. Women are the gentle and meek? No, that ain’t it either. That’s too simplified.
I’ll spare you any video clips, but I’ve witnessed a live birth and am about to see another one any day now, so I know that strength is not a masculine quality, that women are not always gentle or meek, that in a woman is a storm of strength and tremendous grace. Women are powerful. And kind of scary.
So I was left searching. And, like most things worth finding, I found what I was looking for at home.
That was the next step for me. First, body and soul are connected, integrated. Second, men and women have different bodies, so they must have different souls. Third, over the course of years I learned that the traditional stereotypes were not complete explanations of this difference, even though I could not yet articulate what the difference was.
But at this point in my life, I believe the Church is starting to give me the words I’ve been looking for.
More to come…