Song of Bernadette: An Irish-Catholic Mother’s Tale

Irish girl

The 20th century Ireland of my mother’s childhood was marked with class distinction, the stigma attached to poorness inescapable. The Catholic Church influenced everything. Irish children attended Catholic schools where nuns, priests and brothers often stifled potential and crushed dreams.  There was much these children had to overcome. My mother was born a lefty, but […]

Easter Sunday Paradox: Father Roy Must Recant, But Pedophile Priests Go Free

bigroy

Joining the now-excommunicated women who have stepped forward to be ordained as Roman Catholic priests, the latest victim of the Church’s strong-armed resistance towards women’s equality is internationally beloved Father Roy Bourgeois. The Church hierarchy, in its treatment of Bourgeois, is showing that it considers any advocacy of women’s ordination to be much, much worse […]

Seder Time: An Orange, A Tambourine … Guacamole?

seder orange

This was originally posted last Passover, March 29, 2010, on the Ms. Blog. Unlike most religious events that require attendance at a synagogue, church or mosque, the Passover Seder–which was celebrated last night, and will be celebrated again tonight, by Jews around the world–remains at home, around a dinner table. That fact alone has always […]

Click! My Church Is Against Battered Women’s Shelters?!

Phyllis-schlafly-2007-03 cc

“We’ve got to stop those feminists from setting up a battered women’s shelter!” So proclaimed my piano teacher in numerous post-lesson conversations with my mom. When she wasn’t grumbling about shelters she was remarking on how lovely Phyllis Schlafly’s bouffant looked alongside those long-haired feminists. I didn’t get it. “Why doesn’t she want shelters?” I […]

Click! My Catholic School Report Card

Report Card.

At St. Charles School in the mid 1960s, Father Foley, our parish pastor, came into our classroom to hand out the report cards. He said the same thing every year: You know, children, I look at these report cards Sister prepared so carefully for you, and the very first thing I look at is what? […]

Another Feminist Purim Shpiel*

Esther

Purim is one of the more obscure Jewish holidays. Celebrated around March, it commemorates the deliverance of the Jews from a genocidal plot, as recorded in the biblical Book of Esther (Megilla). The Megilla begins with a party thrown by the Persian king Ahasuerus, the public disobedience of his wife Vashti, and her subsequent banishment. […]

The Whole Megillah*

esther and mordechai

Today, in Jewish synagogues all over the world, thousands of little girls will parade around in princess dresses or sparkling harem pants and declare themselves to be Queen Esther, a great beauty who married a King and saved her people. But far fewer will play Queen Vashti, who refused to answer to the King’s beck […]

A Novel Look Back at the U.S. Nuns Murdered in El Salvador

bloodflowers

It is hard to believe that this past December marked 30 years since four U.S. Catholic churchwomen were murdered in El Salvador. Maura Clarke, Jean Donovan, Ita Ford and Dorothy Kazel have gradually changed from being people some colleagues knew as friends to historical figures–women in photographs, martyrs, flattened versions of their vibrant selves. Like Mary […]

Muslim Dating Ads: What’s With the Racism?

muslim women computer

Among other content, Islamic Horizons, the bi-monthly publication of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), runs personal ads. There are two sections: “Seeking Husband” and “Seeking Wife.” The personal ad below appears in the latest edition under “Seeking Husband,” and it is one of only two ads (among ten) in which a woman is […]

I Am Biblical Woman, Hear Me Roar?

Biblical Womanhood

Last week, The New York Times Magazine ran a feature article on “biblical womanhood,” a subject I wrote about extensively in my 2009 book, Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement. In the far-right evangelical communities I reported on, “biblical womanhood” guidelines aimed to create a new evangelical, anti-feminist Renaissance Woman: a submissive warrior who obeys […]