Zelophehad’s Daughters

Hudson Strikes Again. ZD Strikes Their Heads Against The Wall. Ouch.

Posted by Melyngoch

I recently saw this article linked from Facebook with some offhand, optimistic remark about the relationship between Mormonism and feminism. Always interested in Mormon feminism, feminist Mormonism, and procrastinating the final I’m supposed to be writing, I clicked on over, only to find the title “The Curious Appeal of Roman Catholicism for Certain Latter-day Saint Intellectuals” and the name in the byline, Valerie Hudson.

Hudson isn’t someone whose theology I find particularly reliable, honest, or convincing, but it is true that I enjoy a little Catholicism on the side, and I sometimes dress up as an LDS intellectual for Halloween, so I started reading. Disappointingly, she has not a word to say about what actually makes Catholicism appealing, but has a lot to say about what’s wrong with the social policies and fifth-century theology of the Catholic Church. (As a side note, it could just be me, but I’m not sure that these “LDS Intellectuals”  – a category she interestingly does not identify with, despite that she has a PhD and is a college professor – are all that enchanted either by the way Catholics handle gender in general or abortion more specifically. Me, I just like to hit up a Catholic church on Ash Wednesday to participate in a holy day that Mormons take no official notice of. I like the high church liturgy of the Mass, I appreciate the way the liturgical calendar imbues different meanings into different seasons, and most importantly, the I love, love, love the music. But maybe I just haven’t been invited to the Catholiphile LDS Intellectual club yet.)

Hudson’s evidence that LDS intellectuals are coveting after Catholic goods is that (i) someone once apologized for her having asked a maybe-rude question about celibacy to a visiting “prominent Catholic”; (ii) Richard Sherlock, a formerly-Mormon philosopher, converted to Catholicism; (iii) and a colleague of hers once spoke “in glowing terms about the nuance and sophistication of [Catholic theologians'] moral arguments,  honed as they were by almost two millennia of theological work.” She took from this that he didn’t feel that Mormon moral reasoning was up to snuff. Maybe he didn’t, and maybe Mormon moral reasoning might not be (we hardly have a robust tradition of theological scholarship on our hands). Either way, it seems a little less like she’s noticed that some Mormons like Catholicism, as that she’s noticed that some Mormons don’t dislike Catholicism as much as she (as a Catholic to Mormon convert) thinks they should.

But all this is just the prelude to the truly bizarre central thesis of Hudson’s article: she’s writing to remind us of how sexist Catholicism is, compared to Mormonism. And while I (speaking as a Mormon feminist) certainly agree that Catholicism shares some of the patriarchal issues that Mormonism has, Catholicism also has a tradition of female veneration that Mormonism lacks, while not having the tradition of polygamous wife-swapping that many (most?) feminists find so troubling in Mormonism. While I certainly don’t see the Catholic Church with its all-male clergy as some bastion of feminist progressivism, I have a lot of trouble pointing fingers out of my own tradition and calling feminister-than-thou at the Catholics.

At several points in this article, I frankly wonder if Hudson is lying on purpose, or just embarrassingly ill-informed. She goes on for several paragraphs about how disenfranchised Catholic women are because they believe in a male God with no female counterpart. Except, I must point out, in contemporary Catholic theology, God having no body also has no sex or gender: God is neither male nor female. (It’s actually Mormonism, with our maybe-there-but-totally-silenced Mother in Heaven, that sets up a male God with no active or accessible female counterpart.)

Hudson describes how damaging it was for her to read Augustine and Tertullian as a child, internalizing their vision of the Fall and their negative views of sexuality and thus (the two are admissibly inextricable for so many early medieval thinkers) women. I love me some Confessions, but I do agree that fifth-century Christian views of women aren’t really the ones I’m lining up to get a testimony of. But I’m also pretty sure that Augustine, or even Aquinas, or even Paul VI (who was Pope at the time of Hudson’s conversion) isn’t the final Catholic statement on women. And Hudson acknowledges that “The Roman Catholic Church leadership and intellectual class would now never write types of things that Augustine and Thomas Aquinas did,” though she doesn’t give much airtime to anyone but the really old, misogynist Catholics, explaining that those early doctrines “linger on and creep into the consciousness of its membership.”

I don’t doubt that’s true. Also, there are some pretty fetid things taught by one B. Young that I could wave around to bolster my case that the LDS Church isn’t as feminist as you’d like to think it is. And you’d probably point out that all that’s been superseded by later revelation. And I’d reply, Yes, but isn’t it just a bitch how those doctrines linger on and creep into the consciousness of the membership? Golly, but it was damaging growing up in that environment.

(Hudson, in one of the most verbose flourishes of euphemism I’ve seen in a while, does acknowledge that “In all fairness, it should likewise be acknowledged that comparison of some statements by, say, Brigham Young with those of the living oracles evidences that, over time, the continuing stream of revelation that flows to the Church has resulted in a much fuller appreciation of the role of women in the divine plan.” Whoa there. I think I lost your point in your compensatory bout of testimony-bearing.)

The real knock-it-out-of-the-park-awesome pièce de résistance, though, is when she addresses the LDS Church’s much more nuanced view of abortion, relative to the Catholic view. In considering the really wretched case of a 10-year-old girl in Mexico who was denied an abortion after having been raped by her stepfather (a decision that the Catholic church endorsed) Hudson explains that:

The LDS Church would have had a different response, based on respect for the girl’s dignity and wellbeing as a daughter of God: abortion would be seen as a possible legitimate decision after prayerful consideration and consultation. But maybe that is because the leadership of the LDS Church is composed of men who have had loving, committed, intimate relationships with women, and are the fathers of both sons and daughters.  The leaders of the Roman Catholic Church are, by principle, neither: they have never been the lovers of women or the fathers of 10 year-old daughters.

Wow. Just, I mean, wow. I don’t disagree that the Catholic response to this is sickeningly antifeminist. And I don’t normally go around telling people whether they’re “real” feminists or not, but Hudson is testing me on that. Let’s see if I’ve got this right: her evidence for the feminist-friendliness of Morminism is that the all-male LDS governing hierarchy is so much more sensitive to women’s dignity, and so much more nuanced when legislating the uses and abuses of women’s bodies, because THEY KNOW A LOT OF WOMEN???

Hand over your feminist card, Dr. Hudson. I’m about to stick it in a censer and watch it burn.

48 Responses to “Hudson Strikes Again. ZD Strikes Their Heads Against The Wall. Ouch.”

  1. 1.

    I think it is much to easy to pull apart most statements. BY for example is the guy who gave sermons on how women were just as qualified as men to be lawyers, doctors, accountants and shopkeepers and how they deserved the vote. It is easy to forget that the date in history books for women voting is the one we get for Utah after congress had taken the vote away from them. Not the original date.

  2. 2.

    When I saw your post I figured Richard Sherlock’s conversion had to play a role in this, since he and Valerie were involved in Square Two together. Anyway, thanks for the critique.

  3. 3.

    Wow, talk about motes and beams.

    Except, I must point out, in contemporary Catholic theology, God having no body also has no sex or gender: God is neither male nor female.

    I remember once thinking how convenient it would be if we taught that God was ethereal and genderless. That would make so many things so much easier.

  4. 4.

    Melyngoch, will you marry me?

    Brava!

  5. 5.

    Affirmation, Melyngoch. Affirmation.

  6. 6.

    Nice work. This isn’t the first time I’ve found Hudson’s mental gymanstics…uncomfortably gymnasticky.

  7. 7.

    More affirmation. And YAY!!!

  8. 8.

    Great, great post.
    V. Hudson really does a disservice to herself here. I’ve heard her write much stronger arguments that sometimes satisfy the troubled hearts of women, but this borders on silliness and speculation. I believe this is going to be used to delegitimize some of her earlier apologetic claims.

  9. 9.

    Okay. accidentally hit “submit.” The Yay is for New Content on Zelophehad’s Daughters. That’s always a red-letter day on my calendar.

    Also, Hudson makes me ill. I haven’t read the piece itself yet (not sure I can convince myself to do so), but it sounds really awful. Does she even mention the role of nuns in the catholic church? It’s certainly not an uncomplicated role, but there’s a lot that’s empowering in it as well as that which is problematic. And what about all those wonderful female saints who have an active role to play in human relationships with the divine? And the Virgin Mary? yeah. I’m thinking this is a rather weak effort at LDS apologetics. And the “because they know a lot of women” kicker is just too much. yech. She may as well just go ahead and say “their women are incredible!” and have done with it.

  10. 10.

    I wish Hudson had read At the Root of this Longing which our feminist book club just discussed. The author, Carol Flinders talks at length about Julian of Norwich and Catholic nuns who have added tremendously to women’s spiritual power.

    There is so much that Catholicism gives to women, especially to nuns and I admire that greatly. I’m sad that Hudson takes a cheap shot at Catholicism by comparing it’s worst to Mormonism’s best.

    However, knowing that she was raised Catholic helps me understand her motivation. If I converted to Catholicism or some other religion, it would be easy for me to argue why Mormonism is unfeminist and sometimes hurtful to women. It’s part of her separation from her religious upbringing. I just wish it wasn’t in a paper like this. Why can’t she just blog like the rest of us?

  11. 11.

    My husband and read her article together and were kind of blown over by its ridiculousness.

    My husband says reading her articulation of mormon theology is like reading mormon fanfiction.

    This was a great breakdown of a bunch of the issues in her argument, so well done.

  12. 12.

    Solidarity, Melengoch. Solidarity. And Kevin is right, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the context here is Sherlock’s recent decision to swim the Tiber. But what makes this all so funny, in a really pathetic way, is that Square Two is very obviously lusting after the fleshpots of First Things, which is produced mostly by Roman Catholic so-called intelleckshuls.

  13. 13.

    After reading Hudson’s article, I think tagging her with “intellectual” is generous. This reminds me of some of the tangents my YW teachers would go off on when they didn’t have time to prepare the lesson.

  14. 14.

    Brilliant, Melyngoch! I love the analysis, and I think you write here with absolutely the perfect level of snark.

  15. 15.

    Melyngoch:

    Sorry, I appear to be the only one to withhold solidarity in this case.

    Full disclosure (1): Valerie Hudson is someone I admire, whose views on Mormon theology I happen to agree with in many cases.

    Full disclosure (2): I don’t agree with some things that Dr. Hudson wrote in this article.

    However, your critique has a fatal, hypocritical flaw (if I’m understanding your argument).

    It appears to me that you are most offended by Dr. Hudson’s holier-than-thou position that Mormon theology is inherently more feminist than that of Catholicism. I agree with you that this claim is flawed at best. As you stated, Catholicism openly espouse the devine feminine (in the form of Mary) whereas Mormonism obfuscates the existence of Heavenly Mother.

    Yet, you willfully (and with great zest!) commit the very sin you denounce in Dr. Hudson:

    “Hand over your feminist card, Dr. Hudson. I’m about to stick it in a censer and watch it burn.”

    What?! Who on Earth do you think you are? You are no doubt an intelligent person with a sharp wit, but does that make you worthy of “canceling” anyone’s feminist “credentials” or even questioning them?

    I think not.

    To disagree is one thing. It is healthy. To discuss opposing views with honest debate and critique is laudable. But derisive rejection and vitriolic ridicule of fellow (self-appointed!) Mormon feminists is neither constructive nor praiseworthy. It weakens the cause. It drains energy from truly important issues. It makes feminists look petty and territorial.

    No doubt supporters of patriarchy sit back and enjoy watching feminists discredit one another.

    It saves them so much work.

  16. 16.

    .

    I was going to leave a comment, but you seem sufficiently affirmed at this point.

  17. 17.

    Unlike Th., I’ll still leave an affirming comment, because it is impossible for this post to receive enough affirmation. Well done!

  18. 18.

    Maybe no Mormonesque Mother-in-Heaven, but there is that Queen of Heaven, Co-Redemptrix, Salve Regina, Ave Maria thing . . .

  19. 19.

    But seriously, to give four sentences to Mary, noting only her perceived sexual status and ignoring the salvific role she plays — practically and theologically — in Catholocism, and then give multiple paragraphs to speculative Eve theology strikes me as a cheap shot. I am intrigued (if not wholly convinced) by her work on Eve-ology, and appreciate Mormonism’s relative redemption of Eve’s choice. But to reduce two centuries of Marian Theology to “she can’t have sex in heaven” does not bolster the author’s credentials as someone qualified to talk knowledgeably about the feminist distinctions between our faiths.

  20. 20.

    Make two “centuries” two millennia … oh baby-induced sleep depravation!

  21. 21.

    I generally agree with the critique, but “wife-swapping” ? And do you think that being married to a woman grants just as much knowledge and understanding as a life of celibacy? I wouldn’t gloss marriage and parenthood as “knowing lots of women.”

  22. 22.

    The problem with those who insist Mormon doctrine is pro-feminist is that they equate LDS men putting women on a pedestal as proof of our equality.

    Please tell me I’m not the only one who sees the irony here?

  23. 23.

    Dear Meyngoch,
    Congratulations! You have been accepted into the very exclusive Catholiphile LDS Intellectual Club. Your card will be arriving in the mail, at this time members provide their own uniforms.* We open our meeting with a rousing choris of “Love Power,” not because we’re overly fond of it, we just like singing anything by Luther Vandross because it combines “Luther,” with “dross.” Bam! That’s the kind of hard-hitting intellectual humor our members have come to respect and adore venerate. Glad to have you on board.
    amo, amas, amat,

    CLDSIC
    *I know you won’t fall for the pernicious rumor that we dress like Catholic schoolgirls- that was once and most of the men were British- they can’t help themselves. Of course we dress as T.S. Eliot- the late years. Very smart. You’ll fit right in.

  24. 24.

    I can’t express how sad this makes me. I feel sad that Dr. Hudson, a woman I respect and admire, felt the need to write this article. There seems to be something else going on here underneath the surface, maybe it’s sadness at the loss of a friend to another religion or maybe it’s unprocessed pain of growing up in a religion that she found oppressive. Whatever the case I am empathetic because I have felt both of those things.

    But I also feel sad at the tone that has been taken here. Don’t get me wrong, I think her article had some very serious flaws that needed to be deconstructed. But that could have been done while giving Valerie Hudson the benefit of the doubt and without stooping to personal attacks. Behind this article is a human being who, although well intentioned, is fallible to human frailty like all the rest of us.

    I so appreciate Zelophehad’s Daughters because of the objective and analytical insight you provide, something which is fairly unique in the bloggernacle, but I think that is lost in this post and some of the accompanying comments. Nothing is gained by tearing another down but a whole lot can be lost and for that I feel profoundly sad.

  25. 25.

    Love and agree with the #24. Thanks Mraynes. But thanks as well to Melyngoch for alerting me to Hudson’s article. Great fodder for finals procrastination, as is your critique.

  26. 26.

    Brandon (#15)

    I do think there are important issues at stake here. In doing these kinds of apologetics, thinkers like Hudson only reinforce the status quo, making change even less likely–patriarchal thinkers can simply point to arguments like hers as evidence that patriarchy doesn’t need to be challenged on egalitarian grounds. (I think this comes across more clearly in “The Two Trees,” but the same dynamic is at work here, in that she wants to portray the church as a model of women’s liberation.)

    No doubt supporters of patriarchy sit back and enjoy watching feminists discredit one another.

    I would imagine that even more, they enjoy a defense of patriarchy in the name of feminism.

  27. 27.

    Hi Melyngoch!

    Valerie is a character. She had me holding onto her stories for a long time–so hopeful was I that creative reinterpretation of troubling LDS theology/stories could keep my shoulder, as it were, to the wheel.

    PS you are hereby ordered to create the Catholiphile LDS Intellectual club. The worlds won’t be complete until you do!

  28. 28.

    I would imagine that even more, they enjoy a defense of patriarchy in the name of feminism.

    That.

  29. 29.

    oops- that was me. st gaga just steals my computer sometimes. and she wants “Pamy” to know that she is hurt by her insinuation that the CLDSIC doesn’t already exist.

  30. 30.

    Lynette (26):

    You interpret a defense of patriarchy in Hudson’s work, and that may be a reasonable reading.

    But it is entirely another thing to ascribe such intentions to her, or to assign them to her due to assumed ignorance or dishonesty. That is what took place in the original post, and that is what I take issue with. Rational discourse has no place for what boils down to ad hominem attacks.

    Dr. Hudson is no friend of patriarchy. Her writings consistently center on apotheosis through the equal cooperation of a married man and woman. If one reads a defense of patriarchy in Hudson’s arguments, one must also consider that such an outcome was inadvertent at worst.

    Feminism, as I understand it, is a movement to reinforce the equal worth of women and men. That is what Dr. Hudson passionately espouses and therefore her feminism is valid–and not in name only as you seem to intimate in the final sentence of your comment.

    So often marginalized Mormon constituencies yearn for the Church to make room for a “bigger tent.” Why then do posts like this seem to claim such limited real estate for Mormon feminism?

  31. 31.

    I would imagine that even more, they enjoy a defense of patriarchy in the name of feminism.

    I guess they’re REALLY enjoying this, then! :-)

  32. 32.

    So often marginalized Mormon constituencies yearn for the Church to make room for a “bigger tent.” Why then do posts like this seem to claim such limited real estate for Mormon feminism?

    I’ll freely confess that I want to have boundaries for what constitutes feminism–or else, I think, the term becomes meaningless. I realize that others might disagree with where I see those boundaries. But for myself, I can’t reconcile feminism with the acceptance of a patriarchal status quo, which is what I see Hudson advocating.

    Maybe a better way to explain where I’m coming from is that I don’t question Hudson’s feminist commitments per se. I question whether her feminism is in fact as compatible with LDS teachings and practice as she argues. I don’t object to her espousing her understanding of feminism, but I find her portrayal of the church extremely problematic. She’s not just saying that this is her personal approach to feminism; she’s claiming that LDS teachings support her views, and she’s using some serious mental gymnastics to get there. In a nutshell, that’s my problem with her arguments.

  33. 33.

    So often marginalized Mormon constituencies yearn for the Church to make room for a “bigger tent.” Why then do posts like this seem to claim such limited real estate for Mormon feminism?

    Because Brandon, a tent that large would mean expanding this metaphor to include a fox AND a hen-house and while we may “believe all things… hope all things… endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things” we, like Paul before us, draw the line at metaphors that mixed. In fact the Church was hoping to launch Prop 9: the Mixed-Metaphor Ban but it’s just too soon.

  34. 34.

    Lynette (32):

    So you fault Hudson on two fronts:

    (1) Hudson’s ideas support the Mormon status quo.

    (2) Hudson’s ideas are incompatible with the Mormon status quo.

    I’m left utterly confused.

  35. 35.

    Okay, I’m evidently not explaining this clearly enough. I’m arguing that in her claim that her ideas are compatible with contemporary LDS teachings, Hudson is (inadvertently?) supporting the status quo. It’s not that her ideas on their own support the status quo (your #1); it’s her equating those ideas with LDS teachings that leads to that result.

  36. 36.

    An excellent post filled with fabulous awesomeness. Nicely done, Melyngoch.

  37. 37.

    Right. Hudson’s work generally seeks to blunt feminist critiques of the male church hierarchy by arguing that the structure of church hierarchy is in fact consistent with feminist values. In doing so, she sometimes plays fast and loose with actual Mormon doctrine and practice. Her goal often appears to be not to define or articulate Mormon doctrine, but rather to quell feminist critics.

  38. 38.

    Understood.

    Dr. Hudson does seem oddly comfortable with discrepancies between her view of Mormonism and actual practice, which is causes great discomfort for others, including myself. But I can still see value in the ideas she espouses. Am I alone in feeling that a lack of nuance does not utterly invalidate her theories?

    Kaimi (37):

    Again, I honestly doubt she’s playing fast and loose here. Knowing her as I do, it seems more likely she lets her confidence in her worldview (Churchview) lead her to cut and dry statements that may not merit such treatment.

    Again, her arguments lack nuance and that weakens them. But I can’t dismiss them out of hand either. Would that not make me guilty of the same lack of nuanced consideration?

  39. 39.

    Loved it, Melyngoch!

    Brandon, the tension you identify is evident in Hudson’s own arguments. She claims both to support feminist causes while simultaneously endorsing a patriarchal status quo. I imagine she reconciles this for herself by denying the status quo is patriarchal. She’s wrong.

    I generally agree with the critique, but “wife-swapping” ? And do you think that being married to a woman grants just as much knowledge and understanding as a life of celibacy? I wouldn’t gloss marriage and parenthood as “knowing lots of women.”

    It’s true that “wife-swapping” implies Orson Hyde, Orson Pratt and co. married Emma. Maybe “wife-maneuvering”?

    Personally, I’m sure being married to a woman gives a man more access than the celibate to women’s perspectives. But it’s a far cry from including actual women—not just people who know women—in your power structures. I think the point is not that Hudson is wrong, just that it’s ludicrous to think that’s good enough. An all-male clergy does not pass feminist muster provided they have close relationships with women.

  40. 40.

    This was *totally* fascinating!

    Catholicism certainly doesn’t have any parallel for Heavenly Mother. (Mary, after all, does not have any self-motivated salvific power in Catholicism. She doesn’t partake of the divine in any way that the average person doesn’t, except insofar as they see her as never having been separated from God by personal sin.) And in Catholics’ conception, as you rightly point out, God doesn’t have any gender in the formal sense; if you attend a Catholic Mass you’ll find that they occasionally go out of their way to avoid assigning gender in a given sentence (“Pray that God accepts this sacrifice for our good and the good of all God’s church” instead of “…all His church.”)

    One thing I would say to Ben S, though is that if sheer proximity–or even the intimacy of marriage or child-rearing–INHERENTLY produced more thoughtful, or more feminist men, then we wouldn’t be in this misogynist mess in the first place, right?! So, I’d focus less on the marital status of a person or even organization in deciding their bent toward feminism and instead look at the structures, institutions, and personal experiences that shape their thought.

  41. 41.

    Dr. Hudson does seem oddly comfortable with discrepancies between her view of Mormonism and actual practice, which is causes great discomfort for others, including myself. But I can still see value in the ideas she espouses. Am I alone in feeling that a lack of nuance does not utterly invalidate her theories?

    I think it does largely invalidate her theories. As you noted, many of them rely so heavily on a completely false representation of practice and even, at times, doctrine. And she never deals with the glaring discrepancies. A theory built upon a deeply flawed, if not entirely inaccurate foundation, really holds little value for me. What’s more, the leaps of logic, the internal contradictions, and the cherry picking of doctrines hurt my head.

  42. 42.

    Intellectual feminist Mormons defecting to the greener pastures of Catholicism seems to me about as real and pressing a problem as the government controlling my thoughts by putting fluoride in the water. From what I can see, we basically have one dude who converted to Catholicism, and it doesn’t sound like feminism played any role in his departure. Am I wrong?

  43. 43.

    Cynthia, exactly. Sherlock’s conversion to Catholicism was a result of his feeling that the LDS church was already too liberal/feminist/wishywashy on matters of importance to him, so he left. He does not approve of the LDS position that abortion may sometimes be morally justified, and he opposes any form of artificial birth control. I fervently hope that we will soon be hearing warnings from the pulpit about the dangers of being too conservative.

  44. 44.

    There is a difference between an ad hominem fallacy, in which you don’t even address an individual’s arguments because you think they’re a silly poopy-head, and in saying that a particular individual is prone to a certain kind of flawed argument, or problematic rhetoric style, and that a current paper is another example of it.

    The OP does get a bit personal about Hudson’s argument habits — which are plenty worth looking at for the sake of the attention she garners — but that doesn’t automatically make it ad hominem or fallacious.

  45. 45.

    Lynette, I understood you!

    Melyngoch, this was fantastic. I understand mraynes’s feelings about it, but the snarkiness was perfect for me. :)

    Really excellent comments, too. Good stuff all around.

  46. 46.

    Oh, and I wanted to echo the excitement about a new post here. Even when Google Reader says there’s nothing, I come to the actual site just to make sure. :)

  47. 47.

    A very interesting read. Thanks for the thoughtful and detailed critique, Melyngoch! Your criticisms seem pretty cogent to me.

    I will say, though, I sympathize a bit with Dr. Hudson’s frustration. Obviously Richard Sherlock’s conversion hit home especially because he was involved with Square Two, and I wouldn’t be surprised if some at Square Two felt a special need to disassociate themselves with his decision. One doesn’t want to be found guilty by association. At a time like that, it might be a natural sort of mistake to judge one’s arguments by their conclusion, though still a mistake (i.e. “if it makes Catholicism look bad, it must be a good argument . . .”).

    I may have been less bothered by Sherlock’s conversion than some, because I felt like he had been taking a pretty Catholic-sounding view on a number of points for years. He actually seemed a little tuned out of the Mormon tradition and seemed not to notice how incongruous some of his Catholic-sounding assumptions were in a talk at SMPT, for instance. So I wasn’t that surprised and felt it like an acknowledgement of something that had been going on for a long time as much as anything.

    Frankly, though, this is bigger than just Richard Sherlock. A young Mormon I knew at Notre Dame, daughter of a delightful (and intellectually brilliant) couple who contributed enormously to our ward, became Catholic because she was dissatisfied with the intellectual resources available among Mormons. I wish she had been more tuned into the bloggernacle, but still I could kind of understand, even though I disagree with her decision. One might worry that Steve Robinson became a bit of a quasi-Protestant through his schooling at gentile schools. I know several other Mormon academics who have a lot of affection for the Catholic intellectual tradition, including some of my contemporaries at Notre Dame, and even I have times when I worry one or another of them may be going overboard, not in the sense of leaving Mormonism, but in the sense of being too swayed by or too enamored with elements of the Catholic world.

    Without naming names, I do think there is a larger issue here that it is reasonable to be uneasy about. I think it is good to have a little holy envy, but it has its dangers too, and I think there is a risk of intellectual Mormons’ getting swept away in the larger current of the Catholic intellectual tradition, past and present, much like there is a (much greater) risk of ordinary Mormons getting swept away in the much larger political, cultural, academic, commercial, etc. currents of America or of global modernity.

    So, while I think at the level of particular arguments Hudson’s article is pretty problematic, I don’t think we should dismiss some of the concerns and motives for writing it.

  48. 48.

    No. Living with women does not automatically make you feminist. If living with people made you “get” them and want what was best for them, then all those Southern gentlemen with “house n*****s,” slave mistresses, and darling little slave children would have become abolitionists.

    Audience: please note that rather than becoming abolitionists, by and large these men merrily enslaved their own lovers and children.

    If anything, living with the “other” in your own household (be it slaves, women, whomever) can lead one to being MORE motivated to staying in control over them. If they have more control over their own lives, it could seriously harsh your buzz.

    The weirdness of Dr. Hudson’s theological work is so bizarre, because her political science kicks freakin’ ass. (See
    http://womanstats.org/researchandpapers.html for some of her papers.)

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