Friday, January 8, 2010

Boston College Feminist Dies

Mary Daly was a force for changing attitudes and diminishing the importance of the Catholic Faith at this Jesuit school. The editorial remarks about her contribution to the "vibrant debate". It's difficult to surmise from reading the article or assessing some of her positions just how her contribution was "vibrant", but the article is correct in that it identifies her presence as a sign that Boston College is a liberal institution. How it is that a woman whose very presence championed the normalization of homosexuality at a Catholic institution is a very curious indicator, but that she did it is still further proof that this allegedly Catholic and Jesuit institution is far removed from the namesakes that inspired the brick and mortar to house generations of the surrounding flower of youth the Irish-Catholic community of Boston had to offer.

One Jesuit commenter, "aidan01" wrote:

As a male seminarian taking classes at B.C. in the eighties I recall that men were banned from Daly's class. Of course none of us were interested in trying to set up a private tutorial with her. We all thought Daly was a joke of a human being, and that B.C. had been corrupted by liberals and didn't have the spheres to boot her to the curb. Mary Daly was a sign of the decline of Boston College's standing in the Catholic World.

Years later, as a cynical move to impress a radical feminist professor, I cited one of Daly's works in a paper. To make sure the Prof. questioned my motives I also cited Mary Ann Glendon, the very conservative Harvard Professor, and former U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican. Interestingly, Daly and Glendon agreed completely in their blisteringly negative critiques of Shel Silverstein's "The Giving Tree", but Glendon was particularly cutting, and sounded even more "feminist" than Daly. Even the Professor was surprised by that. But, imagine my surprise when I couldn't put Daly's book down, even after writing the paper.

As strange and alienating as Mary Day was to many, she was a serious thinker and her ideas are worthy of consideration. [Really?] While reading her work did not push me to abandon my own thinking, or my faith, it did bring to light for me a perspective on the Church and Society that was illuminative and insightful. She was a very accomplished scholar, somewhat off the deep end, but she had insights that cannot be dismissed lightly, and she conveyed them with a wicked sense of humor. Mary was very funny, and when I think about her I have to smile because, although it kills me to admit it, her work contributed something significant and meaningful to my life.

It's hard to take seriously the author's previous statements about Daly being a "joke of a human being" and then going on to praise her for her talent as a scholar and her contribution, but it highlights the point of confusion. No doubt, despite the Jesuit's contention that Boston College did not damage his faith, he seems to suffer from that lack of integrity which comes as a result of not really believing in anything with any conviction. His attitude plays into the rationale that the presence of instructors like Daly enrich the experience in a spirited dialogue when most of the students graduating from Boston College don't have the fundamentals to know the Catholic Faith which is supposed to be the reason behind the College's existence in the first place.

Saying she was right about things doesn't address whether she should have been at a Catholic College in the first place, or whether or not she helps the students do anything more than realize the pure vanity of religion in the first place. The only thing we suspect she was right about was her opposition to the evils of co-education.

Requiem for a feminist - The Boston Globe

1 comment:

Dan said...

"Boston College Feminist Dies."

And high time.