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pam

Many women already look at me like I have two heads when they find out I have 6 children and/or go to daily Mass. I can only imagine the chit-chat that would go on if I walked into Mass with a chapel veil. They would talk about how I think I'm so pious and how my first 2 children are already off track and we'll just wait and see how the rest of that crew turn out. No, I'm not ready for the chapel veil. I'll just keep my head down in prayer.

Abigail

One thing in Fr. Z's commentary particularly caught my attention. He says, in response to your remark that St. Paul's mandate was meant for his time and place only, "This is the argument that runs that certain things no longer pertain in the Church today because they were, in ancient times, 'culturally conditioned.'"

But Fr. Z. agrees that today's Catholic woman is not obligated to wear a chapel veil. So he must agree that it is indeed true, that St. Paul's mandate doesn't apply to us.

Therefore, he must see that it is indeed possible to hold that _some_ of St. Paul's mandates were meant to apply only to a limited time and place, without being forced to hold that therefore _all_ of his mandates are like that.

It doesn't have to be all one way or all the other. So how do we tell which is which? By looking at the reason he gives for his mandate. When Paul tells wives to obey their husbands, and husbands to sacrifice themselves for their wives, he gives universal theological reasons for the mandate. But when he tells women to cover their hair, he gives both kinds of reasons: universal, and cultural.

The theology behind hair covering is universal (see I Corinthians 11). But the veil is a culturally-determined expression of that objective theology. So the question is only: are veils a symbol of that theology that mean something in our culture?

If a woman answers "yes" to this question, then it's wonderful if she wears a veil. But I think her answer has to do with subjective things about her and her surroundings. If another woman answers, "No, the veil doesn't mean anything to me or the people around me," then I see no reason for her to wear one.

I am very sympathetic to hyper-vigilence against cultural relativism. But just because some things that are objective have been mistaken for culturally relative, doesn't mean that _nothing_ is culturally relative, or that there's no way to tell the difference.

gsk

Very true, it is harsh to presume to know the thoughts of all those with veils, and unfair to boot. There are those with the tsks tsks, and the firm rules about pants that lead us to assume that the corollary must hold true in their minds (no woman should wear them), but we shouldn't assume that the veil of another is an indictment of anyone or any thing.

But, my prevailing argument here is that if I (a reasonable well-catechised person) can interpret the veil as divisive, then how much more so the woman who is barely catechised and dismissive towards most tradition, Sacred or otherwise. She is in my thoughts, and I'd like to be available to her in an approachable way.

I may misunderstand, but would like to enroll Saint Josemaria Escriva in my defense, who ardently wished that Christians would do all they could to make the faith attractive. I learned that this led him to instruct the female members of the Work in Spain (c. 1950's) to dress as other women dressed and even to smoke, since not to do so alienated them from those they wished to evangelise.

Ave Maria

I am happy to wear a veil when I attend the extraordinary form of the Mass.

I do not wear it to the novus ordo Mass; to wear it is to be out of step and not one to imitate. Already the fact that I essentially always wear dresses makes me a bit unusual but I have done this for so long that it is accepted. I am reverent. I wear a medal; I am modest. These are things that others can also be and do but the veil is harder to accept in our modern church.

Long-Skirts

ODE TO A CHAPEL VEIL

Oh lowly, little, chapel veil,
You are my dearest friend.
For when my hair's all mops and brooms,
You cover, end to end.

And when my hair's not curling right
Or when it sticks out straight,
You gently hold it all in place
And make it look first rate!

But feminist, they hate you so,
You lowly, simple thing.
To them you are so vile, not veil,
To praise Our Lord and King.

And passing by the Church of Seven,
"Autonomy's", their phrase.
They never know the joys of Heaven,
Such as, no bad-hair-days!

For lowly, lacey, chapel veil,
You tame my hair, so wild!
But truth-be-told, though I look nice,
It's all for the Christ Child.

Fr. John Zuhlsdorf o{]:¬)

Pam posted (above): "Fr. Z. agrees that today's Catholic woman is not obligated to wear a chapel veil. So he must agree that it is indeed true, that St. Paul's mandate doesn't apply to us."

What I wrote was that women are not obliged by the Church's law. I am not sure what St. Paul's obligation means for us now. That said, if the Legislator thought that Paul's obligation still applied, then obviously he would make it part of law today.

Whatever St. Paul's obligation meant in his day, I am pretty sure it doesn't mean nothing for us today (yes, that double negative is purposeful).

Moreover, it is entirely possible that the head covering, just as so many other things done for practical or other reasons originally, can take on additional or different good meanings over time. I have in mind the spiritual meaning of the priest's vestments and the prayers he said/says when vesting. The vestments didn't always have those connotations, but they do today because meditations on them over centuries, and some creative spiritual "imagining", slowly but surely attached to them.

FWIW

o{]:¬)

LCB

A bit long friends, but I didn't feel the issue could be dealt with fully without this length. I hope it sparks a good disccusions :)

Fr. Z.,

I suspect that many sides are talking past each other. Some view this as a power issue, others as a distraction from more important issues, still others view this precisely as a cultural issue. I would like to discuss this from the perspective of a cultural issue.

Many individuals in previous threads, and in discussions I've been involved in, are clear that the chapel veil is a cultural issue. We live in a nation actively seeking to banish Catholicism from the public square, and for some the chapel veil is important precisely because it represents an authentic and separate Catholic culture. When Catholics at mass are no longer distinguishable from atheists at movies (or for that matter, the Catholic mass is no longer distinguishable from the movies), something has gone terribly wrong. Cultural activities reinforce our faith life and can be symbolic outward expressions of internal beliefs. It is true (and tragic) that many of the faithful are contracepting. How many of them are wearing veils? Certainly the veil could become an empty symbol devoid of meaning, but currently that is not the case.

In my humble opinion, the sin of contraception is rooted in a lack of humility. Our license declares, "I make the rules of morality!" and "No Church founded by Jesus Christ can tell me what to do!" Humility ought to be embraced, externally and internally. When embraced externally, it serves as a sign of contradiction to a sinful world.

I perceive a real connection between wearing veils and proper moral activity. The veil is an outward symbol of the person's interior disposition towards the Church. From the perspective of veils as a cultural issue one can perceive direct connections between liturgy, veils, and morality. Catholic culture is a good thing, and we should strive to live in a culture that is more authentically Catholic. Outward signs are part and parcel of such a culture. Even the Traditional Latin Mass, in all the beauty and glory it gives to God, is a product of a specific culture (to be exact, in its accidentals it is the greatest triumph and achievement of Western Civilization) that we participate in as Roman Catholics.

Is culture a construct? Sure, but it's not a fabrication. It is an authentic organic expression of the human desire for participation in community. Now let's ask-- what type of culture do we want to construct? What type of values do we wish to hand on? By imitating the Culture of Death in our exteriors, and turning liturgy into a closed circle, what values are we handing on? Certainly NOT the values of an authentically Catholic culture. When the Catholic Church and Catholic culture is no different then the surrounding world, then Catholics will act no different then the surrounding world. We have deluded ourselves into perceiving the mass as a purely human achievement, and elevated ourselves to the central object of worship. Such activities are not the product of a people steeped in humility. Again, the issue seems to revolve around humility.

With all due respect to my Protestant friends, many of them view faith as meaning "I get to have freedom AND license!" We are not Protestants, despite how our current liturgies may feel, look, and sound (there are those darn externals again!). Freedom and license are opposed to each other because true freedom is found in humble submission and obedience to God the Father, through Jesus Christ, with the power of the Holy Spirit. License declares "I will not serve."

In response to the feminine genius author who wishes to evangelize her friends, from my perspective, the solution is not conformity with their Culture of Death but total defiance and rejection of it. Converts are not won by saying, "You get to keep most your old ways of living, we just want you to change a little bit." That's like saying "Submit yourself to God, but keep your license and do whatever you want on the side." Such an approach contains little humility Converts are won by proclaiming, "Jesus Christ is Lord and is risen from the dead. He wants to give you eternal life. Do you want perfect happiness for all eternity? Then take up your cross and follow Him." That is true freedom, and contains a total rejection of license. And it embraces humility.

To me, it seems clear that external symbols matter tremendously. Through symbols and activities, our Jewish brethren have maintained their identity for thousands of years. As Fr. Z says, "Save The Liturgy, Save the World." The liturgy is the key component, but not the only component, to re-establishing an authentic Catholic culture. Outward signs of humility and refusal to compromise in any way with the Culture of Death also play a major role. Is it possible that veils are rejected precisely because of our conformity with the Culture of Death, which hates anything and everything that even hints at humility?

Any way we look at it, it seems that detente with modern culture has been an abysmal failure. Catholics must have and maintain our own, distinct, and separate culture. That is part of the mark of being a 'Holy' Church, we are set apart. Perhaps we should construct a new culture, with outward symbolic expressions of humility. Or perhaps we could simply pick up where we left off, and begin organically developing the 2000 year patrimony that our ancestors organically developed. The second option seems preferable to me, since the first would assume a hermeneutic of discontinuity and would thus be more fabrication than construction. Also, how prideful are we to think we can build an entirely new culture ex nihilo? That pride just keeps popping up.

It is more than just what the veil represents. It's about what rejecting the veil represents. Fabrication and a lack of humility got us into this mess. Fabrication and a lack of humility are not the solutions. They are the problem.

Despite having a few inappropriate comments about women, I highly recommend John Senior's, "The Death of Christian Culture" and "The Restoration of Christian Culture."

Your brother in Christ,
-LCB

gsk

Luke asks:

"Is it possible that veils are rejected precisely because of our conformity with the Culture of Death, which hates anything and everything that even hints at humility?"

I've tried to make it abundantly clear that I'm not basing my arguments on power, pride, or proving that sort of point.

Then he says: "It is more than just what the veil represents. It's about what rejecting the veil represents. Fabrication and a lack of humility got us into this mess. Fabrication and a lack of humility are not the solutions. They are the problem."

This is simply another way of saying that the veil provides a piece to a larger "code." Yes, I've taken to heart the fact that most women have chosen badly in the last forty years, and yet these are women who wore veils for years before the Council or were raised by women who wore them. As pious and reverent as things "appeared" leading up to the 1960's, one's head did spin watching how fast the "conventions" were cast off. The veil as "outward sign" obviously did little to prevent these women from descending into chaos and embracing false freedoms. Thus, I'm still not sure it's the key to restoring order.

LCB

GSK,

Perhaps we are more of one mind than it appears.

My point is this: we need real, authentic, organic external symbols expressing humility. But we also need real, authentic, internal humility to back it up. Empty motions are worthless.

On that I suspect we agree. Especially because you write, "everything we do is (should be) imbued with incarnational meaning." Christian humility can have no meaning divorced from the incarnation, for obvious reasons.

It is my opinion (I believe we diverge on this) that the problems appearing in the 60s (which were indeed brewing since the end of WW2) came from a loss of internal consistency and coherence: humility and other virtue was lost, and as a consequence the things representing them were thrown out. The building had a lovely exterior, but had rotted inside, and so it fell apart. You might phrase it as, "Our activity no longer had an incarnational meaning", which I would agree with. Perhaps we became more focused on our own external acts of piety than their source.

Because of this view, I suggest the solution is to take the same building we had, and fix the interior with an injection of humility and other virtue.

You write, "The veil as "outward sign" obviously did little to prevent these women from descending into chaos and embracing false freedoms. Thus, I'm still not sure it's the key to restoring order." I am proposing this: our starting point for restoring order is not the current situation, because we have gone down the wrong path. Rather, our starting point should be a careful recognition of where the wrong turn was made 40-60 years ago and correcting that error. If the wrong turn is not corrected, we will continue down the wrong path.

So how do we do this? Picking up where we left off—both liturgically and in our outward expressions, and infusing them with sincere humility and virtue. Any future authentic Catholic culture must be in organic continuity with that of the past.

I hope this helps clarify my thoughts. I look forward to your response and critique. If you feel there are any previous posts of yours I should read, just link ‘em ;-)

Yours in Christ,
-LCB

Veritas

Perhaps the problem lies in seeking that "key" to "restore order?" Maybe instead, we should focus on the little things in our efforts to live a virtuous life and evangelize our culture, in which case the chapel veil says something very big, does it not?...and to think it is so small. But that's the beauty of the Faith-- such "small" things can say so much!

As a man, let me say this: when my fiancee wears her veil, it reminds me, perhaps more than anything and especially as I pray and ponder at Mass, that she is my bride. How important that is to me because I know there are and will be many times when I will not treat her as such. I need that reminder, and as often as possible! :)

Veritas

I don't want to put words in Fr. Z's mouth, but I think what he is suggesting, at least in part, is that just because the mandate is not legalistic doesn't mean the practice has been abandoned or that it is no longer encouraged. If anything, its absence (much like the derestriction on meatless Fridays outside of Lent) is an invitation to seek and embrace the practice for reasons deeper than the mere fact that a particular law in the Code no longer mandates it.

Think of American law: we are not under a legal obligation to be the good Samaritan and assist someone. But certainly our Faith has something to say about this.

So I would urge a moving away from that same sort of ultra-legalistic approach to the pratice of our Faith, whether it be our approach toward meat on Fridays, chapel veils, etc. Embrace the invitation--who knows where it may lead!

Abigail

Fr. Z.,

I completely agree with your response to me (Abigail, not Pam. Comments are signed below their text) when you say that the veil can take on good meanings. I think, too, that there might be times and places and communities where it _has_ taken on those good meanings, and that would be a great reason for choosing to wear one.

But I am disturbed by your suggestion that our obligations according to St. Paul and our obligations according to the Church might be different. It seems to imply that the authority behind Scripture is different from the authority behind the Magisterium.

gsk

LCB said: "I perceive a real connection between wearing veils and proper moral activity. The veil is an outward symbol of the person's interior disposition towards the Church. From the perspective of veils as a cultural issue one can perceive direct connections between liturgy, veils, and morality."

The perception is simply not justified outside the construct in your mind (based on historical corollaries, which are not causalities). There is no theological connexion between the veil and interior disposition. This would be my fundamental beef with both you and Father Z: in 2008, the "code" written into a veil indicates that the wearer hearkens to a particular stripe of theology. Magisterial, yes, but more than that. A woman who wears the veil is nostalgic, aware of modernist dangers, vigilant towards particular sins, and disposed to higher liturgical expressions. That "code" exists because of the chaos we've inherited.

I posit that if ever the veil became more widespread as a feminine expression of piety, it would lose the "code" and become convention, which exactly where we were 50 years ago.

Now, more importantly, LCB says:

"It is my opinion (I believe we diverge on this) that the problems appearing in the 60s (which were indeed brewing since the end of WW2) came from a loss of internal consistency and coherence..."

This is terribly wrong. The problems had their root in the Protestant revolt, and harbour the historical reality that our culture has been greatly damaged by Calvinist inclinations. Add to that the years of Victorian destruction of the moral code and you'll find that feminist angst goes back much farther than 1945. It was a long time brewing, and it has to be addressed in a way that will respond to both their 1. legitimate objections, and 2. their prideful obstinacy.

That is a delicate and essential priority for me, and has been for many years. I don't find the veil helpful at all in finding a resolution at this point. Maybe later, but not now.

elena maria vidal

What a fascinating discussion. Thank you, gsk! I just want to point out that as far as Moslem customs go, Christian women were veiling themselves at Mass long before Islam existed. I wonder if the Moslem attitude towards veiling women was something they borrowed from the Christians and the Jews but then took it to extremes.

As for Jewish men and women in the days of St. Paul, they covered their heads for different symbolic and practical reasons, according to gender.
http://teaattrianon.blogspot.com/2008/03/men-and-womens-apparel-in-time-of.html

It is interesting that when St. Paul wrote about women veiling their heads, he was writing primarily for his Gentile converts. And yet what he said was seen important enough by the Church to make headcoverings for women a point of Canon law well into the 20th century.

I think that one of the reasons headcoverings were cast away so quickly by many women in the sixties is that it was one of those things that had become an empty symbol. The bridal dignity, the modesty, the humility, the devotion, of which the veil was merely an outward symbol, were being lost or eroded in women's hearts, for a variety of reasons, no doubt. Some older ladies I have talked to seem to have seen veiling as just one more thing they were forced to do without knowing the reason. Other ladies I have talked to deeply regretted discarding headcoverings; they did not really want to stop wearing them but they went along with everyone else.

I find it devotional to wear a headcovering but I totally understand how others might feel odd. Veiling should be a devotion, not a distraction. It should not be assumed that people who do choose to veil are trying to look holier than everyone else. Only God sees the heart.

Also, a lace mantilla is just one option. Hats, berets, scarves are nice, too, for ladies who may feel called to cover their heads out of reverence.

sarah e.

GSK said:

"The veil as 'outward sign' obviously did little to prevent these women from descending into chaos and embracing false freedoms. Thus, I'm still not sure it's the key to restoring order."

This is very true, but I wonder if this is the best way to view the matter. I often wonder if the fact that veiling has fallen out of favor is really our chance to re-discover it anew. What we now call "Theology of the Body" does not actually tell us something "new" about men and women and their relationship with each other and with God, and yet it is a radically refreshing and thoughtful means of understanding these ancient truths. And would it have seemed so very refreshing to us had it come at a point in history when we were not in such dire need of such a reminder? Like LCB (if I understand him correctly), I would like to suggest that the veiling of women at Mass, little as it may seem in its own right, may be approaching a similar renewal and revival.

Also, there is one other thing I would like to add: I see your point about the danger of the veil being simply a part of a divisive code. But perhaps that is the particular struggle of a certain generation of women. As a woman of 23 years old, I have no memory of the veil as an empty symbol or as a holier-than-thou accessory. In fact, I have found that women of my age who are wholly ignorant of the practice and its history are the ones who either ignore my veil more or less politely (I do get a few blank stares from time to time) or are attracted to my veil and express genuine curiosity about its significance.

Thank you for your hospitality, GSK. As a relatively new "fan" of your work, I look forward to being able to further consider your thoughts on this matter.

Susan

If you put yourself together in a way that incorporates a hat, you are unlikely to show up in beach togs, sweat shirts, or casual attire of any sort; you dress for the presumably important and transcendent occasion. The men who worship with you begin to wear ties and even jackets because they are reminded, by the care you've taken, that they are going someplace special (God's house) to receive the Creator.
What's wrong and/or demeaning about that?

Kristen

I remember a long, long time ago, I was a new convert. I had two kids, and was in California, lonely and unsure of myself while hubby was on deployment. At my parish, there was one woman who just kept her head down and prayed consistently, never making eye contact with me.

Even though I had an M.Div. from a Prot seminary, I didn't know nuthin' bout bein' Catholic. I learned by watching. This lady dressed modestly, and prayed quietly, and never spoke to anyone except to pass the peace.

When we got orders to move two years later, I came to pray in the adoration chapel. The woman walked past me, and I had a sudden insight that she had been praying for me. Jesus told me. And he needed me to thank her.

I was so happy to do that. I learned, by watching her, that shorts were inappropriate attire at Mass. That my kids were ok misbehaving in the children's room so I could receive when daily mass was possible. That confession mattered.

And that a quiet holy woman who never looked at me might get discouraged.

She cried when I thanked her.

Veil, no veil, whatever. It's those prayers that mattered most. Women have a special gift to see the supernatural beyond the reality we see and touch. I can see "both sides" of this discussion...but what resonated most with me above is that those prayers really are the point.

anon

When I was growing up, the message was that women who wore a mantilla, or a headscarf, in church, were being a bit scruffy. The right thing to do was (and is!) to dress up a bit for Mass - which meant, in those days, wearing a hat. Putting on a scarf or mantilla was seen as a bit minimalist. I remember that, in the middle/late 1960s, my sister and I rebelled against hats - our generation simply didn't wear them except as part of school uniform - so for a while my mother suggested we could wear a scarf or mantilla instead, and then as this looked not-very-smart-for-church, we stopped wearing these.

As far as I'm concerned, the right approach for what-to-wear-in-church should be to dress in a way that shows honour to God and respect for a community at prayer. I don't see that wearing a black veil does much for either of these things, except that, worn properly (NOT drooping with the points hanging down either side of the face and at the back, but prettily, with the point of the triangle on the top of the head, and the rest thus hanging at the back) it can look very charming. It can also make one feel vaguely pious and perhaps help to "put one in the mood" for Mass! But I still think a hat, or nicely-brushed hair, can work well for that too, and show due honour to God.

A mantilla can sometimes appear to make a vaguely disapproving statement about others attire or about life in general: it's black, conveys a hint of mourning/gloom/unhappiness. But this can be a simple misunderstanding, like the young man who was asked why he didn't wear a suit to church and was genuinely baffled:"But that's for work! Why would I wear ordinary work-clothes to Mass? Sunday is special!"

gsk

LCB writes:

"My point is this: we need real, authentic, organic external symbols expressing humility. But we also need real, authentic, internal humility to back it up. Empty motions are worthless."

While fearing that I'm beating a dead horse, again, we do need symbols, but the veil hasn't been shown to be theologically related to humility. Culturally, at various times, but this throws us back to my original question on justice: is woman's humility different from men's in that women have to show it visibly while men don't?

As for Sarah's introduction of the theology of the body, all I can say is bingo!! That is shockingly absent from the discussion. While she say it's sad that we've devolved to such a state as to find the TOB so fresh and startling, I have always argued that we couldn't even discuss the TOB before this, because of prudery and hyper-modesty. (Imagine your grannies discussing mucous, the nuptial embrace, or nakedness without shame...) It is a mixed blessing that our society is so coarse: what has become ubiquitous and vulgar (sex everywhere) can be openly discussed and baptised as the channel of grace it is meant to be.

The difficulty is moving forward with enough respect for the wisdom of the ages but the freedom to cast off relics that are outdated or corrupt. I am NOT saying that the veil for women is either of these, only that I haven't seen proof of its essential presence.

Now something else has come to mind: perhaps there could be a movement of women who want to atone for the sins of immodesty, irreverence and carnality. To take the veil as an indication of this intention would be to join an age-old custom with a modern-day meaning (a construct, I admit, but perhaps one that is inspired?) and voila! We have breathed new life into the practice. What say ye?

Maria

So how then do you differentiate between the veil and the habit?

Isn't the habit, by your logic, also "outdated" or "corrupt"-- that it once was a sign of piety but no longer relevant to the modern era?


gsk

The habit is an outward sign of total consecration, a bridal habit of those espoused to Christ. There is an enormous difference between the laity and the religious, who are meant to be eschatological signs to remind us of heaven. Not outdated in the least, but of course they don't don it for Mass and then pack it in a drawer, either. They are what they are, and it should always show.

Maria

So if laywomen do not make that same total consecration of a religious sister, but nonetheless consecrate their life to Christ in their role as laywomen (as I'm sure you'd agree they should), wouldn't the veil be an appropriate and meaningful symbol of that lay consecration?

gsk

Canonically, I'm not sure it stands up, but we could consider it. Obviously, there are consecrations to the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts, but that's not the same. A married woman is vowed to her husband, so I'm not sure what the veil would mean in that context. This is my beef with some Movements who "play" with consecration that ends up having no lasting meaning.

Maria

It seems to me that you made up your mind quite some time ago regarding this issue. But to respond to your comment isn't a bride first and foremost vowed to Christ?

LCB

GSK wrote, "Now something else has come to mind: perhaps there could be a movement of women who want to atone for the sins of immodesty, irreverence and carnality. To take the veil as an indication of this intention would be to join an age-old custom with a modern-day meaning (a construct, I admit, but perhaps one that is inspired?) and voila! We have breathed new life into the practice. What say ye?"

I think this is a fine idea. The reason things are done can change from century to century as the traditions (lower-case t) slowly evolve. You should try starting a movement for this, it might be very successful.

A great many things are constructs, but they are also authentic organic expressions of culture and faith. Just because something is a construct, doesn't mean it's bad. It can be a very great good, since we are co-creators. Constructs should not be dismissed willy-nilly.

Maria, it is no accident that religious quit wearing their garb about the same time the laity quit dressing for mass (or for that matter, taking mass seriously).

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    Comments

    • From Benedict XVI
      “People have realized that the complete removal of the feminine element from the Christian message is a shortcoming from an anthropological viewpoint. It is theologically and anthropologically important for woman to be at the center of Christianity."
    • Anger and Patrimony (from Donna)
      This is just another of the unintended consequences of the cultural acceptance of contraception and abortion! Men's sexuality has been robbed of its creative essence. It is now viewed as something that imposes a burden on women (when conception happens to occur), something used to control women or something that is purely recreational. Why would men bother?? In taking away their responsibility, we've also robbed them of their significance! In the big picture of humanity, men have been made into nothing more than a nuisance women have to figure out how to control in order to bring about the next generation. Men don't see it as their task to protect the vulnerable because they see themselves as the vulnerable ones. A few well preserved vials of sperm would make men entirely obsolete in the world's ethos today!!
    • Excellent, Dom! (from Teresa)
      That is astounding Robin, and good for you for standing up. At the heart of that matter, I think, is even worse than a gender mixing message. There is an increased sharper and sharper focus on the "self." Solid Catholic teaching returns our focus away from ourselves to Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The original sin, Eve denied her womanhood when she desired to be like "gods." Since the only god she knew was the Father. Where was Adam? He stood impotent... in other words, they were divorced. There's a young girl at Robin's son's high school who was just told that she is the center of the universe and it's a tragic disservice to her.
    • Find the logic (from "me")
      Ditto what Mary said! A lot of high schools have very poor math and science depts, for boys and girls. I also am educated as a chemical engineer, but chose to teach the two years before we had children because its hours were more suited to spending time with children. (I was looking ahead). When it came time and I was pregnant with our first, I realized that I did not want to leave him with someone else, and was able to stay home full time. I am not sure it would have been that easy if we were used to another engineering income and not just a private school teacher income. Also some of my first job offers were out on oil rigs - I had no interest in that at all even though I enjoyed my engineering classes and did well in them. No one discouraged me from an engineering job, on the contrary I got a lot of flack for my decision not to pursue an engineering career.
    • Find the logic (from Mary)
      I've been lurking, but this is one that irritates me. Beats the heck out of me what these "barriers" are. I was educated as a chemical engineer, where 1/3 of our class was women. However, in electrical engineering, only 1 or 2 out of 30 were women. Is it possible that women are Just Not Interested in some areas? Nah, it must be The Man keeping us down so we must legislate (and, I agree -- when they say "legistlate", I hear "quota"). And actually, I have a friend that was also a chemical engineer. When she lost her job, she decided not to go back into engineering and started working from home so she could spend more time with her 3 kids. Also, if nothing else, there are all kinds of incentives for women to enter science and engineering -- scholarships not available to men, guaranteed housing on campuses that do not guarantee housing to the general population, etc. I think you hit the nail on the head when you said that schools in general are not preparing students for the hard sciences. It is truly a sad state of affairs, the lack of science education these days.

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