Anglican pages
software for writers

Queer Eye for the Lectionary

current calendar

Louie Crew
377 S. Harrison Street, 12D
East Orange, NJ 07018

Phone: 973-395-1068 h


LGBT Christian
General Links

Louie & Ernest Clay-Crew
Married February 2, 1974


Louie Crew's Natter [BLOG]

Louie Crew's Natter [BLOG]

[Date Prev][Date Next][Date Index]

The Power of Sexism

  • To: Louie Crew <>
  • Subject: The Power of Sexism
  • From: Louie Crew <>
  • Date: Sat, 02 Feb 2008 12:12:28 -0500

Regarding my opposition to Resolution 2008-02 at the Diocese of Newark 
Convention on January 25-26.  Here's the text from the diocesan website at 


RESOLVED, That this 134th Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark 
urges the Bishop, the Liturgy and Music Commission, the staff at Episcopal 
House and all elected and appointed committees and commissions to use 
inclusive language in all diocesan worship services, communications and 
materials so that stereotypes of race, age, gender, sexuality and 
disabling conditions are not perpetuated; and be it further   

RESOLVED, That the Diocesan Council identify and disseminate information 
concerning available educational resources which would enable the people 
of the diocese to learn at every age about the influence of inclusive 
language and imagery in shaping and communicating our biblical and 
theological traditions.   

Submitted by Women˙˙s Commission members: Marge Christie, Martha Gardner, 
Lyn Headley- Deavours, Elizabeth Kaeton, Prince Singh, Ellen Sloan, Hattie 
Stone, Fran Trott, Sandye Wilson, Pat Yankus.  


A similar resolution directed at national church bodies was passed at the 
General Convention in 1988. It included a specific directive towards 
dioceses and congregations. The Women˙˙s Commission has noted on 
innumerable occasions the lack of concern for this issue and therefore 
submits this resolution to bring it to the attention of the diocesan 
family once again. The Women˙˙s Commission has available some resources to 
share with the Diocesan Council.  


*******, thanks for sharing your concerns.  You read far too much into my 
own opposition to the resolution  I could just as easily argue your 
side.  Do not be disturbed that I chose not to.     

You suggested in an earlier post that I spoke against the resolution 
because I was running for election:  I had already been elected when I 
spoke against it.   Even if that had not been so,  I would hardly have 
gained votes by speaking against it:   The resolution passed.  

I unequivocally support complete sensitivity to the sexism in our liturgy 
and scripture. Most of the resolution was fine. I objected to the 
resolution's commitment not to use objectionable passages in our worship. 
 As I said on the floor of convention, I believe that we can encourage 
sensitivity better by exposing ourselves to objectionable texts than by 
suppressing them.   

As written, the resolution would have made highly problematic one of the 
most powerful experiences I have had in addressing sexist language, namely 
the Women's Commission Retreat at Convent Station on September 13-14, 
2002  On that occasion all of the texts were hateful passages about women 
-- powerfully exposed and counterstated by the speakers. In our 
worship, we commemorated at each station of the cross a different victim 
of biblically endorsed sexism.    

TEC at its best, encourages us to think.  That's hard to do if 
others filter in advance what we are allowed to think about.  In my view, 
the lectionary does far too much of filtering already.   We would be much 
more knowledgeable about, and critical of, the primitiveness of many of 
our '"holy" texts if we had to encounter the brutal parts (e.g.,' take the 
children of my enemies and dash their heads against the stones') of 
otherwise "sweet" passages.    

I suspect that the difference in our professions highly influences our 
choices here, and there is nothing sinister about that.   The church can 
benefit from both perspectives In teaching the bible at the university I 
have students for two semesters for a total 90 hours in class, plus the 
authority to command at least another 180 hours of their work outside 
class -- including term papers, tests....   It would take you almost 24 
years to have that much of a congregation's time if every sermon lasts 
only 20 minutes and is completely about the bible.  Obviously the 
church needs much more time outside of worship if our congregations are to 
be biblically literate.   

I will not psychoanalyze you for disagreeing with me.  

I will not accuse you of racism in your support for Hillary, and I urge 
you not to accuse me of sexism in my support for Obama.  It seems likely 
that Ernest and I will split our vote regarding them, as will many 
households we know.   I am delighted to have a hard choice between two 
such highly qualified candidates.  

Best wishes.   


---- Elizabeth Kaeton has given me permission to share her note that
prompted mine above:

> From: glory@yahoogroups.com [mailto:glory@yahoogroups.com]On Behalf Of
Elizabeth Kaeton
Sent: Thursday, January 31, 2008 10:14 AM
Subject: Hillary and Melanie and the Power of Sexism

Thursday, January 31, 2008
Hillary and Melanie and the Power of Sexism
I've been thinking a great deal about the debate at our Diocesan Convention
concerning the resolution which called for the diocese to be 'sensitive'
about inclusive language used during our corporate, diocesan worship and
all diocesan events and communication.

I continue to be stunned by the ordained women and obvious liberal leaders
who spoke against it. It's a fascinating phenomenon for this diocese, when
it isn't flat-out disturbing.

Here's what I'm thinking. I suspect this is at least part of what I'm
calling: "The Hillary Effect"

You know. Bill's "wife". Chelsea's "mother." The "former First Lady." 

Yes, that Hillary. The Senator from New York. The candidate for President
of the United States, who, by the grace of God and the consent of the
majority of people (the Electoral College and Supreme Court not
withstanding), will be the first woman to hold that office in this country.

She's got lots of people scared, hasn't she? Even some women - especially
those who reap the benefits of all those feminists - men and women - who
have struggled to work for equality but do not know (or, perhaps, even
care) about the history of the Women's Movement.

As I've been trying to work my way through understanding this, I've found
some solace in rereading "Envy and Gratitude," my very worn, dog-eared
version of the book written by Melanie Klein 

Personally, I think everyone in a position of church leadership - lay or
ordained - should read, mark, learn and inwardly digest the wisdom of
Klein's work. It's not an easy read, so go gently on yourself when you
begin. Stay with it, though, and you will be richly rewarded for years to

Klein was a student of Freud, but found herself in disagreement with some
of his teachings (Oh, my! What a surprise, right?). In her work with
children, she began to apply her Freudian background with her own
observations and laid the foundation for the development of a discipline of
psychology known as "object relations theory." 

This is not a place for scholarly discussions, so don't expect a 'magnum
opus' on this topic. I'm just thinking out loud, as it were. Here's a bit
of a snippet of her work which will give you a sense of her unique

"...feelings of love and gratitude arise directly and spontaneously in the
baby in response to the love and care of his mother. The power of love -
which is the manifestation of the forces which tend to preserve life - is
there in the baby as well as the destructive impulses, and finds its first
fundamental expression in the baby's attachment to his mother's breast,
which develops into love for her as a person. My psycho-analytic work has
convinced me that when in the baby's mind the conflicts between love and
hate arise, and the fears of losing the loved one become active, a very
important step is made in development. These feelings of guilt and distress
now enter as a new element into the emotion of love. They become an
inherent part of love, and influence it profoundly both in quality and
quantity." (from Love, Hate, and Reparation) 

Basically, it builds on Freud's idea about libido and death - love and hate
- and how these are made manifest in us as infants and young children at
our mother's breast. As we grow older, we learn that we can love and hate
the same object. Children, however, have a difficult time with the nuance
of the interplay of these two drives or dynamics. Children view objects as
either all-good or all-bad, thus only seeing a part of that object instead
of the object's whole good/bad reality. Children are too young to
understand that objects can be both good and bad; they only see one part of
the spectrum.

Envy in adults is one of the immature manifestations of this dynamic
between love and hate. What we can't have or feel frustrated or anxious
about, we may envy. Envy is among the seven deadly sins and, says Klein,
“it is unconsciously felt to be the greatest sin of all, because it
spoils and harms the good object which is the source of life. . . . The
feeling of having injured and destroyed the primal object impairs the
individual’s trust in the sincerity of his later relationships and makes
him doubt his capacity for love and goodness” (Klein 20).

I think (and, it has been argued that perhaps I think too much on these
things) that what we are seeing in "The Hillary Effect" is the effect of
envy. How DARE a woman seek to be elected to the highest political office
in this country? How COULD she even think of becoming "The Leader of the
Free World"? Clearly there must be something wrong with her. She can't
possibly be a 'real woman'. She must be a 'real bitch'. 

Next thing you know, we'll have to start changing the language we use. I
mean, who ever heard of "Madam President"? Before you know it, that will
mess up our images and understanding of God. Look what's happened since we
elected a woman to be Presiding Bishop! There you go! See what I mean? 

I think what we fear most- what animates our anxiety - is the loss of our
'traditional' cultural understanding about the role of women - especially
mothers, in this country where "Apple Pie and Motherhood" reign supreme. 

It's all about the primal forces of love and hate. This is nothing new. The
Greeks have incorporated this into their earliest mythology in terms of the
personifications of Eros and Thanatos. What we can't have or don't want, we
seek to destroy. And, envy is a highly destructive force,

This is not to be confused with jealousy, which Klein says is between two
individuals. Envy is bigger than that. Much bigger. 

In these days of high anxiety, when we're deeply involved in wars in Iraq
and Afghanistan with no easy way out, when the 'r' word (recession) is hot
on everyone's breath, when the genocide in Darbur continues unabated
despite global howls of protest, when good, middle class families have to
think carefully about whether or not to spend money on fuel or food and we
begin to realize that we're all just two paychecks away from financial
chaos, and when the political campaign on both sides of the political aisle
bring these issues before us as our daily bread, is it any wonder, any
wonder at all, that we're all anxious? 

Guess what happens when we eat too much of the Bread of Anxiety? We all
become little children again, losing our capacity for intelligence and
reason, forgetting our history, inadvertently seeking to "spoil and harm
the good object" which we learned to identify first at our mother's breast.

The antidote: Gratitude. I'll say more about this in a later post, but let
me just say this. I am convinced that gratitude is deeply anchored in our
spirituality. One of the real ironies of this new wave of Evangelical
religion that is affecting and infecting our national politics at the
moment is that everyone - even politicians - has suddenly got 'religion',
but I don't think we have a developed sense of spirituality. That takes
maturation. Depth. Intelligence. Reason. 

And, the ability to let it all go in deep gratitude for the One who loved
us first.

I must say: I've gotten some interesting insights from all of this about
the dynamics of sexism. The bottom line is this: The "Hillary Effect" says
far less about Hillary than it does about the state of our own souls. We
can choose to be anxious and become envious children or we can become
grateful adults. Neither one insures a victory for Hillary or inclusive
language. It does, however, help us deal with the health of our own souls.


(the Rev'd) Elizabeth Kaeton
St. Paul's Episcopal Church
200 Main Street
Chatham, NJ 07928
973 635 8085