Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Random Observations

1. Greetings from the Hotel Boulderado in Boulder, Coloradeo, where I’ll be speaking today (to the Miller Fellows etc.) on "How Significant IS the American Character?" Please drop by if your bobo-izing around Boulder. I saw the legendary Dr. Pat Deneen here last night, who expressed his deep admiration for NLT threaders.


2. The greatest WOMAN of the 20th century turns out to be, according to the preponderance of our expert testimony, Mother Teresa (no h). We’re still uncertain on whether she was great as a woman or as a Christian who happens to be a woman. We remember, of course, that Jesus was a man.

3. JWC turned our attention away from this issue: Who was the greatest WOMAN artist, novelist, poet, or philosopher of the 20th century?

Discussions - 11 Comments

I'm jealous---I had a fine time at the Miller Institute last year in Boulder. On the Mother Teresa issue, Sara H had a good point that the Christian virtues don't seem to be listed as gender specific in Scripture but that doesn't necessarily mean that their expression can't be more or less manly or more or less feminine...there's plenty in the New Testament (and the Hebrew Scriptures as well) that describe the division of labor between a man and a woman and their different roles in consummating their God-given obligations. Mother Teresa, like many holy persons, is a difficult example to classify since so often in Scripture the male and female natures are depicted in complimentary terms but her own singular devotion to God resists that account.....

This is an excellent point, Ivan. It may also speak to why--at least for Catholics--the devotion that is called for on the part of the clergy seems to rule out the possibility of all complimentary relationships and demand celibacy. Perhaps, through such singular devotion to God, we are as close as it is possible for humans to be genderless. But I think philosophers, artists, and other similarly obsessed people (who imagine themselves to be self-sufficient in the same sense as those Godly men and women can be) may be fooling themselves. Perhaps through God we are genderless but, in the meantime, we're pretty incomplete either way.

My vote for greatest woman artist of the 20th century: Flannery O'Conner. Great understanding of the human soul, especially at its most broken and most in need of redemption.

I've been busy and missed out on the end of the discussion below with the erudite Sara H. I agree it may be harder to see the difference between the male and female way of having faith or hope as opposed say to being courageous. It is also true that the more what we do is separate from our bodies the less sex seems to count. Still, it is always there and I don't in the end understand the urge to deny it. I don't see a sexless future for myself wherever I go. Beatrice led Dante into Paradise. I could wish no better for myself. I do wish we could all agree at NLT not to use the word "gender." It gives me the willies. As for the greatest woman writer of the century, I go for Willa Cather over Flannery, and Dorothy Sayers as my Englishman (even though Jody Bottum thinks she wasted her talent).

G.E.M. Anscombe comes to mind.

Point well taken, Robert, on the preference for sex over gender. Here's hoping we never see a sexless future.

Gee Julie, I didn't mean to aim that comment at you at all. Sorry.

No need for an apology, Robert. I was simply agreeing with you that "gender" is an awkward and a misleading term. If we had all resisted it as we should have done and stuck to the full meaning of "sex," it would have been a lot harder for those who want to deny differences to have their way and confuse everyone. I was purposely playing with the word above because a "sexless" future really would, in the end, mean a sexless future. Or, at least, it would lead to sexes not worthy of the distinction and sex that is probably not worth the having.

on 3: my answer is Kaethe Kollwitz. Saatfruechte sollen nicht vermahlen werden. But Miriam Makeba and Ella Fitzgerald could make a running, too.

Ella, always and forever Ella! Ella for her sweet voice and prodigious talent; Lady Day for pain, and Nina Simone for her contralto. While on the topic of sweet voices, how about Harper Lee? The saddest thing about the 20th century is that she only wrote one book.

(This is jwc from below, just shortening)

Ayn Rand as both writer and philosopher (you don't have to agree with her, incidentally to note her impact).

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