As some of you might know, Elizabeth of That Married Couple and I had the chance to meet last Tuesday! It was so much fun to get to chat with her and to meet her husband, the scientist.
Here is a photo that Atticus snapped of the two of us from that day:
In honor of our meeting in “real time”, and the completion of our first virtual book club, here is a guest post from Elizabeth. It’s about the book we read in our first “club”, The Authentic Catholic Woman by Genevieve Kineke. Look for a guest post from yours truly over on her site sometime this week (aka I will write it today or tomorrow!)
Embracing the challenge
The following are some of my thoughts after reading The Authentic Catholic Woman by Genevieve Kineke. It’s not so much a review, as a reflection on how the book spoke to me. Specifically, the first and last chapters made the biggest impact on me. Long after I finished the book, her words from these sections lingered in my mind.
From the get-go, Kineke lays out three temptations as we approach womanhood. One “danger for women is to create for themselves unrealistic images of piety that no mortal can imitate.” (6) Hello, supermom! (That has always been my explicit goal, actually. To become a superwoman who does it all, and does it all well. What’s that you say? It’s impossible to juggle all those balls without dropping one now and then? La la la, I can’t hear you!)
Another temptation is to reject the past, “denying that anything that has gone before us can have any possible meaning for this generation.” (5) This isn’t really alluring to me, but I do see it in so many people. I think it certainly accompanies the sense of moral relativism that pervades us. The line seems to be that everything is relative to a specific time and place and unique situation, so old thoughts and moral systems just no longer apply.
Finally, there is the tendency “to look backward, idealizing a particular bygone generation that seems to have avoided the excesses of the present age” (4). This is the biggest one for me. I totally romanticize the past, and daydream about a perfect era. (This golden age is a utopia primarily authored by Louisa May Alcott, Nancy Drew, and Victorian paper dolls). It often seems indisputable that the morals in our society are decaying, almost daily! But if I take a hard, honest look back, I can pinpoint problems with past eras. Kineke addressed this temptation:
“Each age, it is true, has many strengths, and it is more than nostalgia that hearkens to a time that accepted without question the basic truths we are so weary of fighting for. Yet time is a continuum, and the temptation to slip backward is not good. We are personally called by our loving God to live in this particular generation – for better or worse. He offers us the graces to wage the war with sin in this place and under these circumstances. We have the potential to build the kingdom in our very midst.” (5)
This was exactly what I needed to hear. Acknowledgment that things are different now (though not necessarily worse) and yet a call to embrace the path God has set before us as individuals. I love it!
So what is the biggest difficulty of our era? Kineke addresses it in the last chapter.
“With confidence we must look at our own generation and discern the predominant fault at its heart. Few would dispute the conclusion that one enormous challenge is the rampant promiscuity in our midst. This is combined with a disdain for stable family life permeating academia, the mass media, and the entertainment industry. …
While women and children are the primary victims of the sexual heresies of our day, they are the very key to conquering them. In light of the examples above, where order was the opposite of chaos and poverty the opposite of material excess, the antidote to sexual perversion is purity.” (137)
I’m having a hard time not quoting this entire section! I have to agree that it seems that sins relating to sexuality are the most prevalent now. The truth and beauty of our identity as men and women is often rejected outright. It feels like there’s nothing we can do to stop this, especially when we ourselves are guilty of succumbing to this. But we can.
“Women are capable of rolling back the wanton disregard for their integral beauty by promoting modesty at every opportunity and offering the world authentic femininity. …
This charge to women in no way exonerates men of using people as objects. There is enough blame to go around to most members of our society. It just so happens that, at this time in history, a key element to fighting the immorality we are facing is the purity of women.
Far from passively embracing their victimization as inevitable, women must take the lead in transforming the culture. For whatever good they provide, government programs and even preaching will not suffice. To recall for our purposes the essential quote of the council fathers, at this time “women imbued with the Gospel will do so much to aid mankind in not falling.”” (137-8)
Amen and amen.
I was convinced. I don’t want to be a passive victim – I want to be an active warrior! I’m trying to consciously reevaluate and target the areas where I am fostering perversion instead of purity. That includes my wardrobe, of course, and while this is a necessary start, it is still at a superficial level. What am I promoting in my words and deeds – to my family, on my blog, to strangers at the mall? What am I offering to the world? To my community and my little sphere of influence?
I have not been the most pure of women. But it does no good to be crushed by the guilt of that, or to be obsessed with fear that I have advanced a culture of death that scorns authentic femininity. I can confess my sins and move on, making reparations and embracing purity with vigor. I want to be imbued with the Gospel. I want to aid mankind in not falling. Don’t you?