Why do young women hang around the church if it makes life so difficult for us?

Doug18-300x200This was my favorite question that fellow Talking Taboo co-editor, Enuma Okoro, and I answered last week during our interview with Doug Pagitt of Doug Pagitt Radio, “religious radio that’s not quite right.”

I’ve been thinking about this question a lot as I begin work on a new book about why, as a young Christian feminist, I’ve stayed in the church and continue to feel called to belong there. Am I no more hopeless than a woman who returns again and again to an abusive lover? Or am I holding out hope that being wed to the church is not always about “becoming the best me there is” but experiencing a unity that requires me to compromise and conform and therefore, at times, feel like I am decidedly not thriving?

What’s the difference between committing to an imperfect partnership and one that’s downright toxic?

I’m not denying that the church can be a crazy place. But as Enuma reminds me during the interview, God lives in crazyville, too.

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2 responses to “Why do young women hang around the church if it makes life so difficult for us?

  1. People are always asking me this. Just today, I laughed with a friend, “For a rabid Catholic, I’m about as close to Unitarian Universalism as you’ll find.” Part of it is definitely cultural heritage, part of it is a fierce commitment to intellectual inquiry (à la Thomas Aquinas), part of it is a living tradition of social justice, part of it is something I haven’t figured out yet…

    I’ve tried a variety of Christian denominations, and most of them, for all their diversity, have an even worse track-record in regards to women than Catholicism. Or they’re so lacking in one of my other must-haves that I can’t deal.

    Some people say to strike out on my own, but I really value community. To me, that’s where the rubber meets the road. Not in the ex cathedra statements of the man who’s currently sitting in Peter’s chair and his curia, and not in the National Council of Catholic Bishops (though I have tremendous respect for both those august bodies). I’m not really fond of the craft-your-own-religious-tradition model that’s currently in vogue in the U.S.

    So, for better or for worse, I’m sticking with the Catholic Church. It may not be a marriage made in heaven, but it could be a hell of a lot worse.

    • I grew up Catholic, too, and feel like the Church is in my bloodstream. It’s family, which means it can’t help but be dysfunctional when that many people who didn’t choose each other end up in the same room. What I don’t know is if I would choose to be a part of the Church if I didn’t grow up with it as part of my cultural heritage. I sure hope so.

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