Some things are hard not to take personally these days.
About a week ago, the Medieval Academy announced that its Officers were setting up a committee specifically to establish policies about how those of us attending the Annual Meetings of the organization are expected to behave. According to the notice posted on the Medieval Academy Blog, the institution of such policies is long overdue:
It has long come to the attention of members of the Medieval Academy of America that policies need to be established and formally registered concerning behavioral expectations for MAA Annual Meetings. The MAA encourages open discourse among colleagues of all disciplines and career stages, and does so anticipating healthy differences of opinion over a wide variety of scholarly issues. The openness of our discourse means that everyone, each individual person, needs to feel safe while engaged in the collaborative work of our annual meeting. Protection must be afforded for all members from negative or t…
Several of my friends have remarked over the past few days how impressed they were that I was able to stay so calm during the engagement on the Facebook thread. Well, let me tell you, it wasn't easy! I was supposed to be at a fencing tournament today [now, yesterday--FB] at our club, but instead I have spent the day on the couch with Roger Scruton and a cold, my sinuses throbbing and my head in a whirl. Which is only to say, being a Happy Warrior takes it out of you.
So how did I do it, stay so calm in the midst of the storm? A few training tips for those brave enough to step with me onto the strip.... 1. Arm yourself. If you are going to be a Happy Warrior, you need to know everything. I'm not kidding about this. There is a reason that after the Apostle Paul saw the Lord on the road to Damascus he went off to Arabia and did not return to Jerusalem for three years (Galatians 1:17-18). He was studying! (Okay, I'm getting this interpretation of what he says from Margaret Bark…
1. When white women (see Marie de France and Eleanor of Aquitaine) invented chivalry and courtly love, white men agreed that it was better for knights to spend their time protecting women rather than raping them, and even agreed to write songs for them rather than expecting them to want to have sex with them without being forced.
2. When white men who were celibate (see the canon lawyers and theologians of the twelfth century and thereafter) argued that marriage was a sacrament valid only if both the man and the woman consented, white men exerted themselves to become good husbands rather than expecting women to live as their slaves.
3. When white women (see Christine de Pizan, Mary Wollstonecraft, and the suffragettes) invented feminism, white men supported them (see John Stuart Mill) and even went so far as to vote (because only men could vote at the time) to let them vote, not to mention hiring them as workers and supporting their education.
My comments for a conversation
with Fr. Peter Funk, OSB, Prior of the Monastery of the Holy Cross, sponsored by the Lumen Christi Institute Abstract:Many traditional Christian beliefs and teachings about spiritual
realities have become unpalatable to modern sensibilities. Accounts of angelic
visitations, demonic possessions, the stain of original sin, and the threat of
eternal torment are today considered untrue or irrelevant by non-believers and
even many Christians. Why were such “myths” so central to Christian belief and
practice for so many centuries? Is there any value in understanding why
ancient, medieval, and contemporary Christians believe in such things? Or does Christianity need to be
demythologized in order to survive in a post-enlightenment age? In this
conversation, Rachel Fulton Brown and Fr. Peter Funk, OSB, will consider the
history of these “myths” and their relevance for contemporary spiritual
practices. ***** How many
of you believe in angels or demons? Heaven or hell…
It’s back to class for those of us who teach in medieval studies, and my medievalist colleague Dorothy Kim, Assistant Professor of English at Vassar College (pictured in 2014), wants to make sure you understand the stakes.
The medieval western European Christian past is being weaponized by white supremacist/white nationalist/KKK/nazi extremist groups who also frequently happen to be college students.
That does sound bad. But, wait, it gets worse!
Don’t think western European medieval studies is exceptional.... ISIS/ISIL also weaponizes the idea of the pure medieval Islamic past in their recruiting rhetoric for young male Muslims. If the medieval past (globally) is being weaponized for the aims of extreme, violent supremacist groups, what are you doing, medievalists, in your classrooms? Because you are the authorities teaching medieval subjects in the classroom, you are, in fact, ideological arms dealers. So, are…