Sunday, July 27, 2003

Honorary nun Erica has directed me to a mindbogglingly weird article that claims a connection between growing interest in occultism in our society with the growing influence of the female of the human species and the waning power of the male. The article suggests that a swing from Science to Magic, from Democracy to Aristocracy, from Religion (Traditional) to Wicca, and from Moral to Amoral, is only what is to be expected when those illogical, unreasonable, and generally silly women get a chance to control society.

I am intrigued by the suggested alliance between Science and Christianity. In the nineteenth century, certain scholars tried to prove that Science and Reason were victors in a battle against Religion. According to these scholars, the perpetrators of that outdated, silly belief system had forever fought against progress, claiming, for instance, that the earth was flat, despite Columbus' obvious wisdom and sense. (A myth, by the way. Any literate and educated person in the Middle Ages, except for a few crazies, had access to astronomers who demonstrated conclusively that the earth was indeed round. Also, Columbus' numbers for the size of the earth were very far off the mark, and if America had not been in the way the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria would have been in serious trouble. See Jeffrey Burton Russell's Inventing the Flat Earth: Columbus and Modern Historians.) The scholars who developed the Science/Religion dichotomy were mostly wrong, although they did have their moments.

In any case, the presence of Science and Christianity on the same side against the common enemies Woman and Magic is odd and interesting from an anthropological perspective. The author (actually a woman, a Mrs. Marian Kester Coombs) conveniently ignores modern dichotomies between right-wing Christianity and Science - I wonder what she thinks of Evolution! - in order to create the universal division between Virtuous, Wise, Faithful, Logical, Reasonable Man and Amoral, Foolish, Pagan, Irrational Woman.

I lack the talent to skewer this article as fully as it deserves. Iris, Niki, please introduce anthropological theory to this debate. Would any of your textbook authors agree with Mrs. Coombs? Would they disagree? Can we explain Mrs. Coombs' obvious confusion with reference to Durkheim or Foucault or anyone else you might have read?

By the way, Erica, thanks for the tip, but may I ask what you were doing reading from the self-proclaimed National Conservative Weekly Since 1944? :-)


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