Bishop McFadden, Birth Control, and the Purity Rites of the Sado-Sublime

While deciding what to preach on this Sunday, I was thinking about going off-lectionary and preaching about the Ark of the Covenant’s adventures with the idol of Dagon (“That Dagonne Dagon!” was the working title).  But then I began to consider some of the Girardian implications of this Sunday’s lectionary text, Jesus’ “cleansing of the temple,” especially within the context of Jesus’ curse of the fig tree in Mark, in light of the recent chatter about birth control.

I’ll post my sermon later, but I began the process of writing my sermon by writing a letter to the editor of the local Lebanon Daily News, who printed a letter from the local Catholic Bishop, Joseph McFadden.  The Bishop’s letter (here) opened with a Lenten greeting and continued on to covering all of the well-worn arguments surrounding this issue. (You might remember Bishop McFadden from likening the brainwashing of Pennsylvania public schools to… Hitler?  Every Freshman in college makes that argument–“it’s as bad as Hitler”–at some point, right?)

I am finding it to be helpful to think about the new birth control debate within the context of ritual purity and, in the Dalyan sense of the “sado-ritual syndrome.”  In Daly’s Gyn/ecology, she names one of the movements of the “sad0-ritual” as having an obsession with purity.  The final stage of the ritual dance is the “rites of re-search,” that is, a cry of oppression from the oppressor, using medical objections to birth control, etc.

Here’s my letter to the editor.  I’d be interested to hear what others think about ritual purity and this issue.

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