With regard to a certain Evangelical publishing concern, a
Catholic friend wrote, “I don't understand [its] fanaticism
on inclusive language. What do they get
from it? What gives? Do they also send Gloria Steinem a birthday card? Why in the hell should they care what feminists think of
them? Or are they run by a bevy of
My answer was the old, and I think entirely correct, fundamentalist observation that the inner dynamic of the main stream of the Evangelical intelligentsia has from its beginnings in the forties rested upon the desire, both rabid and unadmitted, to prove to the liberal establishment, to the Menckens and Fosdicks and their progeny, that it is NOT fundamentalist--that it is, by the criteria that establishment establishes, bright, learned, and urbane. The upper portion of Evangelicalism has a permanent crick in its collective neck from looking over its shoulder to see if the liberals approve, exulting over every bone thrown from that table. When feminism came along as a central feature of that confession, these Evangelicals, as one would expect, grabbed every bit of it that they could possibly jam into the "biblical equality" bag, dragged it home, and began stuffing it into their children.
What has this gained them from their masters? By and
large, condescending tolerance, tolerance as one might tolerate a flatulent
spaniel that is, his aroma notwithstanding, an excellent retriever.
Many in this same group of Evangelicals now seem to have sensed that there is also something in “ecumenical orthodoxy” they wish to get in on--not quite the Touchstone variety, of course, which would be a bit, well, severe, but something friendlier that they can join (or start) in a hail-fellow-well-met sort of way--complete with their egalitarianism. How nice it would be to get validated not only by the liberals, but the Catholics and Orthodox, too--to be admired not only by Wither, Frost, and Devine, but by Hingest and Dimble as well. To be sure, the old C. S. Lewis figurehead may have to have some more embarrassing parts cut away, as was necessary to make it presentable in egalitarian company, but this is the sort of operation they are used to.
It reminds me of a dog I once knew who, knowing he wasn’t allowed on the couch, would sidle up to it bottom first, place his rump tentatively on one of its far corners, then by degrees push his whole body up on the cushions, grinning ingratiatingly in Golden Retriever fashion at anyone who happened to be watching. His owners actually let him do this for company because it was so amusing, but once the feat was accomplished, off he went with a resounding swat on his ever-wagging backside.