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Today in the New York Times, I read a nice (but too short) feature on women who have found/created paths to ordination to the Roman Catholic priesthood, reported by Judith Levitt.

This group of Catholic “Womenpriests” is a revolutionary community who have been not only theorizing the ordination of women in Roman Catholicism, but finding ways to make it happen. No doubt, a few hundred years from now, all the drama around ordaining Catholic women will seem like such a parochial matter because women will share equally in Catholic leadership at all levels, but for right now, and as a way of getting to that (hopefully inevitable) future, it is worth appreciating that history is being made.

Here are two videos about the movement:

YouTube Preview Image YouTube Preview Image

Forgive my leap of imagination, but this story called to mind an artist in the music world often referred to as the “high priestess” of rock and roll: Stevie Nicks. That title “priestess” has a different meaning in the world of secular music: Nicks is often

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Landslide: Context and Meaning in Our Lives

Posted in: General by Mary McDonough on April 15, 2011

I rarely watch the “Oprah Show” but when I heard she was featuring some women rock legends on her Wednesday episode I had to tune in. The show started with a lovely duet by Stevie Nicks and Sheryl Crow singing “Landslide” (see video below). Others to appear included Pat Benatar, Avril Lavigne, Sister Sledge and hip hop trio Salt-N-Pepa.

The most interesting moment for me, however, was Oprah’s brief interview with Joan Jett. Apparently Oprah had read that Jett described rock music as “her religion.” When asked if that were true Jett replied that yes, it was, because she took the music “very seriously” and it gave “context and meaning” to her life.

I was reminded of a paper I wrote called “What Theology Can Contribute to Bioethics.” I argued that bioethics consists of moral decisions. Some of life’s most difficult questions arise when we face death, experience a serious illness or endure intense suffering. A need often emerges to find context and meaning within these painful events of our lives. From the birth of a newborn baby to the death of a loved one, and all of the immeasurable suffering that can happen in-between, we are seekers of meaning. Theology provides ways of understanding the world and avenues of meaning that are not attainable from any other discipline.

I went on to discuss an article on suffering by ethicist Richard Gunderman who recalled the story of Job (“Is Suffering the Enemy?” The Hastings Report 32 (March-April 2002): 40-4). Job lost everything. Yet, what bothered him the most was that he could find no reason for his suffering. Gunderman concluded that through the narrative on Job we learn that it is not the suffering itself that destroys people. Rather, it is suffering without meaning. Within theological traditions, explanations for suffering are as plentiful as the traditions themselves. Suffering has been described as punitive, redemptive or pedagogical. Regardless of which interpretation one accepts, through the use of narratives about creation, alienation and forgiveness, theology gives an account of human nature, human experience and human limitations that provide meaning to those who despair in their suffering.

Similarly, many of us, like Joan Jett, find context and meaning for our lives in rock music. Whether through community, song lyrics, memory association or the pure joy found in listening or playing an instrument, rock can also give us an account of human nature, human experience and human limitations.

Mary McDonough