Second, interesting [Addendum: Sadly the link is down due to the controversy, I'll see if I can find it elsewhere] feminist critique (spoilers) of Children of Men. Although it gets overpopulation wrong. Overpopulation is on its way out as an issue. Yes, the world's population will still grow, but it's probably going to top out at around 10-11 billion so long as current trends stay in place (the rate of growth is dropping). Now there's going to be a real youth bulge problem in the Middle East, Indonesia, and a few other countries so that is a real overpopulation issue. But in much of the developed world as well as China are going to have to deal with aging problems. America is actually doing okay on that score because of immigration. Thematically, the movie is dead-on on this issue even if it doesn't focus on the facts of it.
This review is the subject of some controversy because it resulted in the writer resigning from the Edwards campaign.
The controversial bit:
The Christian version of the virgin birth is generally interpreted as super-patriarchal, where god is viewed as so powerful he can impregnate without befouling himself by touching a woman, and women are nothing but vessels.
It drew an attack by Bill Donohue of the Catholic League. I dunno if that's true, perhaps Bill Donohue's Catholic League could explain their interpretation. You know what would be a great PR move, they could have a female priest that's a member of the Catholic League do it. That would really show this blogger. Oh, wait...
Anyways, more seriously, I think the "generally interpreted" line is an overstatement. I haven't heard that interpretation in any ELCA Church that I can remember. Although, Lutherans aren't known for focusing on the virgin birth or Mary. But it raises an interesting question, is Zeus going around knocking up various Greek women less patriarcal than the birth narrative in the Gospel? I mean in the myth there's obviously some sort of sex going on, even though it involves animals or a ::cough:: golden shower. [Addendum: Zeus often involved rape, so that would certainly be far more patriarichal.]
By odd coicidence, I'd actually read an interesting defense of the Vagina Monologues by an nun using a pseudonym. It's worth reading in its own right, but here's the relevant bit.
The polarization of the sexes that is so deeply imbedded in Catholic thought needs to be reassessed. Perhaps the most damaging has been the characterization of women as either “virgin” or “whore”, epitomized inthe Church’s on-going comparison of Eve and Mary. Throughout the centuries, women have been continually reminded that they are intrinsically a cause of sin and ruin for men just as Eve was the cause of Adam’s ruin, and therefore, the human race. The Virgin Mary, on theother hand is presented as the New Eve, whose cooperation with the Blessed Trinity in our redemption completely reversed the effects of Eve’s choice.
A Childish Notion
To compound that problem even further, many theologians have taught that Mary’s virginity not only applies to Jesus’ conception, but also to His birth. In other words, some still cling to a belief that Mary did not deliver Jesus vaginally as every other mother delivers a baby and that her hymen remained intact. Though not a dogmatic or official teaching—as is the virginal conception ofJesus—this childish notion has embedded itself into Catholic imagination and theology and continues to have an impact today. An early written source for this belief is a second century text which the Church never accepted as authentic called The Protoevangelium of James.In this text the tale is told that as Joseph is returning with a midwife to Mary, they together witness a miraculous birth. The midwife has to ensure for posterity’s sake that Mary has indeed not delivered the baby vaginally, so, much like Thomas did to Jesus
Now that interpretation is super-patriarcal. Although I don't think it's the general one.
And as a closing note, my favorite inconsistency with the virgin birth is that I'm pretty sure at least one of the gospels has Mary being impregnated by the Holy Spirit. To me, that definitely confuses the whole God the Father thing. Ah, the Trinity, is there anything it can't explain?
Hat tip: Matt Yglesia for the blogger bits and Andrew Sullivan for the nun bits.