In the sad, little dark corner of the breakout room, near the handout and collaterals table and up against the folding partition wall Where a Drifter Traddy Priest Recalcitrantly Sequesters while the rest of us get on with the real work of Christianity, there’s yet more whining and bitterness going on about Pope Francis’ initiatives. It seems the Holy Father commissioned a study on the history of the female diaconate just so the investigators could chat about the great pastry tray (they’re not as good at the Marriott as they used to be back in the good old days) and sharpie their names on stick-on badges before the ice-breaking session. Which, it is imagined, is followed by lunch and a team building exercise, cookie break, meditation in the Papal gardens and daily Mass before the various cliques decide where to get dinner together because that’s not included in the registration fee. There won’t be enough time to discuss deaconesses (or “deacons,” which is so much easier to say) because of the vicious circle of time-wasting a symposium involves. The doomed study of the female diaconate is going nowhere.
Deaconette has seen this silly line of reasoning before.
A Literary Digression
“Well, that’s what he’s like. A fawn. Nervous. Quivering. Gets the wind up at the slightest provocation. Came out of that potting shed, I understand, shaking like a leaf and saying ‘Never again!’ Yes, every drop of his manly courage had evaporated. … Odd, this neurotic tendency in the American business man. Can you account for it? No? I can. Too much coffee.”
“That and the New Deal. Over in America, it appears, life for the business man is one long series of large cups of coffee, punctuated with shocks from the New Deal. He drinks a quart of coffee, and gets a nasty surprise from the New Deal. To pull himself together, he drinks another quart of coffee, and along comes another nasty surprise from the New Deal. He staggers off, calling feebly for more coffee, and . . . Well, you see what I mean. Vicious circle. No nervous system could stand it…”
—P. G. Wodehouse, Joy in the Morning
(For context of the above-mentioned potting shed, consult Mr Wodehouse’s comic novel and its labyrinthine plot. Deaconette can’t begin to explain, and she is certain that her gentle readers will enjoy the book anyhow.)
On Attending Professional Get-Togethers
Because the Pererrating Proponent of Preterite Paralysis (note to newcomers: “The 4P” is Deaconette’s usual shorthand for “Father Zuhlsdorf”) perennially punches in at a plethora of pointless Pharisaical plenums, Deaconette posits he is predicating his prognostication of procrastination on his past personal practices. Perhaps his projection is perspicacious, or at least plausible.
Plums in ponderous piles. Ptolemy’s Ptarmigans. OK, Deaconette is finished.
Very early in Deaconette’s career, the several conventions and annual meetings she is always being sent to were awful in that same soporific way. She would sit in an uncomfortable stacking chair in a windowless hotel ballroom, simmering over how her time was being spent uselessly. Meanwhile, her less productive colleagues were truly and vocally enjoying an all-workday naptime. After sufficient experience of these events, it dawned on Deaconette that the remainder joining her in these cheerless ballrooms were the loafers and losers of other organizations.
She recused herself to the hallway, where she discovered the movers and shakers of other companies busy with their mobile devices, laptops and handshakes. By not waiting until the 5:30 Networking Event and Sundae Social in the Savoy Pavilion Mezzanine West to introduce herself to strangers, she ever since has come home from conventions with the business cards of potential partners, customers, and new hire recruits. Not to mention the new ideas and accidentally revealed competitor strategies she can talk over with her boss, Mr Boterbroek. One can build a team or build an enterprise. Deaconette tries to use her time wisely.
What Will Probably Happen?
Deaconette has a notion different from the 4P of how the members of the Study Commission on the Diaconate of Women will collaborate. That’s because she realizes that:
- Some of the members are experts on the topic of the history of women in the diaconate, having done years of research inquiry into the topic.
- All of the members are eminent experts in disciplines which touch upon the Study Commission’s task: Biblical Studies, Theology, Christian History, Ecclesiology, Patristics.
- All of the members are academicians who have published papers and books in their respective fields of expertise.
- Some members have long acquaintance with each other and with each other’s work.
- All of the members have mailing addresses.
- All of the members have email accounts.
- All of the members know how to write a précis of their findings and opinions.
- All of the members have telephones.
- All of the members have been to academic symposia before.
- All of the members are familiar with the process that concludes with a coherent report presenting both the findings of the Study Commission and its unresolved controversies.
- All of them seem to be sincere, prayerful and devoted Catholics. Even the priests and bishops.
- All of the members rose to the prominence that resulted in their selection to the Study Commission because they know how to wisely use their time.
Deaconette is not worried that an alleged three-hour window for discussion on each of two days isn’t enough time for the members to collaborate on their report. She expects much will happen collegially, off the record and perhaps even sub rosa in the meantime. Oral arguments before the Supreme Court of the United States last only an hour, and yet the justices somehow manage to write a majority and minority decision on their gathered findings. Why is that?
Whither the 4P’s Spittle-Flecked Nutty?
Like the 4P, Deaconette isn’t particularly well-read on the subject of women in the diaconate. That’s notwithstanding her Deaconettehood, because it was self-anointed without the aid of the greasy hands of a bishop. And she’s not pursuing “official” diaconal ordination, either, because she’s holding out for the Catholic Church’s long-overdue and frankly, inevitable ordination of women to the archdiaconate.
She doesn’t see where all the anxiety that the 4P has about women deacons is going. He expresses his anxiety in his posts about women being deacons with sarcasm, anger or some form of whiny complaint. But the Participant Feedback Booth is set-up in the Blue Remote Parking Area near the dumpsters and Deaconette is not walking all the way there with him when she knows an appletini in the Roof Garden Lounge will have the same calming effect upon her mood.
Ultimately the Study Commission’s paper will include information that it did not agree upon and the reasons why it did not. What the Pope does then with the report is up to the Pope. So what if superannuated academics are gathering to mix and assemble their life’s work into a story that the Holy Father couldn’t find at the library but still really wants to read? Deaconette knows that feeling well. She’s still waiting for the rest of Season One of Firefly. Year-long waits for the Game of Thrones saga to continue are agonizing for her.
Chill out. It’s just a paper written by someone else for someone else, and neither Deaconette nor the 4P have much influence over any of those someone elses. Maybe something will come of it, and if it does we’ll have to adapt to whatever that is. Meanwhile, 4P, try to do something more productive for our cause than the Boxed Lunch in the Exhibit Hall First Floor North. The go-getters in the hallway have a lot of work to do while we’re here, and we’re tired of carrying the dead weight.