For the record, I was going to write something nice about Emily Stimpson before this whole papal interview explosion. I attacked her twice recently (here and here), but she has been absolutely killing it in her last two columns—by killing it I mean writing the kind of piece that got me reading (and returning to) the very right-wing catholicvote.org in the first place.
First, there was this eminently share-able column on “grace hacks”. Then there wasthis piece on “having it all”. Hear me out! Yes, the mommy wars is a tired topic, and yes, Stimpson takes a predictably conservative line. “I do think women are fooling themselves,” she says, “if they think the work they do outside the home matters more than the work they do inside the home.”
But just before that, she writes:
Ultimately, like Corey, I think every woman has to decide for herself where she’s called and how she can best find the balance between her personal and professional life. I also know plenty of women who firmly believe they’re better mothers for the time they spend at their professional work. I take (most of) them at their word.
The two things she does in that paragraph—acknowledging individual difference and agreeing to take those who disagree with her at their word—are like two of the golden rules of discourse. Because she refuses to set sides against each other, she makes us (even those of us who disagree with her) way more willing to listen to her argument, which in this case comes from pretty moving personal testimony.
So, again, I was already planning to write something nice about Stimpson in this space.
Then, boom. Pope Francis talked to Antonio Spadaro, S.J., and the whole world had to decide how to react, and Stimpson chose the very best way.
In a column entitled “Is Francis Talking to Me?”, she writes:
I’m also coming to see that my task isn’t to worry about the words that were there for everyone else. My task is to focus on the words that were there for me. It’s to re-read every last line and ask at their conclusion, ‘Is Francis talking to me?’
Amen. The post is absolutely worth reading in its entirety.