UPDATE: For those wishing to express their concern over The Rev. Kaeton’s remarks, here is some relevant contact information:
Bishop of Newark:
The Rt. Rev. Mark Beckwith
31 Mulberry Street
Newark NJ 07102
Bishop’s Office: 973-430-9976
Ms. Patrice Henderson
344 North Ridgewood Road, South Orange NJ 07079
Mr. Robert Simmons
One Cobane Terrace, West Orange NJ 07052
General diocesan contact info:
Episcopal Diocese of Newark
31 Mulberry Street, Newark NJ 07102
The Rev. Elizabeth Kaeton was recently reflecting on her granddaughter’s 6th birthday. She had sent her granddaughter flowers, and the little girl had called back to thank her. This is part of the conversation that ensued:
“Have you given any thought to what you want to be when you grow up?” I asked.
“Well, um . . .yes, actually, I have,” she answered.
“Well, um, most of all, I want to be kind. Mommy says the world doesn’t have enough kind people, so I want to be kind. And generous. Daddy says that we should always try to be generous. You know . . . Do you know what generous means, Nana?”
The conversation continues:
I don’ know why I continued to be surprised by anything this child says, but her response stunned me into momentary silence, which Mackie heard loud and clear.
Rushing to my aid, she continued, “But, well, I already know ONE thing I want to be when I grow up. Do you know what that is?”
“No, sweetheart, why don’t you tell me?”
“Well, I already know that I want to be a Mommy, just like my Mommy.”
“Really?” I said, surprised at the slow rise of disappointment I could feel welling up in my stomach.
“Yes. I can’t think of a better thing to be than to be a good Mommy, just like my Mommy. And then, you know what, Nana?”
“Then, I can grow up to be a really good Nana, just like YOU! And, you are the BEST Nana anyone could ever have!”
I swear to God, if Jesus had come to take me home in that very moment, I would have left this life a deliriously happy woman.
So Kaeton’s granddaughter wants to be a mommy. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, as Kaeton quickly insists.
What follows is a pretty standard reverie on feminism, and eventually she winds her way around to those women who oppose what has become known as the “feminist movement”:
There are actual websites like “Ladies Against Feminism” with helpful articles on “Humility” and “Thoughts on Masculine Leadership and Feminism.” There are actual pictures of women who have made their own “modest” dresses (no slacks for these feminine followers of Jesus, oh no!), with pictures of them going through their day, doing the laundry, making the bed, doing crafts.
Other sites are more of the same, “Joyful Momma,” and “Family Renewal Ministries,” - all chock-a-block full of helpful information and support for “the little woman.”
As I said, pretty standard stuff: Kaeton wouldn’t be Kaeton if she weren’t deriding those who weren’t 100% on the feminist bandwagon… especially other women.
But then, her essay takes a very disturbing turn.
Before I post the excerpt, let me say that here at Stand Firm we like to push boundaries, and we especially like pushing the boundaries of weblog commentary. It’s even codified into our comment policy at the bottom of every page. But what Elizabeth Kaeton proceeded to write about Anne Kennedy, Matt’s wife as well as a fellow ordained Episcopal priest, shocked even us:
There is one woman, an Episcopal priest married to an Episcopal priest, whose writing sometimes flat out scares the BeJesus out of me. She is pregnant with their fourth child, the youngest of whom is not yet one year old. They are using “Natural Family Planning” - letting “God decide” on how many children they will be blessed with and resigning themselves to gladly take whatever God gives them, giving God the praise and glory.
She gets lots of support from women who have made similar choices, all giddy with what they describe as Christian love and the Holy Ghost. Everyone seems positively ecstatic about this new pregnancy while this poor woman writes about how she doesn’t have the energy to clean her house or herself or her children whom, she muses with mild curiosity, might get their feet cut on the cereal bowl one of them smashed this morning which she simply hasn’t had the inclination to clean up.
The women commenting on this have nothing but giddy high praise for her. I can only read so much before I have to reach for some dry crackers. Apparently, you can experience “morning sickness” by proxy.
Umm . . .Can you say, “Irresponsible?”
Okay, then. How about “Madness”?
Don’t believe me? Think I’m overstating my case? Well, after reading a few of her entries, I have seriously considered calling the local authorities.
I swear to God, one of these days you are going to read about this woman loading herself and her six kids in her mini van and driving them all into a nearby lake. Or, drowning them, one by one, in the bathtub and then lining their lifeless little bodies in a perfect row on their perfectly made beds in their perfect suburban home.
Of course, she’ll say that “God told her” to do it. Postpartum depression will be the postmodern villain. From the days even before Lizzie Borden, female hormones have always been an easy scapegoat. If the writers of Genesis had known about them, PMS would have been specifically named as one of the results of “The Fall.”
Neighbors and church members will appear on the five o’clock news and say what a “lovely family” they were and how shocked, (SHOCKED!) they all are. One woman will shake her head sadly and say how her husband was “devoted” to her and the children. Another will wipe a tear from her eye and report that they were such “committed Christians” who were dedicated to “home schooling” their kids. And I can guarantee that someone from her church will opine that there is so much pressure from “those feminists” to pull families like this apart.
At the precise moment at which someone says something about “the power of Satan” is exactly the point when I’ll throw up my hands and run screaming from the room. Let me tell you something: This woman doesn’t title her Blog, “an undercurrent of hostility” for nothing.
In fact, you know what? That hostility is the only thing that gives me hope. Right now, it’s misdirected against feminists and liberals and everyone in the Episcopal Church who doesn’t march, lock-step to “Onward, Christian soldier,” but she’s smart enough to know better.
I know she is. She knows she is. I just pray she gets the courage to push through the heavy fog of the false sense of nobility which has become the warm-fuzzy blanket she pulls around her to ward off the insecurities whispered in her ear by her . . . um . . . “religion.”
This post was up on Kaeton’s website for 4 hours during the afternoon of July 8, long enough to garner commentary from readers. At some point, though, she edited the post to remove the references to child-murder. afterwards, at least one more revision was made; what is at least the third version of the post is what is online as I write this.
What kind of person thinks these sorts of thoughts, but keeps them to herself? What kind of person actually gives voice to thoughts like these, but only to trusted confidants in the strictest privacy?
I have my ideas, but at the moment I can think of only two things: First, we now know, without a doubt, what kind of person doesn’t just think such things, or say such things in private, but actually writes such things on a public blog for the world to see; and it is an ordained Episcopal priest in Newark, New Jersey.
And second, what must be going through the minds of Anne and Matt Kennedy, as they tucked their beloved children into bed tonight after reading this?
Rev. Kaeton, you have crossed a line with your remarks. In my prayers tonight I will ask God to help you know what to do next, and I am certain it doesn’t end with simply making a couple of revisions to a blog post.