Discussion Questions: Culture Wars

  1. The past week has seen some major religious holidays celebrated without crowds. Did you participate in a virtual seder or virtual Easter? What was it like? (Feel free to spend as much time on this question as suits you. I’m opening up space for a conversation about it because, in some ways, I expect that disruptions to collective, traditional events will be some of the most memorable aspects of the pandemic.)
  2. Please take a look at #relpol225. In addition to looking at your classmates’ posts, I want to call your attention to Nicolle Hannah Jones’s thread about Confederate symbols at the protests in Michigan yesterday and a thread from Gillian Frank that shows what advertisements for abortifacients looked like in newspapers and magazines when abortion was illegal.
  3. The 1965 Atlantic article you read, “One Woman’s Abortion,” describes a (white, middle class) woman’s efforts to obtain an illegal abortion in the years prior to Roe v. Wade. What struck you about this piece? Why does “Mrs. X” think women didn’t talk about abortions “around the bridge table?” Why does Mrs. X believe that abortion should be legal? Keeping in mind that 94% of NYC abortion deaths were women of color in 1965 (Griffith, 217), I’d like you to consider the ways in which religion, class, and race marked and unmarked in Mrs. X’s article. (I’m 100% interested to hear your readings of this article, but one reason I assigned it is that it was written before the wider contours of the abortion debate were established, before sides were taken and lines drawn in the sand in the same way they are now. If it felt like Mrs. X was having a different debate than what we’re used to seeing, that’s because she was. To the extent that you can decipher the lines of argument in “One Woman’s Abortion” and compare/contrast them to the contemporary debates we know so well, that would be awesome.)
  4. One thing about the abortion debate is that it provokes moral stands. What moral claims have been made for and against abortion and by whom?
  5. What was the Clergy Consultation Service on Abortion? What role does Professor Griffith argue that it played in the 1960s and early 1970s?
  6. Professor Griffith argues that the abortion debate has largely been fueled by concerns about power, patriarchy, and women’s sexuality. Please flesh out Moody’s Kissling’s views about power and sex. Why were some religious institutions (especially the Catholic church) so rankled by these views?