Perhaps only the estimable Dave Gibson, Beliefnet and (ahem) Commonweal blogger, and author of The Rule of Benedict, could see--and make--the connections between: Carrie Prejean, the controversial Miss California; Queen Esther, the biblical heroine; Katharine Harris; and Sarah Palin. Gibson's latest piece is on Politics Daily, and it's terrific. A little bit here:
Above all, the story of Esther allows conservatives to mediate-or accommodate-conflicting feelings about sex and purity, women and power. "I think in many ways she is a dubious role model," says Anne Lapidus Lerner, director of the Program in Jewish Women's Studies at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City. "But she does offer beauty and power together-and subservience. So it's a good mix, it would seem to me, for people who are interested in seeing women as subservient but not totally powerless, and to see their beauty as something that carries them to whatever modicum of power they achieve."
It's also a good fit for a Bible Belt culture that has eschewed dancing and drinking yet glories in female beauty, as long as it stays within bounds. Now those boundaries seem to be expanding: Carrie Prejean's pre-pageant breast enhancements smack of fiddling with God's handiwork, for example, and the racy photos that emerged after her gay marriage comments aren't exactly your usual Sunday School Bible lesson.
That's a direct quote, except I deleted the link to "racy photos" in the original.
James Martin, SJ