Agony & Hope Is Born
Two of the more popular posts in this space over the past week have been about the Sydney-based journalist Anna Hitchings and her writing about the courtship crisis among traditional Christian women. I met Anna when I was in Australia; she was part of the Campion College team that accompanied me to all my speaking engagements. I found her to be smart, charismatic, and a lot of fun. Everywhere we went, young people were talking about a piece she had just published in Catholic Weekly, about how hard it is to find a partner who shares one’s faith. Though she wrote the piece as a Christian woman, for Christian women, there were no small number of Christian men who wrote in to say it was not easy for them either.
The response was so intense that Anna was convinced to start a blog to discuss these issues. She named it Agony and Hope, after Capt. Wentworth’s line in Jane Austen’s Persuasion: “You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope.” Here’s the site’s main landing page, where you can read her first two newspaper essays, and subscribe to the blog.
And here is a link to her first original post — one clarifying basic questions readers had, including what she meant by saying she was looking for a man who is “worldly-wise”. Excerpt:
These two little words have undoubtedly been the most misinterpreted, misunderstood and maligned by readers. When I wrote about men who were not “worldly-wise” or who were “socially awkward”, please allow me to clarify my meaning:
What I did NOT mean:
- Shy or introverted
- Secular (unchristian) moral and social views
- Or that “worldly-wise” = the face and physique of Chris Hemsworth, the salary of an investment banker, a sensitive and attentive listener and slavish lapdog ready to attend to my every want and need – and a masseur to boot (or any combination thereof)!
What I DID mean:
- Men who have serious problems interacting socially (including those who are on the spectrum or have an intellectual disability)
- An inability to have a mature, intelligent, normal conversation
- Just plain weirdos
- In other words, all women like me want is someone with shared values and a mutual attraction. That’s it! That’s all. I don’t think this is setting a high bar.
What used to be the regular, run-of-the-mill, everyday state of affairs is becoming less and less common. All I’m advocating for is what used to be the social norm, back when your average Aussie went to church on Sunday.
Now, I’m well aware that the above description of social awkwardness applies to both men and women in the Church. However, in my experience, the majority do seem to be men.
Anna has allowed commenting on the site, and also provided a means by which you can write her. I know from talking to her about the blog that she really wants to involve readers in the blog’s production. She’s eager to hear what Christian women and men both have to say — your struggles, your triumphs, your advice for others, your request for advice, all of it. She wants Agony And Hope to be a place of conversation, inquiry, and even support.
She’s a first-time blogger, and she’s entering the public square to talk about something quite personal. That takes courage, especially because she will surely draw the ire of some pretty nasty people. But, I told her, you would not have had the kind of viral response you did to your original column if you weren’t speaking to people who really in need, and who want to talk about this cross they carry. So, good luck to Anna Hitchings of Agony and Hope, and may the discussions that emerge from the site be a blessing to all who participate. Who knows? Some of you might even find each other through it, and marry.