Did Communism Help Make Amy Barrett Awesome?

 

OK, not Communism with a capital C, all grim and totalitarian, but “communism” as in communal living. Barrett appears to have extensive involvement in a Christian intentional community, People of Praise, an organization both Charismatic and mostly Catholic, in which members practice communal living. According to the Pedia of Wiki,

Members attempt to live as much of a common life as possible, working together, praying for one another both privately and in groups, visiting one another, sharing meals and offering one another gifts of money and material items in times of need. For some members common life extends to working together in community sponsored businesses and outreaches. Most members are married couples, including many with growing children. Some married couples have single men and women living with them in “households”, but most do not. Some single people live together (in houses of single men or women) while some live by themselves. There are also celibate single men and women, some of whom have formed a Brotherhood and Sisterhood within the People of Praise.

The fathers of Justice Barrett and her husband both have held leadership roles in People of Praise. As of 2017, Barrett was still serving as trustee of a school founded and run by People of Praise. Since trustees must be members of the PoP community, this suggests Barrett’s ties to PoP are recent, as well as longstanding.

We all know involvement in a supportive community can make parenting — especially motherhood — easier. This raises the intriguing possibility that Barrett’s involvement in a very close-knit, supportive community, one which practices some level of communal life, helped shape her into the outstandingly successful woman she is today, a woman who does seem to “have it all” in terms of career and family.


These days, Western women have more support than ever if they choose to make a career outside the home (some even say women get too much support). Nonetheless, the mere expectation that a young woman might have kids someday serves to make her career more expendable than a young man’s. I’m not calling this expendability “discrimination”, it’s just life: If people believe a gal’s gonna interrupt her career to have kids, then asking her to interrupt it for other reasons seems less intrusive than asking the same of her brothers, who otherwise stand a reasonable shot of reaping the benefits of a wholly uninterrupted career. People can’t really be blamed for reluctance to invest in a woman’s career when it can be so easily be derailed.


One way to address this reluctance is to simply accept that most women shouldn’t have careers. Oh, women should work outside the home whenever they’re not needed at home, this reasoning goes, just not in a career. Instead, most women should resign themselves to lower-status jobs where resume-building is less important, and time off is no big deal. Men should reign supreme in the workforce: it’s just the proper order of things.

Not all consequences of such a “proper order” are bad. Such an arrangement takes some pressure and guilt off women who do intend to have kids. It also helps soothe the male ego, a benefit which shouldn’t go overlooked. Civilization relies on taming male aggression, on convincing men that acting civilized and responsible isn’t emasculating. When men can rely on the workforce being a male-dominated space, going to work every day isn’t “emasculating”. Many men claim to find a “feminized” workplace less appealing. Men may feel less special, less needed, less manly if their workplace status isn’t seen as dependent not only on their effort as individuals, but also on their masculinity.

The mass entry of women into the workforce may have vastly expanded human capital, but we haven’t yet settled on a social script for women’s careers that doesn’t leave many men — or for that matter, women — feeling uneasy about their place in the world.


Another way to address people’s reluctance to invest in women’s careers is to help women who want careers build careers that are less easily derailed. Some women manage to achieve enough financial security before childbearing that they can easily afford to outsource childcare to paid help, but many women don’t. While some people advocate government intervention to keep women’s careers on track, voluntary communal living may offer a way for career-driven women to achieve this goal without resorting to government mandates or huge childcare expenses.

Traditionalists often worry that mothers who outsource their childcare to strangers for the sake of “a career” aren’t striking a good bargain. For one thing, childcare is expensive — sometimes expensive enough that having mom work outside the home is a net economic loss for the family. For another, outsourcing childcare weakens family ties. Career-driven women who surround themselves with a close-knit, extended family, though, have an opportunity to reduce the strain of outsourcing childcare on both family unity and the family budget. An extended family can supply not only more free child care, but also more family-centered childcare. Not all families are prolific or sedentary enough to make living together in an extended family feasible. Intentional communities, though, create a voluntary family, a “family” not limited to blood ties alone.

Sharing childcare in an intentional community doesn’t accomplish the goal of pressuring as many women as possible into the highest-status careers they can manage (whether they truly enjoy their careers or not). Indeed, there’s a risk of the highest-status women in the community exploiting the lower-status women, treating them as mere drudges and hindering their aspirations. After all, someone has to take care of domestic duties. That said, the purpose of intentional living isn’t exploitation, but mutual help. A healthy intentional community, one bound by mutual trust and help, might be an ideal way for women (who, after all, have a variety of work-life preferences) to specialize in the work-life balance that’s right for them.


Barrett has been reticent about her involvement in People of Praise, and understandably so: American pop culture seems prone to marginalizing intentional communities as “cults.”

Involvement in an intentional community doesn’t fit easily into stereotypes about American individualism, self-sufficiency, and the nuclear family. Many Americans likely find the idea of intentional living off-putting (a lifestyle for “dirty hippies”) and even those of us who don’t may find it hard to picture ourselves in an intentional community where we’d fit in. After all, these communities are few and scattered: there aren’t that many to choose from, especially if we’re unwilling to leave what community we do have in order to move to wherever these intentional communities are. That People of Praise is also a Charismatic community only adds to the perceived weirdness.

The Barretts’ understandable reticence about their involvement in People of Praise means we can only speculate about People of Praise’s contribution to the fantastic success Justice Barrett has made of her life, both in jurisprudence and as a mother. Still, a woman doesn’t have that many kids and a successful career without a lot of help along the way, whether bought or given. If Justice Barrett’s experience in People of Praise could serve as an exemplar to tradition-minded women who still yearn for careers outside the home, let us hope popular prejudice doesn’t keep her from telling her story.

There are 33 comments.

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  1. Spin Coolidge
    Spin
    @Spin

    Look, don’t shoot me, but here is the headline:

    “Leading Trump Pick for SCOTUS former member of Christian Cult”

    • #1
  2. TheRightNurse Member
    TheRightNurse
    @TheRightNurse

    Spin (View Comment):

    Look, don’t shoot me, but here is the headline:

    “Leading Trump Pick for SCOTUS former member of Christian Cult”

    Why isn’t it “Leading Trump Pick ACTUAL COMMUNIST”?

    • #2
  3. Spin Coolidge
    Spin
    @Spin

    TheRightNurse (View Comment):

    Spin (View Comment):

    Look, don’t shoot me, but here is the headline:

    “Leading Trump Pick for SCOTUS former member of Christian Cult”

    Why isn’t it “Leading Trump Pick ACTUAL COMMUNIST”?

    Because it is the left coming up with the headline.

    • #3
  4. Whistle Pig, Timely Rain Member
    Whistle Pig, Timely Rain
    @

    TheRightNurse (View Comment):

    Spin (View Comment):

    Look, don’t shoot me, but here is the headline:

    “Leading Trump Pick for SCOTUS former member of Christian Cult”

    Why isn’t it “Leading Trump Pick ACTUAL COMMUNIST”?

    Because the media likes Communists.

    • #4
  5. Whistle Pig, Timely Rain Member
    Whistle Pig, Timely Rain
    @

    Spin (View Comment):

    TheRightNurse (View Comment):

    Spin (View Comment):

    Look, don’t shoot me, but here is the headline:

    “Leading Trump Pick for SCOTUS former member of Christian Cult”

    Why isn’t it “Leading Trump Pick ACTUAL COMMUNIST”?

    Because it is the left coming up with the headline.

    Dang, I’ve been spinned, spun?

    • #5
  6. Nick H Coolidge
    Nick H
    @NickH

    Interesting as always. I think that we need to find better words than “communism” or “communal” for this lifestyle when it’s small groups without governmental power. Those words have been tainted. Preferably a word that also avoids the “cult” stigma. 

    Not sure I agree with this part though.

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake: When men can rely on the workforce being a male-dominated space, going to work every day isn’t “emasculating”. Many men claim to find a “feminized” workplace less appealing.

    I guess it depends what you mean by “feminized”. The IT departments at work have a high male/female ratio, but I don’t know that it’s… whatever the opposite of emasculating is. I enjoy working with departments that are more balanced. 

    • #6
  7. JudithannCampbell Inactive
    JudithannCampbell
    @JudithannCampbell

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake: One way to address this reluctance is to simply accept that most women shouldn’t have careers. Oh, women should work outside the home whenever they’re not needed at home, this reasoning goes, just not in a career. Instead, most women should resign themselves to lower-status jobs where resume-building is less important, and time off is no big deal.

    Is this the reasoning? It isn’t my reasoning, but admittedly, I am weird. I see no reason why childless women from wealthy families should work: I came from a working class family and did need to work, but I never felt that rich women were doing me any favors by working, and I positively dislike it when they suggest that I should be inspired by them because they have jobs: if that is their attitude, and in many cases it is their attitude, I would like them better if they didn’t have jobs.

    Much of feminism seems to be based on the idea that idle hands are the devil’s whatever: the thinking seems to be that everybody should be working at something-anything-all the time, whether they need the money or not. When 90% of the population lives on farms, where the farm work is never done, that attitude is necessary for survival, but we don’t live in that kind of world anymore. I am not convinced that demanding that everybody be busy all the time just for the sake of it is a good idea.

    • #7
  8. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    @Midge

    JudithannCampbell (View Comment):

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake: One way to address this reluctance is to simply accept that most women shouldn’t have careers. Oh, women should work outside the home whenever they’re not needed at home, this reasoning goes, just not in a career. Instead, most women should resign themselves to lower-status jobs where resume-building is less important, and time off is no big deal.

    Is this the reasoning?

    Among those who accept women should probably not have careers? Yeah, kindasorta.

    The traditionalists who tend to favor a male-female division of labor where men build careers outside the home and women are primarily responsible for domestic duties also tend to disfavor idleness and “moochy” women. Ergo, if and when a woman isn’t needed at home, she should work, in order to contribute to supporting her family.

    The work might not always be paid work. For example, a woman volunteering extensively at church is “paid” not in money but in social capital, so if the family should ever fall on hard times, the church community will be there for them. Still, however a woman’s labor is “paid”, traditionalists tend to suspect that a woman who doesn’t live and work for others, in some capacity, is doing it wrong.

    Among those who believe women probably should have careers, the reasoning is different.

    • #8
  9. Doug Watt Moderator
    Doug Watt
    @DougWatt

    This will never come up in Congressional hearings. The last thing Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi would want Americans to know is that people who invest their own time and their own resources to produce successful men and women works. Especially when they don’t need 800 federal bureaucrats to oversee, and regulate the program. 

    • #9
  10. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    @Midge

    Nick H (View Comment):

    Interesting as always. I think that we need to find better words than “communism” or “communal” for this lifestyle when it’s small groups without governmental power. Those words have been tainted. Preferably a word that also avoids the “cult” stigma.

    Well… my use of “communism” in the essay title was rather tongue and cheek. Similarly, tagging the essay “anarcho-something-ism” was a bit of a lark. Various anarcho-whatsis tend to favor a communitarian style of living, but that doesn’t mean communitarianism is anarcho-whatsis-ism.

    Speaking of which, “communitarian” might be the preferred term these days. It’s a bit clunky, though.

    Not sure I agree with this part though.

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake: When men can rely on the workforce being a male-dominated space, going to work every day isn’t “emasculating”. Many men claim to find a “feminized” workplace less appealing.

    I guess it depends what you mean by “feminized”. The IT departments at work have a high male/female ratio, but I don’t know that it’s… whatever the opposite of emasculating is.

    Remasculating? ;-P

    I enjoy working with departments that are more balanced.

    Some men definitely do. But there are other men who worry that the modern workplace is too hostile toward men expressing themselves as men, and that this makes it harder for men to find satisfaction in doing a good job.

    For example, some men worry about sexual-harassment accusations, and point out that, while women are usually encouraged to form women’s networks at work, for men to form men’s networks would be looked upon as chauvinism. That sort of thing. We know, for example, that “locker room talk” is more Officially Frowned Upon outside the locker room than it used to be. Although it was always frowned upon in mixed company, there used to be less need to treat the workplace as mixed. (Even in mixed company, people manage to pull off plenty of off-color humor, though.)

    • #10
  11. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    @Midge

    Doug Watt (View Comment):
    This will never come up in Congressional hearings. The last thing Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi would want Americans to know is that people who invest their own time and their own resources to produce successful men and women works.

    Though I think @spin has a point that if Barrett’s involvement in PoP can be spun as “Barrett was involved in a cult!!!1!11!” that might prove pretty tempting.

    • #11
  12. JudithannCampbell Inactive
    JudithannCampbell
    @JudithannCampbell

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake (View Comment):
    The traditionalists who tend to favor a male-female division of labor where men build careers outside the home and women are primarily responsible for domestic duties also tend to disfavor idleness and “moochy” women. Ergo, if and when a woman isn’t needed at home, she should work, in order to contribute to supporting her family.

    I get it, and I agree with you that this is generally the reasoning; I just think this reasoning is incredibly unfair, and counter productive, especially when it is espoused by those who believe that women should have large families and take most of the responsibility for taking care of aging parents: if the family really needs the extra money, that is one thing, but work for the sake of keeping busy just seems incredibly petty. Not sure that the conservatives who favor that reasoning have any right to complain about feminism; it seems as though such conservatives want to have their cake and eat it too.

    • #12
  13. Jules PA Member
    Jules PA
    @JulesPA

    I wouldn’t call it communism or communal, unless they have a structure where all income goes into one pot, and permission is granted by an individual or a committee for spending. As far as a cult, so long as people are free to leave, I would say no, it is not a cult. 

    Barrett’s community sounds like an old fashioned functional family extended to include unrelateds who commit to similar faith and standards of behavior.

    Since when is living among people who care about each other and help each other considered communism or a commune?

    In regards to childcare: because this community shares a common bond of faith, blending childcare across the group suggests a high trust amongst the adults that their children are being raised according to their wishes, following the desired and clearly stated standard. That all the children have a similar common bond of faith makes the childcare easier to be shared and the child development more consistent. 

    It is not surprising there is a trend of success in this community. Would that people would applaud them, but alas, I expect she will be pilloried on some level. I also presume she will have a response to neutralize the confirmation attacks without attacking back, which only gives her more credibility, not less. 

    • #13
  14. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    @Midge

    Jules PA (View Comment):

    I wouldn’t call it communism or communal, unless they have a structure where all income goes into one pot, and permission is granted by an individual or a committee for spending. As far as a cult, so long as people are free to leave, I would say no, it is not a cult.

    Barrett’s community sounds like an old fashioned functional family extended to include unrelateds who commit to similar faith and standards of behavior.

    Since when is living among people who care about each other and help each other considered communism or a commune?

    As I mentioned in comment 10, calling it “communism” in the title was intended lightheartedly. I agree “communism” isn’t the best word, though I think it’s fair to describe it as a communal living arrangement, even if pooling of resources and responsibilities is far from total.

    I agree with you that it’s the “family feel”, with high trust and shared values, that’s most important. I think arrangements where people can feel like family, even if they’re not biological family, are quite important.

    • #14
  15. Judge Mental Member
    Judge Mental
    @JudgeMental

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake (View Comment):

    As I mentioned in comment 10, calling it “communism” in the title was intended lightheartedly. I agree “communism” isn’t the best word, though I think it’s fair to describe it as a communal living arrangement, even if pooling of resources and responsibilities is far from total.

     

    How about familarian?

    • #15
  16. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    @Midge

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    How about familarian?

    Or familtarian? ;-P

    (Or familtonian, after Hamiltonian?)

    • #16
  17. Merrijane Inactive
    Merrijane
    @Merrijane

    JudithannCampbell (View Comment):
    I never felt that rich women were doing me any favors by working

    This is a weird attitude to me. I guess rich childless women having the attitude that they are an inspiration is a tad vain-glorious, but generally speaking I think people just like to work. Whether it’s a career for pay, volunteer service, raising children, or anything else, work provides purpose and self-esteem. Maybe it’s because work requires creativity. People do seem to have a natural need to create.

    • #17
  18. Matt Bartle Member
    Matt Bartle
    @MattBartle

    Spin (View Comment):

    Look, don’t shoot me, but here is the headline:

    “Leading Trump Pick for SCOTUS former member of Christian Cult”

    Yeah, I agree. It’s unfortunate, but this might be just enough weirdness to give the hysterical attacks any candidate will get a bit of plausibility.

    A portion of the Left is convinced that Republicans want to replace the constitution with the Bible and make us a full-fledged theocracy, and that’s all we’ll hear if she’s the nominee. 

    • #18
  19. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Matt Bartle (View Comment):

    Spin (View Comment):

    Look, don’t shoot me, but here is the headline:

    “Leading Trump Pick for SCOTUS former member of Christian Cult”

    Yeah, I agree. It’s unfortunate, but this might be just enough weirdness to give the hysterical attacks any candidate will get a bit of plausibility.

    A portion of the Left is convinced that Republicans want to replace the constitution with the Bible and make us a full-fledged theocracy, and that’s all we’ll hear if she’s the nominee.

    If that’s really true, she should be the nominee.  But I think it will be true no matter who the nominee is.  

    • #19
  20. JudithannCampbell Inactive
    JudithannCampbell
    @JudithannCampbell

    Merrijane (View Comment):

    JudithannCampbell (View Comment):
    I never felt that rich women were doing me any favors by working

    This is a weird attitude to me. I guess rich childless women having the attitude that they are an inspiration is a tad vain-glorious, but generally speaking I think people just like to work. Whether it’s a career for pay, volunteer service, raising children, or anything else, work provides purpose and self-esteem. Maybe it’s because work requires creativity. People do seem to have a natural need to create.

    Like I said, I am weird :) First off, I am not convinced that all work requires creativity, or at least, not a good kind of creativity. Are divorce lawyers creative? Maybe, but not in a good way.

    I just think the world was a better place in some ways when women left each other alone. I don’t like this society we live in where women stand over each other making sure that everyone is busy, and see it as their job to make sure that other women work hard and have meaningful lives; standing over other women to make sure they are working doesn’t seem like a meaningful life to me, and that is basically what feminism is. And, studies consistently show that most women would prefer to work less, not more. If you believe the studies, women have become less happy as they have become harder working, not more so.

    Also, I am fondly suspicious of women who go on and on about how much they love working; I have worked with them :) I worked in a restaurant once where I was very frank with my co workers about the fact that if I had my druthers, I wouldn’t be working: they all insisted that they would continue slinging hash even if they didn’t need to, because they said that they would be bored if they didn’t work. But for some reason, they never volunteered to stay late, and they would constantly nag the hostess to let them go home early. A lot of this talk from women about how much they love working is just so much bs; they don’t really mean it, they are just trying to avoid social punishment. The studies where women can remain anonymous, and in which most women admit that they would rather work less are probably a better gauge of reality. :)

    I totally agree that people want to feel useful, and I may get shot for saying this, but women are most useful as mothers-and I am not a mother, but I don’t understand why women find that notion insulting. Being a mother is a wondrous thing. 

    As an older childless woman, I spend a fair amount of time helping my elderly parents, and hopefully will be spending a lot more time doing that in future years; I don’t consider it drudgery. It is an honor and a privilege. So is motherhood.

    • #20
  21. Scott Wilmot Member
    Scott Wilmot
    @ScottWilmot

    Shouldn’t Hillary “it takes a village” Clinton and Melissa “kids belong to whole communities” Harris-Perry be big supporters of Mrs. Barrett?

    • #21
  22. Jim McConnell Member
    Jim McConnell
    @JimMcConnell

    @NickH, how about “communalism?” It seems descriptive and not too unwieldy.

    • #22
  23. Whistle Pig, Timely Rain Member
    Whistle Pig, Timely Rain
    @

    Doug Watt (View Comment):

    This will never come up in Congressional hearings. The last thing Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi would want Americans to know is that people who invest their own time and their own resources to produce successful men and women works. Especially when they don’t need 800 federal bureaucrats to oversee, and regulate the program.

    You are assuming they will be able to think it through.  If Schumer could think things through he would have let his caucus vote for Gorsuch.  And Pelosi?  I think her latest “treatment” left her skin stretched so tight she can’t see straight, let alone see through an issue.

    • #23
  24. Sweezle Member
    Sweezle
    @Sweezle

    Matt Lewis did a funny opinion piece on Judge Amy that some might enjoy:

    https://www.thedailybeast.com/amy-coney-barrett-the-trump-supreme-court-pick-wholl-troll-liberals-the-hardest

    I want her on the Supreme Court for some of the reasons he lists. She is a woman of faith, she and her husband have 6 bio kids and an adopted child and she is a very successful career woman. And a brilliant lawyer, scholar, Judge who clerked with Scalia.

    • #24
  25. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Sweezle (View Comment):

    Matt Lewis did a funny opinion piece on Judge Amy that some might enjoy:

    https://www.thedailybeast.com/amy-coney-barrett-the-trump-supreme-court-pick-wholl-troll-liberals-the-hardest

    I want her on the Supreme Court for some of the reasons he lists. She is a woman of faith, she and her husband have 6 bio kids and an adopted child and she is a very successful career woman. And a brilliant lawyer, scholar, Judge who clerked with Scalia.

    Why do we have to settle for just one of these good candidates in President Trump’s short list?  Why not have two or three of them?  

    • #25
  26. Old Buckeye Inactive
    Old Buckeye
    @OldBuckeye

    Living in community with like-minded individuals who worship the same could just as easily describe the Hamptons, Beverly Hills, Palo Alto, and other suburbs. The differences are what (instead of who) they worship and the values/outcomes of such an enclave. 

    • #26
  27. Misthiocracy, Joke Pending Member
    Misthiocracy, Joke Pending
    @Misthiocracy

    Haven’t been through the comments so apologies if this has already been mentioned, but to The Left a religious commune isn’t “communism”.  It’s a cult.

    https://slate.com/human-interest/2018/07/amy-coney-barretts-alleged-religious-group-people-of-praise-what-is-it.html

    • #27
  28. Nick H Coolidge
    Nick H
    @NickH

    Jim McConnell (View Comment):

    @NickH, how about “communalism?” It seems descriptive and not too unwieldy.

    Better, but still has that “commune” root that will rub some people the wrong way. 

    • #28
  29. Sweezle Member
    Sweezle
    @Sweezle

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Sweezle (View Comment):

    Matt Lewis did a funny opinion piece on Judge Amy that some might enjoy:

    https://www.thedailybeast.com/amy-coney-barrett-the-trump-supreme-court-pick-wholl-troll-liberals-the-hardest

    I want her on the Supreme Court for some of the reasons he lists. She is a woman of faith, she and her husband have 6 bio kids and an adopted child and she is a very successful career woman. And a brilliant lawyer, scholar, Judge who clerked with Scalia.

    Why do we have to settle for just one of these good candidates in President Trump’s short list? Why not have two or three of them?

    My reason is simple. This is the pick before the November election. I want the left to defend the indefensible. Their unfair treatment of another highly qualified female. And Trump will have at least two more picks from his list after 2018.

    • #29
  30. Jules PA Member
    Jules PA
    @JulesPA

    Community. 

    Amy Barrett and her family live in a supportive community. No need to hunt for new words. 

    a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common.

    a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.

    Community.

    • #30

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