A reader gives me an excuse to post one of my favorite clips

He writes:

Dear Mark, I am a long-time fan of your work.

Thank you!

 Your book By What Authority?, your trilogy on Mary, and your CD series Catholic Controversies were very important during the early years after my conversion to Catholicism (and continue to be very important resources).

I’m so happy to hear that!  FWIW, I have a new book out called THE CHURCH’S BEST-KEPT SECRET: A PRIMER ON CATHOLIC SOCIAL TEACHING:

We met years ago at a prayer breakfast in Denver and then you were kind enough to correspond with me while I was deployed to Iraq in 2010-2011.

Thank you for your service!

I was wondering if you were aware of a thoughtful article on the use of pronouns in signature blocks. My employer is encouraging us to include them. I want (and believe I am obligated) to treat all people with love and dignity. Consistent therewith, I always try to call people by the name they prefer (some Davids don’t like being called Dave, etc…) Similarly, if someone indicates a preferred pronoun, I try to use it, too (though it doesn’t come up very much in one-on-one conversations). But, I am not entirely sure what I should be doing in my own signature block. I know this doesn’t matter much considering all that is going on in the world. But, I want to be true to my faith and kind to others. Thank you in advance for any thoughts.

I’m afraid I don’t know of any articles on the matter.  It seems to me your instincts are exactly right: call people whatever they want to be called.  I don’t know that this particularly obliges you to specify your own name/nickname/pronoun unless you think people will somehow a) be confused about what to call you and b) be embarrassed or shamed by the confusion, in which case being clear could be a small act of kindness to them. (For example, somebody named “Pat” might want to specify their gender so that a stranger reading their email knows if they are addressing a man or woman).  But if your name is clearly masculine or feminine (say, “Jeffrey” or “Elizabeth”) and you know people will figure that out, then I would not bother specifying gender unless you prefer something else such as “they” or “them”.  (And, of course, if somebody goes by “Jeff” or “Eliza/Beth/Betty/Betsy/Lizzie/etc”)  No need to make more work for yourself than you need to.  Of course, if you boss absolutely insists on this, then pick your preferred pronoun and stick it in the block.  It’s not worth fighting about either.

Best wishes!


One Response

  1. I’d say if your employer is encouraging pronouns, there’s no reason to resist. I know some folks would tell you that steadfast refusal to give your pronouns or acknowledge others’ is an act of heroic resistance against the tides of modernist gender ideology, but in my humble opinion those people have their priorities a bit messed up.

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