Mankowski: Silk Purses & Sow's Ears

(I am sure the apostrophe in the title is misplaced)

Arguing with inclusive language loonies, the best I could come up with is that they never seem to worry about the gender of Satan, all his works and all his empty promises. For a better essay see "Silk Purses & Sows' Ears: 'Inclusive Language' Comes to Mass" from Women for Faith and Family viii.4 & ix.1, by Fr Paul Mankowski sj.

This is one of those essays when you want to keep cutting and pasting (funny that, considering the first paragraph). But here is a line of argument that had not already occurred to me:
Consider this sentence: "The men and officers of the second battalion will return to winter quarters on Monday." Here the word "man" is being used exclusively (i.e., non-generically), but it means, of course, not "non-females" but "non-officers." The word "man" is not only unmarked for gender but unmarked for military rank. Accordingly, in different sentences it can serve the broader or the narrower function, usually without ambiguity. There are, of course, certain linguistic situations in which it may be difficult to tell which use is intended. For example, in a pub you overhear a stranger say, "Jack's a man in my regiment." Does he mean man/non-officer or generic man? A speaker of even modest skill can ordinarily indicate his meaning clearly.
Now suppose for a moment you're serving as a military chaplain somewhere and have just conducted a Mass in which you recited the Nicene Creed according to the conventional translation. How would you deal with a red-eyed infantry colonel who buttonholes you in the sacristy and complains in a trembling voice that he feels the words, "For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven", exclude officers from the ambit of divine salvific activity? If you have bought into the standard inclusive-language mindset you're in a tough bind, for according to the mindset it is the listener's subjective impressions that take precedence over standard usage and over the intentions of the speaker. So if you refuse to change the Creed to read, "for us men and officers he came down from heaven," you're at a complete loss to explain your previous concessions to feminist critics. And if you do make the requested change you're incapable of refusing with rational consistency the next madman who feels himself excluded by your language.