Thursday, September 5, 2013

Liberal nuns

Picture from here.

I have a fault.  I am judgmental.  One way I compensate for this fault is to mull things over for a while before reaching any kind of conclusion.

About mid-summer I had a chance to catch up with an old family friend.  We talked about the things that people do when they have not seen each other for a couple of years.

The big news in their family is that their daughter intends to join a convent.  The family is fully supportive of her decision.  The only challenge has been an inability to find a convent "that is liberal enough."

Old friends don't pillory each other.  It is too hard to make ammends. Injury can fester and never heal.

I commented that there seemed to be no shortage of liberal nuns back in the 1970s.

My friend commented that all those grand ladies are now in their 60s and 70s.  Her daughter would have no peers who were liberal.  And then our conversation turned to other things.

Picture from here.
My mind has been worrying this conversational tidbit the way one's tongue might probe a sore tooth.

The Roman Catholic Church hierarchy is not notable for being a bastion of liberal thinking.  Yes, there are some high-flying Jesuit organizations that buck the trend but the back-bone of the religious orders follow a handbook that is 2000 years old.  The Roman Catholic hierarchy is modeled on (some would say it invented) the line organization.  Authority cascades down level-by-level.  Accountability commensurate with the authority flows back up level-by-level.  Like arteries and veins with the Bible and the Pope serving as the Heart and Lungs.

The Economy of Responsibility in a Line Organization (my graphic)

The entire concept of "Liberal" is like the concept of a "well formed conscience", except it is on anabolic steroids and crack cocaine.  The idea of entering Religious Orders is to lose one's self.  That is the point of wearing habits and obedience.  Interviewing Religious Orders with a political litmus test, to see if it is Liberal enough, just seems wrong.  It is as if a 20 year old woman is hiring the convent and is performing job interviews for the prospective candidates.

My impression of the Religious Orders, especially convents, is that the did some serious soul searching in the 1980s.  They experienced dreadful attrition.  In many cases it was after they had paid for the Sisters to acquire Master's degrees and Doctorates.  They re-engineered and focused on their core "business".

Another trend is that the Catholic Church seems to be backing away from Christianity Lite.  We want the best price for commodities like gasoline and hotdogs.  But we don't actively seek out the cheapest seatbelts when driving our mortal bodies around town.  We want the best.  Similarly, we aren't looking the cheapest, most comfortable pews when our eternal souls are the chips on the table.  Our soul is not a commodity because I only have one of them.

Many people underestimate young people.  They assumed that all kids are shallow and superficial.  Some are.  But young people are also more idealistic than those of us with more gray hair, scars and compromises.

I have my doubts that their daughter will actually end up in a convent.  But that is OK.

"All that glitters is not gold.  All who wander are not lost."    J.R.R. Tolkien

Picture from here

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