Universalis, your very own breviary in pixels...

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Biased, much?

E E Evans has a very gentle fisking at GetReligion of the surprisingly dishonest Laurie Goodstein piece in the New York Times about the pending investigation of American Catholic communities of women religious (sisters, not nuns, by the way.)
Who do you think of when you hear the words “sweeping investigation?” And how about the word “inquisition?” Right. Let’s move on — the “oft-unsung” nuns who have adapted to the “modern” world seem to be the heroes of this story.

Part of the problem here is that you have a natural tension between the investigators, notably “apple-cheeked” and habited Mother Mary Clare Millea, and the nuns under investigation. Unless you already think “about time these nuns got their comeuppance,” or have been keeping up with the story of U.S. nuns, as a reader your sympathies are probably more likely to lie with those being “investigated.” The fact that Goodstein quotes liberal nuns in academia and a journalist with strong opinions (formerly a religion writer for the New York Times!) really doesn’t help.

What are the doctrinal issues? How come they don’t get discussed?

Where are the moderates — the nuns who feel called to life in the world, may or may not wear a habit, but aren’t universalists or even into Reiki?

Because yes, there are doctrinal issues.
And because yes, there are communities of sisters operating under false pretenses.
If you've "moved beyond Christ," if you don't hold unchanged and unchanging Catholic doctrine, stop representing yourself as Catholic.
Stop pretending.
There are plenty of non-Catholic groups with which you can affiliate yourself.
If you did, at least you could make honest women of yourselves.
As Goodstein could have, had she run her piece on the op-ed instead of pretending it was journalism.
Similarly, fiction is not an ignoble endeavor so long as one doesn't pretend it's "historical" or "well researched".... or even if one calls it "alternative history"

Himself, for instance, is fond of a fellow named Harry Turtledove, IIRC, no one minds a flight of fancy, set in the present day, in an America in which the Confederacy won the Civil War.

It doesn't produce yahoos coming up to you and saying, I never knew the government had hidden all these things from us and done so much evil throughout the centuries, the way another piece of "literature"...

Well, you know which one I mean, and speaking of which:
Recently, Cardinal Franc Rode ordered a large-scale investigation of some hundreds of American religious orders in an effort to determine whether modern-day brides of Christ are, in fact, living up to their wifely duties.

Some hours after the Vatican's announcement, Dan Brown issued a press release indicating that he plans to address the topic in a new novel.

"The depth of Catholic cruelty and conspiracy has not yet been plumbed" Brown said, in a 'written' statement delivered to USA Today's "USA Weekend" magazine, an outlet Brown considers a perfect venue to reach his readership . "If you think that The DaVinci Code was revealing, wait until you see what I have no doubt I will manage to uncover for my new book, tentatively titled Get Thee Away From a Nunnery."

The fact that the investigation around which his new novel will be based has not yet taken place did not seem to faze Brown. "This is just a modern instance of a church cover-up that I can guarantee my research will imply goes back centuries, ever since the early nuns all lezzed out together in Renaissance Europe. I intend to trace that cover-up back to its scintillating roots, where I expect to find loads of lies, murders, and whips. Loads of whips."

The Vatican issued a statement that "this is in fact a doctrinal investigation attempting to uncover whether nuns' lifestyles are still in line with church teachings," adding that "it will mostly consist of voluntary mail-in questionnaires."

"Brides of Christ," Brown added, eyebrow raised, "or brides of small animals, routinely subjecting said vermin, themselves, and anyone else foolish enough to come into their 'folds,' to sexually ritualized sadomasochistic torture techniques, capable even of killing to protect their deep, deep blood secrets?" Nodding slowly, he added "I just lay out the 'facts' as I see fit to interpret them. You can judge for yourself."

Though the novel is not yet finished, Ron Howard has agreed to direct the movie adaptation of it. Sources say that his contract was signed in some strange, coagulated red ink, and was spotted with what appeared to be tears.

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