Monday, May 7, 2012


There are certain unwritten rules in life. Children learn them. They even become obsessed with rules in the early grades. And one of the main reasons for fights during recess has to do with the keeping of rules, whether or not the rules have been broken, and what the rules really are.

Have you ever punched someone? Yes, it's wrong to do that! But I will honestly own up to one instance of socking a boy, after he called my mother a name.  I was the very obedient child of an extremely strict and punitive mother. But that boy had broken a cardinal rule! A rule I hadn't really known I'd known till I found myself slugging the kid. And then I ran like crazy! Because his sister was after me.

The rule? Do not publicly shame a kid by calling their mother a name!

Now, I think it's exactly this kind of rule that the Vatican broke. Which has led to an outpouring of nun-support the likes of which the good sisters never saw coming!

You see, no matter how strict the nuns ever were, they were our nuns! Our teachers. Our mentors. And the public shaming that constitutes this nun-quiz-ition has put many of us on a war path we did not know we knew till we were already a part of it.

Now, my mind tends to work with metaphors. And the metaphor that's come to mind, from my childhood, is baseball. Mind you, I don't really follow baseball. But I do drive past a baseball stadium every time I go back and forth to my little Eastern Orthodox haven of peace. (One more refugee from the reverse-gear, Benni-bent, self-perpetuating, roman circus. Call me any name you like. Just don't cast aspersion on the good sisters!) But I digress...

So I'm picturing this nun-quiz-ition as a baseball game. You can imagine it on your childhood recess playground or you can picture it at your local ballpark.

Uniforms: Putting on their thinking caps, the LCWR sisters have shown up in practical clothing, suitable for the task at hand. The bishops, however, linger on the sidelines, a bit reluctant about playing a game, which involves dirt and sweat and umpires who aren't under their thumbs. So, to demonstrate their authority they've shown up in the kind of fancy clothes bishops like to wear nowadays – gold, brocade, silk, long trains, complete with expensive hats, white kid-gloves, and hand-sewn slippers. Not very good for batting or running. But a demonstration of power.

Ticket Holders: Word of the public-shaming effort has spread. And people with little interest in baseball (or catholicism) are vying for those tickets! At the same time, the bloggers have urged everyone who can't get a ticket to donate money to the LCWR or directly to the nuns - these targets of public-shaming (fast morphing into a grassroots insurgency of monumental proportions). Plenty of people are therefore quite happy to park and show up outside the stadium with signs and cheers - in support of the nuns and against the authoritarian shamers . Some bishop-supporting Opus Dei folks are in evidence, pressed into service to endure the penance involved and carrying signs in Latin. Priests, however, seem to have vanished.

Tail-Gaiting: The parking lots are full of a cross-section of humanity. The poor, the lame, the bystanders and the providers of provisions are busy having a Love Fest – with plenty of sisters joining the festivities or ministering to anyone who might need a helping hand. All comers are welcomed and fed. But bishops are nowhere to be found... having arrived in limos to avoid the parking lot hoi-paloi.

The Game as I imagine it: Given the public spectacle this whole thing has become, HUGE popular nun-support has driven nervousness deep into the hearts of the hierarchy.  Bishops, who linger on the sidelines, awaiting guidance from Rome, force the nuns to bat first... Nuns, most of whom are very elderly, bravely come up to bat. Umpires – ignoring threats of excommunication - call it as they see it. Soon, nuns are on all the bases. As bishops learn, to their chagrin, that it's very hard to actually strike out a nun - in a public setting. So it's walk after walk for nun after nun. But every once in a while a young nun comes up to bat and cracks one right out of the park. After which they all walk home together! Runs for the nuns are in the hundreds, maybe thousands. Forget about bishops actually coming up to bat.... Against the nuns? Garbed as they are?

Now, actually, I have no idea how this whole thing will play out. But it's begun very badly... Public shaming of nuns will never work!

So let us pray this turns into a  none-quisition...

1 comment:

TheraP said...

Jerry Slevin posted this comment at Bilgrimage re this post, which is a marvelous addition (and cautionary note as well):

"A very clever and insightful baseball metaphor, TheraP. I would only add that while the nuns are rounding the bases, the bishops are grabbing the nun's share of the box office receipts!"

I suggested to Jerry that he "alert the sisters accordingly."

Another person must have flagged this post due to my spelling of "quiz-ition" with a "z" and suggested a website where you can make up your own quiz. Be my guest!