So, the International Union of Superior Generals met in Rome last week. 800 women religious leaders of different congregations and orders got together to dialogue. Riveting.Okay, now, you just have to go to Larry's blog and read the actual declaration. If you choose to play the soundtrack, don't have any beverages nearby. But honestly--what else can we make of a document written by religious who use phrases like "...Taste and share together the Word and the Bread...." and "...Live in harmony with the whole Cosmos and to dwell respectfully on this Earth..." I don't know about you, but there are aspects of the Cosmos I don't want to be in harmony with. Like the flu virus, or tornadoes, or anything demonic. I'd rather avoid them.
And as it happens at many of these conferences, a "declaration" was drawn up. The NCR wrote about it - need I say more?
Of course I do! It's me! So I'm going to reprint their conference declaration, a statement that "aims to express the spirit, intent and direction of the organization for the next three years through a series of public commitments."
To provide a bit of atmosphere, I've added a soundtrack. As some of you may recall, I've done this once before.
Click the green arrow and then slowly read the declaration. Lighting incense and dimming the lights will help set the mood. [Links and emphases in original.]
On a similar topic, Mark Shea links to a report about women religious, which--surprise, surprise--suggests that traditional orders are growing and thriving and the Clan of the Cosmos Harmonics are...not. Mark has some pithy comments:
If you are going to be a nun who refused to repent and believe the Good News of Jesus Christ and instead goes in for goddess worship or wants to pretend to be a priest, then for heaven's sake, leave the Church and go do the pagan thing in style. This tedious betwixt and between business of dour nuns in sensible shoes and iron gray hair doing embarrassing displays of liturgical dance without even lasciviousness to spice up the proceedings is excruciating. It's like the way so many liturgists still tend to think that 1963 music from juuuuust before the British Invasion is hep and speaks to Today's Generation. It's as if the whole thing is trapped in amber, neither fully Catholic nor gutsy enough to be pagan. And yet, theologically, a lot of it is now thoroughly pagan, rejecting not merely "Catholic particulars", but the God of Abraham (Patriarchy!) and even monotheism (Lack of Diversity!). Yet these dying orders of nuns linger around the rectory, using the xerox machines and spreading a boring message that the rising generation of Catholics could not care less about.Of course, Mark is painting with a pretty broad brush. Not all these orders are still using Xerox machines. A few of them have grudgingly accepted the evil carbon-sucking computer printer as part of their ministries.
These two gentlemen have given me a chance to repost my ode to liberal women religious, inspired by Dr. Seuss:
On Beyond Jesus (with apologies to Dr. Seuss)
Said Sister Androgina Guevara Mao,
(An old friend of mine who worships the Tao):
You start out by studying Adam and Eve
(Though I find that story too hard to believe)
Then you go through the prophets; you study the kings
Who all hated women (misogynist things!)
Some poems called psalms, and some proverbs, and then--
You get to the Gospels; and that's where it ends.
You read about Jesus, you learn His whole story,
With good bits with women, and other parts gory,
And then you should know, from the very Creation,
The whole of the story of humans' salvation.
I was nodding--because that is how it should go--
When she frowned and said sternly: No. Oh, dear, no!
That's what they tell you, that's what they try
To make you believe while you live till you die.
But some of us know this is no place to stop!
I could keep finding prophets and myths till I drop!
You can stop, if you want, with the Lord Jesus Christ.
But not me!
I won't stop here, not at any price!
If you stop here with Jesus, you'll never explore
The non-androcentric religions galore:
The ones that have goddesses, holy and wise
With perhaps a bit more than their fair share of eyes,
The one around Buddha--you really should try it!
If nothing else Buddhism's good for your diet.
And then there are legends of spirits that come
When you carve a big totem or beat a big drum.
So, on beyond Jesus! To Zeus and to Hera!
Don't let a word like "heretic" scare ya.
There's so much empowerment you'll never know
If you stop at Jesus. So go, go, go, go!
Go on to the Norse Gods, to Freya or Thor
You'll learn so much more than you could have before.
Cosmology, circles, spell-casting and chant--
But not the old sort. No, that kind we can't.
We've forgotten the words, if we ever did know them,
Besides, we worked hard so we could overthrow them.
On beyond Jesus! There's so much beside Him!
The gods of the Romans, (though they crucified Him)
Are interesting sorts, like the two-headed Janus.
We'd put up an altar to him, but they'd ban us,
Those narrow suspicious ones coming to check--
They've seen our free writings, but called them all dreck.
They stopped at Jesus, and now you can see,
Just what would happen to you--and to me!
If we stopped at Jesus, and never went past Him.
We'd be just like them--but we will outlast them!
Oh, maybe some orders are doing quite well,
Who stopped at Jesus. It's hard to tell.
They have new members, and growth, and much joy.
But what we have is better. Oh boy, yes, oh boy,
We went beyond Jesus! Our convents are empty,
Young Catholics avoid us, or say things contempt-y.
We have no future, we turned from our past,
We built nothing permanent, nothing that lasts.
But we did explore all the gods ever prayed to!
Except the real God, unless we were paid to.
So what if our convents are left now in tatters?
We went beyond Jesus. And that's all that matters.
I shook my head sadly as she finished talking,
Said my goodbyes, and quickly left, walking
Straight through the big labyrinth inside her foyer,
She shouted at me, but I just ignored her.