Nuns, Redux

This is a followup to my millennial nuns post and also this is really just going to be my thing now, huh? So I learned that someone has envisioned a program that is 800% my bullshit and I would sign up for one of these (Socially-Conscious Millennial Seeking Authentic Nun Experience, In Your Area) scenarios in a heartbeat–“Nuns and Nones“* (yes, I know) lets Modern Young Folks of various/no strong religious leanings live with and learn from elderly nuns, who are seen as carrying on a kind of communal, social-justice-oriented lifestyle that we don’t have a lot of examples of left today. The description of the project is mildly insufferable–

The idea was spearheaded by Adam Horowitz, a 32-year-old Jewish man, and the pilot program was guided by Judy Carle, a 79-year-old Catholic Sister of Mercy in the Bay Area. Mr. Horowitz and his friends heard the call after a road trip to visit intentional communities. They were brainstorming ways they could live radical activist lives, lives of total devotion to their causes. They were trying to figure out who was already doing this, and when Mr. Horowitz talked to a minister, it came to him. The answer was nuns.
“These are radical, badass women who have lived lives devoted to social justice,” said Ms. Bradley. “And we can learn from them.”

…but the idea makes sense to me; it really all comes back to people wanting some kind of alternative to this really disconnected, hyperindividualistic life where you’re told you have all these choices and it’s up to you how you shape your life but ultimately, all those choices just railroad you into some flavor of usually precarious, rarely fulfilling existence but hey, sometimes you get to support an ecologically-conscious brand or vote for a candidate who pays lip-service to your identity markers.** And religious orders, especially the stricter ones that have actively, deliberately resisted relaxing tradition and letting modernization in, are, as the above quote shows, one of the only examples that come to mind when you’re thinking of who lives in a communal setting based around a shared commitment to social justice and a competing vision for the world than the one we experience in our day-to-day lives.

And this combines really well with My Favorite Buzzfeed Article, that talked about young women who wanted an out from a world where, even though they don’t have to get married for safety and survival, still don’t feel that empowerment and freedom because they’re still a) going to experience sexism (and also the ways in which marriage is a tool of the state for wealth inequality and various kinds of social control), b) going to be financially dependent on jobs that demand their full life essence in exchange for being able to fire them at any moment and leave them unable to pay rent or see a doctor, and c) not going to have the opportunity to structure their lives in a way that serves whatever calling they find meaningful and rewarding, because that isn’t going to serve what a capitalist society is structured around valuing. Except if the best option they see is a strict, conservative, hierarchical religious route, they’re going to go the reactionary route, you’re not going to see a bunch of cool young nuns doing direct action against the scaffolding of capital, you’re going to get a bunch of cool young nuns tweeting about how abortionists will rot in hell.

The sisters began to see that the millennials wanted a road map for life and ritual, rather than a belief system…

“So many of the millennials would say, ‘I’m looking for rituals. I’m looking for rituals to work in my lesbian community or social justice or I need rituals for this other thing,” Sister Carle said. One young woman wanted ritual so much that she started going to Mass every morning.

Not to just entirely repeat something I’ve already written, but I really strongly relate to the desire for structure and certainty and community in life that you find in organized religion, I know that I feel this way because of how society is structured and who/what it’s meant to benefit and not some kind of religious calling, I want more (and not just religious) options for communal living among people who share an activist vision for social justice in the world and are able to take the time to pursue that vision, I want off this capitalist hellscape and also I’m just so very tired.

*It’s an NYT article link, so here’s a backup.
**And I’m not saying don’t do those, or stop feeling good about doing those kinds of small consumer choices, they’re fine, like, I don’t want to present this as “hello, you fool, you’ve played yourself, you think this is saving the world, well here I am, an Enlightened, to set you straight” but a lot of these things feel like they’re pressure valves for letting some of that frustration and powerlessness out so people don’t absolutely lose it, and nothing more.

2 thoughts on “Nuns, Redux”

  1. This and also your previous post on the topic speaks to me a lot—I had a brief period when I was younger when I wanted to be a nun? And it was definitely in large part due to wanting like—an ordered, meaningful life with the weight of tradition and ritual behind it, so like. Yeah. Large mood.

    1. Once you leave school and you lose the first instance of that that you had, and you were really good in that environment, and hey you like Doing Good and having a Meaningful Life and fear abandonment… eyyyyyy 🙃🙃🙃 Hi-five!

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