Friday, March 15

Well, that's it for now. I have to interview someone for an article, and that someone happens to be a hermit. He's apparently going to call me when he's ready to be interviewed. Sometime today, I don't know when. So I must enter my own hermitage and wait....
Here's a little story about a cancer hospital run by the Domincan Sisters of Hawthorne in Rhode Island being shut down not for any dramatic reason, but just because times and treatment of cancer patients is changing.

In case you don't know about them, you really should take a few minutes and learn about the Domincan Sisters of Hawthorne. The order is an American one, founded by Rose Hawthorne, the daughter of writer Nathaniel Hawthorne, who began the order out a deep compassion for the poor who were afflicted by cancer. The order's history intersects with another famous American writer in Flannery O'Connor, who wrote about one of the order's patients, a severely disfigured little girl, in her introduction to a book about the little girl called A Memoir of Mary Ann, which is the source of one of her more famous quotes:

In the absence of faith, we govern by tenderness, and tenderness leads to the gas chamber. What does that mean? Here's an essay that helps unpack the quote.

Today is the feastday of St. Louise de Marillac, one of my daughter Catherine's patrons (She's Catherine Louise). I wrote about her struggle concerning which of her two patrons she preferred here.

As it happens, one of the battiest nuns I've ever met was named Sister Louise de Marillac. She was my American History and Government teacher in high school, but the classes were awful -the worst I had. It got so bad, my mother even went into the principal to complain, but of course, nothing was done. Nothing could be. Nothing ever is. What was so bad? Well, Sister Louise simply used our classes as an excuse to discuss her views of the news. It was really nothing but current events. It wasn't a monologue, though - we did discuss, talk, argue with her - I think I spent many a class periods arguing with her about the Equal Rights Amendment (I was for - as the signatures and notes in my high school yearbooks will attest), but I have to say, my absolutely most vivid memory of Sr. Louise, who was probably in her early 60's at the time, was this:

She'd been to see the Barbara Streisand/Kris Kristofferson version of A Star is Born. She was shocked by a particular scene - I guess an almost-sex scene in which Barbs is sort-of nude. She demonstrated. Really. She turned her back to us, chattering away the whole time, and then acted as though she were lifting her shirt up over her head, demonstrating how Bab's back was exposed without "showing" anything else.

Man, it was a weird, weird moment - having a 60-year old nun in a habit demonstrate to a class of frankly horrified teenagers how Barbara Streisand dealt with her big bedroom scene.


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