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Convergence: Social distance, Nuns and happiness

The Nuns on the Bus Tour

These three items go together:

First up, Chris Hayes talked to Jay Ackroyd on Virtually Speaking about his new book Twilight of the Elites.  Chris presents the idea of social distance, the tendency of privileged groups to become physically and socially isolated from people who do not share their educational backgrounds or higher incomes.  Chris has been speaking about his book at many venues, such as The New School where he discussed the flaws in the meritocratic system.  At one point, the moderator says that the social distancing phenomenon and meritocratic/cheating behavior hasn’t hit science yet.  I would strongly disagree.  Right now, we are witnessing the transfer of those values to science in an accelerated fashion.  And sometimes, when the change is sped up, the manner by which it is implemented is more obvious than if it were gradual and happened over many decades.

The second podcast comes from Fresh Air where Sister Pat Farrell, president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious talks about the investigation the Catholic Church conducted on her group, which represents roughly 80% of American nuns.  This is another opportunity to watch how social distancing works.  Sister Pat talks about how day to day contact with social and economic injustice has inspired compassion in many of her group’s members and has caused them to challenge whether the teachings of the church are consistent with their vocation.  The Catholic Church hierarchy, especially the bishops, do not confront these issues on a daily basis because they are more concerned with internal church affairs.

Terry Gross handled this interview with great sensitivity. She was our proxy and asked questions that many of us wonder. Like, why are the nuns still in a religion that treats them like second class citizens because they are women?  This interview is not to be missed and ranks right up there as one of Gross’s best. Like her, I was frustrated that their time was up.  There is so much more I want to know.  I found myself very sympathetic to the plight of these nuns.  Their group is about to lose its autonomy if they do not submit to church authority and conform to its teachings.  If you take a vow of obedience, to whom are you obedient?  An earthly authoritarian structure or your conscience?

The last thing is a musical mantra sung by Snatam Kaur.  This is a new addition to my musical library.  It’s not really my kind of thing.  I’m not religious and I think that nature is super enough to be amazing and wondrous without a personal diety. But it is so lovely that it’s a nice way to focus and relax.  It reminded me of the quote I recently saw from Robert Ingersoll:

“Happiness is the only good.
The place to be happy is here.
The time to be happy is now.
The way to be happy is to make others so”

This verse from Ong Namo is soothing:

Oh my beloved
Kindness of the heart
Breath of Life
I bow to you.

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4 Responses

  1. The bishops and the cardinals are tied to big fund raising projects and a financial perspective. In a real sense, many have made the same trade that Obama did in selling out to the money power with a guise of concern aka fake “progressive” ideas to actually quiet the masses.

    Btw, I saw Obama’s “effort” to placate scientists: he is running a standard commercial on a re-run of “Bones.” Yes, that Mitt Romney did bad things to workers but what have you done, Barack Hoover Obama?

    Ooh, female scientists on TV.

    • One of the benefits of cutting the cord on satellite and cable TV (because you’ve lost your job in a SCIENCE profession along with more than 100,000 other SCIENTISTS who have lost their jobs to Chindia) is that you are spared stupid, misleading political commercials for the duration of the election season.
      If you haven’t cut the cord yet, don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.

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