Article

SISTER JUDY BLUE EYES … or … THE STRAIGHT-JACKETING OF SPIRIT

By DAN VALENTI

PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, WEDNESDAY, MARCH 26, 2014) — THE PLANET shall dispense of any arguments for or against a Creator, much less issue an opinion on the nature of the Holy Bible. The Book of Genesis has the most difficult job of all the books in The Bible. It must begin the story that, a few thousand years later, science would take up in earnest with a more refined and exacting vocabulary. Genesis must explain The Beginning without the knowledge of science. It therefore relies upon the pre-scientific pedagogy that doesn’t know of empiricism. It presents an event larger than its vocabulary the only way the vocabulary of such knowledge can: as myth.

We move into Genesis, skip the Creation account, and stop at a place where Jacob wrestles with an angel. Here is the text in Genesis:

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That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two maidservants, and his 11 sons and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. After he had sent them across the stream, he sent over all his possessions.

So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.” But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”

The man asked him, “What is your name?”

“Jacob,” he answered.

Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome.” Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.” But he replied, “Why do you ask my name”? Then he blessed him there.

So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “It is because I saw God face to face and yet my life was spared.” The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip. Therefore to this day the Israelites do not eat the tendon attached to the socket of the hip, because the socket of Jacob’s hip was touched near the tendon. ” (Genesis 32:22-32, NIV)

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OK, let’s skip the part about two wives and how the ancient Yehudis knew how to live it up in the desert. Who or what did Jacob wrestle? Genesis calls Jacob’s partner a “man” not an “angel.” Nonetheless, based on the “man’s” statement that Jacob has “struggled with God” and Jacob’s declaration later that he “saw God face to face,” theologians have interpreted Jacob’s foe as either an angel or God himself.

No one who ascribes to religious faith can escape wrestling with God. Those who declare “there is no God” are perhaps the mightiest combatants of them all, which is perhaps why they usually win in debate against believers. Only the agnostics are spared.

Truth is, though, that most choose not to wrestle at all. We take the easy way out by simply accepting what we’ve been told of God as taught by others and leave it at that. No combat there, merely acceptance of the human from the human by the human, a third-hand replacement of a second-hand acceptance for what can only be done primarily — what we call “religion.” All religion is a “hand-me-down.” No matter who gets it from whom, they’re getting it from someone who, themselves, got it from someone else in the form of teaching and conditioning.

God, if we may use this word at all, doesn’t come that way to us, second hand. For the person determined to have an encounter with God, there’s no avoiding a face-to-face fight. Such a person at some point leaves everything behind to face the inevitable. Who dares to find the nature of God by daring to be alone in God’s presence?

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THE PLANET has a friend who is a former Roman Catholic nun. She left the convent after it became clear that her congregation has no place for women of good grace who saw God as love but who also not only had the ability but also the inclination to think for themselves. Such women made the mistake of keeping their brains engaged. They wanted God removed from the ugly mask the Church had for too long put on him, that of an angry, vengeful old man in the sky, delighting in sending “sinners” to their eternal torture.

Our friend’s comments on wearing the stifling habit rang so true of orthodox Catholicism: “Shut up, don’t complain, feel the guilt, and bury the pain.” The nun’s habit became symbolic of the Church’s distrust of the female. Stifle your free will, which must be distrusted, in the name of obedience. Deny your sexual urges in the name of chastity. Funnel the worldly aspects upward on the chain of command in the name of poverty, the mansions in which the bishops and cardinals lived. And by the way, you can’t aspire to be a priest.

So noble. So withering. So Catholic.

Our friend left her religious congregation, although to this day she maintains a relationship with many of the sisters she left behind nearly 50 years ago. Actually, the congregation’s authorities asked her to leave. This was the fate of many women who weren’t content to be slave brides for Christ, the “good Catholics” known more for blind loyalty to human authority than for their envisioned questioning of what God might actually be asking them to do.

Christ would have been OK as our friend’s husband. It was the grumpy old men in the pointy hats and the other abusers of authority in the Church that didn’t like fresh, optimistic, willing, and daring people like her. They wanted their rings kissed and their orders unquestioned. She was ordered out — like Jacob, only after she had left all of her possessions did she encounter God, with whom she had to wrestle.

She went on to settle in Wisconsin, marry, raise a family of four, and become a writer.

Her wrestling match with God continues to this day. It is an honest match between a couple of opponents in which there can only be two winners.

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“Be-bop-a-lu-la, she’s my baby.”Gene Vincent, a long time ago.

“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”

LOVE TO ALL.

33 Responses to “SISTER JUDY BLUE EYES … or … THE STRAIGHT-JACKETING OF SPIRIT”

  1. Mad Trapper
    March 26, 2014 at 2:50 am #

    Dear Dan,

    I have been shaken by the presence of the Devil, I feared for my very soul.

    I have also been comforted, and I believe , saved from that Evil by the Lord.

    Best,

    MT

  2. Nota
    March 26, 2014 at 4:15 am #

    I’ve seen the light!

  3. Pemetina
    March 26, 2014 at 5:53 am #

    In some cases people just need to be free to find themselves.
    I thank The Planet for sharing his free opinions with us and allowing this “free” forum to express ourselves

    • danvalenti
      March 26, 2014 at 9:59 am #

      Much appreciate, P.

  4. Still wondering
    March 26, 2014 at 6:07 am #

    Dan must have written this before the NARH closing hit the news.

    • danvalenti
      March 26, 2014 at 9:59 am #

      SW
      It is true, but that’s not why we ran it today. Incidentally, this website was the first to report on the closing (yesterday, in the “Comments” section).

  5. Abraham
    March 26, 2014 at 6:14 am #

    Dan, I too have a friend who became a nun. The younger generation is looking for mission and identity. I think you refer regrading some older nuns who have left to a generation of the “overthrow authority” 60s and 70s. I agree we need to be critical thinkers but you are not correct in denigrating religious life.

    Religious orders and congregations that are more “traditional” are gaining new members rapidly while those that are more liberal are not.

    She joined this group:
    https://www.sistersofmary.org/

    They just built a new mother house since the old one was too small.

    Peace

  6. Pat
    March 26, 2014 at 6:15 am #

    Dan, we need more info on the North Adams Regional hospital closing in your next article. Is it as many think due to Obamacare and not simply that the hospital has had financial problems since 1999. Many hospitals have financial problems, but with Obamacare many hospitals would receive even lower reimbursements and this is why many hospitals are consolidating and many doctors are being forced to join these congomerates because they can’t handle the medicaid reimbursements and remain in private practice.

    A single payer plan would be much worse what with even higher premiums than with a private plan. Not to mention having the federal government in total charge of everyone’s healthcare. Healthcare is much too complicated, in my opinion, to be run by our federal government. The federal government is great at mailing out social security checks, but I would not want them involved in my healthcare.

    Romey’s plan worked fine for Massachusetts until Obamacare came on the scene. Healthcare should have been run by each state rather than trying to have it all under the umbrella of the federal government.

    • Rick
      March 26, 2014 at 8:52 pm #

      What was your source, the RNC?

  7. Rafael
    March 26, 2014 at 6:51 am #

    I am as dissapointed in Obama as anyone (I think he’s been a total disaster), and agree that Obamacare really needs to go, but to think it caused a hospital to shut down is simply ludicrous. Reality check, anyone?

    • Mad Trapper
      March 26, 2014 at 8:49 am #

      This could be the start of TSHTF.

      The current Administration, is morally, as well as financially bankrupt.

      Obama put his head in the sand, and sold our Great-grandchildren into relentless debt.

      When the freebies, stop getting the free handouts they never earned, be ready for the chaos.

      • joetaxpayer
        March 26, 2014 at 10:35 am #

        MT, The pajama people will revolt!

        • Mad Trapper
          March 26, 2014 at 3:03 pm #

          Ima taxpyer tooo

    • Pat
      March 26, 2014 at 3:04 pm #

      Reality check is that this was one of the reasons given by the hospital for why they were closing….Obamacare. Whether they were lying or not, time will tell.

    • B
      March 27, 2014 at 10:10 am #

      When Clinton left office he left us a surplus of money, now we owe trillions. What party was in charge after Clinton, do let me think- oh yeah it was the Republicans. The start of our economic problems started after Clinton left office, the Republican Party put us in debt. The mortgage problems also started with the Republican Party. Obama was left with a real mess to try to clean up, he’s done an excellent job in the time that he’s been in office compared to the job that the Republicans had done since Clinton left office. Obamacare is one of the best things that ever happened to the people of United States, I was on Medicare before Obamacare came about now I have extra benefits that helps when on a fixed income. The problem is the Republican Party is not supporting our President so work can get done and take care of our country and its people.

  8. Nota
    March 26, 2014 at 6:59 am #

    Five Hundred plus losing jobs, surely the Planet will have some insight very soon. The critical ripple effect hasn’t even been scratched. People scurrying for medical and emergency services, where do they go?

    • danvalenti
      March 26, 2014 at 9:57 am #

      THE PLANET shall share some thoughts tomorrow.

  9. Spider
    March 26, 2014 at 7:09 am #

    And yet our School Committee and City Council will balk at the thought of reducing the number of teachers and administrators.

    Every place else can do it, but God forbid the thought of a teacher or admin. out of a job.

    • danvalenti
      March 26, 2014 at 9:56 am #

      Great point, SPIDER. Have you noticed, whenever any kind of cut is made in a public budget, the coverage portrays it as a tragedy encased in a disaster? One local headline had the adjective “painful” in its headline, modifying “cut.” Really? Editorializing in such a blatant manner, in a news headline? Yup: That’s how it’s done. The local mainstream media is bought and sold by The Suits.

  10. Nota
    March 26, 2014 at 7:26 am #

    It’s time for the Mayor to step up. No one or two million increase, time to cut, now.

    • danvalenti
      March 26, 2014 at 9:54 am #

      THE PLANET fully agrees. Won’t happen, though, since apathy appears to be frozen in amber in Pittsfield.

  11. outfox
    March 26, 2014 at 8:08 am #

    Wrestling with G-d over the decision to close NARH where I and my family have received quality healthcare for decades. I believe that the pen is mightier than the sword and it freaks me out to think that the only way to save our hospital would be a good old fashioned school shooting in North Adams…I am being flip, kind of. Anyway, don’t know the French for the word pen so I cant adapt the phrase “Aux armes” to this …”Aux biros”, maybe? There is a petition to save NARH circulating on social media, and a protest in front of the hospital Friday morning at 10 a.m. And Pittsfield, if you don’t think this closing will affect you, wait until you have to stand in the equivalent of a modern day bread line just to enter the ED at BMC. I encourage all of us in the county to work togethet to prevent the closing of NARH.

    • danvalenti
      March 26, 2014 at 9:53 am #

      Well expressed, OUTFOX.

  12. Rafael
    March 26, 2014 at 9:06 am #

    The closing of NARH is very sad indeed. I just don’t think the demographics in the North Adams area was able to support a hospital there anymore. The area cannot afford that kind of job loss, not to mention local access to healthcare.

    • joetaxpayer
      March 27, 2014 at 9:21 am #

      Rafael they definitely cannot support a 109 bed hospital as they have proven. Really think there is enough need for a 50 bed hospital with a ER. They deserve that at the least.

  13. amandaWell
    March 26, 2014 at 9:09 am #

    Thank the heavens we have the Arts.

  14. Rafael
    March 26, 2014 at 9:25 am #

    Upon reading some other blogs, it seems NARH was very top heavy in administrators making huge salaries who mismanaged the hospital into failure. Kinda sounds like the Pittsfield school system, eh?

    • danvalenti
      March 26, 2014 at 9:52 am #

      RAFAEL
      From what we heard, this was one of the contributing factors. Once the “bean-counters” took over healthcare, the admin that put then in the High Chair were assured of making out fine indeed.

  15. Rafael
    March 26, 2014 at 9:59 am #

    The latest word is NARH and some politicians are going to try to get a gov’t bailout to keep it afloat. Let’s see, high paid CEO and admins come in, rake in all the money, drive company into the ground, then seek gov’t bailout.
    Doesn’t this all seem very familiar?
    And you can bet your house any gov’t bailout will be filled with ‘retention’ bonuses and the such for the very people who made the company fail.

  16. Scott
    March 26, 2014 at 1:23 pm #

    The bible was written by by God through men. The lords word is wonderful and enlightening. It’s the dummies who interpret the lords word in thier own interest to rationalize and justify poor behavior. In “The Book of Eli the main antagonist is asked why go through all this trouble for a book to which he replies “it’s not just a book, it’s a weapon”.

  17. joetaxpayer
    March 26, 2014 at 2:13 pm #

    I think BMC will buy the hospital and cut the amount of beds in half. Really no need for 109 beds. Fairview only has 24.

  18. joetaxpayer
    March 26, 2014 at 2:35 pm #

    Read in the Globe BMC was in negotiations with NARH but couldn’t come to agreement on assuming debt and pension obligations.

  19. Scott
    March 26, 2014 at 3:34 pm #

    Obama is Christian. Regardless of where he gets his inspiration spiritual or otherwise his vision is being sabatoged. There will always be suffering not from a higher being delvining it out to those he see’s as evil but because man is greedy. Can we all agree everyone deserves health care?