Thursday, March 23, 2017

Don't Want Diamonds

Baby Boomers, they're not just for hating on anymore.

Just when I'm starting to believe the consensus that Boomers have ruined the country, I am reminded of my allegiance to them.

Not just because I'm one of them, but because out of the Boomer generation came the hippie radical types who were committed to taking on the work of making the world a better place. Groovy as that sounds, I don't think we breed that type much anymore.

Additionally, I'm the worst kind of lapsed Catholic. I'm a heathen.

But despite having been mostly raised Catholic - being baptized, making my first communion, getting confirmed - I had very little exposure to nuns. Oh, sure, I've heard the terrifying tales from people who went to Catholic schools (my parents were public school supporters), but none of that happened to me.

So my opinion of nuns was pretty much based on other people's experiences and not especially good.

I'm rethinking all of that now for the simple reason that I saw the documentary "Radical Grace" at the Virginia Historical Society. Because the screening was co-sponsored by St. Gertrude High School, the VHS curator who introduced the film was obligated to read a message from the school first.

Essentially, it said that the school supports the Catholic church's bishops and that their directives must be obeyed, a statement that meant little to me at that point and everything by the end of the film.

Focusing on three nuns who have committed their lives to fighting, one as a social justice lobbyist working to get the ACA passed so the poor and marginalized will have health care, one a church reform activist trying to move the needle on women being deacons in the Catholic church and one who works with ex-cons trying to get back on track.

In one scene, she even provided dating advice, telling the men, "Find yourself a decent woman who'll be your best friend. If she wants diamonds, dump her."

That these vocal women are doing their thing in street clothes out in society did not sit well with the U.S. bishops who accuse them of being radical feminists. As if. That the nuns not only swear but use you-know-who's name in vain surprised me big time.

Proving that the church needs to be part of the social fabric of the country to be of real service to those less fortunate, the nuns were tireless and enthusiastic about moving their agendas forward, even when risking being censured or kicked out of the church.

A group hit the road as "Nuns on the Bus," making stops all over, including at the 2012 Democratic convention and Colbert's show where huge, mostly supportive crowds greet them at every stop, although it's deeply disturbing to see a man yell at one of the nuns that she's as bad as a pedophile priest for not siding with the pro-life contingent.

Mac and I looked at each other incredulously and spitting mad after watching him say something so venomous in front of a camera.

Not gonna lie, I teared up more than once watching as these brave women continued fighting for their causes despite the whole of the Vatican insisting they cease and desist. In the Catholic church, women must be silenced and bishops must be obeyed. Radical feminism indeed.

Apparently this was why St. Gertrude was making their stance clear to all. Puh-leeze.

An especially satisfying element of the documentary was that so much relevant happened during its filming. The ACA passed and we got a new pope with more modern ideas, proving change is possible.

But the defining feature of the nuns' work was how they hung in there. These nuns weren't religious fanatics, they were old hippies trying to change the world by working for the causes that mattered to them.

Part of me wanted to cheer their outdated optimism with my own.

Mac and I left the VHS to walk 7 blocks in the windy cold night to Amour, where a Burgundy wine-tasting was going on. Leaving them to their learning, we dove into simple suppers: mine of French onion soup and a winter salad and hers of a decadent cream of mushroom soup and then a warm salad with duck confit.

Someone humorous thought it would be funny to Instagram pictures of our practically licked clean plates, but we talked him out of it.

Meanwhile, the wine tasters were looking ahead to the next tasting of Loire valley wines and the man with the house in the Loire wanted to know where I'd stayed when I'd been there last summer.

All I wanted was to sip my Madeira and savor salted dark chocolate creme brulee with side cars of raspberry, strawberry-lime, coconut milk and melon pastis sorbet.

As it happened, a radical Boomer feminist can polish off dessert and reminisce about France at the same time. It will not be captured on Instagram, however.

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