Tuesday, September 05, 2006
Religious, that is.
Audrey Hepburn as Sr. Luke in "The Nun's Story" - Dr. Fortunati was challenging her on her vocation - as well as her hiding behind her religious decorum when confronted.
Hepburn played the perfect nun - that is why viewers of the film are so disconsolate when she leaves the convent at the end of the film. Nevertheless, she did not have a vocation. It was upsetting in 1959 and is upsetting today, considering so many women left their convents after Vatican II. You just want Sr. Luke to be the perfect nun and become a saint because of it.
What was so great about the film is how it portrayed religious life. however it wasn't difficult to see that it had stagnated into external religious observance; perfectly pressed coifs, rigid adherence to communal practices, otherwise called decorum. Etc, etc. The perfect nun was the nun with the perfect habit, who became a "living rule".
One may experience it today. It's almost play acting in some cases. The otherwise affable religious or priest can easily slip into a sort of pontification of superiority when challenged. Making grand pronouncements on the morality of a given situation or anything else that tends to betray their humanity - or their mistaken notions. It's a useful tool in "fraternal correction" - it can also be a charitable put-down in some cases. It's a form of hypocrisy, or pharisaism. It entails taking the higher moral ground and letting the person you are "correcting" know it. While the person one is correcting realizes you are no better. It's a power thing.
People may disagree, but it happens. One doesn't have to be a priest or religious to employ such tactics. Religious people are notorious for it. If it is consistent, it isn't so bothersome. It's when someone is inconsistent, yet takes out "the guns" in the name of truth, and religious superiority - that is when it becomes annoying. You recognize then that some religious are simply on a "God is on my side" power trip - especially when their power is challenged.
That is so when they need Dr. Fortunati. (I've pulled a few 'Fortunatis' in my time - 'they' don't like it - it seems to hurt their pride somewhat. Nonetheless, nuns, monks, and priests are people too. Oh! And I almost forgot! So am I. I must confess, I've employed the tactic in the past as well.)