Thursday, February 11, 2010

Oprah, Lisa Ling, Geishas, Sex, Dominican Nuns, Sex, and Christopher West.


I know!
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Those are great search terms to get someone to read my blog - but there is more to it than that. 
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Fr. Longenecker, links to the Anchoress' post critiquing the whole Oprah/Lisa Ling interview juxtaposing the Dominican Sisters with traditional Japanese Geisha.  Anchoress lady laments Oprah's apparent fixation upon sex and living without sex.  One or two commentators on American Papist do the same thing:  “I’m struck by how fixated on sex she seems to be . . . and how superficial her questions are.”    People - Oprah is NOT a Catholic.  Nevertheless, Catholic nuns got excellent press and evangelized - 'witnessed' publicly - on an immensely popular TV show to their vocation and it's essential meaning.  (I missed it because I was shoveling snow.)  Maybe Oprah should have banned them all together? 
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I have to ask Catholic people:  So you think Oprah and Lisa Ling and their audience is way too concerned about sex?  Is that so unusual a thing in this culture?
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"What disappoints about the teaser (ad for the show) is something that consistently disappoints on those rare occasion when news people talk with Christian religious: the interviewers are so hung up on sex, and so lacking in imagination or depth of thought, that it is the first thing they talk about, and an issue they cannot seem to get past: “you give up sex? How do you not have sex? What about sex?” It is literally the first thing Oprah brings up in her teaser: “they’re young, and gave up sex! careers! and children!” Note the emphasis. And the priority." - Anchoress
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Ah - Anchoress Lady - yeah, that is one of the big sacrifices of religious life BTW.  It is why we get into all the nuptial talk and why some women dress up as brides before taking the monastic habit.  It is a big deal for a young woman to give up sex, a career, and children.
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Theology of the Body... Work it!
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All right - so religious people either hate Oprah (or they are above watching her) - after all, she's the anti-Christ in many people's eyes.  But say something bad about Christopher West's sexploitation of JPII's Theology of the Body and you are just as bad as Oprah.  Truth is, West is not any different - in fact, I'm surprised he hasn't been on Oprah yet.  Alas, she's going off the air.
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Anyway.  Check out Fr. Angelo's post(s) covering this dude - and complain to me afterwards how seculars like Oprah are so obsessed about sex or can't imagine continence.  Here's an excerpt from Father's post.
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"Because the Theology of the Body is rooted in the Catholic sacramental worldview, it is destined to affect all aspects of faith and life—from worship, to how we conduct business, to how we experience leisure, to how we live out our creation as male and female. It is for these reasons that we have been compelled to gather some of the most renowned teachers of the Catholic faith and Theology of the Body." -  Christopher West

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When West uses the term Theology of the Body in contexts like this, read “sexuality,” because when he uses umbrella terms like TOB and “nuptiality,” he is trying to place his preoccupation with sex within the context of the Church’s teaching. The problem is that, as Dr. Lowery indicated, sexuality needs to be taken up into Christianity, not Christianity into sexuality. - Mary Victrix
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And yes - of course, non-religious people are going to question celibacy, perpetual virginity and chastity - most Catholics don't even get it.
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Link:
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Adoro has one of the most objective commentaries on the Oprah show titled:  Oprah, Religious Life, and Real Life

13 comments:

  1. I saw it and was quite impressed with it. Amazed, actually. Yeah, Oprah and the reporter kept asking every little group of sisters they interviewed, from the novices to the novitiates to the older nuns--"so how do you feel about no sex???" Not a few of the beautiful angelic little faces momentarily showed the embarrassment that such a crass question imposes on the modesty of a decent woman, but they were quick and mindful of what these interviewers represented--the mindset of the world--and so they recovered with perfect answers about the beauty of giving such a wonderful gift to the Almighty God Himself.

    There were nuns who had been professionals--a pharmicist, a successful CEO, and many other professions. All mentioning the emptiness of those worlds, and the higher calling they felt even while living that life. Others spoke of the boyfriends and fiances they left behind, without lament. And the resounding message was: I am becoming all that I can be, here in this, my vocation. They were all so joyful in their vocation. And their numbers are large, with their average age being 26 years old!

    Near the end of the segment, Oprah actually agreed with Sister Maria, the ex-CEO, about how the oversexualization in the world degrades the dignity of the human person.

    And then the real zinger! The reporter Lisa Ling said (I paraphrase): people think their life is oppressive because they can't have sex or material things. But, they don't have to worry about being beautiful enough, or skinny enough (Oprah related to that one!) or what to wear or pleasing others. Really, their life is not oppressive, it is freeing!

    I think that line knocked Oprah's socks off, as well as very many in her viewing audience. I have a feeling the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Holy Eucharist are going to have to add a lot more rooms to their dormitories, and soon!

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  2. Good post, Terry. There is a priest who offers lectures on TOB who with my deceased friend were working towards generating an interest to establish a "talk show" that was directed toward a Catholic and Secular world dialogue. That is to say, it would be the Oprah's that would be invited to come on and chat ... I wonder if he watched this program.

    Georgette - delighted to hear what you witnessed, because it could have gone the other way too in the editing room.

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  3. Gette - me too - 'delighted to hear what you witnessed' - very positive.

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  4. Ack! Christopher West. He is just yucky. There I said it, he is gross and yucky. Am I repressed?

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  5. I missed the Oprah interview, too! Wished I would have seen it.

    Fr. Angelo knows what's what. :>

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  6. SF, here is a link to the interview: http://www.phatmass.com/phorum/index.php?showtopic=102714

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  7. Something that always bothers me: both the media and, sometimes nuns themselves, are always overly eager to tell us how accomplished they were prior to entering. You know, oh, she was a lawyer, she was an MD. Whatever happened to the gloy of humbling yourself before God, and man, just as you are. Does EVERYBODY to give up brain surgery before entering religious life in an effort to "validate" it? Isn't an awareness of sin a better ad?

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  8. Anonymous8:26 PM

    Maria, thank you! I have said the same thing. I sometimes think that Catholics get caught in the world's view of a religious vocation without thinking about it. It's not about how wonderful I am in giving up all these wonderful things (St. Paul would call them rubbish) but it is about God calling, inviting, giving the grace. After all, Mary said, "the Lord has done great things to me" not, "I've done great things for the Lord"!
    Susan

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  9. Susan" It's not about how wonderful I am in giving up all these wonderful things (St. Paul would call them rubbish) but it is about God calling, inviting, giving the grace. After all, Mary said, "the Lord has done great things to me" not, "I've done great things for the Lord"! AMEN!!

    I thought I was the only one. Thank You!

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  10. Many religious orders nowadays encourage their aspirants to at least have finished undergraduate college, which yeah is a given if you're going to be a teacher or nurse or social worker or bookkeeping or one of many other present day "nun" occupations..and frankly many religious orders just don't have the funds or want to take the risk to send a fresh-out-of High-school student through 4-5 years of college who hasn't really even discerned a vocation..college is hard enough as it is without the additional stress of formation studies and obligations....

    People ( even good Catholics) are constantly amazed that I have been celibate for going on 13 years..they think and say all kind of wierd things..I'm not mentally ill, I'm not a lesbian, I'm not a man-hater (I actually ADORE EVERYTHING about men :), I'm not frigid, I'm not a workaholic (well--maybe sometimes :) etc, etc. It is indeed freeing as the nuns say....it's one less stress and pressure in my life..

    I DID have one priest a few years back--I went to confession every couple thre weeks at the time--gently inquire if I had been overlooking "my other sin." Huh?? Well--I'm fairly new Catholic..maybe I have..what might it be?? He basically said single people regularly confessed to him about sleeping with their significant others...and if I had overlooked that. :) Bless his heart..he about fell on his face when I told him that I was working very hard on being celibate :) He had a hard time believing that a lay person like myself would willing CHOOSE to abstain :) And not be cross about it.

    Sara

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  11. Anonymous8:39 AM

    Actually, not all of them discussed their former glamorous careers etc. Some of them talked about how they were in crisis on a reservation where everyone was doing drugs and she alluded to her having participated at one time. Another talked of working in fast food being worried about how to pay her rent. They did a nice job of showing them as -people- from different walks of life. I loved how one sister said that being a nun and giving all of herself to God has not changed her personality but made here MORE of herself and free.

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  12. I don't know about Miss Ling, but Oprah was raised with the protestant idea of growing up and getting married. For a protestant there aren't any other options. It's expected.

    Often times protestants can't even fathom a life without marriage or sex.

    They don't understand how a single or religious life can and does glorify God.

    Yet another reason why I'm Catholic.

    Catholicism is just better.

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  13. Okay, because of all the 'hype', we watched Oprah that day (VERRY unusual in this house!)...I was very impressed with the Sisters and the way they were treated.
    A real moment of evangelization for many, many folks.
    Including dear Oprah, who learned quite a bit in a short time.
    When the Truth is presented in a positive, joyful and sincere way, the hearts respond, no matter how jaded or denigrated.
    It's the way God made us.
    We pray many will be touched by this and will come to God, our only Hope!

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