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After last class...

HSBurke's picture


..I think I can articulate a little better what exactly frustrates me so much about the intense religiosity of our group. 

But first thing's first. I was actually really touched by Alicia's prophecy -- both the content and her delivery. Something that struck me in particular was he warning of the distractions that would soon try and derail us from our paths and the responses we should give" "I am doing great work, I cannot come." I often get caught in this cycle of reading about other people (especially college students) and all they've accomplished in their lives. I've effectively convinced myself out of thinking I even have a shot of receiving the Truman, a scholarship I've been working towards for almost a year. But something about Alicia's words boosted me out of that ditch I'd been slipping into. I don't know what it was, and it doesn't seem right to approach her prophecy with an analytical lens at this point, but it worked, so thank you, Alicia. 

Admittedly I'm usually scared off by the devoutly religious (is it strange that the fact that these women are religious was initially more alarming to me than the fact that they are incarcerated..?), I've never understood how someone can be so blindly faithful. But in the context of this class, my feelings turn towards frustration rather than fear, especially recognizing our efforts to get these women to think about the institutional reasons behind their incarceration. Religion doesn't leave room for blame! And these women have someone, or something, to blame. They are here because of a man, their man, THE man -- whatever it is, religion doesn't allow these women to recognize that. 

I think about these frustrations I have and I am torn. I want to condemn religion for encouraging self-responsibility, but I also want to celebrate its ability to help these women cope. Then I remember something that Yvonne said: "you can't tell help how to help you". I guess I can't tell help how to help them, either. 




Anne Dalke's picture

continuing revelation

i'd like to talk some more, hayley, about your deep resistance to religiosity--esp. your notion that it encourages an unhealthy/not useful sense of self-responsibility. years ago, along w/ a colleague in the chemistry department here, i created a page on serendip called "science and spirit": it's presumption was that 'the exploratory seeking that Quakers call "continuing revelation," the process of constantly "testing" in a social context, against what others know, what one knows oneself, against new experience and new information...are activities that, ideally, can be practiced in both the religious and the intellectual realms.' there is a lot of material on that site, including a piece by Paul Grobstein called The Perils and Potentials of 'I believe"...that might speak to you.

much, much more to talk about, some day soon...i'm thinking esp. of your attraction to working in the navy, as a structured culture within the culture, as offering a version of what our inside friends are finding in their religious lives...