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What does a nun look like? Sound like?

HSBurke's picture

My main Sunday post is here in response to Chandrea's but I just wanted to throw something extra out there. My friend, who is a student consultant one of the college's search committee for new professors, was shocked to find out that Linda-Susan, who has a position on the same committee, is a nun. I was intrigued that this fact had never come up in the many conversations they'd had together. After telling my friend about the topic of our discussion on Thursday, I asked if Linda-Susan seemed especially contemplative to her. This came out of Linda-Susan's answer to my question that the Sisters at her monastary take strides to bring contemplation and contemplative conversations into places that they don't seem to exist. While of course this was probably not something that could be exeptionally visible to my friend, she did say something interesting in that Linda-Susan often "played devil's advocate" during their discussions. So now I'm wondering -- what place does pushing back have in contemplation? Where does disagreement fit in? By playing devil's advocate does Linda-Susan attempt to prompt her colleagues into deeper contempation over a subject? 



Michaela's picture

I was also kind of surprised

I was also kind of surprised by what I saw in Linda-Susan. I'd never met a nun in real life before, so I'd sort of just suspected that they looked like they do in movies--black habit and robes, crucifixes around their necks. Linda-Susan wearing something that I could picture my mom wearing took me off guard, a little.  I don't really know all that much about the Catholic church, so I didn't know that nuns or monks or priests could have a profession outside of the church. That seems very valuable to me--especially at a women's college, to have a nun come in and "play devil's advocate" (ha!), in a space that is also a walled community, but, if I understand the concept of her monastery, also has more freedom and space for reflection and push-back than a traditional walled community. I thought it was so interesting that Linda-Susan placed emphasis on how educated and well-spoken her Sisters are, and the kind of progressive conversations that they have, especially concerning criticism for the Vatican. I wasn't surprised that they are very well-educated--spending lots of time reading and writing and contemplating does a mind good, and is a luxury that not many others outside of monasteries seem to have--but how do we fit in "traditional" education to this? What about learning that happens outside of a classroom, or even without reading or writing? I guess what I mean is that I find it refreshing how so many people can consider themselves well-educated, in various capacities. I remember in our In Class/Outclassed ESEM last year, we discussed the kind of learning that can happen in the home and other spaces in our environment besides schools. We touched on this somewhat in this 360, but I guess what stayed with me is that I shouldn't discount "non-traditional" learning, for myself or others. There's so much to be known and shared, and obviously, Linda-Susan and her Sisters have that, and so do we, and the women at the Cannery. I guess where this is leading me is to question the concept of intelligence, and how confining our usual definition of it is, and how restricting that can be to people feeling as though they have opportunities (as we discussed in the Cannery last week), and to the world seeing us as valuable.