Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Getting myself to a nunnery...or at least into a few books about nunneries

Among the many things I don't understand (grits, polenta, heavy metal, hominy, the allure of Sarah Palin, rottweilers) are nuns. I always feel a little squirmy when I see one. My internal dialogue goes something like this:

Respectful me: "What a nice thing to devote yourself to making the world a better place."
Feminist me: "Of all the things a woman can be now, you chose being a fucking NUN?"
Agnostic me: "Bride of Christ?"
Fashion me: "I'd shoot myself if I had to wear those shoes."
Nymphomaniac me: "It must suck to really need to get laid and then remember, oops, you're a nun."
Cynical me: "How many  school children have you beaten? Bitch."
Guilty me: "I hate myself." 

But seriously, the little I know about nuns is shrouded in...Julie Andrews. In my limited experience, nuns are either young and just waiting for their Captain (whom I bet likes nothing better than a good spanking behind closed doors), or old but still good for belting out Climb Every Mountain. And the only nun I ever knew personally left the nunnery for the love of her life, who, it turned out, wasn't so much Jesus as the woman who lived down the street from us when I was a kid.

So here I am, in the name of heartbreak, immersing myself in nunnery history. We know women got banished to nunneries for behaving badly (meaning shagging men they weren't supposed to shag, sometimes also referred to as falling in love), but how often did that happen? Like was there one whore of Babylon at every nunnery, so they were evenly distributed, or were there nunneries that specialized in imprisoning women who fell under dopamine's spell?

A stack of academic books on nun history, including one published by the University of Chicago Press titled Nuns Behaving Badly, is sitting on my coffee table now, along with an amber ale.

Got a question about nuns? Then I suddenly appear to be your girl. (But not your bride of Christ).

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