Earlier today, as I was yet again cleaning cat pee from a rug relaxing on the sofa reading great and edifying literature, I couldn’t help but overhear a particularly interesting interview on NPR. It was with a young woman named Alicia Torres who has decided she wants to be a nun. Here she is hanging out in Ireland with some other nuns, (this picture is practically begging for a witty caption but, alas, I am not up to the job tonight):
Now, don’t get me wrong. I have nothing much against Catholicism. Yes, I know that, like most organized religions, it has some very fucked-up aspects, but I am inclined to
believe that the problem is not with Catholicism per se, but rather with the dimwits who run the show. In this day and age, it’s just ridiculous that women cannot become priests, and are encouraged not to use contraception! Apart from these issues, among others, I don’t have a problem with devout Catholics, or devout believers of any faith. In fact, to be honest, I respect and admire their beliefs as long as they don’t ram them down my or other people’s throats.
Alicia Torres’ interview grabbed my attention today, however, because she apparently just finished a half marathon, or “The Nun Run”, which she undertook in an attempt to pay off more than $90,000 in student loans so she can become a Franciscan sister. Apparently one must take a vow of poverty to become a member of the Franciscan order, and cannot enter it saddled with debt as there will be no opportunity to earn a salary to pay it off.
This young woman’s determination and her vocation are impressive, but I find it quite abhorrent that people are actually contributing money towards her cause just so she can become a nun. True, she does intend to work in West Humboldt Park, one of the poorest areas of Chicago, blighted by drugs and gang violence, but, well, so?! Is she the only person in Chicago with a social conscience who wants to dedicate him/herself to the poor?! No, of course she isn’t, but apparently all you need to do is say a couple of “ave marias” and do a few genuflections and you’ll have people throwing money at you to fulfil your goal.
One cannot help but wonder how she managed to run up $90,000 in student loans in the first place. This suggests to me – although I could be wrong – that she must come from a relatively wealthy, privileged family, as I know of very few people who would saddle themselves with that amount of debt unless they were confident they would be able to pay it off after their studies, with a good job and/or parental help. Also, why are people giving her money when, if you look at her website, there are pictures of her swanning about on her Irish “pilgrimage”? Where did the money for that come from?!
Most disturbing of all, however, is Ms Torres’ dedication to pro-life activism. Unlike most other pro-life people, – whose passion for the “innocent” foetus seems to wane curiously once it actually leaves the womb and becomes a child of the ghetto – she will at least be working with and helping the impoverished, neglected children of teenage mothers but just how qualified is she to do that? How well can this woman affect change in this demographic given that she “would regularly go to pray in front of a Boston Area abortion clinic, and prayed daily at school for the end of abortion”? I’ve had two abortions (and you can pray for me if you like, Ms Torres, but I don’t feel guilty about them in the slightest) and the last thing I would have wanted to see outside the hospital was a fucking Catholic school girl praying for my soul. How on earth would that have helped my situation?!
I’m sure that Ms Torres is a lovely, warm-hearted person, and her prayers will probably be a source of comfort to some of the people she encounters, but if she wants to reduce the abortion rate in Humboldt Park, as well as poverty and crime, she would do far better to preach, for example, about the value of education, and working hard in school. Better still, she could campaign to ensure that the children she comes into contact with have access to a good education in the first place!
This is exactly what I would like to do. I probably feel just as passionate about social justice issues as Ms Torres does, and I, too, am saddled with debt which, although less than 10% of what she owes, is still extremely difficult to get rid off. Could someone like me not affect just as much change, if not more, as Ms Torres? It will probably cost me a small fortune to go to graduate school to get certified to become a teacher but I doubt I would be able to suggest running “The Erotic Masseuse marathon”.
I’m just a dirty whore, after all. Why do I deserve anything?