here first. until we are there.

i’m not quite here either

with a self-conscious text about eating a salad and reading a book by a black woman, i realize that us navel-gazer’s think we’re just figments of fiction.

i’m currently reading karen armstrong, a british woman who used to be a nun (seven years bebe.) and now writes books on comparative religion (!). She has also won the TED prize. i’m reading The Spiral Staircase, a more lucid recounting of how she came back to life after leaving the convent, one that followed the strict military life of the Jesuits. She also mentions how the Ignatius didn’t seem to think much of women. it is nakakakilabot to listen to a woman speak of her life (she is 25, 26 in her book), things i do recognize and think i know of intimately but really don’t.

though i am envious of her life in oxford, writing essays on literature — truly erudite discussions weighing other people’s genius —- i seem to be on the other side of the spectrum when she feels she has no independent thought (the convent’s formation had stamped it out of her), when she panics at an essay where a professor tells her to inhabit the poem, to live a poem because she feared not being able to depend on what other people have said— i know i would have rejoiced just because i’m such a histrionic blowhard, always ready to talk about how i feel about something. but unable to sustain a truly intellectual conversation. i am all emotion i fear.

do i know a different set of Jesuits? a different Ignatius? one who wept at the beauty of the world? one who sought reflection as an integral part of being IN the world, because who refused to be cloistered from it? perhaps because i know them all as men —- and really, i wouldn’t be surprised if the holy orders really are different for women. we are the hysterical sexually charged susbtances that tempt men from their lives of freedom.

gosh. on some days i think i should thank Filipino Catholicism and how it is delightly corrupted by so many other concepts.

and i keep trumpeting that my ability (my nerve!) to question is because i was jesuit-trained. steeped in the humanities! though i do remember my college years in ateneo were terrible years of silence. learning to speak when i finally graduated, and thought i could continue doing so when i taught. but learned that the one time i had the gall to speak up, i was asked to leave. even now when i am speaking, i am aware that i am part of a minority. and here, with this woman’s story, i feel like i have been fooling myself.

my certainty has finally fallen through to reveal an abyss.

okay, that wasn’t why i wrote. this is why i wrote the entry:

it is so difficult to forgive those we’ve hurt.

(written at 11:17 pm)

after finishing the book:
[…] He had told me that in most traditions, faith was not about belief but about practice. religion is not about accepting twenty impossible propositions before breakfast, but about doing things that change you. It is a moral aesthetic, an ethical alchemy. If you behave in a certain way, you will be transformed. The myths and lawas of religion are not true because they conform to some metaphysical, scientific, or historical reality but because they are life enhancing. They tell you how human nature functions, but you will not discover their truth unless you apply these myths and doctrines to your own life and put them into practice. The myths of the hero, for example, are not meant to give us historical information about Prometheus or Achilles —- or for that matter, Jesus or the Buddha. Their purpose is to compel us to act in such a way that we bring out our own heroic potential.

Armstrong, Karen. The Spiral Staircase. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2004.

(edited at 1:27 AM)


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