Sisters are doing it for... others
On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me “The Sisterhood” in HD.
On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me “Breaking Amish” and “The Sisterhood” in HD.
On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me “Sister Wives,” “Breaking Amish,” and “The Sisterhood” in HD.
On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me “My Five Wives,” “Sister Wives,” “Breaking Amish,” and “The Sisterhood” in HD.
And so forth.
I love a show about religion. The latest installment comes from the creators of “Breaking Amish”: Lifetime’s “The Sisterhood: Becoming Nuns,” which I find moving at best and filled with drama at worst. But mostly it’s riveting. A group of young women in the discernment phase of entering the convent spend six weeks living with a group of Carmelite nuns in Germantown, New York, to see what it’s like to take care of the elderly and have their makeup and cellphones taken away. Hint: Devoting your life to Jesus is not the hardest part — it’s living with a bunch of other women. But then we’ve known “Hell is other people,” thanks to Jean-Paul Sartre, for some time, and television like this proves that even if one does not identify as a nihilist the very proximity to other humans picks at our inner innate nihilism.
“I’m surprised we’ve never had a murder,” Sister Maria Theresa says in her delicate lilt. Sister Maria Theresa, her seasoned peers, and their wisdom are the real stars of the show.
“Discernment” in the Christian sense is defined as “perception in the absence of judgment with a view to obtaining spiritual direction and understanding.” Watching these young women feel out this potential life path is fascinating, if just another reality show. I’ve been going through a discernment of my own, not wanting to waste my life on reality television, and “The Sisterhood” has replaced the “Real Housewives,” “Mob Wives,” and all of the other “wives” programs in my DVR queue. Someone who chooses to be married to Jesus is truly captivating. While I’m not religious, I do find it a bit sad that the shimmering unicorn creature of fable these days — so rare as to arouse absolute curiosity — is one who devotes her life to service. And yet those so regular, humdrum, and everyday that they induce a yawn are the ones devoted to the god of money and plastic surgery. The fact that humility is refreshing might be scarier than the devil himself.
Regardless of your stance on religion, we need nuns now more than ever — especially those who take care of the infirm, like these women of the St. Teresa of Avila Motherhouse do. I recently read that because our lifespans are being medically extended but no more people are going into geriatric care we are, in short, completely screwed. There will not be enough care to go around eventually, when we really need it. These sisters and other selfless volunteers might be our only hope.
Jenn Sutkowski’s anaconda don’t want none unless you’ve got nuns, hon. Find her at jennsutkowski.com.
This Full Frontal column appears originally here, in the Newport Mercury.
It's me, Jennifer Bernice (rhymes with "Furnace": it was my Granny's name) Sutkowski
• More details about my writing here.