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#1: Vocations Author: AlexLocation: Cambs, UK PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2008 1:01 pm
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I'm reading my new GGBP Excitements (which in passing I think is phenomenally badly edited in the PB, they appear to have just arbitrarily removed sentences here and there) and there is an interesting conversation which is not in the PB. It occurs when they're talking about writing to old girls and that Robin won't be able to come because she's a nun:

Quote:
Yseult, who was working on a teacloth in exquisitely-done broderie anglaise, had sniffed loudly - not to say snorted. She now remarked, "What a life to lead! What possessed her to become a nun? Perhaps she's ugly, though?"
"She's not, then," Len flashed. "Everyone who's seen her says she's lovely."
"Oh? Then why did she do it?"
"Because she couldn't help it," Margot said slowly, her charming, impish face suddenly very grave.
"Couldn't help it? What on earth do you mean?"
Margot flushed, but she stood her ground sturdily. "If you have a - a Call from God you just can't help answering it. Auntie Rob did and she had to go."
"She tried not to for ages," Len took up the story. "She did social work and things like that and got wet and was ill for ages. When she was well again, she knew she'd have to give in - she told me so the night before she flew to Canada. Now she's most frightfully happy and she was miserable before."
Yseult looked her most superior. "Oh, that's a lot of rot! What is there about it that's so wonderful? According to you three, she can't call her soul her own and she has to spend her days teaching - and saying her prayers and all that sort of thing. I call it -" She checked suddenly as she realised what it was she had been going to say.
Margot and Emerence were down on her at once. "Well? What do you call it?"
"Well, unnecessary, anyhow." Yseult softened down what her first thought had been. Inter V help a good many Catholic girls and she guessed that there would be an outcry if she voiced her real ideas. "She could teach anywhere and say her prayers, too, without shutting herself up like that and being bossed about all over the place by someone else."
Con spoke up. "But it's more thatn that, Yseult. It's giving yourself and all your time and thoughts and everything to God. If He's called you to do that and you know it, I don't see how you can back out of it decently."
Joan Baker had been listening to all this with some impatience. Now she intervened to recall them to the first subject of conversation. "What's the use of arguing about it? Yseult doesn't understand, any more that I do and it's no business of ours anyway. What I want to know is have any of you got any ideas about celebrating next term besides those the Head gave us?"
They left Robin in far-off Toronto and came back to the Chalet School on the Gornetz Platz at this reminder, much to the relief of Jo Scott who had been about to remind them that religion was not supposed to be discussed among them.


This leaves me with quite a lot of questions. Firstly, why are they not allowed to discuss religion? They're allowed to talk about praying for people and the CS seems to be quite open about faith.

Why is religious vocation such a Catholic idea (just to be clear I'm not talking about other forms of vocation such as marriage and the single life and the idea that everyone has a vocation)? Why do people think that girls only become nuns if they're ugly (a friend of mine when told she was too pretty to become a consecrated lay woman demanded, "What? So it's only ugly girls for Jesus now?"). A non-Catholic Christian friend was speaking to me the other day about people in the Church of England getting ordained as a career path. Is this true? And there's a man in my choir training to be a priest, and a non-Catholic in the choir asked me and another of my friends what made him decide to become a priest and we both immediately said that he didn't decide, God decided, which seemed to flummox her rather. As a Catholic I suppose I have been exposed to the idea of vocations in general, and religious vocation in particular, since I was very young. I have friends who are priests, nuns and consecrated lay people and the concept seems completely normal to me. But is it just me, or do other Catholics think the same? And what do non-Catholic Christians think?

I know we have had some discussion about vocation before but I think this is coming from a slightly different angle. Sorry I've gone on so long, and as apparently good CS girls don't talk about religion, mods feel free to step in!.

#2:  Author: Alison HLocation: Manchester PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2008 1:40 pm
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I think that the idea has changed considerably over the course of time. In pre-Reformation England abbesses were generally from noble families, maybe even royals although generally princesses had to marry to form alliances. Even in the 19th and early 20th centuries, being a minister (of whatever religion) was seen as very prestigious - think of all the gentry vicars in Jane Austen's books - whereas now it isn't. It's partly because there are so many other career paths to follow these days, whereas at one time an educated man would only really have a choice between religion, the civil service, the law or the armed forces. And it's probably also partly because wages for the clergy have declined relative to wages for other positions Rolling Eyes .

However, even in earlier times there was an idea that a convent was somewhere where surplus daughters/impoverished widows etc were "put" because their families couldn't support them and they had not "got" husbands, and there are always going to be people who think that way.

Also, these days an awful lot more emphasis is put on romantic/sexual relationships than it perhaps used to be - that could apply regarding people like Hilda, Nell and Rosalie who devote their lives to the school, as well as to nuns. I think that the main reason that the idea of having a "vocation" is generally associated with Catholicism probably is largely because of the celibacy element.

So really I think that Yseult's comment is very out of date - these days things have changed so much that only people with a real vocation would be likely to follow a religious path. Seeing as it's Yseult who says it and Len who jumps down her throat I assume we're meant to think that it's a totally stupid idea!

Hope that that makes sense Rolling Eyes .

#3: Re: Vocations Author: MiaLocation: London PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2008 1:41 pm
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Alex wrote:
This leaves me with quite a lot of questions. Firstly, why are they not allowed to discuss religion? They're allowed to talk about praying for people and the CS seems to be quite open about faith.


I don't see from the extract that they're not allowed to discuss it tbh, just that in their world a) faith is a personal thing and the Maynards prefer to 'act their faith not talk it' (I think these are Jack's words that Len quotes to somebody) and b) Yseult was being rude criticising Robin and Joan was changing the subject to stop it becoming overheated.

Personally I wouldn't say vocation was only a RC notion - look at the Buddhist monks.

#4:  Author: Travellers JoyLocation: Middle of Nowhere PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2008 2:08 pm
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I agree with Mia that the prohibition isn't so much on discussing religion or vocation but rather on Yseult being rude or derogatory about it. And vocation isn't just a Catholic thing. Many ministers, vicars, priests or whatever the preferred name is in the various Protestant churches also feel they have a calling to the ministry - or lay ministry, as the case may be. I'm not sure any of the men or women in ministry that I've known would have chosen that path as a career: the pay's generally lousy, the hours worse, and the way some parishioners treat them is atrocious. But they stay because that's what they feel called to do.

#5:  Author: KatherineLocation: London, UK PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2008 2:39 pm
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To me the word vocation doesnít feel like an exclusively religious word. Iím sure thereís a point in Malory Towers where they are discussing careers and Mary-Lou says sheís going to be a nurse and itís said something along the lines of being a nurse was a vocation, something you felt you had to do. To me itís more about deciding to devote your life to a worthwhile cause. Maybe thereís more than one meaning though and Iím discussing the wrong one?

As for discussing religion, the CS is very accepting of religious differences but as Mia said they donít spend a lot of time declaring their faith and I think thereís a lot to be said for the 'act your faith not talk it' approach in terms of not being preachy and holier-than-thou. But I can see that talking about your faith would be very important for some people and they certainly do talk about faith so as to be constructive, eg coming to terms with death etc. What they donít so is debate religion in the sense of should you be a Catholic or a Protestant for example? That is left to personal choice. But then say you were thinking of converting for example, mightnít you want to explore your feeling with your friends. Maybe what was meant was that CS girls werenít to be intolerant of religious differences.

#6:  Author: LollyLocation: Back in London PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2008 3:22 pm
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Perhaps she meant something along the lines of the old idea that you shouldn't talk about politics or religion at table.....presumably because they are such contentious subjects that it wasn't thought polite to bring them up[/i]

#7:  Author: JayBLocation: SE England PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2008 3:35 pm
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Quote:
Why is religious vocation such a Catholic idea ?


I don't think EBD necessarily meant religious vocation as a whole. But the idea of having a calling to become a nun would be far more familiar to Catholic girls than Protestant girls; some of them might have relatives who were nuns. And so they'd be much more likely to be offended at Yseult's ideas than Protestant girls, for whom the discussion didn't have a personal element. (I know there are Anglican orders, of course, but they're not so well known. EBD may not have been aware of them).

And slightly off topic, but I think Joan handled the situation very well. She intervened when no-one else did, she put a stop to the discussion before it became too heated, she made a conciliatory gesture towards Yseult, who was being jumped on by all the Maynards, by saying she didn't understand either, and she introduced a new topic which would bring everyone into the discussion.

#8:  Author: KateLocation: Ireland PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2008 5:14 pm
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The last part
Quote:
much to the relief of Jo Scott who had been about to remind them that religion was not supposed to be discussed among them.
does seem to imply that it's a specific "forbid" as John and Julie would say.

Maybe it's because the powers that be don't want the girls to be converting each other from Catholicism to Protestantism or vice versa! Or more simply than that, they didn't want arguments over which faith was "right" which could happen between two girls very passionate about their respective beliefs - which could occur in such a religious but bi-faith* environment. So what Katherine said, really. (And she said it much more eloquently!)

*I was going to say multi-faith, but it's not when it's only two, is it?

#9:  Author: KarryLocation: Stoke on Trent PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2008 5:16 pm
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I think there are more protestant orders of nuns and monks around now than there were in the forties and fifties. Also, people used to use the word 'religion' to mean more about denomination. Perhaps it was to avoid the catholic v protestant arguements that can arise about doctrine that there was the embargo on discussion rather than actual faith?

It was also the case in the past where families owned the right to appoint clergy that the eldest son got the land, the next son went into the army or navy and the third son went into the church and got the family living!

#10:  Author: KatherineLocation: London, UK PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2008 5:29 pm
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Kate wrote:
So what Katherine said, really. (And she said it much more eloquently!)

Amd there I was reading your post thinking you were putting it much better than I had!

#11:  Author: KarryLocation: Stoke on Trent PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2008 5:32 pm
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Woops - due to timelapse technology kate posted while I was still writing!

I agree!

#12:  Author: MiaLocation: London PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2008 5:39 pm
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Karry wrote:
It was also the case in the past where families owned the right to appoint clergy that the eldest son got the land, the next son went into the army or navy and the third son went into the church and got the family living!


Taking things OT I'm afraid, but anyone else immediately think of this as EBD's eventual plan for the Bettany boys? Smile

#13:  Author: KarryLocation: Stoke on Trent PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2008 8:39 pm
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I could see this more for the Russell boys - David would inherit the San after taking up his father's reins, and then Kester and Kevin were destined for the Army and Navy - a mythical fourth son would have been the Anglican vicar, eventually ending up as Bishop of Armishire!

#14: Re: Vocations Author: MaryRLocation: Cheshire PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2008 9:42 pm
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Alex wrote:

Why is religious vocation such a Catholic idea.... As a Catholic I suppose I have been exposed to the idea of vocations in general, and religious vocation in particular, since I was very young. I have friends who are priests, nuns and consecrated lay people and the concept seems completely normal to me. But is it just me, or do other Catholics think the same? And what do non-Catholic Christians think?


As a young Catholic teenager in the late fifties, around the time this conversation was going on with Len, I think we Catholics did tend to think then that religious vocation was a Catholic thing - but I suspect that was because we were insulated from any other religion and told ours was the *true* one. Shocked Go figure! It took me a while to realise there were Anglican convents and monasteries out there, and as Anglican ministers had a salary, however meagre, which Catholic priests didn't, nor could they marry, the latter somehow seemed more of a vocation. Don't ask me why! After all, they've all given up a great deal to follow their vocation. It is certainly no easy option.

As to Yseult, her ideas are not unusual and certainly to be found around even today. I have heard all those comments in my time. After all, if you don't have a faith, then the whole idea of sequestering yourself away is incomprehensible. My husband thinks a Carmelite friend of mine is wasting her life and her intelligence. Even nursing or teaching nuns must seem an alien thing to become if you don't believe in God. As Alex says, to we cradle Catholics it all seems quite normal. I even considered it myself for a short time, as a teenager - and that was normal, too, then. I'm afraid MA would have made mincemeat of me in five minutes! Laughing

Btw, as a Catholic writing about an Anglican convent and an Anglican minister in ND, please feel free to correct me if I get things wrong, or too Catholic! Embarassed

Whisper - this was my 2000th post!! Wow!

#15:  Author: LesleyLocation: Allhallows, Kent PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2008 10:11 pm
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I always used to wonder about Malory Towers Mary Lou and her vocation for nursing - never felt I had one! Laughing


I also think Joan did extremely well there - although again, it was unacknowledged - and feel that the Authorities probably did have a ruling that said there was to be no comparison between different faiths for fear of offending people. I fully expect the Staff had those discussions though!

#16:  Author: Sarah_KLocation: St Albans PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2008 11:35 pm
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Perhaps the girls were encouraged to only debate religion in their classes, with teachers around, I can quite imagine it would cause some fights and heated words otherwise. Although they do often talk about religion to the more wayward girls so that doesn't quite work. Perhaps it's discussion/debate that's the problem?

You'd struggle to go into the Anglican ministry as a creer path without a vocation. There are several interviews and panels and such like that you have to go through to show that you do have a Calling and that it is the right place for you (similarly with the Methodists I think and I'd imagine the Roman Catholics and Orthodox churches) and having watched friends struggle through them their not easy things to get passed.

#17:  Author: PadoLocation: Connecticut, USA PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2008 1:17 am
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Certainly it would work for the Maynard boys - slightly out of order. Steve would go into medicine, Charles the church, and Michael the Navy. What the younger ones would do, I'm not sure. Become dissolute men about town in a Bertie Wooster sort of way?

#18:  Author: Fiona McLocation: Bendigo, Australia PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2008 6:41 am
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Lesley wrote:
I always used to wonder about Malory Towers Mary Lou and her vocation for nursing


I know our Uni lecturers didn't like the expression of a born nurse. According to them nurses are trained not born! I can see that some people seem to have a decided gift that way and know of a couple whose people skills rise well about the majority. And Mallory Tower's Mary Lou was a born children's nurse.

I know my brother is a minister and does feel he has a vocation that way for he works all hours under the sun for not much pay but his job is his life too much not to do it.

I do think it's interesting Margot's reaction to the conversation and wonder if she was considering her vocation to be a nun at the time.

#19:  Author: MonaLocation: Hertfordshire PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2008 9:26 am
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Quote:
I do think it's interesting Margot's reaction to the conversation and wonder if she was considering her vocation to be a nun at the time.

I think it's very likely that EDB had that in mind for her, which makes it all the worse that the passage was cut from the pb, as it would have helped the decision seem a little less out of the blue.

#20:  Author: JayBLocation: SE England PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2008 11:33 am
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Slightly frivolously, I think any job where the rewards lie more in doing the job itself than in the paycheque could be described as a vocation. I've heard teaching, for example, described as a vocation. (Not recently.)

Posy Fossil could be said to have a vocation for ballet, in that she would do it regardless of whether she was paid for it, and wouldn't be happy doing anything else. Genuine vocations can make people selfish as they pursue them to the exclusion of all else - Robin was worried that she was being selfish in pursuing her vocation, wasn't she.

More seriously, I think Tom Gay had a genuine vocation, which is convincingly described by EBD.



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