Thursday, March 29, 2007

It's a Mystery

I have watched with interest some exchanges on Ask Sister Mary Martha, a blog connected with an online sacramental store, heavenhelpus. The blog is written in the character of an older Sister who teaches in a Catholic school, and plays upon the stereotype of the dour nun. One might think that flogging an old cliche like that would be a receipe for tedium. However, this is far from the case.

First of all, Sr. Mary Martha appears to be knowledgable about and respectful of Catholic culture and teachings. For example, when discussing the "Saturday promise" of the brown scapular, she correctly pointed to the necessary beliefs underlying the promise. I have seen no reason to argue with Sister's knowledge of the faith and doctrine. She does avoid deep theology, but that would be consistent with the persona.

Added to the interesting information, Sister is a likable persona who is reasonably well written. Her stories are subtle, amusing, and (important for a blog) not too long. When I read Sister's posts, I can hear her voice in my head (or, perhaps, the voices of some of the older nuns back at St. Anthony's).

The quality of the blog, however, is not what prompted me to write. Rather, it is the folks it attracts to its comm box. Generally, they come in two types: Catholics who appreciate the content and enjoy Sister's stories, and those who come to tear down and ridicule the faithful. Some of the latter believe that they have an ally in Sister, since she is a persona. I imagine that these are the same types who would have found the "Beverly Hillbillies"-based reality show amusing; the misadventures of the inferior put on display for the elite. I have a real distaste for that way of thinking.

Somewhere, there may be a man in a wifebeater teeshirt laughing at all the faithful, as he counts his earnings from selling religious medals. On the internet, you never can be absolutely certain with whom you are dealing. And that goes double when money is involved. It is hard to imagine, though, someone keeping up the pretense of respect for the Catholic faith apparent in "Ask Sister Mary Martha" while harboring animosity towards it.

I enjoy the blog, and I enjoy the earnest discussion that ensues. Folks appear to occasionally learn some things, and the discourse, save the trolls, is civil. Whatever the motivation of the author of the blog (and I have to believe that it is at least partly commercial), I believe the blog is, at its worst, harmless and, at its best, a worthwhile read.

For C's take on the matter, check out her post above.

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Blogger The unconventional mother said...

Yes I am reminded of the televangelist here that sells his own brand of Holy water for a donation fee. He advertises it as a way out of debt amongst other things. Also love the aerobics for God class at the Baptist church (no offense to Baptists). In any case I read Sister Mary Martha sometimes and she is fun and I don't mean in a money for fake holy water kind of way. She is a bit dour but I thought of it more in an older person kind of way than anything related to her being a nun...okay I am going to be quiet before the AARP comes after me next. :)

4:50 PM  

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