The Convent

06/07/2006

I watched the final episode of The Convent last night.
I’m surprised at how much I’ve enjoyed this series – utterly absorbing and exactly the right blend of tension, heroism and villainy. It makes a wonderful contrast to Big Brother in which we see a pack of unrelievedly infantile kidults who can’t quite see anything beyond the bottom of a glass or the celebrity endorsement, being cast into a pit to tear each other apart. This of course is entertaining and sometimes results in some interesting self examination but lacks the texture of the Convent.

http://www.poorclaresarundel.org/Pages/default.htm

In The Convent we see four youngish women, fairly representative of the women I know, some of whom are childish and petulant and seem incapable of accepting that anything can be other than their wishes, some of them genuinely open to the experience, all undergoing a life of contemplation for 40 days. The parallels with Big Brother are intriguing, but the main difference here is the intervention. The Convent’s reality stars have an unbelievable resource to draw on in the Poor Clare sisters- who, if they ever want to leave the convent and set up in business, could open the most successful psychotherapy practice in the Western world.

These nuns become gentle, loving guides and mentors, listening, and understanding all and offering compassionate questions and thoughts which demonstrate ably why religion in this deeper guise, deserves our attention. It shows that being a Christian can be more than an argument over who gets to do the church flowers and becomes instead a deep personal journey. Paradoxically, in surrendering to God, you can gain control over your self, and in denying and disciplining yourself, you can become what you are, seems to me to be what is demonstrated on the screen.

I’m surprised mainly because my friends and acquaintances who were brought up by nuns seem to have had universally bad and, in some cases, damaging experiences, but this series has offered a powerful other view .

If you catch it, make sure you listen to Angela’s poem at 36 minutes in.

I was a bit taken aback by what seemed the slightly absurd result of this life enhancing change. Angela, has been inspired to quit her high powered job and set up a “clothing 4 dogs” website at

http://www.clothes4dogs.com/rubber.html

I was particularly taken by the little rubber coats for dogs.

You can also read Victoria’s Convent Diary at

http://www.wildwomenpress.com/Site/The%20Convent%20Diaries.html