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FAITH that makes me break the rules.

Posted on March 22, 2023

Blog by Sister Pat Thomas, OP

Over the weekend I had the opportunity to see the film “Women Talking.” Was not planning to see it, could not imagine watching women talking for almost two hours, but that thought came before I knew the plot line.

Women of many ages, living in a religious colony, had been abused, raped, sometimes by many young boys in the colony, sometimes impregnated, and shared their insights, opinions, and answers to the question “Should we flee, stay and fight, stay and do nothing?”. In the end, well, I won’t spoil it for someone who plans to see the film.

Because this is a religious colony, so much of what has happened comes from the teachings of their religion, thus legitimizing the actions of the men who will not educate the women, other than in church; who beat them and approve the rapes which have taken place as part of the life of the colony; it is what men do.

The talking becomes loud, gets soft, is intergenerational at times, but establishes each woman’s perspective. When questions of their faith become intense, one woman screams loudly “My faith makes me break the rules!”.

What came to my mind at that point was that Jesus broke the rules that had become a part of Jewish life as part of their religious practices. He did this to try to make the leaders see that their rules had suddenly superseded the “rules” of God. Go back and reread all of the Gospels since at least Ash Wednesday, and what are Jesus’ words all about according to Gospel writers? Things like “I have not come to break the Law but to fulfill the law;” “Love your enemy, and pray for those who persecute you;”; or “Stop judging and you shall not be judged,” and others.

We as humans are much more comfortable with the Judeo traditions of our religion and are less so with the Christian aspects. But for me, the distinction lies in what the woman said, “It is my FAITH that makes me break the rules.” I have had my faith since birth because I came from God, but the religion I grew up with tries to form that faith and give it structure, The structures are breaking, are cracking, are dividing us, and so my faith has to make sense of it all and, maybe, spend some time with Philippians 4:8:

“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”

These are the words the women leave us with by the end of the film.

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