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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Friday, November 14, 2008

It's Alive

I am here working with Frankenstein.

Although, that is one of those inaccuracies with which we all live. Frankenstein is not the monster. Frankenstein is the doctor. But when we say "Frankenstein" we don't mean "doctor".

I haven't been away. Our computer here at home slowly, ever so slowly, kicked the bucket. But since so many parts of it were still working, the eighth grade boys kept trying to keep it going, replacing things with salvaged parts and downloading things and streamlining things.

So here I am with this pieced together machine. I just want to mention that things weren't going very well until I prayed for the intercession of Mother Frances Cabrini. It suddenly dawned on me that the St. Cabrini car prayer, which works marvelously on cars (at least to get them to start long enough to not block traffic when they die in the middle of the road), might work on any machine. "Mother Cabrini, put down your linguini, look down from heaven and fix my machini."

And here we are. Will wonders never cease?

One summer a few years ago, I realized that although I've seen all the great monster stories in some movie form over the years, I had never actually read the original works of fiction. So I spent the summer reading them all. I started with Dracula. Is it even called that? Then I read Frankenstein. From there I plowed through Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde and for the finale, The Invisible Man. The only one I didn't much care for was the Invisible Man. He's just such an unpleasant fellow from the word "go" and he just gets crankier and crankier as the story progresses. Someone needs to introduce him to the concept of offering it up. He would have done alright with his unusual potion had he been able to do that.

Dracula, although an interesting story told in the form of diaries and letters, is overly long. I don't believe any movie has ever done it justice, however. It is ultimately a love story, in which the two lovers must overcome this terrible evil (Count Dracula and his mesmerizing charms). It is their love that gives them the strength to overcome. Their love and a big wooden stake.

I really enjoyed the Strange Case of Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde, the best, I think. For one thing, it is to the point. Dr. Jekyl, unlike the rest of these jokers, has good intentions. He's simply trying to separate man's evil nature from man's good nature, so one could attempt then to eradicate evil. Unfortunately for him, evil is like heroin and he can't stop indulging himself until at last his evil side wins. Too bad he didn't meet the folks from Dracula.

And too bad no one introduced him to the concept of Original Sin. That would have saved him so much time. You would think an educated man like him would have heard of it.

Of everyone, both Dr. Frankenstein and his monster are the most normal. Perhaps normal is not the word we want to use. Dr. Frankenstein builds his man because he realizes he can. There is no other motivation. I used to feel that way when disciplining an entire room full of second graders who were just a little noisy. I knew all I had to do was say two words and give them a look, or slap my ruler on the desk to have absolute silence. Maybe it wasn't a good idea to do that, but I did it because I could.

Who knows what monsters I created?

Frankenstein builds his man on the floor of his apartment, not in any fancy lab with things going zizzle and pop. When he sews on the last piece, the man he has built opens his eyes and looks at Frankenstein. It is only then that Frankenstein realizes what a bad idea this was.


He runs into his bedroom and locks the door and hides. He stays in there for a while, kicking himself for not realizing what a horrible stupid thing it was to build a man out of old body parts and what would he do with the guy after he did build him and how does he get rid of the thing and such. Frankenstein finally just runs away from the problem. He packs his bags and skedaddles.

The Monster, poor thing, spends the rest of the book looking for someplace where he is accepted. He's a smarty pants and learns to speak from hanging around outside the window of a family he would like to join. He really would have been a nice fellow if someone had just loved him. All manner of Hades breaks loose after he formulates a plan to force Dr. Frankenstein to build him a companion. Everything goes downhill fast after that. I believe at one point the monster rips the head off of Dr. Frankenstein's new bride to get the doctor to take him seriously.

Dr. Frankenstein does build his monster a girlfriend, but that is a total disaster, too. The girl doesn't like the monster either, to put it mildly. I can't remember what becomes of her. She probably has a reality show on FOX, trying to become Paris Hilton's new friend.

Ah well, let's hope my "new computer" fares better.

We have questions to answer!


Anonymous said...

Good luck with the computer problem! I haven't read any of that literature in a really long time. You'll be thrilled to know that a local high school has a program combining history and literature and they start with the creation story, as in Frankenstein, and procede through history from there.

Unknown said...

As a Lit. major in college I had to read Frankenstein four times. What I found so poignant about the monster was that he saw Viktor Frankenstein as his father! And his anger was over abandonment. After four readings I actively hated the doctor and was pulling for the monster.

Love your take on things. God bless. Oh, and the Cabrini-linguini prayer LOL too funny.

Smiley said...

The Mother Cabrini prayer sent the coffee out my nostrils. Thank you for that.

Anonymous said...

When Stevenson wrote Dr Jekyll, he understood all about original sin. The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is the natural child of The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner by another, earlier Scottish author called James Hogg. It's another tale of split personality, good and evil but driven by religion and the peculiarly Scottish, peculiarly Calvinist theory of The Elect and not a bad batch of chemicals.

Anonymous said...

Hi there.

First off, I just wanted to share that ever since I read Frankenstein in high school I have always appreciated its critique of science and enlightenment era rationalism. It's a lovely metaphor that echos Aristotelian philosophy that a creation is always smaller, less total than its creator. That idea has helped me to understand humanity's relationship to God and explained why physicists have so much trouble with their 'Theory of Everything.' They're never really going to be able to get there because they are smaller than the universe that they came to be in and smaller than God, who created the universe. Frankenstein's monster is a lovely example of a creation gone wrong because his creator was too small to create another human being. He could only create a monster. And though some object to calling the monster a monster because he is a much nicer character than Dr. Frankenstein, it seems a most appropriate name to me, coming, as it does, from the Latin monstro, monstrere: to show, demonstrate, warn, point out. He is so clearly a sign and warning of what can happen if we a hubristic enough to believe that rational empiricism can tell us enough about the world that we can supercede God's unique ability to create living consciousness. At the same time, the entire story is an example of what humanity can create as an echo of God: a record of that same living consciousness, art.

Secondly, I wanted to say again how grateful I am that you devoted an entry to my problems with bipolar disorder. I wanted to tell you and everyone who wrote kindly in the comments that I am doing so much better these days and to tell you how this came about. One factor, not to be discounted, was a medication change. However, the factor I give most credit to was something that happened before the medication was changed. I read Kathleen Norris' book 'Accedia.' Reading this book gave me a new sense of my own sin and this set me free. All of the sudden, I could see what parts of this illness came from me and my broken human will and what parts came from the illness itself. I finally had the understanding I needed to heal. It may seem paradoxical to some - and it certainly has so seemed to some of my friends - that a realization of sin and guilt would make me feel so much better. However, it was just this knowledge that showed me what place I have in the thick of this illness and what parts I have control of. It was a revelation to me that I did have agency in how bipolar disorder would affect my life. I know that I cannot control the depression and mania by force of will but I now also know that I still exist inside all these symptoms and that I can swim someways against the tide of illness, with God's help. This has brought home to me the marvellous ways that God can, as it were, make the worst of humanity part of His glory.

Thank you, again.

Anonymous said...

Sister--I have some follow-up information on a question that was asked almost a year ago!

Remember the reader who asked why he would have seen so many statues of chickens next to statues of saints when he went to Mexico? You couldn't give him any information about that from Catholic materials, with good reason. It may not be Catholic; It may be Santeria. Many people in Middle America and the Caribbean areas follow a syncretized religion that originally came from African slaves. Catholic devotion to saints was used as a cover for continued worship to their gods, and after a while, it became a new religion that combined pagan and Catholic aspects.

There are many Hispanic people where I attend Mass. This all fell into place for me when I was at Mass and saw there, at the outdoor shrine to Mary, along with the usual candles to St. Jude and St. Martin de Porres, a candle depicting the "Seven African Powers." They had names like Chango and Orugo, but they looked just like Catholic Saints. In the middle, there was a crucifix with Jesus, and next to Him...can you guess...a rooster! Well, I looked on the internet, and the seven powers are African spirits, called Orishas, and they were given "cover identities" as saints. However, now, no one really needs a cover, because Santeria is not outlawed, but they go ahead and worship them that way. Apparently, some of the people from that part of the world see nothing wrong with having a little of this, a little of that in their religion. The significance of the chicken is that it is an important animal in the African/Caribbean diet, and is used for Santeria sacrifice. Hope this helps!


Anonymous said...

Question: As a Catholic in a state of grace (no mortal sin on my soul), and having received five out of seven of the sacraments - can I assume I will go to Heaven someday after a "stint" in Purgatory? If so, how does the "final judgement" enter into this? What does the final judgement mean - when Jesus will "come again to judge the living and the dead"? Surely the people who died already have gone to either Hell, Purgatory or Heaven by now. I don't really understand. I also don't understand what it means about Jesus "spewing out of His mouth" those who are lukewarm - what if they don't have any mortal sins on their souls, but aren't exactly zealous Christians? Does that "spewing" mean He is condemning them to Hell?

Thank you for your time -

Penelope Purgatory

Smiley said...

Martha Santeria is satanic. This is clearly mentioned in one of the book by Fr Gabriele Amorth who is the Exorcist at the Vatican.

Michelle (mkc photography) said...

Sister, thank you for the huge smile (and laughs)- I loved reading your blog - so happy i stumbled on it!

Laura Michele said...

To the one who wears her St. Dymphna Medal:

Your comment regarding how you are doing emotionally/mentally made me sing praises to God. You see, I have been praying for you ever since your first post.I really felt God wanted me to dedicate several rosaries for you, since I so closely related to your troubles. I was praying for healing and strength and that you would come closer to God. Hallelujah!!! We are so blessed to carry crosses for Him! What an honor!!
P.S. I am always consoled by the sorrowful mystery of the agony in the garden..where Jesus suffered anxiety and stress and maybe depression. We get to really unite ourselves with him in Gethsemene.

Anyhow, I just love seeing God in action, and had to share and give Him glory. I'll still be praying for you!!

God Bless,

Shirley said...

Sister, thank you for the Mother Cabrini prayer! And congratulations on your third place finish in the blog awards; stop by my blog as I have an award for you too.

mel said...

Amen, we would all be happier if we learned to just 'offer it up"! :) I had an English teacher who used to say, "You do not have the right to go through life unhurt or unoffended."