Thursday, April 30, 2009

Paper Chase Pt. 2 -- Catholic this Time

Not long ago I posted a review of an Episcopalian woman's adventures during her first year of religious training, in that case seminary. Shortly after finishing The Close, I was poking around the biographies and memoirs section of Amazon's Kindle store and saw a book called, The Tulip and The Pope: A Nun's Story, by Deborah Larsen. I though it was an historical biography. It wasn't. The Tulip and the Pope is a story of a mid-western woman who joined a Catholic religious order in the early 1960's. She stayed for quite a few years but left before taking final vows. Approximately 40 years after leaving the Order she wrote this beautifully written and quite sympathetic telling of her time there.

In a strange way this book is everything that The Close was not, at least in the sense of the spiritual development that I am perhaps naive enough to think should go hand in hand with training for any kind of religious calling. Something that I find particularly interesting is that all of the comments to my review of The Close included a mention that their author's spiritual development had been strongly influenced by Catholics.

Now, that isn't to say that the spiritual path laid out for the novitiates in The Tulip and the Pope was without flaw. Frankly, in that respect the author was too kind in her writing; and I am probably being too kind here as well. Nonetheless, over the course of the book you can see the author growing in the spiritual stature necessary to play a spiritual role in other people's lives.

I thought it made a nice bookend to The Close. Although, unlike The Close I strongly recommend The Tulip and the Pope: A Nun's Story, to anyone interested in why a young woman would make that choice at the start of the 1960's, why she would stay for several years and, finally, why she would leave. Although, the facts and circumstances are very different; the basic concept of loving God, wanting to serve God and having to find the way in which to do that is a common tale for all of us.

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