New silly poll up. If they’re giving me the functionality to do silly polls, I might as well take advantage of it. The last one was split evenly among the fandoms.

So a few months ago, in one of my wanderings to Half Price Books, I picked up John Allen’s book on Opus Dei for a buck. Now in the interest of full disclosure, I’m not a fan of Escriva. The whole drill sergeant spirituality doesn’t do it for me, and the notion of blind obedience makes my inner Benedictine cringe. Also in the interest of full disclosure, I’ve only read parts of the introduction and the first chapter.

I was hoping for more of an anthropological study, or something truly neutral, as the title suggested. Instead, it feels very much like an apologetic. Parts of what I’ve read are interesting, but other parts are disturbing. How do you argue with someone, when they insist that the traditional role of a woman is wife and mother, and then justify it by saying that the role is the traditional role for a woman? If you’d say that about any other marginalized group of people (say the “traditional” role for a person of color), you’d be flamed into next week, and for good reason. Choice is one thing, and if that’s what a woman chooses, fine with me. But they don’t even give their members that choice.

Perhaps I’m being too hard on it–I’ve read the first chapter, after all. But if they’re really after the sanctification of the ordinary, why all the secrecy? I was in the process of becoming a Benedictine oblate–more on that later–and everything was transparent. You can find oodles of information on oblates, including the liturgy involved, on the web. If you ask a given Benedictine community who their oblates are, they’re happy to oblige. Yet Opus Dei hides their members in secrecy, saying that non-Opus Dei people don’t understand. They aren’t helping themselves, here.

Secondly, I’d like to know why ex-Opus Dei members are all remarkably consistent on their stories. I’ve read a lot of accounts from former members, and they all agree on certain things. You don’t find the same sort of internal consistency to people who’re blowing things out of proportion or falsely remembered memories.

I’ll probably finish the book one day, but maybe not now. Things are too divisive and fundamentalism too prominent in our society for me to be objective on the book.


~ by Jen on January 2, 2008.

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