The theme of the final two episodes of this series seemed to be the same - how easy it is to get 'legitimately' distracted. All the 'rebellions' that the women had in The Convent are (and I'm not sure which is more frightening) socially acceptable and normal! Hanging out with a friend, doing something you're good at, getting up when you want - all things that we are told to do. We live in a democracy (in theory) which therefore means that we can and should do what we like to do and what we want to do (unless there is a law against it).
At Bright Lights, the final two talks were by Fr. Tim and Fr. Stan - both about freedom and choice and not doing what you feel like doing just because you feel like doing it. It was kind of revolutionary - how often do you hear anyone talk about not following their feelings up with action? Or less radical challenges like being polite to someone who is rude or not eating a huge bar of chocolate when you feel like it because you know it's bad for you. Acting, not reacting - it's unheard of. This kind of thing takes discipline (I'm hearing my drama teacher in my head, who used to lecture us about how great the Liverpool football team of the 1960s was - DISCIPLINE!) and the understanding/ability to delay gratification. But before I go off on a tangent...
In The Convent, you could see visible changes in those who chose to give up that which was most important to them, that which defined them and discipline themselves to do things they both really did and didn't want to do. And you could see the stagnation when individuals held onto things, and how quickly things moved when they let go.
What I really appreciated as well was that, although the nuns did (mostly) the same things, dressed in a similar way, held the same beliefs, they were all very different from each other. That's a kind of freedom that we don't often see in the real world. I know I spend a lot of time and energy worrying about what other people think of me and trying not to worry about what other people think of me. The days when I don't worry are so liberating and fruitful and soooo much fun!
So, great series. I've read and heard some different suggestions for a follow up:
- The Parish (thank you 1dayin7, for such a scary thought)
- The Seminary
- The Prayer Group
- The Small Faith Sharing Community (only kidding!)
A lot of people criticise the BBC for different reasons (being anti-Catholic, anti-American, a waste of money, the licence fee etc.). I love the BBC because of it's remit, it's (relative and rapidly shrinking) freedom from outside influence (both in terms of advertising and content control), the value for money (less than a swanky cup of coffee each day for something like 8 tv channels, umpteen radio stations, a great website etc) - just go and read about Habermas and the Public Sphere. Or watch American tv - how annoying and invasive are those adverts?
Which other UK broadcaster would have commissioned and shown The Convent? Ok, Channel 4 does some interesting religious programmes, but always from 'an angle'. The Convent was what is was, straight up, no (or little) nonsense.