Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Get thee to a nunnery!

The most recent issue of Bust magazine reports that there is an influx of young women joining convents. While they don't provide any specific statistics, I wouldn't say their reporting is entirely flawed. I know three girls from my high school who joined convents within five years of graduation. While women aren't running off to convents in droves, it's happening.

Of course, I'm not particularly thrilled about this news. But the funny thing is, if I had been born 100 years ago (or before), I would have faked Catholic belief and joined a convent. I am childfree (choosing to not have children), and one of the best ways to escape parenthood was to be a nun. Even 100 years ago, birth control wasn't as reliable, and abortions were illegal (and the ones that were performed were pretty dangerous). Granted, not every single woman who didn't want kids had to join a convent. But it was probably the most reliable form of birth control out there. And for many women, life in a convent was their best chance at anything more than basic education. While they may have been fed quite a bit of religious propaganda, they were still able to read and study. I would rather be forced to study a religious text every day for the rest of my life than not be allowed to read or work. Life in a convent would never be ideal for me. But had I been born into a situation where my rights were significantly curtailed, I'd be willing to fake belief. My childfree identity is so strong that I would rather be confined by a religion I don't believe in than be confined by motherhood.

Perhaps my hypothetical willingness to be a nun makes me a "bad" atheist. But being a fake Catholic is something I would only do under extreme circumstances; it's not something I have to worry about today.