Monday, February 8, 2010

A modern take on Matthew 28:19

There are lots of things I've never done. I've never purchased a lottery ticket or spent money in a casino (not even for the cheap buffet), never watched American Idol (or Survivor, or the Bachelor, or any other "reality" show for that matter), or ever been in a bar fight. I've never smoked a cigar, never tried sky diving, never been arrested, never hitch-hiked, and never participated in a public event that involves less clothing than is considered decent by a reasonable moral standard (and three come to mind right off the top of my head).

One of my "nevers" may fall tomorrow though, as I'm almost tempted to watch Oprah for the first time in my life. In case you haven't heard, she will be featuring the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist on tomorrow's show. Of course, TV being what it is, she will also be featuring a "related" segment on what it's like to be a Geisha. Um, yeah.

The Anchoress shares her insights on what it is about our culture that would logically put these two topics together:
I guess Oprah’s “theme” here is that two rather “secret” lives are being looked into, but I do wonder at the mindset that puts Consecrated religious and Geisha on the same footing. Either one of these subjects could easily fill an hour’s worth of television, and by reducing them to 23 minute overviews, both features promise to be as penetrating as prop knives; superficial, shallow and sensationalistic.
It's worth reading the entire article.

I have no idea when it's on - check your local listings, and then I'd recommend you set your system to record it and fast forward through all the garbage when you watch it later.

Whether you plan to watch or not, the good Sisters are asking for your prayers that "God will bring much spiritual fruit out of this experience." That's something we all can do! God bless the Sisters for their bold witness and their willingness to go out into ALL the world to preach the Gospel. May they never stop!

Actually, it looks like I live a pretty sheltered life. J


Carmela James said...

I never watch Oprah either, but I'm familiar both with the geisha who is being interviewed and the order of nuns being interviewed (to put it short, I want to join their order!)

If memory serves, her name is Sayuki; I have read a number of interviews with her. She came across to me as stuck up and full of herself, the opposite of a nun--or the ideal geisha, for that matter. Heck, she only has one gei, playing the flute. (The Tokyo hanamachi are nowhere near as strict/traditional as the Kyoto hanamachi, so in order to really dive into the Flower and Willow World one must go to Kyoto.) It is possible that I am completely wrong about Sayuki, and I hope that I am. But for now I am disappointed in Oprah for comparing the Sisters with the likes of her.

As far as REAL geisha go, the hanamachi does bear many resemblances to the world of nuns. It is a "matriarchy" in some ways, though I'm hesitant to use that term. While geiko are not required to be celibate, and many do not, many remain at least single
in order to focus on their gei, their art. Geisha go through a sort of training and discernment process (minarai to maiko to geisha) and are subject to the guidance of superiors.

I really, really hope that Oprah doesn't make the same mistake as so many other people and confuse geisha with prostitutes.

This will be the first time I've ever actually sat down and watched Oprah of my own accord. I plan to skip the geisha and cheer on the Sisters.

Christina said...

I have an interest in the geisha world also. I have also heard of this "western Geisha" and I tend to agree with Carmela's assessment of Sayuki. Her publicity-seeking stands in sharp contrast to Dr. Liza Dalby, who briefly worked as a geisha in Kyoto. In Dalby's case, she did so as part of a serious anthropological study of the culture and did not have any pretense of being a "real geisha." The profession of geisha (or geiko, as they prefer to be called in Kyoto) is so ingrained in Japanese culture that I would venture to say a western geisha is as much of a contradiction in terms as a Protestant nun (Anglican nuns notwithstanding). They are artists - far from prostitutes - but it's obvious from the clip at the Anchoress's blog that the focus will be all about sex with both the nuns and the geisha.

I found the teaser clip both hilarious and sad - breathlessly proclaiming, "They gave up SEX!" as if it was unthinkable as giving up food or water. Ay yi yi. Kind of a sad statement about our society, isn't it?

prov31wannabe said...

I am not a regular Oprah watcher, either; her show comes on when kids come home from school and I am starting supper. But I read your post just in time to make time in the schedule to try and watch this episode. I caught bits and pieces of the geisha segment, and Husband joined me for the Dominicans segment. I thought the geisha lady did emphasize that it is NOT about prostitution. I never did get what the connection was between Geisha and Nuns in the same show. I thought the Dominican women were most articulate! They nailed every question or comment fired their way! They set Oprah and that Lisa Ling person straight on several issues! I just thought they made a good impression in general. Will you be posting your own opinions/reflections/ insights? I'll be embarrassed if I missed something major and I'm all wrong in my assessment, but I'm dying to know what everyone else thought . . .

Margaret Mary said...

I agree that the sisters were very articulate and their joy and peace were a strong contrast to the line of questioning. Repeated comments about sex and such shallow things as "how can you give up your iPod," "what about watching television," and "don't you ever just want to go to Target and buy something?" set up a very clear dividing line. I thought Oprah and Lisa were both respectful, but pretty clueless. I'm guessing the fruit will come from those who already heard a little voice asking them to consider, and who have now seen such a beautiful representation of this vocation.