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Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Book Discussion Forever & Ever, Amen by Karol Jackowski
One of the main themes that emerges in this book is the issue of blind obedience. We have suffered so much for being/not being blindly obedient to our churches, to theologies, to authorities who come in the name of God, be they spiritual or political. I love Sister Karol's voice because she offers a third way: that of sensing the voice of God in our authorities and in ourselves, our peers and those whom we influence as authorities.

Karol Jackowski writes,

"It's not that I didn't believe sister Beatrice's [her superior] voice was the of God -- I did. But I also believed that we too speak with the voice of God, and listening to what we had to say was an important part of being obedient." (p 149)


"Nothing is more deadly to the holy spirit of community that silencing the divine voice of i
ts members, because it's then that we silence the voice of God." (p150)

1. What has been your experience with blind obedience?

A. Are you by nature a white sheep who tends to follow blindly, even to the slaughter?
B. Are you a black sheep who tends to buck anything that smells faintly like authority?

2. What ideas do you have for how we can listen to the voice of God in all people? What practices and methods of discernment help root you and your community, if you have on, in the Spirit as you seek to listen to the voice of God in authority, in yourself and in all who travel side by side or in your care on the path?

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posted by Jemila Kwon at 6:06 AM ¤ Permalink ¤


  • At 2/20/2008 03:49:00 PM, Blogger Julie

    I have a weird relationship with authority. I will follow to the extreme stuff like posted signs telling me to "use the revolving doors" or "don't step on the grass." I follow speed limits and I respect curfews.

    But I can't stand being told by anyone (God included) that I must obey "because I say so." I have to question and understand way. And I demand to be allowed to criticize systems and structures I don't agree with.

  • At 2/20/2008 07:00:00 PM, Blogger Jemila Kwon

    Very interesting combo, Julie -- I love it. Aren't we all a beautiful jumble of contradictions, after all?

    I am like you in the latter, but I am afraid my sensibilities of wanting to decide for myself whether a rule makes sense run the gamut from the revolving door to the gospel. It is an area of growth for me to actually recognize that while I may be "wise for my years," I am not all that wise, and there may be wisdom to certain rules that I am, for lack of experience or wisdom I cannot grasp but would do well to heed...

    I also have a daughter who is like me -- she will not agree to anything to do with getting ready in the morning without a lengthy inquiry into why I am requesting/requiring her to do whatever :) It is a funny thing to see yourself and find yourself on the other end of the stick, of being the authority and having it questioned at every inch...it turns out I am a control freak, even though in so many ways I don't fit the archetypal anal neatnik category...I find it infuriating when I am not listened to when I am busy, and especially if I just want something done and I DON'T have a profoundly hole-proof rationale for why it is important.

  • At 2/21/2008 06:49:00 PM, Blogger Lydia

    I haven't read the book, but I think I'm a zebra-sheep. :P

    If it's a rule that I believe is ethical (and is being applied fairly & consistently), I'll follow it to the letter.

    If it's a rule that is unethical, only applies to people who are X (e.g. female) or is based on something illogical, I don't bother.

    If it's a rule that I think is actively hurting people, I try to dismantle it.

    And if it's a rule that I think I can break without a) getting into trouble and b) harming anyone, I ignore it.

  • At 2/21/2008 09:05:00 PM, Blogger Jemila Kwon

    Hehe -- a zebra sheep! Talk about some genetic tweaking! :)

    I like your descriptions. They make a lot of sense.

  • At 2/21/2008 10:55:00 PM, Blogger Dixie

    I just finished reading Sister Karol's book. I work in a Catholic school where the remnants of blind obedience are imprinted in the character of the school. When I first started working there I wondered "why" to all of these minute rules that seemed to make such a difference. Then I came to acceptance to these rules as the norm. Then I too became an enforcer of these rules, though I was never sure why... Now I'm in the process of helping to dismantle some of these very same rules. I guess I started out as a "sheep" but now I feel the need to question unnecessary authority. The book really made me think.


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