nuns on a bus

The pitch: So there are these nuns, right, maybe a Sandra Bullock type and an Amy Adams type, who decide it’s time to challenge corporate bigwigs and oh yeah, maybe also the Pope, about their misplaced priorities.

Hollywood Muckety-muck: Uh, nuns? The last big box office we had about nuns involved Whoopi Goldberg, gangsters, and a lot of singing. How about aliens? Could you do alien nuns?

The pitch: No, really, these nuns are great. They outfit this big bus and are going from town to town talking about the real mission of the church, you know, all that loving thy neighbor as thyself and stuff.

HM-M: Kinky. Like “Big Love” meets “Sister Wives” or something? Or could we go with maybe there’s a bomb on the bus? Or terrorists?

The pitch: No, just…nuns.But really radical nuns.

HM-M: Radical? But you said there aren’t any bombs or terrorists. Do they do any second-story work, any rappelling down buildings, maybe we could set the story in Dubai or Morocco, maybe a sand-storm?

The pitch: Well, Wisconsin has been kind of a battleground lately…

HM-M: Nah. We’ll pass. Just nuns? On a bus? Bor-ring. Snoozeville, babe. Never gonna sell.


As usual, Hollywood gets it wrong. There are nuns on a bus. In Wisconsin. And if I were in Wisconsin I would be following them around, a Nunnish groupie, applauding them at every stop.

Go, nuns, go.

I don’t know from nuns, really. I’m not Catholic, never been Catholic, and although I taught at a Catholic college for fifteen years, there weren’t many nuns on the faculty, probably because they knew to be wary of the Christian Brothers who ran the school (me, a non-Catholic, didn’t realize this fact until it was way too late). Let’s put it this way: a friend of mine (a lapsed Catholic) said the Christian Brothers were comprised mostly of men who couldn’t cut it as priests or Jesuits.  snap!

The Vatican – home of the Popety Pope and his Popers – issued a report that said yeah, nuns are doing good work with the poor but that those good works don’t matter as much as the Nunnly silence on Really Important Issues: abortion and gay marriage. Apparently speaking out against gay marriage is waaaay more important than, you know, helping the needy.  Even worse, nuns have been arguing with their  male superiors (which in Catholic-land I think means pretty much any dude in a black dress with a white collar – so Coco Chanel, don’t you think?) about things like the all-male priesthood and celibacy.

Who knew nuns had such balls?

So these ballsy nuns on the bus? They’re riding through nine states between Wisconsin and Virginia to protest budget cuts in programs that support families and children; they have said that the budget cuts are immoral. And when a nun says you’re being immoral, I dunno but that you should probably pay attention.

Seems to me that these nuns have taken a truly radical position: they want to help the people who no one else wants to help. I’m not a particularly God-oriented person, but in my limited knowledge of the Bible, I thought one of the Big Commandments, right up there in the top five, was “love thy neighbor as thyself.” Last time I checked “love” doesn’t mean fire your neighbor’s ass, cut off his unemployment benefits, deny his health insurance claims, and then scold him for going on welfare.  That’s not “loving,” that’s “screwing,” and not in the fun recreational sense of that word. (Bill McKibben has a great essay about loving thy neighbor, which you can read here.)

My pretend Hollywood muckety-muck gets it wrong. I think Nuns on a Bus will be a blockbuster and I hope they’ll be budget-busters, too, because the Ryan budget is immoral and all the more so because it comes from the political party in the U.S. that likes to tout its religious bona fides.  More money for guns and the military, less for food stamps and health care, more tax cuts for the uber-wealthy? Hmm. The religious text the GOP seems to be following is the one about the Pharisees in the temple – but the GOP sees the Pharisees as the good guys.

Here’s the thing that Ryan and all his friends at the Tea Party might want to think about when they ask “what would Jesus do?”

I don’t have a direct line to the Big Guy, but my hunch is that Jesus? He’d get on the bus with the nuns, and ride, ride, ride.


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9 Responses to nuns on a bus

  1. Alexandra June 16, 2012 at 12:59 am #


    The beauty of the human spirit, when it senses something is truly wrong. Giving voice and presence to the otherwise unheard and invisible.

    Right on, sisters.

    • Deborah Quinn June 16, 2012 at 12:12 pm #

      I just love these nuns. I love their refusal to be cowed by the hierarchy and I am inspired by their steadfastness in the face of the “authorities” telling them to be quiet. Speaking truth to power,that’s the name of the game, isn’t it?

  2. Dick Horwich June 16, 2012 at 6:35 pm #

    Martin Luther meets George Carlin! Boffo!

    • Deborah Quinn June 17, 2012 at 10:39 am #

      Ha! Now THAT is a conversation in heaven (or wherever) that I’d like to hear. I think Luther must have had a wry, dry little wit about him, don’t you think?

  3. Arnebya June 17, 2012 at 7:24 am #

    I had to giggle at the Whoopi Goldberg reference as I’m in the process of finding old movies the girls can watch (and Sister Act popped up). I love the refusal of the nuns to “bow down” to the powers that me (men). How long have they been waiting for something this outright “WTF” to come along, something this decidedly worth a response? Oh, how I smile at them, at their once silence, and their now “COME ON, SON, MAKE SOME SENSE!”.

    • Deborah Quinn June 17, 2012 at 10:41 am #

      So true. I wonder if for many of them there is inside what (saint) oprah might call an “aha” moment, when all of the more progressive minded nuns could say YEP, GET ME ON THAT DAMN BUS. Apparently it’s not a very big bus, actually, and there were hundreds and hundreds of nuns who wanted to ride along. I think they should’ve started a whole bigass nun convoy, a million-nun march, as it were. If I were a praying person, I’d be praying for them, but I’m a blogging person, so instead, I’m blogging for them.

  4. Stasha June 17, 2012 at 10:39 am #

    Why cannot they be the nuns in a porsche?!

    • Deborah Quinn June 17, 2012 at 2:51 pm #

      Nuns in a Porsche? Now THAT would be an action movie…hmm….

  5. Halala Mama June 17, 2012 at 4:53 pm #

    i am Catholic and teach in a Catholic school. I think the real nuns on the bus are awesome. So many people are in need and sometimes the nuns are their only realy voice.

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