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Bloodless Brides of Jesus
September 12, 2011 9:03 PM   Subscribe

The Magdaline Laundries (Joni Mitchell) An interview with a survivor - "Why are you here, you're only a child?" The last Laundry closed in 1996 (the wiki).
posted by tomswift (34 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

 
The movie is harrowing.
posted by pH Indicating Socks at 9:13 PM on September 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


For those of you with Spotify, a moving version of this song with Joni Mitchell and the Chieftains can be found here.
posted by tomswift at 9:16 PM on September 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Clearly Jesus isn't a Catholic

Thanks for this post
posted by the noob at 9:20 PM on September 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


ouch... my riches for an edit window.. That's "Magdalene" not "Magdaline"
posted by tomswift at 9:34 PM on September 12, 2011


One of my absolute favorite late-period Joni songs, although I still think the original album version is best.
posted by mykescipark at 9:34 PM on September 12, 2011


Wow, her home life was so horrible that leaving her mother and everyone/everything she knew and going far far away to live was an improvement.
posted by Deathalicious at 9:45 PM on September 12, 2011


The Magdalene Laundries is about an asylum for "fallen women"?

Makes me wonder what the Dry Cleaner from De Moines was all about...
posted by sour cream at 9:46 PM on September 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


her home life was so horrible that leaving her mother and everyone/everything she knew and going far far away to live was an improvement.

And so was it for thousands more who left the Island entirely:

"Where e'er we go, we celebrate
The land that makes us refugees
From fear of Priests with empty plates
From guilt and weeping effigies
And we dance"

It wasn't all about potatoes you know.
posted by three blind mice at 10:08 PM on September 12, 2011 [5 favorites]


Magdalene was an apostle, and Christ thought so highly of her, that when He was raised--she was the first to see him. How did we get from this holy woman, to the shame of a repentant whore. (i know how, 2000 years of Xian misogny, Jesus wept)
posted by PinkMoose at 10:10 PM on September 12, 2011 [17 favorites]


Amen to that, PinkMoose. I have often wondered the same thing.
posted by suburbanbeatnik at 10:24 PM on September 12, 2011


Clearly Jesus isn't a Catholic.

Noob, with respect..

At a time when sectarian violence is once again escalating in Northern Ireland..

When the rather diverse facts of who set up and ran magdalene asylums are outlined starting from the first and second paragraphs of the linked wikipedia article..

In Belfast there was a Church of Ireland run Ulster Magdalene Asylum (founded in 1839) on Donegall Pass, while parallel institutions were run by Catholics on Ormeau Road and by Presbyterians on Whitehall Parade.[1]

When those facts are presented in a generally balanced and even handed way all the way down to the Bethany Homes related link at the bottom..

..do you really think it appropriate to wade in with ya boots and religious intolerance?

Might it not be better to treat this as a tragedy/outrage brought about by some incredibly twisted attitudes to women on all sides?

Perhaps we could view it as something that needs to be addressed and (if at all possible) fixed without outsiders trying to turn it into yet another cause for communal division and bloodshed?
posted by Ahab at 10:30 PM on September 12, 2011 [9 favorites]


Ahab, with the greatest respect. My Catholic upbringing and education at the hands of the nuns then Christian Brothers means I have the right to say what the fuck I want to about the Catholic church. And yup, I'm as intolerant as they come.
posted by the noob at 10:42 PM on September 12, 2011 [16 favorites]


Youtube has the BBC film Sinners as well as the one mentioned above, The Magdalene Sisters. (Interestingly, Anne-Marie Duff stars in both.)

I've only seen the second one, and yes, it's absolutely devastating.
posted by book 'em dano at 10:43 PM on September 12, 2011


When the rapture happens I am glad to know that Joni's Slouching Towards Bethlehem will be here on the blue for all us sinners.
posted by munchingzombie at 12:48 AM on September 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Magdalene was an apostle

The Apostle to the Apostles. Her preaching converted St. Peter to Christianity.


How did we get from this holy woman, to the shame of a repentant whore.

In one sermon by Pope Gregory I, September 14, 591.

How? The bible tells a story about a "sinner" who washed Jesus' feet with her hair. (Luke 7:36-48) It has another story about Mary the brother of Lazarus (probably Mary Magdalene) washing Jesus' feet with her hair (John 12:1-11). The location and message of the two stories are quite different. If you conflate them you get MM the prostitute, but that's not required by the texts.
If you don't conflate them it sure seems like Jesus is getting his feet hairwashed on a regular basis.

Now let's imagine Mary really was a prostitute -- would it matter? Would that make her any less human or any less holy? Jesus didn't think so. That was the whole point of the Luke story, that religious leaders who look down on women with contempt are heartless hypocrites who can expect no forgiveness.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 1:31 AM on September 13, 2011 [11 favorites]


The Magdalene laundries were a horror for many years in Ireland, and in the 50s and 60s many babies born there were shipped to America for adoption. Please check out the story of Mari Steed, one of these babies, who found that her birthmother had been an inmate of the laundries.
http://www.netreach.net/~steed/

Also check out the memorial to the women incarcerated in the laundries in Galway City.
http://www.magdalenelaundries.com/jfm_inmemory.pdf

Irish American Catholic here, I have every right to knock the Church for this and other mistreatment of women and children. I too was an unwed mother in America, was shamed by the Church and gave up my child for adoption, but nothing that happened to unwed mothers here compares to the suffering of those sent to the Laundries, many for life. There are unmarked graves of women and children around these laundries in Ireland, even in death they had no dignity or name.

Along with the pedophile scandal and coverup, the Catholic Church, that we Irish have defended and died for for centuries has a lot to answer for.
posted by mermayd at 4:52 AM on September 13, 2011 [14 favorites]


Irish American Catholic here, I have every right to knock the Church for this and other mistreatment of women and children.
Why not Irish American former Catholic? Why do people stay with a church they think I so horrible? I don't get it at all.
posted by delmoi at 5:23 AM on September 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


The thing is, the Irish Catholic church was so bound up with the Irish state in the post-independence era that it's hard to talk about where the policy of one ended and the other began. It feels to me that exclusively blaming the church is a little bit letting the rest of Irish society off the hook. The Magdalene laundries weren't just a means of punishing wayward girls and keeping women in line. They were also a massive commercial enterprise which used the free labor of enslaved women to provide cheap laundry services to businesses, the government, and private households. Plenty of Irish people grew up wearing clothes that were cleaned by women imprisoned in Magdalene "asylums," and I bet some of them are among the people now condemning the church for setting up the system. The system only existed because the government and consumers were complicit in it.

Speaking of complicity, did anyone catch Anderson Cooper's report last week about Hephzibah House in Indiana? That shit is going on right now in fundamentalist Christian homes for wayward girls, and there's a whole pretty brutal industry to provide secular discipline to wayward teenagers. (Isn't there a Mefite who wrote a book about abuses at boot camps for troubled teens?) It's not on the scale of the abuses in the Irish Magdalene laundries, but I don't think those of us in the US should be too smug about this.
posted by craichead at 5:24 AM on September 13, 2011 [12 favorites]


This subject has always fascinated and horrified me in equal measure. It doesn't matter how old and cynical I think I'm getting, there's always something out there that shocks me beyond measure. It was just slavery. Disgusting and disgraceful. What these women went through!
posted by h00py at 5:29 AM on September 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


After reading that I have a totally new perspective on the "$5 same as in town" joke!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 5:42 AM on September 13, 2011


I don't know why you are all piling on the Catholic Church in particular here, these institutions were also run by protestants!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 5:45 AM on September 13, 2011


This is what introduced me to the whole subject.
posted by h00py at 5:47 AM on September 13, 2011


Her preaching converted St. Peter to Christianity.
According to what?
posted by Flunkie at 5:54 AM on September 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Delmoi asked:Why not Irish American former Catholic?

For me and for many others, the Catholic Church is not the Pope or the Bishop or the hierarchy, but the local parish, people I grew up with, priests I like and respect, a community where I feel comfortable. I still belong to the parish where I was baptized and where my parents were married, and I am not young. I think our present Bishop here and our present Pope are pompous jerks out of touch with the people, but they do not think for me or speak for me. I know many other Catholics like myself. The idea of the monolithic Church mindlessly controlled by Rome is no longer really true.

I am a very liberal "cafeteria Catholic, nearly agnostic, but I love the Mass, the ritual,the art, the music and the people. It is my heritage that my Polish and Irish ancestors lived and died for. I would consider becoming Episcopal, as their liturgy is so similar and their beliefs more liberal, but not really any other Protestant congregation.

I am a member of Voice of the Faithful that grew out of the pedophile scandals and is trying to "keep the faith, change the Church"
http://www.votf.org/

I believe we will one day have women priests, married priests, and the stupid ideas against gay marriage will eventually have to give way to compassion and common sense.
posted by mermayd at 6:09 AM on September 13, 2011 [11 favorites]


It wasn't just Ireland, either: we had a Magdalene Institution here in Glasgow until the 1950s. There's a little on that in the 19th century here, listing the inhabitants by age, place of birth, and age "when first led astray".

It closed in 1958 after a series of mass 'break-outs' and protests by the teenage girls in the home. From this newspaper article:
One of the girls passed a note to reporters stating that they had been locked in the linen room at the home but had managed to force the lock.

The writer, who styled herself Margaret McCull, said she had been in the home for two years and knew what it was like.

She added:- "I want out because if I don't I will keep running away. We refuse to work in a home like this and we are going to break windows."
posted by Catseye at 7:03 AM on September 13, 2011


This is fascinating, tragic and, unfortunately, no longer the kind of thing that shocks and surprises me anymore.

I had never heard of the Magdalene Laundries before, but apparently Sinead O'Connor spent 18 months in one as a girl, for shoplifting. I didn't realize that was the background behind her tearing up a picture of the Pope on Saturday Night Live.

justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow: "Now let's imagine Mary really was a prostitute -- would it matter? Would that make her any less human or any less holy?"

While some of girls in these places were former prostitutes or criminals remanded by the court system, girls who their families considered were too independent, or too attractive (yes, really) were placed in Magdalene Laundries as well. So you could wash your hands of "problem" girls and tell yourself you were a good Christian for doing so.

Whether it makes Catholics uncomfortable or not, corruption in the Church at an institutional level certainly can be blamed for taking an ideal founded on good intentions--providing a safe place for poor young women--and transforming it into a farce with these punitive, prison-like factories of shame.
posted by misha at 7:08 AM on September 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


For me and for many others, the Catholic Church is not the Pope or the Bishop or the hierarchy, but the local parish, people I grew up with, priests I like and respect, a community where I feel comfortable. I still belong to the parish where I was baptized and where my parents were married, and I am not young. I think our present Bishop here and our present Pope are pompous jerks out of touch with the people, but they do not think for me or speak for me. I know many other Catholics like myself. The idea of the monolithic Church mindlessly controlled by Rome is no longer really true.

So, a lot like saying 'Fuck Hasbro, fuck Parker Bros, fuck Uncle Pennybags, Monopoly is a scourge on the earth and ruins lives daily, only the house rules that me and my friends use make the game redeemable and fun to play.'
posted by FatherDagon at 7:31 AM on September 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


No, not really like that at all, I'd imagine.
posted by h00py at 7:40 AM on September 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Thank you for the pope gregory cite--i suspected it was him, and i knew about the hair washing situation. I think that the connection between the state and the church is something that has been unexamined, and needs to be said explicitly--you see it in Native Residental schools as well.
posted by PinkMoose at 8:16 AM on September 13, 2011


Speaking of complicity, did anyone catch Anderson Cooper's report last week about Hephzibah House in Indiana?

Holy fuck, that link is disturbing. I don't doubt a word of the women's stories, but it's almost impossible to really process them. Wow, just wow.
posted by naoko at 8:47 AM on September 13, 2011


Me: Her preaching converted St. Peter to Christianity.

Flunkie: According to what?

According to the Bible (John 20). The Bible is the only evidence that Mary Magdalene existed, so it's all we've got to go on.

If there was a real MM, her preaching to Peter is one of the few things we know about her. The Bible's claim that the first Christian preacher was a woman does not require that you believe that she actually encountered a zombie Palestinian carpenter, though that is what Christians believe.

If the story told there is nothing but pure fiction, MM is a fictional character who told fictional Peter that the tomb was empty. That would mean that Christians in the 1st-2nd century church liked to tell a fictional story about how the first evangelist was a woman.

Nowadays women are forbidden to speak in a lot of American churches because something something literalism hey! look over there!
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 10:50 AM on September 13, 2011


misha's link is broken, but along similar lines, previously.
posted by clavicle at 10:55 AM on September 13, 2011


Me: Her preaching converted St. Peter to Christianity.

Flunkie: According to what?

According to the Bible (John 20). The Bible is the only evidence that Mary Magdalene existed, so it's all we've got to go on.


Uh, yeah, no one denies that. It's the "converted St. Peter to Christianity" part that makes no sense. E.g according to the Gospels, Peter was there at the Transfiguration. It only makes sense to say that she converted Peter to Christianity if you're doing some real handwavy stuff with the meaning of the words "converted" and "Christianity".

If there was a real MM, her preaching to Peter is one of the few things we know about her. The Bible's claim that the first Christian preacher was a woman does not require that you believe that she actually encountered a zombie Palestinian carpenter, though that is what Christians believe.

First witness to the resurrection sure. "First Christian preacher" to the extent that makes any sense (and going on with the naive surface reading of the Bible) John the Baptist would make just as much sense (John 1).
posted by Jahaza at 11:13 AM on September 13, 2011


Her preaching converted St. Peter to Christianity.
Flunkie: According to what?
According to the Bible (John 20). The Bible is the only evidence that Mary Magdalene existed, so it's all we've got to go on.
I'm going to assume that you didn't mean that to sound as condescending as it does sound to me, and just interpret it straight:

John 20 happened long after Peter became a disciple of Jesus.
posted by Flunkie at 4:24 PM on September 13, 2011


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