Three bears, cults and extraversion

I made up a bowl of porridge for my daughter this morning,
the easy stuff out of a sachet, with two minutes in the microwave instead of one and
a half, given I had put in too much milk. 
My daughter was in a rush for work and I was trying to help her get out
the door in time. 
The porridge at first was too sloppy and therefore needed
more time in the microwave and then when she did not eat it immediately it
became too lumpy.
I think of those three bears, and Goldilocks’s desire that
things – chair, porridge, bed – be just right.
I did another Myers Briggs test this week and came out
with a slightly different score from the first time I’d tried it. 
I’m sure this is not the official test but it’s one that’s
free to try on line. 
My daughter reckons I should take the results of the first
test seriously, at least more seriously than later results because by the
second and third times I was likely to answer less honestly given I could anticipate the questions.  
questions like: after you have been socializing heavily do you prefer to spend
time alone.
Well, yes and no. 
I can manage more company after a I’ve been with a crowd but equally
there are times when I’d like some quiet time. 
This is why I dislike these tests so much.  They tend to demand ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers
and therefore become reductive. 
I know the test managers ask the same questions in reverse
order to try to trick the truth out of you but I suspect people can become
test-savvy and answer in whatever way they feel might best suit their
These tests to me are like horoscopes.  You go along with whatever suits you – namely the positive
interpretations, and ignore the rest.
I came out as Extravert 78%, Intuitive 38%, Feeling 62 %
and Judging 22%.
At a glance, I’m not much of a judge.  The other results don’t surprise me so
I have my third Christmas party this afternoon, and my
last bar Christmas day on Monday evening. 
I haven’t done too badly.  I
do not yet feel overwhelmed by the sense of excess this time of year
Shades of the question I quoted above from the Myers
Briggs test.  That one is to root
out the introverts,  I’m sure.  
My husband and at least one of our daughters are so-called
introverts.  My older sister
reckons a person on the introversion scale a la Myers Briggs, is simply one who
derives energy from their own company, from quiet times.  While an extravert is a person who
derives energy from time spent with others. 
I’d like to think I derive energy from both sources and to
an extent I suspect we all do.  But
it’s true, I prefer the company of others to total and prolonged solitude.
When I was a school girl we went on retreats once a
year.  A week or maybe three to
five days during the school day dedicated to prayer.  I pretended to enjoy those days.  The imposed silence. 
During retreats there were times when we sat in chapel
together and a nun read to us or the priest held  Mass or benediction,
something that involved noise, voices, or better still singing, but
then later we were meant to make our own entertainment, namely in the form of
more prayers and contemplation.
I can see us now, thirty or so fifteen-year-old girls, our
missals in hand wandering around the gardens of Vaucluse Convent ostensibly in
deep contemplation.
The more outgoing girls caught one another’s gaze and
burst into fits of giggling.  The
nun in charge who stalked around behind the rose bushes offered an unspoken
reproach and silence prevailed again.
I longed for the hours to pass.  It felt as though I had been tied in a strait jacket and
could not move my arms.  I should
have known from this experience that I would never make a nun. 
Nuns take vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.  All three would have been impossible
for me, and yet there was a time in my life when I contemplated taking on such
a life, out of love for my favourite teacher, whom I once decided I had wanted to
emulate.  Even if it meant hours of
imposed silence and a pretense – for me at least – of prayer.  
This nun has since left the convent but
not before I gave up on that particular vocation. 
The other day I listened to Phillip Adams during his radio program Late Night Live on the topic of cults
Apparently there is a group of people in London who were arrested.  Three women had been held in enforced
captivity for thirty years, one of whom must have been born into slavery.  Apparently they are part of a cult
Their story fascinates me but the discussion of cults
fascinates me even more.  One
speaker made the point that if you get a group of people together and keep them
separate from outside influences for long enough they can begin to develop
kooky ideas. 
Madness breeds out of too much introversion, though
equally there is the opposite madness, that of the mob. 
It all comes down to balance I suppose, a bit like my
daughter’s porridge this morning: not too runny, not too firm.  

The truth is a slippery fish

Saint Patrick’s Day and my mind
goes to two things.  First the soup we will have for dinner tonight, leak and
potato with toasted bread and butter. 
It’s a tradition we built up over the years mostly because most of us in
this family enjoy the soup, one of my husband’s specialities. 
He found the recipe in one of those
newsagent’s cook books that came out years ago, one that specialises in Italian
cooking.  This Women’s Weekly cook book, or is it from New Idea, a magazine my husband likes to re-name No
 as a joke in honour of his perception of the magazine’s mindlessness?  Except for its
recipes, the Italian cook book offers simple tasty delights, including the soup, which
we eat on Saint Patrick’s day, in spite of the fact it’s called Saint Joseph’s
Day soup in Italy.
My mind then pitches back to the
Saint Patrick’s Day march of years gone by, in the days when I felt proud to
be a Catholic.  One day a year as
close to Saint Patrick’s Day as possible, we school children marched along Collins street, which
the police had cordoned off and every school sent a cohort of boys and girls
to represent them. 
We marched in order of schools,
presumably based on the age of the school.  Saint Patrick’s College, my older brothers’ school, a Jesuit
school then located in East Melbourne near the cathedral, now no more, came in
first, and my school, Vaucluse Convent, run by the Faithful Companions of Jesus, once in
Darlington Parade Richmond and also now no more, came in second. 
The school captains held the
banners high in front of every group and Archbishop Simonds, who took over from the famous Daniel Mannix, led the procession
in his black cathedral car.
It’s timely I should be writing
this now on Saint Patrick’s Day and after they have just elected another
Pope.  I no longer feel proud of
my catholic inheritance.  I disowned it long ago in a manner of speaking, not
that you can ever disown your past. 
It’s there with you forever whether you like it or not.  However, it is possible to learn from
the past and not hold yourself responsible for things that you were born into,
things not of your own making.  
least that’s how I see it now and that’s why I’m troubled by this idea I’ve
seen on Face Book and in other parts of social media that go on about
un-baptising yourself or excommunicating yourself to be freed from responsibility for the wrongdoings of certain members of the church .
I see no need, largely because I
imagine the whole thing of baptism and belief is a construction, a thing that is human made
and therefore able to be reconstructed in any way we see fit, simply through an internal decision to stay or to leave. 
Of course any belief system can be
dangerous if its endowed with supernatural powers and when the powers-that-be encourage the young, naïve and
innocent to take beliefs on board as gospel truths.  Hopefully, most of us learn to modify
our views on such dogma soon enough, 
though when I was young, very young, right up until my adolescence I took
my religion on board as the ‘truth’. 
Now I think of  the truth as a slippery fish.  You can only
grasp it momentarily before it slips off into the ocean and you have to spend
long hours fishing for another truth in the form of an equally wriggly fish that
might also slide into your hands if you’re lucky enough but again only momentarily
before it too slips back into the ocean. 
We can remember the sensation of the
truth.  We can play around with how it feels, how important it might be, and we can
modify our views; but the idea of holding firm to the truth leaves us only with
a dead lifeless fish in our hands, no longer fluid, no longer free to swim the oceans and grow stronger and bigger. 
Maybe that’s too simple a metaphor
but strangely when my husband just now went to look for the recipe for Saint
Joseph’s day soup we could not find it in the Italian cook book after all.  
My memory, my truth has failed me.  We found a version of Saint Joseph’s day soup through Google but
where I wonder is the original?  I
had hoped to photograph a bowl of soup for you and post it here so you too might enjoy the image and the tastes it evoked. 
See what happens to the truth?   It slips away in the shadows of memory.