THE HUMOR OF SIMPLICITY
Adventures of a Middle-Class Catholic Bag-Lady

June 1990By Ronda Chervin

Ronda Chervin is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at St. John’s Seminary in Camarillo, California, and an international lecturer. Among her many books are Woman-to-Woman and Feminine, Free and Faith­ful.

So, what’s a middle-class Catholic bag-lady? A woman who by background and pro­fession belongs to the middle class, but by vir­tue of trying to follow gospel and papal dictums about a simple and austere way of life, manages to give the appearance of a real bag-lady, with humorous results.

Before going any further, I want to make absolutely sure the reader knows that this ar­ticle’s title is not meant to be in the least of­fensive to real bag-ladies, for whom I feel great empathy, especially since they provide me an image of my future in case my “sha­dow-self” someday overtakes my present efforts at maintaining the merest modicum of respectability necessary for my job as a seminary professor and for speaking engagements.

An example will explain what I mean about being taken for a bag-lady. Recently I drove my son from our lower-middle-class neighborhood in Los Angeles to take his col­lege boards at a high school in Watts — a neighborhood now being rehabilitated, but famous for past riots and gang warfare.

Anticipating a wait of some four hours, I brought along a bag of knitting, and dressed casually in my Saturday best: scuffed boots, twisty leotard, long skirt, 10-year-old sweater, long scraggly hair, and of course no makeup, since even the $1 that could be spent on a cheap lipstick could better be given to the poor. You get the picture.


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