Month: December 2017

The Keepers– a Review of the Series.

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This is a review of a Netflix series called The Keepers, about abuse so devastating that the abused couldn’t face it or speak of it for three decades; about how fear and shame are magnified or  distorted by lens of the past.  As you read below or watch the series, think about the various cultures or religions of the world where abuse of women is the norm.  I think you will conclude that the world is at an inflection point of change.  If you don’t have Netflix it’s free here:

http://123netflix.com/watch/RGb0XqvY-the-keepers-season-1.html    at least for the time being.

Prologue: A parent can be given a child to raise, and teach, and love. In time that child  may set off on the stream of life, and later return to reform and teach the parent. My daughter Lili called my attention to The Keepers.  I would never have found it by myself! 
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Review: The Keepers

If we ponder about the fuss over abuse of some people by others with greater power, we might well spend a few hours with this Netflix original documentary series. It is as revealing, and edifying as any great work of art or literature. The series opening is subdued and unspectacular’ we listen in  on a conversation between two middle aged women. Only gradually, we discover they are former students of a nun who was murdered in 1969, thirty-three years earlier. They speak of how to solve the cold case. But why? Because they were abused themselves, by Father Joseph Maskell and his friends.
We begin to realize these are real people, rather than actors; and the Baltimore murder is a fact; the majority of protagonists are themselves, almost like a U tube flick. Cathy, the murdered nun had said, just before her death, that she was aware of the abuse, and would put a stop to it.  We hear of the nature, depth, cruelty and degradation of that abuse, and see more clearly how power can not only promote sexual abuse, but in this case, lead to murder, under unwritten rules that protect the abusers; the Church, Justice, and public opinion… all are dismissive,  incredulous or/and complicit.
We learn that by 1992, more than three decades after the abuse, only one Jane Doe (Jean Hargadon Wehner) , was able and willing to remember her feared mmemories, and speak  about them.  Wehner  tells how, after the murder of the nun, Father Maskell took her to the woods to see the maggot ridden decomposing body, warning,in effect,  This is what happens when people talk.
Another abused classmate is  Teresa Lancaster, the other person we meet  in the opening of the series. Ultimately they obtain the addresses of many former students and mail letters asking if anyone else knows of such abuse. The response is immediate and huge.  In 1994, the two get legal advice, and file charges against the priest.The diocese reacts, as does law and justice, through denial, obfuscation, accusation and intimidation. And almost in a tacit admission, the priest is judged  by the diocese, to be ill, or perhaps depressed; he is sent for private psychiatric inpatient treatment; he is sheltered.
The two women establish a ‘tip line’ and hear that two more men may have been involved in the murder; though they find one they have no authority or help, andget nowhere. Worse, their lawsuit is thrown out because of the Statute of Limitations.  A rehabilitated Father Maskell is moved about among various church assignments, like a chess piece knight, who can hop around to abuse more people. It appears he also grooms and abuses a  man, who later comes forward. But, in the  final act of outrageous injustice, Maskell becomes demented, and dies. There is no resolution; at least not yet.
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The series lasts about 6 hours long. I have spent weeks at a time with people like Gibbon– Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire; Hugo– Les Miserables; dead Greeks, sacred religious books and philosophers. Yet The Keepers is alive. It is about us, the here and now, as we become more aware that power can– and is– used to abuse people of all genders, ages and cultures. That awakening may become the most sweeping societal, political, and cultural event of our time. The right and power to abuse, whether exercised between individuals, within  families,  or between Nations, or by those who believe they speak to– or for– Gods, can  no longer be overlooked.  The Keepers, as ugly and disgusting as it is to watch, is well worth the time.  I have not included pasted photos because I think it is important for the reader to see the series, see them personally.

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