She jams on an electric guitar and introduces herself on her hot-pink MySpace page as a straight, single Libra who loves to watch "Fiddler on the Roof." All in a nun's habit.Well, here's to ripeness, then. :)
Meet Sister Rebecca Shinas, a 56-year-old member of the Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose. But if you're a 20-something Catholic searching for spirituality in Silicon Valley, you might know her as "Sista B" or the "MySpace Nun."
"The Dominican tradition invites us to read the signs of the times," Sister Rebecca said recently in her brightly lit office at St. Simon Church in Los Altos. "And the signs are now online. MySpace is where this generation lives."
She's got 86 "friends" linked to her MySpace page, from as far away as Zimbabwe. She meets some through Catholic connections. But she once swapped urls with another young woman - a self-described Satan worshipper - at the mall.
She insists she's not trying to save anyone, or even bring them to church.
"Oh God, no," she said. "I love them as people. I have a lot to learn from them. This generation is great at reality checks. My goal is love. And church is much bigger than any four walls."
Sister Rebecca isn't the first religious figure to strum hip tunes or go high-tech. But what's surprising is that MySpace and music are linking people of all stripes with a woman who shatters stereotypes and talks of loving human beings for who they are.
"Most nuns are really mean," said Mark Graham, 48, a Cisco software engineer who plays guitar with Sister Rebecca and posts her concerts on YouTube. "She's the exact opposite of that. How many times have you seen a nun play electric guitar?"
Not one to judge people, Sister Rebecca believes that the world is not divided by good and evil people, just those who are "ripe and unripe," taking a line from Jesus' Aramaic teachings.
[I'm reminded of another singing nun, also a one-time Dominican, Soeur Sourire (Jeanne Deckers), whose songs I loved as a kid. Yep very 60s -- except I was listening to them on an old vinyl in the 80s. :) And yes, I'll admit it, I used to love Dominique (YouTube link)! Her tale is one of tragedy, however.]