jeanine deckers ~ seour sourire

remember this song?
take a listen ~ its from 1963
… lemme refresh your memory …
“dominique, nique, nique…”

remember? perhaps you’ve seen the debbie reynolds movie, the singing nun? well, its about the lady, a dominican nun from belgium, who wrote and composed this song. mostly the details of her provided in the movie are sucra-coated – you know, fabricated. but, nonetheless, the song’s interest lay just as much in the intrigue surrounding its composer and singer – a nun from a cloistered order prior to the second vatican council – as in its cute, catchy tune.

the song, of course, tells the story of dominique, founder of the dominican order, to which jeanine belonged. originally. she recorded the tape/album of some of her songs – including dominique – for her own personal use – for gift to family and friends. phillips, a record company, signed her up to a contract. the song dominique became an instant hit across europe. and on its release in america, sent that song ‘louie, louie’ into second spot on the billboard charts. jeanine appeared on the ed sullivan show, in a pre-taped segment. her growing fame and the publics fascination with this simple, pious nun from belgium, did not sit well with the mother superior of the convent … nor with the church. the mother superior almost blocked jeanine’s ed sullivan tape from airing. the convent/church did, however benefit from jeanine’s success, given her obligation (vow of poverty which all religious must make) to give all her earnings to her order. the church even took the step of patenting the name ‘seour sourire’ -jeanine’s stage name – making it impossible for her to use it after leaving the order. the church/convent failed, however, to pay any taxes on any of seour sourire’s earnings. ever.

eventually jeanine gave up her musical career and fame. she never wanted fame … never wanted to be a ‘somebody’ … she only ever wrote and sang music and played her guitar (which she named soeur adele) as an expression of worship … for g-d. she retreated back into her cloistered life to pursue her religious studies. in the late 60s, jeanine took a change of heart, no doubt influenced by the turmoil of change the second vatican council brought … and also the increasing sexualization and rebeliousness of the 60s. she left the domincan convent, prior to making her final vows. soon after, the record company dropped her contract … it seemed her status as a nun, and not so much her music, served as the magnet to draw interest toward her. she wrote a song in the 60s/70s praising the pill, and came out against the church’s stance on the pill. she faded to obscurity … never able to achieve the level of fame she reached with ‘dominique.’ and so she took to teaching autistic children, even opened a school with her lifelong friend annie pescher, also a former nun.

the two shared their post convent years together … jeanine working on her art from time to time and even trying to revive her musical career in the late 70s/early 80s. her untimely and tragic demise occured as a result of the belgian government’s demand that she pay $60,000 in back taxes for all her earlier earnings. she had no receipts to prove that she gave her earnings to the convent … and so the government held her accountable for the heavy tax bill; they shut down her school, removing all hope and replacing it with only deep and heavy despair.

on march 29, 1985 the two women wrote their last letter together – a suicide note. and then they committed suicide by ingesting barbituates and alcohol. annie and jeanine begged g-d’s mercy for taking their own lives; they had lost all hope and despair became too great for them both. g-d had seen them suffer, surely he would welcome them with open arms. they could not suffer anymore, simply could no longer endure. and so, they lost the light and succumbed to the despair. how anguishing must it have felt, for two deeply religious women to decide to take such an unimaginable action – take one’s own life? how much struggle, torment, despair, and deep unrelenting suffering filled the lives of these ladies in the years that followed their departure from cloistered religious life? not to mention burdensome-ness of the obtuse rumors about their sexuality … unfounded, as far as i can tell. and, at any rate, none of our fucking business (ha – excuse the pun).

so … there’s another tale in which the church just sucks the juices out of its individual prey … and then tosses aside the remains. the financial part of this story just kills me … really. along with the way in which we all make assumptions. along with the way the church just simply must squash absolutely every opposition that comes from within its own ranks. there’s a word for that … totalitarian comes to mind.

RIP ~ jeanine deckers ~ october 17.1933 to march 29, 1985


~ by frizzyscissorhands on July 8, 2007.

9 Responses to “jeanine deckers ~ seour sourire”

  1. Hello! Finally figured out who you were!

  2. hey, girl!

    nice to see you. yeah, i’ve seen you around @ susan’s … i have not been very good at visiting many other blogs … how’s the summer going?


  3. I have a photo around here somewhere of Jeanine and Annie’s funeral. That was a very sad ending to a very sad life. As I recall, “Dominique” was recorded as a half-hearted fundraiser, but mostly as a gift for fellow nuns and visitors to the convent.

    I remember the movie, and thought it was kinda strange (there’s an R&B singer in the movie, for example–I didn’t know there were a lot of them native to Belgium of that era).

    The song has always had a haunting quality to it, and as a child it kinda scared me a little (not a lot, just a little). Probably because I didn’t understand the words. Still, maybe I heard something of a problem at the time. Maybe she felt a problem at that time and unconsciously projected it through the song.

    Whatevr the reason, the song has always given me the creeps. It is a beautiful song, though, and I enjoyed listening to it here.

  4. i think a great many women religious of that era harboured a deep and conflicting sadness/turmoil within. music = universal language of expression. even that of which the composer/songstress does not possess awareness seeps into the fabric of the music. its inevitable. its such a true form of expression, IMHO. possibly that’s what you senses in her music.

    my mum knew the story of jeanine deckers very well, being ultra-catholic, and being that her only sister had entered religious life … and also being a francophone. and so she used to sing me the song already in my earliest memories i recall this.

    until i researched for this post, i had no idea what had become of jeanine. how sad, indeed.

  5. Oh, Red…mercy, darlin’….can ya’ forgive me iffin’ I note this post is a tad one-sided? I knows ya’ doan mean it to be, but ya got a hold of jes’ one side of the stick, maybe?

    Sugar, hang in heah wif’ Aunty a moment, ‘kay? There is important info ya’ might wanna’ research that I’ll mention after a few up top comments.

    Fer the record, most Churches doan pay taxes–jes’ like Planned
    Parenthood doan pay taxes–being “charitable” PP is exempt.

    The culprit heah ain’t the Church per se (though some individuals in it–the Abbess?) may well be.

    Jeanine understood her obligation to obedience as well as poverty. It is like an army. Each individual soldier doan know of the total war…he jes’ knows HIS own part, his own obligation to the whole. When the soldier tries ter play general, ain’t no surprise that the soldier takes a gut shot.

    The real culprit is the 60s…even non-religious social scientists admit that it was a time of great cultural upheaval–no surprise then, that some of the more gentle souls–Jeanine–was swept up and crushed by it.

    Jes’ fer fairness sake, let’s note that many many poor nuns was hideously preyed upon by 60s-70s psychologists. One of the worst cases was in California with IMH nuns….they was experimented on by
    Rogers and Coulson–and Maslow (Their mentor) WARNED them they were wading into deep evil.

    Years later Coulson wrote of what they did–with regret, but by then it was much much too late.

    Keep in mind, many of these young women were raised in sheltered homes, then cloistered and of a temperament that was ill suited for the chaotic world of the 60s that engulfed them. Imagine taking an American 8 year old and throwing her in a Thai brothel –not saying it is OK for Thai girls, but am saying most Thai victims of child prostitution do know of any life beyond their own experience. In other words, the shock to the American child used to her sweet daddy, her dolls and her clean home is worse to her system–more disorienting, soul shattering…a sort of Patty Hearst syndrome develops.

    Here’s what happened wif the IMH nuns in California–and in hundreds of other convents throughout the world.

    1966, Carl Rogers and William Coulson wanter ter do a pilot study usin’ an experimental therapy on some “blank slates” so they duped some poor nuns into being experiemtned on–Immaculate Heart of Mary order. (IHM). The naive Mother Superior allowed Dr. Rogers’ to use her nuns as guinea pigs for his “Therapy For Normals” (TFN).
    The dotor feel-ggod arrived with big bucks from NIH and 58 psychological testers and “group facilitators.” Coulson later made an audio tape detailing how
    “We inundated that system with humanistic psychology.” … They agreed to let us come into their schools and work with their normal faculty, and with their normal students, and influence the development of normal Catholic life.”

    The result was worth of a horror film. They deranged–literally- about half the poor women, and the other half went on to drugs, alcohol, hippy communesand a general life of hell and misery. IN Coulson’s own words, “It was a disaster…There were some 615 nuns when we began. Within a year after our first interventions, 300 of them were petitioning Rome to get out of their vows. They did not want to be under anyone’s authority, except the authority of their imperial inner selves.”

    Rogers was a notorious anti-Catholic, anit-religious psychologist who belleived passionately in the Kingdom of the Inner Self. Coulson admits, “We both had a bias against hierarchy. I was flush with Vatican II, and I thought, ‘I am the Church, I am as Catholic as the Pope.”

    I short, these men meant to cause harm, not good. They meant to “free” the nuns from their professed vows, and introduce these “virgin balnk slates” to a world of utter depravity–all under the guise of “Therapy for Normals”–

    Red, think of that. Why do “normals” need therapy? WHOSE definition of “normal” was used here?

    The 60s idea was that man was naturally OK as he was in the raw–no religion of social construct should impede the “natural man” from ful realization of himself.

    These nutcases actually thaough that if all “constraints” imposed by the mean old bad Church were removed, then guilt would diappear and peaople would all sit around naked weaving flowers into each other’s hair like some primal playpen where love and harmonious joy were the only human emotions.

    What crap. try this…put two little babies in a playpen , each wif’ they own cookie and watch what happens.

    Why, one baby will try ter snatch the other’s cookie! Of course. We ain’t naturally so dang good–that baby was not deprived of anything, it simply saw somethin’ it wanted and decided ter git it.

    We ain’t born wif’ good manners and
    a natural inclination to consider others. This has ter be taught. it is the sum of eons of human wisdom that has been learned over the millenniums.

    In these Rogerian encounter groups the nuns was told they had an obligation to respond to the needs of others even when they felt that what was said was “wrong” since all wrong was subjective. This is such an evil idea that one can see the glee on the devils face–for Pete’s sake, these poor women were used like lab rats!

    One of the psychs working on the pilot program with IHM said the plan was to “overcome their religious structure, overturn their faith.” The nuns were taught that doing whatever they “deeply wanted to do” was not sinful or immoral…what utter mule manure.

    What if I “deeply want” to murder every muslim I see? Think the judge will buy the line that my “therapist” told me it was good for me to do what I deeply wanted to do??

    This is the same as an evil teacher decidin’ ter “overcome” your child’s love of mama and daddy, your whole family, all yore family traditions and memories, all the family virtues and manners. Do ya see the vicious evil in this, Red?

    These poor women were told by one “therapist” (not Rogers or Coulson, but one of their students) thy “had” to particpate in sex “therapies” to discover who they were. They were instructed that if they did not “explore their libidos” they could not be whole. that they would never know who they were. Of course, plenty of budding therapists offered to help with the exploration.

    Coulson would report years later:
    “Our grant had been for three years, but we called off the study after two, because we were alarmed about the results. We thought we could make the IHM’s better than they were, and we destroyed them.”

    And Coulson concluded (on an audio tape):

    “We provoked an epidemic of sexual misconduct among clergy and therapists.”

    He went further, “… I’ll tell you what Rogers came to see, and he came to see it pretty quickly, because he really loved those women (the nuns of “The Immaculate Heart of Mary”). They were a wonderful order, unconventional in the best sense, for example going around in their old habits playing Mozart for Catholic school kids; and that doesn’t exist any more. Rogers came to call it, “this damned thing.” I’m going to quote him in a tape that he and I made in ’76:” … (these are words of Rogers )

    “I left there feeling, well, I started this damned thing, and look where it’s taking us; I don’t even know where it’s taking me. I don’t have any idea what’s going to happen next. And I woke up the next morning feeling so depressed, that I could hardly stand it. And then I realized what was wrong.” … “did I start something that is in some fundamental way mistaken, and will lead us off into paths that we will regret?”

    Yeah buddy, it shure did.

    Yore Jeanine was caught up in a similar cyclone…a sweet young woman ill prepared for the whirlwind of devastation that the 6o–70s brought. She espoused the thrill of the Pill because it seemed so au courrant –so 60s. Gag. She did not study the Pill, or the whole cross current in which she was being swept along…but all the same she became un-moored–a free floating wisp of confusion who tried to live in two worlds–a world of some vestige of faith, but more in the world of sexual andn person “liberation” that in truth was simply the unleashment of much of man’s darkest side.

  6. “We provoked an epidemic of sexual misconduct among clergy and therapists.”

    haha. many a young boy who has lived in a seminary school (i.e. catholic boarding school run by priests, nuns, brothers –ie run by religious) would beg to differ. catholicism itself contains its own darkness – wrt sex, the flesh, carnal. what grows in the dark can only remain in the dark.

    this is an aside but, have you any idea how much buggery and other horrid abuses went on? how cruel and downright mean the nuns could be to little girls? (and of course, brothers to little boys.)i went to catholic school, as did my mum. i remember that the nastiest teachers/principals i had were nuns. so does my mum, who just turned 76. incidentally, i am convinced that my oldest brother’s time spend in a seminary school as a child had a hand in turning him into a sex addict.

    what pisses me off about jeanine is that the fucking church happily took her money, her performing name and left her high and dry. that’s deliberate. and its nasty. and its all because she had a change of heart.

    regarding the tax thing and jeanine – clearly that was the church and the belgian government conspiring to punish her for her actions. clearly. and that’s fucking sick. if the earnings went to the church, they they are tax free, indeed. so why come after the poor woman decades later, expecting recompense for income she never earned? she never earned that income … she was a nun, and could NOT earn her own money. that has been in force around the world since … long time. so what gives? they had it out for her. that’s what.

    she was conned. and good. and perhaps they felt a twinge of guilt … and tried to make amends by allowing her a catholic funeral and burial.

    too little too late.

    i have seen this in my own life, belle, how the so-called pious and religious and g-d-fearing catholic folk (and the institution itself) turns a blind eye on the suffering, when they deem the suffering to be inescapable – i.e. a catholic women (i’m speaking of my mother and her first marriage here) who’s beaten and even strangled one or twice … goes to her priest, to her catholic family, for relief, only to be sent away. he could do nothing for her …

    and all the other so-called good catholics turned their eyes away from the horror. it happened. its ugly. its not at all what g-d or jesus wants us to do. we must embrace ALL humanity. we must take steps to ease and relieve suffering. that person who approaches us, looking all shorn, forlorn and stinking of the ghetto … s/he could be me or you … or better yet, jesus. so i think, anyway. but many many who call themselves g-d fearing do not see this. they are too busy admiring themselves in the faith mirror.

    my mother is deeply religious. each of her 6 children received a catholic upbringing. i am the last of 6. two of my aunts were grey nuns … (one is dead, the other sickly and ‘retired’). duty, duty, duty. a life of duty and servitude. and despite being treated so poorly by her catholic community, she continues to attend and support the church. i am not sure where she finds the inner strength to get past all the hurt and anger.

    as for your hatred of the muslim faith … you paint a broad and wonderful group of people with an ugly brush stroke. ishmaili’s are not as you have often described muslims. and many others are not. as to what would i think about a deep desire of yours to kill a muslim? i would think you sound like you belong to a new generation of the kkk or the ss or something. think on it – persecuting an individual because of the color of his skin? or his religious belief? sounds awfully familiar, my dear! just sayin is all …

    PTSD = post traumatic stress disorder. everyone on the planet is convinced they have it. its weary already. but, its the new fangled buzz word. 🙂

    there’s a song sung by the eagles … its called ‘get over it’ … its a cool song. one line in it says “…i’d like to find your inner child and kick its little ass.”

    sometimes that’s how i feel about this – the way we drag out our traumas long past their due date.

    i have deep respect for maslow. his hierarchy of needs concept is brilliant. i am not familiar with the rest. and yeah, the 60s was a time for psych. experimentation. that was the era when psychiatry was brutish. patients would attend their shrink’s office and be pumped full of phenobarb and then sent home on the bus, stoned out of their gore. that was therapy. that was what my mum got for therapy. i could go on … but that’s a story or a book in and of itself.

    the bottom line is … humans are cruel. they have not just not of evil, but a seeming deep desire to DO evil … to press pain and suffering in the souls of those around them. its how i see it …

    as for the many nuns turning to drugs, falling away from their path, etc in the late 60s … the 2nd vatican council takes heavy responsibility for the wayward path that many religious took. many did leave their orders, the priesthood. many felt betrayed by their institution. at least admit that the church had the hugest hand in that, and not so much the psychologists.

    have you read the post about the good father? its the previous post? do read it. better yet, follow the link and watch the documentary. its shocking. absolutely shocking.

    only evil lurks in the corridors of the vatican. the same way it lurks in the corridors of the white house and 10 downing street and 24 sussex drive … etc. the church no longer represents the divine in which i believe. its a mere over-inflated, political club of deviants and power thirst repressives.

    forgive me. this comment sounds bitchy and ranting. i am so angry with the men who call themselves g-d representatives on earth. we all believed them. believed in them. and they have shown themselves to be no better than any others in history. throughout history catholicism has had a big hand in the major sufferings of human history. yes, they have done some good.

    its all what we chose to see, i suppose. and i am now at the point where i feel suspicious. where i feel i must question. everything.

    i am reading mark twain. satirical, funny, and yet serious too. i had no idea matters of faith and belief troubled him throughout his life.

    how the age-old question of faith keeps coming back at us, eh?

    i have enjoyed this ‘talk’ with you. thanx for stopping by.

    i hope i have responded to your comment and not just taken off on my soapbox. and i hope i do not seem so angry … with my words.



  7. Sweet Red…Aunty doan mind iffin’ youse feelin’ rage and revenge–natural to have that response when it seems called fer…jes’ as long as we doan *act* on emotions–act on knowledge, not feelings.

    First, lemme clear up somethin’—I’se speakin’ rhetorically when I said about killin’ muslims, I didn’t ackshully mean it was ME who felt that way. …and I doan hate any muslims, though I’de shure shoot the one who is trying ter kill innocents the world over.

    But on yore points about the Church and faith, I’d like to respond in some detail.

    Does ya know of the writer, Flannery O’Connor? She wrote the most shocking (and hilarious) stories. Here is what she wrote to a lady who sent a letter critiicizin’ faith and the pious folks like youse rightly angry wif’

    “You seem to demand that God put the Kingdom on heaven on earth right now.”

    Flannery said that to make the point that we ain’t in heaven yet. It is a fallen world, honey.

    We’s all expectin’ a fairy tale perfect place…but truth is, original sin is easily demonstrated. I think that is what youse communicatin’ with yore selections of art, wif’ yore commentary. IT is a defiled rotten fallen world that we have made fer ourselves. It ain’t God’s fault–He did warn us.

    Here is the hope: Those who follow HIM find peace. I doan mean every faker that wears a collar or thumps a bible. After all, Judas was among the 12…meaning, even Christ was betrayed by those HE had chosen….so ain’t no surprise that some preachers or priests is snakes.

    As fer the Catholic Church–there is less molestation there than in any other institution that serves kids. Highest rate of molestation is from school teachers, followed by sports coaches. Simple fact is that molesters gravitate to whar’ they will find a ready population of kids. (this is in a U Penn study done by a nominally Protestant professor).

    I ain’t excusin’ even ONE case of a priest/or nun that hurt a child. It is abominable. I am merely stating that the Church in its doctrine is true and faithful to Christ…but the people in the Church can shure fall far short of what the Church teaches. Jes’ becasue someone wears the lable “CAhtolic” doan mean they’s a good example of it–though MANY are, they jes’ doan make headlines. (As the media says “if it bleeds, it leads”. Horror and shock bumps up the Nielson’s ya know?)

    Simple formula is iffin’ you ain’t a saint, youse a sinner. Sounds flippant, but it is the hard truth of thangs. NObody is treadin’ water fer 70 years–either youse movin’ toward goodness, or youse slidin’ into evil ways.

    An analogy to bad folks bein’ in the Church and that not invalidatin’ the Church is this:
    When a US senator sells instructions on how ter make a nuke to a maniac like Kim Jong, that senatorial betrayal does not invalidate the Constitution.

    If someone high up in the Church is a betraying scoundrel it doan invalidate what the Church teaches.

    If YOU and ME follow what the Church teaches, WE will be better off in every real way. Those who don’t, but pretend to be churchy will only be fakers, slimy, oily posseurs.

    Think on this fer a moment: “The gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” That is what Christ said about the Church. What it means is that the gates of hell will TRY like hell to crush the Church —and boy howdy, ain’t we seein’ it??

    Worst thang that can happen is when one of yore own is the culprit–it ain’t what those outside do ter you (or to the Church) but what those closest to you do that kills yore heart…right? AN’ that is the Church…when one of her own does this evil, the anguish is all the greater.

    Mah point is that the Church is mostly good people working anonymously to do good thangs for the poor, the hurt, the migrants, orphaned …all the misery you decry….but when a minute percentage of her ministers does evil, the whole of the Church is defamed and slashed against.

    I’se sorry to hear of how yore mama was treated–sounds as if she were a victim of an ignorant priest. Canon Law is very clear:A spouse has NO requirement to stay wif’ an abusing spouse. Never.

    That doan mean ya’ git a divorce–ya’ gits a legal separation, ya’ git yoreself to safety an’ ya doan remarry. Sounds harsh, but marriage is until death. Some people live a very sacrificial life, separated from abusing spouses, adulterous spouses, etc. But when ya’ stood there and vowed “until death” then it cain’t mean “until I’m done with yore hurtful ways.”

    Either marriage is a vocation or it is a toy.

    Iffin’ it is a vocation–a vow–it can mean some hardships. Ya’ hope not–ya’ hope each couple comes to truly love the other, put that other first….some manage this a few years outa forty. (smile)

    I knowed of a case whar’ one was a prize jerk an’ years after mistreatin’ her hubby, an him all faithful and hard workin’ fer the kids…she came right side up—gave up her 13 years of wild roamin’ and settled in at home after he raised the kids…now, the kids won’t have nuthin’ ter do wif’ her, but he treats her as if all those years she was sick and not really herself–which may be the case.

    Point is, though, that she is home, living a clean and orderly life, an now she is taking her turn being patient and gentle wif’ her kids who jes’ despise her. The couple is good now–not the romamtic roman candle stuff..but a solid friendship, mutual care that a marriage needs to be…

    Is that a sad story? Not iffin’ ya takes the long–that is eternal– view. His love & fidelity is what brought her home and settled her down. Now she is workin’ on her own saintliness by suffering her hurt from the kids with good grace–after all, she bought that ticket….

    On the nuns….

    Many school nuns was tough–I’se prolly older’n you, an I had plenty of nuns too. Most were incredible women, loving and giving…but I had mah share of sour-faced hags who had zilch bidness around kids.

    But it were a different time–looky, mah daddy smacked the tar out us’uns. Today he’d be hauled up on child abuse charges. But at that time, ever kid on the block was whacked fer sassy mouthin’ they mamas. Ain’t that true? An the nuns of the time also followed a stricter code of discipline.

    Fer the most part, I doan think it was so wrong–it raised a pretty reliable bunch of folks. Today we have a crop of soft-bellied whiny-cry babies. It ain’t no joke that folks ain’t grown until they’s 30 somethin’ now–what lunacy, Red.

    Now, I ain’t excusin NO exccesses by ANYbody what done wrong in any era of Church history–most of the saints was first pretty bad characters–St. Francis were a fop, narcissistic and spoiled by his mama….prissy about dirt on the beggars he passed…oh yeah. But look what he became!

    St. Ignatius Loyola was a violent duelist, a ladies man, a gambler….yep. But look what he became. St. Monica was a vacuous socialite, frivolous maven of gossip and spendthrift…but look what she became….

    Do you see whar’ the hope is: No matter how cruel, shallow, cheatin’ and lying some were–they became saints.

    Iffin’ youse expectin’ that heaven be put on earth right now, youse set yoreself up fer disappointment.

    The miracle is when we fight evil. When we seek the good, then do the good. When we make beauty, refuse to give in to vice, struggle to develop virtue….that is a thang of lastin’ beauty.

  8. OOPS! Fergot ter mention that Mark Twain said his best work was his St. Joan of Arc. Have ya’ read it? His bio of St. Joan is jes’ terrific.

  9. indeed – one must be mindful, ever mindful, of the great gaping divide that exists between the divine and those poor earthly human creatures that purport to represent the divine on earth. that’s a very wise remark from our beloved pup, k9. so true.

    still, i often ask, what’s real?

    its easy to lose sight.

    about mark twain … yes his diary/biography of joan of arc is on my ‘to read’ list.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: