Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Self Esteem

My three year old this morning picked up her stuffed dog, petted it, and then in a statement designed to comfort, said "Don't worry Mom.  The Perfect Anna is here." 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Thou Shalt Not Kill

The sixth commandment, "Thou shalt not kill."

Everyone knows it.

The problem with this God, is it's much too vague, too general, too global. Surely you don't mean that there aren't exceptions, that there aren't reasonable rational legal and politically expedient reasons to eliminate some of the people.  I mean...you didn't mean when they're in caves across the ocean or not yet born or are part of a rival gang or very old and disabled and can't earn any money anymore or are in jail because they committed nasty crimes or they're whatever it is that we use to declare them worthy of killing. 

I'm reminded of the movie True Lies, where Arnold Schwartzenegger's character has been given sodium pentothal and his wife played by Jamie Lee Curtis just discovered he's a spy.  She asks him, "Have you ever killed anyone?" and he replies, "Yes, but they all were bad."  This satisfies her of the moral ground behind her husband's dual life up to now, killing is fine if they're all bad. 

Almost immediately after this scene, she picks up a semi-automatic in defense of her husband as they escape, but drops it.  The falling gun happens to lay out a sufficient deadly spray to let them get away.  Her husband nods in approval and off the two of them go.   She has swallowed the true lie, killing is fine if they're all bad.  But Hollywood, knowing we'd push back from her gleefully mowing them down Rambo style, exonerates her from the moral taint of actual killing via a lucky firing of the weapon itself as it falls down the stairs.  It is the equivalent of a drone surgical strike.  Bad guys neutralized, no nasty moral aftertaste for our heroine.  

I'm not saying I wouldn't cowboy up if someone came after my children or my hearth and heart (all of them outside of my own) didn't need defending. But Thou Shalt Not Kill is there for a reason, because we would be tempted to weed out those we deem evil and call that weeding good.

God knows we can easily fail to see our enemies as children of God and justify seeing them as less than beloved of God because of whatever makes them our enemies.   It is a natural if fallen response, to justify an evil as not evil if we want to commit or rationalize an evil so we won't have to think about one's enemies as possibly being human. 

Today's gospel tells us otherwise.  Jesus tells us, not someone else, Jesus, about letting the wheat grow up with the weeds, not pulling up one for fear of killing the other.  Weeding out the enemies with drone strikes, with abortion, with euthanasia, with deportation or refusal of basic needs is a form of killing. It is pulling up the wheat with the weeds.   Not our job.  

What is our job?   Ah. The much harder part of the message.   To pray for them.  To love them. 

How the hell do we do that?  They're evil.  They're alien.  They're out to get us in whatever way it is that they are out to get us.  They don't like us.  They hate us.  They don't think like us for whatever reason.  All of that may be true. 

If so, praying for them won't injure us, (in fact it will help us) and it will help them, even if they don't know it.  Maybe one of the reasons we have so much ire is we're too busy pointing out our enemies and declaring them all weeds, and not spending very much if any at all, time praying for them.

Oh, and that's just dealing with the literal absolute ultimate meaning of this particular commandment.  We didn't even get into the nuance of all the ways in which we kill each other by little things like words, lies, slanders, failure to care for the poor, failure to care for our own (neglect), insults, sarcasm, snark --I know, the internet would cease to exist without it, gossip, indifference and allowing ourselves to only consider our own hermetically sealed ways of viewing all things, which allows us to consider all those not hermetically sealed in our approved cocoon, the enemy.   

We don't get to be the weed whackers of God's garden.  It's a good thing too, because all of us, are probably somebody else's weeds.

Friday, July 18, 2014

What does it Mean to be a Catholic Blogger?

Having lived in the blogosphere since 2007, I've come to know and frequent many a Catholic blog.  Different writers focus on different elements of the Catholic Church, but I have to admit, I love them all and seek them out.  I like Catholic and Enjoying it, Bad Catholic, the National Catholic Register, The Anchoress, Barefoot and Pregnant, Lisa Hendey, Danielle Bean, Just Another Catholic Pondering, I Have to Sit Down, The Curt Jester, The Ironic Catholic, Creative Minority Report, Acts of the Apostasy, Such a Pretty Catholic Bubble, mothering spirit, Happy Catholic, The Catholic Vote, in the Light of the Law, the Crescat, Aggie Catholics, And Sometimes Tea,...there are more but I can't think of them right now.  Honestly, I don't want to leave anyone out but I am, because there are so many more.

Within the Catholic Blogosphere, as in all other places, there are disparate points of view, those who miss Pope Benedict and those who love the current Pope Francis, and those who like both.  There are those who love the mass said in the vernacular, and those who prefer the Latin version.  There are those who delve into deep political issues, and those who focus on the spiritual challenges and benefits of parenting, and others who keep on top of today's issues politically and socially that pose more than a theoretical question to those who wish to be faithful to the Catholic Church.   What unites all of these disparate voices, is a love of the Church, of the Eucharist, of Christ living in their lives. 

What divides us is everything else. 

Recently, my own words were used as a means to insult a blogger I highly respect.  I felt horrified. Then I saw the Crescat being declared something less than Catholic by a few followers on Twitter, and my friend Patrick being mocked as more Catholic than the Pope for daring to voice he struggles with those who see nothing troubling in the multiple mixed messages coming from the Vatican.  In short, we are being reminded constantly of what divides us.  We should remember who delights in dividing us, and what his objective is throughout all of history.  

I received an email question, "What does it mean to be a Catholic blogger?" and the answer has weighed on my mind.

It remains for me, an interesting question. I didn't plan to be a Catholic blogger. I happen to write. I started a blog. I am Catholic, so I filter the world through my Catholic faith, and thus I became a Catholic blogger.  But if we were to say come together as a Catholic blogger symposium to discuss what does it mean, what would our answer be?

I cannot speak for anyone else, but I'd love to read others' responses to the question.  

For me, it means to write Catholic, I must be Catholic.  How is the tricky part.  I came up with my own parameters for being a Catholic blogger. 

1) try to always speak truthfully about what I think and to be as knowledgeable as possible when I discuss things that are outside of my general realm of expertise.

2)  use charity and seek to examine issues --and present a Catholic perspective on say politics, touch stone issues of the day, or things that may be of singular interest to those who are also Catholic --how to pray in a busy plugged in world, what the Gospel says to me as a mom, wife, person today, prayer life, how to grow it, what my children teach me about being pro-life, what they teach me about being less selfish.

3) have the grace of generosity to share what I love, and to promote whenever I find something beautiful, wise, joyous or fun. I don't know that I have a Niche in the Catholic Blogosphere, I'm a just a sometimes off key voice in the choir.

4) Write about what is important to me. Catholic faith is in the minute --the grain of wheat, the single cell embryo, the consecrated host, and in the cosmic, the ocean, the stars, the great yes of Mary, the depth of God's mercy, it is in the air we breathe if we but notice, and all of creation begs us to pay attention.

Interested in doing this? There isn't a club or secret decoder pin unless you join Jimmy Akin's email list (which I recommend by the way).

Simply begin. You might start by introducing us to yourself, writing your faith journey ---to the extent you feel comfortable, if you have a journey you think others should hear, or with questions if that is your strength, or with scripture and pondering it, and inviting others to join, or with current events and how one might view it.

More professionally, I recommend joining the Catholic Writer's Guild and regularly browsing and submitting to Kevin Knight's New Advent and The Big Pulpit.  The former is a good networking group of writers/editors/bloggers/authors/speakers, and the later are the Catholic Drudge Reports of Catholic bloggers. I've had the grace to be linked by both sites on occasion.
Catholic blogging is all about being a cyber evangelist and cyber witness to the internet world, and must be done with all the intellect, creativity, joy and craft you can give, plus a dose of humor helps.
Find your voice by talking about what interests you.   Let me know what your blog link is, and I'll send it around to other Catholic bloggers I know.  As it turns out, I know a lot of them.

Good luck and God Speed.  P.S. If you answer the question on your blog, leave a link in the comment section.  I'll post a live link at the end of the body of this post as a result.

Blogs who commented here or on Facebook or answered the question.

Franciscan Mom
The Catholic Book Blogger
Such a Pretty Bubble
Equipping Catholic Families
And Sometimes Tea
Catholic and Enjoying it!
The Catholic Review
Marilyn Rodrigues
Fruitful Momma Blog
Deny the Cat

I hope more participate, and now I have more Catholic blogs to visit.  Clapping hands in joy like the Catholic blog junkie I am. 

Leaving a comment is a form of free tipping. But this lets me purchase diet coke and chocolate.

If you sneak my work, No Chocolate for You!