Sunday, June 28, 2015

The Jerks

Fun few days on social media, eh?  (shout out to my Canadian friends)

There are a lot of takeaways from the decision reached on Friday and, more importantly, the response/reaction... For me, the biggest thing I'm taking is jeez, there are some jerks out there and those jerks are loud.  The temptation to allow the jerks to control the dialogue in this country is massive and I'm gonna try to stop falling into it. I'm gonna try to stop reacting to the jerks, I'm gonna try to stop being hurt by the jerks, and, maybe most importantly, I'm gonna start assuming that the majority of people who I interact with aren't the jerks.

On Friday, after the decision was announced by The Supreme Court of the United States of America, I was surprised by my own reaction. I knew this decision was coming. It wasn't ever something I have chosen to campaign heavily against in word or in deed. Yet, even with that, I found myself feeling a little afraid for my children.  I wrote THIS BLOG, which was guest blogged at MAMA NEEDS COFFEE.    For the most part, people read it and enjoyed it.  It led to some interesting virtual discussion.  People of opposing views discussing rationally whether fear is something people who hold the traditional view of marriage need to be feeling after this culture-shifting decision.  I enjoyed that conversation.

But, then again, there were the jerks.

Like the person who commented on my blog that "Catholics are Bigots".

Or my family member who I love (I really do) who's comment I had to delete after he stated that "Catholics should be more concerned about $#%#4 #$%#$ @#$@ priests" (basically a terribly way to describe clergy abuse). 
...to be fair, he apologized for phrasing it that way.

Or, my personal favorite, the person who stated that she will pray for my children, surely I would reject them if they ever came out as gay, being that I am a pearl-clutching Christian!  (can you please, for a moment, imagine a world in which I would be wearing pearls and clutching them?).

Oh, and there are the jerks on the other side too.

Christians, sometimes Catholics, who spoke about this decision with such hatred. 

Christians, sometimes Catholics, who don't understand you don't change people's minds with anger, pride, the righteousness of the pharisees. 

Christians, sometimes Catholics, who have decided it is apparently much better to preach to the choir from their pedestal of moral authority, than to try to understand where the majority of this country is at when it comes to marriage.  

Man, the jerks are annoying, and waaaaaaaaaay too often we have allowed them to set the tone for this conversation.  The jerks who speak for the Church of Fox News or MSNBC, allowing for division to become dangerous in this country.  And social media?  Well, social media just ignites it all!  Perfectly reasonable, kind people (IRL) forget to consider their social media circles and how their memes/quotes/musings might come across to those who feel differently.

And I get it.  Talking about stuff like this is hard.  Because it's personal.  It takes finesse, thoughtfully choosing words, careful examination of opposing opinions, and slow, rational discussion to set foundations of agreement from which to explore different ideas.  Social media doesn't allow for that most of the time.  So, we are instead careless, we speak in sound-bytes, we change our profile pictures to the rainbow or to the vatican flag in order show where we stand and who's side we are on.

Meanwhile, the world just gets grosser and dialogue becomes limited.  Majority opinion isn't challenged and those of us who might have something different to offer are silenced.

It's just, I keep thinking it doesn't have to be this way.

I wrote my blog on Friday to describe some fear I have as a Roman Catholic in today's culture raising my children to embrace the traditional understanding of marriage.  I wrote it completely understanding that the SCOTUS decision was a day of celebration for many in my social media circles.  And because of the blog, I have been able to have some good conversations and dialogue with people who feel differently than me.

Because of the blog some people were able to say. "Geez, you don't have to worry"! But then I  described how this decision is different because it regards a protected class of citizens and it's silly to think it won't be tricky to figure out how to hold on to Catholic identity in Catholic institutions (schools, hospitals, social agencies) when the law of the land is different than the law of the church.  I was able to explain, thoughtfully, that I have friends working hard to see the rights of LGBTQ people recognized even further, who have said to me, "Marriage was already in the bag, we have our eyes on other things, like hospitals right now".

Hopefully some of this will be a bit easier to come together on (like advocacy for the best medical care for the LGBTQ community) but man, judging from how we are letting the jerks own this conversation, I'm not sure.

So I propose the following 5 point system for moving forward in social media discussion on things that are tricky with a wide range of people who don't have any sense of common understanding when it comes to faith and morals.  
*that was an awesome sentence and I should be congratulated for it*
 (assuming it was grammatically correct).

Don't assume people are jerks.
I really do believe, most of us are trying to do the right thing by our family, friends, and our God.  Remember that.

When people are jerks, respond in love
Maxwell, the man who wrote 'Catholics are bigots' on my blog, probably hasn't been treated very nice by some Catholics in the past.  So it was important that I apologized for that. When people are irrationally angry, it's usually because they have been hurt.  An apology is always a good response to that hurt.

Stick up for people being put down by jerks
If you are a Christian and you see another Christian write something inaccurate or hurtful, gently call them out (privately) remind them that we are to be witnesses of love. always.
Perhaps the coolest thing the last couple days, for me, was when one of my friends, who is gay, was able to 'stand up' for me after a critique of who I am as a person.  Her words meant more than my words ever would, and it mattered that she took the time to write them. (shout out to Hailey!).

Stop preaching to the choir because it makes you look like a jerk
Think about what you are posting and why.  I have had to work on this a LOT in the last couple years.  Am I posting something so that those who already agree with me shake their heads vehemently in agreement, even if that means I alienate someone who might feel differently than me?  Gosh, if we could all just STOP playing the game of "social media sensationalism" (I know, I know, I have a long way to go on this too) wouldn't we be able to have better conversations about very real things?

Don't forget, it is about LOVE WINNING
If we want love to win, we must love.  The good love, the steadfast love, the love that goes way beyond warm fuzzy emotions, but instead ends up being about a crucified Christ, willing to empty his whole self in order to show the world just how far he was willing to go to reach the sheep who had wandered off.  

And last...



Friday, June 26, 2015

"LOVE WINS"- they say

This is what my husband wrote on facebook a few moments ago...

"This decision does not affect me personally as an individual. The way that is does affect me is being a Catholic father raising 4 children in the 21st century. What does today's decision mean in terms of the world my 4 children will be raised in, one different than the one I came up in? One of the best things that God gave us is free will, a very powerful gift. However, that gift came with boundaries. To me, I think that the message to my children is that there is the Law of God and the Law of Man. Previously, the two intersected and there wasn't much of a difference. Now, they are farther and farther apart from each other and that gap appears to continually increase. One is static and won't ever change for our benefit and the other is relative and changes with the culture. Today's decision is a large victory for the Law of Man. It allows people to make their own choices as they see fit for them. I don't have a problem with that.
My hope is that the Law of Man stays away from the Law of God. My hope is that people do not try to now go into churches and demand that churches marry same-sex couples. Much like churches respect the legal system, even though they may not agree we need to keep the legal system outside of churches whether they agree or not."
Aaron Wilkerson

My husband is and will probably always be the smartest man I know... and his words perfectly articulate how I and so many others feel about the decision today.  I didn't have a strong opinion on what the Supreme Court should do, if anything, I knew things would swing this way.  But as so many people celebrate, I find myself terribly worried.

I am worried for my children, and hope that so many people who are celebrating today will remember to respect our family's decision to define the Sacrament of Marriage as different from Legal Marriage.  Truth be told, I am not confident that will be the case, and that scares me, for my children, more than I can articulate.

After I heard the Supreme Court decision, my eldest was having a meltdown (someone is always having a meltdown around here).  So I held him in my arms and rocked him, it was a perfect moment.  He was looking up at me and I was looking at him and we were quiet.  It lasted about five minutes, which, at his age, five minutes is a lot.  As I held him, looking into his eyes, I find myself almost moved to tears with anxiety about how I will raise him in this world. Raise him to know his faith, and live his faith.  Raise him to stick to his convictions and to our faith's understanding of marriage, and sexuality... raise him to always treat people with love and respect, even if they see things differently than we do.  But then I see my facebook newsfeed flooded with words like bigot, almost a hysterical frenzy to describe people like me, people who don't really care what the government decides to do, but want to make sure my faith is always allowed to hold it's expression of sexuality as the traditional expression.  And I worry, such very real worry, that even his very life could be at risk for holding those views in a matter of time.  Reactionary?  Maybe.. how I am feeling?  Certainly.

And I do think, in case you are wondering, of my gay friends, some of them with children, who are probably looking at their children today, gazing into their eyes and feeling a hope for them that they have never been able to feel before.  I know that my worry to them seems silly, as they soak in the joy of what they see as an advancement of culture today.

So, I guess, like Aaron, I just have to hope that maybe this country will at this point in history actually live the words of Christ correctly, the words to "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's"- Mark 12

The fear is that never really works out historically- maybe this time will be different.  And so, today, I will continue to pray for love to be more prevalent in the world, real love, good love, love based on a sacrifice, the denial of self.. the only love that has ever really brought about authentic happiness.

Let's talk some takes...

Last Friday, Big Aaron said, 'I'm leaving at four, have the kids shoes on and let's go for a drive"- it was pretty much the best message ever.  I'm all about family adventures.  We went to an art fair and ate corn dogs and looked at pretty things like beer candles (who knew that was a thing?).  Spontaneous adventures are where it's at for me, I was just so darn happy I could have been walking on a cloud.
Corn Dogs make my boys VERY happy.
Speaking of adventures, I have been trying to convince Aaron to take one this weekend.  It's about the last weekend where we have zero necessary plans until the baby gets here, and honestly, despite what Big A thinks, there is a LOT to do before the baby gets here, so I'll be filling our weekends with house projects through the month of August.  Anyway, that's why I've been trying to convince Aaron to go on an adventure this weekend. I was thinking Chicago, but then, my good friend Erin was like, 'um, it's suppose to be 90' in Chicago' and ain't no 3rd trimester got time for that.  So... my newest angle is gonna be Niagra Falls- which I KNOW Big A is gonna reject, so feel free to post your approval on his facebook wall.  It's only four hours away.  We can be there by 9 or 10 tomorrow morning, do all the cheesy tourist stuff and be back by a reasonable time on Sunday.  The boys would love it, I would love it and Aaron (who doesn't LOVE adventures as much as me) could love the fact that we loved it so much.  WINNING!

Joey's third birthday was last Sunday and his party was Saturday.  By party it is meant that (little Baltimore catechism phrasing for my old school Catholic homies) I remembered a week before we hadn't put anything on the calender so we invited our parents and our cousin Judy and I made a cake.  I've talked to the ol' blog about my sensitive child Joey- life is just really hard for him sometimes in general... he's special that way.  But man, watching him light up with having the weekend be all about him was so cool.  He was in construction truck and super hero heaven.  I loved seeing the glow of his smile and him stretching his fingers to show he is three.  That boy is just the best, I am so glad God saw fit to give us him.
I'm pretty much a profesh cake decorator

One of Joey's gift was a 'Paw Patrol' board game.  The thing about me is I don't do a lot of games, or puzzles, or coloring, or pretty much anything that has pieces and can make my already cluttered house more cluttered.. BUT, they LOVE this game.  However, because we don't do games a lot around here, lil' A is having a hard time with the fact that he can't win every single time.  Yesterday he had a mini-breakdown when Joey 'won' for the third time.  Completely melting down because it was 'his turn' to win, but it's a chance game like 'candyland' so Joey was just lucky.  Anyway, all of this is to ask you a question.  How do you teach your growing children the value of being a good winner and a good loser?  What is some language you use that's helpful?  I mean, this kid was legit heartbroken that he wasn't winning. 

I'm working my way through the 3rd trimester and workin' is what it feels like.  The irons off again, gestational diabetes is our reality once again, the ol' back is feeling like 'whoa' occasionally (but nowhere NEAR what it was with John Paul) and I am blessed with nausea again... I wouldn't mind some prayers if you got some.  

So, the Edel Conference got me jealous and it got me thinking...
 I think married women's ministry/young moms ministry might be the most extremely lacking ministry in the Church, at least in the AoD. I've been thinking it for awhile.  There's this great married women's retreat, many of you may have heard of, put on by the Sisters of Mary Mother of the Eucharist, in December and it sells out in like, three seconds.  Why?  Because, in my opinion, married women/women with children are desperate for a break with Jesus.  This retreat is the only one I know of in the area, and like I said, it can't serve as many people as would like to be served.  So, after praying about it quietly for a few months... I decided to just go ahead and with the help of some good friends/sisters and the direction of Holy Spirit.... plan an overnight one at a local parish. I am excited. It won't be till 2016, Aaron thinks I am CRAZY (our lives are not what one would call, calm, during this season), but you are invited and I think it will be great.

Cute huh?

That's it for me.  Check out more Quick Takes at http://thisaintthelyceum.org/


Friday, June 5, 2015

I know what Jesus would do!

... just kidding, I don't.

I've read a lot about how Jesus would respond to the cultural issues of our time- Whenever the traditional understanding of sexual ethics is discussed, particularly when popular culture decides to have a moment, inevitably someone decides to offer an opinion of exactly what Jesus would do. 

How would Jesus respond to Jenner?  I read an article the other day that claimed Jesus would invite Caitlyn over for dinner, calling her by her name and making sure she felt loved.

Would Jesus bake a cake for a gay couple to celebrate their marriage? 

Would Jesus allow for a deeper discussion about how more fully we can invite those with irregular marriages to the Eucharistic Table? 

I've read very certain blogs claiming one ‘side’ or the other. 

“Of course Jesus would sit down with Caitlyn, of course He would call her by her preferred name!”
“Of course Jesus would love Bruce Jenner, even in his gender confusion, but He would certainly not participate in the delusion of pretending he is a she”

“For sure Jesus would bake a couple for a gay couple to celebrate their wedding.  He said He doesn't judge, did he stutter?” (shout out to the meme)
“For sure Jesus would not bake a cake for a gay couple, marriage is reserved between a man and a woman, to participate in the celebration would be to affirm the union”

You know the drill, you've seen the blogs, you've read the opinions...

People, lots of people are very convinced they know exactly what Jesus would do.  And gosh the thing is, I don’t.  I find the times we are living in to be really challenging.  REALLY REALLY challenging.  

I am not confused by what I believe, I know what I believe and, I know it to be True.  That’s the easy part.  I have said before I 100% believe the Teachings of the Roman Catholic Church are the easiest path to truth, happiness and freedom.  I’m not confused by that, I don’t have doubt. I wouldn't be Catholic if I was confused on it, or doubtful if this religion was for me.

But when it comes to how best to share those teachings with others, how best to invite people to a relationship with Christ, how best to tell the world, ‘There’s something so much better for you!’- I don’t know how to do that.  I don’t know how Christ would do that in today’s culture.  And, as I said the other day, I am cautious in agreeing with anyone that seems too certain of how Christ would respond to people, in this historical moment.  We are at a place where relative truth has so affected the general mindset, we aren't even working with common definitions.  When I say love, it means something so very different than when others use the same word.  When I say marriage, it means something so very different than when others use the same word. 

I've even learned that I don't have the same understanding of the word "happiness" that others do. What it mean and how to get there.

The other week, on ‘thefacebook’ I had a back and forth with someone regarding an article shared claiming we are surely on the verge of another great schism.  The conversation was fascinating for so many reasons, but one of the most fascinating parts is when a priest suggested that talking so much about all this ‘welcoming stuff’ was clearly a ‘sales gimmick’.  Right then and there I decided not to continue in discussion with him, because I understood that we must have such different definitions of the word ‘welcome’ a fruitful discussion could not be had. 

I’m not saying Jesus wouldn't know what to do.  I know Jesus would be able to respond to all these current situations perfectly. I know he would figure out a way to eloquently weave deep love and stern teaching into a ‘teachable moment’.  I know it because I watch him do it, particularly in the parables all.the.time.  I know he’d be able to, like with the woman at the well, find a way to be so insanely loving, but so purposefully direct, that people would want to respond to Him.  But I also know a lot of people rejected Christ.  Maybe we could even say the majority of people rejected Him for His message… so maybe it’s not as simple as saying the things people want to hear?

So, anyway, I guess what I'm getting at is what would Jesus do in these situations?  How would Jesus respond?  I don’t know.  And, to be honest, I don’t think you know either.  What I do know is the closer I come to the person of Christ, the more I unite my heart, mind and soul to Him, the better I’ll be at answering those questions.  

Unfortunately, like so many of you, my time is spent wondering or guessing how Jesus would respond to these situations instead of GETTING TO KNOW WHO JESUS IS.  I’m gonna work more on the latter.  Getting to know HIM, because hopefully, it will help me learn better how to be like Him.  And the more I learn how to be like Him, the more I will know how to best LOVE like Him.