Thursday, January 12, 2017

The power of prayer ala Facebook

     Right now my family is experiencing some medical trauma. It's taxing for everyone, and naturally I want help, but my family lives across the country, so there's really  not much I can do. The most helpful action for me at this point is to actively leave them alone and wait to be contacted. It's so frustrating.
     My mom contacted family members and her community to ask for prayers. She wants me to do the same, but I don't think I am going to. I don't understand that kind of prayer. I should probably have a better handle on it since  I have grown up around it,but asking people to pray for strangers has always seemed a little absurd to me. What is that supposed to accomplish?
     I can understand prayer as meditation. I can see the value of regularly reflecting on issues you want on the forefront of your mind. Working towards peace, remembering sacrifices of others, aspiring for virtue: I can see that. Prayer can be a tool for establishing focus and setting priorities.  That all make sense, but why ask for prayers from others?  For strangers? What do the people in my cousin's synagogue care about some baby on the other side of the country? I'm sure they are politely sympathetic and all, but I'm fairly certain that no magic is going to occur if you reach a certain number of prayers. When Warren was sick, his preschool teachers included him in the church's list of intentions. I guess that was nice. Maybe it helped them feel like they were doing something.
     I read an article wherein the author railed against people who offered to pray for his family while his son was sick. The author said that prayer was a way for outsiders to make themselves feel better without taking any action. I can see what he's saying, but that's not really a fair assessment. When I say I'm praying for someone, I don't mean "appealing to that same supernatural entity to help".  I mean I think about them throughout the day. I hold their issue in my heart with concern, and reflect on whatever situation it is I am praying about. I guess prayer may not help directly in something tangible, but reflection moves people to take action as he suggests: "Donate to families in need or medical research. Contact your representatives when a vote comes up that might inhibit scientific advancement. Call a friend or family member who’s in crisis and be a compassionate ear. "
     Apparently all my praying about my family is moving me to participate in social media, because I have been praying, and that's really what I want to do. I know it sounds ridiculous. I'm not suggesting that praying to our high priest Mark Zuckerberg is going to affect any change for the people I'm close to, but it will change the ads in my feed, and that's a start.
No, seriously, I do think that there is some spiritual value in participating in Facebook. It sounds bizarre, but stay with me on this.
     Facebook feeds into a Catholic mentality; think about it. Catholics do not believe you can really experience the fullness of God except through other people. Something experienced alone might be great, but it's magnified when you share it with someone else. This is an eternal truth.
Why else would people be so fixated on it? People like to experience things with others. Discussing and sharing make things more real. It can make the emotion of an event last longer or become clearer. It helps people process.
     Okay, so maybe people only post to make themselves feel good. Is that really so bad? I do feel better when I blog, or tweet, or post.  I want to craft the wording, and put up pictures, and share my experiences with others. Yes, others: as in the people from high school that I am friends with online despite not ever actually talking to them during high school. I do want those people to know what my day was like. I don't think that's selfish, or narcissistic. I think people just like to share, and like to read what others have shared.  When I see posts about other people's struggles, even if I don't know them that well, it affects me. It makes me appreciate where I am at, or feel in solidarity with them sometimes. It is a little strange that I am far more involved in some people's lives through Facebook than when I ever was when saw them in person on a day to day basis, but that's fine. A community is still a community even if it's online. A Facebook community links me to people and creates a more rounded picture of the world, somehow.  I can't decide if I am a completely ridiculous optimist or tragically lonely .

      I imagine group prayer could function very much like a Facebook post; especially in a small community. The petitions at Mass give the community an update on what other members are facing. A list of community intentions would fine tune the trajectory of the congregation. It still doesn't quite make sense, but I guess I can see it.
     Anyway, I'm sure I'll understand it eventually. If I can make a Church of Facebook (TM), I can probably find spiritual fulfillment in just about anything.


Thursday, December 8, 2016

My New Boyfriend

I love Pope Francis so much. Isn't he amazing?  He is so gentle, and honest. He has a sense of humor and is so smart and direct in addressing issues of real consequence. I totally want him to be my boyfriend.
Isn't he so cute?
When I tell this to people, they say to me, "Claire, I don't think you can to date the Pope."

You know what?  I don't need that kind of negativity in my life.

Pope Francis' messages of peace and love have been such a relief. He is the antidote to the acrid atmosphere Trump has created. I think it's intentional; I think he is intentionally trying to articulate a point by point admonition of Trump's agenda. He's addressed "building walls", and climate change, and now spreading fake news, and he just nails it everytime. Even if he doesn't specifically have Trump in mind when addressing these issues he is still addressing the current political discourse in real time, and I just love him for it. It's so comforting. I just want to curl up next to him and take a nap.
I'm not just infatuated with him as a leader who is the voice of sanity amongst the wave of ignorance and fear. That's most of my infatuation, but not all of it. It is also just so nice that he is a Catholic leader. He is a public figure, proclaiming the word of God in words and deeds, and speaking the Truth about what I think my faith is. It is just so refreshing.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Bible Cliff Notes

This thread from Redditt went viral some time back. It speaks to my last post about people just being terrible, terrible, terrible, but, we like them anyway.

GENESIS
God: All right, you two, don’t do the one thing. Other than that, have fun.
Adam & Eve: Okay.
Satan: You should do the thing.
Adam & Eve: Okay.
God: What happened!?
Adam & Eve: We did the thing.
God: Guys….. 
THE REST OF THE OLD TESTAMENT
God: You are my people, and you should not do the things.
People: We won’t do the things.
God: Good.
People: We did the things.
God: Guys….. 
THE GOSPELS
Jesus: I am the Son of God, and even though you have done the things, the Father and I still love you and want you to live. Don’t do the things anymore.
Healed people: Okay! Thank you!
Other people: We’ve never seen him do the things, but he probably does the things when no one is looking.
Jesus: I have never done the things.
Other people: We’re going to put you on trial for doing the things.
Pilate: Did you do the things?
Jesus: No.
Pilate: He didn’t do the things.
Other people: Kill him anyway.
Pilate: Okay.
Jesus: Guys….. 
PAUL’S LETTERS
People: We did the things.
Paul: Jesus still loves you, and because you love Him, you have to stop doing the things.
People: Okay. 
PAUL’S LETTERS PART II
People: We did the things again.
Paul: Guys….. 
REVELATION
John: When Jesus comes back, there will be no more people who do the things. In the meantime, stop doing the things.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

We Are The Reason We Can't Have Nice Things

     Election day was really hard. I think it was hard for anyone against Trump - anyone who, you know, loves humanity. For me, it was the first day in a very, very long time that my day began and ended with epic sobbing. The day started off with Pavone and his stomach turning stunt performed on the altar of a Church, and ended with...well, the rise of the anti-Christ.

      Jesus Christ, people are the worst.

      I don't know about you, but Election Day really made me question participating in any kind of social interaction at all, ever. I was just desperate to find a way to escape the hatred, and bigotry and fear and hubris. Ugh. Truthfully, a large portion of me continues to want to take my family and escape and run. Just go and be...away. But of course that can't happen. Where would we go?

      Fortunately, I had some preparation for this kind of disappointment. Christianity is firmly founded on the idea that people are just terrible and cannot be trusted to make their own decisions. This is basically one of the two central tenants of our Church. While not a very uplifting message, it does prepare you for some of the harsh realities of practical life: People are cowardly, greedy morons that will betray you the moment things get tough. Suck it up buttercup.
 
     Yeah, it was a rough day for me.

     But I can't stay that way for long. I mean- how could I ? It's not like I can hide away from everyone, filled with hate and fear for other people. Lots of people do that, and frankly, they don't seem like they are very happy. I guess I'm too much of an optimist. I was raised Catholic, so...you know.

      While one central tenants of Catholicism is the idea that people are miserable, the founding tenant is that there is an eternal truth: people can be saved through God. That's not to say a man in the sky is going to point his finger and save us all. I think it really means the way out of the gross is by trusting that people are good; that there is justice, and beauty. Happiness comes through remembering that there is real beauty in humanity. While a large part of being human is a struggle, there are truly heart wrenching, awe-striking moments. There are times when I look at my kids sleeping, and I want to fall to my knees. There have been moments when Amani and Warren have been so kind to each other that I have actually started tearing up. People are good. They do love each other and want to do the right thing. We try to make each other laugh, and take genuine pleasure in one another and the world around them. We cooperate and share. We fight for each other and sacrifice for one another. Deep in our hearts, we know that we are good, and fighting for the good is the only thing worth doing.

      I think the Fathers of the Church and the founding fathers subscribed to this same notion. They both started with the premise, "You guys are idiots", and then worked around that. Both the fathers of the Constitution and the founders of the Church we thoughtful, intelligent men and they decided that trusting humanity to fight for justice was the only way forward. Okay, so neither group actually trusted "humanity", as much as they trusted old, rich men, but the Church and the country are still trying to sort all that out. The basic premise remains.

     I think the main thing is to keep fighting. Keep shouting. Be fierce. You can't let people drag you down into the foulness. I love the line from Cohen's Hallelujah "Love is not a victory parade. It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah".

You know if Leonard Cohen said it, it's an eternal truth.

I am saying this only to remind myself. Otherwise I am starting a small group of hostile hunter gatherers in the Target parking lot.




Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Pavone and his ilk: Get away from our children, and get out of our Church.

     Just wanted to dash of a little note of thanks to Frank Pavone of New York. I was worried that I might spend the days biting my nails about the election, but now I am far too busy screaming, throwing things and booking my flight to New York so I can personally punch Pavone in the face.
Whew! It's going to be a busy day.
     I shouldn't make light of this. What this man did is beyond levity. I can't even begin to describe it, or link to it, or - well, I'd say think about it, but thinking about his heretical actions has pretty much consumed my day.
I am familiar with Pavone. I am familiar with him because he is a leader amongst those in the Catholic Church that hold abortion as the preeminent moral issue of our time. I have known for some time that he is a...jerk...shall we say? I even quoted him in my post about Catholics that support Trump. However, his most recent atrocity goes beyond radicalism. It goes beyond sacrilege. It goes beyond human decency.  Some bloggers are fuming about his treatment of human remains. Other prominent Catholic bloggers are fuming about Pavone desecrating the altar because he used it for purposes other than Communion; as if that were among the serious issues at hand. But that is not what has upset me the most.  Pavone's unspeakable stunt is not the actions of some ghoulish priest. He is representative of the views of many within the Church. The hypocrisy is there for all to see. Did Pavone dress the child, or cradle him? Did he place it in a coffin to honor its life and the sacrament of death? Did he cherish the child as a individual life, a blessed child of God? No. He tossed it in front of a camera like a hunk of meat and put the video up on YouTube.
    I know that I have ranted before about the misogynist,spiteful philosophy within virulent pro-life movement is an element of the demonic. Pavone's actions serve to make my point. This movement does not hold life sacred. It has no interest in protecting the children of God. This movement simply uses the bodies of the unborn to stand on so they have a platform for their sanctimony. It flails and condemns and screams to drown out its fear and insecurity.
This all needs to stop. It is madness.
Pavone needs to be removed from duty, and the heretics need to get out of our Church.