Saturday, January 28, 2017

If you are trying to compliment me, that's a very poor choice of words...

If that's a compliment, it's a poor choice of words.
     I was working on a post about being pro-life and a feminist, when someone forwarded me this great article by Rene Contreras De Loach. Her quote at the end of her article was basically everything I wanted to say in my post, only better.
If you haven’t experienced abuse, mutilation, miscarriages, oppression, wage gaps, or been denied necessary medical care because you can’t afford it… GOOD. I am happy for you and I truly mean that. But in this wide world you are the exception, not the rule and you should be grateful, not judgmental. I hope this helps people understand the wide range of issues around the world (50 countries) that women and men marched for.
I have now begun stalking her on Facebook and a have collected a fair amount of evidence she and I would be awesome friends, as well as fantastic leads in a Catholic-themed buddy-cop film.

     What originally motivated to write my post was reading about the Women's March organizers declining the support of the New Wave Feminists.  FOX News and other conservative forums exploded, screaming about how liberal feminists are hypocrites and limit inclusion to only those that support the liberal agenda. The New Wave Feminists were welcome at the March, did March, and had a great time. That said, there is no way the organizers of the March could have included the New Wave Feminists as "Partners of the March" because, despite what they claim, New Wave feminists aren't feminists.
     Before I get into all this, I think it's important to clarify that I believe human life begins at conception and I think that any abortion is a tragedy. In short, I am pro-life. That said, I am pro all-life. I see the value of every human being as equally sacred. I am sure that a New Wave Feminist would say she feels the same way, as do most people in the traditional pro-life movement.  However, the rhetoric used in the pro-life movement tells a very different story.
     Look at how the pro-life agenda advertises itself. Pictures of fetuses in utero are moving, but ignore the woman carrying the fetus who has her own health, her own mind, and her own family, all of which are treasured by God. The pro-life arguement almost never mentions the woman's needs, or if so, they are granted as a secondary thought.
     Then again, when the pro-life agenda does include imagery or description of a woman, I often find myself wishing they wouldn't. The woman is always portrayed shallow, lust-crazed and irresposible or a gullible, naive, children forced into evil. When presented with real life situations such as woman who's heart simply could not support two lives, or woman hemmoraging before the child was viable on its own, pro-lifers often think these stories are simply casualties of war.

"...Love your neighbor as yourself..." Mark 12:30
     But see, that's exactly the mentality that Renee and I will be fighting in our new series, "Nuns of Steel: NYPD. There are no casualities of war in the eyes of God . What's more, it's not a war. Women are not the enemy. They are real people with who are walking a line between life and death, as all pregnant women do. We as Catholics need to respect that. We need to give women dignity: assume that she made every choice anyone would have made to find herself in this situation.  We have to recognize that she is considering her situation with open eyes and a good heart because she is an actual good person.
     There are certainly careless, shallow, and irresponsible, women out there. Some of them might hope to make abortions as easy as clipping toe nails, but that's not how we are called to approach people. Looking at someone with the eyes of God does not mean looking at them from the stand point of judgement, pity, condescension or disdain. It means looking at a person as you would yourself. It is the job of the Church to change her heart through the word of God, not shrug their shoulders, with a "guess you should have thought ahead, kiddo"; and certainly not to force her, angry and afraid, to carry a child to term regardless of the consequences to her mind and body. To think that there have been medical professionals who have forced women to suffer, and sometimes die all in the "name of God" turn my stomache. If we are to avoid such a situation in the future, abortion needs to be legal; plain and simple.

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.

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….. 
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….. 
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….. 
People: We did the things.
Paul: Jesus still loves you, and because you love Him, you have to stop doing the things.
People: Okay. 
People: We did the things again.
Paul: Guys….. 
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, 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.