Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Why I am raising my kids Catholic: Part II

     I have always been generally a big fan of ceremonies and traditions.  This is largely because -regardless of the situation- I never know what I am supposed to be doing.  I really feel like there should be a manual out there for people like me that give hints onto how to behave when running into an acquaintance at the grocery store, or attending a party when you only know the host.  (Protip: Find a deli tray and shove your mouth full of food as fast and grotesquely as possible to ward off any potential social interaction.)

     Now that I have a little one, my whole life is centered around little ceremonies and routines.  Kids- well, actually probably adults too- need the little rituals and celebrations that mark the passage of time and remind us that there are patterns that guide our daily lives.  We sing a song at bedtime; We wave goodbye to the water at the end of the bath; We hug when daddy comes home from work; these are necessary predictabilities in an overwhelming world, and deviation from the pattern can prove pretty perilous for everyone involved.
     While Catholicism does not necessarily address interaction to quite that level of detail, I have found religion to be a comfort in marking both important and trivial life events.  When I decided on a life partner, I really wanted to celebrate the occasion with my family and community, in a way that was both solemn, but joyful.  There is a ceremony for that.  When Amani was born I wanted to present her to the world in a way that both cherished her as a precious entity, and initiated her as a member of the human family.  There's  a ceremony for that too. There's  a ceremony for just about everything.  If you need event planning ideas, the Catholics can definitely get you started.
     Recently, my friend's husband died.  It was sudden, and left my friend to care for her baby girl without a partner.  We were all shocked and frightened.  What do we say?  What do we do?  How can we help?  There were no words true enough to express our feelings.  There were no actions that will bring peace.  So we did the only thing we knew: we had a ceremony.  The ceremony that our ancestors had prescribed and shared for millenniums   We sat together and mourned.  We read words from the wise and listened to songs that might lift our spirits.  We reflected on our own lives, our children, and our spouses.  We were grateful for another day.  We remembered that his was not the first death, nor will it be the last.
     In her book To Dance with God, Gertrud Mueller Nelson points out how ceremony and tradition make an event both special and ordinary.  They create a space that both allows for the sacred and the commonplace. They create point through which we celebrate the individual, but also join with the whole of human experience.
     Now there has been this terrible atrocity in Newtown, right at the time when the Catholic Church reflects on God's presence during a time of darkness, cold and desolation.  What do we do? How do we go on when it seems like everything is pretty much just...terrible...forever?  We light a lot of candles, and sing a lot of songs.  We reflect on what happened and where we are headed.  (The Catholics are really big on reflection.)  We try to be extra nice to people, and eat a lot of chocolate.  We remember that under the barren, cold, joyless surface, there is promise- within the world and within each person.  Somehow, by singing songs, and making cards, and making an effort to bring a smile to loved ones, I reminded that there is a sacredness to life, and I am comforted that I am not alone.
     I want Amani to know that this world is not just meaningless wasteland.  I want her to be able to have markers throughout her life that remind her to reflect on who she is, where she is going, and the role she is playing within the Body of Christ.  I want her to know that she is not alone, and that there is a path that she can follow, both when things are happy and sad.  

I mean- how could anyone possibly navigate on their own.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Ultimate Swing Vote

     So, all the election data is in and organized, and as a lot of papers and analysts noted pre-election, it appears as though about half of Catholics voted Democrat.  This makes me both happy and sad.  On one hand, it means that despite the relatively massive crush between Republicans and Catholic leadership, American Catholics are still pretty much thinking independently regarding their politics.  Most support gay marriage and birth control, and will choose health care for all over lower taxes. So that makes me happy; there are liberal Catholics out there- like just under 40 million of them.  Woot!  Holla at you!  (Does anyone even say that anymore?  Well, whatever.  I'll holla if I want to.)
    Then on the other hand, the numbers show that about half of Catholics are voting Republican, which is a pretty distinctive shift from how Catholics used to vote.  Just a generation or two ago, Catholics were pretty much solidly Democrat.  These were the blue collar Irish and Italian immigrants that were pro-union, and naturally, as Catholics, had no issue with big government.  This generation who were interested in social justice and saw the value of multiculturalism, ushered in the changes of Vatican II.  But it seems like the very minute Vatican II came into play, the backlash  is taking the American Church to places it has never been before.  With the American bishops so fervently condemning Democrats for supporting women's issues and homosexuality, it makes me feel like the Church is more interested in condemning "sinners" than they are fighting for peace and helping the poor.  I don't remember Jesus doing much condemning of people at all.
Oh, except for church leadership.  He did a lot of condemning of them.
     So now there is this "Year of Faith" that is supposed to clue people into the real meaning of Vatican II.
RIGHT.  The real meaning.
Meanwhile, the Pope is calling a meeting of the bishops in an attempt to address this issue of people leaving the faith is droves.  Hmmm...what could be driving them away?
I wonder though.  It is the younger generation of Catholics that tend to be more conservative  (or, "brown nosers", as I like to call them)  Does that mean that eventually the old generation will just die off and it will just be me and Colbert waiting around for Mardi Gras and watching Godfather movies?
That would be pretty awesome actually.

Friday, October 12, 2012

An Open Letter to Vatican II

      Let me just start by saying I never write letters like this.  I mean, like any good Catholic I am a big fan of all kinds of Ecumenical Councils, but I am just not the kind of girl to write fan mail to major historic gatherings, be they religious, political, artistic, what have you.  But when I heard that your 50th anniversary began this week, I just had to write and let you know how much I appreciate you. 
     To begin, can I say that I cannot believe you are already 50 years old?  Honestly, you do not seem a day over 15; 25 tops.  The way people are arguing over the changes you implemented in the Church, you would think you were fresh out of the box.  I just love the way that from your very beginning, you shook up the more inaccessible leaders, policies, practices, of the old Church and gave them the push to get out there and be part of the modern world.  As I am sure you know, there is still quite a scene going on even today about your core message, and frankly, I think it is brilliant!  I love how you are still rockin' your primary concern, dialogue between lay people and the leadership.
Is it weird to have an ideological crush on a long deceased pope?
     I am just so grateful that I didn't have to suffer in the Church before you were around.  I cannot imagine how distant the Church must have seemed: Mass in Latin, nuns sequestered away in closed convents, the outright condemnation of other faiths.  I could not have handled it.  Then Pope John XXIII comes along and is all "Equality!  Justice!  Tolerance!"  
God, I-I just love your work.
     I think though, if I had to choose, because I honestly love so many of your principles, I think my favorite is that the Church must engage with the entire world and be a part of solving world problems.  It is just so right on, and written so perfectly.   Love it!  Just love it!
     I do worry that there is a movement to repeal some of my favorite of your tenets : redoing the mass to include Latin?  The rebuke of American nuns?  It's all a little scary.
But that is not what I am writing about today.  I am writing to give a huge shout out to you, Second Vatican Council, by far my favorite of all the Vatican Councils, maybe of all Church councils ever.  (Although you kinda have to love Nicea, right?)  Here's to fifty more years of continuing the Church's relevant presence in the modern world!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Kick Ass Catholic of the Day

Hero of the hour?  Melinda Gates.
She is smart, and well spoken; she is an incredible philanthropist, and an amazing feminist.
Recently, she announced that her foundation is donating $560 million to provide birth control to women in impoverished countries.  This step has potential to improve the lives of families because, despite the Catholic Church's distinct distaste for birth control, the facts remain that access to birth control has almost immeasurable benefits for women, children and communities at large.
Gates foundation's push for the empowerment of women and betterment of the lives of the impoverished is reason enough to make her kick-ass.  However, it is her polite but firm disinterest in the Church hissy fit that just makes me love Gates all the more.
Upon the announcements of her foundation's new move, conservative Catholics FREAKED out.  They accused her of eugenics, of not being truly Catholic, of being "dangerous".  And she took on this all-too-amazing "Mommy's working now. Go play somewhere else" attitude that makes me want to hug her.   Without even breaking her polite smile, she just nods and remarks, "We're not going to agree on everything, and that's okay".
So great.  So great!
Here's why:
The bishops and popes can holler all they want about the misuse of God's gift of sexuality or whatever, but the fact remains, the immorality of birth control is not just highly controversial within the church, it is not even official Church dogma.  It's not in the Bible.  It is not in the Catechism.  Most Catholics are perfectly fine with birth control.  Not to mention birth control HELPS PEOPLE.  Clearly, this is just another issue that the modern Church leadership needs to get over.  And Ms. Gates is so cool about it, she is all "You can go ahead and yell.  I'll just be over here improving the world."
So cool.

Monday, July 16, 2012

For your nerding pleasure...

I know I haven't written in a little while; summer, you know?  Stuff gets busy.  Anyway, I don't have time to write a proper post right now, but I saw this and it is awesome, so I thought I would share.  One of these days I will post about how there is not a contradiction between science and religion, but for now, there is this.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

On the plus side, I am fairly confident that my nine-month-old knows what HHS stands for.

Hey!  Obamacare was ruled constitutional!  That is great...kind of...
No, it is good, definitely.  I totally believe in health care for all.
Okay, I am a little bummed because I was kinda hoping that it wouldn't pass and the Dems would try to pass a bill with the public option but... health care for all!  Yeah!

     There is just this one tiny thing, that is actually kind of a big thing for the Catholic Church.  It's that Health and Human Services mandate.  See, mandating that employers cover contraception is a huge deal for the Catholic leadership, and they are just beating us lay people over the head with it.  It is kind of hard to ignore.  I mean, that is the point really is for the leadership: to get the laity to take notice and to stand up to politicians.  So they do homily and brochures and the Fortnight for Freedom, which is supposed to be a time of education and prayer and get us Catholics all engaged and in a tizzy.
     I guess the whole thing is working out for them pretty well, because I have been reading and thinking about it a lot, and despite being fairly liberal, pro-choice, and pro contraception, I do not know what to think about this HHS mandate.
     So the deal with the mandate is that Catholic institutions, like hospitals and schools, are required to provide insurance that covers contraception.  There are a couple issues with this:
     1.  First of all, while contraception is a very controversial issue within the Church, and most lay people side in favor of it being just fine, that is not the point.  The point is that Church leaders resent having to provide to their employees something that the Church officially views as wrong.
     2.  Now truthfully, actual churches are granted exceptions to the mandate; it is only the religiously affiliate organizations that would have to comply, because the state has decided they aren't really religious, just "affiliated".  The Church does not appreciate being told that their organizations are not really religious.

I have seriously been very close to obsessed with this issue to the degree that I often will be drifting off to sleep at night mumbling to myself about tax law exemptions.
It just seems like both sides have valid arguments.
  • On one hand, it is not right to make a supposedly Catholic organization do something that they are clearly against.  Regardless of whether or not I agree with the Church's stance on this, there are people who feel that some forms of contraception are tantamount to murdering your children, and if I felt that way about an issue, I wouldn't want the government forcing me to PAY for other people to engage in it.  No one should have to sponsor behavior that is against their religion.
  • On the other hand, no one should be denied a medical care they need just because their employer believes it is wrong.  That also would be an infringement on freedom of religion.
  • Then again, the Church will pay for contraception if it is a case of medical necessity for the woman in the case of hormonal issues or cysts or something.  Plus, contraception is not really that expensive, and is fairly easy to get, sometimes even free.  So the Church is not exactly preventing a person from accessing contraception just because they don't cover it with insurance.
  • Then again, a lot of these Catholic organizations take in a lot of money from the state, so if they are going to be taking tax money, they should probably provide the care that all other employers are expected to provide.
  • But the Catholic institutions argue that the money from the state is just compensation from the community for a service the state would otherwise have to provide: care for the sick, homeless, orphaned and elderly.  The Church argues that they are happy to help the state- as these efforts are part of their Christian duty- but they will be forced to stop helping if the state mandates the distribution of contraception.
  • However, when you think about it, the Church is paying for contraception either way.  They are either giving money to the insurance company who then gives contraception to the employee, or the Church is giving money to the employee who then uses some of their money to buy contraception. So, one way or another, Church money is going towards something the Church doesn't like.
I am going to be honest with you on this, and I am kind of leaning towards the Church with this one.  I know.  I know.  I feel like a bad woman even thinking about siding against anything that has to do with access to contraception, but I feel like the whole you-can-get-contraception-anywhere-for-really-cheap argument is a really good point.
But convince me otherwise.  I want to be convinced.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Do not practice theology while operating heavy machinery.

     So I have been reading this book by Tim O'Connell, Principals for a Catholic Morality.
     And when I say I have been reading it, I have been reading it in the way that one might read a book that has been sitting on their bedside table since high school and yet he or she has only reached page 70.
     That kind of reading.
     It is a good book, but it covers 2000 years in the history of moral theology in the first 19 pages.
     And then it starts to get dense.
    You could seriously reflect on any single sentence for weeks at a time.
     And during that time you might get distracted and start reading Harry Potter.

     Anyway, I though that maybe if I start blogging about some of the more interesting sentences it might help me stay focused.
     The book begins with the idea that theology is the constant interpretation of God's continual revelation.
     Were you able to get through to the end of the sentence?  Because if not, I totally understand; this book definitely has that effect on people. I get towards the end and I am like "Okay, long word, long word, blah blah, blah...I wonder what I will make for dinner..."
     And that's even when it is saying something as exciting as "God's continual revelation".
     That's not a direct quote, of course, because typing the direct quote would immediately make me go to sleep.  But despite its inscrutability, it is a refreshing idea:
     We are always learning about God.  Time and cultures change, and we are always needing to figure out what to do in new situations.
     That's what it means, and it is so nice to hear.  It flies in the face of all this "eternal and unchanging Word of God" nonsense that conservatives use to fight against social issues they don't like.  (Truthfully, if you were to press them on it, they know the Word of God changes at least SOMETIMES. Very few people consider it a sin to wear garments of mixed fibers, for example.)
     So what does that mean ultimately?  It means that, if we follow Tim O'Connell's  ideas about theology, then we need to THINK about God, and the universe, and what it all means for our daily lives, then make decisions for ourselves, in our time and our situation.

 I can tell you guys are excited about this as I am.
Those of you who are awake, anyway.

Okay.  Next paragraph...

Friday, June 8, 2012

Why I am raising my children in the Catholic faith: Part I

First reason why I am raising my kids Catholic:  Math

Oh, you heard me.

I am terrible at math, and not very good at Catholicism, but I still really like them both. Both math and Catholicism take a lot of thinking because they are things, but not in the way regular things are things.  It's pretty fun.

I promise you that does actually make sense.

Okay, so let's start with math.  Math isn't a regular thing.  You can't see it, or touch it, or even explain it without using more math.
Try it.
Prove the number two.
Okay, so maybe you can write down the number two, but that is not actually two; that is the symbol for two.
Maybe you can show me two fingers, but those aren't two.  Those are fingers.  There is no such thing as two in the traditional sense of "such thing".  Two is an understanding of a relationship.
But math isn't just simply relationships.  Triangles and algebra and the quadratic equation: they are real things.  It's not just how you look at the world; math is a universal truth that you either get or you don't.

This has never happened to me.
God is similar.  When I say God, I don't mean a man in the sky with a flowing beard.  I don't really understand the whole man in the sky thing: I have never witnessed the clouds part, or had any beatific visions.  I can understand it as a metaphor, but taking it literally sounds a little like a children's story to me.  I am not saying it is impossible; I just have never experienced anything like that.
For me, God is the connection between man and his community, man and nature, music, science, math: basically everything.  And it is not just my personal perception of these connection; it is an actual connection that people have to be taught to see, and have awe for.

He knows what I am talking about.
They are both very cerebral, and kind of mysterious, both God and math, and even if you have been taught to understand both of them, they can still be kind of hard to grasp.
Plus, for both, people who aren't very good at understanding them get really frustrated by people who do understand them, sometimes to the point where the other person is kind of embarrassed to admit they understand.
But if no one on Earth could see math or God, they would still be there.  Neither needs humanity to perceive them for their existence.  They just are.

This isn't just me and my enlightened sense of religion.  This is Catholicism, Baby.  We refer to it as a sacrament (with a little 's') meaning that Catholics see God in everything, from sunsets, to math, to music, to each other.  Other religions rely very strictly on the their texts and priests, but we Catholics see God everywhere.

Who wouldn't want that for their kid?  Who wouldn't at least want her to be able to understand that mystery and awe can be found in everything?

Monday, May 21, 2012

Gayest Week Ever*

In case you havn't noticed, everybody is talking about gay marriage.
     Of course, it's something people always do: talk about gay marriage. It's kind of a thing in our society. But this last week- or was it two weeks ago now?- what with the President and North Carolina and Mitt Romney being a bully; people are talking about it like it is going out of style.
       And this all makes the Catholic Church very sad.
     I get a kick out of them phrasing it that way, "It's not that we're angry, Barak. We're just so disappointed." God, could you GET more Catholic???
     For a while I thought maybe The Church's stance was just old men being homophobic and stubborn. And it kind of is, but I read a few articles on the Catholic position, and began reading Pope John Paul's "Theology of the Body" which incidentally is INSANELY dense, and I kind of think I see where they are coming from. It's not that I agree mind you, and my understanding on the Church's stance is still developing, but this is what I've got so far:
     One of the big differences between the Catholic Church and other Christian churches is that Catholics believe that humans can only receive the fullness of God's grace in communion with each other. We have to see God in our experiences with other people, or we cannot really know God. This is actually one of my favorite parts of Catholicism.
      Anyway, because the Church believes that we experience God through communion with others, the Church regards sex as the greatest expression way two people can experience God. Seriously. I know there is this thing that Catholics are afraid of sex, but that is absolutely wrong. Why do you think we have all these babies? Catholics LOVE sex. It is one of the truest ways Catholics get to God. One of the crucial reasons Catholics revere sex as sacred above other expressions of love is because through sex you can create life, just like God. Truthfully, it is harder to think of a way people could be more like God than by creating another life. Actually, for a Catholic, there is not other way for people to be more like God: sex is God's gift to us so we could be more like God. Now that it is possible to remove the creation element from sex, Catholics are "sad". How can you truly experience God if you are not thinking about the creative element? Catholics mourn the loss of that connection in secular society. This is why they have banned birth control; they are trying to keep the connection between creation and sex in the hearts of their faithful.   Now, that doesn't mean you have to conceive a child every time you have sex; it just means that Catholics don't want to totally eliminate the creation aspect from sex, because that is part of sex's awesome power.
     Now Catholics believe that sex should only take place between a devoted pair. I think there are all kinds of arguments medically and socially that support that argument. Hence, sex should only take place within marriage. It's not a particularly FUN perspective, but it is hard to argue that it is not a sound argument. Waiting until you get married to have sex probably avoids a lot of life's potholes. In an interesting twist, Catholics not only believe that sex should be reserved for marriage, but also that marriage should be reserved for sex. As in, if a person cannot have sex because of a physical disability, then the Church doesn't think they should get married. What would the point of getting married be if they can't have sex? (note that people who are infertile can get married because they can have sex, just not children. There is always the possibility that the couple may become fertile. Plus, it is not as though one couple's failure to have children will change the view of sex in the community at large.)
     So, Catholics hold sex sacred because it brings us closer to God, especially the creation part of sex. You see where this is going, right? Homosexuals cannot engage in sex that has creative power. To allow them to marry would change the Catholic view of sex as something that brings us closer to God through the creative force, and changes it into something that is strictly pleasurable for the two individuals. They do not necessarily see gay marriage as an abomination, as much as they see it as sad; they don't want society to lose that creation element within the relationship of marriage.
     I get it, but I don't agree. It seems to me that this doctrine was thought up by people who have not really been in a long term loving relationship. Sex within a committed relationship is amazing and does indeed bring you closer to God, but not because of the babies. Knowing that a couple has the power to create life is awe inspiring, but that creative power does not necessarily lead to the selfless gift of one's self during intercourse. No, the giving of one's self to your partner and to the community has to happen before the sex. Regardless of whether a couple is fertile, impotent or homosexual, when two people have surrendered themselves completely to one another, I believe they experience the closeness to God that Catholics so cherish, regardless of the physical details of the act.

* Title shamelessly stolen from Rachel Maddow. Love you, Rachel!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

I would not be just a nothin'...

     This blog post, by John Greenleaf actually makes me want to sing. Sing, I tell you!  It makes me want to stand up like a spirited black woman in church, "Preach, Brother Greenleaf."  It addresses the rights of all Catholics to think for themselves on a variety of levels, along with the appropriate support from the Catechism.
     So fun, right?
     Well, maybe not "fun" in the traditional sense; it's more like "Bam!  Evidence to support what I thought to be true all along."
     Shut up; that is definitely a kind of fun.
     The post has all the Catechism stuff about "primacy of conscience": my absolute favorite part of the Catechism.  Here is a link to the Catechism blabitty blah, but let me give you the Cliff Notes.  In short, it means that a Catholic has the right to discern for themselves within their own heart what is right and what is wrong.  The leadership of The Church can advise and preach and declare all they want, but after carefully listening to wise and respected people, and prayerful consideration, each member of the Church must decide what is right and what is wrong for themselves.  Whats more we are then obligated to follow our own carefully considered consciences, regardless of what the leaders of the Church say.
     Of course!  Of course!
     You can't just have the leadership of the Church do all your thinking for you.  you can't just go along,      "Well, this is what some old man in Italy says, so I better do it".  That is completely cheating.
The leadership can advise, and warn and declare with all solemnity their views, but God gave us a brain so that we could use it; we each must choose our own path dependant on our situation.
     And I love, LOVE how this part of our faith can be used to silence the sanctimony parade.
The sanctimony parade, which I just made up just now, is the people who march through life pointing at all the sinners. Lying?  Sin!  Stealing?  Sin!  Abortion? Drugs?  Jealousy?  Sin-sin-sinny-sin-sin.  All they need are little flags and the whole thing becomes almost festive.
     Can you imagine a God who would behave in such a way.
"Well, little person, I am a all knowing and unknowable deity that for some reason am grievously injured by your well intentioned action.  Yes, you prayed, asking for my guidance, sought counsel, from respected people, read the Bible and did careful reflection.  You did your best to do what you thought was the right thing, but you thought wrong, so off to Hell you go!"
If I could forgive someone who was truly well intentioned, I think that God is probably okay with it as well.
     Now, I am not preaching moral relativism...exactly.  Rather, what I am saying- actually what the Catechism is saying, I am not making this up, is that intention rather than the actual act itself is the cause of moral decay. From the perspective that sin is a mindset, rather than a list of do's and do not's, it becomes impossible for another to judge.
     Is lying a sin?  Is killing a sin?  In most cases, yes, probably, but in individual cases, I don't know.       What was the intention?
     When you look at sin as a mindset of an individual, the meaning of "Only God can judge" becomes clear, and the sanctimony parade really becomes a bunch of pious people afraid to inspect their own hearts.
      Unless, of course, after careful discernment, their hearts are telling them to march around condemning people.  Then they definitely should.  Everybody loves a parade.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Republicans and Catholics Sitting in a Tree

     Did you guys notice the crazy crush the Republicans had on Catholics this year?  In the past they were all very invested in the more fundamental Christians, what with their Moral Majority, and GW Bush, but recently they have been pressing the Catholic agenda.  I am pretty sure that they looked over and realized they had a whole untapped potential voting block that was WAAAYY bigger than the Baptists.
      It all began when Obamacare was mandating that insurance cover birth control.  The Catholic Church kind of freaked out, although in this vague "It's not the birth control, it's the freedom" way that really just seemed like a child screaming, "You can't make me."
And the Obama administration, who was just as confused as the rest of us replied, "Well, we're not really making YOU exactly, just the insurance you buy, so..."
     And the Church was all, "You're not the boss of me..."
     And that's when the Republicans got wind of this.  I am sure that you could see stars in their eyes as they realized all the potential locked inside the Catholic voter demographic.  There was no way they were going to let this golden opportunity pass them by so did not hesitate to jump into the fray, yelling, "RELIGIOUS FREEDOM!" all Braveheart style.
     It was huge and loud and confusing, with people insisting this was about the separation of Church and State, and definitely not about birth control, no absolutely not.  It was amazing.  And at the end of it, Republicans and Catholics came out holing hands like they had been together since the beginning of time.
     For a while there, Republicans and the Catholic leadership aglow with their new found friendship.  The Catholic Church began withl, "I hate paying for birth control."
     To which the Republican party responded  "Me too!"
     And the Catholics said, "And hate that gays want to get married!"
     And the Republicans, practically squealing with glee, were like, "Oh my gosh!  Me too!"
     Then Rick Santorum came along and was like, "I love sweater vests!"
And the priests were like, "Hooray!"

     Cue the happy moments montage.  They pass each other happy little notes, go to each other's rallies, gossip together about Planned Parenthood.  Late at night they confide to each other about how embarrassed they got over their own hypocritical leadership.  They are going to be BFFs 4eva.
     Then last week, Republicans were all, "Hey you guys, don't you hate big government and love trickle down economics?"
     Record scratch-
     The Catholic bishops get all serious, "Wait. What?"
     And that's when the juicy stuff started.
     The priests at Georgetown started passing nasty notes about how Ryan is a dummy who loves Ayn Rand.
     Then Paul Ryan was like, "You guys said you liked that stuff."
     And the Bishops were like, "We never said that."
     And Ryan was like, "Plus, I don't care.  You don't speak for all Catholics."
Right...The United States Council of Catholic Bishops does not speak for all Catholics, but it does speak for those that would be voting in the United States, so....
Then it got very noisy, very fast.  Conservative Catholics are standing up for Paul, while liberals are sticking up for the Jesuits.  People from both sides and in-between are shouting that the others are immoral, uneducated liars; that the first should mind their own business, or stop being so hypocritical.  It's very noisy, and childish, and pretty fantastic.

     The truth is, Republicans and Catholics were never going to last.  The two have such conflicting philosophies at their core, that a passing alliance on a few social issues is not going to fix.  Catholics see sacrament in community and believe it is God's will that individuals sacrifice for the benefit of the community.  Republicans cherish the rights of the individual and hate big government.  I don't see how these fundamental dogma  of these groups can be reconciled.
     Now don't get me wrong.  I'm not saying that Republicans can't be Catholic; I am sure that a Republican Catholic is as nuanced in their politics and their religion as I am.  What I am saying is that because of their core values, the Republican leadership and the leaders of the Catholic Church were perhaps not the match the Republicans thought they would be.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Nuns on the loose

You heard about this right: The Vatican appointing the archbishop of Seattle to get all those unruly American nuns under control?

It's awesome.

First and foremost in awesomeness: Catholic leadership seems desperate to reinforce their He-man-women-haters stereotype. Yeah, so I guess when I said "awesome" earlier that may have been misleading.  You know what?  Let me start this over.
The decidedly not awesome aspect of recent events is that the Vatican seems to have decided that the Catholic Church wasn't alienating people fast enough, so they had to step that up a notch.
The cardinals and Pope were sitting around saying to each other, "Yes, we're all elderly gentleman who live in a castle and wear capes, but could we do more?"
"Well, you know, people are always saying that the Catholic Church hates women, but recently we've really been letting that image slide.  So, let's chastise the largest group of American nuns for being too uppity."

But you know what is actually awesome?  American nuns are bad asses.  That's so cool.  And I mean, of course they are.  You think that a bunch of educated American women who have sacrificed everything so they can serve the Church are gonna sit inside and pray the rosary? I don't see that happening.
The nuns are all in there getting their hands dirty working with homosexuals and unwed mothers, and the Vatican is all "Eww!  You're touching them! Tell them they're gross!" and the nuns are like "Dude, you're not helping..."
Truthfully, while I find the Vatican statement offensive and annoying, I am not really worried about the nuns. I am sure that they are going to do what all people do when dealing with a micromanaging superiors: smile and nod, and then just go ahead and do what needs to be done in order to finish the job.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Contrary to popular belief, I am, in fact, not a 15 th century Spanish interrogator

     So I am a Catholic, right?  and I love being a Catholic, but like any Catholic, or any member of any large group really, there are things about my group that I like and things about my group that I don't like so much.  I like the emphasis on family, and the history of the Church, the emphasis on communion, and the sacramental viewpoint: love, love, love.  Gives me a sense of community, strength, connection to God, blah blah blah.    We all have our reasons, and while those things are amazing, and the reason I am a Catholic in the first place, they are not the primary reason I am writing this blog.
     Then there are the things about the Catholic Church- and Christianity in general- that, on occasion, make me want to punch priests in the face.  Well, honestly not usually priests. Mostly it is conservative Christians on Fox, but the priests are raising their tally on the "To Punch" list with some consistency lately.  Yeah, the attitude towards gays, and abortion, and women, and the recent control grab that the leadership is making: not my favorite.
None of these people are me, and my dungeon is far more comfortable
     And then there are people who say, "Wait, if you don't agree with those things, you're not a Catholic." which forces me to rage-quit the conversation by standing up and screaming, "You're going on the list!" which admittedly probably seems like a non-sequiter to those people, but you guys know what I'm saying.
     I mean, come on, there are as many different versions of Christianity as there Christians, and nobody makes us check our independent thought at the door to the church.  Catholics are not all Pope worshiping, baby machines; a lot of us do have major issues with large portions of the Church, and that's okay.  It's called dissent and we are totally allowed to do it.
     What kills me is that if I wasn't specifically part of the very large group of Catholics who are liberal, I would probably not know there were any.  We all live in secret, thanks to frankly, what is a massive PR fail on the part of the Catholic Church.  Yeah, thanks popular media, now there's this Christian stereotype that's all super judgmental and Bible thumpy, that apparently commutes to real life from out of the from the period of the Spanish Inquisition.  Because of the stereotype, I have to keep my Catholicism under wraps, lest someone worry that I will run them through with my rapier.
     It makes it really hard to find other liberal Catholics to hang out with.  The best you can really hope for is that one of the people you already know is outed to you during Ash Wednesday, and then the two of you can nod sheepishly at each other, but don't push it because you don't want to seem like THAT kind of Christian. I know there are lots of you are out there.  I know because I watch Stephen Colbert and he can't just be talking to ME (although that would be pretty AWESOME).
      So liberal Catholics: How about those mass changes, huh?  "With your Spirit" : gets me every time.