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.