Friday, August 27, 2010

A post where I become just as judgmental as the people I accuse of judging

I keep seeing things on my Facebook homepage that are annoying the ever-living crap out of me.

Friends with things they like that make my nose bleed.

Friends that like If I need to be drug-tested for my job, than you need to be drug-tested for welfare, or

If you can afford alcohol and cigarettes, you shouldn't be on welfare, or

I have a stick up my ass when it comes to government-sponsored safety nets, and where's my hand-out?

(Okay, I made that last one up.)

And my eyes kind of glaze over and I want to punch something.

Look, I know there are people who abuse the system. But I also know there are people trying to make it. And I can only think of these things in oversimplified terms, much like those Facebook 'likes' that I despise so much, because I don't know what the answer is.

I have zero idea -- how we can make our economy productive and provide jobs with benefits that pay a decent wage or how to make parents do their job or how to ensure that people have good food to eat or a safe place to live. Zero idea. How to turn blight into beauty or garbage-strewn empty lots into gardens where flowers don't get stolen.

But I also kind of just think in my head, would you want to trade places? You have to pee in a cup but that guy collecting doesn't. Time to turn that into status update!

I think that's one of the myriad of reasons I loved the book Take This Bread. The food pantry the author started fed everyone. Even the people who were probably cheating, even the people who inevitably took more than their share, even the loud and belligerent and drunk and high. Everyone.

The other is that it just fits my idea of Communion. A loud, messy, imperfect table, full of personalities and flaws, but always the power of love and redemption accompanying the chaos.

It wasn't some kind of feel-good venture. It was hard work. And it constantly tested, this concept that we help all who show up. Tempers flared, angry arguments were had, people were frightened and uncomfortable. This business wasn't for the faint of heart.

And I just want to ask these friends, why do you begrudge? Why? Why take a crazy complex economical and sociological problem and turn it into some kind of flip statement that makes you sound borderline envious?

Because I know that things aren't always right and fair and equitable. But I also know who has and maintains a greater share, of everything. And it's most certainly not the poor.

Friday, August 13, 2010

A Grave Sin?

Dear Jesus,

I'm exhausted. This, of course, coincides with two things: the ending of summer session and the renewing of my blessed fertility cycle. (Do you see how lovingly I painted that last thing? Because I really did not want to paint it so lovingly. I am currently a horrid wretch, thanks to a boatload of hormones swimming about like Dana Torres on steroids.)

Right now the kids are having a tea party, leaving me with a moment of silence. Or, relative silence, because they are singing Paramore songs at the breakfast table while drinking lemonade from ceramic cups. But it's downstairs, and not right next to my ears, so...relative silence.

This morning, since I didn't have to open a chemistry text, I opened the latest issue of the National Catholic Reporter, and it fired me up. I wonder when was the last time my church actually resembled your ministry. I know there are parishes here and there that do. I know there are women religious and priests and lay people across the world who do your good work hourly, with hearts bent on equality and justice.

And of course, it's mostly Rome that angers me. You know, putting the attempted ordination of women in the same league as child abuse. Heaven forbid we let those crazy women in, those who feel called to serve you in the same capacity as their brothers. A 'grave sin,' supposedly.

Bullshit, I say to that.

And I quote: "Women, and those who attempt to ordain them, were classified as committing crimes against the sacraments. Such crimes are metaphysically serious in that they constitute any action that desecrates the Eucharist. Not only can God not work through the body of a woman; now, it seems, women's bodies actually defile the Eucharist....

"The latest act of codified violence against women leads me to ask: Why shouldn't Catholic women allow God to act to God's fullest potential in them? Why shouldn't they seek ordination or create lay-led Eucharistic communities that will truly nurture anyone who seeks the peace, community, sacramental nourishment, and social justice that is sorely lacking both in our society and in our church?"

And Jesus, you don't even have to come down and answer that for me. You don't need to make the wind whisper it to me or send me a letter from heaven. I know the answer: because it takes the power away from men.

Mercy Sr. Teresa Cane had an editorial in the paper that illustrated just this point. She writes, "A group of sisters in the Midwest were having their community assembly. Out of courtesy, they invited the bishop....the bishop wrote back and said it must be in a parish church and not at the motherhouse, you must have altar boys come in to assist me, and no sister may carry the cross in the procession. They prayed about it and decided not to have the liturgy."

Gee, I wonder why. Talk about a party pooper.

I don't mean to be flip. I'm just not really sure what else to do with my anger.

Keeping women from the fullest displays of their worship strikes me as about as outdated and patriarchal as not allowing us to vote. Women not being allowed to carry the cross? We do it every single day all over the world.

A while ago, a friend wrote a blog post about religion, and wrote that she believed Catholicism struck her as a bit cultish, with so many people who disagreed with the church being unable to completely leave it. I responded that there were many, many people who were actively trying to change the church. But also that for many, Catholicism is like their cultural heritage. Sometimes, I feel like I can no more shed it than I can my genes from Calabria. (Not that I'd want to Grandma, don't worry!) I'm Italian, Irish and decidedly Catholic.

But I don't know what to do with myself. So many reasons to to run!

Jesus, I know you don't wear Prada. The particularly brilliant red of the Pontiff's shoes reminded me of the red doors of the Episcopal Church. It's not perfect, but it's a start.

Or a breakaway church? But how to find one of those? I'm afraid there is no listing in the yellow pages for Alternative Catholic Churches.

I've entertained attending services across the street. They fly the rainbow flag.

I'll pray about it. Now that I don't have to memorize equations, I'll have more time.

Thanks for listening.