This has been on my heart for a while, and I honestly don't even know where to begin.
Like many of my fellow bloggers, I've been debating closing shop and stepping away from the blogging world indefinitely. A well-timed award from the lovely Anabelle Hazard (thank you, my love!) gave me pause, but after the dust-up over on Simcha Fisher's Facebook page that turned a large group of Catholics against one another, I really felt the need to take a step back and reflect on what is happening amongst my family.
'Cause that's what you guys are. You're my family. And whether you, Simcha Fisher, the folks at LifeSiteNews, or even my Protestant buddy whom I lovingly refer to as a "heathen" (he retorts just as lovingly with "papist") realize it, we are ALL members of the Body of Christ. We're all Children of God and we're all offered the inheritance of eternal life.
However, just as we're all offered this awesome and divine gift, we're also called to not be total jerks to one another. All this in-fighting is caused by arrogance, pure and simple.
And yes, we can all succumb to arrogance. Lord knows I struggle with that one hardcore. Point is, we need to really reflect on this particular brand of arrogance, because it's arrogance disguised as theological elucidation.
It is not charitable direction; it is arrogance.
We must stop using our words to cut down one another. We are brothers and sisters in Christ, and it's time we start acting like it.
This in-fighting over Vatican II, over Pope Francis' legitimacy, over Communion in-hand or on the tongue, over every other contrived differences that folks are getting bent out of shape over needs to STOP.
And it stops with you. It stops with me. It stops with anyone who writes blogs, comments on blogs, reads blogs, moderates threads / forums, speaks about the Faith.
STOP attacking your brothers and sisters. STOP hurling accusations, insinuations, and snide comments at one another, especially in such a public fashion. Don't allow comments like this to appear on platforms you moderate. Do not allow comments like this to slide.
You have the power to delete. You have the power to privately admonish. Exercise them!
You also have the power to set the example for others to follow. I, for one, will do my best to use this blog to further the unity of Christians under the banner of Truth. Why? Because one day, we know that every single one of us will be together again under the same banner, and if we're not working towards that end, we're obviously doing something inherently wrong.
Thus, before you press the "Publish," "Respond," "Send," or "Detonate" button, ask yourself if your words seek to unify rather than divide... to comfort rather than condemn... to shine Christ's light or to snuff it out.
I'm not saying you should accept that which cannot be accepted (women priests, homosexual marriage, abortion, Black Masses), but I am saying that you need to reflect if your response to these things is aimed at guiding a lost soul back to Christ or lording your knowledge of doctrine over someone in an attempt to paint yourself as pure and saintly.
We are called to evangelize. This onslaught of in-fighting is not what Mother Church had in mind.
Totally feeling like this right now.
So I've been doing an incredibly bad job of resisting temptation recently.
About three seconds ago, I decided that instead of giving in completely, I should try to go "half-sies" and see if that doesn't work out better.
I had posted a quote up on my FB page last week that I found through a Tumblr (brought to my attention via Deo volente when he posted it to Dymphna's wall). A brief conversation followed which had me at my religious blackboard for a few moments and all has been mostly silent (likely because by this point, most of my friends have me on "hidden" so they aren't forced to suffer through my conservative ramblings).
Anywho, this is what the conversation looked like:
Me: No one ever said following Christ would be easy. He didn’t say, “Come pick up your pillow and follow me.” - Sister Karen of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George
I think this may be my new favorite quote. *Giggle*
Friend K: Did you see the new thing on the news? Now they are questioning if Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene.
Me: Yeah, I saw this and it's the same argument they've been attempting to make forever. *grump grump grump*
We've got ancient papyrus that mentions Jesus shooting angry laser beams at other kids who made fun of Him when He was a child, too. LoL. I'm not kidding.
There's a reason certain things were left out of the Bible. Not everything was written with the guidance of the Spirit. This would be a good example.
Unless, of course, we're talking about Christ's Bride being the Church (which we're not).
So while I've heard of this on the news recently, I haven't paid it any attention because it's the same tired song that's been sung for a long, long time. No matter how much folks want to believe that Christ was married to Mary M, the truth will always be that He was, from all eternity, married to the Church. It's why He came specifically to lay down His Life for Her.
Which, BTW, was the complete reversion of Adam's refusal to lay down his life for his wife, Eve (which subsequently got them booted out of the garden).
But I digress (as I'm prone to do when theological topics tickle my fancy).
Friend T: well i understand that not everything written down is true but if something wasn't written with the guidance of the spirit, does that make it not true? jesus shooting laser beams is sort of far fetched...but...come on...if you think about the things catholics believe in (water into wine, walking on water, raising from the dead, virgin birth) that's a little harder to believe but we still believe it. then we find ancient text saying a man from the middle east 2000 years ago had a wife and you say its the same old crazy story.
i reread one of those sentences and it has some structural issues but u get the point
Me: Structural issues aside (*grin*), I'm not asking anyone non-Catholic to believe or disbelieve in the papyrus. I'm simply pointing out that no matter how many various scrolls are found that say Jesus was married to Mary, faithful Catholics will never believe it because we know through the 3 Pillars that Jesus - from all eternity - was and is united to the Church. He never married during His stint on earth, and anyone who said so (today or 2,000 years ago) got their information wrong (either intentionally as in the case of heretics, or unintentionally as sometimes happens through human nature). This is why we Catholics believe so strongly in the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
He makes sure that heretical / misguided information stays out of our Scriptures because He's got the foresight to see that this issue will keep cropping up every few decades.
And an interesting tidbit for anyone who cares:
The most utilized analogy in the Bible as a whole (this included the OT and the NT) of Christ to His Church is that of the Bridegroom and His Bride.
Not the Good Shepherd leading His Flock, and not the King and His subjects. God, throughout Salvation History, has highlighted the idea that we are not only His Family, but His INTIMATE family. He wishes to know us and love us as two people so closely united that they become one.
This, my friends, is why Catholics hold the Sacrament of Matrimony to be so incredibly sacred... it is humanity's call to emulate God. THIS is why we will fight tooth and nail to ensure that this Sacrament remains faithful to the truth of Divine Nature.
See? There I go digressing again...
That was the end of the conversation. I've even been relatively silent on updating statues and such on account of the focus on Vince's birthday this weekend.
Imagine my surprise, then, when I find this message in my message box this morning:
Friend S: I saw your post about gay marrage and still dont see why everything has to boil down to two men getting married in a church for you catholics. live and let live already. and while your at it, acknowledge that your story book contains just as much fact as my grimms fairytails.
I'll be honest. After reading it, I was HIGHLY confused (and I admit, HIGHLY irritated). "Gay marriage" post? WHAT gay marriage post? I was trying really hard to remember if I'd spoken about marriage at all let along gay marriage last week. The second sentence was my only clue to what post this person was talking about.
Instead of writing back one of my normal fire-brandishing messages, I resisted. I actually typed a terrible response that was more reactionary than I care to admit. I smartly deleted it upon further reflection. However, I can't say I successfully bucked Satan on this one. I half-gave in and simply wrote back that considering my original topic had nothing to do with gay marriage, and almost NONE of the subsequent follow-up had to do with gay marriage, the only one who can rightly be accused of boiling anything down would be him.
I need to go read Shalimar's entry on forgiving and letting go, because I'm all sortsa "I want to punch things" right now...
I loathe having my words twisted into something unrecognizable. I really, really do.
Alrighty, I've caved. I registered MyBrokenFiat with Twitter. All the cool kids were doing it.
Help me out by getting my following started! I intend to amass an army that will take over the world.
I mean, I intend to amass a following of like-minded, respectable folks who enjoy sharing tips and anecdotes on religion, raising a family, and other relevant morsels.
Follow, share and tweet. Thanks, all! :)
Also be sure to let me know what your Twitter handle is so I can follow you as well. I'm still not entirely sure how all this works, but eventually I'll figure it out, I promise!
My friend, Christina, said something to me that has been bouncing around in my head for the last few days:
There's something about a fire that doesn't seem to burn you. [This] issue had fire written all over it and you just jumped on in like it was a bubble bath.
Ah... the story of my life.
Last week, when I wrote that "Alone" entry, I got several follow-up messages from the person the entry was originally about. He gave me permission to post his story here, because I honestly think it's something that folks should be aware of, especially those of us who are active on Christian blogs / forums.
While I was chatting with some folks on a Christian forum, a young man timidly asked for advice with an issue he'd been struggling with. We happily agreed to hear him out. He identifies himself as homosexual, he's 19, and he still lives home with his "strict Christian parents." He loves his parents dearly, but he hasn't "come out" to them, yet. He was looking for advice on how to best do it without having them disown him.
Within minutes the thread was lighting up with comments like:
"It's a phase." "Keep that to yourself until you get it fixed."
"You'll go to hell!" "You SHOULD be disowned."
"Homosexuality is a disease." ETC...
Seriously. I was absolutely FLOORED. I immediately jumped in to dispel the notion that his sexuality was a one-way ticket to hell that needed to be exchanged through a one-night stand with a woman (suggested by a particularly vulgar member who, until that point, had been the most proper one of the bunch!). I then pointed out that the various responses were less than Christian in content.
You'd think I stumbled upon a hellmouth or something. Not only was I trying to defend this person against attacks, I was on the receiving end, myself, with no hope of respite. To say anything contrary to "Gays are evil, hell-bound freaks of nature" was tantamount to painting yourself with a bulls-eye and handing out arrows during open season. I felt HORRIBLE because all that viciousness simply caused this young man to pull away, completely embarrassed, ashamed and hurt by the torrent of verbal abuse. Worse, he assumed that response was a unanimously Christian one because no one took a stand against it!!! Heaven forbid!
For the record:
Condemning a person is NOT CHRISTIAN CHARITY.
Suggesting that they commit a mortal sin in order to "reverse" another perceived mortal sin is NOT CHRISTIAN CHARITY.
Responding to a plea for help with vitriol and wishes for the emotional distress of family abandonment is NOT CHRISTIAN CHARITY.
This gentle young man and I have been blessed to have several discussions on this now. He now understands that regardless of his sexuality, he is a body and soul created and loved by God. He understands Catholic teaching on homosexuality, and though he doesn't agree with it, at least he doesn't believe Catholicism teaches he's got a sure-ticket to hell just for being attracted to other men. He also feels better about talking to his parents about this. After all, a parent's duty is to love above all else. Heck, our job as humans is to love above all else. Loving doesn't mean accepting the sins of another, but it DOES mean accepting the person for who they're made as and helping them carry the crosses uniquely granted by God to help them on their path towards Heaven.
Keep folks like this in your prayers. It takes a lot of courage to be upfront about your deepest struggles, especially when you've got the whole world ready to rip into you.
And this is why I tend to step into the fire with seemingly little regard for the flames. On the other end of the verbal assault, someone is feeling the effects. On the other side of the computer screen, someone is being made to feel subhuman. When these hot-button conversations ignite, there is someone, somewhere being given a very incorrect view of Christianity through the poor examples of those who laud themselves as being the epitome of Christian practice. I can't help but feel my own heart break for them.
So yes. I frequently involve myself in these types of conversations and threads because if I don't, who will? Be the change you wish to see, right? If I had kept my mouth shut and just allowed them to steamroll this person, what type of image would he have of Christianity? Would there be no nugget of hope regarding coming out to his parents?
And what of the people who could easily have offered their own "Likes" or commentary to mine? Instead of private messaging, they could have helped this young man feel something of the love of God. Instead, he was left with a very bitter taste in his mouth, spoon-fed by supposedly loving Christians.
Our duty is not to stand by and allow such ill-feelings to spread. Our duty as Christians is to love God by loving one another - not silently... not ashamedly... not timidly. We are called to live our love out loud.
If that means dancing in the fire, bring on the flames.
I run / help admin three separate sites. This blog is the first, my parish website is the second, and a Catholic chat / information page is the third. Technically, I moderate the sometimes torrential threads that spawn on my Facebook, too, so let's round it to four.
On each of these sites, I have an open-comment policy. Folks can leave any comment without gaining approval first. However, I reserve the right to delete entries that are flammatory, hostile, or deliberately misleading. So far on this site (*knock on all wood available*), I haven't had to delete more than two comments. This is probably due to the fact that this blog isn't as well-traveled as the other two, and the material I tend to cover is personal enough that folks don't get offended by that which I state. Also, being a Catholic blog, I tend to only get traffic from other Catholics. Ha ha.
However, the Catholic chat site is another ball game. It's much more traveled and draws folks from all religious backgrounds (plenty of atheists, too, just to get their kicks from tormenting those of us who enjoy talking about Jesus). As a result, moderation is extremely strict.
Similarly that's true for the parish website. We get plenty of parishioners who drop by, especially now that I created a "Prayer Blog" section for folks to digitally submit their personal intentions for the month. Thus far, the Prayer Blog itself has been a success. We've gotten plenty of great feedback, and even grew our tiny prayer chain, fostering community.
Last night, however, I came home to an "intention" that made me cringe. Being solely responsible for content on the website (including comments in need of moderation), I must've turned 7 shades of purple in my embarrassment. I hadn't seen the comment until the evening, but the poster had submitted it about 4 hours prior. God only knows how many people came across it before I deleted the entry! Heaven forbid dogmatic confusion spring up as a result of my carelessness regarding comment approvals.
Anyway, that's what spawned this entry. Personally, I find the approval process stifling. If folks want to discuss something with one another, the approval process makes it difficult because the element of time is variable. Granted, a prayer blog isn't exactly the proper vehicle for conversation, but still.
I realize now - begrudgingly - that I have to have approvals up for at least the parish website. God forbid content there doesn't reflect our Catholic heritage! Thus, I talked it over with my pastor (and a good friend). We all came to the conclusion that approvals are necessary in order to ensure the integrity of our Catholic identity.
This reminded me of a none-too-happy dialogue I was forced to have with a friend of mine regarding moderation on Facebook.
I take moderation VERY seriously. Sometimes my Facebook threads weave upwards of 40-50 comments. Content for these threads is typically polarizing and folks get their panties in a bunch with impressive ease. Tempers flare and the occasion to send off a mean-spirited assault is frequent. As a result, I take great care to provide a respectful, intellectually honest place for folks to exchange ideas. I'm not a perfect moderator, but I really do pride myself in squashing the ad hominem attacks people dish out, and I'm always on top of holding folks accountable for misleading / incorrect information posted to these threads.
That being said, I expect the same to be true of others who establish threads on their pages. Unfortunately, I learned the hard way that not all people are capable and/or willing to moderate the threads they haphazardly start.
Folks are all about generating commentary because it gives them a sense of popularity. I get that. But let's be real... commentary shouldn't just be about your flippin' popularity. If you're linking intelligent articles and asking for honest opinions, you should be prepared to moderate any thread that spawns from it.
Then again, that could very well just be me - I admit holding myself to a higher standard for these sorts of things, but it's because of my dedication to intellectual honesty and the free-flow of ideas between two groups of polarized people. Honest, respectful communication is the only bridge that divide has, so I believe it must be fostered at all costs.
Truth be told, I confronted the offending party for this gross oversight, and she has yet to see anything even remotely wrong with her outlandish behavior. This SHOULD be unsurprising considering her personality, but still... it drives me up a wall that there is no accountability on sites like Facebook. Folks will create a front in which they present themselves as intelligent adults looking to discuss political / social / religious / local issues, but in reality, they're just looking to find a platform to shout their opinions. These folks don't ACTUALLY want to discuss. They don't actually want to learn / teach / share. They want to be thought of as funny. They want to be thought of as intelligent. They want to be seen as champions of activism. In reality, all they want is the gilded facade. Very few people are willing to engage in anything more than their polished (and empty) shell.
Very disheartening. Very, very disheartening.
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