Monday, June 3, 2013

Blogging Around: The "You Don't Know What You Think You Know" Edition

For years, I’ve thought that opossums — or possums, as most people call them — receive a bad rap because they’re not as cute and cuddly as, say squirrels or raccoons. I’ve known of people killing them just because they don’t like possums.
The Imperfect Gardener has a good piece about how possums rid your property of pests and other facts you might not know about them. I never minded them but once I discovered that they enjoy eating cockroaches, I gave them carte blanche to help themselves! (Via Hannah on Facebook)

I’m confronted by a great deal of grand and worthy ambition from this student body. You want to be a politician, a social worker. You want to be an artist. Your body’s ambition: Mulch. Your body wants to make some babies and then go in the ground and fertilize things. That’s it. And that seems like a bit of a contradiction. It doesn’t seem fair. For one thing, we’re telling you, “Go out into the world!” exactly when your body is saying, “Hey, let’s bring it down a notch. Let’s take it down.”

And it is a contradiction. And that’s actually what I’d like to talk to you about. The contradiction between your body and your mind, between your mind and itself. I believe these contradictions and these tensions are the greatest gift that we have, and hopefully, I can explain that.


I talk about this contradiction, and this tension, there’s two things I want to say about it. One, it never goes away. And if you think that achieving something, if you think that solving something, if you think a career or a relationship will quiet that voice, it will not. If you think that happiness means total peace, you will never be happy. Peace comes from the acceptance of the part of you that can never be at peace. It will always be in conflict. If you accept that, everything gets a lot better.
A fascinating commencement address from Joss Whedon. I believe it says much about why he is a good storyteller. (Via Scott Danielson.)

I have a friend who left the Church because once a priest told her in an unfriendly way that she could not be Catholic and pro-choice. Not, mind you, that she couldn’t receive communion, but that she wasn’t Catholic. This is the problem. The message my friend received wasn’t, hey you know the Church’s teaching on life is beautiful, you should come and learn more about why she teaches this. It was, get out, you aren’t welcome. Now I wasn’t there and I didn’t hear the exact words the priest used, but whatever was said, the effect wasn’t one of evangelization, you know?
Melanie Bettinelli at The Wine Dark Sea has an interesting post considering the way some Catholics can look down their noses at others. She links this with a couple of recent testimonials from atheists who were surprised to find themselves engaged in civil, thoughtful conversation with Catholics.
When I came to this subreddit to post the question, I expected some insightful answers but also some nasty comments. What I got instead was insightful and patient answers to my questions as well as an outpouring of a highly intelligent, well thought-out theological discussion/debate amongst Catholics whom I was surprised to find out did not share a monolithic view of Catholicism. It was so much more than I had hoped.
My overall comment is this: it comes down to good manners.

If we are able to keep candid comments to ourselves and politely try to address things we don't agree with, the world becomes a better place. Certainly our efforts are be better received than if we lash out.

What is the point of winning if others are left with such bad feelings that they will never listen again? The truth is, then we have actually lost.

I often think of my grandparents as I try to moderate my own ill-mannered ways. They were always polite, always cheerful, and if they disagreed with something they just went ahead and addressed it in a practical fashion as best they could. All without causing a lifetime of hurt feelings. No wonder everyone loved them.

They are my role models.

I was already coming to this conclusion and then I read How to Defend the Faith Without Raising Your Voice by Austen Ivereigh.

I'll review this next week.

Here's the short version.

Every Catholic should read this book. Period.

And if we did what this book says, there would be fewer surprised atheists and more Catholics who've been attracted to live their faith in a deeper, more meaningful way.


  1. Thanks for the kind words, Julie. I agree it comes down to good manners. And worrying less about being right and more about people as individuals with whom we form relationships.

    I had a copy of How to Defend the Faith.... I read the first two chapters, realized how awesome it was. And then loaned it to my sister, who then moved to Dallas. So I need to get another copy and finish reading it so I can write my own review.

  2. Possums have killed too many of my friend's chickens, so they're kn my poop list. Vile creatures.

  3. I certainly don't want or intend to push anyone out of the church. Lord knows I'm not perfect. But abortion is such an issue that I just find impossible to see how anyone can be Christian and support. There are rational arguments for all the other hot issues of the day, whether I agree with the argument or not. But I can't see how abortion can be rationalized for any Christian. Here's a justaposition: It's Christmas Day and baby Jesus is in the manger, and yet they stand there and support an argument that it's ok to kill a developing baby? I can't see it. It's not even a question of catachesis. They know better. Lord have mercy on us all.

    1. Notice that I didn't say we have to support what those people believe. But if we are explaining why the Church has the stand it does, while understanding that there can be a positive motivation behind the other person's beliefs, then we get much further. In the case of abortion, the other person's positive motivation may be something like helping the struggling mother while not believing that a "clump of cells" is a baby. Is that right? No. But are they supporting it from malice toward babies? No. As someone who believed just that for much of my life I can tell you straight up that many people do not "know better." To say so is to sit in judgment on what other people have been taught, which is often nothing more than what secular society says is right.

      I cannot recommend this book strongly enough.

  4. "Every Catholic should read this book. Period."


  5. Maybe I'll take a peep at that book too.

    I've encountered such willfull ignorance and deliberate error on some of the on line forums that I regurlary visit, that I've stopped commenting. Candidly, there is a great deal of anti Catholicism and anti Christianity too as you all likely are aware. I've also come to the conclusion that the twisting of the Truth is diabolic. What better way to sow the seeds of misunderstanding, division and despair than subtle errors anonomoulsy posted?

  6. Just ordered it. Can't wait to read it.