laceblade: Shot of stained glass window from St. Norbert Abbey, text says: Eli, eli lamma sabachtani (Catholic: Eli eli)
This is the first post in the "you generate my content" meme. I still need more suggestions, b t w. Feel free to suggest multiple topics.
Also, I lock just about all of the posts I write about my personal life, but I'm going to see how many of the posts in this meme I can post unlocked.

[personal profile] j00j asked for religious community, as in community of laypeople moreso than a religious order or etc. This post meanders a lot & I'm not sure I addressed what you wanted me to, so sorry ^^;;;

Back in high school, a woman at the church named Carrie took my friend Ryan, my friend Heather's sister Rachel, & a dude named Andy who was in another school system on a trip to a place called St. Meinrad in Indiana. St. Meinrad is a Benedictine monastery, & they had a liturgical youth conference every year.
The four of them came back & wanted to start performing youth liturgies. Some of my friends & a few other intelligent/talented people joined a group that we self-dubbed, for lack of a better term, Youth Liturgy.
We planned masses: the music, who did the readings, etc. We wrote the petitions.
We acted out the gospel. We delivered homilies ourselves or assisted the priests in delivering them (and when local Catholics called out this practice in the diocesan newspaper, I wrote letters back).
For Pentecost one year, we lit the baptismal font on fire. For Palm Sunday, we did stuff from Jesus Christ Superstar.
We made programs, and two members would draw art for the covers. I still have some of Jenny's up on my bulletin board - they were beautiful.

For the music, Carrie's son Matt led us, & the choir we created was called "Youth Liturgy."
The liturgies themselves were great. We'd close every mass by singing "Carry Your Candle" & walking out with candles.

But we did other stuff, too.
I met with our youth minister & two older/slightly more popular kids to try & create a youth group that met weekly. We called ourselves "The Quest."
We cleaned out the youth space & tried to get more of it.
I went to St. Meinrad myself one summer, and Lindsey/Ryan/I went to Notre Dame another summer for a different conference.
We had mission trips in Washington, DC and in Milwaukee, which focused on doing work (and not evanglization).
When the people in my grade (the biggest % of youth liturgy people - me, Lindsey, Jennifer, Heather, Kristy, etc.) graduated, we had a retreat at the Abbey, which was really nice.

We infiltrated a bunch of the standing committees in our parish so that our concerns would be heard. I don't remember what anybody else joined, but mine was the Worship Committee, which controled the art/environment aspects of church - banners, cloths used on the altar, whether the lady who was slightly off the deep end could put up her bigass picture of the Divine Mercy.

It's hard to describe what made this group special. A large chunk of people were already my friends (and joined b/c I joined first).
Some people (Carrie, Tom, Colin, etc.) were people I respected the hell out of, & still do.
Matt's suicide undoubtedly tied us in a way that only tragedy can.
But mostly, we just talked, about everything. It's a fine balance, in talking about faith, needing to be creative together, sometimes acting with one another, etc.
People were excited to come to our masses.
I didn't realize until later what a big deal being permitted to be involved in delivering the homilies actually was.

Putting it all together like this, it was sort of a how-to on getting involved in a bureaucratic structure & forcing it to listen to a group of people who felt ignored.
When I go to mass now, every aspect of the liturgy makes me think about the time I spent with my friends, our own preferences for different aspects of the liturgy, etc.



In college, I attended mass at St. Paul's at the campus end of State Street. Almost my first day there I met James, some kind of liturgical minister who also sang well. He took me out for dinner at Chin's one night, and after telling him all about Youth Liturgy, I agreed to write the intercessions for weekend masses - I did this weekly for all four years.
While living in the dorms my first two years, I walked to church with Paul, a guy I was friends with from high school. Paul and I disagreed on almost every aspect of the liturgy - he'd prefer mass be said in Latin with the priest facing away from the pews. Still, we had a similar sense of humor and had to try hard to not smirk at one another when things went wrong during mass.

In the second two years at St. Paul's, a committee was formed so that disparate groups of people responsible for different parts of mass could meet and talk - thus, I was invited.
This was my first time meeting people other than James.
I don't remember the controversies or topics discussed, except that I felt like an outsider. These people's entire social lives revolved around St. Paul's, and mine didn't.
Everyone else's opinion of me solidified when I expressed my opinion about lector training, which Paul and I had just gone through. (I liked reading aloud.) I said that I had felt turned off by our trainers talking about their personal faith relationships with God - I had come to be trained, not for a spiritual retreat. The training was very long due to this, and I had homework to do.
I phrased my feedback as nicely as possible, but I could tell I'd hurt this girl's feelings. Since everyone else was friends with her, I felt like people were pretty cold toward me after that.

I know that I would have been able to speak frankly at Youth Liturgy about something like this. I do like talking about faith with people when I expect to do it.
But yeah. I need people who think about what they're doing and are willing to talk about aspects of the liturgy/trainings/whatever that they take for granted. This is a thing that often disappoints me in most groups of people, though.

After college, I defriended most of these people on Facebook over the next couple years due to their semi-evangelical and/or misinformed political posts.



While living in my efficiency on Hancock Street, I attended St. Patrick's downtown. I tried attending a Catholic feminism group, which is thoroughly documented in this post.
The group of women weren't actually feminists. I eventually left that parish because the priest is about as conservative as our bishop.
Even while I still identified pro-life, I found his constant homilies on abortion insufferable.



I now drive across the city to attend mass in a parish that feels - in its 1970s construction and homillies - like my home parish did when I was in high school [it doesn't feel home-like THERE any more because of the crappy priests they've gotten lately]. I peruse the bulletin whenever I'm there, but all activities surround food.
There's a chronic pain group in which I'd been interested, but they meet during the work day.
I'm leery of making friends - would they be judgmental upon finding out I live with my non-Christian boyfriend?
I also ignored it for a couple years while learning to cope with chronic pain and a few spin-offs from that.
I feel like I have my shit together now, though, so I'm still looking.
I've been considering seeing about volunteering at the Catholic Multicultural Center, which my parish now runs after the bishop abruptly and inexplicably cut funds and shut it down.

There are other things I'd like to look into more, too, like Call to Action, etc.



Overall...I'm really lucky to have had the community I did growing up in my church - the circles of friends I had in general growing up, I know that I'm really lucky.

I'm still trying to find ways to recreate that now.
It's more difficult when you're older and aware of politics, etc. In high school, most of the Catholic-esque politics went over my head.

And amusingly now, most of us who were in Youth Liturgy together have pretty radical beliefs about the Church, and are mildly "heretical" in our thoughts on social teachings, etc.



Since the point of this post is to be part of a user-content-generated meme, I'm going to say that I'm more open to questions than usual.
laceblade: Shot of stained glass window from St. Norbert Abbey, text says: Eli, eli lamma sabachtani (Catholic: Eli eli)
• What are you currently reading?
The Gospel of Mary Magdalene: Jesus and the First Woman Apostle by Karen L. King - another version, although the translation of the Gospel itself is pretty similar to the one I read last week. I'm not very far yet, but right now this seems much more accessible than the other one I read.

Constantine's Sword by James Carroll, which I'd read a reference to in a footnote in last week's Gospel of Mary Magdalene commentary. This is non-fiction, basically about the relationship between Catholics & Jews. The beginning starts with JPII saying Auschwitz was a "Golgotha" & talking about Catholics who died during the Holocaust, & fights between Jewish people & Catholics and how there is now a bigass cross at Auschwitz. PEOPLE.
Campbell talks about his own personal encounters with antisemitism growing up as Catholic. Anyway, this book is huge, & I think it will jump back a few thousand years & go forward through time to end up with WW2 again.

Pantomime by Laura Lam. Reading this for book club. Thus far, the protagonist has joined a circus! This isn't really grabbing me?! I hope to make a more concerted effort in the near future so that The Boyfriend can also attempt before our next meeting.


• What did you recently finish reading?
W.I.T.C.H. graphic novel, volume 3 & skimming 4-8 - This became too boring to keep plowing through. I've given the 4 volumes I owned to a niece, and returned the others to the library. FREEDOM! And a tiny amount of new book space in my apartment ;_;

Basara, volume 9 - I liked this volume quite a bit. Shuri and Sarasa (& various others) have ended up in Okinawa. In this post-apocalyptic world, Okinawa is separated from the Japanese nation, & it's Shuri's first encounter with the concept of democracy. I'll be interested to see whether this ends up changing him & his future plans once he leaves, or not.


• What do you think you’ll read next?
More of the books I'm reading now, more of the manga I have from the library. I have about 40 items checked out from the library currently ^^;;;
laceblade: Sailors Moon, Mercury, and Mars. Text: Maiden Policy (Sailor Moon: Maiden's Policy)
• What are you currently reading?
Soul Eater, volume 5 - It's been a long time since I read 1-4! While I enjoy some of the character designs, I feel like I'm only here for Maka & Soul, and wholly uninterested in everything/everyone else :/

A Woman Wrapped in Silence - Basically a fanfiction about Mary (mother of Jesus) written in the 1940s, in verse. I've owned this since buying it at St Meinrad while on there on a retreat, in high school, but never got past the first 10 pages or so. I picked it up after attending a mass led by a woman priest. Progress is slow because I can be easily irritated by most poetry.


• What did you recently finish reading?
W.I.T.C.H. graphic novel, volumes 1 & 2 - I still feel about the same toward this as I did while I was in the middle of volume 1. I <3 the art, but feel the writing is a little sub-par? Still unconvinced I'll reread these later, but I'm reserving "putting it in the sell pile" judgment until I read all 8 volumes I've acquired (half from the library).

Shugo Chara-chan, volume 1 - This is a 4-panel comedy manga spun-off from Peach-Pit's Shugo Chara! Its about the guardian characters, mostly gags. It wasn't amusing enough to hold my attention, & I ended up skimming half the volume & returning volumes 2-4 to the library unread.

Basara, volume 8 - This series continues to be pretty great overall. Starting to feel some dread about how certain revelations are going to be handled. I do like its dealing with the realities of power/etc. - examining what characters are going to do once they get what they think they want, how different territories are governing themselves (or being governed) if the aftermath of the apocalypse, etc.

The Gospel of Mary Magdalene - What survives of the Gospel of Mary Magdalene is short, so this book has an introduction & a preface, and after the straight-up translation of the gospel, a line-by-line commentary.
The commentary discusses the idea of the "divine feminine" in the context of Mary revealing this super spiritual scripture, as opposed to the other way I've encountered it in the past ("feminine divinity means subjugating yourself to men").

This gets a little gender essentialist, which happens often when I read women in relation to the Bible.
Example is discussing the Marys hanging out at the Crucifixion - this gets brought up a lot! ONLY THE WOMEN STAYED, etc.
Are men less courageous than women? Perhaps they have less fear of death, but more fear of suffering? There are no simple answers to this. Yet it is worth noting that it is often mostly women who are present in great moments of life such as this, at deathbed and at birth. Husbands and fathers are more often absent. Surely this would not be seen as desertion (of which they are often accused), but rather as an indication of the great difficulty of the masculine mind (and some feminine minds as well) experiences when it feels powerless in the face of suffering that it can neither combat nor alleviate.

...OR it's because women are socialized to be caretakers?? jfc.

After MM has seen the risen Christ & spoken with Him, she goes back to the Apostles to a) tell them about it so that Christianity starts spreading afterward, and b) tells them about all kinds of other mystical stuff. Their immediately reaction is pretty predicable:
Having said all this, Mary became silent;
for it was in silence that the Teacher spoke to her.
Then Andrew began to speak, and said to his brothers:
"Tell me, what do you think of these things she has been telling us?
As for me, I do not believe
that the Teacher would speak like this.
These ideas are too different from what we have known."
And Peter added:
"How is it possible that the Teacher talked
in this manner with a woman
about secrets of which we ourselves are ignorant?
Must we change our customs,
and listen to this woman?"

& then LOL at leaving this gospel out of the Bible. :( :( :(

At some point, the author digresses into this own interpretation of the Ten Commandments, which is a little more expansive than their general interpretation. I'll use my favorite of his - Honor the Sabbath - as an example. The first part = common interpretation, second paragraph = more mind-blowing to me.
You may rest from all your doing, working, and producing. Human beings are not only made for work, but also for repose - that holy repose that is fully savored after good work, not only on the Sabbath, but every day.

On the day of the Sabbath, all human beings will become equal, for there are no more employers and employees. This law is intended to free us from the bounds of another law, that of dominator and dominated. On the Sabbath, there are no more professors and students, no more lords and serfs. There are only the children of God, sons and daughters of the One Light.

WHOA, right?!

The author's reinterpretation of the Beatitudes are a little similarly radical. The Beatitudes = well-loved by many people who ID as Christian & are also compassionate about social justice.
Yeshua is not saying, "Blessed are you, unhappy victims, be happy in your martyrdom." He is saying, "Do not let yourself be stopped by persecution, slander, and all sorts of violence. Use this as a challenge and opportunity for growing in consciousness and love."

While I'm not typically a fan of "hard times are there to make you stronger" interpretations of life, I do like interpretations of the Gospels that are about Jesus saying, "You're better than that, & if you really believe in me, then DO something about it."

Overall, I enjoyed reading this, although the latter half of the book got into philosophical stuff that I'll freely admit I didn't understand. I think I even skimmed some of it.
I have another commentary/analysis/etc. of the Gospel of Mary Magadalene waiting for me at the library, & I'm hoping that it will be a little more accessible to me.


• What do you think you’ll read next?
More manga, & I should starting reading Pantomime by Laura Lam. It's our next [community profile] beer_marmalade book.
laceblade: Small Lady (Sailor Chibi Moon) clenching fist, shouting, and raising hand in preparation for transformation (Sailor Moon: Chibi Fight)
Growstuff.org is now in "soft launch." As a non-tech person, I'm led to believe that means, "we're not totally done yet!"
It's fun to be on a new site! The forums where people discuss the website itself are very friendly and helpful. I am confident that once I have plants around, I'll be able to ask questions about really basic things (idk what it means when something "goes to seed," for example, stuff like that), & people won't laugh at me, I don't think!

While you cannot yet add people as friends, the # of users is still pretty low, so it's easy to find other people's accounts under the "Members" tab. I am ribbonknight there.
I am a little sad that I can't add my non-food crops/plants (yet). So far, I've only been successful in maintaining non-food plants, like my spider plants & my rabbit foot fern and my peace lily.
During the summer, too, my red runner bean plant last year was my most successful in terms of how big it got/how long it stayed alive/how pretty the blooms were. But it literally only produced one bean.

I'd like to grow some flowers and other non-food plants on my balcony this year, if possible. I want to talk about my non-food plants, too. BUT. That is why I have this Dreamwidth blog, I suppose.
Anyway. Growstuff still seems like it will be valuable.

I'd like to do an inventory of the seeds I still have in my closet & blog about them here.



I'd like to link to an article with a pretty banal headline ("Pope Francis doesn't represent all Catholics"), but I ended up feeling motivated & proud by the end.
I'd like to quote it for my own posterity. & preface it with...I really do understand why people do leave/have left the Catholic Church/Christianity/organized religion, in general. I don't mean to quote it to chide or shame other people, but rather sort of as a summation of why I stay. (Or how I wish I behaved - I haven't been "active" in a way I feel good about since high school, when we shook up our local parish at least a little bit. I would like to do that again.)
Since then, the story of the church has been punctuated by people who consulted their conscience first and their popes later. Francis of Assisi assembled his community of barefoot wanderers before going to Pope Innocent III to seek approval. In more recent times, Dorothy Day didn’t need a pope’s permission before opening a house of hospitality for the poor and resistance against war. The Community of Sant’Egidio, founded in Italy in the late 1960s, has fought HIV/AIDS and negotiated peace treaties around the world on its own terms. Yet, in honor of this witness, Benedict XVI made a habit of visiting Sant’Egidio’s ministries in Rome. Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York is seeking Dorothy Day’s cause for sainthood. And now, almost eight hundred years after Francis’ death, a pope has named himself after him.

Each of these Catholic heroes had a certain respect for the papacy, but they didn’t let that get in the way of living out the gospel for themselves. They took inspiration from the words of church authorities, but more importantly they took action on their own—in creative, authentic, and Christian fashion. “In all times the laity have been the measure of the Catholic spirit,” Cardinal John Newman said more than a century ago. If what we expect from the church is what we expect from the aged and insulated man who happens to hold the office of Peter, there is little reason to expect much.

...

What the church needs is more committed and courageous souls in it, not fewer. It needs souls who are too busy organizing communities of radical living and prayer, and working for justice among the oppressed, and composing new hymns, to worry all that much about whom the Spirit and the cardinals might choose as pope. It needs souls willing to undertake new forms of thought and action capable of making what Catholics see as God’s good news a reality in our time—forms that will influence and inspire popes of the future, even if the present ones don’t yet get it.
laceblade: Shot of stained glass window from St. Norbert Abbey, text says: Eli, eli lamma sabachtani (Catholic: Eli eli)
As-you-know-Bob, I have complicated feelings about Catholic hierarchy, and Pope Benedict XVI/his beliefs in particular. HOWEVER, I still try to pay attention to things that are going on.

Twitter jokes about the retirement of the Pope were mostly hilarious, but those aside, I am happy about the news.

On PBS last night, the guests were talking about how doing this makes the office more important the person - very different than the previous celebrity!Pope, John Paul II/JP2.
It's like making the papacy less of a monarchy (if you're still alive, YOU'RE IT), and more about...a necessary, functional role.

Thinking about JP2's final years, and how he was essentially incapacitated & what I now know about neurodegenerative diseases, I want to see someone in the position who is up to the task, who isn't miserable.

While Benedict XVI doesn't have any specific ailments, he has arthritis, some prostate problems, and has been advised not to travel. He doesn't want to do the job, & doesn't feel like he can.

I like the precedent: It's okay to stop working, it's okay to not shorten your life span by continuing to go-go-go, it's okay to let someone else step up and take over.


I don't have a lot of enthusiasm/hope for the next Pope. It'd be nice if the next Pope surprised me. It is hard to imagine having someone worse than Benedict XVI, I suppose.
Pretty much my only sentiment is, "Please, anyone but Timothy Dolan," but I am pretty confident that it would not be him. The Cardinals God tends to stay away from voting in someone from a superpower nation.
laceblade: Shot of stained glass window from St. Norbert Abbey, text says: Eli, eli lamma sabachtani (Catholic: Eli eli)
So I read this book that's memoir-esque about the author's return to the Catholic Church. She'd grown up going to Catholic schools, but never got confirmed.
Feeling depressed and distant from her husband, she starts looking back into the Church, going through the RCIA process to become confirmed.
Today, we turn to shrinks, Prozac, yoga, drinking, television. Crises are supposed to come and go, and we're supposed to deal with them. But when it comes to a crisis because of a desire for faith, none of those solutions seemed to work for me. The contradictory desires for companionship and solitude that pushed me into panic and sorrow mirrored my problem with the phone: I've had a cell phone for years, but fewer than ten people have the number. I want to be able to call out, but I don't want anyone to reach me.

In addition to many of her political beliefs (supporting LGBT people in society, etc.), many facets of her faith ring true to mine, too.
I don't find a Jesus I can identify with in the stories about the miracles. They're like novels or old epic poems, just clusters of metaphors because for someone who's used to finding solace in facts and has taught literature for over a decade, they're tough to believe.
I prefer the stories of Jesus and people, particularly when he's talking to women.

Her experience going to mass feels like how I feel now.
Anyone who attends Mass by herself is guaranteed to be surrounded by what looks like hordes of loving Catholic families. There are lots of female lectors at my church, lots of women in the choir, lots of women who attend services, but they're with their families or in groups of other women.

The author seems to magically find groups of like-minded people to join, including a group of women who bitch about the Church's politics.
This sort of happened to me in high school, in that joining one group led me to join a bunch of others.
However, in college this really didn't work. I wrote the weekly intercessions for all four years, and through that was invited to join some sort of advisory board. However, I was way more liberally-minded than everyone else there, and every meeting was uncomfortable. I never felt part of the community there.

I've found another church now that has a strong commitment to social justice, but it seems like the only way to meet people is by joining a Bible study. All of the other "adult enrichment" groups are centered on around the making and eating of food.
So. Jealous, yeah.

Anyway, I like her thoughts on why the Church sucks at issues of gender equality.
Church does not love women unless they are nuns or the Virgin Mary, and some priests go into the seminary too young; they never establish deep friendships with women, and thus fail at understanding even the most basic challenges women face. Their entire knowledge of women is based on a teenage girl who lived several thousand years ago and a handful of particularly pious female saints. This is why I find myself getting along a lot better with priests who have sisters; they've had some exposure to women as human beings, not as plaster statuettes representing impossible ideals.

And politics in general.
The Catholic Church is so good at ministering to the poor, caring for the sick, educating people in forgotten communities. It is so good at encouraging its flock to injustice and fight oppression. And it is just freaking awful at understanding what it means to be a woman, or to be gay, or to want to express your sexuality without catching a disease.

IN SUM. I found a lot to agree with here, and the book makes feel less alone. There are a lot of liberal U.S. Catholics, and there are other parishes like mine that try hard to do/speak the things they think are right, in spite of being under the thumb of a right-wing bishop.
However, the book makes me miss the communities and friendships I'd made in high school, and haven't found a way to replicate since.
laceblade: Shot of stained glass window from St. Norbert Abbey, text says: Eli, eli lamma sabachtani (Catholic: Eli eli)
I was thinking the other day that it's probably a lot easier for me to remain Catholic-ish than a lot of other people because I went to public schools for my entire life. If my parents had forced me to go to Catholic schools, I'm sure things would have turned out much differently & I would have stopped giving a shit about religion before graduating from high school.

As it is, I still care even though I haven't been to mass in a long time. I have been praying a lot lately, though - was praying a lot those first few weeks after surgery.

I feel angry about priests and their role in driving people away from the Church right now.
The priest who's at the church I grew up at is someone I have never met, but I know things about him.
He told a couple my age that he didn't feel "comfortable" performing their marriage ceremony because the dude in the relationship was Christian-but-not-Catholic, even though this violates no canon law.
He told a girl I went to school with that he would not perform her marriage ceremony if either she or her bridesmaids wore strapless dresses.

The theme of the Green Bay Diocese for the past few years has been "Welcome Home," an attempt to get kids my age (mid-twenties) to join the Church in their adult life.
This attempt is incredibly amusing to me, because all I see priests doing is their damndest to drive people away.

I don't think that this is because they're stupid; rather, it seems to be a coordinated effort that favors a smaller and "more pure" laity.
Pope Benedict's homily from Holy Thursday is basically entirely about this theme.


But not everything sucks.

Occupy Catholics exists; they're a group out of NYC who protest with the Occupy movement.
Their tag line: We are the 99%, made in God’s image, seeking God’s justice.

I'm also trying to learn more about Catholics United, a pro-labor progressive non-profit that focuses on protest & lobbying Congress.

I've really been liking Give Us This Day as a daily prayer alternative to Magnificat.
When I originally picked up GUTD in the Catholic bookshop, the clerk said something about it being "different" than Magnificat. For Catholics who don't know one another well, this could either mean "super conservative" or "super liberal." I picked it up and was pleasantly surprised.
The daily devotionals seem to make an effort to feature writings from women and people of color. The pages about "how to use this book" are really chill about emphasizing that you don't need to read the morning prayer, mass, AND evening prayer EVERY SINGLE DAY. Every copy has a reminder/instruction about how to do lectio divina, which I appreciate.
And there has yet to be a single mention of fucking abortion, I think!



And there you have it.

There are Catholics who actually give a shit about Jesus's social teachings & who connect with the United States's current movement to protest against socio-economic inequities (laity).

There are Catholics with sticks up their ass about clothing & who we marry. People who wag their fingers & spend their time focusing on rules that either cosmetic or that they fabricated so that they had more to finger-wave about (priests).

And then the hierarchy wonders why we dissent.
I know there are many who might read this post and ask, "So why the hell are you still Catholic then?"
For me, & for the people with whom I cultivated my faith in high school (mostly a group of my peers), it's kind of like, "the fuck if I'm going to let some asshole define FOR ME what Catholicism means."
laceblade: Kumiko and Reina from Hibike! Euphonium anime, apparently about to kiss (Catholic)
(I write this post in full recognition that most of you don't give a shit.)

SO. There is a new English translation of the Roman Missal, and it'll start being used in Catholic churches across America this coming Sunday (I think).

The Roman Missal is the stuff that the priest and the laypeople say during mass. If you've ever been in a Catholic church and gotten creeped out that everyone was chanting the same words at the same time, this is where the words came from.

Pre-Vatican II, everything was done in Latin. When each group of bishops came up with their own translation, people rejoiced - they could understand the mass for themselves!

But now the United States Council of Catholic Bishops has decided that their translation at the time of Vatican II was too rushed, too "simple," not reverent enough. By not only translating the Latin to English, but also making it easier to understand, many worried that the text was too "down to Earth." So they've added words like "consubstantial," changed "cup" to "chalice," etc.



Here's a sample quote that shows us dwelling the fact that it's a person's own fault if they sin, as if Catholicism didn't emphasize this enough.

We go from I confess to almighty God,
and to you, my brothers and sisters,
that I have sinned
through my own fault
in my thoughts and in my words,
in what I have done,
and in what I have failed to do;


to
I confess to almighty God
and to you, my brothers and sisters,
that I have greatly sinned

in my thoughts and in my words,
in what I have done
and in what I have failed to do,
through my fault,
through my fault,
through my most grievous fault
;




It seems pretty absurd to me that making things easier to understand and not as elevated somehow sullies the reverence of people's faith. One of the most attractive parts of Christianity to me is that one is not worshiping a God who has never cried, never suffered, never experienced extreme pain/anguish. It's the coolest thing (to me) that God became an actual person.
Works of Aaron Sorkin aside, elitism doesn't usually sit well with me, and I am not looking forward to this change. I think it is yet another example of the church hierarchy's inability to listen to and respect the laity. They are forever the paternalistic shepherds who truly believe that they, and they alone, know best.

There are multiple perspectives on this.
Propoganda!
A 10-part series published by the Catholic News Agency that is basically also propoganda.
I like this commentary quite a bit; it raises many pointed questions.
laceblade: spoof on Berenstein Bears book cover, title: "Learn About Cylons." Brother Bear is aghast. (Truth about Cylons)
In the car on the way to the new Pirates movie, I am explaining what WisCon programming is like to childhood friends, who probably understand me, my interests, and my faith better than most people.

"So like....everyone who comes enjoys science fiction, that's a given. But then on panels, we dissect the things we love. You talk about your favorite book or your favorite show, but you try to examine how it could be better. Like you talk about a sci-fi TV show, and how there aren't any people of color in it. Or how there are people of color, but their storylines are always sidelined for the white people's. And people debate these things! But mostly it's caring really deeply about social justice but also this thing you love, and trying to reconcile it and talk about how to make it better."

"So it's like religion."

".....YES. Holy shit, YES."

Easter

Apr. 4th, 2010 11:22 am
laceblade: Kumiko and Reina from Hibike! Euphonium anime, apparently about to kiss (Default)
Easter Vigil at any Abbey is pretty sweet. Not only was the homily superb (the abilities of a priest as a homilist will pretty much make/break him, in my esteem of him), BUT THERE WAS A GIANT TORCH TO LIGHT THE EASTER CANDLE. Seriously, that pole had to be 20 feet long, and there were GIANT FLAMES that made me fearful most especially when the dude tried to get the thing through the doorway. Easter Vigil: arguably the most bad-ass mass of the year (except for that one time at Pentecost when we purposely lit the baptismal font on fire).

On a more serious note, I really appreciated the homily. Easter is not just about butterflies and cute bunnies and candy. It means a lot because of the suffering that comes before it, because of the seriousness required by Lent. It's kind of the time of year to screw your head on straight, and then Easter comes and floods your heart with light, and you realize that Spring is here.


A discussion on whether 'The Hunger Games' was cribbed from the Japanese novel/movie 'Battle Royale.' People have pointed out the similarities in general premise to me before, but the argument made here lays out a series of incredibly specific things that happen in both. An interesting read, even if it doesn't convince you.

The Onion's AV Club had a nice article about A Room of One's Own, on its 35th anniversary.

I think that fan-made crafts like these are really cool. In addition to creations focused on by the OTW (fanfiction, fanart, fanvids), I think that crafts are really neat, too. I've been collecting lots of paper cut-outs of various fandoms, along with a few extra Buffy comics. I'd like to make my own, even though I'm not totally skilled in the realm of craft-making.

With everyone lying about what's actually in the Health Care bill, I found this Washington Post link useful: Answer 4 questions and find out what the Health Care bill means for you.

Also, really liked this Buffy Season 8 vid. DO NOT CLICK UNLESS YOU'VE READ THE TWO MOST RECENT ISSUES OF S8. For serious.


Help Out Your Fellow Fan!

--[livejournal.com profile] were_duck seeks recommendations for the WisCon Vid Show. Specifically, she'd like some AMV recs, as she's generally unfamiliar.

--[livejournal.com profile] meganbmoore seeks old school shoujo anime. Bonus if you can tell her how to get a hold of it, :D

--[livejournal.com profile] littlebutfierce both recommends and seeks more baseball anime.
laceblade: Kumiko and Reina from Hibike! Euphonium anime, apparently about to kiss (Catholic)
I don't usually love Maureen Dowd, but I've gotta say that every time in the last two weeks that I've wanted to write a blog post about how much I despise Benedict XVI and the priests who represent the face of Catholicism to the world, she goes ahead and does it for me. It's just...UGH. IT IS HOLY WEEK, SIR. HAVE A LITTLE HUMILITY. Instead of saying shit like "We will overcome the people who are being mean to me right now!" How about saying, "I crawl on my knees and ask forgiveness for the horrible things I've done. AND NOW PEOPLE WILL GO TO JAIL FOR WHAT THEY DID."
I also liked A Nope for Pope.

I am so disgusted right now.

And the next time that someone asks me, "Why are you still Catholic?" or "How do you feel about that?" they will get kicked in the neck.

I FEEL REALLY GOOD ABOUT CHILDREN GETTING MOLESTED, THANKS FOR ASKING.

When congressmen molest boys, nobody says, "Shit, I'm going to stop being American!"
Nobody says, "Wow, doesn't that make you want to stop feeling patriotic?"
Nobody says, "Wow, so Mark Foley molested a boy. How do you feel about that?"
Because those questions are absurd and the answers are self-evident.

But when the situation is about a different aspect of someone's identity - their faith - THAT SHIT IS TOTALLY DIFFERENT, and it's okay to be abhorrently inappropriate.



.....OR IS IT?!
laceblade: Kumiko and Reina from Hibike! Euphonium anime, apparently about to kiss (Catholic)
A friend directed me to Maureen Dowd's article in The New York Times, which discusses the divide between Catholic nuns and Catholic bishops on the health care reform bill. (You should be able to read the article for free; The New York Times allows anyone to read a NYT article when it is linked to from a blog.)

On Friday, Tim Ryan, an antiabortion Democrat from Ohio, took to the House floor to say he had been influenced by the nuns to vote for the bill.

“You say this is pro-abortion,” he said to Republicans, and yet “you have 59,000 Catholic nuns from across the country endorsing this bill, 600 Catholic hospitals, 1,400 Catholic nursing homes endorsing this bill.”

For decades, the nuns did the bidding of the priests, cleaned up their messes, and watched as their male superiors let a perverted stain spread over the entire church, a stain that has now even reached the Holy See. It seemed that the nuns were strangely silent, either because they suspected but had no proof — the “Doubt” syndrome — or because they had no one to tell but male bosses protecting one another in that repugnant and hypocritical old-boys’ network.

Their goodness was rewarded with a stunning slap from the über-conservative Pope Benedict XVI. The Vatican is conducting two inquisitions into the “quality of life” of American nuns, trying to knock any independence or modernity out of them.

The witch hunt has sparked the nuns to have a voice at last. Vulnerable children were not protected by the male hierarchy of the church, which treated sexual abuse as a failure of character rather than a crime. The men were so arrogant it never occurred to them that they should be accountable to the secular world. In their warped thinking, it was better to let children suffer than to call the authorities, embarrass the church and risk diminished power.

Now the bishops think that it’s better to deprive poor people of good health care than to let the church look like it’s going soft on abortion.

Under the semantic dodge of ideological purity, the bishops also are doing the bidding of the Republicans, trying to kill the bill and weaken the president. But the nuns are right when they say that “the Senate bill will not provide taxpayer funding for elective abortions” and that its protection of pregnant women is the “real pro-life stance.”

The nuns stepped up to support true Catholic dogma, making sure poor people get proper health care. (Which would lead to fewer abortions anyway.)


I feel Maureen Dowd's sentiment in feeling fan-fucking-tastic that the Pope would rather bully American nuns with his heinous "investigations" instead of the pedophiliac exploits of his good old boys.

I think that a lot of people allow Catholicism to be defined by its most vocal and powerful members. But they do not speak for all Catholics.
laceblade: Kumiko and Reina from Hibike! Euphonium anime, apparently about to kiss (Catholic)
A little while ago, I read the book Beyond Anger: On Being a Feminist in the Church, by Carolyn Osiek, R.S.C.J.

The book is about identifying as a feminist while also identifying as a member of the Catholic Church, which, as one might imagine, can cause feelings of anger. It's been a while since I read it, but I at least marked a few favorite passages. I think I'm just going to post them with brief commentary, and leave it at that. Hopefully you all find them as interesting as I did.

After giving examples of why a feminist might be angry in church (only males wear distinctive clothing that sets them off as officially belonging in the sanctuary, language of worship does not seem to include women, etc.), the author says of these moments of realization:
Such an event is a true turning point because it evokes a crisis. Life is not as it was before, and can never be so again. It cannot return to the comfort of denial. One's self image of loyalty and one's experience of oppression come to a screeching collision with one another and seem henceforth incompatible. How can I remain loyal to a person, institution, or tradition that has done this to me? But without that commitment, what do I have left? Who am I? This intense experience of dissonance provokes a predictable reaction.
She goes on to validate anger as an emotion, and then analyzes the destructive power of sexism, and its inherently sinful nature.
Sexism and patriarchalism have worked against both women and men in three ways. The first is to dehumanize women institutionally by disqualifying them on the basis of sex from access to the sacred and to leadership. The second way is to attempt theological justification of the oppression of patriarchalism, so that it would seem to be perpetrated in the name of God. The third way that sexism works against all of us is by promoting a "false consciousness" which permits both oppressor and oppressed to blindly accept and internalize their roles.

The dehumanizing of women is the dehumanizing of men as well, for if women are demoted to second-class citizenship, men are allowed the illusion that they alone are first class, that what is done is God's will, and that it therefore cannot be changed. In this way the Church participates in the structural violence of society against women, a structural violence which implicitly condones and even promotes personal violence against them by casting women as victims of male aggression.

Because we are properly speaking here of sin, "social and ecclesial structural sin," there is a moral conversion that is called for. Patriarchalism is a form of classism, the subjection of one social group to another. It is a hierarchiacal view of human society which makes dominance and submission the operant models of human relationship and renders true mutual presence to one another impossible. Religious patriarchalism further renders a true perception of equality before God just as impossible because social conditioning and the impact of culture are inescapable factors in the formation of religious persons and communities. It puts the ideal of "equal discipleship," which is all women are really asking for, beyond reach. It is a sin against persons as well as against God.

...

Beyond intellectual conversion there is yet spiritual conversion. Are we as Church being called to a deeper living of the way of Christ by the prophetic voices of women? It is not only a human sense of fairness that calls us to justice, but Christ himself. It is not only our experience and ideals of democracy that calll us to affirm the full human dignity of every person, but the demands of the Gospel as well. Women today are calling the Church to live what it says in this regard. The voice has become part of the ongoing revelation of God to us, as the mystery of that revelation unfolds in history.

She analyzes the power of Bonaventure's quote, "It is for man to act, for woman to suffer."
This belief, or, better, excuse, has provided religious justification for reinforcing the passivity of women by encouraging them not to follow the inspirations of grace but to become more fixated in their inculturated tendencies to self-hatred and self-doubt by seeking out suffering, self-abasement, humiliation, and self-denial as signs of God's favor.
Hence it is not easy to speak of a theology of the cross to women who have experienced this kind of oppression and have rejected it as illegitimate and unhealthy. A consistent position taken in this book is that our religious tradition is redeemable for women, and that its riches are worth recovering. An important and powerful symbol within that tradition is the cross. To abandon the symbol because it has been misused would be once again to turn over the power of interpretation to those who have misused it. Anger at the abuse is justified, but capitulation to the abusers is not. Rather, the symbol needs to be recovered, reclaimed, and reappropriated into a new context where it will no longer aid the cause of oppression and passivity, but the cause of free response to the claims of the Gospel. The cross can become for women a symbol not of victimization and self-hatred, but of creative suffering, actively embraced, which transforms and redeems.

She does describe three phases of the transformation of suffering in three changes; I'd rate myself at #2: mute, pasive acceptance / awareness and articulation of one's suffering, no longer hidden / organization for change.

Osiek most bluntly calls for action thusly:
The role to which women are called today in the Church holds many of the characteristics of the prophetic vocation: to speak and act publicly in the name of God to recall members of the community to their destiny and identity before God; to interpret the signs of the times; to condemn injustice; to keep before the eyes of all the vision of the reign of God in its full purity in the midst of historical compromises.
This book does a great job of validating and giving voice to the same feelings of anger that I have. However, the title lead me to believe that this book would go further into explaining what can be done to be a feminist while still going to Church, how to make the Church a more feminist place to be, etc., and I don't think that I really got that. I'm not sure what I expect from a book in terms of how to move beyond anger to productivity, but I guess I was expecting more than the 13-point list at the end, which included things like "have healthy outlets" and "be realistic." I mean, those are find things to take as advice, but not great for action, in my mind. I'm angry, a book was spent validating my anger, and then it just kind of flickered out.

Although written the year I was born (1986), this book still resonating with me really well. It's starting to creep me out, though, the non-fiction about the oppression of women written at the time of my birth (or before, as mentioned when I blogged about bell hooks not that long ago) says things that validate what I'm feeling right now so well. It's like history's spinning its wheels in a rut, never moving forward, but repeating itself forever. Creepy, and disheartening.
laceblade: Kumiko and Reina from Hibike! Euphonium anime, apparently about to kiss (Default)
Just e-mailed the man mentioned in this article with a subject heading, "Your Poor Decision."

My favorite parts of my e-mail to him include:

The text of the speech is being released on Monday (one day before it is aired), so your ultimatum of "It would be irresponsible of any teacher to introduce to her/his students material that the teacher has not screened, evaluated, found to be educationally sound" is erroneous.

I am sick and tired of people like you using the Church as a platform on which you can make your political statements, and which you use as an instrument to make other people conform to your own political beliefs (in this case, by using your power as a superintendent to censor information that is being offered to children in public schools).

and

As a superintendent, I would certainly hope that you have better things to do - as both a Catholic and as an educator - than come up with useless rules. The showing is not mandatory - schools are supposed to decide for themselves whether or not to show the address. You have taken that power away from individual schools needlessly.

I would soften my reproach if I could think of a single reason for you to ban the showing of the President's speech to students, but the truth is that no such reason exists. The only explanation is that you are personally politically opposed to President Obama, and you are abusing your position to manipulate the children who happen to be in your charge by denying them information to which they have a right.


I AM SO SICK OF THIS POLITICAL BULLSHIT IN MY CHURCH. Go feed the hungry! Help poor people! Stop sitting on your asses in offices figuring out ways to manipulate your herd of sheep, and instead learn how to tend to them. What a pathetic and useless waste of precious time.

But hey, considering the fact that our bishop made everyone watch his pre-recorded message on abortion, marriage, and stem-cell research IN AN ELECTION YEAR, and oh yeah, fired a woman because of her graduate thesis, I can't say that I'm surprised that this happened.

Bishop Morlino also serves on the board for School of the Americas. Classy.
laceblade: Kumiko and Reina from Hibike! Euphonium anime, apparently about to kiss (Default)
The last couple of days have been filled with anger, for me.

One involves a situation beyond my control, but leaves me feeling vulnerable and cheated by a faceless bureaucracy. Of course it will get sorted out for my personal situation, but it only reinforces my adamant belief that health care should be a right for every single person, and not a classist privilege accessible only to those who manage to find a full-time job or can afford to pay for their own health care out of pocket. What does it say about our society, if you can only gain access to medicine and technology that will make/keep you healthy if you have the money to pay for it? Isn't it bad enough for the unemployed or under-employed that they make very little money? Must we punish them further, by telling them that they don't deserve to be healthy? That, in some cases, they deserve to die?

And people truly argue about this? Fail.


I've also been thinking a lot about people in positions of power.

If you are in a position of power, and you see that the people over whom you exert power - the sheep of your flock, if you will - are not doing what they're supposed to be doing, which of the following do you think is the proper response to make your flock more functional?

A) Blame them for not knowing better (and be sure to blame other people for not teaching them better, willfully ignoring your own position of power at the moment).

B) Mock them while surrounding yourself with people who agree with you.

C) Ostracize them by making them feel ashamed or guilty, so as not to taint your tiny Type A flock of "true sheep."

D) Complain about them and how they are the reason that the group is failing as a whole. Make sure to not actually speak to them, tell them what you think what went wrong, or perform any action items to rectify what went wrong.

E) Point out to them what went wrong, and ask them what you can do with your position of power to ensure that it does not happen again.



On a lighter note, a friend of mine recently told me that she thought my Internet alias was "My Stick Eeper." I've had this alias for 8 years, and I never thought about it that way. It's supposed to be "Mystic Keeper," by the way; huzzah for aliases created at age 14.

If people want to start calling me "The Stick," though, I am okay with that.

La!

Mar. 27th, 2009 01:26 pm
laceblade: Kumiko and Reina from Hibike! Euphonium anime, apparently about to kiss (Default)
I have updated my 101 Primer since its original posting two months ago. Nothing has been deleted, but more links have been added (mostly to communities), as well as a new section on "Race and Fandom."

The links to RaceFail posts are by no means even remotely exhaustive, but I tried to pick the ones I thought most appropriate for a 101 primer.



I purchased the following today, for $.50 a piece!

A Free Man of Color by Barbara Hambly
Fever Season by Barbara Hambly
A Hunger for Home: Louisa May Alcott's Place in American Culture by Sarah Elbert
Toward a Recognition of Androgyny by Carolyn G. Heilbrun
The Female Man by Joanna Russ
Writing and Sexual Difference edited by Elizabeth Abel
The Wounded Woman by Linda Schierse Leonard
Beyond Anger: On Being a Feminist in the Church by Carolyn Osiek, R.S.C.J.

Doesn't that last one sound amazing?! From the back cover:
What happens to a woman who has a deep faith and ardent commitment to her Church, and yet who because of her honesty and openness to truth becomes more and more convinced of the validity of the feminist critique of insitutional religion?

They must undergo a conversion which will transform them. It consists in embracing the cross, not as passive victims, but as free agents capable of sustaining the liberating and redemptive suffering that is necessary in order that their continuing presence in the Church can effect needed changes according to the pattern of the Gospel.
laceblade: Kumiko and Reina from Hibike! Euphonium anime, apparently about to kiss (Catholic)
So, as you might recall, one of my Lenten promises is to read something that helps me think about faith every day. The point isn't to read a certain number of pages per day, or books per Lenten season, but just to think about things I don't think about as often as I should.

Last evening, my boyfriend and I went to a branch of the library we don't normally go to, and I found a manga-sized graphic novel called The Life of John Paul II....IN COMICS! I found this hilarious, and checked it out, expecting to chuckle my way through. ....BUT I DIDN'T.

Pope John Paul II (often referred to as "JP II" by Catholics my age) was pope for a long time, and I'm sure I don't agree with everything he did. Still, so far as popes go, he was pretty cool. My favorite part of the graphic novel was a cute list at the end, of awesome things he did. Among the items listed:
He was the first Polish Pope.
The first pope to enter a synagogue and a mosque.
The first Pope to preach to a Muslim audience.
The first Pope to attend a soccer game and a rock concert.
The third longest pontificate in history, after that of Saint Peter and of Pius the Ninth: 26 years, 5 months, and 17 days.
He met with 1,475 Heads of State.

Most of the 90-page graphic novel focuses on his life before becoming Pope, especially living under Nazi control in World War II Poland. Still, I liked the collection of small pictures at the end, which provided images of things he did while Pope. Over pictures of him in places that are not Italy, the text bubble reads, Why does the Pope travel? The Pope travels because Jesus said, 'Go to the entire world.' I like that JP II put such an emphasis on being a visible member of the world, giving respect where it was due to people of other faiths and cultures.

It also addressed why he canonized/beatified so many people as saints: "Because the world needs examples." Non-Catholics are sometimes confused by the existence of saints in the Catholic Church, but I think it's pretty awesome to have thousands of people from throughout to history to look to as proof of being able to be so devoted to God while being human.

The book does a good job of not being very political. Most people assume that the Catholic Church is a place of lots of rules, and everyone in it agrees on everything, which is laughably quite far from the truth. Decisions made on every level are discussed and resisted and questioned. So a book on any Catholic figure has the potential to be really controversial in its representation of decisions and reactions. I think the only "bias" the book has is being anti-Nazi, but I don't really consider that to be a bias.

The artwork was quite beautiful, and the coloring rich. I ended up liking this a lot more than I expected to. I'll admit that I don't really know a lot about historical Catholic figures, and I probably should. Does anybody know any good books about Joan of Arc, fictional or non-fictional?
laceblade: Kumiko and Reina from Hibike! Euphonium anime, apparently about to kiss (Default)
Abortion Disclaimer!!
If you decide to comment on this post, please focus your thoughts on the topic at hand. The subject of the post is about HOW abortion is discussed, not on the morality of abortion itself. Please keep your personal feelings about whether abortion is right/wrong to your own blog.



I picked up Jessica Valenti's Full Frontal Feminism from the library, and wasn't a huge fan. Rants are sometimes cool in blogs, but I guess I expected a higher caliber of analysis, and didn't get it. Of course, there were a couple of quotes in particular that sent me into a fiery rage.

Don't have sex with someone who is anti-choice - They have no respect for your body or your ability to make decisions for yourself.
Where is this "no respect" for a woman's body coming from? Desecration of a body is a serious wrong, and it's exactly what concerns many pro-life people about abortion - this discarding of one body in favor of another. The issue of abortion is weighty and important. I don't think anybody denies this. People who decide to have abortions are not flippant about it, even though they are deeply concerned for their bodies. Likewise, people who decide not to have abortions do not think "Well, I have to have this baby and that's that." Maybe their lives will suck more. It's a serious decision that women grapple with; I think that both the pro-life crowd and the pro-choice crowd can agree on that. Neither choice is easy.

I guess my point is that being pro-life is not about a lack of respect for the female body. Maybe it is for some pro-lifers - we are obviously not all the same. But I would seriously hope that none of you would dare to think that the female body is something I have no respect for, seeing as I occupy one myself. I view pregnant women and the babies they carry like Russian nesting dolls. There isn't just one body to be valued and respected: there are two.

Does this mean that I am not worthwhile enough to have sex with simply because I am pro-life? What a simplistic and awful thing to say!


Remember that anti-choicers, at the heart of it, are just folks who are horrified at the idea of pre-marital sex. They're not the arbiters of morality, just a bunch of folks who think girls should be forever virgins.

I see this all the time, and I find its placement in this book shocking, considering that Valenti spends most of the book deconstructing common straw arguments that people use against feminists, like "All feminists are ugly" and double standards and the like.

Where is her critical thinking here?! At the heart of it, pro-lifers are a bunch of haters who are disgusted by the idea of pre-marital sex, who think that women must always remain virgins?

I just....GAH. Not all of us are blindly shaking our moralistic fingers, okay? I guess I'm just disappointed in the author because she spends the entire book deconstructing statements that are easy to say, but pass your opponent off as a straw person by shaming them. But then she gos and pulls the same bullshit. Supposedly, the book should convince women to be feminists, but if I wasn't already a feminist, I would be so insulted that it wouldn't get me very far.

I am sick of feeling insulted wherever I go. In church, I feel like I'm walking on glass because someone might say something anti-gay that pisses me off, but I feel the exact same way when I'm at Room of One's Own or Wiscon or with feminist friends and people start talking about "those religious people."
laceblade: Kumiko and Reina from Hibike! Euphonium anime, apparently about to kiss (Default)
Fucking Blogger.com isn't working for me again. And my laptop was being a good boy earlier today! Still not sure what's wrong with it, but it was functional for a while there.

WTF, I am sad to see this show done! I would really love to own season 5 on DVD. It still blows my mind that I loved this season so much, considering my love/hate relationship with the other four seasons of the show. Are the other four seasons worth it? MY DEVOTION TO WESLEY SAYS YES.

Anyway.

Spoilers and caps lock lie behind the cut, as always. )

I hate that Joss Whedon and cast members keep making references to Shakespeare readings at Whedon's home. How much would I KILL for recordings of those?! They should sell them! People would buy them!

Does anybody know where I could *ahem* things such as the song's opening theme? Or Lindsey's "L.A. Song"? Or any of Lorne's karaoke songs?


I'm not quite sure what to do with myself, now that I've finished both shows. I feel strange, but extremely glad that I watched them. Everyone should watch Buffy and Angel! I've already started the first disc of Arrested Development, and intend to continue. Lighthearted is a nice follow-up to dumptrucks of angst, I think. I'd also like to rewatch Firefly this summer; I've only seen it once, and it was a couple of years ago. PLUS, this time I can blog about it. :D

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