Friday, September 30, 2005

Are you jealous?

Have you been reading blogs lately? Do you find yourself seeing posts by people like Susan Rose and Natty, as they talk about visiting their "groovy sisters"? Are you shocked and slightly embarassed (as were the other vegetables at the sight of Larry in a towel) to discover these odd pangs of envy, wishing secretly that somehow, someday, you too could have a set of groovy sisters of your own?

Well, pine away no longer, folks! The day you've been longing for has arrived. I'm here to offer you the opportunity of a lifetime. That's right, for a limited time only, you can have the chance to visit with the grooviest sisters around, the Benedictines. That's right, the Benedictines. Everybody knows that the Benedictines are the coolest group of sisters ever -- no offense to Susan and Natty. Although admit it, you two. Deep down, in your heart of hearts, when you're really honest with yourself, you know you wish more than anything in the world that you could be even half as cool as we are. But, you've made your choice, so I guess you'll just have to suffer through it. Good luck, hahaha. Oh wait, am I still typing? Dagnabit! Pay no attention to the voice coming out of the keyboard! And back to our regularly scheduled infomercial.
I apologize for that interruption. I will try to keep my ..... ahhh .... evil twin ... out of the range of the keys.

Now, you might be asking yourself, "Self, who is this freak that gives her evil twin access to her blog? And why do I keep calling you self instead of your name? And, most importantly, how in the world can I ever find myself so blessed as to be able to be among the fortunate few to experience such a fantabulous opportunity?"

Well, ask no longer, because all it takes is a simple click
here. That's all you've gotta do, and you'll be set with a weekend with the coolest folks ever to set foot in religious life.

"Do I have to be a girl to come?" I'm sorry to say, but yes. After all, we are the grooviest sisters ... so we're limiting our offer to single women between the ages of 19 and 40. Besides, boys have cooties. Ewwwww!

"What do we get to do?" Well, there's the chance to share in the life and prayer of the Benedictine community, and get a little sense of what this is all about.

"Really? I bet it costs an arm and a leg." Nope. "An arm?" Nope. "Not even a thumb?" Nope, nope, and nope. How much would YOU expect an opportunity like this to go for?

But wait .... there's more! Along with experiencing the Benedictine way of life, you also will get the chance to meet and visit with other women who are asking the same questions you are. And, as an added bonus, you'll even recieve a free presentation on "Discernment: Listening to God's Voice."

"Wow! That's amazing!" Isn't it, though?

"Wait a second, what's the catch? Does this mean I have to sign my life away to the monastery forever?"
Nope to that, too. This is a no-strings-attached kind of deal. No commitment, no cash, no crackers (OK, maybe some crackers). All you need to do is get yourself here; we'll take care of the rest.

"But what if I have to fly or take the bus?" No problem. Just like Enterprise -- we'll pick you up!

"And it'll cost me nothing?" Yep. The only expense will be the muscle movement to click the
link and send the e-mail. "And it doesn't mean I'm signing up?" Nope, just that you're checking it out.

And I haven't even mentioned the best part yet. As an added incentive, if you call within the next two weeks, you'll receive the extraordinary privilege of spending a weekend with yours truly. That's right, call now and you'll not only get to meet me in person, you'll even get to hang out with me, your beneficent (and blathering) blogger for a whole weekend. Now who could pass an opportunity like that up???

"Not me! I'm so excited! How long will I have to wait, though? I'm not sure if I'll be able to make it!"
But think of the anticipation. It's only two weeks away, a mere fortnight. That's only half of Advent. October 14-16 will be here before you know it.

So call now, folks. Operators are standing by. But do it soon, because supplies are limited. After all, you don't expect opportunities like this to come along every day, do you? Of course, if you miss this one, there will be another (differently-themed) one in January .... and then another in March .... plus the Advent and Lenten Days of Reflection .... and the extra-special week-long experience in the summer, but we're not talking about those right now. Dagnabit! Did it again! I'm gonna have to fire me from this job if I keep this up. Bad me!
Seriously, though .... it's a great time to meet some folks and check things out if you're interested or even slightly thinking about [or trying to avoid thinking about (as was the case with me)] religious life. It's a very low-key time -- no pressure, I promise! -- and with me on the team I guarantee that there will be plenty of entertainment to be had! So, if you're interested or have any questions or anything like that, just send an e-mail to the spam-guarded address listed in my sidebar. Check it out, we'd love to have you!

And thus, we conclude our shameless plug for the day. Thanks a lot folks, and have a great weekend. Peace out.
[This, by the way, is the disappearing post .... not quite as easy or fun the second time around .... nargh .... stupid evil twin!]

Doncha hate it when .....

..... you've typed in a whole entry, where you're really proud of your unsurpassed brillance and creativity, only to receive the login screen when you hit "Publish Post"? And of course, it wouldn't be considerate enough to then publish the post once you've logged in. No, of course not. It'll just take you to a blank "Compose Post" screen.


Not that I'm bitter ......

Schwarzenegger's Veto

According to the Washington Post, California governor vetoed the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act, saying that "This bill simply adds confusion to a constitutional issue."

Out of curiosity, I searched on the House of Representatives site of the Constitution, looking for words like marriage, matrimony, marry, husband, wife .... and came up with zero results.

I then went to The US Constitution Online, where a search of "marriage" comes up with a "Constitutional Topic: Marriage" page, which points out the fact that "marriage is not mentioned in the Constitution." On the "Not Mentioned" page, it states that "Those opposed to gay marriage began to urge that an amendment to the Constitution be created to define marriage as being between a man and a woman only. Opponents of the amendment pointed to the failed Prohibition Amendment as a reason why such social issues should stay out of the Constitution. In the absence of any such amendment, however, marriage is not mentioned in the Constitution at any point."

I guess it's just the logician that my engineering mind has created that takes issue with all of this. Why should it matter what the sexual orientation of a priest is? They're not supposed to be having sex. Period.

If you're against gay marriage because you don't like the idea of homosexual people, great, that's fine. Everyone is entitled to their own personal opinion. But ... say it, and give the real reason.

The argument that "We must uphold the integrity of the institution of marriage" is a load of hooey. I'm not saying that the integrity of marriage doesn't need to be improved by any means, because there's LOTS of help needed for it. But I think of one of the signs with the San Francisco marriages (or maybe it was Boston): "50% of marriages end in divorce. What, you afraid that we'll do better?" An article in the Washington Post a while back, pointing out how "Who would have believed that Britney Spears would end up striking a blow for gay marriage?" -- I didn't understand what they were talking about, because I missed her same-day wedding/divorce combination, where by the time the newspapers were able to report the wedding, it was already over and done with. And yet I also saw pictures (San Fran or Boston) of a pair of women who had been together for 54 years. Yes, that is a huge threat to the sanctity of the sacred commitment that a marriage entails. They should be more like Britney.

You can't tell me that a couple that has been together for 54 years without social acceptance is less of a bond than the quickies thrown out by Vegas wedding chapel hosts. You want to strengthen the significance of the commitment? There are FAR better places to begin. How about prenups? Those "agreements" where it is stated that "We are going to get married, but if (when) we split up, this is what I get to keep and this is what you get to keep." Yep, that REALLY helps people lock into a commitment.

I guess I just get annoyed at all these fake arguments that are used so people can look all politically correct and sound like they're doing the right thing when what they're doing is for all the wrong reasons. You don't want gays in the seminary because you don't like gays? Then say that. Don't give some garbage about how it's to help them keep from temptation. You don't want gays married because you don't like gays? Then say that. Don't give some garbage about the integrity of the institution.

NARGH!!!! If you're gonna argue a point and try to make it passable, at least use logical statements that actually SUPPORT your cause.

But ..... I'll get off my rant-box now. Off to teach Social Justice! :-)

Hmmmmm .....

Reading Nathan at Here I Stand .... he brings up some interesting implications of the "no gays in the seminary" issue: "If gays and lesbians are unable to control our apparently compulsive sexual behavior in the seminary, are we going to be able to control our supposedly compulsive inclinations in college dormitories?" He then plays Devil's Advocate (a role I love myself) to propose all sorts of other situations that would also prove problematic for them, to help protect them from their diseased compulsive behaviors.

Made me wonder ..... if the setting of the seminary is so problematic, the fact of being around men so predominately is an issue ..... will they also begin screening lay students who also take courses at seminary? They'll be in that same environment, at least for some periods of time. I'd hate to think of them (lay students) being a bad influence on the seminarians!

Just a thought .....

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Narrow at the Outset, Part II

I finally got around to scanning the program cover for my first monastic profession last summer. I referred to it in my first (real) post since it was the inspiration for the title of my blog, so I figured I'd share it with you all. It looks better on paper, obviously, but at least this gives SOME sense of it. The photo is one that I took my first winter here of the grassy Hildegard's Labyrinth on our monastery grounds; the text only took 17.2 gazillion tries to get right (and the best one wasn't even usable b/c of poor contrast, sigh). So, for what it's worth ... here's one of my better bits of artwork:

Feelin' Sloggy

That's a word coined by my "big" brother -- at least, he's the only person I've heard use it, besides those of us who picked it up from him. He's music minister for my parish back home, and he would use it as a descriptive term for times when the choir was, well, sloggy. It's hard to put it into words, so hopefully you can figure it out.

Anyway, I've been feeling rather sloggy lately. It's kind of this drifting, semi-apathetic, unproductive, sloggy time for me. And there's not really a reason, at least not that I can put my finger on. School's going pretty well -- I guess I got mad enough to use that perfect tone of voice last week because my "challenge class" has been super non-challenging for the last couple days. Sure, there's been a lot of health issues and death/loss issues going on back at the monastery, but ..... I don't know. I'm not sure if I can chalk this up to that or not.

All I know is that my room is a pit of despair, I've lost all sense of bedtime/morning routine, I'm not as on the ball with school as I'd like, I'm not doing any of the fun random "me" stuff that I'd like (but never seem to get around to), and I'm getting sucked back into the world of mindless computer games (especially instead of going to bed!). I had gotten pretty good about all this over the summer, but it seems like it's all fizzled out.

And I know that if I could make my room a peaceable space, then it'd be easier to (re)establish a bedtime routine, which would be more conducive to my going to bed, and therefore, being well-rested would get me balanced with work and leisure, and so it's all interconnected like that.....

But .....

Slogginess does not lend itself very well to productivity of any kind, especially room cleaning.

Hence, the absence of anything of worth, value, or significance even posted .... non-sloggy-blogging requires thought, which also isn't happening.


Any suggestions?

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

I never realized there was such danger lurking ....

.... in a regular ol' telephone book!

New phone books were left outside the office doors today and, as I picked ours up, my eye was caught by the "Caution" word in the lower-middle of the front cover. Not huge, but still there. Now, having grown up in the Washington suburbs, where there was major competition between the Yellow Pages, which was split into two very large volumes, and The One Book, which, as the name suggests, fit all of their listings into one super-large volume. The Washington DC Metropolitan Area, being what it is, thus provided for a couple different options of very cheap, very accessible weight-lifting equipment. So, OK, a warning is feasible here. Trust me, you don't want to drop even one volume of the Yellow Pages on a barefoot toe.

Except ..... this phone book outside my door today was half-size pages (5.5"x8.5"), and less than 700 pages long. Heck, I could juggle a couple of these! So the weight warning didn't make sense.

Oh, maybe it's a warning about the potential eye-strain inherent in trying to follow the tiny line from the tiny name of the company to its tiny phone number to the not-so-tiny-but-further-away phone buttons. Nah .... that might be too helpful. (Although, I'm now seeing billboards these days for the "User-Friendly Phone Book" -- no glasses needed!)

Or perhaps a disclaimer that "The views of the businesses listed herein are strictly those of aforementioned businesses, and should not be seen as representative of the phone book company, the current reader, or the individual who delivered the book to your doorstep."

Maybe a heads-up that the claims included in the advertisements may or may not accurately represent the results achieved by utilizing the advertisers?

Or that "Phone numbers and listings are accurate as of time of printing, but may no longer be valid by the time you actually need to use this book and its resources"?

So, what was it that they felt was so life-shattering that it warranted a warning on the front cover?

Caution: Please do not use this directory while operating a moving vehicle.

So, I guess if you need a phone number, you should just do a Google search on your BlackBerry and search through all the results ..... or go rummaging around under the seat with one hand in search of a map .... or glancing in the back seat in search of the scrap of paper that has the phone number for you to call ..... so you can call the company and write down directions at a red light .... but whatever you do, DON'T OPEN THE PHONE BOOK!

Hang on a second ..... wait, I think I understand. If you try to use the directory while operating a moving vehicle, there's a chance that you might spill your Taco Bell on it, thus rendering it even more illegible than usual.

Not saying that it's not something that should be said .... I loved my commutes where you'd see people actually reading the newspaper ..... but somehow I find it hard to believe that the highest-ranking driving distraction is using the phone book. You'd think they'd at least add broaden it a little .... "don't use this or any other book, phone, CD, soup spoon, razor, contact lens inserter, nail polish, TV, computer, or any other non-driving device while operating a motor vehicle." Then, they could instead put a disclaimer, relieving them of all responsibility for your use of above-mentioned items.

I'm just so glad we have the folks out there who are so concerned for our well-being that they want to be sure that we will not try to use our Chapstick in our eyes. Otherwise, we might not realize that our jar of peanuts may have been processed in a facility that processes nuts.

So, have a good night everyone, and be aware that the failure to move miscellaneous items from the bed-to-alarm-clock path may result in injury and/or cursing.

Consider yourself warned.

Friday, September 23, 2005

How Long, O Lord?

We are, right now in my community, at a time of great heaviness. Our "old" sisters in the infirmary are doing great, while our "young" sisters are getting diagnosed with cancer left and right, it seems. We've had two deaths in less than a week; at the same time, though, we've had spans where we've had more deaths in less time.

But it's different when they're old and sick and in the infirmary and you kind of "expect" them to go. But young, vibrant, and full of life (or at least freshly retired)?

Every time I try to list off all our sisters who are right now actively being treated for cancer, I can't. I always forget this one or that one -- because it seems like there are too many. And I'm not talking cancer survivor, or even someone who finished treatment three months ago; I'm talking about "Having an appointment with Doctor So-and-So on Monday for either chemo or radiation or surgery or all of the above."

In the Benedictine order, every monastery is an independent and autonomous entity, and community is everything. What that means for me is that my monastery in Indiana is the home base to which I return for classes, meetings, celebrations, holidays, and whatever else. (It's like when I was in college -- my dorm was "home," but I always went "home" to Maryland for vacation.) What that also means is that, of the just-under-200 women in my community, I have to various degrees friendships and relationships with all of them.

Which means that there are always a whole heck of a lot of people around me at any given point in time who love me, care about me, support me, encourage me, laugh with me, laugh at me, hug me, poke me, tease me, trust me, teach me, guide me, advise me .... and basically help me discover what "me" is, and offer the free space for me to grow into that "me."

The flip side of that, though, is that a whole heck of a lot of people find their way deeper into my heart than I would otherwise experience. Which means that there's a whole heck of a lot of potential for a whole heck of a lot more heartbreak and loss than I would otherwise experience.

Saint Benedict tells us to "Keep death daily before your eyes" .... but is this really what he meant?

I hear talk all the time during this "vocation shortage" about religious communities that are "dying out" .... but I thought that referred more to communities where the population is just getting older and older without any new folks coming in, not ones that are getting new members but are having their mid-range members get knocked out of commission from major illness.

We're talking preschool teachers, pastoral associates, high school librarians, physical therapists .... Heck, less than a year ago, we were training in a new formation director (whose job is to train in all of us new kids). She was working with our new postulant, shifting over with the novices, and getting broken in on all the nitty-gritty details that you don't necessarily think of. Now, less than a year later, right before we celebrate Vespers of the Dead for one sister, the prioress tells us that this very same formation director of ten months ago is going to move into the infirmary, that Hospice is being called, and that her parents will be coming in from the Pacific Islands where they live.

It's getting so we don't even want to open e-mails from the prioress ....

One sister tonight made the comment: "All the old sisters who want to die can't, and all the young sisters who want to fight and live...." and I just added the "can't" for her.

And I know there's a lesson in all this, that we will all pull together and appreciate one another more, and I know Benedict wants us to always be conscious of our own mortality and to recognize that there's more to life than this world, but ......

What good will teaching me to appreciate my community do if there's no community left by the time I learn it?

Enough already, God, please ..... we get the point.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Eternal Rest .... Part II

Elaine, Elaine, Elaine .....

This is SO not cool of you. I'm the one who's supposed to be causing you trouble, remember?

Who am I supposed to go attack in the serving room as soon as I get home now? Who am I supposed to make faces at across church (To all lurkers -- I'm just being silly. We holy pious nuns would never dream of doing that!)? Who will I poke at, tease, and pester anytime I'm around? Who will take up residence at the quilting table now?

I just hope my Friday hug got delivered to you OK ....
I love you and will really miss you.
Thank you for you.
I'm gonna miss my (k)nap(p)s.

Mommas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys

The good thing about tonight's game .... I stuck through the whole thing, didn't give up at 13-0 with four minutes left.

The bad thing about tonight's game ..... everyone in my house was already in bed and asleep, so I had to contain the yelps and shouts!

Will this return of Gibbs re-institute the rivalry? (Michael Wilbon's comments on "It's Not a Rivalry if the Other Team Never Wins")

Is it too early to begin hoping .... wondering ..... imagining ..... ?

Probably so, but I'll enjoy it while I can!

And now to go finish grading papers .....

UPDATE: Apparently Thomas Boswell thinks the rivalry is back, especially with the halftime show adding three more to the Dallas Ring of Honor .... and then to get beaten like that?!?!?

May this bode well for the next sixteen Sundays (and beyond).

Monday, September 19, 2005

I'm Confused .....

Catholic News Services article of September 7:

The archbishop overseeing a Vatican-run inspection of U.S. seminaries said there is no room in seminaries for men with strong homosexual inclinations even if they have been celibate for a decade or more. "I think anyone who has engaged in homosexual activity, or has strong homosexual inclinations, would be best not to apply to a seminary and not to be accepted into a seminary," said Archbishop Edwin F. O'Brien, head of the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services. Archbishop O'Brien, who is coordinating the visits to more than 220 U.S. seminaries and houses of formation, said even homosexuals who have been celibate for 10 or more years should not be admitted to seminaries. "The Holy See should be coming out with a document about this," Archbishop O'Brien said in an interview with the National Catholic Register newspaper. The call for the visits came after a wave of abuse allegations and revelations about how dioceses handled those cases.

Excerpt from the story about the media flap after the above statements:
"The church is trying to put out a very clear signal" that those seeking ordination "must embrace a life of celibate chastity," said Father Stephen J. Rossetti, president of St. Luke Institute, a facility in the Washington suburbs that specializes in treating priests and religious who suffer addictions or behavioral, emotional or psychological problems. "The question of homosexuality is an important one," he told Catholic News Service Sept. 16. He said there is a need to determine when it is appropriate and when it is not to ordain someone who is homosexually oriented. "Certainly someone who has a problematic history of sexual acting out, or an orientation that is so powerfully homosexual that it really overshadows the person's relational life, then those would not be appropriate people" for priesthood, he said.

So, help me out here ...... tell me if I've got this straight ....
Homosexuals who have been celibate for even ten years should not be admitted to seminary, that "there is no room in the seminary for them" because of their homosexual "inclinations" .... that someone who has an orientation "that is so powerfully homosexual that it really overshadows the person's relational life" are not appropriate candidates for the priesthood.

BUT ..... those who have engaged in heterosexual activity, or have sexual tendencies (of the "normal" type), who don't even need ten years of celibacy under their belt (so to speak {grin}) -- they're totally cool to apply to seminary. That if it is a heterosexual orientation that really overshadows the person's relational life --- well, then, hey, that's great!

Maybe I'm just confused, but I thought celibacy had to do with not having sex. Period. NOT not having sex with certain people. Shouldn't the celibacy training be intact for both inclinations? Shouldn't we be concerned if there is no inclination expressed whatsoever, that it's being ignored and not dealt with at all? I would think there'd be a LOT more damage potential to have someone who refuses to acknowledge their sexual side than for someone who might be outside the mainstream and yet works with their personal celibacy needs as a mature individual.

Yeah, so the seminary is a captive audience for the poor guy who has the hots for another guy in there. So what? Give him four years, and he'll move out on his own --- most likely trying to juggle four parishes by himself. Now, the "good" priesthood candidate, he doesn't have to really worry about the sexual attraction thing in the seminary, but when he moves out on his own, trying to juggle four parishes by himself.....

At least in the seminary, there are a whole bunch of other people around, helping to form you, able to challenge and call you on ways in which you might be living in a manner inconsistent with your calling. At least in seminary you'd learn up front what some of the challenges might be. Living by yourself in a parish rectory .... where's the accountability? Where's the challenge? Believe me, the phrase of "Father What-a-Waste" comes FAR more often from women.

Besides, if you go by the stereotypes .... you'd think we'd want gay men as our priests, given that they're so much more sensitive and caring than the "manly men".

It was funny .... as I was typing that bit about there being "no room in seminaries" .... made me think of another time when someone was on the outskirts because of a perceived sexual indiscretion ..... who was left out in a barn because there was "no room at the inn."

It shouldn't matter WHO you want to have sex with. If you want to become a priest, then don't have sex -- that should be the end of it. Is it really that hard a concept?

Friday, September 16, 2005

Just wanna give a shout out to all those friends and non-friends out there in Discerning Land. Not that I wouldn't want to be your friends, but since if I don't know you, I'd hate to presume that you'd want me to be your friend. Of course, now that I've gone and insulted you like that by saying that you're not my friends, then you probably wouldn't want to be my friend anyway. So maybe I should just stop before I get in more trouble!

ANYway .....

I particularly want to send some warm-fuzzy-sock wishes to Susan Rose, who has a major step in her application process this weekend. (The warm-fuzzy-sock greetings are what I came up with for another friend who was having some cold feet issues.) And thus, on this momentous occasion, I decided to share what will be, I hope, a few words of inspiration and encouragement from The Rule of Our Holy Father Benedict.

From Chapter 58, The Procedure for Receiving Brothers (yeah, I know --- adapt pronouns as necessary):
Do not grant newcomers to the monastic life an easy entry, but, as the Apostle says, Test the spirits to see if they are from God (1 John 4:1). Therefore, if someone comes and keeps knocking at the door, and if at the end of four or five days he has shown himself patient in bearing his harsh treatment and difficulty of entry, and has persisted in his request, then e should be allowed to enter and stay in the guest quarters for a few days. After that, he should live in the novitiate, where the novices study, eat and sleep. .... The concern must be whether the novice truly seeks God and whether he shows eagerness for the Work of God, for obedience and for trials. The novice should be clearly told all the hardships and difficulties that will lead him to God.

OK, so maybe that was kind of mean (or at least not-so-nice-and-encouraging) .... although I remember when we were practicing for the Entrance to Novitiate ceremony, and the prioress at the time kept making a big deal over how her favorite line was the one where we (the soon-to-be novices) said that: "I am willing to be tested." Needless to say, that wasn't our favorite line!

But, fast-forward sixteen months or so. I've just made my first monastic profession, and at the reception I thank one of the sisters who has walked with me along this whole journey -- during the discernment process, the application freak-out moments, the postulancy-nunnery-transitional crises, all the little things that drove me batty, and everything else -- a woman I feel truly honored to call my friend. From my journal of the next day: I hugged her again (for the gazillionth time) and thanked her for everything the past three years. She thanked me for sticking with it, for staying in the struggle. As the hug broke, I said that I assume the struggle's not over. She kind of chuckled and said that it's a lifelong journey, then teared up a little: "But it's worth it."

And that's the thing. It's what I said while explaining the title of my blog. I thank this woman for her wisdom and guidance and encouragement to stick out the struggles .... and I thank Benedict for letting us know up front that it will have its tough moments.

Do not be daunted immediately by fear and run away from the road that leads to salvation. It is bound to be narrow at the outset. But as we progress in this way of life and in faith, we shall run on the path of God's commandments, our hearts overflowing with the inexpressible delight of love.

I'm no expert, but in my short experience .... there have definitely been some narrow points.

But, at the same time ..... it's definitely been worth it.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Eternal Rest, Grant unto Her, O God ...

Blessings on you, Terence.

You will be very missed.

Keep an eye out for me. And don't worry, I wouldn't dream of denying a dying woman's wish --- I'll keep causing plenty of trouble!

Love ya lots, sweetie.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005


Watching the news tonight ..... heard the variation of "Weapons of Mass Destruction" that I hadn't heard before:

We must send a clear message to the rulers of outlaw regimes that sponsor terror and pursue weapons of mass murder: You will not be allowed to threaten the peace and stability of the world. ~ President Bush

Upon hearing that WMD-styled phrase, I found myself wondering what constitutes a "Weapon of Mass Murder." Does the Jim Jones Kool-Aid count? What about handguns? They certainly are used to murder lots of people.

Maybe I'm just feisty from being up too late writing a test, or perhaps it's a result of the life/abortion conversation I had earlier, but I also wondered ....

What about the triple combo of sodium thiopental, pancuronium bromide, and potassium chloride that our president provided for over 150 people during the five years that he served as governor of the state of Texas?

Lethal gas? Electrocution? Did you realize that three states still allow the possibility of execution by firing squad, and three others still provide hanging, if so desired? [I got that from the Clark County (IN) Prosecutor's Office.]

Of course, both firing squad and hanging are permissible if the inmate chooses it, if injection is "impractical," or if lethal injection is "unconstitutional."


I'll close with a quote in the Chicago Tribune from September 9, 2005, from Sister Helen Prejean, who is a New Orleans native and resident as well as a death penalty opponent most known for Dead Man Walking:
I am comparing the death penalty system to the levees in New Orleans. They told us they would work, but they didn't.

The outlaw regimes ..... sponsor terror ....... pursue weapons of mass murder .....

President Bush is right: Please don't threaten peace and stability of the world.

It's a good thing our (inlaw?) system helps contribute so much peace and stability to counteract all that other "murderous" stuff out there. Otherwise, I don't know what we'd do .....

More from the Post

This time, from Joel Achenbach's blog of a last Friday.

The segment is titled "Discovering the Poor" and it begins like this:
Everyone's talking about the poor. Or maybe it's The Poor. I bet Time and Newsweek have cover stories this weekend on The Poor, or perhaps on Poverty, a word that hasn't been used a whole lot in recent years. There was once a War on Poverty, back in the era of LBJ and Vietnam, and apparently we lost that one, too.

He then provided responses that some readers gave to the question (of another reader):
Have any of you ever seen it [poverty]? Lived it? Tasted it? Gotten up close and personal with it? Know (or knew) it on a first-name basis? Envied wealth, opportunity and the world of privileged cronyism connections?

Scrolling further back to September 5, he has a posting of "Why Race Matters" (as a follow-up to the previous day's posting):
Race is central to the story of the United States. I didn't inject that into the narrative. Race is an issue today in NOLA and it was an issue two weeks ago and it has been an issue for roughly four centuries. We had a war over it. We had a century of Jim Crow and then a Civil Rights movement. Someone tell me when race ceased to matter. Just because your favorite athlete is Michael Jordan or Tiger Woods doesn't mean you have an exemption from ever thinking about race again.

And now that I'm done (for the time being) cutting & pasting the Washington Post for you, I'll leave you with the final thought on poverty .... a link that I've seen from various blogs, most recently on Martha, Martha.

Whatever: Being Poor -- read past the trackbacks to get to the comments.

Blurting out unpleasant truth

Interesting column in the Washington Post today about Barbara Bush's brillant blunder.

I'll give just the opening paragraphs, as a teaser ...

Put your hands together, folks, for Barbara Bush! Her sentiment may have been reprehensible, her choice of words unfortunate, but our Queen Mother has managed to blurt out the unpleasant truth about the harsh realities of life in the American underclass.

In New Orleans, these were people living check-to-check in crummy, racially segregated neighborhoods, with no car or access to transportation, suffering all manner of physical infirmities, lacking the information and connections and life experiences that might have landed them somewhere other than the hellish Superdome. And among them were a handful of young men so soaked in social pathology that their response to suffering around them was to rape and pillage and shoot at those who came to rescue.

The article then continues to demonstrate how inequality breeds more inequality. Parallels a very impressive presentation I saw yesterday on diversity and privilege by Tim Wise -- I'll write more about it when I have time later this evening.

Although I will at least say this: He commented on the word "underprivileged" and explained why it's wrong on two fronts.

  • It's a passive word, which means that nothing caused this.
  • It's a comparative word. You can't be "under" unless there's an "over."

Just try putting "overprivileged" through your spell-checker. Go ahead, try it. I dare you.

Now try "underprivileged." Bet you don't get the same results!

More of Tim Wise later. In the meantime, though, read the Post's column -- it'll give some background .... and awareness.

UPDATE: Ooops, folks, I missed the link. Sorry!!!
Boats Rose in New Orleans, but Not for the Poor

Monday, September 12, 2005

Equality for all .... or not?

Apparently, there is a gentleman in Owensboro, Kentucky, who believes that residents should be warned when an individual who has been accused of sexual abuse moves into their neighborhood.

They weren't convicted? No problem --- let us know anyway.

Oh, wait, I misstated that. He doesn't think they should be warned when an accused individual moves into town.

Only the Roman Catholic priests who were accused.

Of course, the two priests he's referencing have never been convicted, nor have they even been tried or sued. Nor have the victims asked that the case be made public. Law-enforcement officers say that "people who have not been convicted of a crime do not have to register."

It'd be one thing if he wanted all the accused to register. Not that I'd agree with that, but at least then there'd be some semblence of "equality."

But no, just the priests. I guess they're the only people in our society who abuse other people. Funny ..... that's not what I remember learning in any of my psyche and social work classes ......

Man Urges Alert on Priests Accused of Sex Abuse, Even if Not Convicted

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Hail to the Redskins ....

Since I moved out of the DC area, the televised opportunities to see my team have greatly decreased ..... and, in the last several years, there hasn't necessarily been much to watch even when they were on. But then today I happened to see that they were being broadcast here .... and the timing was perfect in that I could see the game before doing my church-restoration-celebration hospitality shift.

And .... they won. They beat da Bears. Granted, it wasn't quite as exciting as it was for the rest of my family who was at the game, but still .... I'll take what I can get.

Even better for fans of any team, though, or even non-fans .... the homeless, cityless, and stadiumless Saints won, too. A 3-seconds-left field goal that put them over the top. They gave the game ball to the city of New Orleans and another to the entire Gulf Coast. Not that it's all about sports, but at least the Black and Gold gave them a little taste of home to celebrate.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

There's more to "Life" than abortion

The campus minister asked if I could go to the Walk for Life today because she wasn't going to be able to stay the whole time. I was cool with the idea, until I got there to find that they had already started walking .... and that's also when I realized that, being new to the school, I didn't even know who our kids were. So as I began walking, I was scanning t-shirts, looking for ones from our school. Not having anyone to talk with at that point, I also began thinking about the whole concept of this walk .... and did I even agree with why I was there.

Don't get me wrong, I agree with why I was there. But that doesn't necessarily match why a great number of the other people were there, or the reasons that the people driving by would assign to the purpose for our walk.

It especially struck me when, early in the walk, I passed a bus stop shelter. There was a man sitting on the bench with his black plastic bag of belongings next to him. (Even just the language I find myself using here -- the automatic impulse is to say "homeless guy" and "garbage bag" -- but how does that fit with the "personal dignity" I'm trying to teach my kids?) Everyone on this "Walk for Life" (including myself, I'm not too happy to say) walked right past this man. At least I noticed him, but I'm not even sure how many did that.

Then, a few blocks later, we passed the "Show 'n' Tell Girls Club" ... right next door to the "Body Shop" (and no, we're not talking about the animal-friendly cosmetics place). What kind of life issues are involved for their, ahhh, employees? And, for that matter, their patrons?

It's a walk for "life" .... and yet we ignored the life sitting right there before us.

We made sure that we walked past the "abortion mill" .... yet we disregarded the prisons.

We talked about human dignity .... yet we didn't even blink at the objectification of women.

All the shirts, all the signs spoke about a fetus.

Yes, the Church teaches that the fetus is a life. But that's not the only thing that the Church teaches is a life.

I'm so glad that the "life" group at my school addresses life issues -- the unborn, yes, but also those who are imprisoned, aged, disabled, abused, homeless, poor, dying, addicted, suffering from AIDS, etc. Unfortunately, "people" generally don't think like that. For many people, including those for whom "life" is such an issue -- once you're born, that's it.

My first thought was to have a sign with "There's more to life than abortion" for the next walk, but I wondered how well that would go over. On my way home, I was mentally designing a shirt with that on the front, and a list of all the "other" life issues on the back.

Where's the "Walk for the Working Poor"?

And the 36 men and women currently sitting on Kentucky's death row? They have a life, too.

My understanding of Church teaching is life across the board, that a life is a life is a life. Even if you happen to not like the person whose life it is.

Sure, I "walked for life" today. But I walked with a very different attitude than many there.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Shelter From The Storm

Sitting here, figuring on a Friday night of grading papers in front of the TV and I discover a commercial-free concert on all networks for hurricane relief. Ellen DeGeneres was the first speaker, talking about how she was born and raised in New Orleans .... Morgan Freeman spoke about growing up in the Mississippi delta. In between the two, Bono sang "One" -- with lyrics that seemed incredibly apt.

I myself was born and raised in the Washington, DC, area. My best visual of "home" is flying into National Airport at night, to see the lights of the city and to be able to identify all the buildings as we make our descent. So, I fully recognize the magnitude of the events of September 11th, events which also prompted similar wide-spread fund-raising and attention.

The thing of it is, and I certainly don't intend to downplay all the losses incurred four years ago this weekend but .... New York City is still there. Washington DC is still there. When I go home at Christmas, I can still fly into National and see my lights, "my" city. Sure, there are some differences -- more barriers, higher security. But it's still there.

New Orleans isn't.

9/11, we "just" lost people. And again, not that people aren't significant, but here we've lost more than people. We've lost a major city, a huge portion of our history, a whole culture and language. And that's just what "we" lost, as a nation. As individuals .... it's indescribable.

9/11, people "just" had to move down the street, if need be. Now, I have students who don't even know where their friends are, if their friends are even still alive; other students who have had their entire class scatter throughout the country at a moment's notice.

I worked for two years at a school in southwestern Louisiana. I had boarders from New Orleans, Slidell, Metarie. The school has probably now doubled in size, as they take in as many folks as they can from the sister school in New Orleans. Of course, many of the kids have also gone to sister schools in New Jersey, New York, Chicago, St. Louis, Houston .... at least they've got some familarity with the school system, even if not with the city or people.

The school I worked at was the second-oldest school west of the Mississippi.

If I'm not mistaken, the oldest school west of the Mississippi was the Ursuline Academy in New Orleans.

Is? Was? After these past two weeks, who knows?

I can't even imagine.

As I publish this post, the Dixie Chicks are singing a song called "I Hope." That's about the only thing I can do.

I hope for peace, blessings, kindness, and most importantly healing. You are all in my prayers.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Profound Questions of the Universe

Since my brain is fried from trying to write a test (and I still have another one to write, and papers to grade, and soon tests to grade, and .... oh well, there went the weekend!) ..... here are some thoughts that I've always wondered:

If milk is put in milk bottles and beer is put in beer bottles, then are baby bottles .... ?

If you take a vow of silence, does that mean you can't talk to yourself? What about using sign language?

Why did they make the word "lisp" so difficult for lispers to say? And "dyslexia" so complicated to read?

How come "palindrome" .... isn't?

Why do we say "Heads up" when we really mean "Duck"? And why "duck"? Why not ostrich? They're the ones who bury their heads ......

Ah, well .... off to further my devotion to Our Lady of the Pillow. Sleep well, and may your pet elephant never develop a peanut allergy!

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Now what?

I've been talking with my kids about the hurricane, but how do I approach it now that there are kids in my classroom who lived through it themselves?

I've been taking prayer requests at the beginning of each class, but how do I respond when even one of the students points out that her classmate's intentions are more back-yard with none for "the people of New Orleans"?

I've been saying how I'm curious to see how this all plays out. Sure, it's in the forefront of our minds ... but that's right now. What happens a week from now, a month from now, a year from now? These people still won't have their homes, their neighborhoods, their "before" -- will we care? Will we even notice?

Yeah, sure, they're getting $2000 debit cards, and I'm definitely not saying that those won't help, but ... rebuilding a life on $2000? How long can we help? More importantly, how long will we help?

I'd like to think that the magnitude of this past 10 days will have an impact on our society, lead us to reconsider what's really important, stretch us outside ourselves to our literal neighbor who just moved in ... but I'm just not sure.

We complain about the speed and/or delay of the response. Will we be aware enough to complain about the length/brevity of the response?

How long does it take to rebuild a life? A thousand lives? A million lives?

And can we -- as a multi-tasking, "on to the next thing," short-attention-span, soundbite society -- stick with it long enough to make that happen?

But, as I taught my Social Justice kids today, the antidote to our culture's fatalism is the virtue of hope ... the virtue that is a quality that we develop through practice.

So, I'll try to hold out hope, to believe that our society as a genericized whole is not as self-centered as I believe sometimes, to trust that there are people out there who will stick with it until people's lives are together.

And I'll try to keep myself engaged with it as well. I'm the only one I can control, and if I keep these people in my mind, heart, and prayers, then I can at least know that they're not forgotten. But hope keeps me from leaving the task to "somebody else."

And finally, never lose hope in God's mercy. ~ Rule of Benedict 4:74
God's mercy will bring them through. Really, that's the only thing that can.

Peace to you, New Orleans, Mississippi, and everywhere else. May you never feel forgotten.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Trying to give benefit of the doubt ...

... but not succeeding very well. I was floored when one of the teachers told me about Barbara Bush's wonderfully sensitive comments. But, to make sure her comments weren't taken out of context, I went straight to the source of American Public Media show Marketplace, which is where she made her statement during the interview that: "What I'm hearing, which is sort of scary, is they all want to stay in Texas. Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality ... And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this is working very well for them."

Well, on Marketplace they have the raw tape of her visit, just so you can hear for yourself. What doesn't come across in the soundbite you read in the papers is how much she spends the time gushing about how great Houston is, discussing what she's heard: "The children and the adults who will tell you about the dead bodies they saw in New Orleans -- very moving" ... all of this, though, while she's half-chuckling. But mostly, it's all about how proud she is of Houston, and Texas, and how great a place it is.

Curiosity .... by any chance, did she have any influence on how "so many of these people" came to be "underprivileged anyway"?

I guess what kills me the most is the "anyway" .... it adds such a level of dismissiveness to the whole situation. "Well, since they're already poor and homeless, they've got nothing to lose, so really --- this is actually a great solution. They've got shelter, and haven't lost anything!"

Monday, September 05, 2005

A Delayed Duping

Things from last week's readings that I wanted to post, but between school and the hurricane didn't quite get to ...

Anyway, it was the ever-favorite "You duped me, oh Lord, and I let myself be duped" out of Jeremiah. The priest saying Mass that day was actually describing it more as being along the lines of "You manipulated me, oh Lord." He spoke of how Jeremiah just wanted to lead a nice quiet normal life with lots of friends, but no.... He even tried to keep his mouth shut, but that didn't work either. I say to myself, I will not mention him, I will speak in his name no more. But then it becomes like fire burning in my heart, imprisoned in my bones; I grow weary holding it in, I cannot endure it. God's word becomes a fiery coal that he cannot keep in.

Taken in this context, this passage fits religious life even more so than I've usually noticed. At least, speaking for myself, this choice didn't exactly seem like the set-up for a "nice quiet normal life"; some people even end up being mocked for making this choice. And yet, I'm here, we're here. I'm definitely NOT a nun (in my mind), didn't want to be one (not because there's anything wrong with them, more that I'm not "good enough"), came kicking and screaming every step of the way. And yet, I'm here. The summer before I entered, I had these repetitive conversations with friends. "I don't wanna leave." Then don't go. "But I have to." Why? "I don't know." ... It was just always there. Even when I ignored it, it was still there, lurking under the surface, until I reached the point where I finally said, "OK, let's just go ahead and do this nun-thing already so I can get on with my life."

In the Gospel, Jesus tells the disciples: "Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?" while Paul tells the Romans: "Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God."

Even as an object of laughter and mocking .... well, that's what happens when you don't "fit in." God's ways are not the world's ways. I know that being in "a Benedictine monastery in the middle of Nowheresville, Indiana, forever" is definitely not what I had planned for my life. And yet ... it is in being here that I am finding my life, myself, my voice.

Chapter Four of the Rule of Benedict details "The Tools for Good Works" ... one of which sprung to mind with these readings: Your way of acting should be different from the world's way; the love of Christ must come before all else. Well, I'm definitely not following the "world's way" of acting ..... nor did Jeremiah ... or Paul ... or any of the others among us who choose the counter-cultural lifestyle of community. It's a good ride, but a rough ride too sometimes.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Marcavage isn't THAT bad

Someone had mentioned Fred Phelps when I was talking about Marcavage's comments, and I hadn't even thought to check what the Good Reverend from Topeka had to say. Well, after seeing his site (which I forgot was so kindly titled "God Hates America") .... I take back all the mean things I had to say about Marcavage (well, some of them, anyway). At least Marcavage did agree that we should pray for the people and help them; according to Phelps, "It is a sin to pray for this evil f*g nation," and that we should pray for "more dead bodies."

Ain't it great that on's map of hate groups we have such fine upstanding Christian organizations such as Westboro Baptist listed alongside the Klan and Neo-Nazis.

What struck me in my search was that there's also a site called "God Hates Fred Phelps" .... but right under the title it says: "...well, not really. In fact, we don't even hate Fred Phelps, and we certainly don't presume to speak for God at all," just that they "won't stand for intolerance, violence, and hatred against the people they love."

Three Semi-Random/Semi-Connected Thoughts

Thought Number 1 -- from Mass:
The priest in his homily somewhat clarified my wonderings of last night by pointing out that these readings aren't a call to drag someone out into criminal court; rather, they are about calling to correction out of an attitude of love. Made me realize that there's a way to point something out to someone without thoroughly condemning them, and a way to do it out of love and not out of "I'm better than you."

Thought Number 2 -- from Morning Prayer:
Psalm 93:3-4
The flood has raised up, LORD; the flood has raised up its roar; the flood has raised its pounding waves.
More powerful than the roar of many waters, more powerful than the breakers of the sea, powerful in the heavens is the LORD.
Especially interesting to consider the New American Bible's footnotes about it: "In the ancient myth that is alluded to here, Sea completely covered the land, making it impossible for the human community to live. Sea, or Flood, roars in anger against God, who is personified in the storm. God's utterances or decrees are given authority by the victory over Sea."

Thought Number 3 -- from Social Justice class:
The kids were discussing how it's all the poor who were still stuck in New Orleans, and their comments were leading me to discuss the idea of a "throwaway society" ... that, in terms of people, it refers to those who appear to be non-contributing members of society, that we value those only useful or beautiful to us. Something that one of them said (that I can't remember now) lead me to the question: If this happened in Appalachia, would we have the same response? I'm not denying the sheer devastation that has occured, but .... how come we're only hearing about New Orleans? Mississippi was already top of the poverty rankings, and they've had whole towns disappear, lost their entire Gulf Shore tourism and gambling industry. We hear about landslides in Los Angeles, but the several floods each summer that wipe out parts of the mountainous Appalachians ....?

What does our society value?

Devil's Advocate Wonderings

Saturday evening prayer here at the monastery is First Vespers of Sunday, so for the reading we use the Gospel for Sunday followed by a reflection written by one of the sisters.

Tomorrow's Gospel is Matthew 18:15-20; I've excerpted the first part here:
Jesus said to his disciples: "If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have won over your brother. If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, so that 'every fact may be established on the testimony of two or three witnesses.' If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church. If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector."

The first reading, Ezekiel 33:7-9 was referenced in the reflection, and also raised my question:
Thus says the LORD: You, son of man, I have appointed watchman for the house of Israel; when you hear me say anything, you shall warn them for me. If I tell the wicked, "O wicked one, you shall surely die," and you do not speak out to dissuade the wicked from his way, the wicked shall die for his guilt, but I will hold you responsible for his death. But if you warn the wicked, trying to turn him from his way, and he refuses to turn from his way, he shall die for his guilt, but you shall save yourself.

The sister's reflection was addressing the whole idea of being a prophet, following up on Jeremiah's "You duped me, Lord" from last week (which I'll comment on later), and how basically the job of prophet is not a happy one. In the Judeo-Christian faith tradition, prophesy has less to do with "telling the future" as much as raising awareness of the things that are not-quite-right.

And so I found myself wondering about my post from a few days ago, wherein I was taking issue with the idea that New Orleans "deserved" the hurricane because of the sinfulness permitted by those who live in the city. But how do I reconcile that with a Gospel passage where Jesus says that we must point out the sins of our brothers, even publicly if that is necessary. And then to see Ezekiel, where we are told that if we do not "speak out to dissuade the wicked" that we are responsible for their sin .....

As I talked to my students the other day about the posting on Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, I pointed out (unfortunately only to some of my classes, because it didn't hit me until later in the day) that, in some respects, I'm no better than Marcavage. After all, I'm standing in front of these kids, judging this guy for the fact that he judged others. Plus, it's not like the Catholic Church necessarily has the best track record for tolerance sometimes. The whole thing of "the one true faith and everyone else is going to hell"? Granted, that's mostly a thing of the past (for many people, anyway), but they're still kinda hedgy about it sometimes. But that people with homosexual tendencies (who we are supposed to love -- it's the action that's supposed to be bad) are potentially not going to be allowed in the seminaries (even though neither homosexuals nor heterosexuals should be having sex as a priest, thus leaving the potentially-problematic behavior thoroughly out of the picture)?

So I'm condemning this guy for condemning others ... because I'm following the teaching of "love" and he's following the teaching of "tell him his fault." But, of course, how well am I following the teaching of love here myself?

But Jesus did hang out with the sinners and women and [GASP] Samaritans. He did like the tax collector in the back of church far more than the self-righteous Pharisee up front (Luke 18:10-14). He did tell us "Judge not, lest ye be judged." But, at the same time, he also overturned the tables at the temple because of what they were doing. He also talked about sorting out the sheep from the goats.

And then I notice the second reading, from Paul's Letter to the Romans: Owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law ... Love does no evil to the neighbor; hence, love is the fulfillment of the law.

No, I don't agree in any way with Marcavage, because I don't believe in an angry, vengeful, smiteth-ing God. But at the same time, I wouldn't really complain if God wanted to smiteth those who think we deserve natural disasters.

And so I have to wonder .... am I really any better than him? Any more "Christian"? Quite frankly, I'm not so sure.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Anirtak ~ A Poem by Max (language warning)

I received this e-mail from my friend Max this afternoon, so I'm sharing it for her. All I did was two minor vowel edits --- I figure it probably wouldn't be a good idea to have my nun-blog get caught by the decency filters!

Thanks, Max. Peace to you and to everyone else who stands by helplessly watching.

I am overwhelmed with sadness right now as i have been watching the hurricane disaster. i will share a poem i just came in and typed out at a wreckless pace and did no edits -it was just an outpouring of my feelings.
warning -a bit of bad language!


(Katrina spelled backwards sounds a lot like "an attack")

Baby screams
As mothers dream
and waters keep on surging
and waters keep on surging

Daddys plead
no one keeps the peace
and waters keep on surging

Babies pushing to be born
mothers afraid to open their legs
her body is limp
her t-ts are wilted
no milk for this new babe

yet far away
there are men plenty
dropping bombs and scrambling for arms
were told it is for the good
and waters keep on surging
and waters keep on surging

how many mothers and babies and fathers and grandmothers and grandchildren and grandfathers, and you and me and me and you we are one are we one
and waters keep on surging
and waters keep on surging

her water breaks
her baby is born
and waters keep on surging

how many sunken eyes and and hollowed stares
how many zombie stumbles can we witness
before we turn into salt

solutions seem so simple to me
I must be f-cking crazy
Surely to god someone would have thought of this!
right here where I am
why dont they see the answers
dont have to be complicated

the whirr of the blade can drop papers with information
can drop bottles of water
can drop tons of ho hos and twinkies
and fat bologna sandwiches

filet and brulee
to those dying
in a dream of
hunger and thirst
and waters just keep on surging

I have never felt so helpless
I am so angry
As I go outside and look up to the stars
I am angry
Where the hell is god tonight

And the waters are no longer surging
The people are dying

Those born are left

Friday, September 02, 2005

Which "Christ" do you follow?

Yesterday morning, I did a quick web glance before leaving for school, and my eye (not surprisingly) was immediately caught by a posting called Our Creator is NOT a Murderer on the Sollicitudo Rei Socialis webblog. I didn't have the chance to do much more than skim it, but checked it out in more detail when I got to school.

Not that I couldn't guess what it was responding to .....

The director of the evangelical Christian organization Repent America has said that, essentially, New Orleans was a sinful city and, while we should pray for the folks hurt in the devastation -- really, they brought it upon themselves.

Sollicitudo Rei Socialis was posting about a petition involving people of various faith traditions, all of them affirming an all-loving Creator ... stating that the signatories "do not believe that the Creator of all things would destroy whole cities, kill hundreds if not thousands of innocent people, and damage our whole nation's infrastructure as punishment for purported sins."

I used the Sollicitudo press release/posting as the opening prayer for my classes and, at the questioning of my first class, I went to Repent America to find out more of what was said. (By the way, when you get to the RA website, you are given two options: Christians, Enter Here. All Others, Enter Here -- my Benedictine Hospitality really liked that!)

According to Repent America's press release:

"Although the loss of lives is deeply saddening, this act of God destroyed a wicked city," stated Repent America director Michael Marcavage. "From 'Girls Gone Wild' to 'Southern Decadence,' [an annual festival held by the New Orleans gay community] New Orleans was a city that had its doors wide open to the public celebration of sin. From the devastation may a city full of righteousness emerge. ....

"We must help and pray for those ravaged by this disaster, but let us not forget that the citizens of New Orleans tolerated and welcomed the wickedness in their city for so long. May this act of God cause us all to think about what we tolerate in our city limits, and bring us trembling before the throne of Almighty God."

[God] sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust." (Matthew 5:45)

This just days after we study in our textbook that one of the reasons that some people didn't like Jesus during his life was because he "taught that God accepted the sinners and outcasts."

Even the kids picked up on that. After all, N'awlins isn't the only sinful city in our nation. "Besides, wasn't Jesus' message about love and forgiveness?"

Reminds me of a post-9/11 article in the satire newspaper The Onion, where God holds a press conference: "Responding to recent events on Earth, God, the omniscient creator-deity worshipped by billions of followers of various faiths for more than 6,000 years, angrily clarified His longtime stance against humans killing each other Monday." It's a very tongue-in-cheek article .... but at the same time, it very much hits home.

"Look, I don't know, maybe I haven't made myself completely clear, so for the record, here it is again," said the Lord, His divine face betraying visible emotion during a press conference near the site of the fallen Twin Towers. "Somehow, people keep coming up with the idea that I want them to kill their neighbor. Well, I don't. And to be honest, I'm really getting sick and tired of it. Get it straight. Not only do I not want anybody to kill anyone, but I specifically commanded you not to, in really simple terms that anybody ought to be able to understand."

Which Christ do you follow?

Yeah, I'm a nun. But in my mind .... the God of a "secular" spoof newspaper far outweighs the God of a righteously judging "Christian" individual.

To view the petition, visit:

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Emergency Housing Drive

Forwarded from a friend of mine ..... please spread the word:


Dear MoveOn member,

Hurricane Katrina's toll on communities, homes and lives has devastated the nation. Now victims must face the daunting question of where to go next--and we can help.

Tens of thousands of newly homeless families are being bused to a stadium in Houston, where they may wait for weeks or months. At least 80,000 are competing for area shelters, and countless more are in motels, cars, or wherever they can stay out of the elements. The Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Red Cross are scrambling to find shelter for the displaced.

This morning, we've launched an emergency national housing drive to connect your empty beds with hurricane victims who desperately need a place to wait out the storm. You can post your offer of housing (a spare room, extra bed, even a decent couch) and search for available housing online at:

Housing is most urgently needed within reasonable driving distance (about 300 miles) of the affected areas in the Southeast, especially New Orleans.

Please forward this message to anyone you know in the region who might be able to help.

But no matter where you live, your housing could still make a world of difference to a person or family in need, so please offer what you can.

The process is simple:

* You can sign up to become a host by posting a description of whatever housing you have available, along with contact information. You can change or remove your offer at any time.

* Hurricane victims, local and national relief organizations, friends and relatives can search the site for housing. We'll do everything we can to get your offers where they are needed most. Many shelters actually already have Internet access, but folks without 'net access can still make use of the site through case workers and family members.

* Hurricane victims or relief agencies will contact hosts and together decide if it's a good match and make the necessary travel arrangements. The host's address is not released until a particular match is agreed on.

If hosting doesn't work for you, please consider donating to the Red Cross to help with the enormous tasks of rescue and recovery. You can give online at:

As progressives, we share a core belief that we are all in this together, and today is an important chance to put that idea to work. There are thousands of families who have just lost everything and need a place to stay dry. Let's do what we can to help.

Thanks for being there when it matters most.

--Noah T. Winer and the whole Civic Action Team
Thursday, September 1st, 2005

Blog for Relief Day

Snippets from various sites ..... most coming from the places that people are finding me through, but I'll say it anyway, just in case someone needs to hear it again.

Today is the Hurricane Katrina Blog for Relief Day. It's a day of blogging to raise awareness of and funds for relief efforts to aid those affected by Hurricane Katrina. The TruthLaidBear and Instapundit are coordinating this massive blogging fundraiser. As of 4:15 EDT, over $53,000 in contributions have been logged; 1,029 blogs are participating (I guess I'll be 1030?); 105 charities have been recommended. Donations are made to whatever agency, with the competition of fun for which charity "wins" and which blog pointed the most people to donate. I, of course, vote for Catholic Charities, but really ..... whatever you do and whoever you do it through ..... every little bit helps.

One of these times when I miss having my own bank account ....

From Susan Rose's blog, there are a couple more direct ways to help out:

Penni is raising money for bloggy friends Crystal & Fish. You just use the paypal button on the right of the screen. Just did this .. easy as pie. Thanks Penni!
Natala at And that Makes All the Difference has an idea for those who want to do something more concrete. You can send supplies to her friend's Metholdist Church in Alabama. Thanks Natala!

Even with my monastic budget .... I can get some folks to put together Health Kits for Natala.

Money helps, but even if you can't do that .... do something. Probably even just letters/comments of support. People are relocated all over --- I've got a new kid in one of my classes. She arrived last night, and will be in school tomorrow. True, they say "Don't send clothes or supplies because there's nowhere to store them." But you don't have to send it to New Orleans. Look in your community. Even if you're far away, there are most likely people who have moved in with relatives, kids needing to start at new schools. Find somewhere in your community, find a displaced family. Heck, even just making them cookies .....

I've got to head back for Back-to-School night .... I'll say more later.

And, of course, the obvious help ..... prayer .... love ..... and lots of blessings on us all.

Technorati tags: flood aid and hurricane katrina

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