Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Why can't we all play nice?

Chapter 72 of the Rule of Benedict
The Good Zeal of Monks

Just as there is a wicked zeal of bitterness which separates from God and leads to hell, so there is a good zeal which separates from evil and leads to God and everlasting life. This, then, is the good zeal which monks must foster with fervent love: They should each try to be the first to show respect to the other (Rom 12:10), supporting with the greatest patience one another's weaknesses of body or behavior, and earnestly competing in obedience to one another. No one is to pursue what he judges better for himself, but instead, what he judges better for someone else. To their fellow monks they show the pure love of brothers; to God, loving fear; to their abbot, unfeigned and humble love. Let them prefer nothing whatever to Christ, and may he bring us all together to everlasting life.
Over at martha,martha, there has been a new implementation of commenting rules. What's the rule? Play nice, or I'll be forced to delete your comment. Goodness, how restrictive! I mean, it's not like she had to delete comments on her post about "All We Need Is Love" or anything like that?!?!?

I gotta hand it to Penni. She throws out these thoughts that culminate in all sorts of battles in her comm-box, but she sticks in the game. People pass along all sorts of judgments about what constitutes a good Catholic or Christian or whatever -- sometimes making the "concerned blog hostess" appear to be in the "not" column -- but she hasn't thrown in the towel. Not yet, anyway.

I was thinking relatively recently about how I haven't really had any sort of a flame war go on, even if it is in the name of religion. Not that I'm asking for one, mind you, and I'm sure it has nothing to do with my impeccable skill at presenting my thoughts in a manner that leaves no room for dispute, and everything to do with my not-nearly-so-large-as-Penni's readership.

And what kills me is the fact that it is being done in the name of religion.

No wonder people "out there" can't stand organized religion.

No wonder people "out there" don't believe in the Christian God.

Heck, if we can't even play nice among ourselves, what makes us think we'd be able to play nice with our guests?

And more importantly, why would they want to be our guests?

Oooo, hellfire & brimstone. Pick me, pick me!

Once again I have to ask ... where are our priorities? Is it more important to rip someone to shreds over something they've said, or worn, or thought .... or to let God handle the relationship from his end?

I'm not saying that we can't point out issues, but there's a big difference between "pointing out an issue" and ripping someone to shreds. Am I quoting every text I can to prove that I'm right and you're wrong .... or am I merely pointing out where I differ from your understanding by addressing the point of disagreement but still respecting you as a person?

It's not like any of us has the answers, folks. Sure, I can quote the Bible all I want, but really .... does that prove rightness? My faith dictates to me that the Bible is truth (though not literal historical truth), but it is my faith that dictates that. My faith dictates that the Koran, Book of Mormon, and other texts are not "scriptural truth" ... but that doesn't deny the fact that Muslims and Mormons hold those texts as truth. As a Catholic, I have about ten more books in my "authoritative Bible" that most Protestants consider to be extraneous. Does their disbelief in the "truth" of these books deny my belief that these, too, are the inspired word of God? No more than the Judaic view of scripture denies my understanding of the New Testament.

It's faith, folks. It's belief. It's about, to use the stereotypical phrase, "a personal relationship with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." Period. It's personal. I believe what I believe, and I believe it to be the truth, but I can't know until I'm dead and in heaven. Neither can anyone else for that matter. For every quote I find to say that my way is right, someone of another faith tradition can find a quote that counters mine and says instead that they're right.

I can stand on my beliefs, and I can discuss points that differ with my beliefs, and I can even point out actions that appear to me to be contrary to that which I believe, but I cannot in good conscience tell someone else that their beliefs are wrong and mine are right.

Even if we're talking about the same basic beliefs.

For every Catholic out there, there a unique understanding of who God is and what Catholicism is. And that's what's cool about the word "catholic" -- it's universal. But, if we're gonna embrace the "universal" nature of our church, we need to acknowledge the many different people that make up that universe.

All the petty, stupid, backbiting, childish stuff I see out there is crap. And it's not just the stuff that I disagree with. I get just as infuriated by things I see that are on my side & condemn as I get with things that I disagree with. Say you don't like the changes of Vatican II, fine. But the name-calling, mocking, ridiculing is just immature, and does nothing to give our faith a good name.

We're worried about how a movie is going to present our church? Let's look at our actions. Most people understand that, when they're sitting in a movie theater, they're there to watch a cinematic production. But when they meet actual people, in the flesh ...

What do our actions, our speech, our living out the gospel message of Jesus say to the world about the Roman Catholic Church (or Christianity, for that matter)?

And though many like to point out Jesus' line of "Go and sin no more" ... we also never see Jesus condemn the believers, even for repeat offenses. Rather, he says:
Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.
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Anonymous jeana said...

Always good to get the reminder again... thanks.

5/31/2006 10:03 AM  
Anonymous A said...

First: Penni Rocks! Kudos to her.

Second: You are one of my favorite bloggers too Steph, and the balanced and loving attitude you show in this post (as you have in many of your posts) is a huge reason why. This is one of your best posts I've read. Very well said, my sister.

Folks like you and Penni give me hope. Thanks.


5/31/2006 12:28 PM  
Blogger Christine said...

Yes, stunningly well done post. I haven't had the ability to make this kind of point, but have wanted someone to for a very long time. Xcellent

6/01/2006 2:56 AM  
Blogger ~m2~ said...

first of all, miss, i don't think i have that gi-normous of a readership. i think my readers are pretty vocal :)

it is hard to moderate and i have had people say to me in the past that my blog has been different lately because i haven't been posting anything controversial -- gee whiz, who would have thought the way we dress at mass would have been such a hot button to push? not me, but i found it on another blog and it sparked me but good and the sparks continued to fly so i had to make it stop.

(i saw your nice comment at the end, by the way, but had to delete it because i said i was going to -- justice is justice, after all ;)

at tony's blog today i saw his post where he corrected me for something i never did!?! i don't understand somethings, but i think being devout and pious can also be comingled with loving and kind and peace-seeking. i guess in my own blogging history i am seeing much more of my liberal side coming forth and if that deems me a *liberal Catholic* that i lose readership over, so be it.

i think A rocks (he is always too kind) and i think you rock, too, steph. i am here much more than i comment but appreciate your giving this a mention. i think it is important and finding the balance is truly necessary.

6/01/2006 6:51 AM  
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6/01/2006 9:02 AM  
Blogger Susan Rose, CSJP said...

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All my wonderfully respectful and wise bloggy friends rock!


6/01/2006 2:16 PM  

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