We will never get to the bottom of it. One virtue most modern people could stand to cultivate: looking in the mirror, seeing our vices, our virtues and our sweet, melancholy, guilty entanglements—and simply shrugging. Let God sort it out.
When the dog died, I said to myself, “They are gonna run out of trowels if they keep on laying it on this thick.”
It’s not really a spoiler to reveal that the family dog dies halfway through “Wonder.” There can be no true spoilers in “Wonder,” possibly the most predictable movie ever put to film.
But that’s okay. It doesn’t set out to be Chekov. “Wonder”has a simple, specific goal in mind: to remind children (and adults) that kindness matters; that people are not always what they seem; that we all need mercy sometimes; and that strength and goodness ripple outward. And it achieves that goal.
Movie image: www.wonder.movie
Let’s listen in to one happy household, where young wifey is hosting the big event at her home for the first time and her mother-in-law remarks, her voice rapidly rising to an incredulous shriek: “You put nutmeg…in your sweet potatoes?” Everyone knows it was infallibly established during the Ecumenical Council of Our Family and Your Family that if more than three micrograms of nutmeg are found to be present in the entire meal, including appetizers you snuck into the garage but we saw you, the whole holiday shall be declared invalid and we will have to have it at Arby’s next time. That is what this family has come to! Nutmeg, indeed. Anathema!
Gesundheit. And score another one for the church.
All of humanity needed help. All of humanity cried out in earnest, “I want to die!” And He responded. He saw history as a whole, as a single story of humans warring hard to blot ourselves out with whatever technology we could put our hands on, from the stick Cain used to bash his brothers head in, to the lithe, latex limbs molded with precision by the techs at the RealDoll lab. He saw us and He conceived the strange and fearful answer: to become more human.
Image by Edgarodriguezmunoz (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
She was once brilliant (quantum-physics-as-a-hobby brilliant) and startlingly witty, with no time for nonsense. But now she has Alzheimer’s, and all she has is time and nonsense. Now she says things like, “I can use that for a sunapat. Sunapat with a T. I don’t know, I’m falling out of a tree.” Her nonsense often has a desperate, frustrated air, as if she knows people don’t understand her and she needs to try even harder to get her message across.
But I did hear her, when she could speak. I did hear her, when I did not even realize I was listening.
Christ freely chose to pour out his lifeblood for the salvation of that frivolous young punk, mankind. Far from resenting us for receiving such a lavish, unearned outpouring of the Father’s mercy, Christ’s perfect love made Him rejoice to personify that mercy, even as he bled.
And yet. Christ is our brother. I don’t know what to make of that elbow nudge, that insistent reminder that he is right next to me.
I was startled to realize that even some of the things I think of as wheat are really weeds.
What kind of things? Righteous indignation that goes on too long, feeding on itself, delighting in itself. Vigilance that turns into paranoia and unseemly scrutiny of friends. An important political argument that takes so much time and energy that I have nothing left for my family. Whistling in the dark that finally stops hoping for comfort and starts revelling in the darkness.
After watching many secular media outlets butcher these very ready facts about gluten in the Eucharist, though, and after seeing educated Catholics retreat huffily into their corners, I began to wonder if I have a dog in this fight, after all. Maybe we all do. Because maybe this is not the first time we’ve seen some version of this fight.
I chatted with the delightful Ashley McKinless and Olga Segura about Catholicism and mental health.
Talking about mental health isn’t easy. And when you throw faith into the mix it often becomes even harder. Many Catholics mistakenly think that needing mental health treatment amounts to a kind of spiritual failure. This week, we talk with writer Simcha Fisher, author of The Sinner’s Guide to Natural Family Planning, about how she learned to balance her Catholic faith and therapy.
You can hear and download the podcast that includes many other topics of interest to Catholics.
Someone’s suffering, veiled abuela hobbled painfully past her contemporary, a fellow sporting athletic shorts and a pendulous ear gauge. A woman hung in the doorway of the Church of Christ, Scientist, gawking through the screen at this Church of Christ, Everyone. The traffic roared, the squirrels groused, and we lurched on, praying as we went.