Good and loving and patient God, difficult me.
In today’s episode, we primarily talk to one blogger, whose decade-long career has, in many ways, personified the ups and downs of the Catholic blogosphere. To begin, we speak to others in the Catholic blogging world about how they engage with their audiences, including dialoging with believers and non-believers alike about important topics concerning the Catholic faith. For information on these bloggers, please refer to past Shownotes for references to their work.
For the second half of our episode, we speak to Simcha Fisher, on her journey in the blogging world, the impact of blogging in her own life, and in the greater Church culture. Simcha’s story is honest, humbling, and funny, as she walks listeners through the story of her career in blogging, including her rise as a star in the Catholic writing community, her reflections on motherhood, the campaign to get her fired from the National Catholic Register (and some of the other writings about her), and her mistakes along the way. I am incredibly grateful to Simcha for her speaking to me and for the lessons we all can learn from her story.
How strange that it’s still so hard to pray. How strange that I have to learn it over and over again. Maybe some people take to it more naturally, but I constantly find myself coming to it like a rank amateur, making silly mistakes, sheepishly repenting, and starting over again.
Image: detail of photo by By Chris Creagh (Creative Commons)
What is our final project? Ah, that’s the tricky part. If I’m making a lobster costume or a vampire costume, I have a general idea of how it needs to look when it’s done. But when it’s our own selves we’re working on, there is less clarity, less certainty. We’re not in the process of making a costume or a disguise; we’re in the process of becoming who we are meant to be. If we have a clear picture in our heads of who we’re meant to be — or, even worse, if we think we’ve already become it — we’re probably wrong. Sorry!
Image of unfinished Godzilla costume courtesy of John Herreid
My children range in age from 20 to three – almost a big enough span to comprise two generations. Naturally, the older kids think the younger ones get away with murder. The love to talk about how strict I used to be, how inflexible, how unreasonable.
And they’re right. It’s not just that I had more energy to hold the reins tightly when I was a young mom; it’s that I had a very different idea of how kids should be treated. I was wrong about a lot of things, and much of that wrongness stemmed from wrong ideas I had about myself – about my self-worth, about my value, about my capabilities.
The only sins that matter for our personal salvation is the sins we personally commit. The only penitence we are responsible for is our own personal penitence. The only apocalypse that we should have our eye on is our own, personal apocalypse.
So many people had lost beloved medals or crucifixes because the one little link that attached them to the chain just wasn’t strong enough. What a shame! And how baffling that Catholic jewelry companies so often make this mistake. It doesn’t matter how beautiful the medal is, how well-made, how expensive, how meaningful. It will only be with you if that one little link is strong enough.
It’s hard to resist the metaphor here.
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.
If our friends are all angry at Fred for that awful thing Fred said, we should find out if Fred actually said it, or just something like it, or something that could be skewed to imply it. Or maybe Fred said the opposite, and someone with an axe to grind knows that the internet doesn’t read carefully, and a misleading headline is good enough. Or, maybe it was some totally other guy, also named Fred, and the Fred we know is now holed up in his basement watching a frenzied mob slash his tires for something he didn’t even do.
Image via Maxpixel (public domain)
There have only been two blameless people in the whole, entire history of people, and neither one of them turned up in Charlottesville last month. The rest of us need to do exactly and only what my friend suggested: Look to ourselves. Prod our own weak spots. Shore up our own faltering foundations. It’s true in politics, it’s true in culture wars, and it’s true within individual souls.