You’re STILL not over the sex abuse scandal?

Bishop Weakland is dead.

Weakland, if you’ve allowed yourself to forget, was Archbishop of Milwaukee, and when he received reports of the sexual abuse of children in his care, he shredded them. He allowed abusive priests to continue serving, and he didn’t tell their parishioners or the police what they had done. He referred to abuse victims as “squealers.” And he embezzled nearly half a million dollars of diocesan money to hush up the 20-year-old student who accused him of sexual abuse. 

This is what’s known, in some Catholic circles, as “a complicated legacy.” 

Can I please make something clear. I wish for the dead bishop mercy. I pray that Jesus came to him and presented him with the clear chance to repent, and that the man grabbed at this lifeline with both hands. I wish for salvation for his soul and for all souls, and the Lord of mercies can work out the details of who deserves what in the afterlife. 

But Twitter is not the afterlife.  Twitter is full of the walking wounded, people who have personally been abused by priests and then further abused by the Church’s response to that abuse.

Yet on Twitter, I learned of Weakland’s death through a series of tweets that, to my horror, skipped straight over the nightmare he created with his own two hands, and dove directly into an anodyne, self-congratulatory valediction for the man, as if he’d just been any old cleric who had kept himself busy, done his best, and then toddled on to his likely reward. When Catholics responded with anger and disbelief at the omission, the general response was: Well, obviously the sex abuse scandal was terrible, but maybe try harder to be like Jesus, who forgives this stuff.

As if it were all over. As if the sex abuse scandal were in the past, and something that normal, healthy, grounded people had already long since gotten over.

And this is why it’s still not over. 

There are people who did not leave the Church when they were abused, and who did not leave the Church when their abuse was covered up. But when the cover-up began to get treated like some kind of overblown, hysterical nonsense for people who simply don’t know how to get on with their lives . . . then they knew they could not stay.

And that’s where we are now. This is where we continue to be: Mired in this all-too-familiar clericalism that tirelessly chides victims for being too sensitive, too unforgiving, too unlike Jesus. It’s still blaming victims and their advocates for the sins of priests — still, still trying to hush and rush past the mention of real, putrid, violent sin, and shield the sinner from consequences. It’s still happening, as we speak, on Twitter and in parish offices and everywhere, in real life. And this is why the scandal is still not over. 

Here’s a comparison that Weakland’s defenders will bristle at: The “yes yes, of course he was a sinner, but we must forgive” approach felt very familiar to me, and I suddenly realized what it was. It is precisely the same condescending attitude I hear from some people as they deal with COVID in August of 2022. They aren’t COVID deniers. But they’re COVID-weary, as who wouldn’t be; and so they’ve decided that not only are they done, but everyone else ought to be done, too. And so if they see someone in the supermarket or at church with a mask, they will roll their eyes and say, “You need to get over this, honey.”

But for all they know, the person in the mask may have cancer, or one lung. Or they may have long-haul COVID. They may have contracted a case that disabled them permanently, scarred them from the inside out. Maybe that’s who you’re rolling your eyes at for overreacting. 

Listen, as I write, I’m thinking to myself what a miserably dated reference COVID is. I never wanted to have to tag an essay “COVID” ever again. And that’s kind of the point. We’re all so wretchedly weary of having to consider it, pick it up one more time and take it into account, to figure out how it fits in, think about how serious a threat it is. Most of us are not living our lives in a state of panic and crisis. We have learned how to incorporate risk assessment and behavioral changes into our everyday lives, because you do have to live. True for COVID, true for the sex abuse scandal. 

But it’s a luxury to be able to feel that way. Some people’s lives have been changed forever. They are permanently disabled, scarred from the inside out, in part because so many people simply did not want to acknowledge what was happening. What are we going to do, deliberately harden our hearts because their problem is old news and now we’re bored? 

True for COVID, true for the sex abuse scandal. We may be past the first early era where it was shocking and new, but just because it’s less new now doesn’t mean it’s over; and part of the reason it’s not over is because people who should know better persist in behaving as if it is over. It’s not over. It’s old and exhausting and miserable and tiresome beyond words. But it’s not over. People are still suffering. 

I believe we’re only just starting to realize the long-term damage the infection of abuse has had on the body of Christ. What a dreadful thing to look at these walking wounded and say — whether outright, or by omission — Oh honey, aren’t you over that yet? 

We still have years and years of garment-rending ahead of us. We’re not done. Not nearly done. If you’re exhausted with other people’s suffering, you need to deal with that in private until you can get your head and heart back in a better place. This scandal is a long haul disease. We’re still not nearly done. 

Photo by form PxHere

The painful, grace-filled and (potentially) healing process of seeking an annulment

Four weddings, but only one sacramental marriage. That was the tally by the time Rob and Shannon made their vows to each other 18 years ago.

Rob and Shannon are not their real names. The couple is not ashamed of their story, but they do not like to dwell on it, either; and it is complex enough that they have not told their own children all the details. It is a story about mistakes, pride, fear and hope, growth and grace, and love and canon law. It is a story, in short, about what makes a valid marriage in the eyes of the church, and how church leaders and structures respond when a marriage is not valid.

For such a theologically dense topic, annulments are a perennially popular topic of discussion and debate among Catholics. They are also perennially misunderstood. Many Americans speak of “getting an annulment” as if it were just the Catholic version of divorce, and many Catholics leave the church when they discover that there is more to it than that. There are persistent stories of rich or famous Catholics who supposedly bought their way out of undesirable marriages; and armchair theologians are quick to offer their pronouncement on whether or not a stranger’s marriage is valid based on a few online comments.

But the problems surrounding petitioning for decrees of nullity go deeper than rumors and misunderstandings. In 2015, Pope Francis made some reforms, aimed at lowering the costs and expediting the process. He opined in January 2021 that these efforts were being stymied by the desire for money.

But some canon lawyers believe a different kind of reform is necessary, anyway—the kind that takes place on a more personal level, where couples begin their lives together with a better understanding of what the church means by marriage, and are supported during inevitable times of struggle.

What does the church really teach about this widely misunderstood process, and how does it play out in the lives of ordinary Catholics? What does it do to their emotional and spiritual lives to encounter a doctrine that works in the space where law meets love?

Read the rest of my latest for America Magazine.

Image via Pixabay (Creative Commons)

 

When neuroscience discovered hardness of heart

Does lying become easier with practice?

Common sense and experience say, “Of course,” and now some neuroscience researchers agree with that assessment. In Aeon, Neil Garrett of Princeton describes how he and three other researchers tested a group of people to see whether and how they could be acclimated to dishonesty. Here’s how the study worked:

“We had participants lie in an fMRI scanner and send messages to a second person, who sat outside the scanner, by entering keyboard responses. Participants were instructed that their responses would be relayed via connected computers. In some stages of the task, participants had repeated opportunities to make their messages dishonest in order to earn additional money. Importantly, they could be as dishonest as they wanted to – it was entirely up to them and could vary from message to message. This allowed us to see if the messages were equally dishonest, or if there was a change in people’s willingness to be dishonest over time.”

They discovered, as expected, that people initially had a strong emotional and neurological response to lying; but as they continued to lie, they felt less and less of a physical emotional response (flushed cheeks, racing heart) and, accordingly, their brains’ amygdalae responded less and less.

The study is especially interesting because the participants’ brains were reacting not to conditions outside their control, but to their own free choices. So, yes: Lying gets easier with practice.

It’s hard to know what to say about a study like this, other than, “Well, duh.” We’ve all seen this phenomenon. The first time we do something wrong, it feels wrong, and it feels bad. The second time we do it, it doesn’t feel great, but there’s less of a hurdle. The third and fourth time, it becomes even easier and less troubling. And eventually, with practice, we can barely remember why we thought the behavior was wrong in the first place, much less muster up any enthusiasm for quitting it – especially if we think we’re getting away with it. As any alert human knows, consciences are shallow wells, and run dry quickly if they’re not replenished.

The Church already has a word for this phenomenon, even if she hasn’t specified which region of the brain does the legwork. It’s called “hardness of heart,” which leads to vice, or a habit of sin, and it first rears its head in Genesis. It’s only a few chapters from Eden to the Flood. Vice is very efficient. Sin clears the way for more and more sin to roll through on more and more level ground.

Not only does sin become easier, but it becomes easier to commit worse sins. The researcher in the “dishonesty” experiment noted that, after a few repetitions of dishonesty,

“eventually, the door flew open: they could be much more dishonest than at the beginning, but with increasingly limited emotional sensitivity.”

And the Catechism nods gravely:

 

“Deliberate and unrepented venial sin disposes us little by little to commit mortal sin.”

The author in the study says,

“This study might suggest a pessimistic view of humanity, with everyone gradually becoming emotionally null to bad behavior, more corrupt and more egotistical. But that’s not the only way to see these results. One positive message to take away is that emotion plays a crucial role in constraining dishonesty. Perhaps that means a solution to dishonesty is available: strong emotional responses in situations where dishonesty is a temptation could be reinstated so as to reduce one’s susceptibility to it.”

I don’t mean to be rude; but again, I say unto you: DUH. The Church is way ahead on this one, too. Why do you suppose we confess our sins out loud to a priest? It’s not because the Church wants to humiliate or discourage the penitent, but because she is well aware that strong emotional responses reduce one’s susceptibility to temptation. It grabs our attention when we have to kneel in a little box and croak out loud, “I hit my little sister” or “I masturbated to porn” or “I stole five dollars from the cash register.” It reignites that healthy, desirable emotion of shame and revulsion, which makes it easier to resist doing those things again.

(Of course confession also offers forgiveness and grace, which strengthen our souls and reunite us with God! But I’m speaking here only of the psychological effect of confession, as it’s intended to work.)

The researcher continues:

“There have also been a number of behavioral interventions proposed to curb unethical behavior. These include using cues that emphasize morality and encouraging self-engagement. We don’t currently know the underlying neural mechanisms that can account for the positive behavioral changes these interventions drive. But an intriguing possibility is that they operate in part by shifting up our emotional reaction to situations in which dishonesty is an option, in turn helping us to resist the temptation to which we have become less resistant over time.”

He is right again. “Cues that emphasize morality and encourag[e] self-engagement” are, for Catholics, things like reading the Bible, praying sincerely to God and the saints, doing penance, spending time with other Catholics who share your values, talking and reading about the Faith, receiving the sacraments regularly, and actively and consciously pursuing virtue, rather than just trying to avoid sin. These behaviors are all “cues” that bolster that emotional/neurological response, making it easier for us to be honest rather than dishonest.

Now, we can approach these actions as “positive behavioral changes” which we hope will stimulate emotional responses which will, in turn, engage certain areas of our brains, making it easier for us to do what we perceive as moral. But the question is, Why? Why go to all that trouble to manipulate your own brain?

You could say that it’s an evolutionary imperative, something we do because society rewards us for behaving in ways that are sometimes mutually and directly beneficial to those involved, and sometimes beneficial to the survival of the species.

Or, you could say that our eternal Father created us to love him and serve him in this world and to be happy with him forever in the next, and that his Son gave us the Church and the sacraments to help us find our way back home, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

The two realities, neurological and spiritual, do not oppose or negate each other. When we discover how our brains actually function in response to the world, this is not proof that there is no soul, or no such thing as objective morality. But recall the scene in C S Lewis’ The Dawn Treader, where Eustace (converted, but still habituated to certain patterns of thinking) says,

“In our world, a star is a huge ball of flaming gas,” and Ramandu responds, “Even in your world, my son, that is not what a star is but only what it is made of.”

Practice habituates us to sin, deadens our consciences, reduces our horror of evil, accustoms us to vice – or, if you like, neurally adapts us, making us less sensitive to stimuli after repeated exposure. Either way, thank God we have the sacramental means to fight back.

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Image by pramit marattha from Pixabay
This essay was originally published in a slightly different form in The Catholic Weekly in 2017

Acts of contrition for Catholic toads

In the story ‘Alone’ from the beloved children’s book Days with Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel, Toad goes to visit his friend Frog, only to discover a note on his door saying that Frog wants to be alone.

Toad, as is his wont, immediately falls into a panic, assuming Frog no longer cares about him. He puts together an elaborate lunch and hitches a ride on a turtle’s back, launching himself out across the water toward the island where Frog is, intending to win his affection back. As he comes in earshot of the island, he shouts,

“Frog! I am sorry for the dumb things I do. I am sorry for all the silly things I say. Please be my friend again!” Then he slips and falls, sploosh, into the water.

Every time I read this story, I laugh, because Toad’s words are so familiar. They are, in effect, an act of contrition, and I am Toad.

We are all Toad. What we may not all realise, though, is that an act of contrition can be expressed in many different words, including something like what Toad shrieks out in his misery. Many of us were made to memorise a particular prayer when we were growing up (or when we joined the Church), but we don’t have to say that specific prayer.

When the Rite of Penance describes a sacramental confession, it says, “The priest … asks the penitent to express his sorrow, which the penitent may do in these or similar words . . .” and it suggests 10 possible prayers, and leaves room for anything that expresses contrition.

Many people in my generation can rattle off something like this one:

O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended You, and I detest all my sins, because I dread the loss of heaven and the pains of hell [or: because of thy just punishments]; but, most of all, because they offend You, my God, Who is all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Your grace, to confess my sins, to do penance, to avoid all occasions of sin, and to amend my life.

or this shorter one:

Oh my Jesus I’m heartily sorry for having offended thee, who are infinitely good, and I firmly resolve, with the help of the grace, never to offend thee again.

About 93 per cent of Catholic children hear “hardly” instead of “heartily.”  A few enterprising children thread this needle by saying, “I am hardly sorry for having been a friend of thee.” And that works. It’s the sincerity that matters, not the getting it perfectly right.

As Fr Kerper says:

“[T]he Act of Contrition is not primarily a magical formula rattled off thoughtlessly to guarantee instant forgiveness. Rather, it expresses in words a deeply personal act that engages a person’s affections and will.”

So it’s less important to have something memorized, and more important to think deeply about what we intend. A good act of contrition should include an expression of sorrow, a renunciation of sin, and a resolution to change; and there are many different ways you can say it.Read the rest of my latest for The Catholic Weekly

Kids’ first confession? Here’s how to make it easier

Adult converts sometimes sheepishly admit that confession scares them. What they may not know is cradle Catholics often feel the same way. Very often, anxiety around confession begins in childhood, when well-meaning parents send kids all the wrong messages about when, how, and why we go to confession.

But children aren’t doomed to hate confession. Here are some things you can do to mitigate their anxiety and even help them learn to look forward to confession:

Make sure your kids fully understand that confession is a place you go for help, not a place you have to go when you’re in disgrace. Mercy mercy mercy. Tell them until they’re sick of hearing about it. 

Practice ahead of time. Nothing eases anxiety like familiarity; and humor helps, too. Let the kid take turns acting out confession playing the part of different penitents with appropriate sins: Their two-year-old sister, for instance, or Indiana Jones. Let them know the routine inside and out before they make it personal.

Let them have as many crutches as they like, including a cheat sheet with the act of contrition or even the entire form of confession written out. They can bring in a paper with their sins on it, and throw it away or burn it afterward. 

Let them check out the confessional during “off hours,” so it’s not a mysterious or terrifying place. Or arrange for confession in a setting that is familiar. Confessions don’t have to be in a confessional to be valid.

Remind them repeatedly that father has heard it all before, and remind them that he’s used to people being nervous, too. It’s okay to say, “I forget what I’m supposed to say next,” and it’s okay to tell the priest you’re scared or embarrassed, too.

Sometimes the waiting is the hardest part. If a child finds it truly excruciating to wait in line, consider making an appointment where he can just pop in and get it done.

It’s okay to avoid difficult or unpleasant priests and to seek out helpful, reassuring ones. Yes, it’s always really Jesus in there; but it’s also a particular man. If your kid likes and trusts some particular priest, he may be willing to schedule a confession if that’s what make the difference between going and not going.

But for some kids, knowing the priest makes it worse.  Some kids would rather have an anonymous experience with less social awkwardness. If your kid would prefer to confess to a stranger, make an occasional pilgrimage to another parish for this purpose.

In any case, remind the kid about the seal of confession and what dire consequences face a priest who breaks the seal. Remind them that the priest can’t tell the penitent’s parents what was confessed!

If you’re going as a family, let an adult go first and alert the priest there’s a nervous kid coming up next, so he can do everything in his power to make it a good experience.

Make it sweet, not bitter. Associations are powerful things, for good or ill.  The Jews have a tradition of giving children honey as they learn the Torah, so they will know that the law of God is sweet. It’s not bribery; it’s helping children internalize something true. So celebrate at least the first confession with a small treat, and consider making subsequent confession trips as pleasant as possible. It may not be practical to include ice cream every time, but at last don’t make it wretched.

If necessary, wait. Some kids simply aren’t ready when most of their peers are ready. A young child isn’t going to be committing mortal sins, so it’s far better to wait an extra year or so than to force a traumatic first confession. If you have to literally drag your kid into the confessional, or if you have to threaten or coerce them into going, you may be harming your child’s relationship with God, and making it less likely that they’ll go at all, once they’re old enough to choose.

Make it a normal normal normal. Let them see you and their siblings going regularly, and then going about their day. Talk about it like it’s the normal thing it is. Let your kids hear you say things like, “On Saturday, we’ll pick up some cat food, then get to confession, then do a car wash,” or “I remember going to confession at St Blorphistan, and boy, those kneelers were squeaky.” No good can come of making it rare and unfamiliar, or speaking as if it’s some kind of mysterious, arcane experience that doesn’t fit into everyday life. Many people (not all) find that frequent confession is easy confession.

Be open about your own struggles and joys surrounding confession. If confession makes you nervous, acknowledge this to your kids. If you feel intense relief when it’s over, talk about that. If you ever feel grateful to God for the gift of forgiveness, talk about that. The last several times I went to confession and the priest said the words, “I absolve you from your sins,” I had to fight down the urge to shout, “JUST LIKE THAT?” It seemed like such an incredibly good deal, I couldn’t believe my good fortune. Every time I feel this way, I talk about it to whichever kid is with me.

Let it be a standing offer. Remind them they can always ask to go to confession, and resolve to bring them any time they ask, no questions asked, no fuss, no complaints, no exceptions. Acknowledging and overcoming sin is hard enough; the last thing a kid needs is for her parents to add obstacles by embarrassing her, or making her feel like she’s causing trouble.

Mind your own business. Yes, you have to educate them in a general way about what kind of things they ought to be bringing to confession, but it’s not a great idea to shout, “Ryan, you apologize to your sister’s hamster right now, and you better be confessing that next week!” It’s the penitent, the priest, and God in there. Parents aren’t invited.

But do check in. Without asking for any personal details, occasionally make sure the experience they’re having at confession is okay. If they seem distraught when they come out of the confessional, ask if anything happened that makes them feel weird. Kids should know that confession can be difficult and intense, but it’s not supposed to be excruciating or humiliating. And they should know that safe adults never ask children to keep secrets.

Take anxiety seriously. If a child is showing severe reluctance or anxiety around confession, don’t assume it’s because he’s a reprobate who’s resisting spiritual improvement, and don’t be sarcastic or dismissive of his anxiety. Maybe something bad happened to him in confession, in which case you need to find out what happened and address it swiftly.

Or maybe he’s suffering from anxiety in general. If confession is just one of many things your child can’t bring himself to do because of anxiety, then you should be talking to a pediatrician to figure out what the next steps are. Put confession on the back burner until you have a better idea of what’s really happening, rather than cementing the association of confession with fear and misery.

When a penitent meets Christ in the confessional, it’s about a relationship. Like any relationship, it takes time to develop naturally over the years, and there will be highs and lows. Sometimes helping our kids through the lows helps us become more comfortable with this great sacrament, too.

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Image by Michael_Swan via Flickr (Creative Commons)
This essay was originally published in a slightly different form in The Catholic Weekly in 2019. Reprinted with permission. 

The difficult balance between honesty and complacency

Look, it’s a model wearing size 24 jeans! And look, a shaving ad that doesn’t airbrush cellulite away, and a weight-loss ad that shows a woman smoothing her sweater over her stomach — a stomach that is clearly far smaller than it used to be, but is still striated with permanent stretch marks.

I absolutely love it. Welcome to the 21st century, when lumpy, imperfect people are starting to populate the media almost as much as they populate the actual country. As a fat person, I’m intensely grateful for ads that make it clear I can be both large and human, even both large and beautiful.

Representation is about so much more than just a happy jolt of recognition. It’s about feeling real, feeling fully a member of the human race. 

There’s a similar movement going on in what I’ll call, for want of a less cringey phrase, the spiritual media. Less than 10 years ago, I pitched some book proposals to Catholic publishers. I strove to paint a picture showing how it really feels to be a Catholic wife and mother, with all the actual joys and sorrows, and without any of the literary airbrushing that was de rigeur in books aimed at Catholic women.

To a one, the publishers responded that my work was unsuitable for Catholic readers. It was too dark, too negative, too harsh, not uplifting and joyful enough. In short, too honest.

Things have changed. In 2019, it’s commonplace to be both Catholic and honest in public. It’s no longer shocking or unacceptable, in most communities, for Catholics to speak openly about the messy, unresolved, unedifying aspects of their lives — depressionalcoholismporn addictionburnout, weirdness in general, or even sincerity itself — and for readers to respond with gratitude and recognition, rather than shock and condemnation.

But this new “warts and all” honesty is a double-edged sword. It’s undeniably healthy to be sincere, to courageously acknowledge the flaws we perceive as unusual and shameful. It can be immensely liberating and encouraging for others to see they’re not alone in their imperfections. We must correct the notion that, to deserve respect, we must be (or appear to be) flawless. We need to know that we’re not somehow less human just because we struggle.

But there’s such a short jump between “I am imperfect, but I still deserve respect” and “I am imperfect, and there’s no reason to change.”

I must reluctantly admit that, when I see fat models looking lovely, sometimes it’s good for me, and makes me feel more human; but sometimes it just gives me an excuse to skip exercising for two weeks and slap extra sour cream on my taco. It’s vital to know I deserve to be treated with dignity no matter what size I am. But it’s also vital that I keep my arteries from exploding. When my Facebook feed is populated by lush, queenly, opulent models even bigger than me, I could go either way. Sometimes honest representation is good for me; sometimes, not so much.

The same is true in our moral lives. When we surround ourselves with “warts and all” examples, we may feel encouraged and comforted, seeing clearly that it’s human to struggle, and not a cause for despair. If we look in the mirror and don’t like what we see, we may truly need a reminder that haven’t lost our right to dignity simply because we sin.

But there’s also a true risk of normalizing sin.  It’s one thing to know that it’s normal to struggle with chastity; it’s quite another when no one you know takes chastity seriously, or has any intention of changing their lives to pursue this virtue. It’s one thing to know that many decent people enjoy a cocktail on the regular; it’s quite another to accept that getting trashed every night is just how mommies cope.

It’s one thing to understand that everyone struggles; it’s quite another to conclude that struggle is therefore unnecessary . . . 

Read the rest of my latest for The Catholic Weekly

Image: Martin Taylor via Flickr (Creative Commons)

Do what in memory of me? On slavery or sacrifice

To participate in the sacrifice of the Mass, we must be free of mortal sin. So let us say we have put ourselves into the cell of sin, over and over again. What then? We must put ourselves into the confessional box, over and over again. Then we can receive Christ; and then we can, in turn, freely put ourselves into the cup of sacrifice, to be poured out for each other. That is how it works. Jesus told us so. This is what he told us to do.

Read the rest of my latest for The Catholic Weekly

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Image source: Saint John the Baptist Church Melnik Jesus Christ Icon, 19th Century via Wikipedia

 

Letter from a soul in mortal sin

I didn’t see the curability of it all. It seemed like what you could offer us, with your sacraments and your elaborate covenants, was an answer to a question that no one asked. Salvation from what? I couldn’t see it.

But we have been together for a long time, off and on. We’ve been together long enough that I know that losing you is not only a loss, it is THE loss, the loss I can’t survive.

Read the rest of my latest for The Catholic Weekly

Image of praying skeleton by Bixentro via Flickr (Creative Commons)

17 ways to make confession easier for your kids

Adult converts sometimes sheepishly admit that confession scares them. What they may not know is cradle Catholics often feel the same way. Very often, anxiety around confession begins in childhood, when well-meaning parents send kids all the wrong messages about when, how, and why we go to confession.

But children aren’t doomed to hate confession. Here are some things you can do to mitigate anxiety and help kids even learn to look forward to confession . . . 

Read the rest of my latest for The Catholic Weekly.  

photo credit: Gwenaël Piaser Ryan via photopin (license)

Shout your damnation

Marriage as an institution may be public, but the love between husband and wife is, by definition, private. You inside me. It does not get any more private than that. And yet this reality show is part of a push to turn marriage inside out—to publicly share and spotlight that most intimate of betrayals, infidelity.

And that is what makes my blood run cold: how public Mr. Gasby and his mistress have made their deeds. Why have they done this? Because they know the power of the word “destigmatize.”

Read the rest of my latest for America Magazine.

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Image: modified detail of U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Stephen J. Otero