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.
I recall arguing and arguing that marriage is special because the whole of society depends on its strength and integrity; and I recall my gay friends rolling their eyes and pointing to statistics about heterosexual marriage—statistics on fornication, on out-of-wedlock births, on domestic abuse, on adultery, and on divorce—and letting them speak for themselves. Straight people have not made a good case for marriage. We, as a nation, have not behaved as if it’s worth preserving.
All licit pleasures can lead us to God. All licit pleasures can prepare us to enjoy the eternal presence of God. That is what pleasure is for: to teach us, to form us, to remind us of what we once knew before our forefather Adam brought darkness and distance and forgetfulness between us and our creator. It is perverse to try to prolong pleasure past its purpose. It is profound to try to submerge ourselves in the source of all pleasure.
There’s a reason treasure is more popular than pennies.
But woe to me if I keep on being snarky to someone who is trying hard to make amends, trying hard to be a better person. I wouldn’t smack a coin out of the hand of a widow who’s being as generous as she can be, and I shouldn’t despise a message like the one I got. I should, in fact, follow his example.
I don’t mean that we are allowed to pick and choose which beliefs suit us, and discard the rest. I do mean that we should focus on the doctrine that makes sense to us, nourishes us, draws us closer to the heart of God, and we should cling to them as hard as we can. When we find doctrines that disturb or disconcert or baffle us, we’re not free to ignore them; but we can at least acknowledge that they do belong in the Church, as much as the easier and more intelligible doctrines belong. When we focus on what makes sense to us, it makes the less pleasant parts easier to endure.
She got her sons’ permission to write everything she writes.
Yeah. So what? They are your children. Your relationship with them is not a contractual obligation where one party can sign away their rights to dignity and privacy just because their mom has a deadline and a grievance
Do our guardian angels intervene physically, saving us from bodily harm? I don’t see why not, as long as it’s God’s will. I do pray to my children’s guardian angels, and I do believe they have protected their lives, either by causing them to fall this way instead of that way, saving them from death; or by helping me to see danger and move quickly so I can rescue them myself. But that is not all that they do.
Image: The Good and Evil Angels by William Blake (Public Domain) via Wikimedia Commons
Here, I will not discuss the question of parental vs. state authority in life-or-death decisions. I only want to talk about the life-or-death decisions themselves, and I want to challenge the brutally simplistic narrative that there are two sides: People who want to treat Charlie further, who are good, and people who want to withdraw Charlie’s life support, who are bad.
It’s not so simple.
I really hate the mantra that it doesn’t matter what kids read, as long as they’re reading. Of course it matters. I know we can do better than that, and I know how important it is to lay a deep, strong foundation of good ideas, powerful words and images, and memorable scenes and characters. Unfortunately, most of the books that are popular in my kids’ social circles don’t have any of these things.
The best teachers I know have always been interested not only in what they have to say, but in what their students have to say. Why? Because they were open to loving their students, and they were also in love with the truth, hungry for more truth, delighting in uncovering new facets of truth that they had not seen before.
Photo of diatoms by Prof. Gordon T. Taylor, Stony Brook University (corp2365, NOAA Corps Collection) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons