09 December 2015

Tolerance is not a Christian virtue.

This. A thousand times, this:
"We need to remember that tolerance is not a Christian virtue. Charity, justice, mercy, prudence, honesty -- these are Christian virtues. And obviously, in a diverse community, tolerance is an important working principle. But it's never an end itself. In fact, tolerating grave evil within a society is itself a form of serious evil. Likewise, democratic pluralism does not mean that Catholics should be quiet in public about serious moral issues because of some misguided sense of good manners. A healthy democracy requires vigorous moral debate to survive."
From an address given by Archbishop Chaput of Philadelphia, ca. August 2012.

03 December 2015

And in despair, I bowed my head.

Facebook is positively revolting right now. 
Two mass shootings within the span of a week has inspired every over-emotive millennial I know (so, like, all of them) to decide that they're going to "get real" and "not worry about offending anyone" and say "what [they] really think" about guns.
And -- sorry, dudes -- what they have to say is mostly uninformed and irrelevant. And insulting.
No one talks about the breakdown of the family, or Islamist terror tactics, or actual, honest-to-God, demonic evil. There's some lip-service paid to mental illness, but strictly in the sense that We Need More Government (which we do not). 
Mostly there's dishonest and/or stupid conflation of semiautomatic and automatic weapons -- news flash, basically no one thinks you should be able to buy a machine gun for home defense -- and what I can only assume is a willful refusal to admit that the overwhelming majority of legally-owned firearms in this country will never be used to shoot anything but paper targets.
So everywhere I scroll on Facebook, I'm being told that I'm "part of the problem" because I think guns are not inherently evil. I'm "part of the problem" because I think dismembering babies in the womb and selling their parts to the highest bidder is abhorrent and I'm not afraid to say so. I'm "part of the problem" because I don't think that we should enact laws that prohibit American citizens from buying guns when they have not been so much as accused of a crime. I'm being told that as a gun owner -- as someone who has exercised my Constitutional rights -- that I bear responsibility for every misuse of a gun that happens in this country.
I reject that, outright. I am not immoral because I have purchased a firearm and learned how to use it so that in the event that I ever have to protect my children from mortal danger, I can (angels and ministers of grace, defend us!). I am not culpable for the actions of others. 
Moreover, while Planned Parenthood is easily one of the most evil corporate entities in the world, I still don't think anyone has the right to go there and commit violence against the people who work there. The ends do not justify the means. In fact, I don't even think the ends are worthwhile: violence committed against abortion clinics tends to make the general population more sympathetic and even perversely sentimental about abortion and its practitioners.
All of this brought to mind one of the latter verses of "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day," one of the lesser-appreciated Christmas songs, but one which I love.
And in despair I bowed my head;
"There is no peace on earth," I said;
"For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!" 
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men."
Peace on earth, good-will to men.

The solution to violence is not an abdication of your goodwill toward men. Throwing invective at people in your Facebook timeline because they disagree with you about gun control is not displaying good will. Refusing to acknowledge that law-abiding gun-owners are not the problem is not the way. Let's all recognize that evil exists. When someone shoots up a Planned Parenthood or a community center (for one of the most vulnerable populations in our society, by the way), let's acknowledge that their motivation was not "for fun" or "because of the Second Amendment" or "motivated by Christianity" or "ginned up by irresponsible anti-abortion rhetoric," but instead their motivation is the commission of evil in service of the Evil One.

And let's realize that two things can be true: I can be saddened and sickened by the loss of life in these mass shootings and still, in good faith, not support your gun control agenda

I pray for our country. I pray that we turn from our collectively pretty horrible ways and be the city on the hill again. I can only work on my little corner, and so can you. 

God is not dead, nor doth He sleep.

01 December 2015

Dorises Gotta Doris

This past Sunday was... challenging.

I always expect and hope that the onset of Advent will be peaceful and introspective and this year it was neither.

Declan had been up all night the night before. The pork chops I made for dinner turned out to be no bueno, even though I had just bought them the day before (I seared them off in my cast iron skillet, put them under the broiler to finish, pulled them out to rest and caught a whiff of just... Ick. So I sniffed closer and ick). Keira had a post-thrown-together-replacement-dinner meltdown so unbelievable I almost just put her to bed there and then, screaming and all, so we could start fresh in the morning. Plus I had to make it to church by 6:30 for a choir event and when I got there the parking lot was completely, entirely, overflowingly full because the 5:30 Mass was still in full swing.

So I parked as far away as I ever have, in some auxiliary parking lot belonging to the school, grumbling to myself about the distance and the cold and the rain. Because it was raining, didn't I mention that?

And then a lady from the choir, Doris*, pulled in next to me.

Let me tell you a little bit about Doris. She's probably 75 years old, and if you think I'm about to describe her as the kind of graceful older lady I want to be, you're wrong. I have only ever had interactions with this woman that left me determined never to be a black hole of relentless negativity. Because that is how she has always seemed to me.

On this Sunday evening, Doris climbed out of her car and said, "God is good to me!"

I am sure my mouth dropped open. Because I was in too bad a mood to school my face. Thankfully, she didn't see, and she went on to exclaim that she was so blessed to find a spot next to someone she knew, since she had to park so far away in the dark.

Smack in the face from God, via Doris of all people.

(Of course, the rest of what came out of her mouth during our trudge to the church was a litany of complaints, because Dorises gotta Doris.)

I couldn't stop thinking for the rest of the evening -- and the thirty-six or so hours since -- about how tricksy God is to send a message to remind me of my blessings, from the mouth of the only person in the vicinity from whom it would be so unexpected that I couldn't help but notice.

Well played, God.

*Not her real name, obviously.