Saturday, April 13, 2013

When Evangelize Sounds More Like Scandalize

It's been observed that having a judicious temperament includes knowing when to simply be quiet. What's the opposite of judicious, then? That's the one I have. The temperament of a defendant, or maybe a plaintiff, but I wish to be no one's Judge. And thank God for His wisdom on that. We could take a moment of silence to observe it, even.

Blogging has served a thrilling mix of the accessible and the impossible for me, since jumping in with both feet two years ago, after an annual Christmas letter mailing just left me overflowing with more to say. A convert to Catholicism, I find endless study, joy and conversion in the tenets of our faith. Reading certain blogs has urged me along the journey. It's also been helpful to express these beliefs by writing them down, in the sense that I could refer to authoritative teachings and teachers while paddling alongside them in my own way. It's been cool.

None of this is to say that writing publicly in my limited scope has helped me to become a stronger Christian. It hasn't. With the exception of highlighting my own scholastic and spiritual weaknesses --- a focus I'm thankful for --- this has been mostly an exercise in networking. Still valid, still gratifying and productive. But not growth, for me. There are graceful women who can avoid being unfairly combative while elucidating Truth, and I commend them.

"I write to make sense of my life," is a sentiment I heard twenty years ago and loved immediately. It now sounds slightly vain and limited, but as far as it goes is still true for me. My faith makes sense to me now, and writing about it has been a small but vital part of that.

I am newly sensitive to the formulaic cheapening of our faith for cynical gain, after an exchange heralded by a popular Catholic blogger, in which "traditional" Catholics were prompted to decry the secret anti-Semitism amongst the people they worship with. Hardly a light charge. Stuttering denials and outrage ensued. Crazy anti-Semitic (the word crazy being descriptive, not a qualifier, for there's no other kind) things were typed to the blog author in response. However, all sane voices claiming to run in traditionally-minded circles but never hear such filth were ignored. A pattern emerged: either tacitly cheer the hip blogger and mock the square kids in skirts, or prepare to be shunned. Una Voce, people.

Sometimes I read the posts offered here and see a predictable pattern: "Orthodoxy (from the Greek, 'straight, upright', no?) rules! Believe me and St. Augustine --- and if you don't, allow me to shock you with a sordid, self-referential anecdote." Formulas are tiresome, and if there's one thing I learned from the smirking condescension lobbed my way this afternoon, it's that guilt by association has a formula all its own. When an accuser is intent on proving their point over discovering even a hint of new data, no defense is possible. I trust God alone to direct my soul, and have no doubt that the gift of reason will serve me in discerning the company I keep at mass or anywhere else. I don't need edicts from the internet or a Facebook pep rally about bravery to do so.

And so it follows that I now assess my associations. Let God find me in a Latin mass all day long before He sees me bowing down to self-appointed spiritual directors posing as bloggers, so hungry for plain old meanness and detraction. We must be careful that leaps to rashness and amusement at the expense of charity don't become idols in themselves. I'm comfortable saying 'we' because I mean 'me'. I must be careful of this.

Lox Populi, in its name, is a claim that the voice of the people is not, after all, the voice of God. (Plus my daffy nod to the superiority of Alaskan seafood.) I wonder if that's an irrelevant claim to stake online, where being loud and pithy too often passes for virtue and truth. Mob rule has no charity. It seeks evidence to fulfill a foregone conclusion, and ignores any contrary testimony. There's no judicious temperament required, only a grudge and a megaphone.

If I began writing in this space with at least the clarity of knowing I have much more to learn than I do to teach, that clarity remains. And I want to write about motherhood now, with many of the same intentions (mostly justifying the suspicious amount of reading I like to do). My motivation is growth as a writer --- with opinions and observations about modern culture through the prism of Catholicism coming naturally. Joyfully swimming upstream towards the shared aim of sainthood, and challenging myself to excellence, these all still matter very much to me.

This blog will stay active, but I envision a season of learning and sharing more on the personal topic of vocation: if you'll join me, please find newer posts at The Reasonably Redneck Childhood.

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