vendredi, mars 26, 2010

The Shoes of the Fisherman

Yesterday I went into the city to see an old friend. After some talk about family and careers, we spoke about the current state of affairs in the Catholic Church.

Our children attended the same parochial school. l talked about what it felt like to be a non-Catholic in that sometimes insular environment. He told me that even sometimes being from another parish made them feel like an outsider. And yet, I said, there were some marvelous teachers -- truly dedicated to helping my daughter in her oft baffling voyage through middle school. Overall, our parochial school experience was very good.

A short step then to the current tide of abuse cases bubbling like a witches cauldron in Europe, a tide that appears to go right to the door of the current Pope Benedict, former Cardinal Ratzinger.

My friend is a faithful Catholic in a local parish, one in which the priest is known for being conservative. So the harshness of his verdict surprised me.

It came down to: sow the wind, reap the whirlwind. According to him, those in the hierarchy perpetrated a pattern of secrecy. In covering up abuse, they deserved what they got.

In such an environment, of couse, the innocent clergy can also be victimized by the awful actions of the guilty.

My friend works for an anti-child abuse agency. So perhaps I shouldn't have been intrigued by the way he reacted.

But when I asked him why he stayed, he said what so many of us say about our corrupt and sinful churches -- we focus on the local church, not the global one. And we recognize that our clergy are also broken and sinful people -- like you, like me, even like the Holy Father.

I can't help but wonder what kind of institution will emerge out of this crisis. Will it be, as John Allen asked on NPR today, one that is willing to investigate and reform itself? Will believers look at the Pope the same way?

And what about future Popes? Will the faithful take a more Protestant position on the notion of obedience?

There is in this no reason to slam the Catholic church. You'd do better to look at your own denomination. Or your parish. Or yourself. We aren't any different on the inside. Any institution has its shadow sides.

And yet even to say that indicates how much the basics of the conversation have changed.

St. Peter's home hasn't imploded-- but the ground underneath it is shifting. Time will tell what it looks like when the smoke clears.

mardi, mars 23, 2010

So where were they?

To this stay-at-home slacker (ok, so I had a sermon to write and church service to lead) the irony seemed inescapable.

Two of my friends attended marches this weekend.

One of them chronicled a Tea Party protest of the Democrat's health care reform initiative.

The other attended and videotaped a march in support of immigrants, undocumented workers, and wholesale immigration reform.

What united these two groups? Not a heck of a lot but conviction.

Thousands of people in the street. Speeches. Signs. Passion. I've been on enough marches to know that those who attend almost always feel the media called the numbers wrong.

The thing that fascinated me was that both groups apparently felt ignored or undercovered by the so-called MSM, the "mainstream media."

I've been wondering why so many of us engaged in the political process feel unworthy of notice by the media -- and I ain't talking about that reality show you think you'd be wonderful on.

It takes nothing away from commenters and advocates to wonder if perhaps the issue is larger and more complicated and can't be reduced to one major factor.

Yes, questions of bias, lack of representation in newsrooms, or even a reporter's cultural context are all legitimate.

In any given situation, from any one journalist, all of these may play into the mix.

Yet just as often, I have a feeling that what impelled lack of coverage might have been that one particular editor, with fewer and fewer journalists to assign to a story, decided something else was more important.

I don't have an answer -- or I think that there are many possible answers. But I'm intrigued that the press continues to be held accountable for sins of commision and omission in this respect -- even as they vanish.

lundi, mars 22, 2010

Do U Limbo?

I made a lunch date today -- a date that involves going into Philadelphia.

Getting into our lovely town involves a half an hour drive and then about an hour on the train.

Now, this might not seem like a big deal to you readers. After all, it's only lunch, isn't it?

But it was for me.

I just started a new, part-time job. That means lots more writing, public appearances, visiting shut ins and older folks who can't get out -- and talking. Honestly, it's the add-on conversations that I find the most difficult.

That's on top of the other part of my schitzophrenic work life -- the outspoken writer with which some readers are familiar.

Not to mention selling a house.

Hopefully, buying a house.

And a child that needs to be picked up from chess club by 4:00.

What I found when I contemplated lunch with somebody I hadn't met was a tremendous weight of inner resistance.


Not as limber, not as spontaneous as you were...said a quiet but irritating voice.

That's what got me off my duff. OK, I'm not as limber as I once was -- those aches and pains in the morning remind me when I blithely jumped out of bed without thinking about my neck or legs or back.

But I'm still young enough to make choices about how mentally and physically flexible I can become. And I'm finding it's a skill that I need to practice.

So it's the 11:12 from Exton. And hopefully an interesting talk about landscapes, and Quakerism, and photography. If I learn one new thing, it will have been worth the trip.

How about you?

Are there areas where you need to work on your inner or outer flexibility?

Maybe the Simpsons will give you some ideas...