Whom Would Kindness Kill More: Them or You?

TBM Topic 31: Comfort the Afflicted

“Whom Would Kindness Kill More: Them or You?” by Julie Robison
Trista at Not a Minx, Moron, or a Parasite
Elizabeth at Startling the Day

We three are from the oft-mentioned, widely-speculated upon demographic of young, twenty-something Catholic women. We’re here to dispel the myths and misconceptions- please join us for the discussion on Facebook and Twitter!


During Lent, we will be discussing the Spiritual Works of Mercy.

“Today I told off a cashier who was trashing the president” read the Daily Kos headline. Color me intrigued; I clicked on it. I read it. I cried (figuratively).

The writer was just a member of the site, not an official writer, and proudly stated how he actively listens to progressive radio and keeps up on current events via The Nation and Mother Jones. He apologetically admitted he grocery shopping at Meijer (not sure why, but now I know they’re “Michigan owned, .. unionized and ha[ve] a very respectable selection of organic produce as well as locally baked breads.”)

 He described the cashier as an older white woman who “looked like she’d had a hard life.” The writer, a self-described “very political person,” says he “often feel[s] bad when I see older people still working when, in a just society, they shouldn’t have to. Obviously I don’t know her story but there she was checking and bagging groceries, a job which keeps you on your feet for hours on end, at 8:30 on a Friday night.”

 That was a poignant moment for the writer. He feels a bit of compassion for this woman. But he doesn’t act on that compassion when he hears the older woman say, “Of course Obama says there’s no inflation. I don’t think the man has ever had to buy groceries in his life. He probably gets his employees to do it for him. You know, buy his arugula?”

 First comment: I had to look up arugula. It’s a salad green.

Second comment: It’s a silly connection to make between inflation and greens, but nothing inflammatory. The woman’s point is that Obama is an elitist. An elitist is not someone who is well-off financially; it’s anyone who thinks they know better than you, and worse, wants to make you follow their plan, and not allow for deviation. Progressive liberals can be elitists. So can Republicans. So can Independent voters. It’s a personality trait, usually associated with ambitious people, and not a party line. Obama fits that definition; individual health care mandate, anyone?

The author felt differently:

 My anger was building up to a boil; I mean, I just wanted to get home to that beer and who knows how many people before me had to hear this crap? So after I was all paid up and everything was in my cart I said to her, “I suggest you keep your political opinions to yourself when you’re standing there because you never know who’s standing here. I don’t appreciate hearing my president trashed like that. That’s all I’m going to say.” Her eyes flashed with anger and realization that I must be one of “those people”. She drew in a breath, about to say something and I said, “If you say one more fucking thing I’ll go find your manager and all three of us can discuss this.” At that, she suddenly deflated. Now the look in her eyes was fear. She looked down and meekly mumbled “Ok. Sorry sir.” I left then, proud of myself and still full of anger. 

Wow. Tolerance, much? After that, he felt a twinge of remorse and wondered if he had handled that poorly. He says he realizes she’s probably just a low information voter, only listening to conservative media, like Rush and Sean (verses only reading and listening to liberal media outlets), and then he threatened her job. But he’s glad he spoke his mind; he only wonders if he could have handled that encounter better.

Ahem. This is where I get to my point about comforting the afflicted: they’re not just the physically sick. They can be spiritually sick. Or just lack good manners. I miss the old ladies who would keep order by calling the naughty child’s parents. If you want a much-needed reality series, I think Miss Manners should take to the streets!

Comfort is more than sharing a meal or a beer or a laugh. It means firmly and gently showing people the way. Whether it be a friend giving advice or a offering a stranger a smile, people find comfort in kindness. The author of the above was unkind. No opinions were changed through the experience. No hope blossomed that America’s fractured politics could reconcile themselves. Instead, a man swore at a woman and claimed victory and, worse, the moral high ground.

This post isn’t about politics. It’s about love, peace, and Jesus (who, coincidentally, brings both of those things to the party). The writer is right to say we shouldn’t back down from defending our beliefs, but never at the cost of another person’s dignity. Souls are converted by fellow souls: we must never forget that Christians are the face of Christ for the unbeliever.

As Blessed John Paul II wrote in Crossing the Threshold of Hope, “Before ascending into Heaven, Jesus said to the apostles: “I am with you always, until the end of the age” (Mt 28:20). Though invisible, He is personally present in His Church. He is likewise present in each Christian, by virtue of baptism and other sacraments. It was usual to say, as early as the era of the Fathers, “Christianus alter Christus” (“The Christian is another Christ”), meaning by this emphasize the dignity of the baptized and his vocation, through Christ, to holiness.”

Dignity isn’t a mercantilism: dignity is for all, and there is an unlimited amount to go around, for loved ones as well every single person you disagree with or dislike. A person’s character is not measured based on the love they give when they feel it, but rather, loving (action verb) when feelings dictate otherwise. It’s those times in which it’s necessary to take a deep breath, smile, and  offer up a situation that is out of your control to God. Every person is unique, and therefore, going to disagree with you on certain points. Offer it up. Do not hurt another person to achieve victory. Offer it up. Let it go.

All for the glory of the Kingdom, people.

Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. (Luke 6:36)

Polls Are For Strippers!

Eighteen:

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My friend Matt works for NewsBusters, which introduced me to this delightful non-profit that keeps tabs on the media. He’s on the CNN beat, but here’s a gem from another Matt covering MSNBC. 

A transcript of the segment, which aired on March 30 at 10:17 a.m. EDT, is as follows:

[Anchor] CHRIS JANSING: President Obama’s approval rating is now at an all-time low in a new Quinnipiac poll. Libya, the economy, and the budget deficit apparently have a lot to do with it. His approval rating has dropped to 42 percent. 48 percent disapprove. By a large majority, 58 to 29 percent say the President has not clearly stated the U.S. goals in Libya.

(…)

Let me throw a couple of other numbers out there. 50 percent say the President does not deserve to be re-elected, but maybe this is the most crucial number of all – his approval among independent voters, Karen, just 39 percent. What’s your take on that?

KAREN HUNTER, MSNBC contributor: Polls are for strippers, Chris.

CHRIS JANSING: Oh, my. How long did you work on that line?

HUNTER: We should not – I’ve been thinking about this all morning. Well we should not be governed by what people think in a slice of time, in a moment in time. I mean, we have to take collectively what this President has done over the last two years, and if people do their homework, they’ll find out that Barack Obama has done more than any president since FDR to help –

JANSING: Come on, you know how we are. We’re all ADD —

HUNTER: We’re fair-weather.

JANSING: And we’re “what have you done for me lately?”

HUNTER: Exactly! And that’s why I think that this has got to be a long-term approach to looking at the President. We can’t stick our finger in our mouths and check the wind to see which way he should go. And thank goodness he’s not governing based on the polls. He’s governing based on what’s best for America, and making decisions that are right for us.

Wow. Not only is that response uncouth and, really, incongruous to the original question about the President’s decreasing support among independent voters (which, I suppose, maybe strippers would align themselves thus politically), but her continued stream of consciousness from the mouth in unapologetically bad history.

Obama has done more than any President to help what? Democrats and Republicans should be insulted of all the presidents that were left out: Kennedy created the Peace Corp and managed not to get into a fight with Cuba; Johnson created most of the government programs which a large portion of the country is still trying to keep suckling, 40 years later; Reagan helped end communism in Europe. Just wanted to throw out a few more examples.

Also, since when is the mark of a good President just by what they have done in office? How is “doing something” enough? And, because I’m unhappy with the way the President is running our country, I’m fair-weathered and have ADD? No, no, no!

Here’s an article by Victor Davis Hanson, “Obama’s Amazing Achievements” to make everyone feel better.

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Now, for someone who actually knows U.S. history. Preach it, Sen. Rand Paul!

No war in Libya! No arming the rebels! I ditto the need for more debate on this issue, and especially like the part where he mentions President Obama has had time to talk to the UN and other international councils, but not Congress. I think if you’re going to get your country involved in a 3rd war in 10 years, you should discuss it with your country first. Or is that too old-fashioned of me?

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Earlier this week, I was doing a little bit of research on papal infallibility when I ran across a lovely piece by Cardinal Newman, only to discover the website it was being hosted on says that evolution is false.

My first thought: Egads!

My second thought: AHHHHHHHHHH! No, no, no….

My third thought: Bleh. Le nincompoops.

Few things irk me more than Christians who deny possibility under God and put him into their own, small-minded box. I do not understand how one can believe all is possible with God, then deny evolution (not even taking the time to differentiate between micro and macro, just full-out denying), or limit the scope of God’s mercy, or make ridiculous statements that contradict scientific knowledge while holding the hard-line on Scripture.

Here’s a nice article from The Telegraph on how the Vatican says evolution and Christianity are compatible.

Fr. Robert Barron being awesome and talking about misreading Genesis:

Genesis is not bad science. It’s not science at all. Rather, it is exquisite theology.

On the upside, I found out that when the Pope makes an infallible statement ex cathedra when he has the entire council of Cardinals behind him, i.e. about the Assumption of Mary. He still has to make it, which is why the Chair of Peter has to be infallible, but it’s a nice seeing the little system of checks and balances within the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. To date, since the dogma was put into place in at the First Vatican Council in 1870, there have been two.

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This week = lots of editing/ work and class. I’ve gone to confession and adoration this week, but deadlines pushed my clock off, and I keep missing daily Mass, which has definitely left a little hole. On the plus side, I get to listen to (slash be in close proximity to) Peter Kreeft tonight! Oh yes. Stoked, to say the least.

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My friend Scott and two other adventurers are going to Japan to collectively ride their bike 10,000 km (North to South) to help raise money for Japan. They are covering their own expenses, so 100 percent of the proceeds goes to those in need. Here’s more info and a little video of Scott talking about it:

Even $10 would be a great donation! I know I’m making one today, as well as buying my plane tickets to South Korea to visit April!

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Just because I bet y’all need some good stuff to read: 

“Beyond the Welfare State” by Yuval Levin, National Affairs 

“The divine will and human freedom: A Thomistic analysis” by Dr. Kevin G. Rickert, Homiletic and Pastoral Review 

“Vatican launches public dialogue with atheists” by Tom Heneghan, Reuters 

“You’re not alone, doctor tells pro-life med students on national tour” by Nancy Frazier O’Brien, Catholic News Service

“Vatican Tells United Nations Human Sexuality Not an ‘Identity’, Defends Moral Truth” by Deacon Keith Fournier, Catholic.org 

“Jordan battles to regain ‘priceless’ Christian relics” by Robert Pigott, BBC

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This week’s Bright Maiden posts on patron saints gathered some great conversation. It’s an interesting concept to think that saints choose us!

This week: my post, “Saint Who”
“Budding Hope” by Trista
“Less is More” by Elizabeth

My dear friend Brad was kind enough to plug me on CatholicVote.org – hello to all visitors from there!

After this Lenten season is over, we were thinking about inviting people to share their corresponding posts on our Bright Maidens Facebook page. We’ve already been asked if we accept guest posts; we’re going to figure out protocol and then get back to y’all. Any thoughts on this and/ or interest in joining us?

Next week: Our issue(s) with the Church.

Happy April’s Fool Day! Did y’all pull any awesome pranks?! Take it easy, and check out Conversion Diary for more!

Do People Actually Eat Bran Flakes?

Week 16, yee-haw! Another really busy week, so my compulsive information sharing side is especially showing today.

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First, I must shamelessly plug the Bright Maiden series. This week’s topic was contraception. My piece is “Evil Don’t Look Like Anything”; Elizabeth’s piece is “Beyaz Yourself”; Trista’s piece is “Wearing Crucifixes and Condoms.” Many thanks to Tito Edwards at The Pulp.It for not only plugging my piece, but putting it on the top slot!

If you’re enjoying this series, you’re in luck: you can now like us on Facebook. Yeah, the Bright Maidens are going high-tech! Help us spread the good news about Christ and his Catholic Church! Two of us are in journalism, all three of us are products of Catholic education in some capacity, as well as non-Catholic education, so we know keenly the anti-Catholic prejudices and general misinformation out there, among Catholics and non-Catholics alike.

I also made an informational Bright Maidens page on my blog. Please humor me and look at it; compliments accepted at any time and place!

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Fr. Barron on the last acceptable prejudice, anti-Catholicism:

Have I mentioned how awesome Fr. Barron is? PURE AWESOME.

H/T Marcel LeJuene at Aggie Catholics

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Do you know who else is wonderful? Sen. Rand Paul: “You busybodies always want to do something to tell us how we can live our lives better; keep it to yourselves. Try to convince us through persuasion, but don’t threaten to put us in jail or put us out of business if we don’t accept your way of thinking.”

H/T Thomas Peters at CatholicVote

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Some of you may remember me mentioning yesterday that my mother is not at home this week– she is in Florida, celebrating her mother’s 75th birthday with her parents and sisters. Which is dandy and all, but we, the left behind children, have no cereal in the house. Correction: no edible cereal. Dad bought bran flakes by accident two weeks ago and no one will touch them with a ten foot spoon. I would have gone to the store, but, seeing as I did not get home till after 10 p.m. last night and did not discover how desperate we are on the cereal front until I was starving this morning, alas, just the last of the rice krispies for me!

Moral of the story: I love my mom. She never lets the cereal run low. Have you thanked your mom lately for being great? (Dads are great too, even though mine called me “pokie” this morning [as in “slow poke”].)

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Warning: this next video is beyond cute.

Michael Barber, a professor of Theology, Scripture and Catholic Thought at John Paul the Great Catholic University in San Diego, and a blogger at The Sacred Page, posted a video of him and his wife asking their two year old son (also Michael) theology questions, like, you know, on transubstantiation. Not only does the two year old shame most Catholics and get them right, but, seriously, he’s adorable:

H/T The Sacred Page (has a transcript on the post too)

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Look what happened on St. Patrick’s Day in Sydney, Australia…

Happiness! H/T Mary DeTurris Poust at OSV Daily Take

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I am so excited for this weekend! I have work to do, yes, but after the to-do list is completed-ish, I get to see a few favorite people!! Including:

And tomorrow is St. Joseph’s feast day; I hope you will all be drinking wine!

Happy Friday! See Conversion Diary for more.