This month brought some amazingly awesome discussions to the blog comments! I had way too many selected for this month's comment carnival and had to go back and weed them down. Definitely check out the posts linked here for even more perspectives on these topics!
On the post How I Got Engaged on Holy Thursday, Cathi wrote:
That's so sweet :) Happy sort of anniversary!
Holy Thursday holds a special place in my heart for similar reasons. I'm not Catholic, but Alex is, and I went to Holy Thursday mass with him last year. It was as I heard the Servant Song for the first time, holding hands with Alex, feeling surrounded by love and feeling like family, that I was hit with the lightning bolt of "I'm so totally ready to marry this guy". Your story makes me feel like less of a weirdo that a somewhat somber Catholic tradition makes me feel so schmoopy.
On the post How I Began to Understand Jesus' Sacrifice, 'Becca wrote:
Great article! I agree, there is too much emphasis on Jesus' physical suffering and death, too little on his teachings and his point that this life is not the important thing and his example of self-sacrifice in the sense of letting himself be reviled.
I realized this Easter that the Carly Simon song "Be With Me", which I've loved for 30 years, is really expressing what I feel God through Jesus says to us. Here are the lyrics, which don't look like much; it's a simple little song, but it just croons love and warmth and acceptance of us in our right relation to everything else--"feel as big and as small as you are."
In church yesterday I was struck again by the Gospel in which Mary Magdalene meets the resurrected Jesus but doesn't recognize him until he says her name. I think many of us, often, are looking for a different Jesus than the one who is right there with us.
There were a ton of responses to my question, Tell Me: Why Do People Manage Money So Badly? Here are just a few of the insightful comments that gave me a new perspective:
I struggle with this, but in a different way. I work with a lot of families who live on a fixed income (e.g., Medicare, disability, other kinds of public aid), some because they have to, but many because they choose not to work. They could make more money if they work, but in all honesty, some people are lazy and would rather live in poverty if it means they can get a check at the beginning of every month after not working. It's these families that I struggle to understand, because they complain, "I can't pay for my child's COURT-ORDERED counseling, not even $10 a week," but come to their weekly appointment carrying a full meal from McDonalds and a new pack of cigarettes. Or the family who doesn't have transportation, but when they save up a few hundred dollars so that they could buy a used van, they go and get new tattoos instead. What I (and my coworkers) have decided is that these people NEVER learned the value of saving, prioritizing spending, or thinking ahead - they just go day-to-day, and if their electricity gets turned off halfway through the month because they chose to go get a tattoo instead, so be it. It's pretty frustrating, but some people are just that way. Remember that we learned responsible money habits from our parents -- and these people likely learned their money habits from their parents. I'm seeing the children of these people grow up with a sense of entitlement - not entitlement to own the newest Ipod, but a sense of "Why should I have to work?"
[Note: I want to be clear that I'm NOT talking about people who want to work but can't obtain a job, or who work but don't make enough money to support their families because they were forced to drop out of high school and now their employment options are limited to minimum-wage jobs, or single parents who rely on public aid because they NEED it to provide for their families.]
Those are my thoughts. :)
It's actually a bunch of things. Usually they weren't taught good spending habits, or weren't really taught self-control growing up. They really, genuinely can't control themselves. Of course, once they are adults, they need to take responsibility and figure out how to fix their impulse problems, but that's difficult, and usually requires them to get in way over their head before they realize what's wrong.
Plus, our society makes it soooooooo easy to do. Credit at the drop of a hat, finance everything under the sun, incentives to do so (rack up frequent flier miles at the mall!). Add in the fact that we have a distorted idea of what money *should* be able to buy us, that we don't realize what it is *actually* capable of buying us. We tend to think, "I'm making $60K a year, I should be able to buy a Mercedes!" when in reality, that's nowhere near enough money to support a Mercedes-type of lifestyle.
I also think media plays a big part in this distortion. Look at shows like "Friends:" Rachel was a waitress, Phoebe was a sometimes-employed masseuse, Monica was a chef at mediocre restaurants (in the early episodes) but they ate out all the time, had fabulous clothes and hair, and lived in a roomy apartment in a cool neighborhood. I'm sorry, but those jobs are scrapping-by-to-live kind of jobs, but it's easy to be fooled into thinking otherwise.
And Melissa said:
It's interesting because there was a point in my life where I would spend my entire paycheck on makeup and clothing even though I had bills to pay. And at that point my husband was worried about marrying me because of how easily I would spend cash. Then we worked on it together and it all changed. Anyways for me it was a happiness thing. Instead of going to the root of whatever was making me unhappy I would shop. Then of course because I was shopping to quickly fix how I felt I would constantly feel shoppers guilt.
Now a days I find it difficult to even get a coffee at starbucks. I tend to save spending for whenever I get birthday money or something like that. And even then I would rather find a way to save then pay full price. Half the time I will sit and figure out a way to make what I want instead of just spending cash. I think seeing bills rack up just kinda made me realize that it was time to grow up.
Finally, there was a great discussion in the comments of Spreading the Good News about Natural Family Planning!
Katie @ NFP and Me said:
I couldn't agree more. When I started using NFP I was using it because I am Catholic but begrudgingly so. But actually using it is what has changed my viewpoint on it. I think a lot of people could come to appreciate it too if it were just taught to them in a way that was practical for them (health reasons, complications with the pill, being green, etc.) In fact I just wrote about this (in response to all the backlash from that WaPo article.) Here's another post you may like that has these themes by my friend Sarah! :)
Charcoal Renderings said:
Thanks for talking about this topic. And honestly, I don't feel like one major religion should have a monopoly on something that encourages health and conscious family planning decisions for couples. I don't think it has to stay married to the Catholic theology at all---it can be mentioned, certainly, and if the listener is interested in pursuing more of that background, then that is a spiritual decision for them that I can't make for them. But for all practical uses, I should be able to utilize NFP as a non-Catholic and not have that diminish the standing of my own personal beliefs.
I also think it's just a good way to learn about our bodies! That's another thing that pills and condoms don't allow us to do-I'm all for these contraception methods, but a lot of younger women are coming out of their schooling thinking that their only option is to get on birth control, which may or may be something they can afford or want (since I do know a lot of ladies who get sick from it). Immediately going on the pill because it "seems like the only option" available to women takes away the unique process of trying something like NFP, which teaches us about our cycles and how to understand the ways our bodies naturally work to reproduce. And if resisting those "oops" urges is really so difficult... then a backup method could certainly be used. But I think educating our girls about their bodies sooner is ALWAYS a win, since too many teens are acting on their hormones and winding up pregnant and not understanding how it happened in the first place. Great topic!
And finally, Alice said:
Admittedly, until recently, I've felt that NFP was very much a Catholic thing. Every time I can think of that I was exposed to the concept, it was hand in hand with Catholic doctrine. Not being Catholic, I listened respectfully, but couldn't quite get behind it. It seemed like a lot of work when I could take care of birth control with much easier means.
I really didn't think about it again until I was forced to become aware of my body. Figuring out the signals my body was giving me became a lot easier when I started using the NFP method. I now have a system at my disposal that inherently gives me a plethora of information to take to the doctor. I can give very detailed information as opposed to guesses and estimates. I think both my doctor and I can agree that this is helping us along.
Not being sexually active, however, gives me some wiggle room as well. Since I am not having sex,nailing down my fertility window isn't as big of a deal as I imagine it would be for a woman who is sexually active. I have some time play with the method, if you will, before deciding if I want to use it with my partner.
Long story short, I agree that is definitely worth exposing young people to independent of the Catholic doctrine. It might not be their cup of tea as far as birth control goes, but it is a good source of information. Ignorance and sex are a horrible combination, so the more people have to work with, the better off they are going to be in the end.
Thanks so much to all of you who take the time to share your thoughts! And remember that I almost always reply, so be sure to check back so we can keep the conversation going!