We Didn’t Start the Fire . . .

172

Tennessee is on fire and Donald Trump is the President-Elect.  The haze that hangs over Knoxville matches the haze in my head and my heart.  It’s hard to think and hard to breathe.

On Election Day  many of us headed off to the polls excited about a bright new world full of promise and possibility and without glass ceilings.

The next morning we awakened to an America we didn’t recognize, a country we used to love but feel that we don’t even know any more.

We are grieving and we are discouraged and the conservatives I know (translation: almost EVERYONE I know, here in red East Tennessee) think we are crybabies and want us to get over it.

In October, I cleared out our fire pit, planning for crisp November evenings.

The pit remains empty and cold.  My bonfire dreams are dead like so many other dreams seem to be. Most of East Tennessee is under a burn ban, and this will continue until just a few days before winter begins.  Tempers are flaring too, and those flames may be harder to dampen.

I am intimately aware of the destructive power of fire.

But fire, controlled, also warms and illumines.

I love candles and every evening before we sit down to watch our show I light several.  I wait for the moment when the flame from the lighter catches the wick and the candle begins to burn on its own, its flame swelling to life.

My family visited Mammoth Cave recently. After gathering us in a large room, our guide turned off every light and left us to wait in complete, impenetrable darkness.   Then he lit just one match and the entire cave was illuminated.  Our eyes can grow accustomed to the deepest darkness.  One small flame becomes enough to see by.

Dark nights of the soul are steps along the journey to spiritual enlightenment.  By all means we SHOULD curse the darkness we see in the world around us right now.  But that doesn’t mean we can’t light candles.  We can burn. We can shine.

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light . . .  (Ephesians 5:8)

 

It's Religious Freedom, Stupid

The Catholic Church is supposed to proclaim the truth, not reflect the culture.
So IT DOES NOT MATTER if every single Catholic woman in America uses artificial birth control. (They don’t, by the way.  And that 98% figure that the media is flinging around is . . . shall we say . . . imprecise.  I’ll write about that another time.)
I’d say 98% of us Catholics have been unkind, have been dishonest, have yelled at our kids, have in general failed to live good Christian lives, some more than others.  Because, you know, we are human.  Does that mean the Church is supposed to fold and say those things aren’t sinful anymore?
This debate is not about reproductive freedom (that’s the liberal spin).  It’s not about the fact that most Catholics dissent from the Church’s teachings (that’s the media spin).  It’s not even really about President Obama being in a war against religion (that’s the conservative spin).  No, what this is about is freedom of religion.  It’s about the Constitution.  Is about the dismantling of a right that is absolutely intrinsic to what it means to be an American.  That’s why many progressive Catholics, erstwhile supporters of the President and his health care plan, are outraged.  This is so foundational that the lack of uproar among the Catholics in the pews–indeed, among people in general–astonishes me.
Don’t people remember their American history classes from grade school?  You know, the ones in which we all learned about people coming to this country to be free to practice their religion without government interference?  What if President Obama wanted to mandate (as has happened in France) that Muslim girls stop wearing their headscarves in public schools.  I don’t wear a headscarf.  The practice does not make any sense to me personally.  Some argue that it is demeaning to women.  But I would be furious if anyone tried to legislate against it and I bet a lot of others would as well.
Is it a problem that this disconnect between Church teaching on artificial contraception and the practice of most Catholics exists?  You bet it is.  There’s blame enough to go around, and I’ll write about that elsewhere so as not to cloud the issue.
American freedoms have already been eroded in the name of the “War on Terrorism.”  Do liberals really want to join in stripping away more of the rights on which this country was built?