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Thursday, July 05, 2018

I'm In For Hugs If You Need Them

Something touched me here. It just did, and now we have to talk about it. First off, as you read, shut off that part of yourself that needs to punch holes, to correct, and to minimize. It's always something. I'm an orthodox Catholic; you can imagine I have a few things to leave at the door, if I want to enter in with any kind of empathy.

In some ways, I'm the literal worst person to do this. "Fervent," "zealous," maybe even "unyielding" might be words people use to describe me. I cannot understand myself without God. There is no me, in fact. This reality uneasily coexists with the fact of my weakness, failure, and hypocrisy, but I suppose this isn't news. I'm a personality that is certain, and in most things. There was once a man I was friends with, and I told him I really loved the David Horowitz memoir, "Radical Son." He said he didn't like its "conversionist" aspect. I get it; people like me and Horowitz change our minds, but never with doubt, hesitation, or humility. I'm the kind of person who takes 10 people with me, whatever I'm doing.

I've never doubted my faith. On the other hand, going from Reformed Protestant to Catholic has some interesting analogs. What do you do when it seems you have lost everything you relied on? I can tell you that I needed something familiar, something human, to remind me that I was still me. Friendships died, but some survived. Those that had their self-image wrapped up in particular dogmas may have tolerated me, so long as I didn't threaten that self-image, but as I did, they went away at their pleasure. I wish them well. One of the tough things, being a proclaimer, being a leader, is that you tend to go, "How do you not see X, Y, and Z?" and lack a certain patience with those who can't see what you see. People are funny, aren't they? Even me. I don't have a current practice of dialogue with my former co-religionists, for this reason. Right now, I have to love certain people more abstractly, for their good and mine.

I wasn't turned off by hypocrisy, or harmed by anyone in any grave way. It's funny, though: if people don't want to take you seriously, they'll find any reason they can to convince themselves they don't have to. I am proud enough that this does fill me with something akin to rage, if I don't watch it. In the end, I have had a lifetime of being brushed aside, patronized, or similar reactions.

I'm not sure Chris here would describe where he is as unbelief, but maybe he would. In any case, I saw signs for hope and joy, mainly because I read him and say, "He doesn't seem to be radically different than before, in some bad way." Who are we? What do I know to be true about myself, others, and the world around me that has not changed? There is a limited usefulness to the phrase, "be true to yourself," mainly in the fact that what we construct is only as good and true as we are, but I think it can be helpful here. We do not live in a world of no truth, goodness, or beauty, and in fact, those things do not subsist in my ability to apprehend them! God doesn't need me! There may be all manner of bad outcomes for me to decide I do not need God, but the reverse is not true.

Meditating on the fact of my uselessness, in fact, reminds me of something Bishop Barron has been saying. If the Almighty truly is Almighty, He need not coerce. If I am breathing and doing all the things I do, God is more behind it all than my capacity to know, or to thwart. I may indeed incur debts for my unbelief, but it will not change the fact of my dependence.

Love is an interesting consideration. We could use some definition of terms, but what do we do with our greatest desire, our highest aspiration? I suppose right now, [In 2013.--ed.] Chris doesn't know, really, and that's OK. There is something oddly hopeful about being alive. We are metaphysical oddities, even in the darkness of not wanting to be here. What's it all about? I'm not entirely an expert, but I'm in for hugs, if you need them.

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Divorce: Stop "Explaining," And Listen

You probably don't have any idea how horrible divorce really is, for a child. One slogan we hear is kind of true: "Kids are resilient." It's kind of true, because children are often amazingly courageous and loving, many times. The real question is, "How courageous do you want to force your children to be?"

I read a thing the other day on that site Scary Mommy. This woman said she had a B+ marriage, but told her husband to try something exciting. He said no. It came out that he was resenting being controlled, and he'd finally had enough. They divorced. This woman inflicted carnage and suffering on the world over a "B+". And apparently, she's so controlling that a little conversation about trying a dance class erupted into this ending. They're still friends. How precious! Get back together, you scumbags. If you love your kids at all. If you were dumb enough to get "re-married," break that off, if at all possible. I'm not kidding. The kids are most definitely not all right.

I sat in the seminary chapel where I was once in school crying like a baby. A guy that was probably way too personal wanted my advice. It was just a question. He said he knew a kid whose parents were divorcing. "What would you say to that kid?" I was 29 years old. My parents were divorced 27 years prior. In fact, my father has been dead since 1989. By the time I finished my brief answer, I was a fountain. "It's not your fault." That's all I said. That's all I needed to say. That's what that little kid doesn't know, even if you tell him until he is old. That kid will have holes he doesn't understand, and can't even describe. And his parents put them there.

What about abuse? If you're in danger, absolutely, get out. Be safe. That doesn't mean divorce, and marry someone else. It just doesn't. Most folks aren't in grave danger. They just don't know how to get along. For those people, I have only one thing to say: Suck it up, and figure it out. I'm absolutely encouraging staying together for the kids. Whatever literature saying otherwise there is, it's garbage.

Go see Gottman, or read his books. Work on whatever toxic communication strategies are in play. WORK IT OUT.

If I'm totally honest, I'm envious of people from intact families of origin. It's not normal for me. It seems like a dream, or a TV show. You want to know where all this suicide, drug abuse, and violence is coming from? Divorce. You don't want to hear it, I know. It's still true. Homosexuality? Gender confusion? Divorce.

Some of you will feel threatened by this, because you are divorced. Maybe even abandoned. I'm sorry. I truly am. But in general, we have normalized a grave crime against our own children, in order to serve a god of personal fulfillment. Take up and read.