Sunday, 24 March 2013

This would be funny, if it weren't so sad

On July 31, 2012, I wrote a posting called "This is not a kid's book! Rating XXX". So far 63 people have used this as an entry (& got quickly).

Probably not all of the 63 are looking for child pornography, but when the traffic sources contain the word prostitute or some eastern European version, one knows that a lot of those 63 people are. You can also tell from the key word searches used to get to the blog entry.

Stats are great, but sometimes they can be so depressing!

Sunday, 17 March 2013

The Slacktivist Does It Again

Fred Clark is an amazing and succinct writer.

Just in case readers think that I only care about hypocrisy in the Roman Catholic Church, Fred manages to take care of evangelical, fundamentalist hypocrisy and idiocy quite well. He could definitely label some of his posts.: "Just what is the colour (without the "u" of course) of the sky in their world".

Might I suggest that people read two of his recent posts.

The first: "It's not your 'stance', but who you're standing with". This is Fred's commentary on the sexual abuse of children in evangelical circles. His main point is as follows:

         The problem with Challies' response is not his "stance," but that he's standing in the wrong place, standing by the wrong people, standing on the wrong side. His allegiance is cast with the institution, not with the vulnerable.

The second: "Christian college fires woman for not getting abortion". The woman was only engaged when she became pregnant. The amazing part of this story is that the college then apparently offered the job to her fiancé. He didn't take it, but honestly! Read on!

The Slacktivist is on My Blog List in case you have trouble with links.

Sunday and A Brief Comment on Pope Francis

I said in a previous post that I didn't hold out much hope that the new Pope would be much different than the old. The choice of Pope was rather a surprise, and on the surface, at least, looks quite different from the previous Pope. He appears to be a "people person" and far more pastoral than B16. He is much more comfortable with people and has certainly already struck a different note - but then he is not an academic, nor is he from the Curia.

However, just like JP2, looks can be deceiving. It seems that he is a conservative in his theology. His concern for the poor is genuine in both words and deeds, but he is no liberation theologian (not that I am a fan of liberation theology - will do a post on that someday). He appears to be no friend to the LGBT community, no friend to the birth control movement - at least at this point. One of the first ominous signs is that he has appointed B16's 2nd in command as his 2nd in command. B16 is still around - the "shadow Pope" as they are calling him. No one knows how he felt about Vatican 2, for example.

Catholics want to see his election as a "breath of fresh air" or a "new spring". Hans Küng's interview with Michael Enright this morning was telling. I can't create a link to last week's interview with Küng because cbc.ca is having technical difficulties, but it is worth listening to as well.

A telling sign is listening to the media and the commentaries from Catholic priests and laypersons alike. It is almost as if the "Holy Spirrt spin doctor" has been working overtime. The Church is more than the child sexual abuse scandal - it is only 10% or so of the priests who are "bad" - the faithful make up the church (have I mentioned how Protestant the slogan that "the Church is the people of God" is?). Sure there are some bad apples in the priesthood and the Curia - nobody seems to remember the whole of that little saying: THE ROTTEN APPLE SPOILS THE BARREL.

I wish him luck. May his god advise him that there is more to worry about than the poor. The victims of sexual abuse still cry out. Zero tolerance is the cry of the angry; the cry of the wounded is for release and understanding and, for many, a way back into belief.

The universe unfolds as it will.

Time will tell and I'm sure that I will be writing more as the months go by.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Reflections on Walking the Walk

I have spent some time reflecting on my mother and trying to integrate the knowledge that she was sexually abused by her stepfather in my life. Recently, I have been thinking about the fact that I take on difficult topics, and make difficult decisions rather than opting for the more prudent road. I dive right in and say what I think needs to be said and do what I think needs to be done. I have talked before about how people will whisper their thanks in my ear at conferences. At the conference last May, someone came up to me after my talk and said "that was a very brave paper, Sheila".

Recently someone said this (that was very brave of you) to me about something that I had done and that started me thinking about "walking the walk". I sometimes don't think about how apparently rare it is that people do the difficult or right thing particularly if there are potential negative consequences. I won't say that I am unaware of potential negative consequences when I take a stance or make a difficult decision but given everything that I have written and what I believe, I would be a hypocrite to not "walk the walk" instead of just "talking the talk". [I retain the teenager's absolute hatred of hypocrisy] While I cannot discuss what has brought me to writing this post, I can say that academia is full of people who "talk the talk", but when it comes to putting the talk into practice, they devolve into self-interest mode. There is truth to the old adage of Kissinger's: "academic politics is so vicious because the stakes are so small".

To get back to my mother. Since I have learned last year that she was sexually abused by her stepfather and that this was the genesis of her refusal to ever speak to her mother, I have begun to realize that that has something to do with the way that I handle the world. It may not be genetic but it certainly feels like it was "bred in the bone". When my mother was fourteen years old, she was kicked out of her family for telling the truth. AND SHE SURVIVED. That set a pattern for the rest of her life, mostly for the better no matter how difficult things may have been for her. I will tell one story that I understand so much better now. She worked as Head Nurse and Supervisor (and teacher) of the Psychiatric Ward at the General Hospital (Grey Nuns) in Sault Ste Marie. There were issues that negatively affected the patient care and she had finally had enough and was going to resign. I was 18 at the time and she came down to the University of Waterloo to visit me. While she was there, we had a long talk about everything that was happening in the Psych Ward and why she was resigning. However, what she also wanted was advice. She didn't know whether she should make an appointment with Mother Superior and tell exactly what was happening in the ward and why she was resigning (she could have come with a phony reason, of course), which would have been extremely difficult for her. I now understand just how difficult that would have been given her past, something that I didn't understand at the time. My reply was essentially "damn the torpedoes. You are going to resign in any event, so why not just tell the truth". Now I don't know whether my mother wanted my approval or as I used to just see it as part of her dependency on me as the smart one and mother substitute. Today, I understand it a little differently. My mother needed someone to talk to. She probably already knew that she was going to have that talk with Mother Superior because that was the right thing to do no matter what the consequences. She already had my father's support. What she needed was to talk about it and mull it over and get another point of view. This is something that I have done time and time again when I have had to do those difficult things - my psychotherapist, my best friend, my youngest son (these days). I already know what I have to do - I just need to convince myself and it helps to work it out with someone else who can ask questions, offer advice and just help me coalesce my ideas. This is what my mother was doing with me - for better or worse, I was the one that she turned to when she needed to work out the how of the difficult path. She walked the walk and it turned out just fine. She took the summer off and they were banging down her door with job offers. She didn't even have to send out a resume (those were the days!). She finally decided to work for Public Health and stayed there until she retired.

I had always thought that it was my father who taught us to walk the walk - I could tell stories there as well but this post is about my mother. I now realize that my mother taught us that lesson as well - it was her greatest legacy to me, even if I didn't understand it at the time and I never knew from whence it came.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Thank God & Greyhound redux

Here is a short list of the some of people who have been censured, silenced, disciplined during the tenure of Ratzinger as head of the Congregation for the Defense of the Doctrine of the Faith (the old Inquisition).

http://bilgrimage.blogspot.ca/2013/02/droppings-from-catholic-birdcage_15.html

I am putting bilgrimage on my blog roll