Friday, May 22, 2015

In Which I Apply to Be Jane Austen's Next Protagonist

[In all honesty, Jane Austen is brilliant. This is purely for the purposes of humour, and no offense is meant.]

From Pride & Prejudice 2005


My Dear Miss Austen,

I am writing to apply for the position of Austen Heroine. I humbly submit, for your approval, my credentials:

- While I have little experience in wearing/looking good in Empire-waisted dresses, I am decidedly pro-apron and pro-floor-length nightgown. 

- I love to sing. I'm not good at it, but as long as there is an annoyingly-perfect woman who is secretly engaged to the local heartthrob singing louder, that matters little. I know not how to draw, paint tables, embroider cushions, or play the pianoforte; I am, however, well-practiced in conversing with pompous elderly men, as well as sitting through one-sided conversations with ridiculous women, and eating dinner among people with matchmaking habits.

- I have at least three sisters. 

-You have permission to list all the faults of my family in the first chapter, and save mine for later on, by way of a humbling realization that I've been a prideful git all this time, which hopefully results in a timely marriage to a person of good standing and even better character.

- Speaking of marriage, some select relatives who shall remain unnamed have made tacky jokes about marrying me off since I was about twelve. That's real experience, right there.

- And I am perfectly willing to make all hypothetical future references to sex, menstruation, and pregnancy exceedingly vague. 

- One of my middle-names is Charlotte, which not only can be read-into as an obscure connection to Cambridge, but which is easy to work with, and a nice alternative to Mary and Elizabeth (coincidentally, I am closely related to an Elizabeth, and also a Samuel, and to a James. It's like we walked out of a Regency baby-name book.). So if you'd like to make the fictionalized version of me the niece of a countess, or something, do go ahead.

- I'm into battles-of-wits. I'm also into agonized walks, alone, through gardens, over-thinking my love-life; discussing things with close friends while we 'take a turn about the room', and judging said friends' potential spouses. Tension-filled dances are also all good on this end.

- As are gents with names like Fitzwilliam, Robert, Edward, Edmund, and Charles. Nothing like a nice old-fashioned name. And a nice old-fashioned coat. And a nice old-fashioned declaration of love that opens with, "This is a charming house." [My apologies to anyone I might know named Fitzwilliam, Robert, Edward, Edmund, or Charles. Honestly not trying to flirt; you just have great names.]

- Hypothetically, I would be completely cool with naming a baby girl after you. 

- I think that it is intolerably stupid not to take pleasure in a good novel. 

Please take your time in replying, madame, and thank you for your marvelous contribution to literature. 

Yours sincerely,

Grace 


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Feminism, Femininity, and Dirty Words (Part 1: Feminism)

You know what's practically a dirty word today in the circles of many Catholics and other Christians?

Feminism.

Ew, no, yuck, can we not talk about this? Catholics don't like feminism, right? Unless you're a weird Catholic, the kind who grow out their body-hair and brew their own ale. [What can we say? Catholicism is the breeding-ground for hipsterism. Like, half of our heroes smoked pipes. Trappists make beer. We baptized coffee. Modest dressing codes make vintage clothing even more desirable.]

Back to the point. We are a Universal Church, so we're Noah's ark. There are all kinds of us aboard. Some of us seem to have about as much a problem with feminism as we do with pie. Some of us would pull a Saint George (or a Saint Nick?) to see feminism killed. On the one hand, we've got, "Feminism slaughtered our values and we have to put an end to it!" and on the other hand, we've got, "It's called New Feminism, hello!"

                      


Let's have a look at this, courtesy of Google Images:

This is roughly the equivalent of me going into a Tim Horton's
in a 2010 Olympics scarf and Maple Leaf mittens, and taking
a selfie there while eating maple candy and captioning it,
"Eh?"


What is meant by Traditional Gender-Roles, exactly?

We should be a little more careful with that phrase. We should be as respectful of the woman who stays at home with the kids as the woman who pursues a high-power job. There's nothing wrong with stay-at-home motherhood, long hair, long skirts, having more than one or two children, homemaking, etc. But we also can't forget that not every woman has a vocation to such a life (the life of the stay-at-home wife and mum; nor is every woman especially fond of/suited to what would be, traditionally, women's work), nor that the tradition we refer to was not all sunshine and roses for us ladies. Women have not always been classified, by law or in practice, as people.2

This song seems appropriate at the moment:

       

The thing I like about this song is that she isn't saying he should be under her thumb ("I don't tell you what to say / I don't tell you what to do"), but that he should be giving her the same respect she gives to him. Of course the, "To say and do whatever I please!" bit isn't as fabulous (once you start doing whatever you please, what you please tends to become very boring and limited; and what if what you please is to kill your neighbour? Yeesh.), but the overall message: she is going out with him, not being owned by him. (Also, her expression at 0:18. Priceless. New life goal: mastering that Withering Glance.).

Basically, ladies, you've got feminist movements (the article linked to has a run-down of the various Waves of Feminism) to thank for the fact that you can pursue a higher education, own property, vote, run for office, and get paid the same money for the same work (no, not that a female fry-cook should earn the same as a male CEO, just that the female fry-cook, supposing she does her job as well as the male fry-cook, should be paid the same as he is, not less just because she's a girl).

"Yes, well, okay," so many women say, "but modern feminism isn't the same."

When people say 'modern feminism' they usually mean either straight-up misandry or the pro-abortion movement, both of which are separate trees, probably in a whole 'nother garden. Misandry and abortion have no place in a movement that is supposed to be for ensuring the well-being of all persons to the best of our ability. The definition of feminism is the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities, as well as organized activity in support of women’s rights and interests.

Some people who profess themselves to be feminists don't hold to that definition, really, because what they preach detracts from, rather than attests to, the equal dignity of all human beings. Feminism is a complex concept with many different branches, and has enough room for people to get in on the action without participating in any abortions, downing any Pills, taking off any clothes, or burning any brassieres- yes, even we Christians. There are good parts to feminism that we should be supporting, as Christians, namely:

1.) Men and women/boys and girls are equal in dignity (not nature- men don't often get pregnant), and we must be compassionate and respectful towards all human beings; to act according to the principle of all people being made in His image- essentially, being people with opinions, thoughts, and feelings, rather than things for us to use.

2.) Objectification and sexism are still real problems. In so many places around the world, women still don't have the rights we first-world folks do, which is where organized activity in support of women's rights and interests comes in. If someone is oppressed or disrespected because they're a woman- or if they wouldn't be oppressed or disrespected if they were a man- that is a real problem that must be given attention. It's not that, "Women need to rule the world and all men are pigs!" 
It's that someone is being abused because of their sex, and that is just plain wrong. I hope and pray that we would do the same for an oppressed man. And for the record, demanding free contraceptives or expecting to be celebrated for sleeping around is not on the same level of 'women's interests' as being shot in the face for standing up for girls' education. A man having a beard, or sitting with his legs apart, is not the same as an acid-attack. There is a 'war on women', but it has less to do with how offended you are that a man held the door open for you, than it does with women trapped in the sex-trade.

3.) The feminist movement, in all its complexity, is of course going to have some nasty parts. The human character, in all its complexity, has some nasty parts. The world, in all its complexity, has some nasty parts. Which is why, if we're not going to invent a new word that means exactly the same thing as the definition of feminism posted above, we should reclaim feminism, the word we already have. We must start calling things like they are: man-hating is not feminism, man-hating is misandry. Some men are going to be horrible people, some women are going to be horrible people. One group of people isn't horrible because of their gender, nor is the other gender a collection of the flawless.

Join us next time when we flip the proverbial coin and talk about femininity, and why it is also not a bad word. And then how the two words are connected. This is fun.

Much love,
G

Monday, May 18, 2015

C'est La Vie | Non-Hoserhood

Happy Victoria Day! Perfect excuse to watch The Young Victoria and fangirl over the gorgeousness of the outfits, set, etc.

                             

***



Ghost foot.


***
James Norrington: "You are, without a doubt, the worst pirate I ever heard of."
Captain Jack: "But you have heard of me."
-Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl

"Oh, the impossibleness of some people!" -little brother (he speaks truth)

So comes snow after fire, and even dragons have their endings.
-The Hobbit

The tyrant dies and his rule is over, the martyr dies and his rule begins.
-Soren Kierkegaard

Those guys just called me a hoser, he said out loud.
He didn't know what to do with this information.
How do you demonstrate you're not a hoser to three drunks? If he went outside and tried to parade his non-hoserhood he would become, by definition, a hoser. He had no room to manoeuvre. He had been hosed- and without a single word spoken. Hosed with a sonorous cry from a drunk in an alley. His alley.

-Stories From the Vinyl Cafe

***
Have a great day, dearies, and God bless.




Monday, May 11, 2015

"I Want Your Blood" (a Father Catfish Homily)

Facebook told me this morning that today would be Father Catfish's birthday. It is a little sad to be suddenly reminded of his passing, but it is also good to know that this isn't truly the end. Please join me in continuing to pray for his soul, and here: this is my favourite homily of his, which I hope you enjoy.

Blessings,
Grace

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

"Y'all Need Jesus!" (or, Where People Writing to Christian Singles Fail)

It would probably not take one very long to find a blog-post about how you must take advantage of your time as a single person to grow in your relationship with Jesus. 

Now, this is all very well and good. Until it isn't.

What these posts often sound like is less, "You aren't dating, engaged, or married; this may feel terrible. Here are some things that may help you through the loneliness/to get into the dating scene." and more like, "You aren't in a relationship because you're a shallow Christian, and you don't love Jesus enough, and romance is for holy people, and once you're canonized, then you'll have a sweetheart. Oh, wait..." or, "You don't need relationship because you have Jesus."

This is a grimy railing separating you from a grimier
river, on a grimy, grey day. This is, essentially, what
it sometimes feels like to be a Christian without a
significant other. 

There is one word for such messages: bull. 

(I'm going to try and do right by this topic as much as I can; bear with me, mellons. Forgive any incivility; let me know if there are any minor heresies, please.).

This isn't to say that having a relationship with Christ should take the back-burner to romantic pursuits, and it's not to say that He doesn't care about your love-life at all. He does. He is Love. And I will say that being Catholic does help, mostly in the Prevention of Stupid Things Department (as chastity is there to prevent us from lust-driven stupid actions, which are like regular stupid actions, but worse). But there are problems with the posts that we should- nay, must!- get rid of, and right away. 

First of all, please note that we, Catholic/Christian singles, are usually well aware that no flawed human being will fully satisfy us, and that we can't fully satisfy another flawed human being. If you were not aware of this, please note that you cannot be God to someone else, and they cannot be God for you. However, most of us have been informed of this time and time again, so we do get it, or at least, we should. The fact that no other flawed person is going to fill our every void does not mean that none of us need relationships with other people.

We are made for community. We need to have contact with others. Else we will paint faces on volleyballs with our own blood, or something to that harrowing effect. Point being: we are made in the image and likeness of Love. Ergo, we are made to give love and to be loved. God's love is infinitely wider and deeper and humbler and better than our own, and one of the primary ways we struggle to love Him back is through His other children. Whatever you do to the least of these. 'To love another person is to see the face of God'. So, if you are feeling like you must be some sort of freak because you're a Christian who is lonely at times, you're not. You're a person, called to community, married or celibate, lay or consecrated religious.

Secondly, and just to get the awkwardness out of the way real quick, sexual desire is natural and without it we wouldn't be here; sex is a good thing and an icon of the Trinity and marriage is the primordial representation of God's Love; sexual desire is not the same as lust; sexual desire, like the desire for food, must be controlled, but is not inherently wrong. Okay? You are not a monster because you have hormones. Just repeat that until it sinks in, if you must.

Thirdly, you are not single because you don't love Jesus enough. We are creatures of little love, greedy, selfish, proud, vain. Plenty of single people are horrible people. Plenty of married people are also horrible people. Me, I'm somewhere between Blessed Mother Teresa and Hitler. None of us are as holy as we could be; there's only ever been one Jesus ("But I don't want to be God, I just want to be sinless." Okay, there's only ever been one Blessed Virgin, too.). People are quick to insinuate that the reason you don't have a significant other is because you don't love God enough. Nobody ever goes up to a mother and says, "You're in this state of being because you don't love God enough." Why do we assume that we can pour all the flak we'd never give the married or consecrated celibate to the people who've not made vows? What did single people do to receive the Christian community's ire? 

Fourth and lastly, it is silly to tell single people how much they need Jesus and not to tell married people the same. Each stage in life is accompanied with its own challenges and perks, and each stage in life is to be traversed with Christ, but we tend to respect singleness less. As in, not at all. Singleness isn't a bad thing in itself; isolation is. Don't isolate single people, tell them their single-people problems aren't real problems, tell them that everything will be just peachy if they just love Jesus more, and that they haven't any reason to feel lonely as long as they make it to church on Sunday.

God created us for communion. Being a Christian and not in a romantic relationship is not always fantastic. If you're going to write an article about making the most of one's single years, acknowledge that.



Saint Raphael, pray for us. Saint Joseph, pray for us. Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us. Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us. Amen.

Much love,
G

Monday, May 04, 2015

Thoughts You Have Wearing Jeans (When You Never Wear Jeans)

[Going to be a bit silly today. Cheers.]

There is a thin line between love and hate. It is called the non-adjustable waistband.




OH MY GOODNESS HOW DOES ONE FIT ANYTHING IN THESE POCKETS





Do I tuck my shirt in? Am I a cowgirl now? Should I move to a ranch?


Fairly certain that belt-loops were specifically invented to stick your thumbs through while you casually strut. 



The other point of jeans- their being comfortable- is a complete and utter myth. You see, this is what happens when you wear soft, baggy clothes all the time. You get used to all the comforts and privileges of elevated rank- sorry, what? Thinking about Jane Austen's heroes now. I doubt they would have approved of jeans. 



THESE POCKETS ARE CUTTING OFF THE CIRCULATION IN MY FINGERS EVERY TIME I REACH INTO THEM HELP MEH



Low. Rise. 
Why. 


Do I really like these, or despise them with the fire of a thousand suns?


Spill water on these and they will not dry for love nor money. 


These pants wouldn't start a magical traveling sisterhood, that's for sure.



NEVER AGAIN




Well, maybe once or twice. If desperate. If moved to a ranch. 

The run-down: whiskey (yuck), battered hat (fun), severe lack of sunscreen (DEATH),
bellowing cows (nostalgic), impoliteness (nah, not very charitable),
[insert generic western-movie stereotype here] (possibly fun and possibly DEATH),
cornbread (yes), guys with scrappy beards (possibly eligible
and possibly impolite moonshiners who sell homemade whiskey on the black
market and shoot people for stepping on their feet in saloons, also known
as not eligible), guns (eh), fistfights (nope), rodeos (most decidedly nope),
a log cabin with chickens and potatoes (would I get the resilience and
strength of character of Abbey Deal? If so, then yes). Overall verdict:
probably not going to move to a ranch. 

Friday, April 24, 2015

Bad Convert: What On Earth Do We Bring to the Table?

*Note: while the title of this post is 'Bad Convert', this needn't apply to only converts; reverts and cradle Catholics are more than welcome, of course.

Do you ever get the feeling that if you see one more article about a certain topic, you will have no choice but to scream, pack your bags, and move to a secluded mountain village with vampire legends just to escape the incredible annoyingness of other people? (I'm only being slightly hyperbolic here).
For some people these are articles (inevitably written by the middle-aged and married) about how we should be enjoying our young and carefree days, or vegans telling us how we're destroying the earth and betraying king and country by eating that piece of bacon (sorry, vegans), or pieces that mainly consist of someone making vaguely sexist jokes about their spouse. For me, it is every time someone says something along the lines of, "I love Protestant-to-Catholic converts; they're so great at Bible-reading and evangelizing!"
Stop it. Stop it now.
Make no mistake, most Protestant churches put a lot of emphasis on 'digging deep into the Word' and 'spreading the joy of Jesus' and 'being on fire for God'. In school, we had to do Scripture memorization for marks; parents would give their children prizes for reading through the whole Bible in a year, or race their kids to see who could finish first. So it's very awkward when one says one used to be a Protestant, only to be met with the immediate (and understandable) assumption that one is well-versed in Scripture, when one... isn't.
I have always been terrible at reading the Bible. By the time I had my own Bible to read, I had heard the stories so often that I felt my head would burst if I read them through, and some of the Bible's writers seemed to lack JK Rowling's storytelling flair (I was the kid who sat on the floor of their wardrobe reading Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince in pajamas). I think that most kids I knew had read through the whole Bible, or at least read it regularly, by the time we were in fourth grade; I read Isaiah for the first time about a year ago. I am the worst Bible-reader I know- I am, in short, what a lot of Protestants think Catholics are.
The second thing, about being a great evangelist, also has its exceptions. If 'being on fire for God' means being outgoing, extroverted, social, and sufficiently loud, then I am an empty hearth. I like to talk about my Faith, but I like to in smaller groups of people I know well, without our sweaty palms clamped on one another's shoulders or the question, "ARE YOU SAVED?!" being tossed out like spare Lego parts from a nanny's purse (the answer to which is, by the way, I have been saved, I am being saved, and, God willing, I will be saved). There are those of us who can only take so much noise and crowding. There are those of us who really struggle with reading the Bible consistently, or even at all. Does this mean there is no place for us in the Church? Heck, no!
Of course, we all must be striving. Being antisocial doesn't mean I shouldn't be kind or share the Faith; the Bible is not always a page-turner, but I should still read it in order to better understand our Faith and grow closer to God. But I am not bringing excellent social-skills or entire books of memorized Scripture to the table.
So, if you're a Protestant-to-Catholic convert who is only beginning to read the Bible or #ShareJesus, there are things you can bring to the table that, perhaps, the rest of us can't. There's dinner-rolls already here; you bring your pasta or roast-beef (sorry, we're just talking about tables, and food, and... ahhh, food. Yum.).


Love and prayers,
Grace

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