Monday, February 10, 2014

Update

I'm sorry it has been three months since I have updated the blog. I have been busy writing for other sites and doing my Feminists for Life duties. Here are a few of the things I've written while I was gone:

Ignitum Today:

Currently the site is down. I will get those articles once the site is back up.

YOUCATholic.com:

Social Justice Catholic vs. Pro-life Catholic: A False Dichotomy (In part a republishing of a blog from here)

A Meditation on a Baby's Kiss

St. Maria Goretti Revisited

The True Dignity of Women:

Birth Control in the Doctor's Office

Believe Reflections: What is Love?

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Would Jesus get a tattoo?

Billboards have been popping up all over Lubbock, TX featuring a tattooed, crucified Jesus.


It directs people to a site called jesustattoo.org. No specific church is taking responsibility for the billboards. In the "About Us" section on the site, those responsible for them say that they are just what they seem, a small group of people who want to lead others to Jesus. Looking at the site, it seems to be pretty theologically neutral. It's definitely Protestant as it features a Sinner's prayer, but I found nothing there that was particularly problematic from a Catholic perspective. It even says that a follower of Jesus needs to belong to a community of believers which is an idea found more readily in Catholic circles.

So, what about the tats?

The Catholic Church teaches that tattoos as such are morally neutral. That said, there are three main factors that could push it over the fence either way.

  1. The image used or... 
  2. the location of the tattoo could be immoral or inappropriate
  3. Your motivation in getting the tattoo could be impure. "Am I seeking to glorify God or draw attention to myself? Will my tattoo be a source of contention for my loved ones? Will getting a tattoo cause me to disobey my parents? Will my tattoo cause someone who is weak in the faith to stumble?" are all good questions to ask (Source).
A big part of the controversy seems to be the idea of Jesus having one. The website features videos where people tell their stories of how Jesus changed their lives. In these videos, an actor playing Jesus changes the tattoos on the new Christians. They were tattooed with words like "addiction" but Jesus changes those tattoos to say thing like "hope." Jesus, in turn, takes the new Christian's old tattoo onto himself. Here, it's easier to show than tell:

 

While the details might be offensive to some, the general idea here is very true and Biblical:
He himself bore our sins in his body upon the cross, so that, free from sin, we might live for righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.- 1 Peter 2:24
For our sake he made him to be sin who did not know sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God in him.- 2 Corinthians 5:21
Jesus is the Lamb of God, not just because he's perfect or because he's cute, but because lambs were used for sacrifice.


Jesus was pure, that goes without saying, but he did bear our sins on the cross and I think that this tattoo idea is a pretty creative way of making that reality tangible for people. It makes a theological idea visual in a society in which we are getting more and more used to getting our information visually rather than verbally.

A tattooed Jesus doesn't bother me, but it can be used as a source for meditation. What tats did He get from me? What sins do I need to confess? What sins do I need to remove from my life?


Saturday, November 2, 2013

Reclaiming Halloween

Thursday was my favorite holiday. I love setting out spooky decorations. I love gorging myself on candy. I like watching spooky movies and television shows and telling ghost stories. I think one of my favorite parts of the season, however, is dressing up.

And my son goes, "yeah, candy!"
As I get older, however, dressing up is getting more and more difficult. This year, I had to go as a male lion. My son was a lion and I wanted to follow the theme, but the only female cats out there were the "sexy cats." It's very degrading for a woman to have to choose between being "sexy" or being nothing at all. What does that say to women who don't fit into our society's unrealistic idea of beauty? What does that say to women who do not want to be objectified on Halloween? What about the women who just want to go out and have fun?

And don't get me started on the girl costumes. I don't consider myself a prude but I was shocked by how "sexy" some of the costumes designed for children were.
That is where Take Back Halloween comes in. I wish that I had found this site before Halloween. I know where I'm going next year for costume ideas.

Some of my more religiously conservative readers may take offense at the goddess costumes or some of the choices of heroines, but I think we can all agree that the idea of the site is awesome. The site features instructions on how to buy already made things to put together some awesome costumes for women. You don't have to be crafty to have a cool costume although some of their suggestions are not cheap.

It's kind of like this project. A photographer did not want her daughter to buy into the Disney princess mythology. She did a series of pictures dressing and posing her daughter as famous women.

My favorite of the series.
She wants her daughter to look up to real women who did great things, not imaginary girls who wait for their prince charming.
This one is also awfully cute and much cooler than a Disney princess.
Not that there is anything wrong with marriage, but the whole princess thing is really unrealistic and demeaning to the female genius. All of those "sexy" costumes are insulting. We are more than our bodies. We are more than our sexuality. We are strong. We are smart. We are passionate. We respect ourselves and we want the men in our lives to respect us too.  

I'm planning on using Take Back Halloween next year. Maybe James and I can find a cool man and woman pair to dress as. 

Maybe Take Back Halloween should branch out to girl costumes. Or somebody else should start one directed at girls. I certainly can't find one. Do you know of any sites like Take Back for girl costumes?

Thursday, October 10, 2013

India's "Abused Goddesses" Campaign Opens Eyes

Buzzfeed had a post not too long ago about a deeply moving and fascinating PSA campaign about domestic violence in India. The organization "Save our Sisters" is working to bring awareness to domestic violence and help the victims. More than 68% of women in India are victims of domestic violence. To put that in perspective, in the United States, the rate is 25%.

The ads say, 
“Pray that we never see this day. Today, more than 68% of women in India are victims of domestic violence. Tomorrow, it seems like no woman shall be spared. Not even the ones we pray to.”
The advertisements themselves are incredibly striking and beautiful in a painful and sad way. The advertising company took traditional images of the goddesses and made a real-life recreation. They cover the goddess in bruises and cuts. The props in the pictures are either real or painted on.

The posters feature a phone number to report abuse.

As the Buzzfeed writer points out, this advertisement campaign directly addresses a contradiction in Indian society. They revere many goddesses, but the country remains unsafe for mortal women.

This contradiction can be found in other religious traditions as well. Speaking as a Catholic, I can point out the Catholic devotion to Mary and the Church's long history of social justice. Yet, domestic violence still occurs in some Catholic households.

Here are some of the ads:

Saraswati is the goddess of knowledge, music, the arts, and science. 

Lakshmi is the goddess of wealth.

Knowing the subject of this ad, this is perhaps the most striking of all. Durga is a warrior goddess. She is representative of the victory of good over evil. I have a statue of her in my room (because I like to keep pieces of every part of my religious history). May she give the people of India strength to defeat the evils of domestic violence. 
For a better view of these ads, including close-ups of some of the details, visit the original Buzzfeed article.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Only 2% of the Nation Responsible for the Majority of Our Death Penalty

Earlier this week, the Death Penalty Information Center released a report. They found that 2% of the counties in the United States account for over half of all people on death row and/or executed since 1976. Moreover, they discovered that only 20% of the counties in the United States account for all of the prisoners currently on death row.


The aggressive use of the death penalty by a few counties costs us all money.
When the total costs of the death penalty are divided by the number of executions carried out in a state, the amount can be $30 million per execution. (Source)
This $30 million comes out of our taxes.

Now, before people start in arguing "Well, it would be cheaper to put a bullet in the head" let me share this with you:

  • The vast majority of that $30 million is not to pay for the method of execution. It is for the 15 years or more of appeals.

So, you say, "Then let's get rid of the appeals." I say:

  • Since 1973, 140 people have been exonerated from death row. That means they were initially found guilty, but through appeals it was found that they were not guilty at all. So, without the appeals, there would be at least 140 innocent people dead. 
Of all the counties in the United States, 85% of all counties have not executed anyone in over 45 years. But in many of those counties, they are still paying for their neighbors who use the death penalty frequently. If you want to know what counties we're talking about:




This map depresses me. As you can see, St. Louis County and St. Louis City both are in the top 15.


For more information, check out the report yourself at: http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/twopercent


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Been Busy

Sorry you haven't heard from me in a while. I've been busy on some of my other websites. Here are some of the things I've been writing:

Mary Speaks to All of Us

What I Learned About Marriage From Two Nursing Home Residents

I re-posted my last reflection on Lumen Fidei.

Saint of the Day: Saints Fausta and Evilasius

Some memes I've made:





Confirmation Classes are starting again. Technically, I'm going to be teaching two classes at once which is unheard of in my parish. One of my classes will be ending in November, so it shouldn't be too bad. 

There have been a number of things in the news lately about pro-life and women's issues that I would like to comment on and I'll get to work on that. I just wanted to let you know I haven't disappeared. 

I gotta use this cartoon every excuse I get. Although I'm done with the shameless plugging.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Lumen Fidei #22: Why Does God Allow Suffering?



From #57: To those who suffer, God does not provide arguments which explain everything; rather, his response is that of an accompanying presence, a history of goodness which touches every story of suffering and opens up a ray of light.
In my time as a nursing assistant and later as a chaplain intern, I was asked many times why is there suffering. It came up in many of my classes. I even had one class that dedicated a semester completely do that question in college.

The best I can say is that no one answer is going to work for every person in every situation. If someone who is suffering asks you "Why?" there is no answer you can give that will help them. The best you can do is, if appropriate, help them find an answer themselves and listen to them.

One thing I appreciate about Christianity is that it offers something more than an answer. It offers a God who knows all about suffering and who cares about each and every one of us deeply. Jesus Christ died abandoned by his friends in one of the most horrifying ways imaginable (likely asphyxiation). During his life, he suffered all the pains we do. Friends of his died, notably Lazarus. He lived far from home as he traveled preaching. He felt hunger, he felt thirst, and I'm sure he felt all the other aches and pains that we do.

So when we come to him in our suffering, he understands us intimately. He's been there. He might not be able to tell us why we are suffering, but he can be present to us in our suffering.


This is the last installment in a series of posts reflecting on quotes from Pope Francis' first encyclical. It's been fun and given my background, I think it's very appropriate that we ended with a post about the meaning of suffering. If you want to read more, visit here.