Is it my imagination, or do things happen so fast that one can hardly keep up? So many good and bad things are happening locally, nationally, and internationally, it’s hard to find time to reflect on any of it. As soon as I start to reflect on one issue, or event, another one of equal importance occurs. It’s what I call “emotional whiplash,” or just a simple case of social/news media overstimulation. What I rail against at my teaching job (now “former” teaching job) is not unique to educational institutions; it’s endemic throughout Western society. We are in constant motion. We go from one activity to the next with little or no consideration given to the people involved, or how it affects us. If we are to grow and learn we must have periods of contemplation, reflection, and prayer in between the events that fill our days. I mourn the art of “down time” that has been lost; time alone with our thoughts, our God, and time spent in conversation with the people in our lives.
As I consider the recent SCOTUS rulings I am troubled by our reliance on a group of 9 women and men to tell us what is just and right. I am troubled by those who praise the Supreme Court when a particular ruling supports their point of view or way of life, and then damn them all to Hell when they don’t. I am also troubled by the way so many narrow-minded members of various religions apparently feel so threatened that they find it acceptable to speak and behave in such hurtful ways. As a Catholic I understand Christ’s message of love to be about relationship; our relationship with God, with each other, and with our planet. That’s it. Relationship. And, I’m pretty sure that if I delved deeper into every organized religion out there, relationship would be at the heart of these faiths, too. To be clear, I am pleased with the courts ruling on marriage equality, but very disturbed by their ruling on the use of the controversial drug midazolam being used during executions. Also, while I do not need the SCOTUS to spell out for me what is just and right, I certainly understand the important part the high court plays in our society.
Fr. James Martin, SJ posted (as usual) a terrific piece on his Facebook page, and also Tweeted in response to the marriage equality ruling. Of course he got a lot of heat and verbal abuse from several followers. Here’s what he wrote the other day: “How can Catholics and Christians respond to the Supreme Court decision? First, of course by remembering to love their LGBT brothers and sisters.” I am constantly amazed by people who think they have the moral authority to pass judgment on others when they themselves clearly have a plank in their
skull! eye (Matthew 7:1-5)! He followed up with a post reminding his “erstwhile” friends about how the “un-friend” and “un-follow” buttons work. I love this Jesuit!
But, Fr. James wasn’t the only one who got dumped on. Imagine my surprise when I opened up my Facebook to find a hurtful message from someone who is not even “friended” on my page, and who I consider only an acquaintance. Apparently she was “shocked” at my profile picture (with rainbow filter), and she just “felt she needed to share that” with me. Pretty bold for someone I hardly know, and who obviously knows nothing about who I am. When Pope Francis says that he will not judge, and Jesus himself refused to pass judgment on a woman about to be stoned, who does she think she is? I believe in healthy dialogue when it comes to important topics, not petty “bird-dropping” online. Sharing ideas is important to building relationships. Compassion, love, and understanding are at the core of Christianity, and it’s all relationship. What this woman did to me, and what many others are doing on social media, serves no useful purpose, and does not reflect the light of Christ or God’s overwhelming love for us. In fact, this kind of negativity only tears down relationships and the kingdom of God.
The other thing I find troubling is the lack of outcry from these same people over the court’s ruling on the use of midazolam to execute prisoners on death row. What’s even more troubling are some of the comments I’ve read below the news reports on this latest ruling. How do we manufacture such insensitive, aggressive people, some of whom profess to be “Christians?” The bottom line for me on lethal injection and the death penalty is this: Don’t. All life is precious. All life! Murderers need to be locked up, not killed.
As I ponder how I should respond to my “friend” (if at all), I will struggle to practice what is always necessary when confronted by opposition and hurtful speech…. I will quietly, gently hold her in prayer.
And to my Facebook friends who are upset or offended by my rainbow filter profile picture: Thanks for being respectful and loving by not posting anything hurtful! I noticed that, & I love you all!!!!
PS: I sat on this post for more than 24 hours & I’m glad I did, since it has given me time to find a podcast worth sharing. My mentor, Sr. Helene Dompierre, OP, once gave me a book by Fr. James Martin, SJ. I forgot about that until I came across it today while packing. What an insightful and joyful man he is! In December of 2014 Krista Tippett spoke with him on her show “On Being,” and I think this 50 minute discussion beautifully sums up what I believe, and what I aspire to become as a child of God. Enjoy!