Regulars will know that Kathy has often been found in the comments of Brutally Honest posts and will appreciate, as I certainly have, her insights. This week I learned that she was willing to move from commenter to guest blogger so I offered her the chance and lo and behold, she actually accepted.
So who is she? By way of introduction, I'll let you read her own words sent to me early this morning:
Not sure what to tell you about myself, but basically, God sent me to the desert of Alamogordo, NM about 8 months ago and it was one of those deals where you leave pretty much everything behind to start a new life. Not only to the desert, but to St. Jude's Parish in the desert, very appropriately. The people here have taken me in and my church family has had a huge amount to do with how well I am doing right now. I love everything about God and the Catholic Church, from the miniscule to the magnificent. I hate what we do to each other and to others on the outside.
I am in the process of divorcing my husband of 30 years and really just learning how to trust God, "dance with God", as one of my friends put it. I am struggling with a lot it, but I am also finding a lot of peace and joy in my life now.
I am a (young) grandma, a US Navy Veteran, 50% Polish, currently working in the medical transcription industry as the Director of Operations for a company out of Maryland, which is a job I work at home, believe it or not.
I have made a million mistakes in my life. I am a revert too, so not only putting on the scarlet D, but also wear the scarlet R (haha). I pretty much think Facebook is the modern-day Tower of Babel, but there are good things there too, I think necessary things. When I first started following blogs and then later using FB, I was living in rural Oklahoma, which has an extremely sparse and spread-out Catholic population. Oklahoma itself is only 9% Catholic and so on FB, I was able to find my people!! I tend to get wound up about things, good and bad, and that is when you have seen me probably cut loose more in making comments.
I have done a little blogging in the past for my medical transcription team, but it wasn't appropriate to really do Catholic subject matter (since I was the manager), even though most of the time, those were the things I really wanted to write about.
I hope that tells you some about me.
It most definitely does Kathy and allow me to be the first to welcome you to the blog and the first to say that I look forward to your posts.
So my criticism of Rush Limbaugh (here and here) is generating some heat, in the comments and particularly in my email. Interestingly enough, this from people I would normally consider (and would like to continue to consider) allies in the fight for truth, for decency, for what is right and moral and good for society.
The blog has suffered as to its popularity (measured solely by the number of unique visitors) since I've decided to focus more on faith matters and less on political matters. It's bothered me in the one sense but I'm committed to doing what I think I'm being called to do and that I believe to be, in my quite small sphere of influence, a light, albeit likely dim, illuming He who gives life meaning.
Pope Francis has laid out his plans for the Church in Evangelii Gaudium (EG). Rush Limbaugh read it and has concluded he’s a Marxist. Politically conservative evangelicals fear they’ve lost an ally in the Catholic Church. The pro-gay marriage lobby and Planned Parenthood are disillusioned after reading paragraphs 66 and 213, and rightly so. Pius X Society sympathizers are on edge after reading 108. “Left-leaning” Catholics who were hoping for a female priesthood are deflated after reading paragraph 104. Mainstream media labels him a progressive. Whose side is this man on anyway?
That he’s getting the entire world’s attention is undeniable. (I was recently interviewed on Al Jazeera TV about him. That’s a first for me!) But I think most of the world, from Rush to HuffPost to Al Jazeera, has absolutely no idea how to read him. That’s because most of the world is examining the 265th successor of Peter through the wrong lens.
The Church has never fit the hyper-politicized lens the Western World has come to see all things through. We’re “right of center” on abortion and gay marriage. We’re “left of center” on immigration and the need to care for the poor. Maybe that’s because our “center” is Jesus Christ.
The only paradigm that explains everything Pope Francis is saying and doing is the Great Commission. He’s evaluating all things Catholic in light of the question, “does this ‘make disciples’ (Mt 28:19) effectively?” And he’s making it clear that the Great Commission doesn’t only entail talking about Jesus, though that is an essential part, but also, shining the light of Jesus Christ into every aspect of human life, from economics to life issues to marriage.
Pope Francis is an evangelist, plain and simple. But he’s no ordinary evangelist. Though he’s taken his name after Francis of Assisi, our pope is clearly a missionary in the spirit of “the other St. Francis.” St. Francis Xavier was a 16th century Jesuit missionary who may have baptized more people than anyone in history. He was also a bit of a wild man. His desire to share the Gospel in its purest form probably drove the more mild manned, yet good people around him crazy!
He once wrote to his superior, “Many, many people...are not becoming Christians for one reason only: there is nobody to make them Christians. Again and again I have thought of going round the universities of Europe, especially Paris, and everywhere crying out like a madman, riveting the attention of those with more learning than charity: ‘What a tragedy: how many souls are being shut out of heaven and falling into hell, thanks to you!’”
That’s a man who liked to “shake things up.” The one thing that made his skin crawl was an evangelistically impotent Church. He challenged people deeply, to the point of annoying them. Likewise, anyone who’s read the Pope’s Apostolic Exhortation without feeling a bit challenged hasn’t read it with an open heart.
Pope Francis isn’t endearing himself to “the left” or “the right”--those poles that have so painfully torn apart the Church since Vatican II. His Apostolic Exhortation gives the jab of a shepherds staff to those parts in each of our hearts that would cling to either a liberal social gospel without the cross, or to a “high church” Catholicism that isn’t willing to become “bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets (EG 49).”
Those who have come to experience the Church as a conservative fortress to keep sinners out rather than a launching pad for a mission to serve the world, sinners included, are rightly threatened by Francis. Those who had hoped the pope’s desire to “shake things up” would manifest as a new, liberal theology are rightly disappointed. He’s not a theologian, interested in developing doctrine. He’s a pastor and his passion is developing the strategy of the new evangelization that was set forth by his predecessors, even in regards to the way he exercises his own office (EG 16).
That in an email received moments ago (screen grab below, click on it for the full sized image) from Feedblitz, the email subscription service I use for those desiring to get a digest of fresh posts (see button in upper left hand corner of the blog) delivered to their inbox each day.
I'd be lying if I attempted to say that these 'no longer relevant' notices aren't a punch in the gut.
Traffic has suffered since I made the decision some time ago to focus less on politics and more on faith. It seems that indeed, that content for too many is no longer relevant.
Nevertheless, I find it most relevant and so that focus will remain.
If I lose some, so be it. I'd rather lose 99 if it means I gain one who finds the content satisfying, even nourishing.
Carry on dear reader and know that I hope you'll stick around. Even better if you turn this place on to someone who perhaps could find the content most relevant.
Loyal readers, I ask for patience as the blog is being hit incessantly of late with spam comments. I'm trying
hard to keep up in deleting them manually and am also hoping TypePad, the blog's hosting company, can tweak their spam algorithms such that my manual intervention is less frequent.
So in the meantime, bear along with me, know that I'll remove them as soon as I'm able and if you ever happen to come across someone who does this sort of thing for a living, you have my complete permission to knock the hell right out of them.
I'd like to change the banner on the blog. It's served me well over the years but... I think... I need something different.
But I'm not sure at this point what to change it to. I'd like to think I'm still a brutally honest guy though trust me when I tell you that can mean different things to different people.
My bottom line is that my focus has changed a bit in the last 2 1/2 years and those who've stuck around (not all have) can see that. I still think that the pronouncement of faith, of religion, and particularly Catholicism can in this culture be seen to be a manifestation of brutal honesty. I also am keenly aware that brutality can be counter-productive to themessage of the gospel.
Here's where you come in. Especially you regular readers.
What can maintain the motif but also give us a new yet meaningful look?
Shortly after that post, I reached out to a friend I knew had some creative and artistic abilities. I shared the post above with her, sent her some pictures and some of my thoughts at that point as to what I was looking for and off she went.
She ended up pretty much ditching what we initially talked about, saying she literally prayed over what she should come up with next and voila... the banner was it.
I'm loving it. It speaks to me personally and dresses the place more than just a little bit. I loved the old banner and appreciated it for many years (or I wouldn't have kept it for so long) but my focus has evolved and I think the banner now represents more of what I hope the focus is and ought to be.
And by the way, she who created the banner has communicated that she's willing to help others out who are looking for her kind of talent. Just contact me, either here in the comments or my email address and I'll pass along the interest.