Tag Archives: opinion

Dress Code

Earlier today I listened to an episode of a podcast that was about how to dress appropriately for Mass. Whenever this comes up it really gets on my nerves. This is partly because, from my perspective, it’s largely a matter of opinion. Obviously there are things that are distasteful or inappropriate for such an occasion, but I’m not talking about that. It bugs me when people are criticized for wearing “casual attire.”

I take issue with this for a few reasons. The Lord said, “Come as you are.” I dislike getting dressed up, so my thinking is that if I had to do so far Mass, I’m not actually presenting myself to the Lord “as I am.” It’s not part of my personality to worry about what I’m wearing. It would be like presenting a version of myself that isn’t the true one. That’s important because a huge part of the Mass is about communion, both with each other, and with Christ.

Some would argue that one gets “dressed up” out of respect for the other. In many circumstances, this is the case because it’s culturally expected. I got more dressed up for my Godson’s baptism than I otherwise would. One has to keep in mind the center of attention. We had Mass before his baptism, and at Mass, Jesus is the center of attention, but the focus shifted a bit afterwards. At the baptism, the focus was still on the Lord, yes, but it was also largely on Max, his parents, and my brother and me (his Godparents). In that instance, to some degree, I was the center of attention.

As I said, in many circumstances, it’s culturally expected to get “dressed up” out of respect for the other. I don’t for Mass, however, partly because the Lord is beyond cultural expectations, and my thinking is that He already knows I respect Him. I don’t have to prove it to Him, and I shouldn’t have to prove it to anyone else. Furthermore, the Mass itself isn’t like a wedding or a baptism, or any secular event. While baptism and marriage are sacraments, and miracles do happen in those circumstances, human attention tends to focus on the humans involved.

An “ordinary” Mass (for lack of a better word) is different because the focus is (ideally) entirely on Jesus. He alone is the center of attention. Because of this, part of my thinking is that I shouldn’t do anything out of the ordinary in terms of my outfit because from a strictly human perspective, what is happening at Mass has almost nothing to do with me as an individual. Mass is about communion. In other words, it’s about sharing of one’s self with other members of the Church and with God, and about the Church sharing of Herself as a collective with God. This means presenting one’s self honestly.

It’s also important to remember that at literally every Mass a miracle is happening. I sometimes have a realization at the Consecration of the gifts that translates in my mind to, “This is literally the weirdest, coolest, most amazing thing ever.” The word “weird” tends to have a negative connotation, but what I mean is that it is the most out-of-the-ordinary thing. It’s always new. If it becomes routine, then I would argue that appreciation for what is really happening has been lost. It’s something that has to be taken on faith, and it’s a huge act of trust and vulnerability to receive the Eucharist.

Personally, I don’t think there needs to be a dress code for that.

Thou Shall Not Kill

My dad and I have been binging on “The Walking Dead” lately. We’ve just got to the part where the crew has escaped Terminus, and have met with an Episcopalian minister named Gabriel, and of course, Rick asks his questions: “How many walkers have you killed? How many people have you killed? Why?” Gabriel replies, in order: “None. None. The Lord abhors violence.”

The sixth commandment in the ten, which is basically God’s moral road map is, “Thou shall not commit murder.” In some translations, The Bible does say “Thou shall not kill.” I take that commandment to mean, “Do not take an innocent life without purpose or cause.” For example, I am opposed to hunting simply for sport. I am not opposed to hunting for food. Furthermore, violence, and even the killing of another purely in self defense is absolutely permissible.

If you haven’t seen “The Walking Dead,” Terminus is a bad place. It basically is like a factory farm. The people who run it have turned to cannibalism. They trick people into going there, promising “sanctuary and community,” and then kill them and eat them. Rick and his crew (the main characters), are tricked into going there, but they destroy and escape the place, at which point, they run into Gabriel who takes them in at his church. The problem is, some people who ran Terminus survived and tracked them down. Inevitably, there is a showdown at the church. It also comes out in the midst of things, the dead started being zombies, Gabriel got scared, and locked people out of his church. He panicked, and they were eaten by walkers.

Of course he feels guilty about this. He did not take innocent lives, but he allowed innocent lives to be taken. Jesus is often referred to as “the new Adam.” I heard an analogy once. Satan is sometimes referred to as a dragon. When Adam blamed Eve for what he did, it was like he was shoving her in front of the dragon to save himself. When Jesus sacrificed himself on the cross, it was like He jumped in front of the dragon to save His people. Gabriel rightly says in the show that he made a choice; he chose to play the part of Adam.

Obviously, with “The Walking Dead,” we’re talking about a fictional character in a hypothetical end-of-the-world situation. In real life, we are faced with the same choice. It can apply to what we do with our time, who we choose to associate with, how we choose to talk to strangers, friends, or family, what we choose to do when we make mistakes, what we do with our emotions, and really anything else in the present moment. How we live matters.

In a Catholic Mass, we begin with a general confession, and a prayer for mercy. We admit that we have sinned in what we have done, and what we have failed to do. It’s that second bit that always gets me. I don’t speak when I should. I don’t write when I should. I don’t pray when I should. I don’t act when I should. I fail to do a lot of things, or I do them too late. The Mass begins in this way because our sins have consequences. I think I do believe in the butterfly effect, in a sense. Good and bad things we do or fail to do, even if they’re seemingly insignificant, effect other people.

I’ve avoided writing about this for a while because I haven’t known how. When I heard about the “Reproductive Health Act,” which was passed in New York last month, I did several things. I wrote a short, but well thought out post on Facebook, I wrote to several Massachusetts Lawmakers because I wanted them to at least know how I felt about it, and I prayed. I had trouble at first because I didn’t want to be honest with God, but then I told Him the truth. I asked Him how He could have allowed it to happen. I told Him that I didn’t want to, but I blamed Him. I cried, and had a tantrum. When I was done being angry, I listened, and I understood.

He let it happen because He loves the people who do terrible things enough to let us do them. God, our Heavenly Father who is Goodness, Love, and Peace, gave us free will. He loves us enough to let us choose evil; he lets us fail; he lets us learn; he gives us infinite chances to turn back and be forgiven. What’s more is that He can take the worst things possible, and still make good of them, even if it takes a long time. God redeems. It’s who He is. It took me a little while, but I’ve forgiven because Jesus taught me how. That doesn’t mean I have to be okay with this evil law. Any civil law that allows anyone to take an innocent life directly violates God’s law, and is, therefore, evil. Abortion is evil.

It is marketed as freedom; it is marketed as a reasonable choice; it is marketed as responsible, even. I don’t understand the circumstances or thought process that leads people to choose this. That is why I want to make clear that God loves the people who make this choice, no matter the circumstances, and He gives every sinner infinite chances to repent. God hates sin, but He loves every sinner. That being said, it’s still a choice. It’s always a choice, and it’s never the right one.

What people need to understand is that God makes choices, too. When a woman is made pregnant, it’s because God has chosen her to bring life into the world, and He’s decided that the person being created should exist. God is intimately involved with bringing life into the world. At the moment of conception, God breathes a soul into a person. That is precisely what a person is; a body and a soul. Abortion is packaged into a strange category called “women’s rights.” I am not a feminist. I am a humanist. Let us defend human rights. Men and women should be equal across the board. I agree with that. When abortion is packaged along with women’s rights in the pursuit of that equality, it essentially gives a woman the right to murder, as long as the person she’s killing hasn’t been born yet. Some will argue that to “abort” a child would be a responsible choice because the child might have some kind of disability. Another argument is that the biological mother will not be able to afford a child. There is always the option to put the child up for adoption.

To choose abortion would be to take an innocent life without purpose or cause. A pregnancy is sometimes really inconvenient. It might jeopardize a relationship or an income. To anyone reading this, you are inconvenient. I am inconvenient. Every human being is inconvenient. I don’t think Jesus thought of us as convenient when He came to be with us, love us, teach us, lose many of us, and die for us. Any real relationship is inconvenient. We have to make sacrifices to help our friends or spend time with our families. Nine months is a long time, but to anyone considering abortion, it’s not really that long considering the length of an entire lifespan. It literally is the difference of life and death. Choose life. Remember this, too; God loves you.

Why I Am Against Extensive Gun Control

A few summers ago, my dad, little brother, godfather and I took turns shooting at a pineapple with an assault rifle on my godfather’s property. It was completely pointless, hilarious, and innocent. It was also the first time I had ever shot a gun. We were very safe about it. My godfather owns a lot of guns and has plenty of experience from hunting or going to the shooting range. To make a long story short, we decimated the pineapple and then put the gun away.

I have to assume that most peoples’ stories with guns are in a similar vain: it’s just fun. Do I deny that these are dangerous weapons? Of course not, but I firmly believe that it’s your intentions that matter far more than what a weapon is capable of. Why does my godfather have assault weapons? He just likes to collect them and occasionally do pointless, hilarious, innocent things with them.

Many believe that if we had more gun control, or if civilians were not allowed to own guns at all, we’d have a safer society. This, at least from my estimation, is just not the case. If civilians were not allowed to own guns, the criminals would still find ways of getting them and the rest of us would be completely at their mercy. Last night there were gun shots and a bomb threat at my friend’s college in D.C. He and his girlfriend were evacuated from their apartment building across from campus and taken to a safe place. It seems like this kind of news is almost constant these days. My dad takes the train into Boston every day for work, and he carries a knife with him, but what if something really dangerous happened at North Station? What if something happens when I go see Star Wars with my friends? Whether we like it or not, these are dangerous times, and I personally would feel safer if more reasonable people had weapons.

Admittedly, I’m biased. I’ve lived very much on one side of the argument, and I’ve seen how guns can be used safely and reasonably… although blowing up pineapples isn’t exactly reasonable. I think it’s also a matter of knowing yourself. Though I am against more gun control, I don’t think I should have a gun. I’m clumsy, and I don’t trust myself enough to know what to do in a dangerous situation. If you asked me if I tend to have a “fight” or “flight” or “freeze” impulse, I think I have a “fight” impulse, and I know that can be dangerous. That being said, I still would feel safer if I had some way of defending myself and others.

The sheer amount of mass shootings and death and bad news lately is staggering and really discouraging. Perhaps my stance on gun control is partially in response to all of this. I want nothing more than peace on Earth. I want everyone to love each other. I am an idealist. Maybe I’ve become cynical, but I’ve begun to believe that you can just wish and pray evil away. There is a part of me that is a fighter, and though I don’t want to have to, I am willing to fight evil. It has to be fought. I will fight it with words because that’s what I can do, but I think the people who can do more should be allowed to. At heart I’m a pacifist. I will never start a fight, but if it’s a fight worth having, I will finish it.

To some this will sound violent and scary, and you could probably use my words as an argument for gun control. To be fair I’ve heard ridiculous, super conservative people say things that sound similar, but I’m not them. I believe in people, and I believe in freedom. At my core, I’m a Christian, and I believe in peace. In a perfect world there would be no guns. We could get rid of them, and I’d be okay with that. Put them in a box, and send them to the bottom of the ocean. We have much more constructive things to do with our time. To me it’s a matter of allowing a lesser evil to fight a far greater, far scarier one. I don’t believe that guns are necessarily a good, safe thing to own. They are simply a necessary evil that might keep our people a little bit safer for the time being.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

Where To Find God

Earlier today I read a short article that one of my friends posted on Facebook about why Christians should create art. The strongest argument, I thought, was that we are created in the image of God who is the ultimate creative force in the world. We’re not meant to just sit idly. We are meant to take care of God’s creation, but we are also meant to create. Another point that was made was that good art is a reflection of the goodness in the world, and the potential for the world to come.

The author also pointed out that the art we create doesn’t have to be Christian art. Painters don’t have to paint scenes from the Gospel. Songwriters don’t have to exclusively write worship songs. Good art amazes us and can even bring us to tears, and I think there’s spiritual value in that. We can pay homage to our Creator without being obvious. Good art brings joy to our lives, helps us relax, and allows us to dream and to wonder.

If God is meant to be like a friend, if we’re meant to have a relationship with him, then it’s important to actually spend time with him. On one level, yes, that means going to church and reading the Bible and praying, but I think it can also mean just being content, enjoying some good music, or playing a good video game by yourself. It means enjoying life and appreciating what you have. I think simply being content is a way of communing with God because the complications of life and the world around us aren’t getting in the way. I think that’s why a lot of people say that they find God in nature, as opposed to in a church.

It’s not easy to be content. I know I often find myself overly critiquing my thoughts and actions and coming to the conclusion that I’ve failed. I often find myself thinking that I’m doing something wrong or that I’m missing something important or that I’m wasting too much time. I’m very critical of myself, especially when I think I’m being overly self-indulgent. Trying to be perfect is a giant hassle. All this is to say that I am often the most at ease–the most content–when I’m playing video games in my bedroom. I’m not praying, I’m not reading, I’m not thinking. I’m just enjoying myself, and honestly, I think it’s really good for me. I get the same feeling out of reading fantasy stories or watching movies. It’s not a spiritual activity, but it lets me be at peace. Some people find God at the top of mountains. I find him in epic adventures through which I escape my own mind: through which I escape the complications of this world.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

Logic, Faith, Homosexuality And World Peace

I don’t know if I’m exactly Catholic anymore because I’ve deviated from quite a few beliefs that are traditionally Catholic, but I still pay attention to what happens in the Catholic Church, and I really like Pope Francis a lot. I guess it’s just nice to have a professional opinion to go off of. I especially like what he said recently about gay priests. He said that he cannot judge gay men who chose to remain celibate in the pursuit of God. Apparently he still does not condone gay marriage, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction.

I know it’s not exactly orthodox, but I believe that gay marriage is just as sacred as a marriage between a man and a woman. In almost every way, it’s the same. 2 people love each other and vow to be together in sickness and in health until death do they part. True love, I believe, transcends gender. If homosexuality was dangerous it would be another story, but there’s nothing dangerous about it. The biggest problem about it is that it has been stigmatized into something that must either be hidden or eradicated, which only causes hate and violence.

At one point in time it was believed that people were disabled because either they or their parents were sinners. I recently went to a presentation by some students at my school about what they, some professors and I believe a couple doctors thought about disabilities. Before a discussion session, they showed a video, and one professor that I actually had the semester before said she believed that people have disabilities as a physical representation of the evil in the world. People like me are just randomly picked to carry the burden of the rest of the world? I think not! People like me are brought into the world to make life a bit more interesting. My disability has brought me closer to my family and friends and closer to God. In fact, I probably wouldn’t be a Christian if it weren’t for my circumstances. I might not even be a songwriter. Everyone is made a certain way for a reason.

It is still believed by some that homosexuality is a disorder, therefore, the same stupid argument could be applied and therefore, I think that homosexuality is no more sinful than Muscular Dystrophy. God makes each of us special, and I think that if he didn’t want there to be homosexuality, he wouldn’t let it exist. I also believe that sexual orientation is not a choice, and therefore it is not a matter of free will. If it is not a matter of free will, it can’t be inherently sinful. I like boys, and I would never be able to convince myself that it’s wrong or that I like girls. It’s just not how my brain works. It’s the same for a friend of mine, only she likes girls.

Furthermore, homosexuality is not a problem that politicians or the church should need to worry about. They need to be focusing on real problems like terrorism, hate, poverty and starvation. If people were just willing to accept each other for their differences, they would see the similarities among all people and their capacities for innovation and love and they would work together instead of bickering over technicalities and tiny details.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

Super Hero Complex

I thought about something after I posted yesterday. I think I have a super hero complex; or at least that’s what I call it. When I go to bed at night I pray and then I go to my fantasy world. In my fantasy world I’m a fairly different person. The character I made up to represent myself is named Kithryd. She lives on a farm outside of a small town that borders a deep and mysterious forest. She often goes on adventures in there and is fully capable of taking care of herself. I’ve tried to write stories about her and her adventures, but I can never finish them and yesterday I figured out why.

I love fantasy and science fiction because it is usually far more interesting than real life. I love mythical creatures and magic and the fight of good versus evil. Eventually, the stories I read or watch come to an end because the fight is over. Life will go back to normal for the characters and there’s nothing more to write about. I can’t write these stories because I can’t bare to bring them to an end.

This is bothersome in context with what I posted about yesterday. Yesterday I posted that I want to be someone’s rock. I want to help someone who is feeling alone or depressed or just confused about life. The problem is that it will forever bother me that there are thousands of people without someone or something to be their rock and if I help one person, I’ll want to help others. On one level, there’s nothing particularly wrong with that, but I’m worried that it could lead me to be less committed to a friendship or a relationship than I should be.

To be completely honest, part of the reason I want a very close friendship or a relationship is so that I have someone to help me and so that I don’t have to live with my parents forever or pay a stranger to help me with things. Luckily, I can do most things on my own, but because I can’t straighten my legs, I need a lot of help with some things.

I had never really thought about this stuff all at once until yesterday and I realized how complicated it is. I had to really think about how much love or friendship is involved in the relationship I want. On a purely emotional level, I would absolutely love to have a relationship with a guy, but I know that I could live without it. One of my aunts has been single her entire life and has been very happy. She lives alone and while she loves to spend time with friends and family, she also loves alone time. I can tolerate alone time. I don’t love it, but sometimes it’s nice and when it’s not I can deal with it well enough. I just like to have people around. Even if I’m not directly engaged in doing something with them, I like the noise they make and the fact that they fill a little part of the room. I don’t like when it’s too quiet. I would absolutely die if I had to live in an apartment all by myself.

I guess I need to be realistic. I can’t help everyone. I should be happy if I can help just one person. I don’t need to be everyone’s best friend to help them either. In fact, I don’t want to be everyone’s best friend. I feel that having a best friend is the best thing for people, but I have to remind myself yet again that it’s not my job. I’m meant to help, and helping just one person can still mean a lot. I’ve written about it, but I have to remind myself that simple acts of kindness can go a long way, whether I know it or not. Real heroes sometimes do great things without ever knowing about the effects of their actions, and they do it out of the kindness of their hearts. They don’t need to know that what they’re doing is working. They just need to know that they might be making a difference.

Unqualified, Unspecified Love

I’m unqualified for a lot of things. I’m not majoring in psychology and I’m not going to be a counselor, but everyone says I’m good at giving advice. I don’t want to diagnose people and tell them what they already know about themselves and hold them at arms length and tell them that our time is up for the day.

I want to be a good friend. I want to be there and sit around with someone all night if I have to. I want to tell people more than what they need to hear. I want to love people no matter what until it’s so annoying that they start to love themselves. I don’t want to go through a whole training program so I can tell people what the professionals say I should tell them. I just want to tell people that they are loved and that life is worth living and give them real, human, opinionated, unqualified advice.

I want to find the people who have gone missing in their own heads and help them find themselves. Someone I know said that you can’t be someone’s friend and help them with their mental health problems. I beg to differ. I think that sometimes, the thing that’s missing in mental health treatments is love. Sure, you can give someone advice on how to change their lives and be more optimistic and give them some drugs and hope it works, but there’s still no real human connection. I believe that human connection and communication is a hugely significant factor to living happy, healthy life.

The thing is, I’m not sure I’m ready to be a shoulder to cry on yet. I feel like there’s something or maybe a lot of things that I still need to know. I’m still naive and admittedly, kind of ignorant about a lot of things. Before I started writing this post, I read a post on a classmate’s blog. She wrote that what she wanted more than a relationship with a significant other was to be a part of a small, very close group of friends. She believes that she doesn’t have that yet because she’s not ready for it yet and she believes that God is preparing her for it. I think that’s probably true for me too. I think God probably is preparing me to be someone’s rock; whether it’s a significant other or a close friend.

No one is unqualified to save the world. No one is perfect and no one ever will be, but everyone is capable of love and if you do whatever it is you do out of love for others, then you are helping to save the world. Follow your dreams because they will make you happy and happiness is meant to be shared. Share your art or music; share your jokes; your stories; share your time; share your money; share your things. Share whatever it is you have to share. You don’t have to give everything away; you just have to share it because it will make someone happy, and if you make someone happy, you will be happy too. Sharing something solidifies a preexisting connection among all the people of the world. It turns the connection into something you can see and touch and even use. It helps to break barriers and create understanding, which will ultimately lead to peace. Maybe I’m an idealist, but I really believe that to be true.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

Playing God

As a writer, I’m basically playing God. Spoiler Alert! My story starts out by me basically abusing one of my main characters. While I was writing about it, I felt awfully bad. I said to myself, “Self, this has to happen for the rest of the story to work out.” I wonder if this is how God feels when He lets bad things happen.

I’m a weirdo, so I read a bunch of stuff about the Biblical apocalypse online last night. People make it sound awfully scary. I guess it is sort of scary. I’ve had this weird interest in the end of the world lately. I guess it’s like being part of a story and wanting to know the end. Maybe knowing the end of a story before it happens isn’t such a good thing–unless you’re writing it, that is. Maybe knowing that you or your friend are going to die ahead of time isn’t such a good thing.

If you could know the time, place and cause of your death, would you want to? What if you spent the rest of your days trying to avoid it and in doing so, you made it happen? I don’t think I would want to know. At the same time though, if you knew, maybe you could bring yourself to peace with it and it wouldn’t be as bad or scary when it actually happened.

I’m a very present-oriented person. The past irritates me and the future scares me a little. I like to have a routine and I like my stuff the way it is. I don’t like change. When my mom said she was going to buy me an iPhone 5, I was thoroughly annoyed with her. I already had a working phone! I’ve since got used to it, though.

I do like learning new things, which is why I find photography fun. I need to get better at it though. Some of my pictures are blurry. I’ve been teaching myself a few new covers on guitar. I have a set list that’s comfortably 40 minutes long. If I practice a bunch I can probably play for 2 hours or so. I want to go work in the studio some more, but my friend has been ignoring his phone! I actually need to update the set list a bit. I’m going to do that now and then I’m going to write!