Friday, August 03, 2012

What you know, and what you're passionate about

Mekdes, right after being baptized.

My drafts folder is filling up.

Half-written, clumsy posts about everything from motherhood to chicken sit unfinished and unrefined, with the word "Draft" next to them in big red letters.

I haven't done much writing lately, at least not as much as I usually do, but even the things I have written remain in obscurity, unpublished.  Some of this is because I'm not feeling well, but mostly it's because I tend to write on topics that I'm thinking about.  And the topics that I'm thinking about are hard, and potentially uncomfortable.

You see, writing is personal.  Or at least it ought to be.  Because a finished piece of work, even a simple blogpost, is a window into the author's mind and heart--an imperfect, two-dimensional window, but a window just the same.  And the difference between a blog and, say, a book, is that the blogosphere tends to be comprised of a far more diverse readership than the subset of folks who buy a book.  And the communication on a blog goes both ways, not just one, which is really kind of amazing, but also intimidating.

So as I mull over things like religious freedom, faith, friendship, marriage, life, motherhood, and yes, chicken, I struggle to express my thoughts and also to pinpoint my purpose in conveying such information.  Contrary to what some may believe, I don't primarily write to change peoples' minds.  I'm kind of under the assumption that the views you hold are held for a reason, and I'm probably the last person in the world positioned to convince you otherwise. 

I do on the other hand write for myself, for those who are attempting to live as faithful Catholics, for those struggling to follow Jesus, for those on the fence, for friends, for disenchanted Protestants, and for casual observers who hold a completely different worldview from me, but who continue to read out of curiosity.  Simply, as an at-home mother, I have found blogging to be an incredible outlet for processing through and sharing my thoughts, and my journey through life.  I have been so inspired and encouraged by the written word myself, and if I can somehow contribute to someone else's well-being through this medium, then it's worth it.

The trouble is, though, that my journey has taken me new places.  I no longer write primarily about adoption or about the cute things my kids say.  (That is so 2006.)  Instead, I write about life.  And faith.  And I've always written about faith, but now my faith has a label--Catholic--and it's not a particularly popular one.  I've always held relatively conservative positions on social and theological issues, but now you know precisely what I think about those things on account of the label.  I've always believed that one should discern what is true, and follow that truth, but now you know I believe in absolute truth.  On account of the label. 

And, I have readers here from all phases and corners of my life.  So as a result, I occasionally make people angry.  Or disappointed in me.  It is the irony of a growing readership--as more people I don't know choose to follow my blog because something resonates with them, more people I do know are frustrated because I say this or that, or don't say this or that, or because I believe such-and-such to be true.

It's a tight-rope act.


I've done a lot of thinking about the whole thing.  About where one ought to draw the line, about whether a writing gig is ever worth alienating or aggravating people, about what should be said in a public forum where I know some people are going to disagree or think less of me.

And at the end of the day, I've decided that you should write what you know and write what you're passionate about, and accept the fact that a blog is very public and, as such, potentially polarizing.  I don't think the goal should ever be to polarize (though I do think there is occasionally a time and place for such rhetoric), but I also don't think it's authentic or genuine to preface every opinion with "This is just my truth, and any other truth claim is equally valid."  Because nobody actually lives that way. 

I think often about an article that ran in a local magazine this past Easter, which included interviews of people from different faith traditions.  As I eagerly began the section on Islam, I was dismayed to see that they had not sought out a practicing, devout Muslim, but instead spoke to a woman who disagreed with pretty much any and all traditional Muslim distinctives.  A university professor, she had parted ways with the traditional expression of Islam and considered herself a progressive, attending a non-traditional Denver mosque. 

I was genuinely disappointed that I did not get to hear from a pious practicer of Islam, and yet felt that the publication's choice in interviewee spoke much louder than the woman herself.  Clearly the magazine was not comfortable showcasing people of faith who believe their religion to be true.  Instead, they only sought out those with worldviews that appeared on the surface to be inclusive and non-threatening.

It should come as no surprise then that in spite of the statistical breakdown of faith practices in the Denver metro area, which include many Catholics, not one Catholic priest was featured.

Of course the irony here is that this open-minded worldview isn't any more inclusive than any other, they just differ in terms of who they include.  The progressive Muslim for example certainly seemed to have a much more relaxed approach to religion, but was incredibly opposed to the traditional expression of her faith.

So what does any of that have to do with blogging?  Well, it has a lot to do with it. 

My Facebook newsfeed has been clogged this past week with peoples' views on marriage and free speech and tolerance.  Surely yours has too.  The particular issue in question is front-and-center and will not be going away--not now, not ever.  It is something that matters deeply to many people--people on both sides of the fence.  And that's why seemingly everyone is talking about it.  Because it matters, and each of us wants a voice, and we care about society as a whole. 

I think this is, generally, healthy.  I appreciate when people can share opinions and articulate why they believe something.  I appreciate knowing where somebody stands, and knowing that they had the courage to share.  Even if we disagree.

What I don't appreciate though is the attitude that this or that person has no right to express their view.  I don't appreciate when someone shares an opinion, and is labeled intolerant or a fundamentalist or a Hitler.  I don't appreciate when someone presents a viewpoint, and is automatically deemed polarizing or divisive.

We.all.have.opinions.  We all are coming from a place of belief.  We all categorize some ideas as wrong, and some as right. 

So when it comes to writing on a public platform like a blog, I believe you can be a kind, gracious, and approachable person while also maintaining a consistent, honest, and unwavering belief system.  I want to be authentic.  I want to be me.  I want to be known.  And so I can't imagine maintaining a blog where I avoid any and all mention of meaningful things that some might disagree with.  Because any and all convictions have that potential.  That's just the way it is.  And the beauty of a blog is that a writer can pen their thoughts to the void, and people can choose whether or not to read, and some will, and some won't.

I'm honestly not sure what will eventually emerge from my drafts folder, and what will remain.  I am sure that my blog will continue to be a place where I explore life from a Catholic, homeschooling, married perspective.  Because that's where I'm coming from.  I am defined by who God made me to be, and that certainly won't sit well with everyone, and that is more than okay.

And in spite of the inherent challenges and awkward situations that will surely arise, there is one overarching reason that I will continue writing what I know and what I'm passionate about

God's story is incredibly beautiful. 

The historical Christian faith, what we call Catholicism or Christ's Church, is rich and liberating and full. And, I believe, true.  It is also incredibly misunderstood and has lived in relative obscurity in the United States for a long time now.  And yet as Protestantism continues to shift, and belief in God changes shape in a post-modern era, the Church remains a source of wisdom and constancy.  There are many people, afterall, asking questions and seeking answers--not necessarily about which branch of religion is right, but moreso about what it means to be a woman, what ought marriage look like, how does one find fulfillment in life, and what Christianity even is.

Not all of these seekers will become Catholic, not by a long shot, but that doesn't mean that the beauty of Christianity cannot speak into their lives, or help them recover a holistic and nourishing understanding of motherhood, or bring them to an appreciation of the holiness and grandeur of God.  Some of my most treasured and respected friends who are passionately following Jesus are not, in fact, Catholic.  They are Protestant.  And while we may not agree on things like the Eucharist or the Blessed Mother, we probably do have a great deal in common in terms of the importance of faith and obedience to Jesus.  I do not mean to say that the differences are unimportant, or that both manifestations of Christianity are equally true (since they are, by nature, mutually exclusive).  But it is to say that to be Catholic is to hold to the traditions handed down by the apostles (including the Bible), and much of this is reflected in traditional Protestantism as well.  Thus the Catholic perspective has the potential to enrich and inform people of diverse backgrounds, especially when the voice of Evangelicalism has changed so much over the years.

And so I feel convicted that I must share where God has brought me, how He has done it, and what I am learning.  I am not expressly intending to make converts, but to openly share God's heart for humanity.  He has given each of us a story, and I believe we must take care to steward that story well.

So this is mine.   

I share it here on my blog, and I will humbly do so by writing what I know, and what I'm passionate about.


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