Posts Tagged ‘faith’

Taking a break from writing posts and venturing into other territory.

So how about that Pat Robertson.

I’m not going to repeat what he said about Haiti, because everyone knows it, and everyone was horrified by it, and there’s no point in my reiterating what tons of other people have already said. The most recent blog post I saw in reference to it expressed a typical sentiment: “No real Christian would say that sort of thing.”

Is that true?

Here’s my question. Who or what is a “real Christian?” Someone who is never stupid? Someone who never says something nasty? Someone who never sins?

Here’s the thing. The Church exists not because of saints, but because of sinners. If there were no sinners, there would be no need for the Church. In fact, the miracle is that the Church continues to exist and proclaim Christ not only despite the people in it, but through them.

Now note that I am NOT approving or whitewashing anything that Pat Robertson said. Of course it was wrong. It was disturbing. Equally disturbing, though perhaps less surprising, are the way people have jumped on him in a foaming rage, telling him to go to hell and so forth. Even those Christians who aren’t so vehement want to put him far, far away, to disown him as somehow not a “real Christian”–in anger, or in embarrassment.

Well, okay. I distance myself from him too, for many reasons. Have for a long time. So I am not particularly embarrassed, as a Christian, by what he said, since I do not identify with him.

But when it comes down to it, the man is not a moral leper, any more than you and I. Or at least, not for this particular statement. Or let me rephrase that: you and I are just as much moral lepers as he is.

It is much easier to be hard, damned harsh on a mostly good man (or one who tries to be good, who tries to stand for and spread the good) who has fallen than on one who isn’t trying to communicate any high moral expectations and thus isn’t measured up to much. We are very strict judges: we don’t permit anyone to fall.

Oh, we talk about falling and being forgiven and getting up again. But we don’t really think ourselves capable of something nasty, something truly gross and horrible. The Catholic Church distinguishes between venial and mortal sins, and it has a sacrament to deal with both of them–because people who see and acknowledge the truth, who should know better and live better, still commit both of them. They lie. They steal. They sleep with other people’s spouses. They rejoice in the misfortune of others and say they had it coming. (And I think you’d be hard pressed to say Robertson is glad about what happened in Haiti.)

But (thank God) it is not the lack of falling that makes someone a “real Christian.” It is getting up again.

And while Pat Robertson certainly ought to be held accountable for his words, it is better for ourselves if we don’t act in anger.


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As I prepare for the semester to start tomorrow–for my own classes, and the nineteen freshmen faces that will look at me with expectation that I will Know Things and be able to teach them–I am once again lamenting how short break is. Two weeks is not long enough.

It also strikes me as crazy that I am entering another semester of grad school. I am firmly lodged in this phase of life now. It almost feels like home. And that is what I love about academia–the familiarity of it, even while it is ever new.

A couple of days ago, I phoned a friend I hadn’t seen or talked to in more than a year. We last saw each other in the summer of 2008, back when I still had long hair, wanted to be a missionary with FOCUS, and was still aching from the events of the previous spring.

So we had a lot to catch up on–not little stories to tell, but the big picture. Which was pretty big, considering that I graduated from college, moved to the city, and started grad school–none of which were even on my mind last year. What I told her on the phone boiled down to a summary of 2009, and she was amazed (as I continually am) at the unity of it, how everything that has happened came together like threads in a story. That doesn’t happen very often.

Another friend of mine asked me what lesson learned stuck most in my mind from the past year. The answer is the thread that binds my stories together: I have learned about Trust.

As I neared graduation, I felt pretty ambivalent about my future. I was applying to grad school–one grad school–and to be a missionary with an organization called FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students). But I wasn’t all that enthusiastic about either of them. Mostly, I was scared I wouldn’t get accepted anywhere, and would be stuck working at the grocery store with a Bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing. Or, that I would get accepted to both places, and would make the wrong decision.

It was the latter fear that ruled me when I got accepted to the University of Pittsburgh with full funding. That day I went to the chapel and cried, asking God: “You aren’t going to make this easy, are you?”

But I learned a very important lesson: that you need not fear when making a choice between Good Things. That who you are matters more than what you do, and that life is a collaborative effort between you and God; and He can shape all things into something beautiful, if you live with an open heart.

Trust, in this case, was not waiting for a sign. Rather, it was discerning where my heart was leading me and believing that God would bless my decision, whatever it was.

I have learned, too, how to trust and live in the present moment. Or at least, I am learning this. To accept the gifts of the present–a relationship, for example–without the fear of losing them; to accept something as holy and blessed and beautiful in itself that will be brought to its proper fulfillment in the right time. Here, perhaps, trust sounds passive. Not at all! Patience and waiting are anything but passive, even if they are at times still. Trust is a dance, not a homogeneous and unchanging state of mind.

Perhaps the most important thing I’ve learned about trust is that it is not felt, but lived. (Oh, there are so many things that are like this! Love, faith, patience … all the virtues, even at their most human and least spiritual levels; but it is trust that makes the living possible without the feeling.)

I have, sadly, learned also of the places where trust doesn’t fit. The relationships it no longer belongs in, or the varying levels it operates at–where it opens doors and where it must close them. Whether it is appropriate for forgiveness to renew trust, or leave it in the past. In human relationships where trust is absent, where it must withdraw and close the door, the trust must rush upward. When there is nothing more to be done, it must be given over. And that letting go–that leaving people at God’s feet, or inside the tabernacle with the Eucharist–that is trust.

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