Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Hi Mom!

My mother is getting a little more computer savvy everyday... and using her new knowledge to check up on her four children. So.. she has stumbled across this blog. Here's a shout out to my Mom.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Enough with the Pope Bashing!!!

I never really intended this blog to be all about Catholicism... nor did I ever expect to take such a defensive stand along with it.... but lately, the media seems to be flooding us with so much Anti-Catholic sentimentality, that I can't help but be a wee bit annoyed at best.

There is a vendetta against anything dealing with the papacy.. past or present. Pope Benedict can't blow his nose without the world glaring at him. Now, to make matters worse, a section of the world's Jewish community are all hot and bothered again because Benedict's predecessor, Pius XII (who reigned during WWII) is under investigation for sainthood.

I have always had a special place in my heart for Judaism, and love the rich symbolism in Jewish tradition and culture. That being said, I am quite saddened by so many in the Jewish community who in the name of unity and brotherhood, so fiercely and incorrectly condemn Pius XII. It's almost as if they need something to yell about. There seems to always be a militant group in any organization that is just never satisfied.

The media want to sell newspapers and magazines.. so controversy assures them of readers. I wish people would do their OWN research before believing everything they see on GOOGLE. We live in a time where research is easier than ever... try doing a little on your own before you believe something you see or hear on the news. Ask yourself what bias the reporter may have.. and in some cases, the bias is blatantly obvious.

Think about it... if Pius XII had just sat by and done nothing in support of the Jews, then WHY did the chief Rabbi of Rome, Israel Anton Zoller convert to Catholicism, and change his name to Eugenio Zolli.... taking the Pope's birth name as his new first name?? Wouldn't he of all people be upset with the Pope if Pius XII had really done nothing??

Pius XII was in a very dangerous position during the war which many critics trivialize. He had no army to defend him and the Vatican except for the Swiss Guard which would have been no match for the German and Italian military. He was also responsible for the well beings of the Catholics in his care living in the German occupied territories who could (and did) suffer as a result of the Vatican's public stance.

Pius XII chose to do his work behind the scenes.. which was not a bad idea. After all, had he spoken out more and directly attacked the Nazis in the way in which modern thinkers believe he should have, he might just as easily be criticized for sticking his nose into the problem and making it worse for the Jews and Catholics in occupied Europe had the Nazis retaliated against his outspokenness.

Instead, Pius XII gave much support to the underground in Europe, and opened the doors of the Vatican and his summer home of Castel Gondolfo to Jewish immigrants and refugees. Had this been discovered, the Vatican would surely have been attacked as it would have been seen as a breach of Vatican neutrality. There are many Jews alive today who were given shelter and refuge in the Vatican museums, and even babies that were born in the Pope's own bedroom in his summer residence of Castel Gondolfo. What world leader during WWII can boast of that type of personal generosity???

Let us not forget that Great Britain did not enter the war because of sympathy for the Jews. The Americans did not enter the war to help the Jews. The allies entered the war because of their own personal safety and interests. There was no battle cry to help save those who were being killed by the Nazis by countries who had the armies to do something about it. And yet, people like to jump down the throat of Pius XII for not doing ENOUGH? How about applauding what he DID manage to accomplish under the constraints he was working under?? No one even makes a peep about Canada who refused to allow Jewish refugees into the country stating that, Canada does not have a Jewish problem, and we do not wish to import one.

Hind sight is always 20/20.. and it's easy to look back knowing what we do now and seeing what could have been done.. what should have been done. I believe that based on what resources he had, Pius XII did a lot to protect his flock as best he could, as well as his Jewish brethren.

Stop reading trash like Hitler's Pope and do some real research of your own. Pius XII was (to my knowledge) the only world leader (spiritual leader) who opened up his own home to Jewish refugees. That in itself makes him a hero because that act alone saved lives.

Oye vey.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Final Semester?

I have begun what may just be my last semester of grad school. I am SO burnt out... it's not even funny. Thankfully, I've had one of the professors before, and we get along quite well.

This is going to be a very research demanding semester. Will I make it? Will I survive? Will I burn out completely before crossing the finish line? These answers and more on the next episode of SOAP.... oh wait.. wrong show. Stay tuned anyway. :)

Friday, January 8, 2010

Just a thought....

I have been watching Life without People on the History Channel... and I can't help but notice how much the series focuses on Christian/religious icons as they crumble and decay over time. For example, the Glass Cathedral in California, Christ the Redeemer statue and the Vatican to name a few examples I have been seeing on commericals and on the program itself. What's with the fixation???

Also... why is it that the producers and writers don't feature the Dome of the Rock, or the Kaaba? I am not advocating anti-Islamic sentiments.. but it seems the media tends to leave that group alone when it comes to such blunt examples.

Just for Fun

Today was my first day back to subbing after the Christmas break... and it was nice to be back in a classroom again. Although the kids really like to test a substitute, they can be a lot of fun too!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Black or White?

People seem to have a tendency to go to extremes. At the ripe old age of 27, I have found that very few things are black and white. I have always preferred the old saying "the truth lies somewhere in the middle", meaning that the extreme right and extreme left are just that.. extremes. A more sensible approach to topics would seem more rational.

There are staunch opponents to the "middle of the road" attitude. Just google the saying, and you'll find "their" criticisms. It's that tendency to stick to the right or wrong mentality, all or nothing, black or white that frustrates me. What about gray? Do I have to agree 100% with any given topic, or can't I agree to disagree on some parts?

Why am I even mentioning this? I have had some down time in my personal life, so I figured I might browse online bookstores for some new reading material. Not being a fan of fiction (Harry Potter being the only exception), I was debating between another biography or another book on gay history. While browsing the online databases for "gay" subject bestsellers, I was amazed at all the books that dealt with Catholicism in some way. One can guess that none of the titles were supportive of Catholicism... since the official stance of the Church on topics of homosexuality are well known.

I've written about my my Catholic faith and the fact that I'm gay a few times on this blog, though since I don't really know how to tag entries or archive well, you'll just have to search for them if you feel so inclined. What pisses me off (excuse my French) is that both "sides", the Church and the Gay "community", go to extremes when confronting one another. It's this all or nothing scenario all over again... black or white.. no happy middle. For the Church, who officially teaches that homosexuality is not a sin but it is the act which is sinful, has surpassed other fundamentalist denominations in at least acknowledging that being gay is a condition one is born with. Their extreme lies in the fact that they stop their understanding there. There is no next level of understanding that since it is a condition one if born with, it is also not alterable... and since, after all, God cannot create evil... maybe the topic should be re-examined about the sinfulness of committed same sex relations. The Church stands by age old interpretations of sometimes misleading Scriptural passages without really taking into account social norms and understandings of the time. There it is, black and white... so that is how it shall always be.

I see where the Church is coming from, but I disagree with its interpretations.

The other side of the debate sees the Church as being inflexible on topics such as this, therefor, the ENTIRE structure of the Church should be overhauled. This is what irks me most. Some person or persons disagrees on a social teaching of the Church, and then lobbies with all their might to change the entire system of the Church... or at least rally public opinion to believe as they do. Get rid of the Pope, let the clergy marry, ordain women, water down the Mass (even more) to nothing more than a pot-luck dinner, and throw Catholic culture and tradition (what's left of it) out the window.... just keep the label of "Catholic". If all this were done, then dialogue could begin.... or so it is believed.

If we substitute the Church for the government of the United States, one can better see the perspective from which I look at this issue. I love my country, and am very proud to live here. The government and many in power have also kept gay people from certain civil rights. I and other gay and lesbian people didn't all move to Canada. Dialogue and better understanding between both groups has to occur, and then hopefully change will take place. However, for change to happen, there is not a rally call from the Human Rights Campaign to scrap the presidency for a direct democratic system where everything is decided by a majority vote. The state senates are not in danger of being abolished because they are not flocking to grant the citizens of that state same sex unions. Our national traditions, past times and identity aren't being challenged because of certain political topics. Why is this done with Catholicism??

My faith is very strong, and I am thankful for the Church I attend... as flawed as it may be. I would be outraged if the spiritual elements of our prayer lives were sacrificed in order to gain same-sex recognition. I'd argue then that we have lost more than we have gained. I look to the struggling and suffering Anglican Communion which is being ripped apart, not just over the controversies of gay marriage and female ordination, but because their very identity, traditions, prayer lives and theology have been in a constant state of rapid change and flux. It is called a "sanctuary" for a reason after all. Faith and accompanying expressions of that faith are very important to people, and bring us together as a community. Once that community is tampered with to fit the political awareness of the times, irreparable damage can be done.

I am so thankful to Pope Benedict for the work he is doing to slowly restore our Catholic identity, customs and expressions of faith that have inspired us for generations, and which we have lost since the turmoil of the 60's and 70's. When it comes to political and social topics like homosexuality, I respectfully agree to disagree. I am no more willing to denounce my faith than I am my citizenship.... after all, there is nothing in the Mass or the prayer life of the Church that is anti-gay. You trim the branches of the tree, not cut it down.

As long as people keep clinging to extremes and insisting on all or nothing, black and white only, there will never be fruitful dialogue. Such stances only serve to widen the gap between sides, and foster misunderstanding. Get over it already... live and let live.

No, things are not always black and white, all wrong or all right. Sometimes, the middle of the spectrum has a better sense of reality than the extreme left or right. There is black.. and there is white... but there are also a million shades of gray.

*gets off soap box*