Thursday, June 9, 2011

Uh-Oh

It's been an interesting couple of days on my blog and a less interesting couple of days in real life (the flu tends to do that...).

I knew that I had to write this post when I had my theologian proof-reader, who checks over my comments and posts for "content" said that, for the first time, in the history of my blog he had noticed that I was "losing my cool."

I'm not sure that's true. I'm sure I've lost my cool before (I remember one particular, cantankerous atheist that pushed me pretty far a while back)... But I guess he finds it unusual because it really isn't a frequent event.

Sigh. So I'm sorry to those of you who are included in the comment-responses that can be categorized under that description or if you feel that I was in any way "mean" in response. I wasn't trying to be mean.

Here's the thing: I wrote a post on Saturday that I really didn't feel was all that dramatic or ground breaking. It was about women who's husbands forbad them covering their heads during Mass despite the fact that they felt called to it. I ended by offering up a prayer for women who were in such a difficult position.

I didn't think that was a particularly explosive post. I mean, let's turn the situation around: a woman doesn't want to cover her head but her husband says she has to. Are we all outraged on her behalf? I can practically hear a chorus of: "She shouldn't be forced to do that's!" from liberated women everywhere. But the opposite situation in which a woman, again, is being forced to do something she doesn't want to do, meets with a very different response.

So I was rather surprised when the post touched off a debate that quickly took on a life of its own. Now, in the meantime, since I'd written the first post, the girls and I had all come down with a nasty case of the flu... which was doing nothing for my patience. And while the vast majority of the comments were very sweet, a number of less fortunate comments stood out. Here are a few of the "highlights" that come to mind" (I'll paraphrase the ideas expressed):
  • There were the multiple suggestions that I must suffer from scrupulosity.
  • There was the question of mental illness that was brought up regarding to those who feel called to cover their heads in the presence of Christ (that would include me, as a headcovering woman who feels called to it).
  • There was the kind-of-but-not-quite-"compliment" that I manage to dress nicely "most of the time" (gee... thanks... "most of the time...").
  • There was the accusation that I was starting a "crusade" against "Catholic men."
  • There was the comment about me being too "emotionally invested" in the topic to think clearly.
  • And there were all the not-unfriendly comments that said that I was making a big deal about nothing (to which I reply... a woman is being forced to do something she feels is immodest or lacking in respect and you thing that's not a "big deal" to her? While it might not be a big deal to you, do you understand how, to someone who feels she's called to it and is forced to go against that calling, it might be a very big deal?).
  • Oh and there was the suggestion that wearing one of my snoods would make others think a person was in some sort of a cult! (That's one of my favorites and by the way, no, it didn't improve my, I have a horrible-cough,-stuffy nose,-headache,-stomach-flu-and-I'm-up-with-a-sick-baby-flu-feeling-either. I work hard on my snoods. They aren't for everyone. You may not believe it, but some people really like them. Some people don't. But then again, no one is forcing you to wear them... uh oh... I think my "content" proof reader may say that I have lost my cool again... ... ... sorry...)
Now I'm all for debate. But when you start making suggestions about a persons spiritual life who you've never actually met, and commenting on their dress in a way that, I imagine, you'd be embarrassed to comment in real life, then you might want to rethink your comment and hit delete. Maybe I'm old fashioned, but I think that the manners we have in the real world, should apply to the online world too. I really try to follow those rules, although I admit, I was feeling rather short tempered by the end of the last couple days after responding to the same queries about my spiritual life and sanity, over and over again.

So... now I'll sit back and wait to be inundated with comments about how I'm wrong about this too. Maybe with a few shots thrown in about how this post shows signs of my mental-illness-scrupulosity-holier-than-thou-attitude-mental-state.

And hopefully, tomorrow, God will help me find the grace to respond without, losing my cool... then again... if I still have the flu... well... I'll do my best...

20 comments:

  1. Cam, I'm sorry you were struggling with this on top of already being sick (and the girls being sick, too!).

    This may not make you feel better, but I've heard from more than one person that when someone reacts negatively to issues like this (whether it's about something people are called to or about Truth in the Church) it's because it's touching on a nerve that the Holy Spirit has been rubbing. It could be that some of these people making comments like that are feeling convicted in certain areas (maybe in obedience to the Church or to their spouses or something else), and taking their resistance out on you. I'm sorry they are, but it means you have to stand strong on the Church and on your faith, and let the Lord speak through you.

    I'll be praying for you, Cam!

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  2. I love your blog and I was very sad to read this post. I have never met you but from your writing I don't recognise you in any of the hurtful comments above.
    I am afraid that the bloggsphere does not always harbour good people with good intentions. People can be very cruel and there really is no excuse for it.
    You are at a low point at the moment, don't rise to this.
    You are good and kind. One of those incredible people that we come across in life all too rarely. People who make us smile and warm our hearts, reminding us that no matter how bad life can be, there is goodness out there.
    Get well soon,
    Love and prayers,
    Annx

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  3. A few days ago I had composed a post for my blog basically just updating what's going on at my house. I knew it was whiney but I sent it to my husband hoping he'd just say it was fine. He knew it was whiney. I couldn't post it. I waited a day and tried to get a less depressing, self-pitying view of things. Then I edited, almost re-wrote the post. It made a big difference and is the one currently up.

    Being overtired or sick or very stressed can make it easier to react instead of respond. That is what I had done with my first draft. Waiting, praying, and coming at it from a bit of a different perspective made a big difference for me. If, on the other hand, you pray and wait and come back to it and would still respond the same, it is more likely you were responding the first time and not reacting. I only know you through your blog so I couldn't say one way or the other.

    That said though, while I fully believe our words, choices and actions are significant reflections about who we are, I have very little patience when people (husbands and parents excluded) declare they know us better than we know ourselves. It generally shows a great lack of respect for the person and a bit of pride. (For example, if I declared every woman who wore short shorts in 30 degree weather exhibitionists, it would reflect much worse on my character than theirs.)

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  4. I think your totally correct in all of what you have said. People tend to loose their manors online. Getting mad for being attacked isn't necessarily a bad thing. Being hurt because someone is attacking you isn't a bad thing either. The commenters should have been nicer and I felt much of the anger you did while I read many of the comments. Some of your comments back weren't in terms I would have used but I practically agreed with all of them.

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  5. I find your points well explained, and clearly well thought out.
    I love snoods - I see several women wearing them when I shop at Hungarian Kosher (a kosher market) in Skokie, IL. . .so, unless these posters think that Orthodox Judaism is a cult...
    Cam, take heart - looking at how I'm dressed right now, I'd take "you dress nicely, most of the time" as a compliment. :)
    The whole "mentally ill. . .scrupulous".. .yadayada. . . thing is the attack that people with no real arguments employ, because they try to flatten you with hurt since they can't do it with logic.

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  6. The comments you received reminded me of a comment I once heard: "The poor will always be with us. Unfortunately, the crazies will be too."

    Grin and bear it, Cam. Grin and bear it.

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  7. I guess that's one of the dangers of blogging, you leave yourself open to personal attacks. Not so bad when you are a heartless male-chauvanist-pig and a natural contrarian, but I can see where it can be hurtful to decent folk.

    The internet is the last place to look for manners. Though I find in general that your commenters, even the one that attack you, are more polite than most of the internet. Or at least they lack the out and out vulgarity and aggressiveness that can been seen elsewhere on the interwebs. Though the Baroness tells me that there is much cattiness that I do not notice, must be one of the woman things that I don't understand.

    One last thought. Is saying things "out of Charity" the Catholic equivalent to the Southern "bless your heart"?

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  8. Thanks for all the comments! I actually kind of winced as I brought up the comments, fearing what I'd find. So far, nothing to worry about.

    Baron Korf- I definitely agree that it is better here than elsewhere. It may be, in part, because I've not published comments in the past that were vulgar or included profanity (and once in a while I get someone really crazy-and-anti-Catholic and who's also promoting their own site and I won't publish those either). You should see what Paul's been up to lately. He's been hanging out over on an atheist forum, and, just looking over his shoulder for a few minutes it looked pretty dramatic over there.

    I'm not sure if "out of Charity" would be the same as "bless your heart?" (not being from the south myself). Does the Baroness know (or anyone else)?

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  9. Cam,
    This blog is like inviting us into your home and it's unfortunate when people write things that they would probably never say directly to your face. The internet tends to allow people to be more forward than they would normally be in person.

    I see you as being passionate (not losing your cool), which is often misinterpreted as being narrow minded or that you would take offense to the opposite opinion. Whenever I'm debating about something dear to my heart, I tend to be very passionate, and I often have to remind the other person that my passion should in no way be interpreted as anger towards them.

    I saw nothing but a healthy debate with different debating styles. Nobody was forced to read what you wrote, but they read and responded to it out of their own free will. You wrote nothing heretical, and on the contrary, what you wrote was on a devotion. Certain people I think just got caught up in semantics and misinterpretations.

    I hope you never feel like you have to censor your opinions in your own "home". God bless and keep up the good work! I hope you and all the family are on a quick road to recovery!
    Sincerely,
    Andrea

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  10. Internet atheists are the worst. I avoid them since my natural response to blasphemy, their favorite hobby, is a baseball bat to the knee cap. Judges in this country don't take kindly to that attitude. I made a clarifying comment on an atheist blog about a Catholic position, something having to do with our stance on abortion in high-risk situations. Godwin's law took effect in less than 5 minutes, along with a series of vulgarities.

    Well in the South, you can say anything about a person so long as you end it with "bless their heart" and you will be exonerated.

    e.g.
    "That boy fell out of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down."
    Fighting words

    "That boy fell out of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down, bless his heart."
    Harmless/kind-hearted observation.

    Likewise, I find in many Catholic circles people feel they can say anything about a person so long as they are "saying it out of Charity".

    e.g.
    "That blogger is out of her mind"
    Personal attack

    "That blogger is out of her mind, and I say that in all Charity"
    Loving concern

    Just a rambling thought.

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  11. One more thing: one of the sayings I always found interesting was: Persecution usually means you're doing something right. :)

    Not that the ordeal was as bad as all that, but usually when we're striving to integrate into our lives what could help us on our path to holiness, Satan definitely provides resistance in an external form.

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  12. Regarding "•There was the kind-of-but-not-quite-"compliment" that I manage to dress nicely "most of the time" (gee... thanks... "most of the time...").

    Hey,cheer up:)
    Look at the glass as half full.
    Getting it right most of the time is a good thing!
    Even stylists/fashionistas get it "wrong" sometimes-it's no big deal.
    Personal style is subjective anyway and we all differ.

    BTW-is that a tattoo on your neck?
    What does it mean?
    http://www.etsy.com/listing/75576686/peacock-blue-duponi-silk-snood?ref=em

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  13. Andrea- Thank you for your comment. It made me smile. I do think Satan has a big problem with women honoring the most blessed Sacrament in this way because of what it signifies to so many of us!

    Baron Korf- From your description (and I had a feeling that's how it was used) I think it is exactly the same thing! That's good to know before we move to the south in a couple months (is Florida considered "the south"?).

    Curious- Thank you. And it is. I have a few to many reminders of my college in the form of tattoos and that particular one says "warrior" in chinese (I got it after I got my black belt in karate). Thankfully I had a roommate/ best friend from Hong Kong who could translate and tell me that was really what is said... however... I've gone through several laser treatments (about five years ago), but for the time being it's still there!

    Someday I'm hoping to save up enough to have it removed!

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  14. Bless their heart is also a Midwest saying, my relatives there say it often (Swedish/Norwegian descent and after I visit, I will find myself saying it too. Know that with everything you say and do, you cannot please everyone. It can be frustrating, being taken out of context but don't worry, those who know you (even just over the Internet) support you!

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  15. I just found your blog (from the Circle of Moms Top 25 Faith Blogs) and I want to thank you for what you write about. I have been feeling a "nagging" lately for many of these things (modesty, head covering). And with all the secularistic blogs out there, I feel like yours is the breath of fresh air I've been looking for. Keep writing as you do. I love it!

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  16. Oh hugs... I hope you're feeling better! And sorry you had that to deal with, esp while sick.

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  17. I had no idea you were at all hurt by my comments. They certainly weren't intended to be offensive.

    I brought up scrupulosity because I thought I remembered a specific post awhile back where you said you were scrupulous -- I certainly wouldn't diagnose you with a spiritual ill without even knowing you! Perhaps I got you mixed up with someone else or misinterpreted what you meant.

    As far as people thinking you're in a cult, well, you can't help what people think, but it is possible that people are thinking that. There are cultlike Protestant sects that mandate headcoverings for women at all times, along with complete submission and sometimes polygamy! You have to realize that these groups will affect people's perception of you. It isn't necessarily their fault if they make assumptions based on their limited experience.

    As an ex-cult member, it shocks me how the slightest reference to cults offends people, as if only mindless drones join cults. Cults target intelligent, vivacious people and with surprising success. The stereotype that smart, educated people do not join cults is one of the misconceptions that helps cults flourish. I don't know if this is what you think, but it is something that I feel very strongly about dispelling whenever I see it.

    Maybe I have come across as harsh. The fact is, I have BEEN there. I felt "tugs" on my heart to serve God more, and this group seemed like a great way. They spoke in such a way that I felt that if I really loved and honored God, I would do X, Y, and Z, and so I did. I left home at 14 and joined a very pernicious group which I won't even name here. I separated myself from my family (because "whoever does not hate father and mother for love of Me is not worthy of Me"), spent hours a day in prayer, and wore skirts constantly for four years. I thought I was special and called to love God in a super-special way ... right up until I found out that the whole thing was a fake and that all the money I was raising went to fund the leader's mansion. It FELT like it was of God ... but it wasn't.
    (continued)

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  18. (continued)

    I don't often talk about this. But I feel it is necessary to show where I'm coming from. You can't see any possible harm in following what you see as a prompting of your heart. But I underwent years of emotional abuse and brainwashing when I did what I saw as following my heart. Do I think you're in danger of anything of the kind? No. But it's possible that some of your readers are, so I felt it necessary to point out reasons why something that feels like a tug on your heart might not be toward something good. Personally, I think the guidance of your husband, whom you presumably love and trust, is more to be counted on than insubstantial feelings. My own husband tries to keep me away from my old friends who are still "inside." Is that being domineering? No, he's trying to keep me safe because he knows what may be a problem for me. It's possible that other husbands have some problems with headcovering for similar reasons.

    I know you disagree. But at least try to understand where I'm coming from. Despite what your commenters seem to say, I'm not the devil persecuting you because you're getting close to God. I'm not someone who randomly attacks you. I'm someone who's read your blog for awhile now and really like it. I thought you would understand that I'm speaking out of the real thoughts and feelings of my heart, not to hurt you or judge you (haven't I said a dozen times that I see nothing wrong with wearing a snood?) but to share another perspective. I have thought before that we could have been friends in real life. But ... maybe not. Maybe in real life you'd understand me better, but maybe I would end up watching what I say and keeping my opinions to myself, as I feel I'd better do if I keep reading your blog. If I just say what I think, I could end up hurting you and that's the very last thing I want to do. My apologies for upsetting you.

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  19. Forgot to mention -- I'm really opening myself up here, so please don't use any of that to judge me. I know it would be easy to say, "Aha! See! She admits her past is influencing her! Therefore she is wrong!" But it would be a real kindness if you'd say instead, "Hm, perhaps I would feel as she does if I'd been through what she had."

    I don't really want to debate this anymore ... I have apologized and would rather move on.

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  20. Hi Sheila-

    I'm kind of exhausted from this entire thing and went back and forth on whether to publish anything additionally... but I thought I'd give you the chance to defend yourself.

    I'd hope that no one would ever use your past against you and I can see how that would influence you and cause you to worry about others.

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