I enjoy Gotham without shame. I look forward to it every week. I like seeing the development of the supervillains and of little Bruce Wayne. Monday’s episode showed the beginnings of one of my favorite villains, Dr. Jonathan Crane; aka Scarecrow. Last night, I inadvertently became scarier than Scarecrow after watching the show and getting the idea for this blog. I tried to text myself this line from the show so that wouldn’t forget it by the time I had a chance to write: “Imagine the thing you fear most in the world. Imagine that’s all you see. Every waking hour.” But, the text did not go to me. It went to the grandfather of one of my kid’s friends. I’ve only met the guy once. I can’t even imagine what he must think…
About a year ago our parish had a visiting priest saying Mass who had one of the most astonishing homilies I’ve ever heard. It was all about The X-Files. Yes—I said about a year ago. My first thought was, “Wow! I LOVE The X-Files! How cool is this!” My second thought was, “Wait…that was on like 20 years ago. Did this guy just pull out a 20 year old homily and lay it on us like it was nothing?!” I’m going to go with a third thought that I had a few days ago—that dude was prophetic. Because, hooray for all of us—they are trying to bring The X-Files back to TV! Rejoice and be glad! I hope there will be more homilies about it (although that is very unlikely) when the show comes back on!
My Top Ten Favorite Excuses That People Give For Not Going To Church (and my snarky responses to those excuses)
As a Pastoral Associate in a Catholic Parish, I have heard it all. People find ways to justify their lack of Mass attendance and believe (momentarily) that their justification will convince the pastoral staff of their correctness. Here are my refutations of these excuses—meant not to isolate further or hurt the feelings of those who don’t go to Mass, but as a playful invitation to reconsider and come back to the family that misses them. This is an updated version of a blog I wrote for my parish website.
The other day, while chatting with my family, the topic of politics came up. Yeah, yeah—you’re never supposed to talk about politics or religion, but God knows it’s impossible to avoid either of those topics in my house! We spoke of our disgust for our current political state—how there is no party that represents our beliefs and values consistently, and our need for GOOD politicians. My mother said, “Maybe when Ben grows up, he could get into politics. He’d be a good politician.” “Not my son!” I snapped back. The thought of my son being in the midst of that element was too much for me. Ben asked why and I said, “Ben, I would support and be proud of you in almost any line of work that you feel God calls you to. Almost. Not a drug dealer, or gigolo, or politician, or anything like that.” And then, in a clearer moment, I got to thinking…how selfish is that? Not the drug dealer or gigolo thing; but my not wanting him to be a politician. If that’s where God calls him, I have to be okay with it and pray that he would be a good one.
When I was a little kid, I used to love listening to the stories that my great-grandmother would tell. She was born in Sicily in 1898 and had a very full, very interesting life. She was a tiny woman with a quiet voice and a very nostalgic heart when I knew her, and she was one heck of a story-teller. She loved telling stories about the Mafia, to my Grandfather’s horror. He would always tell us not to listen to her, that the stories weren’t true, and he didn’t want her glorifying the mob. But, I didn’t know what he was talking about and loved listening to her, and would sit with her whenever I could.
“The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried.”G.K. Chesterton
"As to his death, he died to sin once and for all; as to his life, he lives for God. Consequently, you too must think of yourselves as [being] dead to sin and living for God in Christ Jesus."Romans 6:10-11
"Truth, according to the Christian faith, is God's love for us in Jesus Christ. Therefore, truth is a relationship."Pope Francis
Science Fiction has been warning us for years—apparently, people need to be watching more TV and movies—because we are missing the message. As humanity progresses (and I do love the progress and tech that is being developed), we are becoming more isolated and out of touch with one another. Our society is at an all time low as far as human relationships go. Now, you’re probably saying, “Duh, Jen, who doesn’t know that?” But, did you know that in Japan (crazy Japan…) you can book a dream wedding for one? It’s aimed at girls who can’t seem to find a husband but still want to have the wedding experience. It pretends to build up the poor, young ladies’ self-esteem. Nothing says, “You’re special” like pretending to get married with a fake groom that you’ve never met. And if that doesn’t do it for you, Japan is working on some serious humanoid robots to keep you company. I mean, if you’re having a fake wedding, you’ve pretty much given up, anyway, right?
Do you have trouble paying attention at Mass? Sometimes it’s hard—there are so many distractions around us, and inside our heads (cute babies, shopping lists, the ‘oh crud—did I remember to…?”). When we’re supposed to be singing a hymn, sometimes I catch myself looking at the notes and how some of them look like smiley faces. If we’re open to it, anything can become a distraction. And it seems like there’s a lot of “down time” in the Mass for that to happen—time when we are not speaking or singing…just sitting and the priest is doing his thing.
I think everyone has an understanding of what to “know” in the Biblical sense means. In case you don’t, it means having sex. I didn’t understand why as a kid—I remember hearing, “He ‘knows’ her…in the Biblical sense” and (being a small genius) figuring out what it meant from the context of what the adults were saying. But, I wondered why the word “know” had anything to do with it.
So, now that I’m married and somewhat grown up, it makes sense to me. Sex (ideally) is the full physical expression of a deep, intimate relationship where two people perfectly and unbreakably committed to one another through the bond of marriage share everything they have—their whole selves. One of the major images of God’s relationship with His people in the Hebrew Scriptures is that of a marrital relationship, in part because of the intimate knowledge that God wants to share with us. It carries over to our Christian tradition in our calling the Church “the bride of Christ.”
My first monster crush was on King Kong (and, yes, the word “first” does suggest that there were more). I loved King Kong so much that I was given a stuffed animal of him a short time after I first saw the movie. I don’t know if it was manufactured specifically as a King Kong, but that’s how it was presented to me, and I’ve loved it ever since. It was the first stuffed animal I remember owning and even had it still when my children were born. I passed him on to them, as well as my love for monsters.