The other day I had a good conversation with an atheist. Why is it that talking to Catholics makes me want to run away and be a Wiccan, but talking to atheists makes me glad to be Catholic?
Anyway, he says that believing in God is easy, but he just can't believe God is so particular about what we do. Why does God care if we eat meat on Fridays or not?
To which I said, it's a sign of gratitude. We did not create ourselves, we have no right to exist, and we did not create this vast world teeming with food for us to eat. It's a sign that food is a gift, straight from God to us, and we don't have the right to eat what we want, when we want. God loves for us to enjoy his gifts, but it's good for us to recognize that they are gifts by sometimes going without them.
There are other benefits to sacrifice, like the way specific sacrifices set us apart as a culture, and how they teach us to strengthen our will. I think all rules, even the arbitrary ones, have a purpose. We, as humans, aren't really able to conceive of love apart from action. We love through our actions. And actions from going to Mass on Sunday to feeding the hungry are all ways we are showing that we love God, that we worship him, that we are grateful to him. The fact that we don't choose what these rules are is another part of the point -- if we sacrificed only those things we wanted to sacrifice, we would be making our own wishes the standard, and one of the most important things we humans have to learn is that we are not the standard.
On that note, torture's been hitting the news lately. I suppose you can imagine how I feel about that. Maybe I'm an exception, but I don't have trouble feeling empathy for my enemies -- I have empathy for everyone. But some people have different temperaments and don't have a gut reaction against torture. They feel it's justified.
In that case, I guess I can see what a benefit it is to have a church with hard-and-fast moral teachings. No matter how you feel, no matter if you don't understand, you still have to obey. No torture, no matter what.
I wish I could trust everyone's consciences to come up with the right answer all the time, but for various reasons our consciences don't always work right. It may be how we were raised, or it may be just difficult to hear our conscience over how badly we want a certain answer to be true. But having a church with a clear moral standard means we always have a guidepost outside of ourselves to refer to.
Unfortunately the same people who love the Church's rules when they're directed at the people they don't like, are suddenly turning into cafeteria Catholics where torture is concerned. Or they say that sure, torture is wrong, but these are instances where the need is great enough that we just have to overrule the moral law.
That's actually even worse, because you're saying that the moral law can be overruled. The whole point of having a moral law is that it can't. The foundation of Catholic moral teaching is that you cannot ever do evil, no matter how grave the reason.
And risk of death has never been sufficient reason. There was a saint's mother (I want to say it was the mother of St. Dominic Savio, but I could be wrong) who said she would sooner see her son dead at her feet than commit a mortal sin.
That's a hard teaching. And there are ways you could spin it that are very uncomfortable to me. But I imagine, as a mother, receiving word about one of my sons: "He was captured by the enemy, and offered the choice to torture another captive or be killed. He refused and was brutally murdered."
Would I be heartbroken? Yes. But I would be so, so proud.
Okay, that's enough awfulness for one quick takes, don't you think? Have an adorable picture:
Michael put on that blue scarf and said he was Mary, so I figured we could just make a Nativity scene. They stayed in character for about an hour after. And who was I? God, of course. Not my easiest role.
In this one, I laid her down on that orange blanket. She rolled over twice within a couple of minutes and ended up clear over here!
Over dinner, Marko asked me, "If there were three kids, and three toys, how many could each kid play with?"
I was excited that he had basically invented division. "I guess each kid could play with one toy each, right?"
"What if there were six toys, Marko? How many toys could each kid play with?"
He thought about it a long time. Stammered a lot. Then finally he had an answer he was sure about. "The one who was born first gets three toys. The baby gets two toys. And the one who was born second only gets one."
Um ..... well, it does add up to six, anyway!
I seem to have suddenly broke out into sunshine again, as far as having time for myself goes. Sure, it's not much. But I have found lately that Miriam is awake and happy for long enough most days that I can not only do laundry and dress myself, but sometimes bake a pie or spin! And what's greatest is, I actually have the energy to do it.
I'm not going to tell you my Christmas plans .... but, supposing we did intend to drive halfway across the country with three kids, would we be utterly insane?
Probably. The worst of it is that Miriam is actually sleeping so well and I'm afraid it will all be messed up if she has to sleep in an unfamiliar place. But on the other hand, if her aunts could hold her while she sleeps ...... I could actually have some time with no one on me! It would be wonderful!
Since last weekend, I feel I've blundered into an alternate dimension in which half the people think women shouldn't vote. The argument goes like this:
"Women, on average, vote with the other party, or oppose things I believe in, so we'd be better off if they couldn't vote."
If you think that, you don't really believe in government by the people at all. You don't believe in the principle of voting. You don't believe in the marketplace of ideas, in which you have the ability to spread your good ideas peacefully. Nope, you just want to disenfranchise everyone who disagrees with you. In the end, what really makes sense would be to make yourself dictator.
Of course, some people really would rather be dictator. But that's not going to happen, and neither is disenfranchising half the population. Too bad for you!