May 2009


Still on vocation here.  Which at this time, does include all that much writing.  But I mean to be doing at least a little bit of bloggity-work, and lately I’ve been foiled.

–>  I’m not sure if St. Anthony is just getting rather fed up with me, or if he’s got some plot up his sleeve . . . maybe he thinks I ought to own *two* copies of Angels & Their Mission – cause it’s good ‘n lost.  Lost because, I will note, I was taking it with me everywhere I went in a desperate effort to *actually read the book*.  Which promises to be quite good.  (The chapters I’ve read to date are.  Really, owning a second copy seems like a might good idea, because I think it’s going to be a lender.)

Meanwhile, poor Chris Cash at the The Catholic Company can console himself that there’s probably a plenary indulgence just around the corner for anyone who tries to herd Catholic bloggers into some semblance of order and responsibility.  (I can’t be sure that doing so is one of Holy Father’s intentions, but I’m confident the American bishops sure would like it if we’d set a good example . . . So that counts for something, right?)  And you can read the Happy Catholic’s review here while you wait for mine.

Also coming up one of these centuries, my backlog of Requiem Press books-to-review.    For today, I leave with you two words: Ronald Knox.

Ah, happiness.

. . . Not sure where all my writing time keeps going — perhaps into the garden, judging by the looks of it. (Yay!)  Seems like snatches of quiet time are always hovering on the horizon, but then flit away whenever I get close.  Anyhow, I’ll write when I write.  Meanwhile, console yourself that I’m off enjoying a nice vocation.

Suppose that while you were recklessly failing to supervise your children — perhaps engaging in some act of parental irresponsibility such as “going to the bathroom”– your two-year-old finds the lost Post-It Notes.  And, because they are hot pink Post-It Notes, your two-year-old determines this product is probably a decorating item.  Wallpaper, for instance.  And so, in the time that you are so foolishly relieving yourself in the other bathroom, your child very generously moistens the notes and proceeds to cover a variety of surfaces that had been, previously, woefully boring.  That is to say: Not Pink.

If this were to happen to you, here is what might you learn when your four-year-old went to remove the decorating some minutes later: wet hot pink Post-It Notes are an effective means of sponge painting.  Leaves a delightful pink rectangle on your high-gloss white walls.  After just a few short minutes of application.

Now you might worry that if you tried to color your walls using the Post-It Note Method that the color would quickly bleed, or run, or wipe away.  Be not afraid.  Even moments after removing the paper, the color remains impervious to water, diaper wipes, dish soap, vinegar, ammonia spray, even Mr. Clean Magic Eraser.

Now to decide: Should we follow the four-year-old’s suggestion and paint over?  Or just get out the surviving notes and finish the job?  Kind of perky.  But I suspect Mr. Boy does not want a pink bathroom.

When I was little, I was afraid of people who were not like me.  Not run-away-and-hide afraid, but intimidated, nervous, certain those people did not really approve of me.  What kinds of people scared me?  Soldiers scared me.  I can remember being at the VA hospital (both my grandfathers served in WWII), and being nervous whenever I saw a soldier in uniform.   Not sure what to say or how to act.  Wanting to stare.  Certain that there was  a right thing to do, and that I was not doing it.

It wasn’t the guns, the soldierly-ness, that intimidated me.  I was equally nervous around my sister’s softball team.  All those girls in neat ponytails and shiny yellow uniforms, their caps dotted with stickers for every something important that they did, gathered together, important, capable, competent.  They were probably perfectly  nice people, but I didn’t know how to act around them.  I kept my distance, tried not to make eye contact.

I was little then, and shy.  I’m a grown-up now.  No longer afraid of girls on softball teams.

Last feast of the Holy Trinity, our parish priest explained that the Trinity is a model for human relationships.  In the Trinity, he observed, “There is no ‘us’ and ‘them’.” To be Catholic is to put off “us-and-them” thinking.  To recognize that all people are “us”.  No one can be pushed off into some category of Other People, who are not deserving of our respect and concern.   Compassion, works of mercy, we perform them not because ‘those poor other people are so desperate, so pitiful’, but because ‘they are one of us.’

I’m late to the party on the Blogging Against Disablism Day blogfest.   The official day was Friday; luckily the blogfest-manager has compassion on people like me who blog on the other side of the International Week Line.  “Disablism” is a word used to describe discrimination or prejudice against people with disabilities; analogus to racism or sexism or what have you.   Not a topic I write about much, or even think about much; the notion of equal rights for all people has always seemed to so obvious to me that I half-wonder what there is to say.

But I think us-versus-them gets to the heart of it.  As I see it, modern prejudice against people with certain types of disabilities finds its origin in the eugenics movement of the late 19th and early 20th century.  The parents who were pushed into comitting their disabled children to institutions in the 1950’s, were the ones who, as children in the 1930’s, attended state fairs with “Fitter Families” contests and displays on the importance of good breeding for the strength of the human race.  A disasterous era whose stain on society is still felt today.

How to get over that sense of ‘otherness’? That feeling that certain types of people are fundamentally different? It requires some growing up.  A realization that those “other” people are just ordinary people. Not a case of ‘that could be me’ but a case of ‘we are in the same boat’. Nothing special at all above and beyond the ordinary specialness of being human.   And nothing less, either, than the extraordinary specialness of being human.